Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Chapel Veil. I am confused.

I was born in 1981. I was born a Lutheran.

Two strikes against me for having any understanding of the chapel veil.

Before I go any further, if this is your personal devotion and you feel it's something the Lord has called you to do, by all means go on with it and don't let me dissuade you! A call I can understand. I don't even have to know the reason 'cause that's between you and the Lord. You go rock that veil.

Confusion sets in when it goes much beyond this. I thought I had it figured out about 5 different times.

- 1 Corinthians 11. Ok, women should cover their hair. Got it. Great.
...except we don't do that anymore.

- It's to show humility before the Lord.
- It's to cover our beauty.
- It's because of the angels (yeah, don't get that one at all, but someone just said it, so ok.)

...the difficulty I have with this is the other article I read (darn it, I can't find it!) where a husband/father waxed eloquent about how beautiful his wife and daughters look at Mass because they wear chapel veils.

FAIL. maybe?

(Or perhaps I should just whisper, "I hope the angels didn't notice!")

Ohmygoodness, sorry, I couldn't resist. If I knew what that meant, I probably wouldn't say it.

Fortunately for me, if it's for the sake of covering beauty, I think my hair does that just fine - I generally wear it up in a wet mop, so um, no distractions or vanity here folks!

Today I stumbled across this great little post by a nun, The Return of the Chapel Veil.

"I contend that the Chapel Veil was born to save big hair from being squashed. I can only back that up with empirical evidence: before the Chapel Veil, we all either wore a hat or a bandanna, St. Bernadette scarf to Mass.  So we all looked like Polish cleaning ladies, except around Easter, when we all had our new hats.  When 60's big hair arrived, so did the Chapel Veil."


It makes sense:
- Women wore hats.
- Then hair got big.
- Hats squish big hair. 
-Women wore veils - or doilies. 

...but then what? Hair got long and sleek and the chapel veils slipped off? (Grasping at straws here folks).

I don't have big hair to squish (phew, dogged a couple bullets there) so I think I'd be much more inclined to wear a modest hat to Mass than a lacy veil. I'd also feel a lot less like angels were staring at me.

...except that I still don't understand why, apart from it being a private devotion. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeschooling an Extrovert

Iain is an extrovert. From what I can tell, his sisters are introverts. While I have seasons of life where I am more or less introverted, this is most definitely an introverted season. I'm peopled-out by the 24/7 responsibility of motherhood. The idea of socializing beyond that is exhausting. Having people over for dinner gives me anxiety attacks (No joke. Ask my husband).

For a variety of reasons, Mark and I decided to give homeschooling a try. The school part is going really well. I think this is largely due to the fact that I started Iain in "kindergarten-lite" last year, so he's already up-to-speed on what a lot of kindergarteners are doing (I think). On the other hand, the gleam in his eye whenever he realizes he's going to see other people, other kids, is undeniable.

I've tried to plan the year so he does things 1-2x a week with other kids. He's part of the Good Shepherd program at our church, we're part of a homeschool co-op, he's involved in the Kindergarten program with the community we're part of, etc. ...and yet, part of me still feels guilty, every time I see that gleam in his eye, that he's not in a daily Kindergarten program.

I guess when I thought of homeschooling and the ridiculous comments, "But what about socialization?" I only thought about it as avoiding turning your child into one of those homeschooled kids, you know the socially awkward ones. I don't think Iain is going to have that problem. And yet, here I sit, asking myself "But what about socialization?" Not because I fear he'll be awkward, but because I can see that he craves it. He needs people.

And then there are my own fears. I know, I'm a mom. I'm bound to have fears for my children. Some real, some imaginary.

Iain is a child with a lot of labels. We all are, but his are perhaps more obvious: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty.  To him, these things are part of who he is, and as unexceptional to him as being a boy, or an oldest child. As "tolerant" as our society likes to think it is, labels invite teasing and bullying. And Iain's an extrovert. My heart weeps at the thought of this people-loving child opening wide his heart to "All these friends!" only to have a small number of them make him wish he'd never done that.

I know I can't protect him forever, and doing so is not a service to him. My role as a mother isn't to shelter him from the world, but to teach him how to interact with it. So here I am, hoping that by starting him out in the shallow-end of the wide world of people, I can introduce him slowly, as he (and I) can handle it. There are bound to be disappointments, even in the shallow end, and as much as I hate to say this, I hope there are so that we can navigate them together. And he will discover that he has labels and that they make him who he is. And my hope is that he will learn to embrace them, rather than learning to be ashamed of them, so he will grow to be a confident, kind, extroverted young man: Catholic, Redhead, Multiple Allergies, [partial] Lefty and more!

So right now, for this and many other reasons, we're homeschooling. Perhaps this will be a short-lived venture with Iain, or perhaps not. We'll see...

Please feel free to share any insights on any of the above. I'm an eager learner.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homeschooling Week 2: Still Not Enough Chocolate

...but this time I know it's my fault.

It was a day of too much. From the moment the kiddos begged to splash in the wading pool in the 55 degree morning sunshine, I suspected it might be. They did splash in the wading pool. I believe the temp was up at 65 by that point. It was blissfully peaceful for about 30 minutes, but then it was showers and getting dressed and lunch time and...GET IN THE VAN, WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE (although in actual fact, we arrived right on time!)

Our first official Homeschool Field Trip was on the calendar for 1 pm down at our local Nature Center (I highly recommend having one close by; they're amazing!) Every month they pick a topic and for 2 hours on a Thursday afternoon they present it to the local Homeschool kids and their families. Today's topic: Bee Ecology.

Things I learned (Iain apparently learned nothing, as he claimed he forgot it all when I asked him to tell Daddy about his day)
- Apiary: Where the beehives are
- the bee eggs are laid in the bottom part of the hives while honey is collected in the upper part of the hive. I was relieved to learn this, as I'd been imagining eating honeycomb, larvae and all. Yuck.
- Don't take all 4 of your children to Bee Ecology. It's a handful and the "sheds" (where you stand behind screens to watch the beekeeper) aren't exactly stroller-friendly.
- Lucy is apparently already at the age where she prefers to nap at home, rather than being lugged around during naptime. 6:30 pm and she's still trying to recover from this assault on her preferences.
- It was brilliant of me to pack an applesauce pouch for myself, as well as for the 3 kiddos, so that when I was trying to explain sweetly to one of my children what "Mommy's about to lose it" meant, I knew I had a sugar-boost just 50 feet away.

Did you notice how that began as interesting bee information and then morphed into mom lessons? Yeah, that was the afternoon.

After that we visited Mark at the office.

Three times between the end of Bee Ecology and arriving home, I tried to nurse a screaming baby. She refused to eat, but screamed enough for a dramatic let-down. TMI? You're welcome. She later filled her pants, twice, so I'm guessing that was what the fuss was about.

I nearly lost it again when we arrived home and my very kind, sensitive oldest said, "Mommy, I told you that I'm going to have a toast and honey snack. Right?" ...which I had said he could have as an after breakfast snack. Not a 30 min before dinner snack. (And how exactly is that asking, anyway?!) So he started crying and went to his room to take a nap. I went to try to feed a screaming baby [semi-fail], eat chocolate in the family room, and reheat leftovers for dinner. After which Iain did eat "toast on honey."

And we didn't even get any school done. But mommy learned a lot today.

And Daddy is a saint. He's out with the older 3, playing disc golf, while I stay here putting our house back together and listen to a screaming baby who is refusing to nurse, again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So You Think You Want to Homeschool? There might not be enough chocolate for that.

At the end of the first day I sat on the couch downstairs, hiding from the kiddos, wondering what I would do when I got to the end of the chocolate bar I was eating. Eat another? Cry?

It wasn't the school part that was the problem. No. My lesson plan was great. Iain did really well. We even managed to accomplish almost everything I had planned. I didn't plan for it to take 5 hours, but nonetheless, it was done.

It was the girls, ages 4 and 2. I hadn't anticipated them being so...needy. I don't recall a day where they have so absolutely, non-negotiably insisted upon 100% of my attention. The whining, the tantrums, the insisting on being with me, if not on me, all. the. time.

It must be a new-to-homeshooling/life-has-changed-and-I'm-insecure thing. Right? Please tell me "this too shall pass."

I need some advice. What do I do on days like this this? How do you handle the needy younger siblings who are preventing you from getting any school done?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread

Don't worry, this isn't a soap-box on having as many children as you can! If you were hoping for a soap-box, here's all I've got for you: I've known many families who have had surprise babies and I think in those circumstances this little phrase is easiest seen. God loves babies. If he gives you one, He also provides - perhaps not what you want or the way you want it - but rather what He knows you need. 'Nuff said.

I just want to briefly mention an example of how I've seen this "truism" in our life and also what I felt called to do for Lent this year. Yes, they're related.

What I've noticed quite distinctly is that with every child added to our family, my cooking skills take a step up. Yeah, sounds kinda trivial doesn't it? I have to laugh when I think that our little "loaf of bread" is a momma who gets more and more competent in the kitchen.

Considering the various food allergies each of my kiddos has, not to mention my own recent foray into a gluten-free lifestyle, this increase in kitchen competence is no small grace!

So, for Lent this year, I felt called to do something that didn't seem particularly Lenten: to really engage in an effort to cook meals that could be eaten by every member of our family. Previously, I had been making variations on a theme to suit everyone's needs - and there are times that's the best I can do - but to make those 4 different meals every. single. day. was wearing on me. I must admit, it seemed like cheating to take on something for Lent that would (hopefully) make my life easier. But I suppose our Lenten sacrifices are meant to lead us to deeper freedom, so I guess this counts, right?

I knew that it was truly the Lord's inspiration when it started happening so easily! I would stumble across blogs that had recipes for all sorts of things I would never had thought I could make for everyone - like creamy sauces! These recipes have been springboards for all sorts of allergen-free possibilities.

My fear - really the fear that had held me back from doing this earlier (aside from the fear of bland food, which also turned out to be baseless!) - was that our grocery bill would be through the roof. In reality I've found this isn't the case. I'm more aware of what ingredients I use, but that hasn't translated to increased expense, at all!

So, this Lent has provided me with an increased repertoire of family-friendly meals. Cost hasn't increased, and at almost every meal I've heard my picky eaters exclaiming, "This is my favorite meal ever, can we have this again?!"

If you're interested in some of the recipes I've been using, you can find them at the recipe blog I share with my sisters: Three Cooking Sisters.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Incentive for Young Children

I was inspired by this blog post, by a mom who came up with a genius idea of how to motivate her children to clean their rooms without her constant nagging!

She uses a jar full of coins for each child and if their room doesn't pass inspection every day, a coin is removed. At the end of the month, the remaining coins are theirs to spend as they please.

Now, my kiddos are too young to appreciate a jar of coins with all its possibilities. In addition, I don't think I'm quite ready to give money to my kids to spend frivolously.

So, Skittles it is!

My twist on it is:

At the beginning of each week, I'll put 10 (?) Skittles in a separate jar for each child.

Each time they are asked to tidy up, be it the living room, their bedroom, etc. a timer will be set. If the area is not tidied in the allotted time, a Skittle will be removed from their jar.

Additionally, I'll come up with a voluntary chore system by which they can earn a Skittle or two for their jar by completing the chore to my satisfaction (number pre-determined by the effort required to complete the chore).

- Dusting
- Matching socks
- Sweeping the floor

You get the idea.

On Sunday, they will be able to eat all the Skittles in their jar.

I welcome feedback. Have you tried something similar? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Isaiah 55:8

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

Not long ago, I posted this on Facebook: 

Little did I know I would soon be shown an example of this from my own life.

A bit of background:

We are looking forward to a family trip overseas to visit Mark's parents, brother, uncle, get the picture. There are a number of people in Scotland that we are so excited to see! Sadly, this trip comes as a result of a health concern involving one of these people. Prayers for a full recovery are welcome!

Did I mention I'm pregnant? Fortunately, I will be able to "get in under the wire" as far as air travel is concerned - being not quite far enough along for travel to be prohibited. (Not to mention the amazing pregnancy I've been experiencing, with superb progesterone levels and not a hint of pre-term labor! Thank you Jesus and a gluten-free diet!)

Our travel window is defined by the above, the treatment plan for the ill person, Annie's 2nd birthday, before which she is 10% of an adult ticket, and Mark's work schedule. Needless to say, we had a number of rather important things to work around in order to find this window.

God knew this. 

And how does all this relate to my Facebook post?

Crazy Catholics children-loving people that we are, Mark and I were hoping for baby #4 for a few months before she finally graced us with her presence. I love having our children close in age and Annie was getting older by the month, resulting in our longest space between our children yet (19 m, 20 m, and now 26 m). I know, probably still Irish-twin status according to the rest of the world!

Now, I certainly don't want to make light of this baby's existence by assuming that the sole reason God waited longer than we would've to give her to us was so that I could fly overseas. However, I do recognize and marvel in this small part of His plan which allows:

a) Me to travel (I'm not too far along in my pregnancy)
b) Annie to be old enough to be not quite as much of a hand-full, but still not full fare.
c) We won't be traveling with a newborn in tow

If we had received the blessing of baby #4 when I wanted, none of the above would be the case. So, there you have it - God ruined all my plans month after month only to give me His plan in His time, which allows for us to visit overseas during the window of time that's available to us.

Thank you God for having a plan that was better than always.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Worth the Hype, Quick Takes

I realize I've been MIA for months, so if anyone is around to benefit, here you are: some of my favorite things. I apologize for all you Walmart-haters. I don't exactly love the place, myself, but I have to admit  the prices are right. 

I actually got this from my mom. THANKS MOM! It has transformed my hatred of laundry into a mild distaste. Considering our growing family (size and number) this is a blessing. This contraption is next to the dryer and I dump clean laundry in as follows: 1 bag for adult clothes, 1 bag for kid clothes, 1 bag for sheets/towels/etc. When a bag is full, it's time to haul it upstairs for folding and putting away. It would be even better if my kids hadn't fallen in love with it, too and pushed it around like the crazy people they are causing all sorts of cracks and breaks in the frame. Apparently there's a steel-frame version. I may be getting one of those, down the line.

I got an off-brand one (which I couldn't find a link for) from my sister, Heidi. THANKS HEIDI! She said it was about $1. Don't bother with the "Lodge" brand $8 set, but I wanted you to see a pic of what they are. They make scraping dishes with baked-on food remnants a breeze! No more scrubbing with a dish sponge or whatnot. Love it!

14 cents a diaper and they don't leak. Need I say more?

Not only the cheapest popcorn on the market, but also the tastiest. I'm not kidding. I've been known to go to Walmart simply to stock up on this stuff. It's that good. Big, fluffy, yummy - and probably GMO laden, but let's not go there, shall we?

Brand is irrelevant. Heck, mine is probably about 30 years old; I picked it up for $4 at Goodwill. No mess and no oil needed. Guess what no oil means? I can add all the butter I want and not feel bad about it. (I originally bought it 'cause I'm lazy but I love my popcorn, and then I realized what a brilliant little machine it is!) My mother, the popcorn guru-ess, even bought one after years of the pan-on-the-stove-method and then stir-crazy devotion.

Well, that's all for today, folks. I Hope I've made someone's life a little simpler. Walmart - not as bad as it seems (and hey, where else are you guaranteed  to see at least 1 person shopping in their pajamas?)