Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10 Facts about Me and My Better Half

We probably met when we were toddlers, where his uncle worked in the department where my mom was a secretary.

Our song is "Back to December". We discovered this a few months ago.

He's a great dad who often takes the kids during the day so I can get a break.

We knew within the first week we dated that we were going to get married.

He moved from Texas to Wisconsin.  For me.

Our third baby was born before our midwife arrived.  Daddy was the only one there for the delivery.

I took the LSAT when he did as encouragement.  I'm not sure that it was, though.

He learned how to cook waffles and fondue to impress me.

He eats whatever I cook, regardless of quality.

I can see us growing old together.

This was inspired by Betty Beguiles

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Joy of Vacuum Attachments

Ever since my oldest was able to find them in the closet (about ten months), his favorite toys were my vacuum attachments.  They would keep him quiet for longer than any other toy he owned.  Two siblings later, and the vacuum attachments still hold the position of "most played-with toy" and, occasionally "most fought-over toy."  And this mystifies me.

When I look at vacuum attachments, I see undone chores.  When they look at vacuum attachments, they see swords, telephones, exotic implements of I'm not sure what, and, get this, vacuum attachments.  R will put them together sans vacuum, and pretend to vacuum the floor.  Because they see the world through a fresh light, everything is new.  Even chores can be fun and exciting (though, for the record, if I ask the kids for something specific that doesn't involve motorized parts, the chores go undone).  Vacuum attachments can be magical and full of endless possibilities. 

And it can be like that for adults, too.  All it takes is sitting on the floor next to a couple of toddlers and just listening.  They will narrate what the vacuum tube is now and what it's going to be in five minutes.  They'll talk about how the soup you threw together from leftovers smells great.  They'll ask if you can help them with a task, which, to you, seems simple and even onerous, but to them is an adventure, like baking bread.

If we can learn to be small enough and simple enough, we can recapture that sense of wonder in the world around us.

"Behold, I make all things new."

Magic soup

Come see me at my other blog to see what we had for dinner today. It's my special variation on stone soup.

Magic soup for hungry kids

Friday, March 18, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

This is my first time doing this, so thanks for your patience. I'm going to write about something I have an almost infinite store of.  Goofy parenting anedotes.

Our little B was chipper in the car yesterday. She was chattering up a storm. At one point, she said, very emphatically, "I have an idea!" "Really, sweetie, what's your idea?" "I don't know!"

I have become firmly convinced that potty-training is the perfect Lenten activity.  It's an exercise in patience, with a heaping side of humiliation.  What could be more penitential than washing an endless stream of soiled training pants and any other casualties?

And the 10 month old, M, is cruising.  He'll be walking in week or two, but right now, he moves from furniture piece to furniture piece, like a monkey swinging through a jungle.  And, like a monkey, when he's not swinging from furniture piece to furniture piece, he's clinging to mama.

4.  Daylight savings time = fire drill for us.  Sunday morning, I was dosing, listening to the pitter patter of little feet that were up too early and suddenly realized that it wasn't six, like my watch said.  It was seven.  And we were going to the eight o'clock Mass.  We were out the door in record time.

5.  I'm outnumbered.  When R is in trouble, B will come running up and insist "He's a dood boy!"  If everyone's taking sides, whose on my team?

6.  I used to be a really fast typist.  Now I have to hunt and peck with one hand... 'cause there's a baby in the other.

7.  I'm glad Lent is six weeks.  Not because I'm in love with penance, but because it takes me that long to get it right. 

My Half-Way Lent

When I was a crazy college student, I was a “go big or go home” kind of person. Everything, including Lent, was a big deal. One semester, my Lenten discipline was to fast on Wednesday and Friday. Not the two-little-meals-one-regular-meal fast. The old-school no-food-for-24-hours kind of fast. It was an interesting semester.

I held myself to a very high standard, higher than I held anyone else, at least. I wanted what I did to be grand and perfect and illuminating. I wanted to be Joan of Arc and Therese of Lisieux at the same time. At the same time, of course, I wanted to be Einstein and G. K. Chesterton and Shakespeare. College was a confusing time.

Fast-forward to the present. I’m now the Mama to three kids under the age of four. Gone are the days of grand spiritual gestures and staying up all night to go to three Easter services in a row. Now it’s as much as I can do to make sure everyone is fed and reasonably clean.

What’s an arrogant perfectionist to do?

Since I’ve been married and blessed with motherhood, I consistently let myself down during Lent. I still try to make the grand spiritual conquests, but I fall woefully short.

So, this Lent, I’m approaching it from a different angle.

This year, I’m doing Lent half-way.

I can’t do a rosary novena every day. I can teach my three-year-old to do a single rosary decade with me.

I can’t give up coffee entirely, as the withdrawal migraines would leave me non-functional for days. I can give up milk and sugar in my coffee. This turns my morning beverage from a sweet form of comfort food to a dark, bitter witch’s brew.

I can’t give up internet access because I need it for work. I can give it up when my kids are awake.

I can’t make my house perfect. I can make sure I make my family comfortable.

In the past, my Lenten philosophy was “give until it hurts.” At the time I didn’t realize what I was practicing was “give until it hurts other people.” There were times when my stringent measures made me a bear to be around and those around me suffered.

By letting go of my pride and allowing myself to go “half-way,” I know I can keep my penances to myself. By accepting this humble substitute, I have to believe that, if I go half-way, God will come the other half.