Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Planting the Seeds of Faith in Our Children

For months now, Stella has screamed her head off during every bath.  The other day, dreading the impending bath that she needed, I asked my son,  "Sly, what should we do to help Stella enjoy baths more?"  I was expecting him to suggest something like singing to her, or giving her a certain toy to play with....but without hesitation, he responded, "We should pray for her."

Wow.  Yeah.  Tom and I looked at each other: "why didn't we think of that?"  I'm always the person who goes on and on to a friend about some problem I'm having, then ask them for advice only to hear, "well, have you prayed about it?".  Errrr....no, actually.  Oops.  So Sly definitely didn't learn this from me.

Instead, these days it seems that I've been learning so much about holiness from Sly, and his childlike surety in God.  He wants - and expects - to be a Saint with so much more certainty and trust than I can muster.

I've realized that my role in my children's faith formation is perhaps not as important as I thought.  Don't get me wrong - as the parents, Tom and I are responsible for being the primary teachers of the Faith for our kids.  We are charged with an enormously important task, with repercussions that extend to eternity.  But ultimately, our job is just to plant the seeds.  To provide the environment, the experiences, the teachings that will prepare our children's hearts for God.  But it is the Holy Spirit who ultimately "waters" those seeds, and makes them grow.  At only three-and-a-half, Sly has amazed me with some of the things he has come to understand about God.  Things I never had a chance to explain.  There's only one way those thoughts could have come to him, and that is through grace which neither he nor we have merited.

As parents, we lay the groundwork and we help support our children's increasing knowledge of God as it grows and meets challenges.  But it is God alone who gives the grace of faith.  God who enters in to their opened hearts and minds and begins a relationship with them.

Friday, January 24, 2014

In Praise of a Sense of Smell

Most of us have imagined at some time or another how much harder life would be if we lost the ability to see or to hear.  But I have to say that I've never really sat and wondered about how different things would be without a sense of smell.  Sure, I knew it was a nice sense to have, but I didn't realize how much I rely on it....until the past few days.  My sinuses are still so stuffed that I have had close to zero ability to smell for almost three days now.  Blowing my nose doesn't help most of the time, as the obstruction seems to be way up high.  And my pregnancy really limits the medications allowed to me, so I've just been waiting it out.

Here are a couple things I've discovered about the importance of a sense of smell:

1. If someone invented a pill that completely removed your ability to smell, it could be the ultimate diet pill. 
I can't taste anything.  Not a thing.  And food has basically zero appeal to me because of it.  I haven't found myself snacking or eating any junk food, because there's just no pleasure in it if I can't taste it.  I told Tom a bit over-dramatically the other night that "I didn't even care about dinner, since I wouldn't be able to taste it anyways," which prompted him to offer to make it instead.

Whoever taught us back in elementary school that you have all these taste buds on your tongue that can register "sweet, salty, bitter, and...whatever the other one was [sour??]" must have lied.  Or else you still need those flavors to pass through receptors in your nasal passages in order to actually "taste" them, in which case...does a separate sense of taste really even exist?  Yep - such are the deep philosophical questions in my head these days.

Last night, I found myself craving a hot fudge sundae so bad.  I thought at first it was the pregnancy talking, but then I realized - it was because my brain had actually come up with a food that I would be able to get some sort of sensory pleasure out of.  The contrast between the hot and cold temperatures would at least make for an enjoyable eating experience, even without the ability to taste any of it.

I felt fairly uncivilized doing it, but during dinner tonight, I gave my nose one good hard blow right before I took each bite, because it allowed me a fleeting half-second of being able to kind of taste my food.  I had a box of tissues sitting by my plate.  I've sunk pretty low.

2. Moms use their noses for their mom duties all the time.  
The other morning, Sly insisted that he had soaked the bed during the night.  But everything felt dry, and I didn't smell anything, so I left the sheets on his bed and just folded up his pajamas to be reused.  At the end of the day, I dressed Sly back in the same PJs, and sent him over to Daddy to read his bedtime story.  Sly jumped onto Tom's nap, and Tom immediately got a disgusted expression, and said, "ugh! What the heck?  Christine - are these pajamas clean?!" (Allow me to pause, because I'm laughing pretty hard remembering this).  Nope!  Apparently, Sly had been right.  And his whole bed needed to be stripped down and changed, too.

I usually use the sniff-test for random articles of clothing or towels I find strewn on the floor, to determine if they are clean, "clean enough", or dirty.  Without the ability to do this, things have been just ending up in whichever pile my current whim decides to throw them....so far, I haven't had any complaints.  But we'll see. 

The sniff-test is also my main way of knowing when a diaper needs to be changed.  Since I haven't smelled any diaper odors recently, I find that I haven't even been thinking about changing them, so have left several diapers on a bit too long.  Oops.  Tom's the one who keeps "discovering" the offensive diapers now.  I think part of him isn't fully convinced that I actually can't smell them :-)

So don't underestimate the power of your nose, people! I'm really looking forward to having a working one again, so I can get back to enjoying my meals and my coffee, and protecting my family from the various odors that really should be dealt with in a timely manner!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's Sheenazing! ...and Snow Days

So it looks like someone nominated my little blog for the Sheenazing awards (Best Blog by a Mom category)!  I have no illusions* that mine even approaches the awesomeness of many of the other great Catholic blogs that got nominations, but I am honored that someone thought of me and that I hereby get to put a cool icon of the ever-admired Venerable Archbishop Sheen in my sidebar!

Feel free to vote for me at A Knotted Life, and make sure to check out some of the other great blogs who received nominations.


In other news, I suddenly came down with a nasty sinus infection two nights ago.  These sorts of things often hit me when I'm pregnant and my immunity is low.  I'm sneezing and coughing like mad, and my head is filled with pressure.  I still hesitate to say I'm "sick", since I have certain personal guidelines about what that means.  It's annoying to deal with, but I can still function.

But many of you will be proud to know that for the first time in my life, I backed out of two events I was supposed to go to yesterday (with my Catholic moms group, and which I was looking forward to) solely out of consideration for other people who I could potentially infect.  I'm slowly learning.

It's just as well that I've been staying in the house the past few days, since this is what it's looked like outside.

My husband and a number of his co-workers were given permission to work from home all week because of the snow and cold.  I've had very mixed feelings in the past about his work-from-home-days.  It's been mostly nice this time around, as Tom can help a bit with the kids during his breaks, and is already home an hour earlier than usual.

But it can be a little frustrating (for both myself and the kids) to have him in the house all day but *not* really available.  He leaves messes that I'm not used to dealing with during the day, creates more dishes for me to wash, asks constantly what we have to eat or snack on (I know for a fact that he eats at least double when he's at home than when he's at work - what the heck?), and won't let me run the washer/dryer while he's on conference calls (since he takes them in the basement, away from yelling children).  Yesterday as I was feeling all yucky with my cold, dying for a nap and literally crawling up the stairs to bed, Tom stopped me and asked me to make him lunch "before I left him with Sly"...and I have to say I was fairly annoyed!  All I had to do was heat up leftovers in the microwave, but still :-P

But marriage is about sacrifice, and I shouldn't complain too much, since he did take over the duty of sending naughty children back to their beds at naptime while I got to rest, and he even cooked dinner for us tonight (frozen pizza..heh) while I caught up on reading blogs!

* If you happened to read my first draft where I misused the word "allusions" instead of "illusions", I beg you to charitably chalk it up to pregnancy-brain, rather than stupidity!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Do I Get My Kid Excited for Homeschooling?

Our plan is to homeschool our kids.  Sly is only three and a half, so I haven't started anything formal with him yet.  But he's at the age where he's starting to become aware of this mysterious thing called "school":

- We see school buses on the roads, and he always asks about where the kids are going, and why.
- Certain books and shows that he's read/seen depict kids in school.
- People at the supermarket often ask him questions about whether he's excited to go to school when he gets bigger.
- Some of his second cousins who are a little older than him stop home for a lunch break from school while we're visiting.

So to Sly, school is this great thing that "big kids" get to do, and he assumes that like the other kids he sees, he'll be going there soon as well.  He's even said a few times, "when I get big, I'm gonna go to school!".  I've tried to gently suggest that there might be alternatives.  I've said things like, "well, Sly...I think we're going to learn things at home instead.  It'll be fun - we can do things that you wouldn't be able to do at school."  But he just gets upset, and insists that he will go to school.

I still have some time, so what can I do to help him get on board with our decision? 

Maybe I should ask my cousin who homeschools (her nine kids, with another on the way!!) if we can come hang out with them more :-)


On a related note, if you haven't seen it yet, check out Homeschool Barbie (no, it's not real!).  This hilariously hits on many of the stereotypes of homeschoolers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Buying a House

So....we're in the process of buying a house...!

Some people (Tom, my parents, etc.) have been saying "we bought a house", and I keep correcting them.  We haven't officially bought it yet.  I can't let myself get too confident!  But the process is underway.  As long as the mortgage application goes through and the inspection doesn't turn up anything crazy, we will be homeowners in early March! 

...with a baby due March 25th.  Ha! 

Since there will be some overlap between closing on the new house and the end of our rental agreement at our current place, we will have the choice to move either right before the baby is born, or shortly after. 

At this point, I'm thinking after the baby is born would be best.  Trying to pack and move while I'm 8+ months pregnant sounds very unappealing.  I already feel so huge and cumbersome as it is.  And I don't think I'd have the energy to do much unpacking in the new place during those last weeks of pregnancy, which would just make my "nesting" instincts go crazy, and get me very stressed out.  I'd rather not bring a new baby home to a huge mess!  But I figure if we wait until mid-April to move, it would give us some time to fix up a few things at the new place before we get any furniture in there.  When the baby is born, I can bring him home to our sparse (since hopefully some of our stuff would be packed already) yet still liveable rental house, have a week or two to settle into life with a newborn, and then move.

Has anyone moved right before or after having a baby?  Which would you recommend?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musings (in my own style)

This post loosely follows the pattern of Patch O'Dirt Farm's Monday Musings, but I made up my own categories since I just had random unconnected things to blather about.  Sorry to be a rebel today!

In the past week...
We had some friends over for dinner - a newly-married couple who are expecting their first baby.  They seemed to get a big kick out of our children, and I was happy to provide them with a little preview of what they might be able to expect their home to look like in a few years.  At one point during normal dinner conversation, Sly butted in excitedly to say, "One time! When we were at the lake! There was a dead fish!  And then a seagull came and ate him all up!  And then a turkey vulture came and ate what was left!!"  Our guests were very tickled.

Last night, I was walking down our front steps while bearing my much-increased pregnancy weight and carrying Stella in my arms and the (wooden) stair broke under me and I crashed down on my bum.  Thankfully, Stella was fine.  But I twisted my ankle, and it's not been pleasant trying to get around today.  The stair below cracked as well, so we can't use that entrance anymore.  I left a sign on the stair for the mailman, and I'm hoping he will somehow avoid getting hurt by the stairs but still manage to get our mail up into the mailbox! The landlord has been notified, and I hope it's fixed soon.

We had an unseasonably warm day for January - jacket weather!  So I decided to stop being a lazy mom and actually take my kids to a playground.  Sly couldn't stop telling me what a great time he had.  It made me feel like a real champ.

 Until Stella started freaking out on the swing, and we had to go home... :-)

Tom is taking our car in to get detailed tonight, in preparation for selling it.  Our growing family won't be able to fit into it in a few months, so we're looking to upsize.  I bought the car - the only one I've ever owned - when I started my first real job, teaching high school.  It's been with me for a long time, and it's going to be a little sad letting it go.  It also makes me sad to think that we're finally making it shiny and clean again, just so we can sell it to someone else!  I've wanted to have the car detailed for ages, but Tom always said it was a waste of money (and I know he's right, since it would have taken the kids about five seconds to spill something new all over the seats).

What I'm reading...

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This is a short little book, but full of thoughtful and beautiful reflections about life, womanhood, and being human.  It could make an excellent discussion piece for a short bookgroup, or a couple of girlfriends over coffee.  It's written by the wife of famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh.  Worth picking up!

Tom finally tracked down an inexpensive older copy of Mary Reed Newland's We and Our Children, and gave it to me for Christmas.  I had heard rumors that the new version (re-named How to Raise Good Catholic Children) was abridged to cut out some of the best passages relating to the old Mass (which we attend, so I wanted those parts included).  I've since found out that they once again re-published the original unabridged book (which I linked above).  Newland has lovely ideas about teaching the Faith to children, and I've been sharing many passages with Tom as I read.

What I'm making...

I'm still slowly cranking out a blanket for the new baby.  I *think* I should actually have it done by the end of March, when baby is due.  I'm just about halfway.  The nice part is, since the blanket is knit diagonally, each row is going to get shorter and shorter as I finish!

Something I'm dreading...
I really need to go through all my photos on the computer, and select the ones I want to print out.  I haven't done it in ages...ugh.  I always feel like this is one of the most tedious tasks ever.

I mentioned last week that we wanted to try out Stella - not quite 17 months - in her new toddler bed, and see if she was ready for it yet.  She's been sleeping in it for both nighttime and naptimes since, and doing great!  For the most part, she doesn't even attempt to get out until it's "time."  I was worried the kids would be climbing into each others' beds and bugging each other all the time, but Sly knows better, and Stella has seem too interested in sleeping so...so far so good!

[and now since I've said this, I should probably expect a terrible night with Stella climbing out of bed constantly!]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How I Pack up Christmas Stuff, and Other Random Tidbits

Life has been fairly calm and un-blog-worthy recently.  Which isn't a bad thing, I suppose.  We've been rather more confined to the house, what with the cold weather, and my increasing tiredness in the mornings. 

The Christmas decorations are beginning to come down today, which is always a little bittersweet.  I don't like to say goodbye to this most wonderful time of year, but it always feels pretty nice to have a seemingly clutter-free and clean house just by virtue of removing the Christmas stuff.  I think I'll keep the nativity sets and the Christ child statue out for a bit, though...maybe until Candlemas (February 2nd) this year!

Oh - one piece of advice I wanted to share for those of you who might also be packing away decorations now.  Last year, I packed everything into three big bins.  One of them was labeled "Advent" and the other two were more for "Christmas."  It made it so much easier for me this December when I wanted to pull out certain things at certain times!  The Advent bins contained those items I would need access to earlier, and the Christmas bins had those things which I hoped to save for right before the big day.

Stuff in my Advent bin: Nativity sets, large manger and pile of "hay", Advent wreath/candles/prayers, leftover materials for Christmas cards and list (of who had sent them to us the year before), children's Christmas books, caroling lyrics, pine-scented candles (which make everything in the box smell amazing), outdoor lights, Jesse Tree stuff.

Stuff in my Christmas bins: all tree decor, indoor lights, garlands, Christmas linens/table runners/dishes, wall decorations, stockings and stocking holders.


I finished my quilt a week or so ago!  I'm pleased with how it turned out.  Stella loves her new quilt, and despite it being pretty huge for her, she's been sleeping with it folded in half over her each night.

Quilting isn't difficult, it just takes a lot of time...and there are a number of pieces of special equipment you need (about half of which I now own myself), and several specialized bits of knowledge that you need to have shown or explained to you.  I think I'm proficient enough now to begin another one on my own, though.  Which I'd like to do soon. 

When my mother-in-law saw my completed quilt, she started dropping many hints about how she's been wanting to replace their 17-year-old Amish-made bed quilt for a while now.  It would make a great Christmas gift the in-laws next year, if I can pull it off...but I think I'd really better start as soon as possible!  I don't have a good track record for finishing craft projects in a timely manner (see: cross stitch sampler)...plus I'm expecting a baby in a few months, and all.


My pregnancy is going well.  I'm finally in the third trimester now.  It's good, because it means I'm in the home stretch, but I can already feel the exhaustion creeping back in.  It has been hard to get out of bed each morning.

The midwives tell me I'm somewhat anemic.  I'm not surprised, as I'm always "on the edge", and usually dip into the "anemic zone" whenever I'm pregnant.  They prescribed some iron pills, which I've yet to pick up from the pharmacy (it's below 0° today - I'm definitely staying home!), but in my experience, they always make me throw up.  Sooo...just eat more red meat?


It's a little early yet, but in preparation for the new baby, Tom and I re-arranged the kids' room.  They'll all be sharing one room, assuming we're still in this house by the time baby arrives (which is looking likely at this point.  Though if the right house actually came on the market, I think I would be crazy enough to attempt a move right around my due date).  Sly and Stella will each have a toddler bed, with the new baby in the crib (after an initial month or so of sleeping in our room).  Stella's only 16 months old, so probably still too young to move into her big girl bed.  I think we're going to give her a try in it tonight and see what happens, though.  Just for fun :-)

using a spoon!

It's been hitting me so much recently that Stella is really *not* a baby anymore.  She's so big now!  I can't  bring myself to call her a "toddler" yet, but I know as soon as the new baby comes, it will be fully obvious.


We're finally getting back into the groove of a Family Rosary each night.  Tom has been working with Sly to help him learn the prayers and participate.  Right now, he has to say two decades (verrry slowly) with us.  It makes me so proud to see how well he pays attention, and to hear him reciting all the prayers with us.  He wouldn't be able to say them by himself, but he does know all the words when we pray together!  God Bless my husband and his patience in helping this to happen.


Did anyone else watch Downton Abbey on Sunday?  The double-episode didn't have too many thrilling moments or shockers, but I'm happy to see that the quality of the show is still up to its high standards.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.