at my house last week reminded me of a time when Meaghan and Patrick were just babies and John and I were parenting novices. The kids caught some nasty stomach flu, complete with vomit and diarrhea, which they generously shared with us. Though we had violent chills and vomiting, that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was that John and I both got sick
at the same time
, so neither of us was available for zone defense.
Picture this scene: an 11 month old and a 22 month old with so much energy they would have chased their tails if they had one and John and me, lethargic, achy, and spending serious amounts of time kneeling in front of the porcelain gods.
We lived states away from any immediate family so we couldn't call on them for back up and whatever we had was so infectious, we didn't want to share our germs with the few people who actually liked us. So we spent the day puking, trying to sleep (impossible!), and reclining on the couch(also impossible!) while throwing crackers and sip cups at the munchkins. At one point, after begging them for the one millionth time to quit fighting over the same toy car, John made an executive decision to load them in the car. We were so desperate to have them restrained and quiet, each of us grabbed a pip squeak and buckled them into their safety harnesses. For the next few hours, John, who was feverish and pukey, drove us around the entire city of Baton Rouge.
The creative geniuses at Hallmark lead America to believe the only way to demonstrate love is with flowers and chocolates.
True love is when John and I were equally sick, but John chose to be my chauffeur in a gas guzzling SUV, so I wouldn't have to chase my lovely, but extremely hyperactive kids.
I've been slowly making my way through the book
and in it, the author discusses how important it is to have a relaxed state of mind in order to have creative insights. When we work at our jobs or on a project, our attention is directed outward, "towards the details of the problem we are trying to solve." Scientists, however, have discovered that this hyper focused concentration actually prevents the type of creative thinking that leads to ingenious ideas. A clenched state of mind is not better when it comes to making creative connections.
(Doesn't this seem like an obvious point? But in America our lives are set up around 8 hour work days, with jobs which require a lot of focused attention and little time for free thinking.)
Lehrer quotes a scientist who says,
"...many insights happen during warm showers,...For many people, it's the most relaxing part of the day."
He goes on to explain,
"It's not until we're being massaged by warm water, unable to check our e-mail, that we're finally able to hear the quiet voices in the backs of our heads telling us about the insight. The answers have been there all along--we just weren't listening."
(Perhaps because we didn't have
I've been thinking about this point a lot--the idea that a clenched state of mind inhibits creativity--especially as it pertains to my own desire to write and be creative. Right now, my daily life is structured so that there is very little time to relax in a way that promotes creativity. When the kids are home from school, we hit the books hard. When we finish school, the kids may have time to go off and engage in refreshing activities, but I often have to continue working--making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning, etc.
I do think I'm pretty savvy about carving out time for things I like to do, but much of my week is still devoted to labor. I attack one task and then another all day long so when it comes time to actually sit and create something, I often feel spent. I'm on empty.
(When I went to the Catholic Writer's Conference in August, it took a full two days of quiet and rest before I had any thoughtful ideas about articles to write for the professional sites to which I submit my work.)
Of course, a consistent prayer life is key to the creative life for me
, but I also know that feeling refreshed and rejuvenated so that I can actually engage in the creative process is equally important.
I've also noticed that I don't have my best writing ideas when I'm in the shower but when I'm driving. We live in the country and when I'm driving, it's impossible not to notice my beautiful surroundings.
I often bring my camera with me in the car because I love the way the corn fields look and how they change according to the seasons. The kids are contained, I have the radio set to music I love, and my mind can wander in a way that it can't when I'm at home educating kids and washing dishes.
It's not unusual for whole articles or blog posts to literally appear before my eyes while I'm careening down the road in my fifteen passenger. I really need to keep a tape recorder or some other cool technological device to speak into so I can record my thoughts and not forget the ideas.
All this to say, if you have a heart for creativity and desire to foster it in yourself and in your children, you have to lead a life with down time--and probably lots of it. Boredom (or even just unstructured thinking time--read: time in shower) leads to great art as well.
Speaking of creativity, my friend Rhonda just launched an awesome new website called
A multi-contributor blog, Real Housekeeping is a place where Betty Crocker meets Pinterest Fail; practical articles coexist with humorous personal essays. Rhonda had a lot of success during the first week.
If you are a struggling homemaker, I definitely encourage you to check out this site--there is a lot of encouragement for the overburdened mama. Also, if you would like to contribute an article, shoot Rhonda an email because she's looking for more great ideas!
Besides baby Jesus, Edward is quite possibly the easiest baby to have ever lived.
Have you ever heard of cradle cap of the eyebrows? Me, neither. But he has it.
He loves to sit in his swing and play with his hands and as long as he is in the same room with people, he's content. Seriously, they don't make babies any better than this little guy. God knew what kind of baby I needed and Edward fits the bill.
I love this kid (and the way his soft head smells).
Hey, guess what? We got more snow last week and last night and...moving on...
I'm out of ideas for keeping littles busy when there is two feet of snow on the ground and I'm busy with school, but in a moment of desperation yesterday, I had the ingenious idea to allow Christopher and Camille to rip up pieces of construction paper and glue them onto paper. This kept them both busy for at least an hour, which in dog years is
I wished I had discovered earlier Camille's ardent passion for using scissors to cut up paper because after she finished ripping and pasting, she cut paper into the trash can for another hour.
Y'all, I'm a
Get your tissues out if you plan to watch this short video about the life of Zion Isaiah Blick, a little boy who born Jan. 11, 2014 and died a short ten days later. His parents, Robbyn and Josh Blick, knew Zion would not live long because he was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 while Robbyn was pregnant.
The whole time I watched the video, I thought, "This is what it means to value all life; This is what it means to be Catholic."
This family's faith is inspiring...and then some.
On a totally different note, my sister sent me this video and I cried I laughed so hard. The comedian discusses things that shouldn't really be that impossible, like leaving the house,
you have kids and then
! The easiest things become
My friend, Rose, is training for a half marathon and invited me to train with her. Last year, right after I first discovered I was pregnant,
One of the greatest thing I learned from that experience was how helpful it is to have a fitness goal.
(I know, I know.
. I promise, nothing about that sentiment has changed.) Howe
I know if I don't have a plan/goal/incentive, I'm not going to exercise because I'm just not motivated enough. (I don't really like working up a sweat all that much.)
But I have a friend who wants to train and I have a plan, so I think I'm going to give it a shot.
To be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to have enough time to get in shape to actually run the marathon. I've been following a program for 3 weeks and I'm
out of shape.
(John and I were both lamenting how hard it is to get back in shape after so much time off. We're not in our 20's anymore, Toto. Gone are the days of hopping on a machine and in a week being 5 pounds lighter and physically able to tackle increased work outs. We're getting old. Too bad, so sad.)
Nonetheless, I've resolved to try anyway and I feel so much better already. I'm taking baby steps and if that enables me to run 13 miles (I KNOW, CRAZY!!!) by May, then great. If not, I'll keep trying.
If you are still reading this and your eyes haven't glazed over from boredom, you deserve some kind of prize. :)