ordinary moments

Love In The Weeds?

John and I work up early this morning to try to get in our 10,000 steps before the little people arose from their slumber demanding food and beverages and plans for the day.  We were mostly quiet mostly as we walked, though we did listen to a few chapters from CS Lewis's The Great Divorce.

The house where we live currently is on a beautiful piece of property, nestled between a set of corn fields and decorated with the most beautiful, albeit dilapidated, barns.  Our view is a little slice of heaven, especially in the early morn, when deer peak out from the growing stalks and the birds salute the rising sun atop the ridge of a fire engine red shed.

When I feel the frantic pace of the day creep in on me and my soul is is ringing from technological overload, all I need do is walk outside, take a deep breath, and glance around at the handiwork of God.

He is a master craftsman.

Around 7 am, John needed to head inside to get ready for work and by that time, I saw little eyes peaking at me from windows.  I made my way into the kitchen and tended to the business of the morning:  unloading the dishwasher, filling cereal bowls and juice cups, spooning mounds of rice cereal and applesauce in Edward's mouth.  I worked quickly, anxious to get back outside to finish my walk and by 8:30, I had buckled Edward into his carriage and began pounding the tared pavement again.

I called to Mary, who was trailing behind me with Camille at her heels.

"You guys want to pull some weeds for me?"

They responded with enthusiasm and immediately set to work digging out the green shrubs growing out from underneath the porch.  I made circles in the driveway, occasionally stopping to oversee their work.

"Look, Mom," seven year old Mary said as I breezed by, huffing into my chest.

I stopped and turned around.  She approached me slowly, proud of her discovery. She uncoupled her hands.

"They're hearts!"

Indeed.  The leaves of the weeds were in shapes of hearts.

And I thought about how even in the weeds, no... especially in the weeds, God whispers His message of unending love.

"God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty."  --St. John of the Cross

Psalm 96: 11-13: Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Raspberry Days

The kids discovered wild raspberry bushes on the perimeter of our property.  For the past two days, they've occupied hours stuffing their mouths full of the tart ruby red fruit, the proof of their labors stained all over hands and mouths.  What they have not eaten, they've managed to squirrel away in Rubbermaid containers set aside for pie or jam. 

"If you want jam," I told them, "We're going to need

a lot

of berries."

Out the door they went to pick, taking seriously the challenge to gather bushels full.  I followed behind them with the camera and found them deep within the berry bushes, yelping as they went.  I tried to help harvest, but soon realized the picking came with a price.  When I carelessly grabbed the bushes, I was pricked by thorns.

Bushes and bushes full of this sweet fruit, and we can't get to it because of the thorns

! I thought.

I'm sure the delicious fruit caught between painful thorns contains a metaphor about the spiritual life somewhere in there, but I'm too tired to sort it out.



know the all the blooming raspberries are a is a gift and we're not going to let those thorns stop us from picking or eating. 

There are many things I love about our new place, but one of the things I love the most is our circular driveway.  Christopher has discovered bike riding since we've moved and it's all because he can practice pedaling on his big boy bike.  He rides round and round the big circle, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth and his uncombed hair sticking out like a cockscomb.  I'm trying to convince him he's strong enough and good enough to lose his training wheels, but he's too cautious to try it.  Until he's ready, I'm content to let him ride from morning to night, which he does with determined alacrity.

It warms my mama heart to see him fly.

We're finally settling into the new house and for perhaps the first time all summer long, I don't feel so harried.  We've spent the last two weeks mostly lolly gagging and playing in between fits and bursts of my desire to Organize The House And Be Productive.

Mostly, we're just playing.  I've decided even if the house isn't "perfect" when school time rolls around, everyone will survive.

I'm trying to say "yes" to the mostly simple requests the kids make during the day, which is why Camille is wearing Vamp like lipstick in the photo above.  It also means the girls are spending many hours in my kitchen.   Saying yes usually means more mess, but it also means happy and engaged kids who aren't looking to be entertained via television or video games.  

I carried my camera with me most of the day yesterday.  The leisurely moments we've experienced as of late lend themselves to taking time to do things I enjoy most--photography, reading, a little bit of writing, picking berries.  I'm reflecting on the frenetic pace we experienced this past year because of our schedule, because of school, and because of me.

I don't want to recreate


craziness during the upcoming year, which means being intentional about the activities we chose.  I missed the Fall early bird soccer sign up (which also means I missed the steep soccer discount) and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.  I'm not opposed to sports, but I am opposed to the insanity that we all sometimes feel--the kids and me included-- when we have too much going on.

(Side note:  we skipped swim team this summer and would you believe the kids haven't asked ONE TIME to go to the pool or to swim or anything?  Makes me wonder why I'm so hell bent on offering the kids different opportunities, if they don't even care if they participate or not.)

Mark 6:31-32

Verse Concepts

And He *said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.

- See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Leisure,-Nature-And-Purpose-Of#sthash.YAYcZj5m.dpuf

 "And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile."  (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)  They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves."
Mark 6: 31-32

Mark 6:31-32

Verse Concepts

And He *said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.

- See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Leisure,-Nature-And-Purpose-Of#sthash.YAYcZj5m.dpuf

What Sweeping The Floor Really Communicates To Your Family

I spent all morning picking up.  I emptied two junk drawers, threw out trash littered and stashed in crevices throughout the house.  I took the sheets off our bed and put them into the washer,  and I took down random Christmas decorations that were accidentally left up.  I made a meal plan for the company we are expecting for Edward's baptism and wrote out a huge shopping list so I wouldn't forget what to buy.  I prepared lunch for Christopher and Camille and then I cajoled Camille into a nap with promises of an after-slumber candy cane.  While everyone was resting, I made a meat loaf and a side of mashed potatoes.  I checked in with John and asked him if we could bring the stuff piled in corners to Goodwill.  In between all this, I kept Edward fed and clean and I even read snippets from a novel.

Soon the kids will come home and I'll help Patrick and Meaghan with their math and grammar.  I'll put the finishing touches on dinner, serve it and clean the kitchen--again.  I'll send the boys off to Cub Scouts and I'll let the girls turn on the television (I'm sure it will be My Little Pony).  I'll put Camille in her Christmas fleece footie pajamas and read her some picture books---her favorites right now are those from the

Pete the Cat series

.  When the boys return, I'll help them hang up their coats and then I'll send everyone to bed while John fills the wood furnace.  I'll climb the stairs and make the bed with the sheets that have been sitting in the dryer all day.  I'll say my rosary and John and I will have a snack together and we'll probably watch some old


re-runs and comment on Sam and Diane's toxic romantic relationship.  We'll chat about the upcoming week and how to make it all happen.

When all this is finished, I'll go to bed so l can get up and do it all again, tomorrow.

There's nothing corporate or high powered happening over here.  More often than not, even the basics are hard for me, a daily bath is a luxury. 

The work I tackle in a day is monotonous

, boring even.  But if it were taken away from me tomorrow because of illness or death or some other tragic circumstance, I would mourn the loss of my unexotic life.  I would mourn the ability to put the laundry in the dryer and fold it neatly into stacks and place it into drawers.   I would miss preparing hearty meals for my family and rocking babies and wrapping toddlers in mounds of terry cloth after evening baths.  I would miss sitting at the table during while my first grader


reads Dr. Suess's

Cat In The Hat

I would miss all of these small, seemingly unimportant activities I accomplish in a day and I would miss the important message I'm able to communicate--without ever using words-- to my family while I do them:  I love you.

And that's a message they desperately need to hear.

We all do, I think.

So I'll sweep the floor and I'll pick up the Legos and on good days, I'll even remember to thank God for my working body and the way I'm able to show my love as I cook and clean and launder through the glorious mess of family life. 

A Christmas Photo Recap

Outside my window...

The weather has been nasty.  Lots of rain, some cold temps, and more rain.  We're inside and snuggled tight.

I am thinking...

I don't want the holiday break to end.  Ever.

I am thankful...

for Christmas and visits with family and friends and so much more...

for wonder

for trees that are so fat they don't fit in the stand

 (Fine.  I admit it, John.  I went overboard this year.  Again.)

for filled stockings

and the aftermath of discovery

for new babies and Christmas lights

for big brothers

for dolls that play Christmas carols and mesmerize little ones

In the kitchen...

Lots and lots of holiday baking

Snowmen cookies

Aunt RaRa slipped Camille this beverage.  Camille's response, "I'm Santa and I drink Coke." 

well-decorated holiday cookies

for Mary Bernadette

I am going...

to mail those Christmas cards.  I am, I promise.  We took the picture, we ordered the cards, I addressed half of them and now they are sitting... waiting to be mailed.  I'm mailing those cards if it kills me.  There are 12 days of Christmas.  I still have time.

I am reading...

new books from the library! 

I am hoping...

it all works out.

Mary Bernadette was suspicious about Santa's existence.  She was asking lots of questions and we  didn't want to lie to her, so John broke the news.

She was devastated. 

There were tears and disappointment and the conversation ended with this question, "How do I know God is real?"

I am learning...

what works for one child might not work for another.  Case in point:  Patrick and Meaghan took the news about Santa without a hitch.  MB was traumatized.

I am pondering...

this article

from the New York times.  Good food for thought.

Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are.

A favorite quote for today...

No. He wanted us to consider him as no different from ourselves, and so he worked, he was hungry and thirsty, he slept. Without protest he endured his passion, he submitted to death and revealed his resurrection. In all these ways he offered his own manhood as the first fruits of our race to keep us from losing heart when suffering comes our way, and to make us look forward to receiving the same reward as he did, since we know that we possess the same humanity.
When we have come to know the true God, both our bodies and our souls will be immortal and incorruptible. We shall enter the kingdom of heaven, because while we lived on earth we acknowledged heaven’s King. Friends of God and coheirs with Christ, we shall be subject to no evil desires or inclinations, or to any affliction of body or soul, for we shall have become divine. Whatever evil you may have suffered, being man, it is God that sent it to you, precisely because you are man; but equally, when you have been deified, God has promised you a share in every one of his own attributes.

---From a treatise On the Refutation of All Heresies by Saint Hippolytus,

taken from the

Divine Office

A few of my favorite things...

child decorated Christmas trees.  Hey, let's see how many ornaments can fit  on one branch! (Though I was tempted, I moved none of them, thankyouverymuch.)

Waking at 3:00 am to feed Edward and stumbling upon Camille asleep in the doorway of my parents bedroom. 

 It never crossed her mind to come into the room where HER PARENTS sleep when she's at Deedoe's and Papa's.

The fun game Aunt RaRa discovered called Heads Up.  Everyone could play.



everyone.  Total crowd-pleaser

deep concentration

PaPa played too

visits with Santa

sleeping babies

dads and sons

A few plans for the rest of the week:

to do as little as possible.  I'm not joking.  I do plan on playing some games with the kids, building some gingerbread houses with them, and reading.  (If I could spend all day in my bed with my books, I would do it.)  Oh, and we're going to ring in the new year tonight...with dinner and a movie.

A peek into my day...

Note the gleam in her eye

"I'm going to fill up this water gun and shoot you."

(Which she did.)

All because I wouldn't let her have a snack.

Merry 7th Day of Christmas, friends!