Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PicVids - June 2011

Beds? What are these beds of which you speak? We know nothing of them.

The kids get so shy sometimes about getting videotaped, but they LOVE watching the videos and seeing the pics later, as evidenced by this video of them watching themselves on my laptop.

This is what I look like from the point of view of one of my kids, apparently.

I thought three was kind of a lot of shots to put up of this same scene, but I couldn't resist that look on his face.

Elijah was in the middle of hugging her, but then he moved right when I took the shot.

So I decided to try to capture a little of what it's like to try to get the kids to clean up. But then they ended up trying to grandstand for the camera a lot. I asked them where that "It's ok, I'm ok" thing came from, and Elijah and Savi both said Gnomeo and Juliet, which we watched not long ago.

He has mad skills at Can Knockdown, in case you didn't notice. And he's two.

Ah, the cute little terror monster.

In case you were ever wondering what it looks like when Savi and Gabe play with Jules.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Funny Things Kids Say

I should have done this post last Friday, but I was crazy tired b/c Julie's not always letting me get much sleep, so I'm just getting around to it now.

1. Kyrie: "Mom, look, I trapped an ant in this [plastic, Easter] egg. Can I feed the ant?"

Like ants, Jules can sometimes be found in odd corners where she doesn't belong.

2. Savi: "Somehow, things got messy in here." Yes, it's a deep mystery how your toys got spread all over your bedroom floor.
And it's a mystery how Julie got here.

3. Me: "Savi, go look for your dad's other sandal."
Me: "Savi, go stand in the corner until you're ready to look for it."
Savi: "I have to put the ipad away."
*puts the ipad away*
Me: "Look in the kitchen."
*she looks in the kitchen*
Me: "Look under the table and the chairs."
Savi: "Nope, not there."
Me: "Look behind the couch."
Savi: "No, but I did only find one of dad's sandals back there."
Me: "You found one of dad's sandals behind the couch?"
Savi: "Yes."
Me: "That's what you were supposed to be looking for in the first place."

Talk about a "hand in the cookie jar" moment.

4. Me: "Who's in the kitchen? Savi, are you in there?"
Savi, from the kitchen, "No."

Her siblings think she needs to be a hippie. Or they think this is just what headbands are for. 

5. Kyrie, to Elijah: "I'm going with you." [Emphatically adds] "No matter what." Then, without really pausing, "No, I'm going with Savi, so we can talk about what we're going to do."

I have no idea how I managed to catch those exact expressions.

6. On the summer solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year, round about dinnertime or bedtime Elijah asked me, "Today was a really short day, wasn't it, Mom?"

He decided to pose like this. On his own.

7. Tv commercial: Is the IRS stalking you?
Me: "Ken, is the IRS stalking you?"
Ken: "Yes, it's right outside the window."
a bit more back and forth
Savi then wandered into the kitchen, looking outside and trying to get a glimpse of who was outside that we were talking about.

"Lut Mommy! Lut Mommy!"

8. Gabe's vocabulary has been expanding very noticeably lately, and he's getting more adventurous in what he tries to say. But he still has conversations like this sometimes:

Gabe: "Lut Dahdee."
Ken: "Luh Bobby?"
Gabe: "Lut Dahdee."
Me: "He's saying, 'Look Daddy' ".
Ken: "Look? Look at what?"
Gabe: "Lut Dahdee." [pointing]
Ken: "What is it?"
Me: "I think it's bug."
Ken: "Is it a bug?" [getting up to look]
Gabe: "Yeah."
Ken: "What kind of bug? Is it a spider?"
Gabe: "Yeah."
Me: "Or a fly."
Ken: "Is it a fly?"
Gabe: "Yeah."
Ken: "Is it a spider fly?"
Gabe: "Yeah."
Ken: "Is it a flying spider?"
Gabe: "Yeah."

Not a flying squirrel. A very bold one, though.

9. Yet another conversation:
Savi: "I like those zucchinis."
Ken: "What, you like bikinis?"
Savi: "Yeah. I want some to eat."

Not as yummy as Dad's kind of peanut butter (Jif), but still good. Even Gabe can say "pea buher  poon?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

St. Teresa of Avila

At the beginning of 2011, I used Jen @ CD's Saint Name Generator to pick a "patron saint for the year", as it were. The Name Generator picked St. Teresa of Avila for me. This is what it had to say:

Patronage: Against Headaches; Against the Death of Parents; LaceMakers; People in Need of Grace; People in Religious Orders; People Ridiculed for Their Piety; Sick People

As I was sitting there reading it, I had a headache; I had recently found out my dad had cancer; I definitely felt in need of grace; I had felt like someone on a blog somewhere had made fun of me for trying to be kind; and I figured a headache counted as a sort of being sick, too. Clearly God picked her for me for a reason.

Only the thing is, I don't really know what that reason is.

There hasn't been a whole lot of follow-up to having picked her. I've asked her to pray for me this year, and I've asked for her prayers for my dad, and that's about it. I got a couple of her books from the library; Mansions gave me a little better appreciation for a couple things that aren't hugely relevant to my life, but I couldn't get into it enough to finish it, and I eventually just returned both books.

I'm posting this now because someone mentioned her recently, and the title grabbed me when I was scrolling through my list of possible blog posts (and none of the others did). Maybe the moral of the story is that sometimes you just don't what God's doing in your life; a lot of your stories are unfinished stories or stories that are taking place on a level we can't see.

Or, you know, maybe if I actually *remembered* to ask for her intercession more often, I'd be telling a more exciting story right now.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Step in the Dirty Diaper

When my kids do things, I often find myself thinking of it as an analogy to how we are all children of God. You know... they whine to me; I whine to God. I love them even when they're dirty and annoying; God loves me even when I'm fat and sloppy and cranky.

So today I was changing Julie's diaper on my bed. When I was done, I shifted her over and laid Gabe down on the bed next to her, so I could change him too. She had a blanket on the other side of her, so she tried to roll over in Gabe's direction. I just barely managed to keep her foot from going straight into his just-opened, quite-poopy diaper.

And I thought, "Hmm, yep."

Sometimes you want something and go after it and God just has to say, Don't do that. And you don't know why, because what's the harm in trying to roll over? But He's really just trying to keep you from putting your foot in a stinky mess.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"But I don't WANT to do chores!"

So I went to Confession last Saturday. When I tried to prepare for it, this is how it went:

"So, God, what sins have I committed?" Pride. "Hmm. I don't remember committing that one. Let's see, Ken was complaining about me arguing with him again, so I should probably confess that one. What else?" Pride. "Still don't remember doing that one. Oh, that's right, I've been spending too much time on the computer in the mornings, so that I didn't get a bunch of work done." ... few minutes later ... "Ok, anything else God?" Pride.

Eventually I noticed that pride kept coming to mind, even though I couldn't remember doing it. Even though it seemed like the thought was coming from myself, I thought maybe God was telling me something. So when the time came, I confessed that I'd been having a lot of temptations to pride lately and had probably given in to some.

And then the priest started talking about service being sort of an antidote to pride, and suddenly I was swept up in memories of recent moments where I'd chosen not to vacuum because I had something important1 I wanted to do, like working on Stories; or refused to take the Netflix DVD out to the mailbox because of my Irrefutable Logic explaining why Ken should be the one to do it; or chosen not to work on sorting the kids' clothes because it seemed too much like drudgery and not enough like something interesting. Ok, yep, I see the pride now, God. You want me to humble myself and do all the boring little drudge work that you've set before me. Check.

I wish I was always that cheerful about cooking.

Of course, now I can also see that God has been telling me this for awhile now. Earlier that day I'd been reviewing past messages from God, and thought to myself how all the ones about sacrificing ourselves for others weren't resonating with me. (They sure are resonating now!) A couple confessions ago - back during Lent, I guess - another priest had talked about how, as a housewife, I don't have much of a life outside the home, but I can be like his parents who did "household chores exceptionally well". At the time, my thought was "I do too have a life outside the home" - mostly because of my prayer group, and projects God gives me to do, like Stories and this blog - but that phrase, "household chores exceptionally well" stuck with me. So much so that I started a new note with that title, intending it to be a possible blog post about something God was telling me to do. It's still blank, because other than a brief flurry of trying to vacuum and sweep every day, it never went anywhere, and I started to think that maybe God hadn't been telling me anything, it was just my imagination. Apparently, I was wrong.

So, it's back to the grindstone for me. I'm going to try to go heavy on the organizing end of things this week, but ultimately there's a lot of chores that I need to just be willing to do over and over again for the long haul.

Help me, Holy Spirit, because I'm going to need it. I've got weakness aplenty - laziness and pride in abundance. Only You can get me through this.

1. Because we all know vacuuming is never important when you have an eight month old who likes to pick things off the floor and put them in her mouth.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do You Know What Fortitude Is Like?

I've been praying this novena to the Holy Spirit, leading up to Pentecost. On Monday, the daily reflection focused on the gift of Fortitude: (my emphasis)
By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear... .
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

I've been trying to put at least a minimum of thought into the daily prayers, but this Fortitude thing particularly struck me. It was like God was nudging me with his elbow and pointing to it.

That night, when I went to leave for my prayer meeting, the van was dead. When it had failed to start the previous Wednesday, I had figured an interior light had been on because a door wasn't shut completely. This time I could find no interior lights on, no doors not-fully-closed. Something was wrong. I resolved to call the mechanic the next day and got a ride from someone else to the meeting. When I got back, Ken jump-started the van again, and I drove it around awhile to charge the battery so I could make it to Elijah's two doctor appointments the next day.

The next morning, the van wouldn't start again.

And I thought, "Yep, I need that Fortitude now, God." My normal way of reacting to troubles like this is to feel completely panicked and try to hide out in the bedroom until someone else handles it. I've gotten slightly better at this sort of thing over the years, but it's still usually overwhelming to me.

Umm... pretend that one of those flowers is "Fortitude", so that this pretty picture has something to do with the post. And while you're at it, pretend Kyrie doesn't have something red on her nose that I don't know how to photoshop out. 
I prayed a little to calm myself down and figure out how best to handle the situation. I called the first clinic to re-schedule and then called the mechanics, who agreed to see me right away. I piled the kids in the van, and with the help of two neighbors I eventually got the van jumped again so that I could drive it to the mechanics'. The kids stayed in the van and munched on snacks while the mechanics took the battery out, cut back the very corroded wires, put new attachments on, and put it in a new battery. We were only there for a half hour or so before they had us all set to go. We even had time to stop by home for lunch before the afternoon appointment.

Thinking it over later, it wasn't just that things worked out so quickly and easily, although I appreciated that.1 It was that, throughout the whole experience, I was much less anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, and so forth than I would normally expect to be in a situation like this. Where I usually get caught up in the web of unknowns, I instead focused on resolving the next step. Where I usually hesitate to ask the questions that I am wondering about (Lord only knows why - maybe he'll let me know sometime), I came out and said them this time. A situation that would normally have deluged me was instead completely manageable.

So now I have a better idea of what the gift of fortitude feels like. And I will try to remember to ask for it, whenever I see that that is the one I need more of right then. Which might be often, because clearly it is not one that comes naturally to me.

1. Seriously, thank you God. And thank you mechanics. If any of you live in the Gresham area, check out D&V mechanics. They're awesome.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Discernment Is Never Easy

My 18-yo nephew came and spent much of the weekend at our place. This was the first time I'd met him.

At one point he asked me if we had any good books he could borrow for the train ride back up to Seattle. My first thought was Would you read a religious book? And my thoughts made their way, eventually, inevitably, to John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead, a book I want to recommend to just about everyone. In an attempt not to be pushy, I gave a sort of general description of our book collection - lots of sci fi, some religious books, some miscellaneous other things. He wandered over to the bookshelf; Waking the Dead caught his eye and he pulled it out and looked at it. He put it back, saying that he would have to read it eventually. I ended up pulling out one of my favorite sci-fi books to lend him.

Later on, I prayed about it, asking God if I should lend Waking the Dead to my nephew. (Why I was still worried about being pushy when it had already caught his eye, I don't know.) Then I looked for which decision brought me more peace. The sense that I got was 'no'. Part of me was not happy with that answer, but I figured it was just the childishly eager part of me that wants to leap before looking, the pushy part; better to trust God.

Then, at Mass on Sunday morning, the Ascension readings included the line, "May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened", a line that I very clearly remembered Eldredge talking about in his book. I had, in fact, been thinking about that line just that morning.

It was too much to be a coincidence. I resolved to lend my nephew the book.

I thought back to that feeling, that sense of 'no' that I had had about lending the book. And I found that I could believe that it was a false sense of peace, an imitation of true peace. The peace that I felt now was... not deeper exactly, but more overall. Less tinged with reservations, although, believe me, I wasn't going to be lacking in doubts, no matter what I chose. (Although I was reassured when my nephew decided to start reading it before the other books I lent him, and said the first 8 pages or so were awesome.)

This has happened before.

Repeatedly, I have found that whenever I start relying on any one kind of 'sense' about what God wants, it ends up steering me wrong. If I rely too much on opening the Bible to a random place; if I rely too much on a deep sense in my heart; if I rely too much on an overall feeling; if I rely too much on listening to others' suggestions.... eventually it will go wrong. Eventually, Satan will start imitating whatever thing I am relying on, to lead me astray. Instead, discernment seems to require a sort of never-ending vigilance and the willingness to admit I got it wrong.

Friday, June 3, 2011

PicVids - May 2011

I love her smile!


He's SO cute!

Yummy roasting pan!

Pile on dad time!

What better place to sleep than a doorway? 

Gabe was feeling left out of homeschooling time, so he went and grabbed the board and markers and said, oh so eagerly, "dah dah dush?!" [I think he thinks this means "can I do this?" or "what about this?" or some such]. I said yes and helped him get the general idea of tracing. And then I was amazed at how well he did.

Yeah, I was really impressed. Did I mention I was impressed? :)

Julie is totally dancing to the music. She rocks. Literally.

Nothing says "brotherly bonding" like game after game after game after game of high five.

And nothing says sisterly bonding like, umm, crawling over the top of your sister?

They were being extra cute, and then I got the camera out, and suddenly they were only mildly cute. Ah well, mildly cute is still cute.

I laid down with Jules and Savi & the rest came.
Julie fell asleep in the middle of it all.

I was amazed at Julie's ability to sleep through all the chaos going on around her, until she suddenly wasn't anymore.

Father-daughter bonding time, too. I guess we've been having a lot of bonding time lately, eh?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Food Is Not Always Life And Death

(This is the post that I meant to put up yesterday.)

So this is how I've been thinking about my food choices lately.

Will that dried milk powder give me cancer?
Will the additives in store-bought mayo harm my body?
Will it shave fifteen years off my life if I eat a lot of grains?

And so on. Having questions like that which are essentially impossible to answer, but which you feel like you need to answer, is a sure recipe for soul-killing anxiety.

I had prayed about this a bit, asking God for continued guidance on my food choices. Then the Home Dairy book that I mentioned before finally came from the library. And on one of the first pages, I read the following line:

"There are small, simple measures you can take to enhance your life while also caring for your family, community, and the larger world."1

It immediately struck me, in that "God is telling me something" way, and I realized that it was the answer to my dilemma. I need to think of my food choices not as life and death choices, but as small enhancements to my life. I'm not picking between poison and great food; I'm picking between good food and great food.

1. The quote was referring to the author's blog, Small Measure.