Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Mommies Can be Part of the Solution

Mommy Blogging Resolutions

This is a wonderful,  thoughtful article on how we need to re-evaluate our discussions, evaluations, and conversations concerning the *mommy wars*.

I've listened in on conversations between newer generation mommies (most notably the mommies of my grand babies and friends of my oldest daughter) and, as I hear their struggles and desires, I realize there is no place for the mommy wars.

No room for more friction, more guilt, more judgment, more strife.

The job (which really isn't a *job* at all) is too time consuming, too stressful, too large for us to *mother* alone.

We need the grandmas who walked before us. We need the aunties who are jolly and refreshed. We need the husbands who support us. We need the men in our lives to tag-team. We need the uncles who do the hunting and fishing or gaming or swimming or monster trucking or sports watching when the daddy cannot or does not.

We need each other.

America has sold us the brazen idea that we do things independently and apart from family. But that is a false ideal.

Family is meant to be familiar with one another and with the needs of each.

We don't judge. We don't fall into false gossip. We simply do. We comfort. We listen. We offer a helping hand.

There is no room for mommy *wars*.

There is plenty of room for mommies helping mommies. That's the true calling of mommies: to be there for one another.

My friend Crystal shared the ideal her mother raised her with, "Don't be part of the problem if you can't be part of the solution."

It's become part of my mantra as a grandmother whether I'm assisting the daughter working outside the home or the daughter who has chosen to stay at home this season. I realize each one has something that the other one would like and they are both making life-giving sacrifices and I need to sympathetic to those sacrifices and not compare or judge but entrust their sacrifices to God and trust, not in my own strength or in their's but, in the will of God for them.

I've realized we truly orbit around seasons and the seasons of our lives evolve us into the mothers we become.

Are we, as mommies, assisting one another in the *war* to raise good, hard-working, compassionate children or are we fighting against each other?

How can we open the flap of our camp to that mother in the other camp? How can we help relieve the stress and pressure she finds herself under? 

How can we serve?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Get Ready to Bake Cakes in May

Picture Perfect Cakes in May

Click on the above link.
Get to your library and check out these books.
They all have recipes at the end of the story.
Flavor your children's childhood with stories, pictures, treats, and smiles.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One Person's Personal Decision to Carry the Gift of Light

Last year, Hudson's mommy went to her first Easter vigil with our family. It was a long, foreign and complex ceremony to her.
I'm not sure I explained it well. I wanted her to get close and see the Easter fire lit. The wind kept blowing the Easter fire out and the people were swirling everywhere. I wanted her to watch as they traced the year and touch the sacred wounds upon the new Paschal (Easter) candle. The church where we were was under renovation and the Easter Vigil Mass was held inside the church hall.

One cannot adequately explain the Catholic faith, it must be observed and learned.

I tried to explain, as simply as I could, the age-old traditions of our faith and how all the sights, smells, and bells are meant to transport us into a timeless realm, a sphere that takes us back in time: carries us through the Old Testament, lifts us into the New Testament and leaves us fully present in the here and now.

The Mass is actually the past and future of Christianity joined to the here and now.

"O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human."

Yes, kinda.
Think of it like a time capsule vehicle for the transportation of the soul, if you like.

When I failed in explaining, I  made an intentional decision to sit back and let Holy Mother the Church show her and let the Holy Spirit lead her.

This year, as the sun set on a world void of salvation and lost in darkness, my son's future bride entered the church with the light of Christ leading the way into a darkened church and then a slow yet steady ripple of light swept throughout the dark church as she (along with all the other faithful) lit smaller candles inflamed by the light Christ until the darkened church was filled with many other souls promising to carry the light of Christ from the safe confines of this holy building out into a dark and hostile world.

She probably still doesn't realize the immenseness of her decision to enter our faith and to follow that light.

But, this year, it was the night she reached out and touched at a cloak, a presence, a being that could offer her something that nothing on this earth can give her.
* * * * *

"This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.
"This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.
"This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace and joining them to his holy ones.
"This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.

This is the night, of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty."
~ From the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet)
* * * * *
This daughter (as our daughter-in-love did two years ago) walked in the footsteps of countless catechumens before her, accepted the mark and seal of every Christian, and believed that one small light could conquer darkness. We pray she uses this gift of faith wisely and lives it with joy.

"Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night."

When I asked her in one of our many discussions, why she desired baptism into the Catholic faith, she told me it was something she had always desired and she most especially wants it to be part of a faith her baby's daddy and she can pass on to their child and any future children.

This is part of how we pass on the Faith of Our Fathers. We cannot give our children anything else, anything less. We leave them with a tremendous host of prayer warriors in the communion of saints and we trust in God's mercy.

Please pray to her patron guardian St. Frances of Rome to grant her wisdom and discernment and joy in the Lord always. Prayers as they prepare for their up-coming wedding this September.

As I wrote two years ago with our other daughter-in-love, I write today about Tavyn...

"That our whole family is blessed because of one girl's personal decision, that our family lineage is blessed because of a choice made, is a Paschal bonus, part of the Paschal Mystery. Some mysteries cannot be solved no matter how hard we analyze them, inspect them, and turn them over and over in our heads, hands, and heart.

Sometimes, in order to fully appreciate a gift, we have to let go of the mystery, place it back in God's hands and ...

Be Still!

For me, this has been a part of God's business and I am hesitant to question His business.
Afterall, gifts should leave our hearts full of thanksgiving, not questions."



Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Tale of Another Basket

Hey! Look!
One of those basket thingys.
It's so pretty.
And there's candy in it.
And chocolate!

If I could just pry it open a teeny tiny bit.
What did you say?
This basket isn't mine?
What do you mean Mommy made it for Callen?

This Easter business is not all it's "cracked" up to be.
I'm just sayin...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What's So Magical About Motherhood Anyway?

This little video has gone viral.
Have you watched it? You'll have new respect for the "job" known as mother.
"Being able to work in a chaotic environment" is probably my favorite description of all.
And the mere fact that moms multi-task is an understatement.
But amidst the piles of laundry, the interrupted nights, the lost lunch hours, the no-coffee break options; there is bliss found in motherhood as Genny Heikka has written about that bliss.
In finding Mommy bliss Genny tells us where and how to find the bliss that can elude even the most experienced mommies.
In her new book (due out next week in time for Mother's Day, (<wink! wink!>), Genny helps us all identify where we are in the journey, calms us to not rush that journey, shows us how to relax, laugh, get back to basics, love really and truly, and to reach out. All of these things are chapters, tools or, as Genny calls them, simply *Tips* to help you find the mommy bliss and navigate the emotions.

In finding Mommy Bliss, Genny ends each "Tip" with a Mom-to-Mom question for you to ponder and dig deeper followed by a Heart-to-Heart quote from Scripture which is where we should always take every Tip given to us and ask the Lord what He desires of us in this journey. She ends each section with a prayer of thanksgiving and a sigh of self-worth to the God who created all mommies and daddies and their little ones. Sprinkled throughout each Tip of each day (or each week if you desire to read it at a slower pace) is a summary in dusky blue of how to "Be More Blissful" during those moments you crash with exhaustion onto the sofa to offer another feeding, or as you weep into bed with eyes half-open at night, or when you only have three minutes at the gas pump which filling up your tank. You can read these dusky blue tips, read the Mom-to-Mom, pray the Heart-to-Heart and the Prayer and be good to go until you find time to read the rest of the chapter.
I admit I'm still reading the book. I'm not finished, but I'm excited. Excited at the possibility these words and tips give new mothers and experienced mothers, mothers like my two daughter-in-loves who are in the dusky blue muck and bliss of it all.
Genny's book is a win-win. It can be read in the time being, not yesterday, not tomorrow but right where you are today. That's because she's a mother of two who is journeying mommy bliss alongside of you. She has lots of thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions, prayers, questions, answers, and tips to share and she doesn't want any of us to feel overwhelmed.
I first "met" Genny Heikka on Facebook when she began recording her Part Time Author Podcasts. I had come to the realization I was only a part-time writer, a writer who had another part-time job as well as being a full-time, very focused mother. I was snatching at straws to realize my dream and lifelong goal when, from the depths of FB buzz, Genny reached out and touched my need. On car rides, when my girls weren't fighting over songs on the radio or I wasn't singing to a grandbaby in the backseat or having a heart-to-heart conversation with a hormonal child, I listened to Genny and Aaron romp and laugh and gleefully share the bliss of being a Part Time Author and I fell in love with Genny's enthusiasm over her parenting and her writing and her love of family, life, and faith. She showed me that bliss is within arm's reach; we only have to burrow a tunnel through the laundry pile sometimes (and pretend it's a tunnel into a hobbit dwelling), to find the bliss of it all.
Reading finding Mommy bliss was a no-brainer for me because I knew Genny's voice long before I heard it on paper. She has truly found bliss in all her untakings and she shares that bliss so enthusiastically.

Would you like to meet Genny?

"Most of all we just want to be good moms."
"Love the mom that you are."

I have no doubt that Genny Heikka can help stop the Mommy Wars. I have no doubt at all.
We can all find those magical moments of mommy bliss together.
Care to join my daughter-in-loves and I in finding Mommy bliss?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Movies for Holy Week

Tonight's movie and tomorrow's because our eyes were heavy once we got to intermission:

The Ten Commandments (an old faithful)
The Way (just found last year and jump started me into a slight obsession with making one of these pilgrimages somewhere, someday)
Ben Hur (my husband's personal favorite)

The Robe (Excellent)
The Passion of the Christ (but of course)
{More to Come}

Balancing Our Children in an Off-Balanced World

"Modern parenting is creating a generation that’s not going to be able to function in society." ~ Stephanie Metz

I seriously would like everyone's input about this article:
Why My Kids are NOT the Center of My World

I see both sides of the coins. Quite frankly, if all my children and grandsons were taken from me tomorrow, I would loose my purpose--my center--in life. They are my world, the center, no less.

Yet, I understand what the author is saying as well.

Though I had a relatively easy childhood, a good education, loving parents, good friends, and good health; I learned about the school of hard knocks. My parents loved me and cared for me and have always been there for me but they never let me think that the world revolved around me. That would have been a disservice to my spiritual growth.

My father, born in 1931, would probably agree with the above article. He says we (the country) are raising children to think they are all that and who, in turn, can't function in society.

He says he was bullied and didn't contemplate or attempt suicide.

He roamed the streets of our town countless hours unsupervised and all the business owners knew him by name.

He played basketball games when neither of his parents came because they were working. He didn't let it stop him from playing.

He talks about not being able to make his college graduation because he got drafted to Korea but he doesn't mourn the loss of a walk down the stage because his country demanded something more of him.

He recalls having been electrocuted at the age of twelve and developing tuberculosis while in Korea, then he tells the story of seeing a young crippled child attempting to walk down the hospital hallway, stopping, and whining to be held and the parent insisting she had to walk the length without any assistance. Opa always ends his reflection with, "And I realized that I had nothing to complain about."

He remembers having to go and get his father off the barstool because he was too drunk to drive home, but Opa does not tell people outside the family those memories. He tells only the good things his father did for him.

Life is too short for pity-parties, would probably sum up Opa's view of life. dad was a child of the Great Depression. They were born tough back then. truth...he made sure that he was present to my brother and I every night and present at all our activities. He did not raise us to experience the same hardship he experienced. He worked long hours at the post office to provide a nice living for our family. I remember the smell of papers and newsprint on him, never alcohol.

But now he shakes his head at the world around him. He's 82 and he doesn't understand it anymore. He gives standing litanies about the ruin of the young people until his granddaughter, the RN on the oncology floor who is as practical and even-centered as Opa himself, asks him if he's saying she's not compassionate or hard-working enough. Is she not caring enough?

And Opa pauses, at a loss for words.

He has eight hard-working, compassionate grandchildren who care for him. He did something right. They are what he leaves a world he is disillusioned with. They are what he leaves a cynical, uncaring world.

It isn't sappy or weak to be kind. It takes courage to be the good Samaritan. But to allow our children to think they are the latest and greatest?

Well, Christianity has taught that each of us are individually unique and worthy and beautiful, created in the image of God Himself.

How do you argue with truth?

But when you get to the point of thinking we are entitled? or too fabulous to fit in?

A reality check is necessary.
A reality check that reminds us that the person irritating the hell out of us is as individually unique, worthy and beautiful in the sight of God and was also created in the image and likeness of God.

I do believe it's necessary to raise our children to be kind and compassionate and well-grounded and well-rounded.

Sometimes...oftentimes...we are taught to be kind and compassionate more by the cruelty of others than from being told to have good manners. Someone is cruel to us and someone else soothes us.

Which one teaches us?

Life, it teaches us.

It is my duty to be the comforter, the one to sooth, the one to listen and understand. That's my job. Yet I want my children to know that while they are the center of My World, they are not the center of The Whole World.  There should only be one center for all of us and that is Christ Himself.

It's in the home we should find the comfort and kindness that a hurting world does not give. I've often said that if I don't have my child's back, if I am not their best advocate, no one else will be.

And the reality is that many children go home to a house rather than a home.

The world hurts them and so does their families. That's not fair.

Then again life is not fair.

I'm also not a fan of competition. Tell this to my child who thrives on competing. For me competition can become very ugly, very quickly. Yet, the older I get, the more I see that it has its place in the world. I'm still on the fence about it though. I've never seen much good come from competition. Even yesterday I shared with my daughter-in-loves how much I still detest Easter egg hunts though I've taken my children (and now my grandsons) to egg hunts every single year.

Where's the sanity?

I guess I figured a good Easter egg hunt would toughen my children better than I ever would (or could). That's probably why.

The one thing I try to focus on with my children (something we all fall subject to, myself included) is the complaining spirit. There simply isn't room for it and no one else wants to hear it. One of my children has a harder time with this ugly spirit than the others. She has always wrestled with harnessing in the complaining spirit. But she's not grown yet. We're still working on it and, in time, she'll learn that the world has no room for that kind of thing. I've seen a vast improvement with her reigning it in in the past year or so.

But I have to reign my flaw in alongside of her. I have to show her by example how to do it.

My question is which side of the coin do you agree with?

It is joked about that the best parents don't have children yet. We see the justice-call and the toughing-it-up very well before we become parents; then a little innocent, helpless image of ourselves is placed into our harms and we become the soul-protectors, no longer the judges.

Part of placing our children in the center is only natural.

How do we balance our children in a world that is clearly off-balance?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

There is Always a Source

Jennifer Fulwiler wrote a good one here: The Saint of the NICU

My friend, who is the caretaker of our prayer line, brought it to my attention. It's how we, as Christians view our world and our interaction (and that of other's) within it.

There is a source, whether we see it or not, whether we know it or not, whether we recognize it are not, whether we accept it or not....

There is always a source.

* * * * *
"I have no doubt that God worked through my dad during those harrowing two weeks. But I’ve always hesitated to say that, because my dad doesn’t believe in God.
"I know that, to non-believers’ ears, saying that their actions were the work of God might seem to take the credit away from them. It sounds like we’re saying, “You probably would have been sitting on the couch eating Cheetos if left to your own devices, but luckily God made you do something good!”
"But that’s not how we see it.
"We believe that God is the source of all goodness and love, and that any time anyone chooses an act rooted in agape — pure, selfless love — its source is always God. It’s kind of like when you get water from your sink: you might think of the water as coming from a spout in your house, but if you follow it to its source, you’ll find that it leads to a great river, far outside the walls of your home. You may not have ever seen it, but if you’ve tasted the water, you know the river."
* * * * *

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sewing Thread

It began as a simple request.

I volunteered to teach Home Ec 101 this year to a group of junior high girls. I ordered A Girl's Guide to Home Skills from Catholic Heritage Curricula and began planning hospitality introduction, cleaning skills, Holiday centerpieces, interior decorating activities and cooking...oh, lots of pinterest-y cooking activities.

We had speakers come in to discuss and answer questions about real estate, home interior, home businesses, Pampered Chef demonstrations, stay-at-home discernment, etc.

I willingly planned a year's worth of luscious homemaking-ness and avoided nothing...

...nothing, that is, except sewing.

Since day one they wanted to do a sewing project. The girls took me down kicking and screaming.

All the girls wanted this except my child. She had been through enough sewing projects with me, as her mother, to know that we don't finish sewing projects.  I can still point you to the unfinished aprons begun in girls' club and the I-don't-even-remember-what-it-was-supposed-to-be item begun 4H to prove my point.
My daughter knew.
And she never asked for us to sew.
And so this (non-sewing) home ec teacher was going to appease these eager future homemakers.
I turned to the only people I could trust with my fatal flaw and I rallied the troops.
I'm very grateful for those friends troops. ;-)
Tammy, Jill, Susan, Brandie, Cheryl, Janise, and one grandma saved us from myself.
This is what our co-op is all about. Mothers helping mothers.

Friends assisting friends.

Friends helping their friends' daughter learn a new skill and gain confidence.

Even my son-in-law's aunt homeschools and came to our aid with her sewing machine and skills.

This is what we made and the pattern for it: ConKerr Cancer Pillowcases

The girls left the sewing experience all super pumped to make more pillowcases, not only for cancer patients gifts but birthday gifts for their friends as well.

Today one of our elementary friends was having surgery and not at co-op. The children at co-op have prayed and made homemade cards for her.

Together, the girls in junior high Home Ec decided to sew her a pillowcase and all sign it before presenting it to their little friend.

It warmed my heart as I stood in the Home Ec room hearing them eagerly tell me of their plans for one of their own.

Children manifest love so well.

It took only a demo from the head sewer to drag me (kicking and screaming) back some 30+ years ago to my one year of junior high Home Ec and the one dress I sewed, to spur me into confidence and renewed sewing enthusiasm until...

...until the bobbin gets knotted again.  I'm just sayin'. ;-)

Because I did sew, ages ago. And I really did lots of iron on appliques and t-shirt painting and embroidery and crochet when the babies were babies.

They haven't been babies for many a moon.

Once I sewed a purple short set for Kayleigh when she was about seven. It turned out darling.
The top was near perfect and my husband was so proud of me.
The shorts had to be hijacked by my seam ripper and turned over to my best friend for her to repair damage control.

Sewing requires patience.

I lack patience. I admit it with humility.

It's also something that stirs my dandruff and I simply don't want my girls remembering that side of me. So grandma's sewing machine has been gathering dust in a closet.

Since Oma and Nanny Lanell (and Meme before them) all sew, it's too easy to turn the reigns over to them. Sewing classes with the girls have been brief and erratic.

And I'm not saying this has cured me us...

But it was a wonderful experience...for both of us...and I'm so grateful for our lovely group of personal homemakers that helped make it happen.

The joy on Annie's face was thanks enough for me.

We're open to ANY easy-peasy sewing projects.
And good sewing machine prospects as well. Our only sewing machine that still works belonged to Annie's great-great grandmother and Meme's good sewing machine has a needle that is stuck forevermore.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

One Small Good in a Hurting World

Reading this disturbed me. Probably more than the article is the reality that we see out there.
We all have it within our communities, our schools, our society, our offices, our homes, our families. The truth is nightly clicked onto screens across the world.
"I probably wouldn’t be in business as a psychiatrist if parents did a better job. My strong opinion is that flawed, and, often, disastrous parenting is the single most powerful cause of psychiatric illness in the world."
While I see and hear daily the truth of this, I think it is up to FAMILY to commit and assist one another and make sure the child is getting some type of stability somewhere, somehow. Not only from just one-person-in-the-family but from a mixture-within-the-whole-family.

We are all damanged creatures.

I can't focus on the world at large. I have to focus within arm's reach.

If you see something wrong, or someone doing something wrong within the family, take it to the FAMILY. Get outside intervention if you must, but take it to Christ first.

If all you can do is pick-up that child from school and bring him/her to ball practice or dance practice one day a week, it helps to lessen the stress.

If all you can do is take that child for an ice cream cone on a random free day, it helps to reach out to the child.

If all you can do is give the mother a Starbucks gift card, it may help to unburden the child of one stressful episode.

If all you can do is keep a child one night, you have helped the parents to get one good night's sleep.

No one is saying you have to do it all...though many do, or at least try to.

One small thing can bless a long way.

It takes a FAMILY...people who know and love the ugly amidst the beautiful...people who are richly invested in one another...not a stale, neutral, sterile government who sees nothing but money.

"Are we really going to invest the resources to go get those kids, drag them out of their houses and put them in psychiatric group homes run by the state?  Would shattering those families really be the way to optimize the future well-being of the children involved?"
Our families define us. The good and the bad. But at the end of the day it is that one small good that was done that defines the day.
How can FAMILY help?
Start with your family first. At the end of the day, it's all you have.

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