Friday, April 30, 2010

Seeking (and Finding) Peace

Not all that long ago, when I was a mother to an energetic toddler and no one else, I really struggled. Not because I was so busy, but because I was so...not busy. You see, I had this idea that every waking moment, I should be doing something productive. But my house could only get so clean, and my particular toddler wasn't ready for integral calculus. He seemed happy enough piling things on the coffee table, and reading an endless supply of books with his mommy.

But shouldn't his time be directed into doing more learning activities? Shouldn't we be going to a daily playdate? Really, shouldn't he be getting more socialization? What, oh what was I doing wrong? What was I missing? And why did I feel like I never had any peace? Hobbies I had before enjoyed, I stopped doing. I was paralyzed with guilt. I began to understand why a mom would want to go to work, so someone else could entertain her children. But the thought of sending my son with anyone else sent shivers up my spine. So, I consulted myself with watching out the window for my husbands car to pull up at 5.

I remember emailing the writer of a blog I adored asking for advice. What am I supposed to be doing with this child of mine? I wrote. I never received a reply, and at the time I was a little offended. But now, I think no answer was probably best. Because I needed to find out some truths on my own.

Now I am a mother to an energetic three and a half year old, and an equally energetic seventeen month old. And we still have down time, and my house can still only get so clean, and as much as I've pushed him, Fritter is still not ready for integral calculus. But I've learned that the peace I have so often prayed for has been within reach all along.

What's changed? My expectations mostly. Learning to stay in the moment. And realizing that it really is ok for me to sit back and read a book, or play my guitar. And when I do, my children usually run in with drums and xylophones of their own. I won't always have this time. My children will soon enough grow up, and I'll be running them to soccer and dance lessons. And I look forward to that time...and I don't.

Because right now, my children are mostly happy, and when they are not, that's ok. Because, really who is happy all the time? And is it my job to make them happy, or to love and comfort them and guide them to heaven? I no longer strive to entertain them all day. And I bask in admiration for the ingenuity of my seventeen month old who delights in putting and taking blocks out of a bucket. Because she is learning, and entertaining herself. And how privileged is she that she has the time to do that? And I love knowing my son has enough time to climb to the top of his jungle gym and stare at the clouds and daydream. And when we go to playdates, it's because we want to, not out of any sense of guilt that my children aren't getting enough.

We do not usually have noise going on in the background to drown out the silence. I turn the radio or iPod on when I want to listen, and then off again when I'm done. The noise we make is our own, and sometimes it's fairly quiet. And peaceful. It's in these moments, I'm allowed to hear the birds in the backyard, or someone mowing their lawn. Or, best of all, the happy sound of my children playing.

I'm only the mother of two right now, and I have much to learn. But I have found my peace.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worth Reading

This post is something I needed to read today. Here's a little teaser:

You see, I am a mom. And we moms have hit upon a secret. We have experience and know this secret firsthand. It is the key to our happiness, but also to our sanity.

Our bodies are not our own.

While you are there reading, won't you wish dear Nutmeg a happy birthday?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

God's Grand Canyon

We had a wonderful visit with my mom while she was here this weekend. We decided on Saturday to make an impromptu day trip to the Grand Canyon, because no one had ever been there. Can you see my death grip on Fritter?

It really is marvelous. And this was such a nice time of year to go. No traffic, easy parking, and the colors! The red canyon walls stood in contrast to the green of spring. For a short moment, I had Fritter all to myself. As we stood gazing, I mentioned to him that God made the Grand Canyon. He asked me, "Did He paint it?" What could be more beautiful than something God painted Himself?

I was truly nervous most of the time we were away from the trail, though. I just kept imagining the unimaginable. What if someone slipped? My husband, thankfully, was able to take full advantage of the view and spend quality time with Fritter.

What that picture doesn't show is the scared mom grasping at whatever control she could find.

It was a short visit, but well worth it. We are planning another trip there when we have more time to visit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who Am I

Some days are music days. This song speaks to my heart.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Days Like This

My day...
Their day...

I'm thinking of baking some cookies. I love days where we have nowhere to go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cast Is Off!

And I fainted when the doctor took it off. I don't know why, and I am now being laughed at by my sensitive husband. ;-) But, it's off and I was able to wash and lotion my arm. Yay! I still have to wear a brace during most of the day, and I do have to do physical therapy twice a week for the next month. That will be no fun, but I eventually want the full use of my wrist, so I have no choice.

And now I am officially free and clear to restart my running program. So excited!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In The Eyes of the Beholder

I had just finished changing clothes to go to confession today, when I walked past Fritter sitting at the table drinking a cup of milk. With a milk mustache, he said, "Look at you! Mama, you're handsome."

My heart melted on the floor.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Francis - The Knight of Assisi

This is another quality video for children from CCC. We have watched a few of the other videos (A Guardian Angel Story and Nicholas), and so far Francis is our favorite. Really, who doesn't love St. Francis?

This movie starts by showing Francis deciding to go fight in the Crusade, but he becomes ill and cannot fight. Once home he goes to work for his father, and later hears God's call to rebuild his Church. Interestingly, this movie shows the struggling relationship between Francis and his father, who would prefer his son to be a merchant like himself. He cannot understand his son's strange devotion to God. When Francis takes his father's material to sell it to rebuild the church at San Damiano, his father is very upset, and so Francis finds another way to get the needed stones. The video follows Francis as he starts his new Order, and is initially denied the Pope's permission. After a dream that Francis saves the Church, however, the Pope gives Francis his blessing.

My three year old son enjoys this movie very much, and talks about how the animals help Francis build the church. I love that it includes the prayer of St. Francis, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace..." And like most CCC movies, it is a short 30 minutes. Just perfect for an after nap video. I would recommend this movie really for all ages of children (or adults). It is not as in depth as maybe older children would enjoy, but could serve as a good introduction to St. Francis.

I am very thankful for CCC, who provides such good alternatives to the other "stuff" that is available. You can purchase this DVD here.

I wrote this review of Francis for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for First Communion Gifts. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.
I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cultivating My Green Thumb

I got my confidence up after flipping through Gardening Basics for Dummies. I set out and bought a pretty pot, filled it with ready made flowers and soil, and put them in front of my house. I gave them water, and prayed they wouldn't wither and die because I looked at them. Guess what? They're alive! And blooming! And so very, very pretty, don't you think?

Don't mind the poor dilapidated bush off to the right of the doorway. We moved him from the backyard to the front last year in the heat of summer, and he's never quite recovered.

You see my friends, I am a plant killer. I forget about watering, or I water too much, or I stand too close, and my plants die. I have a clover plant that was big and beautiful and green that I was given when I very first moved on my own. I still have it. Well, kind of. I don't know why the thing hasn't given up yet. It's had these same two leaves for six months and nothing more, and it looks like I've lost one. Poor thing. That one I remember to water when he doesn't say hello to the sun anymore.

I also bought seed packets for the front yard, dug up some of my husbands grass, and planted them. The packets said "Guaranteed to Grow". They haven't yet. Have I mentioned I have a patient husband?

The parsley, cilantro, and oregano are sprouting nicely. I'm worried about putting them outside though. These guys are doing so well, that they really can only go downhill.

The cosmos I planted are doing well. Maybe we'll have some flowers out of these guys yet. That packet also says "Guaranteed to Grow" and they are also "Drought Resistant". Guess they knew I'd be buying them.

Our very sweet neighbor across the street has gorgeous daisies growing by her mailbox. I once told her that her yard was my favorite on the street, and last evening while I was at my prayer group, she came by and gave us some of the daisies she had uprooted for our yard. I'm told they are hardy and will spread like mad when I plant them. We'll see.

In the tree in our front yard, my husband found a dove's nest. Do you see her patiently sitting on her eggs? So pretty!

The best thing about that kind of nature is that as long as I stay away, things will most likely turn out. ;-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Typing With One Hand a pain. Thus the crickets you've been hearing around here. I had surgery on my wrist last Wednesday and didn't realize I would be in a cast for two weeks afterwards. A big ugly one. With tape on it. You know, you would think that the doctor or nurse or whoever wrapped this up would have taken the time to at least make it look halfway decent. Instead I look like the kids went crazy with packing tape on my arm. ;-)

And everywhere I go, people ask what I did. I know, they're being nice. And they're being curious, which is fine too. But still. I'm thinking I'll just keep wearing long sleeves even though we're in the 80's. ;-)

You know what I look forward to most? Washing my hand. Really scrubbing it. When I came out of surgery, I had iodine up to my elbow. They must have just dunked my hand in a bucket of the stuff. And I can still see some of it peaking out at me from the inside of my cast. This arm is going to need a thorough soaking.

I know, I'm complaining. And I shouldn't. The nice lady at the grocery store checkout told me she once cut her tendon by her thumb and had to wear a cast for two months, and couldn't use that hand at all. I have a cast for two weeks, and have full use of my fingers. Well, not full. I can't really type. I'm amazed at the things that require the use of the wrist. Sweeping? I never really thought about it, but the hand that isn't really in charge of the broom is still doing a whole lot more than just holding on to it.

So, I know I shouldn't complain. I've got it easy. Sorry. You can go about your day now.

*Edited on 4/7: I realized I never mentioned what happened. I had a minor surgery to remove a cist on my wrist. ;-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday

Waiting patiently for the lamb.

Maybe not so patiently. This is reality after all. ;-)

*These pictures were actually taken Tuesday night, which I talked about here.