Thursday, March 24, 2011

Puppy, Love

We settled on Bosco for a name, and we love it.  It seems fitting for a feisty little pup like him, and is such a strong and manly name, it almost gives the illusion that Mr. Smith got the St. Bernard he always dreamed of, rather than this hypoallergenic ball of energy.

Puppies are exhausting!  I almost can't keep it straight, who I have in my arms, the toddler, the infant or the puppy!  And trust me, there's always someone in my arms.

One of the reasons (among many) that we wanted to bring a dog into our home, was for Isaac.  I know I said I'm going to write about his speech progress, and I will, but we've seen that dogs are good for him when he's been around my sister's puppies lately.  So far it's been fruitful.  He says dog, good boy, c'mon, and even attempted his name a few times.  But when it came out "Bobo" the other boys made him self-conscious by fawning over the cuteness of it.  He's sticking with "Dog" now.

And on that topic, I have to record here Isaac's latest, and my favorite of all, speech accomplishment.  Yesterday morning, as I carried him around the kitchen gathering items for his breakfast, I told him I love him for the first of a thousand times in the day.  He leaned into me and said something back that sounded an awful lot like "I love you too".  With Isaac, you can't make a big deal out of it.  He's a stubborn little thing, and if he thinks you want him to do something, that's the best reason he can find not to do it.  I kept quiet about it and didn't hear it again yesterday.

Then this morning, same time, same place, same routine, I said it again and listened closely.  This is what I heard:  "Wa bo dew".  In a sweet voice, with a sweet smile, and love in his eyes.

Sometimes grace comes in very small packages.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Newest Addition

...he's a 7-week-old cockapoo.  Won't you help us name him? --------------->

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How We're (not) Celebrating

Warning:  The following statements may fall into the category of TMI.

Peyton started heaving his insides out on Tuesday overnight.

He continued most of the day yesterday.

I didn't do much St. Patrick's Day prep.

By this morning he was feeling much better.  I was able to run out and pick up a few things for shamrock shakes and limeade (and popsicles for Peyton), hoping to pull something festive together.

Then, this afternoon, Isaac's insides presented themselves to me on a silver platter.  (actually, on the kitchen floor.)  And about a dozen times over since.

I did start the day wearing green.  But that was at least 4 shirts ago.

More importantly though, our St. Patrick statue made it to our home altar, and we managed to read our St. Patrick books.

And in an effort to be grateful for ALL things God puts in my life (I am reading One Thousand Gifts, after all), I am finding things to thank Him for, even in the midst of unpredictable illness:
  • for the ability to care for my children, and do it well
  • for so many tummies that are healthy the vast majority of the time
  • for humbling me to serve them, and, therefore, You
  • for a safe, clean, comfortable home in which to endure illness
  • for a husband who comes home and takes the baby so I can eat dinner with two hands
  • for the slower pace and low expectations that come along with a sick day
  • for my washer and dryer
  • for faith...that a new day will come, and it will all be okay
So it isn't what I thought it would be, but it is good just the same.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, and blessings to you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Random Updates

The Lenten cleaning is coming along, although not as smoothly as I'd prefer, of course.  A busy weekend + A fussy, teething baby = A messy house.  Oh well.  I'll post an update on our first two weeks later this week, and I also want to get a tally going on my sidebar for our 40 bag challenge.

Spring sports have begun.  Blake had his first track practice last night.  This is our first experience playing a sport with our parish's school team.  Praying it goes well and is a good experience for my sweet boy.  Soccer for two boys and then baseball for two coming over the next several weeks.  It's going to be a busy season.

Speaking of busy -- Isaac is starting a new endeavor with speech therapy.  I need to document his progress here, or I'll have no chance of recalling later how things went during this time.

Be back soon...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our Crucifix

We moved into our house almost 8 months ago, and we still have bare walls.  Well, not all of them, but a lot of them :o).

You know how it can be so difficult to bring yourself to put a nail in those pristine, neutrally-painted-to-attract-a-buyer, fresh, clean walls?

Not that I thought we'd leave them bare.  I just wanted to be good and sure about what I wanted and where.
The thing is, we didn't bring a lot here to hang, and buying wall art hasn't exactly been in the budget. 

We knew we wanted a crucifix though.  The largest one we owned previously was mine from my bedroom growing up, and it's about 6 inches tall.  It's above our bed, and really more suited to hanging over a doorway.  We wanted something that could stand on it's own on a wall in the living room.  We looked at Catholic stores and websites, but everything we saw that would work, and appealed to our taste, was so darn expensive.

I came across this one from
At first I thought it was too good to be true.  The more I looked at it online though, the more I thought about buying it.  The reviews on it are great.  It's the size we wanted (20 inches!), and far less expensive than even the much smaller ones at our local Catholic stores.  The material is actually resin, but fashioned to look like wood.  I took the plunge.

My only fear by the time I ordered it was that it would look cheap in person, but the reviews said otherwise so I went ahead with it.

It is breathtaking.  I can hardly believe this is my wall.
I ordered it on Wednesday and it arrived on Friday, very quick.  Their shipping is a bit steep, but I also ordered a Communion gift and a book, and it didn't go up, so I feel like I got my money's worth ;o).

If you're looking for a beautiful crucifix for a reasonable price, I highly recommend this one.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lenten Cleaning

During the first three days of Holy Week, Easter housecleaning takes place
in many Catholic communities. This is more than just another secular custom.
Its purpose is to prepare the house for the blessing by the priest on
Holy Saturday, and is an outward sign of the inner newness of soul of the family.
This meaning should be made clear to the children so that they may help prepare
the house for the Church's blessing. By Wednesday of Holy Week the cleaning
should be finished, and the remainder of the week should be considered as
semi-holidays. (from

There are six Saturdays during Lent, not including Holy Saturday.

When planning my Lenten cleaning, Saturdays are important because Mr. Smith is home.  I plan to organize my cleaning by the week, and  I know I'll have those Saturdays to finish anything I didn't get to Monday through Friday... even if it's everything.

Let's back up a little.  I recently made a checklist for our regular weekly cleaning.  I have each room listed, then the things that need to be done in that room itemized.  As we finish them, we check them off.  For example:

o   kitchen
o   sweep
o   vacuum
o   mop
o   clear/wipe countertops
o   wipe appliances
o   wipe cupboards
o   clean stovetop
o   clean high chair
o   clean out fridge
o   clean garbage can
o   finish dishes
o   empty dishwasher

It's a one page document and I print it out on Thursday morning.  We're generally home on Thursdays and Fridays, and I like to get a head start on the cleaning.  There have been times that we've finished everything on Friday, and that frees up our Saturday for family time.  During our regular chore times on those days, we chip away at the list.  Anything that's not finished has to be done on Saturday.  Of course, anything that gets done on Thursday morning is at risk of being undone by Sunday, but I had to come to terms with that long ago. The goal is to have all of that basic cleaning done well once a week, along with all the daily maintenance, and to have a peaceful, work-free Sunday.  It's never perfect, (there have been many weeks when "clean out fridge" gets a line through it, rather than a check mark next to it) but this system has helped move us closer to that goal.

So during Lent, I plan to keep up on our regular cleaning routine, as well as work on one extra area per week.  These are my dirty half-dozen:
  • basement utility area
  • clothing (sort, donate, organize)
  • basement play area
  • closets (linen, craft/sewing, foyer, shoe, boy's)
  • bedrooms
  • food (fridge, cupboards, snack cabinet, pantry shelves)
If we can tackle one of these areas each week, and keep up on our 40 Bags in 40 Days, I will feel pretty darn good about things come Holy Week.  My plan is to print our regular cleaning list at the beginning of that week, so that by Wednesday of Holy Week our home will be prepared for Christ's rising, and we can concentrate on preparing our hearts.

Week one is the basement utility area, and we only have three days now!  It's the most pressing, since it includes my laundry room, but also the closest to being finished, which is why I chose it for this first short week.  
So, that's the plan.  I will try to update our progress on Saturdays!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Beginning and The End

We celebrated yesterday, in true Mardi Gras fashion.  We Alleluia'd our lungs dry.  Blake played the chorus on the piano for 3 minutes straight, while the younger boys ran around, singing and dancing and screaming it out.  We ate donuts, we ate paczkis, we had pizza and king cake.  We played video games to our heart's content.  It was too much, but it was as it should be, for it was the end.
a less-than-perfect monkey bread version of king cake
The end of the indulgent season we've been living.  The end of ordinary time.  The end of the Alleluia.  At least for a bit.  We placed our golden letters into a purple bag.  And stapled it shut.

Today, the ashes.  The fasting.  The reflecting.  The quiet.  Mass this evening as a family.  All is as it should be.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Small Steps Together

From Elizabeth's blog - 2/28/11 :
"Just give up.

Give up me. All of me. Give up worry. And all my illusions of control. Do I really want to be in control anyway? Wouldn't it be better for all of us if God were in control? What is worry anyway? Can I hold worry and trust in the same soul? If my soul is filled with worry, if I am anxious about the things of this world, can it be filled with Him? If I am worried, am I really able to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness?"
From Small Steps - March 2 :

"Unhappy is the soul enslaved by anything that is mortal."  --St. Augustine

From my heart - March 2011 : 
It makes so much sense, doesn't it?  My brain and my heart get it, they know what I should do... and yet the free will, the habits, the weaknesses, that affect my daily actions are constantly working to the contrary.

I had a fairly typical day yesterday.  I was thinking after lunch, "this has been a really good day".  Mr. Smith got home, we ate dinner, and pulled out a family game to play.  I was slicing fruit up for dessert and the boys were getting the game ready at the table....when my mom called.  Let's suffice it to say it was not a pleasant phone call.  Something that was important to me, that I had worked hard on, had gotten really messed up.

I was angry with her, with other people involved, with myself for my part in it.  I was so upset, of course I got short with the boys.  I was close to tears, and over the top with anger.  I went off by myself, abandoning my family, to breathe (and seethe).  Mr. Smith was sympathetic, he understood why I was upset and he tried to talk it over with me.  I had been saying Hail Mary's and asking for peace, but it wasn't coming.

Then, I just made a decision.  I decided right then that I would not let it take this evening with my family away from me.  What had happened was nothing life-altering.  It was mostly vanity and annoyance that was eating at me, I realized.  Not good reasons to abuse my family.  So I told myself and Mr. Smith that I was over it, not going to worry about it.

At first I had to fake it, for sure.  My insides were still boiling, I just wasn't showing it anymore.  Then after a bit, the inside caught up with the outside and I started feeling more peaceful.  A little time brings a lot of perspective, and I knew by then that what had happened wasn't worth sacrificing a good day for.

So that's what I'm trying to do, to look for times when I can make a conscious decision to just stop, and change my path.

We can't expect not to hit those bumps, they'll always be there.  And our failed human nature will allow the initial flare up.  But there's always a point where we make a choice about how far we take it and how deeply it affects our day and our spirit.

Initially I'll still feel like I failed, just by letting something get in and cause a hiccup.  Victories are sometimes small and imperfect though, and a victory it is, to make that decision for the better.  We bless our families by sparing them, even if not perfectly or wholly.

When I bump into something that I can feel is getting me off track, I've been trying to keep this (sent to me by a friend with good timing), or something like it, in mind:
 "The accomplishment of the divine will is the sole end for which we are in the world."   --St. John Eudes 
Again, it's so much easier to stay on track when you keep your eyes on the goal.  I ask, "Is being upset,  worrying about this, or concerning myself with it at all, going to bring myself and my family closer to Christ, now and eternally?"  Most of the time, the answer is no.  Then I know what I need to do.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Everything in its Place

Dear Mr. Smith,

I'm so glad,
that your toothbrush,
is next to mine today.

Instead of in your bag,
in another state,
like yesterday.

From Home Sweet Home,
Mrs. Smith

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Lent: The Plan

-Fat Tuesday-
Mardi Gras Celebration:  Pancakes, King Cake, Paczkis (oh my!)

Pizza carry-out for the last time
We give up all food of any kind that's not from the grocery store.  No drive-thru coffee.  No fast food dinners.  No restaurants of any kind.  We don't eat out much at all as it is, but when we do it's very expensive for so many people.  This is a good way to save money, after all the over-indulging of the Christmas season, as well as a lesson in self-discipline and sacrifice.

Put away the Alleluia 
Our happy little golden letters.  They'll find their home again on our altar table for the Easter season.
King Cake 2010

-Ash Wednesday-
(fasting, abstinence)

Evening Mass, Ashes

Blake 2010

-Throughout Lent- 

Daily Divine Mercy Chaplet
Sunday Rosary
Friday Masses
Stations of the Cross

No restaurant/carry-out food of any kind
No candy
No video games
TV-free Fridays

Extra 10% from spending allowance to donate to charity
Gather food items to donate
Give time at food bank

Lenten Calendar
We've done one similar to Jessica's the past few years.  One of my favorite Lenten traditions.
Crown of Thorns
We've always done a braided salt dough crown with toothpicks for thorns.  We pull out a toothpick for each sacrifice we make during Lent, and when they're all out on Holy Saturday, we paint the crown gold and glue jewels on.  It's a great concept, but implementing it has sometimes been a pain.  The dough can get moldy by the end of Lent if it's too moist.  The toothpicks are difficult to pull out, especially if they're pushed in too deep to begin with.  We end up breaking them off, and are left with a somewhat dangerous crown in the end.  So instead of our original crown of thorns, which we would miss if it were absent entirely, I was absolutely delighted to see Charlotte's version.  I plan to pick up the things we'll need this week to adopt this new tradition.  
 I want to keep the visual and tangible reminder of our daily sacrifices though, which is why this year we're going to bring in:

Sacrifice Beans
An empty jar, a bowl of dried beans.  With every sacrifice made, a bean gets transferred to the jar, with hopes of all the beans being moved by the end of Lent.  We've done this before, using beads or stones.  What the children don't know is that those dried beans just might become jelly beans on Easter morning.  A sweet reward for their walk through the desert.

40 Days for Life
We'll be spending some time praying in front of an abortion clinic, with our local 40 Days for Life campaign.

Pretzel Fridays
The soft pretzel recipe in this book is awesome.  I think it'll be a fun tradition for meat-free Fridays.  
-Lenten Cleaning-
40 bags in 40 days
Is anybody else doing this this year?

...detailed Lenten cleaning plan to come!

 -Feast Days-
St. Patrick
 St. Joseph
The Annunciation

St. Joseph Altar 2010

-Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter-
...plans to come!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting Organized

It's time!
We've had such a busy/overwhelming/exciting/crazy year, that I've allowed myself to get really off track on a lot of things.  Other things, I've never really been on track with.
I feel an opportunity though.  At this time in life, lots of pieces have fallen into place, some of which have eliminated many of my excuses (crutches, really).  Right now:
  • I don't have a newborn.
  • I am not pregnant.
  • We aren't in the process of, or planning for, a move (now, or ever, God willing).
  • Our home has adequate space for our family.  Room for living, schooling, and playing.
  • I do not have to work outside of the home.
  • We are all healthy.
Now of course, this doesn't mean my life's a breeze.  I have lots of everyday challenges (tons of them!), don't we all?  But they're of the ordinary sort, the ones that I've taken on and accepted as part of my vocation, part of this life that God has called me to.  It's time for me to embrace my life's circumstances and incorporate them into everyday functioning.
What better time than Lent, right?  To prioritize?  Get rid of the muck?  Strip down to the essentials, to make room for grace?
Plus... I have no memory anymore!  I don't do baby books.  I'm terrible about printing pictures, much less getting them into organized albums.  I make lots of lists (many, many lists), but when the focus of the list has passed, it gets tossed!
In preparing for this coming season of Lent, I looked around to find the remnants of what we done in the past, and I found... nothing!  I don't have pictures, blog posts, lists of any kind.  Thankfully, my childrens' memories function much better than mine, and they remember everything.
So, after a brainstorming session with them, we have our Lenten plans mapped out.  I'd like to get them up here, in this ever-permanent little space of mine, so that next year we can build on our plan without having to start from scratch!
Blessings to you who still come here to visit me!  Bear with me as I try to make better use of this space!