Friday, July 30, 2010

7 quick takes

We are at the end of hell week over here. 
This is also crunch time.  Travis has been working as hard as he can to finish the house enough so that we can host 20 some friends tomorrow at a party.  Ten of the them are spending the night - a fact that makes us happy - but we need carpet down, towel racks up, and railing installed.  I'd show you a picture of how disordered our house currently is, but the batteries are dead in my camera.  Shucky darn.

I should say that the progress we have made would not have been possible if my in-laws hadn't already dedicated hours of free labor, our siblings hadn't volunteered help, my mother-in-law wasn't babysitting the kids, and my mom hadn't spent all day working in the yard with me and helping Trav upstairs.

Now if I would just get off the computer and clean up the oatmeal I spilled on the floor 2 hours ago.  I'm such a lazy bum, especially compared to all the hardworkers who surround me.

Bennet is starting to kiss on a more frequent basis.  Great big, wet, open mouth kisses.  It's beautiful.

The baby in my womb seems to be shaking her head a lot.  It's an odd, but awesome, feeling.

What are your favorite songs to sing at church? 
 I have to pick out 3 songs for Mass on Saturday - an opening and closing hymn and one for the communion meditation.  I tend to lean towards more traditional songs like How Can I Keep from Singing?, Alleluia!  Sing to Jesus, O God Beyond All Praising, or The King of Love My Shepherd Is.  I think I'll do the Jesus, Jesus Canon for the meditation... but I'm just not sure about the other two.
Suggestions?  I'm open for some good praise and worship, too.

I turned 29 last Sunday.  It's a weird age - not a bad one - but the notorious 30 is now very, very close.

I have noticed that many of my peers (other stay at home moms with children under the age of 4) like to take their kids to parks.  In the summer.  In central IL.  Where it is 83 and humid at 10am.  Don't they know that parks are for spring and fall days?  Haven't they been told that summer days are for swimming pools or air conditioning?
Seriously, don't you moms know this?!
How do you do it?!  Were you hypnotised to believe that parks in the summer are fun?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weapon Of Choice

Remember this video? Sometimes I really miss 90's music.

Who compares to this man? The dancing, the SNL Blue Oyster Cult skit, Sarah Plain and Tall, the quirky way he talks...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to sit down in defeat? 

Where you're so tired and overwhelmed that you can't deal with the overtired baby and the toddler who asks for a popsicle every. half. hour?  One of those days where you are stressed to the limit and therefore lose all ability to parent like a normal person?  Where grabbing the side of the highchair as you yell, "I can't take this!  What do you want?!" seems like the only way to communicate with a ten month old baby who is so hungry he can't sleep but refuses everything?  Where you are so tired that you fall asleep for an hour and awake to find your toddler has gone outside to watch her father mow while she digs in the landscaping?  A day that is so bad you find yourself watching the 20/20 special on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, two shows you never watch, just so you can feel better about yourself and your way-less-drama-infused life?

You don't?

Neither do I.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You have NO idea how important it is to me that you read this and respond

I need help.

Do you see the cookies pictured below? 
These cookies are what I want my chocolate chip cookies to look like. 
Yes, I want thick chocolate chip cookies.
Yet, I ask you, am I able to attain this seemingly simple goal?
And it's really starting to get annoying.  

I have tried recipe after recipe.  I have purchased new baking soda and baking powder.  I have used Crisco sticks, butter and margarine.  I have used all three items at room temperature so that they blended perfectly into the sugars.  I have used more flour.  I have baked them a little longer.  A little less.  They have baked at 350 and 325 and 375.   I've let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.  10 minutes.  Not at all - just straight to the racks. 

What am I doing wrong?

Why, oh why do my cookies flatten after about 3 minutes out of the oven?

If you can tell me what to do, and it works, I will send you a prize.  Seriously. 
 I want cookies that not only taste good, but look good, too!  Come on, dear readers, help me to have this one thing in life!

I have a reputation for being a tad bit dramatic.  I have no idea why, though.  ;)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mass with Mother Teresa

Friday the Cathedral in Peoria was honored to host first and second class relics of Mother Teresa and celebrate a Mass with them present. 

I made it a priority to be there because of a deep love I have for Mother Teresa.  As a mother I am incredibly challenged by her service and capacity to love, especially during her long "dark night of the soul."  Her example has influenced and encouraged me in my mothering.  I am not called to pick dying lepers out of the gutter and clean their sores.  I am called to pick my crying baby out of the crib, change his nasty poopy diaper and then spend the afternoon feeding him, playing with him, teaching him, cheering for him, and keeping his sister from strangling him as she tries to carry him by the neck.  It is important to remember that what I am doing is just as noble, good and holy as what she did.

Of course, Friday morning there was so much to do (banana bread to bake, dishes to wash, a floor to sweep so my son's dinner wouldn't come off the floor as his lunch had - seriously important things, you see!) and by the time the kids and I were dressed I was ready for a nap.  I was not ready to go out in the heat, load up the kids, drive downtown and struggle through a long Mass with 2 kids all by my pregnant self. 

BUT, we went, and as we scrambled into a pew I almost started to cry.  Why?  Because I was overwhelmed by the presence of such a great woman of God.  Because I was overwhelmed by the heat, sleepiness, achiness, and my children.  I gave myself permission to sit through the whole Mass (it's too hard to hold squirmy 20+ lb babies while 8 months preggo) and I prayed for peace in my heart and mind.  I didn't really hear the readings, or the letter from the Pope, or the homily.  But I did receive the Eucharist and at the end all three of my children were blessed by and I was able to reverence a first class relic of Mother's. 

The holiness of God, permeating through the Sacred Host and the saint who loved Him so much, surrounded me.  The peace I had asked for came and it was all worth it. 

It is a beautiful thing to feel close to the men and women who are fully living life in Heaven.  It is a beautiful thing to enter into the Body of Christ and feel loved and cared for by God and His saints. 

Next time, though, I need to remember that first I must love God.  When God invites me to something I need to make sure that I am not wearing myself out beforehand, weakening my ability to love Him and be joyful at His event.  This is good to remember for Sundays.  Ooooh, Sundays.

Monday, July 12, 2010

fat kid syndrome and a touch of virtue

I have several friends who find it very helpful to use temperaments and Jungian personality types to describe themselves and others.  "That's just my melancholic coming out," they'll say, or, "It's because you're so extroverted."

I agree that there is a great deal of good that can come out of these tools, and it's quite fun to listen to the temperaments and see how well I fit into two of the them and Travis into the other two.  They can be really useful in understanding why people do what they do - especially when it seems so ridiculous to me.

But the downside of them, I think, is how pigeon-holed I can feel when I am labeled by others, like they have me all figured out.  So I thought I'd take this post to fill you all in on a little known fact about me.

I realize that I am bubbly, outgoing, and chatty.  (In fact, I've been known to overwhelm some people with my, ahem, outgoing-ness.)  However, please do not mistake my abilities to be friendly, welcoming, and share my feelings as my being extroverted.  I am, in fact, an introvert.

It's true.  I like things to be quiet.  I don't like talking on the phone.  I'd rather read a book or bake.  Solitary car rides are my favorites (most of the time).  Making small talk can be exhausting for me.  If I'm going to host a party, which I do enjoy doing, I need some alone time - even if it is just cleaning the house - so that I can prepare.  I have to build up the charm and energy to remember names, keep the conversation flowing and make sure no one is left out.  During that energy building time I don't want to talk to anyone.  And then, after leaving a party or mom's group I want silence, often riding in the car with the radio off. 

So, how is it, you may be wondering, that for someone who claims to want so much silence I can be so loud?

Well, I think it's two things.  The first is Fat Kid Syndrome.
Sometime in middle school I became a fat kid.  Fat.  And you know how it goes with fat kids, you either are nice and funny so people like you, or you get made fun of.  I somehow decided that I would be nice and funny and honed my craft through high school and even college.  I did fairly well, too, except for a few times when I had too many plates spinning and things came crashing down.  But I was never teased or mistreated, despite being some 50-60lbs overweight and a little on the ugly side. 

Fat Kids Syndrome came in handy when I lost weight - suddenly I was thin, pretty, nice and funny!  - and when I began a job in campus ministry and then in admissions.  I had fine tuned the skill of "being on" and I could make conversations with the most socially awkward of people. 

The problem with Fat Kid Syndrome is that with it I forced myself to be someone I naturally am not.  And because it was so tiring to keep up appearances I often ran on fumes, frequently feeling like I was one mess away from being - well - a mess.

The further into my vocation I go the further I get away from this.  I have let many friendships fade into the background because of the amount of effort it took me to fit into my role in that relationship.  I have redirected that effort into becoming better friends with a small handful of women around whom I feel more relaxed.  There is no need to impress them, no need to be funny, smart or perfect.  It is absolutely freeing.  I have also learned that I don't have to be liked by everyone (that's a hard lesson - one I'm still working on), nor do I have to be close with everyone.  And lastly, I've learned through the deep, fulfilling love of my husband and children that I can be loved for exactly who I am - and I'm even fat again!

The other reason I am often perceived as an extrovert is because I have made a deliberate attempt at the virtue of hospitality.  It is so important to appreciate people, to acknowledge their God-given dignity, and welcome them as I would Christ.  ("Do you want a rum and coke, Jesus?  Have a cookie!")  I already like to prepare food and have a clean house - I might as well serve that food to others as I welcome them into my home.  But more than that, I can sit by and visit with the person who doesn't seem to know anyone else at a friend's party.  I can introduce her to the other people I know, ask a couple questions, and get the conversations going.  (This is not to say that I'm a hit at every party, or overflowing with graciousness and good times.  Oh, no, no, no, no, no.)

Being hospitable like this has been a challenge for me (as growing in virtue usually is), especially as I committed myself to being genuine and laid back.  If things aren't perfect I can't freak out, stress out, or prophesy doom.  I have to shrug it off, laugh it off, forget about it, or do something else to let go.  This is all very easy to type and very hard to live.  But, it is still immensely easier than putting on a smile and trying to manipulate situations so people will like me.

In the end, I suppose I have come to better understand what St. Paul meant by "being everything to everyone."  I had always thought it meant slightly altering my authentic self to better meet the expectations of others, thus gaining their approval.  I now know it means being Christ to everyone - loving, kind and happy that they're alive - while still being true to who He has fashioned me to be. 

The glory of God is man fully alive.  St. Irenaeus
I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What? You don't like this song?

This video is dedicated to Karl, who thinks it's as great as I do...

LB, who first introduced me to TMBG in high school...

Melinda, who went to a concert with me in Madison...

and Lisa, who I think will like it and listen to the whole thing, unlike most of the other people who read this blog.

:) "I think I'm getting good, but I can handle criticism."

Friday, July 2, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

This morning the kids both awoke around 5am.  Trav brought Lydia to bed to snuggle (which she does every morning) and Bennet to bed to be handed off to me.  He snuggled up to me, giggled, looked at me and laughed.  It was so sweet.  Of course, unfortunately, I had to pee (like any good pregnant woman) so I handed him off.  One bottle later he was sound asleep again in his crib.  Two hours later everyone is still asleep.

Everyone is asleep, except for me.  I have a feeling I will be dragging by 10am, dead tired by 2pm and unwilling to get off the couch by 5pm.  Pray for me.

I made this apple coffee cake recipe this morning - the the beautiful quiet of the house.  I type this as it bakes, and the coffee brews.  I'm hoping my husband will awaken - completely delighted.  (Although he might not like the chunks of apple.  But he'll have to get over that because the apples needed to be used and there weren't enough for a pie.  Plus they negate the ridiculous amount of brown sugar in the struesel topping.)

Have you ever listened to Kate Rusby?  She's a British folk singer and she's one of my favorites.  I've loved her since I first saw the movie Heartlands - she provides many of the songs for the soundtrack and is even in the film.  One of my favorite songs of hers is Sir Englamore.  Listen to it - it's fun.
Kate has kept me company this morning.  She's delicious.

Next week I'll be giving a small talk to a small group of high school girls on receptivity.  I think I'll cover receptivity in prayer and through fraternal correction.  Any ideas on how to present this to high school girls so they listen.  Over the years I have become terrified of high schoolers.   

Am I the only parent who gets really annoyed when the following happens:
I take my kids to a public park and my daughter, who LOVES slides, heads straight for the tallest slide on the playground.  But 75% of the time older, bigger kids are hogging it.  They sit at the bottom or at the top, and they continually slide down, walk back up, slide down, walk back up - never getting off of it.  I know that for a 7-11 year old this is fun and safe enough.  But for my little 2 year old it is not safe and so I don't let her play there.  When I call out to her to not climb up the slide, as she follows a bigger kid, or to stay away from the slide I am also hoping that the parent of bigger kid will instruct their child to not climb the slide, to share with the little kids.  But they don't.  They look up, and then go back to their reading.  I find this rude  - it's a public park! - and usually we end up leaving early because all she wants is to slide on the slide I won't let her slide on.  (Follow that?)
Am I out of line?

Happy 4th of July to everyone out there! 
 God bless and protect our soldiers, give wisdom to our president, congress and judges, bring peace to our citizens.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4th of July craft

All right, folks.  This is as crafty as we get around here.  Lydia and I made fireworks like what we found on Catholic Icing.  It was fairly fun, once I was able to let go and allow her to put the strips of paper wherever she wanted, use too much glue, and shake out the glitter.  She even got to practice her cutting skills.  :)

Please note the amazing cutting skills of my daughter. 

Construction paper cut into strips.
I also cut out the inner circle of paper plates to use at the center of the firework.  All the strips of paper were glued to the paper plate centers.

We then dabbed glue on the ends of various strips of paper and sprinkled on glitter.  It would have worked a lot better with a glitter glue pen but we don't have any of those fancy things.  ;)

Next I traced some circles on printer paper and in the center wrote things like, "God Bless America", "Happy 4th of July," and "Immaculata Pray for Us" (since Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patron of the US and our country needs all the prayers it can get!).
Last step was actually decorating with them.  I'm not sure if they look like fireworks or not, but they add little splashes of color and patriotism around the house and both of those are good things, I think. 

Daily Dose of Cute