Monday, March 28, 2011

Daily Routine

While doing my Monday dust-through, I pondered today on the need we creatures have for rhythm and routine. Nature has the seasons, night and day, the cycle of life and death. The Church has Matins, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline; Sunday Mass and Friday penance; Lenten fast followed by Easter feast. The home has dishes and laundry, bathrooms and shopping day, spring cleaning and holiday decorating. Day in and day out, year after year, world without end Amen.

This Lent, I have really been working on establishing my set routines. Before I did the necessary tasks, but it was on a catch-as-catch-can basis, and there were times I found myself wondering when exactly I last cleaned the kitchen floor or begging my husband to help dig me out of Mt. Washmore. It has really blessed our family to know that the laundry will be done, the kitchen clean enough to make a meal, and something planned for dinner for which all the necessary groceries are on hand. That alone is enough reason to have a routine, but I've found more time for leisure activities that rejuvenate me and make me a much happier and relaxed woman. When I've successfully done my routines in a day, it really does give me a sense of accomplishment.

Why do we thrive on this sort of order? Beyond the practical benefits of knowing that when you open the drawer you will find clean underwear, I think it is because in my own small way, creating this small ordered universe I call my home is a reflection of He who is perfect order. Not that my home is pefect! Haha, if you came in right now you'd find a still questionable kitchen floor. Of course it doesn't help that it's white. But it's definitely generally improved over past months. Aim for progress, yes? To conform to an outward discipline is generally good for the soul in strengthening humility and charity, two of the most essential virtues. I'm sure you can come up with your own examples as this relates to housework. It of course also applies to one's prayer life.

So here is my weekday routine. Like everything else, it is a work in progress. This is really more of an ideal. It's a rare day indeed that absolutely everything happens in this order, but even having the framework established keeps me focused and on task if you will. Anthony's naptimes are changing now; lately he's been having only one nap at midday.

Morning routine:
-Wake up 6:15
-Morning offering
-Shower, dress, fix hair and face
-Quick clean bathroom (spray down shower, swish toilet bowl, wipe down mirror, sink, toilet, and floor. This takes two minutes and my bathroom is presentable!)
-Head downstairs with hamper of dirty laundry, sort laundry and put a load in the washer (on delay start so Ryan can get his shower)
-Empty dishwasher
-Make breakfast, look over calendar and to-do list while I eat
-I generally hear Ryan in the shower about now, turn on the coffee.
-Make Ryan's lunch, wash dishes
-Anthony wakes up: morning nursing, get him dressed, straighten his crib. (You may have noticed making the bed isn't on this list--my wonderful husband does that!)
-Kiss Ryan goodbye (very important!)
-9:00 Mass (bonus points for walking)

Daytime routine:
-Anthony's morning nap around 10:30- prayer time and cleaning (I have a rotation for this, another post perhaps)
-12:00 Angelus
-Lunch around 12:30

Afternoon/evening routine:
-Put away laundry from earlier
-Afternoon nap around 3:00- Mama's fun time! Sewing, reading, or talk to a friend.
-4:30-ish pick up around the downstairs
-Around 5:00 start thinking about starting dinner; Anthony usually feeds himself finger foods while I cook.
-6:00 Ryan comes home, Angelus, suppertime
-Dishes, playtime
-8:00 bedtime for Bubs
-Rosary, time for Ryan and me
-Make sure kitchen's clean, start dishwasher. I've decided to run it every evening because it's so nice to start the day with all your dishes that you need clean. Luckily, we have a "half load" option to reduce waste.
-Pick out clothes for tomorrow, hang them in the bathroom
-Wash up for bed
-Prayer and bed. Going to bed at a decent time is the hardest part!

Monday, March 21, 2011

More babies!

I'm itching for another baby. Anthony needs a little brother or sister! I found this on another blog and thought it so good that I wanted to share:

The blessing of children is definitely underrated in our society and in our world. Here are some great reasons to add more children to your family.

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

1. Have another child to join with God in the creation of an immortal soul. Parents are given the incredible opportunity to assist God in the creation of an immortal soul. As the late Cardinal Mindszenty said, even the angels have not been given such a grace. “The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body...Even the angels have not been given such a grace! What is more glorious than this—to be a mother.” Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty

2. Have another child to bring joy into your life. There is no joy like the joy of welcoming another child into your life. You will marvel anew at how perfectly formed your little one is, and over how quickly you will fall head over heels in love with him. You will be enchanted with every tiny aspect of her appearance. The color of her hair, the shape of her nose, and the winsomeness of her smile will occasion endless happy debates about from which side of the family (yours, of course) she got that adorable trait. The birth of a child will bind you to God more tightly than ever before, in awed gratitude. “She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life,” Whittaker Chambers wrote about his new daughter in Witness. And in the lives of most of us. I thought that one day I would be a famous artist and create great works of art. Instead, God made me a mother,and my children are His masterpiece. The design of their lives will live on after me. What is painted on their hearts will last an eternity - Anonymous

3. Have another child to help end abortion. When Mother Teresa of Calcutta was asked by a young mother about the best way to proceed with pro-life work, she responded emphatically, “Have a big family. That is the best way to end abortion!” How this works is not difficult to understand. As children become more rare due to contraception, sterilization and abortion, whole segments of society become less and less familiar with the sense of joy and hope that only babies and children can give. In this climate, contraception and abortion feed on themselves, as the increasingly selfish few further reduce their number. By having another child, you demonstrate once again to the world that children are God’s greatest gifts. “Children build up the life of the family and society,” as Pope John Paul II has said. “The child becomes a gift to its brothers and sisters, parents and entire family. Its entire life becomes a gift for the very people who were givers of life and who cannot help but feel its presence, its sharing in their life and its contribution to the common good and to the community of the family.” The more children there are in society, the more pro-life that society will become, and the easier it will be for the great evil of abortion to be eradicated once and for all. “Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

4. Have another child to grown in holiness and virtue. For those who marry and have families, children are the primary means God uses to help them grow in holiness and virtue. Children teach their parents patience, perseverance, charity, and humility. They give their parents the opportunity to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They come into the world naked, and we clothe them, hungry and we feed them. Thirsty, and we give them drink. All of the things that we are required to do for the “least of these our brothers,” we do first and foremost for our own children. St. Catherine of Siena once had a vision in which God took her to a roomful of crosses and told her to pick one. St. Catherine went to the largest, heaviest cross in the room and would have chosen it. But God told her that it was not for her: That was reserved for the parents of large families. “Mary gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.” Luke 2:7

5. A) Have another child so your sons will have brothers and your daughters will have sisters. Children who have siblings learn early to share. They learn to take turns and to put the needs of others before their own. The bond formed between brothers and sisters is lifelong, and stronger than the bond between the closest friends. “How good it is, how pleasant, where the brothers dwell as one!” Psalm 133:1-2 B) Have another child so your sons will have sisters and your daughters will have brothers. Boys who have sisters learn the dignity of women. They learn to treat other girls and women with respect, as they consider how they would like their own sisters to be treated. Girls who have brothers learn the complementarity of men and women, both fashioned in the image and likeness of God. “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones—the ones at home.” Mother Teresa

6. Have another child so you (and your parents) won’t be lonely in old age. People who have children don’t have to rely upon strangers to care for them in their old age. Children also become the parents of your grandchildren. Grandchildren bring joy, happiness, and laughter, while still allowing you to get a good night’s sleep! “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their parentage.” Proverbs 17:6

7. Have another child because people are our greatest resource. Humans are blessed with the gifts of an intellect and free will. It is human ingenuity that discovers creative solutions to the problems which confront us. People without children should remember that it will be someone else’s child who will become the doctor that performs their life-saving operations. Someone else’s child will become the firefighter that saves their house. Someone else’s child will become the railroad engineer. “How can there be too many children? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.” ~Mother Teresa

8. Have another child to contribute to the economy. Families with children are fuel to the economy, purchasing houses and cars and college educations. Without young people to enter the workforce, social security systems fail. Without children to attend school, teachers are jobless. Many industries, from fast food restaurants to toy stores, obviously rely heavily upon business from and for children to stay in business. But ultimately the whole economy does. “Like a fruitful vine your wife within your home, Like olive plants your children around your table. Just so will they be blessed who fear the Lord.” Psalm 128:3-4

9. Have another child to counter global depopulation. Anyone who has traveled from coast to coast in the United States and seen the vast empty spaces should know that America is not overpopulated. In fact, the entire population of the world could live in the state of Texas, in single-family dwellings with front and back yards. Fertility rates are falling everywhere. The world’s population will never again double. If current trends continue, world population will peak by the middle of this century and then begin demographic freefall. Our long-term problem is not too many children, but too few children. Having another child will help offset the coming population implosion. “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth.” Genesis 1:28.

10. Have another child to help populate heaven. The child that you and your spouse have been generous in accepting from God was created to return to Him, after a life of love, service, and obedience on earth, to spend eternity with God in heaven. Our Lord Himself said that there was plenty of room for those immortal souls. There is no overpopulation problem in Heaven! “There are many mansions in my Father’s house.” John 14:2

from “Ten Great Reasons to Have Another Child” Permission to reprint granted. Redistribute widely.Credit requested.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I Live in a Bubble

Probably others feel the same guilt I do about not expanding my horizons more, seeking out friends who are different from myself, even reading books on the same subjects from similar perspectives instead of something new. In general, being "closed minded," or else failing to evangelize. But every time I "put myself out there," I find myself coming right back to my "comfort zone" and simply confirmed in my previously held opinions. I've been told, "You can't live in a bubble," but you know what? I am and I like it here. Why?

Because no one understands me! Haha. That sounds absolutely pathetic and emo, but sadly I have found it to be true. I've tried local mothers' groups, bring-your-baby-to-the-library times, and striking up conversations with people I meet by chance. I have almost always come away feeling depressed, discouraged, or disillusioned. These sort of horizon-expanding social encounters have not been beneficial to me. It's emotionally draining for me, who am passionate about my vocation as wife and mother, to spend even twenty minutes in a conversation with stay-at-home mothers who are just killing time walking circles around the mall until they can get their two-year-olds into preschool so they can get back to having a life. That's a harsh description, and how I wish it were not an accurate one. But that is what I've encountered in my city, apart from the friends I've made through church. It's so sad; these women. They do truly want to be good mothers, but it's my opinion that they've been so conditioned by feminism that they are completely unable to be happy in that role. They believe they are effectively in jail while the children are small, and any distraction or respite is gladly welcomed. Conversations with them are laced with things like, "Anything to get out of the house," "Even the baby gets bored with me," "I go crazy when it snows and we're home." Anywhere but home, and home is where they chose to be! The martyr attitude gets tedious fast.

As depressing as the stay-at-home mothers are, you have to be on your guard with the working ones. They have a tendency to take any expression of contentment with my at-home status as a personal attack on their working status. I hear a lot of defense of how they have to work, how it must be nice to just take it easy all day, how they fit in "quality time," etc. They are rarely mean about it, but it's still not a pleasant conversation. I don't need to know your monthly mortgage or your husband's salary. I have to wonder about why so many working mothers feel the need to defend themselves/counter "attack" against a happy housewife. I honestly do not deliberately provoke them. I'm trying to make friends here. It's my opinion that they know in their mother hearts that mothers should be with their children, and it's guilt talking. This also naturally saddens me. But as I'm out and about during the day while they are generally at work, they aren't so menacing. The other possibility is that a working mother is more of a "true believer" feminist and simply has zero interest in or even disdain for me and my activities, simply because I am a housewife. This type wants to know what else I'm doing, besides domesticity and all that fluff, or else talk about her own professional success, in which, it must be confessed, I myself have zero interest. Thankfully, due to completely different habitats, this species is rarely encountered save at gatherings of extended family.

The fundamental and unbreachable difference is this: We have a completely different sense of our purpose in life. In the worldly perspective, motherhood is of little value and how can one be happy when one is not doing something valuable with one's time? My life choices and passion for housewifery are at best alien and at worst disgusting. There is little basis for friendship here, sadly. To me, my life as wife and mother is for the purpose of achieving the salvation of myself, my husband, and our children. This mission is all-consuming, and every little thing I do in service to my family contributes to that end. Therefore, every little thing attains great value, and this gives me great joy. I'm blessed to have a number of kindred spirits who share my sense of mission, who build me up in it and inspire me in their own living of their vocation. Those are the people with whom a true and satisfying friendship is possible, and such a wonderful blessing!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekend Photos

Happy Monday. We had a gorgeous weekend; lovely sunshine and warmth all day on Saturday and a bit on Sunday afternoon. Spring is definitely on its way! (Click the pictures to see them larger.)

We have deer in our yard all the time! The same three are often seen around suppertime and in the early morning hours; two does and a baby. This is the baby, not really a baby now. Saturday morning Ryan took apart the raised bed he built last year, and we moved the dirt to cover the area for our new expanded vegetable bed (about 16x18 feet). It was a workout, since our soil is very clayey (a word?) and it was very wet from all the rain we had.

Which brings us to Sawyer Point on Sunday. There were so many people out taking pictures of the high water!

Anthony wasn't impressed by the river, but he had a great time with all the dogs that were there! He absolutely loves dogs; he's going to be asking Daddy for one for sure! He's not afraid of them AT ALL, even this Great Dane that lives in our neighborhood. They'll sniff and lick his face and he just laughs and gets so excited!

Finally, here's a sneak peek at a quilt I started! This one's going to a silent auction to support an alternative Catholic school that a lot of our friends' children attend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time to Clean Up!

This evening I said to Anthony, "It's time to pick up your toys." He powered over to his basket and started putting things in! We've been incorporating clean up as the beginning of our evening routine, making a game of it but this was the first time he's shown such understanding. Or initiative!

So proud of my picker-upper!

Ash Wednesday

Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Be not like your fathers whom the former prophets warned: Turn from your evil ways and your wicked deeds.
-Zechariah 1:3b-4b

Thank God for this holy season of Lent. Today is a day to fast, to detach from our day to day lives, to reflect and pray, to examine our consciences, to begin the penances we have chosen. We turn away from the things of this world not because they are necessarily bad, but because we as human beings tend to get filled up with them and forget the spiritual. I know I need this annual re-conversion, especially this year. We detach from even the good so we can receive Him who is the source of all goodness.

In our house, I always make the same no-nonsense stew for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Prep work and cleanup are minimal, so even our one meal doesn't provide much distraction from the spirit of the day.

Lenten Stew

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 qt vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine above ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until lentils are tender. Stir in:

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

Cover and cook on high 20-30 minutes or until stew is hot and blended. Serve with parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Progess vs. Perfectionism

I've been thinking about blogging for a very long time, but the reason I have not until now is that I was afraid it wouldn't be that good. And even if it were good, it wouldn't be good enough. My "good enough" generally translates to perfect. I am a perfectionist, and therefore a procrastinator. Perfectionist procrastinating housewives are tough to live with. I'll get upset that the floor is dirty, but won't have the opportunity to do a full on hands-and-knees scrub and so it stays just as bad. And all I do is get more and more bothered. I'm working on this; my husband says to look for progress rather than perfection. He's right, of course. It's hard to say, even to myself, that I will never totally have it all together. That isn't life, and I know that, but I still feel like it should be! I'm working on establishing routines to help the household run smoothly, or at least make progress in that direction!

Another reason I think it's so easy for housewives to fall into the perfectionism trap (I know I'm not the only one) is that housewifery is "all" we do. For us, this is truly a vocation and we take it seriously. The world tells us that we should be able to do all this and have a career too, and I'm struggling just to keep up with the dishes and the laundry?!?! When I started this homemaking gig two years ago, I was surprised by how hard it really was! There must be something wrong with me, I'm behind, and I have to catch up RIGHT NOW! Of course, I can't do that, and it just makes me feel more and more hopeless. So I'm trying to adopt the "progress" focus over the "perfection" focus. When I do manage to do that well, I'm much happier and therefore so is my family. As the homemaker, I also set the mood for the rest of the family. Even my 10 month old is very responsive to my emotional state!

So there are lots of works in progress in our home: myriad sewing projects, gardening, cooking experiments, fixing things up, but most importantly my husband, my son, and myself! I'm looking forward to documenting the progress of this homemaker in the making.