Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Multi-tasking professional

In the last hour and a half I have taught a science class (including a lab) prepared chicken enchiladas for the kids' supper, nursed the baby to sleep, took a power snooze, scrubbed the shower, showered, changed, and am ready to pick up my younger kids from their co-op, take them to choir, bring them home, and then go out with my husband for a date. Phew. That beer is gonna taste FINE!


I weighed Melanie yesterday,and she now, at 6 months, weighs 17 pounds, just about doubling her birth weight. So, even though I haven't been worried about her weight gain for some time, it is nice to now she is "officially" at a weight that is "normal".

Melanie is giving me the best squishy hugs. When I first get her up in the morning she clings to my neck, and squishes her cheek up against mine. It reminds me of the icon at the beginning of this post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Conclusion...

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. I am afraid, however, I didn't really make the point I was trying for. I am afraid I gave the impression of extreme discouragement, and that really isn't it at all. I actually think I am doing pretty well considering I know myself and all. I just had a little epiphany the day I wrote that post that I expend way too much energy trying to whitewash my actions so I can make an impression on others in order to make my life look more like theirs. I have spent way too much time coveting other people's gifts and talents, and under utilizing my own. I see other people's blogs and think "Who are these people, that can do so much, so well with such grace and enthusiasm?" But really, what I need to do is engage my own life, with grace and enthusiasm. I need to let others live and express their lives in their own way without seeing it as a reflection on my life or my flaws. See? I think I am finally getting it that IT really isn't all about me! =)

Anyway, just wanted to clear up that I am not discouraged, just really trying to be real, and make the inside me better and better, so it can be the same as the outside me. My goal, I guess, is to get to the point where I am the same inside and out. And I do think I am getting there, and I am glad.

In closing, here is another gratuitous baby picture, of her expression when she saw me walk into the room. If that doesn't sooth the soul, I don't know what does!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I could have done a much better job on this, but that might be beside the point...

Image. It is all about image.

Fashion. Magazines. Television. Blogs. Even religion can fall into the trap of image. Is this bad? I am not certain, because the thing is, image works. People with more pleasing imagery attract more admirers. But does the person with the most admirers win? He does in business, as admiration usually means increased sales and profits. He does in school, as admiration usually means inclusion into some group, being part of something (The "Popular" crowd, the athletic crowd, the brainy crowd, even the stoner crowd). And in blogging, it means more readers, links, followers and comments.

It is definitely true in mothering. Image. How does your house look? Your garden? Your dinner? What kind of kitchen ware do you have? Your children, are they cute, have matching clothes and are they well mannered? And you, have you gotten your shape back after having your kids? And your clothing: are you dressed modestly, yet attractively, showing off your good figure, but not emphasizing it? Are you at peace? Do you have a good haircut, good hygiene, jewelry that enhances, but does not overpower? Do you wear make up that is subtle, natural, barely noticeable, really, but you shouldn't go with out it. And your marriage, is your husband your rock, your hero, your soul-mate? Are you appropriately balanced between submission and partnership, enough to consider yourself a Godly woman and wife? And can you pull all these things off effortlessly, allowing your true self to show through?

Then there is religion. Do you have a good, solid prayer routine, one that starts your day, guides your life, and gives you balance on a rough and winding road? But is it more that a routine, is it your life blood, your fuel. Are you able to gather your family every day, and pray, meaningfully and sincerely, and do your kids buy into it all?

Of course, then there are things like home schooling, gardening, decorating, and on and on and on.

What is my point of this rather acerbic rant?

I can not keep up. I fall short everywhere. I am truly fatigued from comparing my insides with everyone else's outsides. I am tired of fighting the temptation to covet everyone else's lives. I have come to the conclusion (a gift of grace, I am certain), that I am coveting an image, not a reality. And what a stinking waste of a sin. Coveting something that isn't even real, for heaven's sake. I try to be "real". As a matter of fact, I get feedback about my life from others, saying they really like how "real" my blog is. I like that too, but since I have tried to be more real and shed the image I was trying to sell, my readership has shrunk to a fourth of its old size. Image sells! I am pretty boring with out all the wrapping paper!

What on earth brought all this on? Well, I was putting together the 7 Quick Takes Friday post, and it made me want to throw up. I had one about a turtle we found in our driveway, and how I made it into a school unit study. Blech. I had one about a meal I made that was beautiful and delicious, and I even took pictures of it to post. Blech. I had one about the bird house my son and I built together yesterday, and how we researched blue birds so we could put it in the correct spot for optimal nesting in the spring. Blech. And so on. Yes, I did all these things. But I had put it all out there neatly wrapped up in "Aren't I amazing" paper like I can't believe.

The truth? I had been wanting to do a reptile unit with my middle kids for THREE years. But I never did. Then one day, I almost ran over a turtle in our driveway, and they begged to keep it, and I let them for 2 days. They had to read all about turtles to build it a good temporary home (and so did I), what to feed it, and they wanted to know if it was a girl or a boy, and how old it was. So we Googled it. NOW, I could call that a unit study, or I could just say I took full advantage of an opportunity and my kids curiosity. It all depends upon how I package it.

The truth? One night, at 5:00 pm, I needed a dinner. I scrounged around and came up with beef and veggies, marinated them in salad dressings, and put it on the grill. (If I recall, it was some feast day, so I wanted the dinner to be good, but hadn't really planned anything yet). It turned out wonderfully, and I took photos to show just how together I have everything. Never posted that, though, because really, I was winging it. Again, it all depends upon the image I am trying to give.

The truth about the bird house. My middle son has been asking to build something, anything, for half his life. I stumbled across a blue bird house kit (pre-cut, pre-drilled, nails included. Bluebird fact sheet included) at the thrift store. We had it finished in 20 minutes. Satisfying? Yes. Something to photograph and make into an intentional project? No. Again, flying by the seat of my pants here.

And so on.

The truth about me? I am disorganized. I procrastinate. My house is cleaned by my children once a week, and good enough is good enough for me (check out the background in Melanie's 6 month photos. My room is a mess). My garden is too full of weeds and I let my tomatoes rot, and there are too many decorations in it (I could take some lovely photos, though. I take a few snapshots of my last flowering plants, and cut out the dead ones I didn't water since July). I am fat, and apparently not particularly motivated to do something about it. I have too much stuff, and why? I am confused about what image I want to give: Artsy or crafty? Clever or thrifty? Creative or kitschy? I don't buy or grow organic food, unless it is on sale and I happen to be at the store where it is sold reasonably. My children are extremely average, well rounded, but average. I haven't sent out Christmas cards and letters for 3 years, because I couldn't really spin things properly, and the image was either going to be one of worried distraction and concern, or a big fat lie. I have watched T.V. every day since Melanie was born, and often watch the news while nursing her. I don't pray well or often (formally, that is. I pray that I won't screw up my kids every 5 minutes or so). I have a good solid marriage that is a so much work I can not believe it. I struggle with anxiety and depression, though not lately, and while putting on a brave face gets me through, it feels fake. Thankfully for well over a year now I haven't had to deal with that, and I feel authentic. Authentically flawed. I am sensitive, jealous, and a worry wart. I like clutter, and hate it. I feel passionately about controversial issues I don't blog about because I do not want to alienate people I care about. Is that authentic or a cop-out?

(Gratuitous baby picture of a last minute table center piece I put out on the Nativity of the Theotokos. I got the idea from a different blog, and followed suit.)

Any way, there you are. Baring my soul and the constant struggle for me to keep up with my obligations, and yet remain real. Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than having to call B.S. on myself. ( And on that point I want to be clear. I am calling B.S. on MYSELF and MYSELF alone. No one should see this as a commentary on their life or their blog. Please. Really. )

Thursday, September 17, 2009

6 Months


St. Paraskeva's re-opens tonight, after a lengthy postpartum break. For anyone unfamiliar with me, this is my icon studio/workshop. Blog link on the side bar, but warning, hasn't been updated for 6 months. Give me a day or two, then check it out.

It is funny how with each of my babies, I am in a different world for just about 6 months, then I begin to reclaim what remains of my previous self. Lo and behold, Melanie is 6 months old today. Yesterday I went for a good long walk. I began a real honest to goodness novel (The Accidental Tourist), and today all my kids are finished with school, and we are going to get the icon studio in order. I still can not fit into my old clothes, but I do see some hope that things are getting ready to get back to normal. Or maybe I am just used to the new normal, and it feels comfortable, but either way, I think I am re-emerging. I just hope that my writing brain returns. I have lots churning in my heart and mind, but can not seem to organize my time and thoughts to put them into writing. Soon, maybe.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gratuitous Baby Picture

Here she is, sitting up in a tree with one of her cousins. She is one adored baby!

Happy Feast Day!

I found this at Vultus Christi, vis Fr. Z. Our family attended Vespers for the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross last evening. We have been growing Basil for this feast this summer, and although our plants didn't do as well as previous years, we have enough to celebrate the feast.

Happy Feast Day!

The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant Blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech You, to bless
Your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to Your glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where is the outrage?

Yesterday, a pro-life protester was shot and killed in Michigan. His pro-life message had offended the killer. It was reported that the protester had a graphic abortion sign, and that is why he was killed (as if that would justify his murder!). I found this today here, showing the protesters "graphic abortion sign.

May his memory be eternal!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Short and sweet

After the second half of my root canal yesterday, I went to the thrift store, purely for entertainment purposes. I didn't even grab a cart, because, after all, I don't need anything. True to form, withing a half hour my arms were overflowing and I had to grab an abandoned cart. What a score! I found a Land of Nod crib set for baby, darling and perfect and just what I needed, for $9. I stumbled across a lovely pair of baby shoes that I could tell were very well made, but wouldn't fit her until she was about 2. But, since they were only $3, it would be worth not passing them up. Then, I found a large cotton canopy that hangs from the ceiling, made of cotton with cloth butterflies stitched all over it. This thing is huge, and perfect for our basement/playroom for a special area just for my little girls. Again, this was $9. Come to find out, the crib set retails for $218, the shoes (pom d'Api, which meant nothing to me until I Googled it) retail for $136, and the canopy, from the Company Store around $100. Feeling pretty good about myself right about now!!

School is gearing up this week to the full schedule. Being that it is a four day week, I think we'll do fine, maybe even enjoy ourselves a little bit.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My eldest holding my youngest

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Wow, two posts in one day! Week two of school is progressing nicely, except 2 of the children are under the weather (the oldest two). I think the new early rising hour and their habitual late night time have collided and lowered their immune system. I expect a day of sleeping and back to normal tomorrow.

Baby is doing the cutest thing right now. She gets up on all fours, lunges forward, and then "hops" both of her legs forward, like a little bunny. She is getting about 4-5' at a time this way, but then is so exhausted, she has to lay down and rest. Scoot - hop, scoot - hop. First time any of my babies started crawling in this manner. She sits up and plays, and wants to be on the floor with her toys most of the time. I can not believe how quickly this has all transpired!

I had a root canal yesterday, in the tooth that was bothering me last year. I don't know what happened, but as I have mentioned, over the last few weeks it has been really bothering me. I didn't even realize how much "static" of pain there was until it was gone. I feel wonderful, now, and for anyone who has had that kind of tooth ache, $1000 isn't too much to make the pain to away.

But still. Two months ago my car transmission went cablooey. $3700. This happened just a few days after we paid the car off. Nice, eh?

Oh well, I am just thankful we had the money to take care of these things, and who needs a savings, anyway? God provides.

Okay, back to school, recess is over.


This Would Be Funnier...

if it weren't so true!