Monday, January 27, 2014

Advice for Moving with Young Children

I asked my friends and family for support and advice last week. They came through for me in a big way. I received excellent, practical advice and spiritual guidance. I am just as appreciative of the support as the advice. Knowing my friends and family would take the time to respond bolstered my spirit. Friends asked how they could pray for me. Those who have been in this situation gave specific, concrete suggestions I can use. A complete stranger even took the time to share her wisdom. I am incredibly grateful to each of them.

For those who don't have access to my personal Facebook page, I want to share the advice I've been given:

Purchase small boxes from storage facility (usually around .59 ea.) and begin packing items you will not need for a spell into those. If the boxes are not real large, they are easier to handle and whenf they are all the same size ... easy to stack up. Purchase one or two shelving units at Home Depot for the storage facility. You will use the vertical space more efficiently. Sometimes liquor stores will give you boxes if you take them away at their convenience.

Anything that you haven't used in a month can safely go in a box. Label each box with contents & what room it came from, that way unpacking will be a lot easier.
Moves are often stressful, but open the door to new opportunities. Try to enjoy the path you are on. 
Take your time, pack a little at a time, and before you know it, it is done! 
It is easy to become mired in your own situation if that is all you are concentrating on and really get a good pity/stress party going. God wants his people to be focused on Him and what He wants us to do and it seems to me that what he wants done in a day and what I want to accomplish that same day don't often match up. My prayer that I now start my day with and will pray for you is "God please give me the focus energy and strength to accomplish what you want me to accomplish today." Finally, make everything a game with the kids: packing, taping, drawing on the boxes with crayons

For a couple more good ideas, check the comments on Friday's post. THANK YOU, everyone!

Remember the challenge of keeping the house clean?
Anne very helpfully put the toilet paper directly in the trash.

Friday, January 24, 2014

7QT (Vol. 71): Prayers for Our Move

Last week, we put our house back on the market, since the house was no longer decorated for the holidays and life had calmed down slightly. We had one showing on Friday, five on Sunday, three on Monday, and two on Tuesday. Have I mentioned that it is difficult to keep a house spotlessly clean with a toddler and a preschooler? But we did it!

Cleanliness is not without cost, though. Usually we have a theme for homeschool each week - fire safety, zoo, Mexico - something that we can learn about along with our daily reading, writing, and math. My husband asked Peter what this week's theme was.
"Um, I don't know!"
I replied, "This week is clean-the-house week. We haven't done much else."

Yes, our kitchen is always this clean :-)

Thankfully, our diligence seems to have paid off. We accepted an offer! Finalizing the offer is contingent on a house inspection on February 2, but if that comes back fine (as we expect it to) then we close on March 1.

This is exciting. And stressful. OK, mostly stressful. I'm not letting myself move into the excited stage until the offer is finalized and even then will be hesitant. I know things can go wrong right up until the closing. I realize I'm borrowing trouble and wasting time and energy, but I'm having a hard time letting go of my worries.

Assuming all goes well, we have a house to pack and then find a place to put it. Ideally, we'll find a house we can move into in the very near future, but it seems more likely that we'll end up living with my saintly parents for a month or two until we find what we want to buy. Which means putting everything into storage, then moving it all a second time into the new house. Again, I'm needlessly fretting. We have friends and family who will gladly help us. And what a blessing that we have "stuff" to move!

On top of these major upcoming changes, my kids and I (and my husband, to a lesser extent) are all still sick. We're on the upswing, I think, but it has been very slow progress. The runny noses have slowed considerably, thankfully, so their poor little noses are beginning to heal.

Will you pray for me? And maybe share how you survived moving with young kids? I know it can be done and that many have done it without the time and support I have at my disposal, but I'm just feeling inadequate for the challenge right now. Thanks!

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Peter at the Museum of Play

That's a picture of a guitar, of course (on a giant Light-Bright)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Burying St. Joseph

A few years ago, I was in one of our local Christian bookstores. This one has an aisle of Catholic stuff, including a set for people trying to sell their homes. The kit contained a statue of St. Joseph and instructions for burying it upside down to sell your house. Superstition? If a person believes planting that guarantees a sale, then yes, it's superstition. Planting a statue, even upside down as you're "supposed" to do, does not guarantee the intercession of St. Joseph and certainly does not bend God to your will. It is far too easy to use this as magic.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. The same statue can be a reminder of God's protection, particularly as it played out in the life of St. Joseph. St. Joseph lived his life seeking God's will. God responded through more direct intervention than most of us will get! St. Joseph followed God, even when it was difficult. As a provider for his family and exile for a number of years, St. Joseph may well be inclined to intercede with and for us as we seek God's will for our families.

Trusting God's protection in all circumstances is a valuable lesson. Learning to see God's providence in a situation (such as the sale of a house) is certainly worthwhile. If a physical act like planting a statue helps you learn that, go for it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7QT (Vol. 70): Faith, parenting, and chocolate

If you have Catholic friends who breastfeed and you've been on social media of any kind, you probably know that Pope Francis recently told some moms to feel free to nurse in Mass. I think it's great that he gave his stamp of approval. Maybe he is familiar with Joel 2, which specifically calls "infants at the breast" to be part of the assembly. :-) (Fun fact: That passage is read on Ash Wednesday!)

Anyway, an Orthodox friend of mine passed along that news story, along with this excellent article on images of Mary nursing Jesus. Go read it - good theology, many beautiful icons.

Speaking of things you should read, I recently came across an article by Guggie Daly, "Catholics and Circumcision...Do you know your faith?" When I was pregnant with Peter, I asked Jeremy to decide whether or not to circumcise, if the baby was a boy. He decided against it, as he couldn't find any medical reason that would justify injuring a baby that way. After the fact, I read more about it and am extremely grateful Jeremy chose as he did. But neither of us thought of it from a faith perspective. This is a really good piece.

A friend of mine had her first baby earlier this month. Over the summer, when she told me she was expecting a boy, I casually asked, "Have you thought about whether to circumcise or not?" "No! Wait, people do that? I mean, for non-religious reasons?!" Interesting that we grew up a couple miles apart but I thought everyone circumcised while she thought no one did!

On a totally different note, both my kids have been sick for about two weeks. Their appetite and energy levels seemed fine, so I wasn't concerned. But then Peter told me that everything sounded wobbly, so I brought them in today. They each have an ear infection - first for each of them. So, "the pink stuff" for both of them. On the plus side, we caught it fairly early, before any pain. And they like the medicine. After receiving his first dose this evening, Peter said, "I think I might need more, Mommy."

While I'm counting my blessings, allow me to add the brownies with chocolate chips that I just made. Go ahead, just imagine all that chocolaty goodness. Mmm. You can come visit if you'd like some, but I recommend being here before, oh, Monday, or I will certainly have eaten all of them.

I'm also thankful for my parents who babysit, feed us, lend their vehicle, wash our dishes and clean our house. That was all just today. Thanks, Mom and Dad! (Also, we had our first post-holiday house showing today, three more scheduled for Sunday. Say a prayer for a successful sale, will you?)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Look what came in the mail!

And they stayed in there for about five minutes. :-)

Monday, January 13, 2014

How the Wealthy Should Spend Their Money

"That parish has tons of money; they should be sponsoring our ministry."
"He just bought X when he already has this, that and the other thing!"
"How can she justify spending thousands of dollars on THAT?"

I get frustrated by comments like this. To me, they indicate the complainer thinks that people with X amount of money are wasteful and frivolous. I hear (whether or not it is intended) an undertone that suggests the speaker would never misuse wealth or squander it on luxuries. Maybe I'm just being defensive because I know I live in the lap of luxury.

We have clean water, hot and cold, and indoor plumbing.
We always have plenty of healthy food.
Our home protects us from the elements.
We have health care.
Jeremy has a job where he can work with dignity and integrity.
We live in peace and safety - no land mines, no soldiers.

Talk about wealth. And those, which millions around the world may never have, rarely cross my mind as blessings. There are many more, of course. Here in America, most people (though certainly not all) have access to what I've mentioned so far. But we're way beyond that.

We go out for fast food, sometimes just because it's convenient.
We own a car.
We send Peter to gymnastics every week.
We have Internet access in every room in our house.
We have our own washer and dryer.
We're living in a 1700+ square foot house - and there are only four of us.
We use air conditioning in the summer.
We own books, computers, games, music, and videos.
Jeremy and I each have a cell phone; we never run out of minutes.

The list could continue for quite some time. So when people complain about how the wealthy aren't using their money for the betterment of society, I feel uneasy. I don't want to face the reality that I am, undoubtedly, wealthy. We enjoy all sorts of unnecessary comforts and entertainment. As I write this, I imagine some readers offering reassurance - "You're not wasting your money. All things in moderation. Don't be too hard on yourself." And I don't feel guilty about what we spend, but I am often mindful of the balance between enjoying our blessings and sharing our wealth with others. 

I suspect "they" - the wealthy - are mindful of that as well.

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone"
John 8:7

Friday, January 10, 2014

7QT (Vol. 69): The Consequence of Travel

We have had a busy Christmas season, creating many memories with family and friends. We were back and forth between the Syracuse area and home; thankfully, both of our children travel happily and adjust fairly well to sleeping in a new place.

Before our first journey to Jeremy's family, we picked up his sister from the airport and grabbed dinner at Chipotle. She brought along the luggage needed for more than a week home and borrowed Jeremy's guitar, so my parents generously agreed to the use of their minivan... while reminding us how great minivans are. :-)

We were back home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when we did a gift exchange with my family. By far the most surprising gift was inside a rather large box. Turns out it was a full case of Honey Nut Cheerios! My brother doesn't do things by halves. :-)

We went back out to be with Jeremy's family the following day to continue exchanging gifts. By this point, Anne had quite gotten the hang of tearing paper. :-)

Anne's birthday was that Friday. More gifts! We came back home on Saturday to have a brief rest at home before Jeremy returned to work on Monday.

But the celebrations were not done! Anne's godmother and her husband came out and spent New Years Eve and Day with us.

All of this was wonderful, but possibly led to this:
Sick and sleepy 

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Anne's First Birthday

Pretty cake... I am mesmerized... 

Daddy, would you like some of my dairy-free carrot cake?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Socializing: Can we do it? Yes we can!

Last week, I joined a Catholic moms group as a first step toward finding the type of faith community I want. I reasoned that there are lots of moms groups available, so if a mom chose to join a Catholic group, she probably values her faith. Today, one mom hosted an Epiphany party at her home. Including my two, there were six kids; everyone had a good time and enjoyed a faith-filled celebration of this holy day.

It was exhausting.

All weekend I've been nervous about this gathering. What if they're all friends already and just politely tolerate me? What if I don't like them? What if no one else is good at making conversation, either, and the event just drags? What if it's not particularly Catholic? What if I do something stupid?

I told Peter our plans this morning. He was not excited. I'm not sure if he picked up on my unease or if he's just as introverted as I am.
"We could just keep our hummus at home, Mommy." 
"But we're going to take it with us when we go meet new friends." 
"Are Grams and Papa going to go with us?" 
"No, Papa is at work and Grams is probably still asleep." 
"Maybe we could just go visit them later."

Anyway, despite our misgivings, all of us had a wonderful time. We played, conversed, ate, and prayed together, forming the beginnings of friendship. Peter made a crown and devoured the Goldfish crackers available as a snack. I found three other moms whom I'd like to see again.

When we got home, all of us slept until it was time to get Jeremy from work. Socializing really takes it out of us. But we did it! And next time it will be less intimidating. And maybe some day soon I'll be able to casually say, "Yeah, I was out with some friends the other day..."

Friday, January 3, 2014

7QT (Vol. 68): Myth of the Minivan Part 2

Back when Peter was an infant, I wrote about the myth of the minivan. My husband and I found it laughable that anyone would need a minivan for one little baby. Our 2007 Nissan Versa with its 94.3 cubic feet of passenger room and 50.4 cubic feet of cargo volume was more than adequate.

Now we have two kids, though. And Jeremy used the Versa to kill two deer, so we needed to buy a car anyway. We decided the best car for our current lifestyle would be a 2013 Chevy Sonic. (It's blue; we call it the Hedgehog.) 90.6 cubic feet of passenger room and 47.7 cubic feet of cargo volume. :-) After all, the band didn't make it, so we're not carrying a drum kit any more.

Our most frequent trip is to visit my in-laws. Everything fits in the trunk: pack-n-play, suitcase, diaper suitcase, toiletry bag, sleeping bag, pillow, and assorted stuffed animals for Peter. The regular diaper bag goes in one of the kids' foot-wells in case we need anything while we're driving.

This most recent visit, though, we were bringing back presents from Christmas and Anne's birthday. I had to get a little more creative. I want you to notice, though, that the driver can still see out the back window and nothing is in danger of falling on either child!


For your viewing pleasure, I unpacked everything into a big pile in the family room. Usually, of course, I wouldn't just dump things on the floor. I always have energy to immediately put away everything when getting home from a trip. Ha.

Contents: suitcase (clothes for 4 for 2 days & nights); 4 board games; paper bag of gifts; 9 piece cookware set; pillowcase with sleeping bag, pillow, and 4 stuffed animals; diaper suitcase; 2 crib blankets for keeping warm in the car; bag with 2 sets of winter clothes (jacket, snowpants, boots, mittens, hat, and scarf); diaper bag (2 spare outfits, 2 diapers, misc. snacks and stuff), Peter's water bottle, pack-n-play, Peter's church busy-bag, Anne's church busy-bag, Lincoln Logs, toiletry bag.

Would it have been easier to pack all of that in a minivan? Sure. But we like having a fuel-efficient car that handles well in all kinds of weather. And, truthfully, I like the challenge of packing it. It's like real-life Tetris! I will admit, though, that minivans can be great. We borrow my parents' on occasion for transporting big things or trips with more people.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary