Friday, February 28, 2014

7QT (Vol. 76): Moving continues and a diaper trick!

On Monday, I was lugging plywood and 2x4s and rotted picnic benches out to the curb (because apparently new house occupants do not appreciate a good supply of "scrap wood"). The insurance guy came to take pictures of the outside of our house (maybe for the buyers? since this company won't be insuring us soon...) and commented, "Moving is a never-ending job."

On Tuesday, I went to book study in the morning and confessed that I had not completed this week's challenge, writing a list of all the wonderful attributes of my husband. It's not that I have any lack of material! They were very gracious. "Oh, you have every excuse. This week has been crazy for you."

We're trying to keep our grocery buying to a minimum to reduce the amount of food we have to move to the new house. Dinner on Tuesday night went something like this:

Peter: Thank you for the pizza; I would like some more.
me: OK. *hands him what is left of my piece*
Peter: I would like another whole big piece. Please.
me: Well, this is the last of the pizza. It's just the left-overs.
Peter: Well, can I have corn chips?
me: Yes. *hands him container of about 6 corn chips, which he finishes*
Peter: Can I have some more corn chips?
me: You just finished them. That's all that was left.
Peter, wobbly voice: Can I have another doughnut from Grandpa?
me: I'm so sorry honey, but you and Anne finished them at lunch.
Peter, in tears: We need to go to Wegmans and buy MORE doughnuts! We neeeeed to!

Poor little guy. My husband saved the day by offering to go to Dairy Queen as the fun activity for him and the kids while I was at youth group. Evening saved.

On Wednesday, we moved in with my parents. Mom watched Anne in the evening while Peter helped Jeremy and me pack more at our house. We wanted to be out of our house so we could more easily pack and clean without our cherubs undoing everything. At that point, we still thought we might be closing on Saturday.

On Thursday, we learned that we won't be closing until some time next week. We did no packing or cleaning, just got the kiddos to sleep and got to bed ourselves at a somewhat reasonable hour. Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated. Especially when it is 10 degrees outside.

Tonight we got both kids to bed then drove back to our house and worked for more than an hour. The upstairs is *almost* completely empty! Believe it or not, we work more quickly without a three year-old assistant, even a very adorable one.

Unrelated to moving at all: Anne had a horribly messy diaper today (while we were out, of course). When we got home, I forgot to bring in the diaper bag. Tonight when I finally remembered, I had a (relatively) pleasant surprise. After freezing in the car, the diaper was significantly less smelly AND the poop was solid enough to get it off into the toilet more easily! (I know "and" isn't strong enough to hold together two independent clauses. I thought maybe it would be if I capitalized it.)

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Monday, February 24, 2014

Peter's Stories

We're down to the last week before closing on both houses! At least, that's true as far as we know. Neither closing has been confirmed yet, although we haven't heard any reason why we wouldn't close on time. Here's hoping. Anyway, it's getting a little crazy around here, which is significantly affecting our homeschooling time. We still do at least a little bit of reading, writing, and math each day, though, which brings us today's post. One of our "writing" activities is Peter narrating a story, then editing it as he sees fit while I read it back to him. This two-part story was dictated last week. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a little rabbit. And he had nothing to do until one day he found a mother. And the mother said, "Rabbit, why did you come here?" And the rabbit said, "Well, I had nothing to do and I wanted breakfast because I hadn't had it." And the bunny said, "I will get you some grass." And the rabbit said, "OK." And the mother went to the refrigerator and got some grass and put it in the microwave for its baby and the rabbit ate it. The rabbit had a good breakfast. And then, after a hard day's work, the rabbit went to bed and had a good night's sleep. The end.

This is the next day of the rabbit story. The mother said, "I was planning to go to the zoo today. Would you like to come with me?" And the rabbit said, "Sure." And then in the mist the elephant came and the rabbit was scared. And it was so scared because it was covered in scary animals in a circle all around the two rabbits. And the baby rabbit said, "Oh no!" Then the biggest horned owl, who was on top of the elephant, was very loud and it yelled so loud that the rabbit had to plug its ears so that it wouldn't hear the owl. And that's the end of the zoo trip. And then after a hard day seeing the animals, the rabbit went to sleep and had good night dreams through the night. The end.

Friday, February 21, 2014

7QT (Vol. 75): The In-Laws

Remember learning that not all families are like yours? Recently, I've been learning that not all in-laws are like mine. I mean, I knew there were some "bad" ones, but I assumed mine were typical. I've been discovering that there are myriad examples of sit-com stereotypes out there.

"When my mother-in-law found out I was going back to work, she called me up and berated me, telling me I was a horrible mother for not staying home. I had no choice; my husband was in school."

"My mother-in-law was furious that I decided to stay home with the kids. She said it wasn't fair to make her son go to work every day while I just stayed home."

When I decided to go back to work, my mother-in-law said something like, "It's always hard to leave the baby, but it can be rewarding to be working, too." A few months later, I decided to stay home full-time. She said, "You'll have so much fun with him. They're only babies for a little while; you can always go back later if you want."

The father-in-law stories are less common. Sometimes he's not in the picture; sometimes he is physically present but might as well not be there. Sometimes he is verbally abusive to his wife and/or kids. Rarely are fathers-in-law spoken of warmly.

My father-in-law is coming out tomorrow to help us pack. It will be his third trip this week, each almost two hours one way. He has done plumbing repairs and replaced a portion of our furnace exhaust pipe, projects requiring multiple trips to the hardware store. He has bought us lunches. He even brought doughnuts as a treat for the kids (and me). Once he's finished his projects for the day, he has entertained both kids for hours while I pack.

The more stories I hear about other in-laws, the more I appreciate my own. They are encouraging, respectful, kind, and extremely generous - in a word, loving. I'm looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peter at Gymnastics

Happy to hop

This little girl told her mom that Peter is her "friend-boy"

Improvement! He can walk the beam alone!


Beginning to learn a cartwheel

I'm impressed.

He picked a red ribbon this time.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Science Isn't Everything

Last night, our kids went to bed around 9:30. Tonight, Anne went to bed around 7:30; Peter is still up (at 8:30) and will probably go to bed within the next half hour. Their bedtime tomorrow will depend on when and how many naps happen along with how late Grandma and Grandpa are able to stay.

This isn't really great.

Optimally, kids have a sleep schedule. One bedtime isn't necessarily better than another (within reason), but for good sleep, kids and adults do best if they have a consistent bedtime.

Could we get our kids to bed at the same time every night? Sure. I would have to sacrifice youth group, though, which is also the kids' special night out with their Daddy. On Sunday evenings with my family, we'd have to watch the clock and leave even if both kids were having a great time with friends and relations.

What about mornings? Couldn't we at least start each day at the same time to set the stage for naps happening around the same time? Yes, we could. That would be 7:45, which is the earliest we wake them (for Mass on Sunday). I could force myself to get up at 7:45 each morning, regardless of how much Anne was up during the night. We could wake Peter, our little boy whose morning mood swings rival his mother's at that age.

Science says a consistent bedtime and waking time make for better sleep. In our family, they would also make for grumpy children, weaker relationships, and resentful parents. What is best in an ideal situation is not always best for each family. Same applies with breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and any number of other parenting issues. Certainly feel free to share information, but don't judge. What is best for one is not necessarily best for all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

7QT (Vol. 74): Pigtails, Romance, and Beanbags

Anne got her first pigtails today. I also dressed Peter in red and her and me in pink, being all celebratory. That's pretty much all we did to recognize the feast of St. Valentine, though.

We ended up all eating at home, since Peter wanted boxed mac-n-cheese. The original plan, though, was for my husband to take both kids to the library (which he did) and then out to dinner so I could have some peace and quiet to start packing the kitchen. That's right, a Valentine's dinner for three while I have PB&J at home. I tell ya, we take romance to new levels in this house.

We're also pretty good at knowing how to party -
Grandma: Did you do anything fun today?
Peter: Yes! We did dishes and laundry!


I read some great pick-up lines on Dave Ramsey's site today. My favorites were, "Do you have term life-insurance? Because you're drop-dead gorgeous!" and "When I first saw you, my jaw dropped like the value of a new car."

Speaking of finances, congratulations to my friend Emy of Striving for Proverbs 31 and her husband: they finished paying student loans and are debt-free aside from their mortgage! They've also managed to do this while raising two children on a single income. Way to go!

OK, this is unrelated to anything else, but too fun to keep to myself. During rest time, Peter switched his pillow for his beanbag. Why? Because Bunny was sad and that was the best way to cuddle with her. Oh, right.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Not wanting to be weighed, measured, and found lacking, Anne has been proficient with a spoon since I first let her hold one. But sometimes it is just more fun to use fingers.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Race and Religion

Ghana, early 1980s. Catholic missionaries have come, bringing schools, health care, and simple, nourishing food in times of famine. This is a Sunday. The white missionary priest has just finished Mass and must travel to the next village, about 12 miles away, to say Mass for them. His transportation? The shoulders of young men native to the region.

Quick, what's your gut reaction?

Perhaps I'm just projecting, but I imagine many of you felt uncomfortable with that image. I did. Picturing the white priest being carried by the black natives elicits a backdrop of apartheid and white elitism. It smacks of corrupt religious power and exploitation. I had a hard time letting go of my view of the situation to hear what our priest was saying.

Our priest is from Ghana. He was telling of his own experience of missionaries coming, bringing "the white man's religion" to his village. He praised the missionaries who came "not with just a Bible, but with education and medicine. They put a human face on this religion." He was remembering fondly how those in his village would volunteer to carry the priest to the next village. "We had no transportation. If he had to walk, he would have been too tired to say Mass for them."

He didn't go into details, but I imagine this missionary priest was not a young man in the prime of life. While not feeble, he was old enough that a 12 mile walk would have exhausted him. Still, he likely felt very uncomfortable accepting a ride from his congregation. What humility to accept that he was not self-sufficient. The same humility was in those young men who served, men whose joy was so great in the Eucharist that they would not hear of depriving the next village of the same when they could bring the priest.

No great moral to the story here, I just found it interesting how our own culture colors our perceptions.

Friday, February 7, 2014

7QT (Vol. 73): Week in Review

On Saturday, we looked at two houses in the area and price range we want. We were thrilled with one of them and got the ball rolling on an offer with our agent. It has four bedrooms and is only a couple blocks from church. One of the bedrooms was an add-on over the garage, so is quite spacious. As I mentioned to my sister-in-law, we're having "who knows how many kids", so it's nice to have room to expand.

Frequently in Sunday school, Peter or A. (another boy in class) will quietly say the right answer to a question I ask, then other children will echo it loudly to get the "credit" for a right answer. This past Sunday, I was reviewing what we had learned. "So, today we talked about St. Peter. You already told me he was a fisherman. What else do we know about him? (pause) We learned a new word, for a special friend of Jesus. It starts with an 'a'..." At this point, Peter murmurs to himself, "Aboogalah." The girl next to him shouts, "Aboogalah!" A. gives them both a look that clearly says, "That doesn't sound even remotely familiar."

Monday nights are often when my husband and I go running. This week, though, we went to a chili supper at my parents' church and had lots of cookies and brownies. It's pretty much the same thing, right?

Since our youth group did a big service project this weekend, we didn't meet on Tuesday. Instead, I went with my husband and the kids to the library. While we were there, Anne tripped and hit her lip with a toy, making it bleed. I was nervous that the librarian would want us to leave (since Anne could potentially get bodily fluids on a toy), so I was trying to be hyper-vigilant to put her at ease. She also seemed to be trying to put me at ease, which was very kind. It crossed my mind later that maybe she was concerned about me lodging a complaint, but it's certainly not her fault my toddler lost her balance!


We took our kids to Adoration, which we try to do every Thursday. As usual, we made it about five minutes before they got antsy. Still, even that five minutes brought me peace and perspective. It's good to love the King.

We found out that the buyers for our house only have a few minor issues from the property inspection, so we should be able to fix them cheaply and easily. We met with our agent tonight and put in a bid on the house we want. Here's hoping! We also started packing in earnest while my parents played with the kids. Thanks again, Mom and Dad!

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Monday, February 3, 2014

Assume You Are Loved

I'm going to make a couple sweeping generalizations: 1) people get married because they love their significant other and 2) children love their parents. There are many examples to the contrary, but in most cases, I think those two statements are true. It seems safe to say, then, that within a family, there is love.

But lots of people either forget or cannot believe they are loved. When love is in doubt, we feel insecure. We perceive intentional slights and attacks where they do not exist.

"You always have time to go out with your friends, but never time to spend an evening with me."
"You're always waiting for me to make a mistake so you can gloat."
"My kids know exactly how to push my buttons. They're just trying to make me miserable."
"You won't back me up in front of your parents."
"They do that because they know it drives me crazy."

To protect ourselves, we might launch a preemptive strike, throwing accusations and sarcastic barbs. It is all downhill from there. Words are said in anger. Emotional wounds fester. Eventually it seems like everyone is at each other's throats all the time. Hopefully apologies can be made and healing begun, but that may be a long, hard process. Is there a way to avoid this altogether?

Assume you are loved. Assume your husband or wife loves you. Assume your kids love you. Then when a situation arises in which is certainly seems like you are being attacked, you can hush the voice that whispers, "He did it on purpose." Of course not. He loves you. She loves you. Love does not seek to injure. When you are confident that you are loved, you can more easily dismiss the initial hurt and seek to better understand the situation.

Your spouse loves you. What seemed like a critique was truly an innocent question.

Your kids love you. What seems like intentional goading is the only way they know to express the frustration/confusion/anger/sadness from some other situation.

They love you. Do your best to respond lovingly. It will make a world of difference.

Anne's first "selfie"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

7QT (Vol. 72): Physical Prayer

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." How do you love with strength? What is physical prayer?

One possibility is dedicating the entirety of your day to the Lord. Whatever you do with your day becomes an act of prayer. Service done to others becomes service of God. It allows life to become love, offering back to God all he has given to us.

Another possibility is an offering of exertion. When, if left to yourself, you would quit, continuing can be an offering of prayer. I first did this in high school. At that time, I knew a little girl who had Tourette's Syndrome. When her tics got overwhelming, or the stares from her peers began to bother her too much, she wanted to run. At age seven, she could easily run for twenty minutes. I often ran with her.

In high school, I ran cross country and track. Most of the time, I loved it. But there were days when I just couldn't get motivated. I just wanted to walk. Those days, I ran for that little girl. I pretended she was next to me, urging me to keep up (which often happened when we ran together!). I offered the discomfort of running as an act of prayer, praying for her body to cooperate with her wishes.

Since just after Christmas, I've been part of a winter running club. On really cold days, my husband and I stay home. But even when it's a balmy 35 degrees, as tonight, there are times I just want to stop. I keep going, though, offering my effort on behalf of others for whom I pray.

I only offer my runs as prayer, though, when I'm at the end of my own motivation. Offering my run when my primary motivations are my own good health seems like being on a diet and calling it fasting. It is only when I am empty of my own reserves that I am able to offer myself to God.

It occurred to me on tonight's run, slogging up the final hill, that the same applies to any act of prayer. Only when I am completely humbled before my God am I able to love with all that I am.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary