Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When the Day Defies All {Great} Expectations

It was going to be magical. 

The first day of school. James' first day of Kindergarten.

There were going to be smiling faces around the breakfast table, nibbling sweet rolls studded with apples and dripping with honey. I envisioned milk-mustaches above those smiles. There was going to be a flannel board calendar where the children could record the day's date an weather.

I imagined things. Pretty things. Quiet moments of learning. The sparkle of expectation. Sweet off-key singing.

And then life stepped in.


A camping trip meant preparing the sweet rolls ahead of time and freezing them. They over-rose as they thawed, and I have to admit, they turned out a little bitter. A little sour. Traits I was battling becoming myself as my son wrinkled up his face and pushed his plate aside.

Health issues necessitated a crash elimination diet, so gone were the milk mustaches. The milk, too. Along with several dozen other foods, all of them favorites. What's left at the moment is not particularly heartening. But, hey! It's supposed to make us healthy.

But we're not. In fact, every single one of us is sick. We caught the cold on the camping trip. And that flannel board? I was supposed to buy the canvas frame to finish it on Monday when we got home from camping, but we were all too beat by the cold. And the laundry. And the stress of health issues and having to overhaul everything we eat and drink.

Needless to say, it wasn't perfect.

There was plenty of screaming from the toddler, who is still suffering from her as-yet-unidentified food sensitivity. The baby had his fair share to add, as well.

There were diapers and sore throats and a lot of snotty tissues. There was noise, and there were thrown Legos and stickers on the living room windows.

There were tears.

But there was also learning. And life. And love.

There was grace.

Maybe we didn't feel it over-flowing. But it was there. Just enough to get the laundry done and children fed and a booked afternoon appointment to see the doctor when we thought they'd be full. Enough to hold it together and use kind words and gentle voices when all I wanted to do was scream. Enough to finish our assignments and then collapse on the couch with some books and, yes, a movie at day's end.


Pretty much nothing went as planned. But maybe that's not the point. Or rather, maybe it is. Because if I'm honest, what I need to learn this year is not the making-it-happen but the letting-it-go.

There was grace for today. And there will be grace for tomorrow and the next day and the next.

And somewhere, sometime along the way, I trust there will be magic.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Celebrating the Liturgical Year: September

I'm headed away for the weekend and won't have access to the intarwebs, but I didn't forget our standing date! Just in time for September, here are my family's traditions for the month's feasts.

As always, adopt what inspires. Ignore what doesn't. 

Love and peace, and a safe and happy weekend to you all.


SEPTEMBER FEASTS & FASTS
MONTH DEDICATED TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

LABOR DAY (1ST MONDAY) 

- If your family is blessed with a good job, today is the day to give thanks!
- This can be a great day to dedicate the school year through prayer.
- Pray for those who are seeking dignified and satisfying employment.

BL. MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA (5TH)

 Mango Lassis for dessert
- Mass at Blessed Teresa – 9 AM M, T, Th, F

NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (8TH)

Mary’s Birthday Cake (white cake with white icing filling and blue frosting on top)

HOLY CROSS DAY (14TH)

True Cross Cookie Hunt – Make a batch of cross cutout cookies, frosting all of them either white or brown except one, which should be red to represent the True Cross. Hide the cookies and have your children hunt for them. When you’re done with your hunt, sit down and enjoy your cookies together with milk or a pot of tea while you tell the story of the Triumph of the Cross. (You can replace the cookies with paper cutouts, too!)

FEAST OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS (15TH)

Lemon Drop “Tears” – Give each child or family member 7 lemon drops. With each one, reflect on a sorrow of Christ's suffering mother before eating.

MICHAELMAS (29TH)

Pray the St. Michael prayer
- Go blackberry picking – bring along swords to fight the brambles off!
- Roast a goose (or duck or chicken!) with yams and potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Apples on the side, and a blackberry crisp for dessert

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

One of my favorite plays ends with the famous line, "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." 

Of course, the character  is being packed off to a mental institution when she says it, so you know, take it with a grain of salt. But all that is to say I had a most uplifting encounter with a stranger today.

I was shopping at our local PCC with my foursome, trolling around the heirloom tomatoes, when a woman came over and commented to me on how well-behaved they were.

"Are you the mom or the nanny?" she asked. (Something I get a lot. I'm older than I look.)

I told her I was their mom, and her eyes lit up and she said, "You know, I thought you were! You remind me of my friend Patti - she had five kids and homeschooled them all."

I told her that we homeschool, as well. She was so sweet. She told me it was an honor to meet us, told my kids what a wonderful mom they have, and later on she came back with tears in her eyes just to tell me, "If everyone in the world had families like yours, we would live in a utopia!" 

Of course, she's never seen us on a "bad day."  

I don't share this story to brag. Trust me, there are plenty of days when a trip to the grocery store with my kids would only garner stares of the unwelcome sort. But I so often read only about the negative comments large families get. Heck, let's be honest and expand that to "any families with young children!"

Scripture reminds us to focus on the positive. The true, noble, pure, right, lovely, and admirable. The excellent and praiseworthy. This woman not only spoke these things into my life, her words are those things. Sometimes, it's nice to be reminded that the kindness of strangers still abounds.

The fact is, large families don't always get a lot of support, especially from those who are environmentally-conscious (as shoppers at PCC are), so this really made my day. I hope, by sharing it here, a little of the blessing has rubbed off on you. I know I'm going to remember it on the days when things don't go quite as smoothly.

Thank you, stranger at PCC! You blessed me in abundance with your kindness!!