Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1.  I recently did some reading on the history of the Sign of the Cross and discovered that touching the left and right shoulders (as we pray 'Holy Spirit') represent the crucifixion (left=darkness) and resurrection (right= light, Christ seated at right hand) respectively.  As a "cradle Catholic" who has been making the Sign of the Cross for as long as I can remember, I feel really silly for never having known this!   I also read that beginning with 'The Father' on our forehead and lowering our hand to our breast as we say 'The Son' we physically represent the Father coming down for us--another thing I had never thought about!  And just to fully expose the extent of my cross-making ignorance--our 5 fingers facing upward represent the 5 wounds of Christ.  Again, had NO idea about that.  But this is totally awesome, and I will be thinking about this every time I make the sign of the cross in the future!  Color me informed. ;)

2.  Inspired by this (seemingly!) simple chore chart over at Everyday Snapshots, I am working on my own version to ruthlessly enforce in the name of free labor   err...encourage my children to use!  The trouble is that I am hopelessly inconsistent when it comes to enforcing chores on a regular basis, so I feel the need to come up with a monetary denomination per chore that will actually allow the kids to save up more than 20 cents per month!  My other problem is that some chores (e.g. vacuuming) seem much longer than others (e.g. making bed), so to give the same amount for all of these things seems a little unfair to me.  So, who knows--I'll give it a whirl and just see! (And yes, I'm realize I'm probably putting waaaay too much thought into this.  Such is the way of my brain.  If I haven't managed to reign in the over-thinking in my 34 years here, then I'm probably stuck with it for life.)

3.  I feel exceedingly blessed to have had 3 wonderfully amazing conversations with 3 of my most favorite people in the whole world all in the course of the same week!  This NEVER happens!  Just feeling all warm and huggy inside at the amazingness of that. :)  If you haven't seen an old friend in awhile go call them/email them/text them and figure out a time to hang out.  Right now.  You won't regret it!

(Yes, this flower picture really has absolutely nothing to do with the text above, but I just thought it was puurty.  And I was a tad proud of snapping it with my plain old no frills point and shoot! *patting self on back.*)

4.  I'm in desperate need of finding a good "de-frizzing" hair product (is "de-frizzing" even a word?  The spell check doesn't seem to think so and I don't blame it one bit!) after a solid week of humidity here in Connecticut.  My hair is a puffy, fluffy, scraggly poof-bomb (now I know 'poof-bomb' is NOT a word.  I'm just goin' with it anyway) of badness.  Help me, please!!  I'd love your recommendations for thin ultra-fine hair that, under normal circumstances is straight!  (And, if you can throw me a bone here, Mother Nature, and send a little dry weather my way, I sure wouldn't mind!)

(not even the slightest exaggeration here!)

5.  My husband won a contest at a local hotdog joint for free dinner for 2 at an upscale steak house this weekend.  Woohoo!  And yes, the irony of a restaurant offering a prize of dinner at a different restaurant was not lost on us!  So funny!  But, heck, I'd rather eat a big ol' juicy hunk of fillet over a hotdog any day, and apparently the owner of the hotdog joint would, too!  The even funnier thing about the prize is that we're having dinner WITH THE OWNER of the hotdog joint!  Ummmm, a little awkward considering that Kevin and I are both fairly introverted and not so great at making small talk, but hey...pass up free steak?  No way!!  (But I do hope there's a glass of wine included! LOL!)

 mmmmmmmmmmm, steak. :)

6.  As I've mentioned in the past I have a slight problem when it comes to finishing books before starting on new ones.  I just can't seem to control myself when it comes to the allure of a new title I'm dying to dive into.  I've made absolutely NO progress in this area, as I've now added 2 more books to the mix: The Five Love Languages of Children and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.  I think my night stand my up and go on strike if I don't stop heaping more and more books on it!  But on a positive note I'm enjoying both so far!

7.  I've (finally!) bitten the proverbial bullet and started potty training my daughter (she'll be 3 in the Fall and I try to make sure my kiddos are trained up before they hit the 3 mark if possible!).  It's day 4 and she's doing great so far.  She seems to really have gotten the hang of keeping her pull-up dry over the past 2 days.  (But no real success on the um, "other end" just yet.)  Can I possibly be so lucky as to train her in less than a week?!  I'm too scared to trust that that could possibly ever actually be true.  So I'm holding onto cautious optimism at this point.  But so far this is really. pretty. awesome.

So all in all it's been a good week (humidity and Medusa hair notwithstanding!)!  Hope all of your weekend wanderings are great!  Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend everybody!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Seeking the Infinite

We live in a society that tells us: "Go get it."  See something you like?  Go get it.  Want a shiny new bobble?  Get  it.  Slimmer body?  Eat this, do that--you've got it. But what society fails to mention, an inconvenient little caveat, is that none of these things brings lasting joy.  Sure, they may feel good for a while--give us a boost, some extra pep, a spring in our step.  But satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts?  Sorry, but--no.  I've been reading a wonderful book this Easter season called Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections.  In it, a passage on the subject of desire states:

"The reality [is] that deep within we are seeking the infinite--that which lasts forever.  Much in our society today is focused on self-interest, encouraging us to do everything for our personal gain and satisfaction.  But part of us, deep inside, will never be completely satisfied with earthly things.... [Only Jesus] satisfies the deepest hungers of our hearts."  (emphasis added.)

This is so true.  When it comes right down to it, aren't we all, in the end, seeking the infinite?  Do those new shoes give you peace deep within your heart?  Does a snazzy career or shedding 20 pounds quiet the ugly, lost, hurting places deep within?  While they may lend some satisfaction and temporary distraction, they never truly satisfy.  Are these evil pursuits?  Certainly not.  We are all called to use our gifts, challenge ourselves and seek to enrich our lives.  But the danger lies in losing the balance between earthly desires and eternal ones.  Once we turn away from God, lost in pursuit of our earthly goals, we are headed into dangerous territory.

There was a time not too long ago that I had begun to lose my "heavenly focus."  So wrapped up in my own little world of earthly desire, I had completely placed my focus on...well, myself.  Rather than consulting God to set my path I got sucked into a world of external desires--longing for "stuff," acting out of pride, and thinking about all of my own wants, rather than focusing on how I might serve others.  Instead of seeing the beauty in all of the things in my present life I got stuck in a downward spiral of:

If only my house were bigger.

If only I had a maid to help with some of this mess.

If only my husband could pick up his dirty socks once in awhile.

If only I could magically press a magic "fast-forward to bed" button on my kids on the hard days.

If only, if only, if only...

Before I knew it, I found I was no longer satisfied with all of the extraordinary graces in my life.  Rather than "seeking the infinite" I was begrudging the present and dreaming of a non-existent future of what could be.  And if we don't get a grip on these desires, the longings just get bigger and hungrier until we reach a place of total dissatisfaction with the present.  We act out of self-interest to the point of even hurting others.  In our focus on what "could be" that we lose the beauty of what is.  And this line of selfish thought can become the devil's playground for a whole host of idols-- be it physical fitness, career aspirations, imbalanced time spent on hobbies, etc. The list goes on and on.

And the truth is, that many of the puffed-up dreams we chase are really just illusions, anyway.  It's easy to convince ourselves that our "rub a lamp and make a wish" life would fulfill our deepest longings, but in the attainment, the reality often falls short.  In an recent interview popular blogger Jennifer Fulwiler talked about her light bulb moment she when, at the pinnacle of her computer programming career, she thought (paraphrased) : "This is it?  This is the dream I chased?  This is really kind of...lame."  (Great interview, by-the-way!  I highly recommend watching!)  And if we, in our "light bulb moments" fail to pray for guidance, the illusions snowball.  And that is a sad place to be--trapped in an illusion. 

It is not in the attainment of personal pursuits that we are truly filled, but in the emptying of self.  We are called to die to self in order to be filled by Christ.  When we serve others in love, when we act on the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, our longing can truly be satisfied.  When we kneel at the foot of the cross in sincere humility, with soft supple hearts, it is only then that we can truly be nourished.  The Lord fills our gaps and empty places with abundance.  But He can only feed us if we acknowledge our hunger for Him.  We need to make space inside of us for Him to fill.

I was at the grocery store the other day and saw an old man struggling with his shopping list.  I was frazzled, just trying to hurry through the rest of the trip with my 3 kids in tow. The man looked troubled as we perused the cheese selections.  Admittedly, (not my finest moment!) I felt a little irritated he was taking up most of the aisle.  It was almost lunch time and this was the very last aisle of the store, so by this time the kids and I had had it.  The man looked at me and asked: "Do you see any more of the cheddar on sale?"  I knew he needed my help.  I felt so torn between my own desire (to be DONE with shopping!) and the nudging I felt to help.  So, I found the cheese he was looking for, and as it turned out, he had also lost his pen.  I paused for a moment holding my purse, knowing that only my favorite pen was inside.  I really didn't want to part with it.  But he needed it.  So, I gave him my pen.  Immediately after I felt so happy I had helped this man--he looked at me with such gratitude, and thanked me so heartily.  Truly, there was nothing better than that moment--of choosing someone else over my own stress and ridiculous pen-loving desire.  I can buy another silly pen, but I'll probably never get another chance to be a blessing to the old man on the cheese aisle.

So as you live through your weeks and months and years, go ahead and make your plans.  Make great resolutions, dream big, reach for the stars.  But all the while, ask the Lord to walk your path with you.  Include Him in those plans of yours, and thank Him for the gifts and graces along the way.  Dream big, but remain humble and open to the path He sets, enjoying the graces of each day.  And allow yourself to be amazed by what the Lord can do when you let Him take the lead.

Do you have any "If onlys" you need to let go of in order to seek the infinite?

Monday, May 14, 2012

One Thousand Gifts {part 21}

It's been awhile since I've posted my list of 1000 Gifts.  While I've been continuing to count in my journal at home, that pesky little thing called, oh...real life has been getting in the way of my blogging about it!  But I've missed the joy of typing all of these beautifully captured moments here, in word and picture.  So, with the profusion of Spring all around me, I continue making my way to 1000:

746.  basket of fuchsias outside my window, greeting me with bright burst of pink each morning

747.  evening of nachos and laughs with friends

748.  studying honeybees--such fascinating and vitally important creatures!

749.  MOPS tea--time of connection and community

750.  sounds of nature at dusk

751.  spotting Baltimore Orioles!

752.  stranger giving my kids food to feed birds at the park

753.  bullfrog's deep surprising croak

754.  warm banana bread with Trappist Plum jam

755.  candle-lit dinner at home with husband

756.  quick supper fixes after busy days outdoors!

757.  cat birds at the feeder

758.  blueberry blossom honey butter on crescents

759.  rainy day toys to liven up the "pre-dinner witching hour"

760.  stacks and stacks of children's books from bargain store!

762.  stranger who gave me a coupon--extra 30% off!

763.  giddy kids pouring over mountain of new books

764.  lunch with the kids at local "dive"--greasy hotdogs with pepper relish & chocolatey milkshakes

765.  listening to "Peter and the Wolf" with the kids

766.  shadow puppets

...more to come

shared with:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A {simple & sweet!} Mother's Day Gift Idea...

With Mother's Day fast approaching you may be looking for some ideas to do with the kiddos for all of the special moms in your life.  I just thought I'd share our gift idea with you!  Over the years we've done several things from crafts to garden plants to personalized items.  This year I thought it would be sweet to have the kids come up with different things they love about their Grandma and present them gift-style.  After brain-storming for a bit I thought we could put together a Ball jar of "52 Reasons why We Love Grandma." (I know, I know--my Ball-jar obsession continues! LOL!)  It's very simple, and, when read once a week, lasts the whole year through!  If you'd like to make your own jar, here's what you do:

1) Type a list of 52 things your kids love about the gift recipient.  Be sure to space each sentence far enough apart that they will make a nice-sized strip once cut--don't crowd them too closely!

2)  Print list on double-sided scrapbook paper.  Make sure one side of your paper is light enough that the text won't be too difficult to read! (of course, regular paper works, too, but scrapbook paper just looks so pretty in the jar!)

3)  Cut strips apart and fold them however you like, placing them in jar.

4)  Embellish your jar with whatever embellishments you like!  We used some ribbon, additional scrapbook paper and a personalized round label to give ours a finished look.

5) Give your completed gift and feel the love! :)

Although we made our jar for Mother's Day, it would make a lovely gift for any occasion--a birthday, anniversary, etc.!

Happy jar-making, and wishing you all a wonderful Mother's Day!

shared with:

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook {May}

I'm trying something new today--I'm participating in the "Simple Woman's Daybook."  I've always wanted to try it but never got around to at long last, here's my official first entry!

Outside my window...

...a very grey and dreary typically "Spring in New England" kind of day.  But on a bright note things are greening up nicely with all of the rain we've been having.  And back to a somber note--we REALLY need to mow our lawn!  It's looking like a jungle out there! Gah! (Now averting my eyes from said window...)

I am thinking...
...lingering thoughts on the importance of community, based on some wonderful conversations and experiences over the past week or two.  I've also been thinking and reading about community as the Mystical Body of Christ. Good stuff!  On a lighter note I'm thinking about possibly keeping bees in the future.  I've been reading up on the subject and trying to decide whether or not to go for it (I'll share the book links below).  It wouldn't happen this year, since we're (hopefully!) moving, so it's really just fun research at the moment. (And now you get a glimpse into what a big nerd I actually am--I study heavy theology and bee behavior for fun!  Don't you??)

I am thankful...
...for the wonderful MOPS tea I attended this morning, and for the ability to catch up with a really good friend of mine I hadn't seen in awhile.  Oh, and also for almost being done with painting my house!

In the kitchen...
I just cleaned a big ol' pile of dishes I ignored last night which must've mated while I was at MOPS this morning!  I also made some yummalicious (making up my own words again.  I do that often.) Salsa con Queso I'm bringing to a friend's house for a little Cinco de Mayo mom's night out. Ole!

I am wearing...
My standard "uniform" of t-shirt and jeans with sneakers, with a cardigan because it's rainy and gross (as noted above).

I am creating...
Alas, most of my fun little arts & crafts projects are on hold at the moment as I've been going stir-crazy...err, dedicating my time to getting our house ready to sell!  I'll be back to my crafty self at some point!  In the meantime my sister has been crafting up a storm creating lovely items for her Etsy Shop!  So go check them out! :)

I am going...
...stir-crazy over listing my house!  But also going to my aforementioned Cinco de Mayo night!  Woohoo!  And tomorrow is my sweet little twin niece and nephew's second birthday party, so that'll be nice.

I am wondering...
...if the new pillow I bought is the source of my ridiculously stiff neck the past few days.  It seemed like a good idea since my old pillow was too flat, but it might be getting get the heave-ho if this stiff neck doesn't clear up soon.  Any pillow advice?  I can never seem to find the right pillow out there!

I am reading...
Oh, piles and piles of books which I mostly read before I drop off to sleep at night.  A couple of the bee books I've been reading are: Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper and Fruitless Fall.  In other reading, I'm still working my way through this stack of books.  It takes me forever to finish a book because I read so many at once!  To make matters worse instead of just finishing some of the books before starting others, I've since added even more!

I am hoping...
to sell our house!  And to see the sun again sometime soon! 

I am looking forward to...
Lots of day trips I'm planning with the kids this Spring and summer.   Also looking forward to our annual trip to the Outer Banks!

I am learning
Lots and lots about bees.  And about how much work it is to actually try and keep on top of house work when you have three little kids in the house at all times (apparently not too successfully based on my mating dishes this morning!) in order to make the house "show ready."  Turns out, I'm not a fan of "show ready."  I'd gladly stick to my piles if given the choice!

Around the house...
...well, I pretty much just answered this one!  But I'll add that I also have five, yes FIVE loads of clean laundry that need to be folded and put away...yet I sit here and type instead!  (Note to self: reeeeeally need to improve in the whole "keeping up on housework" arena!)  But hey, at least they're CLEAN, right??

I am pondering...
How it is possible that we have FIVE loads of clean laundry that need to be folded and put away right now and how we're listing our house in a week or two.  Do people just pile their cars full of stuff when they show their houses??  I mean, seriously, how do people do this and stay sane??

A favorite quote for today...
"I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."--Phil.4:13  Definitely need to keep telling myself this over and over!

One of my favorite things...
My yellow and grey flower necklace my sister made for me.  Love it!

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Just my mexi night and the birthday party as well as my ongoing "hot date" with a paintbrush!

A peek into my day...

Well, I'd show you my lovely mountain of laundry (which, I'm sure you're all DYING to see!) but my computer recently died, and I'm on hubby's computer, which prevents me from easily uploading pictures at the moment.  So, alas, you'll just be forced to use your imagination as to what that might look like.  Or, if you find yourself with a mountain of your own, you can lovingly gaze at that instead. :)


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