Monday, December 16, 2013

A Tad Ramble-y and Keeping Sunday Holy ~ Part 2

...This is Part 2 of something with an unknown amount of total parts at this time (with gratuitous pictures from Thanksgiving included).  Here is Part 1.

In Part 1, I told you about where the "keeping Sundays holy journey" began.  And that we put up our cell phones.  And that we've failed.  And that's ok.  Because we're continuing to try.

Putting up our cell phones had an instant impact.  It created a void... it made space.  And I immediately struggled with that space.  I had to deal with that void... I wanted to fill the down time... I wanted to Facebook through the boredom... I wanted to text my way through the awkward silences... I wanted to Pin through...

... I think you get my point.

Pasticciotti - an Italian cookie with almond custard in it

I found myself reaching for my phone to fill the space.  But the whole point was to create space.  Space for conversation, space to connect with each other, space for prayer.  But I didn't deal well with the space.  It made me feel angsty.

So, I started being intentional.  I had to be intentional about putting up my phone, in a place that made it a real effort to get up and grab it.  We started planning activities to fill the space - like going to the park.  Or going hiking.

Pasticciotti was a success = Happy Mother-in-law

When we first came up with the idea to make changes to "make Sunday holy", I thought it was going to be more like  1. Put up cell phones.  Check.  2.  Make next change.  Check.  3. Etc.  But, by keeping the big goal in mind, things have sort of just snowballed.

I didn't know exactly what keeping Sundays holy would look like.  But I knew how I wanted it to make us feel.  I wanted all of us to feel loved and connected to each other, to feel rested and rejuvenated for the week ahead, and to feel closer to God.  We've tried several times to try to have the house cleaned by the weekend so that we can relax.  But weeks are busy, and blah blah, you know my usual excuses.  But once we had a goal for Sundays, it became easier and I got better to have the house picked up by Sunday.

Notice I said I got better.  

3 out of 4 looking at the camera = success; Joey, Ava, Matthan, Sophia

If we don't go grocery shopping Saturday morning, it seems the whole week gets thrown off.  Including Sunday.  I hate meal planning and shopping, and I like cooking when I have money to buy the ingredients I want and all the time to make the recipe and someone else to clean up the mess.... which is never.  So I drag my feet and meal planning gets done, oh you know, saturday morning before my husband leaves for the grocery store.  And it's more like late afternoon when we begin our weekend.  Which spills into Sunday.  But with wanting to capture a certain feeling for Sunday, I've gotten better about staying on top of the grocery stuff.

They discovered that "Baby Matthan" will follow you if you have goldfish crackers

I've gotten better about having a meal plan and shopping list ready.  Which has snow-balled into being prepared for the week, which makes me more peaceful on Sunday.  I've been more proactive about having a simple recipe or crockpot meal for Sunday dinner so that my time is not spent so much in the kitchen.  Which means I'm also not starting off the week with a disaster of a kitchen because I used every bowl while cooking and I don't want to be in the kitchen because I want to be with my family so I didn't clean the kitchen, so now it's left for Monday morning.  Boo.  So things have gotten better. 

But it's not like once I start getting the hang of things it continues.  I get the hang of it one weekend and then I have to start all over the next weekend.  And lately, we've been traveling or chaperoning youth group retreats or feeling under the weather, and my husband ended up at the grocery story yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, and the meal I chose to make was (new) uber complicated and we spent a few couple hours in the kitchen and dinner was late, and Matthan went to bed late.  The Hubs made a comment like "if the goal is to be connected as a family and spend time together, we shouldn't be grocery shopping at all on Sunday".  That was hard to hear (because he had gone shopping late because of my lack of staying on top of things), but he was right.  Sigh.  Will try again next weekend.  We did spend the time in the kitchen together making said uber complicated dinner plan and Matthan played around us in the kitchen so at least we were together.  Making lemonade out of lemons, ya know?

"Baby Matthan needs a halo because he's an angel" - The cousins

But that got me thinking.  What if I couldn't shop on Sunday?  I'd be forced to get my booty in gear when it comes to meal planning.  And if everyone didn't shop on Sunday then stores wouldn't have a reason to be open and their employees could go home and be with their families... and we'd all just be a little more affected.

The troops heading to the park (not pictured: me, Paul, Peanut & Charlie (the canines))

I've learned thus far that you get blown in the direction that you're leaning. (Is that a cliche or can I get credit for that?).  These past couple weeks I have really struggled to put my phone down.  And that has led to me being less on top of things.  It has led to me being less at peace and less connected. It usually starts because we have a lot going on with holiday planning and present buying and trying to keep up with the every day things, and I feel like we just got back from our Thanksgiving travels yesterday.  And a lot of things are on my phone.  I have emails with present ideas from family, on my phone, and I have lists that I've made of stores I need to go to for gifts, on my phone, and my grocery list is, on my phone, and my recipes are, on my phone, and the weather is, on my phone, and directions are, on my phone...  And so I pick up my phone to (insert productive activity here) and several minutes later I've found an interesting article to read posted by someone on Facebook.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, when I'm intentional, things snowball in a really good direction and one thing flows from the other and Sundays are awesome which flows into the week ahead.  And when I'm not, things flow in the other direction, and it's pretty lousy.  But I do have to say that as tough as it's been to achieve the goal...

it's been totally worth it.

Rolling on the floor and snuggling with his blanket in front of the fire

How do you and your family keep Sundays holy?  Do you have any suggestions for me on how to avoid falling off the wagon when all my stuff is on my phone (so as to have it all in one place and be more efficient)?

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Toddler Planking and Corndogs

Do you remember the planking craze that went on a little while back?  I propose we start a related, but cuter, craze.  I give you toddler planking!!

Slightly clearer picture

Slightly better planking position

Although, after thinking about it, someone might get confused and trying planking ON their toddler, and, well, that would be bad.  So, just to be clear, I'm saying we should promote toddlers in the act of planking, not planking on toddlers.  Got it?  Good.

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent around here.  It only took me 'til the middle of the second week of advent to put up our creche (i.e. nativity set).  I'm sure you all remember the pains I went through to find a set that fit all of my criteria, and with what sadness I was greeted when it finally arrived.  But we got things squared away and I just love it.

The wisemen were there just for the pic.  They're now sojourning around
our living room until the Feast of the Epiphany.

But unfortunately, I will be calling the company again.  Sigh.  It wasn't their fault this time.  See, I had a vision.  I put that navy blue poster board behind the creche, one day (probably next year) planning on painting stars on it, and cleverly elevated the angel on a vase covered by a navy blue t-shirt so it blends in.  Well... said poster board fell down yesterday and hit said angel, and said angel when flying, but not in a good way, and then pieces went flying... and well...

... [sigh].  

On another sad note, Guido III died this week after succumbing to a fungus he just couldn't beat.  (Guido III was a fish, by the way, for anyone new stopping by.)  RIP Guido.  Maybe Guido IV will show up under the Christmas tree... hopefully with a better immune system.

I know I already shared this on Monday along with this pic, so I'm a big cheater picture repeater, but I mean really, it's so cute, and no one has left any comments complaining of me repeating cute pictures yet so here...

The suitcase has provided hours.... HOURS.... of entertainment.  He found my flashlight in the suitcase as well.   He crawls up to me and hands me the flashlight so that I will turn it on for him.

And then he got stuck.  Yeah I know, I'm a terrible parent who took the picture first and then rescued him.  Shame on me.  The suitcase has been moved to the living room and continues to be a favorite.  I'm telling you.  Take back the toys you bought for your kids and give them a suitcase.  Call it the suitcase fort.  You can thank me later. 

Last week, my husband watched this video....

...then brought me these.  He knows the way to my heart.  :)

I have the perfect hairstyle for the winter.

It combines the natural resources of cold weather and the heat in your house.

We can call it "the static".  I'm sure celebrities will be wearing this style very soon.

And finally, a little parenting tip from my sister to you.  I'm sure the cold weather and holiday stress is tiring you out.  But it's hard to get a nap in with little ones around.  My sister says, initiate a game of hide and seek.  Find a good hiding spot, and you can get a good 10 minute nap in before the kids find you.  Sometimes she takes a pillow with her.  A few 10 minute naps here and there can do some good.  Maybe put a suitcase with a flashlight in their path and they'll get so distracted you may get a 30 minute nap in before anyone howls for a snack.  I would recommend moving all dangerous and valuable objects to higher ground before embarking on said Hide-and-Seek nap, I mean game!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday Musings: Mixed Bag On a Tuesday

This Monday Musings comes to you on a Tuesday evening, because that is how things are going around here.  Who is running things around here anyway?  According to my blog stats, everyone gave up on me posting on time yesterday.  Wise choice.  I'd like to say that with all my planning and with keeping Sunday holy, I've peacefully eased into the Advent season and am on top of the game when it comes to planning for Christmas.  Nope.  One year it'll happen.

One year.

So, maybe if I declutter my brain, I'll have more room for peace and planning (and motivation for executing said planning).

If you're looking for a fun Christmas activity to do with your little ones, and a ginger bread house requires too much dexterity for your little ones, check out the waffle cone christmas trees that my four-year-old niece made.

I once saw Jim Bob Duggar on the show "19 Kids and Counting" wearing a shirt that said "Parenting is not for the faint of heart".  I thought it was funny, and quite amusing that he was wearing it... because he has 19 children.

That has nothing to do with the following.  I just thought it was amusing.

I laughed when I saw this Huff Post article entitled "Nearly 25 Years of Fathering -- and All I've Got Are These 3 Lousy Tips" pop up on my Facebook news feed.  Not because I don't enjoy parenting articles and books, and soak up parenting advice where I can, but because with all the "25 Tips to Parenting" and "10 Things You Must Know About Parenting" and "50 Things You Have to Know OR YOUR CHILD WILL DIE" articles out there, I just thought it rather amusing that he had 3.  Three!  I chuckled to myself and thought "Leave it to a guy to have only three."  

As a daughter and a mother... that is some of the best tips I've ever read.  Go read it.

If you're not a fan, like me, here are the 5 Best Ways to Survive "Christmas Shoes".

I came out of the bathroom the other day to find this:

I have since found him in there about 10 more times, and it has provided several hours of entertainment.  

Here's an interview with my favorite Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from October.  It's incredibly entertaining.  Our Supreme Court Justices have a huge roll in how the law of the land goes.

Here's the tag line (and the link):

On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy (“I don’t”).

~ Because That's The Way To Get Your Point Across  ~

"Topless Argentinian Protestors" could have been the title for this piece of news but you won't find it in American secular news.  Some women (topless, although blurred in the video) wanted to make some men pay for their crimes by spray painting the men's faces and "other places", writing on them, and screaming at them.

The men's crimes?  Standing arm-in-arm, several men deep, and praying, to protect their local cathedral from the vandalism and violence that occurs in the village that hosts the monthly, government supported conference mentioned in the above link.  The police did nothing.

~ Police Apologize ~

In contrast, Iceland police killed a man for the first time.  And what did they do?

Apologize.  Why?

~ Why He Came ~

Why He humbled himself and came in the form of a baby.  A reminder to myself as I get stressed out about presents and decorations.

Happy Advent!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Musings: When There Isn't Any, Make Room

Happy New Year!!!

Yes, I know the rose candle should be the third one.  Yes, I was too lazy to fix it.

No, I have not lost my calendar (or my mind).  Yesterday was the first Sunday of the season of Advent, marking the beginning of the new liturgical year.  

If you relate this time of year with stress, anxiety, crowded shopping malls, screaming sugar-induced children, insane drivers, and being ready to tear your car radio out if your favorite station plays "Jingle Bell Rock" for the one millionth time since before Thanksgiving, then I totally sympathize with you.  Just remember, you can change the radio station... and you can change the way you spend the time before Christmas.

The Baby Jesus is born on Christmas Day, whether you're prepared or not.  Whether you made the Christmas cookies, or gave everyone the right gift, or decorated your mantel according to the picture you found on Pinterest.  

Babies ask for little; just food, clothing, and love.  They ask for little, but somehow it demands our all.  Our everything.  Ask any parent; there are days when we feel like we have nothing left to give our children.  God has been teaching me that when I have nothing left to give, I need to give more.  When I can't go any farther, I need to go a little more.  And when there just isn't any more room, I need to make more room.

Where is God calling you to make room during this Advent season?