Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daybook – Thursday September 22, 2011

Outside My Window ... The leaves on the trees are starting to change colors and fall is knocking on the door. There is something about fall in Wisconsin that warms my heart. Sometimes I think God gives us this brief, but beautiful, season right before the long winters just so we won’t all pack up and leave. Fall and the Packers – that’s what we’ve got here in the north.
I am listening to...
Tessa and Anna are playing dolls and Laney is under the sound board batting at buttons and playing music. I can’t believe my big girls are old enough to fight over dolls (sigh) and the baby is already playing. This home is full of noise, and it is good.

 To Live the Liturgy…
We’ve finally got the details of Laney’s baptism figured out. It’s been a long road. We had to cancel the original baptism date due to the fact that we had scheduled it at the parish I was going to be working. When we decided I would not accept the position we also decided not to join that parish as it is far from our home. We joined a new parish and then got in contact with their pastoral associate and asked to have Elena baptized before her medical testing on Oct. 4th. She will have to be put under for her echo and we do not want to do that without her being baptized. It turned out to be more of an issue than we thought .

Apparently believing in the sacrament of baptism is an “emotional issue.” There is no such thing as original sin, Adam and Eve are a myth created by early Church Fathers and we couldn’t possibly believe that a sacrament can completely wash away all sins. Joseph and I struggled through this conversation in a baptism prep class last night. This class was given by a nun who is the pastoral associate at a parish - a CATHOLIC parish. We were not angry, just really sad. She was gracious to us. She offered us a private session because we could not make the scheduled class. She also allowed us to share our complete disagreement with her and she even bit her lip and didn’t say anything when we mentioned the Magisterium believes otherwise and she is representing the Catholic Church. She did however mention that she hadn’t heard the word Magisterium in 30 years. She really was a very nice women who is very misinformed and calling her misinformation Catholicism. But alas, the baby will be baptized before she is put under so we genuinely thanked this nun for her extra effort.

To be Fit and Happy….
I’ve cut out (ok, really cut down) on my drug of choice: coke. It is really, really hard. I don’t like coffee and I NEED that caffeine.
I am thankful for...
Space and order. Two things I have avoided my whole life, but much needed over here these days. I'm also grateful things have settled down a bit class wise for Joseph and he is working a more manageable amount of hours. It’s nice to have daddy home a tad more often.
We are teaching the girls…
Tessa has grasped the “letters together create words” concept and now wants to be able to read books. It is awesome to see her fall in love with books. Anna is working on a few colors yet and on above/below/next to/under/over.
From the kitchen ...
We were gifted with garden and freezer surplus from a few people and have been busy putting other people’s abundance to good use. We’ve been baking and cooking and spending many more of our daily hours in the kitchen. This makes me so happy. I’m also working on being creative in order to allow for less waste.
I am creating ...
Lists, lists and more lists. There is much to do and I’m working on not letting it consume me with anxiety.
I am working on...
The hubby and I are working on our holiday season plans. Our big girls both have November birthdays and then there is Thanksgiving and Christmas. We live 3 hours from both of our families and our families live across the state and 4 hours from each other. Plus, my parents are divorced. There is a lot of places to fit into a short amount of time and a lot of unrealistic expectations. We don’t want to spend the season pleasing others and not serving our immediate family. Last year there was major drama from some folks who don’t know what that situation is like with little kids – so we’re trying to be proactive this year so we can define them and be upfront about what our family will be doing. It’s really hard for families of origin to come to terms with now being extended family and extended family now being extra-extended family now that we have our own immediate family. We think that in order to cut down on some driving and fit everyone in we would like to host something here in our home. We have the space for the first time and I would love to host a holiday! How do you handle the holidays with extended family?
I am reading….
A ton of NFP info. Wow. I feel like I am in grad school again.
Towards a real education ...
This evening I will leave for my first NFP (natural family planning) teacher certification course. It will be 5 days of intense study. I almost didn’t share this as I am really nervous. I know there is a test and I’m a “test anxiety” type of person. But, I’ve read so much about our bodies and how our cycles work. I also like to offer advice to friends looking to conceive or trying to figure out fertility issues. Joseph really felt called to have me go and be certified, so here I go!
Bringing beauty to my home ...
Curtains and finally being hung thanks to a 30% off coupon code from Kohl’s and a 50% off hardware sale at Shopko. Things are finally coming together in our new place and it really feels like home. I love to decorate and we still have some blank spaces due to my lack of time and decision making abilities. We are close though.
I am hoping and praying….
For the stress level of my husband. He’s got a lot in his mind.
On my mind…
How fast life seems to be going. It’s sad to watch Tessa and Anna turn from toddlers into “kids,” but it is also really wonderful. I was cuddling with Tessa last week because she wasn’t feeling well and we had this conversation:
Mama: "I’m sorry you don’t feel good, Sugar Plum."
Tessa: "That’s ok, mama. It’s not your fault, you don’t have to say sorry.”
Ahhh, when did my baby become so smart?

Around the house ...
The big girls are working on “lady charts.” Each column has an area of life they need to work on in becoming little ladies. We have prayer, control of self and temper, being loving and so on. There are certain rows full of stinkers and other rows that are still empty. When the charts are full, the gals get to pick something fun to do. Tessa has chosen going to the movies with daddy AND eating popcorn and Anna has chosen riding a horse. I’m not entirely sure a stable is going to let an almost 3-year-old ride a horse and I’m a little worried certain rows in her chart (like controlling her temper and staying by mama and daddy in public) will be filled before the snow files. That being said, it is really nice to have then clearing their dishes from the table after meals and bringing things to mama when asked because they want to earn stickers.
One of my favorite things ...
My family in the fall. We have some great family traditions to celebrate our favorite season. On the list for next week is apple picking and then some baking and following that is a visit to the pumpkin farm.
For the rest of the week....
Joseph will be home with the girls and I will be at NFP teacher certification. There is still much to do around here and we both still have work to be done. They will be long, stressful days. Joseph really felt like this was something I should do, so we will find a way. Still, a family date needs to be set for the next week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

I grew up on Mr. Rogers. His button-up cardigans, house shoes and use of puppets teaching the best of humanity in their imaginary world was a staple in my afternoon.

Mr. Rodger’s loving singing voice and being raised in a small town went hand-in-hand in teaching me how wonderful a local community can be.

In the five years since my husband and I said “yes” to the Lord and began this family we’ve been apartment dwellers. We don’t like to maintain (or pay for) more than we need and the lifestyle suited us just fine – until the babies came.

Having children is an apartment these days makes you public enemy number one. Children are to be seen and not heard, or so our culture promotes.

We’ve had upstairs neighbors who play NASCAR races on repeat in surround sound, neighbors who push their cats in strollers onto our patio, neighbors who walk in circles around the stop-light at 3am and neighbors with obsessively loud extra-curricular activities, shall we shay.

Our first two babies were “lulled” to sleep by unintelligible heavy metal music that my husband and I swore was a playlist created by the devil himself.

It wasn’t until an upstairs neighbor lost his mind and went on a stomping, screaming, swearing rampage and threatened the life of our colicky baby that enough was enough.

“Neighbor” became a swear word in our home.

The apartment living with babies experience made me want to pack up my family, make a pit stop at a mega bulk foods store and disappear into the country. We could live in a cave where we could parent as we wish without neighborly interference. I’d never have to speak to a “friendly” neighbor again. Too bad that if this family had to “live off the land” such as this lifestyle calls for, we’d parish. I have a black thumb, after all.

This spring we had our third daughter in as many years. At the time we were living in a two bedroom, 800 square foot condo type apartment. We brought our buddle of joy home, took one look around and decided it was time for this family to upgrade.

Not being ready or having the time to purchase a home made us leery of what we could find to accommodate our always growing family (in number and decibel level).

We landed in a beautiful, two story duplex. The home is on the end of a quiet cul-de-sac and the proximity to the highway is perfect for my husband’s commute. With only 1 shared wall and a garage between us, we thought we’d be safe from neighbor issues. We packed the moving truck and prayed for good neighbors.

The Lord provided, tenfold. We now call a beautiful Greek Orthodox family neighbor.

They are gracious to our girls, who often wander into their yard and may or may not swipe things off their patio.

Last week I caught the mother outside to share with her that one of our daughters had come down with the chicken pox. With three boys in their home I thought they should know.

A few days later I found her teenage boy mowing our neglected lawn. Sadly, I was confused by the kind, neighborly gesture.

I went over to speak with his mother, who was on her patio.

“What’s he doing,” I asked.

Teenage boy help,” she said in broken English.

“Well thank you so much,” I responded. “I’ll have my husband stop over and pay him when he gets home from work.”

No,” she said. “To help good for a teenage boy.”

I was awe-struck. What an amazing mother, to instill service and generosity into her sons and teach them to share of themselves because it is good, not because they expect something in return.

The next afternoon found me in the kitchen with my girls. With the baby in the Bumbo and the toddlers’ dirty feet crossed-legged on my counter we baked cookies for our new neighbors and talked about the importance of gratitude.

We walked over to our neighbor’s shoeless and as is, with mama in sweat pants wearing a baby and a 2-year-old dressed solely in a diaper.

A 3-year-old little girl with curls in her face handed the young boy and his mother a batch of cookies that may have been made with licked fingers.

You didn’t have to do that,” they said.

“Yes we did,” I said. “Recognizing generosity and being appreciative is good for little girls.”

She smiled, thanked me and said we were welcome in her home any time.

This beautiful new neighbor was a witness of mothering with faith. Although she speaks two languages, her witness came without words. Instead, I identified their family as faithful by the crucifixes hidden under their collars and the way they define “neighbor” in their family’s actions.

A neighbor is not simply someone living in close proximity. It’s someone who walks not only next to us, but with us. And hopefully, we’ll help each other on our journeys to the same final destination.

Share with Me: Are you blessed with neighbors? How are you a neighbor in this world?