Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frozen By Chaos

I'm a bit embarrassed to share these pictures with you, but it's a reality of life with 3 young kids.  I walked into Mia's room the other day to find this:

I would love to tell you that this is a rare occurrence but lately it's the norm.  There are a few reasons Mia's room regularly looks like a yard sale in a wind storm.....(1) we need to address proper storage and organization needs (2) she has a couple of "get-into-everything" brothers that like to play in her room (3) she has entirely too much stuff and (4) I have not really taught her to take care of her space and consistently held her to doing it. 

We'll be addressing the proper storage and organization issues over on the house blog but here's where we need to face #3 and #4 - excess and responsibility/accountability.

Every time I came upon this scene I became frustrated and even angry.  Let's clarify...I would become frustrated when I would find Mia's room this way, direct her to clean it up and 15 min later find it in the same condition, with her twirling around in a tutu she picked out from the rubble. 

I would end up "helping" her (i.e. cleaning up for her), talk to her about how allowing her room to get this bad is unacceptable, and move on.  Surprise!  Two days later, same thing.

At one point standing amidst the mountain of toys and clothes, Mia said, "Mama, I don't know how to clean this up".  Oh. 

I guess I assumed it was obvious to a 4 year old that cleaning up her room was as simple as picking everything up and putting it back where it belongs. 

I had been telling Mia to pick up the mess, would leave her to it and return to find no progress.  I assumed she was being lazy (and perhaps she was a little).  But Mia's room would become so messy that she was starring at an insurmountable task.  The job was so overwhelming that she could not even find a place to start or focus on one thing to pick up because she was so distracted by the enormity of it all. 

Oh my, she is my daughter.  How many times have I felt so overwhelmed by all of my responsibilities, my growing to-do list or emotional stress, that I could not pick a place to start and just stood frozen.  Or found some other mindless thing to do to take my mind off it....except instead of twirling around in a tutu, I would hop over to facebook..or email...or whatever. 

So, this particular time and the next few after that, I sat and talked her through cleaning up her room.  We tried two approaches.  

One, stand still and pick up the closest thing to you.  Hold it in your hands and ask yourself where it belongs.  Then go put it away.  Now do it again until everything is picked up.

Or two, look around the room and pick up all the books you can find.  Put them away and now do it with your clothes, then dolls, etc. 

And make a pile next to the door for anything that belongs in another room. 

Both methods were effective and Mia could work with both.  Once we were able to see more floor than toys, she was usually able to finish the job on her own without direction.  But until then, she would still be so overwhelmed that I would have to direct her each time to the next item. 

Now, we discovered a few things in doing this.  The first was that not all of Mia's things have a home or one that's really working.  And we realized that she has way more than she uses, needs or can properly manage.

I'll be posting more over on the house blog next week about what works and what doesn't as we give Mia's books, toys, clothes, and special things a proper home.  We began today by pulling everything out (most of it was already on the floor) and took inventory of all her stuff. 

We found 5 pairs of slippers.  They were all adorable but how often does Mia wear slippers?  Seldom to never.  I told her she could keep one and we were giving the rest away.  Tears. 

As a family we have really been trying to purge of unnecessary items, to live on less, to live simply and to give where we can. 

This has been a tough lesson for Mia.  And I need to be patient and compassionate with her.  We have talked about how blessed we are and how other children have very big needs that we can help with...we've talked about how it's important for us not to be selfish or greedy and to give to others the way God has given to us. 

But it is hard for a young heart to understand.  Mia gave away 2 pairs of slippers today....maybe she'll give up a third by the time we're done but as much as it's important to instill a sense of giving and detachment from material things in our children, it's also important that they can do this with an open and generous heart, not because they were forced.  So, if Mia is willing to give up 2 pairs of slippers today, I'm proud of her.   

The next realization was that Mia could manage picking up a small mess on her own. She could take care of the big mess but was frozen by the sense of it being "too much" to handle.

And I can't be upset when she asks for help, because that's what I want her to do when she feels overwhelmed and can't move. I want to teach her to simply start. To do something small.  To pick somewhere to begin, and not to just stand frozen. However, if she does find herself in that place, I want her to ask for help.

It's the same thing I need to do. When I'm overwhelmed by it all, I need to just pick something small and start somewhere.  When I'm frozen and can't begin, I need to let go of my pride and ask for help or share the struggle with someone who can look at my mound with an outside eye, help direct my first move, or just be with me for a minute.   We have a Heavenly Father, family and friends who are here for that very reason.

For our family, this will largely be about building new habits.  I have no unrealistic expectations here.  There will be days (probably many days) that we leave the house without the kids' bedrooms (or the rest of our home) being perfectly tidy.  It's not about perfection, but I do owe it to Mia and the boys to give them a sense of pride of ownership, to teach them how to take care of the things we have and to hold them accountable in their chores/responsibilities. 

Making your bed each day is habit.  Putting your clothes in the hamper or putting them away when you take them off is a habit.  Taking time for daily prayer and quiet is a habit.  And carving out a few extra minutes in our daily routine for a quick clean up is a habit.  It will take time for all of us to build new habits but even a small effort will make a big difference. 

I don't expect Mia's room to be perfect all the time or for her to give away all her favorite possessions.  In fact, the mess that happens after a morning of play is beautiful evidence of the joy of childhood.  We just need to give her the tools to be successful in keeping her responsibilities, the affirmation needed to face the mountain and the courage to let go and give generously.   It will be a learning process for us all!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chip Picnic

So this is what happens when you leave the 4 1/2 yr old in charge of the baby....

Is there a problem?

Um..yes, Jack.  A slight one.

I couldn't really be mad at Mia but I was curious:

MeMia, did you know Jack was doing this?

Mia:  Oh yeah!  He was having a chip picnic!

MeOh.  What did you do when you saw him?

Mia:  I grabbed a grahmmie [graham cracker]

So if you can't beat em' (or control them), then join em'.  And that's just what we did....I'm sure letting my children eat chips off the floor and joining them in their chip binge qualifies as a bad mom move in someone's book, but it sure was a delicious clean up.  And I have to say that Doritos mixed with Kettle Chips are pretty amazing.

After the chips were put away, Mia asked if we could have a 'grammie picnic'...oh, you mean dump all the graham crackers on the floor so we can clean them up by eating them?  Uh, no.  But nice try  :)

*Lots going on at the house blog if you haven't stopped by in awhile!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Wrap Up!

Wow.  What an exhausting and wonderful week!  And what an amazing Lent it was too. 

We started the week off with plenty of egg hunts.  Mia had one at school, where the EB made an appearance.

 Mia and her friend Cate

We also had a potluck/egg hunt at the park with our mom's group.  Sully was dangerously eye-balling that innocent girl's chocolate cake..

Mia was on a little egg hunt date with Christopher here.  We met their family through our group and Mia and Christopher are now in the same pre-school class.  They were stuck like glue the whole morning, playing and hunting for eggs together. 

Good thing they let Sully tag along most of the time.  He may as well get used to his brotherly chaperone role now.

Jack, well Jack was busy....busy rolling in the sand, busy climbing on other people's blankets, busy eating everyone else's food.  Just busy.  But darn if he isn't cute.

Our Easter celebration started with the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.  It has to be dark when it begins, so it didn't start until 8:15pm.  I had forgotten the beauty of this Mass....a dark sanctuary slowly lit by candlelight, hearing the Word of God proclaimed in darkness and then the burst of light at the joyous Gloria!  I was so excited for the candidate I was sponsoring to be Confirmed and receive Holy Communion.  She has taken a purposeful, reflective journey and I was thrilled to see her proclamation of faith that night!  We also had a very dear friend become Catholic at the Easter Vigil and our hearts are just so full of joy for their family, more united in faith than ever before. 

As beautiful a Mass as it was, we didn't get to bed until after midnight....with a lovely 6:20 wake up call from the boys.  Ouch. 

We took our time in the morning, making hot cross buns for breakfast.  Jack kept an eye on them for me..

And let's not forget about the Easter Bunny.  He delivered plenty of Easter sweets and treats..

Not convinced his basket was a full as the rest. Seriously - look at that eyebrow..

We took the kids to the 1030 Mass (we had a sitter for the Vigil), and made the mistake of waiting until after church to attempt pictures.  It was a total disaster....the kids were a bunch of antsy wiggle worms with only eyes for the McDonald's milkshakes waiting in the kitchen.  We bribed, tickled, made fools of ourselves but only got a few good smiles.  And we only got through the first round of pics with pics with pics of just the 3 of pics of us as a family.  I know.  Terrible. 

And then they were done.
We had some dear friends over for an Easter meal of ham, leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, tiropita and .....brussel sprouts!  Our friends brought them and I could not stop eating them.  They were roasted with bacon and a candied pecans - delish!  The kids went on a scavenger egg hunt and did an Easter craft.  The weather was perfect and it really was a wonderful day! 

We've spent today relaxing and doing a little clean-up.  We missed spending the holiday with family but are so grateful the wondeful friendships God has given us here.  We hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend with people you love! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song"   Pope John Paul II

Have a Blessed Easter Sunday!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Cross

It's Good Friday and I've been thinking about what to write for days now.

But I don't need to say much - the Cross says enough.  It is a symbol of the ultimate act of love: laying one's life down for another.  And Christ did it for each one of us.  All humanity is united in this way.   

The first Bible verse I ever memorized was John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

If we believe in the Son of God and allow the power of the Cross and Resurrection to work in us, then not only do we have life for eternity but we begin to live eternal life right now.  A life with heaven set in our hearts and the power of the living God in us.

The Cross is power to save; power to change; power to live.

Thank you, Jesus for the Cross.  Worthy is the Lamb, to be praised.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lent: The Road to Baptism

I often forget that Lent is largely about Baptism.  I'm sponsoring a candidate in the RCIA program this year and being involved in RCIA again during Lent (although in a different capacity this time around!) has been a very real reminder of the Baptismal focus of this season. 

Our catechumens are taking intentional steps of prayer, study and examination, to ensure they are prepared to receive their Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion) on Easter...the first and most important being Baptism.  It is the Sacrament that opens the door for all the others.  Through it we die to sin and rise to new life in Christ!   

Those of us that have already been baptized are going through a similar process in our Lenten journey.  We examine, we pray, we turn from sin....all so that we can go forward, renewed to live resurrection life in Christ.  And when these catechumens are baptized at the Easter Vigil, those of us that have already been baptized will be renewing our Baptismal vows right along side them. 

What we do during Lent (our self-sacrifice, our self-examination, our repentance, our fasting, our prayer, our reflection, our study, our grow), should all lead us to a place where we are ready to renew our Baptismal vows with fervor.

So will you be ready to not just to recite them, but proclaim them?

Baptismal Vows

Do you reject Satan?
I do! 

And all his works?
I do!

And all his empty promises?
I do!

Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
I do!

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
I do!

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
I do!

God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.    


Monday, April 2, 2012

Busy Blogs

Lots to share on both blogs this week!  I won't post a link here for each of our house blog posts, so I don't clutter up this blog.   Just check in throughout the week if you want to see what we've been up to on the "home" front :)

Holy Week!

I always seem to miss posting on these special days that begin different seasons and periods of time in our a happy belated Palm Sunday to you!  We have officially entered Holy Week and are so close to the glorious Easter celebration! 

Each day now has very special meaning...especially the Holy Triduum which includes Holy Thursday (where Christ instituted the Last Supper and humbly washed His disciples feet as an example of love and service for us all), Good Friday (the day our Lord suffered and died to ransom us back to the Father), and Holy Saturday (a day of mourning, grieving, and great fear for the hearts of the disciples who did not yet know the glorious hope and joy that Resurrection Sunday would bring). 

There is so much for our hearts to contemplate as we approach Easter.  I'm going to do my best to resist over scheduling us this week and leave time for quiet, both alone and with our family, to dwell on Christ's love and passion. 

I often find explaining this a challenge with such young do I explain this incredible sacrifice?  how much can they handle?  how much do they understand?  But when I think about how to break it down for them, it always comes back to one thing: LOVE.  Christ suffered, horribly, out of love for us;  God offered His one and only Son as the sacrificial lamb, out of love for us; and we, full of grace, get to love Him in return, because of His great love for us. 

My 2 year old doesn't need to know the details of how Christ suffered yet, but he does need to know that God gave us Jesus, His Son, because He loves us more than we can possibly imagine.  And really, it's what I need to know too. 

I am old enough to know the details of the Passion that are too much for my children, and it's important not to brush past them.  Each drop of blood, beginning with the drops of blood He sweat in the garden as He asked the Father to remove this burden from His shoulders, mark Christ's passion and love for us.     

I heard this on the radio the other day and it drove this point home...God didn't just love us, He is love itself. 

Love is leading me
Holding nail-scarred hands
Forgetting where I'm from or who I've been
Love has carried me
On His broken back
To a place where I can finally see
This love is free

This love is free
We're singing
(Chorus to "This Love is Free" by Hyland)

Let's not forget how far He went to be Love for us....Love left Heaven's splendor, Love experienced every pain and temptation, and Love carried that wooden Cross, loaded with our sin, so that each of us could be restored to the Father.   

It is Holy Week.  We've entered into His Passion and the greatest love story on earth is about to unfold...
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