25 January, 2011

Going, Going, Gone...

Balance is a frightful thing.

A thing never completely achieved.

A sense never completely out of reach.

A soaring joy when right.

A sinking ache when wrong.

One finds herself waiting, waiting, waiting...

For when two plus nine = 8.

Two find themselves waiting, waiting...

When finally 1+1+1 = One.

20 January, 2011

Daybook January 2011

Outside My Window ...
Powdery white snow and slushy roads! Not so enticing for going to the office today.


I am listening to...
Curious George trying to clean a grape-juice stain. Otherwise, silence. Clara is sleeping and John Ross is glued to George.


To Live the Liturgy…
Arg...tough one...we're just trying to get to liturgy at this stage in the game. This past weekend we got to church early because we were visiting my mom and dad and with 9 adults, 2 little boys, and 2 baby carriers we have to save an entire ROW! While we were waiting for Mass to begin I walked John Ross around the church and we learned how to bless ourselves with holy water and we lit a candle. When I asked him what we were lighting the candle for he replied with a half-whisper, "Kera and Daad" known to the rest of the world as Clara and Dad.


To be Fit and Happy….
I met my goal last week and exceeded it including a long trip to the skating rink. Considering it is already Tuesday and I haven't even started towards this week's goal, I'm a bit trepidatious. I am hoping that after the kids are in bed and Kevin is at a meeting that perhaps I can sneak a workout in tonight.


I am thankful for ...
A babysitter that can flex to my crazy schedule this month. I have a lot of extra night and morning meetings and my usual sitter doesn't have the kind of flexibility I need. I am also grateful that she is willing to stay on for the semester in addition to my sister so mommy can focus on work during work time and home during home time!


From the kitchen ...
Homemade SCONES! So yummy, but made the small to help with the fit and happy side of me!!! Almond Chocolate Chip, Blackberry Lemon, and Honey Cranberry Pecan. Here's the base recipe!


I am creating ...
Materials for a women's event in February. My session is called "Touch Up Your Roots!


I am reading….
"A Year in the Life of Food" by Barbara Kingsolver. I am also trying to decide on a piece of fiction. I think I need to fall in love with fiction again. Reading for pleasure and I fell out of love during college and I think I need to challenge myself to give it some grace again. I need something substantial to lose myself in. Please do not suggest pop culture fiction...I'm only considering classics. Perhaps I'll revisit the Betsy-Tacy series of my youth!


Towards a real education ...
Challenging myself to find time for crafts and coloring WITH the kids. The kids regularly express their creativity, but I am making an effort to participate!


Bringing beauty to my home ...
Taking down our Christmas tree (after all, the official liturgical season is now over) and making our space cozy again. I'm also trying to bring some organization to our cupboards and rooms.


I am hoping and praying….
For inner peace and guidance as I continue to build my speaking and writing career. Keeping a balance between my family, my day job and my dream is tricky. Not knowing the exact future status of my day job doesn't help either. I am so grateful for my best friend and writing buddy who keeps me motivated and inspired and who has in many ways, paved the way mentally for my work. I couldn't do it without her solidarity and I am praying that our friendship will also provide a solid foundation for a good partnership.


Around the house ...
I'm simplifying. The less busy work, the better.


One of my favorite things ...
My new Vera Bradley netbook bag!!! My sister pulled my name at Christmas and I am beyond excited about it and have already given it quite the workout! It is the perfect combination for both work and home use!


A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Working and catching up after an amazing weekend with my family and grandparents who had flown in from AZ. Perhaps a mommy meeting to catch up with a good friend and get some freelance work done. I'm going to try to get a leg up on my to-do list so I can enjoy next weekend, which is also the last free weekend of the next 3 months!


10 January, 2011

The RED Hour

At our house the "red hour" is any hour in which preparation for an event departure takes place.

The most regular occurance of the "red hour" is Sunday mornings before Mass. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly to you mamas and papas out there, the hour before Mass is probably one of my least holy of the week. As a sort of examination of collective conscience, let's review.

First Commandment (You shall have no other gods before Me)
Yes, there were several moments where I considered that skipping Mass might be easier than giving John Ross a last minute bath to extract the yogurt and maple syrup from his hair.

Second Commandment (You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain)
Yes, Clara's incesant whining has elicited several "Jimminy Cricket!"s and "Good Lord!"s from my otherwise careful mouth.

Third Commandment (Honor the Sabbath)
Yes, I work for the church and have been known to work on Sundays. Working on Sunday is not so much the issue as is the fact that I don't take equivalent time later in the week to focus on quality family time. I have been known to get myself so wrapped up in my work, the laundry, the bills, and the family errands that I have neglected to make myself free to love my family and take time to rest. Even after creating the world (and you can bet God knew how badly we were going to mess it up by the next day), God took time to rest.

Fourth Commandment (Honor your father and mother)
Yes, I have neglected my role as mother by denying the importance of my spiritual life. I have not treated myself with patience and given myself the necessary prayer time with God.

Fifth Commandment (You shall not kill)
Yes, I have barked retorts and ordered my husband into action in a frustrated attempt to get us out the door on time. I have treated him with disrespect and killed his otherwise cheerful weekend demeanor.

Sixth Commandment (You shall not commit adultery)
Yes, I have put clean toddler tights and trousers ahead of my husband's pants. I have put my children and my need for community approval ahead of his needs.

Eighth Commandment (You shall not bear false witness)
Yes, I have been know to offer my children the example of a sarcastic comment such as, "Oh yeah, you're daddy is such help!", when in fact he deserves great admiration in their presence.

Ninth (You shall not covet your neighbor's wife)
Yes, in haste I have neglected my appearance and worn both jeans and oatmeal. In inattention I have dressed immodestly for the occassion of Mass with a dress that was perhaps too fitted or a skirt that was too short. I have not acted intentionally to protect the integrity of my husband and others.

Seventh Commandment (You shall not steal) and Tenth Commandment (You shall not covet thy neighbor's goods)
Yes, I have been known to take the last cup of coffee to soothe my Sunday morning nerves. I have also been known to get frustrated at the amount of time it takes my husband to get ready, not because of the time but because I want it too...

All jest aside, my examination proves our imperfection as parents. However, as my husband has so aptly and lovingly pointed out recently, we don't want to set the stage for Mass inside the "red hour". Mass is a celebration and most families don't like to start a celebration with an arguement in the car on the way over.

This weekend let's work together to have a collective "white hour". That is, an hour of peaceful preparation and loving interactions. And if it means we have to start early, so be it.

I'm setting the alarm for 4 a.m...:)

09 January, 2011

Yes, I Own a CSA Share and Still Shop at Sams Club

A contradiction you say? Not in our family.

I have a very clear moral base which is informed by my faith and my own study. That being said, I am very much a centrist on a lot of issues. I don't believe in the relative concept of "to each his own", but I do believe that everything in life is a balance.

I am on the fence between two extremes in a lot of areas of my life. I believe my number one vocation is family love, but I love to work and believe it is important. I believe that breastfeeding is best for babies, but I pumped and partially formula fed my babies from an early age. I own a half share in a CSA farm and I shop at Sams Club.

First and foremost, we live in Wisconsin. We cannot get fresh produce of any kind here for 4-6 months out of the year without shipping it in. Yet, healthy eating is a very significant core value of our family. This includes a lot of fresh/flash frozen produce and fresh meat and fish. Anyone who has learned the trick of shopping only the perimeter of the grocery store knows how pricey that can get. At Sams I can get more fresh spinach, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables for my buck than anywhere else. I can also get plenty of eggs, yogurt, and milk for my growing family.

That is my second point. Even if we could get produce here year round from CSA, we couldn't afford it. Anyone who wants to go local/natural has to be willing to pay for it. While it is a priority for us as a family, we have to balance that with the priority of me working parttime and my vocation to church work. Both of these priorities prevent us from going all organic because of the cost.

Furthermore, Sams Club/Walmart corporation provides a lot of jobs and benefits to people in our community and keeps a lot of money moving in our community. CSA does as well in different ways, but to say that one is better than the other from an economic standpoint is fruitless. In today's day and age different people have different needs. We cannot all afford natural/organic, but we all deserve to afford a healthly lifestyle. CSA offers one option and Sams Club/Walmart offers another. This way, everyone has the option to eat healthy if they make it a priority.

(Side note: While some may contest my statement of "everyone has the option to eat healthy", I stand by it. Certainly it may be cheaper to eat a burger of the dollar menu, but I also know how cheap and easy it is to make a kettle of soup or chili that will feed our family of 3 eaters for 3+ meals. Cheapest does not mean that something more expensive isn't affordable and let's not even go into the healthcare costs that go along with the supposed "cheapest" option.)

The food supply chain in our family requires a balance between local, seasonal, and affordable. I am proud that we've made nutrition a family value. I am proud that I have found a way to shop and cook in the best interest of the loves of my life.

08 January, 2011

Why God Created Pomegranates

It has been a busy week around here. We hosted a 5-course wine and cheese tasting for my co-workers at the parish. Christmas is really rough on all parish staff and most events in December are just an extra thing on the calendar. This event was for all of us to get together, drink, eat, and laugh. There were about 10 people and the menu included curried butternut soup, beef roast, potatoes 3-ways, and a trio of sumptuous desserts. A lovely time was had by all, but especially by my creative side!!! This was another great consequence of my exit from Facebook!

An event I was supposed to speak at this weekend was rescheduled which was a wonderful treat! Instead of a Saturday away from my family we had breakfast together and visited a local farm who was hosting their annual "seed day". This farm offers community supported agriculture (CSA). We toured the farm and said hello the their chickens, dog, and beef cattle. We tasted some wonderful canned goods from last year's harvest and signed up for a half share of produce for the next growing season! We are all set to receive a box of produce a week starting in early June and running through the end of the harvest!! We are very excited to support local produce farming and enjoy some free range chicken and eggs!!! It was great to have some say in what was going to be planted this year!!!

We returned home a bit late for lunch. We were well into naptime by the time I got John Ross in his chair and although I fed him in stages to help prevent a meltdown, I was only mildly successful. As he worked on his grilled cheese, I was trying to peel a pomegranate (yes, I know...pomegranate? Not exactly local produce...more on my view on that in a later post) and remove the pareils. Amidst his yelling and whining I found myself saying to Kevin, "God created pomegranates simply to frustrate humans. I bet He just sits up there and chuckles!"

Kevin responded, "No, God created pomegranates to teach humans patience."

03 January, 2011

He's is Two Going on Three!

My little man is TWO! In the spirit of a tradition I have seen many blogger mom's keep, this post is dedicated to my firstborn son, the fruit of my womb, and the source of my very first gray hair.

Two years ago our lives changed forever. The miracle of life and the glory of heaven was never closer than the very moment our son took his first breath. When he arrived he did so without a sound. He didn't cry at the abrupt end to his warm, gentle existence, but quietly took in the new world around him. His big, brown eyes captured my heart and instantly ushered us into the era of a "brave new family".

Active in the womb, he hasn't stopped since. He is all boy and coming from a family of all girls mommy has been at the disadvantage! He loves wrestling with his daddy and his uncle Matt (my brother, who was adopted, is 5).

As active as he is, we call him our "little mommy". He has always been very empathetic. He feels what I feel and what Kevin feels. As an infant, I had to be very aware of my own stress, anxiety, and frustration as it was amplified in his behavior. To this day my approach to Sunday Mass is patterned in his behavior during Mass. Talk about a mood-meter! His little "feelers" are easily hurt by any perceived slight on his part or the part of others.
He is very attentive to his sister and is overly concerned about her well-being. If we invite him to dinner or to bed he is insistent that there is a plan for Clara. He has taken it upon himself to see to the well-being of Grandma's current foster baby. His baby doll has now taken on the baby's name and is lovingly placed in Clara's baby swing, baby seat, and exersaucer.

John Ross loves dinosaurs and trains and any combination of the two! Concidentally (NOT) his favorite TV shows are Dnosaur Train and Thomas the Tank Engine. Curious George is currently gaining on the former, but since he can't re-enact the antics of one curious monkey it may require a bit more imagination than he is ready for! John Ross loves his books when he is in his bed by himself, but is not one to be read to as of yet.

His sweet demeanor and quiet focus intrigues me daily. He will often "nap" for 3+ hours in the afternoon. Certainly a couple of hours are spent sleeping, but from infancy he would spend large periods of time laying and thinking. Somedays we'll walk in and find him sprawled out with his books while others he'll just be lying there with his hands behind his head. I often wonder what is happening behind his beautiful brown eyes.

He has always been very independent much to the chagrin of a mama who wanted to snuggle her first baby. However, the age of two has rung in a new era of snuggling. At random points of the day he will siddle up to me when I am working and attempt to push all other items from my reach. With a furrowed brow and an insistent, "Snuh?" he crawls up into my lap. Somedays he'll pull the blanket up over us. There we will sit, Mama reveling in the affection, for anywhere between 10-20 minutes watching a cartoon or show. As I mentioned before, he is not one for books...yet.

In the last couple of months his speech has exploded to included words like "engine" and "yuck" and phrases like "Where'd it go?" and "I don't know!" My absolute least favorite word is "MAM!" This very Irish version of an endearment for mother has become, in his little mouth, not a noun but a verb. It is a verb that demands action from wherever he is in the house. In fact, at Christmas we discovered that this is a verb that demands action from whatever female caretaker is closet. "MAM!" was used on both his grandma and his aunties.

"Scoopy", as we lovingly call him, is going to eat us out of house and home before he is 5. Tall and solid from birth, he rarely turns down food and consumes virtually every bite with gusto! He "mmmmm"s and "yummm"s and anxiously laughs his way through everything I fix and has recently taken a great interest in the food preparation process. I have suspicions that it has to do more with the pre-dinner bites that are involved, but at least I know that he will never starve!

He wears his heart on his sleeve and no one can claim that he hides his feelings. His expressions are truly priceless although I think Hallmark would pay a pretty penny for some of them. Many of them include very coordinated mouth and eyebrow movements. Surprised and confused are two of my favorites.

I see his heritage in him at every moment of everyday. Seeing his papa and my papa in him, I can't help but reflect upon what a blessing he has been upon our marriage. This is why God calls married couples to children. His creativity, love and determination are our future. His big brown eyes will see this world to a new and better place. I believe that in him our legacy of faithfullness and trust will live long beyond my earthly years.

May you always know our love and the love of your Father, my son. May you know that you never walk alone as I will always be in your heart.

100 Posts! Here's to You Woman at the Inkwell!!!


I started this blog in 2006 as an outlet for my writing inspirations and as a way of staying in touch with all those who have touch my life. Having done that and built and deepened a few new friendships in addition, I am very blessed.

It has been a great 5 years and 100 posts. That may not seem like a lot for the amount of time, but throw in a couple of a jobs, a wedding, and 2 children and I am feeling quite accomplished!

As I said at the beginning my writing philosphy is that it is as much about the reader as it is about the writer. Writing is the beginning of a dialogue, spoken and unspoken. I am grateful for your readership, your comments, and your prayers.

If you're so inclined and have a bit of that bubbly stuff left from the holiday (or even just a sip of cold coffee), lift your glass! Here's to us!