Thursday, March 27, 2008

Running on Empty

And it's all my fault.

I have a bad habit of staying up too late when my husband is away, usually watching tv or bopping around on the computer. Last night it was both (Can you say "Netflix instant viewing"?). I was up winceably late, so that even with our Easter break morning delay I got less than four hours of sleep.

I think this situation is also related to my post-Lent tendency of going crazy un-sacrificing. As in, I've eaten A LOT of sweets these past few days. A specific bedtime was also part of my Lent.

Fortunately, today should be a light day, responsibility-wise. And going SO overboard last night should make it much easier to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. Even if I stay up reading, I'll fall asleep much sooner. The key for me: not to turn on the tv or computer after the kids are in bed. Starting then always seems to spiral into extreme lateness.

Another day, another try.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


We've had a series of long-term houseguests this year. The first arrived in September, and the room shuffling began. Guest #1 left in November. A week later, guest #2 arrived, then #3 a few days later. More shuffling commenced. (Marianna slept on the playroom couch for 3 months!)

Our last guest left yesterday, months earlier than expected. At dinner we began the discussion of the room situation. Should we go back to the way it was (seemingly so long ago) or not? Many plans were proposed, and the final decision was reached by consensus before the meal was over: Lauren will move to the room at the top of the stairs. The double bed will move there (from the basement), so it will be a better guest room while she is at college. David will stay in the basement, but with a smaller bed and more storage in his tiny "room". Rebecca will move into the bottom bunk and share a room with Marianna. (She's been in my room since September, along with her bed, toys, and books.) Dan and Joe will be official roommates, and David's stuff will finally move out of the room they've been using.

So we're now undertaking this unexpected, big project. Lauren's new room is an ugly neutral color (made by mixing leftover gallons, as I recall...), so she will start painting it today. The work began last night: while Lauren looked at stencils online, we began moving furniture, emptying, and vacuuming the room.
Len removed pictures and zillions of fuse bead creations from the walls and spackled them, too.
It took two to six of us (at various stages) to move this beautiful (handmade by Len 16 years ago), bulky, and outrageously heavy (even without the drawers) bed down the curving stairs, out the front door, down the hill, and into the basement.
Lots of furniture is in limbo, awaiting final placement.

And there is still plenty to sort and organize as furniture and people are rearranged!
Last year over Easter break the whole family spent several days tearing up carpet, demolishing a wood floor, and moving furniture and books back and forth as we installed laminate flooring in four rooms.
This Easter we're making changes in all five bedrooms and majorly transforming one of them. I'm beginning to sense a theme . . . renewal, anyone?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

On a Happier Note

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary! I can't write anything that will do justice to the wonderful man I married. He was a good man 22 years ago, but day by day he has matured and grown into a truly great one. He loves God and me and our children, and takes care of our family physically and spiritually. I can't imagine my life without him and his love.

Prayers to Spare?

If you've got any, I'll take them for a special intention. I'm dealing with (or trying to) something difficult and scary and sad, so your prayers are greatly appreciated. I'll be okay, though, so pray for the situation, not just for me! Thank you SO much.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We're Almost Done

Our sacrifices and good deeds are making the crown less "thorny". Soon it will flower into Easter's Crown of Glory. The anticipation of these next three days has begun...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Seder Report

Well, Lauren took pictures, so I can do a little "show and tell" about Saturday's Seder. Since there were only ten (only!) of us this year, Marianna and I set out the good china and crystal. Becca tipped over her grape juice twice, but oh, well.

The package wrapped in a white napkin is three matzo called "the Unity" that is used for part of the ceremony. As Christians we see this as a symbol of the Trinity.

There are many scripts that can be used for a Christian version of the Passover service. Over the years I've adapted one from Family Celebrations at Easter by Ann Hibbard.

Below is the platter of symbolic foods: roasted egg, lamb shank bone, charoseth, horseradish, parsley, and salt water.

Lighting the candles: "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You have made us your own. We light these festival lights in your Name."
"Wine" (sparkling grape juice for us) is poured and sipped four times: the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of the Plagues, the Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Praise. If Passover was anything like this in Jesus' day, the cup he passed after eating (Luke 22:20) would have been the Cup of Redemption. Even if it wasn't scripted like this back then, it's still great fodder for reflection now.
We really are quite solemn! Partway through the ceremony, we pause for dinner and relax a bit. Dinner is roast lamb, potato or grains, green vegetable, charoseth (apple salad), and matzo.
After dinner the children hunt for a hidden matzo (much silliness by then). We then finish the ceremony ("Next year in the New Jerusalem!") and have dessert--a lamb cake, ice cream, and strawberries (strawberry sauce this year).
This tradition has been a blessing for our family over the years. It's almost Holy Thursday, but it's not too early to file away ideas and lists for next year if you'd like to join the fun.
Updated to add: Ann V. at Holy Experience has written a beautiful post about her family's Passover commemoration. I've got pictures, but she's got poetry...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our Seder

Tonight we are celebrating a Christian version of the Jewish Passover meal. The Last Supper was a Passover celebration, so there is lots of symbolism, from the lamb to the unleavened bread to the "wine" (sparkling juice).

We follow a script that tells the story of the first Passover and the Jews' release from slavery in Egypt. There is also explanation of how Jesus fulfills and completes the Scriptures. We all participate in the rituals.

We've had this tradition for at least a decade now. Usually we share with other families, but this year is complicated, so we'll have just one or two guests. Many families celebrate the seder on Holy Thursday itself, but I've always found it too hard to share this meal (2 hours plus) AND get to evening mass (Len's schedule often had him working then, too.). As long as we celebrate BEFORE the Mass of the Lord's Supper, I think our family has a chance to renew appreciation of its beauty. The year after year repetition also allows the children's understanding to blossom and grow.

Hopefully I'll take pictures and post more details.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Five Parables Meme

Anne has tagged me for my very first meme! The rules are simple:

1. Name your five favorite parables.
2. Tag one blogger per parable.
3. It would be nice if you link back to this post.

This has given me a wonderful opportunity to think about and read scripture these past few days. I browsed through the New Testament to make sure I didn't miss any contenders, although a few parables did come to mind quickly.

As I look over my favorites, I see that many of them are listed not because they make me feel good, but because they reach out and grab me. God is talking to me and teaching me and showing me where I need improvement. So:

1. The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16): The owner of the vineyard hires workers throughout the day, then ends up giving them all the same wage. Those who worked longer protest that it's not fair, and the owner responds, "My friend, I do you no injustice...I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay as you. I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?" I've grown up a lot, but there was a time when I would have cared more about "fairness" than the beauty of God's generosity.

2. Parable(s) on Prayer (Luke 11:5-13): If you knock on the door long enough, your friend will get up in the night because of your persistence. The second part is another reminder of God's love and care for us: "What father among you will give his son a snake if he asks for a fish, or hand him a scorpion if he asks for an egg? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."

3. The Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30): A man sowed good seed, but his enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. They needed to grow up together, not separated until the harvest. This reminds me of my children (and me) growing up in this fallen world. There are weeds that can damage them. They need to be strong to recognize and resist.

4. Dutiful Servants (Luke 17:7-10): This parable is a reminder of the need for humility. If I think I'm doing well, I need to remember that I'm really just doing my duty! And considering He gave his life for me, He's really not asking that much, is He?

"If one of you had a servant plowing or herding sheep and he came in from the fields, would you say to him, 'Come and sit down at table'? Would you not rather say, 'Prepare my supper. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward'? Would he be grateful to the servant who was only carrying out his orders? It is quite the same with you who hear me. When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say, 'We are uselesss servants. We have done no more than our duty.'"

5. The Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-8): My favorite part of this parable is verse 5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing." 'Nuff said!

What are your favorites? I'm tagging Ouiz, Elizabeth, Margaret, Nutmeg, and Marianne.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Liturgical Wreaths

Lisa is hosting this week's fair: The Loveliness of Sacred Spaces. Check it out!

Last year, Elizabeth wrote about using candles of the appropriate liturgical color on her family's table. That inspired me to make wreaths to surround candles for our table's centerpiece.

I used a few online sources for information on colors, and borrowed Elizabeth's idea of using blue for Mary's feast days. We look at our Magnificat magazine to choose the color of the day--ordinary time is green, but we might use red if it is a martyr's feast. This encourages us to notice the changes and rhythm of the Church year. Even my second grader enjoys checking and changing the centerpiece, although right now it's purple every day. :-)
I bought straw wreaths at the craft store and wrapped them with florist tape (with a little hot glue at the end), partly to keep the straw from shedding, and partly for the green background. I bought flowers for the major colors, and green ivy garland, which I wired and glued in place. The homeschoolers and I worked together, snipping stems and gluing onto the wreaths. We generally put leaves on first, with flowers afterwards. Of course, the children needed supervision using the hot glue gun. Overall, the wreaths took several sessions to complete.I found an online store that sells large, unscented pillar candles. Unscented is worth looking for since the candle is lit at meal time. Another advantage is the quality of the color --beautiful shades that are solid throughout, not white candles dipped in color. You can see the purple one on my "Look of Lent" post below. At the craft store I also bought a rimmed glass plate in the candle section; the wreath fits on it perfectly. It also has little feet that make it easier to move around--great for table clearing time.
This was a fun project that would be easy to do in stages. It's really enhanced our awareness of daily life in the Church

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Look of Lent

Lisa is hosting this week's fair: The Loveliness of Sacred Spaces. Check it out!

Lent is long. Over the years we have incorporated some activities and many visual reminders to keep us aware and focused.Last year the children and I decorated wreaths in liturgical colors. The how and what and why will make another post, but here is the purple one we keep on the kitchen table all through Lent. I bought the gigantic unscented candle online. I like that it is solid purple, not a white candle dipped in color.

It isn't Lent here without our crown of thorns. Braided from salt dough (1/2 cup salt, 2 cups flour, water as needed) and filled with 250 toothpicks, it has a prominent place in the kitchen. The toothpicks represent our sins which are what Jesus suffered for. They are removed as good deeds, sacrifices, or works of mercy are performed. Hopefully emptied, the wreath is decorated with flowers to become an Easter crown and centerpiece, with a white candle in the middle.

There are sometimes questions about which good deeds are worthy of a toothpick, but for the most part, this is not a show-piece. We hardly ever see anyone else removing a thorn.
This is our prayer corner in the family room. The tea light is in a purple glass holder. We usually kneel and pray before the crucifix there. The Stations of the Cross book is new for us this year (We the similar rosary meditation book.), although we really haven't used it much yet.

Years ago a friend suggested covering our religious pictures and statues with purple cloth during Lent. We did that for a while, but I'd rather see them, so now I drape them with purple ribbon instead. I found a big roll (Costco!) with wire in the edges which makes the ribbon easier to shape. I save the big pieces from year to year (ironing lightly).
The ribbon was also handy for draping the grape vine wreath that hangs on the front door.
I laminated this print of Veronica's veil years ago, but it is more prominent this Lent. It was in the kitchen for weeks, but I think that over time we stopped "seeing" it. Now I've started hanging it on mirrors, moving it every few days. I think that will help keep the image fresh for us, and maybe give us each a moment of reflection.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

First, the Good News

My just-laundered linens are on the bed, fresh and clean.

The bad news? The digital thermometer I keep in a pillowcase has also just been laundered.

Marriage Mending/Marriage Maintenance

My walk with Dusty today was an enjoyable one in the sunshine (yay!) through the woods. I always pray for at least part of the way, and this morning's rosary was offered for a marriage in trouble, in fact, for all marriages having difficulties.

Later I stopped by Elizabeth's site and saw today's Lenten message, which really struck home:

Lent Day 22
Fast: Rise a little earlier and bring your husband breakfast in bed. (If it’s too late today, plan for tomorrow).
Pray: Move your wedding band to your right hand. Every time you notice the difference today, pray for your marriage. Listen to His answers.
Give: Plan a date night.

It is too late for breakfast here, but I've moved my wedding band, and it IS an effective reminder to pray for Len and our marriage. It's very noticeable. We've talked a few times this past week about picking a date night, but this right-handed ring will make sure I don't put off the planning again.