Monday, March 30, 2009

Of lunches and Bento

Over the last few weeks I have become fascinated with Bento boxes. I once more followed a rabbit trail through some blogs and stumbled across this phenomenon. For the uninitiated, like myself until a week or so ago, a Bento box is a Japanese style lunchbox, which can be divided into several sections by inserts, dividers or different bowls clicked together. This allows you to arrange your food in an atractive way, as well as practicing portion control.
My first forray brought me to which has an atractive American version of Bento boxes. From there on, I discovered several Bento themed blogs. Biggie's being the one that grabbed my interest most. Remembering the sandwiches and square boxes lunchboxes I toted to highschool, with lunches that were not very inspired, I love the idea of being so creative with small amounts of food. And in a few more years, I want to be the mom who packs the coolest lunches in all of preschool!

For now though, I want to start packing a bento for myself. No, I am not about to start working out of the house, but I find that my lunchtime is the time when Joseph would like to have most of my attention, right before his naptime. Taking fifteen minutes to make lunch and then taking the time to actually eat it is the same as torturing my little munchkin and expecting him to put up with it. As a result, I have gained five pounds under the motto: "I started making a perfectly healthy lunch, but then Joseph interrupted me because he wanted my apple and then he wanted something to drink and then he ran away and it became quiet and I needed to go check on him and then get him down from the stairs after he had somehow managed to get the door open and after he had his tantrum... I just grabbed the first unhealthy thing I could find."

I want those five pounds gone. I love healthy foods, that is not the problem, the problem is that I need to actually pay attention to what I eat and that is not possible during lunch. I need to be able to just open a box and eat what is inside. Possibly microwaving it for one minute tops.
Enter the bento. I actually bought one for my mother, before I realised that she is travelling to Japan in two weeks time. She offered there to buy me some bento supplies. Wooohoo!
In the mean time I am telling myself that it is absolutely ridiculous to buy an eighteen month old todler his own bento box. No matter if it has miffy on it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Of Ama, and stubornness and chopped liver

Joseph's grandmother is visiting us. His Oma. Joseph likes to use his own words though. For the longest time, Oma has been Mmmmma. Not mama. Mmmmma. We have tried correcting it but to no effect. He did change his mind on how to call her during this visit though, and moved from mmmmma to Ama. No matter how much we try to repeat oma, he keeps stubornly saying Ama.
Ama and Joseph are great friends. And it doesn't even have something to do with the twenty something books, several items of clothing and play kitchen supplies she brought for him. Maybe the daily phonecalls are starting to sink in, because Ama was immediately his favorite. Mommy was chopped liver compared to her, really. I went to the South Carolina Convention of Catholic Women, early in the morning on saturday and did not come back till after his bed time. That meant he did not see me from friday evening till sunday morning. And do you think I was the first one for whom he called in the morning? No, Sirreeh! Dada! Ama!

Hmpfh! Motherhood, it's not for the faint of heart!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


A week or so ago I was blessed to have the oportunity to offer hospitality to a long time friend of mine that I had met over the internet. In truth we had never even met in real life yet, but after finishing a four year tour in the navy, he and his father would pass through our town (well, with a small detour)on their way home. Since we had started out on different continents when we met, and he served on a different continent after I had moved here, I was not about to let the chance pass to actually meeting someone in person that I had been talking to for well... six years.

I was worried though. The guestroom is not much more than a bed. The sheets have seen my husband through college and one person would need to sleep on an air matrass. Joseph will mess up a cleaned house in ten seconds flat and how would he behave at the dinner table?
In the end though, hospitality is not much more than opening your heart and your home for people. I remember in the year 2000 we celebrated New Years in our new house in Antwerp, which was still so much of a building warf that plastic tarps separated the living room and kitchen as the only really usable parts of the house. We celebrated new years on boards put over sawhorses that were normally in use in the actual building process of the home, with a paper table cloth over it. We listened to the countdown on a tiny battery operated radio. And it was one of the best New Years celebrations I have ever had. Or that my aunt and nephews had over had because it marked a new beginning and it was a grand adventure.

All I did for my guests was open my door, make a big pot of chilli, offered clean sheets and towels, and make them feel as welcome as I could. We sat around the table sharing stories while we ate. After dinner and after Joseph had gone to bed, we played a game of cards. In the morning I made a quick hot breakfast and then we parted ways. It was simple. And yet it refreshed me in a way I can hardly describe. I need to overcome my hesitance about inviting people. I need to stop seeing Joseph as a hindrance to hospitality while almost everybody is absolutely fine with having a todler aorund and really enjoys his company. I need to stop worry about the house. If I keep it mostly clean, what does it matter if someone just upended his blocks or smeared cherries over the todler table? These things are part of my life and in offering hospitality, I try and share that life. It is not about trying to impress people, that is where the sin of pride comes in. A sin that tries and prevents us to do what God wants us to do. Come together and share a meal while sharing His love.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Each day, parenting becomes a bit easier to me. Oh, don't get me wrong here, there are tantrums since a few weeks and I don't know any parent who likes tantrums. There are new challenges too, like the fact that he climbs like a mountain goat. Or as I descibed recently to a friend about the reason for gaining some weight in the last few months: "I was making a wonderfully delicious and healthy lunch for myself but then I had to grab the todler who had climbed on the kitchen table who then wanted milk, which he upended over himself, over me and over the floor and after I had changed us and whiped up the floor I just grabbed the first thing that I could find which was a big fat bagel or a bag of chips."

But even with all that, I feel so much better in this stage than I did before when he was just a tiny baby. This morning I told him to put his bowl on the table. And Lo and behold, Joseph did put his bowl back on the table and went there to nicely eat his cottage cheese and cherries. Now the obedience is wonderful (no parent that does not like an obedient child) but it is actually the simple fact that he understands what I am telling him and is able to respond by motion or words that entrances me. I am such a word oriented person that communicating with my son is such a treasure. It truely fills me with delight. I am certain more experienced moms will already tell me that very soon I will long for just a few moments of quiet, and I already see the forshadowing of that when he repeats "buh" (buckle) six million times over as he wants me to undo his buckle so he can fasten it again, something he does not get tired of for some reason.
But the mere fact that we can actually talk to one another now is such a gift. My little baby is such a boy now. Another step in growing up.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A delightful blog...

I don't often recommend things in my blog, nor do I point too much to other blogs because well... I want you to keep coming back and read mine. But some things are just too good to keep to myself. I absolutely adored this entry in Wendy's blog. But that does not surprise me. Her blog has been a source of continued delight to me ever since I discovered this sweet little gem. She gives me a little peek into what the years ahead of me might bring. Her posts are always articulate, often quietly funny and they make me happy. If you too like to be delighted on a regular basis, go and have a look.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't try to outsmart a toddler...

Joseph goes to bed, both for naptime and night time with a bunch of stuffed animals. It started pretty innocently with one shortly after Christmas time, but by now there is a whole menagerie. There is duck, woefwoef, Eee (eeyore), bear, and Niiihhiii (a horse). Sometimes Grandma Bunny also goes along. It is quite an armful and a challenge to hold on to them all and still have some freedom to grab Joseph in case of an attempt to escape or a slip on the stairs.
Yesterday, I thought I had an extremely smart idea. When I picked him up out of bed in the morning, I only took three animals with me. He is in such a good mood in the morning he barely noticed, and I felt triumph rise within me.
It was a nice day, with two gifts for Joseph, an heirloom rosary that belonged to me when I was a child and a set of easter ducks.

After the impulse of the christmas ducks that we bought him and that were such a hit in the pictures, the easter ducks seemed like a logical follow up. He immediately loved them. He played with them for a while, was enthousiast whenever they were brought out again and repeatedly called for 'duh' 'duh'.
The problem came when it was naptime. I stood there, rather proud, with the three animals and Joseph seemed very inclined to just nicely go to bed when he changed direction and went to pick up two of the rubber duckies to give them to mommy. After I had taken them, he went back for the other two. Then once more for the last two. All of them needed to go with him to bed. And those ducks are not as easy to clamp under an arm as a stuffed animal. He looked utterly adorable throwing them in the crib one by one, and so triumphant as now he has a whole NEW herd ready to take with him upstairs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joseph's name day

Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph. Which makes it my baby's name day. Last year in preparation of the move and clouded with general exhaustion still, we did not do much to celebrate.
This morning however, we had a big breakfast (also because we had guests) with croissants and homemade pancakes with warm cherries. Joseph did sleep through this festive breakfast though, which meant the rest of us could celebrate more ehm... shall we say peacefully?
Later in the day the easter duckies that I had ordered arrived and he was immediately fond of them. And last but not least, Joseph received a very special gift: a small decarde rosary that his mommy bought 25 years ago when she was a little girl herself on her visit to Lourdes. My first rosary, now his.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The house will smell of chili, and I will smell of roses...

I am expecting guests in a few hours, and I am actually surveying my house in with some satisfaction. Yes, I can still see a little plastic bowl and a todler stock laying on the floor (and I will pick them up as soon as I finish this post. But in general, the house looks as nice and tidy as a house with a todler can look. This morning, when something threw a wrench in my schedule, I wasn't really certain how much of tidying and cleaning I would get done before my friend arrived, but from somewhere inside, this sentence welled up: "At least the house will smell of chilli, and I will smell of roses".

As I got up early today and immediately put all the ingredients in the crockpot, the house does smell of chili. And while I do not smell of roses, I smell of a soft grapefruit scented perfume. I am feeling contented, in my scented house, even with the stray todler sock and the pink plastic bowl. While I was tidying here and there I thought really that that is the essence what I would like my husband to come home to every day. The smell of a decent meal, and a wife who may have a todler on her hip and some smudges of yoghurt on her blouse (why do todlers always do this about five minutes before their fathers come home) but who has taken the time to do something, even as small as spritzing on some perfume, to make it clear that she is happy he is home and wants to be atractive for him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Simple Woman's daybook

I am once more following in Peggy's footsteps again and am exploring the day through her daybook format.

For March 16th

Outside my window... It's grey outside. It has been grey for days. Usually my description starts with the golden light of the sun, even if it is winter. But today, al we have is a morose greyish hue and a wet yard. It isn't raining yet, but it looks like it could at any moment.

I am thinking...About March and why it is so busy. It seems as if every year March is one of the busiest months, and this year is no different. Too much going on for me and for my husband. All our routines are disturbed and the laundry is piling up.

From the learning rooms... We have bought a booster seat for Joseph so he can sit at the big table with more ease and colour. And we have decided on a table from Ikea for the learning room.

I am thankful for... the prayer that good friends are offering, and for a long desired wish of a friend of mine being fulfilled.

From the kitchen... Left overs for my poor husband. I am behind one everything and have another meeting this evening. I am not doing a busy march like that again next year. I am not.

I am wearing... My nighthgown still. I was up early, and went to the computer. Unfortunately my little boy decided to wake up earlier than normal, so I have not had time to change yet.

I am reading... A free copy of a newspaper called the progressive populist. I actually like the writing style, but the paper itsself is still not my cup of tea.

I am hoping... That Joseph will be a good boy today. I have a busy day and he is really in his todler phase, tantrums and all.

I am creating... Still my sock, and am starting to creation process for a program for the fashion show our womens group is going to host. We want to show that you can look all female, strong, beautiful, and modest.

I am hearing... the hum of the dishwasher and a mama mia song on youtube. Funny. It was the same song last time I wrote a daybook post. And I am not listening to mama mia that much.

Around the house... Definitely laundry. Seeing if I can get some colouring done with Joseph. Hopefully preparing a healthy lunch and making a grocery list and mealplan. Maybe some fingerpainting.

One of my favorite things...Joseph in his jammies.

A few plans for the rest of the week...I'm having a friend over tomorrow who is traveling cross country. Tonight there is a meeting. I need to pay one or two bills.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

I only have one child, my wonderful, cute little boy Joseph. He actually is pretty goodhumoured as well. Though as anyone knows, life with a todler has his moments. The spills, the running, trying out tantrums.... they are part and parcel of the cuddly yummyness that is having a todler.
That means that there are days I am tired. There are moments I am exasperated. There are moments where I simply do not get everything done that I want to. And I feel dread in my heart when someone says "oh you are tired now? Wait till you have...-two, three, four- children." "Or wait till you have teenagers!" It makes me want to run upstairs and hide under the covers.

But then there are the other moments. The moments when you just need to tackle and tickle that todler to hear that giggle. The moments when you see him try to put his pants on like a jacket. The moments when you see his daddy read to him, and he sits on that lap so seriously looking at the book and calling out the words when he knows what he needs to say.. "If you give a mouse a .... Kie-y (cookie)He will want a glass of ..... meh (milk). It makes my heart melt.

I store this moments in my memory like a miser hords treasure. They remind me that underneath life's challenges, there is a simple and steady platform of happiness that my life rests on. It's build on faith, family and friends. It's build on love for the Lord, my husband, my child and my fellow man. There is no great big secret to the reason why I am happy even when my todler spills a nearly full cup of milk on the kitchen floor, just after I have cleaned it. Of course I am not happy that he spills it. And I have by far not reached the serenity to not be bothered by it. But even amidst a grumply moment, that platform underneath it never wavers. My mood may be altered for a bit, but the underlaying security and happiness does not. And that puts a different light on the must difficult day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tidying with todlers...

It has happened again. It happens all the time. My living room has degenerated into chaos. I don't understand how it happens and how it happens so quickly, because when I put myself to it, it barely takes an hour to make it go from chaos to splendour again. So I should be able with a minute here and there to keep it into a fairly tidy state, right? Wrong.

I wish I could blame Mr. Chaos aka my beloved son completely. But this cycle did not start when he was born. I am an expert at tidying and tidying swiftly. It helps that we chose not to have too much stuff. What does not help is my procrastination habit, or the fact that sometimes it is more important to grab someone from a table before he swings from the chandelier than to put away papers where they belong. What also does not help of course is Joseph's tendency to spread stuff around. We are working on putting things away before we go to another activity, but it is an ungoing battle. Especially if he is expected to keep himself busy for a few minutes while I tidy, or chop vegetables, or anything of that

Today we actually had a fairly epic battle over a spoon. If he is expected to learn one thing, it is the fact that food items like bowls and plates an utensils remain on the table. They do not belong on the floor or anywhere else. This rule is to prevent Joseph from running around the house with a bowl of dripping cornflakes, or slosh spaghetti sauce over everything.
Joseph wanted to see duck. And mommy made him put the spoon on the table before he could see duck. You would think I was torturing him. Fullfledged todler tantrum, crying, sitting down on the floor and everything. Still, mommy was very hard of heart. Now I didn't mind explaining it sixteen times, showing him what to do four or five times, but there was no way that duck would come on the computer before the spoon was put on the table by Joseph. It took some time, some ignoring, and being busy with something else, before the spoon finally went on the table. But it did go there. One for mommy!

Still, despite the battle, we have made great progress in tidying and cleaning. Joseph has a small spray bottle with water and a paper towel of his own to clean alongside. His attention span of course is not very long, but as long as he wants to help, I will greatly encourage it. His favorite 'chore' is manning the dustbuster. The vacume on the other hand seems to be scaring him.
I have learned that cleaning and tidying is best done in small installments, with lots of attention to Joseph in between. Not as fun as working well for a full hour and having it all done, but in compensation, it is pretty cute to see him using the swiffer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A delightful day

I slept late this morning. After a bad night of sleep yesterday, and with a big evening in front of me, I decided to sleep late. Till nine am! I felt so happy and rested and my little boy behaved so perfectly this morning. At a certain point I just needed to tackle him and tickle him to hear him giggle. Isn't that one of the greatest sounds of the world? Childrens laughter. And even more those silly, no reason, ticklish giggles while the little eyes look up at you?
Probably inspired by Emma, Joseph wanted to show that he too can pull out the chairs and climb the table. Mountain goat. He just wants to get to the fruit bowl. I might need to find a new spot for that one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I have weird dreams

I slept badly last night and absolutely needed a nap today. I ended up on the living room couch, with a quilt over me, wondering if I would be able to fall asleep. Aparently I was.

Because all of a sudden, I was watching television and the following show was being presented: "it will be current problems one can face in a boardroom, but presented as Edwardian Riddles, and made physical. The end result will be a totally new, iambic poem.
(while the following anouncement was said in a voice, you can see on the back ground first a group of grey clad young executives in a grey suits trying to climb something that looks like part of an army obstacle course, then a caligraphed scroll, then a metal construction with tin knights moving in on it, and lastly an argument with the face of Pierce -who won celebrity aprentice last time- while the the voice over says "it was very cunning because 'Hadley' actually is a local figure here at Harvard, while the voice fades out you hear Pierces voice argueing and you see him argueing with some young college guys in their executive suits while you hear him mispronouncing whatever he was mispronouncing deliberately so it sounds like 'Hadley' instead of hardly. And Pierce voice coming as a voice over: "I did not lie, all I did was...." at which point the alarm woke me up.

I did watch a recording of the first episode of the celebrity apprentice (a guilty pleasure) two days ago. But the fact that I dream of a version of it for ivy league college students, and a tv show that actually would make up riddles in Iambic verse says something. I do not know what. But it does say something.

The Simple Woman's daybook

I am following in Peggy's footsteps again and am exploring the day through her daybook format.

For March 9th

Outside my window... A golden sun shines down again. I love the light in the morning here. The way it colours the house across the street in a wash of cream. Few animals have greeted me this morning. Usually there are some birds or squirels out and about, but none have showed themselves.

I am thinking... about the women of faith night, as well as what all to do today. I didn't sleep well and think I might need a little nap when Joseph naps this afternoon.

From the learning rooms... In general I have been better about talking only in Dutch to Joseph these days, though due to a lack of sleep today might see some English sneaking in. Yesterday we had our first fingerpainting adventure (more on that in a later post) and I have been leafing through an Ikea catalog for inspiration on how to furnish the learning room I want to set up.

I am thankful for... my wonderful husband. Just because he is an absolutely wonderful husband.

From the kitchen... Pasta carbonara for dinner tonight. Not what I want to make when I will be home only at 7.30 pm, but my beloved husband has had a hankering for it for over a week, and it never happened.

I am wearing... An A line purple skirt that falls to the knee, a purple/fuchsia top and a black little cardigan.

I am reading... the Ikea catalog. Okay, so that is not really reading. Potty training books perhaps. I have been reading those every day.

I am hoping... To either wake up, or be able to go back to sleep. I am convinced something changed in my body in the nine months after Joseph was born. I am used to some insomnia since I was a todler and used to be pretty okay with functioning onless sleep for several days. Now, one night with less than six hours, and I am a wreck.

I am creating... that same sock, but there definitely has been some progress made. I am now at least half way the 'leg' part of the sock.

I am hearing... A song from the movie mama mia. The dish washer repair man on the back ground.

Around the house... Today I give myself leave to only do what is absolutely necessary for my baby and my husband and myself. No plans but to get through the day.

One of my favorite things...Knitting on my sock, SLEEPING.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Birthright tonight, tomorrow is our parishes WOmen of Faith night, my husband is giving a lecture somewhere on the economy and for the rest I would like to go to storytime and the museum with Joseph. Plus enjoy the weather outside today.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

It IS a kitchen, but it could also be...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The first toy...

My husband and I feel that children have too many toys these days. Considering the fact that he is the first and so far only grandchild at all sides, we were certain he would receive plenty of toys. And so it is that at the ripe age of seventeen years old, Joseph has not received any toys yet from his parents. A few books, a few art supplies. But no toys. He has been given toys of course, and enjoys his blocks, his stuffed animals, puzzles and other things, but he is just as happy to play with the pots in the kitchen. In fact, he REALLY likes to play with the pots in the kitchen. He likes to play with those pots so much that now and again mommy needs to search throughout the living room and breakfast nook for the pots and pans she wants to use for dinner.
I decided he needed a little toy kitchen for himself and after a first attemtp with a shoebox, I planned to simply use an old shoe rack, perhaps some paint, and a few tupperware containers. That would probably have been perfectly fine.
But then I found the most adorable toy kitchen online for only 35 dollars. It was mobile, it was small. It was not to involved and I fell in love with it.

It became the first toy that I really wanted to buy and after talking about it with my husband, it became Josephs first toy gift buy his parents.

He loves it! When he is done playing, mommy often closes it up. When he reappears after a nap or something he will run to it however and top the little suitcase for me to open and set up the kitchen again. My little chef!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Where are our real rolemodels?

Lately, I have been on my soapbox a bit on this topic. I try not to repeat myself too often, but now and again I see a post out there in blogland that just makes me return to it. I usually try and post a reply on the blog itsself and am always pleased to see that I get a gracious reaction. Recently one of my blogreplies seemed to have turned in a little post by itsself, so I just copied and adapted it slightly here for your delight. *chuckles* I promise I will get off this soapbox soon.

Many of us, young homemakers (I've been married almost three years, have a wonderful young son of 18 months) have no rolemodels for what being a homemaker is. We fall on oldfashioned TV shows or blogs by default because we were not raised to be homemakers and often didn't even expect to be one, until we became convinced of the great value that lies in staying at home and raising our children.

But we really don't know what to expect or where to begin. So then we are going out to look for people to model ourselves after. And looking for encouragement we only find those oldfashioned TV shows or sites and blogs that extoll the virtues of homemaking. Now we come to my little petpeeve. A lot of blogs, especially in the conservative Christian circle that I love, seem to believe they still need to prove their point on how worthwhile and wonderful homemaking is. They also often get the advice not to complain because otherwise 'the others' might tell hem that they are unfulfilled and need to look for a job. And so, they leave out the 'hard stuff'.

So there we come... new homemakers... and we see as our only model before us these seemingly perfect women who do creative projects at home with their children, who show us pretty pictures of the flowers in their garden, the organicly grown vegetables and homemade food that they feed their children and we are still at the beginning of a learning curve with no one to look up at but the seemingly impossible to attain ideal. They seem to be scrapbooking, knitting, quilting, finishing projects and keeping up with the lately published good books as well.

With a child that didn't sleep and refused to be put down until he was nine months old, I was ready to scream in overexhausted pain and frustration at the next person who told me to 'enjoy this time because they are only little such a short time'. I used to have intelligent conversation, but I was so utterly tired that I couldn't even find words anymore to express my thoughts. The simplest words like 'fridge' 'food' 'spoon' 'diaper' escaped from my brain. And I thought it would never end.
Everyone around me (on blogs or sites that encourage homemaking) seemed to be doing homeschooling phonetics, while spinning a laundry basket on one hip, humming classical music for the todlers that adoringly watched or tried to help, rocking a baby cradle with one foot and patiently reading the gospel to a teenage daughter. So it had to be just me, right?

Where were the tales about the screaming baby that I seemed to have? The sleep deprived nights? The fact that it is okay not to enjoy certain things as long as you do them with love? I saw the posts about frugality and lovingly restored cabinets. But where were the stories about the todler who ued the five seconds you needed both of your hands to close the pot of varnish to get in trouble and ruin the finish of the cabinet as well as your skirt?
Where were the stories of the lovingly heartshaped made toast with strawberry jam you made when you finally found the energy to do something that seemed like a creative, pretty project? And the story of how that toast consequently got turned upside down on the carpet, which you halfway expected, but then somehow also was rubbed in there and on you five minutes before your husband came home. And while you just had tidied up the floor, the usually well behaved child that you love more than life itsself used the time that you were scrubbing the carpet to dump all his blocks, get sixteen books out and pull three magazines from the couch, which he consequently started to shred?

I wanted to hear those stories. I needed to hear those stories to know that I was not alone. I was at the verge of just giving up. Clearly some women were not good at mothering, some, horribly pathetic women were not equipped to be a stay at home mom, and I was one of them! Which made me feel both guilty and a failure. I stuck with it, and now I understand that those blogs present a false picture. Yes, homemaking is wonderful, but it IS also frustrating, just like a job. Except that it is more. It is a vocation. But whether you go to library story hour or have to read "Maisy takes a bath" or "Jesus loves the little children" sixteen times... neither of those will be intelectually stimulating every day. You will now and again feel bored. And that IS okay. It doesn't have to be all sunshine and roses everyday, because suffering (even small sufferings like handprints on newly washed windows or not finding five minutes to sit down for a cup of tea) is part of life. Just like the wonder of a little body snuggled up close to you is part of life. And it has it's own value in refining you and making you a better person. But talk about the struggles please as well as the refined part.
There are wonderful days in which everything falls into place. And there are picture perfect moments to write about and enjoy the memories of. But there are also the many, many moments where things seem to fall apart.

In telling people NOT to complain, there comes an image out there that no one can live up to. And those of us that are new to homemaking and do not have strong personal rolemodels of homemaking in our lives... we start to feel as if it is not for us, as if we can not do this and better just give up.
Now and again, I wish people would just complain about a bad day. People who have an office job complain too, so why would we be afraid to offer a real image of homemaking as a rewarding, sanctifying experience... that isn't always restful or easy or even pretty. I want to hear the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I understand and admire a certain reticence in 'putting it all out there in all it's glorious misery' and I certainly don't advocate blogs to become a town crier for every little marital discontent or a constant litany of woes. But I want to know that I am not the only one who struggles. That I am not the only one who tries to colour with my little fellow to see him lose interest after two minutes and instead try to eat one of the crayons, or scribble on the tv. (As in my previous post on this subject, I refuse to believe I am the only one who has had that happen! *G*)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The simple woman's daybook

I am following in Peggy's footsteps again and am exploring the day through her daybook format.

For March 2th

Outside my window... The sun shines over a yard that refuses to become green again despite the rains of the last days. I am somewhat dissapointed as a snowstorm was predicted and we so rarely see snow these days. All the schools here are closed, but there is no drop of snow or ice to be seen. It actually looks like early spring, though it will be way too cold to enjoy it outside.

I am thinking... about what all needs doing during the rest of the day. I have some obligations today that needed to be tended to and that I have procrastinated with too long.

From the learning rooms... we keep working on being bilingual. We have separated books into Dada books (in English) and mama books (in Dutch). Joseph still seems to have some trouble with the concept. I keep trying to consistantly talking to him in Dutch, which can be hard if you are surrounded by English all day.

I am thankful for... cold medicin. I've been fighting a cold for weeks now and while the days go perfectly well, nighttimes bring coughing and coughing to the point that I would not be able to sleep without some cold medicin.

From the kitchen... Pea soup for tonight. The ladies will be gathering at my house for a meeting. We are going to try and keep it short and simple, and with that, a simple cup of soup seems to be a good idea.

I am wearing... My fluffy bathrobe again. Actually, my husbands bathrobe. But I have at least already 'done' my face and have cleaned up. I need to get dressed in a few minutes.

I am reading... A guide to quality, taste and style.

I am hoping... to shed this cold soon and to manage to tend to my responsibilities with a happy heart.

I am creating... the same sock still, and I am trying to create more of a stylish appearance (after the bathrobe of course). Being behind with the laundry has not helped but in general it's more of a matter of being stuck between winter and summer.

I am hearing... The news that my husband is watching on cnn.

Around the house... steaming of one or two items of clothing, making soup, and trying to tidy the house.

One of my favorite things...roleplaying with friends, kisses from my baby and my husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Meeting tonight, rehearsal tomorrow, the rest of the week tending to husband and my little boy.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Different devotions

The first sunday of lent is here. A day of feast amidst a time of fasting. Lent has always been a special time for me. A time of renewal. In a strange way, I look forward to lent every year as the Christmas wonder wanes off. And yet much has changed these last three years, and not just about lent. In earlier posts, I have spoken about my difference in experiencing christmas since having a child. Lent has been no exception.
Since I have always been a word and language oriented person, my devotions have centered around both words and silence. And their contrast. Adoration. The year before I married, I added adoration three to four days a week to my prayer life during lent. Words... prayers that I read, scripture readings I undertook, aside from a fasting in which I abstained from small things, food and otherwise.

Last year I was nursing a near six month old hungry baby, and abstaining from anything but sweets or snacks was impossible. That was strange. It was even stranger to be unable to go to the devotions that drew my heart. An hour of adoration was impossible with a screaming 6 month old, besides, I would have fallen asleep in my pew if I had tried. I barely found time for any daily prayers, let alone extra lenten devotions. Both silence and verbal prayers seemed to be gone out. The only thing I was able to do was offer up the simple suffering of daily life. And in those days, every day was indeed a struggle.

A year further and every day is a joy. (okay, nearly every day.) Since nursing has finished, I can regiment a fast once more. But the time for quiet prayer and adoration still is limited. I can find some, and do. But my devotions it seems have changed out of necessity if not out of desire. Last friday I managed to visit the church for a moment, with Joseph. While I could not sit back and quietly reflect on mysteries or theological questions, I could bring my son to the Sacrament, and point him to Jesus. At 17 months he might not understand everything, but he already knows that this is the house of Jesus. It is different.

Today while I sit at mass, I realise how different the experience is with a todler. I used to try and listen and think over every word, participate fully in the whole experience of mass, offer myself up to it. Now, I try and make sure my little boy behaves. I try and teach him to sit quietly, but at 17 months and very mobile, sitting for more than an hour is hard. So I try to distract him with a pencil, with a fingerpuppet. With his childrens bible. I stop him if he tries to run out of the pew and up the altar. I smile as he flirts with the female cantor. I shush him when he tries to be loud.
Our parish is very family friendly, and while there is a nursery, everyone is always happy to see babies and todlers at mass, with all their antics. Of course if Joseph really becomes disruptive, I walk him out and into the narthex to deal with it. And all this hectic experience is shared with my wonderful husband.

Amidst all that, I am lucky if I can focus on a few words here and there. If I can think the credo while my lips form the words. I am lucky if I can stand or kneel half the time, the other time whatever position I am on depends on how I can best stop my sweet little boy from escaping or endangering himself.

I will admit I used to resent it. I used to feel inadequate. I used to feel as if I needed to make up for my lack of spirituality somehow. I was in the presence of the King, and half of the time I spend with my back to him because I was paying attention to something else.
And then I realised... not something else, someone. "Let the little ones come to me". Would Jesus be angered at a mother caring for her child in his presence, even as she tried to listen to Him? Or would he be glad she came and brought her child to be with him too?

Was I being selfish in wanting 'my style' of prayer? The devotions I 'enjoyed' most or 'felt' most? My task now is to bring my Child to him and find nourishment for my own soul wherever I can. Whether that is to teach my sweet baby the sign of the cross one day at a time, or just whispering a "Lord help me" on a busy day.

My prayers have changed from verbal to practical. And I adjust, slowly, but more with an open heart each day. I like the saying about prayer: "Don't give God instructions. Just report for duty." My duty is different now. And so is my prayer.