Gathering my Thoughts

Outside my window:  It's officially freezing. 32 degrees when I checked first thing this morning. I'm so glad I got the bulbs in when I did. 

Listening to: quiet. I need to rouse the troops, but I'm relishing silence. Yesterday, for about an hour, it was only Sarah and me at home. She said, "Mama, it's so quiet here! It's only the two introverts at home. We finally got rid of of all the outtraverts. Ah!" She had a point there. It's going to get full-to-the-brim crowded here in just a few hours.

Clothing myself in: Pjs for now, but I do plan to get dressed.

Thinking and thinking: About how grateful I am for the collaborative (though extremely intense) creative effort that has been the last two weeks. In a few hours, Kristin and I will launch an Advent ebook. I thought it couldn't be done. She thought otherwise. It's a beautiful, meaningful collection of family memories and traditions. I have long said that I keep this blog for my daughters and daughters-in-love, so that they have it and the can pick and choose from the collective memory. Kristin was determined to gather Advent up into a book. And yesterday, just as we were nearly finished, we learned that she and Michael and Lucy and the baby-to-be-born are moving three thousand miles away. We might have struggled a bit together yesterday, side by side with our computers, our memories, and the revised edition of how we thought things were going to be...


Talking with my children about these books:  On election day, Karoline announced that she plans to write a book about the Civil Rights Movement. She wanted to know if such a project could count as "school." I gathered a few resources for her research and told her she could devote the month to the project. I'm sure it will be awesome. Her books always are...

In my own reading: I'm currently reading Miracles, by C. S. Lewis. And I'm listening to Brene Brown's Rising Strong. I loved The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. I like this one even more. It's uncanny how she's so definitely inside me head. It feels like she's cleaning things up and de-cluttering it, rearranging it a little to make it much more functional. Highly recommended.

 Pondering: "You're imperfect and you're wired for struggle, but you're worth of love and belonging." Brene Brown.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Maybe I'm too protective of rhythm. Maybe if I were more willing to let schooling and laundry and driving kids all over slide and just throw myself into web projects, they would work. But I'd feel like a hypocrite, so I'm not going to do that. The older my kids get and the more I see the way each of them ticks, the more I believe that they all thrive when there's rhythm, when they know that the sands aren't going to shift dramatically beneath their feet at home. That way, when real life outside our home rocks them--and it does, all the time--they know I'm here and some things can be counted upon to be steady. I'm burning the candle at both ends here lately, trying to be the steady mom.

Creating By Hand: It's Nutcracker time. There is tulle and lace, lots of tulle and lace.

Learning lessons In: Praying for people and situations without telling God what to do. 

Encouraging learning in: Time management. My big kids keep getting smacked in the face by deadlines. We're all taking a hard look at what the time suckers are and trying to work on that. But, we're also looking at reasonableness. It's not reasonable to make a body work 24/7. Increasingly, our society seems to expect exactly that. Professors update on Blackboard and add to assignments on weekends. Work emails chime in inboxes at all hours of the day and night. Someone said last weekend (she might have wailed), "Why am I still sitting in this chair on a Sunday? Can't I reasonably expect at least a day off?" Yes. She can and she should. But how much of it is a problem of not using time wisely and how much is that the paradigm for work in America today assumes there should be no leisure time? Learning time management skills does mean being diligent and buckling down and avoiding distractions, but I think it also means being able to walk away from the work and recognize the value of both leisure and rest. 

Also, I sat down and talked with Ana Hahn a couple weeks ago. I very much enjoyed the conversation and it has me thinking about how much I used to love sharing more from our "schooling" here in this space. I think it might be time to revive that a bit, especially now that I'll be writing for Kristin and Lucy... You can read the conversation with Ana here. Go visit her!

Keeping house: Yesterday, I scrubbed down my wooden kitchen cabinets. They were gross. it was time. I actually like to wash woodwork because it's so rewarding to see the grime go. That room feels much cleaner now. We painted our house three years ago. I need to haul a bucket of soapy water from room to room and rub away fingerprints and smudges. And I need to put the finishing touches on an Advent ebook. And cook for Thanksgiving. And finish Nutcracker costumes. What to do? what to do?

Crafting in the kitchen: Kristin and I have been talking Thanksgiving. Mike's mother is gravely ill and she is living with his sister. They host Thanksgiving every year. While it will definitely be celebrated at his sister's house, Kristin and I are going to be the cooks this year. I haven't cooked for Thanksgiving in 24 years. (But I've wanted to for all that time.) This holiday season has the markings for being very bittersweet in several ways. There is much leaving and grieving on our horizon and we all know it. Aprons and rolling pins are good therapy.

To be fit and happy: Someone make me run. I'm better when I run. I just really need to find that particular rhythm again.

Giving thanks: For a chance to talk about Advent and prayer life two weeks ago at a local conference. It was so nice to get out and see people and hug old friends! Kristin came with me and we really enjoyed ourselves. Yesterday, I recorded that talk to offer to readers of our Advent ebook.


Loving the moments: When I get to watch him play, or when a friend in a faraway place watches him and sends me video and pictures and Facebook updates. Patrick played at Notre Dame last week and Theresa Thomas went to see him. Made me so happy! 

Patrick has had a remarkable and notable season. It kind of caught us by surprise. At the end of the summer, it looked like this was to be the season for hip surgery and a very long eight month recovery. Instead, he opted to play through the pain and delay the surgery. And he sure seized every opportunity to play really well! As the season begins to draw down, I'm seeing an inkling that his pain has probably been more than I thought. I know he'll finish strong. I also know that this semester will end at the UVa hospital, waiting for Paddy to come out of the operating room, just like last semester and the semester before. Those aren't the moments I love, but they are moments that come with the the l moments I love. He is strong and gifted and able and the pain comes with the territory.

I love the moments when hours of PT mean she can finally go up en pointe again (even if it's just for minute in the clinic). I love when my third seriously injured "child" texts from the Detroit airport and tells me her foot held up while she sprinted from one end to the other in order to catch her flight. But she, too, is looking at surgery when the semester ends. 


We take the bitter with sweet these days.

Living the Liturgy: Advent begins on Sunday. UPDATE: THE EBOOK IS NOW AVAILABLE. Click here for all the details and the limited-time low price.