Outside My Window
It is still dark, windy and blustery cold. I'm sitting on the couch in the living room, by the light of the Christmas tree. It's warm. And comfortable. I mention this because we've had no heat on this floor this season. Until yesterday, when the heat man came at last. He was a very nice man (exceedingly nice) and he made it all well again. It's lovely to be warm.
I am Listening to
the wind blow and the wreaths bang against the windows.
I am Wearing
flannel pajamas and Elizabeth deHority socks. Please pray for her. To be unable to knit truly deprives her of one of the last comforts she has. She will be annointed today. Would you carry her with you to Mass as well? (And I'll tell you what, in a house without heat, those socks totally rock!)
I am so Grateful for
Patient friends who never stop praying.
"When I look into the future, I am frightened,
but why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory." ~ From the Diary of St. Faustina (H/T Ruthie)
I am Reading
The Light of the World. On my Mike's Kindle. May we pause a moment to marvel at the Kindle? I got it for him for his birthday. Amazing. When he leaves for work, children line up to beg to use it. My child who has struggled to read all his life is sure it will solve his problems. Pretty strong words. He can't quite articulate it but the e-ink is so much easier on his eyes that he says the tracking struggles all but disappear. You can be sure there is one in his future. I was particularly tickled because The Light of the World was unavailable in print at Amazon for three weeks when I wanted to order it. But I had it in three seconds on Kindle. Do I miss holding a book and turning pages? So far, surprisingly, I don't. The ease of reading is just amazing. Actually, instead of making me pine for real book feel and smell, what the Kindle is making me do is wish my computer were so easy to read. I'm much more aware of how hard my laptop is on my eyes after I've spent time reading the Kindle. PDFs on the Kindle are so much better than PDFs on the laptop. And this research has really borne itself out: Kindle before bed, not computer glare. I got Mike this lighted book cover, because a book light is necessary at night. I'm kind of glad the booklight is necessary. I'd hate to see hiding under the covers with a good book and a flashlight fade into antiquity.
I am Thinking
Oh, my goodness, am I ever thinking! We still haven't resolved this potential move to California. Any minute. But dear me, have we been thinking. And praying. And prioritizing. And planning. And praying some more. And I might have become very tired and cranky in the process. I am reminded that we are clay in the Potter's hands. As we get older, our clay becomes a bit more difficult to shape and mold, I think. He has to work it a bit more forceably. It sort of hurts.
I am Creating
A Christmas letter to go with the darling cards Mary Beth and Michael collaborated with me to create. I keep procrastinating on the letter--can't really write it until I know if we're moving, right? And Mary Beth and I made two really pretty rosaries yesterday. Really pretty. We've all decided that one of them is the absolute prettiest yet.
No candy or cookies coming from my kitchen just yet. I'm holding off on all kitchen creations until the week before Christmas. Patrick will be home then. I don't want him to miss the making and baking because I know he loves to do it. Plus, I want my house to smell like Christmas cookies and I want my little ones to have the experience of creating beautiful baked goods, but I truly cannot handle flour without itching something fierce and Mary Beth seems to be developing the same allergy. With Patrick home to help, they can have all the fun and I can just supervise from afar.
On my iPod
People Look East. Perhaps my very favorite hymn of all--I love this song. I will freely admit that part of the reason I love this song is that it gives me license to clean and decorate. Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. It's a homemaking song. This version is a different, kind of bluegrass, I think. I do like it.
Towards a Real Education
This year, we aren't doing the Jan Brett unit or the Tomie de Paola unit or the Anne of Green Gables unit or the Christmas Around the World unit. We're doing business as usual with our math and our writing and then we're just reading books from the baskets. Of course, all of the books in the aformentioned units are in the baskets. But with the move thing ever at the forefront and with some other real life limitations, just the facts plus a sprinkling of good books is a good fit. Perhaps next week or so, we will pull an activity or two from any of those places. We'll see.
Towards Rhythm and Beauty
The winter rhythm is a much quieter one, thank God. It's nice not to drive to McLean nearly every day. But I do miss my Starbucks wi-fi time and it's lack is really showing up here. I have no blogging time written into the winter rhythm. Without planning for it intentionally, it's just not happening.
Funny thing, after thoroughly investigating what driving to soccer and ballet would look like if we move to California, the traffic and commute in the Washington DC suburbs look like an afternoon in the park. (Hmm, maybe because they often result in an afternoon in the park.)
We're having a Kind Conversation about
Advent. What a lot of good ideas! Did you know that the Pope's advent candles are red? I find this fact fascinating. So often, we look to our trusted and excellent resources for living the liturgical year in our homes (places like Catholic Culture and Domestic Church) and we think that what is shared there is the only right way to do something. Pink and purple candles--it's what done and what must be done. If you can't find pink and purple, tie ribbons on white. I've always thought that was the only way to do it. The interesting thing to me is that these are not liturgical traditions, they are domestic traditions. Domestic traditions by their very nature reflect the culture. And they are open to intepretations of the culture over time. The Pope has red candles. Can you get more authentically Catholic than the Pope?
To Live the Liturgy
We are marking our hours with prayer and light. In the morning, we light the Advent spiral and read our Jesse Tree devotional, hang an ornament and say a prayer. At noon, it's Midday Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. At dinner, time, the Advent Wreath and our candle song. At bedtime, the St. Andrew Christmas Prayer and the Immaculate conception candle and prayer. The time of each devotion is very short, but I truly love this rhythm. It works for us and I'm already trying to think of ways to hold the same rhythm after Christmas.
Recently, I saw a link to this post and a reference to the "crafty, busy advent." And I suppose it would be so if I were doing all those things during these three weeks. The reality is that I have done all those things. Over the course of 23 years of mothering chidren during Advent. Now, I have a plethora of things from which to choose and a small, but meaningful number of activities that are dear, every year traditions. It's actually a "creative, purposeful, intentional Advent." I only wish I could make the rest of the year so peaceful.
I am Hoping and Praying
For Michael, who finishes his college career this week. Words evade me. I'm sure they won't for long, but for now, I'm just speechless. My heart's pretty much spilling over.
For Patrick, who leaves for Brazil on Saturday for the Future Champions Tourney. Safe travels, dear one. And remember, the game is supposed to be fun. Play hard, pray harder. And have fun.
For my husband, as he makes some big decisions.
Around the House
Prettiest Christmas decorating job ever.
I wish though, that I had a record of the text messages Michael was sending on the day we decorated. Every time something went wrong, he'd whip out his phone. I'm sure there were things like:
We just broke the third string of lights, fresh out of the box.
I can't believe this crazy woman is sending me back to Home Depot yet again. I've been there four times today.
My mom just let fly a couple dozen cookies and string of expletives as she opened a brand new box of Peppermint Joe-Joes all over the kitchen floor.
I'm pretty sure everyone has now had a temper tantrum today. Fa-la-la-la-la. La-la-la-la.
From the Kitchen
Not soy. I am here to tell you it's true: just half a cup of soymilk a day can totally mess up your thyroid. So, now dairy milk is out; soy milk is out. Coconut creamer tastes like soap to me. I'm on the verge of giving up coffee because I just can't drink it black.
One of My Favorite Things
A day of surprises:
- An impromptu St. Nicholas shopping date with my husband that included lunch together. Just us.
- A birthday dinner for Granddad's 87th during which we surprised him with a face-to-face conversation with Patrick via Skype.
- The surprise appearance of my two favorite college students who came out to celebrate with us despite it being crunch time at school.
Sarah Annie this week
This is the most Daddy's Girl child I have ever encountered. She talks about him all day long. She counts the hours until he comes home. She squeals when she hears the door open. She sings his name and he sings hers right back. I need to get that on video. Priceless.
A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week
Mass today. I love this feast; this date will always be dear to my heart. I want to get down to the Shrine, the way we have in the past, but I don't think I can do that and be back in time to pick up Gracie at school. So, I think we'll wait for her and then go locally late this afternoon.
A very fun party planned at Mary Beth's ballet studio on Saturday. Eighteen little girls from our homeschool dance class will be there. Mary Beth will dance and we'll have crafting and cookie decorating and face painting and tiara bejewelling. Pretty much little girl heaven. They are so excited!