"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: 2015 Week 2

8/365 "Wifi in the House"
or "Homeschooling Just Got Easier"
or "Who Loves Wild Kratts?"

9/365 "Praying for Grandma"

10/365 "De-decorating the Tree: Christmas 1979"

11/365 "Goodbye, Christmas"

12/365 "New Playmobil"

13/365 "7:30 Surrender"

14/365 "Math Love (or Not)"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: 2015 Week 1

1/365 "Christmas in Montana"

2/365 "Living Room Lights"

3/365 "Gingerbread Village"

4/365 "Family Slideshow Snack"

5/365 "Blogging Again?"

6/365 "Glorious Me Time"

7/365 "Frosty Morning"

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reflections on 2014 (Part 1): Lessons Imperfectly Learned

Isn't it interesting how we can "know" something to be true,
and even profess to others to believe it,
and yet not really internalize it until years later?

Or maybe I'm just a slow learner -- 
it can take quite a while for some things to get from my head to my heart.

It wasn't too long ago that being together as a family was hard. Really hard. Graduate school and new jobs left my other half, an introvert, with little energy or patience for family life at the end of the day. Working full-time and homeschooling left me with little energy or patience for family life at the end of the day. And the end of the day was the only time we had together as a family. With everyone's nerves shot, it became the most dreaded part of the day. We didn't know how to be together. Evenings were a matter of survival -- get everyone fed and to bed as quickly as possible, so I could escape into my never-ending to-do list or a book or sleep. I don't even know how it began, but it spread slowly, like a disease -- the dread starting to creep into the weekends as well -- so much to do, so little time to do it, no patience, everyone annoying each other, everyone being annoyed -- and even into our Sundays, which we had still been trying to set aside as family time. 

It really was miserable. 

And then ... 

... enough was enough.

I hit bottom.  

But for the grace of God ...

... I was blessed with a wonderful spiritual director, who affirmed that my desire for a peaceful, joyful home was from God. And that I should beg Him for that, and for the consolation necessary to persevere in that goal. 

(Isn't it amazing how hearing something we know already 
from someone else can flip a switch?)

And it was a little light.

Followed by a lot of prayer.

Thankfully, my other half and I were on the same page -- both of us were miserable and both of us knew something needed to change. We started small with a family rosary after dinner.

A little more light.

A little more prayer.

Next, we decided on a course of action -- more time together. 

In addition to rededicating Sundays to family togetherness, we added one evening a week of designated family time -- we got a membership to the local aquatic center and racquetball club and began going swimming on Wednesday nights and then out for frozen yogurt. (And, even though I HATED going swimming and out for frozen yogurt when it was twenty degrees BELOW zero outside, I made up my mind that I was going to enjoy it because everyone else did. And, once I got over the dread of leaving the house, and actually left, I really did enjoy it.)

A little more light.

Next came the decision to spend a whole month in Montana over the summer.

Away from work commitments -- both his and mine -- away from friends and camps and summer sports, away from home project distractions and cleaning and mowing, I found that I really enjoy being with my family. We climbed mountain peaks, discovered the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park, studied birds, explored creeks, played games, colored in coloring books.

As July came to an end, I was aware of what I had found and didn't want to lose when we returned to our school year routine. And I began to think about how to incorporate more family time into our weekly schedule. Now we have game night on Mondays, swimming or racquetball on Tuesdays, a family dance class on Wednesdays -- and, while it doesn't always work out the way it's planned, it's still a concentrated effort to spend time together on a regular basis.

2014 Lesson #1: 
The way to learn how to be together as a family, 
and to enjoy one another, 
is to be together as a family and enjoy one another.

As the kids get older, I am realizing just how precious my time with them is. It's a lesson I don't know if I could have learned when they were small and I took time with them for granted, but I wish I would have learned it sooner nonetheless. The girls are getting to an age where they would often rather be with friends than family, and the new struggle is to balance their need for independence with my desire to have them home with me -- to hold them close, but to let them go at the same time.

I haven't figured that one out yet ... 

... maybe that's a lesson for this year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Last Hurrah

As I was trying to compile picture calendars this year for the grandparents, I realized I sorely neglected picture-taking in 2013. This year, I am going to try and take at least one picture each day -- even if it's just of a pile of laundry or a sink full of dishes.

I took my picture yesterday; I just ran out of time to post it. My sister and kids did, indeed, get stuck here in North Dakota due to the frigid temperatures -- it just doesn't seem wise to drive across a barren state with three kids and no husband when the wind chills are fifty and sixty degrees below zero, right? I can't say either of us were too disappointed that she had to stay; and the kids were definitely uber-excited to have more cousin time. (Our husbands might have had a different opinion of the matter, however -- one is lonely and the other is an introvert in a house full of stir crazy kiddos.) Everyone is getting a little on edge at this point though -- my house doesn't really have a good space for noise and physical activity. The boys, for sure, need to get out side and burn off some energy.

Last night even my DH was celebrating -- he got a couple of text messages that informed him that not only were corporate faculty meetings canceled for today, but that classes are starting a day later than scheduled this week to allow students to make it safely back to campus. This does not mean that he gets some extra time off, of course -- only a few extra days to work without the interruptions of being on campus. More time to prepare makes for a happy husband. (And, thus, a happy wife.) Truthfully, to have seen him last night you would have thought he was a third grade boy being told school was canceled because of snow. He was that giddy.

Today's photo:

Things to note:
(1) Fireplace: On. Almost all day. Along with candles and slippers and Christmas tree lights.
(2) New Games: Cranium and Rummikub. Also strewn about the house: new LEGO sets, new movies, and new crafting supplies.
(3) Blanket: My Sister is a self-proclaimed "freeze baby."
(4) Egg Timer: Used for time-outs when a certain son of mine needed a break from everyone else. (Or, more accurately, when I needed a break from him.) He needs a treadmill in his room. If it doesn't get warmer soon, he may not survive. But things are looking up in this regard.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Just in case ...

... you're wondering what "deep fried cheesy pickles" are, my sister and I braved the cold and went back to The Toasted Frog so we could take a picture for you.

Merry Christmas! Take 11. 

Stay warm, all you Midwesterners.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Global Warming? Pffft.

Balmy. It was positively balmy today. It rained, but it was balmy. I think it got up to something like 42 degrees. Above zero.

Now? Now we're in a blizzard warning. One to two inches of new snow. Northwest winds 20-30 mph, with gusts as high as 45. Wind chill to -20. Zero visibility.

And check this out (from the National Weather Service):

60 degrees. Below zero. That's like 100 degrees colder than today's balminess. Yeesh.

It's forecast to be cold in Minnesota, too. The governor of that fine state announced that all K-12 schools will be closed on Monday. I guess my sister picked a good weekend to visit North Dakota. She may, perhaps, end up here an extra day.

Deep fried cheesy pickles and a cocktail anyone? Bring it on, Mother Nature.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cold, Caroling, and Cousins

Woke up to -22 with a wind chill of -38. Man, it's been a COLD winter.

Made it on the elliptical two days in a row.

Sang Christmas carols and shared fellowship 
with fellow homeschooling families 
and the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.

Surprised the kids with a weekend visit from their Minnesota cousins. 
(Bonus: I get to hang with my sister 'til Sunday!)

Sister and I FaceTimed -- is that a verb? --
with my brother in San Diego and my cutie-pie nephews 
(who didn't really want to have anything to do with the phone tonight).

Merry Christmas!
Take 9.