Monday, February 24, 2014

The Life Supporting Home

A bit of housekeeping here: I am trying to find a cleaner template look for this blog.  I kind of like what I have selected!

The gods of used books smiled down upon me the other day as I made a quick “pop in” to our local used book store.  I found this: A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning.  

During one of the many nights we were watching the Olympics, because we just LOVE it,

We track who gets gold

 I flipped to the short but very thought provoking chapter on the atmosphere of a home. 

“It is the life-supporting atmosphere of home working in a child’s life that is such an important element of his education.”

Those of you who have been followers of Littles Make the World Go Round know that I devote a fair amount of my cyberspace to capturing my journey to the Church’s beautiful teaching on openness to life. 
So, tonight, I have been thinking…and now I am writing…about the “life supporting atmosphere” of a home…because I was thinking how beautiful that sounded….how if we as Catholic Christian mothers believe in being an open to life people we should probably all have a “life supporting” atmosphere about our home….a “life supporting” atmosphere about us.

What does a life-supporting atmosphere look like????  

I don’t know. 

Can we work on this together?

I’ll go first.

I think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and by the grace of God the bottom tier needs are met in this home….






She loves the heater.

Yes! Check.

I think most of us have the basics covered.

But beyond this, a life-supporting atmosphere in a home…I mean one that helps life unfold as it needs to…probably doesn’t look like a Pottery Barn catalog.   A life-supporting home probably has tons of little blast zones surrounding the orbiting bodies of littles that reside in the home.


My friend once said that  child support services came to her home as part of a home study for foster care…and her home…the home being “studied”… looked VERY LIVED in.  You would think that these professionals would want a very tidy home but what they want are foster parents who have their priorities straight…they like to see lived in homes.  Lived in….a book is being read to a little over a dishwasher being loaded.

Aside from us wanting our home to “look” picturesque, I am starting to realize that the atmosphere of a home…really…is about my own attitude and demeanor in my home.  Am I OK with the “VERY LIVED IN” look???

  I want to do an honest assessment of myself HERE, because I hope to come back to this post a few years down the road to see if I have improved at all. 

You all didn’t really think I was writing to have a “blog”…this is my very own “self help” mechanism that I like to broadcast to everyone!

You see, I have a strain of the Italian temper running through my blood.  I can lose it pretty quickly at times….and over… really…really….lame things.  I seriously can throw a MASSIVE fit when we can’t find a matching L.L. Bean glove. 

I occasionally make moaning sounds up towards the heavens if I have to get ANOTHER sippy cup…again.

I have used some nasty words on my very own eldest daughter to motivate her to do school (she’s a bit of a dreamer when it comes to completing a math sheet) to the point where she said, “Mama…I just want to make you happy.”


I’m not gentle. I’m not. 

Our Lady of Fatima was brought over for a short stay at our home by our parish charismatic prayer group.
Mother Mary is SO gentle.
I don’t speak softly. I interrupt.  I talk loud and talk over people.

I like to laugh! I do! But not enough.   I can be pretty hard on my kids (and see how I can be hard on myself).  There are a lot of “don’t”s  or “Stop that”s in our home.  I like discipline, I do. We are all happier when we are all behaving…but I would really like to MODEL more for my children.

My girls are very good at playing together, but they do have tiffs, and I get worried..when I hear the talking down or the word choices….that they learned those things….from me!

I can’t blame it on school. They are here!

I really want to welcome the happenings of life.

I recently got my hands back on a parenting book , Parenting With Grace by Gregory and Lisa Popcak, that I really like and a certain paragraph really resonated with where I want to be:

St. Ambrose was contemplating the Scripture “You are my friends if you keep my commands” (Jn 15:14), but he observed that friends don’t command other friends; if they did, it would no longer be a friendship but a relationship between a superior and inferior person (the commander and the commanded).   What could Jesus mean by tying our friendship with Him to obedience to Him?  Ambrose realized that Jesus was talking about a new kind of obedience based on friendship rather than fear, an “obedience” that meant anticipating and fulfilling the needs of another.  Seen in this light, obedience is really another form of intimacy, where one person attentively seeks out the needs of the other and lovingly fulfills them, often without being asked, certainly without being asked twice.  This is the essence of true Christian obedience.

I love that obedience is another form of intimacy.  Another good friend said it was really neat having close family friends stay with her family this summer and watching and learning how that family operated.  They had teenagers and the teens were so HELPFUL.  For example, after dinner, they would clear the table and just start washing dishes. They didn’t ask “Can I help with the dishes?” They would DO.  They anticipated a need that in order for the night to move on and for everyone to enjoy one another, that things need to be cleaned up.  The trash can is full. They empty it.

I dream of this, for my littles, to have servant hearts.  How on earth do I go about fostering in my own family that deep obedience of anticipating and fulfilling each other’s needs?

Well…Stephanie…for starters, quit all the looks and sighs and snarky comments.  Marmee from Little Women bites her bottom lip when she is about to lose it…and she never DOES lose it. I love Marmee.

But we foster this intimate obedience by our own example naturally because…that’s our work as mamas! 

We anticipate needs! We do laundry because somebody will eventually run out of under garments.  

We plan and make meals because after a certain amount of hours pass during the day little bellies start to grumble and we need to fill that need!
Angela's home... I LOVED the bird seed on the deck railing...because even birds have needs!
My own expectations of my children and what my home SHOULD look like REALLY get in the way and lead to frustration (and a nasty mouth). I have a hunch that part of helping the life supporting atmosphere in this home is having a deeper appreciation for what life IS. 

Instead of expecting, what if we just start examining what living together looks like in each of our homes and then support that…

The girls don’t always want to do school at the kitchen table or on the couch….they want to sit BESIDE me and touch me because it’s what they need.  And I must support it.

We like Sunday naps after doing the 8:00 am Mass and brunch combo…and so we say no to being away from our home on Sundays. And I must support that…we need to nap.

Your toddler likes to wear the SAME outfit EVERYDAY because it’s the only one that doesn’t “itch” (you must have a sensory little in your brood right?)…we MUST support that!

If we are made in the image of our Creator and our children are actively engrossed in CREATING an elaborate story with their critters…but you have a workbook for them that you really want them to complete that would make YOU feel better about homeschooling….isn’t it just natural to support the imagination and support the LIFE of the home, the goings on…and just…be life supporting? 

Yes, yes I know there is balance and all sorts of things we must weigh in…but how can we go wrong if we are so intentional as to just let life BE.

Ahhh! But Stephanie! If we are creating a “life supporting” atmosphere for our loved ones, than who SUPPORTS us?

Our Lord and Savior anticipated our needs throughout all time…and He left us with a “life supporting” Church. Like a good Mother, the Church anticipates our needs and fulfills them in the Sacraments.  Jesus gave us the Eucharist.  He promised us He would be with us until the end of time, for always.  He is so good to fulfill our needs. He wants us to settle inside His love.

Last month at a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast, I was thinking aloud (bah! Extrovert here) of how it would be nice to have a rhythm back in our home after the Christmas bustle….and I chuckled…rhythm back?? That is implying we had a rhythm to begin with.

And then my husband said it (he’s an introvert…he thinks before he speaks) after eating a pancake…”but we DO have a rhythm…we go to Mass every Sunday.”

The Mass is our life support. 

The frozen glacier lake behind our home has this rescue ladder by it...anticipating needs here!
We have to remember, as we go about our home, striving for this "life supporting" atmosphere...that...HE does it.  He makes it and fashions it and allows the memory making. I tell you this, but I'm telling ME this. Let Him make your spot Stephanie. Let Him in, the Life Supporter.

I'm going to try to watch my facial and verbal responses to the needs my family has. I want order because it is conducive to wonder....but....I have to embrace "LIVED IN."  If we are to be open to life we have to be open to supporting life. This is all good. Are you with me on this? And...Jesus loves you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real - February


 Hoarfrost is so pretty.

And I do think a sweet six year old adds so much beauty to this scene :)


Sometimes conditions are just so here in Juneau that the glacier lake behind our home freezes JUST right and we can ice skate! Our very own Sochi!


Our son LOVED being pulled and swung around by his hood on the ice....

And then released!

People often wonder how I homeschool...and I chuckle because I think "errr....the school you imagine in your head that we are doing is not necessarily OUR version of school."

For example, the girls have figured out how to skate figure eights, and we thought, "Perfect! that can be our math for today!"


I had a liturgical celebration fail this month (sigh). I forgot to bring candles to Mass on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, also known as Candlemass, also known as Super Bowl Sunday this year.  I usually have our Advent wreath candles somewhere in the bundles of candles before the altar to be blessed, but not this year.  I did, however, put out my thrift store plate with an image of the Feast of the Presentation on it.  ANNNNDDDD I put a candle on it (pat self on back)! My daughters forgave me that I didn't have special Candlemass desserts or traditions planned like we have done before.  We were all relieved that there is always next year, our Church is so good to give us a rhythm like that, a sense of security.

Click here for more PHFR! God Bless and thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Large Family Vision - Charles Dickens

'Tis February my friends.

"One month is past, another is begun,
 Since merry bells rang out the dying year,
 And buds of rarest green began to peer,
 As if impatient for a warmer sun;
 And though the distant hills are bleak adn dun;
 The virgin snowdrop, like a lambent fire,
 Pierces the cold earth with it's green-streaked spire
 And in dark woods, the wandering little one
May find a primrose."  February 1, 1842 Harley Coleridge

If you check in the sidebar, I have already shared some morsels of Large Family Vision from Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen and Chesterton!

I have devoted a little piece of this blog to the ideals of family life that these literary giants leave for us. These men and women affirm me in a way, and help feed my own "large family vision."  I know what it is I am striving for, why we do the background work. Are you interested? Are you so happy you stopped by today??

I have a fairly large classical literature gap in my education.  I am trying to make some ground in that area and unfortunately, I have made very little ground with the works of  Mr. Charles Dickens. In fact, A Tale of Two Cities is the only Dickens I have ever read and that was in highschool.  I DID enjoy it though, I remember that much.

However, we did it! We read A Christmas Carol aloud in our family room over the month of December!  Again, I have seen mutliple versions of A Christmas Carol including a wonderful production of a play performed right here in little Juneau, but oh my...the novel...we savored every minute. isn't a slice of Mr. Cratchit's family that I am going to share with you! Are you shocked?!?!?  I mean, we love Mrs. Cratchit and her Christmas pudding and the poor yet loving family together with their tiny Tim.

Ah, yes, but the Ghost of Christmas Past conducts Scrooge to the home of Belle.  Scrooge lost her...over his love of money...but Dickens has to show Scrooge by saying no to her....he also said no to the joy of a family.  And I love Dicken's voice in this particular passage...

They were in another scene and place: a room, not very large or handsome, but full of comfort.  

Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like the last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter.

The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count

and unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty.  

The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; 

on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports,

 got pillaged by the young brigands more ruthlessly. 

What would I not have given to be one of them!