Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real May Low Tide






We all just settle into a different mode when daddy is home, even if they are just short visits here and there. We like to linger with each other and enjoy each other and then adding starfish in on top just makes it really magical. Feeling very blessed, thank you for stopping by.

Check out my new posts on when I brought the baby to the atrium here and my thoughts on relationships here.

Also see what else is PHFR in Leila's link up!

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Baby in the Atrium

I have been volunteering in the Level 1 atrium at our parish for three years now and I truly love the work of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Being a catechist in the atrium reminds me a lot like how you feel when you want to see a very Disney girly princess movie, like Cinderella, but you are in your thirties. You are tickled that you have daughters and you can use them as an excuse to go and see said movie. You pretend the whole time you are doing the action for your children when in fact you are in it for you.

Yes, I will always joyfully admit that I love what I receive from the atrium. Yes, of course I believe this work is so good and holy and beautiful for these children, but I have to say that I am in it for my own spirituality as well. I love the Good Shepherd.

I  love that the children at our parish need CCD and I somehow get to act like I am teaching them when I volunteer for CCD when in fact I am the one who is experiencing complete fulfillment and joy watching the Holy Spirit work in these preschoolers.

As a mother of five,

I will admit that I am not always the "prepared adult" I want to be for the atrium. In my first year of CGS I was always so worried about my own performance and now, I'm not sure if it's having three years of atrium experience under my belt or having five kids under age ten, but I am much more relaxed about the way things...well...unfold...when I have days where I didn't get to prepare like I wanted to.

So a few weeks ago, when Easter was still so fresh and the white linen cloths were on the prayer table signifying celebration, I needed to tote my six month old with me to the atrium. In my craziness of the day, atrium time approached and I did not have a bottle to leave with my dear friend Janet who watches my littles (their atrium is on a different day). bottle means...she goes with me.

I figured I would simply wear her and manage the best I could.

As my class of five and six year olds blessed themselves with holy water and made their way into the atrium that sunny late afternoon, they immediately noticed the baby.

"Is that yours?"

"She's little."

"What's her name?"

"Can I see her?"

Sure! I laid out her blanket and placed her on her back and all of a sudden three children were around the edge of the blanket. It was as if I had just rolled out a work mat and well... here was our new work...

I asked them to wash their hands and they all popped up happily and came back to the blanket just as happily.

"She is so smiley!"

"She has no teeth!?!"

"Look she is taking her socks off!"

And they all admired her and I thought the whole time...this is interesting, I wonder when class will start...

There were five children total now and one of the little girls looked up with her big brown eyes and said softly, "May I hold her?"

Of course!

This fifth baby of mine is so USED to her siblings jostling and holding her it didn't phase her a bit to be passed around the blanket. Each child was so eager to have a turn with her. They giggled and were so happy to have a soft plump of a babe in their arms.

My Little Flower went twice around the blanket, the children were all very patient. She was very patient.

After passing her around, I thought we were at a perfect moment to finally get the children to part ways and find a work to settle into.

I never realized that they were settled...and the work was a baby.

They loved that she wiggled and grabbed her toes.

They exclaimed things like:
"Look her belly button! That is where she got food from you!"

They loved when she grabbed their fingers. They loved watching her try to roll over, coaching her. I enjoyed so much their observations because it was like I was experiencing my baby in a whole new way. I feel the Holy Spirit prompted me then with the thought that...

all the children in this particular moment on this particular day in the
atrium are the youngest child in their families.

They were the second, the third, the fourth child! They were the babies of their families! My baby was new and fascinating to them. She was something beautiful and new to touch. We have beautiful things to sort or polish in the atrium, but I was thinking back on this time and I realized that many children, especially young ones are told...

"Don't touch the baby!"

"Just look!"

I was relaxed and so they were relaxed and it was just so natural to sit and watch the baby together.

They laughed with how much she drooled. They loved her babbling.

When we gathered around the prayer table and sang songs we OF COURSE needed to include her.

All the children did kind of naturally lose interest in her, especially since after about 20 minutes she did want me (and close), so I wore her. They were able to find the atrium work they wanted and all was as it should be.

I wanted to write about a baby in the atrium because I think it is a privilege to witness children wondering aloud because it prompts the adults, the ones who are so familiar and all knowing about the world, to wonder too.

I think there is something to be said about letting go of our own agendas and how things are supposed to run and just let the children lead us.

There was such peace with the baby. The baby who once was so small...small like those mustard seeds.

Babies seem to have the essence of the Kingdom of Heaven lingering in them, all saint, pure, happy. I am off to bed, it is so late, but I am so happy I finally got to share this! God bless!

Monday, May 18, 2015

These Relationships Are Ours For the Taking

One of the best "ah-ha" moments I have EVER experienced was in the confines of my home a few winters back here in sweet Juneau.

I found an "eagle" wearing a dinosaur sweater in my backyard!
The moment consisted of being completely content with things as they were in my home. I know I have written about this before, but I am coming back to it, because I see with this gargantuan move ahead (Alaska to Virginia) that I will need to pull in and take care of these people as things change around us.

I feel that this moment was a singular grace given to me by God. I see it as GIFT because when we think we come to things on our OWN accord we start believing we have control and we lose just a smidgen of humility...let's stay little and small with our hands open and wait for these gifts.

This epiphany from the past happened, surprisingly, over a text message. My dear friend Angela, who is mothering a large family with teens and young adults and fianc├ęs and grandchildren, asked if our family was interested in coming over for Sunday afternoon board games.

My whole family loves being in the Smith home, on any day. Trampoline jumping, evening piano recitals, Super Bowl, or bridal/baby shower, it is a warm generous home...with lovely books everywhere and quirky Disney nerd decorations and BEAUTIFUL UNIQUE people. I distinctly remember reading that text message, this offer to enter that wonderful home, and looking up and seeing how WONDERFUL my own home was.

He is ready for the OUTDOOR pool in Virginia!
It was Sunday afternoon in my own home. Performance Today was playing softly on the radio with an opera that we could not understand but was beautiful all the same. Justin was snoozing in his reclined chair with a little on him, I believe our son. My eldest was working on a puzzle sprawled out in the family room and I think the other littles were napping or reading or doing something quietly. It was so peaceful, it was so sacred.

And so, without even telling the other members of the home (because that would mean waking some of them up), I just told Angela that we were all at a really good place and that I didn't want to disturb it. I said THANK YOU, because I sensed the love and generosity in opening her family's Sunday up to mine.

I distinctly remember what she wrote back,

"Perfect. It so nice when we know how awesome our own people are."

I'm not sure if those are the exact words, but it is what I hear loud and clear today.

I wrote humorously in this post about my attempt to become an expert on the people in my home. Something I am TRYING to do, but I also look at these littles and my husband and I almost get a deep sense of the ESSENTIAL when I realize that...

These are my people.

These relationships are here for me.

Aasjfkdjsfkjasfhkjahdjkfhfkjh! I made a coffee cake from scratch!


I live these as a vocation and I'm realizing that, yes, we do want to do this particular vocation WELL. We don't want aloof, depressed, uncared for husbands. We don't want unloved, hurt, and neglected children.

Yes, we pray we are going to do it well, and God blesses and redeems it. Yet He presses on hearts,

this is your calling and I want you to ENJOY this.  

Wet dog!
Ha! I love it! He wants us to enjoy our people!

There is a beautiful intimacy about a family who truly enjoys each other in leisure. I find some of my fondest memories of leisure come from a tiny home in Columbus, OH, my grandparents house. There was an ease about the home. This ease must have come about through a cultivated respect for one another and an ability to laugh...and laugh often.

When a person is fully able to be themselves, their guard can come down and so laughing is easy. I long for my home to be the place where my people feel secure enough and loved that they BELIEVE that I think they are (as Angela's text had said) awesome company.

I've decided this week that I want to LISTEN WITH MY EYES.  I want to find moments where I can really make some ground on these relationships. Truth be told, I don't homeschool because I think that schools are ________ or that Common Core is _________. I homeschool because these relationships are mine for the taking and I'm greedily going to soak up as much time with them as I can.

This was a quick post but much needed. Our family is in an interesting time right now and I can get a bit down on myself when I feel that things are too hard and I'm too tired. Writing is a good way of getting to the essential. And tonight it was a good way of reminding myself that I ENJOY my people more when
 when I say yes and nag less,
when I stay off Facebook and turn off my phone,
when I purposefully raise my eyebrows when someone looks like they are about to ask something of me,
when I make four peanut butter and fluff sandwiches,
when I remain calm when mason jars shatter.
If we show our people how much we enjoy having them around when they are little think of how much fun it will be when they keep coming back to the place where they felt delighted in?!? Want to try this experiment with me?
Good night my friends. Let's love on our awesome people and cultivate these relationships with some new energy this week! xxoo