Thursday, February 25, 2016

Isn't It All About Relationships Anyway???

When I first decided to homeschool I could not read enough about the subject. I gobbled up every website and book I could get my hands on and I became a devoted student of some Alaskan homeschool families...they know who they are.

I can't even believe it but now I am the one who is being asked about homeschooling. I have written about it before and would like to reiterate how this is not the intent of my blog and it is really more of a lifestyle choice for us.

So one of the tidbits I picked up from the plethora of books I read was that really...reading to even the youngest of children should be a source of great joy and comfort for the child. Soft lighting, a cozy lap, a comfy blanket, and a mama who is ready to settle down and linger awhile with each book. One could say it is a great art and I am proud to boast of having mastered many dialects although my fall back is usually a British accent (must be the years of watching Downton Abby).

Reading, in the end, would be a sense of joy for your little not only because of the amazing stories being told but because of the close relationship being built between the parent and child while reading. So when our children see a worn hard bound classic beckoning them on a bookshelf, they not only have a sense of wonder, but they think "Ah, this would be nice to curl up with" even though YOUR lap might not be there.

So, I have in the past year, have had quite a different approach to how I speak, touch and look at my children in Mass. I see it most with my six year old daughter. She likes to sit in my lap during Mass. I have been stroking her hair more. She kind of tucks her head under my chin. There is a part of me who thinks she is huge and I have a four year old and eighteen month old to have in my LAP, really my six year old too???

But I have kind of talked myself into believing that much is at stake here. That this child, who is in the middle, is taking everything in as gift and our time together in Mass is a gift. She has her own relationship with the Good Shepherd, but she has her own relationship with me. I want her connection with me in Mass, in our beautiful Church, to be one when mama is most approachable. When mama is at great peace and mama is loving.


Mama is human and DOES lose peace. There are "in the pew" tiffs between kids all the time. Or the tinkling of goldfish that spill all over during a food in the sanctuary (gasp!). There are pew head bonks which are so loud but you know the THUNDER of your little one's cry will be even louder. Ha! I sometimes hear head bonks and I think, "wait for it....wait for it..." as I watch the desperate parent try to soothe the poor child. I have a wild imagination and sometime I feel like Our Lord Himself would have been preaching a parable to hear a bonk and walk up an aisle and take little Betty Lou in his arms and look into her eyes, "Are you ok? That hurts doesn't it?" The bright sparkling eyes of a Messiah who is so in Love.

Be those eyes!

He wants us to listen and be attentive. Much more He wants us to be there and feel loved. Isn't Mass about feasting with Him and our relationship with Him? Isn't it all about relationships anyway? It being LIFE!

Yes, reverence is desirable, but I find instead of TELLING my children to be reverent, it is more important they see ME being reverent. I am trying my very best in Mass to be gentle and loving and smiling. No furled eyebrows. Building relationships over here in pew 30 of the left wing of the sanctuary.

I would like to take this power hour of who mama is in Mass and now extend it to other areas of my areas really.

When Mama is at dinner, who is she? Will my children remember dinner as a time when Mama becomes the manners monster (because she is obsessed with all things old money)? Can dinner be the time when we all talk about our day and ask daddy about his? Is Mama smiling? When my children come to our table, I would love for it to be with anticipation because relationship building happens there. Even when they come home from long to be at table. This all starts now right?

I hear Him saying, "Be gentle with YOURSELF Stephanie and please please ask Me for Help here. I am all about relationship building. I gave you my Son."

It is Thursday? I am planning a soup for dinner tomorrow! Are you guys cranking out soups?

God Bless xxoo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Valentines



Click here for more PHFR

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In Our Own Words

We are walking LENT. Can you get some purple things up today in this season of preparation? Sound too daunting? It is a season you have time!

Last fall I was at a gathering of extended family when I had an interesting conversation with a particular family member, whom I had not seen since the move back to Virginia. As he was driving away in his truck, he kind of laughed and said, "So you gonna have anymore kids?"

That's actually NOT the interesting part because I get said question all the time.

I did my typical bubbly, "We'll see! We are so happy!" Smile.

And he chuckled again and said, "Well five, I would say you have done your duty."


There were so many goings on and all FIVE children to tend to that I don't remember at what point I said, "Bye!" but I have thought a little about his statement. I told you I am going to try and write more during LENT so that means these little nuggets come back to me! Lucky you ;)

First off, pat on back, such musings from random people do not get me all mopey and pouty THERE is growth! It is as if I am spiritually only using one wobbly training wheel so that sometimes I get confident I'm riding a bike for REAL while still having great comfort that I always have that left rattling wheel to lean that I don't biff....which I do at times.

But REALLY, I mean REALLY this whole blog was brought into existence because of the particular words of one young midwife who kept asking me about artificial contraception at my six week check up following the birth of my son (he is four now!). So, I can honestly say, it has been one big work of figuring out how to take in the words of others, particularly regarding life giving love decisions.

Now, by the grace of God in this journey, it actually takes A LOT to get under my skin when it comes to family size comments. Call it toughening up or maybe just being GRATEFUL for my littles, but I truly want my energy to be in lifting up and cheering on other mommies of ALL family sizes and not giving too much energy elsewhere.

So about a sense of duty, being a Navy brat and having served in the Coast Guard and now as the spouse of a Coast Guardsman, I guess I see the word duty as a commitment one feels a deep obligation to do.

I have never felt it was my duty to have five children, although I do feel as sense of duty in raising them. It is  not a duty, it is a blessing...

It is an honor.

My intent is not to dissect comments, however they are meant, but to always ALWAYS in our heads put things into our own words.

No really! This is mental exercise time with Stephanie!

Put everything into your own words!

Novels are sprinkled with heroes and heroines who, maybe since youth, maybe in an abusive relationship, they always believed the words that other people have told them.

It is as if someone for a long time stood over you and said, "You're sick."

 "No, I'm not sick."

And the they of the big them says, "No, really you're sick. Stay in bed."

If they say it enough and you don't learn to own words, you eventually really become....sick. I am thinking of the play The Imaginary Invalid, a little wonky at times, but wow, a great message.

So you get something like...

"You have done your duty!"

And in your mind you jumble up those words and make a new sentence and own it, "It is my joy to walk with these children and live this life."

YES. In the crunched cheerio under your slipper and in the child who peed himself by the toilet and then locked himself in the bathroom, it is yours to walk and ENJOY. No duty here, just children and holy beautiful mess.

And maybe if we mentally own words, we can get so familiar with them, they become who we are and we DO walk with joy. We become so familiar with them they don't stay up in our heads anymore, they become WITNESS.

I believe this wholeheartedly.

Your words will witness to others, but they will witness to you. You will even be able to GET AHEAD of the poor and sometimes demeaning word choices of others.

Get ahead? I have seen this first hand! I watched my new bestie Mary Clare do it!

I stopped being sulky one evening in early September about missing Juneau and decided to go to a homeschool moms Panera night...because some loneliness requires action, not by people coming to YOU but by you going to people. So I had my adult hot cocoa (aka mocha) and there was Mary Clare who had just moved here from Colorado! (I thought to myself...that is far away like Alaska!)

And she was asked how many children she had, to which she replied,

"We have been blessed with eight children."

INTERCEPTION!!!!  (like football Super Bowl style)

I mean...I LOVED how she answered that simple question. Granted, she was not in a shark tank scenario, she was around the friendliest homeschooling Catholic mamas one could ask for, but still I was so impressed.

With her own words, she answered so MUCH.

We have been BLESSED with eight children.

It was with a smile and it was with finality and it was with her own words.

Mary Clare reminds me of these simple words from a Switchfoot song...

What you your religion.

How you say your religion.

I am not trying to pressure you, only share what I have realized, that our little ones are listening. Our spouse, our friends, our extended family, our neighbors...are listening to how we express our lives and our religion in our own words. I am struck with how I am even sharing my thoughts on a blog as a Catholic and this too religion...and I pray for the Helper to continue to use this as a means for good.

God Bless You!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: LENT



A train!

Happy & Real

We had a bit of a scare tonight with our dog. This picture is actually a very intimate moment before she went to the Vet ER. My children thought they were saying goodbye to her. She is all better now and we are very happy. I love the look on my baby's face.

Hope you are having a good evening! PHFR

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near,” (James 5:8).

How does one strengthen a heart?

How does a mother strengthen her heart?

Something to ponder...

SO! We celebrated Fat Tuesday yesterday and believe me, no junk food was spared!

I was a monster most of the day to the kids and so I was so happy to have an excuse like Fat Tuesday to be extra generous with food and kind of flip a switch from angry mommy to "let's celebrate liturgical life" mommy.

During supper my eldest asked me what Lent was kind of FOR again...I had actually started to say something about the symbolism behind the ashes and I think I even threw the word mortality in.

She looked at me with her sky blue eyes and I could see with my own eyes that I was not getting to the ESSENTIAL.

What is LENT?

It came to me! I told her:

Lent is our journey to Easter. Lent is our journey to the Resurrection.

King Cake?

I need the Resurrection in my life right now in a way I have never experienced before. This need is not another Alaska to Virginia move need, it is a restlessness I have for that good news, for that hope.

I will not go through the litany of things I will or will not do during Lent, I have more private writing spaces, but I WILL say that it is a deep desire of mine to try and walk 40 days on here with you. 

God Bless you on your journey to the Resurrection. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Being Credit Conscious

Yesterday evening before our Candlemas meal (The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord),

my four year old son was looking around for a particular toy.

In Richmond
One of the many hats I wear in motherhood is the Knower of Where Things Are hat. I wear it quite often, I am most proficient at where things are in the fridge, but it applies to MANY things. Shoes, hairbrushes and the other evening one toy out know...way to many.

So he said "Mama, have you seen my ribbon thing?"

I said, "Ummm...I think its over on the counter there."


He went in search of his lost treasure toward the kitchen counter and he then called out, "Oh I found my ribbon thing!"

I was nursing the baby and I thought about calling after him, "Actually, I found it buddy! I told you where to look!?!"

But I didn't. I remained silent, pleased that he had found what he was searching for, that he could be a child and be in the present moment and enjoy his toy and be happy.

I liked giving him the feeling that he had found it. I liked giving him credit for the find.

And then...I was thinking about grace and blessings and gifts...from Him.

So much of my spiritual journey has been about rubbing the sleep away from my eyes and seeing how God is giving gifts always.

God's gift of the grace of the Church's teaching on openness to life has been a life giving blessing to my marriage.

When I was struggling with finding the truth about my own marriage and its true purpose, I was searching for answers in books and by talking to priests and Catholic doctors and God fearing friends. I searched and searched and the whole time I was searching,  I thought that I had found these people. I had found the books. I had found the Church doctrine. I had scheduled the confession or appointment. I had invited the friend to coffee.

Maybe that was four year old Stephanie looking for her ribbon thing and a bit pleased with herself when she found it.

Now I am five year old Stephanie and I am soaking up this goodness...

and I have the lightbulb (click!) go off in my head and a grateful song in my heart. The Holy Spirit was so gentle in guiding me to the truth I was looking for. All the books, doctrine, people, moments were not because I found them, but because they found me. God had put them there!

I must give credit to where and Whom it is due.

Simeon and Anna longed and longed for the Messiah of the Lord.  A young couple comes to the Temple with a small basket and two turtle doves and a baby boy. The Messiah is placed in Simeon's arms. All gift!

I pray we can see in this morning, in this day, the gifts that He sprinkles and puts in our waiting arms. That we can praise Him with joyful hearts and that we can be aware of His presence.

I pray we have a confidence in Him that even if we are not giving Him credit all the time, He is happy because we are his beloved children and He wants us to have our ribbon things.

God Bless!