Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The Domestic Church: Room By Room"

One of my most current reads...I have several going on at the same this...

...a delightful read by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle on "the Domestic Church" (our homes) and our role as women/wives/mothers in evangelizing our faith within our own four walls...and many rooms!

Systematically going through each room of the home, the author provides support, examples, and testimony as to the great power as women that we possess in educating and sanctifying our loved ones right inside our Domestic Churches.

As Mother Teresa once said, "Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home."

An easy read, this book cites Scripture, papal encyclicals, apostolic letters, words of great saints, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The study guide is an added bonus, allowing the reader to really process and ponder the words on the pages.

Living a traditional faith life...and raising one's children in that same life...can be a challenge in today's society where secularism and relativism rules.  This is an easy way to get a positive affirmation for all that we do as wives and mothers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"PARENTING with Grace..." by Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. and Lisa Popcak

PARENTING with Grace
The Catholic Parents' Guide to Raising "almost" Perfect Kids
2nd Edition (Updated and Expanded)

Last Fall, while searching for parenting materials, I discovered this gem of a book!  It has become my parenting "go to" book as I have developed and evolved my own parenting philosophy and practices.  It is rarely not at my side,  (I read it while I'm soaking in the tub (a treat for sure!), waiting in the carpool lane, nursing Baby Luke, etc.!) and it has caused me to radically change many of my thoughts about "the right way" to do things!

So what makes this book so different than other parenting handbooks out there?  (What to Expect...series, Parents Magazine, Family Fun, etc.)

Well, for starters, it is a decidedly Christian, specifically Catholic, read. The authors, Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. and his wife, Lisa Popcak, make no apologies touting parenting practices that are strongly supported by the Catholic Church such as stay-at-home mothers, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, homeschooling, etc.  And while the authors do not claim to present "the one, right, Catholic way to parent...we can enumerate some of the values that stand at the heart of Catholicism and introduce you to the parenting methods that research suggests will increase the odds of your children exemplifying those values..."

In addition, I love how the authors delve into the "Five Fabulous Phases of Childhood" and what attachment parenting looks like at each phase.  ( mean my job of attachment parenting isn't over when Luke's out of diapers?)  ;)  From infancy through the teen years, the authors share what is most wonderful about each of these phases and what a strong parent/child relationship will look like.  I appreciate a good read that doesn't perpetuate the "terrible twos" or "challenging teen years"!

Finally, the last part of the book is a "potpourri" of sorts with chapters on the "Twelve Ways to Foster Your Child's Faith Life", "Sibling REVELRY:  Six Hints for Helping Your Children Love One Another"  and "the Most Powerful Parenting Tool...Your Marriage".  And this is just a sample.

I love this book and really can't say enough positive things about the way that it has impacted my life!  

Perhaps actions speak louder than words...?

Our "Family Bed"
While my siblings and I would NEVER have slept with our parents, my kiddos do quite often.  Our "family bed" grew out of my intense need to spend time with my little ones after being away from them all day working.  :(  It also supported the practice of breastfeeding-on-demand which I have done with each of our children.  

And while the two older ones, now school-age, do typically sleep in their own beds each night, they LOVE having "slumber parties" with mom while Daddy is on-duty!  Interestingly, since I no longer work outside of the home and Luke and I are together all day long (and he is no longer waking at night to eat) he is my best "crib sleeper" at night!

Wishing you sweet dreams this evening,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Little Way of Lent"

Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing. 
 St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, Chapter VIII 

Earlier this month, I mentioned that I found some new materials at the Catholic bookstore to support me in my Lenten journey.

In addition to some materials for my children, I discovered this...
 It has been a most-inspiring I guessed it would be!

Remember, yesterday, how I mentioned that I have been quiet...listening for messages.  (It is so important to just "be" at times...for if we don't ever stop to listen, we can miss the message among the chaos of day to day living!)

Recently, some of life's chaos has been clouding my judgment with regards to a parenting situation.

Discussions with my parents/siblings/girlfriends have done little to alleviate my "anxiety" about this particular situation.  Rather, I was just generating noise.  

And then I read these passages for Friday of Week One from "The Little Way of Lent"...
Prayer at the Altar
"Too often it can seem as if the greatest obstacle to loving one's neighbors is the neighbors.  Intemperate, unfaithful, vulgar, immoral, and just plain selfish people are difficult to love.  Perhaps if they were better Christians, "keeping God's statutes and doing what is right and just," it would be effortless to love them."

"Yet a lack of love prohibits genuine prayer and stains whatever is offered to God.  That's why Jesus tethers loving one's neighbor to the altar.  No gift should be brought before God if the heart of the giver is weighed down by problems with his brother."

"Living out the two great commandments doesn't oblige me to become friends with the entire body of Christ; it obliges me to stop marking their inequities and to instead help them stand before the Lord."

And that was it...

...the message that I needed to hear to help me discern what, in fact, I needed to do with regard to my parenting dilemma.

In today's society, where secularism and relativism rules, where many of our "neighbors" claim atheism or agnosticism as their "religion" it can be a challenge to raise our children in a traditional faith.  What I have come to realize through my Lenten readings and prayer is that it is my job is to make sure that my children are deeply rooted in faith, hope, and love so that outside messages, while heard, are not internalized.

A challenge for certain...but not an impossibility!  

 Wishing you a peaceful Tuesday,


Monday, March 28, 2011

"The STORY of a SOUL"

"We must become the change we want to see." Mahatma Gandhi

I've been quiet, lately, on Blogger...on email.

Not because I've been so busy that I don't have the time to interact with others through technology...don't we make time for the things that matter most to us?...but because I have been spending more time in solitude contemplating what matters most to me, and what changes need to occur in my life.

A talker and writer by nature, I'm inclined to make more noise than filter out that which doesn't need to be internalized.

So, over the past seven or eight months, I've been talking less, and listening more. 

Listening to the messages from the it television, radio or Internet news....listening to messages from friends and acquaintances through blogs, Facebook, emails...listening to what my children have to say...and listening to messages from God through literature, prayer, and Mass.

Some of the messages are wonderful.  Family-oriented, they are positive and healthy for me, my spouse, and children.  They make me want to be a better wife and mother, daughter and sister...a better Catholic...a better caretaker of our Earth.

Others, though, have me second-guessing myself, drawing my attention away from what matters most during the children...our home.

One thing I know for certain, in order for me to feel a sense of peace about the direction that my family is headed, I need to be the change that I so badly want to see for my children.  That means less noise...more filtering!  That means internalizing the healthy stuff like prayer...solitude...nature.  
And don't those just go hand in hand?

This week, I thought that I might share with you a few of the titles of books that have had me so preoccupied of late!  Books that have made a profound impact on the way that I view God and my religion, my marriage, and parenting.  

Because in the end, these are the very most important things in my life.

"The STORY of a SOUL," The Autobiography of The Little Flower has been such a touching read.  It is hard to believe that this sweet girl entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux (France) when she was only 15 years old!  From a very early age (childhood) she possessed a passionate love for our Lord and had an unusual depth of understanding of how to live a life for Christ, (not doing "great and wondrous deeds", but rather doing "little things with great love").

St. Therese's autobiography has had a profound effect on my own life, confirming for me that what I do day to day (mothering) can and does make a difference in the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

And the Thunder Rolled...

Storms rolled in this morning. 

Unseasonably warm temperatures gave way to a cold front producing pea-sized hail.

The little ones found it fascinating, and after the rain stopped we went out to explore.

Although it is officially still Winter here on the Plains, we can get some incredibly strong storms during the Fall and Spring months. 

View from out front porch as the hail rains down.

View of our back porch.  The hail was coming in sideways!
Picture with lid from the birdseed container that blew off during the storm.
Same view...minus the birdseed lid.
Mary playing in the "hail".
An incredible amount of hail rained down in only a few minutes. If filled up the gutters and poured out into a "puddle?"
Temperatures have dropped significantly...about 30 degrees since yesterday.  Brrrr!  The hail has not melted away and instead looks like leftover piles of melted snow. 

A cold rain is coming down and there is a gloominess outside that can't seem to be shaken.  I suppose it has something to do with the yellow-green of the lawn and the barren trees.  Looking forward to Spring's arrival tomorrow and warmer days ahead!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

St. Thérèse of Lisieux says it isn't the WHAT we do for God that is important, but rather "the way" or the "why" behind what we choose to do for HIM.

This Lent, let us worry less about what we are "giving up" and focus more on the "why" so that we might draw nearer to Christ during this liturgical season of Lent.

Wishing you a blessed start to the beginning of your Lenten journey.

Oh, and I was so excited to discover this book to support me on my own Lenten journey...

Friday, March 4, 2011

...And We're Off!

The petite ones and I are off to St. Louis to celebrate a very special birthday this weekend!

My sweet nephew, Eli, turned three years old this week and we are having a big "to do" to celebrate this little one's life.  He is our congenital heart defect (CHD) heart at 18-months!  Since surgery, he's become a force to be reckoned with! 

Just the way life with toddlers/preschoolers should be.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Now That's a Blog Banner! that a header or what?!!! It's a bit bigger than I realized it would be when I purchased the kit from the wonderfully talented, Shabby Miss Jenn.

I like it though! Much better than blogger's SIMPLE template header. It was driving me nuts, but until recently I just didn't have the time to tinker with it. (I love using Blogger's new template designer, but I haven't had any time to learn about CSS.) Truth be known, I really still don't have the time, but I had to fix that header!

And isn't that such a lovely photo of St. Therese? (Blogger is NOT liking my cut and paste accent document) *sigh*

In addition to the blog banner kit, I also bought the scrapbooking kit because I loved all of the different elements. In the future I'd like to try and create a header that has pictures of my three little ones who inspire me daily to be a better mother and practice all of Her Little Ways, but for now, I thought that a picture of the Saint whose life has inspired such a change in me would more than suffice.

Oh, and my house soooo doesn't look like a haven! That's what happens when Mommy is on the blog too much! :) Hope to get it under control and share with you our family room. The transformation has continued and I think it's my new most favorite room in our house!