Just a closer walk

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I wanted to do a daily hands-on activity Lenten activity with the two littlest ones. My first idea was to trace their feet and cut out 40 for each. But when my neatnik Cliff would have nothing to do with the feet tracing activity, I had to compromise. Once Lillian saw me come up with a graphic of a foot, she had design plans of her own. What we ended up with was pretty much directed by her.

I used Word and Photoshop. I made twp footprints in Photoshop’s custom shape feature and colored one pink and one blue. (You can guess who came up with that). I saved them as jpegs and pulled them into Word, added a cross on, and an empty heart near each foot (also directed by Lil) and the text: “Walking the path with Jesus brings my heart closer to his.” I printed a total of 40 in each color. The kids each fill in the heart daily with a picture (or scribble ala Cliff) and the number of the day of Lent. It’s hardly craft-0-licious – but it works. We’re tacking them up the wall and they will work their way along the ceiling (eventually leading to a hung crucifix). The children are already excited to see the path grow. I’m not usually a let’s-tape-stuff-to-the-wall mom, but I’m repainting in the spring, so I figured let’s go with my unusual flexibility while the going is good.

Here’s a pdf of what I made: Path of Lent. It’s a nice activity because it’s not too overwhelming or time-consuming, but it is still a multi-step and multi-sensory process. If you’re not for the wall-walking, collecting them in a box would be fun. You could occasionally spread them on the floor (adding a little sequencing exercise to boot). The activity has already prompted some nice conversation, engagement and an opportunity to build on their knowledge of this holy season.

Today (since all are home for break) we are making an Alleluia banner to bring out on Easter. We’ve done this before (usually on Ash Wednesday), and it adds to the celebration (and decor!) of our Easter. And yes: there will be glitter involved – because making all things new has to involve lots of sparkle, right?

Microsoft Word - Document2

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Goodbye Zsa Zsa, hello Lent

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Why start in mid January what you can put off until Lent?

In addition to prayer, alms giving and fasting – I’m planning a resolutionary Lent.

I missed the opportunity to seize my few planned resolutions for the New Year since the kids and I were sick in bed the week before, during and after the clock struck midnight. Two weeks into January, I didn’t have the wherewithal to tackle the self-improvement tasks I had intended since I was in a semi-scramble trying to make up for all the lost time, deadlines, projects and whatnot that the flu dutifully mangled.

I’m all about Lenten sacrifices, and for some reason (like my personality), I continue to add sacrifices in the form of projects as the season progresses. And, I generally over-do it. In years past, I’ve gotten rid of 40 bags of stuff. Twice. Written 40 letters for life. Taken care of 40 menial tasks (the little fixes that never seem to get done) – all while leading a prayer group, doing Lenten activities with the kids and checking off “pray more” on my mental to-do list for the season.

No matter what, I feel like I end up conquering Lent. And here I am again: planning to add a resolution (or two or three).

I need to tackle these resolutions to yield a little more quiet time with the Lord for a more spiritually productive holy season. This approach is ripe with sacrifice for me since most of these improvements appear no where on my oh-isn’t-this-fun list. I am motivated to embrace these changes for the sake of his sorrowful passion. (Even though some I should be doing for my own well-being – I know my weaknesses and thank God for his strength.)

My most ridiculous resolutionary sacrifice is in the form of coffee. (No. I am not giving up coffee. I’m pretty sure I’m still called to function.)

Where's my coffee, Dahling?

Where’s my coffee, Dahling?

I am blessed to have a dear spouse who wakes me every day by bringing me coffee. (Yes. Pity me.)

Not too terribly long ago, I was a normal person who woke to an alarm. But over the past couple years, the protocol is that Richard makes me coffee (in a French press and with frothed milk, no less), and brings it to my bedside. As much as I appreciate this (and oh golly I do!), I really need to get up on my own and not be dependent on this glorious gesture. I need to seize the day – not be eased into it. He can still make me coffee (and I hope he does), but I need to re-learn how to get up outside of this ritual. There’s no consistency in the timing. Which I need. Some mornings, I’m awake and stay put in bed, waiting for that cup of coffee. I almost feel (gasp) entitled to that coffee in bed. Which is ridiculous. (Who am I? Zsa Zsa Gabore? “Thank you, Darling?”) Giving this up really is a sacrifice – because, I so love the sweet thought behind it. But it’s also a resolution – because self-improvement will come from this change. I don’t intend to go back to the practice after Easter, and I resolve to readily seize the day and offer the fruits it brings to the Lord.

For Phil’s sake

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I want to believe Punxsutawney Phil. I’m longing for spring – the thought of which has wedged itself in my brain like a steel spike.

I get a little bit of those lack-of-sun winter blahs. Even though I love the snow, I just don’t force myself out in cold grey weather enough to soak of the helpful vitamin D provided so graciously for free by the sun. Two years ago, when I found myself crying like a baby in the confessional, a really tall and wise man said: “You probably just need some sun. Are you getting enough sun?”

Today’s extra dose of snow reminded me that spring is still far off. And even though Phil basked above the ground long enough for a bunch of grown men in top hats to declare that the rodent knows something we don’t – six, now five, weeks is still a loooooong time. (And dare I say? There is a chance that Phil is … wrong. How can he see his shadow anyway?Have you seen that whole set up? So what if the fat rat is wrong and winter is longer? Much longer.)

Maybe I’m yearning for spring more now since I’m packing some fun-in-the-sun clothing for two kids heading south to visit Grandma and Grandpa.Perhaps shopping for flip flops just wedged that spike in a little further and twisted it. I’ve been in denial, but I think it hit me that they won’t bring the sunshine home with them – so I guess I have to tough it out. (I keep picturing unzipping sunshine from their L.L. Bean duffle.)

Well, on the bright side, there’s always Lent to look forward to.

Here’s a look at a huge crowd of people cheering on the rodent. I suppose the tradition gives folks the excuse to start drinking early in the day to celebrate the coming of spring. Or to start drinking early to drown the sorrow of the long weeks of winter ahead. Either way. Cheers. 

Small successes

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Small successes are better than no successes. (And yes, I spelled my own name wrong over at catholicmom.com.)

1) I had a very productive morning, even if it got off to a slightly later-than-usual start. Fingers were flying. Words knocked out in cohesive sentences. And I made a run to get some summer clothes for a south-traveling kid-o-mine who has nary a thread to wear from last summer.

2) I used the word nary. ^

3) Just as I was starting my van to head to teach children’s choir, I did a mental survey of the farewell conversation I had with my 11-year-old. In my mind’s visual super-slo-mo playback, I realized that while I was packing music, he was cutting open an entire package of bacon and putting it – as one big overhanging hunk – on a salad plate. Wait. I thought. What the heck is he going to do with that?

Success! I ran inside, cut the impending action and prevented the gory greaseshed – and one serious microwave (hot) mess.

photo

This lovely artwork was Henry’s Christmas gift to me. He made it at the famous Pewabic Pottery center in Detroit. Yes. It says bacon. And Tea. Because he loves bacon, and I love tea. Except he spelled tea wrong. Which he knew, but “there was no turning back once I gouged it in the clay.” That’s my boy: The bacon-loving clay gouger.