Pray the Ninja Way

Alternate title to this post is: The Steal, Sneak around, and Hunker Down Prayer Hack Method for Moms.

Sheila posted a fantastic entry and asked some salient questions regarding prayer. And it’s just the perfect timing, since I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time, and also since I had writer’s block until she posted on Tuesday!

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Getting a regular prayer time in is indeed a challenge. We all know what’s individually keeping us from prayer, whether it’s illness, tiredness, interruptions, or lack of scheduling prowess. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been almost constantly trying to get back to the one and only routine that has ever worked for me: wake up x number of minutes earlier than normal, use that amount of time to make coffee and pray, and then continue as normal with the day’s schedule, whatever that may be. Continue reading

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prayers, works, joys …

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Maggie “reading” Bible stories to Rachel in the back yard.  That’s a joy.

Lately I’ve been taking ten seconds to pray the Morning Offering each day.  For my non-Catholic friends* (or Catholics who haven’t heard of it), here it is:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Amen.

I don’t really “count” this as my “prayer time” each day – do the rest of you also struggle with the idea of what “counts” as having had your prayer time? – but it’s helpful.  If I don’t get a chance to have a “real” prayer time (how many times can I inject quotation marks into here?), it makes me glad to know I at least spent ten seconds in prayer.  Or if it’s a busy morning and I just haven’t had any prayer time yet, it’s helpful to see this posted on my fridge, take a deep breath, and get a little prayer in before the next kid wails about how hungry she is.

It’s also helpful sometimes just to pray someone else’s words.  And to just send a prayer up rather than have the more complex “conversation with God” type prayer time that’s my favorite.  Sometimes I just don’t have any brain power for a conversation!  But I can usually pull it together to say these words and try to mean them.

I also happen to think it’s a great prayer.  Parts of it are over my head – what does it even mean to offer something through the Immaculate Heart of Mary?  – but I like the idea that my “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” all have meaning and are all worthy to be offered to the Lord.  And just saying the words “for the intentions of all my relatives and friends” helps me to recall, very very briefly, some of those intentions.  There’s a lot more in this prayer than what I currently take from it, I’m sure, but that’s what I like about it now.

*Any non-Catholics reading this (hi KB!), I hope there’s something you can take from this even if this particular prayer is too Catholic for you!  And I’d love to hear if there’s anything similar to a Morning Offering in your church tradition!

PS – my current “real” prayer time is usually the Blessed is She devotional, which I get in my email each day.  I highly recommend it.  Also, a recent Blessed is She reflection included a list of “aspirations,” which are super-short phrases of prayer like “Come Holy Spirit” or “Jesus, I trust in You.”  Another great way to fit prayer into your day 🙂

God bless you all today!

Birth Story Part 3: Precipitous Labor

Note: In case, you need to get caught up, please refer to part 1 and part 2 of my labor story.

So the moment finally came when we were heading to the hospital, but the contractions were so intense I couldn’t sit down in the car.  My husband suggested that I should lay down in the back seat, but that sounded awful to me.  I decided to wait out this one intense contraction and get in the car with the hopes that I could make it to the hospital without many more contractions. Luckily, we live very close to the hospital in town.

However, the ride to the hospital was tortuous.  I held onto the handle bar on the top of the car as intense contractions came over me, without much break in between.  In the 6 minute car ride it seemed as if I had nonstop contractions.  I texted my doula to meet us at the hospital. I couldn’t even talk to call the midwife the pains were so intense.  These contractions were nothing like the light contractions I felt on the way to the hospital with my first baby.  I thought to myself- there is no way I can endure hours of this!

When we got the hospital parking garage,  we parked, and I flew out of the car while my husband carefully turned off the vehicle.  I got to the front desk of the childbirth unit and told them I was in a lot of pain.  Then I told her I felt like I had to push. She asked me if I wanted to walk or go in a wheelchair to the triage, and I said- neither!  I was having a bad contraction, so I told them to wait until my contraction was over.  After it finished, I got in the wheelchair, and went to triage.

The moment I got in there, my water broke drastically. I got on the bed, and they said- You are crowning.  One more contraction and the baby will be born.  At this point, I freaked out.  I didn’t have my doula or midwife, and the biggest concern- there would be no time for my epidural.  The thought of a natural birth terrified me.  I panicked, and finally the resident doctor asked me what the baby’s name will be.  I told him.  Then, he said *** will be born very soon [I like to keep kids names private in my blogging].  Then, a moment later, with one push, my little bundle of joy- all 7 lbs 15 oz- was in my arms.  Soon after the doula and midwife arrived in triage.

This birth experience was fast and intense and quite different from a long labor.  It was intense and challenging in a different way than the 16 hour labor with my first baby.  Long labor was exhausting, but precipitous labor was like going down a tall, steep roller-coaster drop off- very intense!  Mentally I was not prepared for it.  And of course, like they always say, it was very different from I hoped for on my birth plan.  I NEVER thought I would give birth naturally.  But then again, I never imagined I would be among the women with crazy fast labors.

If You Do Just One Thing Today

“If you do just one thing…” It’s a phrase I’ve taken great comfort in ever since reading the marvelous column about this in Real Simple magazine, back in the day when I was a devotee of the mag. At the time, it just really helped me to focus my swirling mental list of stuff that I was stressed about accomplishing, whether it be in the apartment, my social/family life, or at work, and usually, all of the above at once. I could grab one task out of the chaos, focus on it, finish it, and move on to the next one.

It was quite a transition to go from working woman to mother, and a stay at home mom, at that, especially because it happened quite suddenly in my case. Two and a half months after getting hitched, we learned that we were expecting. And within 2 weeks of that, I was on bed rest until our little honey was full term. Given my pre-term labor, all I could do was “nothing”. Except, that is, cerebrally prepare for motherhood. But for whatever reason, I seemed incapable of even mentally preparing for a baby, much less adapting gracefully to this sudden new stage in our life. I didn’t have that 7-9 month transition period to bid farewell to the working world, ease into marriage, and work out the logistics of welcoming new life. When a discerning friend later empathized, “you didn’t have the mental energy. You were exhausted even as you lay there.” I was greatly comforted because then suddenly what seemed like 7 months of slovenly-ness was clarified into a very simple state of letting my body rest so that we could have a healthy baby. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Continue reading

“Flustration” and “Piggy Boom”

Here’s a peak into our world lately:

  1. Flustration. Hours upon hours of excessive introspection over what the heck is wrong with me have culminated into coining this handy word. Lately, it simply seems that there is much over which I am flustered and/or frustrated, for days at a time. Forgetting bananas at the grocery store; both kids yelling while I drop something and scream; a seeming inability to complete the most simple of household chores, etc. The stupid part of the whole deal is that none of my anxiety is over anything that’s substantively worth fussing over! So, while it has been helpful to name the state of affairs, it is also helpful to throw it all out the window and try to focus my mind and energies on more important matters such as how to help my children (and myself) deal with flustration in ways other than yelling.
  2. “Piggy Boom”. Can you guess what smart phone game “Piggy Boom” refers to? Yep! Angry Birds. My husband has discovered that another way to dissipate flustration is to get the kids on his lap and watch the piggies go boom. They coined this phrase themselves, not knowing the actual title. So. Cute.

With that, I must sign off. Happy weekend, all!

Mary Clare

happy Mother’s Day

IMG_4774“It.  Is.  Mother’s Day!” she hissed through gritted teeth to her young son.

This was during Mass on Mother’s Day several years ago, before I had kids.  A row or two ahead of me in the church was an immaculately dressed family with a few young kids, one of whom was being rather rambunctious.  His poor mother – all she wanted was a peaceful church service with her beautiful family.  Unfortunately, Mother’s Day did not cast a magic spell over her children to make them behave.

I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day, but I’m also being realistic.  I’ve told my husband what I’d like for MD brunch, but during said brunch, probably the four-year-old will interrupt the conversation constantly, and the two-year-old will scream when she wants more or wants to get down from her high chair, and the baby will get tired and I’ll have to leave my coffee and French toast on the table to get cold while I nurse her to sleep.

And that’s actually the best case scenario!  There could be a full-blown temper tantrum in there somewhere, and/or someone could get sick.  There is no guarantee that Mother’s Day will even be tolerable, much less enjoyable.

Does it sound like I’m complaining?  That’s not what I mean to do here.  What I really mean to say is that I’m happy to be a mother, whether or not Mother’s Day turns out well.  I intend to enjoy whatever I can from the day – the dandelions picked from the yard, the “APPY HMOTH ERDSAY” card, and everything my sweet husband does to make the day as fun and relaxing and possible – but I’m resolving to be OK if I spend all day cleaning up after a kid with the stomach flu.

Because some other day – some random Wednesday, maybe – I’ll have a stupendous day with the kids.  The house will happen to be pretty clean, and we’ll all have gotten a decent amount of sleep, and nobody will throw a temper tantrum, and we’ll get together with friends, and the kids will like what I cook for dinner, and I’ll watch a fun movie with my husband after the kiddos are asleep.  Bad days happen, but good days happen too.  Who knows what kind this Sunday will be?

Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope you all have a great day … sometime 🙂

loving the home I have

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Usually it’s the kitchen that gets me.  Sometimes it’s just the square footage.  A sunroom, a nice laundry room, and oh, an attached garage?  A two-car attached garage?  Be still my heart.

I’ve gotten into a bad habit of looking at houses online.  We’re not looking to move right now, but we’ll probably move sometime in the not-too-distant future, so I like to keep my eyes open for houses in the area that could work for us.  It’s not exactly a bad habit – at times it’s just a really fun hobby – but of course it has the potential to breed discontent.  So every once in awhile, I find it helpful to step back and think of all the things I love about our current home.

We have a really cute house.  It was built in the 20s and has hardwood floors and lots of charm.  (And is in great shape for its age!)  It’s in a great neighborhood, close to downtown & Pete’s work, close to the Y and the Farmer’s Market and the library and the river, and most importantly close to many of our friends.

The house starts with a screened-in brick front porch.  My favorite time to be out there is during summer thunderstorms.  It’s also great to have a sheltered place to set down the baby’s carseat while I unlock the front door when it’s raining or snowing!

Our living room has an awesome fireplace – we practically live in front of it during the winter!  I love waking up to the fragrance of wood smoke during winter weekends.  The girls love to help Pete build the fire.

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Moving from the living room into the dining room … (can I mention the doorway between these two is a cute little arch?) … our dining room has a stained glass window.  A previous owner put it in about fifteen years ago; it’s from a decommissioned church.  I find it extra-special to have stained glass in our home because Pete’s grandfather was a stained-glass artist.  The dining room is also bigger than many others we’ve seen in this neighborhood, which is important to me because we love to host family & friends for dinner.

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The kitchen may be my favorite – maybe just because I love to cook so much!  But it is compact and efficient, exactly as much space as I need.  Ingredients and kitchen tools are always within arm’s reach.  There are windows above the stove and above the sink, so there’s always great daylight in there, and I have a perfect view of our back yard so that I can work on dinner or dishes while the girls play outside.

And outside … just keeps getting better and better.  Pete put up the playset last summer, and we recently got the girls a sandbox too.  They spend so much time playing outside now!  It’s all fenced in so I never have to worry about the two-year-old wandering off.  The yard is ornamented by lilac bushes, a mock orange tree, a Rose of Sharon, and a row of tigerlilies.  So pretty!

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Just writing this has put me in a good mood.  Once I post it I’ll probably still check online to see if any new four-bedroom houses have gone up for sale nearby … but hopefully I’ll remember that I really am happy in the home I already have.