Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Well, as God failed to blow up the earth by the Mayan calendar, welcome to 2013!
This post is more for my own sanity and clarification, particularly in a few weeks after we've adjusted from a new arrival, but I'm hoping it will also offer me some accountability beyond my own excuses.
Life with several young children is challenging and forces you to prioritize. One of my higher priorities has always been not to take on more than I can handle because, when I have, the stress alone is unhealthy and makes me a less than preferable wife, mother and human being. ("When mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy" takes on new meaning.) Unfortunately, that does mean that certain things fall by the wayside and get put on the back burner.
However, now that I'm not quite so wet behind the ears on this mothering, homeschooling thing and now that my oldest will be 7 years old soon, I thought 2013 might be a good year to start getting a few things back on front burners. Now, I know a lot of people make New Years' resolutions but, I'm 39 weeks pregnant, so these are more like New Baby resolutions as they won't be feasible until we are a bit adjusted to having 5 children and I have got my groove back.
1. Reading. I am loathe to admit it, but I haven't read a book since last February. I assure you it wasn't from want of trying but everything I tried to pick up frustrated me or lost my interest and I couldn't bring myself to pick it up again. I considered rereading books I've liked, fiction, non-fiction, spiritual, theological, etc. all to get frustrated and quit or simply not find enough uninterrupted time. But this is simply not acceptable. So, in 2013, I'm committing to reading at least 1 book each month, though hopefully it will be more than that.
2. Health. Over the course of 5 pregnancies in 8 years, the pounds have stuck to me. So, I'm renewing my effort to ditch the extra weight, become healthier physically, and gain just a bit of that energy my kids have in spades. I also really want to expand and vary our meal options, *trim* our snacks (better quality, not quantity) and just overall improve our meals. I've been lazy on the subject but part of our lack of motivation has been how many foods the girls, and especially Felicity, refuse to eat. But I'm getting tired of them eating the same meals over and over again and can't help but wonder if just keeping the menu fresh, different and tasty might not be the best way to expand her horizons as well as improve the girls' overall tastes. This would include cooking more from scratch and improving the nutritional quality as well.
3. Prayer. Now, my prayer life isn't bad. In December I did two novenas and reconsecrated myself (according to St. Louis de Montfort). But, I really want more of a regular prayer schedule to our day, partially for me, but definitely for the kids. This is a Domestic Church and, dog gone it, it should feel like it. So I am going to work on adding routine prayer to our day. James actually already jump started this idea by leading a family rosary each afternoon... well, he began it, but the girls enjoy taking turns leading it and it helps keep them focused on the prayers too! Ideally I'll start doing my morning prayer with the kids and add the Angelus, Chaplet and Rosary at different points during the day and include a Litany of Family Saints before bedtime and hopefully some Scripture at some point but I suspect this will need feeling out with practice. I also want to get to Confession once a month. Confession is one of those things that I have to put on my errand list to get it done at all. So it becomes easy for weeks and months to pass before I get there. A few years ago I made the resolution to go once a month and I kept it until June, when Elizabeth was born. But it was a good one and worked well until I had a newborn so I'm renewing this one with the hopes it will only get easier this time around as our newborn gets older.
4. Personal. It has become such that, if I'm not going out, I'm in pajamas almost every day. And I don't remember the last week when I got a shower each day of the week. Whatever sense of fashion or the feminine I had flew out the window a while ago but I'm not unaware of how often I've had to answer the door in my pajamas, so I'd like to regain a sense of personal fashion and proper self maintenance. Hopefully #2 will make this easier and more pleasant too.
5. Projects. I made very good progress creating our home atrium last year, but it isn't done yet. In fact, I have a huge half a sea shell and a 2 1/2 foot tall Easter Candle just waiting to be put into a Baptism work and a few other works that need to be completed. I want to finish our home atrium this year (though I admit I'm not completely sure how that will work with my Teresa on the loose :) ). I also am determined to learn how to thoroughly use my sewing machine. Up until now, I've sewn everything by hand, which is find for a popped seam on a stuffed animal or sewing back on a button, but I have other projects I want to get to that would be much easier with that machine up and running and someone using it who has a clue.
6. The husband. James and I went by ourselves to see "Les Miserables" on December 27th. It was the first film in theaters we had seen together without the kids since we saw The Island in 2005. Our only other outing since Cecilia was born without any kids, when I wasn't in labor, was when we went to dinner together a week or so before Felicity was born, in 2007. Now, I admit, I have limited enjoyment being out without the kids - I'm very much a mama bear and worry or at least wonder what and how they are doing when I'm not with them, but that doesn't mean James and I have to wait until they are teenagers for some quality alone time. I admit I haven't quite worked out the logistics of this resolution, but I'd like to try to have a nice, quiet date night with just the two of us once a month, even if we don't leave the house and just plan our own special meal, movie, etc.
7. The Kids. The girls' bedtime routine went from okay to the most basic. By December we were down to no books and often no prayers. I want to revamp their bedtime routine to include both. It is hard to do more than absolutely necessary when you are exhausted, but I think we can do better including some bedtime reading and family bedtime prayers (and I have to wonder if more of a routine wouldn't help Teresa at bedtime, when she fights sleep as though it were the devil). I've also gotten away from reading to the girls much. Cecilia reads to herself now and sometimes she reads to Felicity, but it is more sporadic when I read to any of them and it is really bothering me. Reading at bedtime would definitely help, but I'm hoping to block in specifically some reading time into our schedule. Of course #3 would also apply to the kids as well as #2. I also want to teach Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth how to swim. It is one of the few "extracurricular activities" I consider a life and safety skill. Cecilia and Felicity took swimming lessons two years ago, but they need more practice beyond the kiddie pool and Elizabeth is old enough to start learning as well. (It wouldn't be bad exercise for me either.)
I admit that is a lot of goals for one year, especially with a newborn, 5 children soon to be 7 years and under, while homeschooling, but I'm generally very good at organizing and not half bad at not overdoing it. A year is a nice chunk of time and, while I don't expect everything to fall in place in January, I'm hoping we can make continual improvement over the course of the year.
That said, I'm going to need some help.
Jennifer's Saint Generator for the year picked St. Martin de Porres for me. I confess at first I wasn't thrilled. I have nothing against him, but he is the patron Saint of African Americans, Barbers, Bi-racial people, Hair Stylists, Hotel-Keepers, Paupers, Poor People, Public Education and Television. I'm white of European decent, I homeschool, don't run a hotel, and apart from the fact I trim the hair of my husband and children, I don't do much when it comes to hair - I'm usually more of a throw-it-back-and-get-it-out-of-my-face type. So, at first I couldn't help but wonder just how I was going to relate to him. But as I read more about him, a few things struck me. First, he was a lay dominican - he lived in the world, not apart from it. Second, he was close friends with St. Rose de Lima, who is one of my patron Saints. Third, he was known for his self-imposed austerity and lengthy prayer time, both of which I confess I could use a good dose of as I tend to lapse into that "I deserve a treat" mind frame and have a tendency to put off prayer until after I've checked Facebook. And fourth, as the patron Saint of Television, we could benefit from a little restraint there as well, at least in so far as we watch DVDs. Between our December illnesses and my 9th month of pregnancy, I did resort to DVDs and Disney Channel much more than I prefer to or probably otherwise would have... perhaps one of the patron Saints of Television can help get us back to a healthier relationship with our TV. So, St. Martin de Porres, pray for us.
It is also traditional to choose a word for the year, a word to focus on, pray on, and work on. For 2013, I'm choosing the word TRUST. Given everything I've written in this post, I don't think my word choice needs much explanation. Many people like to tell me how I've "got my hands full" and, while some say it in admiration and others in terror with their eyes bugging out, it is true I always have something to do and my days are always interesting but the difference between being at peace and being overwhelmed is trust in God.
So, as we celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary today and I continue to have sporadic contractions, I wish everyone a most Blessed and Joyous 2013 and a very Holy Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.