Saturday, April 6, 2013

What I learned on my vacation (Seven Quick Takes)

--- 1 ---
I haven't posted for a while....  Where have I been?   The day before Holy Thursday, I took the kids out of school and we travelled by air to see my parents in their new (well, they've been there for a few years, but we've never visited) retirement community.  My goodness.  It was beautiful. One of the residents said to me, "It's like summer camp for seniors" and it really is. There are many different "villages" in the community, all surrounding a beautifully landscaped golf course.  There are 84 different clubs, catering to interests that range from Yiddish culture to Mah Jongg, and from women's nonfiction reading to stained glass making.  It was so wonderful to see my well-deserving parents settled into a lovely and relaxed lifestyle.  My dad plays golf with a buddy twice a week, my mom has a group of ladies with whom she does water aerobics, and they are surrounded by extended family (many of my brother-in-law's relatives live there too).  It was sunny and 80ish degrees the entire time we were there, in contrast to miserable, rainy, 40ish Maryland.   And my children were ABSOLUTE ANGELS almost the entire time.  I am pretty much ready to move in myself, but I don't meet the minimum age requirement.

--- 2 ---
On the trip, I learned a lot about Chickadee #1.  She is growing up (tears and sniffling and (honestly) a sigh of relief).  She's my girl who has always had a hard time with transitions and new experiences, especially experiences that involve loud noises, hustle and bustle, or velocity.  Taking off in a jet full of crabby strangers after waking up at 5 am and rushing to the airport certainly fits that bill.  She was scared, surely, but there were no tears.  She hilariously tried to direct her thrill-seeking sister to close the window shade -- she didn't want to look out but, more importantly, didn't want ANY OF US to look out the window -- fear by osmosis, I suppose.  She also handled a disappointing situation (a water park we intended to go to was closed, which we didn't know because Mommy read the schedule incorrectly) in a really mature way -- no tears, no whining, no pouting.  Just a shrug and "okay" when I said, "We'll just have to find something else fun to do".  HOORAY!!! 

 -- 3 ---
On the trip, I learned a lot about Chickadee #2.    Chickadee #2 is a lot like me, so it has been easy to think that I know her very well.  On this trip, though, I learned that she is a really pious child -- really that both of my children are pious.  Neither of them complained AT ALL as we took them to Holy Thursday mass at my parents' church.  They listened to the Gospel and the homily, paid close attention to the washing of the feet, and asked a lot of great questions.  On Good Friday, they also willingly gave up a swim in the pool to go to Divine Mercy devotions and the Stations of the Cross.  This is huge.  I'm so proud of them.  But Chickadee #2 is especially prayerful.  In fact, yesterday (the day we returned) she asked me to teach her how to say the Rosary -- out of the blue.  I was amazed.  And taught her how to say it. 

--- 4 ---
On the trip, I learned a lot about myself.  I found that it is much easier to be a great mother when normal life doesn't intervene.  I was so patient and so happy to be with my children.  I loved seeing the games they came up with in the absence of their normal toys.  I learned how much I loved being in mom's orderly home, where the rhythm of life is much more predictable than in my own chaotic house.  I watched in amazement as my mother unfailingly cleaned her kitchen EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, making sure that all was put away and straight before she moved on to another activity.  I learned that I really liked NOT eating in restaurants.  The only time we went out was to make a visit to a Steak 'n Shake, which we had never encountered before.  My mother thought that the children would like their milkshakes.  She was right. 

--- 5 ---
On the trip, I made a commitment to myself to incorporate two new prayer practices into my everyday life.  First, I am praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day.  It's quick and easy.  It was a prayer greatly loved by my beloved JPII.  God knows very well how much I need his mercy.  I need to learn mercy and to show it to others, especially my husband and children.  I can be so hard sometimes.  I also need to learn to show mercy to myself.  Helping me with that is a daily reading of  Psalm 139, verses 1-16 every day.  It is a reminder that, indeed, I am wonderfully and fearfully made.  I hope that focusing in this way on the mercy of the Father through the Son will help me to see myself as God sees me.  With mercy.  With attentiveness.  With wonder. 

--- 6 ---
Calah Alexander, of Barefoot and Pregnant, wrote a beautiful post on Other People's Kids.  Calah is a fellow UD alumna -- many years younger than I am -- so I am always interested in what she has to say.  This post hits it out of the park.

--- 7 ---
Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I have always loved "designing houses".  When I was a young teenager, I was enamored of the classical Roman villa style of home.  I loved the idea of having a courtyard in the center of the house, a little hideaway with a trickling fountain.  I drew version after version of "what my house will look like when I grow up."  Sorry to say, I have no courtyard.  No trickling fountain.  No hideway.  In fact, as I write this, the chickadees are watching Big Time Rush (which I hate) about 15 feet away from me.  I don't think I need to elaborate. 

My mid-20th century Cape Cod home is screaming for an update and for years I have been hoping to add a two-story extension.  Reality and the budget it imposes means that I probably will never get it. We also don't want to invest $100K into a home located in one of the lower-end neighborhoods of our county.  However, with one income, we can't afford to move.  We also love our church and our kids' school, so we don't want to move anyway.  So, for a long time, I've been kind of depressed about what I don't have.  I say to myself... "If only we had a coat closet..," "If only I had a pantry...," "If only we had a full bathroom upstairs..."   and "What the heck are we going to do when the chickadees reach tweendom (their bedroom is so narrow that you can't fit two twin beds side by side or across it -- currently, we took the bunk beds apart and ranged them along the "long wall" of the room; there are about three feet left over, if that gives you a sense of the size). 

Recently, a great book caught my eye at the library:  Not So Big Remodeling:  Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live.  Now I'm wondering how much it would cost to make changes within the footprint of our current home.  I have a lot of ideas.  We could build a closet where I made an entryway by hanging a coat rack and placing some chairs beneath.  We could enclose our back porch to make an eat-in area and secondary entrance.  We could make our downstairs bathroom into a powder room, reclaiming half of that room as a butler's pantry.  We could make our upstairs powder room into a full bath by changing the configuration of the second floor.....  It goes on and on.  Maybe it WOULD be cheaper to move. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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