Total Family Makeover

+ J. M. J.

“The family that prays together stays together.”

It stores our blankets. It is within reach of a very daring and precocious little one year old. It’s covered in water stains. I picked it up for $5 five years ago at a garage sale. And it is the most important thing in our home. It’s our home shrine/prayer corner.

The fact that there is now a place dedicated to praying in our home, reminding us to take a time out to praise God and seek His help in spite of so much going on, caused an immediate change in our home.

1. There is peace in our home! It is a tranquil chaos. The tone of the day is set when we don’t “get around to” praying–there is a set place and it is first thing. The girls aren’t running on all cylinders right out of bed so they are still and pay attention.

We tell Jesus we love Him and thank Him, consecrate our day to Him. We tell Mama Mary we love her, ask for all graces for all of us, and ask her to help us imitate her Son. We ask St. Joseph to pray for us. We ask our guardian angels to guard us from all evil and guide us to virtue that day. It’s also a time we bring up any prayer intentions and practice basic prayers with D1. She has most of The Sign of the Cross down and knows the Rosary has something to do with “Ail Harry” over and over again. XD

And, who would have thought, the routine to pray at the same time together did a 180 on our life. Things are calmer and less stressful because the tone of the day has been set.

2. Routine keeps things running like a well-oiled machine. Going back to the same place at the same times every day improved our time management. DH and I thrive on things happening routinely at the same time. In our home it’s easier to prioritize and more difficult to put things off being reminded we need to go pray now.

So rather than playing with the girls until 5:00 and it’s supper time and there’s nothing ready to eat, knowing Thérèse expects to go say “hi” to Jesus after her nap puts me in the right mindset to start getting things done. When lifting my heart to God it gives me drive to please Him, and that means doing what I have to do in my calling, which at that moment happens to be putting supper on the table.

3. It’s a holy reminder to be good to one another. The old adage, “The family that prays together stays together,” is so so so true. Not only are we going to God together as a family throughout the day and that in itself is awesome, but it is an ongoing reminder that: God, You are so good to me. Help me be good/patient/kind to others. It’s a recurring examination of conscience, and Lord knows we all need that

4. Bedtime Rosary (even if just a decade) & prayer marks bedtime. Going to bed on time sets the tone for tomorrow.

I only wish DH and I had started this before the kids arrived when it would have been simpler, without so many things demanding our attention and physical exertion. But there is no time like the present!

We are really trying to make it a month without “skipping”. We really want to, with God’s help, build this ongoing good habit in our home so that we can serve one another and take His love to the world by serving others. (Cheesy, yes, but it’s the truth!)

Pax Christi!

Whole Wheat Jam Muffins

made with spring blush jam & peach

Strawberry, rhubarb, pineapple and peach inside!

My mom starts canning this time of year. This means our family is treated to things like strawberry rhubarb jam, Polish dill pickles and habanero apricot jelly from fruit that was picked a week ago, so our jelly hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse for a year. Oh. Yes. Fresh jam. I love my mom.

The problem is that the toddler won’t eat jam on toast. Well, she’ll eat the jam but ignore the toast.

What cured this dilemma? Why, not-too-sweet-but-just-sweet-enough jam muffins!

I adapted this recipe from The $5 Dinner Mom Cook Book generic muffin recipe, pg 269.

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Whole Wheat Jam Muffins

Makes 6 large or 12 mini muffins.

1 egg

1 1/2 Tbsp oil

3/4c jam, or mixture of jam and any fruit mashed together

3/4c whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp wheat germ (optional)

1 Tbsp flax seed (optional)

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Preheat oven to 350˚

Mash fruit (if applicable) and jam in mixing bowl.

Add egg and oil.

Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Pour into muffin tin, greased or silicone/paper muffin cups.

Pop in the oven 15-20 minutes.

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D1 and I made ours with Oma’s Spring Blush jam (strawberries, rhubarb and pineapple) and an old, soft peach needing to be used.

The Book and the Kindle: One Better than the Other?

Paper, printed and bound together. The book is (imho) one of the greater tried-and-true inventions of mankind’s history. It doesn’t get old.

But the Kindle is handy, too. And, in essence, it does exactly what a book does.

A book does so much more than pass along information. In a strict sense, a book immortalizes the author within its pages.

A book takes you out of your room and onto a pirate ship, dueling to the death to save a beloved.

A book allows a peek into the inner-workings of another time lost to our society.

A book will tell you how and why Socrates died in 399 BC so that in learning it will make you think and influence you to do in a way that events over two millenia ago would never impress upon you otherwise.

A Book tells us THE WORDS OF CHRIST HIMSELF. GOD’S WORDS. Think about that!

Books are beautiful things.

Books make a home feel cozy and lived-in.

Books piled on a bedside table don’t look out of place.

Sometimes the right book can make the best present for just about anyone.

Whether or not you can read text a picture book can incite imagination and understanding at any age, even for my 5 month old daughter.

Books are for any age in any state of life at any time of day anywhere in the world a person can be.

Books are for teaching children their basics about life and natural law, and for acquiring knowledge and passion for something in old age, and for every time in between.

I greatly love books and being around them. I love book stores and book shelves and the excitement that comes from starting one. I appreciate that fulfilling teensy tinge of sadness feeling when something uber-amazing is over.

We can have very deep connections with books. Some books we “own” ourselves, and we become very attached to their characters and worlds. I love that The Hobbit was written by Bilbo Baggins. When I read it, I read it as though I am in Rivendell and Bilbo is sharing the tale to me himself–I have since first reading it in grade school.

The Kindle (and equivalents) is an excellent tool, just as a book is a tool. It serves the same function.

A Kindle is much more efficient in that it can hold entire libraries of data plus the daily news.

A Kindle can sometimes make reading easier — say, on a train at night.

A Kindle can’t be ripped apart by a toddler.

A Kindle can save money because a data download costs far less.

A Kindle can get a book to you the moment it is released, so you don’t have to get in your car and drive to the store and pay $25 for something you’ve been anticipating for months.

In fact, the Kindle kind of defeats the purpose of brick and mortar book stores.

In some ways that is good. It’s progressing the evolution of technology.

But, in all honesty, when I watch Star Trek it makes me a sad to see books replaced with tablets as the norm.

Something doesn’t seem immortalizing about plastic and glass with data loaded onto it the way printed word on pages bounded together seems timeless. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned.

An iPod (iPhone) replaces my Breviary with a slick, easy-to-use handheld. It works well at home or out and about. For this reason, I downloaded the Kindle to my iPod.* Within 5 minutes I had three books and was lying in bed in the dark reading without disturbing anyone. It was nice. It was also easy to pick up where I left off this morning when I had a few minutes before everyone else woke up.

It seems the custom is to be a purist “anti-ebook” person or to be an “in-between” person who doesn’t have a problem with either but who prefers one or the other’s convenience when the situation suits itself. I haven’t yet met anyone who says “do away with paper books.” (Well, except a few people who believe buying books at Barnes & Noble will deplete all the rainforests in South America, but I haven’t actually met them, though I’m sure they exist.)

It is convenient to keep books on a small device. It’s convenient to read in the dark or in the car without disturbing anyone. It is simple to keep my iPod beside the bed rather than books.

But a Kindle doesn’t replace the musty smell of a room full of books or the sound of turning a page.

A Kindle doesn’t come close to the sentiment I have for a book I’ve read over and over again until the spine needs taped together and pages are falling out. The pages can’t fall out of a Kindle. Yes, that’s convenient. But in that I think a book has a soul in the way a Kindle does not.

Words printed on a page are an abstract–an idea that has no meaning unless you can read and interpret. The Kindle serves the same function. Let’s take To Kill a Mockingbird: the physical book to me is the story. When I see the book it is the same to me as the pages in it, just as when I see a person I love I see their body but know that person, that is, their soul.

A Kindle can only be what it is. That is why a Kindle is just a tool to me.

*Yes, there is Apple’s iBooks but the books I wanted weren’t available so I downloaded the Kindle. I found I like the Kindle interface better, anyway.

Little child, brave warrior

In the mail box today was a hand written letter from a woman in Canada who is imprisoned for peacefully protesting abortion. I wrote her and enclosed a drawing by DD1. In her return letter, written in a prison cell, she quoted St. Thérèse of Lisieux:

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“Je veux t’aimer comme un petit enfant.

Je veux lutter comme un guerrier vaillant.”

(Poesies 184)

“I want to love you like a little child.

I want to fight like a brave warrior.”

[Poetry 165, St. Thérèse of Lisieux]

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That sums it up.