10+ Post Ideas for March

I’m a planner-aheader. So, not only do I have a (very loose) editorial calendar for Call Her Happy, I also try to think about when I am going to go on vacay (never) or have a baby (always) and am going to need a stock of posts.

While begging some of you to guest post for me, I gave some ideas for posts I was looking for. I thought I’d share those ideas with you in case you need a bit of a kick in your blog.

Meanwhile I will just sit over here doing newborn stuff. I’m not doing the newborn stuff. The newborn is doing that stuff. I’m supervising.

And, if you need even more ideas, check out My Dirty Little Content Secrets.

Untitled

 

  1. 5 Best Novels About Food
  2. How to Show Your Kids You Love Them: 10 Simple Acts
  3. One Pot Recipe For…
  4. write a short piece of fiction
  5. VLOG: My Makeup Routine
  6. Easy Ideas for a Simple Lent
  7. give a photo tour of your church
  8. How to (blank) More Quickly
  9. An Easy Approach to St. Patrick’s Day
  10. handwrite a post and take pictures of it
  11. Join my tl;dr linkup
  12. And don’t forget to link up your #5Faves each week .

tl;dr February

I think February could be summed up by two obvious things: bitter, nasty cold and sweet, mushy Theo. But, I’m going to grace you with some tl;dr anyway. Because it’s the first of the month, and that’s what I do.

tldr.jpg

What about you? Link up below, por favor.

 Loading InLinkz ...

7QT: Theo’s Birth Story

-1-

Theodore Patrick Hines
2/18/15 at 2:55am
8lbs 6oz
20.5in

IMG_1516

-2-

On Fat Tuesday, I was eating paczki and feeling pretty…um…fat. I had just put Ellen to bed around 8 and was walking down the stairs when I thought I felt my water break. With my other two, it was a definite gush, but this being a slow trickle, I just figured I had sunken into pregnancy so far that I was just peeing on myself now.

But, after picking up the house and walking around for a while, the water kept coming, and the contractions had started. So, calls were placed and off we went on our 40 minute trek to the hospital.

IMG_0457

Turns out that the roads were suh-lick, and we saw a ton of emergency vehicles and tow trucks pulling cars out of ditches. That was good for my anxiety. No plot twist here – we made it safe and sound.

At the hospital, they determined that I was 5 or 6 cm, so I got my blessed epidural right quick and laid down to sleep. A little while later, my doc came to break my water since it hadn’t broken completely, and that is when the shakes started. Any of you other moms have intense shaking while in labor? It’s easily my least favorite part. Anyway, I was able to get that under control enough that I went back to sleep.

Around 2:30am on Ash Wednesday, my doc woke me up to check how I was progressing. When he went to check, I heard him laugh and say, “The baby’s head is 3cm out. Hold on while I get my gloves!” As they rushed to get everything in place, I woke up Mike who was in a deep sleep. “Um, I’m pushing the baby out right now.”

Disoriented from sleep (such a hard labor…), I pushed Theo out in one contraction, and that is the end of the easiest birth story in the world.

IMG_0461

-3-

Theo didn’t have a name up until a week or so before he was born. The other kids had names almost as soon as we found out the gender. So, Mike asked his prayer group to pray for a name for this kid. The next day, he got an email from a fellow member with a list of names that came to him in morning prayer. Theodore was the last name on the list, and we knew it was zee one.

Even though the first name took us some time, we had his middle name chosen for a while. Patrick is Mike’s younger brother’s name as well as my dad’s middle name. No brainer.

IMG_1527

-4-

Theodore means “God’s Gift.” This was a particularly hard pregnancy for me and my anxiety. I had been telling myself throughout the course of it that this baby was a gift from God. I had to remind myself that God can only bless me with His gifts, not curse me. So, when we found out what Theodore meant, it really sealed the deal.

IMG_1518

-5-

After he was born, my mom wanted to see if there were any great feasts on February 18. Turns out it is the feast day of St. Theotonius. I can’t make this stuff up.

3-Theotonius

We could have also named him Charalampias and had a similar coincidence. And Ashton Wednesday would have been an equally appropriate name. Man, Theo, you lucked out.

-6-

Sibling Love

IMG_1526

IMG_0552

IMG_0541

IMG_0529

IMG_0494

IMG_0523

-7-

Theo is unsure of the world but adjusting well.

IMG_0534

joining Kelly

Around My House with Oils + Giveaway

I’m a pretty skeptical person by nature.  My discovery of essential oils was a combination of circumstance and desperation.

GreenJar

Essential Oils in Infertility

Over the last 8 years, I’ve struggled with secondary infertility.  After meeting with a NaPro physician in 2014, I discovered my hormones were completely out of balance and I had chronic uterine inflammation/infection.  No good for babies.

My doctor prescribed an antibiotic for Hubby and I, which we took, to no effect.  The next step was a pretty invasive surgical procedure.  Not keen to take that step quite yet, I reached out to an online community and asked if anyone had any success with any treatments for chronic inflammation.

Well, one of those lovely ladies said essential oils helped her.  So, my options were have the procedure, or try the essential oils and maybe avoid the procedure.  Oils it was!

That’s when I became a believer.

After two cycles taking a combination of essential oils during my cycle, the inflammation symptoms were completely gone.  That’s when I became a believer.

Since then, we’ve had some success with fevers being reduced, illnesses being avoided and so on.

I was sharing with Jenna about how we use oils around our house, and she asked that I share with you all.  Well, who turns down a woman in her third trimester? (hint: a fool!)

So, here’s what I’ve found helpful around my house.   

I’m by no means an expert, and you should do your own research to figure out what might help your family.  The FDA has not evaluated oils for any health benefits/claims.  Not all oils are created equal.  Do not ingest/use anything without due diligence/research.  I’m just sharing what I’ve found helpful.

Essential Oils Deodorant

Here’s a recipe I’ve used to make deodorant…because I got a sample and it actually worked, so I decided to brave Hubby’s eye rolls :)  It also includes magnesium, which I tend to run low in.  The magnesium is helping with the eye/muscle twitches that can be such an annoying symptom of low magnesium.

A few things I learned along the way:

When you melt shea butter, put it on the bottom, it has a higher melting point than coconut oil and takes longer.

If you’re like me and don’t read the directions closely enough, you’ll end up using a regular mouth jar instead of a wide mouth jar.  Then, your immersion blender won’t fit inside, so you’ll shake the jar to combine the ingredients.

It didn’t emulsify as well as I’d like, but no stinky armpits, so it’s all good!

Essential Oils Sugar Scrub

Another thing I use every day is a sugar scrub.  My sensitive fair skin doesn’t take kindly to winter weather.  It’s cold and dry for 4-6 months of the year in my area.  To combat the dryness, I use a scrub in the shower.  It exfoliates a little (I use regular white sugar which isn’t very coarse) and moisturizes a whole lot.  I throw in a few essentials oils for some refreshing benefits:

Some grapefruit EO benefits. Some OnGuard EO benefits. Be aware that some oils, especially in the citrus family are photo-sensitive…meaning they make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.  That’s not such a problem where I am in the winter, but just be aware, especially if you’re using it in the summer or a warmer/sunnier climate.

If you’d like to mix up a batch to fight the dry and enjoy your morning a little more, check it out here, just be careful whenever you mix oil and your shower, slippery:

 

I start by liquifying the coconut oil.  Since it’s a Midwestern winter around here, my coconut oil is solid.  A little double boiler action takes care of that.

Melt gently until just liquid.  Add in jojoba oil.  This will help bring the temp back down so that you don’t scorch your oils.  Add oils, mix well.

Slowly add in sugar.  It should feel like wet sand when you’re done.  Lean a little to the drier side if you’re worried.  Your skin will be wet in the shower, so you’re working on sealing in that as much as moisturizing with the oils.  When you’re fully rinsed, pat dry.  Don’t rub all the oils off!

If you’re in a warmer climate, you can get away with just the coconut oil.  In the summer, that’s all I use.  But, the jojoba helps in the winter to keep the scrub from becoming a brick.  If your house is kept really chilly, you might want to add in a little more jojoba and a little less coconut.  My house is at 68 and this works for us, but our bathroom is generally the warmest spot in the house.

I hope you enjoy!

Other Ways We Use Essential Oils

Before I go, just a few other ways I’ve incorporated oils into our house:

  • I take this every time I feel a cold coming on or someone else in the house gets sick.  I’m three for three on avoiding illness this winter.
  • I dilute (a few drops per ounce of carrier) oregano oil for fevers.  It’s helped my 2 y/o through some fevers. (Be careful handling oregano oil, it’ll burn your skin undiluted!)
  • I dilute the flu/cold blend in a carrier oil (about one “bomb” per 1-2 oz carrier oil) and rub it on the girls’ feet when there’s sickness going around.
  • I put a couple drops of OnGuard on the girls’ feet during cold/flu season.
  • I put a couple drops of lavender on the bottom of the 2 y/o’s feet when she’s having a hard time calming for the night.
  • I put melaluca oil in a spray bottle with distilled water and used it on our foster daughter to deter lice after a couple cases were reported in her preschool.
  • I also used peppermint oil to deter a pesky mouse, but I’m not sure how well that worked. It seemed to keep it out of the girls’ room, but it did make a next in my tote of purses….so many purses were lost :( The glue trap definitely did work though :)

I’m still learning as I go, so how are you using oils around your house?  I haven’t gone for the diffuser yet, but during allergy season I’m thinking of adding some EOs to the house filter.

Many thanks to Jenna for inviting me to share! Many, many best wishes on the newest addition!!!

Diffuser Necklace Giveaway

Thank you, sweet Annie. I love that girl. Jenna here just checking in to tell you one of MY favorite ways to use oils around the house: a diffuser necklace. I’ve talked about them before, but now Sara from Drops of Joy is giving one away to lucky you. Or you. Or it could be you.

I can’t say enough good things about these necklaces. Just toss in a couple of drops of your favorite oil, and feel the aromatic effects all day long. It is how I get through a lot of stressful days.

Read more about how I use my necklace here, and enter below to win this beauty:

18in Rose Gold Diffuser

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Annie is a wife, mom to two girls (9 and 2) and a work-from-home Instructional Designer.  She writes at Annery at Home about her struggles with infertility and her family’s journey with fostering.

#5Faves: Netflix Documentaries That Aren’t About Food or Healthcare #StreamTeam

Disclosure: I have received free Netflix streaming and a streaming device as part of my membership on the Netflix Stream Team.  All opinions expressed within this post are my own.

It’s not that I don’t like food and healthcare. Those are some pretty great things, I suppose. It’s just that I am over the Supersize Me and Sicko spin-offs and looking for documentaries that are about anything other than that at all. Do you feel me?

So, these are five documentaries that I’ve recently watched, enjoyed and wanted to share because I love you, and I care about your brain. AND, they are all streaming on Netflix right this very instant.

5 Documentaries That Aren't About Food or Healthcare

Inside the US Secret Service
Coolest Thing Learned: The president always travels with his own personal blood supply.

Jig
Best Line: “It was like walking into a Shirley Temple convention.”

Mystery of a Masterpiece
Not Really Spoiler: This didn’t end how I wanted it to. It was still fascinating.

The Fruit Hunters
Ok, this sounds like it is about food, but it’s better than that.
Best Part: Watching Bill Pullman geek out over ripe fruit.

Inside: Lego
I’m not even really a Lego person. I’m more into, like, not Legos. But I found this to be so gripping. Not gripping, but “interesting” sounds lame. It was good.

 

Load me up with your fave doc recs. I’m a big fat sucker for them.

5 favorites

 Loading InLinkz ...
m4s0n501

7 Helpful Gifts for the Postpartum Mom

One of the sweetest things I can think of to do for a newly postpartum mom is to bring something for her.  So often, people bring something for the baby, which is lovely and generous, of course, but a gift for mom is a beautiful, tangible way to let her know that her job is important and that she’s remembered, too.  And usually baby is already well taken care of; it’s mom who needs a little TLC, right?

When we really look at it we can be honest and admit our postpartum culture in our wonderful country stinks.  It really does.  In most places around the world and throughout history a woman would have a whole community of women gathering around to help for at least six weeks.  She barely gets out of bed, doesn’t have to think about cooking or cleaning or tending her other children, and is able to focus her primary attention on nursing, bonding with her baby, and healing. 

but what we can do is think of small ways to show mom that she matters, too

Here?  We get maybe a week, two if we’re lucky, sometimes with a couple meals from lovely friends dropped off at the door (and often those friends have their own brood of little ones to tend to), and then we’re done and expected to be back to normal life again.  When a woman has a need to be cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally and when the community has the chance to truly show their support of new life, we kinda fail.  It doesn’t foster a culture of life and doesn’t breed well for healthy motherhood.  It’s no coincidence that our rate of PPD, postpartum physical issues, and nursing complications is higher.

We’re not going to change that overnight, especially when many of us are running our homes and raising little ones, but what we can do is think of small ways to show mom that she matters, too. And maybe in that way do our own little part to support a culture of life.

7+Postpartum+Gifts

Food

Always food.  A ready made dinner is wonderful or something frozen that she can easily take out on a rough day.  So is a batch of healthy muffins or an egg casserole for breakfast.  Or a bag of basic groceries.  One of the greatest way to help is to organize a meal schedule and pester people to sign up (and yes, sometimes you have to do a lot of pestering) so that at least that first month postpartum has a meal brought every other day.  Both Care Calendar and Take Them a Meal are super convenient (and free!) resources for online scheduling so people can pick a day that works for them.  A gracious mom would, of course, never snub any meal brought but a gracious giver also should take into account the family’s eating style, preferences, and (of course) allergies.

If a homemade meal is not doable, a gift certificate for any local restaurant that delivers so that she can pick the day she needs it most, is also a wonderful idea.

Nursing Basket
I sometimes like to give these at baby showers but they’re great for a postpartum gift as well.  Possible things to include:  a water bottle, some healthy granola bars or other snacks, a magazine or book, good breast pads, some Mother’s Milk tea, some nipple cream or lanolin, maybe a nursing cover (if you think she’d appreciate that).  I’ve even included a nursing tank at times if I think mom would use it.
 .
Certificate for Cleaning

Oh my, I would be thrilled to get something like this postpartum.  What a generous gift that would be!  Often you can find deals for housecleaning on sites like Groupon and the like and they’re not too unreasonable.  Why not go in on one with a group of friends?  Or, if you know she’s not the type of person that would feel guilty and can accept your help, maybe you could offer to come for a few hours yourself and scrub some bathrooms and vacuum while she rests and snuggles that little one?

Bath and Body Items

I’ve made homemade crunchy-type baskets full of personal gifts for the mom and baby but you could certainly do it with store-bought things as well.  I like to include some homemade herbal bath packs and bath salts to help with healing, some homemade salve, tea (either a breastfeeding tea or a red raspberry leaf tea would be a good choice to help her body recover), and maybe some calming essential oil blends.  If you know her favorite lotion or soap, you could put that in, too.  Earth Mama Angel Baby makes some wonderful natural products specifically for postpartum moms – balm, bath herbs, and bottom spray to name a few.

In-house Massage .

A few of our local massage therapists have just begun offering in-house postpartum services!  Wouldn’t that be lovely to give?  A gift certificate (again, maybe with a few friends if you can’t afford it on your own) for a half hour or hour massage where mom didn’t even have to pack up baby and leave her house?  Luxury.

Help with Any Older Children

Some moms are more comfortable if you come stay at the house and simply keep the kids busy and fed.  Others would love for you to come take the older kids away for a few hours so she can have a little bit of quiet and rest (especially if you have your own children that will need to be there).  Ask her which one she would prefer and respect her boundaries with what is allowed and not allowed with her children.  (And please don’t bring them back high on sugar or too overtired! ;)

A Spiritual Bouquet

One of the absolute best gifts I think you could give a mom is the gift of prayer.  You can do it yourself or, even better, arrange for a group of friends to offer their own Rosaries, Masses, sacrifices, and other prayers for her during this special yet often difficult time.  Let her know in a card or some other way the things that you are all doing to lift her up in prayer and support her.  Maybe attach a Blessed Mother, Saint Brigid (patroness of newborns), or Saint Monica (patroness of mothers) medal or prayer card along with it.

I’m confident that helping and supporting and valuing postpartum mothers more is vital to building up a culture of life.  Got any other ideas of tangible ways we can support these moms?  Please share any ideas you have (or things you valued or would have loved to have had yourself) in the combox!

Mary Haseltine is a mom to four (and another currently in womb), a certified doula, and writer of things at www.betterthaneden.com where she blogs about babies, birth, her faith, marriage, homeschooling, and any other random ridiculousness that strikes her fancy.

 

Church Tour: Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, FL

Today I am going to give you a tour of my church. My church is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, FL. It is America’s First Parish. The amount of history in this church is such a cool part of the parish.

2014-09-15 16.49.59

We are about to celebrate our 450th anniversary of the city and the parish in September. Because of that the church is actually closed until Palm Sunday to finish the renovations and therefore I was unable to get new/better photos.

I did however find this great video about the history of the church and the restorations currently in process. I didn’t even know all the information about the restoration before watching this video.

The church has hired liturgical artists (I didn’t even know that was a thing) who go around the country and restore churches. The artists have been repainting all the murals and matching the colors in our church by hand. It is amazing to watch. One of our priests was telling us one week in his homily how he goes into the cathedral just about everyday to watch them in action and sometimes asks them questions about how they got into liturgical painting and other questions about the job.

The entire Restoration process has been really interesting for the city as well. We’re constantly in the news for different things. A few months ago they moved the altar to restore the tile and they found a time capsule from the 1960s. They will be creating a new time capsule from 2015 before restoring the floor and placing the altar back in March. I think they should put an old iPhone or other electronic gadget inside.

This past week the news was downtown at the cathedral once again as the Marble from Italy arrived! I think it’s been really cool to see how the city reacts so positively to the Catholic History and how the news and been really positive. It really makes me appreciate our faith and the history of our churches.

One of the things I did get photos of before the church closed for renovations was before and after pictures of Mary. I know these pictures aren’t the best but in the after photo you can see how the gold is more prominent and restored.

Mary-Collage

The ceiling images have also been restored nicely.

2014-12-09-00.14.29

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to visit new churches. I always learn about new saints and art and the beauty that is the church when I visit a new church. I hope you have enjoyed this mini church tour of my parish and a little bit about church restorations. If you have any questions about anything I have explained feel free to leave me questions in the comments, and I will ask around until I find you the answer!

 

Keep in the know with updates from the Cathedral Basilica on Facebook!

 

10501811_10102549147270398_5077182700314276735_n

Beth Anne blogs at BethAnnesBest.com where you can enjoy her stories about her travels, being single, Lent Meals, and being Catholic. She believes everyone has a story that needs to be shared. She helps creative people with mundane tasks as a VA. She loves God, Disney World, and Chocolate.

How To Meal Plan Faster and Cheaper

I have found a system to plan meals that has been a much better fit with both our schedule and our wallet. So when Jenna asked for a guest post that was a “How To” I knew that if it helped even one person than I should share!

How To Meal Plan Faster and Cheaper (1)

Here are some details about us, and why this fits so well in our lifestyle

  • I am home most days and we try to eat at home as much as possible
  • We have a deep freeze and can stock up on meats and freezable foods
  • I like to cook (sometimes) and am fairly proficient at adapting recipes
  • I get bored of repetitive meals, quickly
  • We don’t have any allergies or sensitivities and eating healthy, balanced meals is important to us

My first trick – Buy meat only when it is on sale, and not just a little bit, but a good hefty discount. Walking in the store with things like “pork tenderloin” and “rump roast” on your list, and having to buy them whether they are full price or not can increase your spending tremendously. As I gradually came to learn what a good price for each kind and cut of meat is, now when I see it, I can stock up! The large box of frozen chicken breasts that I like to buy is full price $36.99 but goes on sale for $25! I also stock up (buy enough for 3 or 4 meals worth) on beans, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, and other canned or frozen goods that can last a long time when they are significantly on sale.

Second trick – Shop the edges. When I get out to the grocery store, which is always super fun with a 2-year-old and 1-year-old, I try to make it in and out as fast as possible. I usually load them up in the double cart, and race around the peripheries of the store because the edges are where all the fresh stuff is – all the additives and preservatives live in the center aisles of most grocery stores. I load up the cart with any meats and freezable staples but only if they are on sale! Then, I grab the vegetables and fruit and dairy and other perishables that are needed for this weeks recipes, as well as any other must haves that are on the grocery list. Since veggies make up half our meals (more on that later), we go through a lot of them, so again, I buy a lot of what is on sale and in season, and have had to stretch myself to learn how to cook them in delicious ways (which is possible!)

mealplan1

Third trick – Shop your freezer (and pantry).  Within a few weeks of buying meats on sale, my freezer usually has quite a few options. I use my handy freezer inventory (which, honestly, is normally in my head, but I wrote it out all pretty for this posts sake!) and pick a protein to base each days meals off, usually trying to rotate through beef, pork, chicken and fish (we try to have at least one meatless day each week too). This also gives me a chance to take into consideration what days a crock pot or a quick meal would be helpful. I don’t plan a left over night for every week, because I find with my husband taking leftovers to have for lunch at work and the kids and I eating other leftovers for our lunch some days, we usually take care of them pretty well.

Trick number 4 – A Balanced Meal. My meal philosophy (ever since we did a Whole30 this past August) has been trying to have our dinner plates look something like this:

meal plan 3

and in real life:

Meal Plan 5

Not that it is always laid out on the plate that pretty. Sometimes it is all stacked up, like in the “cottage pie” that I like to make, which has a base of half vegetables and half meat, covered with a mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Roughly the same proportions but as a one “pot” meal… less dishes! Other times it is baked chicken thighs, rice, a quick salad of whatever is on hand, and some steamed frozen veggies. But working vegetables into at least half the meal is important to me, and I try to do it as much as possible.

mealplan2

Trick 5 – Remember what you like! When I am trying to think of meals based off the frozen meats we have on hand, I sometimes use a list I keep (in the back of Kelly’s awesome planner!) of meals I know we love and I can make without too much trouble. You could easily keep this list as a Pinterest board, or in Evernote or however you like to organize, but it is helpful in moments when I am not too creative. Other times I look on Pinterest or Google for recipes centering around two or three of the main ingredients I am working with (try it… type in three random foods in Pinterest and almost always something delicious appears! This started out that way and turned into a fam fave!)

I like to use the Pocket app on my phone to save recipes people (like some of my favourite bloggers) share or that I see on Facebook. So sometimes I look there too.

Trick 6 – Leave some room for Spontaneity. Once I have picked 5 main dishes (I guess it’s still the main dish, although often it doesn’t take up the majority of our plates) I just work with what I have on hand for sides and vegetables. I also do not plan for the weekends, since our plans change a lot on Saturday and Sunday, and my husband also likes to have his ideas (and his hands) involved in the cooking those days. Since vegetables don’t normally require as much forethought and planning (read: defrosting) I often just add that part on the day of, and use whatever needs using up or seems to fit with the main dish. But other days it is more integral to the meal (like when it’s spaghetti squash and meatballs or a one pot meal…) so it all depends on the meal.

Last Trick up my sleeves – Know what motivates you. In the end, I am left with something like this:

mealplan 4

Having something organized and ecstatically pleasing to look at makes me excited to follow it, but I try not to feel trapped by my plan and allow myself to make last minute changes when life just gets in the way (and when I forget to defrost something).  Knowing I am capable of putting delicious and healthy plates of good food in front of my family is also a big motivator, and I try to remember that on the days when takeout sounds soo appealing.

Amy is the wife to Brian and mother to Clara (2 and a half) and Hugh (1), she enjoys organizing, planning, and crossing things off her to-do list whenever her two little bosses let her. She reads blogs and sometimes shares her own thoughts at www.AllForHeavensSake.WordPress.com because it is the best way for moms to share a whole thought without being interrupted.

How to Live Lent as a Busy Mom

We moms who want to nurture our relationship with God—but also lead busy lives with children—often find ourselves caught between a rock and hard place. Prayer practices seem to require 1) undivided chunks of time; 2) quiet; 3) a peaceful environment. I don’t know about you, but those three almost NEVER occur at our house, at least not at the same time!

So I’ve learned that realistic expectations for prayer are essential as a parent. Lent is no exception. Over the years I’ve tried to live by these 3 simple ideas, and each year I find that they lead me in surprising ways to a deeper Lent.

lent

  1. Lower your expectations.

Every year, Lent becomes the Same Story. I set all these lofty goals: I will pray this much! I will read that book! I will give up this bad habit! I will give more to those in need! Then life intervenes in its usual busy, frantic ways, and I wind up feel utterly deflated by my inability to make any progress in my Lenten disciplines.

I want to do All The Things, and then I set myself up for failure.

So for the past few years, I’ve deliberately tried to be cautious about my plans for Lent. Honestly, I set the bar low and I refuse to beat up on myself. Surprisingly, this has led me to stick to my Lenten disciplines better than I ever did in the past. I try to care for myself like I think God would: gently, lovingly, with forgiveness and understanding. So I let myself stumble, and then I celebrate when I pick myself up.

Lent is a time for growth, for discipline and self-reflection, and for deepening our relationship with God. It’s not a time to feel lousy about ourselves for not doing enough.

I also think it’s important to remember that as parents, we make sacrifices all year round. So our living of Lent goes beyond 40 days—we don’t have to do everything right now!

  1. Make short time for small prayer.

My spiritual director always reminds me of two truths: your work as a mother is prayer and your desire to pray is prayer. This last one took me a long time to accept. At first it seemed like a cop-out—don’t I actually have to PRAY to please God? But I have come to understand that God knows the deepest desires of our hearts. God knows that our longing for prayer is itself good and holy.

So I try to welcome the desire for prayer when it comes, and then carve out time and space to attend to that desire—sometimes later in the day after the kids are all in bed, or sometimes right in the crazy moment with three little boys tugging at my sleeve.

But I try to let go of the expectation that I can pray like a monk in an abbey with all the time, space, and place set neatly before him. That’s not my life. Nor is it my call.

Instead, I can pray like a busy mother. 

Instead, I can pray like a busy mother.

I can take two minutes to greet the day with a whispered word of thanks. I can share a short morning prayer with my kids when they wake up. I can bless our food at meals and remember those who will go without today. I can pray with my kids on the drive to school and in the quiet of their rooms before bed. I can slow down in the day’s whirlwind to give thanks for the gifts in my life.

My mantra has become “make short time for small prayer.” I don’t have an hour to meditate, but I have hours with many small moments I can fill with a word of blessing, praise, or petition. In this season of my life, that is what I have to give. And I think God, who cares for us all like a loving parent, understands and blesses that truth.

  1. Get creative.

Shake up everyday habits in little ways. Change your homepage from email to something more meaningful, like a website with prayer and scripture for daily reflection. Stop yourself before turning on the radio or TV first thing in the morning, and simply sit in the silence. Make your cup of coffee at home instead of grabbing a latte while running errands, and donate the extra $3 instead. Even in the busy whirl of work-kids-home-repeat, we can all find small ways to break out of our routine and become more mindful of how we’re living during Lent.

Give your “alms” online. What busy mother hasn’t turned to online shopping for diapers, groceries, clothes or other necessities? Do the same with your Lenten giving. In past years I’ve been able to organize our Lenten donations online at night once the kids are sleeping. So much easier than frantically trying to dig out my wallet from the diaper bag when they’re taking up a collection at church!

Multi-task: Combine Lenten practices with spring cleaning. I’ve been inspired by the “40 Bags in 40 Days” challenge to rid our home of extra clothes and household goods. What haven’t we used in years? What could someone else use that we don’t want? I’ve always been haunted by the teachings of the early church fathers that the unworn clothes in our closets belong to the poor. So digging through and giving away has been a wonderful Lenten practice—and jumpstarts our spring cleaning, too!

What works for you? How are you living Lent this year?

LKF headshot color

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a writer and mother of three young boys. She writes about faith and family life at Mothering Spirit and is the author of Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting.

My 9 Most Helpful Posts

I might be assuming a lot with this one. But, I am about to have a baby. So, without further hormonal adieu…

My 9 Most Helpful Posts

keep-calm

Anxiety Toolbox: My best tips for dealing with daily anxiety or a straight up panic attack. I am an unwilling expert.

rrguide-600x600

Guide to Essential Oils: Are you skeptical about EOs? Me too. Here is why and how I use them though.

afterlight-600x600

Getting Started with Hand Embroidery: My favorite hobby of late, and you can jump on board too. It’s so easy.

friday-fast-600x450

Ideas for Friday Abstinence: When you have to eat meat on Friday, do one of these things instead.

IMG_7435-600x600

Perfect Pie Crust: Holiday pie baking may be over, but maybe you still want to learn to domesticate yourself.

Screen-Sheot-2014-02-26-at-10.03.01-PM.jpg-600x329

My Dirty Little Content Secrets: “I have no idea what to blog about!” I’ve got you covered.

IMG_6830

A Typical Day of a SAHM: In tweets. You’re welcome.

Untitled.jpg-300x600

Dehydrated Girl’s Guide to Drinking Water: How I make sure I get enough liquid when I really hate to drink anything but chard.

Photo-on-2-8-14-at-1.39-PM-600x400

How to Nurse in Public Without a Cover: This is one of my superpowers. And it’s a vlog!

Do you have a favorite post you’ve written or read? Will you link to it below so I have some stuff to snack on while waiting for this insanely late baby? Gracias.