Sunday, April 29, 2007

T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets

So, I read a review of a book about Eliot's poem "Four Quartets" in this issue of Touchstone, and the review of the book about the poem was so compelling, that I went to my bookshelf, got down my book of Eliot's poetry, and spent a couple of nursing sessions rereading "Four Quartets."

The poem is about time, and mortality, and sanctity. All and all, a fitting meditation for a homemaker.

The Touchstone article (written by Franklin Freeman) quotes the book it's reviewing (Eliot's Edifice: Dove Descending in T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, by Thomas Howard) as saying that the poem "is about sanctity, the Way (up or down) by which we mortals may finally win through to the Beatific Vision. No other 'reading' of the poem will do justice to Eliot's work here."


I have little to add to that, except to say: read the poem. Read Touchstone. And, probably, if you can find it, read Howard's book. Then read the poem again.

"the rest/Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action." Hunh.


Off to pray, observe, be disciplined, think and act,
and pay attention to the hints,
Jessica

Saturday, April 28, 2007

baked eggs in tomato cups


They're good! Really! Check it out!


peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Saturday Links

From an editor of Touchstone, S. M. Hutchens, a stern but kindly reminder of the importance of "Mr. Thesis Statement". (I'd also recommend the comments on this article to you; the discussion on writing that follows the post is edifying. If you are Sarah Marie, I would note that the discussion includes some warm words for the well-beloved Oxford comma.)

This "reprint" from Slate is a tribute to the basic comforts of marriage. I understand the author wrote it just after losing his wife of many years.

This is an interesting article reviewing the latest studies on the links between violent video games and violence in real life. I like it when people know the difference between causation and correlation, and that one doesn't necessarily equal the other. :D Nonetheless, it's a sobering read.

And, after that, something very light and home ec-y to end with: an article on growing your own herb tea makings. This is something I do, so I can testify: mint and lemon verbena make an excellent tea, hot or iced. The nicest thing, I think, about fresh herb tea is that there isn't any aftertaste. (The picture is of mint and grass fighting it out. Fight! Fight! Who says landscaping's non-violent? Hmm, maybe it'd make a good video game . . .)

have a great weekend, folks!
peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Friday, April 27, 2007

public service announcement

So, this morning at 5 am, I woke my husband up and asked him to get me some milk and Advil. Why? Because I had a killer headache, bad enough that it'd woken me up in the middle of a dream. Why did I have a killer headache?

'Cause I got a tetanus booster yesterday. And boy, let me tell you, I'm sympathizing with my kids and their vaccine schedule. No wonder they're cranky when they get their shots.

Anyway, though tetanus is such a wicked disease that it's almost worse to recover from than it is to die from, the other part of the booster was maybe even more important. What I really got was a tetanus-diptheria-whooping-cough booster. My doctor pointed out that, as a parent of young children, it was extra-important to keep my vaccinations up to date. Apparently, when kids get some of these nasty diseases these days, the people they get them from are their parents. Parents who've let their immunizations lapse. And whooping cough, at least, is still making the rounds.

So, anyway, next time you're in for that yearly physical, make sure to check and see if you need a booster shot. It may not be fun, but it's better than seeing your kid die in agony.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Frugal Friday: buying discounted plants

Maybe they don't do it everywhere, but at the Lowe's near my house, if you go all the way to the back (or, sometimes, tucked just to the right of the entrance at the front) of the garden section, you'll find a big moveable shelf full of discounted plants. They're usually more than half off - often $2 for a nice, mature plant.

Sometimes, these plants are pretty much done for the world. But, often, the only thing wrong with them is that they are done flowering. They're not at the height of prettiness anymore, and so Lowe's can't sell them for full price.

I love, love, love, looking through this shelf. I've found verbena, flowering sage (salvia), ivy and more.

The trick to buying discounted plants, at Lowe's or wherever they sell them in your area, I've found, is to buy perennials and not annuals. The annuals are probably pretty much done (though, if you're a greener thumb than me, maybe you can coax them into blossoming again before the season is over). But the perennials, of course, you can deadhead, feed, water, and enjoy for years. I have a pot of red, white and purple verbena that went on sale after the fourth of July that's flowering beautifully and abundantly.


The other fun thing you can sometimes find there are the gift plants that have started to go bad. You know, the ones that have been planted to look extremely beautiful for a week or two, but then crowd themselves out because they've been planted too closely in too small a pot. I got a three pot gift package of ivy that had about nine little ivy plants in each four inch pot! No wonder it was dying! But take it home, separate the plants, repot them - and, wow, that's a lot of ivy for $3.


Anyway, hopefully you can find a store nearby with a similar, possibility-laden shelf!



peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Thursday, April 26, 2007

bother!

And I was so determined not to miss it!

I've been terrible about remembering to celebrate saints' days, but I was convinced that I would remember St. Mark's this week. Alas, today is NOT the 24th, and so St. Mark's feast day is not tomorrow, but yesterday.

All the same, praise God for St. Mark, evangelist! Go take a peek through his gospel, and just try to count all of the "suddenly!"'s. It's like the Herman kid's account of the appearance of the angel in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: "Suddenly, out of the black night, SHAZAM!" I've heard Mark's gospel called "the comic book gospel", and that's not a bad description. Lots of action. For a world that sometimes sees Christianity as dull, Mark's gospel is a good antidote. In it, we see Christ actively loving his people who he has come to save.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

in the garden


There are cucumber seeds in the dirt! I just couldn't bring myself to pay $3 for a cucumber plant when I could pay less than $2 for a whole packet of seeds. Even though the cucumber plant in question was one of those yummy lemon cucumbers.

I've got tiny thyme seedlings and tiny forget-me-not seedlings coming up! (Does anyone else ever look at all those flats of bright, blossoming annuals at the home improvement stores and think, "Yeah, but if you buy those, you miss all the fun!" I mean, they're beautiful plants, but you didn't get to watch them grow, to peek every morning to see if they were poking their little green heads out of the dirt, to peek again to see if there were any blossoms and if maybe, maybe, maybe today was the day those blossoms were going to open!)

I found some cool new plants at a discount, including a poisonous one that is NOT going to stay in the backyard where I put it because, well, it's poisonous, and my kids have a habit of sticking things in their mouths. Hooray for the ability to search the web for plant info! (It's a Natal Plum. Apparently the fruit is edible but the rest of it, including the seeds inside the fruit, is not.)

The sunflowers at the front of the house, which are not getting enough sun, are terribly spindly-lookin'. The ones at the back, which are getting enough sun, are looking hardier, but a little bug-eaten.

The small green tomatoes on my Early Girls are getting less and less small. Mmmm, I can almost taste them now. I think tomatoes you grow yourself are as good as apples when it comes to snacking.

My neighbor's loquat tree has very graciously draped itself across our back fence, and we're enjoying the fruits of its labors. Yum.


I wouldn't have guessed a year ago that I'd ever enjoy gardening this much. I feel more greenhorn than greenthumb, because I just don't know that much about plants yet, but in some ways, it's a glorious hobby in which to be an amateur. There're so many plants that are forgiving of mistakes, and just grow their hearts out no matter what you do to them. And they're so pretty and fragrant and heart-lifting.

Seriously, there is something world-resettingly right about gardening. I think it's 'cause we were made to be in gardens, from the very beginning. This daughter of Eve is content to go back to that life, at least sometimes.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

WFMW: Miracle-Gro


Okay, I don't mean to sound like a corporate shill here (and I'm not - I'm not connected in any way with the company), but man! that stuff works!

I have an ivy plant that I grew from my wedding bouquet. My sister has a similar one, grown from her wedding bouquet. We both got the cuttings for our bouquets from plants my mom grew from the ivy from her bouquet.

While I did manage to keep my plant alive for the first year and a half of our marriage, I didn't manage to do much more than that. So when I went over to my sister's house, and saw the big, beautiful plant her cutting had grown into, I was shocked. Especially since she got marriage a year after I did, and so my plant had been growing a lot longer than hers.

"How did you get it so big?" I asked.

My sister gave me that "you're a bit of a weirdo, Jess" look and said, "Um, I fed it?"

Ah.

And that was the start of my love affair with Miracle-Gro. Just the nice, blue powder form at first. I put a scoop in the bottom of my watering can every week, and, lo-and-behold, my ivy plant grew. It's huge now.

Then I discovered that Miracle-Gro makes potting soil. Folks, they're not kidding about bigger and better plants. The comparison of the tomatoes I grow in their potting soil to the ones I grow in my garden soil? Thick, dark green stalks next to puny, pale ones. ('course, my garden soil's pretty sad stuff . . . I'm working on it.)

So, someday, I want to be a super-cool, composting, organic-soil-amendment making greenthumb. But till then? Miracle-Gro: works for me!

For more great tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

p.s. the picture is of my wading pool garden as of yesterday (Miracle-Gro soil, y'see). As you can see, the cosmos are blooming. As you probably can't, the zinnias are about to (there are buds! yay!). The bachelor's buttons, to my sorrow, don't seem to have any plans on flowering in the near future.

Below is a picture of the cosmos from the wading pool garden (along with some flowers from my side yard) doing their duty on our kitchen table. Food tastes better with eye candy like that, no?

Monday, April 23, 2007

in-between prayers

I like Holly Pierlot's prayer of "Jesus, I do this for the love of thee," to be said when switching from one activity to another. But that's not the only small, in-between tasks prayer I find myself praying regularly.

The official order of prayers in the prayer book seems to be creeping into my everyday life. The idea of morning and evening prayer is leading me into the idea of other prayers: before-laundry prayers and before-email prayers. Here are a few of the regular prayers I find myself using everyday:

-When I get in the car: "Father, please keep us safe from accidents, tickets, other drivers, and anyone and anything that would harm us. Please keep our house safe till we get back. And may we honor You in what we go to do."

-When I start the laundry: "Father, please help the washing machine to work well and to spin dry." (It's old and cantankerous.) "Please may the dryer work well and not explode. And thank you for these machines, that do so much work for me."

-When I go on the computer: "Father, please help me to do your will online."

-When I put the kids down for their naps: "May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace. Breathe, and keep breathing, in Jesus' name." (Okay, that's more of a blessing and a command.)

-When Adam and I part ways: "Father, please keep us safe till we see each other again."


St. Paul said that we're to pray constantly, and in trying to follow this command, I found myself eventually repeating formulas. Over the years, my spontaneous prayers became regular formulas, just because they were things I prayed about everyday. But that's not bad, I think. There are good habits as well as bad ones, and I think this one's good. I tend to worry, and I've found that praying is the only way to handle my anxiety. It's a way of saying, "I'm worried about this, but I can't take care of it. However, I know you can, Father. So please do."

Sometimes I wonder if my prayers are too petitionary. "Please" and "safe" show up in them a lot. But, when I think about it, I realize that the Lord doesn't want me asking anyone else for the kind of help that only He can give. If my daughter always asked strangers for drinks of water, or my son tried to change his own diaper, I'd be upset. God is my Father, and even if His goal is that eventually I grow out of needing to ask him for a glass of water (I want my daughter to eventually learn to get her own), while I'm young enough to need to ask for help with everything, I'm sure that He wants to be the one I ask it from.


So, anyone else out there have little, daily prayers?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Jim

So, on Easter Sunday, my son was doing his very sleepy, I-need-a-nap-right-in-the-middle-of-mass thing. He passed himself from one set of arms to another, grandpa-grandma-daddy-mommy. But then, he settled in on the pew beside me, and snuggled up against the old gentleman next to me. He didn't fall asleep, but he stayed there for a long time, and the old gentleman smiled, and patted his head, then went back to paying attention to the mass. Then, as if he'd just noticed Gamgee for the first time, he'd smile again, and pat his head again, blinking. Eventually, Gamgee passed himself back to us.

That was two weeks ago. Today, during the coffee hour after mass, I got to meet the old gentleman, when he came over to the empty seat beside me and asked, "May I sit here?" His name is Jim. He has two - no, four! - grandchildren. And he didn't recognize me until I said, "Yes, my son fell asleep by you on Easter." And then he got a big smile on his face, and insisted I show him where Gamgee was (his dad was holding him on the other side of the room), and we talked some more. He said that it had been such a blessing to have our baby snuggled up next to him that Sunday, a blessing.

I guess I don't have more to say about it than that. It was just one of those really cool things. One of the moments that reminds you of what it is to live in the household of God. Old and young together, strangers actually being family. It was just really cool.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Thursday, April 19, 2007

in the garden


My husband took the weedwhacker to our backyard (our grass tends to grow into tall weediness along the edges of our yard) and, in addition, removed a couple of spider-inhabited, falling-apart old window boxes that had been sitting against a wall, and the resulting, clean-edged space inspired me.

I got out all the seed packages I had. Feeling a bit like I was in the parable of the Sower and the Seed, I sprinkled forget-me-nots that we got as wedding favors (hi, Sarah!) up in the narrow back terrace that's filled with dirt and concrete chunks. Maybe they'll be okay with the weird soil. I put more in our front flowerbeds, to grow up between the sunflowers. And the last in an indoor pot that already holds a tall plant.

I took that tall plant and tied it up with string so that it can grow up the bare side of my upper kitchen cabinets, green leaves against white paint.

I took the same ball of string, and tied up the jasmine plant outside our bedroom window. It's heavy with white buds, just beginning to break into blooms, and I want to coax it up the trellis covering our window, so we can breathe in its scent on the night air.

I weeded around the tomato plants that I couldn't get to before my husband moved the old window boxes. I planted thyme seeds in a pot. I put some geranium cuttings from our giant side yard plant in rooting hormones, then in pots, and covered them with a plastic bag to keep them moist while they (I hope!) root.

Laughing at myself, I took tiny bites out of my basil seedlings. I'd planted them from a seed packet that included seven varieties of basil, and I wanted to end up with one plant of each variety. I'm not sure I suceeded. How exactly do you tell lemon basil from cinnamon basil? At least the anise-flavored basil was obvious. (As was the purple ruffled variety. Did you know you can use it in flower arrangements? I didn't either!) I moved some of the seedlings to pots, stuck another few in the herb garden, and put a few between the vegetables. I wonder which will take.

I have two glasses of tap water on my desk. I'm going to let them sit overnight so that the chlorine evaporates, and then I'm going to put ivy cuttings in them. I have a big ivy plant I grew from cuttings from my wedding bouquet, and those cuttings came from a plant grown from cuttings from my mother's wedding bouquet. My plant is healthy enough now that I want to propagate it - I want lots of plants from it, so that at least one is around long enough that my daughter can use cuttings from it in her wedding, if she wants to. So, we'll see if I can get it to root. It takes awhile, I'm told. (Anyone know if you can use powdered rooting hormone for water-rooting, or is it only to be used with a potting medium?)

I dug up a square of grass next to my veggie garden. There was old, rotting wood just under the grass, and it was full of spiders, who weren't happy at being disturbed. They skittered up the wall in protest. But I dug it up anyway, turned it over, pulled out the most obvious grass roots, and planted sunflowers along the back, thyme around the other three sides, and butternut squash in the middle. I'll have to weed it furiously for awhile, but hopefully soon the squash will overshadow the weeds, and that will be the end of them. It'll probably overshadow the thyme too, but oh well, it'll be nice for awhile.

I found some old anenome seeds (bulbs?) that I'd gotten once upon a time, and planted them behind my nasturtiums, and a few between some sunflower seedlings near the patio. I don't know if they'll come up, but I figured I'd give them a chance.

Pretty haphazard gardening, but I figure, if I have the seeds, I'll plant them. I'm not a good enough gardener yet to know exactly what I ought to do with what I have. And then, sometimes, I'm just not a big enough gardener to do the right thing with every seed. Some of the thyme went where it should: in a pot, in good soil. But I had leftover seeds. So I put them where they're chances aren't so great. But, hey, better than no chance at all, right?

I used to save unplanted seed. But now I figure I'll just plant it. It kind of gives some suspense to the whole gardening process. I bet some plant, some time in the next few months, will surprise me. :)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So much happens before 10

Ah. I am just about to put my girl down for her quiet time ("I want puzzles! And Larry the Cucumber! And my pink bear!") so I can nurse my boy down for his naptime, while reading morning prayer. It's a good point in the morning.

The dishwasher is running, the table is pretty clear, my husband's lunch for tomorrow's put together, and so's the coffee pot for tomorrow's morning ambrosia. We've all had our vitamins, and gotten dressed, had breakfast, and then had a snack. ("Yogurt! Apples!")

There's a lot to come at this point of the day, and I won't get it all done. But at this point in the day, I've gotten some things done. And at this point in the day, I can't tell you what else I'll get done, but I'm feeling optimistic about it. (Dinner? Menu? Library? Bathtub? Bills? Writing-that-article-that-just-won't-get-itself-written?)

Somehow the day seems more full of possibilities for having some of its possibilities already realities. Happy Wednesday, folks.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

what's today?


So, it's been a lot about the homemaking and not as much about the church year here recently. At least, that's what I thought. But, then again, it's Easter! This is the time of year for doing everything normal, but with glad and light hearts. There aren't a whole lot of saints' days on the calendar in April, the better, it seems to me, to focus on Christ's resurrection.

All the gardening, and the flowers and the good food and the trips to the mountain seem light, and free, and full of alleluias. We didn't say "alleluia" all Lent, but now's the time to say it every day. To look at all the good things in everyday life, and to praise God for them, because but for his love towards us, we wouldn't have any of them. And even if we did, we couldn't enjoy them, because the weight of our sins would hang over it all like a gloomy cloud.

But with a heavenly Father who has loved us, loves us, and always will love us, you can enjoy things like ice cream. I don't mean this flippantly: but having eternity taken care of kind of frees you up to live in the present. It takes away worry. (And I say this as a world-class worrier: anxiety is my besetting sin. That's, um, why I've pondered how the promise of eternal life affects anxiety levels. Because I've had to.) It sounds flippant to say, "Because Christ conquered death, I can enjoy the pretty roses in my garden," but it's true. It's perhaps one of the least important true things, but it is true. It's true the same way it's true that my two year old can enjoy playing with her dolls because she's not worried about how to pay rent. She knows her parents, and that her parents will take care of her, and that frees her to live her ordinary, good, normal life.

So, I guess the past week or so, what "homemaking through the church year" has meant to me is that I can cook and garden and clean and be with my family with a lighter, more joyful heart, because the truth of Christ's victory over death has been in the forefront of my mind.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Monday, April 16, 2007

From Print to Plate


I've gotten back to posting recipes and meals on From Print to Plate. Check it out!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

mountains

Our family got to go up in the mountains this weekend, for the first time as the four of us. There are good mountains about two hours away from us, and it's a smoggy drive, but then you break through the grit and concrete and get up where it's all rocks and trees and sky.

I rediscovered (I always forget) that I feel more myself in the mountains.

I discovered that my daughter has a sensitive, discerning heart. Out of her two-year-old mouth,
"Look at those mountains; they're AMAZING." Isn't that a good (even amazing?) word choice for a two-year-old? I love my little Bess.

I discovered that as much as my one-year-old loves the water here, he loves it better when it's under mountain sky. He spent his time bouncing up and down in the mei-tai, burbling, "bla-ba-laba-bla-ba-laba" - which is Gamgee-speak for "water-water-water."

I rediscovered how much fun kissing is in the mountains, especially under a sky where you can actually see the stars. (And I found the Big Dipper, one of the three constellations I'm pretty sure I can recognize. The other two, if you're curious, are Orion and Cassiopeia. I think I can find Cassiopeia.)

I got to watch my parents loving on their grandkids, which is just a blast.

I got to watch my husband chimney up two pine trees.

I got to have a snowball fight with my dad, with the last of some old, shade-protected snow.

And, somehow, I know better knowing that all that blue sky is just two hours away, just in case.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Saturday, April 14, 2007

the Easter Blog Carnival!


Let's kick it off with an Easter homily from Fr. Dan Martins: "Becoming Who We Are." While perhaps every reader does not share Fr. Dan's high view of baptism, his beautiful, point-by-point reminder of what being raised with Christ means will resonate and encourage.

Sarah at Becoming Ourselves writes about how hard it is to celebrate Holy Week when, really, none of us do a good job of hiding the secret. ("Good Friday? Well, yes, that’s the day we remember that Jesus died. But he came back! Two days later, I’m absolutely positive. Holy Saturday? I’m sure it was difficult beyond words for his friends and family to leave him, along with many of their hopes and dreams, in the tomb. But he came back!")

Kelly at Love Well contributes an essay on our universal hope that was touched off by her family's individual sorrow. "I was struck last week by the dichotomy of a funeral in the spring," she says, and to read the rest, you have to go here.

At A Hen's Pace sent in a free-verse poem, highlighting the way the liturgy of Holy Week, and especially Easter, comes to us through our five senses. (If you snoop around on her site, you can also find pictures of her church's Easter vigil service.)



And that's it for the Easter blog carnival! Short and sweet, and hopefully just what you need to remember that we still have over forty days to consciously, daily celebrate our Lord's awesome and mighty resurrection. (And then comes Pentecost, when we get to consciously, daily celebrate the Holy Spirit being present with us. So, really, it's not like there's anything bad to look forward to.)

Two final thoughts: first, go here to read St. Chrysostom's rightly famous Easter homily. There is no one, in heaven or on earth, greater than our Lord, who has conquered, and who has saved us.

Alleluia, Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia!


peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Thursday, April 12, 2007

exercise

So, one of the bugaboos of modern life is that, with all these energy-saving machines (like, ahem, CARS), we don't move half so much as our ancestors did. I mean, can any of you who've read Farmer Boy (one of the Little House books) imagine Almanzo's astonishment at the idea that one might have to make exercise a separate activity from the normal chores of the day? (More than any other, that book taught me that my forebearers WORKED for a living.)

I don't have forty acres to plow though. But I have a library and a grocery store within walking distance, so I try to walk there instead of driving. And I have kids to be carried, so I try to carry them often. And I have weeds to pull, so I try to pull them regularly. I have a neighborhood that's safe to walk in, so I try to take regular evening walks with my husband (kids on back or in the wagon).

And sometimes I do an exercise DVD. But there's something more harmonious about exercise in the midst of other things. Things like gardening, and child care, and evening walks. I like it when life feels all-of-a-piece. I like having a body, and I like using it. There's a temptation in modern life, I think, to feel all mind and no matter. But so many good things - like cooking and eating and hugging and jumping and gardening - can only be experienced through our physical selves.

What about you? God made us creatures in bodies. Aside from the private joys of marital love (family-friendly blog, remember!), in what daily ways do you find yourself enjoying being corporeal? Does anyone else notice this, or am I just weird?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bright Week

It still feels Easter-y here, and I think it's due in large part to the spring cleaning. I'm so glad I did surfaces instead of baseboards! I think that, for once, I actually did a good job in figuring out what one thing would have the biggest impact. Not having piles on the major surfaces in the house (tops of tables, shelves, etc.) makes the whole house feel brighter and bigger.

And more peaceful. I think I'm going to have to keep this one up. I've been doing it so far, just by following the "if I notice it, I have to pick it up" rule.

I'm amazed, over and over again, at how homemaking absolutely pounds some of the Proverbs into my head. I'm thinking of verses like, "A litte sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and your poverty will come upon you like a bandit, your want like an armed man." Just one day of not picking up, of being too lazy to do the dishes . . . and my home is a disaster. It's like instant gratification. If you're gratified by seeing vice recieve its just deserts, that is.

There's something nice though, in the tangibility of housework. My mom always said that she liked housework because she could see the results of her labor. There's a lot in life that's not like that, but housework is, again, instant gratification. You don't clean the kitchen floor and then, a month later, have the joy of bare feet on clean wood. You get that nice, sweet feeling under your toes right away. (Can you tell that unswept kitchen floors, in this house, mean that awful "ugh, Cheerio crumbs" feeling underfoot?)

It's almost as if God invented housework to increase our faith in virtue being its own reward, it's such good analogy fodder. Like He was saying, "See, how constant vigilance in your housework allows for a peaceful home? So constant prayer allows for a peaceful heart." Or something like that. I would not put words in His mouth. But I think there's something there, somewhere.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

WFMW: babywearing

The mei-tai we made is about the third or fourth step in our adventures in babywearing. It started with a sling, and went on from there.

Anyway, I've found more and more often that the answer to many homemaking dilemmas can be found when you answer your question with another question. That other question being: "How did women accomplish it in the eighteenth century?" Or, as an missionary kid, I more often ask, "How do women do it in third-world countries?"

With babywearing, the original question was, "How do I get anything done when I have a kid who just wants to be held?" After asking how women have always done it, I came up with the answer: You strap the kid on, and keep going. There's gazillions of ways of wearing babies, starting with just tying them on with a shawl, and getting more complicated from there. My favorites have been: ring sling for little babies, REI-style backpacks for long walks, and a mei-tai (the Korean baby-carrier in the above link) for around the house, once kids are too big for slings. (btw, check out some of the many babywearing sites on the internet before you just "tie a kid on". Research first, because there are some safety precautions to be taken!)

Babywearing lets me make dinner without having a fussy baby tugging on my pant leg, gets my son to nap through church services without killing my arms, and lets my husband and I take long walks together without either of us having to push a stroller. Babywearing: works for me!



peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

p.s. Thanks for the many entries to the Easter Blog Carnival. Keep sending them in! And check back on Sunday for the carnival itself!

p.p.s. Not that we never use a stroller.

p.p.p.s. I also have to say that if my mom is sitting next to us in church, I skip the babywearing. Somehow, my son has no problem falling asleep in the pew if Grandma is doing the holding! :D

Monday, April 9, 2007

Eastering

This blog will return to normal soon. We are just busying holidaying. In the words of my two-year-old: "Is it still Easter?"

The answer, "YES. It IS."

Happy Easter Monday, folks!
-Jessica

p.s. "soon" = tomorrow or Wednesday, I'm not quite sure which. But certainly not an "I call all times soon" sort of soon. ;)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Easter Sunday

The Lord is Risen!


A happy, good, blessed and joyous Easter to you, my friends.
-Jessica

a noble sentiment

Check out this post from Fr. Dan, wherein he quotably says:

"I'm ready to shout the A-word, in about three hours."

Holy Saturday

"It's like the long Saturday between your death and the rising day
When no one wrote a word, wondering, is this the end?
But You were down there in the well
Saving those who fell
And bringing them to the mountain again."
-"Valley's Fill First", Caedmon's Call

That song (off of Caedmon's Call's "Long Line of Leavers" cd), the first part of the Messiah, and all but the last two songs of Cindy Morgan's "The Loving Kind" are my soundtrack for today.

And this post by Dr. Sanders, "Holy Saturday in Narnia", is what I'm going to be thinking about all day. Here's the first paragraph:

The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is called Holy Saturday, and it’s hard to know exactly how you’re supposed to feel on this day. It’s not the day Christ died or the day he was raised, but the day on which he was dead. Most churches agree to be still on this day. The faithful, all keyed up for a special weekend of church, stay at home betweent the darkness and candles of Good Friday and the brightness and brass of Easter Sunday.

So, in the stillness of this day, I'm hoping to get the grocery shopping done, tend the garden, finish cleaning the house, and prepare the ingredients for tomorrow's hot cross buns. In hope. Waiting. As Sanders' article points out, we're always in Holy Saturday in a way. (A very Pentecostal way.) Until Christ returns, we are living in hope and not fulfillment. We're fighting the White Witch without Aslan right beside us. But Jesus will return, and win the battle for us. We just hold up his standard till he comes back.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday and Spring Cleaning

"I always thought it was 'Monday-Thursday', you know, another of those great Christian paradoxes," quoth one of my friends, back when we were all new to this liturgical thing. But no, "Maundy" as in "mandatum" as in "command". I think. Although I was never sure if that command was the "a new command I give you: love one another" or the "Do this" of the Lord's supper. I suspect the latter - maybe someone can enlighten me? Anyway, in both cases, certainly a high holy day. (And that's not even touching Passover!)

So, the best part of my day today was spent spring cleaning. Out of the four main rooms of my house, I got one completely done. But that made me so happy.

And - I haven't quite gotten this worked out yet - but it felt somehow like the culmination of my Lenten fasting. Like I was getting to see it worked out in real life. As if in moving and shifting and picking up and sweeping out that room, I was getting to see how my heart looked after six weeks of being moved and shifted and picked up and swept by the unfamiliar rhythms of Lent.

I dunno. There's just something so good about a clean room, a room that's been swept from the baseboards out.

The only part of the room I didn't get through was the closet. I hope that's not deeply symbolic of anything - eep! But I'm planning on getting through that too before Easter Sunday, so maybe it's okay.

:D

A good Maundy Thursday to you,
Jessica

p.s. Okay, Wikipedia has it that the "mandatum" does refer to the command to love one another, the whole phrase being: "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos": "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." Cool! That's something to remember all year long.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

all this outdoor living

So, in the blissfulness of all this lovely spring weather, we've been spending time with the doors and windows open, and apparently one of the denizens of our backyard got lost. I killed one of these guys in our house today, green fangs and all. Groovy, eh?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

WFMW: owner's manual

Today's Works For Me Wednesday is the car edition. Here's what I know about cars: cars with stick shifts cost less to repair, and I really want a minivan someday.

Okay, now that you are in awe at my vast store of mechanical knowledge, I'll tell you the one thing that really does work for me: the owner's manual. Of course things will happen to your vehicle that you can't take care of yourself. But you'd be surprised at what you can do, and at how useful that little booklet that came with your car is. I've taken to leafing through it sometimes when my husband is driving and I'm sitting pretty in the passenger seat. It's taken us through jump-starting batteries and replacing headlights. And maintaining the proper level of clutch fluid. And other useful skills like that.

So take a peek. They're simply written, easy to understand, and surprisingly useful. Consulting the owner's manual: works for me!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

Preparing for Easter: Spring Cleaning

Question: am I a very bad person if I browse through Feministing and then go take a peek at Ladies Against Feminism, and then realize what I just did, and have a good laugh?

(I don't necessarily recommend either site, btw, except as interesting reading. I don't agree completely with either, but if you, like me, enjoy reading both sides of an argument, you might enjoy the opposing viewpoints. It's kinda like listening to both NPR and your local libertarian radio show. But then, you could just have done with it and read something good, like Touchstone or Dawn Eden's blog. Probably more Christian to just read the something good.)

Anyway, back on topic, did you know that this week is the traditional spring cleaning week? Why? Why, to get ready for Easter, of course! (The tradition, of course, is to clean up the CHURCH. Your local altar guild will doubtless be taking care of that though, so the home is the next best thing!)

I, frankly, do not feel much like deep cleaning. So I'm modifying the tradition (eep! modifying traditions!) and intending to get all the surfaces of my house cleared off. You know: desk, kitchen table, coffee table, bookshelf tops - those places that tend to have things set down on them.

With two toddlers, I think modified spring cleaning is about right. I like the idea of looking around and finding the one thing that would make the biggest effect, and I think that surface-clearing is it. After all, "a place for everything and everything in its place" is not a truism for nothing!

So, anyone else out there with spring cleaning aspirations?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica

p.s. Last night we had a vegan meal of lentils and rice. While yummy and all, I've decided that next Monday we are having CARNITAS! Yay Easter!

p.p.s. My big thanksgiving of the day is for our new patio cover. Yes, almost two years after they said they would, our landlords put a cover over our patio. In a house without air conditioning or roof insulation, this makes a huge difference in how pleasant it is to live here. And now we have a hammock outside, which makes lulling my boy-child to sleep much easier. Thanks be to God!

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Easter Blog Carnival!

Yes, I'm late getting the instructions for this up. This is largely due to the fact that I couldn't figure out whether I wanted the carnival to go live on Easter Sunday or not.

And, I've decided not. Instead, the Easter Blog Carnival will go live on the second Sunday in Easter (that'd be April 15th). It's just too hard, I think, to expect lots of people to write about Easter during the last week of Lent. This way, we can get lots of perspectives on celebrating the resurrection, after the fact. And, since Easter season is 50 days long, having the carnival a week after next Sunday would not be liturgically inappropriate. :D

BUT . . . even though I'm pushing it back a week, feel free to start sending me links now. If you've got something you've written, this year or last year or even earlier, on Easter, that you'd like included, send it on over! I'm at jessica (dot) snell (at) gmail (dot) com.

As much as I enjoyed the Lenten Blog Carnival, I can't help but think that the Easter one will be even better! I can't wait to read what you've written. (Feel free, by the way, to post about the carnival on your blog - the more, the merrier!)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica