Kitchen Self-Care

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Meal planning and cooking for tiny people {who insist on eating every.single.day.} can get pretty tricky for moms with big families, moms who work, moms who sleep, moms who swim, moms with purple hair…ok, it’s tricky for a lot of moms. My theory is that the process – of meal planning and shopping sales and chopping veggies and cooking, stirring, and sauteeing and everything that comes with it – is all a lost art. No one around us really knows how to do it. Many moms lack the support of someone to help them embrace the deliberate, ordered steps of planning and preparing meals, so the whole idea seems incredibly daunting and unnecessarily time consuming. The catch is, if  behavior isn’t modeled for us, we miss out on seeing the tangible fruits that come from such a discipline. And so, we lack motivation. Frozen pizza sounds a heck of a lot easier (and oh gosh, IT SO IS. And that’s ok, sometimes!) We tend to scoff at those online who sing the praises of meal planning and the beauty found in preparing a meal. We shrug it off because we “don’t have our sh*t together” like those other moms. We have enough to worry about without adding the stress of meal planning to our already crazy lives. Right? Well…maybe. Continue reading

7 Quick Takes – Interview with Audrey Wick, Writer [vol. 20]

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I enrolled in my local junior college as a petrified, fresh-off-of-homeschooling college freshman. My first semester, I met Audrey Wick, who taught Grammar & Rhetoric (ENG 1301 – or 101 for you four-year folks.) I didn’t know it, but I’d lucked into not only a wonderful semester, but a 14 years-and-counting friendship. Over my college career, I took two more classes from Audrey – American Lit II and Pilates – and loved every minute of them. When I found myself in my crisis pregnancy, she was pregnant with her little boy, and she was encouraging and understanding when I began the fall semester at 38 weeks pregnant. She’s really a one-of-a-kind college instructor, and I hope my kids will have the privilege of taking one of her classes in the future!

Besides the encouragement and grace extended to me, she has taught me much about writing prose, specifically the importance of cohesiveness, word choice, and engaging your audience.  Her own writing has been published in several regional newspapers and even college literature textbooks. I’ve enjoyed following her writing career over the years. So, I was THRILLED when she told me early this year that her new book, Finding True North, had found a publisher and would be released this spring! I greedily devoured the story about a newly single mom living in a small town in Texas, and the relationships in her life.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting, which was truly representative of what I know small town life to be like. I also appreciated reading about the protagonist’s struggle with the emotions, developments, and decisions that came about as a result of her divorce and the fears and uncertainties around beginning a new chapter in her life. I think it was a nice dose of perspective for me as a married woman, giving insight into what challenges my divorced friends and family might be facing. And that, in turn, gives me a place to start in my encounters with these members of the Body of Christ.

My daughter Elizabeth (11) has recently discovered a love for writing stories. She has gobbled up a few books written to help young writers, notably Writing Magic and Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine (she wrote Ella Enchanted!) She still had some questions, though, so we thought it would be fun to ask them of Audrey – a published writer with a kiddo the same age as Elizabeth. Without further ado, here are Elizabeth’s questions, Audrey’s answers, and then a few of my own questions for her about how we as parents can encourage our young writers. Enjoy!

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Elizabeth: How can I grab the reader’s attention in the opening part of my story?

Audrey: Openings should hook the reader, and one way to do that is to start in the middle of the action. Dialogue can be a powerful way to accomplish this. If the audience can hear your characters and experience the action, they might be hooked!

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Tackling the Morning Rush

Articles abound on how to order your mornings for a less hectic, more controlled pace while getting everyone out the door on time, but I’ve found they’re mostly targeted at ONE age group and rarely address a family with kids in almost every developmental bracket. Our kids are now 11.5, 9, 7, 6, and 20 months, so the only thing we’re missing at this point is a high schooler. I’ve been a mom for over a decade (and prior to that, was the eldest of six that spanned an age range of 18 years!), so I have begun to get a sense of what works well for us at this stage of familyhood. For what seemed like forever, I was convinced that my Tiny People woke up every morning with a determination to fulfill their daily mission of making me late for work, and totally stressing me out in the process.  By the time I actually plopped down at my desk, I felt like a glass of wine.  Not cool at 8am.  So I got to thinking…how can I trick these little ones into cooperating?  After all, I am a bit older and wiser.  Without further babbling, I’d like to offer a few quick tips that have worked well for our family’s morning routine. Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and don’t sweat the rest.

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Kaleidoscope Reflections on Good Friday

The Pieta Good Friday

It’s funny how God speaks to us in different ways at different times in our lives. Over the years, as I have reflected on Scripture, I’ve been struck by how a passage or verse meant one thing to me as a teenager, another as a young bride, and something altogether differently now that I am a mother. I suppose this will continue to be true as I age and mature – each season of my life will hold a specific key to unlocking varied meanings of Scripture again and again. In a way, it’s like the words of the Bible are colorful bits of glass at the bottom of a kaleidoscope. As the cylinder turns, the glass shifts and tumbles into different positions, revealing brilliantly unique patterns but all comprised of the same bits of glass.

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A Peek Into Our Holy Week

As you begin to make plans for Holy Week with kids in your domestic church, I thought I’d share what has worked for us as a family over the years. Some of what follows is flexible and subject to change each year based on our schedules, kids’ ages and temperaments, and parental level of exhaustion, but this is the general outline of what Holy Week looks like for us as a Catholic family.  Thoughts in red are new things we plan to implement with the kids this liturgical year!

Holy Week

Palm Sunday/Monday/Tuesday – Clean the house, top to bottom, to prepare our home for the Triduum and Easter. On Sunday, we will read this new book from Michele Chronister that I purchased last week. The explanations of the Liturgies of Holy Week are written for probably 5-7 years olds, but the lovely illustrations will delight kids of any age, and the simple summaries of each Liturgy are a great jumping off point for deeper discussions with older kids.

Spy Wednesday – Hide 30 pieces of “silver” (quarters) around the house to remember that the day before Holy Thursday, Judas betrayed Our Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Once the kids find them all, they can put them in the box for the poor at Church tomorrow evening. I shamelessly stole this idea from Catholic All Year. SHAMELESSLY. Continue reading