Holy Week this year fell just after Spring Break. I’ll admit, I was pretty discouraged going into it- I could relate so much to what Ginny wrote about last week. My house was an absolute wreck after Spring Break and my spirit wasn’t doing much better. Holy Week itself is also a brutiful sort of thing; some of the most emotionally difficult days of the year, never mind the physical exhaustion of so many services. Entirely worth it at the end when the kids let loose singing at the top of their lungs and you know, absolutely know, Christ is Risen deep down to your very toes. But marathon. Yes. By God’s grace, somehow my house received the (much-needed) Lenten cleaning, and my heart too; and the week ended in a much better place than it began. I really don’t feel like I have a lot of words to wrap around Holy Week and Pascha this year- and like Katherine, I only have iPhone photos to do it justice, but I hope they’ll extend in images what my words cannot.
Our spring break was originally supposed to be very different- we were planning to travel and do some things that had been on our wish list for a while. With Ellianna’s hospitalization last month, James had to use all of his available vacation and sick time, so we couldn’t travel; spring break week was also the first week that James returned to his ‘normal’ schedule (he had been on an adjusted schedule while Ellianna was sick). We didn’t get to see him most of the week. Which was a bummer.
Gratefully, we live in an area with many adventuresome things to do, so I made do. I’m also grateful for our family friends that can step in and be an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears on these crazy monkeys when James can’t come along.
We went to the bounce house on Tuesday (sandwiched in between a few doctor’s appointments for Ellianna). Wednesday we visited the Mariner’s Museum (which I can earnestly say was the highlight of everyone’s week!). Thursday we spent close to home. Friday, due to a power outage in our neighborhood that lasted most of the day, we went to the Botanical Gardens a city over, and on Saturday, we visited a quiet, out of the way beach that has become a favorite after breakfast at Denny’s (super-unusual for us!). All in all, it was a pretty pleasant stay-cation, if I say so myself. We did miss daddy like crazy though.
Monday was our first day of Spring Break, and would you know? We woke up to drizzly rain everywhere. Pretty soon our backyard had a lake and river look about it, and our plans for the day set aside. While movies were definitely on the menu, I thought pulling out some of our creative activities would be a good change. You can see more of our rainy day/sick day fun here. We’ve had this rice tray for a few months, I believe, inspired by Deb at Living Montessori Now . It’s wonderful for pre-writing practice, but also for measuring and pouring and other fine-motor activities. The tray itself is actually an old thing that came with our gas grill many moons ago. After being used for a few months, it was definitely losing popularity as a choice. I remembered seeing colored rice in passing on Pinterest. The idea is simple enough- you dye the rice with food coloring. I didn’t even look it up, but just ran with the idea. All I have in the house is gel food coloring. I’m assuming you could use any type.
I placed the rice in four separate gallon sized bags and added a few drops of Lavender essential oil (which smells absolutely yummy!) and called in a few helpers to shake it up.
Here it is after dyeing. They shook the bags for about five minutes, give or take. You can see how rich the gel color makes it here. Because it was gel color, I was a little concerned about the color leaching if the children’s hands were damp or wet, so I popped the whole tray into the oven at 200 F for about forty minutes, so the color would ‘set’ into the rice.
And here it is finished. You can see with baking the dye is a little less vibrant, but still beautiful.
Such a pretty rainbow on a yucky, rainy day!
A tiny bit of progress this week when I was able to steal a few minutes waiting for something to load- I’ve gotten Elliana’s birthday week into the book, but it lacks journaling and pretty-ing up.
The following week was Valentine’s week, And you can see the beginnings of that on the right hand page. I’m not sure what I want to put in the left. There’s also that long narrow strip in the right hand (Elliana’s birthday week) and the left hand (Valentine’s week), that I’ll have to decide what to do with.
I haven’t made any progress whatsover in actually cleaning up. I am not a piler by nature. A gatherer, maybe- I like being able to see things, but I also like them contained. And if I can’t find what I’m looking for, I really get frustrated. I also tend to work better standing, I think because I can see the whole thing at once and not at an angle. The desk (a very old Ikea standby) does go up to standing height (or even bi-level, like a drafting table), but the space I’m in doesn’t really work well for the standing position. I also tend to be working on multiple projects at once these days. I am only very rarely just scrapping and I need to be able to move projects in progress around. Katherine posted the other day and she happened to take shots of her raskog carts in her sewing space…That has gotten me to thinking. Regardless, there has to be a complete overhaul of the space. It is absolutely driving me bonkers at the moment. I at least tidied up the floor before I took this picture, but you can see all the piles, piled…it’s all underneath and to the side of the desk, too.
I saw a sign the other day, which read thusly:
I am ninety-nine percent angel. But oh, that one percent…
I considered for a split second having it printed on a t-shirt. My nickname in high school by my closest friends was Angel. When they were really desperate for a football win, I became Lucky Angel. It formed my email address for many years. luckyangel18, if you must know. I preferred it (and honestly still prefer it to this day) over my named emotion name, which made people demand of me constant happiness, mistaking the concept of joy for unrelenting happiness, which joy is most certainly not most of the time.
I never saw it as ironic or sarcastic that I was nicknamed so. It was an honor given out of genuine respect. People treated me differently than they did others, they cleaned up their act, so to speak, lessened their cussing and general rough-housing; they honored my different-ness from them in a way that could have gone quite opposite. I could have been precariously bullied.
I became a sister-friend to many rough and tumble boys in those years. Two of those boys (now tremendously lovely grown men, which I’d never, ever thought I’d see the day!) and their families are still to this day a regular part of my life. So often in those younger years, a boy would sidle up to me on the sidelines of the football field (I volunteered as team manager at my best friend’s request) and as he got to know me, thoughts and fears and dreams would pour out as I gained their trust. No one really knew of it, and were a boy to be asked what he spoke of to me on the sidelines while watching the plays, they would strenuously deny anything of the sort and claim they were doing something else entirely. I was not ‘one of the girls’-I had little to do with superficial backstabbing hormonal craziness; I tended to be a tomboy, but I had a quiet heart. I quickly realized I had a very quiet calling in this listening, a keeper of sorts. An encourager, certainly. An inspire-er- a beauty strewer. Not in the superficial sense of the idea, the Seventeen magazine trash; the idea of giving beauty and grace in tangible form. I probably failed as much as I tried, but I know from some of those guys at high school reunions that I did manage to make a difference for them.
Somehow I lost that calling along the way. I find myself circling back to that honorific I was given.
The thing is, I’m no angel. I never was. I came from brokenness and my childhood wasn’t the prettiest. I was just as much a mess up, a cut up, a broken loser then as the boys that would confide in me, sometimes worse! They would be amazed when I’d tell them some of the awful (and stupid!) scrapes I’d found myself in and what I’d learned from it. The thing is, we all are. The thing is, I’m less an angel than I was in those wayback years. I’ve made so many more mistakes now, so many grievous sins. Oh, that one percent. As much as my loved ones and I joke that my halo is hanging off my horns, there’s a grain of truth in it and it saddens me so very deeply. We’ve all become broken, and therein lies the need for grace and God’s great love.
I found it surprising later as people ascribed all manners of virtues to me simply because I was the mother of many. That I must somehow have a super-natural patience, a super-natural gifting, be an angel to take on such a task. Nothing is further from the truth. I am just as human and I lose my temper more times than I can count and probably more than a mama with less inducements to sin as I do. It is heart-rending, sanctifying work, yes, but angel? No. I fail and fall just as hard and have moments where I declare I am so done. I’ve never understood that misconception. I’m just me, two steps forward and three steps back, awkward, weirdo, sci-fi nerd who writes and swirls paint in the margin of my days, who happens to be the mother to six kids.
But it is in this nickname I am finding my way back to center. When I think of those times, scuffing dirt with my toes as I listened on a humid, steamy afternoon in a high school back field , un-relenting joy fills me. I am most at peace when I embrace that calling within me. How could I have known that I would later be called mama by four boys and two girls? How all that was training for the now? The life as mama, the keeper of hearts, the encourager, the beauty-strewer? And how could I have missed it, this calling to be a place of quiet peace? Of opening my heart for others to find rest and restoration in?
Now that I am understanding it, I am embracing it. Wherever I find myself, in the kitchen with the blaring whinies of four tinies and two grumpy pre-teens hungry for dinner, later in the quiet, elbows deep in dishwater, in the pick up line at school, in the waiting line at the pharmacy, in the cinnamon-scented coffee house across from a woman who feels like she’s going under…I am learning this. Open heart, listen close. Dwell. Dwell therein. The world is busting at the seams with people full of advice and ways to fix, when so much of our life is never black and white and problems stubbornly refusing to be fixed in any clear way, incredible swaths of gray. I’m remembering it’s okay to scuff my toe in the dirt and listen.