Saturday, November 4, 2017

Intentional Leisure

I feel restless. I spend my days trying to keep a gladiator-of-a-2-yr-old alive, nursing a baby, and attempting to instill in the 4 yr old that this is not her anarchy. Also, I clean up in the kitchen. There is no end to the kitchen, it's worse than laundry. Suddenly I love laundry; it stays clean for at least 1 whole day.


We joke that we're raising our second family. These days it doesn't feel like much of a joke. Sometime over the summer, between numbers 5 and 6, I congratulated myself on surviving those only-pre-K kid years. Having bigs around during the summer, and prior to the gladiator fully blossoming into his gladiatorial self - not to mention the birth of number 6 - life seemed  manageable. I even took them all swimming, by myself! But then the bigs went back to school and left me alone to again mother a brood of pre-K and under: A brood that requires my constant supervision, buckling and unbuckling, who can't play outside on their own, thinks all objects are meant for consumption, for whom faucets are a near occasion of disaster, and, blessedly, still nap for hours at a time. Thank you Jesus! No, really, ALL my thanks!


Sometimes all three of the pre-Ks are napping at the same time. This is a miraculous event, and one that is celebrated with a cup of coffee and a stare off into the silence of the middle-distance, or, let's be honest, social media. When I come back to reality, I return again to the ever-loving kitchen. As if on cue, with the last lunch dish stowed in the dishwasher, the wake-ups begin followed by the return of the bigs and the insanity of the after-school-dinner-evening-clean-up-bedtime rush.

It's that middle-distance time. This is the only time in my hours of consciousness I have for restorative leisure, and I don't want to waste it on just anything - certainly not on chores that need doing. It also has to be something that is easily begun and set aside. But what? 


(Note: Let's assume that I have already had a decent prayer time, and that this pursuit of leisure is a way to restore my soul in a non-purely-spiritual manner - esp. since it can't be counted on. If I spent this as my regular prayer time, it would often be overthrown by the demands of the brood.)

I really enjoyed photography, and that would be a great time to edit photos, but unfortunately, the gladiator bathed my Macbook in coffee and its photo editing software I'd finally wrapped my brain around. With that, my photography came to an abrupt halt. I don't have space in my Amish brain for the learning curve of new editing software on this chromebook, if anything decent exists. I suppose I could take the time to learn how to take amazing photos that don't require editing. Come to think of it, that's a learning curve I might be able to get behind. Speaking of which, I hope you're loving these crappy phone pics of our deck progression that have nothing to do with this post. You're welcome.


I picked up my anatomy and physiology book the other day, and loved reading that. Yes, I'm a dyed in the wool nurse nerd. Then my eyes went on the blink (hah, hah). With them improving, I might go back to that. If I ever do want to get my license back up and running, 5 years of snippets of nerdy reading could come in handy.

On a similar note, I love to read. Reading also presents a challenge: I don't have the time or energy to find good books, so I often don't have anything on hand to read. When I do find something good, I become a glutinous reader. I suspect it might not be the healthiest way to spend my time. It's easily picked up but not easily set aside.

There are umpteen house projects which alternate between feeling like the best idea and a millstone around my neck. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I can't think of any that are easily picked up and put aside at the whim of the pre-K brood. So, that nixes those. Phew. 

Also, it can't cost money. No crafting, unless it's something I already have on hand. Now there's another idea: what can I craft using only what I already have? Hmmmm.


I love people, and I crave more adult social interaction in my life, but I'm not much of a phone person. On top of that, what are the chances another mom's kids are going to allow her a good heart-to-heart? I know mine wouldn't; they become incomprehensibly needy and loud the moment the phone touches my ear. Trying to have a conversation while running from room to room with screaming children trailing behind me, or banging on the door of the room I've just locked myself into, or listening to hers do the same, puts me over the edge. Over. The. Edge. Sorry people. I love you, but mostly in person.

I'm just thinking out loud. But gosh, I need an outlet. Something beyond the demands of life. I'm curious - what do you do with whatever leisure time you can eek out?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sophia Mary, the Name Story



When it comes to naming each of our children, we are thoughtful, prayerful and deliberate. We've also discovered along the way that their names are all but revealed to us - some in more profound ways than others, but each in a way that makes it clear that this child is to be named this.

When it came to naming baby #6, we were completely stumped. Often we've had a name, or at least a top few, in the first months of pregnancy. With this one, nothing seemed to fit, so we put it off until after my 20 week ultrasound. At least then we could eliminate 50% of the possibilities.

Early in the pregnancy I had a dream of a brunette baby girl. Though pregnancy dreams are often strange and meaningless (like the ones where I'm holding the baby before tucking him/her back inside for the remainder of the pregnancy) this one made me wonder. The night before our 20 week ultrasound I had another dream of a brunette baby girl. We found out that morning that we were indeed having a girl! 

(The brunette piece was noteworthy because of our 5 children, we have 3 redheads, 1 blond and 1 brunette, and our brunette was praying for another brunette.) 

For a couple months after, we thought we had settled on a name, but as the weeks went by, I felt less peaceful about it. It was a beautiful name, a beautiful saint even, but it didn't seem quite right. 

Somewhere along the way, we settled on Mary as a middle name. If we didn't already have a Marianne, it likely would've been in the running for a first name, but even with Marianne going by "Annie" we thought it would get confusing. Mary would be her middle name. But the first name...

Around 7 or 8 months, I took my regular much-needed afternoon nap. When I woke up from my nap, I was fairly certain I knew what our baby girl's name would be:

I dreamed that we were taking our annual MI Lorien vacation. It was a Marian Holy Day of Obligation, and I found myself in the back of the nearby Polish church where we attended Mass, last year. I was alone, and able to have a wonderful peaceful prayer time. I was then joined by the daughters of a family that we'd known growing up, a family of 3 girls. The youngest, whom I babysat on occasion, was named Annie. I always loved her name and it, in part, inspired giving our Annie her nickname. 

But in my dream there were 4 girls. The youngest, a brunette girl around age 4, came over to me and I happily said, "I know you! You're Annie!" and even as I said it, I thought, "No, that's not right, Annie was the youngest of 3." And the little girl in front me laughed and, pointing at the next youngest, said, "That's Annie. I'm Sophie!" ....and even then, in my dream, I knew exactly who that was; that was my daughter.

(Mark has since asked, multiple times, "Did she say Sophia or Sophie?" - and I honestly don't remember. I love the nickname Sophie, and the formal name Sophia, so whether she said one or the other doesn't matter to me - it got the point across.)

When I woke from my dream, I was still flooded with the peace that I'd felt in my dream. It was the peace of a great nap, combined with a wonderful prayer time, and the joy of being fairly certain I had just met my daughter: Sophia Mary.

But why Sophia Mary? I knew Sophia is a fairly popular name, and there is a St. Sophia with a rather apocryphal-sounding story, but it didn't seem enough to inspire a name. So I thought beyond the saints, to the meaning. Sophia means "wisdom" and suddenly the title "Mary, Seat of Wisdom" came at me like a flood. Yes. Her middle name would be Mary, and Wisdom is a Christological name. Mary, who held Wisdom itself in her lap. Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Sophia Mary.

I excitedly sent off a message to Mark that I thought I had a name, wondering what on earth his opinion would be, having spent months coming up empty. The name, the dream, the meaning, it struck all the right notes for both of us, and we both fell madly in love with the nickname Sophie. Our littlest lady's name was settled.