Hello my friends, and Happy March!
Well, despite its extra day, February really seemed to fly by - and here we are beginning a new season. In the liturgical world, Lent began last week and in the natural realm, we are just 18 days away from the start of spring. (This year the equinox falls on March 19th - the earliest since 1896!)
Most of us in the northern hemisphere know however, that winter absolutely loves to linger ... and spring is perpetually running late. And here in New England our weather has been a little messed up - in that, it's not actually been all that messy! It's been a fairly mild and practically storm-free winter, and case in point here is my local forecast for next week:
So ... "in like a lion?" Maybe not so much. And an early spring in the cards? Well, so said the groundhog, and if it comes to pass, I for one will be very pleased. Because the only thing I don't like about New England winters - and yes, I do like them! - is that most years they just don't know when to quit! By March we're often still knee-deep in snow and I am positively longing for even the subtlest signs of spring ...
Speaking of ...
This was last week in my little Katie Daisy journal, which I'm currently using mostly for nature notes. I've been trying to jot down every little nuance we notice - and we notice a lot as you can see! There have been plenty of little signs of spring's approach - chipmunks scampering, owls hooting, skunks digging, woodpeckers drumming ... and holy moly, the red-winged blackbirds have returned to the marsh!
March is chock-full of interesting nature, and while we're on that topic - here are two resources I think you'll enjoy:
And, this great nature calendar from The Massachusetts Audubon Society:
(I use this every month with Little Bear to see how much we can observe!)
By the way - have you seen the preview of the 20-21 Katie Daisy planner cover? It premiered on Instagram this week, and I just love the blue floral design - with touches of my favorite yellow!
(You can pre-order on Amazon, and I believe the publication date is May 8th.)
Ok moving on now - As you can see in my top picture, on this bright and brisk St. David's Day I am enjoying a cup of Barry's decaf black tea in my beloved Royal Tara china. (The set I inherited from my grandmother - the set I supped from as I learned to love tea as a child.)
Traditionally I like to make daffodil cake on this feast day, but that was just not in the cards today. (I might make it next weekend when Crackerjack is home for spring break.) Instead I nibbled on some Girl Scout cookies, a treat my husband picked up at the grocery store yesterday. (Though they're called "shortbread" cookies now, long-ago Girl Scout that I am, I prefer to call them by their original name, Trefoils!)
So as I enjoyed my tea by a sunny window, I set about editing my latest seasonal planning printables ...
And here they are, fresh off the presses!
My 14-page booklet includes forms for organizing various seasonal events, brainstorming comforts and joys that are special to this unique time of year, tracking early spring phenology and exploring the March and April full moons. My planner is also peppered with seasonal quotes and vintage illustrations (found on Pinterest) and is free for your personal use!
Also, since Easter is just around the corner (6 weeks and counting!) here are some extra Easter planning sheets from my Printables archive:
I really have such fun assembling these planning sheets, and I hope you also find them fun - and useful!
(Next up will be Late Spring and I hope to have that posted by the end of April.)
Now for the liturgical season ... Lent is upon us! And I thought I'd share a couple of things we did (and did not do) this past week, in the spirit of "keeping things real." Because as usual, my best laid plans went seriously awry and I had to make a few "adjustments."
So you might remember in my last post, I had originally planned to take Little Bear to Mass on Ash Wednesday morning so we could receive ashes at church. Then we would swing by the craft store so we could pick up the supplies for creating a new and "glittery" ALLELUIA for "burying." (An old Catholic tradition.)
And what happened instead was ... well, not quite that.
After an extremely stressful morning with Earlybird (who is back to resisting school and having a very hard time with the side effects of a certain medication - which he is now weaning off of ) we just could not make it over to church. We didn't hav the time and I didn't have the wherewithal to be perfectly honest. As it was, I had to have EB's ABA therapist come to the house to help me get him ready - ride with us even - and we arrived at school quite a bit little later than usual.
Clearly Mass was not going to happen, so instead Little Bear and I made ashes at home. :-)
To do this, we simply burned one of last year's palms and mixed the ashes with little holy water. I found some instructions in The Catholic Home, a lovely book I've had on my liturgical shelf for ages. Then I said a little blessing and made the sign of the cross on Little Bear's forehead. Then I let him do the same to me.
It was a simple activity and perhaps a tad unconventional, but Little Bear seemed to enjoy the experience very much. And to be honest, I relished the quiet togetherness, and appreciated the reassuring comfort of home.
Then came the time to craft a new Alleluia ... but we couldn't dash over to the craft store because I needed to be near the phone (in case Earlybird's school called), so instead, I mined my craft stash to see what we could use ...
Happily, I found some golden alphabet stickers - had to fudge a few, making an E out of a B, and I out of an F and some Ls out of various letters - and then cut some purple construction paper into a paper cross shape.
Last step - a butterfly to hold the pouch closed and then we placed it on our Lenten mantle.
(Spoiler alert: I will use those letters to make a colorful banner for Easter morning!)
Moral of the story - life does not always unfold as originally planned. I was really looking forward to attending Ash Wednesday mass with Little Bear, but what was most important that morning was figuring out how to best help Earlybird find his calm and courage. Once I had EB safely at school, I next focused my attention on Little Bear - reassuring him all was well, while listening to his worries. He's at the age where he's maturing beyond his autistic brother and we're trying to help him see and accept that EB's behaviors do not always reflect what we know is in his heart.
So for our giving gesture that day, we talked about how Earlybird acts out when something makes him feel scared or sad. And right now he's a little scared of going to school, and he feels sad to leave home. Those feelings are hard for any child but especially overwhelming for a child with autism. Earlybird can sometimes act out in very inappropriate ways.
We also talked about how all this makes Little Bear feel - nervous he said, and a little mad and a little sad. Feelings very similar to his brother's. I tried to reassure him that no feelings are wrong, because nobody can help their feelings ... but we can help how we react to them. And children need tools for managing their reactions. Little Bear can talk to us and he can pray with us and he can let Earlybird know, in different ways, that we're always, always on his side.
So we decided to make a card to encourage EB:
I told Little Bear I was proud of HIM for trying to see things from his brother's point of view, and for forgiving him when he says things that are not very nice or when he raises his voice or makes a mess because he's mad. Or when his behavior gets in the way of something we really wanted to do. Just like his oldest two brothers before him, Little Bear will have lots of opportunities to learn patience, tolerance, forgiveness ... and I hope to help him find ways to connect with a brother whom he likes a lot - but sometimes resents for rather "unlikeable" behavior.
There is no easy fix, and this will be a lifelong journey - we can only take each day as it comes and take it as easy on each other (and ourselves) as well can.
Written in my journal later that day, a quote I came upon, a rather timely reminder ...
"Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself." St. Francis de Sales
❤ How perfect and lovely is that? ❤
Well my friends, I hope your new month is off to a good start, and I thank you as always, for stopping by my little "home"on the web. I am grateful for your time and attention and if I may ask for you to remember our Earlybird in your prayers and thoughts and send him a little positive, happy energy. And may I ask - how are you doing ... how is your family? Have you watched any good television lately? (Sanditon, anyone?) And how is the weather where you live?
Drop me a note if you have the time, and I'll be in touch again just as soon as I can. :-)