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Saying Goodbye to 2009

Today we say goodbye to this year, 2009, and tonight my Hero Hubbie has got great plans in mind. Rarely do we have the chance to 'paint the town' and so we have begun a yearly tradition of a fantastic meal to end the year, and begin a new one.
Past years had involved a seafood feast with all of our favorites, including King Crab legs, shrimp and the like, but finances being what they are, this year we opted for a more subtle, still delicious choice: Cornish hens. It's a great tradition, one we hope we can continue, a kind of date night, complete with candles, sweet tunes and my guy. What else could I ask for?
In retrospect we review the year. Our oldest had her First Communion, our son his First Confession, our little girl entered kindergarten, the next youngest assuming her role as older sister and mom's helper,....and our baby, almost 2 years old, mastering communication, walking and eating with a spoon. How our years become defined by the milestones of our children!
I…

Birthday Party with Our Lady

My little girl celebrated her 6th birthday yesterday....and God love her, she asked for a Blessed Mother party.

"Mom, can I have a Mary puzzle? Mom can I have a Mary blanket? Mom can I have a Mary cake? Mom can I have a Mary poster, a Mary church book, a Mary dolly?"

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find all these Blessed Mother gifts? Impossible. They just don't make a Blessed Mother comforter. They don't make Blessed Mother puzzles. But I was so touched that my little girl even asked for such a party, for such sweet gifts, that I made every effort to make some of these wishes come true.

Puzzle: Walgreens to the rescue! They can make a puzzle out of any uploaded photo....yippie! We uploaded a beautiful scene of Our Lady holding the child Jesus, and even were able to write a Happy Birthday message on the puzzle. It came the day before her birthday, and she absolutely loved it.

Our local Catholic book store had a few Mary church books for children to choose fro…

Christmas Shopping 2009

So I was out this weekend shopping for Christmas. The traffic was crazy. The stores were packed. The lines were long. The shoppers were in a hurry. The cashiers, well, the cashiers were beaten down like I had never seen before.

I was at a Toy R Us, and after waiting a bit for an open cashier, I stepped up with my cart, looked up at my cashier. She said in a meek, defeated voice, "Hello". Her eyes were searching mine, looking for any sign of Christmas cheer. I stopped unloading, and met her eyes with mine. I said, "Hi. Merry Christmas!" Her face lit up like a Christmas tree, no joke. I asked, "How are things going, REALLY?"

Her face dropped again, "Oh, gosh, not well. People are so unhappy this year. I don't know why, but customers are not happy."

"Oh, geez, sorry to hear it. It's the wrong season for that," I replied to her. Her answer was interesting, "Yes, I know, isn't that ironic? The time of year to truly be happy, a…

Tiger Woods: Does Money Corrupt?

"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24
My HH got into an interesting discussion last night in regards to the recent scandal surrounding Tiger Woods. Unfortunately Tiger has joined the many other famous, wealthy individuals whose image conflicts with reality, and his lack of moral values has corrupted him, his wife, and children.
As my HH and I discuss the news worthy topics of the day while making dinner, I made the comment, "Well, goes to show, money corrupts."
My hubbie disagreed. And to a certain point, I understand why. I am sure there are just as many loyal, moral, extremely wealthy individuals out there, as I am sure there are just as many scandalous Tiger Woods out there, just with out the fortune. I guess I can see how extreme wealth CAN corrupt more easily than with out it. How easy was it for Tiger to have access to multiple women? How many assista…

Immaculate Conception

Today is a Holy Day, The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the Blessed Mother, Mary.

People often confuse this Holy Day, as they assume The Immaculate Conception refers to Christ's conception. Not so. Our Lady was conceived in St. Anne's womb with a perfectly clean soul, no original sin, immaculate so that even from her conception, God had prepared her to welcome Christ within her.

Isn't that beautiful? God prepared her soul, layed the groundwork, gave her the grace to ultimately bring our Lord into the world. Now, that's planning ahead! Thirteen or fourteen years later, He then came to her by way of an angel to present her with a plan.

I once heard a priest describe that moment where she is contemplating her fiat....and he describes all of heaven, angels and all, on the edge of their seat, biting their nails, eagerly anticipating her response. And of course as we all know, and celebrate in the Christmas season, she, having been prepared for this from the moment …

Advent Preparations: Kids Good Deed List

Advent

Yesterday, I committed to cutting what seemed like a thousand strips of little paper to look like hay for our manager....and on each slip of paper, a good deed is listed. And I thought if anyone out there is looking for a similar list - here you go....

Not only is this project meant to give the baby Jesus a soft place to lay in the wooden manger, it helps to prepare a delicate heart to welcome our Lord this Christmas.

And so without further ado....stop racking your brain to think of a good deed list...Here's one for you, and with small modifications could be perfect for your little ones!...You'll see some duplicates in there...

I am getting ready to welcome Baby Jesus into my heart….. I love you Baby Jesus and this is how I show you!

I love you Baby Jesus: Say “thank you to a teacher at school who helps you.
I love you Baby Jesus: Tell your mom what you like best about her.
I love you Baby Jesus: Be nice to someone who is hard to get along with.
I love you Baby Jesus: Stick up…

Who Is Among Us

Ok - I know, I know, by this title, you are probably wondering where I can go from here, right?

Well - today at mass, our little 18 month old son was literally pointing, laughing, and looking up towards tall windows in our church. Not just once, but several times, and for several minutes. Those behind us were convinced he saw something no one else could see....that our little guy saw an angel! In reality who knows, but here's what I do like about the whole scenario.

At times, things happen around us, that we just can't explain away. Things happen that can either test our faith, or strengthen it. We all have moments where it seems there is something else going on, besides just what we see. Part of me loves that the people sitting behind us, saw something today that strengthened their faith in angels....and that it was my youngest son that initiated it.

Sometimes we are on autopilot and really do miss those little things that happen to cross our path, those little things t…

Saying Goodbye.....Again

We knew the little critter was sick, our active little hamster became quite lethargic. Remembering how our last encounter went when dealing with death, I suggested we take it to the vet for some medical relief. I know what you must be thinking....a rodent to the vet? Well we did. If I could spend a few bucks to prolong this critters life and stave off the tears for a few more days, well, it was worth it. The vet did give us some medicine to include in the water bottle, and it probably gave us a few additional days to prepare everyone for impending doom.
We did something this time, in our effort to prepare the kids for yet another funeral in the backyard. We talked at length about impending death, and that death is apart of this world we live in. What do we teach our kids when we know death is imminent for something/someone they love? We prepared them to say good bye when the animal was still alive. They all got to hold him, pet him, feed him, and talk with him a bit before his death. …

When To Say When

Over the weekend we had the pleasure of going to Zing, Zang, Zoom - Barnum and Bailey's / Ringling's Circus. We have gone the past few years as a yearly tradition and the kids love the sensory overload of lights, sounds, tricks, animals, clowns and performances. I'd never gone as a kid, and I tell you, it truly IS the greatest show on earth.

While at the circus we had a big group sitting directly behind us, and over time, became more and more rambunctious, as the majority of the group were children, accompanied by a few adults.....all women (no dads, which you'll find interesting as you read on). Certainly the circus is about having a good time, but before long, the group directly behind us got out of control. I can handle others being loud. I can handle a few random kicks to my chair. I can handle all the distraction. What I can't handle is when my children are in the mix of their 'good time'.

It's hard to know when to say 'It's enough…

Finding Your Own Self Worth

I witnessed something a bit disturbing last night, and I thought it worthy for comment this morning as I iron out the crux of the matter mentally and learn from the experience. Honestly, I do think that we are meant to pay attention to what goes on around us, that we might learn something new, apply a new outlook on life, tweek a thing or two, flip an attitude around etc etc.
And so to that end, I find myself watching people....listening more than talking....picking up the non-verbal....and ultimately seeing people for who they are, not who I want them to be. It's not easy to see reality in this way. It sets us up for disappointment more times than not, as we are all human, prone to make mistakes here or there. But again, a lesson learned by using this technique is infinitely valuable....that you must accept people for who they are, not who you THINK they are, or who you want them to be. Acceptance can be difficult, but in difficulties, we find virtue.
Back to last night. I witness…

Facebook

Yikes. I've caved. I now have a facebook account. What have I done?
This phenomenon is beyond me. I've played around most of my morning on Facebook, and still can't see what's so exciting. I guess I need a bit of education to get it. Thanks HH, in advance!
So after all my lamenting of never joining a social networking site, I have joined one, and one might ask, what on earth led me to finally succumb. Well, being that my children rely on their parents for knowledge of the current world so that we might educate them....I felt it appropriate to have some experience with the hullabaloo of Facebook. I know many good Catholic families fear this tech age, and want only seclusion for their families and children....and I am sympathetic to this fear. It's in all of us. But if we are to truly send our children into the world ill-equipped to handle it, what are we doing as their parents? With a true education of these sites, the advantages and disadvantages, the pros and cons, t…

Oink

Ahhhhh, the dreaded swine flu. Now that I have experienced it, I understand how people have died from it. I definitely had moments when I thought it just couldn't get worse, and then it did, making me feel like the end was near.

Let me tell you, I like to be babied just as much as the next person, but when there is so much to do, and absolutely no energy to do it, I just got mad. I know, mad at who...right? Well, angry at this bug, to tell you the truth. For the first several days, I was more stubborn and refused to let this bug tug me down. I still kept up with the kids, and most other duties around the house....I did it all with such an attitude, like out of spite, I was telling this illness, 'You can't get me down!'

Well in hindsight, perhaps I pissed off the bug enough to take new refuge in my throat and lungs, and it sought to destroy what was left of my voice. While I attempted to keep going at full speed, I just wasn't getting any better. Once again,…

Pre-Teen, Already?

We all know that young girls in our society are expected to grow faster than their maturity level can handle. This isn't news. However, as a mother, seeing my nine year old deal with issues beyond her years, I want to cry. She is a carefree young girl, who still loves to swing in the back yard, color in a coloring book, and tell silly knock-knock jokes. She is full of love and life, a simplicity and innocence that I have long worked to keep intact for her sake.

New issues have arisen for her. Peer pressure to keep secrets from her parents has begun, at the possible peril of friendships. It breaks my heart. She is having to make a choice, between being honest with her mother, and possibly losing a dear friend. (Which of course, I retort, "What friend is it that makes her make that impossible choice! No friend at all!")

But again, let me stress, she's a loving carefree girl, who loves her girlfriends and told me last night, "Mom, I see the good in them." How Go…

Uggggghhhhh, the Flu

So the flu has hit our home. Thankfully the children are well, and only HH and I are sick, which I much more prefer even though painful for us.

I will say though, that sometimes it does take time to sit back and watch how empathetic children can really be. For a couple of days now, they have had to make their own lunches, most of their own breakfasts, as well as take care of their own backpacks, as I rarely find myself off the couch.

I tried to smile when they would come with a blanket to cover me. I tried to hug them back when they said good-night. I tried to laugh when they worked so hard to see me smile. I could only say a quick thanks when they made pictures for me to lighten my spirits. My oldest has taken over in a lot of ways, playing with the baby, putting on his coat and shoes and checking everyone'scubbie before school to see if they had forgotten anything.

I thank God for her, especially these last days, where I saw true empathy in them all, because of her example. …

Happy Feast of All Saints

In usual fashion we attended mass this morning and it was beautiful to ask the saints this day, of all days, to pray for us. As a mother, I was also comforted to hear some my own kids name sakes mentioned, and in a beautiful way, we remembered how we strive to live as they lived: with simple faith. How their little eyes lit up to hear their own name!

Our Pastor began his homily, and just as I thought Halloween was behind us, past and over for another year....he began to teach his congregation a reality that I just hadn't thought of, in regards to this holiday. Yikes - another blog post on this dreary holiday!

He began to discuss a misconception about Halloween. He stated that many people think that Halloween is in fact a Christian holiday, when the truth is that this holiday is actually the antithesis of Christianity. He went on to state that the ghoulish decorating and dressing up as the vampire, the monster, the slasher etc, was meant to scare people. In essence to spread …

Singing in the Rain, Opps, Raking in the Rain

I just saw what I can only call a Patriot.


We've had so many days of rain lately, it's starting to affect my state of mind. As humans, I do think, we need sunny days to keep the rainy blues at bay. Everyday, lately, I am coming up with something to do with the kids to make the day fun and enjoyable, as our time in the backyard is significantly decreased.


And so today, on our way home, in the middle of a downpour, in the middle of our subdivision, I saw a drenched man with no umbrella holding a rake. I said to the kids, can you see what he is doing in the rain? Then he proceeded to go up and down the street, using his rake to unclog the leaves from the gutters.

I was so impressed. Sometimes a small act of unknown charity on our part is exactly what God calls us to. He probably never thought some lady driving by would be so amazed by his simple act of kindness, but I did take that opportunity to explain to the van full of children, how beautiful even these little unseen acts truly…

Oh When The Saints.....

Go Marching In......

Well our four little saints began marching this morning, as the school celebrates All Saints Day and not Halloween. Before my very eyes, I saw my little ones transform into: St. Elizabeth of Hungary (basket of bread and all!), St. Michael the Archangel (sword, shield and wings), Our Lady of Guadalupe (with all her stars), and our 4 year old as Queen Esther.

They were thrilled to say the least, smiling proudly for the camera, and I snapped a few pictures. The children loved to hear the stories about their particular saint, loved to imitate the good deeds they had done. St. Elizabeth went about the house this morning, elegantly giving bread to all the imaginary beggars of the house. St. Michael, as you can expect, went about slaying evil creatures that crawl about. Our Lady gave hugs and "love yous" to anyone she encountered. And Queen Esther, with her royal crown and sparkle dress, simply told her subjects what to do, where to go, and how to live.

It was suc…

Halloween

So we aren't big on Halloween. Of course over the years my little ones have asked the all too difficult question of 'why' we don't celebrate this holiday and EVERY one else does.

Usually, a simple answer does the job, however just recently my 9 year old wouldn't let my simple answer go unexplained. So as we were running errands, just me and her, she quizzed my brain on the deeper reasons of why this holiday bothers me so much. And I guess over time, I hadn't thought so deeply on the subject.

Our conversation began with the topics of the things we celebrate, we have a party for, we decorate for, we bake a cake for, dress up for etc..... for someone's birth, to honor a Saint (St. Patrick's Day, St. Valentines Day)...., to be grateful for a New Year, celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, to experience life and the changing of the seasons that God gave us to enjoy and the list goes on.

Now, when we come to Halloween, what are we celebrating? What are we honori…

Eye to Eye Communication

How many times have you been having a conversation with someone, friend, spouse or family and just in the middle of a sentence (theirs or yours) they avert their eyes to their ipod, blackberry, laptop, phone or some other electronic device?

I tell you, it's the killer of a conversation. Non-verbally, the person who looks away, is telling you, this electronic device is more important than you, or what you are saying. Talk about advancement of technology invading our person to person relationships.

Now, I've got a cell phone, a laptop, an ipod. We own a TV, with a remote. I use many of the advancements of technology to make life easier, more manageable, organized and efficient. However, when is the use of these tech items truly ruining the relationships that we have worked so hard for?

How many times do we send an email instead of making a phone call? How often do we update our social networking page, instead of having a bbq with all our friends? How many times do we hope we get so…

Emotions and our Feminine Genius

I recently read a great article in the National Catholic Register, and I have copied below just a snip of it. They are interviewing Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, the director of the Institute for Martial Healing near Philadelphia. He specializes in helping married couples heal their relationships. He was been appointed as a consultant to the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. (Click on the title below to read whole article).

Growth in Self-Giving
What kind of work are you doing to promote traditional marriage?
We try to help couples understand that self-giving is the essence of marital love, and then we attempt to uncover their weaknesses and work to resolve them. We relate that if they want a happy marriage they need to have a healthy personality. Our approach is in the field of positive psychology, which focuses upon growth in virtues to strengthen the personality and to resolve emotional pain. Instead of just rehashing the past, we recommend the use of virtues to help people deal with their…

Hope

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

This is taken from today's (yesterday's) gospel reading, and it really struck me. One can get very supernatural when thinking and praying on Gospel words, however, in my daily grind of diapers, dishes and laundry, I often contemplate how can a mother apply these teachings in the practical ways.

It is easier at times to read or hear the gospel, and it all sounds so great. It all makes perfect sense, and we can even find times, when we are thinking of other people in our lives, 'bo…

Inspirationally Challenged

Is that even a word? Oh well, a good college education gone to waste, as I can't even tell anymore what might get that squiggly red line under my words in the spell check. What I am inspired by is my 7 year old son. He has some tough spelling words this week like: 'parallelogram' and 'neighborhood'. Yikes.

My HH is reading George Washington with him at night, and my son has been inspired to 'never give up', even in the face of challenging spelling words. Chuck one up to Catholic Education. Even in the face of discouragement, lessons are learned, virtue is found, and success can be achieved.

This morning, before school, he was going around the house, actually singing the letters for 'parallelogram'....and getting them right. I am so proud. Through his struggle with these hard words, and his wanting to quit, because in his words, "They have too many letters to remember" - He found something within him, that drive to succeed, that confidence th…

Innocence Lost & Our Vocation

I got into the most disturbing conversation a few days ago at a local store. I have gotten to know a few women who work there, and they love to see the children with me. I exchanged pleasantries with one of the women who work there, and suddenly she looked at my four year old, and with her eyes welling up, she said, "I miss those days, where the issues are easier to deal with." Thinking she was trying to be funny, I replied, "Well she IS only four. How tough can life be really?"

Then out of nowhere, she broke down. She began to tell me the struggles she is currently facing with her 13 year old daughter. The night before, her daughter decided to confide in her, and tell her she had begun bulimic behavior, to control her weight, and that now, she was scared of the consequences. Not only that, but her daughter is slowing slipping inside herself, losing her self esteem, confidence and the ability to say no to peer pressure.

And the kind of peer pressure is where this con…

Spilt Milk & The Power of Grace

Never take for granted the power of Grace. My hubbie and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary, and for quite a few years now, we renew our vows yearly on or around our anniversary. (With the odds 50/50, it just makes sense to get that Grace to keep on, keepin' on.) Yesterday was Sunday and we were up earlier than usual, got ready for mass and off we went. Our Deacon, who has frequently been the officiant of the renewal, takes us in the chapel next to the church, and with our children surrounding us, we renewed our vows...in good times and bad, in sickness and in health and all the rest. It was really beautiful to have our growing family around us, witnessing their parents re-commitment.
On our return home, we figured out plans for the rest of the day, letting the kids play outside while my HH and I watched Sunday afternoon football. As the day progressed, my son, who recently had croup - had a return visit of a nasty cough, with each time he took a breath. Evening dinner came and …

Saturday Morning Pancakes

So today is Saturday, and we all enjoy a family tradition, started quite a few years back....Saturday morning pancakes. It's been a long week, as it always is, and on Saturdays we allow for a break, a way to come back together in the first morning we can all enjoy together. No lunchboxes to fix, no bows to arrange in the girls' hair, no rushing out the door with a quick kiss from HH. It's just a lazy morning, with Saturday morning cartoons and my hubbie flipping those pancakes with expert ease.

It's really such a treat for the kids, and they get some Dad time which I know he loves after a hard work week. But I must confess - it's a treat for me too. I get to slowly meander out of bed, take a nice long hot shower, and take my time getting ready for the day. By the time I make it downstairs, the kids are finishing breakfast, and then my HH and I get to enjoy a lazy breakfast together, complete with tea and coffee, while discussing the plans for the day.

So in essence, …

Get Your Flirt On!

Ok, I admit, I like Dr. Laura more and more. I caught this video at a time when I needed down to earth inspiration....and it just might inspire you too....

Why is it that we stop our flirting with the love of our lives after we marry, or after a few years of marriage? Sometimes the little things of holding hands, a long loving stare, or a kiss when he least expects it keeps those home fires burning....

Why should the fun of dating end? Why not plan a lifetime of married flirtation to keep life fun, exciting and new? Ok, ladies I challenge us all, Let's GET OUR FLIRT ON!
Watch Dr. Laura in the below link for a few ideas, and you'll probably come up with a few of your own!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgybYd41okQ&feature=channel_page

Take that Grace and Run With It

We have a really nice, usually vacant, 24 hour adoration chapel near our home, and while I don't get there as often as I'd like, I happen to make a visit yesterday. At times, simply spending time there, gives me a clarity, a simplicity in my vantage point.
Yesterday, I went, and spent time as usual in His Presence, and then for some reason, I simply asked if there was anything He wanted to share with me. I suppose I got the sense I had left my laundry list of requests or ponderings at His feet, without truly knowing what He wanted to share with me, which I admit happens all too often.
No matter our current struggles, and/or our own meager human understanding of the situation, God can use our openness to Him, for a glimpse into truth.
And then, I got a flash, which I can only say was a grace given. I began to think of all the individuals along the path of Christ's last days....from the scene in the Garden, just being betrayed, yet still showing his compassion enough to mend …

Our Lady Made of Steel, Heart of Love

Today we visited Our Lady of the Millennium Statue at a nearby parish. Eight thousand pounds of Steel and Compassion, well, it took our breath away.

We picked our intentions and my HH led a prayer, as we all squinted up at her serene face: a mixture of strength, compassion and peace. It struck me at the moment we began to walk to our van, that truly she is our example of those mixed attributes God gives all women: the strength of steel, with the heart of love.

How often we find ourselves, as mothers, finding strength in the most unlikely places, and finding a way to rise to the surface. At times our tendency to rise, with the strength of a hundred men, forces us to cast aside our own femininity, our our softness. And in those moments, we can turn to Our Lady, ask for her lights, in how she remained compassionate, loving and kind, even in the most trying times. There is so much that can harden us, so much that attacks us, only IF we allow it to penetrate us. Consider the Blessed …

A Few Updates...

To sum it up:

The kids are over the croup, went to the doc....got medicine though didn't need it, simply let them breathe in shower steam for a while, and off to bed they went. Colds now are running rampant in our home, but the scary cough is history. Yippie!I have received a few kisses from my 18 month old now....and so has the oven door, our handheld mirror, any necklace I might be wearing, and a few other choice places of the house.... At least he now knows how to show affection!A few new boxes have shown up at the house.....my HH, in his undying desire to 'save the day', had purchased a handful of Lego motorcycles off of Ebay, the same day as the tragic *flush*.....looks like Christmas comes early this year.Son in 2nd grade begins memorizing Act of Contrition....big year for Sacraments....mentioned a white suit, and he cringed. We might go black.Lastly, the hamster is still dead, and I am checking the new one daily for signs of life.Guess that's it - family life kee…

Virtue: A Thing of the Past?

This morning with my eldest three in school, I decided to take the little two, ages 4 and 18 months to run a few errands. First we stopped to pick up some new PJs for my 8 year old and browse the sales. Next we went to pick up some groceries on our way home.

All went well, until the check out at Dominick's. The cashier asked if my 4 year old would like a sticker for her good behavior. I looked at my little girl, wide-eyed and thrilled at the prospect, and said she may have ONE sticker. The cashier then gave her the little prize, but the smile on her face quickly turned to sadness as she had other plans in mind. She said she wanted more stickers. I said clearly, No. One is good enough. Then my toddler decided to display a grand performance, a tantrum using even real tears….it would have earned her an Oscar for sure. The cashier, quickly grabbed a few more prizes for her, and said, “Here.” I said no again, and informed the cashier that my little girl needed to learn gratitude for the…