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Showing posts from 2011

A Christmas Tradition - Oplatki

Most Polish will know this one, this thin wafer symbolizing a long standing, tradition done at Christmastime: Oplatki.  Ever since the very first Christmas that I spent with my dear HH's family, I have lived this familial tradition, and with it, stages of my own emotional reaction to it.

For those of you interested in incorporating something new into your Christmas, this tradition begins with a rectangle shaped wafer, usually having some image of the Nativity on the surface.  Each person breaks off a small piece of another's while at the same time wishing or praying for some grace or virtue for God to bestow upon them. 

My husband's family has always included some additional feature to this process, just prior to a prayer or wish, is the recognition of some gift the other has....something admirable.  In teaching my children how to participate each year, we remind them, "Say something you love about them, then what you wish for them, and then break a piece off and eat…

Small Successes Friday

Yes, it's almost Christmas....two days away, and so much has been done in preparation, but I still need Small Successes as they remind me the why and how.  With each small victory, it all adds up, one at a time, small chunks into one huge WIN!

1.)  Made Christmas candies and goodies.

2.)  Taught budgeting lesson to four oldest children and helped them wrap.

3.)  Did laundry.

In Progress:

4.)  Christmas outfit discernment.

Have some to share.  Go here!  And Merry Christmas to you!

Best Line of the Week - Christmas Edition

After teaching a budgeting lesson to my oldest four children.....

Mom:  So, after you all spent your piggy bank money to buy some gifts, what have you learned about Christmas shopping?

Knight: IT'S EXPENSIVE!

Mom:  Yes, good point.  Anyone else?

Thinker:  You have to be smart in what you are buying.

Entertainer:  That it's hard to spend the money!

Mom:  Yes, that's right too.  Anyone else?

Serious:  That I love my family more than I love money.

A Soft Place to Land

A recent conversation with a fellow school Mom had me thinking....

She said, while she may be stressed out, overwhelmed at the Christmas season and all that she must do to be prepared, she insisted that her goal is and has always been, to be a "soft place to land".

I nodded in agreement as I understand how this month can get a tad crazy, and it IS overwhelming to ensure all in the home, not only understand the miracle of Christmas, but to bring to life all the nuances that create those special Christmas memories.

She said, even in the craziness, she knows what her family still needs, and it's a place to come home to that is love, that is acceptance, that is comfort.  Her "soft place to land" was her home, was her own softer demeanor, her own love and willing arms to comfort.

I sat and thought about that for a while. 

Am I a "soft place to land" for my family to come home to?  Am I accepting of who they are, willing to embrace even the weaknesses that…

A Birthday Trifecta

Oh, how my mind imagines such a joyful Advent, such a time of waiting, anticipating and hearing the carols to bring my mind into the Christmas Season.  I can picture leisurely afternoons of decorating Christmas cookies and enjoying every minute of the painstakingly long process of decorating the house, each tinsel thread so delicately hung with care.  I imagine the excitement building as my husband and I sit by the fire, telling stories to our children of the coming Baby Jesus. 

I see it all, so perfectly calculated in my mind's eye, and yet, I am always surprised when it doesn't happen just so.  The past three weeks of Advent, have been rushed, crossing things off a to-do list, and one by one, realizing there just isn't enough hours in the day to accomplish it all.

It is a busy month, there is no doubt.  The long lines in the stores prove the point, that we all scurry here and there to accomplish all our set out goals for Christmas.  This month for us, we celebrate two o…

Small Successes Thursday

So, I typed up three different blog posts and haven't been back to insert a pic or hit that darn 'publish' button.  I think I'll stick to Small Successes, today:  it's short and sweet and perfect for the craziness that December always brings.  Count them up folks, our small wins do add up.

1.)  Found "Guest At The Inn" costume for Thinker and three "Shepherd" costumes for my kiddos Christmas production.  Filtering through Halloween goul to find a guest and shepherds was depressing to say the least....but done in time.  Woo - hoo!

2.)  After gaining a few for Thanksgiving treats, lost them again with a disciplined diet, no time for exercise as of late.  All set for Christmas candies and cookies!

3.) Suffered through a series of migraines, couldn't sleep, eat or think.  So what's the success?  I figured out the problem and am working to fix it.  A debilitated Mom  =  A debilitated Family.

In Progress:
4.)  Finding quiet time to prepare mys…

First Sacrament Emboldens

My Little Serious just had her First Reconciliation Tuesday night, and while we've been through this before with two older children, something new hit me this time as we waited for her turn to reconcile herself and her soul with God.

This Sacrament, so beautifully timed in a child's life, is probably going to be the first they remember, as Baptism usually happens while they are still babies.  Reconciliation, timed in the 2nd grade, not only has the spiritual dimension of the cleansing of the soul, which I in no means am minimizing...it also brings the children closer into the Church, closer into the community of Faith as well as face to face with the reality of their mistakes.  It affects the whole Church, and while they might not see it, this Sacrament starts the steps of children taking the charge over their own soul. 

Parents will guard the innocence and dignity of this little person for so long, for my Serious almost 8 years now, and while I fully understand my job is not…

Thanksgiving 2011

So many times, I find myself writing a post on gratitude, and how perfect that once again, I sit to type out something and it revolves around this mysteriously hidden virtue, right at the perfect holiday:  Thanksgiving. 

Most of today, was bliss, truly.  School is out, projects are complete, and today, I became reacquainted with my kitchen.  I just couldn't stop myself.  It was is if my Stove and I were long lost friends that I got the chance to sip some tea with and re-live the past few months, laugh and finally settle past neglect, with new vigor and resolve to never allow the busy world to come in between us again. 

So I pushed my old friend today, The Stove and my KitchenAid, for Thanksgiving treats and kid friendly deserts in preparation for the big day of gratitude.  The kids played board games, Babe even made domino's to knock down all the while accompanied by squeals of glee.  It was a day to come back together, as for a while now, we've gone our separate ways, p…

Just a Thought for the Day

"...the most frequent obstacle to grace is a lack of forgiveness.  Forgiving our enemies is possibly the hardest Gospel precept.  We must forgive with our whole heart, leaving all resentment behind; pray for those who harmed us; and take the first step toward reconciliation.  These are hard tests of our resolve."

"Today's permissiveness has clouded many consciences, especially on this topic.  Someone else may be carrying the weight of former grave sins, for which they have insufficiently repented or made reparation, even though the sins were confessed (for instance, abortion).  These, and more, are obstacles to divine grace and block the progress of liberation."

author:  Amorth

Small Successes Thursday

What?  Am I on the right day this week?  See, miracles do happen everyday!  Here's what's been keepin' my feet movin'.

1.)  Did final revisions on a printing project.  Should be complete by tomorrow.  What a relief!

2.)  Read two chapters of a book.  A good book.  Made me think of how God has really blessed this family of ours, and challenged me to not complain of the little things.

3.)  Exercised.  That's huge, I've fallen off the wagon in my workout routine.

In Progress:
4.)  Really, by now, I am sure you can guess it.  Laundry.

Small Successes are hosted by Chocolate for Your Brain, stop over!

Human Touch in a High Tech World

I had something happen the exact day my Thinker had something happen at school.  It was almost like daughter imitating mother for a while there, and the whole thing gave me pause, as if God, in His wisdom, had orchestrated the whole thing in order to teach me such a valuable lesson.  That yes, indeed, my children do watch me, they do learn from me and I have a responsibility to stay consistent with what I teach them.  Do as I preach.  Yikes.  These kids test me.

Emailing is quite a modern advancement that at times, I admit I lean on too often.  It keeps me from engaging in long conversations, that I have no time for anyway.  It keeps me focused, on target and getting my to dos done.  I've seen recently that I need to take more time for calls, that's tough, however, I do see how relationships advance quicker and smoother when there is a voice on the other line or a face to see.

In a moment of frustration I sent a cranky email.  I even at the end, said so!  And then justified my…

Small Successes Thursday

Time to count up those little victories.  They add up to one BIG win!

1.)  Handed over three projects I was managing.  Yes.  Three.  Trained and passed them on.  It's bitter sweet, but now have more time for my little Babe.

2.)  Witnessed God working in another's life.  It was surreal.  You rarely see moments where people are overwhelmed at God's mercy and love.

3.)  Helped four kids do art and photography projects for school art contest.

In Progress:

4.)  Finishing one more project this week for final printing next week. My plate is finally clearing off.

Small Successes are hosted at Chocolate for Your Brain.  Head over and share your own!

Facebook Apologies

I tell you, over the years, I have had my issues with Facebook.  In this world of ours, it seemed to only facilitate narcissism, online bullies and inappropriate dialog.  I am the first skeptic and will probably be the last.  However, a recent event on Facebook has me rethinking things a bit.

Back in my college days, I had my fair share of roommates....and when I think of it, I never really did have one good one out of the six or so I went through.  My roommates were neither friends nor friendly for the most part, and while they were consumed with parties, drinking and boys, my mind was on the love of my life, finishing college so I could marry him.  My life during college years was more goal-oriented, and driven.  Theirs was not.  I have thought and prayed for these women over the years, hoping that God in His wisdom will look after them, and guide them to where He wants them to be.

And that was it. I let it all go.  I let go the late night parties in my apartment.  I let go the hour…

Finding Balance - Openness with Prudence

Every mother, I have this sneaky feeling, has trouble finding balance in her daily life.  Working mothers, SAHM mothers, or Work from home mothers, all find themselves walking this fine line.  Am I giving enough to this child or that one?  Am I giving enough to my work (whatever work that might be)?  Am I giving enough to my husband?  If I give this whole morning to this activity, have I neglected something else just as important?  Rarely are we considering ourselves....am I somehow, giving something to my own soul so I might be refreshed to tackle all these questions one more time tomorrow morning.

For some mothers, they never consider themselves, they give and they give, to their own detriment, as they slowly but surely find themselves completely voided, and unable to give anymore as they haven't tended to themselves on any real level.  And tending to themselves doesn't mean complete neglect of everything else, it doesn't mean a kind of selfishness that leaves everything…

All Hallows Eve 2011

Over the weekend, I was on my search to find All Saints Day costumes for the kiddos, as at their Catholic School, they celebrate All Saints and not today, Halloween. 

So I have done my Halloween rants in the past, and I don't care to revisit them.  Everyone has an opinion on Halloween, some love it, some hate it.  Personally I have come to accept it's just apart of our culture to celebrate this day, and most people really don't look to the meaning behind it.  Is that a bad thing?  Well, I don't know.  I just prefer the ugly faces to not be in front of my kids, where nightmares will surely visit later.

So on to All Saints....something did strike me at a Party Store to find accessories for my four miniature saints.  We have this year:  Saint Queen Katherine of Hungary, Blessed Mary Kiota, Saint Martin of Tours and lastly Blessed Kateri.  My little Babe will participate as a NASA astronaut, as I am sure one of those men became a Saint at some point.  (Hey, we are making …

Small Successes Friday

Yes, I am on the wrong day.  In this journey of life, I am realizing it's not perfection we seek for ourselves, only that we make a sincere effort when we can with how much we have at our disposal, that really matters.  So here we are, counting those little victories.

1.)  Managed our hot lunch program this week at school.  Filled in for another Mom who was on vaca.  Realized the fun in just getting to know other hot lunch Mom volunteers!

2.)  First week of exams for 5th grade Thinker.  Studied with her every day.  She's such a hard worker and determined spirit that refuses to give up.  Love that.

3.)  Am finding moments of peace in a week of chaos.  That's more than a small success and so deserves mention.

In Progress:

4.)  House cleaning, need I say more?

Small Successes are now hosted over at Chocolate for Your Brain, head on over if you have a few to share!

Best Random Moment of the Weekend

Thinker and I went on a girls shopping adventure and in the car, some very interesting things were discussed in regards to her girlfriends...

Mom:  I am so glad that you have found a nice group of girlfriends.  They all seem so nice.

Thinker indifferent:  Yep, they are.

Mom:  It isn't always easy to find good friends who can stick up for each other.

Thinker:  What do you mean?
Mom:  Well, sometimes, girls your age will either be in a bully group, or in a group that gets bullied.  And that's a tough choice.

Thinker:  Why is that a tough choice?

Mom:  Well, you know it's wrong to bully someone, and it hurts a lot to be bullied by someone else.  You see, either way, it's no fun.

Thinker:  Hum....

Mom:  Imagine if you had to pick between two groups like that, which would you choose?

Thinker:  If I was in the bully group, would they make me tease and hurt other kids?

Mom:  It usually works that way. Yep.

Thinker:  Well, then of course, I'd be in the other group.

Mom:  E…

Great Video!!

Authenticity and Trust

Somehow, events as they are erupting around me, lended itself to yet another venue of public speaking. While, I am getting a tad more comfortable, I realized the need for authenticity in all these moments of private relationship building, and at the public presentation level too.

People can tell, I don't know how, but they can tell how real you are, in a private setting and in public ones. They can see right through you sometimes, and an "act" is obvious. An "act" is never received well, as it subtly tells someone, you aren't comfortable sharing the truth of yourself.....and the reasons for that could be many. Perhaps you aren't okay with who you are. Perhaps you are telling the other person, you aren't ready to share that deep of a dimension yet. Perhaps you are nervous, uncomfortable, stressed, tired or unhappy. The subtleties of an "act" are so vast, that someone observing you, might get the wrong idea...or the right one, that you distr…

Photo Fun - Camping Style

Small Successes Thursday

Ok, time to add up those little victories...it's good to see how little things with great love really do make a difference!

1.)  Went on spontaneous camping trip with awesomely colored leaves, great trails with over looks, smores, campfire, massive 7 person tent and yes, porta-potties.  Best quote of the trip: From my little Entertainer, age 6, as I come out of the porta, she looks up at me, after having used it herself first, and asks rhetorically, "How'd ya like that potty?"

2.)  Food was low.  Grocery shopping done yesterday.  Enough said.

3.)  Bought huge calendar to keep track of kids' homework, tests and project due dates.  Giving them a little independence, as they must put their due date on there for me to see!

In Progress:

4.)  Going to parish Mom's group this morning!  Looking forward to meeting new Moms.

Have some to share?  Head over to Chocolate for Your Brain where it's now hosted!

Allowing God To Work

So blogging is slow.  I knew it would be.  There is too much on my plate.  There are women in my path looking for answers, and I'm seriously doubting in my abilities to do it all.  I am taking this moment, this right now moment, to take it in, to take in the little things God is permitting me to witness, to watch, to counsel and to advise. 

Today was the Living Rosary at our Catholic School.  My daughter having a significant reading part in the Living Rosary was all the necessary push I needed to attend and participate.  I do enjoy it, as each decade is said in a different language showing such a universality of our Mother Church.  Today was no different.  I thoroughly loved hearing the different ways to say "Hail Mary, full of grace" and "Our Father".  It was surreal to hear it over and over again, not understanding the majority of the languages spoken, yet, still knowing what was said, and responding in English the second half.  It was beautiful.

During the …

The Black Walnut Grenade

There is a blending that happens between a husband and his wife.  He has his traditions from his upbringing and she has hers.  Both are valid, good, meaningful and important.  Decisions must come when picking and choosing which, if not all, will be continued on into their newly made family.
It's work to blend so perfectly into the family you see yourselves as.  It takes conversation, compromise and understanding to make this newly made family what God would have it. 

HH and I are no different.  While we recently celebrated our 14th anniversary, I thought back to the many times we disagreed on which traditions, from which family we would continue on in our own childrens' lives.  It wasn't easy.  Nor should it be.  God depends on both spouses to work effectively and in unity to uphold old family traditions, and/or make new ones for your children.

I admit, it is something quite special to tell stories of my childhood years of my own grandparents doing this or that, and how s…

Best Random Moment

In the van on our way to renew our vows....

Dad:  I expect good behavior in church today.  I am going to ask Mom to marry me again.

Kids:  Oh Dad!  She already married you.

Dad:  I know, but I am going to ask her to do it again!

Serious:  Why again, isn't once enough?

Mom:  Yes, of course, once is enough, but every year, we ask God to bless us and help us to be a good husband and a good wife, and good parents.

Serious:  What would happen if you said 'no' when Daddy asked again?

Mom:  Oh, I would never say 'no' to Dad.  I love Dad.

Serious:  Oh, I know THAT.  Just what would happen?

Mom:  Honey, I don't want to find out.  I'm not going to say 'no'.  Why would I? 

Serious:  Well, in case you change your mind.

Mom: I don't change my mind about Dad.  He's for me, for always.

Small Successes Thursday

Time to celebrate these little ways we are generous with others....it all adds up!

1.  Made trip up north to visit Grandmother again.  Read about it here.  She's a gem.

2.  Celebrated 14 years of marital bliss.  That number doesn't seem real.

3.  Making new school Mom friends.  We really aren't all that different after all.

In Progress

4.  Take a guess.  Yep, laundry.

Small Successes are hosted now, at Chocolate for Your Brain....great blog title right?  Head over!

Awesome God in my tiny hands

Have you ever had to deliver Christ in the Eucharist to someone who could not walk themselves to receive? 

I tell you, what a humbling experience.  You'd think over the years, perhaps everyone would have this type of responsibility for some reason or another.  But alas, not everyone has, as I certainly had never had this privilege, until just yesterday.

Sitting next to my 89 year old Grandmother, unable to walk comfortably up the aisle, she leaned in to whisper in my ear, "Honey, bring me Communion, will you?"

Of course, my response was a head nod, while inside my head was spinning as to how to practically manage my own receiving and yet request another.  I simply walked up the aisle and mentally went through the steps of how to politely request this additional Body of Christ for my ailing Grandmother.  In the exact moment after I made my request to the Priest, I was overcome, as I looked down at these two pieces of Our Lord.

I received mine and then, I looked down to s…