Friday, March 28, 2014

Glorious Day

Isn't every day glorious when you wake up? Yes, I'm channeling Bill. It's a great day!

Miss C refused, as is her practice, to let me get any sleep before my 3 AM shift at Adoration. Still, I felt somewhat rested (as I was resting, if not sleeping, since 10 PM) and the earlier wake up allowed me to check some email.

I received two emails from ladies who could use prayer so I actually had names and situations today! Yay! (Speaking of, please keep praying for Christine. She's a couple days late now and I would imagine that's nerve-wracking.)

I got to Adoration and finally, finally, got the spot directly in front of the monstrance. I know this seems petty, perhaps it is, it's not like you're talking to God's back if you're looking at it from behind. Still, I got to see that the Eucharist does, as I suspected, have an imprint on the front. Of course, it took me about 5 minutes to figure out it is the outline of the Lamb of God (I didn't realize because it's sideways).

I had to smile. Here is God, present for us, and we turn Him on His head practically. Oh, humanity.

It was humbling to pray the sorrowful mysteries while kneeling before the exposed Eucharist and directly under the crown of thorns (I'm telling you - go! It's an amazing place!)

Anyway, the pouring rain that was supposed to happen looks like it's only starting now which was another blessing (along with the 50 degree weather this morning!).

The wind is more lion than lamb but I love it. If you can't see God's power in Creation during this weather, I'm not sure you're looking at it right.

OK. I am tired so I'll spare you my rambling. It is Friday. Sunday is Rose Sunday (I can't spell it and spellcheck doesn't recognize it - go figure) so, be happy...only a little bit more!

Hope to see some of you Thursday morning at 40 Days. For the rest, please pray for us.

We are blessed!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm in a mood...

in case you hadn't noticed... ;0p

I used to just stew in my mood ("sit with it" as the "good" doctors would say) but now I at least try to rectify the situation by doing what I can. So, I started walking on the treadmill and then I started jogging. Don't know why but I get no good endorphins from walking. Anyway, I also prayed the first two decades of my rosary but I find I will run off the side of the treadmill when I do that so I switched to music. Ahhh, I have missed this in the last 8+ weeks.

My mind still being in the "offering it to God" phase, though, caused me to listen to lyrics in a Catholic-inspired tone. You have no idea how many lyricists must be Catholic! (yes, I'm joking...pretty much.)

Safety Dance...Men Without Hats

...We can go where we want to
A place where they will never find



















And we can act like we come from out of this world














Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance



[Refrain]
I say, we can dance, we can dance
Everything's out of control




















We can dance, we can dance
We're doing it from Pole to Pole


















We can dance, we can dance
Everybody look at your hands



You get the idea.

So, there is another million-hit video spoof I won't be making ;0) At least it got my mind off of things and back to where they belong. After all, the blogs that were troubling me, along with my own issues of stress and pain, they're all pretty much first-world problems. How grateful I am when the Holy Spirit pulls me back to realize how very blessed I am. How blessed we are as a nation. With that, of course, come responsibilities for remembering our blessings and helping those with less.

“America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, …then America, defend life.” - Pope John Paul II

Just a thought...

"This world is filled with many vulgar and dishonorable things that will claw and tear at your Christian purity if you allow them to. Don’t let them! Seek instead the things of God. He will purify you and free you from your slavery to profane and inconsequential things."-- Patrick Madrid

This was on my daily prayer feed and it came at a really good time.

I've been pretty troubled at some of the things I'm reading/seeing on blogs lately and it's really causing me to become even more worried about society. I can understand people who are "out there" already but the troubling thing is that now this is coming from people who, at least once-upon-a-time, I considered pretty much with the program.

When did it become "funny" to post photos of kids in dangerous situations (when did it become proper to not only put your child in that situation but to then take and post a photo for the world to see?)? DH looked at it and said, "I bet the people who duck taped their kid to the wall thought it was funny as well".

I think, during Lent, it's more troubling for me to see so many people (I include myself on many days) completely missing out on the "offering it up" option. Yes, there are things happening that we can't plan/don't work out the way we want/don't meet our standards (me included). I see more and more people overwhelmed with worry because they can't control something. Please, I beg you, think about someone other than yourself and imagine what good you can do by offering your pain/inconvenience/whatever. God is in control. Do what you can then leave it to Him.

I'm starting now. I'm being "clawed and torn" too much lately. I guess I have to stop reading blogs altogether for a while because, frankly, it's getting me down. I thought I was safe with a few but clearly that was incorrect thinking. Those who are tangential to me are indeed inconsequential. If they're not helping me toward Heaven (they are not) they can probably only move me in the opposite direction.

So, I'm going to walk and pray a rosary now. I'm praying for you, reading or not, and hoping this bit of disheartened prose doesn't bring you down. I know I worry too much. I also know all of this "public sharing" isn't helping us to raise up one another or build a more civil society. I also know that God is in control and, if we would just remember to turn to Him (often through His Mother) all things would come to good. We are blessed.

 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Family Day

After an evening spent at a fish fry and Slovak dance practice, we woke up late and decided to make it a continuation of family time. The kids don't have a lot of activities and I am so thankful for that. It enables us the freedom to decide to pack a lunch and enjoy the day with some of our favorite hairy beasts.










I hope you all shared the day with someone you love. We are blessed!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five on Friday - Whiny edition

People I am t-i-r-e-d...whew. I think God was worried because He worked a whole bunch of badly timed appointments to make it impossible for DH to go to work today. I still can't take a nap but at least he was the nursery/kindergarten teacher this morning...something for which I had zero energy. So, even though I'm whining, I still know I'm blessed ;0)

1. Where is the "home" in my "homeschool"?
 
We stayed at home on Monday because of some nasty colds but the rest of the week has been crazy-making... I have to be sure not to schedule it like this again.
 
Tuesday: Catechesis in the AM then visiting out-of-town (now in-town) friends at the Science Center

 
 
Wednesday: Tiny Tots...all five. I'm so happy for my older two when we're in that situation. It is much harder leaving them behind.
He insisted on jumping up out of his chair to applaud each time. Cutie.

Thursday: Thomas Edison musical in the AM (in MARS!) and Science Center Camp in the PM

No pictures from the Science Center. They were discussing polymers and made shrinky dinks. Cool.

Friday: Groceries, little flowers, boys to Grammys. You would think this would allow me to have more done (having my teacher's assistant on hand) but for whatever reason, it's not happening.

Saturday:  Hopefully joining the millions of people to meet Daniel Tiger in person. Priceless.

2. Having DH home
 
I know it would never work because he would get less than zero work done but, man, I love having this guy around. Sometimes I play the lottery in the hopes that, if I win, he could do consulting part-time or something (I would never ask him to quit working completely...he loves it so). I wonder if he wants to play TA full-time next year when little man gives up his nap and nothing school-related can happen with less than 2 adults. Hmmm.
 
3. Suffering
 
I spent some time with a friend yesterday, trying to be supportive for a current cross in their family's life. It's such a hollow feeling - I never feel like I can do anything to help. I wish so much that I could lift their burden; change what's happening. Ugh. Then today I get an email from that same person:
We're praying for the grace to continuing uniting this cross with our Lord's, and not to waste this gift of suffering, but today has been tough. Rejoice always...give thanks in all circumstances.
I am so incredibly blessed to know these people. What an amazing demonstration of living out our faith. I am so far behind on this one. What a beautiful trust they have.

 4. Adoration
 
I used to have the 3-4 AM shift every Thursday at the Oratory in Oakland. I stopped when I had G but I really miss that time alone with Our Lord. So, when our parish began a one-day-per-week, 24-hour Adoration time, I fell back into my old slot. I'm not sure how I did that week after week but it is kicking my behind right now. This, by far, is the greatest gift for me to offer up because it is SO difficult. This morning I kneeled in front of the monstrance (have you been to our chapel? you should go...when you kneel, the Eucharist is about 10 inches from your face). Anyway, I just stared at it and asked for help and healing for all those in need. I had no names to name, no specific situations to entrust (I was reallllyyyyy tired). I love that you can do that and God is just so happy that you are there. I will never run a marathon (at this point, a 5K looks a little iffy) but this is my marathon. I do it because I need to wake up my faith life in a way that no retreat or book can. I need to physically commit. It is so worth it.
 
5. It's FRIDAY, y'all!
 
Of course you know that means FISH FRY!!! I do wish they had these all year-round. I love them so. I love to go to different parishes and partake in each version. Tonight we're headed East to the nun's parish. Hopefully we'll see her. If not, the people there are more than welcoming. Mmmmm...can't wait for a little cod to come my way :0)
 
 
Wishing you all a blessed weekend and continuation of a fruitful Lent (if you haven't, start now!). Please keep Christine in your prayers for a healthy happy delivery. She is due on the 25th with #3. I am rejoicing in her upcoming birth since, had Bernadette not been too perfect for Earth, she would have arrived around now as well. Fresh babies are the best.
 
In the car on the way to Tiny Tots:
 
Me: You should start praying for Mrs. S...she is due on the 25th.
Them: THE 25TH????That's NEXT WEEK!!! We better hurry up!
 
I love those little people. They can be so selfless at times. I am blessed.



 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feast of St. Joseph

I'm back...don't you love two-for-one days? It's kind of a special day...the Feast of St. Joseph. One of the two non-Sundays in Lent that you can "break your fast and FEAST"! This is especially pertinent for #1 who gave up desserts for Lent. She was very happy to see this day arrive.

It also happens to be DH's feast day. Of course St. Joseph, as the foster father of Our Lord, makes a great patron for any father.  DH's "official" name/patron day is Easter so we give him an extra party for St. Joseph's Day - because we love him and he's an awesome caretaker/father/husband (turns out it's a huge day in Italy as well so, double bonus).

I asked what he wanted for dinner and he answered Lime Chicken with Lentils. Ooohhh. I don't think I've made that since we had fewer than two kids but, wow, it's awesome! I love when the feastee picks something that I like as well.

Apparently, in Italy, dessert is a big deal (being a feast and all) and one go-to item is the cream puff. Who knew they were this easy? Look it up on the Internet! Easier, by far, than pie. Water, butter and salt in a pan, form a dough, add eggs, bake, and you have these luscious creme vessels.
 
Whip up some powdered sugar and heavy cream, make a pastry bag out of a storage bag...yum, yum and yum! (note - the Italian ones are made with ricotta filling...Alas, Sunoco does have whipping cream but does not have ricotta cheese...go figure.)
 

Having these within eyesight made even the pickiest little person at least try the main course. No extra cooking for mom! It's like a feast day all my own :0) The kids loved them. This guy was kind of astonished he got one all to himself.


 
After dinner we decided to give holy hour a go. #2 was back to his old obstinate self, Blondie was oblivious to the Monstrance and exposed Eucharist on the altar and tiny man...well, let's just say his language is bursting forth - look at the crucifix, scream "Jesus" a few times; see the deacon on the altar, "Father" a few more times; what's that? a candle? "Blow, blow, blow". After DH took him out, I clearly heard "Happy Fist Day You" and "Holy Water" quite clearly...that second one is completely new.
 
So, the parenting odyssey continues. I hope my beloved had a little extra grace from St. Joseph and managed to smile at his blessings (loud though they be). I knew we were in the right place when, looking up just before we entered the church we saw this
 


Happy Feast of St. Joseph, everyone! We are so very blessed!


So, it finally happened

Last Tuesday evening I was sitting in the living room with the three little ones when the two older kids came home from Jr. Tamburitzan's practice. The younger of the two wailing inconsolably and the elder saying, "Why can't we be normal? Why can't we do what normal families do?" (Truth be told, she knows the answer so I think she was just demonstrating some good empathy at that moment.)

I couldn't not giggle. I couldn't. I was astonished that, at 6-and 8-years-old they haven't been around long enough to "get it" but I was very happy for the learning moment as it was presented.

Turns out, on this particular occasion, he was feeling mighty jealous that one of his buddies at Tammies had a phone on which to play Angry Birds (Turns out it was his mom's phone not his but, just the same, good practice for the next time he's out in everyday society and needs a better response. I have no doubt there are 6-year-olds who have their own phone.)

First we discussed the kindness that was shown by said friend by letting said child play/look on in the first place. Then we did some damage control (dad is very overworked these days and responded a bit more abruptly than was probably necessary).

1. You don't have a phone because, at 6, you don't need one. Ask the same question for the next 8 years and you will receive the same answer. If, when you enter high school, you are riding public transit and the possibility arises that you may need to reach us in an emergency, we will revisit this issue.

2. Don't ask for a Kindle/equivalent because the answer will always be the same. If you want to read a book, pick it up and read. We have one of the most amazing library systems in the nation and, oh yeah, the books are FREE. If you want one to play games? Same answer. If you want to play a game, get out the chess board or soccer ball. Actually I do have a controller with the 80's games...perhaps that will come out on occasion when Lent has passed.

I know this begs for "just wait and see when they're older" and so I will. I know, though, that my husband has a quiet insistence about him that will pretty much insure the outcome even on my weakest day. The kids have laptops to share and are permitted to use them for schoolwork or to play on select educational sites and that's it. Yes, that makes us decidedly not normal. I'm good with that.

I was going to write this post last week when it happened but I'm glad I waited. Today we were in town for Tiny Tots and I decided (really? do you think we take a vote? remember...not normal) that we should go early and walk down to the 40 days vigil to pray for the mommies/babies/doctors a bit first. It was such a blessing because there was a group of people who traveled 90 minutes to get there; among them three very elderly nuns.

I wish I could say my kids all line up, rosaries in hand, and begin to pray. That's not the way it works. #3 has decided he's done with the vigil entirely and stands in stony silence. #4 plays with her rosary and manages to drop it on the ground at least once per decade. #5 looks very cute for the first 15 prayers then you really need to have snacks on hand or it goes downhill quickly.

However, my two elder children (yes, even #2!) managed to stand and pray their way through 3 decades. I think they sense when evil is stronger and try to step up and work hard. Whatever the reason, when I looked up, I saw the face of one of the nuns (she was likely in her mid-80's). The smile on her face was a little bit of Heaven amidst those dark surroundings. She was smiling at my son and I hope, at that moment, whispering a prayer for he and I to have the grace to do God's will.

Walking back to the symphony I realized something important about my Lent. It's good to sacrifice meals or give up yelling for a while. The real conduit for my spiritual change, however, is other people. I took the kids to the vigil to continue our discussions about praying for others, especially those who are in a place where they're not seeing God so clearly and instead listening to society. The grace, however, flowed from that dear Sister's face. We were there for her. We were there to help her have strength that all of her life's work was not in vain. We were there to show her that the Church will go on (with God's help, of course) in this next generation.

I'm not prideful enough to expect that all my kids will fall in line with my hope that they each choose a religious order and tidily join at the ripe age of 16 ;0) Still, my husband and I will keep praying and educating and opening them up to experiences that help them see the "normal" of society isn't often the most pleasing to God.

Are we like "normal" families? Well, I guess it depends on who you ask. We are normal for our family and that, for us, is the most important thing.

St. Joseph, Pray for Us!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Got Green?

Haven't posted in a while so I'm checking in. I feel like we've been doing a lot of good stuff around here for Lent. Giving up a little; doing a lot more; praying regularly. I won't say more in case someone reads this and feels competitive...very non-Lent, you know ;0)

Anyhoo. Happy St. Patrick's Day! My DH's mother claims some small bit of Irish blood but, otherwise, we are fresh out around here. Still, I hate to miss a chance to add food coloring to my food...the kids LOVE that! So, I chopped up the leftover meatloaf, threw in a bunch of veggies, colored the leftover mashed potatoes green and voila, shepherd's pie...Irish Style!

(this is pre-baked...aren't the little potato shamrocks, roses, blobs darling?)
I'm sure all of the Irish out there are now shaking their heads. That's OK, it's not the most important thing.



That would be Brussels Sprouts! (only for me - roasted with garlic and salt...man are those yum! The potatoes aren't included today - old picture.) The boys will eat kale. The girls will eat kale in their "St. Patrick's fruit smoothie" - they think the color is from kiwi and since I can't hear from the kitchen, there is no way I can correct their false belief.

Wish I had some avocado around to make some pudding! LOL. No luck. Guess we'll just have chocolate.

Actually none of the food is the important thing, it's this:

 
First tooth gone! I love when they do it on major occasions (last day of preschool, trip home from the beach) because that means even I will remember for a while. He and his sibs are out there watching My Time with Jesus on EWTN - check it out! It's a crowd favorite.
 
 
Truly, the most important thing on this feast of St. Patrick and always is keeping Christ first in our lives.



St. Patrick, Pray For Us!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

God's Love for Us

I love days like today. I pray for those who don't believe in an all-loving Creator. I think they must be missing something on days like this.

I was blessed to share the funeral of a friend with my beautiful daughter this morning. We arrived in time to pray a few decades for the deceased and then share the Mass together. My first baby is growing so quickly. I cherish these times that it's back to just she and I.

I had the special treat of going back to church later in the day to spend almost an entire hour here
 
I am in a fairly reflective mood today so it was nice to just sit and think and listen. I had time to actually go through the list of those who need/have asked for my prayers and remember them by name. Such a simple thing. Such a big deal to me.
 
Finally...this weather. Who but a loving Father would give us this kind of glimpse in the midst of our wintry existence? It's such a beautiful day. Kids playing outside. Sunshine. No coats.
 
Man are we blessed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Prayer, Fasting and Good Works





I put this up on my last post and I think I'll put it on all of my posts for Lent. I just love the graphic...it puts it all right there - clear and to-the-point.

I was sitting in PT last week (only 4 weeks until my ankle is back to better-than-normal!) and the woman who was working on me asked if the man next to me or I were Catholic. He answered, "uh, well, my wife is but...we were married in the Methodist church...I'm not". I answered that I was and she went on to ask us both if we had given anything up for Lent. I suppose this is more of my Catholic superiority-complex ignorance of religions other than my own. Do non-Catholics give things up? Is it the for the same reasons? The gentleman ended up saying "I used to give something up but it was just such a pain and it's stupid anyway, I find it hard to believe that God would want you to be unhappy."

I went on to say something trite about DH giving up snacks at night and losing 10 pounds because of it (he scolded me when I came home for making him look secular ;0) ) Truly, this is my sin. When someone spouts something that strikes me as so nonsensical I just go into my secular-mode and miss a great chance to evangelize. Boo on me. I will say, at the end of the discussion I said "well, for me, it's good to challenge yourself...like people train for a race...it's good to push yourself to see how strong you actually are...how much trial you are willing to endure" (Truthfully, I said this directly in response to the PT who said "I'm going to go to the gym 5 days a week - that's really, really difficult for me!). Can I ask, as a complete tangent, why suffering is only acceptable in society if you are training for a race or giving birth naturally? That's another post for another time.

Ug. So, where is this going? I think I'm trying to work through the whole issue so I know what to say next time. I know what we do in our home. We pray more, we fast more and we give more. They are all intertwined and that is what makes them so full of opportunities for growing in faith. We want to give back to God for all the blessings we have been given. We want to feel "want" sometimes so that we can remember how blessed we are.

As I mentioned previously, I "gave up" yelling at my kids (well, one kid in particular). In place of that, I am choosing to see the face of Christ in him...I am choosing to see the miracle that God has entrusted to me instead of the loud, spastic little boy. I am trying anyway...pray for me. I think it would be easier to train for a marathon.

The fasting thing...well, I have to go back to what our priest said last week. If you are giving things up, that is wonderful. Doing it for that alone, however, can ring kind of empty. Give it up "for" something. Take the money you are saving on snacks and donate it to the local food pantry. Take the time you are saving from being online or watching TV and spend time with your family. Give up a day of gym time and take your kids for a walk (instead of sending them to the gym daycare room). Give up the radio or texting in the car and just talk to your family while you travel.

Yes, it's difficult but, back to the original discussion, it's about love. All of this religion stuff...it's good to follow the rules - it's necessary to follow the rules - but if you are only here to follow the rules, you probably will end up unhappy. The joy comes from others - spending time with them, doing things for them, helping them to have more joy themselves.

So this Lent...I don't know what I'm doing/adding/giving up really except trying to be present in my life. I'm presenting my family with the opportunities - time for rosary, more time at Mass, Stations and Adoration. Praying at 40 Days for Life. Taking family walks to visit elderly neighbors who may need a smile. Cooking with my kids and ignoring the mess. Making meals for single moms or sick parishioners. It's my attempt to make it more than just "these are the rules we follow". It's important that my little ones know the rules and why we follow them. I also want them to know the joy that comes from self-sacrifice...that is never more joyful than using your denial for the betterment of others. After all, Jesus died on the cross for US.

We are so very blessed.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Did You Hear? - 1st Sunday of Lent


Today we were enjoying the time change by changing up our schedules. Put simply, that meant DH and I lounged in bed an extra hour while the little ones were following their inner clock. It was a Sunday morning blessing for sure - no visitors until 8 AM!

Delaying as we did meant missing our usual 9 AM Mass and opting for 11 instead. I think we'll be doing this at least once a month. As I told DH, there is something so much more civilized about waking naturally, eating a nice breakfast together (instead of just feeding the non-communicants something quickly) and taking the time to actually pick out nice outfits and dress in the slow manner to which little people are accustomed (instead of the rushed craziness that usually happens). I do enjoy the earlier Mass because we have more of our day left after but this was definitely a nice change.

One of the nice changes was that G's godmother was in attendance with her crew (godfather was sacristan) and as is usually the case when we share a Mass, she was willing to take one of our little people into their family pew. She's awesome like that. Today she was even more awesome because she took the two surly little boys. Joy. So, we were left with the girls and tiny man. This enabled us to take the risk and sit in the front section of pews. Considering we were in front of a 2-year-old and behind a 2-year-old, I think we did splendidly.

The most rewarding part of the Mass was the homily. We had a visiting priest and WOW...he knocked it out of the park. Perhaps I was less distracted by my little ones but I think it was just the most amazing 10 minutes I've spent in a while. The word(s) of the day?

Sin (Temptation)

The first reading? Adam and Eve and the Serpent. Father spoke of how he has been each of these different characters at different times in his life - Adam: who followed another blindly into sin without thinking about what was happening; Eve: who led another into sin; the serpent: who visited a sinful opportunity onto others. I love when a homily is just that clear. Who hasn't been in each of these situations? Excellent.

He talked about the second reading but, alas, I was dealing with Mr. Crabby Pants tiny man at that moment. It's probably better so that my mind was clear for the end. The discussion of Christ's temptation in the desert.

Christ's First response to Satan:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God
.
You should have nothing before God...nothing. Food, exercise, family, friends, texting, Facebook, Wii...nothing. "I would believe there are those who are more upset about missing their daily gym time than they are missing Sunday Mass." Ouch, but yes!

Second response:
 You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

Kind of self-explanatory and Father had some good examples but they escape me at the moment.

Third response: 
 The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.

Don't forget God! Try mightily to deal with what you can, what is in your immediate ability to control but after that is exhausted, turn it to God. He can make all things good. He created you, He knows you, He wants only good for you (even if that good is coming through struggle at the moment!).

So, wow. What an awesome morning spent at Mass. I get something out of every Mass I attend (even if it's only the grace for having gone) but I L-O-V-E when the Holy Spirit comes to me in the homily. This is not heaven...you will not have a perfect home, body, kids, spouse. All of these will bring you joy but also struggle throughout your life. (If you're not following, go back to the first reading from today..Adam/Eve/Serpent/Apple). What a grace to know that I should try my best with all the gifts I have been given and when I still fail (or my children fail or my husband fails) we are covered by God's abundant grace! Wow. Now that's a great way to start a week. I am so very blessed.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Five on Friday - Lent

Yes, we're not even in the first full week and I'm already doing a top five...can't help it; it's my favorite time of the year!

1. Lentsanity

Brought to you by Fellowship of Catholic University Students this website/app is hysterical as well as informative. For those with "fancy phones" they will send a push notification on days of abstinence/fasting before lunch and dinner...my most recent said "drop that meatball sub, it's Friday". A few extra laughs during Lent are always welcome.







2. Doing Your Best

If you haven't yet, check out Upside Down Homeschooling, particularly this post  Well, any post actually but this most recent topic has been on my mind a lot as well. At confession last night, Father told me "All God wants is for us to play the cards we are dealt the very best that we can." Indeed. Something I'm struggling with and needing to remember more often. Lots of times I want to shuffle the deck and other times I'm sure everyone else got a better hand than I. When I stop to look, though, I really shouldn't complain. 
I am blessed.

3. Looking at Trials Differently

Yes, I have trials. My continuing trial is a little boy who wants to be big and "live all on my own". We often joke that he would have been a great only child. Alas, not the cards he was dealt. For some reason, he and I go round and round and he is the chief reason for what I "gave up" for Lent...namely, yelling at my children (I do still raise my voice because, seriously, they are periodically deaf. I am trying mightily, however, to not yell in anger). 

So, when he and I were in our usual downward spiral this afternoon - I was trying to get dinner started and he was standing in the corner - I tried a new approach. I brought him into the kitchen with me and I helped him make dinner. I'm not sure it had that much effect on his behavior but it made a huge change in mine. I was gifted with the grace to teach him at that moment and see that desire for nurturing from him. I am thankful for that small glimpse. 


4.Confession

Last night was our third trip to confession as a family. I'm not sure exactly what I feel about it at the moment. I guess that means we'll keep trying. I like the idea of all the kids going and seeing the process so that, when it's their turn, it won't be a weird, scary thing, but just one more family activity. I was pleased that Blondie said, while we were waiting for sister to exit the box, "I would like to go in there!". Of course, that was just before she insisted on walking the aisles with daddy and screaming little brother (my current vote "against" the outings). I guess he will get used to it, just like Mass, and we will have good days and bad. It is so nice to have a home where they know us and know what to expect of us. Even when I am unsettled by some of the other people in the pews and even the leadership at times, there is something to be said for routine and working out differences. I think the culture is enough about leaving when things get difficult. I want my kids to feel differently about that. (Wow, that was a totally stream-of-consciousness tangent...sorry).

5. Stations of the Cross
I have probably already said it but, other than Good Friday services, this is one of my very favorite Lent activities. I took #s 1&2 this afternoon to the school service. We went early so that we could pray the rosary (we got 4 decades in and finished the last after). It was a blessing to have our dear Deacon leading. I adore clergy who lead Stations and get choked up (they don't have to sob like I do). It makes me feel like they're really "getting it" not just going through the motions. Our Deacon is like that. We are blessed.

So, if you haven't had the opportunity to do some of these things yet, get going! Yes, there are many days of Lent left but there are so many great activities! Don't wait until the last minute :0) Have a blessed weekend.

Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Pray for Us!   


  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Did You Hear? - Ash Wednesday

 
Our Parochial Vicar had 8 o'clock Mass this morning. I really enjoy his homilies. He tries to use each instance as a teaching moment. I always come away with new thoughts to ponder.
 
Today wasn't so much new as it was a reminder. He reminded us that when we are giving things up for Lent, we should be truthful in that. It would make no sense to give up martinis and then replace that with beer or wine. He also talked about removing something but remembering to add something in its place. If we give up TV in the evening, we should find a productive way to spend the time, perhaps in family prayer.
 
Ultimately, we should remember that we do all of this...fasting, abstaining, giving up or adding things; to grow closer to God and to prepare for His death and resurrection. This is such a good reminder for me. Sometimes I just want to "check off the box" for what I did each day of Lent and I wonder if it really brought me closer to God.
 
So, even though I lost our "color in 40 days of Lent" crosses and "glue a marshmallow on the sheep" countdown to Easter pages, we will press on. I will use the time to sit and talk to my kids about preparation and turning to God and relying on Him...in Lent and always.
 
Tools are good, for little and big people. Still, if I am reading a "daily reflection" that fails to inspire (I think my current choice fits) I may better spend the time saying a rosary or visiting Our Lord at Adoration. I think, in the end, I am trying to be more deliberate in my living during these days. I hope that example and those moments of teaching will help my kids as well.

I am blessed.
 
With its calls to conversion, Lent comes providentially to rouse us, to shake us from our torpor, from the risk of moving forward [merely] by inertia. The exhortation that the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Joel is loud and clear: "Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is wrong in us, in society, in the Church - and we need to change, to turn things around, to repent! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way! - Pope Francis

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mardi Gras!

Thankfully, we're far from New Orleans and all of the craziness there. Here, amidst the melting snow and beautiful sun, we gathered with our friends to celebrate the last day before we enter into the season of repentance. I'm looking forward to Lent but I also enjoyed our "brinner" party - complete with gold, purple and green pancakes (and a mimosa or two!). I was having so much fun I forgot to take pictures of the actual feast...you can look HERE same stuff, different year.

I made the king cake this year and

one of our favorite friends found the baby! 

We opened up our Lenten box of Hope

and took turns putting away the letters of

ALLELUIA
 
 
Wishing you all a blessed Ash Wednesday and fruitful beginning of Lent. Salmon patties tomorrow!
 
I am so very blessed :0)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What did you hear - Sunday?

Matthew 6:27 NIV

The liturgy of this final Sunday before Lent was excellent for me...all about not worrying!

Truly, I think as I've grown in my faith, worry has been quieted a great deal in me. That is a huge blessing. Now, if I worry about anything it's probably about what other people are doing. Stupid, stupid. We tell the kids what DH's brother was fond of retorting..."Just worry about yourself". Good advice for yours truly.

Anyway, the first reading about even if a mother forgets her child, I will never forget you and the Gospel about not worrying what we eat or what we wear. Fabulous! If you feel that you're getting caught up in the latest styles (be it fashion or the newest "eating" craze) perhaps this Lent is a great time to work our way back to moderation.

As the priest reminded us, this freedom-from-worry doesn't mean we should do nothing. We should work as hard as we can to follow God's will and constantly redirect ourselves toward Him. In doing so, if we fall short on some things, it's OK. He is our loving Father. He will remember us and take care of all of our needs. We need to TRUST God! He is ultimately in control and will never leave us - not for one single second. How great is that?

We are blessed!
"Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God. "
-- St. Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Symphony on a Saturday

Today was fun. We went to Fiddlesticks. I'm not sure I will be willing to go again but it was an interesting experience. Lots and lots and LOTS of people. Whew. There were a lot of people. I'm not sure why everyone was paying $15-$20 to bring in the under three crowd but, whatever. It's nice the symphony can pack a house.

This was a special performance. Camille Saint-SaĆ«ns's Carnival of the Animals.  If you've never heard it, look into it. It's all on YouTube, actually. Make sure you listen to the poetry by Ogden Nash as well. It makes it all the more clever.

We went today because the symphony had a poetry contest last month and child #1 was one of the poets chosen. It was nice for her to be recognized...she loves to write poetry. It was also nice to go as an entire family to see the show.

Fiddlesticks makes a big deal of the fact that you can show up an hour early and meet the musicians, do a craft, and listen to performances. The lines were long but it was cool to stand close and listen to a string quartet and oboe player. Here are some really bad photos....only had my phone and no flash allowed.





That last one says "Silvana Rocco, Age 8" although you can't tell (the Holy Spirit making it clear that I should have listened to the "photography is prohibited" announcement). They put her name on the screen while her poem was being read. Little girl was absolutely tickled to see her name up there. Pretty cool way to spend a morning. We are blessed.