Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Life of Faith

The other day I heard two woman chatting and one woman was clearly in love with her life. She said to her friend, "I have everything I ever wanted! What did I do to deserve such a wonderful life?"

Her friend patted her hand and said, "You're living a life of faith, dear. Of course God would bless such a wonderful and faithful person!"

I left before I punched that woman in the face or threw up on her. Or both.

Okay, well, crying would have been on the plate too.

See, I hear this all the time. "I prayed for your healing and God listened!"

"You are such a faithful person! Of course you have a nice house and life! God only blesses the faithful!"

"I have a wonderful new house, my husband/myself was promoted at work and the kids are straight A little darlings! We are so blessed!"

Here's the thing: if your baby is premature, you are still blessed. If you prayed for something and the opposite happened, God still heard your prayer. If you just lost your job, your spouse, and your kids are the kind who don't make straight A's, you are still blessed.

See, when I hear "you got just what you wanted because you are a faithful person!" it reminds me that I didn't get my heart's desire and makes me feel like a crappy, horrible person who didn't pray right or do God's will. It's an insult to people who pray and sacrifice and offer up in hopes of something happening and having God gently say "no" to their request. Plus, it makes us sounds like needy, whining little children who tug at our Father's robes pleading, "I promise to love and feed him and walk him every single day for the rest of my life and never ever EVER ask for another thing EVER if you let me keep the puppy!"

If you really think that having the perfect faith is a recipe for a Pinterest-perfect life, you're only fooling yourself. Now, of course, you should pray and offer up and praise God and all that jazz. Just remember that God will answer your prayer but it might not be in the way you wanted... because, even though it doesn't seem like it, God can see the big picture.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: Someone explain the Trinity to my kid

1. The other day, Camille snuggled up against me in bed and said, "Mom, who is Jesus's mommy?"

"Mary," I said.

"No, JESUS'S mom!"

"Um, MARY."

"No, Mary is the Mother of GOD. Who is the mother of JESUS?"

Oh. I explained that Jesus is GOD and the Holy Spirit- the Three in One. It was hard to explain and I really bumbled through it. Afterwards, she looked thoughtful and then said, "Does God have a wife? Is Mary His Wife?"

Uhhhh.... hey, kids! Let's ask the priest!

2. I'm having another "Damn, I adore our community" moment. Our parish is not without its faults but the VBS program this year is awe-some. It's Cat-Chat, so SUPER CATHOLIC. The newsletter that comes home talks about how they taught the children that the Eucharist is the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus. I know, I know I shouldn't be surprised that a Catholic Church is teaching Catholic stuff to our young children... but you would be surprised at the things that sometimes go on. In our little souless suburb, we have nice conservative parish and I am so thankful for that!

3. For the past few days, I have been writing, cleaning and watching the TV I want to watch. Monday it was "The Hunger Games." Tuesday, "The King's Speech." I had forgotten how awesome that movie is. I need to menu plan and get some little ducks in a row too but it is so nice to do that in peace and quiet, knowing no one is destroying something.

4. It was raining Monday and Tuesday so I suggested the kids get out the board games. Bad idea. They love Sorry! and I hate that stupid game. Hate. it. It's so boring and you have to wait forever for the game to really start. Then when it does, they use the "sorry" cards to harass each other. It always ends with yelling, tears and bloodshed. No, thanks.

5. I read The Fault in Our Stars. It is a very well written book. It's short but not a quick or mindless read. And it left me both uplifted AND depressed. I do recommend it, but I think every book should be sold with a box of tissues and chocolate.

6. Some Surf for you:
35 Things You Learn from being a Lifeguard

Black Dog Days: How to deal with depression- A Catholic view of mental illness

7. And last but not least: I am pleased to announce the birth of Rainbow Doodle, my newest nephew. He was born at a healthy and respectable 39 weeks and is a giant chunk with fat kissable cheeks and black hair. I cannot wait to get my hands on him and smell him!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's scary when things (might) work out

I'm a pessimist by nature and an optimist by choice. It's my natural inclination to be careful, cautious and expect the worst. Over time, I've really worked to change my attitude and become more optimistic. I would say I am a realistic optimist. I know not everything can or will be all sunshine and roses but that doesn't mean I can't hope for that.

It's been hard to be cheerful and optimistic these past few years, especially this past year when it seems like every time we turned around, my family was getting smacked over the head with hard-core trouble: money, more therapy needs, death, illness, death, stress, and stress. It was hard. And I wondered if anything was going to turn out okay.

About a month ago, I heard that we might have the CGS program at our parish.  Since that phone call with our Church Lady, I've been waiting to hear if they found the space for it. Today, I stopped and talked to the DRE. She asked after George and I said, "So far, so good!" She was so pleased that VBS has been a success for him so far. (Shhhh.... don't say it too loud!) I know she had been worried about George beginning CCD this fall, so I told her my plan: a friend and I are going to co-teach the kindergarten CCD class. She said she is happy to help if she doesn't have to do the lesson plans. I said I will do the lesson plans and she went, "Awesome!" Boom. CCD taken care of for BOTH our kids.

Of course, the DRE was thrilled and then I said, "Unless, of course, CGS is a go. Then I would like George and his friend in that program, with me." She nodded. "How is that coming along? Do we have the space for it?"

We have the space.

It took me a moment to realize that things (maybe) coming together. We (hopefully) have the space for the program I adore and that I know will benefit the parish. There's a plan to help George be successful in
CCD, even if CGS doesn't work out. I feel like my friend and I are becoming a team to help out children live and grow and love the faith. I am slowly, carefully, optimistic that this will work out, that not only are we making headway in the parish (when it comes to accepting and accommodating children with special needs) but within the faith as well.

But I never should have doubted, of course. I should have known things would work out. I should have know our little intercessor was at work. After all, I found a ladybug.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

VBS, Round Two

Last year was George's first year at Vacation Bible School. It went about as well as a it could go, considering the child in question hates crowds, strangers, loud noises and had just gotten over the chicken pox. That is to say, it went not at all well.

George has grown alot in the past year. We've seen great changes in the past month alone. He doesn't have the chicken pox and is doing better when it comes to self regulation. People can understand him better now too.

I worked with a friend and the director of religious education to set up VBS so George could be successful. We have a "safe person" who is with him, the daughter of a friend who knows George well. If George needs to leave, she can take him out; otherwise she helps with everyone. Another friend is his teacher and he knows a few of the kids in his group.

It's only the second day but yesterday went well. I'm enjoying the hours I do have alone, knowing that I might not have them tomorrow. I'm watching the movies no one else likes, getting chores done and sitting in peace and quiet. The weather has been rainy, so I know the kids will be trapped inside and possibly stir-crazy in the afternoon.

Possibly? Heck, yeah, they will. Sigh. I thought VBS was supposed to make them tired?

Anyway, here's hoping the rest of the week goes well, for his sake and mine!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My sweet little girl

A few weeks ago, I signed up to bring Communion to people in the nursing home or who are home bound. They put me on the schedule right away and, for a variety of reasons, I took Camille with me the first time.

Now, taking kids anywhere can be dicey and I was a bit worried about her in the nursing home, seeing people she didn't know who may have a variety of issues. I did prep her a little before hand but I didn't have to worry. My sweet girl was a complete angel. She was quiet and respectful and very, very well behaved. She saved any questions she had until the end, instead of asking in front of the residents.

I had a lightbulb moment when we were leaving: she's like this because of her great-grandparents. Every summer we visit Adam's grandparents and every summer she sees people she loves using a walker or who have trouble hearing. She knows how to act around people who cannot see well, cannot move as fast as they once could. She knows how to speak so people who are hard of hearing can hear her. We had to go into the locked unit, for people who are loosing their memories, and she was well behaved even there and was not upset or scared at the sudden, seemingly random, actions of some of the residents. Instead, she said hello, good-bye and wished them a nice day. I know they felt her kindness and compassion, even if they couldn't verbalize it.

Camille said she enjoyed going with me. Whether she enjoyed just being with me or enjoyed visiting with the residents, I don't know. I do think this is giving her a love for the Eucharist and a love for caring for people. Can't ask for much more than that!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: The end of the school year

  1. This week I had to drive to four different drug stores and call three others to see if they have a medication one of my children needs. It seems like a first world problem, as this medication is not necessary to life but it is to our quality of life. I kinda felt like a drug addict going to all these places, asking if they had the medication in stock. Thankfully, everyone was super nice and I received wonderful customer service. In a stroke of luck, our Wal Mart has the medication so I don't have to drive to another town like I did last time.
  2. I'm being a suburban rebel again and hanging most of our laundry out to dry. I love seeing our clothes on a line, flapping in the breeze. Not only does it keep the house a touch cooler but I think sun and wind help with the "funk" our towels can sometimes hang onto and the "tween boy smell."
    I did promise Adam and the kids that I would not line dry his work clothes, socks or underwear. I also don't dry most kitchen towels in the sun, simply because they take up space on our one clothes line. I might start having the little boys drape the towels over the railings on the porch this summer, though. It seems like a good chore for a four and five year old.
  3. School is out today at 11:15. We're kicking off summer with a bang! We are going to party it up with some friends and then Camille has a belt test at night.  The boys have their first t-ball game Saturday and we have our pool opening party that night.
  4. I prepared for the summer by stocking up on food. My friend hashtags posts like this as "it's a feed them fund, not a college fund." Heh. She's right. Kids can EAT.
  5. I may or may not have bribed the children into doing school work over the summer with a trip to a local water park. Is it wrong that I fit their education in with exercise? Maybe?
  6. Speaking of reading, Joseph, Camille and I are going to read 10 books each this summer. So far, I am beating them, as I already finished "Something Other Than God." Joe is in the middle of reading a book about Greek myths. Camille hasn't found one she wants to read yet.
  7. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers this weekend, as I am heading to a nursing home to bring them Communion. I am terrified I will do or say something wrong!

Head over to Jen's at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Monday, May 5, 2014

We partied this weekend

thank you Catholic Memes on Facebook
I was anticipating this past weekend... but dreading it too. We would have so much fun stuff to do but... so.much to do! In the end, it was the perfect weekend and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend.

It began with a little of this:

 Man, the frosting was pink but it was the perfect pink for our pretty pink princess. I did her hair that morning and it looked awesome. I also figured out that I am veil-deficiant. I have never worn one and wasn't sure how to pin  it to her head without drawing blood. I got it on her, though, and she looked lovely. All the children did, really. I know you sometimes see a dress and think, "What the heck were the parents thinking?" but there was none of that at her Mass.

After Mass, Adam took the little boys to baseball practice. They loved it and were properly tired when they came home. Adam said they hit the ball a few times and managed to catch it. I have no dreams of major leagues in this house. I want them to have fun, learn the game and be tired (not always in that order!). Plus, you know the "games" will be precious!

Right after they got home, we had our open house where we cut into the "rustic" cross cake:

I made marshmallow fondant. I have made this before with excellent results (see also: Cole's first birthday cake). It began coming together just fine but then I added too much of something and the result was a thick paste of .... not fondant. I asked Adam to roll it in a ball in the fridge and he didn't. It did not roll out easily or drape nicely. I didn't have any buttercream left so I put in on the cake in strips. I couldn't get the pink (PINK!) buttercream to pipe out, so Grams suggested we place the cupcakes around it to hide the edges. I joked we were going for more symbolism since Jesus was wrapped in a shroud after he died but one of my friends, "No, it's RUSTIC!" Rustic it is!

After tons of cake, more cake and yummy Subway, we watched Frozen and then hyped the kids up on more sugar....

The school carnival was perhaps the best one our school has ever hosted. The weather was perfect and everything was outside. The kids were safe to run fairly free and their tickets got them oodles of candy. All that running made them super tired and Cole asked to go to bed that night! I think we would have all slept in if it hadn't been for this the next day:

My parents and my sister's family joined us for the first time. We all walked together. It was nice to introduce my parents to the people who saved George's life and have them meet some of the children they last saw as babies in the NICU. My sister surprised me by showing us Miss Who's sign on the Boulevard of Babies.I didn't know she had one and it's nice to know that others will see her name and maybe smile.

My camera shy husband and son!
They ended up o n the hospital's FB page!
And the look like they have a bodyguard.

 In many ways, the March was a safe place for all of us. We could talk about Miss Who without having to censor ourselves. People would understand all the terms and it was highly likely no one would say stupid stuff, like "God needs her more than you." I talked to some friends from the NICU who did not know about her and we had a "there but for the grace of God so us" kinda moments. Their children were born at the same gestational age as Miss Who and knew, all too well, the fear of loosing a child. They were super sweet to us.

When we got home that afternoon the kids played with friends and I dozed. We were all soooo tired!

While I couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend... I'm glad a break is coming! We have two weeks before another huge weekend of birthday parties, baseball and a huge garage sale!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: We interrupt this First Communion Prep...

To bring you Quick Takes Friday and allow me something to do other than cleaning!

1. Mad, mad props to my little boys who have been drug on errands all week. They have put up with Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's (which seem to be taking a leaf of out Wal-Mart's books and never, ever have enough cashiers staffed!), Wal-Mart, Target, JoAnn's AGAIN, and the Catholic bookstore. Both boys were so well behaved and helped me pick out everything I need for our open house.

2. In a fit of ... brilliance? thinking I am crafty? insanity? I ordered the pink cupcake toppers from Pink Posy Paperie. They came out oh-so-cute and the file was easy to download and print. I adore them and we're using them for cupcake toppers and to put on treat bags.

3. Now, I thought I was being all frugal with these things. The price of the download was quite reasonable. I already have the card stock. I could have cut them out by hand but a) why? and b) friends promised me that the punch for them was reasonably priced. I'm sure this is true... if you don't have to buy TWO. The big pink flowers in the back are from the orginal punch I got. I opened it, used it and realized it wasn't what I needed. I had to go BACK to the store to get the one I did need. The four dollar cupcake toppers ended up costing me nearly $25! I really, really hope there is another occasion to use "God Bless Camille Julia" themed items!

4.I'm not sure if this is the cheapest thing I have ever done or if I was going to EPIC SYMBOLISM but I bought Easter Candy at 75 per cent off to use in the bags. I found chocolate coins, which the kids love, and placed 2-3 in each bag. I mean, if we didn't have the Eucharist, we wouldn't have Easter... or, um, vise versa. And the coins are the size of a Host! See? Not cheap at all. Right. 

5. I also have to give a shout-out to the Religious Education department. Camille was chatting about the "dress rehearsal" they did and she was making comments like, "We used the Eucharist but it wasn't the REAL Eucharist because the priest hadn't made it into God's body yet" and "They said I can take it in my hands or my tongue. Mommy, which should I do?" I'm impressed with that because few people Recieve in the mouth now so it's nice that it was presented as a viable option for the kids. I told her to do what she prefers and what is most comfortable. I think she should do what she is most comfortable with the first time but after that, she can try receiving in a different way. 

6. Oh, you want to see a pic of my daughter in her dress before the big day?

The dress and veil were actually a gift from a friend. Her mother couldn't just sell it or donate it and wanted to find a little girl who would use it. My mom did the minor alterations. We all love it because it is so pretty, so fancy but modest and very "little girl." I found her tights on sale at the Gap and her shoes came from Zulily. The Rosary was a gift from my parents when they went to Italy a few years ago. It has SAINT John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict on it! The bracelt is a small gold one and each link is shaped like a bow. It was my mother's. I bought her birthstone earrings as a gift (yes, they are red) and my mom gifted her with a cross necklace. She also has a little white sweater (yep, made by Grams!) to wear.
I love that so many people donated time and gifts to her special outfit. It really makes it even more special, don't you think?

7. Sunday is also the March for Babies. This year, my parents and my sister's family will be joining us. I am a little emotional about it but I'm reminding myself of all the GOOD things that have come from our time in the NICU. I mean, I would do nearly ANYTHING to bring my niece back but... at least good came come out of bad! But I suppose that is a post for another time.

Have a wonderful weekend and please keep my daughter, and the other kids receiving their FHC, in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Love Won.

Joseph wasn't very old when people began asking where we would send him to school. At the time, I was more concerned with learning to parent than thinking about preschool or kindergarten but they persisted. Since I hung out with the conservative Catholics (as I am one) and the hippies (as I am one) two options were presented to me:

Catholic school

Now, both options are good and decent and right for some families. However, I was told over and over and over that the ONLY way to raise faithful Catholic children is to put them in Catholic school or homeschool them. Never mind that our public schools are award winning. Never mind that faith formation begins in the home and no matter how nice the Catholic school is, if you aren't living it at home... well...

In the end, we moved from that parish to a new one that is tithing based. If you tithe your ten percent, your kids can attend the school. In spite of the nice, small public school two blocks away, we looked into the Catholic school. There was a wait list for kindergarten and a down payment to be placed on the list. If he didn't get it, we wouldn't get our money back. Our priest and the office staff were very encouraging that we would make the best choice for our family, reassuring us that our children would receive a great faith formation either in the school or the RE program. Because we couldn't afford to lose the down payment money, we enrolled Joseph in the public school. 

I still hear about this choice, not from the priests so much but that other parents. They ignore the fact that my two boys need an SLP, PT and OT full time, on staff. They ignore the fact that my oldest would have been kicked out of a private school. They ignore the hundreds of dollars in therapy bills we have each month. They ignore the tight food budget, the menu planning, the things we do without to afford the therapy my kids so desperately need. No, if we gave up more, we could tithe and send our kids to the school. If we REALLY REALLY REALLY cared about their immortal souls, we would do anything to send them to the Catholic schools because how else would they grow up to be faithful Catholics if they aren't surrounded by them 24/7? There's no way those "government" schools can nurture these precocious gems.

And you know what? No, my kids aren't studying the canonizations of four popes in school. No one will lead them in a Rosary over lunch and they won't study the lives of saints. They don't go to Mass multiple times a week unless I pull them from school to attend and winter parties aren't Christmas parties. So, no, they aren't getting a Catholic education in the public schools. At least, it's not direct.

Recently, the community was hit with two tragedies. A young man was critical hurt in a swimming accident. This high school senior was pulled under by the waves and damaged his spinal cord. His mother was my sons para and they attend our parish. Both mother and son are in another state as the son undergoes rehab and the mom helps him.

On Palm Sunday, there was a shooting at our Jewish Community Center. Three people were killed, including a high school freshmen and his grandfather. It was a horrible, senseless act, a hate crime.

I feel for our community, especially the young people of our high school. In the past six weeks, they've had to deal with media attention and ask questions that no one wants to ask. But instead of wallowing, you know what they've done? They've surrounded these families with love. The students put on a carnival for the young man who was hurt and raised $22,000. That's dollars, people, dollars! Our school, where the mom worked, is raising money at our own carnival for him, and a teacher and I are working on organizing a garage sale to benefit the family. The parish RE program and the school have card drives going so that this young man will receive cards every day.

The freshman and his grandfather? My kids told me that alot of their teachers took time off to attend his funeral. Staff members helped provide food for the funeral. Because our elementary school is close to the high school, the young children saw the media trucks. The staff went above and beyond to make sure the kids were safe, questions were answered in an age appropriate manner. The principal and superintendent sent out e-mails, telling the parents what was going on and how it was being handled. Everything was done in a gentle, loving manner.

Shortly before the funeral. word came around that Westboro Baptist was going to protest the funeral. What did our community do? Students- not just the students from our high school but schools all over the district- lined the streets surrounding the church with signs that said "Love wins." Motorcycle riders were there, holding similar signs. Westboro was regulated to a small corner, out of the way, and I don't think the family saw them.

Love wins.

What a powerful message, held up by the young people of my community. I don't know if they are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or atheist. All I know is that they held the powerful, loving message in their hands that day: Love wins. In their actions, they showed the message- Love wins. In raising money, donating to causes, hosting the carnival, they are living, acting out Christ's greatest commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you."

Love wins. 

No, no my children don't attend Catholic school.Instead, they are shown the example of Christ's love for us and how to carry it out on earth. They are surrounded by adults who will do anything to help them succeed. They are surrounded by people of all ages who, without a second thought, give and give and give some more to those in need. They do all this out of the goodness of their hearts, without calling attention to themselves. Even in these "soulless government schools" my children are surrounded by Christ-like people, living the way Christ calls us to live. There isn't a better example of "love and faith in action" than what these public school teachers and students have shown us over the past six weeks. They are, indeed, surrounded by people who will continue to help them grow into loving, faithful (dare I say it?) Catholic young adults.

Love wins . . . indeed.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Overheard: Darth Vader and Jesus

It's very, very rare that I allow the kids to take a toy (beyond a lovey or a book about Jesus) to Mass. When they were little, they hung out in my lap, nursed or went to the nursery. Once they were about two, toys became more of a problem than they were worth. Aside from the fact that we have great sound in our parish AND marble floors... the fighting. Oh, the fighting.

I made an exception this Easter, though, since we were arriving early and there would be more waiting. Cole grabbed a Stormtrooper my mom bought him and said something about the storm trooper coming to church.

"Well, if anyone needs a Savior, it's the storm troopers!" Adam joked.

"Maybe we should get the Daleks and Darth Vader," I said. "Darth Vader REALLY needs a Savior."

Camille looked at me and said, "Mom, Darth Vader died for his son. I think he gets the point."

Um, yeah, and so do you, my dear.


From Facebook: If I enrolled my kids in golf lessons this summer, will I loose my hippie license and officially be a yuppie mom? 


Me: George, today is St. George's Day! It's a special day when we celebrate St. George!

George: ME?!

Me: Well, sort of. St. George was a pretty cool guy who road into a town on a horse, saved a princess and killed a dragon.

George: Mommy, when I growned up, I will kill a dragon but I be too big to live with you!


From Facebook, again:
Me: I can' believe my kid wants to be up at 7 am on a Saturday to be at Mathletics.

Adam: No, MY kid wants to do math on a Saturday. YOUR kid would run away screaming!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The last thing I want to do this week

Well, to be honest, this is the last thing I EVER want to do. I adore our dentist but dental work isn't high on my list of priorities.

Friday started off great, with a trip to the nearby town to get some medicine and crash a friend's driveway for a playdate. I had a yummy salad from CFA. When I got home, I snacked on popcorn and an apple.

That night, I burned dinner and the dog pooped in the house. I was ready for the day to be OVER at six pm. But was it? No, of course not!

Adam, knowing my evening had been crummy, gave me a gummy bear. I bit into it and lost a crown.


I called the dentist who said they would work me in on Monday. We both knew this crown needed to be fixed but we were hoping to wait until the summer. Now, it can't wait and I get to spend the week before Camille's first Communion... and the school carnival.... and the March for Babies getting an insane number of shots in my mouth. Sigh. I have so much to do and now even less time!

I'd say teeth are overrated but....

Monday, April 21, 2014

Answered prayers, God's timing and Lady Bugs

This past year has been hard on me. It's been hard on my entire family but since this is my blog, and I wish to respect the privacy of other family members, you get to hear all. about. me!

Anyway, after my niece was born, I prayed. I prayed for her to grow, develop and come home. We all wanted her to be one of those micropreemies who, yeah, maybe has some delays and yeah, maybe, comes home on oxygen but there was no reason why she shouldn't have survived... and thrived.

I did my part. I prayed. I asked other people to pray. I asked the intercession of St. Therese, the Little Flower, who is known for helping the smallest and meekest of us. I sacrificed. I offered up. And in the end... well, I can't type out what happened but most people have filled in the gaps. I was left numb, crushed and, as I told my mother, "God and I are not BFFs right now. I'm glad I believe in God because it is nice to have someone to blame for all this!" These are normal feelings but they are hard feelings to have. Nothing made me feel more rejected than thinking, feeling, that God wasn't listening to me. I told a friend, "I believe in miracles. I just don't think they will happen to me anymore."

I won't say I had a crisis of faith or that I rejected God. As I did some thinking and praying and loads of therapy sessions, I realized that this is part of my grief process. I was assured, as I knew, it is a-okay to be grumpy at God. He knows my true feelings and if I said, "Oh, no, God, I'm not mad at You!" He would know I was lying.

April 13th, my son and niece's birthdays, ended up being a happy day. A new baby came into the world. We celebrated Joe and I talked to my sister on the phone. I was anticipating a hard day but it ended up being really, really good.

On Monday the 14th, a phone call came. See, rumor has it that our parish wants to start the Catechesis of the Good Shepard program. (Read about it here and follow the link for more information.) I cornered both priests at the Fish Fry and said, "I heard you want this to happen. I'm a Level One catechist. What can I do?" I think Father Engineer nearly dropped his plate. I mean, who volunteers for "whatever you want me to do"? Father Youngin' just laughed.

I e-mailed the director and she called me. We spent a good hour talking on the phone. She told me her plans and they are sound. They have the materials, they just need people to teach. I explained to her about my children and their special needs and the weird school routine the kids are on. She was supportive and told me ways they could help out so I could teach. (Read: child care.) She mentioned I might be able to receive small pay for it in a year or so. (And just the week before I had made a comment about God not providing the means for all the help our kids need!) Then she said, "We've got to include more of the children with special needs in this program. Could you help?"

People, I like-a cried.

Okay, I didn't really cry. But I was close. After feeling rejected by our parish and facing criticism about our children, this woman wants kids like mine in the parish. Active. Learning. As part of the Body of Christ. She has experience with this and understands.

I got off the phone feeling really, really good about these changes. I had chores to do so I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and pulled it back to start vacuuming. Underneath it was... a lady bug.

Let's back up here a moment. For a variety of reasons, lady bugs are associated with my niece. We've found either ladybugs or perfect 2013 pennies on important dates related to Miss Who or when we just miss her. Finding a ladybug right after this phone call was a little reminder that she is there, praying for us. She is interceding for us. I knew all this, but to see it, to have a physical reminder of it... was powerful and humbling. God is indeed listening to me and hearing my cries.

I feel, very strongly, that this program will go through and that our children's physical and spiritual needs will be met. After all, I found a ladybug.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He has risen!

Our own version of an Easter Miracle- all four kids and the dog looking nice for the camera and not poking each other!

April 20th also marks our 12th anniversary. This year, Adam got new shelves for the garage and fixed the fence. Yup, newlyweds, it won't always be roses and wine but hey, the outside of the house looks good!

Have a "hoppy" day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quick Takes Friday

1. Why is it that I can think of Quick Takes all week long but when Friday, or Thursday night, comes, I have a brain cramp?

2. Remember how I said that April 13th is a lucky day in our family? Well, ten minutes before I left for Mass on Sunday my sister called to tell me that her best friend had a baby girl... on April 13th. What are the odds? All the babies came on their own- no inductions or c/s. One was 15 weeks early and one was two weeks late. Joseph was even a smidgen early at 37 weeks but he was the only one due in April. Even the April 13th wedding wasn't planned- they eloped!

3. God seems to be in the process of answering a huge prayer. On Monday, I learned that the Catechsis of the Good Shepard program might be coming to our parish. I will blog more about it but I was blown away when I talked to the director. Blown. Away.

4. Sunday, our community was hit with a terrible tragedy. There was a shooting at our local Jewish Community Center. A teenager who attends the high school close to us was killed. In the days that have followed, I have been so impressed with our community- the schools, the staff, the young people. My kids are growing up surrounded by some wonderful people.

5. And, yes, those are spoilers for the next week!

6. I didn't make it to Holy Thursday Mass. Adam was gone and got home right as Mass was beginning. Even though my mom was here, I was exhausted and fell asleep early. I feel bad for Adam but his travel schedule is hard on me too!

7.  In super awesome news, Camille's reading is really picking up. I hope to have another reader on my hands this summer!

You know the drill- head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quick Takes Friday: IEP, Lent and a FAIL

  1. I needed to be reminded of this: 
"We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials." -- St. Teresa of Avila
It could be debated how close I am to Christ (as I grumpily told my therapist, God and I are NOT BFFs right now) but that brought me comfort.
2. And this: Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” 
― Fulton J. Sheen

I think I'm in the middle of Good Friday. Not that what I am going through is close to being alone, denied by your friends, beaten and nailed to a cross for the sake of humankind... but hey! 

3. On a less serious note, Cole's teacher caught me during carpool to tell me that she didn't write any academic IEP goals because... he doesn't need them! He is doing so well and is beyond where they expect typical peers to be! Yay Bear!

4. Tonight at dinner, Camille said, "My friend told me that when you reach forty, your life is HALF OVER!" Considering we turn 35 this year, we were not amused. Joseph was smart enough to not laugh.

5. In other news, we now have only three children.... *wink*

6. I am pretty sure Purgatory might be a giant Pine Wood Derby. My kids are in Adventure Guides with my husband and they too have a pine wood derby. This year we borrowed the boy scouts track so it was more "official" with light up signs telling us who won and a computer system. Man, those Boy Scouts take their little wooden car racing seriously. We got there at nine and did not leave until 12:30. It was . . . long. And official. As usual, Joseph made it to the semi finals and Camille pooped out in the first round. She shed many tears and Adam and I are baffled as to why she always looses and he always wins.

7. Catholic parenting fail: Giving your kids lunch money on a Friday in Lent without checking the menu. The kids had a choice of meat pizza or hamburgers. Ops.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Every IEP is a little Lent

I'm sitting here, at the kitchen table, listening to Cole tell me how he hates pumpkin bread. He's speaking
Every IEP is a little Lent . . . and every
mild stone met a little Easter.
with a whine in his voice, indicating that he's tired. I know that once I pop him in the car this afternoon, he will fall right asleep... which is a problem, since it is his first day of speech therapy with our private SLP.

Today is also the day I got the rough draft for Cole's IEP. For me, it's more of a formality. I speak to the teachers and SLP on a regular basis, so none of the goals are particularly surprising. It's just so hard to see, in black and white, in clinical terms, how far behind my sweet bear is. In black and white, it tells me that my almost four year old speaks like a two year old. In black and white, it tells me that he is 80 per cent intelligible . . . if you know him and know the context. Most people cannot understand him at all.

In black and white, it says over and over and over again, "Motor planning is impacting him from . . ." and "Due to poor motor planning, he cannot . . ." He cannot speak. He cannot draw. He cannot color.

I know this. I knew this. But seeing it again was like a punch in my already-bruised stomach.

And then, it dawned on me. This is Lent. This IEP, this is our Lent.

We're at the beginning of Lent now. Cole's been examine and tested, just like we examine and test ourselves at the beginning of every Lent. Where is he strong? Let's keep on doing those awesome, strong things. Where is he weak? Where does he need to improve? Let's make measurable goals and work on those weak areas.

When Lent begins, we work on those areas in which we are weak. We give up our vices, add in more prayer. We sacrifice and offer up. At the end of all of this, at Easter, we hope to come out stronger, with good habits that have replaced the old. Less coffee, less sugar, less junk food; more prayer, more giving, more offering up.

During this IEP, we've set goals. We know the end result we want: a child who can draw and write and speak. During this Lent, we will work on those goals, praying and sacrificing (retirement fund? Who needs that?!) to get to them. When Cole can speak, write and draw, when he is able to funcation with his same age peers, we will have arrived at Easter.

But you know the awesome thing? Remember how every Sunday is a little Easter, a little time to remember and rejoice in the salvation of Christ? Every mild stone he reaches, every step forward he makes, is our little Sunday. It's our little Easter, a time to rejoice that all his hard work is paying off. When I hear him count, see him try to color or say a hard word correctly, we rejoice. We celebrate.

Because even in Lent, we have a little Easter.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Late to the Lent Party?

Late to the Lenten party and not sure what your family is going to give up or do? Check out my post from last year, 25 Activities Families Can Do During Lent.

If I won't see you until Easter Sunday, have a blessed and holy Lent.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meatless Fridays: Beyond Cheese Pizza and the Fish Fry

Ah, Lent. A time when a mom's fancy turns to "what the heck am I going to feed these kids on Friday?"

Growing up, Adam said his mom always served Kraft Mac and Cheese or cheese pizza on Friday. He
That's chopped cucumbers, tomatoes,
and shallots with olive oil, salt and pepper
suggested I do the same for the Herd and I gave him a look that clearly said, "No." I am not a Kraft mac and cheese fan, nor do I wish to spend every Friday during Lent eating the same foods. The local Knight of Columbus Fish Fry is yummy but it can get pricey and has the added challenge of taking the Herd out to dinner. (Translation: We never get to sit down and eat.)

With those in mind, I set out to find lots of good, meatless dinners that we would enjoy outside of Lent too! Thanks to my friends at NPN, I complied this list to make your Lenten menu planning easy!

1. Breakfast for dinner- leave out the bacon and enjoy toast, eggs, waffles, pancakes and more! Make homemade hash browns. Have an omelet bar. Add chocolate or fruit to the pancakes to perk them up.

2. Fruit or veggie pancakes- Think beyond basic white flour pancakes. Like pumpkin? Try yummy pumpkin pancakes. Fry up zuchinni pancakes- you know you have plenty left in the freezer from your summer garden!

3. Pesto Pasta- sop up the pesto with homemade bread (or any bread really... Fridays are meatless, not carb less!)

4. Alfredo pasta- add lots of veggies to the sauce to make it nice and filling!

5. We love this tomato basil soup. I use Fleur the immersion blender to blend the veggies before stirring in the white sauce. Add grilled cheese and oh. my. gosh, you'll want to eat this every day! (If you don't want to use chicken broth, use veggie or just plain water and up the herbs. So good!)

6. Baked mac and cheese- especially good if your Friday is particularly cold and snowy! There are loads of different recipes on Pinterest.  I looked but could not find a recipe similar to the one I make, which does NOT require you to bake the noodles before cooking. I need to write it out for the blog!

7. Stovetop mac and cheese- make your own cheese sauce and mix in the pasta. Add veggies if you like.

8. Skip the chicken, add another egg or two and make fried rice.

9. Risotto 

10. Quinoa Chili- This recipe has chicken in it but I've left out the chicken and it was still so yummy! We served it with cornbread.

11. A baked potato bar- Did you know you can bake potatoes in the slow cooker? You can! My husband says the texture is off but it is great way to make a healthy, inexpensive meal quickly. We serve them with leftover (meatless) chili, cheese and BBQ sauce.

12. Tuna salad- Lent would be incomplete without tuna. Forget Tuna Helper because, um, ew. Get some yummy bread, chips (if you haven't given up hunk food) and pickles and make a high class meal out of that can of dolphin safe tuna.

13. Cheese or veggie lasagna- Our secret family recipe involves... Stouffers. Make your own but really... Stouffers is good too.

14. Quinoa Black Bean Bowls. For most Catholics, it seems that cheese or fish are the main sources of protein during Lent. Why not quinoa? It's good, good for you, easy to prepare AND has tons of protien. It needs to ROCK those Friday night tables!

15. Quesadillas- Yes, there's cheese but what about sweet potato and black bean? No, it's not gross. I promise!

16. Get the veggies you love, the pasta you adore and mix up this baked penne with roasted vegetables. Meat? What meat?

17. Kale and ricotta stuffed shells

18. Pumpkin pasta with peas and ricotta salata

19. Stuffed Summer Squash

20. Maple Dijon Salmon- I am not a seafood fan but I might try this dish recipe! Yum!

21. Tuna Noodle Casserole- This isn't your grandmother's tuna casserole!

22. Meatless Lentil Tacos- Lentils make an excellent ground meat substitute! I've made lentil sloppy joes, lentil tacos and lentil chili. You simply adjust your seasonings to what you are making! Even my "I don't like lentils" eaters like this.

23. Cashew and chickpea quinoa with peanut ginger sauce- As I said before, use that quinoa! Make this the Lent of Quinoa!

24. Quinoa and sweet potato meatless meatballs- In addition to eating these with pasta I bet they would make excellent meatless meatball subs!

25. Black bean veggie burgers 

Bonus! Okay, you say, but what do I serve my kids for lunch? I know, I know. My boys love their turkey hot dogs and chicken nuggets... which is better than the whole "I will not eat anything for lunch and have a hunger induced meltdown" that went on for... too long.

So, lunch. Here's a couple quick and easy lunch ideas that you can pack for school or whip up easily at home:

1. Cold cereal and milk- Yep, even in school lunches. My kids take the cereal of their choice in a plastic container and buy milk. Add some fruit, maybe a veggie, and a treat and you have lunch.

2. Some spreadable something and jelly/honey- Use almond butter or peanut butter and you have the classic kids lunch.

3. Plain pasta- add cheese in another container and sauce in yet another, just to keep things from getting soggy in the lunch box.

4. A "dip" lunch- hummus with pita chips and veggies. Peanut butter with apples, carrots, pretzels and celery. Ranch dip with... anything.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Surf

The best of the previous week to start your new week off right!

  • Our House of Pink wrote an entry titled "Dear Mom of the ADHD Child." Although my ADD kid has the least problems, this sounds an awful lot like my house. It's messy, cluttered and filled with Mommy guilt- but lots of love and we are doing our best!
  • Recently, I've been told to get over the NICU. As Kathryn from Team Whitaker writes, you don't really get over it. It changes, it evolves and if you have these feelings, you are certainly not alone.
  • It really steams me up when people say, "God has really blessed me with . . . " and list something like, "healthy, normal children" or "a great year in business" or "money." Phrases like "I prayed for xyz and it happened" or "I sacrificed and prayed and you'll never guess the blessing I received!" It  makes those of us who a) don't have those things or b) prayed and sacrificed for those things and got the opposite feel like we are un-blessed and that God doesn't hear our prayers. The thing is, God does hear our prayers and sometimes we don't get what we want because ... God has other plans. Read "The  one thing Christians should stop saying" for more thoughts on "God blessed me."
  • This math teacher may have surprised his students but he made me cry happy tears. Underneth that crusty exterior is a softie!
  • Five babies in less than a year. WHOA!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lent is Coming

Lent is coming.

Historically (well, in my life) Lent has been a difficult time for me. I tend to associate it with loss and hardship. And frankly, let’s face it, Lent isn’t exactly a cheerful time in the Church! Statues are covered, there may or may not be Holy Water in the fonts and there is an air of solemnity during the Mass.

All this is appropriate, wonderful and meaningful. It certainly puts me in the correct mindset to think of the huge sacrifice Christ made for us. Yet when my mind is already sad and mourning, the weather is yuck and spring is fighting against the cold Polar Vortex… it’s easy to understand why I somewhat dread this Season.

In many ways, this past year has been Lent. There have been many prayers, many solemn hours and so much suffering. When people ask me what I am going to give up for Lent, I answer honestly, “I don’t know,” but in my head I scream, “My family has given up so much in the past year; don’t ask me to give up Facebook, sugar or coffee!” The thought of adding in something, even something good like more prayer time, paralyzes me. I cannot handle one more thing right now.

It is fitting, perhaps, that Lent 2014 will bring an end to the Year of Lent (2013). It’s six weeks of darkness, before the light breaks through and first year is almost over.  After Lent, we will celebrate so much- our anniversary (on Easter Sunday!), Camille’s First Communion, the March for Babies. It will be spring and there will be flowers and bunnies and new life everywhere.  But first… I will need to survive.

I need to survive the emotions that will come with (what should be) my niece’s first birthday. I need to balance grief and mourning and memories with the pure happiness that will come with celebrating my son’s tenth birthday. I need to prepare myself for Holy Week, knowing the tears will be as much about Christ’s suffering as they will be about the grief I feel, not only for me but for my family as well.

Lent is coming.

And I just need to survive until the Joy.