- You've accidentally genuflected at a place other than church, e.g. the movie theatre, school auditorium.
- You have a nativity set at your house during Christmas, and have also played with it.
- You have 20+ cousins.
- When you hear the word Madonna, you think of the Blessed Virgin, not the song "Like a Virgin."
- You and friends ever played "Mass" instead of House, or Cops and Bad Guys.
- When watching Star Wars and hear "May the force be with you" you respond with "And also with you".
- You know at least five people named Mary.
- You have at one point had to stop a younger sibling from playing in the holy water font.
- You know that Father Stan could take on Eminem any day.
- Instead of change, you find a rosary under your couch cushions.
- You have participated in sword fights using Palms on Passion Sunday.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
It has been some time since I've been blessed with a heavy cross, roughly about four years, in fact. Don't get me wrong, I do not desire suffering at this very moment. I am rather enjoying my current wave of happy consolation. No, keep the storm at a distance, please. And if I do wish for a cross, it is only a desire in the abstract, as in some trial endured which would unite my soul to Christ without any loss, pain or inconvenience. But then it really would not be a cross at all, would it?
As I observe Gianna slowly learning to read these recent months I realize that one day she will breeze through a book without any struggle. But for now, each letter must be sounded out with effort, perseverance, and sometimes a little pain in the form of frustration. The older I get and the more I reflect on motherhood I see how the fruits of labor are simply not had without the labor, except on some rare occasion. The very best things in life are reached through some suffering: raising good children, supporting a family, keeping a beautiful home, tending a garden, learning to read. It seems only natural to apply the same principle to even greater suffering, and the heavier the burden the greater the reward.
So when I look to the beautiful friends, both online and otherwise, who feel the weight of their suffering right now I am overcome with admiration, for they must be very close to the Father, Who does not leave the side of His sick children. He loves them so much that He bestows on them a perfect way to become more like His Son.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I say, wrapping a "badday" around His "boo boos" whispering, "Aw bettew, Jesus". How I wish it were that simple, Madeleine. Thank heaven, for you, it is.
And yes, this is another of Kimberlee's incredibly beautiful rosaries from Beads of Mercy!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
No doubt I will finish the book this afternoon, when my girls go down for their naps. I am nearly at a loss for words as I read this. It is so much more than anything I could have imagined.
Monday, July 23, 2007
By the way, blueberries happen to be not only my favorite berry, but my favorite fruit! I really need some recipes here, because I can't seem to get beyond eating them by the bowl-full straight out of the fridge. And I'm consuming a flat per week. Yikes! :)
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Five minutes later, finding her playing with her toys: Gianna, I asked you to put your pants on. Put them on now and then you may play.
Ten minutes later, finding her outside in the back yard (fenced in, don't worry!) standing on the roof of her playhouse: Gianna Marie, what did I repeatedly ask you to do ten minutes ago?
Gianna: Uuuummmmmm........you told me tooooooooooo......put my pants on?? (Smiling, as though the right answer would appease me.)
Me: Yes, that's right. Go, and do it right now, before mama gets upset!
Gianna, scurrying along: Yes, mother. I'm sorry, my feet just went the wrong way.
(Yes, apparently those feet were also not listening.)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Ouiz over at Chez Ouiz always leaves me with thoughts to ponder. She is funny, artistic, thought-provoking, humble, and strikingly beautiful if I might say so. She has an incredible way of inspiring those who feel down, and she is ever-grateful for all the sweet, cute things her children do. In this post (entitled "Wicked Witch of the West", but I can't imagine her as anything other than perfectly serene!) she recounts the turn of a difficult morning riddled with snapping and impatience into a day of "presenting her body as a living sacrifice" by smiling when she was not so inclined; by pausing to be graciously present to her children even though a mountain of laundry awaited her in the next room. A beautiful reminder that we are able to unite ourselves to God amid the chaos, sanctifying ourselves at every moment.
I love reading Katherine at Life in the Onion Dome. She is an admirably well-educated, interesting woman, and one I gain much from every time I visit her blog. Her words are always intellectually clear and to the point, but she pulls them off effortlessly and with grace. In her post on the "domestic monastery" she inspires us to reap the benefits of grace and strive for perfection amidst our everyday distractions and difficulties. Katherine recently wrote a beautiful piece on the gift of closeness with her adolescent-age daughter, Emily. It gives me great hope for my own girls as they slowly, but surely approach the teenage years!
Cay Gibson at Cajun Cottage Under the Oaks reminds me of my extended family in Pennsylvania, and all the great memories I have of my summers with them as a child. Cay's reflections on education and motherhood always give me something to ponder. Recently she posted a lovely reflection on being satisfied with our gifts, no matter how small, and working to "weave" them for God's glory, not ours, "creating a lace that lasts" into eternity. The post also includes a beautiful tribute to Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Jen at Et-tu? is a great thinker. As a convert from atheism, she has fought the good fight in coming to know Truth, and we cradle-Catholics get to benefit from her hard work. She recently wrote a post entitled, Motherhood: God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called. It mainly addresses the issues concerning having a large family, and how mothers are not given many children because they are supermoms, but because God equips them with the graces necessary to fulfill His plan. But the overall theme is a crucial call to humility for all of us, reminding that we do nothing well of our own accord. All good we do is from above.
Mrs. Pea at Our Very Own Little House (a lovely blog with beautiful images, by the way) is one of those gentle, loving, quiet and kind mothers who never fails to inspire me with her introspection. Her post, Learning With the Blessed Mother is a beautiful reflection on her new found love of Mary and seeing the passages of Holy Scripture in a new light through Our Lady. And just the other day, Mr. and Mrs. Pea were approved to adopt a little girl, though the adoption has not yet been finalized. Please pray for them!
Now that I've accepted my award and passed it on, I'm off to toast to my thinking with a glass of port! (It's great for the mind. :) Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Left to Tell is the true account of a devout young Catholic's living terror amidst the Rwandan holocaust. For 91 days, Immaculee Ilibagiza was cramped in a closet-sized bathroom with seven other starving women while hideous murders were going on all around them. Imaculee lost her family to the genocide, but she turned to God and her faith for protection, and found an unyielding strength and merciful love through prayer.
I can't wait to get this book! Have you read it? I would love to hear your thoughts.
I love this stuff! Not only do I now have super-soft towels, but my girls' clothes come out almost wrinkle free! (I still remove them from the dryer after a few minutes, though.)
We mothers are delighted by the simplest things, aren't we?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Ratatouille is a Provençal dish I have loved* for years. My venerable grandmother, in her days of preparing fine French cuisine, made the best version I've ever had. Her recipe came from the woman who brought French methods of cooking into the American home - Julia Child. (moment of silence, please :)
Ratatouille is not a gourmet delicacy. It is essentially a squash-type casserole to be prepared in the comfort of a home, but when cooked just right, oh my, how it melts in your mouth! This quintessential recipe comes from Ms. Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I.
I inherited this gem from my grandmother when she retired from cooking a few years ago. I treasure the old-book smell, the torn and broken binding, and food-splattered pages. They bring to mind images of the diligent hands and loving heart of a woman I've admired my whole life.
Monday, July 16, 2007
My heart goes out to the innocent victims and their mothers and fathers. The financial losses to be suffered by the archdiocese are nothing compared to the souls lost through this tragedy. This morning I wept for them. I have never been one prone to tears, but perhaps motherhood has changed that somewhat. Today I found myself wanting to hold the victims in my arms, let them cry on my shoulder and then do whatever I can to bring them back to the Church. I even phoned a dear friend in tears, and was consoled by her kind words.
Our heavenly Father's infinite foreknowledge saw to it that today's gospel was no accident. It was the story of a lawyer who tested Jesus, asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Realizing that in addition to loving God with his whole heart, mind and strength, he must also love his neighbor as himself, he asks "Who is my neighbor?" Our Lord answers with the parable of the victim of robbers, who was stripped, beaten and left half-dead. A priest walking down the road saw him, and passed by on the opposite side. Then a Levite came upon the beaten man and also passed on the opposite side. Finally, a Samaritan, moved with compassion, approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and took the man under his care. Jesus then asked the lawyer which of the three men was neighbor to the victim, and the man answered the Samaritan. Our Lord said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)
Many of us shudder at the thought of pondering tragedies like those in the newspaper today. But sometimes I think such reflection can benefit us, not only by fostering appreciation for our own blessings, but also by moving us to truer compassion for those who suffer. To stop for just ten minutes out of our moments of pleasantry, to ponder the heart of a mother whose eight year-old son or daughter was repeatedly abused. Though we find such thoughts uncomfortable, they can move us to pray for those mothers and their children, and perhaps offer up some act of mercy for them.
If inclined to fear the financial losses of the Church, something to think about might be that we, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, are just that, a body. And as is the case of an injury to a human body, sometimes one member will suffer for the sake of the healing of another. Perhaps in the case of any loss endured by an archdiocese, such suffering can be offered willingly for the healing and sanctification of the thousands of victims and their families.
The once young innocents who are now well into their adulthood need our prayers and our love just as much as the priests and the Church. It is easy for us to close our eyes to the hideousness that has occurred, and as a mother myself it can be very hard to imagine the terrors endured by so many children. But if we do not pray for them, who will? How glorious it would be to see more souls brought to God's Kingdom, through true compassion for all involved in this tragedy.
*Sunday, July 15
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Though I'm not an animal rights activist by any stretch, I admit I am a bit sad for this poor bird. At such a steep cost she may not have a home for some time. Wouldn't it be lovelier to see her in Dawn's back yard, next to her own rose-breasted friends?
KC, thank you for stopping by and having a little fun. I will pray the rosary today for both you and any specific intentions you may have. :)
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Yesterday morning after my husband left for work, I sat in my favorite armchair, two warm bodies on my lap and two heads nestled under my chin, reading Madeleine's before-breakfast choice, Five Little Ducks. After the girls belted out their "quack, quack, quacks" we moved on to Gianna's selection, Marguerite Makes a Book. Upon finishing Gianna wanted to draw just like her friend, Marguerite, so we proceeded to the dining table, spread out our colored pencils and papers and spent the next hour doodling away. By the time we got around to breakfast it was almost ten o'clock, so we prepared a hearty meal with eggs, bacon, blueberry pancakes and fresh fruits instead of our usual weekday oatmeal. The meal was a huge hit and we savored every last morsel of food on the table. Gianna thanked me for making her a "special breakfast", and Madeleine just smiled while she stuffed her belly, giving me a "Yum" here and an "Mmmm" there. We were all grateful for such a pleasant morning.
My heart was humbled in thanksgiving for all we have. The love of a family with a mother and father present in the home, the leisure and time to cuddle with my girls in the morning, the freedom to choose from a plentiful selection of children's books on our shelf, the bountiful table of delicious foods to please our palates, and knowing that tomorrow can be just as wonderful as today.
It is good to be grateful. How it pleases me when my children express appreciation for the goods I give them. I want to reward them for that. I hope my own life can be spent being grateful for my blessings, and that I might not wish for anything other than what is already at my disposal. Because it is enough, and much more than I deserve.
I've found it of great benefit to live by an old common principle: "When you feel sorry for yourself or want more than you have, compare yourself to the less-fortunate. When you are feeling good about yourself and your virtues, compare yourself to the saints, or those who are better than you."
This principle has always kept me fairly grounded, and I do believe it contributes to happiness in this life. When tempted to long for more than I have, like a new baby or a bigger home, simply pondering those who have no children or no home can bring instantaneous gratitude. When inclined to be proud of my mothering, or deceived into thinking I have obtained some motherly virtue, contemplating the life of Saint Monica or Saint Gianna, or even an exemplary fellow blogging mother can bring me back to my knees, right where I should be. And somehow falling right in the middle - being content with what I have while working to become like the more perfect in virtue, seems to make for a good and joyful life.
For the record let me say I certainly do not have the key to happiness in this life, as it is unlikely anyone does except perhaps the perfect. Temperament certainly has much to do with it, as our inclinations to see things as good or bad in this life are often dictated by the natural personalities given us at birth. And in my own case, weather also has an influence. :)
Monday, July 9, 2007
And you know what happened? That's right, the vandalism stopped. Completely. Apparently the local gangs have particular admiration for Our Lady of Guadalupe and will not deform any property where she is present.
How it delights me to imagine a band of ill-willed, foul-mouthed, hooded-jacket clad boys approaching a scene bearing multi-colored spray cans, only to find Our Lady looking upon them, her voice echoing the beautiful words:
Sunday, July 8, 2007
(I only part with her on the discouraging of hiring household help. Though I do not have hired help myself, I do think it is a good thing for those who can afford it. Not only does it free up a mother's time and energy for her children and help to maintain a peaceful and orderly learning environment, but it can also be a beautiful act of charity to provide good employment for a person in need.)
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Delicious. I do hope you enjoy it!
Friday, July 6, 2007
But on rare occasions, the little one just likes to have a little fun before she retires. When I checked on her the other night, this is what I found:
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
"Yep. That's definitely you. Standing around not doing much but smiling and looking happy."
He is so right. My response:
"Can you blame me? Look at this baby, and look at my dress!"