Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A break for now......

I have been thinking about this and thinking about this and thinking about this…….  And I think I have come to the decision to put my blog on hiatus for a while.  I don’t want to walk away completely- but I feel the blog has sort of fizzled out.  I am not posting much, when I do- my posts are a little flat and dull.  

The truth is, I am not enjoying writing my blog lately and though I still feel I have a million posts I could write- none of them seem meaningful when I actually sit down to type them.  Anyway, I pray a little break will do me some good.   I think I will take the time to concentrate my writing efforts on fiction or personal journaling or even just keeping in touch better with friends through e-mails or letters.

For now, I am off.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Blog Reading!

Monday, December 17, 2012

O come, O come Advent

My oldest daughter and I were talking last night about how so many of the traditions from the Advents of her younger days have not been quite the same as they used to be.  We have not been visiting Santa Claus the last two years (because the “real” Santa retired and it is just not the same experience without him).  When we went to see our favorite Christmas lights displays last year they had scaled things way back and the experience was a huge disappointment.  And, most of all, she is well past believing in Santa.   

We talked about how the magic of the season feels somewhat diminished.  I reminded her that it is really about Jesus and not about Santa or fancy light displays anyway.  But then I felt guilty because even our spiritual preparations have been somewhat diminished this year…. 

This Advent, like everything else in life this year, has been overshadowed by busyness.  Our celebrations and observances have been sort of thrown together.  I hate that it is this way but I am not the most organized person and distractions keep finding a way of getting in the way of life and wrecking havoc on my very best intentions.   

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that this is life.  Busyness is a part of the chapter of life I am in- with five children ranging in age from 14-3, and three jobs between Tim and I, and home schooling, and the few extra activities the kids are involved in, etc., etc., etc….. And I am learning to find God in the midst of it all.  I am beginning to understand that holiness is serving Him as best I can despite the distractions and struggles.  

Anyway, what I really wanted to share though was that this morning as the younger kids and I were working on an "O Antiphon" craft that I threw together, I decided a little music would set the mood.  I thought a little music might help us to appreciate the O Antiphons and the last little bit of Advent and the special time of preparation and contemplation this time of year should be.   

I was right!  This song by Matt Maher (my very favorite Christian musician.  I love his voice and his songs and, most of all that, he is Catholic) immediately cut through the distractions in my heart & mind.  For a few moments, as I listened, my heart stirred with hope and joy.  And the spirit of Advent came alive for me.  I had to share…..I hope it touches you as well.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How my Grinch plans got stolen!

            What a week we had last week!  Sick kids, changing work schedules, and not one night where Tim and I were both home together with the kids.  We so rarely have this happen.  In fact, a month ago my eleven year old son overheard a conversation Tim and I were having about statistics we had heard concerning the importance of families eating dinner together, and my son asked, in confusion, how a family could possibly avoid eating their dinners together!  Unfortunately, this week, he had the chance to find out!

            As if the busyness and unpredictability of our days  was not enough...  I had seen something on Pinterest I really wanted to do.  It was a recipe for a dessert using lime sherbet and the suggestion to have it while watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.  Now, that is one of my favorite Christmas movies (the old half hour animated one, not the newer live action one).  And, my daughter had been requesting sherbet for dessert for a while.  I thought it would be fun to buy the kids the green dessert (skipping the fancy recipe and just having the sherbet plain) and curl up as a family with the movie.  I thought it would be even more fun to surprise the kids with my plan.  

As SO often happens, my plans did not work out as I hoped.  First, I wanted to have our movie/dessert night on Tuesday evening, but the aforementioned sick child and changing work schedules prevented that.  Wednesday was out from the start. So, Thursday was my second choice but-- did I mention changing work schedules?  Thursday did not work out.  Friday did not seem an option- I was “on call” at work and would likely have to help close the store that night.   

It was beginning to look like our Grinch movie and dessert surprise was doomed to failure.  But then it turned out, I was not needed at work on Friday and would be able to spend the evening with my family.  Finally, a night that we would ALL be together.  I decided we would load the kids up in the car and swing by the store to buy our treat, then watch our movie before bed.  

            A perfect plan, right?   But on the five minute car ride home from the store with our sherbet, my daughters got in an argument.  My nine year old let her temper get the best of her.  Her behavior was such that she did not deserve a special treat and was told she would have to go right to bed without dessert or movie when we got home.  

I hate, sometimes, having to follow through on discipline.  Our daughter came to us, in tears after putting her p.j.’s on and brushing her teeth and apologized, begging to be included in the fun.  We felt bad.  But, Tim and I try very hard to stand firm, in order to teach our children that their choices and actions DO have consequences.  So we sent her off to bed alone while the rest of the family shared a special evening. 

Our dessert was yummy, and the movie was cute and meaningful, as always.  But, without the whole family in on the fun, our night was not as special as it was supposed to be.  So much for my plans……

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our square meals

            This past weekend while others were out taking advantage of Black Friday and post-Thanksgiving sales to buy Christmas presents for others, we decided to treat ourselves to a MUCH needed new kitchen table.  

The first kitchen table that Tim and I purchased right after our wedding, was a nice butcher block table that seat 4.   It was still in great shape 7 years later when we welcomed our third child and outgrew it.  (It went into the garage where it sat for years until we unearthed it to use for our school table, for which it works quite well.)  After baby number three came though, a neighbor offered us a hand-me-down table that had room for 6.  It was a long oval shaped table that kept us so far apart we had trouble passing food.  Tim and I had to stand up and walk around the table to cut our youngest son’s food because he was at the opposite end of the table from where we sat.  Besides that, the table was not in great shape when we got it and it was not a style I would have ever chosen.   But it did accommodate our growing family--  so for 9 years we have shared our meals around that old table despite the fact that it was sort of unattractive and had a leg that was sort of cracking.  

            Anyway, our fifth child is now really ready to graduate out of her high chair.  So, we could put it off no longer-- it was time for a table that would seat all seven of us.  I was thrilled to finally have an excuse to retire the old hand-me-down table.  

Furniture shopping with five children along is such a production!  At every store, all the kids felt the need to share their opinion on every table we looked at and every sales person felt the need to sell us, not only on their table, but on their company as well, trying to convince us that no other store was even worth looking at. Still, we persevered and found the perfect table!

            As silly as it sounds, our new kitchen table has been quite an exciting new addition to our home.  It is square and seats 8.  After years of sitting at a long oval table and feeling like we were miles apart from each other at dinner- we are all cozy around our new square table.  It is plenty big enough for all of us to sit comfortably and, best of all, no one is stuck far away on the other side of the room anymore.  We are all hanging out more in the kitchen and sitting around the table even when it is not mealtime.   We are talking around the table and spending time together.  

As I have mentioned before, I believe very strongly in the importance of family dinners.  I feel sharing our meals together is one of the best things we do to build strong families and to connect with each other each day.  Our family dinners always start with Grace and end with the Rosary.  In between those prayers, we share about our days and play silly games over food my oldest daughter and I have prepared together.  Dinnertime is a (mostly) beautiful part of our days and a special time to be together without distractions or interruptions.  So now that we are finally all able to sit down to dinner at a beautiful, sturdy, and cozy new table, I pray that our meals will bring us closer together in more ways than one!

(I tried to post a picture of our new table and "Blogger" informed me that I have reached my limit for pictures.....not sure what  to do about that.......for now, I'll have to paint beautiful pictures with my words, I guess)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On this Thanksgiving....

I am thankful for.....

  • my Catholic faith
  • my beautiful family
  • a roof over our heads and food on our table
  • that I met my word goal for my 2nd novel yesterday (YEA!!!!!!!)
  • that my first novel was good enough to publish and has received positive reviews
  • that I am NOT working the midnight shift on Black Friday (thank you to my manager at work who must realize I am not as young as my co-workers and cannot pull an all-nighter selling baby clothes at this point in my life!)
  • that our wonderful babysitter is home from college and available to watch the kids while I am working on Black Friday since Tim has to work his regular hours at work too.
  • that I found a minute to blog about my blessings of the day......

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book review- Stealing Jenny

            Growing up I loved to read so much, I was teased about it at school.   My middle school locker was stuffed with "Sweet Valley High", "Babysitter’s Club", and other meaningless fiction stories.  Whenever I finished my work early, or had a few minutes of down time between lessons, I would pull out my book and read, despite being taunting by the kids around me for having my nose in a book- again.

            Looking back, I wish I would have read a few books about the lives of saints.  But, at the time I knew no better.  The stories I spent so much time with back then certainly lacked any real substance, but they were sweet and innocent enough.  When I outgrew those old middle school stories and began to read more adult fiction selections, I turned to authors like V.C. Andrews and Stephen King.  These were interesting stories but were no longer the sweet and innocent stories of my youth.  They glorified worldly values and errant behaviors.

            As I grew in my faith, I began to see the error of my reading ways and sought out great fictional stories that would encourage me in my Catholic faith and entertain me at the same time.  Sadly, I was largely unsuccessful in my mission and have spent much of my adult life reading books intended for elementary school students because they provided me the joy of reading without offending me in their secularism.

            But, now, at the recommendation of my friend Sue, I have discovered a wonderful and talented Catholic author in Ellen Gable Hrkach!  After reading the summary of Hrkach latest novel, Stealing Jenny I could not wait to read it.   The summary sounded intriguing and interesting without being offensive in its portrayal of married life.  

Stealing Jenny lived up to its description brilliantly.  The story of Tom and Jenny, a young married couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their sixth child, was realistic and beautifully written.  It was, at the same time, an enthralling tale full of suspense.  

At first, Tom and Jenny’s life together seems perfect.  They are a loving Catholic couple and have been blessed with a family that is the picture of goodness.   As the story unfolds though, details are slowly revealed about both a sinister kidnapping plot involving Jenny and her unborn baby, and the twists and turns of the couple’s early relationship.  Hrkach expertly weaves together the details of the present day kidnapping and the past struggles Tom and Jenny faced as a teenage couple.  Both storylines kept me glued to my computer screen as I flew through my very first e-book ever. 

I was truly captivated by the book.  It was all that I have longed for as an avid reader- a story fraught with suspense and drama.  And all that I desire as a Catholic mother as well- a story about a family I could relate to and be inspired by.  Beautiful in every way!


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