Saturday, January 29, 2011

Afternoon Picnic

Last week sometime, we found ourselves in the midst of a beautiful day.  (Who am I kidding?  Just about everyday this time of year is beautiful here!)  So we decided that lunch outside was a wonderful idea.

Simple but yummy fare.

Ladybug (with her messy face) thought it was very novel to not have to sit in her highchair with a bib on.

 Fritter thought she was taking advantage of the situation.

Afterwards we enjoyed some quiet time lazing in the shade.

Until Fritter decided that a little bit of quiet time was plenty, thank you very much.

These are the days that even if they don't remember, I will certainly cherish.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When He's Good He's Very, Very Good...

Fritter has decided that after we had such an....interesting week last week that he should keep me on my toes this week.  Mostly, I love his age.  There are times that I've wanted to shout from our rooftop "I love FOUR!".  Oh, but this week.  This week four has been trying.  And I'd like to climb up to the rooftop just to get away, and I'd be very quiet up there so no one could find me.  You could join me if you like.  We could have tea and watch the birds and airplanes.  ;-)

Anyway, so here's a picture mostly for myself to remember what my darling boy looks like when he smiles.

Maybe after this morning he'll take a looonnnnggg nap....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Freedom Through Vocation

I have often wondered what people meant when they say that I will find my salvation through my vocation.  Or that by practicing a virtue in the small things helps you ultimately acquire that virtue on a grander scale.  I know it must be true, because I've read these things from very reliable sources over and over again.  But how exactly these ideas worked has been beyond me.  Until two days ago.

After an unusually rough week, Saturday afternoon found me with time to myself, and I headed to adoration.  I brought along The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, and reveled in the quiet, peacefulness of the church.  There I was struck by a very simple thought:

"The blessings gained through true poverty I think are many, and I wouldn't want to lose them." -p. 381

I realized through that small and simple sentence that by the small act of being obedient to my household budget and not going outside of it at all, would ultimately help me become more obedient to His will.  You see, I'm not very good at sticking to my budget.  I tend to see things I want while at the store, or think of things we could use at home, and all of a sudden, I need those things right now.  And it's so easy to just pull out the debit card if I don't have enough cash from my budget to pay for it.  My husband never questions me, because the cost is usually so low as to be absorbed in the rest of our budget.  But those small things add up.

And so I started to wonder how much we could have saved if I had had enough control to not make those purchases until they could be bought within the household budget allotted to them.  I don't know the number, but I'm guessing quite a bit.  And then I wondered how much lower my grocery bill would be if I cut out the many extras we get, and tried fruit and homemade items as our snacks, instead of boxed cookies, chips, ect.  Again, probably quite a bit.  Maybe enough that the bill would be a little more predictable, and allow me to save for those things I think are necessary.

It occurred to me that if I could temper myself enough to be obedient to my budget, and be creative in ways to cover those needs or wants that will ultimately come up, I could truly learn an important lesson in overall obedience.  And knowing myself, I'm unsure if there is another way for me to learn this lesson.  And isn't keeping my budget one of those vocational tasks assigned to me by the very fact of my being a wife and mother? 

You can see how the blanks started to fill in for me.  In His great wisdom, God knew I would never learn to be obedient to Him in any other way but where he put me.  He has given me the tools and the experiences I need, right here where I am, to grow closer to Him. 

Think about it.  How many times a day, especially with smaller children, must we as mothers practice patience?  And even when we blow it, you can bet in a few hours (or minutes sometimes) we'll have another opportunity to get it right.  And how many opportunities have our children given us to practice humility?  For a prideful person like myself, it's so important for me to be knocked off my horse in public now and then.

And since I'm working on being more joyful this year, and joy ultimately comes from an interior peace with God, I also realized that through this small act, I will be freed from the guilt that comes from going over my budget needlessly.  And it's freeing to deny myself certain things in order to offer them up for graces for myself and others.  And (can you see where I'm going with this?) by denying myself those small things, I can find joy in those things we already have.  I can learn to be thankful for the many (many, many) blessings God has given us.  All because I followed my budget.  All because I am trying to be obedient within the context of my vocation.

Maybe most of you have this idea figured out already.  But for me it's been a great revelation.  One that I hope I don't forget too soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Something Is Wrong With This Picture

Let me start this post off by saying that everything is just fine.  And we are truly thankful for that.  Now for my rant.

Fritter has been sick with a stomach flu-like bug off and on for three weeks.  I've hesitated taking him into the doctor, because besides making sure he's not dehydrated (which we have worked very hard on this whole time) I knew there wasn't much they could do.  But when he threw up again on Tuesday night, I felt three weeks was long enough, and took him into his pediatrician to make sure it wasn't something more than just a flu virus.

The PA we saw was very understanding to my concerns, and checked him out pretty thoroughly.  She then decided to run some tests, blood work and X-rays among others.  Thankfully my dear husband was able to get a few hours off from work to come help me, especially with the X-rays.

After a morning spent in waiting rooms, we made it home in time for lunch and naps while I fearfully sat in front of the phone waiting for news of the worst.  When the call finally came, we were told the X-rays showed something that could be serious, but maybe not, and they wanted us to pack a bag for Fritter and take him immediately to the children's hospital here.  We were told they would call ahead so our wait in the ER would be limited (she was afraid of exposing us to yet another flu virus), and would send our test results over to speed things up.

Once there we learned that the PA did indeed call ahead for us, but it made no difference.  She did not make sure any test results were sent over, so my poor Fritter had to undergo another set of tests.  Which meant more waiting, more frustration (not to mention the cost to our insurance company).

After about 4 hours of waiting in a crowded room, and having been told Fritter could have nothing to eat or drink in case they needed to do further tests, I managed to get them to give him some pedialyte.  After another 2 1/2 hours we were finally told that everything was fine, there was no sign of anything serious and we could go home.  We waited another 1/2 hour for them to finish up paperwork and let us leave.

Fritter finally had dinner around 11pm Wednesday night and then was scooted off to bed, safe and warm.

So many things are wrong with this scenario, and my frustration grows the more I think about it.  In the end, I'm very grateful that Fritter is ok.  I will be even more hesitant to take him to the doctor next time he gets sick (though I think waiting three weeks was more than prudent).

After telling this story to a few friends last night, I was amazed to find every one of them had a similar story.  The lady with the daughter who had the $400 flu, the lady who was made to feel like a bad mother for waiting to take her daughter in only to (again) find that it was nothing serious, the lady whose doctor asked her what she thought was wrong, because he didn't have a clue.  There is something seriously wrong with this.  And the waste!  Of money, of time, of health from being forced to sit in an ER while the patients become sicker.

*sigh*.  I don't have any answers, just frustrations.  I'm glad he's fine.  In the end, that's what really matters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here I Am (Morning Offering)

Maybe if I could get up
Just a little earlier
I could find some peace for myself
If I carefully and quietly
Tiptoes past the bedroom doors
And snuck a coffee mug down from the shelf
And I'd request a private audience with Him
A secret meeting in the morning light still dim
And say

Here I am
Take all I have today
Take my hands
Take my mouth
Make the words that I say
Take this cluttered heart
Make it simple and sure to obey
Here I am
Take all I have today

It would not be long before I'd hear
Some footsteps coming down the hall
And someone turning on the light
Saying "Mom what are you doing here?
It isn't even daytime yet
Have you been sitting here all night?"
And I'd brace myself for the noisy day
But silently I'd once again say

Here I am
Take all I have today
Take my hands
Take my mouth
Make the words that I say
Take this cluttered heart
Make it simple and sure to obey
Here I am
Take all I have today

Friday, January 14, 2011

Loving Our New Computer

Our old computer (ol' trusty as we like to call it) is dying and has been for quite some time.  But we've not really been in a position to replace it, so we just dealt with a computer that was slow, and that you couldn't totally read what was on the screen.  And viewing pictures?  Forget about it!  We dreaded the day that we'd try to turn it on and nothing would happen.

My dear husband decided enough was enough.  He ordered parts to build his own computer, and yesterday after work, he did it.  He built his own computer.  Yesterday after work.  I know that other people have done this before, and it's actually fairly common, but I am totally in awe.  He built his own computer.  To me, computers are these magical things that just kind of are.  But no.  He built his own computer!

And it's awesome!  It's fast.  I can just click on something, and guess what?  It just goes there!  I can see pictures, and video and not try to read between the lines (literally).

It's not totally done, I can get on the internet and that's about it, but I'm guessing by tomorrow the entire kit and caboodle will be done.

And guess what?  My husband built it.  That is so satisfying.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

4 Hours of Toddler Playtime in 2 Minutes

I'm exhausted just watching him!  I think it might be time for a nap already.  ;-)

You can find the original here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

St. Giuseppe Moscati: Doctor to the Poor

St. Giuseppe Moscati was an Italian doctor in Naples.  He came from an aristocratic family, but after finishing medical school was struck by the poor and suffering he saw in the hospital he worked in.  Despite hospital regulations, he spent more time with those patients who truly needed him than he was supposed to.  Not only did he annoy his superiors, he learned a unique lesson in charity.

After several heartbreaking incidents, he truly learns to see Christ in each of his patients and treats each patient accordingly, no regardless of poverty or social "distastefulness".  There is a bit of a love story intermingled throughout the movie, which serves to show how truly human St. Giuseppe was.
The movie portrays St. Giuseppe treating those victims of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in the early 1900's.  He also is one of the first and most constant on the scene during a cholera outbreak.  Throughout his life, the movie shows him having the utmost respect for the dignity of the human life.
After receiving word that he had taken in a woman who was afraid to go to the hospital, and treating her at his home, the poor of Naples began to show up at his front door for help.  The movie portrays that many of the people he helped were starving, and he prescribed them food and helped pay for it.  His sister eventually helped him at home as well, and before long they had sold many of their possessions to help care for the poor.
The movie is a little long, but I loved every minute of it.  Not only was it inspiring, but there were truly funny and entertaining parts as well.  There is a wonderful quote from one of St. Giuseppe's letters at the end of the movie, which I have failed to find online.  Perhaps it was a liberty the movie took, but it was inspiring nonetheless.

You can purchase this DVD here.
I wrote this review of St. Giuseppe Moscati for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Oplatki and Advent Calendars. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.
I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I just learned about the new book by Abby Johnson called Unplanned.  It sounds like an incredible book, and I am hoping to get my hands on a copy soon.

From the book description:

Abby Johnson quit her job in October 2009. That simple act became a national news story because Abby was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who, after participating in her first actual abortion procedure, walked across the road to join the Coalition for Life.

Unplanned is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. Telling Abby's story from both sides of the abortion clinic property line, this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the life versus rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies.
Sounds intriguing, huh?
If you want to get your hands on what may prove to be a bestseller, you can order it here at the Catholic Company.

I Am David

It seems almost impossible for me to write a review for I Am David.  Nothing I could say would do this movie justice. 

David is a young boy who, after being born and raised in a Communist concentration camp in Italy, is finally able to escape with the help of another inmate.  In his young life he has seen nothing but human suffering and cruelty and thus does not even know how to smile.  He mistrusts all humanity and expects the worst at every turn.  David is on a mission to deliver a letter to Copenhagen, Denmark, and on the way encounters normal people living normal lives.  Through these encounters he slowly learns to trust and love.  David is armed with little else but a compass and a loaf of bread to carry him on his journey.

One of the things that really struck me about this movie was how readily David was able to put his faith in the unseen.  Along his journey he receives a holy card of Our Lady, and with a child-like faith that is still intact in spite of his unfortunate circumstances, he looks to Our Lady and ultimately her Son to guide and protect him.  Perhaps because of his distrust of humanity it was easier for him to trust in something else.  Whatever the case, this small part was inspiring to me.

The acting in this movie is wonderful.  What else could you expect from a movie starring Jim Caviezel (even if it is only a small role)?  And the strength and determination that Ben Tibber (David) portrays in the character of this young boy is stunning.  I cannot recommend this movie enough.  It really is one that you will want to own and watch over and over.  
You can purchase this DVD here.

 I wrote this review of I Am David for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Oplatki and Advent Calendars. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.
Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.
I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Resolution

This year for my New Year's Resolution, I've decided to do something a little different.  The past couple of years, I have used A Mother's Rule of Life to create goals for myself based on the different areas of my life.  But my analytical brain goes a little overboard, and I tend to set so many goals that they become hard to keep track of.  I did go back and update last year's post with my progress though.  That's one of the helpy things of keeping a blog. 

Anyway, so this year, instead of setting a bunch of goals for myself that I will eventually forget all about, I've decided to work on one virtue.  One virtue all year long.  And by the end of this year, I hope to be a little more joyful.  That is, I hope to radiate a little more joy. 

You see, I'm generally a happy person.  But I have a melancholic temperament.  I can be totally at peace in my little world, and completely forget to smile.  And I am SO serious.  That's not to say that I don't smile or show some enjoyment in my life, but it's definitely not my natural state.  I've mentioned before that my dear husband lovingly calls my serious-doing-nothing-at-all-face my "mean" face.  That's probably not good.

And what I've realized is that my outward attitudes effect those around me.  When I'm snappy, or grumpy, or even just Eeyore melancholy, my family tends to be that way too.  But all it takes is a little smile and nod from me, and my children seem a little more joyful themselves, my husband seems a little more relaxed.

Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that come December I will be a beaming ray of light every time I come into a room.  I am a serious person.  I am a thinker, a daydreamer.  That's part of my personality and one of the ways God has made me.  And those are mostly good qualities.  But balance is also a good thing.  My hope is that if I practice showing the joy and peace I have on the inside everyday (or almost everyday) maybe by December it will have become a little more natural.

And ultimately, I need to realize that my joy comes from the Lord, and having it depend on the others around me is unwise.  It is this internal joy I hope to gain and show.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas 2010

Waiting ever so patiently.  Christmas is almost here!

Sleepy Ladybug on her trusty pony.


Visit with big cousins to a space museum.

Boys in space.

Dad with floating Ladybug.  I hope they don't get lost in space!

Hey!  What's she doing without her space gear on?
And that, my friends is our Christmas in pictures.  I didn't take many, unfortunately.  And Fritter got sick three days later.  But we still had fun, and rejoiced in the birth of our Savior.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Very Sick (But Happy) New Year

How was your Christmas?  Ours was wonderful, though at some points I was reminded of the Christmas in A Christmas Carol.  So many funny stories to tell, and so little time. Here are a few highlights:

We meant to go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but by the time 11pm came around, I was so exhausted that we decided Mass on Christmas Day would be better for us.  So there we are in all our finest, it's the beginning of Mass and Father says, "Let us pray."  As he quietly composes himself, my Fritter, in full conversational tone in a very quiet church, announces that he has to go "Poo-poo".  There were chuckles all around as I (very red faced) took my little man to the restroom to learn some manners, know.

Once home, the kids were wired from a sweet breakfast, and who knows how many candy canes.  We sent Fritter outside to play and run, and as we turned to let Ladybug go outside as well, we found she had already made it out.  With a handful of opened (and very sticky) candy canes, and sugary red stuff dripping down her face and hands she made it straight to the sandbox and dived in.  She came out looking like she had been in a dirt bomb war with the ruffians next door.

Around lunchtime, I was busy in the kitchen when I heard what sounded like marbles rolling around on our living room floor, which is Pergo.  I came out of the kitchen to find that Ladybug had made her way inside with a shovel full of rocks and dirt, and she and Fritter were very happily kicking them around the living room.

It was at this point that I found myself on the couch with a cool washcloth on my head, and my dear husband taking charge of the rugrats.  ;-)

But, truly, it was a nice Christmas.  I'll post pictures maybe tomorrow or the next day.  We were visited by my husband's brother and his family, which was so nice.  And then Fritter came down with the stomach flu (to which he is recovering, finally) last Wednesday.  And then Friday I came down with it, and Saturday my dear husband got sick.  We are all mostly better, and thankfully Ladybug has been just fine.  This is a Christmas and New Year's that will go down in family lore.