Monday, July 30, 2012

16 Years

This week marked my 16th wedding anniversary to the Chief. We have now been married long enough for my memories with him to eclipse the memories of my childhood. That wasn't too difficult since I was only 19 when we married, but still, I think 16 is pretty wonderful.

My parents divorced when I was three years old. Instead of causing me to fear marriage, it had the opposite effect of making me a champion of unbreakable marriages. As a young adult, I made the decision to fully commit myself to my Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church; her teachings on the indissolubility of marriage struck a strong and resounding chord within my soul. I was young getting married. Largely clueless about pretty much everything. But I knew that it was for keeps. Divorce hurts men, women, and children. That truth had been burned into my heart through experience and I knew (if nothing else) that my own marriage was forever.

There have been moments when I've wanted to run and keep on running. The pain of wounding and being wounded by the one united to me body and soul... that pain is intense. To allow oneself to be completely vulnerable to another human being is a risk that will always involve suffering love. To be responsible for the pain of the beloved is almost unbearable. In those rare moments when my head has screamed run! my heart, rooted in Christ, clings to Love.

I wasn't ready to be married at age 19 and yet there was no better time. Life is short. I had come to the Lord on my knees, begging Him to transform me and make me His own. He opened the door to my vocation, my path to sanctification, and His ways have been marvelous indeed.  I have been a terrible spouse at many points in my marriage. My poor husband must have questioned his decision to marry me many times over the years, particularly at the beginning when I fought to work through my childishness.  And yet, the fruits have born witness to God's faithfulness. We trusted and He has blessed.

I love my husband with an intensity that has only grown over the past 16 years. The joy and suffering go hand in hand. The joy is higher, the suffering deeper. When we are united in mind, heart, and body, there are no happier moments. When we are suffering a lack of unity, it is as if the heart is dying. The depth of pain seems commensurate with the depth of love. In those moments, we independently cling to the Lord, Who faithfully brings us to each other again.

I am continually surprised by the level of sacrifice that my handsome Chief offers to his family. He mentors me in this way. I see how he fights on and on in love for us and it inspires me to get up and move for love of God and family. See what he does for you? See how he loves? Gratitude compels me to respond in kind. Or at least try a little harder.

I never dreamed that life could be so good and beautiful. I could not imagine it any more fulfilling or sweet. When the hard times come, I see the Crucifix and I know that Jesus allows it and blesses it and that His grace is sufficient.

Life is short. God has placed me here. There is nowhere that I would rather be.

The Chief and I went on a Walmart date this past week. He sang loudly in the candy aisle and I laughed at him and felt happy to be alive. I put my cold hands on his warm arm and he repaid me in kind by finding items in the frozen food section to offer me a shockingly cold payback. He heard the piped in music and took me in his arms to dance even though we are lousy dancers. We inspected bananas together and discussed chicken. I looked over trinkets and he reminded me that it can be the little purchases that drive us over budget. I felt young and old, in love, sleepy, and alive... in the middle of Walmart, late at night with my beloved.

I have no doubt that suffering will come to us many times in life but I thank God for every moment that draws our hearts closer to Him through this vocation. Each step is lifted by grace. God be praised!

Summer 1996 - Wedding Shower. Reluctant participant hands over the bows.

July 27, 1996 - Wedding Day

August 2008 Baby Jellybean - Happy Dad

July 2002 At the Zoo

December 2000 - I remember arguing that day with him and having a hard time mustering the courage to smile. It's funny how time swallowed up that moment and refuses to negatively color my memory. The details and emotions are forgotten, covered over in an ocean of joy and mercy. 

July 2011 - Coaching at the U.S. Junior Nationals

July 4th, 2012 

Related posts:

Dreams Redeemed
He Washed My Feet: My Love Story
My engagement: In the Shadow of the Risen Christ
10 Facts about me and my Guy
Feminine Genius
"A Defense of Rash Vows"

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jury Duty... Stocking up on Orange Hi-C

As if life isn't crazy enough for me as a full-time caregiver/educator of six children ages 1 to 14 with all of the blessed chaos that comes with that job... I am now the full-time caregiver/educator of six children who has been summoned to JURY DUTY. My civic duty. Which I long to fully embrace and cheerfully undertake... in a few years. Know what I'm saying? I have so many good reasons for a lengthy postponement, and yet not one of them is a technically acceptable reason for exemption in my county. Not breastfeeding. Not primary caregiving. Not homeschooling. Not my-car-is-making-funny-noises-and-besides-it's-the-only-one-all-the-kids-fit-in-and-how-will-they-get-to-their-lessons-and-and-dental-visits. Not the fact that our sole income provider would have to take off work to care for and teach the kids. 

Please understand. I want to be on a jury someday. I think I should be on one. But there are lots of people in my county who can serve right now without the extreme stress and difficulty this would cause my family. In fact, my wonderful father-in-law offered to go for me... but I don't think they do that kind of bargaining.  I will make my appeal to the judge and am feeling pessimistic. After extensive internet research, I've drafted my first letter. I'm still tweaking it. What do you think?

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to do my civic duty but I cannot in good conscience leave my poor husband in the care of our six darling hooligans for a week or more. They will tear him to pieces and he will only make matters worse by feeding them McDonald's, frozen waffles, and orange Hi-C at every meal. I know this is true because it happened during our last family emergency. He also needs to be at his job every day but perhaps he could just transport the orange Hi-C in a big cooler in the back of the car... right next to the package of diapers.

On top of that, I'm supposed to be teaching them and if you've been following my blog, you know that I'm working very hard at starting our first year of high school on the right foot. The timing of this summons is remarkably perfect for totally disrupting that plan. If I am not home, my teenager will no doubt spend that entire week doing nothing but playing angry birds and he will never get into law school.

In addition to the difficulties I've already mentioned, my 1-year old is still nursing and he will not understand why I am missing all day everyday. He will likely cry, which will cause my 4-year old to cry... and really, that is just sad.


P.S. Did I mention that I would likely be late every day because driving downtown for me is like driving through a cornfield on a unicycle? 

For those of you who aren't sure... I'm not actually going to send this letter to the court. It's a little blog joke. Also, I am highly confident in my husband's abilities to care for the children. His version of Green Eggs and Ham (complete with cool Sean Connery accent) is the best I have ever heard and he cooks a mean hamburger. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the Mailbox and on the Agenda...

No time to blog today, but I'm here anyway. Lots of homeschooling goodies from the mail to play with, party games to make, volleyball practice to drag drive everyone to...

High School Goodies

Science Shepherd
Biology. Decided to go with this program because it offers DVD labs just in case any of the kids have no interest in actually dissecting anything. Truth be told, I hated dissection and am not convinced it was at all necessary to my well being in any way other than to be able to say that I did it. In fact, I can still smell that smell omitted by the fetal pigs in biology class... my breakfast is feeling restless. And no, I didn't break the jaw myself. I was completely and stereotypically negative girly about it. So... we have options for the kids. For the record, I will absolutely purchase the dead animals and whatnot for them to cut up if they wish. In the garage. They are also welcome to pursue any further interest at the local community college if they really want to. Student-led learning all the way. Parent directed. Which means that if you lead me to a place that smells like deceased fetal pigs, I will direct you to remove them from my presence.

- Found the text (normally $70) for $40 shipped on ebay. Wish I could find the rest of the materials at such a discount!

The Elegant Essay
- IEW rocks. I think the Professor will really enjoy this.

IEW Student Writing Intensive Level C Continuation Course
- This will follow Elegant Essay. It wasn't needed immediately but I found it for $100 off on Cathswap. The first part of this program was excellent. Highly recommended.

Miss Suzy Projects

firefly lights
- Almost party time. Our pinata is coming along. It has been filled with candy and now I'm just waiting for the strips covering the hole to dry. Then I'll paint it to look like the dollhouse spider and the kids will be able to whack at it with a broom. Not understanding the reference? You should read Miss Suzy! Or have it read to you here on YouTube.

- Almost finished with my "Pin the Party Hat on Miss Suzy" poster. Ready to tie the tulle on our firefly lights. Printed out the scavenger hunt papers. Aprons are done. Menu ingredients being organized...  we will, of course, have an "acorn cake". The kids spent half an hour yesterday coaxing acorns out of our oak trees to use for party games. They are still somewhat green but I'm going to toast them in the oven a bit to make sure we aren't harboring any bugs... perhaps they'll turn brown there? I have no idea.


- *sigh* I love it. I hate it. Some moments I feel as if we are enslaved. Others it is a joy and I feel that it opens up many new and good avenues for the kids. Our culture is not into moderation in youth sports. Excellence in competitive youth anything is difficult to achieve without an all or nothing approach. We are fundamentally opposed to "all" so we are constantly fighting a system that is designed to consume us. One step at a time. *sigh*

- On a positive note, Professor was invited to attend a rather exclusive camp this week. He received a partial scholarship and we allowed him to go for it. He is only one of ten kids in attendance and eight of them flew in from outside the United States. The other guy from the US has been a member of the Junior National team multiple times. Great kid. Cancer survivor. It's been a great experience and Professor is even learning some Spanish. :) He trains for six hours each day and then comes home to regularly scheduled Summer programming each night. A pro-life meeting. A Catholic boys' club event. Job refereeing beach volleyball play-offs. Family events. He told me that this is his "free-for-all week" where he literally doesn't have to do anything but do stuff he wants to do... and promised me that he would make up for it next week. Indeed!

- Gearing up for some Olympic volleyball fun. Incidentally, this is one of those few sports that does not seem to be plagued by drug abuse. Hopefully, that clean streak will continue. Here's a little 2008 USA gold replay...

Friday, July 20, 2012

7QT: When Life Hands You Lemons Edition

~ 1 ~

With bills adding up and a few minor disasters (trips to the ER, sick vehicles, plumbing fail, etc.), I've been thinking seriously about going 100% homemade or practical needs (i.e. need new socks?) for Christmas. I think this is completely doable and I'm actually excited about the great excuse to get crafty. I've already stockpiled a sizable list of inexpensive projects and have been admiring quite a few more on Pinterest. An example...

I already have the fabric and pillowcases are not particularly time-consuming. I thought these were darling... think I would add a snap zipper to the pocket to prevent lost treasures. I really can't share any more with you just in case the recipients drop by the blog. I'll have to do a post-Christmas handmade Christmas super post.

~ 2 ~

Little Cub wandered downstairs after waking yesterday morning. His diaper weighed about 10 pounds when he walked into the kitchen so I took it off of him immediately and stepped out of the room to grab a diaper. I was gone no longer than 5 seconds and no further than 15 feet when I heard... splashing. I know that sound. A full bladder emptied onto the kitchen floor. Okay... at least it's not on the carpet.

While I was mopping up the toddler pee, Jellybean spilled her cereal milk all over the table, chair, and floor.

While I was cleaning up the spilled milk, Cub emptied an entire gallon bag of fish crackers onto the floor. I poured a new bowl of milk for Jellybean which she promptly ate and left for me to clean up.

While I was cleaning up the fish crackers, Cub climbed onto the kitchen table and began vigorously splashing in the remains of the Jellybean's bowl of cereal milk.

While I was cleaning up a sticky Cub, I heard the sound of Button crying in the living room. More on that in #3.

The good news is that I was able to laugh about it pretty much immediately and blog about it within 24 hours.

~ 3 ~

The Chief is not a fan of lake swimming. He thinks it's dirty, particularly in our section of Lake Erie. He's correct. And as cities make more efforts to cut expenses, infrastructure maintenance decreases... and more sewage and other yuck makes its way into our lovely lake.

Knowing this about my husband and our lake, I did not push to allow the kids to swim last weekend and we were content with splashing about. In spite of my caution, Button was splashed in the ear at one point and ended up developing a major middle ear AND outer ear infection from the lake bacteria.

We are almost always able to defeat ear infections with a little warm garlic oil. I applied it multiple times along with a warm compress. This tried and true method failed because of the outer ear infection which almost completely blocked up the ear with swelling. The doc couldn't even get the otoscope in her ear. 

The good news is that we now have a couple of prescription antibiotics and a healing child. But the infection is a doozy. And one week after our lake trip, she's still in pain and only recently defeated the fever. Lake bacteria fever... *shudder*

~ 4 ~

A family of 8 with no shower or bath tub. Yup. We're a stinky bunch. Plumbing disaster. And it'll be a couple weeks before we're fixed.

The good news is that we know generous people who don't mind having us troupe in and take over their shower for a little while.

The other good news is that I get a new shower. We've needed one. And I'm sorry that we have to get it under the circumstances. And I'm sorry that the bill is going to prematurely age my sweet husband. But a new shower will be lovely. :)

~ 5 ~

I've been busy freaking out about planning for high school for Professor. I put together a "to buy" list a couple months ago and was just dragging my feet about the purchases since I couldn't find anything used or on sale. As other needs have come up, the book list price tag has become cringeworthy... but my patience has paid off. Between eBay and Cathswap, I saved $140.

~ 6 ~

The kids wanted a pinata at the Miss Suzy party we're throwing for Jellybean. No, no, I said. Expensive stuff that turns into trash in 95 seconds. Crafty bloggers to the rescue! I am, as I write, patiently waiting for our second layer of paper mache to dry. Photos to come eventually. :)

~ 7 ~

My diet is going fine... other than the fact that I've been living on nuts, berries, milk, and eggs, with bacon or burger thrown in here and there. When we get busy, I have great trouble planning for myself as well as the children. The good news is that I feel pretty good and have more energy (in spite of my odd diet). Additionally, my body has adapted so that I am capable of going very long periods of time without food. When I was a carb addict, I had to eat, like, every 5 minutes, or I'd get all dizzy and nauseous. This state is much better. I think I have to stop using the word "diet" though because it is misunderstood by the children to mean "trying to lose weight." I'll have to go with something easier to understand, such as: Mommy can't eat anything that Daddy eats.

I think this will have to be my birthday cake...

Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend in a Word

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever 
(1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Professor attended a US High Performance camp that concluded this weekend. 

Wishing she was on the court.

Use them for God's greater glory... or they will rule you.

Her first trip (within her very brief memory) to the lake.

Until mama's arms give out.

Faith in unexpected places.

He ate the whole thing.

Do we have to leave?

Friday, July 13, 2012

There is no Catholic dress code...

Reposting this from August 2011.... because the debate always rages... and I never got an answer...

Attention Marylike Modesty Supporters: Your help is needed

About ten years ago, I was given a few pamphlets and photocopies that addressed modesty; specifically, information from a movement called Marylike Modesty. This movement was started sometime in the 1940's by a Catholic priest and still attracts a small but faithful following. (The intention of this post is not to explore the entire Marylike mission but to find out one piece of information which I will get to shortly.)

Included in the papers given to me was a quote that read exactly as follows:

"But where do you find the Marylike standards in either of these letters? The Liberals ask with an air of triumph, thus implying, if not claiming outright, that these standards are not authentic. But after many years of research, these standards are now full authenticated as having been issued by the Cardinal-Vicar of Pius XI in Rome, in these words:

“in order that uniformity of understanding prevail in all institutions of religious women ... we recall that a dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows, and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper ...”

"Rufino J. Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, quotes these standards as “The Church’s stand concerning modesty in dress” in his Pastoral of December 6, 1959. He attributes them to Pope Pius XI Himself, and gives the exact date of issuance, September 24, 1928. The Marylike Crusade codified these standards, making only a small (ecclesiastically approved) temporary concession because of impossible market conditions in the United States. This modified form has been officially adopted by the entire Philippine Hierarchy."

I had never heard anything like it before and, of course, wanted to know if this was indeed something we are bound to. I assumed not since even the most faithful and pious females I knew did not adhere strictly to these guidelines. Is it possible that this was in fact Church teaching?

At that point, I began to do research. I dug into everything I could find and even poured over the Acta Apostolicae Sedis from the appropriate year and month and beyond. I eventually found the document somewhere (not in English) and discovered that this was not addressed to laywomen at all. If I had those papers I could tell you whether it was directed at religious sisters or the female students under their care in the context of institutional education. I just don't recall. The first line of the above statement confirms it was at least one of these. I created a file, put all my information in it, and moved on.

The discussion has recently come up again in some circles I travel in and I attempted to find that old file. It's been almost a decade and we've moved to a new home. Somewhere in the middle of all that, the papers went missing. Empty file. I probably took them out to share with someone and lost them forever.

Since then, I have been approached multiple times very recently by women hoping that I have some of those details. One young mother is being harangued by older Catholic women in her community because she will not conform. She doesn't know how to respond to their steady pressure and negative personal attacks that she is sinning in her manner of dress. She is hurt and alone. I am digging up the issue here for people like her; good Catholic women who aught not be lied to.

A lie? Yes. Show me one binding Church document that supports the specific manner of dress that this quote deals with down to inches and sleeve length. There isn't one for all laywomen. And yet it is repeated over and over in popular books and magazines and all over the internet. Out of context. Never a source document cited. I am not anti-modesty. I am anti-deception.

So, I want to be clear about this for myself, for you, for every Catholic woman out there who is being harassed into believing that she has fallen into the clutches of satan himself for wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
Please find me the original source document for the guidelines I've quoted above.
If you cannot do this, then stop bothering people with it. I fully support your decision to dress as you
wish within a reasonable range and the Church allows you this freedom. I am not bothered by long 
shirts and skirts. I am bothered with the idea that individuals (even well-meaning ones) find it acceptable to use deceitful tactics to promote their preferences... a Catholic modesty crusade believing that the end
justifies the means.
I am willing to be wrong on this. God's will be done. Just find me the source document.
NB: I predict that I will get hit a little hard over this topic. Perhaps I will be accused of being against modesty. It won't be true. Throw the tomatoes if you will. But don't throw them until you find that document.
I'll update this post as soon as it is found.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Miss Suzy Aprons

We are generally pretty low key about birthdays around here but this year I'm stepping a tad out of my comfort zone and going theme party. It won't be a big party but I hope it will be sweet and fun and memorable for the kids and their cousins. Jellybean will be five... that's a pretty big deal. And since I haven't thrown a theme-type party in at least a decade, I'd say it's about time.

The theme will be the charming Miss Suzy and I've been steadily collecting ideas on my Miss Suzy Party Pinterest board. I am rather excited to see it all put together. The first of my prep work is complete. We have four little girls in the family who definitely need a Miss Suzy apron to add to their party dresses. I used this easy-peasy pattern for a toddler apron to make them. They really came together super fast which is the speed at which I prefer to sew, not because I don't enjoy sewing, but because I am impatient.

I used leftover fabric from Easter 2011 (which I purchased far too much of because it was gorgeous) in pinks and greens. I did find the sweetest pink squirrel fabric for sale but did my husband the favor of using perfectly good scraps instead. The only modification I made was to narrow the sash width.

So... here they are. I will post the girls modeling them after we have the party....

Pink floral with contrasting green pocket (for their acorns) and sash

Three green sashes for the party-going little gals and a pink one for the birthday girl.
We thought about making everything a surprise but having her participate in the preparation just adds much more to the fun!

I've got party games, decor, and food ideas. What I really need are ideas for the boys in attendance. I'd like an apron equivalent that fits the toy soldier theme from the book... and a way to make cheap, but sturdy little Miss Suzy sword replicas. Those funny little triangular weapons are hysterical. (I don't think that cardboard and duct tape will last more than 2 minutes.) Ideas?????

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Latin Mass... a good reason to go...

Found this over at Father Z's blog. This young lady is darling, inspiring... and I'm feeling like going to Mass... in Latin.

St. Benedict Holy Medal Printable

St. Benedict, Pray for us!!

Printable and craft from Arma Dei...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pro-Life Youth Leadership Retreat

In spite of the scorching heat this past weekend, Chief and the oldest two kids had a wonderful time at the annual Pro-Life Youth Congress (PLYC) Leadership Retreat. They had the opportunity to hear testimony from nationally acclaimed speakers such as Claire Culwell... were entertained by the fabulous husband and wife team The Strange Familiar, who also led them in praise and worship... worked on their leadership skills... had canoe wars in the lake (with the inevitable and wet consequences of such shenanigans)... attended holy mass... all in all, just had a wonderful weekend of fun and fellowship.

Professor was installed as the 2012-13 PLYC Speaker of the House and ran the video operations for the weekend. It was his first time tinkering with a lavelier mic (thank you, Brian!) and was a great learning experience all around.

If it had been a little cooler (instead of the 100+ degrees that it was), I would have been there with the littles (for age-appropriate activities, of course). As it is, I have to rely on pictures to get in on the experience...

The Cutest Camper award goes to.... Yes, that's my husband. *swoon*
His shirt from Rock for Life reads: HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL

Kyra and Jeff from The Strange Familiar leading praise and worship. Super talented pro-life husband and wife team. Their new song "Unwanted" was recently heard on the show "Pretty Little Liars." I'm not into shows like that (and don't intend to link it) but I'm glad to see thoughtful-provoking art weaving its way through the secular world. "Unwanted" portrays the abortion mindset... the one that is tempted to throw life away in order to find peace.

 About 60 kids attended the weekend, including two international students. Both Catholics and Protestant attended and presented, although the majority were Catholic.

Professor (left) with a couple of the national officers and friends.

Professor and Claire Culwell. If you've never seen her testimony, please take a few minutes to check it out... or bookmark for later.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Free Liturgical Year Downloads and Catholic Planner

Sanctus Simplicitus is offering a Free Holy Simplicity printable planner E-book for homeschooling families. Spiral bound planners available for $21.95. I don't own one of these... just think they look lovely.
Also, they offer some lovely free printables and rather large selection of information and ideas for the liturgical year. A sampling...

Friday, July 6, 2012

7QT: On Kindles, Volleyball, and Pinterest


I have been dreaming of becoming a Kindle owner and thanks to Professor's double win during American Life League's Pro-Life T-Shirt Week, I finally have one in hand. We are a book-lovin' family and these Kindles are just another way to work reading into our sometimes busy lives. Some thoughts and features of the Kindle Fire:

*Book borrowing. Once a month privilege from Amazon. Not all books are available but enough are to make this a useful feature.
* TONS of great free books and documents. For example, Professor just downloaded the U.S. Constitution ( amendments in the free version), Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, free of charge. Pretty much all the Dickens books (and many, many classics) are free. I believe I saw the Summa Theologica for 99 cents!
*Flipboard App... I like the having the ability to scroll through the headlines of all my favorite feeds with the touch of a finger. free. (Conversion Diary on FlipBoard shown above)
*Angry Birds. It's the new solitaire. Don't worry, I have the free version... and I can step away from the device whenever I want to. :)
*We have made one purchase. Professor requested the Ignatius Bible and it has been a good investment.

I'm still learning the ropes but I am delighted with my first fancy pants eReader.

New digs for the boys. It's only taken, oh, about 2 years to get it done. We are a slow and careful people. Or maybe just slow. Thanks so much to our dear friends who helped us reach this long awaited goal!


If you haven't seen Professor's winning video yet, please take a peek. If you like it, please share it. :)


Beach volleyball. My absolute favorite sport to play. Yes, I agree... the ultra bikini thing at the higher levels is unfortunate. But add some fabric and it's a great sport.

I had been on a lengthy hiatus from all things volleyball while I dealt with chronic inflammation and injury. After having been on my elimination diet for about 3 months, my body feels ten years younger. (Okay, maybe 6 or 7 years younger.) So yesterday, when I took Cookie to her matches, I had the opportunity to play around on the court a bit...

Sand in the eyes. Sand in the teeth. Sand in the ears. Sand in the hair. Hot sun beating down on everything. Let it be known that I am not a big fan of this 90 degree weather... but I'll hold my tongue if I get to play!

When I said that I feel years younger physically, I wasn't exaggerating. As a teenager, I used to wonder how the adults could just sit around all the time and gab. I secretly vowed that I would never become that kind of adult. And then I became that kind of adult. But I have noticed recently a slightly increasing desire to leave the patio chair and pick up a ball... or play keep-away in the pool with the kids... or even go for a run. (Okay, that last one is stretching it, but my mind is there.)

I am by no means a health nut, but I have made dietary changes that have literally changed my life in a number of ways. I am in the middle of a process of healing... and I wonder how many others there are out there whose health is significantly impacted by what they eat. And perhaps they are sitting around wondering why they feel so sluggish and lousy all the time.


Source: via Melody on Pinterest

I am enjoying Pinterest immensely. I feel no pressure there. It's like bookmarking for the visual person. And I have to share that I've been putting together the loveliest virtual birthday party there that will be becoming reality sometime next month. We are a Miss Suzy lovin' family and recommend that if you haven't read the book... you should. :)


Professor's first official paycheck! Refereeing beach volleyball games is a pretty good gig if you don't mind the sun. Refereeing indoor volleyball games is a pretty good gig if you don't mind insane parents.


Today is the feast of my patroness, St. Maria Goretti. On I read, "... Maria was well known to her neighbors for her cheerfulness..." and I started laughing out loud. I have sought her intercession for many things, but it has never occurred to me to ask for help in this particular matter. Dearest St. Maria, please pray for me! I want to be known to the neighbors (and my family) for my cheerfulness.  (Or perhaps I should take this up with St. Jude?)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to Celebrate the Fourth of July

From Townhall Magazine July feature, "How to Celebrate the Fourth of July," by Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College:

Two hundred thirty-six years ago this Fourth of July, 57 men signed the document that created the American republic. They represented a people of about 3 million grouped in a series of 13 colonies along the eastern seaboard of the United States. They were all wanted men, sought by the commander of the British forces in North America for sedition and treason. He had behind him the resources of the greatest military power on earth. They had behind them the bare beginnings of a government, hardly anything of an army, but something mighty in the way of an idea.

This nation had therefore a desperate beginning. Who but the boldest could believe that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were laying the foundation of the greatest constitutional republic in history? Now that republic has spread across the continent, and its influence reaches around the world. Its population has increased a hundredfold. Its Constitution has provided government to a free people constantly growing in size and territory, each new state joining the union as an equal, its citizens never subjects, its people ever free. There is no story close to it in the history of man.

Statesmen and thinkers have attributed the strength and goodness of the nation to the principles in the Declaration. Many others have denied this. Statesmen and thinkers have proclaimed the Constitution a just and beautiful implementation of the principles of the Declaration. Many others have denied this. These denials are more common in times of crisis in our country. They are very common now.

It is a sign of our time that the sitting chief executive of our country eschews the permanent meaning of the Declaration and the idea of fixity in the Constitution. In the “Audacity of Hope,” Barack Obama writes: “Implicit in [the Constitution’s] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or “ism,” any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course. …”

Obama has stuck to this theme during his presidency. This May at Barnard College, he proclaimed the great virtue of the Constitution to be its openness to change: “It allowed for protests, movements, and the assimilation of new ideas that would repeatedly, decade after decade, change the world—a constant forward movement that continues to this day.” There is neither form nor firmness. All is fluid, according to Obama, and this liberates us to do whatever we will.

America has gone very far down the trail that Obama is blazing. Right now, the expenditures of all government—state, local and federal—exceed 40 percent of the gross domestic product. If trends continue, the public sector will soon grow larger than the private sector, and then the government will have more resources than those it governs.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Romantic Life...

“I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly, and even appreciate more clearly, if we simply thought of them as people in a story.” 

 G.K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America

When I first read this quote, I felt it resonate with my romantic inclinations. If I hear a touching song or see a timely sunset, the moment, regardless of how plain or typical, is liable to be transformed for me. I love this part of being an adult... I don't have to worry any more if my peers think I'm odd for being moved to tears by the site of a father pushing his little one on a swing or the sound of the wind rustling through the brittle Fall leaves. And if my husband chuckles at my expense, I am not offended... only grateful for the deep friendship that allows it.

In spite of my aspirations to scrapbook every waking moment of the lives of my family, I am not so successful at it. But I have it in my mind and heart. There is at least one moment in each day when I sit and enjoy the sites and sounds and smells. I mentally  see the memories edited into a movie or novel with appropriate music added. The woman next to me who smells like roses has a perfect place in the narrative. The man shouting obnoxiously in my ear at a youth sporting event makes me laugh. Well, he doesn't always make me laugh but I am learning to laugh more frequently at him... with a humor that inspires fondness rather than bitterness.

I have wrestled with the oddness of this practice of mine for a while. I wondered if I was trying to make life into something more than it was. And then I realized that God's vision is the most colorful, beautiful vision possible and I am only seeing a little more clearly when I take those moments. The teenager in me who fought hard to retain a tight grip on dull gray everything is gone. And God's creative majesty has opened up just a little more before me.

I love blogs and scrapbooks, video logs, memory books. It is a great blessing to take a moment in time and save it for future reflection. Those are moments when God's goodness is revealed just a little bit more each time we laugh and cry over them. Contrary to the thought that it leads us to become focused on the past or "glory days", I think of it more as recognizing what blessings we missed the first time through. 

Although I struggled with the strangeness of my "sappy" tendency to make a moment into a living scrapbook memory, I have finally accepted it. Because, if I never do take that picture or video, at least I have lived it. And hopefully, have recognized in the moment or individual some of the wonder and grandeur of the beauty of God. It also doesn't hurt my efforts to love those around me; not to gloss over difficulties, but to allow their God-given goodness to be revealed in a stronger light, leaving the negatives in the shadows. In my better moments, the grumpy clerk strikes me as someone who desperately needs a word of hope and kindness. I grumble less and laugh more. I won't talk about my lesser moments, of which there are multitudes... you can just use your imagination there.

I am a wannabe Catholic Pollyanna. I want to see rainbows through the lamp prisms. I want to wear Christ-colored glasses in a suffering word... allowing me to see God's plan through my overshadowing  faults and the grey of the world. Different than fantasizing about an altered life... it is rather a clarifying of reality. My Catholic romance.


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