Friday, October 30, 2009

SIGNS, Trying to Put the Puzzle Together

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

I woke up to the melody of this verse this morning, and it has been on replay in my head since. I cannot tell you why. After some aimless meandering around the house, some banging of pots and baby cuddling, I hunkered down for prayer and scripture reading. It is not like me to do other things before I pray, yet it seemed as though I was avoiding it. Since the aforementioned verse awakened me earlier than usual, I had extra time this morning. So I decided I would read today’s scripture with my prayers.

This was today’s verse:

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.’

‘When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.” (Luke 11:23-25).

This verse has been a theme for me lately. Between this and our priest last Sunday gave a homily saying, “It doesn't say blessed are those are trying to be pure of heart, blessed are those who want to be pure of heart! It says, blessed of those who are pure of heart for they shall enter the kingdom of God.” The only conclusion I can come to is that “Someone” is screaming at the top of “One’s” lungs for me to get to confession and make a “clean home.”

This whole morning has been in slow motion for me. Alexander did not want to go to preschool this morning. He wanted to build train tracks. So I asked Andrew, who would be working at home this morning, if Alex could stay an extra half hour. I left and took the baby to daycare. As I was coming out of the daycare Alexander and Andrew were entering the school. He played for ten minutes and then decided it was time to go. Okay son, if ten minutes of private playtime with Dad is all you needed, we are happy to oblige.

On the way to work, I heard on the car radio that a military transport, C-130, collided with a coast guard helicopter over the Atlantic last night. (Note: I totally got this one wrong. It was off the coast of California.) I freaked out, because that is the plane my sister flies and she is on her way back from Iraq. So I frantically called my parents asking if they had heard from her. Yes, they had. Her plane is broken down in England. Thankfully it was not my sister’s plane, but it was someone’s family, so I prayed for their souls. It so easy to be unsympathetic toward other’s tragedies until they hit home. Love ya’, Sis. Come home safe.

Everything has been out of order today. It seems as though things are out of order to call these signs to my attention. But, I am still not seeing the big picture.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Encouraging Reconciliation and Prayers for the Troops

"In preparing to receive Christ, our Paschal Lamb, Saint Paul commands, 'Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth' (1 Corinthians 5:8). How much more important is it that we eradicate sin from our lives than to eliminate leaven from our homes?" --Graced and Gifted, Kimberly Hahn

This week at my Mom's Group Bible Study, we mostly discussed how to get organized and decluttered. But the sacramental section of this study was about making frequent confession a habit for the whole family. The homemaker should not only make the home clean, but help to make the souls within the home clean. The Church asks us to confess at least once a year, but she points out that if you likened confession to the washing of one's body, if you only washed once a year, there would be definite consequences to the health of the body.

 This passage also made me think about evils that enter our home in the form of main stream culture i.e., programs on television, and cultural practices such as Halloween. I have to make a real effort to make our home a spiritually safe place. A place where we can learn to grow in the Lord, support and foster each others faith and gain fortitude and courage against evil. It is not that we will not suffer attacks. But, our home should be like a fortress armed with all the weapons to do battle. Does that sound crazy? Maybe, with our modern sensibilities I should say it like this: You don't go to play tennis without sneakers, tennis balls and a tennis racket. Likewise, you cannot set out to achieve salvation without the tools and training to do so. You cannot achieve salvation with bad leaven. 

 Prayers for the Troops

My sister serves in the Air Force. She wrote an email to our family saying that she will be deployed a little longer and the morale for her troop is low. She asks for our prayers. I found the following prayer on a site for U.S. Catholic Bishops. Please pray this prayer for them.

 Lord God, Almighty Father,
creator of mankind and author of peace,
as we are ever mindful of the cost paid for the liberty we possess,
we ask you to bless the members of our armed forces.
Give them courage, hope and strength.
May they ever experience your firm support, gentle love and compassionate healing.
Be their power and protector, leading them from darkness to light.
To you be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever.
[and bring them home safely. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.] Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dino-Dream - Alexander

This morning when we woke up Alexander he started mumbling about dinosaurs.  My husband couldn’t make sense of it, so we all went to eat breakfast.  After Alexander had finished his breakfast he said, “A dinosaur was chasing me.  A dinosaur [tried] to eat Alex...Scared, Alex.”  (Yes, he speaks in third person half the time.)  I asked him if he dreamed this.  In a timid, frightened little voice he replied, “Yes.” 

Last night before he went to bed I read him a story called, Thomasaurus Rex.  In the story Thomas the Tank Engine had to help bring a dinosaur fossil to a museum show.  It was not a scary story.  Maybe stories with dinosaurs are not the right thing to read right before bed for now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The Only Path to Authentic Peace" - Angelicans Join Hands with Romans

"This morning the Vatican offered a lifeline into the Ark of Peter for Anglican Christians who wish to avail themselves of the invitation. Expectations had been that, in response to the formal petition of the “Traditional Anglican Communion” for a vehicle for corporate entry into full communion, the Holy See would offer a juridic structure under Canon Law similar to the “personal prelature” which is the global organizing vehicle for the ecclesial movement Opus Dei. In essence it provides a “floating” global Diocese wherein the prelature has its own Bishops and its own priests while welcomed alongside of the existing Dioceses of the Catholic Church.

...In the midst of the darkness of the hour the Catholic Church has done what she has done for over two millennia, shine the light of the Truth to offer the way to salvation for all the Nations. The Church is not some optional organizational “extra” we fashioned, she is the Body of Christ, the new world, the seed of the Kingdom to come, the place where all men and women can find their fulfillment and the only path to authentic peace. The prayer of the Son of God “May They Be One” (John 17) still echoes and heaven itself is responding. Today’s historic news is the sign of the coming plan of that loving God who “…so loved the world that He sent His Only Son”. (John 3:16)"
By Deacon Keith Fournier

Monday, October 19, 2009

When Good Scholars Burn Out and Other Oddities

How do you know when you are burned out on being a graduate student? 
You finish off a day of studying and work with a ride on the see-saw with a good buddy.
(Look at the disgruntled child waiting for his turn.)

Elation after the dads finally give the kids a turn.

The baby to the left is five months old. Kristiana is 10 1/2 months.
Anna-Kate's a little big for her age, Kristiana is a lot small for her age.
What can I say?  We're hobbits.

Krisitiana found a little treasure at the park.

I received this table cloth for a wedding present.
I always thought it clashed with everything and was way too loud. 
But, with fall harvest gourds a top this table cloth has suddenly become festive.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Be Fair

In the last week have been enjoying fall festivities:

The Bull: I love this bull's hump. He had the biggest one. (Heart of Texas Fair)

The Baylor Bear: Showing off his stuff.

Alexander Ride'em Cowboy

The Birds!
It's that time of year
when all the North American birds fill all the places to perch in all of Texas. They're going south.

Alexander's two  favorite things reading in his "jamas"

Pumpkin Princess: She couldn't get enough of the pumpkins

Alexander King of the Duck Races

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Java Jive

For my Gonzaga crones, I am sure some of you will remember this one.


I am in denial.  I should know that my coffee intake has reached unhealthy levels, when the first thing I drink after my morning jog is a cup of coffee instead of water; what I crave after eating a meal, morning, noon, or night, is a cup of coffee.  If I do not have coffee, I will have tea;  For a cheap lunch—latte.  Yeah, I should cut back.  I used to have one weak cup of office coffee a day.  Now that I am getting up so early and making breakfast, coffee et al, I drink one large cup of coffee at home, then one to two cups at work, and sometimes a cup in the afternoon if I am desperate for a pick me up.  Eek! Oh well, one self-improvement project at a time, and this one is not on the list yet, but it’s making its way there. 

For the past four days the waking up on the dot thing has been a roller coaster.  Kristiana has been actively (obnoxiously) alerting her parents of her needs in the night.  I have awakened every morning and prayed everyday but one.  Alas, I have not worked out every morning due to waking up later, and I put praying as the obvious priority above working out.

This morning, for the first time in almost a week, I woke up on the dot (meaning I didn’t hit the snooze three or four times).  The fact that I was able to jump out of bed and get going does make me feel like I conquered the day.  I prayed and went for a jog.  I haven’t been for a jog in a long while.  It’s been raining too hard.  I have been doing my workout video.  But I have to say, nothing PUNCTUATES that dot like a good jog.  I think I will repeat it.  It also helped that I did not have Kristiana in the jogging stroller.  I liked jogging with her when it was light at 6:00 a.m., but now that the stars are still out at 6:00 a.m. I get concerned for our safety.

Pray for my friend and her family as they struggle with a new evil in their lives.  It is an ugly world out there, but inside our hearts we can plant a beautiful, fruitful garden.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This, That and Tot Talk: Get Presents

Not much to report on the home front (Prayer in the morning is going fine, so long as Kristiana does not cry half the night like last night.  Maybe she didn't like the coffee I had at 8:30 p.m. last night.  Andrew and I think it's time to begin weaning, which is so bittersweet), BUT enough of that, today is Tot Talk Tuesday...

My father-in-law came for a visit over the weekend.  It is always sad when he has to leave again.  Alexander has become quite attached to him.  They were totally engaged all weekend long.  When Granddad (a.k.a. Gaw-maw, which is what Alexander calls all his grandparents) was saying good-bye, he told Alexander that he loved him and that he would see him at Christmas.  To which Alexander replied,

"Yeah okay.  We go play outside then and get presents. Bye. Love you."  We were all impressed that Alexander remembered what we did last Christmas.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Waking Up: The Heroic Moment

I did it. Last night I resolved to wake up on the dot, pray, exercise, make breakfast, have a family meal and start the day right.

This morning, the alarm sounded at 5:45 a.m. and I slipped out of bed as slowly and quietly as possible, so as not to wake my husband and baby. I don’t know if I achieved that as the cat came storming in mewing loudly to be fed. I grabbed my workout clothes and hastened to the kitchen where I fed the cat. I put the workout video in the DVD player so that it would cue up while I was praying. Then I grabbed our Orthodox Morning Prayer book and turned toward our Icon corner. As I began to pray I reminded myself, this moment is not about all the things I have to do this morning before I go to work, but about starting the day right with the Lord—so I should not rush these prayers. Mission accomplished in that area.

(St. Josemaria Escriva pray for us. Pray that I may continue to wake up on the “dot,” before the family has risen, so that I may begin the day right with the Lord.)

Afterward, I blasted forward into the day. I worked out; showered and dressed; cared for the children; made breakfast and prepared everyone to leave the house.

Shortly after my husband had left for work and I was heading out the door, I discovered that my husband had lovingly put my things in the car for me locked it and left. So, now all my things were locked in the car including my keys, cell phone and wallet—oops. On a borrowed phone, I had to call a locksmith and my work letting them know I would be late. Then I cooled my heels.

I always think I want things to slow down. This morning as my keys were locked in the car, I was given that gift. After I took a deep breath, Alexander took a long potty break—if you know what I mean—and he finished his breakfast. Then HE picked up all the train tracks, so we could have “rug time” (God bless preschool for teaching him “rug time”). We sat and read two whole stories with lots of words. He was so attentive and patient. It was awesome. It was nice to have an extra hour this morning with Alex and see how much he has learned and matured. Kristiana was pretty cute and loving too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Waking Up Slowly

Today as I prepared for my Mom's group "Bible Study," which is tomorrow night, the following quote awakened me.

"We are more likely to pray if we set a specific time for prayer. Unlike the sluggard who turns on his bed like a door on hinges (Proverbs 26:14), we set our alarm and rise. Saint Josemaria Escriva refers to this as the heroic moment: 'Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you'll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day.'"

I must admit I have fallen asleep.  I have broken my routine.  For two and a half months I was getting up early in the morning and praying and exercising.  But, in the past two and a half weeks I have taken to sleeping a little longer.  I get up and make everyone breakfast and we sit, say a blessing, and have breakfast together.  As glorious as that has been, it is no substitute for where I have fallen down elsewhere.  At first I rationalized the extra sleep, because it was the cure for me being sick and rundown.  But, I see that I really need to cut out watching T.V. earlier and go to bed so that I can start my day right with the Lord.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tot Talk Tuesday: What Color Hair

"Alexander, what color is mommy's hair?"


"Alexander, what color is daddy's hair?


Alexander,what color is your baby sister's hair?"


Monday, October 5, 2009

Kristiana's Takes a Licking & Keeps on Ticking

This is what Kristiana looks like when she is under the weather, and has a fever.
Yep, she can't stop moving.

Turning of the Leaves in Texas

A warm inviting table set for four--The leaves do not change in Texas, but these place mats are a wonderful compromise. I picked up these adorable leaves at Wally World for $2.00 each. Alexander made this table cloth all sticky (BTW, he loves the leaves). I was willing to let it go since he's 2 years old and destined to make it sticky again tomorrow. But, he told me so a couple of times, so I have already replaced it with a green table cloth, which I like better.

There is a pumpkin spice candle in the center and chicken salt and pepper shakers. I almost bought a cornucopia to put in the center and then decided I did not have a place to store it in the off season. I am enamored with this decoration. During harvest time we have so much to be thankful for.
Shameless self promotion: I just posted this picture, because the painting over the table is mine and I love it. I think is fits perfectly in our dining room. I wish I had time and space to paint.

And finally, this week's menu. It was arduous grocery shopping over the weekend, because it was raining. There is nothing too special on the menu this week. I used a Julia Child version of meat loaf recipe and made the meat loaf on Saturday, so all we have to do is heat it up. Next weekend my father-in-law will be here. If he permits, we may try some interesting French recipes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Protection of Theotokos

Hail Mary, full of grace!

Mini Me!

I won the office "Biggest Loser" competition and chunk of cash too.
I lost 28 lbs., and counting.
How I did it:
30 days straight of "Jillian Michael 30 Day Shred"
(thanks for the recommendation Jen and Sarah)
Lots of early morning 2 1/2 mile jogs with baby Kristiana
Toast every day for breakfast, salad every day for lunch,
smaller portions of whatever we ate for dinner,
small snacks and deserts when needed.
No calorie, fat or carb counting.
Support from friends and family