Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekend Reading Vol. 9

Posting this earlier than usual, since I'm guessing that many of you will be busy with last minute Christmas prep this weekend! But, if you have a chance to kick back, drink a cuppa, and read a bit, feel free to indulge in some weekend reading...


Tacy is giving away a copy of my book! Head on over there if you want to win your own copy of Faith Beginnings! And don't forget that my co-author, Amy, has a lovely little corner of the internet to call her own.


Ana Hahn had a beautiful reflection this week about how she (and we) are like the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. So very, very humbling and so very, very true.


I'm sure that all of you have already heard about this, but can you please join me in praying for Courtney in her final hours? Mary isn't kidding when she calls Courtney a saint. I truly think that it a possibility.


I've been finishing up a ridiculous amount of Christmas related sewing, and radio and podcasts have been my friend. If you haven't discovered this yet, you can listen to podcasts of the Jennifer Fulweiler show if you click here.


Auntie Leila had a great post on discipline and affection this week. It was a very timely reminder for me (although I tend to be pretty liberal with affection) to not let my frustration with little girl antics keep me from doling out extra hugs in the midst of meltdowns. It's easy to remember that with the baby, but it's harder to remember that preschoolers need that, too. 


We are in the midst of the O' Antiphons! If you want to know more about this rich, rich tradition, Lacy has a simple but informative summary of it for you.

(Sorry I cut off your eye with my meme, Yoda. Nothing personal.)


Speaking of Yoda lovers, I'm not sure if it was Thanksgiving or the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego that did it, but Therese is now fascinated with Native Americans. And, apparently, she thinks they are smarter than everyone else.

Me: (driving in the car and trying to explain something and repeating it when Therese can't hear me)
Therese: What did you say? I can't understand you.
Me: Sorry, sweetheart. Sometimes even Mommies have a hard time saying things clearly.
Therese: Are you confused?
Me (absentmindedly, as I was trying to drive): Yeah, yeah, Mommy's just confused.
Therese: Native American mommies...they never confused.
Me: Oh?
Therese: Native American mommies...they really smart. (Sigh.) I wish you was really smart.

Linking up with Kelly.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

{phfr} - Guadate Sunday and Tree Trimming

When we first got married, we used to wait until Christmas Eve to trim our tree. Back then, we didn't visit relatives on Christmas Eve,  so we could pull that off. But now, since we spend Christmas Eve with family, it makes sense to trim our tree earlier and enjoy it for longer. What better day that Guadate Sunday, the day that shifts our focus from looking forward to the second coming of Christ to anticipating celebrating His first coming? ;-)


I could watch these three all day. They make me so happy. And just look at all that glorious sunlight!


Big girl, so happy to put the angel on the tree. "It's like the angel that came to Mary!"


Do you know how impossible it is to get two little girls to look at the camera and smile at the same time? On the upside, Therese continues to make the most excellent silly faces ever...


Even Batman is awaiting the birth of the Christ Child (in our house, at least)...


I also managed to get Andrew to take a few pictures of me. Goofy pictures, mostly, but at least there's photographic proof that I was around. ;-)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekend Reading Vol. 8

It's Sunday! Time to go to Mass, relax, and do some leisurely reading. Here are some links for you!


Mary is My Homegirl officially retired this week, and I am so bummed! The good news is that she's leaving up her Tumblr, so if you haven't checked out her hilarious posts, you can still check out the archives. Her tagline, "Coping with the terrible life choice of studying Catholic theology in graduate school...Miserere mei, Domine" says it all. If you're Catholic, or have studied theology, or have ever been in grad school (and especially if you said yes to all the above!) you will find something to love and laugh over. It's hard to pick a favorite (and I just spent too much time browsing the archives to find one) but this one is particularly funny. I'm also biased because she's studying theology in my personal favorite theology department.  Not at all biased.


Since having Maria, I've cut back a lot on gluten, because I seemed to have developed a mild sensitivity to it. I can (and do) still eat gluten in small amounts, but I often think about people who can't, in particular, people in the Church who suffer from this and the pastoral issues that arise when it comes to receiving the Eucharist. Kendra had a guest blogger this week who offered some wonderful insight into this situation. Definitely worth a read!


I think I may have mentioned that I'm a part of the newly formed Council on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) through the NCPD. I feel so honored to be getting to know some amazing men and women in this group! One of the many benefits is that I'm able to better stay up to date on the latest things happening in the Church to serve those with special needs. I'm beyond excited about the new curriculum that Loyola Press recently released for children with special needs. Even if you don't have a child with special needs, check it out! Chances are high that you'll encounter someone who could benefit from this program, and you may be able to offer a little hope to a stressed out parent!


It's that time of year - when Catholic parents everywhere stress about whether or not they're ruining their children by telling them/not telling them about Santa. Caleh has a great reflection on itBonnie threw in her two cents, Kendra shared her thoughts, and Jenny shared how her family "does Santa" (remarkably similar to how our family does it). Haley shared a complete different opinion, and I think that it offered great insight into another way of meeting your child's needs. In case you missed it, we talked this week about why St. Nick comes to naughty children.



It is a tricky balance - trying to lead an unrushed, unhurried life, and feed the need to re-fuel with alone time - but also taking time for developing friendships with others. Amy hit the nail on the head with her reflection on community and motherhood. I'm so happy that she is a part of my support system!


Andrew and I were watching a recent episode of The Flash the other day, and were amused to find the man version of Coco making a guest appearance (obviously not in that role). In honor of that cameo, I thought I'd share the video that had us cracking up the other night...

Have a wonderful Guadate Sunday! Linking up Kelly.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

{phfr} Like a Grown-up!

Linking up with Auntie Leila.

So, Andrew and I met as college undergrads and got married shortly after graduation. What this means is that we've definitely gone through some "growing up together" moments. One of my favorite things about marrying young is that we've been able to witness each other go through certain rites of passage - like a work Christmas party (which we went to last night)! Am I the only young wife/mother who sometimes still feels like she's only pretending to be a grown-up?? Sometimes I can't believe that I've been married for half a decade and am responsible for the well-being of two little girls. Crazy!


Therese has been loving her time in her Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium! I'm friends with her catechist, who is in the process of going through Level I training, and is slowly making the materials for her atrium. She showed me this Annunciation work that she had made, and it was so beautiful that it almost brought tears to my eyes. Back when I was working in a parish and developing a curriculum for kids with special needs, I would often wander in to the atrium for inspiration. The feelings that I felt then, handling and observing those beautiful materials, came welling up in me all over again. I am so happy that my little girl has the opportunity to spend time in an atrium every week!


Therese (who is obsessed with her sister and wanted to take pictures of her) snatched my phone the other day, and took these lovely pictures. I put them in black and white because they were a little blurry, but aren't they beautiful? It's pretty rare to capture a moment like this - the gaze between me and one of my babies. I love it.


When I'm bagging our groceries post-shopping, she does this. In case you can't tell, she is "using her powers" to keep the doors open. Four year olds are the best!


Andrew has officially completed his first semester as a Greek professor. I am so proud of him! The seminary celebrated the end of the semester last night, with Mass and a Christmas party (and even a visit from St. Nick, much to Miss "I saw Santa! I saw Santa!" delight). At some point, I need to devote a whole post to the blessing that the seminary has been in our life. Spending time with the seminarians gives me so much hope for the future of the Church! They are so welcoming to our family, so appreciative of the "sounds of life" at Mass (ahem, Maria), and so full of life and love for their faith. The future of the Church is very bright, friends. Very bright!

Have a lovely Saturday! And happy patronal feastday to my youngest goddaughter. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why St. Nick Comes to [Naughty] Children

The other night, I did that thing I'd never thought I'd do. I pulled the Santa card.

We went to Advent Vespers and dinner at the school where Andrew is working on his ph.D. It was such a fun night, and the community is so great. There were also a ton of other children there, and Therese was pretty much in heaven. They were all running around and playing, and having a blast.

We got home way past bedtime, and the girls were exhausted. For Maria, that translated to almost dozing off while she nursed. For Therese, that translated into total meltdown mode. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. The poor girl was beyond exhausted, and I knew that. I should have just helped her get in her pjs and given her a cuddle to help her calm down. What did I do instead? I threatened that St. Nicholas wasn't going to come that night (it was the night before his feastday) if she didn't stop yelling.

I know. I was that parent. I was the mean parent who threatened that Santa wouldn't come if she didn't shape up.

The thing is, if we were just talking about Santa Claus, I wouldn't feel so bad. But we weren't. We were talking about St. Nicholas. He's a real person. He's a real saint. He's alive in heaven. Yes, he has helpers that he utilizes, but when we're talking about St. Nicholas, we're talking about a saint, and saints aren't in the business of punishing people. Of course, St. Nicholas wants Therese to listen to us. Of course, he wants her to be obedient.

But here's the thing - she was way overtired, and I knew that. Therese is not a nasty kid. She is not disrespectful. She isn't disobedient. She has her moments, like we all do, but ultimately she is a really good daughter. Instead of taking that in to account, I got really impatient with her. I lost my cool. And I dragged St. Nicholas into the fray along with me.

The next morning, Therese was the first one up. St. Nicholas had showed up, after all! And he had brought her a number of goodies, including a Spiderman toothbrush!!! Seeing her joy, her innocence, I felt so bad about how I'd responded the night before.

The longer I'm a parent, the more I realize just how far I have to go on the path to holiness. I struggle so much with patience. St. Nicholas, a saint in heaven, knows what I don't know. He knows that God is loving and merciful to me, even when I don't deserve it. God doesn't withhold that love, even when we think He should. I was reminded of this passage from G.K. Chesterton:

"As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it." Click here to read the rest.

I have plans for Christmas gifts this year, and I'm sure that St. Nicholas will bring a few gifts to our family. But here's the thing - no gift that I have to give can compare to that very first Christmas gift. No gift can compare to the gift of that sweet baby boy, born so long ago. No gift of mine even remotely compares to the value of that gift. And let's be honest - as unworthy as I may think someone may be of one of my gifts, no one can be as unworthy as I am of the first Christmas gift.

Christmas gifts aren't about what is deserved. Christmas gifts are a reminder of that first, totally undeserved and extravagant Christmas gift. They are our opportunity to be generous, and to love in that same sort of abundant way.

So, regardless of the behavior in our house in the upcoming weeks, you can bet that St. Nicholas will visit our family. He knows we (especially that mama of the family) still have a lot to learn about the love and generosity of the Christ child.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekend Reading Vol. 7

Kelly!!! Look at you, girl, taking over 7 Quick Takes! Go on over and give her some love and buy her new book!


Speaking of new books...another new one just got released by Haley and Daniel over at Carrots for Michaelmas! I don't have it yet, but you can bet it's on my list. Since having Maria, my stomach isn't what it used to be, and I'm looking forward to seeing what gluten-free, whole foods recipes they have to offer. Plus, it's liturgical! Win, win. Buy it now! It's less than $4!


Continuing with the Haley love, she and the wonderful Christy from Fountains of Home just launched a podcast! I have a lot of gift making to tackle in the upcoming weeks, and I'm excited to have this playing in the background while I work!


Living in the general vicinity of St. Louis meant that everyone we saw on Thanksgiving asked, "So, what about Ferguson?!" Andrew and I have talked about the issues surrounding it all, and I was very intrigued by Simcha's proposal. I think at the heart of all of this is remembering that we should show the same compassion and mercy for others that we ourselves desire. Yes, there are real issues that need to be dealt with, but it's important to deal with them in a way that humanizes, instead of dehumanizes. I'm not going to get in to my take on Ferguson right now, but I think the big takeaway for both sides should be the need to truly listen to each other, and do what we can to help those who have fallen far astray. How can we rehabilitate those who commit crimes, and help lead them to conversion? This isn't to say that crime should go unpunished, obviously, but it should be dealt in a way that is both just and merciful. Anyway, go over and read Simcha and see what you think. I'm still mulling over this all, and am no where near reaching a conclusion. And please, please pray for everyone in Ferguson!


This image of Mary and Eve is one of my favorites, and I love the prayer/poem that goes with it. We easily forget that Christmas isn't just about a sweet, cuddly baby - it's about the entire course of human history being radically changed!


Pope Francis has been doing a phenomenal job of proclaiming the dignity of those with disabilities. I saw this picture recently and cheered on the inside. Thanks, Papa.


Some parents really struggle with the whole Santa/St. Nick thing, but I think we need look no farther than the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton to see the value of Santa.


Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

{phfr} Away and Back Again

So much to share from our past week - a whirlwind trip to Maryland for Thanksgiving, New Jersey for a wedding, and a full two days in the car (one full day there and one full day back). What an adventure! Linking up with Auntie Leila and daughters for another week's loveliness.


First off....Thanksgiving in the mountains of Maryland. It snowed!! So much snow! We stayed with Andrew's great aunt, who lives out in the country on a farm (although she doesn't have animals these days) and it was so beautiful out there!


We stayed just a short drive away from the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Therese had been talking for weeks about the "rock that St. Seton sat on," ever since I told her about how I got to sit on said rock when I first visited Maryland for Thanksgiving. Then, we studied St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for the letter "E" in preschool, and Therese was dead set on sitting on that rock! We happily obliged with a visit to that famous rock, as well as a visit to the basilica and shrine itself. It was so amazing - visiting where her relics are, and getting to even see her wedding ring! She is one of those precious married female saints, and she is now so near and dear to my heart. She gives me hope that it is possible to be a saint and a mother!

(Or, as Andrew quipped, "Great. The only way you can become a saint is if I die and then you can do something important." I assured him that he didn't need to die for me to do important things and/or become a saint. ;-)


The wedding we went to was in New Jersey, right across the river from New York City. Would you like to see a picture of our family with the skyline in the background? How about a picture of all of us looking at the camera as the picture is being taken? Would you like that?

So would I. But it's not going to happen. Check back in 15-20 years when we're past our childbearing years and all our children are over the age of 4. ;-)


Andrew was a co-best man in the wedding, completing a trifecta of co-best men weddings that started with ours. It was so wonderful to see the last of the trio get married, and to an absolutely wonderful girl! Not everyone was so thrilled, though. Did you know that the best man doesn't get to sit with his family at the wedding Mass? And is otherwise engaged for most of the wedding day? Some 4 year old wasn't anticipating that reality and was heartbroken. "Why isn't Daddy sitting with us?!" 

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I can understand where she's coming from. We did this routine when his other best friend got married, and I've got to tell you - it is a particular brand of penance to see your husband looking that handsome and not be able to walk with him, hold his hand, give him kisses, sit beside him. But, unlike Therese, I was able to keep myself from sobbing. Well, at least keep myself from sobbing in public. ;-) Their reunion was a joyous one, and she was in heaven when she got to dance with her Daddy at the end of the night.  

Bowties are cool.

Have a lovely weekend!

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