"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Miss Bush?

I had to drop in one more time real quick -- I've been meaning to post this for a while and thought I would do it while I was thinking about it again.

I normally don't post on political subjects, so I'll keep the commentary to a minimum. All I have to say is: I love this billboard. It makes me chuckle every time I see it on the way home from my sister's house.

Miss me yet?

Enough said. Read more about it, here and here.

Reality is Setting In


Look what we got in the mail today (not this one exactly, but one like it). Since our tabs were expiring on our Minnesota plates, rather than paying for a full year for only two months of residency, we pre-registered our vehicle in our new state. Reality is setting in, folks.

But right now, I just want to finish the school year and enjoy my weekend with my hubby.

One day at a time -- that's my mantra.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference

My D(DD)H has arranged to have my in-laws take all. four. kids from Friday late afternoon to Sunday after Mass, so we can attend this conference together -- a mini-retreat weekend for us! I am so excited! I always enjoy ending a school year excited for the next one and renewed in my vocation as a homeschooling mother. And extended time with my DH? Priceless! Yippee! (Can you tell I'm excited!!!)

Who else is going?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Daybook - May 25, 2010

Outside my window... it is almost ninety degrees out! Wasn't it just two and a half weeks ago that we had snow in the forecase!?! That's Minnesota for you. At least it's not as humid as it was yesterday.

I am listening to... the hum of the air conditioner. I just sent the kids upstairs for twenty minutes. I told them Mommy needed some quiet time. Do you ever have those days where everything just seems so LOUD? where every whine or raised voice or dropped toy leaves you twitching and the hair on the back of your neck standing up? I do.

I am thinking... about some fun summer brain activities for the kids and looking through MindWare and The Critical Thinking Co catalogs. Any suggestions?

I am thankful for... friends. Ever since I made our move known, we have had many invitations to visit before we head to North Dakota. It is going to be so hard to leave so many dear friends. We spent this past Saturday and Sunday evenings dining and hanging out with friends we haven't seen in a while. Thanks, guys, for the great eats, and for your friendship!

I am praying. I think I'm going to leave it at that this week -- I am praying. After meeting with my spiritual director on Friday, I'm resolved to begin a more consistent routine with my prayer life -- it's been a little haphazard (as has everything else!) lately.

I am hoping... we can find some time to enjoy our summer and explore our new home in between packing, moving, and house hunting. The summer is going to fly!

From the kitchen... Yesterday it was way too hot to cook. We went out for Chinese and ate in the air conditioned restaurant. Last night my DH put a couple of air conditioners in -- one upstairs and one in our schoolroom -- but it's still too hot to use the oven. I think I'll make some pasta for dinner.

From the schoolroom... Hopefully, we will finish our schoolwork this week! We have a little more review to do. The Girls have a couple of tests to take. The Boy has two reading lessons left.

I am creating... packing plans. What do I pack for the transitional house? What do I pack for storage? It's difficult to determine because I don't know if we'll be in the transitional house just for the summer, or if we'll end up living there until after Christmas.

I am reading... Jesus of Nazareth and Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina.

Around the house... We're scrambling to make things presentable for three showings this week. Luckily, though, it's not my house to sell (we're just renting), so I don't feel the same kind of pressure.

One of my favorite things... this hat. at least on this baby. with those big baby blues.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Today: I had my annual performance review at work this morning. I "meet standards." Yeah.
Wednesday: a showing and dance
Thursday: a showing and Fr. B is celebrating ten years of the priesthood! Auguri!
Friday and Saturday: the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference ... I'd love to go, but I don't think we're going to make it this year. I highly recommend it if you live in the area.

A video I am sharing: The Girls tin whistle recital from this past Sunday at the Center for Irish Music.

For more daybooks, visit here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Catch-Up Number Five - Planes, Tractors, and Pinatas

Man ... time flies. I can't believe it's been over a week since I've posted anything. DH has finished teaching for the year and is busy working on his dissertation full time (or more). The kids and I are trying to finish our schoolwork this week. Then we concentrate on packing. Yikes.

In the meantime, we've had some fun weekends in the last month -- I've just been too busy to share them with you, and so I'm still playing catch-up. Way back on April 11th, we spent a splendid Sunday at my sister-in-law's. She got married this past September and Uncle Norb is quickly becoming the uncle with the coolest toys -- a tractor AND a plane!

Look at that big bright cloudless blue sky!
Thank you for the rides, Uncle Norb! Come visit us in Bismarck!

And all that excitement was after the pinata!

A little higher, a little higher ...

Watch out! Behind you!

Did she peek!?!

Treats! Money! Yeah!
Thank you, Aunt Annette, for all the fun!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


How does one get all the water out of the plastic "mini aquarium" in order to store it without mildew issues for the next babe? Or is one better storing it with water inside? Help.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Daybook - May 11, 2010

Outside my window... it is cool and rainy, and it looks like it's going to be that way for a while.

I am listening to... one of The Girls working diligently on her schoolwork. Otherwise, the house is still quiet this morning.

I am thinking... about houses. It appears that we will be moving into a transitional house provided for us by the University when we move to Bismarck in mid-July. Though it means we'll have to move twice (ugh!), it will be nice to not have to jump into a home-buying situation without being familiar with the area. As I look at the available houses on-line, I am prompted to ask you homeschooling mothers: What are the most important features/must haves for a large homeschooling family? I would love your input!

I am thankful for... a nice Mother's Day spent with my family. The kids (with Daddy's help) prepared a basket of my favorite goodies for my Mother's Day gift: chocolate doughnuts for with my morning coffee, Nonni's biscotti for with my afternoon coffee, Ferrero Rocher candies for with my evening red wine, a bottle of my favorite Tempranillo, a box of Merlot for everyday drinking, and Crystal Light raspberry ice on-the-go drink mix. I will be enjoying my Mother's Day treats for weeks to come.

I am praying... for my Dad's speedy recovery. He is at home now and his pain seems to be finally under control.

I am hoping...
to see sunshine and warmer temperatures soon. I'd like to take the kids for a walk in the woods on Friday.

From the kitchen... we went to Sam's Club this past Saturday and stocked up on a few things again. It was nice not to have to cook on Sunday. My DH prepared my favorite egg bake and caramel rolls for breakfast. We had pizza at my in-laws after Mass. And dinner -- tri-tip steak, roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and roast asparagus -- yummy!

From the schoolroom... We are working hard to finish all necessary schoolwork by the end of May so that I have six weeks or so for packing and cleaning.

I am creating... order in the basement. again. This time I am packing things as I go. Is there one area of your house that tends to get out of control quicker than others? It seems that no matter where I live, there is always that one place where I throw things I don't want to deal with at the moment -- the Christmas decoration I forgot to pack away with the others, a shirt that needs a button sewn on, something that should really be kept in the garage but it's too cold to bring it out right now. Pretty soon, those things have multiplied and I have a huge task before me.

I am reading... When the Emperor was Divine -- it is the story of one Japanese family's internment camp experience after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Pondering these words... from the Mass -- what a great way to start a day!
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from every sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Noticing that... The Baby is awake and it's time to get in the shower and really start the day.

Around the house... just a few things to pick up before we have company tonight. I should also sift through the growing pile of papers on my desk.

One of my favorite things... the smell of a spring rain.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Today: a staff meeting this morning and a meeting with a student of my husband's and his fiancee this evening after the kids are in bed
Wednesday and Thursday: dance nights for The Girls
Saturday: a Blue Knights meeting for The Boy and an evening out with friends, adults only, to the Science Museum and then for drinks or dessert (yeah!)

A picture-thought I am sharing:

pink stirring sisters

For more daybooks, visit here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

From me and my kiddos
to you and yours!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Prayer Request

My dad had his second surgery yesterday and is in quite a bit of pain this time. He had shattered his left tibia jumping backwards to avoid falling with a ladder a couple of weeks ago. The external stabilizing "hardware" was removed yesterday, an incision made, and internal plates and screws "installed." Say a quick prayer, would you, that his caregivers are able to get his pain under control and that his recovery is speedy and otherwise uneventful? He was also informed that he won't be doing any more jogging, and I think he's a little bummed about that, so a prayer for his spirits wouldn't hurt either. Thanks much!

Catch-Up Number Four - A Blue Knights Birthday Party

The Boy turned six on April 1st. Since his birthday fell on Holy Thursday this year, we celebrated with friends the weekend before. He wanted to invite his fellow Blue Knights, so we had a Blue Knights birthday party.

The party started with the boys painting styrofoam "dragon eggs."

I then took a picture of each boy with his egg and he made a "dragon slayer" foamie frame.

They played "Slay the Dragon,"

and they devoured "dragons" (quesadillas with mini tortilla chips breathing salsa fire) and speared "dragon eggs" (tomatoes, olives, red and green grapes, and blueberries) for lunch.

Then it was time for presents. (By the way, three five-year-old boys are much louder than twice that many eight and nine-year-old girls! And there were supposed to be four -- one of the boys was, unfortunately, sick that day.)

The Boy loved his cake.

And the other boys loved their goodie bags.

blue glow bracelets
blue star sucker
blue silly straw
blue pencil
star notebook
glow-in-the-dark plastic star
yellow frog popper
blue ball
plastic dragon
two plastic knights

They also each got a 3-D wooden castle puzzle and dragon puzzle that we didn't have time to put together at the party.

Well, now I am finally caught up on our birthdays for this year. The four kids birthdays are within five weeks of each other, so it makes for a busy spring. Not to mention, most of the birthdays end up falling during Lent, so we can never give up cake!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Complete Joy


I just returned from a three-day gathering of the Tribunal personnel of our province. For those of you who are new to this blog or who don't remember, I serve as the Defender of the Bond for the Appellate Court for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This means that I work, in the "annulment" process, to uphold the bond of marriage. It is my job to point out the factors which indicate the validity of a particular marriage (i.e. why it should not be "annulled" or declared invalid).

I had many interesting discussions with my colleagues, especially regarding the effects of American culture on those entering and living the vocation of marriage today. Scary observations were made: Freedom in our country has been reduced to license. Natural law is no longer a given. Permanence means "I'll stay with you as long as I'm happy." Fidelity means "You look good to me now, but if something better comes along ...." And openness to children? "Of course ... as long as I can decide if and when and how many."

And people wonder why they are not happy in their marriages, why more than fifty percent of our marriages fail.

And then I look at our gospel readings for this week. "Jesus said, 'Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.'" And today: "Jesus said ... 'Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love ... and your joy will be complete." A peace the world cannot give. Complete joy. in following commandments.

For some reason, our fallen human nature can't grasp the fact there may be an authority greater than our own. As Americans, especially, we find it hard to believe joy could be found in obedience. Rather, we set ourselves as arbiters of truth. We decide what's right "for me" must be right objectively. We make choices based on what feels good or what's easy. We get defensive or feel judged when we're told we're wrong. And then we wonder what's missing from our lives.

Every day I read about broken marriages and broken families and broken suffering people. Every day I see the poor choices people make in the name of freedom, out of a sense of entitlement, because it makes them feel good, because of what it does for them. And I am not immune. But every day I am thankful for the Church, our Mother, for an authority greater than my own. I am grateful that I am aware that I don't have to rely on myself and on my limited experiences, that I can turn to an authority with over two thousand years of life experience.

I didn't always rely on the wisdom of the Church, however. There was a time in my life when I saw little value in the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There was a time in my life when I thought the Church's teaching on contraception was unfair and unrealistic and annulments were just "Catholic divorce." But, slowly, as I learned more about my faith, and as I came to understand how right the Church was about most things, I had to accept that it was my own selfishness and pride that was keeping me from accepting all of what She had to say. And when I finally gave in, I found a great freedom. (Not that living the Christian life is easy, but no one said it was supposed to be!)

In discussing why so many marriages are invalid, we invariably return to the question of marriage preparation programs. But, really, it starts even before that. It's almost too late to change what a person believes about marriage by the time he or she is engaged and approaching the Church. How to convince a person of the truth about marriage remains a mystery, especially when not even appeals to natural law and reason seem to have any effect. If people don't care about statistics that show that cohabiting couples are at a greater risk for divorce than non-cohabiting couples or about studies that indicate the effects of voluntary sterilization on marital satisfaction, what is going to convince them of the truth of the Church's teaching and Our Lord's desire for our real happiness?

What needs to happen is radical. A new evangelization. A cultural revolution. And it starts in our homes, with our children. It starts by living the Love we want our children to imitate and imparting to them the Truth we embrace. Beyond that, our mission extends to all those we meet -- our families, our friends, the stranger who stares as all. those. children. climb out of our vehicles. We must live the joy and the peace we experience for others to see. We must rise above our fatigue and resist complaining. We must pray. for all to experience the peace the world cannot give. the joy that is complete.