"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)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Me and My Better Half

Thought I'd join Hallie and others in listing

Ten Facts about Me and My Better Half

-- 1 --
We met my freshman year in college in a class on Augustine's Confessions.

-- 2 --
For the first three years of our friendship, he was in the seminary.
For two of those years, I was in a serious relationship with someone else.

-- 3 --
We got engaged in Saint Peter's square in Rome on my 23rd birthday.

-- 4 --
Our wedding bands are inscribed with the Latin S.E.M.P.E.R..A.M.I.C.I.

-- 5 --
Once married, the poor man happily willingly adjusted
to some of my more obsessive-compulsive qualities,
like alphabetized spices and labels facing out.

-- 6 --
He has the coffee made and waiting for me almost every morning.

-- 7 --
We love to spend winter evenings watching
old Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons episodes
while snuggled up in bed together with a glass of wine.

-- 8 --
He jokes that I think he is the best husband because of my work --
I have low standards because I read about failed marriages all the time.
But, he really is the best.
(Sorry, ladies.)

-- 9 --
We make beautiful children together.

-- 10 --
After eleven years, it only keeps getting better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A March Daybook

Outside my windows... are signs of spring -- warm sun, melting snow, puddles, geese flying north, deer nibbling at the trees, children's laughter, longer days -- intermingled with more (and more) winter -- cold temps, howling wind, blowing snow, sleds back out. I can handle it though, because spring is here, whether Mother Nature likes it or not, and the sun will shine again, and it will look like spring soon enough!

(This was how every window in my house looked last Tuesday ... couldn't see out!)

(I had to open the door to take a picture of what it looked like outside!)

I am listening to... my son becoming more and more proficient on the guitar. He's finally playing a song he REALLY likes. (Thanks, Jamie, for the inspiration!)

I am thinking...
mostly about trying to find a home. And trying not to stress about it.

I am thankful for... so many things. Today ...
237. morning prayer time on the couch next to my husband
238. talking to my dad on the phone
239. laundry mostly caught up
240. many nights of eight hours of sleep
241. slowly letting go of my addiction to clock-watching
242. soft baby cheeks
243. a hot pink bracelet that say LOVE given to me by Miss Sunshine
244. how this bracelet is a reminder to me of how much God loves me
245. my wedding band that reads SEMPER AMICI
I am hoping and praying... that a dear, dear friend realizes soon that life does not suck.

From the kitchen... homemade chicken vegetable soup -- thought I better use up the broth in the freezer before spring gets here and all we want to do is grill!

From the schoolroom... the kids did their first exhibition tonight, just for Daddy and Mommy, similar to the one Laura participated in in Little Town on the Prairie. The girls recited paragraphs about each of the first sixteen presidents, plus a poem, all from memory. The Boy recited two poems. I was so proud of them. Next time, we'll have a real audience!

I am creating... dishcloths. One of these days I'll get around to learning something else, but for now it's nice to knit without having to think.

I am reading... The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion with the kids for Lent -- 39 chapters -- almost perfect for a chapter a day from Ash Wednesday to Easter. We are all loving it! I am also reading One Thousand Gifts. This feels like a life-changing Lent for me.

Noticing that ... what the eyes see is better than what the desires wander after. (Ecclesiastes 6:9)

Around the house... Daddy!

(The Boy got the Old Maid!)

One of my favorite things... spending one-on-one time with one of my kids. Last Wednesday, after The Boy and The Baby went to bed, Miss Rose made cookies with Daddy, and I spent the evening giving Miss Sunshine a manicure and pedicure, playing cards and eating pizza rolls. Priceless.

Pondering these words ...
Prayer without ceasing is only possible in a life of continual thanks.... The only way to be a woman of prayer is to be a woman of thanks.... Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change. (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)
A few plans for the rest of the week: The Boy will be celebrating his seventh birthday on Friday, and so ends the 2011 Birthday Season. (5 birthdays in 7 weeks at our house!)

For more daybooks, visit here. Happy Lent!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Our family is now in a time of adjustment. Daddy has been so busy the last ... how many years? With graduate school, with new jobs, with dissertation writing. And now he is around again. In the evenings. On the weekends. And let me tell you, it is an adjustment. A happy adjustment, but an adjustment nonetheless. And we are all loving it. It feels like a honeymoon or a vacation. I had forgotten what "normal" family life was like.

Last Thursday, Daddy came home and said,
"It's beautiful out -- let's go for a walk."

And we could. without guilt.

And we did.

And then we went out for pizza.
On a regular Thursday night.


I had forgotten how good it feels to be spontaneous.
And free.

This Lent we have so much to be grateful for. And that is what we are focusing on. All of us. Being grateful. Together. For the large blessings and the small ones.

Thankful for nine years with Miss Sunshine,
who celebrated her birthday last Friday.
Thankful for her cheerful acceptance of our change of plans
because a blizzard made it impossible for us to leave home.

Thankful for the laughter generated daily
by Baby-isms like "bubbles" on pancakes.


Thankful for The Boy's LEGO creations.

(He was so excited about our field trip to UPS to mail Daddy's dissertation,
that he created a LEGO UPS store when we got home --
hat's Daddy at the counter, handing the clerk his "big dissertation.")

Thankful for flour on a pan and an hour of busyness.

Thankful for the girls opportunity to perform
for the first time since we moved to North Dakota.

Thankful for the birds returning
and for the warm sun melting snow piles into puddles
that can be biked through.

Thankful for husband surprising me
with Starbucks and flowers
on tax preparation day.

Thankful taxes are done.
Thankful for a refund.

Thankful for colored pom-poms
flying through the air.
A new game.

Thankful for a birthday gift finished,
mailed, and delivered on time.

Thankful for brilliant sunsets and full moons rising.

Thankful for each other.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Happy Birthday to my little sister!
(Don't worry, I'll always be older!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya

It appears some leprechauns got to our breakfast before we did!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Lent

Crosses on our calendar.

Beans in our bowl.

Thorns in our crown.

Prayer. Sacrifice. Giving thanks.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent - Part II


"Have a joyful Lent."

"Have a good Lent."

Have a joyful Lent? Is Lent supposed to be good?

Why does something about this strike us as not quite right?

Why do we feel the need to say, "No, I want my Lent to be bad -- I want it to be hard"? Why do we think that penance has to hurt to be worthwhile? That if we're not unhappy or suffering, we're not doing something right?

This is how Father started his Ash Wednesday homily yesterday.

And his words fit perfectly with my resolutions this year. Confirmation. A small blessing. Gratitude filled my heart. Tears filled my eyes.

You see, Lent is not about doing deadly things, Father explained. It is about putting to death that within us which is deadly to us.

Prayer does this. Fasting does this. Works of charity do this.

And joy does this.

Joy puts to death that which is deadly within me.

Joy brings life.

Joy is born of gratitude. Of this, I am fully convinced.

I read this morning:
From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.

Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.
(Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts)
My resolution this Lent is to put to death that within me which is ungrateful. I resolved to pray in gratitude, to recognize the many blessings in my life throughout my days. To fast from whining and complaining and desiring that which has not been given to me. To teach my children gratitude. And so to bring joy to our home.

I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.

Psalm 116:17

May you, too, have a JOYful Lent!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday


Lord, who throughout these forty days,
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us to overcome our sins,
And close by you to stay.

As you with Satan did contend,
And did the vict'ry win,
O give us strength in you to fight,
In you to conquer sin.

As you did hunger and did thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and so to live
By your most holy word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through your Passiontide,
For evermore, in life and death,
O Lord! with us abide.

Abide with us, that through this life
Of doubts and hope and pain,
An Easter of unending joy

We may at last attain!

(Claudia F. Hernaman)

And so it begins ... our forty days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras

Tonight we ate,

we drank,

and we made merry.

(Daddy remarked that he hadn't used this side of his brain for quite a while.)

We sang, "Alleluia."

And then we put our alleluias away until Easter.

For tomorrow Lent begins.

Lent - Part I


The first Lent with my current spiritual director, I went to him prior to Ash Wednesday with, what I thought were, my ducks all in a row: I'm going to pray like this and fast from that and give alms by ....

My ducks were shot down. every. single. one of them.

Father asked me, instead, how I planned to grow in virtue during Lent. How was I going to be converted during Lent so that Easter found me a new creation?

In the past I had given up something, or added something to my prayer routine, only to go back to life as usual on Easter Monday, thankful to eat chocolate whenever I wanted. But, really, the same me. I had never experienced deep conversion during Lent.

This morning I read the editorial in this month's Magnificat. Father Cameron wrote, "Lent is the season of conversion. But, more than just 'changed behavior,' conversion is really about being."

And I was reminded that all of my resolutions to pray more, give up something, do something extra, are really for naught, if I am not changed by them. They are really sideshows, in the words of my spiritual direction, without a main event.

That first Lent that I didn't give up a single thing, or pray a minute more, was hard for me. I am a do-er by temperament, not a be-er. But it was also the first Lent I experienced tremendous spiritual growth and conversion. With Father's help, I examined my struggles, my particular propensities for certain sins, and I chose the opposing virtue to concentrate on that Lent. And every Lent since.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there isn't a place for more prayer, more fasting, increased almsgiving, but, for me, adding a rosary or giving up coffee is easy. The hard work is growing in virtue, and adapting my Lenten practices to this end. Every year I struggle with feeling guilty for not having more Lenten resolutions. Each Lent, I have to be deliberate, asking myself, not what God wants me to do for Lent, but rather, who does God want me to be when Lent is over?
For in the depths of myself I am sure that I am meant to be more than I am. I have a potential that I have not yet realized. There is more to me than I know. When we listen to Jesus' words -- "I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10) -- we are certain Christ is speaking directly to us. We can feel the absence of the unlived aspects of ourselves. And that lack creates in us a longing. The response to it is called conversion.

This is why Blesses John Henry Newman stated that "conversion is nothing more than a deeper discovery of what we already truly desire." Conversion happens in us precisely at the level of desire. "Being converted," wrote Father Antonin Sertillanges, O.P., "is simply meeting yourself for the purpose of going to the very end of your being. Conversion means a willingness to see the truth of things and conform one's conduct to it."

When we don't see the truth of things, a kind of agitation takes over -- Saint Augustine's sense that out hearts are restless until they rest in God. The Venerable John Paul II once wrote that "the basic human drama is the failure to perceive the meaing of life, to live without a meaning." Lenten conversion addresses that critical omission in our life. The first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are, "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38). What are we truly looking for in life? What are the desires that drive us? Are they really enough? Do they lead us to true satisfaction... or do they leave us wanting more? ...

As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, "Conversion is an act of obedience toward a reality which precedes me and which does not originate from me." Conversion, therefore, entails allowing ourselves to be drawn in by Christ so that we can become one with him in the way we think and feel and act and speak. As the Catechism puts it, "The human heart is converted by looking upon him who our sins have pierced" (1432).
Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P.
And, that, is what we do during Lent.

May God bless you, dear reader, and may you become this Lent who He wants you to be.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Field Trip - Part II

My DH and I just returned from our second trip to UPS today.

All four copies of the dissertation
are now bound (in two parts)
and in the mail.
(And, more significantly, off my husband's desk.)

One month until the April 8 defense date.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble to pick up something for hubby to read.
Something new.
Something different.
Something which has nothing to do with the Roman Canon or Scripture.
Something with a great title.

We also made one other stop before heading home to the kids.

I love you, dear husband, and I am so very proud of you!

Field Trip - Part I

We went to UPS this morning for a little field trip.

Can you guess why?

And can you guess who enjoyed this little field trip the most?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Giveaway Link


Wanna win this great basket of eco-friendly art supplies
from Stubby Pencil Studio?

I sure do.

For a chance, visit Ginny at Small Things.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Great Books

These books

Museum ABC

that The Baby

Museum 123

received for her birthday

Museum Colors

are so great

Museum Shapes

even you will enjoy them (if you like art).

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I just spent a delightful winter evening with my three older children.

Daddy is at the library hard at work.

The Baby is in bed.

We made English muffin pizzas.

And then they pleaded (and pleaded and pleaded)
to read another chapter of Little Town on the Prairie.
(We already read one during school time today.)

And then another.

We were snuggled up on the couch for over an hour,
the kids crowding in to get a view of the pictures.

I love my life.

I love homeschooling.