Thursday, November 30, 2006
Here's how you play:
1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday.
4) List two important birthdays and one death.
5) One holiday or observance (if any).
My birthday is June 23.
1887: The Rocky Mountains Park Act becomes law in Canada, creating that nation's first national park, Banff National Park.
1888:Frederick Douglass is the first African-American nominated for US president.
1931:Wiley Post and Harold Gatty take off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island in an attempt to circumnavigate the world in a single-engine plane.
2 important birthdays:
1929: June Carter Cash, American singer
1948: Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
1995: Jonas Salk, American medical researcher
Midsummer's Eve, Christianized the eve of the feast of Saint John the Baptist, is celebrated in much of Northern Europe and the British Islands.
I tag Nicole and Jennifer. Have fun!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Apparently I didn't listen.
Everything aches. I can't breathe through my nose. My eyes are on fire.
But you know something? This is actually an improvement over yesterday! So maybe things are looking up. Just to be safe, I think I should go review Danielle's very timely post about illness prevention. It is, after all, nearly December. I don't have time to be sick! One certain little sweetheart has a big birthday coming up--a first birthday! I really need to start planning for that. Darren and I will also soon be celebrating an important occassion--our eighth anniversary!
And...guess who's coming back to town?! My brother and his family! It's work related for him, but all the same, it means fun, fun, fun for me and my sister-in-law, not to mention our happy gang of children. They'll be here later today and will leave again on Sunday morning. We're thinking we'll take the kids to our city's annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday night. Carolers, hot beverages, cookies...I think they'll love it! I know I will.
On Saturday, I'm going with my sister-in-law to an annual Christmas bazaar which benefits a local womens shelter. It's been several years since I've been, and I'm hoping we can convince my mom to join us. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than with the women I love, perusing holiday crafts and goodies, all while supporting a worthy cause?
So now I'm off to finish cleaning my house and to start the rest of the laundry that, after completing four loads yesterday, I just didn't have the energy to finish last night. And I can barely wait for my first sip of morning coffee! Yesterday at the grocery store I went just a teensy bit nuts with the creamers. But what was I to do, faced with such a wonderful selection? Peppermint Mocha, Pumpkin Spice, Caramel Praline, Chocolate Mint Truffle...I bought one of each. :)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
We'll add the infant Jesus on Christmas morning, when we sing "Happy Birthday" to Him before opening gifts. My kids are so excited this year and are really getting into the spirit of the season. Dylan has developed a reverent obsession with nativities, and when he saw a set of miniature figures while shopping at Hobby Lobby, he begged us to buy them for him and then asked Darren to help him build a stable. Darren, of course, was more than happy to oblige, and their shared project was truly a labor of love. They spent most of yesterday out in the garage, measuring, sawing, gluing, drilling...I think St. Joseph would be proud!
This year we'll also be making a Jesse Tree for the first time. I've never made one, I've never even actually seen one, but I really love the concept of them and I think it will be a project that our whole family will be able to enjoy together. I had pretty much decided on this kit from Emmanuel Books, but then, while we were shopping at Hobby Lobby a few nights ago, I just happened to find some really cute wooden ornaments that I think will work very well. I also bought some colorful foam sheets from which we can cut any other symbols we need. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the things we got, but I found an excellent set of instructions at Catholic Culture that we'll use, reading the corresponding scripture verses directly from our bible. (I also came across these instructions at another site, which suggests additional symbols that we may also incorporate.) And I'm really, really hoping that the beautiful, fragrant, potted rosemary we have will work as our tree!
And so we begin this Christmas season. It is such a joy to celebrate the miracle of our Savior's birth with my children, to see it all through their eyes, to remember all the traditions I so loved as a child and bring them to new life with my own kids, adding new ones as we grow.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
For the three beautiful souls who have been entrusted to our care here on earth, and for the one we never got to hold in our arms but look forward to one day meeting again in heaven.
I am thankful for loving parents and brothers.
I give thanks for old, treasured friendships, and for new ones that grow more precious each day.
I am thankful for the warmth and comfort of our happy home, for plentiful food and drink, clothing for every season, and for the priviledge of living in this great country where all of these things are possible.
I am eternally thankful for a God who loves and strengthens me.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Blame it on these two incredible ladies:
Celeste and Nicole, you are amazing! You encourage and inspire me in more ways than you'll ever know.
Hope you all have a wonderful and very blessed Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I wasn't always this way. When I was younger, I was vehemently opposed to any hint of Christmas before at least December 1st! So it was completely out of character for me when, on our way home from my Aunt's house one Thanksgiving a few years ago, I turned to Darren and said, "Hey! I have a great idea! Why don't we decorate our Christmas tree when we get home?"
He was incredulous, but quickly warmed to the idea. It was such a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon, and our tree that year was so beautiful. We decided then that every year, following Thanksgiving dinner, we would get out the tree and take our time decorating it. And that's exactly what we've done. We listen to Christmas carols, sip egg nog and hot cocoa, and once it's dark, we light a fire and plug in the lights. It's such a peaceful, beautiful way to conclude such a special day.
We'll carry on the tradition this year, but I'm also excited about incorporating some other ideas I've had this year. It has been my concern in years past that, despite our best effort to focus with our children on the birth of baby Jesus, they still get wrapped up (as we all often do) in the commercialism of the season. So one idea I've had is to display our nativity set under the Christmas tree as a reminder that we are not awaiting material gifts but the birth of Jesus. Then, on Christmas morning, we'll place the infant Jesus with Mary and Joseph and sing "Happy Birthday" to Him, as we always do, before blowing out the candles on the birthday cake the kids help me make for Him every Christmas Eve.
I was also inspired this morning by Alice, who, borrowing an idea from Rebecca, created this beautiful Advent Log. What a wonderful idea! I'm hoping that Darren and I will be able to fashion one of our own.
If you don't mind sharing, I'd love to hear about any traditions or ideas that you all have! How do you keep the true spirit of the season alive in your own homes?
Saturday, November 18, 2006
While there are many variations--particularly regional differences--to be found with posole, I've stood by my dad's tried and true recipe. It makes a lot, so I use a tall stock pot to cook it all in. The recipe could, of course, be scaled down, but I love having leftovers!
I start with about 3 pounds of pork (I prefer the thin, boneless, loin center cut chops), which I cut into small cubes (roughly 3/4 inch) and then brown in olive oil in a large skillet. Then I transfer the meat into my stockpot, cover with water, and bring it to a boil. I let it simmer, covered, for about two hours, then add 7 cans (15.5 oz. each) of white hominy (drain it well before adding it to the pot). I usually add some more water at this point, too. Not a whole lot, but enough to make it nice and "soupy". About an hour later, I add two 14 oz. containers of frozen red chile and bring it, again, to a boil. Once it's boiling, I cover it, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about another two hours. Just before serving, I add about 2 TBS. of salt and dried, crumbled oregano. After it's been ladled into bowls, we squeeze fresh lime juice over it and garnish with a little more oregano and finely chopped onion, and enjoy warm flour tortillas as a side.
I love it. I hope you will, too.
As much as I enjoyed this delectable stew, however, I never actually made it myself or even knew how to make it--that was always my dad's specialty. Not once did it ever occur to me, during my self absorbed adolescence, to try and learn the secrets of my dad's culinary magic.
Years passed, and I married and moved out and created a home of my own. Subsequent winters would find me begging my dad to make his wonderful posole, because no holiday season would be complete without it. He indulged me, of course, and I was satisfied.
Letting him carry on the tradition was fine while my new family consisted of just Darren and me. But once we began welcoming children into our lives, I felt a longing like never before to begin establishing familiar traditions within our own home. So last winter, I decided the time had finally come to try my own hand at preparing my favorite childhood feast. While my first few attempts didn't quite measure up to my dad's version, the standard by which I judged my own results, it wasn't long before I had it perfected. Happy were the days I spent in my kitchen, recreating the scrumptious stew I remembered from my youth.
It was actually while preparing yet another enormous pot of posole that I went into labor with Meghan last December. She wasn't due for another month, so I didn't immediately recognize the contractions for what they were. Instead, I carried on, eagerly anticipating the Christmas party we were to be hosting that night. Throughout the day, I visited with two of my aunts, who had stopped by with gifts for Dylan and Caitlyn, all the while enjoying the scent of the posole I had simmering on the stove. It was late that afternoon, when my mom arrived as the first guest to our holiday celebration, that I finally confronted the reality that I was, without a doubt, in labor at only 35 weeks of pregnancy. While my mom stayed and went ahead with the party for us, Darren and I headed to the hospital and, within two hours of our arrival and following an unsuccessful attempt to stop my labor, we welcomed our tiny, beautiful daughter into this world. She came two days before our seventh wedding anniversary, and just in time for Christmas. (And I even got to enjoy some leftover posole when I came home from the hospital with her the following day!)
I can't believe that nearly a year has passed since that fateful night. When I think of Meghan's birth, I'll always remember the big pot of posole I had cooking at the time, warming the kitchen and filling my home with its wonderful aroma. Yesterday, as I again prepared a large quantity of my much loved stew, I thought about that day and smiled to remember the joy and wonder of it all.
So here it is, this seasons first serving of posole. It won't be the last!
Friday, November 17, 2006
That, in and of itself, is not really an uncommon occurence in our household. The circumstances surrounding this particular demise, however, were unique because Dylan was the one to first discover the fatality.
I was in my bedroom when he approached me solemnly and said, "Mom, I think it's time to bury this fish because I think it's dead. Come here, let me show you."
As my heart sank, I took his hand and led him into the living room, where I discovered that there was, indeed, one very dead fish nose down in the bottom of our aquarium. We've naturally lost several fish throughout the years, but it still saddens me, every time, to see their lifeless little bodies there in the water. Removing them is a business delegated solely to Daddy, so after a brief moment of silence, I said to Dylan, "I'm so sorry, sweetie. Let's turn the lights of the tank off to give him some privacy until Daddy can take him out. Then we'll be able to bury him in the garden."
Dylan looked sadly into the aquarium for just a bit longer, then said to me, "Mom? When something dies, does that mean it gets to live forever in heaven?"
"Yes, baby, that's right!" I answered excitedly, hoping to alleviate some of his dismay. "That's the wonderful thing about heaven! We know that even when we die, we get to live forever and ever with everybody we love, and with Jesus and Mary and all the saints!" I've spoken with my kids many times in the past about heaven, and the promise of eternal life, and how it will be more perfect and beautiful than anything we can imagine here on earth; that we will never feel sad or lonely or scared or hurt; that we will be together with everybody we loved in this life; and that God loves us so much that he sent us his only Son so that one day we will all be together in His glorious kingdom.
Still, Dylan seemed a little worried. "But mom!" he persisted. "What if I forget my Lightning McQueen car when I go to heaven? Do you think God or Jesus will be able to come back down here to get it for me?"
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry.
I held my little boy and said to him, "Honey, I bet that by the time it's time for you to go to Heaven, so much time will have passed that you won't even like Lightning McQueen anymore."
"Oh, no, Mommy, I'll always love Lightning McQueen!"
"Well, then...," I said, at a complete loss for words. "I'm sure it just wouldn't be heaven without him."
Thursday, November 16, 2006
for this sweet little baby,
And for my handsome husband, who helped make them a reality, and who loves me much more than I deserve. I am so richly blessed.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
"Oh, sweetie," I said, scooping her up and snuggling her. "That sounds so nice! And I wonder," I continued wistfully, "what your kids will call me. We call my mommy 'Nonny'. And we call Daddy's mommy 'Nana'. What do you think your kids might call me?"
I waited expectantly for a moment while she thought about it, then laughed when she finally answered, "Well, maybe they'll call you 'Melissa'."
(I was hoping for something just a little more endearing!)
The story is sweet and wonderfully told, but the illustrations are what make this book a real treasure.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I stopped for a moment and stared, dumbfounded, then remembered all at once that I had intended to close it after Dylan climbed out. I had gotten distracted buckling Caitlyn into the seat of a nearby shopping cart and completely forgot about closing the door! Luckily, everything was fine with the van, but I was still bewildered!
"Maybe I'm pregnant," I said, only somewhat jokingly. "That would certainly explain the absentmindedness I've been experiencing lately".
With complete sincerity, Darren looked me right in the eyes and responded tenderly, "Oh, I sure hope so".
While we haven't yet actually been blessed with another new life, I feel so cherished just knowing that my beloved would happily welcome one (or two, or more!) new souls into this world with me. I could never be more perfectly loved.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I mourned the loss of my family as I had always known it. I still had both of my parents, but they were no longer the cohesive unit I remembered. My childhood home, devoid of all its familiar treasures, became just a house, an empty shell of its former self. I cried many bitter tears to think that my future children would never know my parents the way I once knew them; that my romantic adolescent dream of some day pulling up to my parents home, visiting with a carload of children for the holidays, would never come to pass.
And so it has been. My children have their "Nonny" and their "Grandpa". They love them fiercely, but I'm still sometimes sad to know that they will never have the pleasure of enjoying them together, as a pair. My parents have grown and changed in so many ways that I honestly believe would never had been possible had they stayed together. I am immensely proud of them as individuals. But sometimes the enormity of the loss of "them", the longing for what once was, makes my heart ache with an intensity that brings tears to my eyes.
With my older brother and his family visiting from out of town for a few days, we chose to celebrate Thanksgiving together last night so we could all be together. Both of my parents came, and my younger brother, and for the first time in many years, my family was complete. At one point after dinner, as we all sat comfortably and companionably around the table, the conversation turned to some silly pranks my older brother had pulled during his years in Catholic school. Darren and my dear sister-in-law had drifted away from the dining room and were playing in the living room with our children. I sat among my brothers and parents and reminisced, and laughed, and it was bittersweet. We have a shared history, my family and I. When the evening concluded, my parents got into their own cars and drove home to their seperate houses. But for last night, we had our memories. And for last night, that was enough.
Friday, November 10, 2006
At this point, needless to say, I was really not wanting to go to work! Fortunately, my dear friend, who was working the first half of our shift and who I was to be relieving in a matter of hours, graciously agreed to work the remainder of the night so that I could stay home with my sick children. I love her! I will forever be indebted to her for her selfless generosity.
We gave Caitlyn some Children's Tylenol and Dimetapp, then tucked her into bed with us, too. None of us got much sleep last night! Caitlyn's temperature was normal this morning, but I'm still keeping a watchful eye on her. Meghan is fussy and clingy, and her poor little bottom still looks terrible. Dylan is watching "Cars" this morning for the second time since receiving it from Darren as a surprise on Tuesday night.
And I'm making these wonderful cookies! I felt as though I were reading off the numbers of a winning lottery ticket this morning as I searched through my pantry and found, one by one, every single ingredient I needed--and in sufficient quantities! (I halved the recipe, and still ended up with a lot of cookies...in fact I had to mix the batter in my punch bowl, because it was the only one big enough to hold it all!)
I'm hoping that all of my kids will take a nap after lunch today. My brother and his family will be here in the morning, and we're having our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. My kids have been so looking forward to seeing their cousins. There's so much they want to do with them while they're here. I pray they'll be feeling better soon!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
My children slept well last night and were in good spirits when they awoke this morning. So while Meghan was down for her morning nap, I watched "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown" (a bonus feature on our copy of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown") with Dylan and Caitlyn and talked with them about elections and the voting process. By the time Meghan woke up, the sun was shining brightly, it was still and clear and a beautiful 73 degrees outside, and I decided that we could all use a little fresh air! Together we packed up some sack lunches, and with the girls in their double stroller and Dylan walking along beside me, we headed over to the elementary school two blocks away, where they were able to watch me vote. Dylan and Caitlyn were excited to see the process in action, but even more excited to play for a little while on the playground equipment before enjoying a picnic lunch at one of the outdoor tables. On our way home, they used the empty sacks that their lunches had been packed in to collect assorted leaves and pinecones, an endeavor which was, for them, nearly as fun as the playground itself! As we walked, Caitlyn said to me, "Mommy, it sure is a lovely day."
I couldn't agree more.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Ironically, I was initially feeling a little guilty about not having taken Meghan in sooner (because although she is nearly eleven months old, today's visit actually counted as her nine month check-up.) But! If scheduling hadn't necessitated my bringing her in with the older two for all three of their check-ups together, we might never have discovered her ear infection! We've been giving her some children's Dimetapp recommended by our pharmacist to treat her cold symptoms, and she hasn't given any indication that her ears are bothering her, so I probably wouldn't have even taken her in otherwise. I'm so glad everything worked out the way it did!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Another group we thoroughly enjoy, and one not to be missed, is Clan Tynker, a phenomenal family of entertainers from Santa Fe. (If you check out their link, be sure to click on "What" and watch their video. It's amazing!) Juggling fire...swallowing swords...they're incredible.
On our way home this afternoon, after spending a great time at the Faire, we stopped at K-Mart to pick up a few things and noticed that their Halloween costumes were marked down to 75% off. I couldn't pass up a cute princess outfit for Caitlyn, especially since my neice will be visiting soon. (I was thinking about how cute they'll be playing dress-up together!) Caitlyn tried it on as soon as we got home, and was so very happy. Not two minutes later, though, Dylan came to me wearing nothing but his Lightning McQueen underwear and carrying the Cinderella outfit we got Caitlyn for her birthday last month. "Mom!" he said excitedly. "I want to play dress up too!"
"Honey", I said to Darren as I grabbed the car keys. "I'm heading back to K-Mart".
With one look at Dylan, Darren nodded emphatically as I walked out the door. Luckily, I found a perfect "dress up" costume for Dylan and he and Caitlyn had a wonderful time this afternoon playing make-believe. Here they are: my handsome knight, my beautiful princess, and even a friendly dragon!
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Notice anything missing?
I decided a few days ago that the only sure way to keep the TV off during the day was to simply eliminate it completely. I've tried in the past to say it will stay off, have even tried unplugging it when certain young people weren't looking, but they're quick, those kids of mine. It never takes them long to catch on, and as soon as I'd leave the room the TV would be on again.
(And then, admittedly, there was the convenience factor. How easy it was to distract them with a cartoon when I was "too busy" to be bothered!)
I wasn't entirely convinced that my impulsive idea was a good one, but one morning last week I decided to remove the TV, VCR, and DVD player from our living room. While Dylan watched in shocked fascination, I hauled first one, then the others into the garage and set about cleaning the thick layer of dust that had settled beneath and behind them. "But mom", Dylan said sadly. "I'm afraid I'll miss our TV."
"Son", I told him. "I'm afraid I might, too. But I bet we'll find lots of other fun stuff to do and before too long, we won't even miss it at all."
I had no idea how right I'd be.
That very same day, I was getting ready to run some errands with the kids and thought I'd sit first to nurse Meghan before loading everybody into the van. As I settled into the recliner with Meghan in my arms, Dylan instinctively reached to turn on the TV and then remembered it wasn't there. Without a word, he went to his room, brought out a book, and sat with Caitlyn in the loveseat to read while I finished feeding Meghan. Quite seriously, I was stunned! I had expected much more resistance, particularly on his part.
I'm convinced more every day that removing it was the right thing to do for our family. Instead of the the TV being on, constantly, in the background, I've moved a CD player into the living room along with a few of our favorite CDs, which we listen to quietly while playing or doing chores. It's so uplifting to hear the beautiful songs of Michael Card as we go about our day; fun to dance silly with the kids while listening to the Little People songs they love; and a joy to really spend time with my kids, doing things like reading more books, building more block towers, coloring more pictures, assembling more puzzles, and using our imaginations rather than sitting and staring at the TV for countless precious hours of the day.
I should say, though, that we haven't gone so far yet as to remove the TV and VCR/DVD player from our master bedroom. It's where Darren and I watch the news, and where Dylan and Caitlyn know that, from time to time, they'll be allowed to watch a video or cartoon. We're finding so many other rewarding ways to have fun that maybe one day, we'll be ready to get rid of those, too!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
From Christian Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours