Sunday, December 31, 2006

Devotions Meme

Celeste and Kristen have kindly tagged me for this meme. What a lovely way to ease back into blogging following a wonderful holiday break!

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus? Morning Offering.

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer? The Magnificat.

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal? Neither. But if I had one, I would certainly wear it!

4. Do you have holy water in your home? No. And I regret not asking if I could keep some of the holy water our priest used when blessing our home a few days ago.

5. Do you offer up your sufferings? I really try to.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays? No...although I hope to make more of an effort in the new year.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently? No.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person? Sunday morning.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime? Yes. And at dinner, following the traditional prayer before meals, we each take a turn saying something we are particularly thankful for that day, be it good news we received, something exciting that happened or that we did, or whatever else we may be especially thankful for.

10. Favorite Saint(s)? St. Francis.

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart? Yes.

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day? Absolutely.

13. Where is your favorite place to pray? In my recliner, in the dim morning light before anyone else is awake.

14. Bonus Question: When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved? Yes. And I do the same even if I just hear sirens.

I tag: Jennifer and Nicole.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Last Christmas, Meghan was one week old and, having developed a rather alarming case of newborn jaundice, was quite orange but still one of the most beautiful babies I had ever seen.

Still basking in the glow of our "babymoon", and mindful of the many dreadfully contagious illnesses abounding at that time of year, I chose to remain home with her while Darren took Dylan and Caitlyn to our family's traditional Christmas festivities. I spent that day peacefully gazing at my tiny newborn, quietly enjoying the wonder of her.

This year, there was nothing even remotely quiet about the joy I found in watching her play happily with her big brother and sister! It is so amazing to me that this little girl of mine, the one who thinks she has to climb on everything now, is the same sweet angel I so tenderly cradled in my arms just one short year ago.

This year, in stark contrast to last Christmas, we spent all day visiting with various members of my family. The morning began with the sweetest rendition of "Happy Birthday" I've ever heard, sung by Dylan and Caitlyn to baby Jesus as they placed Him beneath our Christmas tree alongside Mary and Joseph.

And they couldn't have been more thrilled with the gifts that Santa left for them! We now have our own little drummer boy and one adorable, piano playing princess. (Darren and Meghan complete the ensemble with their new electric guitar and toy saxaphone, respectively. Give us a few years, and we'll be taking this show on the road!)

My dad and brother came over late Christmas morning to open gifts with us. (Although "late" is a relative term was actually only 8:30, but considering we had been up since before six it just felt late!) We munched on cookies, sipped our coffee, and enjoyed the antics of our very excited children! After 10:00 Mass, we headed over to my aunt and uncle's house to celebrate with much of my extended family, where we indulged in lots of food, lots of sweets, lots of presents, and lots of laughter! Later, we joined my brother at my mom's house to open the last of our gifts. It was a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful day, but I was sad to see it come to an end. I'm already looking forward to next Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fourth Sunday of Advent

O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy Grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Memories in the making

When I came home from work this morning, I brought with me some glazed donuts and breakfast burritos to celebrate the first day of Darren's Christmas vacation. As an employee of the university, he doesn't return to work until January 2. Giddy does not even begin to describe the way I feel about having him all to ourselves until then!

So, how to use this precious gift of time? We could have gone shopping, because there are still a few gifts that we need to buy. And the garage is really in need of a good cleaning, so that we might actually be able to fit at least one of our two vehicles in it! And, of course, there are groceries to buy, clothes to wash, linen closets to re-organize...oh, wait a minute, I'm not that ambitious! Trust me, though, there is still plenty to be done around here!

But what did we do instead? After breakfast (which, I just have to say, was delicious!), Darren said to me, "Hey! Why don't we pack the van and head up into the mountains to play with the kids in the snow?" Honestly? I couldn't think of a single thing I'd rather off to the mountains we went! The short drive to Cloudcroft was beautiful. Having honeymooned there eight years ago, there will always be a certain magic about the quaint little mountain village that, no matter how often we return, will never diminish.

After leisurely perusing some delightful little shops, we bundled up and let Dylan and Caitlyn play in the snow (of which there was more than either had ever seen!) To say they enjoyed it would be a terrible understatement. They loved it!

The drive home was every bit as beautiful as the ride there had been. We had packed a change of clothes for each of the children, so they were warm, dry, and happy as we sang along with their Christmas music and watched the stunning scenery pass us by. This photo was taken just as we were leaving Cloudcroft:

I love the sky in this next one, taken along the outskirts of White Sands National Monument.

We live not far beyond the beautiful mountains in this next photo. Whenever we see this view of them, we know we're nearly home!

And the perfect ending to this perfect day? Hot cocoa, cozy jammies, and snuggling by the fire while listening to the beautiful songs on one of my new favorite CD's (The Nativity Story: Sacred Songs). You know something? Life doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gingerbread Fun

One day last week, I was helping Dylan search for some fun, interactive Christmas games that he could play online. We found a few really cute ones, but particularly enjoyed the ones with gingerbread cookies. He had a great time decorating his own gingerbread boy at this site, and especially loved this one, where he decorated his own cookie, wrote his own message, e-mailed it to Darren at work, and then called him on the phone to tell him to check his inbox!

Today I wanted to do something fun with my kids, something crafty that didn't involve baking. (I love baking, but that's been my default "fun" for the past couple of weeks and I figured we could all use a little change of pace.) I still have the colorful sheets of foam I bought just after Thanksgiving (thinking, at the time, that I'd use them to make ornaments) and so, using an X-Acto knife, I cut from them some shapes of a gingerbread family (I used a couple of basic templates that I printed off the internet). Next, using our assorted bottles of glitter glue, we decorated our "cookies". These were so easy! The hardest part, for me, was waiting for them to dry!

After letting them "set" for a few hours, I took a paper plate, cut out the center, wrapped the resulting ring with gold ribbon, tied a red bow to the top, and attached our little gingerbread family to the perimeter, creating a sweet wreath which is now hanging on the door to our bedroom. And I love it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Creative Play

I'll never cease to be amazed at the many ways in which Dylan consistently thinks "outside the box". Yesterday morning, I sent him to play quietly for a while in his bedroom while I tried to get a few things done around the house. When I went to check him a little bit later, I stared in amazement at the clever nativity arrangement he had created by gathering items from all of our bedrooms:

His Little People farm and animals comprised a large majority of the scene, but he also included one of my favorite Willow Tree statues to represent the Holy Family, accompanied by his miniature wise men:

My favorite part, though, is evidenced in this next photo--a shepherd riding a John Deere tractor and two angels "riding a buggy, because they want to hurry just as fast as they can to see baby Jesus!" (His exact words! How precious is that?!)

Although it covers the entire top of his dresser, I'm just not ready to put any of it away yet...maybe after Christmas!

Eight Happy Years

Every time I pass through the front hall in our home, I pause to admire the beauty of the Christmas tree lights reflected in our wedding portrait. And this image, aside from being simply stunning to see, really speaks volumes to my heart...because it reminds me that the privilege of waking up, every morning, beside God's perfect gift to me makes every morning feel like Christmas.

Happy Anniversary, Darren. I love you!

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a Party!

Did I mention how thrilled I was when Darren found my much sought after Strawberry Shortcake party supplies?

For months, when imagining Meghan's first birtday party, I knew it would just have to be Strawberry Shortcake. Meghan has the most beautiful red highlights when the sun catches her hair in just the right way, so the cute, loveable little red haired character I so fondly remember from my own childhood seemed to be the perfect choice for celebrating the first birthday of our own little sweetheart.

(I was so touched when Dylan and Caitlyn took it upon themselves to rummage through all of Caitlyn's toy storage drawers to find these, the little Strawberry Shortcake figures I used to play with when I was a little girl, which they lined up as "decorations" on the dining room table.)

Meghan had a great time opening her gifts! She stands so well on her own (and is even walking a little bit!) so it was really fun to watch her tear into all the tissue and wrapping paper. (And just think--on Christmas we'll get to do this all over again!)

For her birthday cake, I guessed it! Strawberry shortcake! Not very traditional, I know, but perfect, I thought, for this very special party!

Unfortunately, it was nearing nap time by the time we were ready for cake, so Meghan wasn't very interested in trying any. She more than made up for it, though, when we gave her some for breakfast the next morning...on her real birthday!

Meghan's birthday weekend could not have been better. We all had such a great time celebrating our precious baby's first year!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Meghan!

Can it really be true that an entire year has passed since I held you in my arms for the very first time? What a wonderful gift you were to your daddy and me, arriving so much earlier than any of us could have anticipated but just in time for our anniversary and Christmas. I loved you from the first moment I knew you lived within me, and was so happy to finally see you after months of dreaming about who you would be. You were more perfect than I ever could have imagined! All of us--your daddy, your big brother and sister, and me--were so indescribably happy to have been blessed with the gift of incredible, beautiful you!

We love you so much, Meghan. You are such a sweet, sensitive, loving little girl. You are the light of our lives. I thank God every day for the privilege of being your mommy, and look forward with great joy to another year of watching you grow.

Happy first birthday, my darling girl!

Gaudete Girls

Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord, we beg Thee, incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


There typically comes a point near the end of every shift I work at the hospital when, faced with a seemingly impossible amount of charting still left to be completed, I'll panic for just a moment and think to myself, "There is no way I'm going to be finished with this before day shift gets here." But then, with a final surge of determination, I do finish.

That sense of panic, though, is exactly what I was feeling last night. Meghan's first birthday party is set for noon today (her actual birthday is tomorrow, but it worked out better for us to celebrate today) and OH. MY. GOODNESS. There is still so much to be done. I won't even list it all here, because it will sound as though I didn't do anything yesterday to prepare ahead of time. (Which, actually, I guess I didn't, except for that glorious four hour long nap I took with my kids... now that was an accomplishment!)

Near tears last night, I was lamenting to Darren about everything we still needed to finish. Ever my voice of reason, he lovingly reminded that we do finish, every time, no matter how much I may panic beforehand. And so this morning, I've found that final surge of determination. Come noon, we will be ready, and we are going to have the best time celebrating an entire year with our sweet, beautiful girl.

I can barely wait!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Quote of the Day

Dylan to Caitlyn, when she accidentally dripped some ketchup onto the palm of her hand during dinner tonight:

"Caitlyn, now you look like Saint Francis."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

O Christmas Tree

As we were pulling into our driveway last Sunday, two of our neighbors (a very sweet couple who lives at the end of our cul-de-sac) walked over to ask us if we would like an extra Christmas tree, one which they won last year in a silent auction to benefit a local hospital but don't have room to display this year. How could we ever decline such a generous offer? Darren was a bit skeptical, unsure of where we would have room for another Christmas tree, but I was determined! It is so cute, decorated completely with teddy bears who are adorned with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons. I just knew I'd be able to find a perfect place for it in our home!

So yesterday afternoon, while Meghan was napping, I let Dylan and Caitlyn play for a while on the computer and got busy rearranging the furniture in our master bedroom. By moving the sofa from the bay window to the foot of our bed, I cleared enough space to create a very comfortable reading nook. I love it so much! I had really been missing my rocking chair, which we moved from our living room to the garage when we set up our main Christmas tree, so I was very happy to be able to move it into my bedroom. Darren was stunned last night when he got home from work, walked into our bedroom to change clothes, and saw this:

Here's a closer look at the tree:

I was filled with such joy last night as I rocked Meghan to sleep by the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights, and so thankful for the gift of such lovely neighbors.

Brave new Blogger

Yesterday afternoon found me so supremely frustrated by my inability to leave comments with Blogger that this morning, following Celeste's lead, I decided to finally take the plunge and switch to beta. I'd been putting it off because the mere thought of accidentally losing the template it took me so long to finally figure out made my head hurt.

But this was serious! Unable to comment, there was no way for me to congratulate Margaret on her very happy news!

And I couldn't tell Jill how sad I was to hear of her decision to leave the blogosphere.

And I really wanted Celeste to know how much I appreciated her sweet reference to me in her post on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

So, I switched this morning. Some things are just worth risking the possibility of a headache!

(But I'm happy to report that this really was a very painless process!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?

I think mine speaks for itself. Darren will be so proud!

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Each year, you really get into the spirit of Christmas.
Which is much more important to you than nifty presents.

(Hat tip: Margaret in Minnesota)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy (ALMOST!) Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

It's a good thing I can laugh at myself.

Because all day long, I couldn't help thinking smugly to myself, "Wow, I am so on top of things today!" It began with such a rare and perfect morning. Having worked last night, I didn't get to bed until around 2:30 a.m., but I hopped happily out of bed this morning before Darren left for work and made quick business of getting all the kids up and ready. I still had a little Christmas shopping to finish up and thought I'd take full advantage of the early hour and our cheerful moods. Then, as I was buckling the kids into their carseats, I thought, "Oh, hey! Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!" And with a flash of pure brilliance (please, indulge me!) I devised a plan for our own little celebratory fiesta.

My shopping expedition couldn't have gone better this morning. All three of my children were so sweet and well behaved, and not only did I find most of what I needed to finish my Christmas shopping, I also bought ingredients for a royal baking extravaganza. When we got home, I fixed a simple lunch and, while we were eating, talked with my kids about Our Lady and Saint Juan Diego. After lunch, they sat up at their bar stools and helped me make some Mrs. Fields Snowy White Chocolate Crescent cookies, symbolic of the moon beneath the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Next, much to their delight, we made some sugar cookies in the shape of stars, signifying the gold stars that covered her blue mantle. We had so much fun!

For dinner tonight, in keeping with the theme of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I thought I'd finally use the ground beef that's been sitting in my refridgerator since last Thursday to prepare my kids' favorite Mexican meal--tacos! And I was so proud of how well Dylan and Caitlyn recounted the story of Saint Juan Diego for Darren at the dinner table this evening.
Later, while they played for a while before bed, I decided to transfer the pictures I took earlier today onto my computer. And it was then that I realized ("You have got to be kidding me!") that today was, actually, the eleventh of December...not the twelfth. Not the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
After a brief moment of dumbfounded incredulity, the happy truth slowly dawned on me: tomorrow morning, on Our Lady's real feast day, I can enjoy with my coffee a delectable breakfast of chocolate crescents and sugar cookies without exerting any more effort than it takes to lift the lid of my cookie jar.
Lucky, lucky me!

Happiness is...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Second Sunday of Advent

O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

My Little Daredevil

Friday, December 08, 2006

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Father, You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by His death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Collect, from Women for Faith & Family)