Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I will be taking the next several days to celebrate this wonderful time with my family, and will not be blogging again until the new year. I wish each of you the love of our Savior and a very special time with family and friends. See you in 2006!

Monday, December 19, 2005

What to get for the Pastor who has everything....

If you're pondering an appropriate Christmas gift for your family priest, you may want to read my interview with Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti, who offers a great insight on what our priests really want for Christmas. Click here to read the interview!

Prepare to Be Inspired

One of my favorite things about is that it affords me the opportunity to meet really cool women. While all of the media outlets have been busy with "best of 2005" stuff, I've been preparing my own mental list of all of the really awesome people I've "met" this year. I am truly blessed by each of them, and have learned so much this year!

One of my new cyber friends is the talented Catholic artist and mom of six Melissa Dayton. Please take a few minutes today to read my interview with Melissa (click here) and also treat yourself to a visit to her web site at

Melissa has generously offered a discount for readers: For 20% discount on all unframed prints, use coupon code: 252704

Melissa has a beautiful spirit and an incredible talent. I know you will love her work too!

I know we're all busy this week, so I'll be keeping you in my prayers and hoping you'll do the same for me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Must, Must Read...

The lawyer(s?) who reads this blog on her lunch hour is going to have to take five extra minutes today to read the latest column on from Pat Gohn. Three words of advice:

Have Kleenex Ready

Click here to read Pat's latest work of art!

Taking Off the Headphones

My gym buddy stood me up this morning, which was probably one of the best things she could have done for me today.

You see, we have this longstanding agreement that it's ok not to show up. We tell each other we'll be there, no matter what, so that the other workout partner feels compelled to go. If my workout buddy isn't there, I know it's because something important came up (like a sick kid or a hubby just home from a hunting trip) - no phone call is necessary. I say a prayer for her, and go along with my workout.

Most days, my precious, wonderful iPod is in my purse and I tune in and catch up on podcasts. But this morning, alas, it was still hooked up to my computer...

Plan B - read...oops, forgot the reading glasses! Strike two...

OK, this is the perfect time for the Rosary! But midway through, I became somewhat distracted by the sounds of a variety of conversations around me.

The first was of a woman telling her friend about the arrival home last Wednesday of her husband, who has been serving in Iraq for the past fifteen months! I felt like running over and hugging her, and thanking her for their sacrifice. Recalling the state of my personal hygiene, I refrained and offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving for his brave service and for all of our troops separated from families at Christmas.

When she yielded her treadmill, my attention turned to a heated discussion between two men behind me related to last night's execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Each offered biblical references for his opposing opinion on the death penalty, while CNN silently played the details of the situation in the background. With a heavy heart, I offered a prayer for the repose of the soul of this man, for the victims of the murder, and for their families.

Life, and all of its trials and triumphs, is what's going on around me when I'm tuned into my own little world and its workings. There are so many in our world who need prayers and support that sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

I've been praying lately for a heart open to hearing Christ's invitation to serve others - I'm pretty sure I heard some knocking at my heart's door this morning on the treadmill...

And Speaking of Inspirational...

Great news that just in time for Christmas, one of my favorite books of this year is now available at Amazon for the book lover on your list...or yourself!

Click here to read my interview with Cami and you'll see why I loved this book so much!

Worth Your Precious Pre-Christmas Time

Hot off the press is my review of Hannah's Hope by Karen Kingsbury. I loved the book and would definitely recommend it as an inspiring way to spend a few hours during the hectic holiday season. Nothing like a great, inspiring story to help you feel wonderful about the true meaning of Christmas. Click here to read my review and I'd love your recommendations for other inspiring Christmas stories.

Watching Adam Shine

It's a wonderful thing when your child finds an activity he really LOVES doing! I find myself thrilled whenever I watch Adam don his fencing gear and take to the floor.

So great has been his enthusiasm that he's been taking advantage of the three beginning lessons offered weekly at our fencing center. This is my "non-sporty" kid, volunteering to be put through the thrice weekly rigors of stretching, jogging, "suicides", lunging and footwork drills for sixty plus minutes per lesson for the reward of half an hour of going crazy with that foil!

Whether he knows it or not, he's getting quite a bit of exercise. He's learned to jump rope, to "karaoke" (the step, not the singing), to stretch appropriately and to push himself even when he's very tired. But the best thing is, he's having a blast - and mom is too! Fencing is much less painful to watch than football - there aren't any coaches yelling profanities at my child while he hurls himself headlong at another player. It's warm and toasty in the fencing center, and they even have DSL (although I usually knit).

Adam's main partner is a sophomore in high school, and Adam's only 11, so he's learning the value of playing with someone who's better than's tough to lose most bouts, but he knows he's improving and learning when he goes against one of the younger boys and wins.

For now, I'm enjoying this new found love of Adam's, simply because I love HIM so much and it's incredible to watch him have so much fun. Who knows how long the enthusiasm will last, but for now, it's pure joy!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rejoice - Check!

I have a long list this week - I'll bet you do too! This is "beat the clock" week. If we want things done by Christmas (i.e. cards sent on time, presents delivered across country, halls decked in boughs of holly), then this is crunch time.

But there's something special at the top of my list this week, and I put it there after I saw Father Blessing emerge in Bright Rose vestments at Mass yesterday: REJOICE!

Yesterday, Gaudete Sunday, we lit the third, rose colored candle on our Advent wreath. If you're like me, you didn't unearth the Advent wreath until midway through the week of the second Advent candle...a dreadful thing for a Catholic Mom to admit! But I told myself then, and I'm repeating it's not to late to make this the best Advent ever.

It's not too late to spend a few moments each day preparing my heart for Jesus. It's not too late to savor this season with my children, engaging in simple traditions they'll remember. It's not too late to look around me for Christ's invitation to reach out to others - the hungry, the poor, the lonely, those in need. It's not too late to ask what I can do to help make their lives better, and then to actually do it.

There's plenty of time this week to rejoice, to feel special gladness at the nearing celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. The rejoicing may not even be recognizable to others, but I'll know it in my heart:

When I take time to watch Adam for the 1000th time when he says, "Come watch this Mom!", I'll be rejoicing...

When I hug Eric and watch him tromp off to a day of life as a teenager...

When I smile at the saleserson who's been serving the unending line in front of me...

When I'm at work and a co-worker needs my ear or a shoulder to cry on...

There will be countless chances all week to turn ordinary moments into great moments of joy and to remember to thank God for the many blessings He's poured out so richly in my life, primarily the gift of my salvation through His Son, Jesus.


1 Thes 5:16-24
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Card Bloopers

I believe that there are many reasons that Moms should get a reduced sentence in Purgatory for "good behavior" and that one of the biggest arguments for this is the fact that we have to spend time each year orchestrating, producing and mailing the annual Christmas card photo.

Each year, when I line my children up for the annual holiday photo shoot, I give a silent prayer of thanksgiving for my own beloved mother, who managed to dress and pose five children for Christmas pictures in age prior to the invention of the digital camera. I heartily apologize to her for any times that I talked, goofed around, looked to the side, or made my siblings squirm. I'm sorry for that year when the best picture had my head cut off and a red bouncy ball in Patrick's mouth...I'm sure you needed a glass of wine after that one!

I only have two children, and both speak and understand English, so how can it be so hard to get both of them to quietly stand, smile and look at the camera at the same time?! I swear that it would be easier to pose the oet hamster for the Christmas card than to get a good shot of both of my boys simultaneously!

Do you have this problem at your house, or are your children like my precious nephews Justin and Patrick, who without argument don adorable complimentary Santa suits and sit with perfect smiles in front of the Christmas tree?

Well, the card is done and far from perfect, but I guess that's ok. It's the way life is these days...we do the best we can and we love one another for our imperfectness. My friends who only catch up with us through our annual holiday card will understand - perhaps they've experienced "Christmas Card Photo Angst" in their own homes.

For those on my Christmas Card list, stay tuned for this year's card which did manage to capture both children looking at the camera (well, kind of...) and smiling. Thank goodness for digital photography!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

'Tis the Season

I love my husband! As we draw close to twenty years of marriage, he feels like an extension of the me I can always remember knowing. I've known him and been married to him for almost half my life, and it's been a great half.

Part of that intimacy is taking great joy in the little "traditions" of our marriage...feeling the safety and security of his constancy in my life.

There are many aspects of this wonderful person that I could share, but this being the Christmas season brings one major one to mind: he LOVES Christmas lights. I think in a past life he was a Las Vegas architect.

At this time of the year, Greg spends several days implementing his lighting scheme for Christmas.

A simple strand of white lights along the roofline has never been sufficient. Greg's lighting concepts are akin to those of that crazy guy played by Chevy Chase in the Christmas Vacation movie. Hedges, trees, and columns find themselves draped in varying colors of lights. The boys' "fort" glows like an alien mother-ship in the backyard. My banana trees get special treatment, and the light they throw off gleams in the reflection of the pool. This year, he's even decorated Arnold, my 1974 volkswagen van!

We live on a street where no one else decorates for Christmas, so our lighting excess cries out to the neighborhood the minute you turn onto our street. It used to embarrass me (a bit like having a child with a stick playfighting in your front driveway), but I've learned to accept and now even to love the lighting overdose.

I'll likely have my little hissy fit in January when the electricity bill arrives, but for now, I smile and think of how much I love my husband every time I turn the corner of the street. Who cares what the neighbors think...the people who live at my house think we live with the world's best guy!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hello, my name is Lisa and I'm a yarnaholic...

Is there a 12 step program for crazy women addicted to buying yarn? If so, will someone please send me the link, as I think I need to join.

Here's the situation:

Luckily, I am not a big shopper - it takes too much time I'd rather spend doing other things. But every once in a while, I find myself out, like today, in one of those "big box" stores.

Today's mid-day errand was to a fabric store, to purchase yardage to sew some sort of table cloth to cover our pool table and make it look a little better for the hospital holiday party we're hosting next week at our house.

Sounds simple right? Have you been fabric shopping lately? There are too many great choices! And the person who's job it is to cut the yarn is always some sweet, slightly older lady who feels compelled to have a full conversation, complete with advice, on the project each shopper is undertaking.

All I plan to do is buy the fabric and spread it over the table. There may be some masking tape involved if the edges need to be folded over to avoid unsightly scraggly threads hanging down. I do not need the advise of the precious yardage-cutting lady. Martha Stewart would be appalled!

The line is interminable. I whip my way through one decade of the Rosary, praying for the poor souls in purgatory and the poor souls in line.

I say the second decade, praying for patience, and then notice bright "sale" signs in the nearby yarn department.

Two Hail Marys into the third decade, I decide that I'll just check to see what's on sale...despite the fact that it will take me at least a year to knit all the projects I've got already lined up.

You guessed it...I leave the line, and prayers unfinished, head over "just to look".

And by the time I finished in the yarn section, the sweet yardage-cutting granny was ready and waiting for me! Good time management, right?!

So now I have two tablecloths to sew (granny talked me into buying some really cute edging stuff to put along the hems), and yet another knitting project!

Yarnaholics Anonymous, here I come!

If I were a rich mom....

I'd spend the $45,000, plus lots more, to get my hands on this Ebay Auction bonanza -

If there are any wealthy Catholic investors out there who want to buy this special collection and help the Sisters, you can leave the item at my house for safekeeping if you'd like. I promise to love and cherish them...

In the mean time, if you have Holy Cards that need a home, you can send them my way too!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Things that made me smile today...

Happy December 1...a great day to dwell on the bright side of life and the joy that will fill our next few weeks. I've decided to take this positive approach rather than stressing myself out about all that remains to be done before Jesus' birthday.

Here are a few things that made me smile inside and out today:

Sleeping in 15 minutes

Waking up and finding a wonderful, complimentary email in my inbox (yep, gotta love that positive reinforcement)

Winning a hand at Mah Jongg!

Spending twenty minutes, all by myself, at Barnes and Noble looking at the Clearance Rack and finding this for 60% off:

Depositing my (miniscule) paycheck for working at Church

Getting back into my car, where I'd left a full cup of coffee, and being greeted by the astounding aroma of Starbucks!

Having my boys home, right after school, with no practices

Talking with my sister on the phone and hearing my nephew babble in the background

Two comments from my Daddy on my blog!

Taking a walk in the pouring rain to the grocery store to buy brownie mix for the kid who has to take 2 dozen to school tomorrow and stomping in puddles all the way - hooray for rain boots!

Putting on my pajamas at 5:30 pm

Who knows what the rest of the evening holds, but could it get any better? Happiness is finding joy in these tiny little details of life that fill my days. Thank you God!

WWND? What would Nana Do?

The lone red binder sits atop the kitchen table, its contents revealing last night's homework, painstakingly completed prior to the fencing lesson.

Do you bail child number two out of his late assignment penalty by driving back to school and walking the binder to class? The assignment will probably still be counted late, but he won't spend the morning fretting about what he did with his binder...

Or do you go about your business, leaving him to fret and thereby teaching him a life lesson about being responsible for packing everything in your backpack prior to heading out to the driveway to swashbuckle?

What would your choice be? What would the world's best mom, now known as Nana, have done?

I know what I'll be where did I put my car keys???

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Cure for the Common Crab

Today my name should have been "Mrs. CrabbyBody" instead of Mrs. Hendey. It started off with a bad night of sleep, because my beloved doctor-hubby worked the night shift in the ER last night - resulting in a relatively sleepless night for me. I miss his "in charge" presence around the house when he's gone overnight.

So the day got off to a less than positive start, with me running around barking orders at the boys while trying desperately to get us all out the door on time. Today was a "work" day, which meant putting on real clothes and carting my laptop and stuff to the parish office. The boys are troopers - I think they can sense when I'm stressed out and know when to keep their heads low.

The crabbing mounted throughout the morning as the amount of work to be done superseded the time allotment for the task - isn't that always the case? I don't know why it had me ticked off so badly today.

Arriving home after work and school, it was the usual "what's for dinner?" the minute we walked in the 3:15 those boys are ready to know what I'm planning to cook, and I'm ready to order pizza.

Eric is studying for a big test, so I decided to try to do something nice for him and make his favorite, Jambalaya. "Offer it up..." I thought to myself, but still the crankiness persisted. Too much to do, too many holiday plans and decorations to attend to, too much laundry, too many emails and too little time.

With dinner on the table (do the was 4:15!!!) I decided it was "Mom time". I sat down to knit, but still felt lousy, so I went and changed into sweats and headed to the garage for a workout.

Eureka!!! The cure for crabby mom was found! I don't know why I neglect my exercise routine when busy times hit, but it seems to be a trend. I skip going to the gym or walking and then this crazy cycle begins. Instead of making productive use of the extra time, all that results is an emotional meltdown. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a fitness queen by any stretch of the imagination! But I do know that a good walk, bike ride, or workout no fewer than three times a week is essential to my emotional well being.

Perhaps blogging about today's crabby attitude and the ultimate solution (sweating a little bit) will remind me in the weeks ahead that being good to myself will ultimately help me to be better for everyone else in my life. A good lesson for this mom to learn on the day before December starts!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another Cute Advent Craft

Here's a fun idea for Advent with the little ones, courtesy of Sherry Weaver Smith - click here for instructions.

Do you have a craft or family celebration idea to share? Email me at today!

Happy New Year!

No, I'm not a month early - for Catholics, Advent is the beginning of our liturgical new year!

I must admit to being a New Year's optimist. I'm one of those who makes lists of resolutions each year in a never ending quest for self-improvement. Over the years, my resolutions have ranged from weight and fitness issues, to hopes for being a better wife and mother, to spiritual disciplines. I normally also have a few shallow entries such as "grow hair out" or "cut hair short" - this year my hair resolution may relate to stopping the deterioration of my natural hair color (but that's a topic for a future post!).

My Advent resolutions, however, are normally limited to matters of the soul. As we begin the new liturgical calendar, I hope to open my heart and mind even wider to responding to Jesus' invitations in my life: to know and love Him better, to serve others around me with His spirit and light as my guide, and to share my love for Him with the important people in my life (and maybe even a few I don't know....).

Have you thought about your resolutions? It's not too late to take a few moments and ponder them, or maybe even write them down. Like my Daddy, I'm a tremendous list maker - and resolutions are the perfect list topic! Happy Advent to each of you - here's to another wonderful year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Family Christmas Craft

Thanks Rebecca! It worked! And it looks even cuter right side up!

An experiment in "moblogging" - craft courtesy of Sr. Flor!

If you flip this photo on its side, and picture it plugged into the wall, you can visualize a craft made of baby food jars and a strand of Christmas lights, held together on the back side by a layer of "duct tape". Adam and I are currently trying to find a source for baby food jars so we can make this one at home.

The photo was send from my cell phone, which is why it's flipped steps at learning technology have not yet resulted in the ability to rotate this photo. Sorry!

The Grateful Guest

For those who don't know me well, I'm not a "domestic diva"...Despite loving being a wife and mom, and eschewing a formal "career" these days, I am barely passable as a housewife. Don't get me wrong - most nights, our family sits down to a simple, homecooked dinner, my house is relatively clean, and my laundry is clean and put away. But I really don't enjoy my household duties. They fall into the category of things I "offer up", the way my parents taught me to do when faced with something you'd prefer not to spend your time doing.

That's why, even more so than usual this week, I am grateful for the gift of my mother-in-law. This is the week to count our blessings, right? Well one of my biggest blessings this week (and in general...) is Norma, my much taken-for-granted mother-in-law. I'm loving her even more than usual this week, because she has enthusiastically taken on the task of cooking and hosting thanksgiving dinner at her home.

A quick consultation of last year's calendar reveals the fact that this is the second year in a row that I've weaseled my way out of spending a week preparing for, shopping for, cooking and cleaning up after a meal that my boys polish off in less than an hour. They love the Thanksgiving feast, but I don't think they have a proper appreciation for the time and effort that goes into the feasting.

So this year, instead of defrosting a turkey in my fridge for a week, hunting for grandma's pumpkin chiffon pie recipe in the folds of my underused "Joy of Cooking", and rising at 5:00 am to stuff food into bird cavities I'd prefer not to look at, I'm spending the week offering prayers of thanks for Norma. She's actually the type of mom who is looking forward to cooking and filling her home with her children and grandkids. Why deprive her that? (yep, the daughter in law is a "giver"...)

If you, like me, are lucky enough to be a guest in the home of someone who's probably already plotting the oven timeline for Thursday, count your blessings with me and remember your hostess in your prayers of thankfulness.

If, on the other hand, you're the "Martha" who will joyfully embrace this week of domestic challenges...God bless you! Feel the love those who will enjoy the fruits of your labor! And be sure to linger at the table and let someone else do the dishes - that's where you'll find me Thursday evening!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Got Cabin Fever?

This doesn't necessarily relate to those of us lucky enough to live in Fresno, where today will be a lovely 75 degree autumn beauty, but one of my favorite family musicians, Chip Richter, has just sent me a link to a fun video promotion he has online for his "Cabin Fever" concert series. If you're looking to hear some good tunes that the whole family will love, click here to check out Chip!
As for me, since I can't make it to Ohio, I'll have to cure my cabin fever by laying out next to my pool and listening to my pet frogs!

Got Cabin Fever?

This doesn't necessarily relate to those of us lucky enough to live in Fresno, where today will be a lovely 75 degree autumn beauty, but one of my favorite family musicians, Chip Richter, has just sent me a link to a fun video promotion he has online for his "Cabin Fever" concert series. If you're looking to hear some good tunes that the whole family will love, click here to check out Chip!
As for me, since I can't make it to Ohio, I'll have to cure my cabin fever by laying out next to my pool and listening to my pet frogs!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas Shopping?

In a shameless plug, I will be posting information here during the next month or so about ways that you can support through your Christmas shopping. Circle Media has offered a chance to earn small commissions on some popular Catholic periodicals. If you're buying a magazine or newspaper subscription for Christmas, please consider doing so through The information I've posted at the site is as follows:

National Catholic Register - promo code Q77440
Faith and Family Magazine - promo code Q81440

Catholic Mom Stack of Stuff

So much good stuff to share, so little time! Take a look at some of the stuff I've posted today over at

Cat.Chat - A fun interview with the creator of Cat.Chat, a great audio series for Catholic kids. Even cat haters can't help but like this!

Thanksgiving at - find recipes, articles and stuff shared by our Catholic Mom friends.

The Practice Baby by Sally Edwards - did you have a practice baby? I had two!

Advents by Pat Gohn - Pat is, as always, supremely inspiring. Have you visited her new blog yet? You'll love it!

The Aliens are Coming! by Katie Hines - I think Katie's been spying on my house....

Catholic Bible Study Series Interview with Laurie Manhardt - Looking for a great advent devotion? Check out Laurie's latest study on the Synoptics.

OK, back to the stacks!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Great Book Alert

To of my favorite family writers are Rondi Hillstrom Davis and Janell Sewall Oakes - I have the frequent privilege of sharing their columns, crafts and recipes at Rondi and Janell have collaborated creatively to write Together: Creating Family Traditions. For today only, if you purchase their book and visit this link, you get the added bonus of numerous free gifts in addition to your book purchase. The book really is special...chock full of great photographs and wonderful, inspiring ideas and activities. Thanks and best of luck to Rondi and Janell in their efforts to support and inspire our families!

An Open Letter to My Precious New Nephew

Dearest New Little Baby Patrick,

I wanted to thank you for inviting me to your baptism celebration this past weekend. I've been meaning to sit down and write you since Sunday night, but as you will soon learn, life is filled with so much fun and action that sometimes it's tough to find the time to write a good letter.

First off, let me say that you were by far the sweetest, cutest, and holiest of the ten babies at Saturday's baptism. I know that I may be a bit biased, but the sight of you in our family's beloved heirloom baptismal gown brought a smile to my heart and tears to my eyes. You get more adorable every time I see you - your smile has enough energy to light up the world!

I know that you won't realize this for a long time, but your wonderful parents gave you a very special gift this weekend - the gift of faith. By welcoming you into the family of God through your baptism, your mommy and daddy have blessed you greatly. They want the best for you throughout your life. By giving you the gift of faith in and love for God, they have ensured that you will truly never be alone. Along with your own family and our extended Christian family, you will always be able to count on God and your friendship with Him. You can turn to Him when you are lonely or afraid - and He will be the first to smile and laugh with you when it is time to celebrate, because He knew and loved you even before your Mommy and Daddy did!

A long time ago, your Gramps and Nana gave me the gift of faith through my own Baptism, and I have to tell you that of all of the wonderful things they've ever done for me, this was indeed the greatest! Now, as your Godparents, Nana and Gramps share the joy your Mommy and Daddy will have in teaching you to know and love God in your own life. I don't think you could have chosen better parents or Godparents for this job! Your Nana and Gramps will always be there to love and support you, and your parent are two of the finest, most family-oreinted and compassionate people I know. You are, indeed, a lucky little baby!

The symbols of your baptism - the water, the light of your little candle, your precious white gown, and the fragrant chrism oil - all have special meaning. Someday, when you are older, I'll teach you about those things too! But for now, I want to say again, congratulations and thanks so much for sharing your special day with me. I love you so much sweetie, and Jesus does too!

Auntie Lisa

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mean Moms....

A good friend sent me the following, which is timely and relevant given the past week I've been having. When you visit this blog and see days on end with no posts, please say a prayer for my children and the sanity of their mother. After having spent the past weekend in the company of a wonderfully, brilliantly active toddler and a nursing baby, I am reminded that every stage of parenting has its own unique and precious challenges. Learning to parent a teen, who is in his own right learning to be a teen, is taking every ounce of energy, patience and love I can muster - sorry to say that leaves little time (and brain matter) for blogging.

To all my fellow mean moms, enjoy:

"Mean Moms"

Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that
motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me:

I loved you enough . . . to ask where you were going, with whom, and what
time you would be home.

I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best
friend was a creep.

I loved you enough to make you go pay for the bubble gum you had taken and
tell the clerk, "I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it."

I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your
room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.

I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my
eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.

I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions
even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.

But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO when I knew you would
hate me for it. Those were the most difficult battles of all.

I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won, too. And someday when your
children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you
will tell them.

Was your Mom mean? I know mine was. We had the meanest mother in the whole
world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal,
eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to
eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was
different from what other kids had, too.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were
convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we
were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an
hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor
Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to
cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel
jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us
to do.

She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds and
had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough!

Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They
had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else
could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.

Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids
experienced. None of us have never been caught shoplifting, vandalizing
other's property or ever arrested for any crime. It was all her fault.

Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are
doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what's
wrong with the world today. It just doesn't have enough mean moms!


(And Their Kids!!!)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Odds and Ends

Just a few updates, for those who wonder what has caused the past week's silence:

* Football season is over. In a cavalcade of football excess, we watched a grand total of five football games this weekend. Both boys played in our parochial league flag football tournament, and Eric's team was sadly defeated in the semi-final round of his tackle league championship playoffs. Despite sadness (wink) over the end of the season, one mom is doing the happy dance in her laundry room...

* Nana and Gramps swung through town on a visit for three wonderful days. They have flown out for next week's baptism of my newest nephew and are splitting their time between Stockton and Fresno. They are too popular - everyone wants them to visit and they try, with great diplomacy, to make themselves available on a fair basis. We tried locking them in the guest room to keep them in town, but they picked the lock and escaped to Stockton. Oh well, I guess we must share...

* The boy with the stick is a fencing fool. He had his first formal lesson, which turned out to be a private one, and it was just amazing. I think he's found his sport. Since the lesson, he has learned to jump rope (strangely, I'd never taught him that skill...does your child know how???). He is conditioning, stretching, jumping rope, practicing his footwork, working on his home made foil (concocted from an old curtain rod) and counting the days until his next lesson.

* No sight of the frogs, perhaps denoting a climatological shift towards winter, and Max the hamster is eating up a storm (come to think of it, so are the rest of us!).

* Life, sweet as it is, races on!

Friday, November 04, 2005

If You're a Godmother, a Godchild, or just someone who loves to Pray...

You'll want to check out my interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano, with regards to her wonderful book, On Prayer: A Letter to my Godchild.
Click here to read my interview with Phyllis.

Suspending Time

This morning, as I walked back into my "office" for the first time since Tuesday morning, I was greeted by pristine cleanliness, which made me inexplicably anxious. You see, we've had special guests all week and one of them was sleeping on the fold out futon in my office.

In an attempt to please and comfort the guests, my infamous "stacks" were magically whisked away. To the uninformed eye, books neatly lined the bookcases and an infile held its paper contents in perfect order. Fresh flowers and the remainder of a welcome basket of snacks remain in place, a reminder of the fun we shared this week with our out of town visitors.

I am suspicious, however, of the cleanliness. I know that when I'm at my most creative, I can barely walk through the maze of books, cds, papers and brochures that wind their way around the floor of my workspace. I'm one of those visual people who needs to "see" what lies ahead in terms of projects. The stacks of books, which are now forming a double row on the book case in a semi-organized fashion, will likely be gracing the floor again by mid afternoon. The guests are departed, the party's over and it's time to get some work done!

I imagine that someday I might live a life with no stacks. In the midst of driving and laundry and practices and homework, I contemplate a future where my husband and I sit in the living room of our two bedroom condo, chatting about our grandchildren while I knit by the fire. My stacks are in the past in that picture, as I'm officially "retired" and have divested myself of anything more responsible than bingo, attending daily mass, and weekly trips to the library with long hours to read whatever I'd like. I'm not anxious to rush to that moment, but it's fun to think about sometimes. For now, I'm off to unload the books from their spots on the bookcases.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Here's to the Saints!

Happy All Saints Day everyone! This is one of my favorite Church Holy Days, because it brings back such special memories. This morning, I attended 8:00 mass with our 8th graders, who would miss the scheduled school Mass due to a field trip. Lining the altar rail were the beautiful Saint posters, lovingly decorated by our fifth graders. One of those was Adam's Ephraim, proudly hanging with all of the Patricks, Francises and Our Ladies. Second graders, garbed in Saintly frocks, were preparing for their big pageant of Saint Presentations.

As I sat waiting for Mass to begin, I looked around me at some of my fellow parishioners and thought about how many of them seem so saintly to me. I have great respect, these days, for my sons' 8th graders teachers who are greatly bestowed with the virtue of patience. I thought of the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, who could barely make it up the altar stairs to receive her ciborium, but would never dream of missing daily mass. I thought of the young mom who, all on her own, drags five young kids, lovingly dressed, in tow to Sunday Mass by herself. Many weeks, I'm sure she'd rather sit home with her husband watching football. Then there's the special older man at our church who stops on the way back from receiving communion to shake each hand he can see - I used to think he was crazy, but now I see him as a visible sign of the communion of saints...right there in my own church. The priests and sisters of my parish, swamped with heavy workloads and little to no reward or recognition, are characters in the cast of everyday saints in my own life.

Look around you and you'll see them too - those saints in training. They're the ones, like my daddy, who wake up early to remember by name in their prayers the poor deceased souls (even the ones he didn't know personally). They're the ones like my husband, who put up with my mood swings and crazy compulsive behavior and love me unconditionally, every day. They're my children, who teach me every day what it means to love and to have a childlike faith.

Few, if any of us, are perfect...but somehow I think most canonized saints were a lot like us in their day. They might have been impatient, or might have drunk or partied too much, or might have even sinned a bit along the way. But ultimately, they loved God the best they could, with their whole heart, mind and soul, and they led others into that love by their own example and by the lives they lived.

Thank you God for so many Saints as role models, and thank you for the saints-in-training that surround me every day!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Big Week

Blogging may be extra light this week, as it looks like it's going to be pretty busy around our household this week. Tomorrow, we will be welcoming guests for three days, so today is going to be one of those..."Why did I let my house get to this situation?!!" types of days. Actually, I've been trying to slowly get ready for this, so it shouldn't be too bad, but the anticipation is always way worse than the actual deep cleaning.

The second round of guests, and the ones I CAN'T WAIT to see, arrive on Saturday. They're the easy ones...the ones who will understand if I have books stacked all over my office!

In the mean time, Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it and Happy All Saints Day to everyone! I love All Saints Day at our school - it's a very special time for the kids and we have costumed Saints running around all over the school grounds. Adam won't be costumed, but did have to prepare a report on St. Ephraim of Syria, so I learned something new this weekend!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Playoff Victory

While the Irish were resting yesterday, the Memorial Panthers (Eric's team) won a first round playoff victory 31 - 0. The season continues. Eric had three sacks and four tackles. Strange as a mom how watching your son tackle someone brings on a whole different set of emotions than watching him get hit by someone else...
Practice, laundry and driving continue for at least another week, as the hope of a championship lives on.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Links to Share

Thanks to Barbara, for sharing the following links -

BK's Schoolhouse - great place for buying religious education and homeschooling supplies.

Ipsissima Verba - Barbara's husband's Catholic blog.

Take a peek! Thanks for sharing Barbara!

October Stuff

If you happen to have a pumpkin around your house, you might try the following, which I found in my email inbox today...sounds yummy to me!

Making Jack-O-Lanterns More Inviting

After you've cleaned and carved a Halloween pumpkin,
sprinkle the inside with cinnamon or nutmeg. Then put the candle
inside. When lighted, the heat from it will warm the area and the
fragrance will be dispersed. It will smell so good.

Also, one of our teachers at school passed this link along to me - it's a Saints Web Quest, and looks like a fun assignment for older students with access to the internet. Happy Questing!

Lovely Words of Inspiration

Thanks to my friend Mo for sharing the following, and allowing me to share it with you. I love this!

Nothing Disturbs You

Nothing disturbs you, Nothing frightens you,
Everything passes on, God does not change.

Patience achieves everything;
He who has God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Raise your thought, to heaven it goes,
Let nothing trip you up, Nothing disturbs you.

Follow Jesus Christ with a proud heart,
And come what may, Nothing frightens you.

Do you see the glory of the world?
It is a vain glory.
In it there is nothing stable; Everything passes on.
Aspire to the heavenly, that which lasts forever.

Faithful and rich in promises, God does not change.
Love the One deserving infinite goodness.

But there is no elegant love without patience.
Certainty and lively faith will maintain your spirit,
For he that believes and hopes achieves everything.

Even having seen the fires of Hell,
He who has God shall laugh at Hell's furies.
Come disasters, Come crosses, Come disgraces,
With God as his Treasure
He lacks nothing.

Go, then, riches of life. Go, all you vanities.
Even should you lose it all,
God, alone, suffices.

Contemplative poem <> by St. Teresa of Avila (Santa Teresa de Jesús) , a doctor of the Church.
A contemporary translation by Maurice Cameron.

Congrats to David and Critical Mass

Great News from David Wang, who sent me the following press release. If you missed my interview with David Wang and Critical Mass, click here - Congrats guys!

Critical Mass wins Best Rock Album Honours at the Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards


Oct 22nd, 2005. Toronto -Critical Mass received Best Rock Album of the Year honours for their third release, Grasping for Hope in the Darkness, at the 27th annual Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards, which took place October 22nd in Toronto, Ontario. This is the second award for the band, which won in the same category in 2000 for their album, Completely. The song, Carry on Wayward Son, a cover of the classic Kansas tune, was also nominated for Best Rock Song.

"This is an incredible honour", says David Wang, the lead singer for Critical Mass, "The Canadian Christian music scene has been improving in leaps and bounds over the past 5 years and the quality of the nominees this year were better than I have ever seen". As a testament to that fact, artists that have received significant secular attention- Paul Brandt, Reliant K, Carolyn Arends and Thousand Foot Krutch- were also winners at this prestigious event, with Canadian icon Tommy Hunter receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Grasping for Hope in the Darkness is a modern rock concept album tracing a man's journey from darkness back to redemption. Produced by Gemini and Juno nominated producer, Andrew Horrocks, this album is ground breaking in the manner in which it combines a storyline along with its lyrical content. A comic book for the album can be downloaded from the band website at

Critical Mass is made up of band members Luke Kupczyk on guitars, Lawrence Lam on keyboards, Scott McKendrick on bass, Tracey Doyle on percussion, Paul Kieffer on drums, Harvey Armoogan on the mixing console and David Wang on vocals.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Thanks Mom"

The power of those two little words..."thanks mom"...Especially when delivered at the right time, in the right place - They can turn me from an impatient, moody moron back into a loving human being...and when delivered with a smile and a hug, forget about it!

So why don't we say them more often?? I was thinking about the words just this weekend, as I sat at my kitchen table in front of my sewing machine. You see, I've been blessed to be the daughter of the world's best Mom, and little things in my life frequently remind me of that fact.

On Sunday, I was sitting in the kitchen sewing slip covers for the back seat of my Volkswagen Van (aka "Arnold") and I thought about how cool it was that my Mom took time when I was young to teach me the basics of sewing. I'm not claiming to be a seamstress by any means, but my mom made sure I knew how to thread and sew straight lines on a basic sewing machine. Each year, around this time, I thank my mom for that gift as I sew my children's costumes for Halloween.

The world's best mom taught me so many indispensable things - mostly about the value of family, fun and faith - which were then and are now the cornerstones of a wonderful life. She taught me that mothering is a vocation as she selflessly devoted her life to raising five kids. The amazing thing is that it continues to this day - she still carries her cell phone and answers by the third ring to respond to the daily "emergencies" that cause each of us to have need of her on a daily basis. Whether that's for hands-on help, like picking up a grandkid from school, or goofy stuff, like her recipe for "impossible pie" or philosophical dilemnas such as the parenting of a teenage son...she has always been, and continues to be, completely devoted to the art of Mothering. When in doubt, I frequently pause and ask myself WWMMD (what would my mom do?)...I've learned, in most situations, to go with her gut mothering instincts.

But I don't think I thank her frequently enough. Not only for the love and support she offers me now, but also retroactively, for those many times I surely drove her nuts.

For the times I forgot my homework and she bailed me out.

For the times I wore a pair of jeans for fifteen minutes and then threw them in the dirty laundry.

For the times she took me shopping for the perfect dress, or sewed it for me, despite my pickiness.

For the perfection, and inperfection, she exhibited in parenting and teaching us to be part of a loving family.

For the gift of Faith and the hope of prayer...

For these and all the rest that remains unsaid, I thank you Mom and I love you! And a big thank you to my columnist Sue Terbay, who never ceases to inspire me. Click here to read Sue's thoughts on the Moms in our lives!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Frogdor's got a Girlfriend!

THIS IS ADAM SPEAKING TO YOU FROM MY MOM'S DESK! Well, I thought it would be cool if I posted a um... comment? Is that what they're called? Whatever. But anyways, on to why the title says what it does. Today we were all surprised to find that Fogdor has a girlfriend! We know it because we saw TWO frogs in our pool today. We have warmly accepted this new member of our family and I have christened her 'Priscilla'. I don't really know if she will make the cut to become secretary for CatholicMom.COM, but things look VERY bright for her. THIS IS ADAM SIGHNING OFF FROM MY MOM'S DESK!

Parenting in Progress...

Sorry for the lack of post today - I've been busy being a Mom! Please say a prayer for me and I'll do the same for all of you! Let's all give our kiddos extra hugs tonight and thank God for them, just the way the are...
See you tomorrow morning!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Links to some of this weeks activities

For anyone who happens to wander in here and is looking for links to this week's Mass activities, here's what's been posted prior to the service outage:

Mass Worksheet A

Mass Worksheet B

Word Search

Crossword Puzzle

Susan's Coloring Page

Max the Hamster's coloring page has not yet been added and can't be uploaded until the server is back online....sorry! He plans to spend the morning rearranging the bedding in his cage since he can't get any work done on the computer.

Technical Difficulties

Not sure if you've noticed, but all of my web sites are down today...which is bad news!!! I haven't been able to get through to my server host, as his sites are all down too, as is my email...let's pray that this gets resolved quickly. I have a feeling there are CCD teachers all over the place looking for coloring pages for this week's classes. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Date with the Boy with the Stick

Right now, one of the favorite pastimes of the eleven year old who lives in my house is his stick. He takes the stick (and yes, he has a lucky one) and ventures out on the front driveway for what he calls "practice".

His luckiest stick is actually part of an old curtain rod that was used in second grade as a crosier when he did his St. Patrick presentation. The curlicue thing at the top has been lopped off, transforming it from crosier to epee.

"Practice" involves a complicated series of moves, both one and two handed, where the boy swashbuckles around with the stick, fending off some unseen foe. I'm not sure why this kid, who is supremely self-conscious, feels the need to practice on the front driveway instead of in the back yard, where his battles would go unseen by the neighbors.

In the olden days, before a teenager lived at my house, I would have insisted on backyard practice. (I, too, am self conscious!). But somehow, the stick and all it entails seem to be preserving the "child" in that eleven year old - so practice continues out on the driveway (much to the dismay of the fourteen year old). At this point, I've decided I don't care what the neighbors think about the stick...that's a big step for me.

Well, this boy with the stick has been begging for fencing lessons since May and I've been putting him off, both because of time constraints and because I wasn't sure this was not another passing interest. But today, our local fencing center is having an open house with free introductory lessons, and the boy and I have a date to attend.

I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude with this. The boy may decide that the formal lessons are no fun and too disciplined, and may go back to his own sessions on the driveway. On the other hand, he may love the lessons and want to enroll - in which case we'll find the money and make the time...I've heard that Notre Dame has a pretty good fencing team!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Knitting News!!

For those following my new knitting compulsion - great news: I learned to PURL! I told Greg that last night, and he thought I said "hurl"...he was not impressed, even after I cleared up the miscommunication.
Max the hamster's next scarf should be even more interesting.

More Great Tunes

Someone I know and love will want to read my interview with Catherine Benskin, posted today at Catherine is awesome, and she sings one of my favorites, "How Can I Keep From Singing?" incredibly!. Click here to meet Catherine Benskin.

Beautiful Music

One of my favorites, Lorraine Doan, has a beautiful new CD out...I haven't heard the whole thing yet, but you can click here to listen to excerpts of her lovely music. Good luck Lorraine!

It's Not Too Late to Help

I spent my early morning hours this morning preparing a report for our Pastor, who requested that I inform our diocesan CFO about our school children's recent efforts to raise funds for our "adopted" school, St. Thomas - it got me thinking about how the rest of us, those who don't live in hurricane effected areas, have "moved on" while the folks down there are really just starting to deal with the aftermath of Katrina. I thought I'd share my letter with you, out of pride for the great work out children did - but also in the hopes that we could all stop and say a prayer for the people in Mississippi and Louisiana who are trying to move forward with life. If you'd like to help St. Thomas School, click here and view their current list of needs.

Dear Mr. B:

On behalf of Msgr. John Coelho-Harguindeguy, Thomas Neumeier, and staff and students of St. Anthony’s School, I am pleased to report to you a donation in the amount of $15,022 to St. Thomas School in Long Beach, Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina Relief. These funds were raised by our students, staff and families in addition to the large amount of funds raised within the parish and earmarked for Catholic Charities Relief.

On August 29, 2005 St. Thomas School and the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, completely destroying all of their parish facilities. My family knew firsthand of the devastation, as my nephew Patrick was a first grader at St. Thomas School and my parents, sister and her family are all parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle Church. My brother-in-law Matthew, a member of the St. Thomas School Board, advised us immediately of the critical situation facing the school and parish. In addition to the demolition of the school, parish and newly constructed community center, many families were left completely homeless and some parishioners perished in the storm.

The students of St. Anthony’s School, led by our wonderful staff and their student government leaders, “adopted” St. Thomas School and began to raise funds to be sent for hurricane relief. Tirelessly and motivated by their wish to help fellow Catholic school students in need, the children gave and inspired others to give. The donations were raised in a spirit of Christian service. Children held car washes, donated funds that would have otherwise been spent on outings or toys, did chores, requested donations in lieu of birthday gifts, and came up with many other creative ways to raise needed funds. Our student government leaders conducted a roadside fundraiser on September 19, arriving at school at 6:00 am and raising over $1,000 that morning.

Through their generosity, energy, and compassion for others, our St. Anthony’s School students and staff raised a total of $15,022 which has now been delivered to the St. Thomas School relief fund. These donations will be put to immediate use, as the St. Thomas students returned to temporary quarters on October 3 and school is now back in session. Along with many pressing and immediate financial needs, the St. Thomas parish community and school are now discussing the total rebuilding of their church and school. I know that the hard work and love poured out to them by St. Anthony’s School is greatly needed, and also cherished and appreciated beyond measure.

Please feel free to contact me directly if I can provide you with any additional information on this donation or St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and School. I appreciate your service to our diocese.

Lisa M. Hendey
St. Anthony’s School Parent

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Busy Watching My Son Grow Into a Man...

Remember that song from Fiddler on the Roof, Sunrise, Sunset ? I feel like I can hear that playing in the background around my house these days! Son #1, the fourteen year old, seems to grow and evolve every day. It's both scary and a blessing as we struggle to ascertain the proper limits and maintain those open lines of communication.

On Saturday night at his football game we had "Senior Night", which is one of those ceremonies where the players leaving the team this year are recognized. The boys hand their parents flowers and greet them at mid-field. I think of that red carnation as a symbol of thanks for the many hours spent driving, sitting next to fields, and laundering things that are too scary to touch with bare hands!

I brought the carnation home and stuck it next to the sink to remind me to have a good attitude this week, thinking it would be dead by Sunday morning and I could go back to my well-worn stressed out attitude...that darn carnation is still blooming this morning! Every time I look at it, it's a reminder of that hug and "thanks mom!" I got on Saturday night. With the season waning, perhaps those petals will stay red long enough to get me through the next few weeks...and then it will be basketball season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Greetings from the Black Hole...

It's really dark down here...but I'm trying to climb my way out! Too much "stuff" and too little time. I know my three devoted blog readers will understand and perhaps even say a little prayer for me as I slug through stacks of email, books and bills today. I'll be back tomorrow for a "real" post. In the mean time, click here to read Pat Gohn's latest column - another awesome one from one of my favorite writers!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Fit of Mommy Nostalgia

Perhaps this can be chalked up to hormones, but I'm having a "mommy mulligan moment" - one of those days when I wish I could have back some of those early years when my boys were babies and I spent too much time wishing they would grow up and get out of that "difficult" phase.

You see, I spent the morning reviewing and writing about a Baby Video on the story of creation and I found myself remembering back to those long ago days when my boys were babies.

We didn't have Baby Mozart back then (oops, now I sound like Nana who always wondered aloud how she raised five kids with no baby monitor!). So I made do with Fantasia and that obnoxious purple dinosaur. The teenager would die before he'd admit it, but he was a HUGE Barney fan!

I remember the days of popping in a video (no DVDs back then) so that I could rush to take a shower for ten minutes. Those video parenting moments were frequently a Godsend! They seem really far away now...

I think I spent too many of those early days stressing out about the small stuff rather than just holding and treasuring those babies. I know I raced around to way too many activities, but the friendships made with my fellow playgroup moms have stood the test of time and some of those moms are still among my best friends. Now we compare notes on books about parenting teens, rather than discussing potty training strategies.

It's fun to think about those "good old days"...if you're a mommy lucky enough to have a baby at home with you today, spend an extra moment snuggling with him for me, ok??? I'll have to wait until 2:50 pm to snuggle with mine, on the way to football!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Show and Tell

My very first completed knitting project!!!!

Sorry, no posing hamster - he's napping!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Patron Saint of Word Problems???

I need to invoke some prayers around here for child number two, who has a BIG math test today and needs some support. He's such a bright boy, but has been struggling somewhat with settling in to fifth grade. His quizzes so far reflect the fact that while he knows the concepts, he's rushing and not reading directions or paying attention to small details.

Mom and Dad have been working with him nightly on Math review, and I'm convinced he knows what he's doing. Last night, the eve of the BIG test, we did one major overview. Let me admit up front, I'm hopelessly bad at math! It's ironic, since my mother (the world's best Nana!) was for many years a Math teacher. I'm starting to fear that Adam shares my affliction: he psyches himself out when it comes to Math.

During our review session last night, I did all of the easy chapters with Adam, but then passed him over to Greg for the ultimate stumper - the chapter called "Guess and Check". "Guess and Check", it seems, is the trendy new name for WORD most dreaded elementary school math foe! I contemplated trying to review it with him myself, but then decided that I stood more of a chance of totally messing him up, so I passed him over to his wonderful daddy.

Greg has a quiet patience in situations like this that can be totally astounding. As they worked through each of the questions, he asked gentle, prodding questions - never once losing his cool. At one point, I think even I understood how to answer some of those questions!

I'm praying for Adam this morning - but no so much for a good grade (although that would be nice too, God...).

My prayer for him is for a sense of confidence, that he can remain calm and use the skills he has to do his best job on the task at hand.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Raisin Time

Before I lived in the valley, I didn't pay much attention to the agricultural seasons. Now I know I'm a true "Fresnan" because I'm praying for it not to rain for a little while - you see, the grapes are "on the trays". Here in Central California, we're known for our raisins! Amazingly, I never knew how a grape really became a raisin before living in Fresno. Click here to read the whole process.

As we drove out in the country on Saturday to yet another far-flung football game, we noted the tremendous beauty of our nearby vineyards. The leaves are changing color, and turning a luscious golden green. Between each seemingly endless row of vines are the "trays" - actually just thin sheets of brown paper - covered with a layer of grapes baking in the son. It's still amazing to me that there's not some higher tech process for this! Once you've witnessed it, you can figure out why the raisin farmers don't want rain during the time the grapes are on the trays.

So many of the past month's gospels have been set in or around vineyards - it's wonderful to live so close to the annual harvest, for an object lesson of the setting of so many of Jesus' parables. It may not be New England, but here in the Central Valley we have a beautiful fall festival of colors all our own, and great raisins too!

Corpse Bride - Our Take

The boys and I had a "play date" yesterday to see Corpse Bride, the new Tim Burton animated film. First of all, I have to ask, what is a "play date" called when it's between a group of junior high kids whose parents insist on coming along to the movie? In pre-school, that would have been called a "play date" at our house. I'm not sure what it's called in Junior High.

Anyway, someone picked "Corpse Bride" since it was one of the only kids film choices. The group, comprised of three moms, five 8th graders, a fifth grader and a fourth grader, roundly didn't like the movie. Two of the moms fell asleep (no, I wasn't one of them...I was too busy spying on my kids!). None of the kids liked the movie. I actually thought it was better than I'd expected, but I wouldn't pay to go see it again. I also think it would have been very scary for little children.

The best thing for me about the movie was the computer animation and the coloring/art of the film. Once you get used to her, the Corpse Bride is strangely beautiful, and you do find yourself growing fond of her by the end. That said, save your money and rent this one on DVD if you must unless you're a huge fan of Tim Burton.

Here's an interesting article I found on some of the lessons learned from Corpse Bride, written from a Christian perspective. I'm planning to share this with the boys and see what they think - maybe next time we'll go bowling instead!

Thought for the Day

From my e mailbox:

If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.
-Mary Pickford

What is the psychological thing about Monday that always makes it feel like such a gift, a fresh start? Are you like that? All the little trials and failures and shortcomings of last week are in the past and this week is a fresh start. It's a chance to redeem myself of the areas where I felt I didn't quite measure up or do my best. On Monday, it feels easier to "get up" after falling down - by Friday, I seriously contemplate the thought of staying down.

Here's to the hope of a beautiful Monday morning!

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Feast for Our Lady

Today's Feast - Our Lady of the Rosary. When you pray today, I ask you to remember a very special priest who loves the rosary with his whole heart and soul - for his health and well being - and for peace in our world.

I'm driving the eighth graders on a field trip today...maybe I should ask you to say a prayer for me too!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Help me out here...

I need help from the many moms (and dads, grandmas, etc...) wiser than myself who read these pages. Please take a look at the comments on this post and chime in if you can add any words of encouragement for this mom. The best mom I know raised five kids, so I'd love her words of wisdom on the topic. I wish I could come up with a way to have three more quickly...

So Sorry!

My apologies to any and all compulsive computer mah jongg players (you know who you are!). I did not mean to belittle your sharp eye and lightning quick clicking abilities. Maybe I should practice might help me deal with the daily onslaught of spam in a more efficient manner. Love to my favorite mah jongg junkie!

Mah Jongg

Twice a month, I gather with a group of friends to play Mah Jongg - no, not that dopey computer version where you click on pairs - the REAL, ancient game of Mah Jongg complete with chinese tiles, poker faces and lots of trash talking.

This particular group of friends is great for my cultural diversity, as I am the only non-Jewish lady in the group. We've been together for going on three years now and it's one of my favorite selfish pleasures. The game is truly difficult and fascinating, which keeps things interesting. I used to belong to a bunco group, but eventually dropped out because I thought the game was really dumb. (Sorry to all of you high stakes bunco players out there!). Unlike all the lack of skill necessary to succeed in bunco, mah jongg has serious strategy involved. The group of girls I play with are shrewd, competitive and very smart (I must be the "affirmative action, token Catholic chick" member!).

So every other week, I get a good catching up on news at the temple, recipes for things I can't pronounce, and what's happening in their church calendar. This is the season for high holy days, so it's a very special time in their homes and in their faith community. It's really such a wonderful education for me to learn firsthand all of the traditions and celebrations that are at the root of our own Church's history. I love gathering with these friends for the game, the support of good friends, and the many things I learn along the way. I'm always peppering them with questions - they are good natured and wonderful about explaining things to me.

There are a few groups of women at the Fresno Temple who have gathered for years to play this game, laugh, gamble and support one another through love and friendship - I can only hope that when we're old and gray (that is, even more gray than I am now), we'll still be gathering bi-monthly to talk trash over the tiles!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One of the top ten signs that you're a bad housekeeper...

In a cleaning frenzy, you whip the George Foreman grill from the counter to the sink to clean the residue of last night's chicken dinner...

you forget about the little thing that catches all the grease and gross stuff and it falls all over the kitchen floor...

you grab the closest dish rag, get it wet, and get down on your hands and kness to clean it up, forgetting that you're wearing white jeans...

you kneel in a huge pile of chicken gunk...

you forget you're not wearing your glasses while you're cleaning and you think you've got it all cleaned up...

you go to change pants...

you return to find the cat furiously licking the kitchen floor...

you make a mental note to mop - later - the whole floor, while wearing your stupid glasses...

Has anyone else had a day like this????

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Isn't it ironic?

As I'm sitting here blogging about using an iPod to help me through my housework, which I hate, my husband is upstairs running the vacuum cleaner. How lovely is that?!

iPod Momma!

I LOVE my iPod shuffle! I think it's one of the greatest inventions since the dishwasher and the laptop! Now as I do housework, I can listen to Vatican Radio and prepare for Sunday's Gospel. As I walk on the treadmill, I can tune in to Catholic Exchange's new "Rock Solid" with Mark Shea. While I'm washing dishes, I can rock out to my favorite Catholic musicians or listen to the Chronicles of Narnia read aloud.

I think every Catholic Mom needs an MP3 player, whether or not it's an iPod. To that end, I'll be sharing with you great news about the growing phenomenon of Podcasting and its place in evangelization and my own personal spirituality. Do you have a favorite Catholic podcast? Email me at lisa@catholicmom with you suggestions. Watch this space for upcoming reports on great Catholic Podcasts. In the mean time, if you don't yet own an iPod and want to support with your purchase, you can do so by buying your iPod through my Apple Store. I earn a small commission on your purchase, and you'll love your new toy! I know this is a shameless plug, but if you're buying one anyway...

iPod Store

Sunday, October 02, 2005

October Fiction Book Club Selection

A special thanks to Ellen Gable, author of Emily's Hope for sharing the following letter to our readers. Click here to read my Book Spotlight Author Interview with Ellen Gable.

Hello Catholic Mom readers,

My name is Ellen Gable and I am the author of Emily’s Hope. I am both pleased and honored that my book has been chosen for October’s fiction selection of the month for Catholic Mom. A three-year endeavor, this book was written mostly at night so that I could preserve my vocation as homeschooling mom to our three youngest boys. Writing the novel was an emotionally draining experience, but also spiritually enriching. I not only learned to appreciate and love the Catholic faith even more, I grew in relationship to God and in my appreciation and love of my wonderful husband of 23 years, James Hrkach.

James and I have five sons: Josh (18), Ben (16), Tim (13), Adam (9), Paul (6) and six babies in heaven. I love being a mom and I am very grateful to God for allowing me to experience motherhood from the time of being newly pregnant to watching one of my son’s becoming an official ‘adult.’

Although I have written my novel as fiction, Emily’s Hope is very much an autobiography and the fictionalized biography of my great-grandmother.

It is the story of a young woman’s journey from high school to middle age, through dating, engagement, marriage and children. Emily, who is a cradle, cafeteria Catholic, initially learns most of her morals from television but finds more substance in her life as the story progresses.

An alternating series of chapters tells the parallel story of Emily’s great-grandmother, Katharine, whose struggle with sexuality and relationship occur at a time when dresses were long, sex was not talked about openly and birth control was not readily assessable. The climax of the story finds Emily discovering that she and her great-grandmother have connections far beyond blood ties, connections which have deep and resounding spiritual effects.

I wrote Emily’s Hope, not just to share my story and my great-grandmother’s story, but to offer the truth of the Catholic Church’s teachings to all those who read it. I wrote it for those who may benefit from re-affirmation of the Church’s beautiful teachings and for those who have never been introduced to those teachings. I realize that not everyone will agree with the pro-life, pro-NFP, pro-chastity message the book presents, but I also consider it a blessing if some read it and simply enjoy the story.

It is my hope that high school religion teachers will find my book useful in introducing and explaining more fully the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality. I am currently working on a youth study guide for use with the book, which will soon be available via download from our website at

As well, it is my sincere hope that faithful Catholics will use the book to introduce the Church’s beautiful teachings to their family and friends who are “cafeteria” Catholics like Emily or perhaps fallen away Catholics and non-Catholics, those who would not otherwise be open to hearing these teachings.

My thanks to Lisa from Catholic Mom! Ellen Gable

Awesome Reading

Nothing like a great second reading at Mass to put your heart at rest and put things in perspective a bit:

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:6-9

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Oh, for the days of kindergarten soccer, when we used to pray before games and run through "tunnels" afterwards, share snack, and not keep score.

I love football, but sometimes I hate football fans! Last night, we drove #1 son into a lovely nearby mountain community for an away football game. We dropped him off early and then went to have dinner with Adam at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place (aren't those always the best ones?). The evening was going swimmingly until we showed up to watch the game.

My son plays on the "senior" team, so we arrived in the middle of the game before his. At that game, we were treated to a display of nasty sideline behavior that was so bad that the refs actually called a "sideline warning". Before you start thinking that this was an overzealous dad, guess what - it was a MOM!!! (No, not me...).

Things just got worse from there. The crowd on our side of the field felt they our team was being subjected to bad officiating, and they let the team of referrees know their feelings - loudly and crudely. It got so bad that I actually took Adam and moved to the end of the opposing team's sideline in the fourth quarter.

We lost the game in double overtime, thanks to a called back touchdown and some additional questionable calls, but by that point, the local sherrifs had actually been called to escort the officials from the field and remove one particularly nasty fan (no, not the MOM!).

At this point, I'm questioning my responsiblities as a parent. At the very least, I feel like calling our league president to discuss the reprehensible behavior of our fans. When did it become acceptable to stand and yell obscenities and have people laugh and think it's funny? Sorry for the rant here, but I'm "all shook up"! Maybe I should encourage #1 son to go back to the spelling bee team...spectators aren't allowed to talk during spelling bees!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why Feel Inferior??

This little pearl of wisdom landed in my e mailbox this morning and has me thinking:

Inspirational Thought of the Day

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

I've been thinking to myself, "Do I feel inferior?" - Believe me, there have definitely been times when I've felt inferior, but somehow in the last few years those thoughts haven't played much of a role in my head.

Like everyone else, there are many things about myself that I'd like to change - bad habits, things I'd like to do better, stuff I'd love to learn - but I can't say that I've dwelt lately on feeling inferior. The last major inferiority complex I can remember followed my decision to become a "stay at home mom" (how many of those actually stay at home???), giving up a successful and lucrative career. That feeling of inferiority had something at its root: my job had become my identity and without that job, I wasn't sure what my true identity really was. Now, fourteen years lately, I still wonder that at times, but I'm not ever plagued that I made the wrong decision for my family. Any inferiority I might have felt in social situations was completely of my own making. And let me say that this is not a comment on the whole working vs. not-working thing - two of the world's best moms are my sisters, both of whom balance their vocation as mother and their careers ultra-successfully!

I've also had times of feeling physically inferior, perhaps due to weight issues or a lack of "style" - but maybe one of the blessings of being a forty-something is that a lot of that now feels unimportant.

I really think Eleanor was right on the whole inferiority thing...for me, my "goals" remain but I know that, as trite as it may sound, God made me just the way I am (big feet and all!) for His purpose. It's my job to ascertain that purpose and to make the most of each day, and dwelling on my shortcomings detracts from time better spent driving my boys, feeding my boys and doing all the other stuff that so totally fills each day. Sorry for the boring monologue, but I think I've worked this one out in my mind!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Time Well Spent

When I have my act together, I spend Friday mornings at Church. This includes working in the parish office on our Church Web Site and taking a break to attend our Friday morning school mass with Adam. Thankfully, it's the type of school that encourages families to sit together with their children at the school mass, rather than relegating parents to the back pews.

Every week, when I'm sitting their in the company of 600 plus little saints in training, I thank God for the blessings He's showered down so faithfully on our family. Close to the top of the list is my children's school, which is truly a wonderful community.

Whatever anxieties may be troubling me when I walk through the door for Friday mass are left at the foot of the altar when I receive the Eucharist. I almost always emerge from that Mass feeling refreshed, renewed, in love with my children and their squirmy buddies, and appreciative of our teachers.

Why would I ever think of skipping?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Obsessive Mom Learns New Hobby

OK, everyone's getting scarves for Christmas this year, so start placing your color preferences here....the Catholic Mom is learning how to knit!

Just what I need, another hobby...

A friend of mine has been bugging me for a month now to join a group of women who meet weekly at our local Catholic bookstore to knit together. I have informed her repeatedly that I'm craft impaired, but she kept after me assuring me that she personally would teach me.

Well today I went, and guess what - it was really fun!

Before the gathering, I stopped at Walmart and bought the cheapest knitting needles and the second cheapest thingy of yarn (it was a little cuter than the cheapest one), assuring myself that this too is a passing phase. I didn't want to invest too much money. (This is the same friend who ushered me into the rubbber stamp phase and now I've got at least $200 of stamps sitting unused in my craft room).

A really long time ago, my saintly grandmother taught me how to knit. I grew bored quickly and set it aside. But knitting must be one of those skills, like riding a bike, that stays with you. Within a few minutes, I remembered what to do and I actually have about an inch of a scarf to show for the hour and a half I spent this morning. I'm speeding up a bit, so I should have at least one half a scarf completed by the end of football season!

The best part of the morning was just sitting in the company of friends, old and new, and doing something creative while enjoying a lively and fun conversation. Yes, I have laundry that needs to be done and emails to answer, but it was nice to take a morning off. I will probably have to re-learn again next Wednesday and I may get another inch done next week - I'm going to try to keep the hobby in check and not get too obsessive with it (HAH!)

So if anybody needs a new, slightly irregular and very imperfect scarf for Christmas, place your orders now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Music Ministry

I've been working on music stuff today over at Catholic Mom. Click here to read my cool interview David Wang, lead vocalist of Critical Mass. My favorite song on their new CD is their great cover of Carry On Wayward Son - David Wang is one of those amazing people who seemingly have it all and do it all! He's a dad of nine, a university professor, and a rocker...I need to start sleeping less to keep up with people like him! Great music and a great guy.

Speaking of great guys, I had the following email from a guy name Gerard, from Mississippi. He's looking to spread the word about a song he wrote in response to Katrina. Take a minute to listen to his song and drop him a note to say hi and that sent you. It's such a wonderful thing to hear about all of the people who are using their talents and time to help others in response to the hurricanes.

I am a native of Grand Point, Louisiana, which is mid way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge in St. James Parish, but have transplanted to southwest Mississippi where we attend St. Ann's.

By candlelight, in the coolness of the morning, on September 2, 2005, the 3rd day after Hurricane Katrina hit, I wrote the words to this song. Being without power at my house, I drove 200 miles to my in-laws' house where I recorded it on my Digitech GNX4.

For 9 days, we were without power and water near Meadville, Mississippi, but I am thankful for the things I do have, among them, my family, my friends, a house and a job.

Click here to hear the song

Click here to see the words

I am trying to get this song "out there" so that others might hear it. Please listen and then forward this email. Through friend-to-friend emails, since September 6, this song has been downloaded over 1250 times! Web hits have come from countries all over the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, Brazil. PASS IT ON!!! Let me know where it's going! Thanks, Gerard

Contact Info:
Gerard C. Faucheux, Sr.
1168 Myers Rd NE
Meadville, MS 39653

Words of Wisdom

I am lucky to have the world's best parents.

It came in handy as a kid growing up to live in a home filled with love and laughter. As a teenager and young adult, it was cool to have REASONABLE people for parents - they trusted, loved and didn't place too many restrictions on me. When I became a parent myself, I loved and appreciated them at a whole new level as the trials of becoming a mom myself began to kick in.

Well, the lessons continue and today I learned a big one from Daddy. You see, I have a fourteen year old living at my house...and he's being a fourteen year old. He's exerting his opinion about things, wanting to spend oodles of time on the phone and with his friends, and pushing his outer limits in search of more independence as he becomes a young man.

His mom, on the other hand, is reacting emotionally to the seemingly sudden emergence of this young man. I want him off the phone, at the table with his family, communicative about the emotions he's going through, and polite with his parents, his brother and other grown ups he encounters.

I don't think I'm asking too much.

Neither does he.

Sometimes lately, we're driving each other crazy.

Well, this morning I was talking on the phone to my parents, who are somewhere in the south working their way back to Gulfport. I was lamenting my current situation with the fourteen year old and Daddy said, "Are you being positive and loving with him? Are you building him up and telling him how wonderful he is?"

Silence on my end as I had a flashback to them doing that with me when I was a teenager...yikes! Was I as bad to them as I feel like he's being to me?

My answer to Daddy: "What if he doesn't deserve it?" (What kind of a terribe thing was that for me to say????)

His answer to me: "Then be twice as loving and positive to him."

Double yikes - he's right! So that's my task for today - to stop dwelling on my nit-picking criticism of every little thing that's driving me nuts and to start an intense focus on all that is good and wonderful about the young man who lives at my house. Those aspects of him far outweigh anything else - I am, indeed, a lucky (but somewhat weary) mom of a wonderful and loveable teenage son.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the lessons...If I can be half the parent you are hopefully my boys will do ok in this life!

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Sweetest Boy I Know

The sweetest boy I know has beautiful golden hair and a sprinkle of freckles across his nose and rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes.

He was born three weeks early and weighed only five pounds, fifteen ounces, but now he's five feet tall and has feet almost as big as his daddy's.

He loves to play with sticks, build things with legos and sculpt. He's not too into sports, preferring his art lessons and family time at home. He loves animals, especially his hamster Max!

The sweetest boy I know wakes up each day with a smile, gives me a hug every morning, and always says thank you when I give him breakfast. His hugs instantly put me in a good mood, which is a great way to start any day!

The sweetest boy I know can also turn cloudy...his temper can run hot and his patience can run thin - maybe being capable of being sweet also makes one prone to excess in other emotions too. Luckily for the rest of us, his sweet moments far outweigh his sassy ones.

The sweetest boy I know, my precious Adam, arrived on the scene eleven years ago today. I remember saying prayers with Eric the night before Adam's birth was induced, and wondering if a mom's heart could have enough love to spread between two little boys. The answer is definitely yes, but loving Adam comes easily!

Happy birthday Adam - I love you!