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The crabbing mounted throughout the morning as the amount of work to be done superseded the time allotment for the task - isn't that always the case?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!