Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Daddy!!!!

You may have heard of me - I'm the girl with the world's best Daddy!

Today, sadly, I am not with him in person to celebrate his big day, but my heart and thoughts will be with him all day as he celebrates yet another year of life.

I wish everyone could have a Daddy like mine - he is truly one of the world's best people (that's how he was able to catch and keep my mom!)

He's the type of Daddy who always remembers to tell you how beautiful you are, inside and out, and somehow makes you really believe it's true.

If I have any ability to turn a phrase, it's thanks to my Daddy, who is one of the most gifted oral and verbal communicators I know.

My daddy is a whiz on the dance floor - people marvel at the style in his dance steps, but mostly at the fun he always seems to have!

People tell me I look like my Daddy, which I consider a compliment. I get my coloring, my nose and my foot size from him - I aspire to the level of fitness he's attained at his somewhat advancing age. Don't get me wrong - like me, my Daddy has battled with weight issues for as long as I've known him. You wouldn't know it to look at him now, but his daily (re)commitment to a healthy lifestyle is both a challenge, and an inspiration for those around him.

Like my Daddy, I write really small - I've always thought that was because we're thrifty and we want to make sure we have room to record ALL of the important things going on around us, so we'll remember to treasure them. Like Daddy, I try very hard to wake up in the morning to start my day with spiritual reading and prayer. His health and happiness are always at the top of my prayer list, as he and my wonderful mother taught me most of what I know and love about my prayer relationship with God.

I could go on and on about my Daddy - if you know him, you know what I mean! But I'll just end this by saying that I'm the luckiest girl in the world, to have the daily love, inspiration and happiness of Daddy in my life!

Happy Birthday - I love you!!!

We interrupt this Silence... bring you a blog entry. Imagine that!

Sorry for last week's blackout, but I had "one of those weeks". I hope my three devoted readers are still with me!

Not sure if I can promise much for the week ahead, but I'll try. Among the many important things I was involved in last week, the two most significant were the cleaning out of my closet (which had become a danger zone), and the preparations for the big school talent show. Both had their moments of pain and suffering, but ultimately the results were magnificent. I hope to blog on Eric's big performance very was a wonderful thing to watch my son up their on the stage having the time of his life.

In the mean time, if I owe you an email reply, please be patient with me. I'm doing my best, but my inbox is positively overflowing. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and know that I will reply some day...but this week, we're in critical Science Fair Project mode, so it may be a little while!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Too Good Not to Pass Along

Thanks to my friend Sharon for sharing this one - sit back, turn up the speakers and enjoy!

Odds and Ends

It's good to take a day "off", but the problem is the things that await you when you return to the "real world", like tons of email and those same old, pesky items that litter my "to do" list!

A few notes:

* Yes, Virginia, there is a Catholic VBS - click here to read my review

* Today is Day 20 on the path to those new habits...for those who believe it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, you're almost there. For the rest of us, who believe it could likely take a lifetime, it's Friday! I'm about 50% on my resolutions, but happy to announce that I'm doing very well on what I consider to be the most important one. Keep praying for me, and I'll keep praying for you!

* I'm enjoying new Catholic Mom columnist Heidi Hess Saxton so much - click here to read her latest column! Her insights extend well beyond the topic of adoption and foster parenting

* Daily Dose of Health: Strength Training for Beginners - I'm doing pretty well on cardio workouts, but sadly neglecting any form of weight training in my fitness regimine. If you'd like to join me in building stronger bones, click here for some basic strength training moves. We can do this!

* I'm off to work in the Parish office this morning, so have a great day and I'll "see" you Monday!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fun Overdose

Blogging is light today, because I'm having a "ME" day - Mah Jongg at my house, immediately followed by my knitting group! How lucky am I, to spend the day shirking my domestic responsibilities in favor of playing with my friends?! Do you have a hobby or pastime you partake of just for YOU? If not, I highly recommend a weekly dose of "goofing off". The laundry will wait!

Acquiring Peace

Among my morning's spiritual reading moments, I am taking on "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A Kempis. There is much value in this book, but it is also very hard in parts.

Here's a version of what I read this morning, that has me thinking:

Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection
WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?

Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in abundance.

Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.

We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation.

The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.

If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.

If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case—we feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor.

If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.

If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil one.

15 If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress.

D.D.H. - What's for Dinner???

If it's Thursday, I must be out of ideas for the week on what to serve for dinner. I just found a cool resource at 24 Hour Fitness - the "recipe finder". Plug in what you've got in the pantry, and they locate a healthy recipe for you, complete with nutritional information.

Here's what I'm thinking of trying tonight:

Beef Stew Recipe

2 pounds lean sirloin tip
(look for an extra lean cut with very little marbling in the meat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, cut into pieces
2 medium celery stalks, sliced
2 cups small mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup water
1 cup dry red wine
1 (16 ounce) can no-salt added stewed tomatoes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Trim all excess fat from beef and cut into cubes. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef and quickly brown on all sides. Add remaining ingredients except flour, salt and pepper to taste and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer approximately 1 hour or until beef is cooked and vegetables are tender.

Combine 1 cup stew broth with flour in a small bowl. Mix with fork or whisk and add to stew. Continue heating another 10-15 minutes or until thickened.

Makes 8 servings
Serving size: 12 ounces

Nutrients per serving:
Calories: 268
Total fat: 7 grams (26% of calories)
Saturated fat: 2 grams
Cholesterol: 68 mg
Sodium: 130 mg
Carbohydrate: 19 grams (31% of calories)
Protein: 27 grams (43% of calories)
Dietary fiber: 3 grams

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What I'd Do if I had a Week to Myself....

This sounds like a good idea...Now I just need a nice hotel room by the beach, with no internet connection or tv....

What would you do with your week? On second thought, for now, I'd spend it just the way I spend every week! This time is going by much too quickly!

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Today begins a weeklong focus on praying for Christian Unity worldwide.

Matthew 18: 18-20

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

I am lucky to have friends of many denominations, and to be the beneficiary of their prayers and support on my journey to a closer relationship with Christ. This week, my prayers of thanksgiving will focus on the many things that we share in common, rather than those which divide. Click here for more information on resources for this week from the Vatican.

Daily Dose of Health - What's Your Real Age?

If you are, like I am, really trying to focus on your health this year, an interesting online tool is the REAL AGE Test. You can take this free, online health assessment that will use 100 factors to indicate your "real age" - I'm happy to report that this computerized gizmo thinks I'm 37, and that I would be even younger if I talked on my cell phone less, flossed more, and didn't detest fish. Take five minutes and give it a try - the end step is a pretty complete list of things you can do to improve your health.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Daily Dose of Health - Cardio Kickboxing Safety

In my latest bout of middle aged insanity, I've consented to my workout buddy's invitation to take a weekly Cardio Kickboxing class at the gym. Although I look incredibly dorky, it's a fun (but tough) workout and the 45 minutes goes by in flash. Plus, there's the added thrill of knowing that soon I'll be able to beat somebody up (not now though, because I really punch like a sissy).

For anyone looking to take up a new fitness hobby, here are some safety rules for Cardio Kickboxing. I highly recommend this stress-relieving activity for mothers of teenage sons!

Catholic Music Review

Great news for Catholic music fans! Contemporary Christian praise band News At Eleven has announced the release of their sophomore effort, Here Till The End.

Building on the signature sound from Have You Not Heard, their first CD, this group of talented USC alums has moved out into the "real world" and their music has evolved and grown too. Inspired by a New Year's Eve jam session, Here Till The End features thirteen new original compositions and a greater emphasis on lead vocals.

From the soul filled "See What Love the Father Has" to the acoustic "Fill My Soul", this latest News At Eleven project features something for everyone. The opening track, "Alleluia (Raise Your Voice)" is infectious from the first listening. The CD's final tune, "With the Lord There Is Mercy", featuring awesome baby vocals by Gabriel MacPhail, will leave you wanting to hit the "repeat" button and listen again. High production quality and talented musicianship on every level make this CD a pleasure to listen to and inspire praise and worship with enthusiasm.

Congratulations to News At Eleven on another great recording effort that leaves Christian music fans staying tuned to see what's next!

For more information, visit Catholic Music Network

Becoming the Hang Out House

What does it take to become the "hang out" house - the place where teens choose to gather and spend their free time? I want to know, out of selfish interest.

As son number one grows older and taller each day, I see before my eyes his transition to independence, to a phase where his time with his friends is becoming ever more important. I'm lucky - he is a wonderful young man, devoted to his brother and willing to spend time with Mom and Dad.

But I want to be prepared to entice him, and his buddies, to know that our home is always open to them and that we want them here. Even more than my selfish interest to know that he's safe and secure, I enjoy my son and his friends.

Last night, the gang was over for another band practice. The school talent show at the end of this month is quickly approaching and they need to tweak their "act". They've been practicing in the garage for the past few weeks, but our concern for our neighbors' ears prompted us to move them inside last night.

My hulking, and all too infrequently used, dining room furniture was moved up against the wall. The room became home to three guitars, a keyboard, a drum set, a sax and a rambunctious lead singer. The walls reverberated with the classic rock song they'll be performing. Max the Hamster and Matlock the cat ran for cover, as did their owner, Son Number Two.

But me? I was happy to hear that noise, happy to feed them burgers and hot dogs my husband Greg grilled up, and to watch them devour a big package of store-bought cookies before dinner had been served. Having them here is a pleasure - they smile, offer polite thanks, and engage in civil conversations. They may play loudly, but I've known most of them since kindergarten and am thrilled to watch them develop into young men.

Becoming the "hang out" house is going to take some effort on our part - negotiations are currently under way to transform my dining room into a "music room" (with guitarist dad leading the planning) and I'm going to need to keep a stock of frozen pizzas and soft drinks on hand at all times. But that's a small price to pay for the reward of watching my son become a young man before my very eyes.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Technical difficulties

As you may have guessed, is having some server issues...please say a prayer for my sanity, and my husband, as I try to get things worked out. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Holy Spirit Was Busy Yesterday

I don't have time to write about it at the moment, but the Holy Spirit definitely had his hands full yesterday afternoon. I've given tons of talks, training seminars, etc, but the toughest audience a Mom could face are 35 of her son's teenage classmates.

The challenge: address the topic at hand (faith) without embarassing your son.

The reward: son says "You did a good job today mom."

Definitely worth the time and effort!

D.D.H. - What's for Dinner???

As a means to the end of helping my family be more healthy, both physically and emotionally, I've resolved to be more deliberate about cooking and enjoying family dinners. So far, so good, but what I'm always short on are ideas, and the ingredients necessary to cook an entire dinner. I'm a bit shopping-impaired.

In surfing around, I found a great web site "What's for Dinner?", which should be a big help. Meal plans, shopping lists and even topics for conversation at the table. I'm looking forward to exploring it more, and contemplating Beef Porcupines for dinner tonight.

What's for dinner at your house tonight? As moms, it's our job (whether we like it or not) to be thinking about that! And if you've got teenage boys in the house, you need to know by the time you pick them up from school!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What will I be doing five years from now???

I'm asking myself this morning what I will be doing in the year 2011 because I'm trying to get a few things crossed off of my "to do" list. One of those things is re-registering my domain name, which is set to expire soon. If you register for a multi-year contract, you get a decreased rate. Since is a not a blockbuster business, but rather a poorly paid hobby, every penny counts so I'm looking for ways to reduce overhead.

This morning, I had the choice of renewing for one, three, five, nine or one hundred years. I think I will always keep the domain name, even if I don't continue to update the site at some point, because I don't want it falling into the hands of someone evil, who will turn it into "Naked" or something.

100 years is out of the question - because I don't plan to live that long and I don't think my heirs will care.

Nine years even seemed a bit too long - in 2015, Adam will be twenty and Eric will be twenty three - I could possibly be by then!!!

So I settled on five years - which will be over in the blink of an eye! Who knows what the next five years will's kind of fun to think about it. In five years, Eric will be a freshman in college - I'll probably need badly then to help me with my empty nest syndrome!

What will you be doing in five years? Driving a daughter to ballet? Teaching a son to drive? Babysitting your grandchild after school? Taking a second honeymoon with your spouse? Starting your career? God only knows, and I'll bet He's got great things in store for us!

Please say a prayer for me today!

I'm the "guest speaker" in 8th grade religion! Yikes, this should keep the Holy Spirit busy today!!!

Adoption Resources

Our Adoption Resource center is growing at - Click here to check it out. If you have a suggested resource, please email me at Next up is a similar resource for families with children with disabilities, so I'll be bugging you on that one soon!

Daily Dose of Health - Drink Your Water

Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil; This will mean health for your flesh and vigor for your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8

This is the time of the year when I have to forcefully remind myself to drink water. During the winter months, as I sit working or writing, I all too frequently reach for yet another diet coke or cup of coffee. Not good! My winter solution to getting that water down is to drink it hot and in a mug - for some reason that goes down easier than ice cold water when it's cold outside. Why do we need to drink water for good health? Click here for an article that explains it all, in terminology that even a mom can understand.

Bonus DDH - Biggest Loser alert! Yes, watching this particular tv show can be both good for your health and habit forming...just don't watch with a big bowl of popcorn in your lap!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Looking for a New Planner?

I've recently reviewed a product that combines time management and an emphasis on living the faith. Click here to read my review of "Orderly Days in the Workplace".

Today's Saint - William of Bourges

Today's Saint, William of Bourges, had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament - and had he had his way he would have eschewed honor and titles in favor of time spent in Eucharistic prayer. In Daddy's Saint Book, it even states that he died on his knees praying. At Mass on Sunday at my parish, we had an appeal from our Eucharistic Adoration chapel folks to spend more time in quiet prayer in our chapel.

Lord, please help me today to commit to quiet prayer time in your presence, and thank you for the gift you are in my life!

D.D. H. - Why Not Start on a Tuesday?

Type A personalities like me sometimes fall into a dangerous trap with making changes in our lives. We like starting our new routines on New Year's, the first of the month, or even Mondays. It's one of the reasons why "Weight Watchers Meeting" appears on my Monday calendar each week, even if I can't attend.

But guess what - my commitment (or daily re-commitment) to feeling my best doesn't have to wait for next Monday or February 1st if I haven't gotten on track yet this week, or if yesterday was a washout due to emotional factors beyond my control.

I can start today, Tuesday, January 10.

Just for today, I can drink my water, take a walk with a buddy, log the food I eat (no matter what it is), try to make time to fix my family a healthy dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable time.

And if, for some reason, one of those things doesn't happen today, I can try again tommorrow, even if it is Wednesday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Baptism of the Lord

Our Christmas season winds to a close today with our observance of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Among the many things that are on my list today is the ceremonial taking down of the Christmas decorations, which always makes me a little melancholy. I did, however, greatly enjoy listening to today's CE podcast on the Baptism of the Lord featuring one of my favorites, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio. If you're a pod person, click here to check out this insightful and entertaining podcast.

Inside Out and Upside Down

I think my friend and colleague Max the hamster has it right - he spends his winter days alternating between snoozing, munching and working very hard to get his bed set up just right, just the way he wants it. For some reason, in the winter months, this bed making process seems to require more work, probably owing to the fact that more bedding makes for more warmth. Some days, Max's bed is so high in the air that he reminds me of that story "The Princess and the Pea".

I'm envious of Max's nesting - I'd like to spend my winter days gathering my family close, cooking them warm soup at lunch and tucking them in for an early bed time. School and practice schedules seem to create havoc with my nesting instinct however, and today I think we're dealing with the repercussions of too much activity and too little nesting.

Son number two is home on the couch, sick from school with an upset tummy and a bad headache.

Son number one is at school, but got there in a very disheveled fashion with a last minute stint at the laptop to complete a forgotten assignment.

These are not boys who normally have problems with school or getting things completed as required...but we had a crazy weekend and three late nights in a row.

At the gym this morning, I was talking with my workout buddy about the need to reinforce some bedtime rituals around my home. Things have been a little fast and loose lately, so I think it's time to go back to basics.

Sleep, at any age, is critical to good health and a positive mental attitude. For today's "Daily Dose of Health" I'm offering the following link, to the National Sleep Foundation and its many resources. When son number one, the lawyer in training, questions me during my planned discussion with him this afternoon, I am going to point him to this site's section on sleep and teens and invite him to do a little research before he tries to debate me.

In the mean time, my bedding is in the washer being cleaned and prepared for an early bed time tonight - I think Max would be proud of me!

Friday, January 06, 2006


Although we will celebrate it Sunday this year, today is the traditional feast of the Epiphany. Click here for more information from Catholic Encyclopedia on the history and traditions of the Epiphany.
Anyone have a good recipe for King's Cake?

Daily Dose of Health - Check Your BMI

If getting fit and healthy is on your list of resolutions for 2006, one of the most important things you can do is know what your current situations is. For many of us, this should involve a checkup with our family or personal physician.

I'm the queen of procrastination on many things, but especially when it comes to going to the doctor, so I'm speaking mostly to myself here. My health resolution for today is to schedule my checkup, which should have been done in 2005 but was neglected. If I schedule it today, I will likely get into my doctor's office by April. That's at the top of my list for today.

Another helpful tool for assessing your fitness goals is knowing your BMI - Body Mass Index. The Body Mass Index (BMI) reflects the relation between your body size and your body weight.

Click here to visit's BMI calculator and receive and quick, free assessment of your BMI.

I will report back by tomorrow the date of my doctor's appointment.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Calling All Adoptive Parents

I'm thrilled to be offering a new column on Adoption at, written by Canticle Editor Heidi Saxton. Click here to meet Heidi and read her first column. I'd like to add some links to this page, resources for Catholic adoption. If you are aware of any good resources that should be included, please email me at Thanks!

Must Read Thursdays

I love everything Pat Gohn writes, but I REALLY loved this one! I bet you will too!

Daily Dose of Health

For those looking to improve their health and fitness in 2006, and I'm one of them, I'm planning to post a quick tip or idea each day when I blog to help keep us focused on our goals.
If you're already completely healthy and fit, feel free to skip this entry! It's actualy mostly out of personal necessity that I'm posting these links and ideas.

Today's dose: a helpful article from entitled 12 Ways to be Healthier by this Time Next Year

I'm a Weight Watchers lifetimer, and a big fan of their resources. Even if you aren't a member, you can sign up for their free email newsletter, which always has great brief articles and recipes.

Hope for Resolutionists

Here we are on day five of the new year. How are you doing on your resolutions? I'm doing ok...some ups and some downs, but I'm hopeful for some positive change in my life this year.

In the past, predictably, if I "messed up" in my progress toward a goal I was more likely than not ready to ditch the whole effort, convinced that I'd start again - next Monday, the first day of next month, or perhaps next year.

Not this year - I'm taking this as a one day at a time prospect. If I "mess up" today, there's a clean slate again tomorrow, or even five minutes from now. Losing focus for a little while doesn't mean that the whole thing's off.

Yesterday, someone special was telling me that she's working on helping her son give up his bottle. Wow - now that's a resolution! Those of us with children will remember the nights spent listening outside their doors as they cried themselves to sleep without their favorite transitional object - in my house, for Eric, it was the pacifier. I think the year we gave up the pacifier at New Years was one of my hardest resolution years ever!

I've been doing some reading this week about habits, and about breaking old ones and building new ones. We've all heard that "21 day" statistic tossed about - it takes 21 days to build a new habit. But I'm convinced that, for some habits, it's a lifetime adventure. I know that there are some things I'll never be able to take for granted and some behaviors that I'll be working on until the day I die.

That's ok - I'm not in it alone. Today, I was working on a book review for a great new planner product called Orderly Days in the Workplace. The first page I turned to had stamped across the top of the page:

I have the strength for everything through Him that empowers me. (Phil. 4:13)

God has a funny way of laying things in my path, making sure that I can't miss them even if I have my blinders on. Here I am on Day Five of this New Year, already feeling a little down about not making the quick progress I'd hoped for and He sends me this message. One of my problems is that I forget to rely on Him - the one who strengthens me! I neglect to turn to him when I'm feeling like I'm falling short, when I need support or strength for the test that lies ahead. Alone, I will always fall short, but with Him, there is great hope for my life as long as I'm living it in conjunction with His plan.

That's the kick in the pants I need to get me through the rest of today - and maybe even most of tomorrow. When I look around, I see role models and inspiration all around me:

my widowed friend who faces each day as a single mom and does it with a smile on her face

my husband, who goes off to work each day with a serving heart despite the many sad things he may encounter in the Emergency Room

my kids' teachers, who have some of the hardest jobs I know and perform them with tremendous dedication and grace

and my "special someone" sisters, who are wife, mommy, and two of the world's finest people

These people, and the knowledge that I'm not on my own in striving to be and to give my best, give me hope for meeting my resolutions.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

We Four Kings of Orient Are...

Those members of my family who know of my unending quest for the perfect light up yard nativity scene will be happy to know of my big find yesterday.

First, for you who don't know me well enough yet to be aware of my many eccentricities, a bit of background. Since approximately 1999, I've been "shopping" for a blow mold nativity scene to put in my yard during the holiday season. The problem is, I'm picky. I don't want to settle for just any set. One of my pet peeves is that many of the newer sets have Mary holding baby Jesus as one figure. I don't really care too much about anything other than two important factors:

1. I want the figures to be at least three feet high.
2. I want a Mary not holding Baby Jesus - I plan to put my set up early, and we all know that Baby Jesus shouldn't arrive on scene until the big day. I want my boys and I to build a manger, complete with hay, that can welcome a SEPARATE (not attached to Mary) Jesus on Christmas morning.

I'm not sure why this quest has been so difficult. I live in a relatively large and very suburban town with lots of big box stores. I have friends in several cities involved in the quest, and even two very devoted E-Bayers watching for me!

So yesterday, Greg and I were out shopping and we ran across a clearance on blow mold nativities at our local hardware store. Sadly, the set of three pieces was not up to par, but was extremely cheap.

Piece 1 - The three wise men, bearing gifts. One looks strangely like Santa Clause.
Piece 2 - Assorted shepherds, with one oversized camel and one undersized donkey.
Piece 3 - The Holy Family - Of course, Mary is lovingly holding the Baby Jesus.

Greg and I, after much debate, decided to purchase the entire set, largely due to the very cheap price and the fact that I felt guilty leaving Baby Jesus in the clearance section. It is now after Christmas, so I guess it's ok for this year that He is attached to His Mommy.

Here's where the story gets crazy. Amidst the remains of these cheap blow molds, we found one odd man out - King Gaspar. (You can find K.G. in the picture above - he's the tallest king). None of the rest of the characters, just King Gaspar. We found the very elderly gentleman working in this particular department and inquired about the possibility of ordering the other figures, but alas, no go. The ordering guy recently quit to go to work for Home Depot. Strangely, no other figures from the TPI set that Gaspar is in were shipped to the store - just Gaspar. As a result of the fact that no one wants to buy one king, Gaspar was now on big time sale.

So he went into the cart too.

So do the math - we now have a total of four large plastic figures, including four kings. We've decided that the one king in Piece #1 is now to be called Santa Clause king. Now we just need to find the remaining 16 pieces that go with Gaspar, and we will then have two complete Outside Light Up Nativity the mean time, we have one set, with four kings. (or three kings, and a clause).

But wait, there's more....

Owing to the fact that we did not have the proper light bulbs, the pieces never made it out of the garage last night. I forgot about them, until later in the evening.

Son number one, the teenager, had some friends over and we had "garage band" night. Six teens, pizza, Pepsi and lots of loud music. I was sequestered in the living room, but Adam called me out to show me something in the garage.

With the band loudly playing a Rolling Stones tune, Adam pointed to the "audience". He had assembled all members of the new oversized plastic tribe in a line, adoringly staring at the garage band. The members of the band, agreeing they need to practice in front of an audience to get ready for their upcoming performance at the school talent show, had left Mary, Jesus, Joseph and company in their front row places. It was a surreal site, one you'll only find in a Catholic garage - a bunch of fourteen year olds playing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" with an audience of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, camels, sheep, and FOUR WISE MEN...

I love my life! And I think we're ready for Epiphany at the Hendey household!

p.s. If you know of anywhere that I can buy a few more kings, email me at

Sunday, January 01, 2006


The Year of Our Lord, 2006

Happy New Year Everyone! I love this day every year, and even more so as I grow older and gain a bit more perspective on how quickly years seem to fly by.

January 1st is always a clean slate for me, and how wonderful that it falls on a Sunday this year and that I had the benefit of a wonderful homily from one of my favorite priests to help me kick start my New Year!

The inspiration started early, in the minutes immediately following the pot banging, sparkling cider drinking bedlam of the Hendey household. As I was drifting off to sleep with the TV playing in the background, I heard the drawl of one of my favorite people - Lou Holtz, conversing with Regis Philbin, post ball-dropping from Times Square.

Philbin asked Holtz, who is always a great source of motivation for me, to share his perspective on how to have a great 2006, by repeating some simple thoughts he had recently shared at the Notre Dame Football banquet. Holtz offered the following four things to strive for:

Something to Do
Someone to Love
Something to Hope For
Something to Believe In

As I drifted off, I thought about how simple and yet wonderful these four goals could be in my own life...if looked at with the proper perspective.

At Mass this morning, Msgr. Cotta provided that perspective for me.

After wishing us a happy New Year, he reminded us that we should strive to make 2006 the "Year of the Lord" (as opposed to the "Year of Lisa Hendey"). He called on us to be like the shepherds in today's reading from the book of Luke , who heard the message of the birth of Jesus, were amazed by that message, and rushed to share the message with others.

"Are you amazed at the name and the love of Jesus?" Father challenged me. "Are you amazed enough to live this year for Him, spreading His love and His message?"

So among the list of resolutions I've penned for 2006, in fact at the top of that list, is to make this "The Year of the Lord 2006" strive towards finding:

Something to Do - working through my service to others, my web "stuff" and my writing to share my amazement at the love of Jesus and the gift that He is in my life

Someone to Love - God, in His three persons, and through Him to be more loving and compassionate to those closest to me in my life and those I have yet to meet in His service

Something to Hope For - His promise, of heaven forever and even the heaven here on earth that is the blessing of my own daily life

Something to Believe In - Him, His Message and His promise for each of us

Somehow, it feels like embracing and sharing the amazement of Jesus' message will help me to have the strength and discipline to go after some of the other resolutions that populate my list, or at least to remember to have a loving and happy heart in their pursuit.

Here's to a great 2006!