Thursday, August 31, 2006

Football Mom

You know you're a Football Mom when you lay aside your routine spiritual reading at lunch in favor of the special "High School Football" insert in the local newspaper!

Eric had his first JV scrimmage as a high school player last Saturday. Blessedly, they turned the scoreboard off after the first quarter. David (us, the small Catholic School) got smashed by Goliath (our opponent, the mega-sized, state championship winning Public School). We had been warned by Coach that freshman might not see much playing time, so we were thrilled in the second quarter when we saw #62 stride confidently out onto the field. The score may have been lopsided, but getting to see Eric play out there with the big guys left us feeling like winners!

Speaking of Football, it's less than 49 hours until the #2 ranked Fighting Irish take the field against Georgia Tech. Hopes are high for a great season, but the only thing I care about this year is beating USC! If you're not a Notre Dame fan, and you like visiting this blog, be forewarned that you may have to put up with some occasional football talk here during the next few months. Don't worry, it'll be Catholic football talk!

Tonight, Eric has his first team dinner in preparation for tomorrow night's first real game. The team dines together every Thursday night - which means that practice ends relatively early. I'm anxious for tomorrow - Eric may not play much, but it will be the start of four fun years for him and his buddies. Football Moms around the country - I'll be praying for your son's health and safety. Please do the same for mine!

Treat Yourself!

Dine Without Whine - Your #1 Source For Online Meal Planning

One of my favorite new features at is our Dine Withouth Whine weekly recipes shared by Christine Steendahl. Each week, Christine shares great (and practical) family recipes with us. I've cooking impaired, and I have loved Christine's weekly Dine Without Whine service because it makes preparing a family meal seem much more fun and enjoyable. Beyond the weekly recipes we're sharing at, for a very affordable rate you can subscribe to Christine's Dine Without Whine program and receive a complete weekly menu and shopping list emailed to you every week.

One of my priorities for this year is to make sure we eat together as a family as frequently as possible. Last night, Adam and I were preparing dinner in anticipation of Eric's return home from football practice. Adam said, "Hey, let's have candles!" He dimmed the lights and put a small tea-light candle in front of each of our plates. The dinner I cooked wasn't anything special, but the time we spent together eating sure was! We had a great conversation, and Eric remarked the minute he walked in the door, "Is this a special occasion?" Isn't every night with our children a special occasion?!

This week, at, we're sharing recipes for Beef Stroganoff Casserole, Sausage Biscuit Bites, and Light Lemon Cake. Check out these simple ideas and make tonight a special occasion for your family!


Inquiring minds who want to know why it's been so quiet here at the blog this week should take a look at my latest project, the web site for Hispanic Ministries at my parish. Thankfully, our Hispanic Minister did all of the text for the site, so I just had to put it all together. My favorite feature of the site is the video on this page , featuring our Hispanic choir...doesn't this look like a great place to go to church?! Web design is always fun, but requires a bit of concentration and time, so I apologize for neglecting the blog this week!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Orienting to a New Life

This has been a busy time for all moms sending children back to school or recommencing the homeschool calendar. As for me, things have been a bit slow around the blog this week as I've been busy being "Oriented" to the life of "High School Mom".

Yes, Eric had his own Orientation last week and in approximately forty minutes will have successfully completed his first week as a high school freshman. His orientation included a prayer service, scholastic and administrative overviews, countless syllabi and logistical details such as the subtleties of combination locks and how to get from one end of campus to another in under four minutes and 59 seconds. He appears to have survived, although my interactions with him this week have been way too limited for a mom's preference.

My own Orientation week continues. On Tuesday, after getting both kids off to the first "real" day of school, I met one of my best buddies for at the gym for an hour of "treadmill therapy". I've sworn for years that my husband owes my friend Mara a lot of cash for keeping me out of psychiatric counseling. Mara has been my friend through breastfeeding, preschool, elementary education and now beyond. Our friendship has been largely lived out during triweekly trips to the gym. She helped me again on Tuesday morning to recommit to my school year exercise routine, which is a critical part of my Mom suit of armor for dealing with life's many ups and downs.

On Wednesday morning, Orientation continued for Mom. My friend Martha, an alumna of my son's new high school, informed me that the two of us had a 9 am appointment with Brother Philip, the newly installed principal of Eric's high school. Martha had been a student of his during a time when he had previously been affiliated with the school. Now that he's back, she couldn't wait to see him again and decided to bring me along for the meeting. During a calming 45 minute "get to know you" chat, I felt my nerves begin to calm as I met this seasoned educator who clearly articulated his priorities for Catholic education. His values lined up so consistently with my hopes for my son's high school experience that I soon felt at ease. I also told Brother Philip that I was happy to be in the Prinicipal's Office for some reason aside from being summoned there for an "unfortunate incident".

Thursday's Mom Orientation activities were spread throughout the day. In the morning, I went on a field trip with my "Naughty Knitters" friends to a local yarn store. You may wonder why that's part of the Orientation, but just as lunch period is crucial to the experience of a high schooler, time with friends and personal hobbies are critical to any Mom's sanity. As much as I was missing my boys, it was so wonderful to have a morning of "girl time" to be spent how I wanted to spend it. I set my "to do" lists aside and luxuriated in time spent with special ladies.

Last night, Orientation hit full force with the Football Banquet, where I actually mustered up the courage to meet my son's football coach in person. No surprise, this man who spends more hours a day with my son (when he's actually awake) than I do is a great guy...and he didn't even make me do any pushups!

I headed straight from the Football Banquet to Freshman Parent Orientation - the official one! Two hours of meetings ensued: information system overviews, discussions on campus ministry and service education, academic overviews and a lovely talk by my now friend Brother Philip. One of my favorite speakers of the night was the new Dean of Students, who explained his philosophy for dealing with student infractions. His hope in working with student issues is to "help the student and his family to try to find a solution that will help the student grow, help him to make right decisions and good choices in the future." Hey, that's what I want for my son too - looks like we're on the same page! In my excitement, I limited myself to only signing my name on two volunteer sheets: Campus Ministry and Service Education. Both moderators seemed wonderful - I think I could learn a lot about being a High School Mom by helping out with these areas at the school.

Today, I attended a welcome meeting for the "Guild", the Moms who seem to be the driving force behind much what goes on at High School. I'm know I'm not cut out for much of the fundraising type of work, but it was so great to meet these wonderful women who are brimming with enthusiasm for our school. It was infectious!

Orientation continues this weekend with our first football scrimmage, where I'll learn that Freshman parents should cheer on the team but not expect to see much playing time for their Freshman sons.

A theme of last night's meetings was being involved in the school as a family, both in physical presence and in an emotional investment in our children's education. I'm still learning, taking lots of notes, and trying not to worry too much, but I think the year's off to a great start!

Catholic Literature

A few months back, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Dagney, author of Effigies in Ashes - a wonderful work of Catholic fiction.

Bob's book is the focus of a recent feature in Philadelphia Catholic Standard and Times. If you haven't had a chance to read this wonderful conversion story, take a look at this article. I think you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Lovely Tribute

I'm unable to find my writing voice today due to a combination of severe fatigue (the 4:45 wake up call) and separation anxiety (Eric's full day at High School today. He left at 7:25 and we won't see him until 7:30 tonight). Thankfully, gracing my inbox today was an email from the lovely Pat Gohn, sharing her latest column for

In "Things in Common" Pat shares a lovely relationship with a dear friend, Judi. Please take time today to read Pat Gohn's "Things in Common" and join me in a prayer for the repose of Judi's soul and for all who are battling illness in their lives. Pat, thanks as always for sharing the gift of your writing. You and our other columnists bless me with every word you pour out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Listen to CatholicMom Live

Sorry for the extremely late notice, but if anyone is up and reading this before 8:00 am (Michigan time - yawn!) on Tuesday, August 22, you can tune in to listen to my radio interview with Denise Gorski of Michigan Catholic Radio at 8:00 am on Tuesday, August 22. Click here to listen live. I believe the interview runs 30 minutes. I greatly enjoyed my conversation with Denise and the chance to share about the great things happening at I'm not sure if I'll be able to drag myself out of bed at 5 am California time to put myself through the stress of listening to me!

My Knitting Buddy

My friend Cindy is one of those amazing women who can do lots of things very well. She is the person who taught me to knit, thereby giving me a gift for which I'll be forever thankful.

Cindy's a great teacher - patient and so positive - even when she's dealing with rookies like me! Well now Cindy has a new area of expertise - she's now a knitting blogger! If you love to knit, you'll love Cindy's blog over at Yarn Paper Scissors where Cindy and her sister Carey explore all things creative. Unlike me, Cindy is a person who actually completes the projects she starts. I never see her with empty hands. When she's sitting in the parking lot waiting for her kids, she's knitting or sewing or doing other handiwork. That's what is so great about Cindy's new blog. You will see works in progress that will be completed faster than I can even cast something on to my needles. The cute socks above are just a sampling of Cindy's talent. If you love crafting, check out Yarn Paper Scissors and you'll be sure to be inspired!

A Catholic Mom's New (School) Year's Resolutions

I sit in the pre-dawn hours of the morning of the first day of another new school year, coffee and planner in hand, contemplating what lies ahead. The year is off to an auspicious start: I’ve set my alarm sufficiently early to allow for quiet devotional time and reflection before rousting my boys from their beds. Backpacks sit at the ready, filled to the overflowing with labeled school supplies. The number two pencils are sharpened to a deadly point with not a single eraser chewed off yet. School uniforms have been pre-laundered and ironed. We’re ready – at least for the first day of school.

In my quiet time, I contemplate how to make this the best school year ever for my children. With a sixth grader and one heading off to high school, I face the logistical dilemmas that confound so many other mothers – how to get everyone where they need to be, on time, with the things they need, all at the same time.

In my own life, I find great value in setting and actively pursuing resolutions, defined goals, to achieve desired results. I don’t wait for New Year’s to set resolutions – it can happen at the start of a new liturgical season, the beginning of a month, or even any day ending in the letter “y”. My goals for my sons’ new school year remain the same year after year. I hope this will be a year filled with spiritual and academic growth, fun times with their friends, and pursuit of new and favorite extracurricular activities.

Here are some of my specific resolutions to help make this school year the best ever for our family:

• Pray on the Way – Keeping prayer time central to our family life is important to all of us, but we sometimes let things slip around our house. This year, I commit to a time of prayer with each of my boys on our way to school in the morning. This is a tradition begun by my own mother and one that’s become reflexive in our family. As soon as the car is turned on prayer begins, setting the tone for the day and offering it to God as a sign of our love. A friend told me last year that she frequently asks her children, “What would you like for me to pray for?” This simple phrase has led to wonderful discussions and yet another way for me to support and encourage my children in their daily lives.

• Be Organized – I typically get off to a good start at the beginning of the school year, but somehow lose the “eye of the Tiger” on family organization just when it’s most needed. I will keep a family calendar, consulting it frequently and anticipating events in advance. I will communicate with my husband about times when he may be needed to “pinch hit” with rides, homework help, brownie baking and other facts of school year life. I will have a good sense of not only what each day holds, but also what the scope of the week looks like. Conflicts and surprises will occur, but not when I should have been planning for them and just dropped the ball.

• Family Dinner – I will make every effort to prepare and serve healthy meals for my family. This will involve being a better shopper, since a big part of my problem with cooking is not having the right things in the pantry. With our family members being busier than ever, our dinners together (whenever they are possible) will be a retreat and a chance for needed communication. I will not give in to the rat race and find myself “driving through” on the way home from Football practice because there’s nothing healthy to cook at home.

• Homework Helper – I will give my sons the tools they need to thrive academically. This will include a quiet environment in which to do homework, the supplies necessary to do the job, and a supportive attitude. I will encourage, not nag, and will try to help them to establish the good time management skills that will serve them in their future lives.

• Spread the Love – As frequently as possible, I will tell my sons how much I love them and how very proud I am of them. I will keep critical comments to myself and will encourage them positively to live up to their full potential. I will exalt in their happy moments and will lovingly support them through tough times without dwelling to much on the “I told you so” moments. I will remind my husband frequently of how much I value him as a partner, a co-parent and a friend. I will not let tiredness or frustration dictate the tone of my conversation with my family. I will collect as many hugs and kisses as I can get from growing boys!

I’m hoping to look back on my list of resolutions in the not-to-distant future and to be able to give myself a “check plus” on these few simple goals for our family. A Mom’s job is never done, but it’s great to take time along the way to refine and enhance our performance in what is surely our greatest responsibility – the raising of Godly and happy children.

Friday, August 18, 2006

First Day of High School Update

Heard in the car on the way home from High School:

"How was your day?"


"What did you do?"

"I can't really remember...not much..."

"Who's in your classes?"

"I'm not sure - lots of people I know though..."

"What did your teachers talk about?"

"I can't really remember. Oh yeah, I need a binder for biology..."

"Did you take any notes? They didn't discuss school supplies or give you a syllabus? Did you ask your Geometry teacher about the calculator you need? Do you have homework tonight?"

"Not really...oh yeah, there are these papers..."

High School son sets backpack, containing Student Planner, notebooks, highlighters, sharpened pencils, and color coded pens on the floor of the car.

High School son reaches into pocket and pulls out a wad of crumbled up papers, containing essential data.

It's nice to know some things never change.

I'm learning to play the "Mom of a High School Student" game. Later in the day, on the way to football practice, I did have a more fulfilling conversation with Eric about his day, but it took a little effort on my part. We went through each class on his schedule and specifically discussed the teacher, his fellow students, and the important facts given during the day. "Ask me specific questions Mom," Eric said.

I should have known that this is the way he's always been - he will share, when he's ready. It doesn't come on my time schedule. It helps if he's rested a bit and been recently fed and watered (like a toddler???). I believe that our family dinner hour is going to become more essential than ever this year - that seems to be our best time for conversations. Granted, it may happen at 8:30 pm most nights owing to football practice, but I need to do my best to provide that time for each of us to get caught up with one another.

So Eric has a break from school until Tuesday, when he will hit campus "for real" for the very first time with all the upperclassmen on campus too. In the mean time, I need to sharpen my skills at communicating with a tired, hungry teenage son.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eric's First Day of High School

The lump forms in your throat. The tightness spreads across your chest. Your stomach churns, exhibiting the anxiety you feel inside. Tears form in your eyes, threatening to spill over and stain the new shirt you're wearing to mark the special nature of this day, but you hold them back because you don't want anyone to see them.

You're nervous about what lies ahead - it's the first day of High School.

And you've just dropped your son off to begin the next phase of his life, his journey away from you and towards his own destiny.

I'm sure the feelings I was having in the High School parking lot were commonplace this morning, as much among the students as among the parents. For High School parents who are veterans, this being their third or fourth child, their cars barely slowed as the kids vaulted from front seats of SUVs. But then there were the rookies like me - those sending our eldest off into the future for the very first time. It feels so monumental to us, like such a big step. I watched one father get out of the car, gently place his daughter's backpack on her shoulder and kiss her goodbye. As she walked away, I watched him closely and saw the tell-tale wipe of the eye and knew he was sharing my feelings too.

The kids are probably equally as nervous, but it's uncool to show it. Eric and I had a great drive to school, me reviewing the rules in the student handbook, reminding him to be good to his teachers, cautioning him about whom he should avoid sitting next to, and stuffing extra dollar bills in his backpack lest he starve to death before pick up time at 1:15.

Arriving at school, the backpack became a point of contention. His contained a few minimal essentials: his planner, a notebook, some pens and pencils, and the forms he was supposed to turn in today.

"Mom, no one else has a backpack," he argued. And he was right - probably 75% of them had nothing in hand but the forms.

"You need a notebook to take notes of the supplies you're supposed to buy, a pen to write with, and your planner has your schedule written in it. Plus, your teachers will be giving you handouts and I don't want to find them wadded up in your pockets. Humor me, take the backpack..."

"OK Mom, I love you."

And then he was gone - out of the car and immersed in a cluster of his gradeschool classmates, standing next to the one other boy carrying a backpack. A Mom can tell by the look on her child's face what he's feeling inside - the quick lick of his lips and sideways cast of his eyes confirmed for me the nerves he was feeling. No one else would probably see them, but I recognize the symptoms.

Time to go, I'd said my goodbyes, but for some reason I sat paralyzed in the parking lot, unable to move away. I sat and watched him for a few minutes as the clock ticked towards the 8:00 bell. "Better get moving," I thought. "You don't want to be late on the first day."

"Maybe they don't know how late it is," I considered. "I could just jump out of this car really quick and remind them they'd better be moving along to class."

I'm sure that would have gone over really well!

So I took a deep breath, said a final prayer for Eric (and for myself), and pulled away from the parking lot. Letting the tears flow, I called my sister Erin for moral support. Her two year old, Evan, is still in the phase where everyone comes second to Mommy. In Erin's life, separation anxiety is as it should be - the son crying when the Mom walks away, not the opposite as it is in my case.

Now that my tears have fallen and I've accepted that I'm not saying goodbye to Eric forever, but rather just for five and half hours, I've begun to remind myself of all of the fun and excitement the next four years will hold for him. He will be attending a wonderful Catholic school and will grow academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually beyond what I can even imagine today.

On the day I first walked Eric to Kindergarten, I could never have envisioned the friendships he would forge, the success that he would experience, and the fine young man he would become. Today is the same - I will look back on the commencement of his high school career four years from now and recall this moment with fondness.

And then I'll drop him off at college.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Surviving Your High School Reunion

Dear Class of 1982,

I just got home from my 25th Reunion from Mater Dei High School and I wanted to share a few words of wisdom with those of you who might be contemplating taking the plunge and attending your reunion next year. I have to preface this by saying that I was a skeptic and a reunion newbie - this was my very first high school reunion!

The following are my tips for you, to ensure a fun and stress free reunion experience:

1. Go with friends - My attendance at this event was owing to a friend who took the lead and convinced as many people as she could to participate. Like me, she had never been to a reunion and figured 25 was a great place to start. I took the drive down to Orange County and spent the day with my two good friends from high school. We actually turned the reunion into a slumber party, which was much more fun than attending only the party itself. It also afforded a lot more chance for deeper conversation with the friends I cared most about seeing.

2. Don't worry about your appearance - Everyone has changed in the last 25 years! We Moms can tend to go into these types of events thinking, "Hey, I can lose 25 pounds by then, no problem!" That type of stress dieting frequently results in pounds gained and lower self esteem. If you're happy, genuinely, happy, with your life, it shows in your face. My Daddy taught me to wear a big smile at shindigs like this, and I'm convinced it helps. I wore an old dress I love (hey, these people haven't seen it!), comfortable shoes, and the tan I picked up at my sister's beach house. I'm sure I wasn't the prettiest, thinnest or youngest looking girl at the reunion, but I wasn't those things in high school either. This difference is that now, it doesn't seem to make as big a difference to me as it did back then. The friends I met at the reunion came in all shapes and sizes. Do I remember what haircut they had or what clothes they were wearing? No - I remember their kids names, where they live now, and the stories they shared.

3. Go visit your old high school - For me, one of the highlights of the day was the trip our friend Cheryl led over to Mater Dei. It was great to see how the campus has grown and flourished. It was also fun to reminisce about places on campus we'd been and things we'd done. I have a terrible memory, but visiting campus brought back a few vivid images and helped me emotionally prepare for the evening Reunion party.

4. Don't drink too much - This should be a no-brainer, but apparently it isn't. Monitor what you're drinking and eat a good meal before you go, because you probably won't eat much at the party. It's a terrible thing to not see someone for 25 years and then be left with the mental image of them drunk for the next 25. Also, if you plan to drink, PLEASE arrange for a designated driver.

5. Have Fun - Talk with everyone, even the people you don't remember or never met in high school. Some of my favorite conversations of the evening were with people I was meeting for the first time. Our class was large, so there were many people in attendance I'd never met before. Everyone has a story to tell! I met the class science geek who now has long hair, is the CEO of a company and the lead singer and guitarist in his own rock band. I another woman who turned out to be good friends with someone I'd lost touch with long ago - thanks to that conversation I now have my old friend's contact information. It was so fun to meet and enjoy so many interesting personalities, and to savor the connection we shared during our formative years.

So, Class of '82, despite your fears or worries, you should start making plans now to attend your big reunion next year. Be the friend who calls everyone up and says, "Let's go, and you can sleep at my house!". You'll be glad you did!

Class of 1981

Friday, August 11, 2006

Patron Saint of Checkers???

"Mr. Checkers" of the World Checkers Museum has declared the answer to be St. Therese of Lisieux.

Wow, you learn somthing new every day!

How Do They Do It???

Moms are truly amazing! I just spent two weeks in the company of my sister, who is - in my estimation - a superhero. She's chasing an active two year old while eight months pregnant and a mega-star partner in her law firm.

Another one of my Mom superheroes is Danielle Bean, whose blog I visit on a daily basis. Danielle, too, is expecting a new addition. In a recent blog entry, Danielle shared that she is taking on the role of Senior Editor for the fabulous Faith and Family Magazine. In addition, she's working on a new book for Pauline. This is on top of being Mom to seven wonderful kids and a homeschooler! Yikes, does she ever sleep? I simply love Danielle's writing and am thrilled to hear about her continued success and good fortune. I'm also looking forward to promoting her next book at!

Here's to all of the Moms in our world, who keep things running in their own little corners of society. For the working moms, the at home moms, the single moms, and those yet to be moms - you inspire me to do more, and to do it better.

Of course, my biggest inspiration always comes from my own're the best! Thanks for all you continue to do for me and my brothers and sisters - we love you, and I know we don't tell you frequently enough how much we appreciate you. Thank you for always being present for us, and for the many ways in which you support and nurture us.

Media Moment

A huge thank you to Denise Gorski of Michigan Catholic Radio's Living Stone's Show for hand-holding me through my first "media" moment this morning.

Denise's show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 8:30 am. I'm not sure when my show will be airing, but the experience of speaking with Denise about was a tremendous pleasure. It was such a joy to speak about all of our columnists, about Elyse who makes our worksheets, about our many contributing authors and the great Catholic musicians we promote. It makes me ambitious to do a bit more outreach to promote the wonderful resources so many women are offering at

I'm hoping I sounded coherent, as the interview was conducted fairly early this morning. Regardless, I had a great time! Thanks again Denise! I will let you know when the show will be airing and you can listen online if you're interested.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Patron Saint of Checkers???

OK, saint experts, does anyone have an answer to the following email query I received today? I've exhausted my normal channels and I'm stumped!

Good evening Lisa from the World of Checkers Museum. Today we received an
email asking us to name the Catholic saint who loved playing checkers and he
was far from being an obscure saint. His name is very familiar to all Catholics. His checkerboard was kept at the reliquary. Please let us hear from
you if you can assit us with this question. Don


Please say a little prayer for me...I have two events in the next two days which are causing me a bit of nervousness.

Tomorrow morning at 7 am California time, I'm being interviewed by Denise Gorski of Michigan Catholic Radio for her Living Stones show. Blessedly, the interview is being taped, not live, so that gives me a bit more confidence. This is my first "on air" interview for and it should be a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about our great columnists, the many authors and musicians we promote, and the kids' activities we are offering. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit will be on call to help me find the right words!

On Saturday, I'm zipping down to Orange County for the night to attend my 25th high school reunion from Mater Dei High School. I am going with two wonderful friends from high school, but this is my first time attending a reunion so I'm a bit nervous. I'm also astounded by how old I am! Yesterday, I was telling my fiddle teacher about the reunion and he said, "Wow, you've been out of high school longer than I've been alive!" Lucky for him he's such a good teacher, or I would have smacked him! Friends locally tell me that reunions are very fun, and that I have nothing to worry about. I'm hoping for nametags and a glass of wine to help ease the nerves!

Uniform Shopping

I've been in denial about the commencement of the coming school year, which begins here next Thursday for Eric, who will have his Freshman Orientation at High School. Seeing that in writing gives me an anxiety attack on many levels.

Our local school uniform supplier always has a big sale in June, rewarding the Moms who don't procrastinate until the last hour buying school uniforms. I never make it to the sale - telling myself that the boys may grow over the summer. Actually, this year it's a good thing that I did put it off: Eric has grown so much this summer that I'm sure anything I bought in June would be too small.

So today, it's time to pay the piper. Both boys are getting dragged to the uniform store for our annual "back to school" shopping. Knowing friends who have teenage daughters going off to public high schools, I guess I shouldn't whine too much about the one hour I will spend buying khaki shorts and polo shirts!

But I'm still not ready to go back to school!

Glad to be home and praying for travelers

Trying to make sense of the many things happening in our world today seems so complex. My only coherent thought is to pray, hard, for peace in our world. I'm very happy that our flight, and my mother's flight, were earlier this week. Traveling today would be stressful and scary. I'm praying for all travelers and for Our Lady's intercession for peace and an end to war.

Praying on the Go

As a busy wife and mother, I frequently lament my lack of consistent prayer time. I recently had a great conversation with a sixty-something year old grandmother, who shared with me about her Morning Prayer ritual. She described the corner nook in her bedroom where a cozy, overstuffed chair welcomed her each morning for her sunrise meditation. Tea in hand, she greets each day with an hour long session of spiritual reading, silent meditation and prayer. Her children are grown and her morning hours are her own to plan - she prioritizes her prayer time at the beginning of each new day.

Despite my best efforts, I must confess to frequently neglecting a long period of prayer and meditation each morning. That time all too often gets eaten up by parental duties and work, as I race to complete the multitude of tasks that litter a Mom's daily "to do" list in the limited hours of each day. There never seems to be enough time – intellectually and spiritually I know that prayer is tantamount to what I consider to be a “good day” – it is the key ingredient to my existence. But unlike my woman friend and her cozy morning ritual, my prayers seem to happen more often “on the fly”. I call on God frequently each day, but rarely from the seat of a chair. More often it’s in a parking lot, a supermarket, aside a sports field, or even while I’m brushing my teeth. I’ve long been concerned about making these prayers “count”, about making them substantive, rather than simply plaintive.  

A new book out from award winning author Barbara Bartocci has breathed fresh air and energy in to my prayer life. In Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray (Morehouse Publishing, paperback, 98 pages, May 2006), Bartocci acknowledges life’s frantic pace and offers her readers support and encouragement for making active, frequent prayer a part of their lives. In the beginning of the book, Bartocci describes her own frustration over trying to lead a truly spiritual life. With the following words, Bartocci hits at the heart of what, in my book, makes her Grace on the Go so special: 

“And I realized that “living spiritually” is not something that exists out there. It’s a commitment to make our lives – as they unfold – a gift to God.”

Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray is not like other tomes on prayer I’ve seen – it’s designed to be read in small bits. From its diminutive 2.6 ounce design to its format of being written in small segments, the book lends itself to any active life. Tuck it into your purse or diaper bag. Slip it into the front zipper pocket of your organizer. Set it in the glove compartment or cup holder of your car. Then pick it up and dive in. It doesn’t matter which page you land on when you open the book – you’ll find immediate inspiration and motivation. I’ve been enjoying and frequently reading it during my daily activities and have found it to be a wonderful spiritual resource.
In the closing pages of the book, Barbara Bartocci references Mother Theresa's statement that the busier her life became, the greater her need for prayer. The same holds true for you and I - grace comes in finding moments each day, no matter where life puts us, to turn our hearts to God.

For more information on Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray visit Amazon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Help Your Child Make and Keep Friends

I'm lucky - my boys' best friends live at my house! Eric and Adam, separated by three years in age, get along famously. We do have buddies over for visits, but I never have a boy whining for a friend to come over because the two of them enjoy hanging out together so much.

It was really a joy to see them reconnected after our recent weeks of separation due to Adam's and my journey to the Midwest. I expect them to spend the remainder of summer with each other (as often as Eric's football schedule permits!).

I read an interesting article this morning from OSV's new "Take Out" newsletter on helping your child to create and maintain friendships. Click here to read the article online. In our age, where a "friend" is a statistic on social networking sites like Myspace, it's great to stress to our children the true value of friendship.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Prayer Podcasts for Kids

Thanks to Deb for sharing the following great resource, which is a podcast you can use with your children/students to help them learn their prayers. Visit to check it out. When I have much more time and creative ability, this is the type of resource I'd love to add to Thanks Deb!

Catholic Nursing Mothers

A special thanks to Pam, who wrote to tell me about a wonderful new apostolate, the Catholic Nursing Mothers League.

From their web site:
The Catholic Nursing Mothers League was founded in April 2006 to provide encouragement and support to breastfeeding mothers and to educate families, parishes and society about the Roman Catholic Church's support for maternal nursing.

Our Mission - To increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding among Catholic mothers. To accomplish this mission, we will provide breastfeeding education and spiritual support to Catholic mothers, families and parishes.

This looks like a great, and much needed, support organization for Catholic families. Since I'm going to be an Auntie again next month to a baby who will be breastfed, I'm looking forward to exploring their resources and links.

Thanks for the heads up Pam!

A Note from Phyllis

Catholic author and academician Phyllis Zagano dropped me a note to share a link to an op ed piece she wrote regarding the recent "ordination" of female priests in Pittsburg. I found it quite interesting to read Phyllis' take on the situation and wanted to share the link here.

In other news, Phyllis shares that she has a new book coming out in September. Her latest, The Dominican Tradition (Spirituality in History), looks very interesting. If it's anything like Phyllis' earlier book, On Prayer, A Letter to My Godchild, I know that it will be wonderful!

Reader Request

Can anyone help with the following request?

Dear Lisa,
Please help me find a website that offered a kit to help students exercise their brains before doing school work. It had a balance board, beanbags to juggle, a ball on a string to be tapped with a wooden colored rod.
A Catholic mom in Texas

Post a comment or email me at if this sounds familiar. Thanks!

From the Mailbag

Reader Mark wrote to tell me about his web site, which has information on Divine Mercy and sells Divine Mercy Bumper Stickers in English and Spanish. If you'd like to visit Mark's site, click here

Back Home

But Overwhelmed........

If I owe you an email, please be patient with me for a few days while I dig myself out of the hole I'm buried in.

Our vacation was wonderful - I hope to share details and pictures here later in the week.

Hope you and yours are enjoying these waning days of summer vacation before the rush of the school year sets in!