Friday, June 29, 2007

Gone Campin'

The trailer is packed, the inflatable canoe is ready and the party awaits.

We're off for our first adventure in "dry camping"...that is foregoing the normal water and electrical hookups. This is a quick trip, as we have to be home tomorrow night for a 4th of July party. We are going up to Bass Lake, which is less thank an hour from our front door but feels like half a world away. I figured this would be a good experiment for my poor husband, who's not that psyched about roughing it.

Since we'll be gone for less than 24 hours, I'm figuring we'll all survive. I can't wait to sit around the campfire listening to my men playing their instruments (we have packed the guitar, mandolin and recorder) and enjoying the full moon.

Who has not found the heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God's residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.
Emily Dickinson

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's Your Organizational Secret?

At the Dumb Little Man this week, Leo Babuata offers "Seven Secrets of the Super Organized". As with most of the articles I read on this topic, I am left thinking:

"What's wrong with me! I know all of this stuff! Why not just do it?"

I enjoyed Leo's suggestion that in order to avoid being overwhelmed and frustrated at the start of trying to get yourself organized, you start slowly and in small steps. I think one of his best suggestions is "A Place for Everything". In 21 years of being married to my wonderful husband, I have never once known him to lose his keys. That is because they are always in one of three places - the ignition of his car, his pocket, or the special "key spot" in our bedroom. It's actually a little irritating to folks like me who like to be kept in suspense about the location of their car keys (kidding!).

One of my goals for the summer is to actually implement the many things I have read and learned about getting organized - that is going from reading about/writing about being organized to actually doing it!

Mom's To Do List

Over at her new blog, Embracing Motherhood, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle looks at the perennial conundrum that faces many Catholic moms at the end of a busy day. How can I feel so exhausted and overwhelmed, and then look at my "to do" list and realize I haven't crossed a single item off the list all day?

In her post A Mom's To Do List she offers support and insight for moms who may be lamenting the fact that they do not feel they have sufficient time for prayer, projects or even volunteer service. I'm sure this is a common feeling among families, whether they are moms or dads, Nannas or Gramps, or even our very busy kids. We must each remember that in serving one another lovingly and faithfully, we serve God as well. Little acts of humility and sacrifice offered with a loving heart and offered as prayer should be at the top of our "to do" list each day!

What Have You Done for Your Marriage Today?

That's the question being asked over at at new web site being sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The site has information for those preparing for Catholic marriage, and for those of us who are looking to truly nurture their marriages. It contains a great deal of inspirational information, including a "Daily Marriage Tip". Today's tip is one that could be a big help around the Hendey household:

Don't argue with anyone today - even if you're right.

If Only I Had a Daughter...

If I had a daughter and lived anywhere near Joliet, I'd definitely check out Meghan Frato's "In His Steps" Catholic Dance School. I love the fact that this school emphasizes purity and modesty in dance which gives glory to God. Having heard my friends discuss the costumes some of their children are made to wear for dance recitals these days, I think this is a wonderful idea. Too bad my boys are too grown up and live to far away for the "Sons of Thunder" boys tap class - I'll bet it's a blast!
Great job Miss Meghan! Keep up the beautiful work!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Major Apple Pumpitude

Get ready for some major Mac geekiness going on here at Catholic Mom Moments. Yesterday, I had my first meeting with my new "Personal Trainer".

No, I'm not paying $50 bucks an hour to one of those hulky guys at Bally's to stand next to me and count. I've enrolled in the One to One Training program at our new Apple store in Fresno. For $99, I purchased a year's subscription entitling me to a one hour per week tutorial session with a Mac expert in the store. I get to decide what I want to learn about and set my own pace. Finally, I may be able to start using my Macbook to her full potential.

Yesterday, in 46 minutes, my new trainer taught me a few digital photography tricks that have stumped me since I purchased the computer. I'd consulted all of my usual sources (dummies books, yahoo help, etc) to no avail. Within ten minutes, my trainer had answered most of my questions simply and had me looking at even better alternatives. I'm thrilled to have made this investment and am looking forward to my next session.

I initially hesitated to spend the money on this training, as I felt I should be able to master my new mac on my own. But after my first session and now seeing all the creative potential that lies within my computer waiting to be unlocked, I have no doubt that this was a wise decision. Have a Mac? Check out One to One Training and unlock your inner geek!

Ziploc Warning

Thank you to Jon for sending me an important email notifying me that the Ziploc Omelet post may be hazardous to your health. Please take a look at Ziploc Omelets May Be Toxic prior to planning an omelet feast!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ziploc Omelet

Thanks to Mary Kay from Wichita, KS, who sent me this fun recipe idea. I think this would be a great thing for us to try on a camping trip.

P.S. Can you tell I'm getting caught up on email today?


(This works great !!! The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet !!!) Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker. Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2). Shake to combine them. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of their choice to their bag ands hakes. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed. Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved In the process and a great conversation piece. Imagine having these ready the night before, and putting the bag in boiling water while you get ready. And in 14 minutes, you have a nice omelet for a quick breakfast!!!

New Blog for Catholic Webmasters

I recently learned of the new Web Catholic Blog which contains great news and links for Catholic webmasters. The blog is an offshoot of the very helpful Web Catholic newsletter from Every month when I receive that newsletter, I immediately click on their Parish Website of the Month and wish I had the time and technical knowledge to upgrade our parish site to be half as beautiful as the sites I see there.
I hope my fellow Catholic webmasters will visit the Web Catholic Blog and use it as a community for exchanging ideas and suggestions. I have subscribed to the RSS feed and look forward to watching the blog grow.

Helpful Homework Reference!

At least a few times a year, I get frantic telephone calls during the late evening hours from friends looking for help with their children's homework. It seems that in the spring, some religion teachers take to giving out crossword puzzles for homework. My friends all know that I have a bookcase full of Catholic reference resources, so I get the calls asking for the definition of obscure liturgical terms or the translation of Latin phrases. Now I can point my friends to, a nifty new site from Trinity Communications. The definitions on the site all come from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary. It seems like a handy resource for helping our children (and ourselves) learn new Catholic terms and definitions.

That Catholic Show, Episode #5

Hope you enjoy this latest installment of That Catholic Show. Greg and Jennifer have another great installment - enjoy learning more about the role of statues and icons in our faith. As a Holy Card collector, I loved the "Got It! Got It! Need It!" section at the beginning!

Who's Your Mentor?

Last week, I was stewing over a situation that arose related to a writing project. I spent a good half a day mulling over a particular question, then lost sleep later that night when a conclusion had still not arisen.

The next day, I was speaking with my mother on the telephone, and happened to mention the situation. I told her of my uncertainty and of the stress it was causing me. Her immediate advice was actually the perfect solution to my dilemma. Separated from the emotion of the situation, she was able to quickly come up with a resolution that I should have arrived at on my own.

Ninety nine times out of a hundred, this is the case. I should know by now that when confronted with issues like this, I need to automatically ask myself "WWMD?" "What would Mom do?" - I will admit to not always heeding her counsel, but she always provides an informed perspective.

Interestingly, my Mom's mentorship extends beyond parenting issues. I find her advice particularly salient on professional matters as well. Part of what makes this mentor relationship so helpful is the inherent trust that already exists between us. I don't fear that sharing a weakness or a problem will cause my mentor to respect me less, so I open up completely with her. By not holding back details, I am able to give her a clear picture of what is truly going on in a situation.

I have different mentors for different facets of my life, but my mother tends to be my most consistent source of wisdom. Perhaps this is because her faith perspective is always at the core of the advice she gives, and because she has such a good and giving heart. Ultimately, she believes in me enough to tell me what she really thinks.

Do you have a mentor? That person may not even realize that he or she plays the adviser role for you. Ask yourself today who you trust to turn to when you need good advice or simply a listening ear and a clear point of view.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The iPhone's Religious Parallels

Over at Busted Halo, Rocco Palmo is asking the question: "iPhone - God Machine or Tech Temptation?"

Anticipating the June 29th release of the latest and greatest Apple gadget, Palmo looks at the amount of time and energy that has been directed to this product. I will admit to having "coveted my neighbors' cell phone" as there's no way an iPhone fits into a work-at-home Catholic webmasters' budget. My newly opened local Apple store provides further temptation - just one bite of that fruit might make me the smartest, most productive Catholic mom around, right?!

I enjoyed the tone of Palmo's column for it's thought provoking look at why so many of us invest an almost religious fervor in our tech toys. It's also very interesting to hear a young man's take on how some of this might relate to our own Church's future.

Is my longing for an iPhone (which will go unfulfilled!) really all that different from my boy's "needing" Super Paper Mario game (the coolest, newest version) when they already have a Paper Mario (the tired old version) game that works perfectly well?

Probably not...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Widget of the Day - iGoogle

I have been goofing around this morning with iGoogle , a dynamic homepage offered by Google. If you're a big Google user, you will enjoy how you can use this homepage to access all of your G services, such as gmail and google calendar. One wonderful feature is the ability to add "tabs" related to your area of interest. Near the top left hand corner, click on the button which says "Add a tab". When you are prompted, enter the name of a topic in which you are interested. I added tabs this morning for Catholic and Weight Watchers. iGoogle automatically created a page full of helpful widgets and gadgets for each of these topics. On my new Catholic page, I have Catholic headlines, news stories, daily readings, today's saint, a search widget for New Advent and more. Under Weight Watchers, I can track my weight, caloric intake, BMI, daily exercise and more. Based on the widgets you enjoy using, you can select and add other new features to your home page or tabs.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Priest Podcasts About Time Management Issues

This morning, while working on my parish's web site, I was listening to the latest installment of Fr. Roderick's Daily Breakfast . I love Fr. Roderick for his infectious enthusiasm, and also for the fact that he frequently discusses time management topics. In this episode, Fr. Roderick discusses many productivity issues, including gmail, google calendar, entourage, and the endless quest we each have to get caught up on our email. He's got some great tips, but the best thing is that his enthusiasm for being a better steward of his time is very motivational. If you don't have an iPod, you can listen to the Daily Breakfast online at the site. It's well worth the 30 minutes you'll spend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 Commandments of Driving

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. Despite my best intentions and better judgment, I am guilty of breaking Drivers' Commandment #6:

Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

I have been present in the car with a fifteen year old with a drivers' permit who really wants to learn how to drive, but who scares the heck out of me!"

For anyone who spends as much time in the car as I do, yesterday's news of the "10 Commandments of Driving" offers yet another opportunity to look at life's simplest details as opportunities for grace and service. If you haven't heard of the document released yesterday, you can get the CNS reader's digest version below or read the document in its 59 page entirety online. In seriousness, I think this document holds important messages that need to be reinforced in our "car crazy" society. I'm just surprised there wasn't a commandment outlawing talking on the cell phone while driving - then I would really have been in trouble!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Time Tip for Moms

Over at Embracing Motherhood, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle offers a great time tip from one of her readers, Karen Edmisten . Karen shares about how she manages to get out of her home and to her intended destination on a timely basis.

Karen's suggestion got me thinking about time management in my particular family. I'm a habitually early person. Being someplace "on time" makes me nervous - I just prefer to be there at least five minutes early. My husband, on the other hand, considers it good time management to arrive exactly promptly, but never early.

One wonderful compromise has happened around our Mass arrival time. Since Greg and my son Eric play guitar at Mass, they actually need to arrive about thirty minutes prior to the start of Mass to get set up and tuned. It is a blessing for me because that thirty minutes gives me time to sit quietly prior to Mass, meditating upon the readings and getting my brain into the right frame of mind to anticipate the Eucharist.

Are you early, late, or right on time? Do you have added stress in your life because you're chronically running late? Check out Donna-Marie's blog and see if Karen's tip might be of help to you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Fitness Focus: Do You Know Your BMI?

If you hop on the scale every Monday and assess your health and fitness based on the number you see there, you may be missing out on a lot of important information. In conjunction with your physician's recommendations, one helpful piece of information to know is your "BMI" or Body Mass Index. According to the CDC, "Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems."

Do you know your BMI? You can calculate it freely and easily today:

  • Centers for Disease Control BMI Information and Calculator - This web site contains much helpful information, including a BMI calculator for children and teens based on their gender and age information. This calculator will not give you your exact BMI number, but will give you the range in which your BMI falls. Helpful interpretive information is included.
  • Weight Watchers BMI Calculator - If you're one of those people who wants to know the exact number of your BMI, you can use the WW calculator free of charge or obligation.
Once you know your BMI, it's time to start taking baby steps towards health and fitness under the supervision of your health care professional. If you are already at a healthy weight, the information provided on the CDC page will help you greatly in looking at the overall health of your family and coming up with strategies for success.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daddy's Girl

Happy Father's Day to the world's best Daddy!

With love and moose smoochies,
Your Favorite!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Clutter Challenge

I am not an Oprah viewer, but I read online about the 10 week Clutter Challenge that is currently taking place over on and it made me pause and think about how much clutter I have in my life. I am the daughter of a woman who still has our Barbies and a whole bunch of vintage Star Wars figures, so it's natural that my 15 and 12 year old sons still have a "play room" that is filled to the gills with legos, Thomas the Tank engine toys, and an entire platoon of Batmen and Supermen.

This being the summer, it's the perfect time for me to boost my productivity by closely examining some of the "stuff" that is taking up space in both my house and my brain. Here are some helpful resources for Clutter Busting:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Creating Change in Our Lives

Today, I celebrate my 44th birthday. However, of more import to me is the fact that today my family also celebrates 14 years of living in Fresno. At first glance, that may seem like an insignificant thing to celebrate. But each year, on June 15th, I recall my 30th birthday with a bit of pride and nostalgia.

On my 30th birthday, my son Eric and I bid goodbye to my husband who stayed behind in Los Angeles with the movers and to work a few last shifts as an Emergency Medicine resident. Toddler in tow, I hit the road with two sleeping bags, a couple of lawn chairs, a TV, a VCR and a handful of Barney videos. We drove the four hours north to a town where I knew no one and moved into an apartment that turned out to be overrun frequently by ants. Eric had a bad case of the chicken pox, so he and I were sequestered in the empty apartment trying to avoid the 100 plus degree scorching heat outside. I was turning 30 alone, in a place where I knew not a soul, with an infectious kid and an irritating purple dinosaur. I was not a happy camper.

I permitted myself the length of one “Barney and Friends” episode to have a good, old fashioned pity party. I cried for the friends I had left behind, for the lack of a beach within bike riding distance, and most of all for the widening gulf between myself and my parents who remained behind in Southern California. I sobbed over the fact that my baby now had no playmates and that he would like suffer from heat prostration in our new hometown. I lamented the fact that at thirty years of age (ancient, right?) and in possession of a Master’s degree and several years of professional experience, the most important duty I would have that day was to make sure my toddler had fresh diapers and didn’t fall down the stairs of our new town home. What had I become?

As Barney sang the “clean up” song in the background and the closing credits rolled, I grabbed a handful of toilet paper (I hadn’t packed Kleenex) and the yellow pages. Then I did something which still makes me proud fourteen years later – I opened the phone book and started making phone calls, looking for friends and activities. I called the local parish, the newcomers club, the YWCA, the library and even the local Catholic hospital looking for a new life for Eric, Greg and I. Within a few hours, my calendar for the coming week held an activity for each morning and my heart held a spirit of optimism and hope.

Tonight, I will celebrate my birthday with a friend I met at a playgroup that very first week in Fresno. My life is full, happy, and blessed. I am glad that I took the responsibility on that 30th birthday to fully engage myself in my new home and in cultivating a new set of relationships that have stood the test of time.

Sometimes life deals us blows that make us sad, bitter, or unhappy. Frequently, the circumstances of those “bad times” are beyond the scope of our own control. But other times, our destiny lies in our own hands. We simply have to make the decision to be happy and then follow the baby steps to get there. My parents have taught me that sometimes the best solution to “shaking up” our own unhappiness lies in looking to be of service to others. Whether it’s a job situation, a house so cluttered with junk that you can barely walk through it, a body in need of twenty fewer pounds, or a spiritual dryness that has us down, we can all look both to God who loves us and within ourselves for that decision to make a change today.

So today, although my body is one year older, I mark the fourteenth anniversary of deciding to be happy, and of building a happy home for my family – now, that’s something to celebrate!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Too Good Not to Share

I am taking a break this summer from posting new columns at, but this arrived in my mailbox today from our Jelly Mom columnist Lisa Barker. Lisa always makes me laugh out loud - but there was something just so very right about this particular column. Maybe it's the fact that I'm feeling a little "sensitive" today in anticipation of my 44th birthday tomorrow, but I just loved the conclusion to which this column came. Enjoy!

Reunion Blues
©Lisa Barker

Recently I went shopping for some special occasion outfits. I dressed up because I thought it might help salvage my dignity in case I didn’t find anything flattering to buy.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a tunic dress is not the style for me...unless I want to look like a snake that swallowed a rat.

Baby doll dresses make me look like I’m having a baby.

So I decided to take my mom up on her suggestion and try on today’s version of a corset to help me slim the appearance of my mid-section. Have you ever watched a balloon artist? That’s what I looked like – a human balloon squeezed tightly in the middle.

Yes, it did slim my belly. However it also divided the rolls of fat on my back and I popped out of both the top and bottom.

This is not nearly as flattering as the super spandex underwear that sucks in your lumpiness from the knee to just beneath the breast. It made me look like an over-inflated cyclist and I am fairly certain that my legs turned a shade of purple and blue.

I almost bought them. I thought that maybe I could pass it off as a tan. Any color is better than translucent.

Instead I shucked off the Nazi underwear from h-e-double hockey sticks, hung the withered and deflated thing back on the rack and slinked off, mortified.

Why did I put myself through all that? Four words. Twentieth High School Reunion.

To decide on an outfit for your high school reunion is to determine who you have become. I know who I am, but I won’t have the usual accessories when I go to the reunion, which means I won’t be hollering for those accessories to sit down and be quiet.

Like many moms, my kids define who I am. A high school reunion can be an opportunity to define who we are without kids. Mrs. Potato Head.

Mrs. Potato Head is lumpy and pear-shaped (with a great tan). I am the peeled version. I have large shoes and a large purse. I have an expression for every occasion if I combine the right smile and set of eyes. But I have nothing to wear to my reunion!

Yes, my closet is full of dresses but they are too big for the girl I used to be. And then it occurs to me. Why would I want to be that girl anyway? She was shy, awkward and terrified of the future. She wanted to be funny, speak her mind and feel good in her own skin.

She wanted to be who I have become. I think I’ll just go as me.

Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, mother of five and author of "Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane... Doesn't Mean You Are A Bad Parent!" and is syndicated through Parent To Parent™. To publish Jelly Mom™, buy the book or leave comments, please visit Sign up for the complimentary Jelly Mom™ weekly newsletter and receive a BONUS GIFT!

Laughing with the Saints

You all know how much I loved the book My Life With the Saints by Fr. James Martin. For that reason, I was thrilled when Fr. Jim sent me a You Tube link this week to a series of great videos. The following is part one of three of Fr. Martin and the recent RBTE Conference in Chicago. Since I have yet to meet Fr. Jim in person, this is the next best thing. Enjoy Part One here, and then check out the other two over at You Tube. If you haven't yet read Fr. Martin's book, please do yourself a favor and get it! You will definitely enjoy it.

P.S. For those unfamiliar with You Tube, just click on that arrow in the center of the picture and the video will start.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Your Chance to Weigh In

Spiritual Woman editor and Catholic Mom columnist Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has the "Today" article over at CE today and writes on the important topic "Can Moms Afford Not to Work?" Patrice takes on this sometimes contentious issue in a respectful and well thought out manner, addressing items that are of import to every parent. Make some time today to head over and share your comments.

Embracing Motherhood

The always lovely Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle had her first radio segment this morning with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection. This will be a monthly segment, so I promise to do a better job of reminding you next month when Donna will air so that we can all call in. I will admit to being rather tardy in responding to the slew of email I received this weekend when I was off goofing around at the beach. I'm hoping that maybe there will be an archive of Donna-Marie's segment - if so I will be sure to share that here.

In other news, she has just started a great new blog entitled "Embracing Motherhood". It looks to be off to a wonderful start. I always enjoy Donna-Marie's writing so much, so this new blog will definitely be a daily visit for me.

Back from the Beach

In case you haven't noticed, I've slipped into "summer mode" here at the blog. Posts may be sporadic for the next few months, as I'm prioritizing time with my boys this summer.

We had a wonderful weekend at the coast. For those not acquainted with the weather here in Fresno, summer means HOT! Today, it will be a cool 96 degrees and my eldest will be running around playing football in the height of the heat. Tomorrow, we expect 102. For that reason, Fresnans frequently flee to the cool sea air of the central coast whenever possible. This was our first camping adventure to Pismo Beach. It was a resounding success. The campground (Pismo Coast Village) was a bit crowded (probably with people from Fresno), but our site had great beach access. We took full advantage of it with super long walks on the beach at every possible opportunity. I also spent a few hours Saturday afternoon, in the ocean, boogie boarding. For some strange reason, my teenage boys didn't want to be seen near their 43 (for a few more days) year old mother, frolicking in the waves in a wet suit!

There is something so invigorating about swimming in the ocean - it is a pure adrenaline rush. The water was so cold that it stung my toes until I got used to it, tingling my senses. The waves were big enough to ride, but not so huge that you feel unsafe. As I was looking for the perfect wave for my last ride in on Saturday, floating around, legs dangling and hair a tangled mess, I had one of those "God is so awesome!" moments. They come frequently in my life, but particularly when I'm out in nature. Who else but God could have created such ultimate beauty, power and majesty? Who else but God could have created each of us, unique in our own humanity, to enjoy this lovely world to it's fullest? He is truly awesome!

I chose the photo above to share here because it truly symbolizes my boys right now. If you look carefully, you will see two set of legs even though you mainly see Eric in this photo. My boys are so close this summer. They spent much of their weekend, just like this, walking along the beach in deep conversation. Greg and I are rarely privy to these conversations, so I can't report on what they were talking about, although I have my guesses. I thank God daily for the fact that they have one another - a lifelong friend who will always care for and support them. Since I have this gift with my own siblings, I know it to be a treasure both great and rare.

We're back home now, which is good, but already longing for our next adventure! And watch out, this Mom is threatening to learn to surf next!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Life is Great!

Well, we survived the driving lesson intact! By the end of his two hour lesson, Eric had driven on both of the major roads near our house, changed lanes, and even made a U turn! Wow, I thought they would have him driving in parking lots the entire time. When he arrived home, Greg immediately went out with him again and let him drive. He said Eric is doing very well, but I think I might wait a week or two before I see for myself.

We're off for the weekend to go camping over in Pismo. I can't wait to walk on the beach and smell the ocean air! I've packed my wet suit, so I promise to take a dip for those of you in the midwest who don't have such easy access to the Pacific Ocean.

I'm going "laptop free" this weekend, so you won't hear from me again until Monday afternoon - I figured that I'd trying camping without electronics this time. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Prayers Please!

This is the site of my firstborn, driving out of my driveway for the very first time with his driver's training instructor. He has never been behind the wheel of a car (as far as I know) - I'm fairly sure he was as nervous as Mom and Dad were! The instructor seems good and competent. There's a brake on his side of the car, so that made feel a bit more secure.

I remember the first time Eric went for a walk on his on, and the first time he took an unsupervised bike ride. He was thrilled by the sense of independence and I was aching with nerves about what might happen to him. My feelings today are more a sense of awe that he's so very grown up, a bit of melancholy over the fact that this is yet another step towards his complete independence, and a happiness for him, that he is maturing into such a wonderful young man. Mix all of those feelings with a large amount of hope that traffic in my surrounding neighborhood will be light for the next two hours and devoid of any large trucks carrying flammable materials.

As I write this, it is 1:16 pm and Eric will return home from this training at 3:00. Let's hope we all survive!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Offering It Up" with Style

At least once a week, I have the treat of going to my post office box and finding something truly wonderful waiting for me there. Today, I was so happy to find a shipment from Mary Beth Hercules, founder and creator of Good Deed Beads Sacrifice Bracelets.

Mary Beth's bracelets are based upon the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux and her little way.

As a child, St. Therese of Lisieux used similar beads to count the “gifts” she offered to God each day. Use the beads to count the times that a temptation, such as showing impatience or anger, is rejected. These little sacrifices can then be offered to God for a predetermined intention, such as the health of a friend.

I hope to feature an interview with Mary Beth very soon, but in the meantime, I would encourage you to make a visit to Good Deed Beads to check out her beautiful creations. I have only been wearing my bracelet for a few hours and I've already been asked about it three times. What a wonderful way to do good for others and to have the opportunity to share about St. Therese all at the same time!

Solanus Casey Video to Air on EWTN

Audrey Geyer, producer of the fascinating documentary The Healing Prophet: Solanus Casey wrote me today with the news that this interesting film will be airing in July on EWTN. July marks the 50th anniversary of Fr. Solanus' death. The film will air at 10 pm on July 25th. You may recall my interview with Audrey Geyer and my review of the video.

Our support of programs such as this one give filmmakers the motivation to continue to produce quality Catholic programs for our families. I'd love to hear about some of your favorite Catholic television shows or films. Email me or comment below with your suggestions.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Calling All Catholic Writers

Do you know what you're doing next May 29 - 30? I do! Why don't you join me and some of you Catholic Mom friends for the first annual RTBE Catholic Writers Conference in Chicago?! This wonderful initiative is being spearheaded by the talent Heidi Hess Saxton of Canticle Magazine. Heidi has all of the initial details at her blog, but I want to personally persuade as many of you as possible to try to take part in and support this event.

If you're like me, you may be saying, "Well, I'm not really a real writer: I've never published a book, so I probably am not qualified to attend."

This was my reaction a few years ago when I was able to attend a Catholic Writers Conference that used to be held here in California at Thomas Aquinas College. In fact, as Greg was dropping me off at the event I nearly chickened out! I felt like a total impostor, due to my lack of credentials. Well, needless to say, within five minutes of arriving I was thrilled I'd made the decision to attend. The opportunity to learn and to network with other Catholic writers whom I'd admired from afar was well worth the expense, the effort, and the case of nerves I had to face.

I still don't consider myself a "real" writer, but I'm committed to attending and to helping in the promotion and coordination of this greatly needed resource. Please visit Heidi's blog to view the preliminary details and to voice your support. I want a bunch of my Catholic Mom cyber buddies to be on board for this - what a thrill it would be to meet many of you in person!

Fun Summertime Contest

Our friend and Catholic Mom columnist Jodie Lynn has written to share about a fun contest she's running this month at Parent to Parent. Check out her site for all the details. Jodie shared the following:

NEW CONTEST - Just for kids! Sesame Street and Parent to Parent are happy to announce My Favorite Things! COME JOIN IN THE FUN and enter to win the newly released Sesame Street, Country Songs DVD, staring Elmo and his cousin Elmer! We've got 10 brand new DVDs to give away FREE, plus a GRAND PRIZE WINNER!

Howdy, partners! Join Elmo and his cousin Elmer in a Rootin’ Tootin’ Hootin’ Hollerin’ Country Jamboree! This DVD is packed with boot-stompin’ original songs plus many old favorites, familiar faces from Sesame Street , and some new friends too! Special guest stars include: Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, John Mceuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), John Popper (Blues Traveler), Allison Krauss and Johnny Cash!

Restrictions: Only one entry per household. Contest is currently only available in United States and is open to kids age 2 to 7 years old.

One Grand Prize WINNER will be selected for these special prizes:

* One Sesame Street Country Songs DVD
* Any ONE item from the Mom CEO Gift Shop, including any book
* $50.00 Amazon Gift Certificate


What? New Contest: My Favorite Things! Just for Kids (OK, parents allowed too, just in case you're too little to write).
When? June 01 to July 01, 2007
Why? Just because Sesame Street loves kids and so does Parent to Parent and we want you to be one of the 10 LUCKY WINNERS!
How? Send us a list of your favorite things to do in the summer:

* quickie recipe that you love that mom, dad or grandparent, makes especially for you (maybe you help too). Tell us why this is your favorite recipe
* favorite activity to do in the summer (and tell us why)
* a song you love to sing with mom, dad, grandparent, or whomever (and tell us why)

Just fill out the Parent to Parent Contact Form, Click on "Current Contest" and fire away! Don't worry about spelling or even the way you use words. We love you just as you are. Of course, no profanity allowed (but we know you wouldn't do that anyway). Don't forget to leave us your email address. If your entry is selected as a winner, we will need to contact you.

Listen to Donna-Marie!

Great news from Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle that she will be sharing the microphone on a monthly basis with the wonderful Teresa Tomeo. Donna-Marie writes:

Mark your calenders. Next Tuesday, June 12th will be the launch of my radio segment for MOMS with Teresa Tomeo on the "Catholic Connection" show on Ave Maria Radio! I will be on at 9:10 Am until 9:30 AM EASTERN time. Our topic will be "Passing on the faith to our children." We will discuss tips for prayer and how to deal with stresses of bringing our young ones to Church and more. You are invited to call into the show. Listen in LIVE here and feel welcome to give us your advice about how you pass the faith on to your kids.

Visit Donna-Marie's blog to post your comments and suggestions! Break a leg, girlfriend!

That Catholic Show Episode #4

Treat yourself to five minutes of fun and inspiration today by watching That Catholic Show Episode #4 - Charity and Mercy. It's a great reminder that the love and service we offer to one another in our home is so very important. It also contains one awesome pair of boots, some cool superhero pjs and some very funny bloopers!

The "Balancing Act"

Every parent I know occasionally struggles with the concept of balancing life correctly. Home vs. work issues, finding time for one's self, and feeling that you are completely giving your best to your spouse and your children are all issues that transcend gender lines. The issues may begin when children are young and one parent decides to commit to being at home full time. They may arise again when teens require additional attention for both supervision and nurturing an emotional connection. We all try our very best to give 110% of our time, energy and intentions to functioning well professionally while not neglecting our families. Even those who "stay at home" may feel challenged by the drain of life's daily commitments.

This week, while catching up on podcasts, I found an incredible gem over at the Rosary Army . In "Balancing Act" Jennifer shares about her conflict over wanting to be an integral part of the Rosary Army apostolate while at the same time being a full time mother to four very active young sons. Greg has recently transitioned to working full time for the apostolate from home, so this has really changed their household dynamics. The two hold a very frank and emotionally laden conversation during this podcast. I found myself wanting to call them and give them both virtual hugs! The issues they are discussing are at the core of so many of our hearts and minds.

Life truly is a balancing act. No two families or homes have the same set of circumstances. What works well in one home might be disastrous in another. Some "stay home", while others work in or out of the home. The common denominator is a deeply held desire to do our very best at both raising our families and using our God-given talents to bring Him glory and to share His love with others. I thank Greg and Jennifer for their honesty and for reminding the rest of us that we are never alone in the "balancing act" .

Monday, June 04, 2007

Eight Things Meme

I normally don't "do" memes, but I was tagged for this one by my good cyber-buddy Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. I've so enjoyed reading everyone else's answers that I thought I would share my own - maybe you'll learn a thing or two about me! Although, with as much as I share around here, very little is a secret!

Here are the rules of the meme: "For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog."

1. My favorite job in the world is being a wife and mom! I have an undergrad degree from Notre Dame and a Master's degree from Vanderbilt and spent several years working in human resources before "retiring" in 1991 when Eric was born. I was a very career oriented person and was "definitely going back to work" after my kids were born. Somehow, once I took a look at Eric, all of that career motivation got placed on the back burner. I do lots of stuff now, but when people ask me "What do you do?" my first answer is always, "I'm a mom!" My professional role model and personal hero is my own Mom.

2. I'm the oldest of five. My four siblings are my best friends, along with my husband and my parents. If given a choice, I'd rather party with my mom and dad than anyone else I know. My family is the core of my being - we are spread all over the country, but our hearts couldn't be any closer. I think of them and pray for them numerous times each day.

3. The first time I tried to go out with the love of my life he turned me down. Greg and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary last week. When we were juniors at Notre Dame, I was introduced to him by mutual friends. I had an instant crush! I tried to get my roommates to fix me up with him for an upcoming dance, but he claimed he had other plans (I guess he actually did.) I was devastated, but got over it and went on to lead an active social life. A year later, he finally asked me out and the rest is history! I'm married to the man God always intended for me, and being married to him gets better every day. My only other not-so-secret crushes are the 1980's version of Tom Cruise and Dan Abrams.

4. I'm a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers. Three years ago, I lost close to fifty pounds and have been working hard the past few years at keeping them off. I wear a size six now, but still visualize myself as a fourteen, probably because eating is so much fun! My favorite foods are Chicago style pizza, popcorn, ice cream and broccoli!

5. I love to read. I secretly would love to be the "Catholic Oprah" - it's not a deep desire to be a tv star, but rather the power she has to impact upon the best seller list that I envy. I'd love to tell everyone to read my favorite book by a Catholic author or listen to my favorite Catholic musician's new CD and have them run to Barnes and Noble to buy those items! I work as hard as I can to promote the wonderful work our Catholic artists are doing, but seem to have fallen tremendously short of "Oprah" status! But I'm going to keep trying!!!

6. My best (non-sister) girlfriend is Jewish. Fourteen years ago, I met Mara at a playgroup. I don't know if I'd ever really spoken in depth with a Jewish woman until that meeting. My upbringing was sooooo Catholic: Catholic grade school, high school at Mater Dei, and then four years at Notre Dame. A few years in Nashville for grad school taught me that not everyone is Catholic, but didn't prepare me for the joy and education of having an observant Jewish friend. I have learned so much from Mara in my relationship with her, not the least of which is an appreciation for the Jewish roots of our Catholic traditions. I am a better person thanks to this friendship, both emotionally and spiritually.

7. My favorite pastime is traveling. I love visiting new places and favorite spots. I love air travel, road trips, and camping. Maybe I'm part gypsy, because I really do think I could be content living out of my 23' trailer as long as I had my boys and my laptop along for the ride. I've traveled all over the United States thanks to the fact that my parents took us on amazing motor home trips growing up. Sadly, due to my hideous memory, I've forgotten many of those experiences. I spent time studying in France and the former Soviet Union and at one point was fairly fluent in French, Spanish and Russian. If given a choice I'd take a good trip over a pair of designer shoes any day!

8. I'm still learning about being a faith-filled Catholic and a better person every day. Each morning when I wake up, I pray in thanksgiving for all my day will hold, offering it in love to God for the many blessings in my life. I feel like I fall so short of being a good Christian in so many ways, but not for a lack of trying. I firmly believe that we can all change, that we can all become "the best versions of ourselves" (thank you Matthew Kelly!). I'm a long way from being the best version of myself, but each day is a treat trying to make an effort to get there. My relationship with Jesus is the most important one I will ever have. I strive daily to share my love for him with my family, my friends, and people I meet along life's path - not in a preachy kind of way, but in learning to spread love the way He did.

There, way more than you ever wanted to know about one crazy Catholic mom! If you're still reading this, feel free to share your own "meme" answers in the comments. I am too swamped to tag anyone and it looks like Donna-Marie and Heidi have already taken anyone I could have thought of!

Monday Fitness Focus: Play Like Your Kids

On Friday evening, I took a baby step from "Fencing Mom" (aka: one who watches her son fence) to "Fencer".

At my son Adam's fencing center, the coach now offers a once per week beginning lesson for parents or other interested adults. I've been trying to get to the class for a few months now, but Friday was my first opportunity. I thought it would be fun, and a way to understand what Adam experiences in his sport of choice. Guess what: I loved it! Aside from being a tremendously good workout, it also was a great stress reliever. There's nothing like waving a sword around at someone to help melt away the week's tension. I'm telling you, I think I'm hooked. Granted, I won't be making my way to the podium at the Summer Olympics any time soon, but I do want to explore the sport and continue my lessons.

How many times do we stand on the sidelines at a sporting event, yelling at our children or silently gasping when they make a slip up? I know I've watched Adam fence in the past and wonder why he needs to take breaks so frequently for water. Now I know!! After ten minutes in all of that gear, practicing lunges and footwork, I was ready for a break - and Adam's lesson lasts two hours!

So all you soccer moms and baseball dads, I'm urging you to take to the fields this summer. If you can join in on helping with your kids' practice, then do it! If your little one's "sport" is playing at the playground - jump in! Slide down the twisty slide, play in the sandbox, or swing! Today, in our backyard, Adam gave me my own private fencing lesson. He was thrilled to be the "coach" and I was helped greatly by some of the pointers he gave me.

Rather than standing by chatting or dropping off and picking up, take advantage of your kids' playing or practice time to fit in your own workout. Help the coach or walk or jog laps nearby rather than sitting in the car reading a book. It's a great thing for our children to see us being physically active. God created us, in His image, with all we need to walk, run and play - let's "just do it!"

Rites of Passage

Watch out world! Eric passed his Driver's License permit test this afternoon, so one more teenage driver is about to hit the road.

For some reason, as a Mom, this feels like a huge deal to me. Greg and I both accompanied Eric to the DMV (Dad humored me, realizing that I was feeling emotional over the outing) and thank goodness we had an appointment scheduled. While Eric was in taking his written test, I contemplated the enormity of the moment. In six months, he will have the ability to drive on his own. My days of waiting for him in parking lots or talking over his day with him on the way home from school will be altered forever.

I'm sure Eric can't wait! I remember how excited I was to get my license...we went off to take the test the day I turned 16. Eric's process has been delayed (possibly intentionally) three months by a procrastinating mother. Now that he has his permit, the next phase is in the car driver's training. Our California law states that he can not legally drive a car, even with mom or dad, until he's had two hours of formal training with a certified instructor. So on Thursday, a man will show up at our house and Eric will drive away with him. He will return two hours later, and then Greg and I (definitely Greg!) will be able to take him out to practice. The reality of our lives is that Eric will probably do most of his training with me, since I'm the one who normally drives him everywhere. Please pray for my nerves and for the aid of my already-overworked guardian angel, and Eric's too!

I still remember dropping Eric off at pre-school and secretly longing for a little of the separation anxiety his classmates were exhibiting. Without a backwards glance, two and a half year old Eric strode into the classroom and dove right in. That's his personality - he has supreme self confidence and wants to experience all the world has to offer. If he's afraid or anxious, he rarely shows it. I believe he will be an excellent driver, but I admit to being relieved that it's still six months away. The practice time will give him time to learn the skills necessary to be safe on the road, and will be a good transition for a mom who's never quite ready to let go.