Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {Just....Life}

~ Pretty ~
I adore this beautiful stained glass blue butterfly. It belonged to my Grammie and Grandpa Olenick and hung in their front picture window... I am so very glad that it now graces my kitchen window. It overlooks the bird feeders and garden (another love of my grandparents).

~ Happy ~
My sis sent us a silly song this morning and Max loved it. He watched the video and would giggle at parts of the song. This kid loves LOVES music. Thanks Aunt Ra-Ra! We love you.

~ Funny ~
This picture almost made it into the "Real" category as well. Several years ago, after multiple attempts to have my darling husband and son clean-out-your-pockets-or-you-will-break-the-machine, I realized that if I had to eventually clean out the pockets anyway, I may as well be paid for it. So this jar was born (Mom's Laundry Profits) and has bought more than one cup of java at Starbucks. Thanks boys.

~ Real ~
Ah yes. Max's corner of the room. He does love to read books, and for that I am grateful. However, the books, toys, and shoes add up to a persistent clutter that drives me a little mad. I go back and forth between crazily cleaning it up and in to the fun of it. 

Visit here to see other views of the world:
round button chicken

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daybook ~ {Early Fall}

Outside my window...
the sun is attempting to peek through clouds as the squirrels toss down empty walnut hulls. Birds are chattering, and in the distance, there is still the sound of chainsaws from the cleanup of Hurricane Irene. (I also notice that our dogwood tree is showing the slightest traces of red around the edges of the leaves. There are also berries. Joe and I need to do our nature study soon!)

I am thinking...
that I shouldn’t always think so much and that I have a wicked tendency to overthink. A lot. I also think that I need to get back to listening to my heart a little more. (I am blaming this on the beginning of the school year. That morning rush has me exhausted by 9 a.m. no matter how much I prepare the night before……)

I am thankful for...
such understanding, loving, Christ-centered teachers for Joe. They truly do love him. And I am especially thankful for my husband, Tom, who just GETS me. He knows my heart, and loves me even when I am wrestling with emotions and decisions and all the mess of the world. With a single look, I am again reminded  that he is my partner in life and love, my rock.

I am wearing...
a long-sleeved turquoise comfy shirt, capri’s, and my crazy hair  held back by my sunglasses. The humidity here makes it confusing as to what to wear….

From the kitchen...
possibly some oatmeal-raisin cookies, and a Mexican-inspired chicken cornbread casserole. I have a lot of leftover cornbread, so I may freeze some, too…

In the garden
I just cut some beautiful red zinnia’s. Not sure how much longer they will be around, but I love their cheery faces. I also need to pull up some of the tired tomato and pepper plants and then replant the box with some spinach.

I am creating...
a small mess. Because I am STILL de-cluttering. (Where does all this paper COME from??) However, I am also aware that in the process, I am attempting to creating a loving, grace-filled space for my family to call home.  I recognize that this is not an easy task, and that it takes time. And patience. Neither of which seem to be in abundance lately.

I am reading...
two new books for my “Weaving Women” book club at church. And oh. Wow. Some powerful, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching stuff here:

I am listening to...
the sweet chattering of birds and Mozart from Max’s room.

Around the house...
still de-cluttering. Every day I have taken a drawer or a stack or a pile and gone through it. And truthfully, I am frustrated because somehow, it never actually seems to get DONE. Also attempting to pack up baby clothes to give to a cousin or a nephew.  The best thing, though, is lighting candles that smell like Fall is here….You know, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and “Home Sweet Home”.

I am praying for:
…..continued guidance….
and for the healing and comfort of:
Fr. Mike

One of my favorite things...
Cleo and Sasha snuggled up

Gratefully linking in here: Simple Woman's Daybook

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Jedi Knight....(In God's Army)

This world can be scary. And because of that, I really try my hardest to continually teach my children about our God. Our faith. And I do that in some of the usual ways. We use Magnifikid to read the readings and Gospel for the week. (Joe loves the comic at the beginning of Brother Goodventure.) We also use storybooks, pray the rosary, and act out stories of the saints.

But lately. Well. Most everything has revolved around Star Wars. Joe has become enthralled with the idea of daring Jedi Knights and life in a galaxy that is far far away. In fact, it appears that everyone is really in Star Wars. This summer, he looked closely at one of his golf instructors and said, "Please don't think I'm being mean. But. You REALLY look like Obi Wan Ken-obi!" The sweet man just said, "Why thank you. At least I don't look like Chewbacca."

When I sat and thought about why this is so fascinating, I realized that maybe it's easier to focus on something that is not real. I clearly recognize how scary the idea of this world can be. (And truthfully, how scary God can be!) Even though I have come to understand the comfort of His love, and not just be overwhelmed by the power of Him. I can reason and question and cry, and come right back around. Because I have learned how to do that. But what about when you are a child? When you are nine, it's really about the power, isn't it?

As we were going over Religion vocabulary words the other day, Joe and I came across the word angel. A pure spirit who was created to glorify God. A messenger. Although he knew the definition, I could see that he was wrestling with the idea.

"Hey kiddo. Whatcha thinking?"

"Well. I just want to know WHY I can't be an angel. I would love to be able to be pure spirit. And. It would make it easier to go to a galaxy far far away."

AH. The whole Star Wars dilemma.....

"Joe. Don't you know that your soul is given by God? That your very spirit is real? You have the ability to share God's love in THIS galaxy. Let Luke take care of everyone else, and you be a warrior for God on our little planet. What do you think about that?"

"I guess so. You mean like a Jedi Knight for God? But I'm just nine."

"Yes. But remember, if God is in your heart, you, too, can do great things. Even at nine. I heard you tell Max about light sabres and I heard you tell him that light is good. Well isn't that like the light of Christ? Think about Star Wars and how you can be a Jedi for Him. And the force? Well. I like to think that the Holy Spirit is that driving force."

"OK mommy. I'll think about that. I will."

That's all I can ask really. That he continue to think about how his life makes a difference in this world. How his heart can be on fire for God no matter what. And if it takes Star Wars to help do it? Well.... that's OK, too.

May the force be with you!

Max as Jedi-in-training

Using the force...For God

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gratitude Multitudes ~ #451-485

  My husband Tom and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on Friday, and I cannot begin to describe the joyfulness in my heart for the gift of my husband. My gratitude to God for him is simply overflowing. To be gifted a companion so in tune with my heart? Yes. That is grace, indeed. (Grace....infused with unbelievable amounts of patience and love.)
    And I need to tell you a little story. On our wedding night, we needed to stop and pick up a few essentials (read: we forgot our toiletries bag). So here we are at 9 p.m. at night in a not-so-wonderful part of downtown Norfolk at the CVS. And it's pouring rain. When we were done shopping, Tom sheltered me as much as possible as we raced to the car in the pouring rain. Laughing. 

It was locked. 
With the keys inside.

     So back into the store we went to wait for the locksmith. The store was closing, and I believe that we even offered to help clean up. I am SURE that they thought we were crazy. Two dressed up people waiting for a locksmith. Still holding hands. Still laughing.

Only us.

     Fast forward 16 years. A lovely dinner out at Old Bookbinder's in downtown Richmond. Lovely, lively conversation of two people who never seem to run out of things to say....Holding hands. Laughing.

Then the sheer look of horror as he realizes....
No wallet.

     (And no. I didn't bring mine. He told me he was taking me out to dinner.)

Luckily, he found a credit card in my car. After much worry and "Can you believe this?" ... It worked out. 

But oh. I realize....the more things change, the more they stay the same. :) 

Only us. Still laughing. Still holding hands. And it's all good.

Linking up with Ann today.... and so grateful today for:

memories and laughter and togetherness
the gift of love
holding hands in the car
shelter from the storms of life
"Seek Ye First"
tulips and irises (love by mail)
homemade chicken soup
the last of the "red hot zinnias"
football weather
football parties
cheering on the Redskins
pizza night with Kellie
prayers whispered in the car
Opening Mass at Joe's new school
hugs from former colleagues
teachers who love my child
hugs from former students
laughter and silliness.....STILL
the look of understanding
another heart-felt talk with Whitney
making dinner for Whitney
salted caramel gelato
snuggling on the couch
old episodes of "Mad About You"
moonflowers that scent my porch
orange-red chrysanthemums
cinnamon spice candles
clear, cool evenings filled with birdsong
listening to"Old Yeller" on CD
Joe's laughter at the "silly yeller dog"
singing Sesame Street favorites
parties in the field
seeing new baby Brady
basil profusion
change of season


Friday, September 16, 2011

(A little bit more than) Five Minute Friday ~ {Joy}

For our 16th Anniversary ~ 

My dearest Tom,
Can you even begin to know the joy that you bring to my heart? To my life? To my spirit? No matter what happens in our day to day life together, I always love hearing your voice and your sweet way of making me feel that I am the only person in the world that you want to talk to. Your "Hey, Honey" makes my heart sing. 

And yes, you bring me JOY.

Remembering back to our wedding day, and seeing your adoring face at the end of the aisle. Waiting for me. You were all that I saw. And your radiated JOY. How I love that our Nuptial Mass with all of the readings and prayers and joy-filled songs that we chose together made our commitment a truly joyous celebration of our love. Our faith. Our connectedness to the God who brought us together, and to the holy host of others in that Communion of Saints. I clearly remember so many small moments of that day. 

The touch of your hand. 
The sweet whispered reminders of "it's just us. getting married. TODAY!"
The sound of your voice when you spoke vows directly to me.
The feel of you next to me as Paige sang "Ave Maria" as we knelt before the Blessed Mother. Together. As one. JOY.

(And our boys? Well. Talk about a whole lot of joy-filled goodness there. Our gifted by God children who continually make me laugh because I can see the silly you in them. JOY.)

And finally, I thank you for all of the ways that you have helped me navigate through this often scary world. So many moments of fear. Of just "not-knowing". Of broken dreams and brokenness. Somehow, you help me to laugh and cry at the same time so that the fear slides away and I can see that WE are so much stronger together. I can honestly say that I recognize how young we were and how it all could have gone wrong. But thank GOD that we have grown together. Grown in love. And yes, grown in JOY.

I thank my God for you, for you are indeed the "visible reminder of the invisible God." My own "Discovery" gift. :)

My life is yours, my love, for now and for forever. Joy indeed.

With all of my heart,

**A thousand pardons for taking more than 5 minutes today. SO much joy is in my heart, and this is just a fraction of what I need to/ want to say.....

Won’t you link up with us?
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Go a little overboard encouraging the writer who linked up before you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Harry. And pizza.

     I was one of those crazy people who was ecstatic about the release of every new Harry Potter book. I devoured them. I enjoyed walking with the characters and watching them develop, change, and yes, wrestle with jealousy, anger, and evil. Their struggles were real and the emotions even more real. And as a teacher, I loved the added fun of Latin-inspired vocabulary.  (I have to say that I wasn't exactly surprised by the backlash of nay-sayers who questioned whether or not you could be a "good Catholic" and read the books. Believe me, it is good to be cautious, to question, to wonder. But in all honesty, I believe that because these stories, these struggles of the heart contain such strong messages of love and redemption, that it outweighs the concerns about delving into magic or witchcraft.  This opinion helped to ease my heart a little as well.  Another mother who used the books for opening up a dialogue of real-world issues.)

Truly, I couldn't wait to share them with my children.... And now I have.

     Joe started reading the series last year and I watched and waited as he began to see those familiar struggles. Good vs. Evil. Hate vs. Love. 

And the discussions became real: 
"But mom, why IS Voldemort so hateful? Doesn't he have any love?"

 I waited to see if he would come up with his own answers. 

Eventually he came back and said: "Well. Is he kind of like the devil then? You know, turning against God?"  As we talked about what evil looks like, what love can conquer, and what the person of Jesus would do, I felt like it was all coming together. 

     And so, as he ended the third book last week, and as we prepared to watch the movie together, he asked if his cousin Kellie could come and watch with him. (Kellie is my husband Tom's 1st cousin, and a dear friend....)

     Joe called Kellie himself and invited her to watch in our "movie room" and said that mom would make pizzas that we could decorate ourselves. This is what it looked like that evening:

Joe "marking" the dough.

"Look. I can be a REAL pizza maker!"

Can you see the Death Eater pizza? That's Kellie's.
(Joe's is the one with spinach...)

     Oh. And being the wonderful cousin that she is, Kellie not only sent us a postcard from Harry Potter World (when she visited in Florida), but she thought about Joe while she was there and got him his own magic candy quill. Magic indeed. :

     It really was a wonderful evening full of good food, great family time, and yes, the magic that is Harry.

Friday, September 9, 2011

This moment {Playtime}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo several photos- no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A prayer (and a recipe) to warm the body and soul

      Before Joe begins his school day, we say prayers to help him calm and get ready for the day. We say the Hail Mary (sometimes several times) and the Guardian Angel prayer, along with any intentions that we may have. As I drove home today, I was thinking about other prayers that we could say, and I believe that this prayer is a beautiful way to begin the school year. It is from the dear St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)

What a beautiful way to place our lives in the hands of God, and to help turn our hearts toward others.....

And as the year turns to Fall, I pulled out one of my favorite recipes. The rain is coming down, it's a little cooler, and I realized that it is a perfect day for Autumn Soup. This recipe that I have is from my mother and is written in her beautiful handwriting.

Soon, my home will be full of the smell of this lovely soup, and along with it, memories of childhood. My sisters and I loved coming home and having this smell (and her wide smile) greet us at the door.

Autumn Soup ~ A "Beautiful" Soup

1 lb lean ground beef                        1 t bottled brown bouquet
1 chopped onion                                   1/4 t pepper 
4 c water                                                1 bay leaf
1 c carrots, cut                                       1/2 t basil
1 c diced celery                                      1 large can tomatoes w/juice
1 c cubed potatoes
2 t salt

In a large saucepan, cook and stir meat until brown. Drain well. Cook and stir onions with meat for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except tomatoes; heat to gentle boiling.
Reduce heat; cover and cook for 20-25 min. Add tomatoes; cover and simmer 10 more min. until veg. are tender  ~ Serves 6

NOTE: Have fun with this soup. Add corn for yellow, turnip and parsnips for off-white, winter squash or pumpkin for orange. Those vegetables can be boiled in a separate pan and then added into the mixture.

I love her added note. It's the artist in her.... And come to think of it, this really is a beautiful soup....

May you have a beautiful start to the school year, no matter what "school" is for you... Blessings...

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