Wednesday, November 30, 2011


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swing Time of Life

Is it just me? Do you find that swinging makes you feel dizzy?
  And does it then make your heart feel just a little bit sad? 

One of my very favorite past times was to "go swinging" with my sisters. We would try to go as high as we could and touch the very clouds. (For me, I secretly hoped that I could get Grandpa to reach down and say hello....maybe just ONCE.) 

I remember the metal swing set that my dad put in with the help of friends. It was PAINFUL to wait for the concrete to set up! It came complete with rings and a trapeze, because, well, we WERE going to be gymnasts like Mary Lou Retton after all. (I am sure that in today's world, it would be considered entirely too dangerous, just like merry-go-rounds and slides.... SIGH. Really?)

Lance wanting to "ride a horse".
And then. Well. Then we would lay back and come swooshing toward the ground and yet somehow be stopped from banging our heads at the very last moment. Laughing and giggling and feeling the wind on our faces remains one of my favorite memories. Lying on our stomachs, then, and hanging our heads down until we were so dizzy that we collapsed on the ground.
As I looked at the pictures that I took over the Thanksgiving weekend, I realized that almost three quarters of them are of kids in swings. The laughing-silly-rush-of-life smiles just make my heart melt. 
Lucy said, "WOW. I really am a little big!"
So why is it that I was drawn to this? 
Was it the feeling of freedom that comes with it? 
The memory of easier times? 
The sheer look of joy on their faces. 
Maybe that and so much more.... because then there was this:

As I was fitting Max into his seat, I look over, and there is Lucy and my mom, Nana, swinging together. Attempting to get comfortable on a small piece of rubber swing... My heart swelled to see my niece and my mom being so silly. It made me remember doing the same thing with her when I was a kid. 

And then it hit me. It really wasn't about being comfortable on that swing. 

It was about just being together. Just being. Being together.

So that's it! Swinging in and of itself was fun. Yes. But not just that. It was because I never really went swinging by myself. 
I was with my sisters. 
...with Carol and her sisters
Or.... mom or dad. Someone shared the experience. They made it richer by being present.

As I walk on this crazy-twisted journey of life, and occasionally hit the pitfalls and dizzy spells, I realize how lucky I am to have some very special companions on the journey. 

Companions who help me to look toward heaven in new and exciting ways. Who help me recognize that life, and indeed my very faith, with its ups and downs and sideways moves is so much better....together. 

(So who wants to go swing?)

Sharing here today:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving multitudes... #505-533

Allow me to introduce you to my niece, Lucy, who loved showing off her pilgrim costume when we gathered for Thanksgiving. She is just one of the many people that I am grateful for...especially this Monday after Thanksgiving.

(I wonder what the pilgrims thought about lost teeth?)

What a fabulous weekend of feasting, gathering, laughing, reminiscing, more feasting.... And just time to be together. 

While it is no secret that I simply adore my family, I am constantly amazed with how MUCH..... Time is precious, and the people in my life even more so! 

Ever-so thankful for:

gap-toothed smiles
Lindsay and Zack playing with Max
Julie's pumpkin bread (made with love!)
big breakfasts
cousin silliness in the swings
Muppets with sisters and kids
memories of original Muppet laughs
introducing Joe to "The Goonies"
listening to "The Goonies" and remembering lines by heart
road-trips home
day-dreaming of future home on the water
dreaming out loud with Tom
....."and with your spirit".....
ever-growing family gatherings
Joe loving his first fishing trip with "the guys"
gorgeous day on the water
fresh rock fish
nap time
pumpkin spice coffee
sweet potatoes piping hot
turkey-and Katie's-cranberry-orange-sauce-and-stuffing sandwich
"Because of Winn-Dixie"
shopping-planning giddiness
designing Christmas Cards
finding the perfect surprise
candles that smell of cinnamon and home
Advent wreath surrounded by greens
hot chocolate with marshmallows
Max saying "Nana" 
Aunt Julie and Max

Lance in the leaves

Sharing at Ann's today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Daybook {A heart full of Thanks and giving}

Outside my window...
it’s gray and drizzling. My windows are actually open and allowing a nice breeze to flow through. I cannot believe how unseasonably warm it is. Then again, it IS Virginia. Weather here follows no known pattern. (Unless crazy is a pattern.)

that this world can be a pretty spectacular place. There is so much going on for others and I love being a part of great things. Like over at Momastery. Glennon has paired up generous people with families who need a little assistance this holiday season and called it "Holiday Hands". Beautiful expression of how we can do more than we ever thought possible. (I don't know about your house, but lately, money here is a little tight. Sacrificing a great paying job to stay home these two years was an easy choice, but has put a strain on things. Now, of course, I am terribly worried that I won't be able to get back to a job... So prayers, please!)

Prayerfully pondering....
exactly what it is that God expects of me. Not an easy task. As I approach 40, I still wonder if what I have done with my life is enough. What IS enough? In regards to my family, my teaching career, my very self? I have turned to our dear Pope John Paul II and read some of his readings. I love this quote:
Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.
Pope John Paul II
Hallelujah is our song.... Everything Hallelujah. Yes. This is what needs to stay front and center, as all other things will fall into place as they need to.  (I just need the patience required. That is where prayer comes in.)

Thankful for...
the time to be able to pray and think. As I said above, I fear that this time at home may come to an end sooner than I would like, so I KNOW how special this is. 

From the kitchen...
I am preparing dessert for Wednesday’s dinner with Tom’s side of the family. I am making white and dark chocolate bread puddingwith Kahlua sauce. For those of you that love chocolate, this is simply delectable.  

I am wearing...
the mom’s uniform of black sweatpants and a cozy long-sleeve tee. (One day, this will change, so I don’t mind…I love being comfortable, and it means that I am going to be playing on the floor.)

a mess in the kitchen, Christmas presents, and Christmas cards. I am also creating a heart ready for the journey of Advent.

I am going...
to dinner with my in-law’s on Wednesday and then to my parent’s home on Thursday. So looking forward to spending time with lots of family. All of my sisters and their families will be together. This is rare! (Oh yes. And looking forward to all of the yummy food, too!)

I am reading...

Half the Sky  and traveling along with some of the strongest women in the world. It’s amazing how they have found their inner-strength amidst intense persecution and oppression.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with Joe. How I LOVE this book, this series, this author. My heart has a special room for Narnia, and I have enjoyed seeing the wonder in Joe as we explore this fabulous place together.

Listening to...
Max giggle at Elmo and all of the Sesame Street friends. It’s amazing to watch him clap and start to follow along. My baby is growing up, and while I KNOW that it will happen, I am also hearing my heart break just a little. 

Around the house...
the baby-proofing continues. Gates and door latches and handle covers galore. It’s fascinating to me because we did not have to do this with Joe, and I was foolishly hoping that we wouldn’t have to. But with one too many cabinets completely emptied….well….it has to be done. For Max’s safety and my sanity.

One of my favorite things...
is that time in the morning when Joe is at school, Tom is at work, and Max and I can play. This one on one time with him is so very precious and I am ever so grateful for the chance to play and giggle and just….be.

Some snapshots of  our Christmas card photo-shoot:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

pretty, happy, funny, real {saints and wimps}

{ pretty }
Curry coconut chicken
Not at all sure of what I was going to make for dinner on Wednesday, I went to the pantry and found a can of coconut milk. I had chicken defrosting. SO. I stir fried some garlic, onions, carrots, peppers, chicken, coconut milk, and voila. Thirty minutes later, my kitchen smelled heavenly! I loved the way that the colors looked in the pan.

{ happy }
St. John Bosco
It was the "Saints Hall of Fame" today at school and Joe was St. John Bosco. Did you know that he juggled to entertain young people? I loved Joe's happy face in this picture as he marched in with the other saints.

{ funny }
We were able to score a ticket to get the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book signed by the author, Jeff Kinney! So exciting. Joe has devoured these books, and my goodness, to meet the author? Cool. And. We. Waited. In. Line. In the cold. For. Two-and-a-half-hours. This pic is of how we passed some of that time....

{ real }
*dead battery
Wouldn't you know it, my camera battery died as soon as we got up on stage.... only me, right? Luckily, one of the workers was sweet enough to snap this with her phone (since mine is ancient) and e-mailed it to me. One of the reminders that there are real people out there who can touch your heart at the strangest moments! Thank you, for that random act of kindness so that we can have a photographic reminder of tonight!

Sharing here:

round button chicken

Thursday, November 10, 2011

pretty, happy, funny, real

{ pretty }

The last of the summer colors in the garden.... The Lantana is still hanging on, but it won't be long...

{ happy }

O.K. So I don't have a picture for this, because I had to sign it and send it back to school.... but .... Tom and I were absolutely over-the-moon-giddy-happy that..
We feel so blessed that his new school is wrapping him in love.

{ funny }

Um. Joe? You are supposed to rake the leaves on TOP of the tarp....
Funny kid.

{ real }

It's supposed to get down to 37 degrees here tonight... So Joe helped me stock the wood box today before the rain hit. Our wood-stove keeps our living area nice and toasty. (And it makes the house smell like a campfire... Want to come over and roast some marshmallows?!)

Sharing here today:

round button chicken

Friday, November 4, 2011

{ this moment } ~ storytime

{ this moment }

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

Sharing over at SouleMama

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretty ~ Happy ~ Funny ~ Real

 { Pretty }

I just adore Fall, and this tree, Joe's dogwood tree, is the prettiest thing in my yard right now. The sunlight through the leaves makes it look as if it is a tree on fire.

{ Happy }

 I loved watching Joe help Max during Halloween. He helped him with his costume, and held his hand when they went trick-or-treating at Grammie's. It made my heart smile to see them be so happy.

You should have seen Max run to daddy in his costume. He was incredibly happy that he was home, and kept showing him the star attached to his wizard's hat....

{ Funny }

As we savor the last few cool-ish days of Fall, we stopped at a park after school. Here's my monkey Joe. (And if you listen closely, you just might hear the ooh ooh aa aaa sounds he's making.) Funny kid.

{ Real }

See this lovely cookie jar? My Grandma Krystofik made it in a pottery class. I remember it sitting on her kitchen counter (and usually filled with homemade treats, like her nut bars). I also remember it sitting in my mom's kitchen.... And once I had started a home and began to make cookies, my mom handed it to me. It looks so cheerful in my kitchen, and brings back fond memories.... 
And then.

This happened.....

Wow. Talk about crying the ugly cry. It's just a cookie jar, I KNOW that. But. When you've had a bad day and just want to bake up some love for your family, you don't expect your treasured jar to fall apart in your hands. 
Funny thing is, my grandma would laugh....because if you notice closely, it's already been glued once (twice?) before. Our hearts are like that. Cracking, breaking, and glued back together with love of family. 

Sharing here every Thursday....

round button chicken

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apple Memories

It is rather amazing how a free-form apple tart can conjure up a wealth of emotions. I made this when my parents, sister, and niece came to visit. It is so simply, really. A pie crust rolled out to whatever shape will fit the pan....cut up apples (whatever you have handy)....spices....raisins.....and yes. Love.

And as I rolled this out...

.... I thought of all of the women in my family. Those ancestors who made food for their family with heart and soul and body. Did they enjoy baking? Or did they do it purely out of necessity? Oh how I wish that I could sit and chat and learn.

..... I remembered the apple tree in my Grandma and Grandpa Krystofik's yard. The one that would drive my Grandma crazy because she couldn't pick them up fast enough and would even drop them onto her head. And then, their sun porch would be filled with that heavenly scent of ripe apples. Ready for pies. Ready for sauce. Just. Ready. I would stand in the sunlight in that porch, wanting to bottle up that smell forever more.

...... I remembered picking apples with Joe when he was little, and seeing him on my dad's shoulders, reaching for that one that was just too high. Laughing. Giggling. As the orchard felt like it was the most heavenly place on Earth. 

..... I remembered toting a heavy bag of apples over to my Grammie and Grandpa Olenick's home, which was just across the backyard from Gma and Gpa K's yard. Through freshly cut grass, past both gardens, and I was in another home that was filled with love and warmth. Handing over the apples, we would talk about what to make. Apple cake? And as we talked, she would slice one and hand me half. 

..... I realize how much I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and my mom's apple-cranberry casserole. It's become a favorite and even when I am not with her for Thanksgiving, I bring it to dinner for Tom's family. Recipes crossing hearts and homes. I love that.

And as I continue on this month, the month of giving thanks, I recognize the precious gifts that I have been given:

faith ~ my beautiful Catholic faith that celebrates the simple joys of togetherness
           family ~ connected by faith, still alive in my heart...even after death

                      memories ~ lovely times of connectedness that live on
                                joy ~  always joy

May your month of thanks be filled with remembrance and love. 
Peace to you.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saint's Day

Photo Credit

Today, as we celebrate the feast of All Saint's Day, may you recognize your beauty, and the gift of your life. You are a unique soul created by God. (How wonderfully amazing is that?!)

This lovely prayer is taken from the Collect:

God our Father, source of all holiness,

the work of Your hands is manifest in Your saints, the beauty of 

Your truth is reflected in their faith.

May we who aspire to have part in their joy
be filled with the spirit that blessed their lives,
so that having shared their faith on earth
may we also know their peace in your kingdom.

As you lift your eyes to the heavens today, and recognize the great gift of all of God's saints, may you meditate on the fullness of life that awaits us in heaven. I don't know about you, but I just love the idea that we are all connected, even after this, our earthly life.

Also, as Advent approaches, I love the idea of traveling with the saints toward the manger. I am pondering this book:

Advent with the Saints
Along with brief reflections on the daily readings, there are saintly connections included as well. All of this, in order to help us slow down and savor the beauty of the Advent season. The season of waiting. The season of hope.

Won't you join me in traveling to the manger?

Participating in....

And here:
Catholic Icing Linky

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