Thursday, February 28, 2013

Our Holy Father

The media world is abuzz with today's historic event:  the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  The last time a pope resigned was 598 years ago.  This morning, as I was cleaning the kitchen, I was listening to Relevant Radio.  A reporter announced that the Pope was getting into the helicopter.  I quickly moved into the living room and flipped on the T.V.  As the helicopter lifted and then circled the Vatican, I wept.  As the cameras scanned the thousands of people who had gathered and then focused in on a small, praying nun, I wept.  And as I sat on the edge of our sofa, listening to our Holy Father's parting words, I wept.

I have never met the Pope, nor do I ever think I'll have the opportunity to have a private audience with him, but there remains a deep love and reverence in my heart for the Chair of St. Peter and the man who humbly accepts this calling.  To be honest, it was difficult for me to get accustomed to Pope Benedict XVI.  I so loved Pope John Paul II and lacked the faith to believe that someone could actually fill his shoes.  Through my ignorance, I was humbled.  His first encyclical was on Love.  His writings are beautiful, touching, and quite easy to read (JPII was a philosopher - not what I would call your average Sunday lounge-around reading).  Here are a few examples of Pope Benedict's writings:

"Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me."

"Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs."

"One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now."

"If reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification."

"Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave."

“Truth is not determined by a majority vote.” 

“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.” 

“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord ... and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.” 

“Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.” 

"An upright life always involves sacrifice, renunciation.  To hold out the promise of a life without this constant re-giving of self if to mislead.  There is no such thing as a successful life without sacrifice.  If I cast a glance back over my whole life, I have to say that it was precisely the moments when I said yes to renunciation that were the great and important moments of my life"  Homily, Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord - April 5, 2009.

When the pope announced his resignation, I found it interesting how secular media became theologians and experts of Catholicism overnight.  Conspiracy theories flew wildly, speculations of the pope being "forced" out of office were being examined.  When I heard of his resignation, I immediately was touched by his humility, by the truth with which he spoke, and by his faith.  Our society, specifically the U.S., has trouble in understanding such humility.  Why on earth would the leader of over 1 billion faithful step down of his own free will?  It's difficult to wrap our heads around that, but not for those who trust in the workings of the Holy Spirit to discern the paths for their lives.  Our beloved pope is aging and he made this beautiful decision while he still had all of his faculties.  He now will continue to serve the Church within a capacity that best suits the needs of the faithful.

I am thankful to have witnessed this piece of history and thankful for the catechetical opportunity this has given our family.  Now, my prayers are with the Conclave as they discern.  I look forward to "meeting" our new Holy Father.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. 

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Who's On First?

I am kind of a stickler when it comes to good manners.  Two places, in particular, that I tend to find many teachable moments, are in church and at the dinner table.  I certainly don't expect perfection from my Love Bugs; they are children afterall, but I do point out behaviors that can be improved upon and possibly even polished a bit.

This afternoon, as Sweet Pea and Pumpkin were arriving at the table for lunch, I said, "Let's get ready to pray."  Pumpkin responded with a very loud "WHAT?"

I decided to teach the girls about the word "pardon."  I explained how "pardon" sounds a little nicer than always saying "what".  So I invited the girls to do some role playing to practice using "pardon."  Sweet Pea shouted, "Me first!"  So I had her repeat the word a few times and then I muttered something that would be difficult to hear.

Sweet Pea:  Pardon?
Me:  Great job!  That is exactly how you use that word.

Sweet Pea grinned, being very proud of herself.

Meanwhile, with a very puzzled look on her face:

Pumpkin:  What?
Me:  Not "what?", "pardon."
Pumpkin:  Pardon what?
Me:  Don't say the word "what", only say the word "pardon."
Pumpkin:  What?
Me:  Instead of saying "what", say "pardon"
Pumpkin:  Say what?
Pumpkin:  I don't get what!

Sweet Pea:  I think she's a "what" girl, mom.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just A Little Up-Date

This is Monkey's busy travel season, leaving me to run the household on my own.  By the time I get the Love Bugs in bed, my head is ready to hit the pillow as well.  The last week has been busy, so here is a little up-date on our happenings.

Lent has begun.  In a perfect world, we would be able to always attend Mass together as a family.  But as circumstances have it, that is not always feasible.  So on Ash Wednesday, Grandma attended 8 AM Mass at our parish, the four oldest attended Mass at school, Sweet Pea and I attended Noon Mass at a church in our  Area Faith Community, and Monkey attended a 7 PM Mass.  When all was said and done, I pieced together this Lenten centerpiece.  It holds our Rice Bowl, a Rosary, sacrifice beads, a small Crown of Thorns, part of a palm branch, a blessed candle from the Feast of St. Blase, and a LEGO cross - made by Honey Bunches.  The purple envelop holds an "Alleluia", which will remain unseen until Easter.  The kids have given up screen time for Lent.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, there are no video games, computers, DS, etc.  We are also incorporating Sacrifice Beads this year.  They are a string of 10 beads which encourage us to do go and kind acts each day.

Assembling our beads.

Valentine's Day was greatly anticipated.  The kids had parties at school, where they came home with candy amounts that could rival Halloween.  It was also the day that Grandma left for her annual trip to Texas.  Since she would be gone during her birthday, the kids begged to have a celebration before she left.  So at 5 bells, I arose to make a Birthday breakfast.  

Here comes the Birthday girl!

Scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, juice, coffee, and coffee cake with a candle.

A little special touch to Sweet Pea and Pumpkin's hot cocoa.
Valentine floats after supper.
On Sunday, Gummi celebrated her Rite of Welcome at church, beginning her journey towards her First Communion.

Here she is announcing her name.

Monday was President's Day.  Although we didn't do as many "presidential" activities as in previous years, the kids were still very busy.

Sweet Potato wanted to make something "American".  What is more American than apple pie?  He took this project on himself.

His final product turned out very well.  He struggled a bit with the crust (no store bought pastry here!), but the taste was outstanding.

Sweet Pea asked if she could do the dishes.  Without my supervision, I found a very close to overflowing sink.  She also soaked her pajamas!

The cold weather kept the kids indoors.  It was the perfect opportunity to build a fort.

Of course there was crafting.  Here is our table BEFORE lunch, with lots of scraps that escaped to the floor. 

In our home, no President's Day would be complete without a craft commemorating the holiday.


Within our home, Lent is off to a great start, the kids are being creative, Monkey's travels have been safe, and as usual - I'm looking forward to having us all together again soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Could Have Been Worse

I love when my girls want to play "hair-do."  They take out the comb, brush and clips and their little fingers get lost in my hair.  It actually relaxes me.  So a few nights ago when Pumpkin asked if she could "do" my hair, I of course concurred.  She quickly gathered her supplies and then crawled behind me in the big chair to pretty me up.  Soon, however, she began to yank on my hair.

Me:  Ow!  Pumpkin please don't do that.  It hurts.
Pumpkin:  Uh oh.
Me:  What?  
Pumpkin:  It got stuck.
Me:  What got stuck?
Pumpkin:  The comb is stuck in your hair.

I wound up wearing that comb in my hair for most of the evening.

This morning, Pumpkin emerged from her room with this:

Me:  Pumpkin what happened to your Barbie?
Pumpkin:  (crying)  I was combing her hair and the comb got stuck and then her head fell off.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Honey Bunches Turns 9

Honey Bunches birthday was on the 6th, but due to Gummi's First Reconciliation, late night schedules and the like, we didn't have his birthday dinner until yesterday.

This is the morning of Honey's Birthday.  He cashed in a non-uniform pass and brought chocolate  doughnuts to school to share with his classmates.

Peanut Butter's birthday and Honey Bunches birthday are only two days apart.  So for the last few years, we have celebrated the boys special days together.  This year, Silly asked if we wanted to join them at Pump It Up.  Honey was allowed to invite 3 friends and he felt on top of the world!

The Birthday Boys:  Honey Bunches and Peanut Butter
LEGO cupcakes
All 18 friends and a "few" family

All of the kids (and I think even the adults) had a great time.  The kids jumped to their hearts content, played air hockey (I smoked a few of the kids, including Monkey), and worked up a good appetite.  After pizza and cupcakes, it was time to head home.

Sunday was the day we decided to have our own family celebration with Honey.  He chose the supper of steak, smashed potatoes, salad (the greens were actually my idea), and white cake with chocolate frosting.

Monkey and Honey prepping the meat for the grill.  At this point, we were well within blizzard conditions, and still Monkey charcoal grilled for his son's birthday.  He's a good man!

Bionicles, Angry Birds Activity bag, sugar cereal, ITunes gift card and
The Lord of the Rings books box set.
 Honey declared this year was his best birthday yet, although I reminded him that he says that every year.  It's hard to believe that he is nine years old.  He is definitely his own person, but has very similar characteristics to Monkey.  He is witty, especially at the most unexpected times.  He is competitive and loves to play hard.  A few weeks ago, I picked the kids up from school.  Honey walked out of school red faced and very sweaty.

Me:  What happened to you?
Honey:  I was playing floor hockey.
Me:  Looks like you played hard.
Honey:  I did, but then the coach benched me because of injuries.

Translation:  The Gym teacher rotated him out to give others a turn.

Honey is very quiet at times and will often go off by himself to play.  He could build with LEGO'S for hours or get lost in a book and forget about the time.  He also loves video games which we have to limit him.  I find it fascinating that he's a bit of a chatter-box in school.  His "behavioral issues" this year have included visiting too much with his neighbor and reading books (and trying to hide it) while the teacher is teaching.

Honey is also sensitive and has a very giving and caring heart.


I often find him helping his sisters or showing them how to play a game.  This morning at breakfast he took out one of his sugar cereals that Grandma gave him for his birthday.  We told him he didn't have to share with anyone, yet he still poured a bowl for each of his siblings.  When we have been stressed over finances, Honey has more than once brought us his piggy bank to help out.  When Monkey is out of town and I take the kids to Mass, Honey shows his chivalry by stepping aside in the aisle to let me and his sisters ahead of him for Communion. He has a big heart and lots of love to share.

Honey, I hope you will always know how proud I am of you and the young man you are becoming.  You are smart, creative, funny and caring.  I love you forever!  Happy Birthday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Safety First

After school and homework today, the kids began working on their Valentines for school.

Gummi is going to give small boxes of cereal with plastic spoons to her classmates.

Me:  Gummi, why are you wearing your swim goggles?
Gummi:  Because I'm using rubber bands on the spoons and I thought I better protect my eyes.

Of course.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Blame Game

Our hot water heater has been on the outs since last week.  It has only allowed one of us to take one semi-warm shower a day.  Then two days ago, we had nothing but cold water.  It's not in our budget to replace it, so Monkey (who is very handy) has been working on it after he gets home each evening.  Today was the first day 3 people could take showers without a scream coming from the bathroom, alerting us all that the water had turned ice cold.

When Monkey came home from work on Tuesday, he had tools in hand to remedy the water heater.  Sweet Pea, who is in the "I want to help" stage, begged her Dad to let her assist him.  Those two disappeared downstairs.  After I finished cleaning up the kitchen from supper, I headed for the sofa and called the Love Bugs over to snuggle with me while we watched some T.V.  Shortly after 7:00, Monkey left, remembering that he had a Knights of Columbus meeting at church.  Around 7:30 I heard, "Mom.  Mom.  Mommy.  Hey Mom."  I didn't respond right away, because Sweet Pea and Pumpkin often play house and one of them plays the role of Mom.  I assumed they were in character.  However, that sweet little voice did not waiver in her determination.  "Hey Mom.  Mooooooooooooooooooommyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!"

Me:  Sweet Pea;  Are you talking to me?
Sweet Pea:  Yeah Mom.  Guess what?
Me:  What? (I'm still on the sofa at this point)
Sweet Pea:  I'm helping Dad.
Me:  Ah, Sweetie?  Dad left awhile ago.
Sweet Pea:  Well I'm helping him.

So as any good parent would do, I sent in one of the older kids to check out the situation.

Me:  Honey Bunches, go check on your sister and see what's going on.

Honey came back and reported that Sweet Pea was in the laundry room.

Me:  What is she doing?
Honey:  She's holding a hose.
Me:  Can you please help her with that so she can come and sit with the rest of us?

A few moments later, we were all snuggled under a big blanket watching "Full House."  Due to a school scheduled two-hour later start the following morning, usual bedtime was not enforced.

At approximately 8:40 PM, Monkey gets home from his meeting and comes downstairs.

Monkey:  What the hell happened?

We're all quite comfortable and no one jumps up to see what he is referring to.

Monkey:  I need a little help here.  We have a problem.

So I begrudgedly got up and headed towards "the problem."

The laundry room had flooded.  We're talking up-to-our-ankles in cold water flooded.

Sweet Pea yelled at Honey Bunches for making her drop the hose.  Honey Bunches shared his disapproval for me who forced him to handle the situation.  And me?  Well I pointed the finger at Monkey who had forgotten about Sweet Pea in the first place.

The kids were sent to bed and Monkey and I began the long task of cleaning up the mess, which lasted well into the night.  Eventually, our laundry room was put back together and our water heater working better, although still not 100%.  I want to thank my lovely friend Lisa, who called me Wednesday morning and offered me the use of her family's shower.  So after I dropped the kids off at school, I enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower, which helped me feel "human" again.

Towards the end of our clean-up efforts, we were able to chuckle at the mishap.  All I can say is thank God for grace!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Travlin' Man (Er. . .Woman): Part II

Part II:  Nashville

Four short days after my return from Seattle, I was once again boarding a plane.  This time it was with Monkey Toes and we were headed to Nashville.  It was my first trip to Tennessee and I was hoping for some warmer temps (we left when it was subzero in Minnesota).  It was warmer in the south; low 40's.  Hey, that is a 60 degree difference, so I will not complain.  In addition, Monkey took me into the Sky Lounge at the airport, which he gets to visit due to his frequent traveling.  I am certain that these lounges are secretly located and their entrances magically appear when a member approaches.  I had no clue such places existed.  Fancy Shmancy if you ask me.

This trip was a combination of work and vacation.  Monkey was there on business and I was given the opportunity to tag along for a few days.  So when we (or rather he) wasn't working, we were taking in as much of Nashville as time allowed.

We stayed across the road from The Grand Ole Opry.  It was not at all how I had imagined it to be.  Somewhere in my mind I pictured The Opry being more rural and, well, kind of southern-belle looking.  Monkey reminded me that it IS an auditorium, not a plantation.  Although we didn't have the opportunity to take in a show, we did walk around the grounds and ate at The Backstage Grill.  I had a pulled pork sandwich which "delicious" would be an understatement.  After the first bite, I ditched the bread and just ate the meat.  I did offer some to Monkey, but he said he didn't want to interrupt me, as I was pretty close to licking my forehead.  So, so good!

Next to our hotel was McDonalds with its own radio station.

Behind our hotel was The Dukes of Hazzard Museum.  Monkey wasn't sure why I wanted to visit here, but all I have to say is this:  Dukes of Hazzard lunch box - 4th grade.  And I had a crush on Luke Duke.

Another amazing place to visit is the Convention Center.  It encases the original Opry Land Hotel, has a 1/4 mile river that runs within it; all under a glass dome that is equivalent to 7 football fields.

I took this boat tour on the "river" to see the Convention Center.
The river is comprised of water from all 50 states and many countries from around the world.  There is a plaque listing all of the water sources.  It was fun to see Minnesota and which lakes were represented.

Two consecutive nights we drove to downtown Nashville.  I LOVED IT!  It was bright and crowded and there was live music in every establishment.  There was a bar with three levels to it and there was a different band playing on each floor.  Many people were walking the streets with guitars strapped to their backs, along with street performers on every corner.

The second night, we ate at Wildhorse Saloon.  This was also a 3 story bar & grill, with a big stage and a large dance floor where they teach line dancing.  Larry Frick was performing that night.  He sang Waylon, Willie, Merle, Johnny, and I'm pretty sure he played a little Sawyer Brown.  We enjoyed BBQ while listening to him sing.  He even performed "Purple Rain", which I'm pretty sure was dedicated to us.  This place hosts quite a few big names, but also different genres.  Along with Reba, Blake and Keith, they have also hosted:

I also wanted to throw my support behind two companies that we don't have in my home state.  So we visited:


Nashville is another place I would love to visit again.  Next time, I definitely want to see a show at the Opry and take a drive to Memphis.  The people were friendly and I fell in love with the southern drawl.  I found it completely enduring when I was called, "darlin" and "sweetheart".  The food was amazing:  beef brisket, fried green tomatoes, ribs, fried pickles, BBQ pork, banana pudding and sweet tea.  I'm pretty sure I gained a pound or two while there.  Above all, the trip was fantastic because I was able to spend a few days away  with Monkey.  Our lives get very hectic with kids, work and schedules, so a little time alone together is a good and much needed thing.  Monkey had to stay an additional three days, so I made the journey back to Minnesota by myself.

Motherhood welcomed me at the door when I returned home.  It not only welcomed me but embraced me and then flung me right back into reality.  I arrived home at 6 pm.  After loving up the little Love Bugs, I walked into the main floor bathroom and found an over-flowing toilet.  So I went to the downstairs bathroom where that toilet was plugged.  At 6:32 pm, I was on my way to Urgent Care with Cucumber.  At 7:30 pm, I was on my way to the pharmacy, and at 9 pm, I crashed on the sofa, fully clothed where I did not move until 6 am the next morning.  I only woke up at that hour because the school was calling to announce a two hour late start due to the cold, fog and ice.

Even though I arrived home to chaos, I am still thankful to be Home.  I immensely enjoyed two trips (albeit very different) with two of my favorite people.  I visited places I have never been and would now love to go back.  I learned new things, ate new foods, met great people and slept.  I am thankful for all the help we received, making these trips possible.  Now that we are all back and under one roof, I can honestly say that this is my favorite place to be, with my family, living this life and grateful for every moment; even the challenging ones.