Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Shorts

Maybe I should say NO more shorts, as winter arrived yesterday. Yes, Sunday was comfortably cool, and yesterday it was January. I know that time flies, but really... When Bella asked "outside" and "golk" (walk) I thought to myself how good that would be for us. After one quick look at the thermometer I decided we would be houseplants until Daddy came home. Daddy did indeed take her for her "golk" - Daddy is a much better person than I.

Perhaps another reason why I was looking for an excuse not to walk yesterday has to do with this 7 1/2 month pregnant body. Although I had gained more poundage during my pregnancy with Isabella, and I have remained rather active, this time around is finding me much more sore, especially the past few days. One cannot understand sciatica until they practically fall down the stairs. I love my doc, whose recommendations were "localized heat and giving birth in 6 weeks." Funny man, he thinks he is. In the meantime, my poor hubby will be subsisting on leftovers and coexisting with a dirty kitchen floor. In the words of Old Blue Eyes,

God's grace constantly amazes me. Monday evenings Patrick and I enjoy going to Mass at our local parish together. It's a small, intimate crowd, and any chance to go to church as a family is such a blessing. There have been several weeks lately in which we have set ourselves up for disaster and have been proven totally wrong. Bella is still hovering between 1 and 2 naps a day, and when she takes a short ONE and doesn't take a second... oh, oh, oh, the attitude. This leaves me to lament on the drive to Mass how bad of an idea this was, and how we're going to disrupt the whole congregation, etc. Every week she has been surprising us and doing great! No, not always quiet. No, never calm and still. But GOOD! When I go in front of God and tell Him "I'm here, and as pitiful of an offering as it is please take the sorry soul of this frazzled woman" I am starting to really understand that He does, and He blesses my efforts no matter how feeble.

Yesterday was also the first day that Bella has ever worn a coat. Last year she was still bundled, baby-style, when it was cold. This year it's on to a real toddler coat. If it wasn't so darn cute it would break my heart. Of course, there are even more things that would break Mama's heart if we weren't starting all over in the such near future! As it is I can still snuggle her and cradle her for those brief seconds before she's off and running, while appreciating the independence that is emerging, as it should.

Can you believe that in 9 short days we will elect a new President of the United States? Seriously people, if you weren't praying before, start now. I prefer not to make political statements on this blog as there are others who can express it much better than I. I will say, however, that while neither candidate lights my fire (in a positive way) I believe in a moral obligation to protect the vulnerable and work to learn from history. Refer back to your core values. First and foremost, PRAY PRAY PRAY.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Sunday was another perfect fall day, and we were happy to partake in another of those quintessential October traditions: pumpkin picking. I'm not sure exactly when or how it happened, but Isabella has become obsessed with pumpkins, second only to babies! I knew she would be thrilled, and I was right.

We met Bella's Godparents and family - Anthony, "Sosie" (Rosie), and "BABY" (Thomas) which course heightened the whole experience, as Anthony loves Bella, Bella loves Rosie, and everyone loves the 6 week old! It was a lot of fun seeing the kiddos all dressed up in costumes, from my Little Pumpkin to the sleeping Bee. We took a hayride behind a bona-fide tractor out to the patch, where Bella proceeded to touch almost every pumpkin she could. It was a slow walk.
After selecting the prized goods, we headed back, listening to Bella say "pupki" the whole way. She is very proud, indeed, of the one *she* selected.

There were a few animals there to pet, which caught Bella's attention quickly! She immediately clucked with the chickens, but was rather wary of the goats with their heads poking through the fence out to nuzzle her. She was oinking with the pigs until one started to nibble at her fingers (NOT bite, there was no pain involved). I learned that the substance lanolin comes from sheep wool - thanks, little lambs!

The walk through the corn maze was a first for several of us, and was quite the adventure letting the almost-4-year-old boy lead the way! Somehow we made it out before dark... in perfect time to see the large tractor just sitting there begging to be climbed on! In the company of good friends and cute kids, for what else could you possibly ask for a perfect day? The first thing Bella said to me bright and early Monday morning was "tactor?" and "Sosie?" and then said "tactor" all morning. Well, that is, until she saw her little "pupki" ...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Shorts

My blogging may take a new turn for a while. It seems as though I cannot keep a thought in my head long enough formulate a halfway intelligent post, so more often than not I simply skip writing. That just isn't any fun; I actually do this because I enjoy writing! So taking the idea from Jennifer F. here are some "quick takes."

This morning was a beautiful, chilly (read: COLD) fall morning. Wrapping my mind around the change of season, I decided to dress in "earth tones." I clothed myself in various shades of brown, feeling very earthy, indeed. By afternoon I simply felt like an over-stuffed waddling mouse. I think I'll stick to my reds and purples.

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Officer Richard Bremer of the Frederick City Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty last night. He leaves a wife and 3 young children. I pray for comfort and healing for his widow and children, as well as the officers who mourn the loss of their brother officer. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

~ offers a free trial to check out all kinds of coupons! You enter your locale and they give you tons of options! Here's to half-price ice-cream, and a yummy anniversary dinner! I am always looking for new ways to get out when we can even on our tight budget.

I am currently immersed in 2 different reads: Spe Salvi, which is Pope Benedict's Encyclical on Hope, and Fr. Thomas Dubay's "Fire Within." They are both incredible! The encyclical on Hope is a must-read for anyone and everyone, I think. Especially at a time in our country when there is so much uncertainty and dispair, the Pope's message offers such a beacon of light, reminding us of our true Hope. Fr. Dubay... well, I'll write a full post on him someday, as I could shout from the rooftops what his challenge does for my prayer life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

3 Years Already

Time truly does fly when you're having fun AND having babies!

I stand in awe of the awesome gift God with which God blessed me when He gave me my husband. A perfect example of God's wisdom and mercy, He gave me the perfect help-mate with whom to share the rest of my life!

Three down, here's to 70 more! I figure maybe after that we could re-evaluate... nah! :)

I apologize for the lack of accompanying picture. I cannot, for the life of me, find one to post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Call to Faithful Citizenship and Respect for Life

A letter from the Catholic Bishops in Pennsylvania, which I think beautifully challenges us perform civic duties in line with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

"October is Respect Life Month - a special time each year when we prayerfully reflect on how each person at every stage of life deserves dignity and respect, and when we remind ourselves of the need to protect the most vulnerable among us.

It is also a time when we must pause to give thanks to God for the freedom we enjoy as Americans ... to participate in civic life. Recognizing our responsibility to promote the common good, we encourage our Catholic citizens, after they have formed their consciences in accord with right reason and Church teaching, to take the opportunity that our democracy affords them to influence the choices their government bodies will make in the future.

We encourage our Catholic people to read and study the document of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. This document provides a good overview on Catholic teaching on important issues affecting public policy in our nation [and in PA], reminding us that the core of Catholic moral and social teaching is respect for the life and dignity of every human person.

We wish to reiterate that the intentional destruction of human life, as in abortion and euthanasia, is not just one issue among many. (emphasis mine) Time and time again we bishops have taught that the right to life is the most basic and fundamental human right and must always be defended. Intrinsic evils can never be supported. Catholic teaching does not treat all issues as morally equivalent. The protection of human life from conception until natural death is the preeminent obligation of a truly just society.

The Catholic Church teaches a consistent ethic of life which includes important teaching also on issues of war and peace, economic justice, care of the needy and vulnerable, education, stewardship of the Lord's creation, etc. We have a moral obligation to defend human life and dignity, to protect the poor and vulnerable, and to work for justice and peace. At the same time, however, we must never forget the words of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. He wrote "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination." (On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, no. 38)

We encourage the Catholic citizens of Pennsylvania to study carefully the Church's teaching as they prepare for Election Day. We bishops do not endorse any candidate of party. Our role is to teach and form consciences. Above all, we seek to ensure that the message of the Gospel is heard and upheld. Many of the issues facing our nation and our Commonwealth have important moral and ethical dimensions. We urge our Catholic faithful to be informed and guided by the moral truths of our faith and to exercise faithful citizenship.

May the Holy Spirit guide us with His manifold gifts! May God bless our nation and our Commonwealth with His abundant grace!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Picking

In my humble opinion, apple picking represents the beauty of fall just about perfectly. From the hayride out to the orchard, to the smell and taste of the fresh fruit our day could not have gone better. We met our good friends at the orchard not far from our house. The setting was picturesque with the multicolored trees as a backdrop, and the air was just cool enough to be comfortable as we traipsed up and down the rows of apple trees.Isabella decided that she really likes apples after I found a very small one for her to hold. She carried it around protectively the rest of the time, munching as she went! She also hijacked Lucy's bucket and put a very large apple inside; I would have thought it too heavy, but little Miss Determination drug it around all by herself for a good while. After picking 120 pounds of apples... yes, you read that correctly, 120 lbs! we considered our quest complete. The good news is that we split that between the 2 families, AND the cost was only 99 cents per pound! That's still a lot of apples...

We have lots of apples in our immediate future. Patrick is making pie tonight (YAY!) - any other great ideas for us out there? I, myself, am already enjoying the simplicity of eating the fresh apples straight. Now there's a healthy pregnancy craving!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quick Bella Stories

This morning has been a lively one for us! Bella woke up happy after a full night's sleep, getting our day kicked-off to a cheerful, energetic start.

~We were looking through her alphabet book with her saying the names of the things she can (like Baby, Ball, Mama, dog...etc). When we reached the "Rabbit" page, she picks up her baby-doll and makes it hop, all the while saying "hop-hop-hop!"
~All that hopping must have made baby-doll thirsty because Bella sets her in the little chair and proceeds to feed her Bella's milk, while making that mock-drinking sound that we adults make when pretending. TOO CUTE!!!

~A few minutes later we're back to playing, when Bella turns and looks at me and plainly says "Mess" and grabs at her diaper. Very puzzled, I asked if she was messy and she wrinkles up her nose and sniffs! Sure enough, it was time for a diaper change! She is too smart for Mama.

~We LOVE dancing. With the music going I acquiesced to her request to be held, and we were dancing it up in the kitchen! She laughed and signed "more" each time I tried to stop. Now just to jeopardize your imagination's well-being, picture the scene - a very pregnant woman jitterbugging to some Buddy Holly and Elvis while holding the cutest little girl in the world. I believe this to be an underrated exercise routine; I was exhausted after a few songs!

Unfortunately for me, my computer is not in working order, so my ability to post pics and blog will be limited at least until this weekend when my live-in expert has a chance to fix it! In the meantime, I am still formulating a post I would love to write about St. Francis of Assisi (my Confirmation Patron), among others. Hopefully I'll get to that one of these days, too. Why is it that once the internet connection doesn't work there are great ideas for blogs?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dare to Discipline: Minimizing

Truly this part of my journey to more self-discipline can not possibly be summed up in one blog post, but I am at least going to write about my beginning. Handprints on the Wall is doing a series called "Minimizing Mondays" which has really inspired me to clean out and de-clutter. The more things you have, the more time you will spend cleaning/organizing/shuffling through those things. Life is too short to be constantly "rearranging the chairs on the Titanic", which is what having too much stuff to worry about becomes.

Most of us long to live free of material burdens, but find ourselves stuck in a rut of needing what we have... and often more! I am taking up the challenge of "living with less" which will give me more time for the things that I enjoy and help me lead a life more focused on physical and mental well-being and spiritual growth. A lot of this process boils down to giving ourselves permission to get rid of - despite how much we used to like it, despite it's condition, despite any other excuse we've been using.

I started with Make-Up, an area of my life/closet that I have not bothered realistically cleaning out since... uh... pathetic, huh? In high-school I participated in several theater groups, starring in a few plays and enjoying an "Improvisational Team." (Think an amateur version of some of the SNL skits, but without the political edge.) During that period I used a lot of dramatic make-up techniques mostly for fun, and because I could. Needless to say, I do not habitually run around in glitter and dark wine colors anymore, but there they sat in 4 bags of make-up! I am now down to ONE "current" make-up bag, consisting of my 'everyday' stuff in which I can also fit travel toiletries, and one "future" bag for the back-up as I run out of my current. It was so simple, and took me almost no time at all.

The following week I tackled my shoes. Shoes are such a complicated accessory for women; there are dress shoes for summer, dress for winter, shoes for pants and shoes for skirts and walking shoes and running shoes and hiking boots and match-just-one-outfit-but-I-like-them shoes. Stop the insanity!!! After allowing myself 2 indulgences, I still eliminated 8 pairs of shoes!!! I don't need 2 pairs of black heels, just one that won't cripple my feet by the end of church. I DO still need my wedding shoes, because they are bright red sandals with 3-inch heels. Seriously, those things are going down in history. I allowed myself to donate a pair that I didn't get "full use" out of, because they are no longer my style and I have to admit I will likely not wear them again. After only 1 hour of my precious time I can fit ALL my dress shoes in a "shoe hanger thingy" (thrift store special) and my others are neatly lined on my half of the closet floor. I could feasibly give myself permission to buy another (on sale, super cheap) pair of cute shoes sometime in the future without too much guilt.

There is such a sense of accomplishment after achieving just these 2 simple tasks. Opening my hall closet no longer entails the "catching reflex" and selecting a pair of shoes takes but a moment. Think of the time saved already!

Although I enjoy having pretty thing in my home, I am striving to maintain a simplistic tendency toward possessions. My goal regarding worldly possessions is to achieve and maintain a balance between enjoying the nice things we own and using them as good Christian stewards of hospitality while being detached from the actual ownership of them.

Anyone else have good minimizing techniques? Please feel free to share! And if anyone else is looking for ideas, check out Minimizing Mondays - they tackle one project each week and then write about how they achieved their goal, and are even brave enough to post pictures!