Monday, February 28, 2011

Miscarriage Prayer

My Lord, the baby is dead!
Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”
I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity. -- Mother M. Angelica
To see the Blessing After Miscarriage click here:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding Christ

As Christians, we are called to see the face of Christ in others. I have failed more times than I have succeeded in doing this, but it's so reassuring and comforting to find Him when we remember to seek. Some days it's easier to spot Him than others, today it was easy. The kids were invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. The place was the busiest as I have ever seen. Every single table was reserved for birthday parties and there were hundreds of people there. I had a headache and the littles were overwhelmed, confused, and a little scared. I watched the staff busily attending to the needs of the parents, the birthday guests, and to the children themselves. The busiest by far however, was Christian, a humble game maintenance employee. He was responsible for fixing the games when they broke down or wouldn't dispense tickets. I myself had to ask him at least 3 times to fix different games or machines that were malfunctioning. He always responded politely and quickly. The last time I had to bother him, I asked him if he was tired at the end of the day. He sweetly smiled and said. "Oh yes, I am." He never complained or became short tempered even when others did. He just went about his work with precision, diligence, and mildness. His name certainly suits him. I wondered, do others see Christ in me??....when I am hurrying through the store with my children, or trying to pass someone who drives "too slow", or when someone comments on the number of children we have and I fail to respond in charity??? Is it really as easy as Christian made it seem?? To smile without complaint and to be gentle and not forceful? How many times have I complained to Don after he comes home from work about how hard my life is and how he has the easy part of this life...can I smile more, be more thankful, appreciative and work without acting like a martyr?? It's so good that Christ is merciful and sends us examples to light our path. 3 John 1:11 “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

Catholic Art Saturday

Wilhelm Von Kaulbach (1805-1874) ... Blessed Are the Children.

I grew up looking at this piece and it's always held a special place in my heart. I would often fall asleep thinking about my guardian angel being so close and ever vigilant.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Child's Speech

I wanted to share a very cool tool that my friend, Mary posted on her blog about speech developement. Each number represents the child's age and the letters indicate the sounds the child should have mastered at that age. I wish I could have had this when I first had children!! To see this larger, just click on the pic. Here's the list in case you can't see it, 3 years-m,n,h,w,p 4 years-b,k,g,d,f,t 5 years-y,ng, 6 years-l,j,zh,ch,sh,wh, 7 years-r,s,z, 8 years-v,th,blends 
This makes me feel so much better about Benny, he has a hard time with L's and R's.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beautiful Innocence

I was 16, my father had left our family 2 years ago, not a day went by that I didn't grieve for him...still do. Mom had to go back to work full time to provide insurance for our family. She had always been a stay at home mom, so it was a shock to have her return to the workforce. My brothers were suffering and feeling very much unloved and depressed. This was a difficult time for us, we didn't get along very well, even though we loved each other and knew we had to stick together. We were always in trouble for fighting with each other and for our sinking grades. Our well-meaning relatives would give us a hard time and tell us how "bad" we were for being difficult for my Mom...who of course was probably suffering even more than we were! It seemed like everything was my fault...maybe if I would have been a better daughter, maybe Dad wouldn't have left, or if I could just control my temper and not argue with my brothers or get better grades, maybe Mom wouldn't be so sad all the time, if I could just figure out a way to "fix" things, life could be better. One evening, I had to go to the store. As I entered, a little girl ran toward me smiling as if she had been waiting to greet me. She had the prettiest blue eyes and the sweetest smile, she also had Down Syndrome. She said joyfully, "I like you!! You are good, I can tell!" She wrapped her arms around my waist embracing me, shocked, I whispered, "I like you too." Then she quickly waved goodbye and ran over to the gumball machines. I realized that was the first positive thing I had heard in a long time.  I knew that God had created that little angel to share His love on this weary earth. Every soul has a purpose and each life is so very, very precious. I wish I could have told her parents how she touched my heart. It really was a life changing/defining moment that I will never forget. She made me think that maybe I wasn't as bad as I or others thought, perhaps God had plans for me after all. I started to think about graduating and applying myself, being more helpful at home and to try harder to accept the life I had been given, and to try and find things to be thankful for...starting with that little girl's beautiful innocence.

Stingy Tooth Fairy

There's a reason why most children don't lose teeth until their 7 or more. 4 year olds don't get the whole tooth fairy thing. Benny had to have a tooth pulled at the dentist, so to help him sit still and cooperate, we told him that the tooth fairy would be making a visit that night. He was very excited and placed his tooth inside the tooth treasure box and put it under his pillow. As usual, Benny ended up in our bed that night, when he woke up that morning, he lifted up the pillow and exclaimed sadly, "The tooth fairy forgot!!" I told him that the tooth fairy probably delivered it to his pillow, not Daddy's. He ran into his room and checked, sure enough, there was the prize, a brisk new 1 dollar bill. He was overjoyed and told me how he would like to buy a new bike, I explained that wouldn't be quite enough, so he decided to save it to use when we go to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. The next morning, he stomped into my room and yelled..."The tooth fairy forgot!!", I  had to explain that the tooth fairy only comes one time per tooth and he would have to wait until his next tooth fell out. He looked shocked, "What?? Well, when will that happen?" I told him probably not until he was 7. He grumbled away down the hall.... Sometimes I forget the need to explain every little detail to avoid frustration. It's so funny to see life through the eyes of a 4 year old!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


We went to the movies, Don, myself, our children, and a very close friend. We tried to buy tickets, but we couldn't afford them, so we returned to the parking lot to find our van and go home. While we were in the theater, a riot had formed and the sheer number of protesters had purposely forced all the cars together side by side to prevent anyone from leaving. The children and I found our old green van jammed in the center of many other cars...ours was the only mini-van in the lot. Fortunately, we opened the back hatch and climbed inside, miraculously we were able to pull through the cars on either side. We drove to find Don and my friend. I spotted my friend who was wailing and crying over the persecution of many victims that had been attacked..some lay dying. I opened the passenger door and yelled and motioned for her to come, she began to run toward us, but she would get distracted by the sorrow and begin to cry again, at the same time, I had to avoid the rioting crowds that would run toward us in anger at having freed our vehicle. Don, I saw was trying to help the wounded and I motioned to him to come, but he didn't. Eventually after driving around and around, we settled on a rendezvous location and I could foresee that both would be safe. As I exited the parking lot, I had to drive through hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement personnel that were standing, talking, laughing, and totally oblivious. They stopped me to thank me for patronizing the establishment. I wanted to scream at them for ignoring chaos, but I didn't. As I wished not to be detained, I drove off the lot and went to our rendezvous point. Then, I woke up frightened, alarmed, disgusted, and confused. I don't know about you, but every single seemingly unimportant detail of my dreams represents what's been going on in my head ...I believe that it's true with most people. I laid awake and analyzed every detail..... The not affording the movie tickets was a representation of not being able to afford our previous house, the old green van symbolized us moving back to our old neighborhood, the cars being pushed side to side preventing entrance was likened to the teacher's union in Wisconsin blocking admittance to public restrooms to all except the protesters. We had the only mini-van because we are a minority..a large family in an abortion riddled world.  The riots themselves were representing all the injustice in the world, the riots in Egypt, persecutions of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Asia, and so many other places, as well as countless Jews who have been horribly persecuted and killed. My friend represented Mary, John, and the daughters of Jerusalem who wept at the Crucifixion of Jesus as my friend also witnessed innocent bloodshed. Mary and John stayed never leaving at the foot of the cross. Don was like the activists, missionaries, and the good Samaritan. The law enforcement personnel represented the ignorance and idleness of the world, we often close our eyes to our very own destruction and to the world's, and carry on as if nothing was happening. And me, who am I? Not much help, but a desperate mother trying to protect her children from evil. Why did I leave Don and my friend? My work was finished, theirs was not.This was my interpretation anyway.  As scary as our dreams sometimes are, often I think there's a message. I believe the message for me, was to pray without ceasing for our world and to do what we can to change it, to focus on my vocation, and finally to trust that miraculously the Lord will pull us through even the most intimidating of circumstances. I know...I'm weird...I heard it all the time growing up sharing my strange dreams.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adoration Instills Hope

I don't go to Adoration because I am a good and holy person, I go because I am not. As I enter, the weeks accrual of sins, failings, struggles, frustrations, and worries throws me to my knees. I feel like the very worst sinner on earth. At times, the scorching heat of shame prevents me from making eye contact with our Eucharistic Lord. How could it be that I am even allowed to be in the presence of perfection Himself?? As I reveal the entire sordid messy contents of my soul and beg for forgiveness, mercy, understanding, deliverance, healing, and guidance, a wonderful sensation begins to envelope me like a soft breeze. It happens so subtly and slowly that it's almost unnoticeable...almost. That sensation is hope. The hope that sanctity is within reach for all of us...even the very worst sinner on earth. This happens every time, sometimes I wonder if I am delusional or just plain crazy to believe that it's possible given my history of repeated offenses?? That is the beauty of hope, it's always fresh and new...and always within our grasp through the mercy and grace of God. Not to be mistaken, Adoration does not replace confession, but rather, it's a compliment to the sacrament. And so I will return hopefully until my dying days, to receive my weekly dose of hope.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Catholic Art Saturday

The Lost Sheep   ~    Alfred Soord (1868-1915)

Pope Benedict XVI called artists, "custodians of beauty" and a group of 260 of them gathered in the Sistine Chapel in November 2009 at his invitation and he called them to" be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity."

Itty Bitty Good Shepherd

I have always loved art, although I can't always remember who painted what, when, where, how, or in what medium.  Art is meant to inspire us to greatness because God is Beauty and Truth itself and is a reminder of Him. I hope you enjoy this little Saturday solo gallery. My hope is also to remember a few of these works and their artists to offset my forgetfulness. I chose The Lost Sheep because I have really been thinking about The Good Shepherd lately. Earlier in the week, one of the littles, broke my Holy Family statue and I went to the Goodwill searching for something to replace it.  I found a little statue of The Good Shepherd, it's so small and hardly fits the ample space left by it's previous tenant, but still, it's a constant reminder of our Lord's love and devotion.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Good Reads??

I admit that I don't always like to read the same books over and over to my kiddos(although I do it) and our books are getting quite worn, tattered, and pages are missing. I am in the market for some new ideas for books that kids enjoy. What are some good books for kids ages 2-7?  Any favorites that your kids ask to be read to again and again?? My goal is to make a list and look for good used copies at garage sales and thrift stores.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It is impossible to......

expect a group of more than 3 children to be quiet for more than 10 minutes...except possibly at Mass...and even that is pushing it sometimes.

reason with a toddler

make a meal that everyone likes

love without sacrifice

have a clean house for more than 20 minutes...unless we leave

not to be grossed out by vomit, poo, or snot

keep up with the laundry

have enough patience

to exercise self-control in the presence of chocolate

give birth to a van load of children and retain a figure

not edit my blog posts at least 2X

go through one day without at least 2 spills of some kind

laugh when you want to cry

ever get enough sleep

pray enough

love enough

be thankful enough

control what a child eats

learn enough

keep the entryway picked up

potty train without accidents

ever have all the answers

have enough vacation time

get our household projects completed

stick to a budget everyday

not find legos in every room

get everything done

There are probably many more, but it was impossible for me to come up with all of them!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Day in the Life

I have had a few people ask what our day to day life is like with homeschooling, so I thought I'd post a typical day/week. I admit we are not as organized as some of my friends who homeschool, but we have found a comfortable routine that works for our family.

Monday-Wednesday we go spend a few minutes in Adoration before going to Catechism of the Good Shepherd at St. Patrick's school.

After breakfast, most all the kids start out with Math and then proceed to Language Arts which includes, grammar, spelling, composition, vocabulary, literature, and GUM. They try to have this finished before lunch. We are part of LVS, Lawrence Virtual School an online public school that uses the K-12 classical curriculum. We love K-12 because it's somewhat Catholic in origin, although no religion courses are included, the history is rich with church history and saint stories, also the literature includes stories of the bible. LVS also affords us the ability of homeschooling with the accreditation of a school system. The schedules are online and the daily assessments are as well, so after the kids complete their homework, they log-in and take their assessments and mark their subjects complete.

 Don comes home for lunch everyday and this is break time for the kids. We all eat together as a family.....this is new since moving so close to Don's work and is our favorite feature of our new home. Then it's back to school to finish science, history and anything else they haven't finished. Nap time for Charlie comes at this time also, it's our quiet time and I can pray a little or read to Benny... while holding a sleeping 30 lb toddler...but I wouldn't trade it for the world!! On Mondays, a few of the kids have piano lessons, on Tuesday, voice lessons, Wednesday, Chess, and Fridays Art and Choir. These are in the afternoon except for piano, so it doesn't interfere with school.

The kids have chores everyday, taking out the trash, unloading/loading the dishwasher, and feeding the cats. Noah and Jonah also help Eli twice a week with science and history. After Don comes home, it's clean up time, everyone pitches in and I make dinner. We all eat together. We have a few hours of free time before our bible study and prayer time. Of course, mixed in with the daily routines are typical boring things like, laundry, sibling wars,  teeth brushing, recess, yelling, home repair, phone calls, laziness, baking, and many other obstacles of familial existence...but all in all, we are very content with our mediocre life. I still dream of going to daily Mass....someday!! The schedule changes from year to year dependant on what activities are happening, but this is life...for a moment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

TRIED IT!! Make Laundry Soap from Bar of Ivory Soap

I stumbled across this "recipe" in a magazine called "Keepers at Home". I am going to try this and I'll report back on this post how it works out...sounds almost too easy!!!

Melt one bar of Ivory soap with some water on the stove. When dissolved, pour into a gallon container 3/4 full of warm water. Turn a few times to mix and then turn again the next day. Use one cup per load, turning each time you use it. For dish towels or diapers, you can add a few drops of lavender or tea tree oil for antiseptic properties.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Mass of Jesus

My friend, Josette, put this on her blog, I thought it was a beautiful explanation of the Mass and wanted to share it!! Thanks Josette !!

At Mass, The Priest Jesus

Enter the Sanctuary ...............................Enters Garden of Olives
Begins prayers at the foot of the Altar......Begins prayer in the garden
Says the confiteor..............................Faints and falls down in Agony
Ascends steps and kisses the Altar....Is betrayed by Judas with a kiss
Goes to the book at Epistle Side.....................Is led prisoner to Annas
Reads the Introit ........................................Is falsely accused by Annas
Goes to Middle, recites “Kyrie Elieison”.....Is brought to Caiphas;denied thrice by Peter
Turns to People and says “Dominus Vobiscum”.....Looks at Peter and converts him
Goes to book and reads Collects and Epistle.....................Is led to Pilate
Goes to middle, then to Gospel side.....................Is taken to Herod and mocked
Returns to the middle of the Altar....................Is led back to Pilate
Uncovers the chalice........................Is Stripped of His garments
offers the bread and wine......................Is scourged at the pillar
covers chalice with pall.........................Is crowned with thorns
Washes his hand at Epistle side.........Is declared innocent by Pilate
Turn to people and says “Orate Fratres”.......Pilate says “Behold the man”
Prays in a low voice, the secret prayers.......Is mocked and spat upon
Recites Preface and Sanctus-bell rings.............Barabbas is freed
Canon of Mass
Makes memento for Living................................Carries cross to Calvary
Continues to pray in a low voice..........Meets His Mother and the other pious women
Hold hands over oblation-bell rings.......Soldiers take hold of Christ our Lord
Blesses the bread and wine with sign of the cross five times......Is nailed to the Cross
Consecrates the Host, adores and elevates it.........Christ is raised on the cross
Consecrates the wine and elevates the chalice.......Blood of Christ flows from five wounds
Prays in a low voice...................Hangs on the cross. Sees His mother kneeling
Says aloud “Nobis quoque peccatoribus”.............Prays for all mankind
Recites aloud the “Pater Noster”, Our Father......Speaks the seven words on the corss
Breaks the Sacred Host................................Dies on the cross
Drops a particle of Host into the chalice...............Christ’s soul descends into Limbo
Says “Agnus Dei”.................Those standing by acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God
Receives the Body and Blood of Christ...................Is laid in the sepluchre
Cleanses the chalice.........................Christ’s body is annointed in the sepulchre
Arranges the chalice on the Altar again...................Rises from the dead
Turns to people and says “Dominus Vobiscum”..............Appears to His Mother and Disciples
Reads prayers at Epistle side-Post communion...............Teaches for forty days
Turns to people and says last “Dominus vobiscum”......Bids farewell to His Disciples; ascends into Heaven
Gives the blessing.......................................sends the Holy Spirit to His Apostles
Reads the last Gospel...............................Apostles preach the Gospel to all Nations

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Father Patrick Reilley The Saint

Today Don was driving downtown back to the post office where he works as a postal carrier. He noticed a jogger standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. As the jogger stood waiting, a car, driving too fast came by and drenched the jogger in muddy snowy sludge. What did the jogger do?? Nothing! He didn't shake an angry fist, he didn't mutter obscenities, he didn't even make an angry expression. He just humbly tried to wipe the sludge off of himself.  Don thought to himself..."Wow, this guy must a saint or something." As he drove closer to the jogger, he noticed it was our former parishioner and Associate Pastor of the Cathedral, Father Patrick Reilley. Father Reilley probably doesn't know what a wonderful example he set, but we do! It's not the big dramatic public displays that will change the world, it's the little acts of kindness, humility, and love that do change souls. It's such a great reminder to never underestimate the power of example. God bless our wonderful priests!!! If you read this, say a prayer for Father Reilley to be extra blessed and for all our beloved priests.  
 "If we had faith, we would see God hidden in the priest like a light behind glass, like wine mixed with water."
~St. John Vianney

The "Rifle" Tower

The kids spent the afternoon building a tall structure out of snow with the neighbors yesterday.
I just noticed that Jonah is NOT wearing his coat....grrrrrr!! Anyway, Benny ran into the house and exclaimed, "Mommy we built the "Rifle" tower!!" I thought that was snow funny!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kitchen Update...Again!

AFTER>>Kitchen today

BEFORE>>Here is the original kitchen.

After >  a mini paint makeover right after we moved in.
There is progress happening in our kitchen, but it's slow going!
All the cabinets on this side of the kitchen are done...just need to swap out the hinges for European invisible hinges. I love the chocolate brown walls with the cream colored cabinets, and on the soffit above the cabinets and above the countertop on this wall only, we put up wallpaper with stripes of chocolate brown to cover up really bad walls and wallpaper that was previously painted over several times, that for the life of me couldn't take off without having to re-sheetrock. We didn't do the faux granite on this countertop since it had been updated and actually goes with the granite look we've already done. I would like to put something pretty on the counter...but it just ends up being in my way, or it gets splattered with food. To keep things super affordable, we used the existing flat panel cabinets, we trimmed them out with a frame made with 2.5 inch moulding and added a panel of beadboard in the center and then gave it a coat of primer and creamy paint. We also bought 2 base cabinets to put where the curtains used to be..I hated those curtains there!! Someday, I will post the entire kitchen completed..I promise, I just need to post little updates to prove to myself that...yes there is progress and we are beginning to see a transformation.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Loving Leather

3 years ago we decided it was time to purchase good quality furniture that we wouldn't have to keep replacing. With 5 kids at the time, our old furniture was torn, worn, and dirty. No matter how often we cleaned, it still looked gross. I researched obsessively what big families recommended and discovered source after source, all recommended leather. Don was thrilled with my findings as he had always wanted leather. I didn't want leather! I wanted soft, cozy, comforting, relaxing, and light colored feminine floral fabrics. More than anything as we both talked, we wanted something that would endure our growing family, be easy to clean, and look clean most of the time. The only other thing I could find fabric-wise that came close to these specs was micro-fiber. We looked at several of both types of living room furniture and we finally decided upon leather. Previously we had a sofa and love seat. We ended up purchasing a leather sofa and a club chair from Slumberland, and a recliner from Sams...ironically it goes together just fine. To make things more affordable, we purchased the floor models that were clearanced out and we also were able to negotiate a little as well. A year later, we added 2 leather storage ottomans from Target that holds most of our children's books, we use this as a make-shift coffee table/footrest. It's only been 3 years, but it's held up remarkably well, better than any fabric covered piece we've owned in the past. I do finally love leather, to make things a bit cozier, we keep plenty of soft cushy throws on hand and to clean it, we discovered leather wipes. Leather doesn't work for everyone and I can certainly understand any reluctance, but for our bustling family, it's a perfect fit.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow, The Capitol, and Singing..Oh My!!

 We had planned to go to our capitol, Topeka, to support a house bill and represent our submitted testimony. We didn't plan on a snowstorm. We really deliberated about going...I didn't want to risk it with the kids, so we prayed and Don even drove around to try and decide if we should even try. After he returned, we decided it should be alright. A few miles after leaving our city, the snow really started to blow and visibility was very limited. The thing that was most concerning was the semi-truck drivers' recklessness.We witnessed 3 near accidents that I believe our pleading to God at that moment prevented. It's been a looong time since I have been so worried and on the edge of my seat. Once we were about half-way, things cleared up and we made it safe and sound. Unfortunately, our hearing was cancelled due to a lengthy prior session, so mostly due to the weather and to attend the hearing that was rescheduled for the next day, we spent the night. I was so bummed and depressed....this was the last place I wanted to be!! The snow was coming down and we were stuck in a hotel room with 6 kids who had spent part of the day in the car and another part of the day wandering around government buildings. And to top it off, the hotel had a swimming pool, but we had NO swimming suits! The kids were all great sports though, and we made the most of the evening. We bought a card game at Walmart called "Would you Rather", it's an odd game, but the kids loved it. For the first time, I saw the effects of no television. We thought the kids would love to watch tv, but after about an hour, they turned it off and told us they were bored!! Are these My kids?? Instead we completely explored the hotel, prayed for safety and our house bill, read the bible(Gideon's isn't quite the same!!) and the check-in clerk treated the kids to juice,bananas, pens and paper. The next day was MUCH better, my mood lifted as the sun began to shine. We had a wonderful tour of the capital, complete with the famous singing tour guide. Our hearing was a blessing to witness, our 2 beautiful ladies that gave testimonies, were AMAZING!!! God cleared our paths that day both at the Capitol and the roads as we travelled home. I am so very happy to be blogging this from my very warm, albeit loud, home sweet home.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Muslim Cries out to Jesus

Thanks for sharing, Josette!!! I totally sobbed when I saw this on your blog!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Easy Part

For the last several nights, Benny has been waking up in the night and wandering into our room and so our queen sized bed is now holding 4 occupants. I don't have to explain that Don and I are a little deprived of adequate rest. It was 3am Saturday morning, Don had to get up and bring Benny into our bed because he wouldn't stop crying from a bad dream, Don was so frustrated and exasperated, because we had just put Charlie back to sleep 5 minutes before, he complained..."We'll NEVER get any sleep!!" And I sleepily said..."This is the easy part." He retorted..."What!?!" I said again, "It's the easy part, we know where they are and we can hold them and comfort them and keep them safe close to won't be like that when their grown and we won't be sleeping then because we will wonder and worry about you see, it's the easy they are." He actually never heard me after the first few words because he had already drifted back to sleep. I laid there and thought about our crowded little bed and I could hear the other kids breathing and tossing in their rooms right across the hall and I had such a feeling of warmth and love for each of them and I thanked God for the "easy part".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Debt Free Dreams

Ever since Don and I read "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey 6 years ago, we have been inspired to become debt free. We sat down and really talked about where we were financially and where we wanted to be. We decided that our "dream home" that we lived in wasn't within our means after all. We were paying 50% of our paycheck to the mortgage company...that did not include our utilities either. Most finance experts suggest not exceeding 28% of your income including utilities.Our realtor talked us into purchasing the most expensive home we could possibly afford with the hope of eventually being able to afford it. This seemed logical to us at the time, but after reading countless finance books, we were just delusional to think this was going to work. We decided 6 years ago to find a house that we could live in within our means. It took 5 years of scouring our city to find one fit into that 28% with utilities and one that we both agreed on. We did things a little backwards though, we found the house BEFORE selling our old home. This was part in compromise to Don, he didn't want to have to rent or move our stuff twice, and also because our new home was bank owned and they didn't accept contingencies. We both agreed this was foolish and will never do that again.
With all that now behind us we still have credit card debt and a car loan to payoff. The first thing Dave recommends doing is establishing an emergency savings fund in the amount of $1,000. We have done that and we are on the second step which is creating a debt snowball. This is achieved by attacking your smallest debt and making minimum payments on your other debts and applying any extra funds to that smallest one until it's eliminated and then moving up to the next smallest one and applying all those same funds to that one debt and so on until they are all payed off. The next step is to save 3-6 months of living expenses in savings. This will help if there are layoffs or unexpected illness or any other curve balls life should throw at us. After that 15% of income should be allocated to retirement. Then comes college funding, paying off your home early and finally building wealth so you can give like never before. The cool thing is that it's all biblically-  based. I am excited to coordinate a Financial Peace Course at our parish coming in March, it's a great opportunity to help others while at the same time helping ourselves through the awesome support that the classes provide. One of the most inspiring results of FPU was it's affect on Habitat for Humanity. They had a 33% delinquency rate from their homeowners making their very modest mortgage payments. They have now required that every client attend FPU, their delinquency ratio is now 0%. The program changes lives, I am blessed to have had friends go through the program and tell me about how they have completely changed their futures and the future of their children. Dave's motto is "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else!"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Redefining Happiness

    Last night I was blessed to yet again witness the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, dedication to faith, and just downright goodness of a group of mothers I am privileged to walk with in my journey. I am one of the oldest moms in the group and each and every time I am blown away with how these young moms are eons and eons beyond where I was at their age, and quite frankly probably where I am today!! I have a feeling that these young moms will accomplish many great things now and in the future.
    As I think about them, I hearken(old fogey terminology) back to my youth and think about when Don and I were first married. If an angel would have popped out of the closet at our wedding reception and told me that someday....I would be covered in stretch marks from my shoulders to my knees, burdened with too much debt (through the help of Dave Ramsey..we are trying to eradicate) sporting more wrinkles than I could count, a permanent baby bag for a belly, a messy house in the same neighborhood I grew up in, 2 vehicles that I will never be able to parallel park, and a constant volume just a decibel above insanity and be completely happy, I would have torn up the marriage certificate, shook Don's hand and said, "Nice knowing you, but that's not exactly what I had planned."
   We(cough cough)...I had dreams of making enough money to buy our dream house, furnishings, vacation homes, 3 or maybe 4 perfect children(2 boys & 2 girls) that we would send on to the "best" colleges. God must have just been rollin' around laughing in Heaven! Don't get me wrong, we still hope to have 3 or 4 perfect children...we are thinking of adoption. That was before I realized that we are called to live for God's will not our own. I had a re-version back to my Catholic faith and for the first time, I took a deep long look at it and saw the beauty of it's truth and light. And I knew I could never be the same. It took me 10 years to find an acceptable level of contentment, and that took many challenges to break me enough to accept it. Every year it gets a tad takes many Masses and lots of time pouring my heart out to my Love in Adoration.  In some ways, I know I will never be content and the whole time Don just wishing I would be. I don't walk around with a huge smile and sweetness exuding from me, but I can lose it one minute, hollering at the kids to stop fighting or pick up their stuff, and the very next moment, scoop up a little one(or big one) and cover them with unleashed affection..all without blinking an eye.....that defines happiness for me, a little bit of hectic insanity mixed up with plenty of cuddles, acceptance...and contentment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pray for Missions

As you may already know, Don and I are praying about a call to missionary life, we have given ourselves 2.5 years to pray and decide. We have so many obstacles preventing this from happening right now, but we know if it's God's will, the obstacles will be cleared. I wanted to share the blogs of 2 families that could really use your support in the way of prayers. The first blog is of my friends, the Alvarez family who are en route to the Philippines, the second is the Eckstine Family who reside in St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Currently, I am so moved by this recent development of the Eckstine Family(click name to read post) and here is the blog of The Alvarez Family(click to view blog). Both of these families are Catholic and went through Family Missions Company(click to view website) Right now, our family shares in the missions of these families by offering a small financial donation, which we believe shares in their work. This also helps sustain us as we contemplate our vocations. They are truly living the scripture verse in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Perfect Parenting

After Don and I became parents, I had it all planned out. I was very idealistic and I knew everything there was to know about parenting...because I read many books...isn't that what makes a perfect parent?
Well anyway, one of the things we decided was that our children would NOT play with violent things, such as guns, knives, swords,....not even water guns, hence they may get the wrong impression. One day as I was giving my perfect first son, Noah, a snack of graham crackers, he created something with it. A gun!! "What is that, Noah?", I asked. "It's a gun, Mommy, isn't it great?" I took it as a fluke and went on with our "perfect" life. For breakfast the next morning, Noah showed me his toast eaten into the shape of a gun, and so it went he made them out of EVERYTHING from play-doh to mashed potatoes! It was then that a revelation occurred to me. Guns are built into the DNA of most males and to deny them is futile, because they will make them, build them, or eat their food into the shape of them. God has a sense of humor, because he gave me 5 of these creatures to totally drive this "revelation" home!  So, as I sit here in my less than perfect home, with my less than perfect family, in my less than perfect body, I giggle at my boys charging through the house with their nerf guns trying to outrun cabin fever and reminiscing of my old ideals of "perfect parenting". Don even gave Noah his old archery set for Christmas, his parents still had from when he was a teenager. Noah has been asking me about taking archery lessons..I think I'm going to have to look into it. Anyone know of archery lessons anywhere??  The less perfect our life becomes, the happier we are. I remember calling my Mom up one day on the phone when I was in my early 30's and exclaiming..."Mom, I don't know anything at all..absolutely nothing!!" She said, "Ah, that is the beginning of wisdom." Well, I'm almost in my 40's and I feel the same way, but instead of letting it get me down, it excites me, and I love to learn, and I realize that there's an opportunity to learn every time I listen to someone, or read, go to confession, or pray, or listen, go to Mass, or pray, watch my children, or listen.....
St. Augustine says, "This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections."