Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just Shoot Me

Is there anyway to transform my thirty-something, matronly face into something a little, you know, more hip? I'm hoping that the whole "camera adds 10 pounds" deal doesn't apply to photos taken only of one's head.

I'm having my picture taken this afternoon and I'm beginning to get a little nervous. Not because the last *professional* photo I had taken involved a school gym and 28 second-graders along with a crazy photographer's assistant armed with a boxful of those plastic black combs. But because this photo will be running alongside my column in our local newspaper!

What's the equivalent of stage fright when one doesn't need walk on stage? I don't know, either, but I think I've got it! It was on a bit of a whim that I applied for said writing gig. I didn't tell anyone--not even the Captain--so when the response came that the editor thought people might want to hear what a mom-to-many trying to raise a virtuous group of young'uns had to say, I figured no one else had applied it was a bit of a shock.

Now the reality is setting in, though. While I'm excited about the opportunity, the very real prospect of putting my name and face out there with my semi-edited thoughts is a combination of "pinch me, I must be dreaming" and "maybe nobody will notice". In the blogosphere, there is safety in the anonymity that accompanies writing here. Relieving the pressure is as easy as a click of the *delete* button. Unsolicited responses are easy to block or even prevent. Not so much in a local rag, leaving me uncomfortably letting go of control. (Why does this seem to be a constant theme around here?)

Beulah's eyes gleamed as I explained my new position, "Wow, Mom! You'll be famous!" I could almost see the visions of starlet Hannah Montana in her view (and NO this is not THAT kind of a photo shoot). My nerves only rattled more as she said, "Yeah! Everyone will know who you are!" To which I replied, "Perhaps, but people may not really like what I write about." To which, she--ever the optimist--replied, "So what? Either way you're famous. Then after you're finished, and people forget about you, you can go on ABC family and do a movie..."

So, if you live in the Fox Valley, or have access to the Beacon-News online, you'll be able to catch my musings bi-weekly for the next two years. Then, sometime after that, look for my made-for-TV movie on ABC family.
Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Only Thing Missing is Milk

For Grandpa's monthly cookie shipment, we decided to try our hand at these homemade oreos, except instead we substituted Fluff for the cream filling recipe. Not quite the real thing, but not half-bad either.

Hand-Wringing Decision

or LCD? And what actually is the difference? I'd ask the nice young man at Best B*y, but he started backing away slowly when I told him that the TV we were planning to *recycle* was black and white with UHF hook-ups on the back. And, no, I gently told him, there was no remote to recycle with it. (He still may be sitting in the mock-home theater display rocking back and forth in the corner.)

Monday, April 28, 2008


Friday our USCIS fingerprints were done. Assuming our criminal backgrounds are kept at bay, the Department of Homeland Security will see fit to approve our I-600 and issue our I-171. Should one agency elect to not throw the other agency under the bus and simply choose to expedite the RE-view of our homestudy, that should all be happening within the next week or so. Thus, leaving the Ark residents ever watchful for a sign (any sign) that we have approval in one of these areas, which should, in turn, mean that the infamous Ethiopian court closure will be just another scoffable event on the journey.

Either way, however, I have a great peace about the situation. It is most certainly attributed to the many prayers being offered up on our behalf. When the Captain and I were at the height of hysteria about the situation, his words reaffirmed for me that whatever happens, whatever the outcome, we must continue to strive to live in God's will--His will for us and for the beautiful baby girl who has already stolen our hearts--no matter what the outcome.

"God has a plan," the Captain reminded me, "and none of the frenzied phone calls, harried emails or obsessive postman stalking will change it. If God's plan is not for her to come here, then it doesn't matter how much we worry or fret or attempt to turn the adoption paperwork tide in our favor, she won't be coming here. But--if God's plan IS for her to come here, then again, all our worry and anxiety will have been wasted because she'll come here no matter what."

It is a beautiful thing to realize God is speaking to you. But it is a thing of grace, when He is speaking through your husband.
Looking for Laura

I have a few things from the Mass of Angels that I thought you might like to have as keepsakes. Please email me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com and I'd be happy to send them out with the other care packages from that Mass.

God Bless,

Friday, April 25, 2008


There are just too many good links sitting in my inbox to not share them with you all. So, in no particular order, here are some places you might want to surf on over to this weekend...

Karla Dornacher's site!
This author/illustrator is a Christian answer to Mary Englebreit. Her books are some of my favorites and she's so sweet, she'll even personally autograph her work for you!

Sherry's memorial site: Please visit her memorial website for her two beautiful babies in a heaven, Daniel & AnnaBeth, and light candle in their memory. You can learn more about creating your own memorial site or giving a memorial site as a gift here.

From Russia with Love: Abortion, fetal tissue research aren't just topics for debate here in the States. From the site...
"The newspaper Cured by Faith concludes, “The private life of a majority of contemporary people today presupposes a union where man and woman are not husband and wife, but partners in a love game. It is hardly surprising that the result of such a game, the human foetus, is remorselessly discarded to serve the needs of cosmetology or the pharmaceutical industry..."
The full article (accompanied by a beautiful icon) is here.

H/T Becky

From Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life: A new project called, "Is This What You Mean?" It aims to educate the public about the nature of abortion and to challenge public officials and candidates who support the legality of abortion to admit what it is. A full description of the project including two simply horrific YouTube videos can be found here.

Computer monitor dirty? Here's a screen cleaner like none you've ever seen before!

H/T Amy

Three Dollar CD Sale! Going on now at St. Joseph Communications--great speakers like Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft and more!

Taming Temper Tantrums in Adopted Toddlers: Not that I (or Baby T for that matter) would be interested in this, but we thought you might be.

And a final heads up: The Catholic Carnival is coming soon to the Ark! If you're interested in submitting a post that's well, you know, Catholic, then what are you waiting for? Email me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com or use this handy-dandy little form!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Risky behavior or the pinnacle of laziness?

I can't take it anymore. I am just going to take a leap of faith that hoards of automated robots are not lurking in cyber-space waiting to fill my comment boxes with spam. As of today, the time consuming word verification is off.

Note to my automated robot friends: We'll be watching you.
Night to Remember

The Boy had track practice that night. Unfortunately, the end of practice coincided with the beginning of a special Mass scheduled at our parish. Fortunately, however, the Captain's work schedule, which has been somewhat hellish unpredictable lately at least allowed me the chance to keep this hectic schedule without all six Arklings in tow.

But as I screeched the wheels of the Ark on yet another trip across town, my momentum was fading fast. "You'll be late to the Mass," I told myself. "The Boy will be in track clothes and sneakers--and let's not forget what a teenage boy smells like after sports practice."

"Perhaps you shouldn't go?" I thought to myself, prompting a lightning round of pros and cons for attending. And just as The Boy collapsed into the passenger seat pawing around for his post-game snack, I remembered the words of the mom who organized the Mass. The Mass of Angels happens once each year, she said, please take an hour out of your busy schedules to join us in celebrating the lives of our angel children. Suddenly, being a few minutes late didn't matter. As I pulled into the church parking lot, my decision was reaffirmed by the few other late arrivals (also with sports-attired children) for the door.

Once inside, we lighted the remaining candles--just enough for each of the families for whom we were to pray--and carried them into the church with us, where the names of the children were already being read. Between each group of names a chorus of voices, some timid and tearful, others strong and supportive sang the refrain, "All you holy, little children, pray for us." And as I glanced from up from the litany of names, I saw the young man in his dirty track clothes standing next to me. With a heart both heavy and light all at once, I was glad we had come.

It was only an hour--out of the entire year--but in that one hour I remembered just why it is that the remaining hours should be so cherished.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Suffering

I promised to put together a few thoughts on the idea of suffering. Here's the late night version of that pledge. There are many more well-thought out books available on suffering and Christianity (Fr. Corapi has some wonderful talks on it) and much more scholarly written than my Reader's Digest version. Please feel free to add any other resources, comments that might be helpful to others.

Once you've answered the question, "Is there a God?" in the affirmative; it's immediately followed by a second question, "Then, why does He let people suffer?" Right? If you've decided that God exists and is all loving and all powerful and all merciful; then how could it be possible that our world is filled with such incredible suffering?

There are those who believe in God who will tell you that all suffering is the product of the hand of a vengeful God, One whose wrath exists to punish those who have strayed from His flock. My take on it, however, is a little bit different.

First of all, let's remember that the same God we read about in the Old Testament who turned people to salt and flooded the earth to rid it of sin is only the beginning of the story. The fulfillment of salvation history, remember, is revealed to us in the New Testament--again by God (as the second person of the divine Trinity, Jesus). He comes to bring us a new covenant, one that is bound by a love and a mercy so powerful that His only purpose was to come from His perfect heavenly home to earth to die for our sins. That's where my understanding of the purpose of suffering originates.

The suffering of Jesus was the antidote to our sins. It paid the price for the sins of all mankind--past, present and future--and opened wide the gates of heaven for us all. Some might argue and say, "Oh sure, but it was Jesus, how hard could it have been for Him to suffer?"
Anyone? Anyone? Well, if you've ever read scripture or meditated on the sorrowful mysteries, you know that in those moments in the garden at Gethsemene it was hard--even for Jesus. In fact, it was so hard He sweat blood. He cried. He pondered. And He prayed. He asked God that if there were any way at all that "this cup could pass from Him" that He'd be just as happy to continue on His merry way of ministry here on earth. But He knew that His suffering had a purpose--to redeem mankind. It's such a beautiful image of the divine and the human nature at work in God the Son. In His humanness, he'd rather pass on the whole suffering bit, but there is at His core an understanding that God's ways are not our ways and sometimes we simply don't understand them. And so, a final prayer was said, "Not my will, Father, but your will be done." And with that simple act of accepting the suffering He was about to endure, the course of salvation history was changed forever.

Secondly, we mustn't forget that we truly are all part of one body in Christ together. When one part hurts, we all hurt. When one part rejoices, we all rejoice. There is an interconnectedness which exists among us that is almost unfathomable for the human mind. And because it was designed by God, it has a purpose, which God--in His infinite wisdom and mercy--will only use for good.

Think of it this way, if Jesus-the innocent Son of God's-suffering was the antidote to the sins of all eternity, then surely within the Body of Christ the suffering which exists--particularly that of the innocent--has mighty redemptive power. And if God, who is omnipotent sees that suffering, particularly that of the innocent, will bring about redemption within the Body of Christ; then while it seems unmerciful to us from our narrow human viewpoint, is actually truly merciful--because that suffering, when united with the power of the Cross, will bring the fallen and the broken in the Body of Christ back to their Father in heaven; just as the incomprehensible suffering of His own Son did over two centuries ago.
The REAL Reason I Can't Stop Blogging

H/T Mom

Monday, April 21, 2008

It did the trick!

I always thought you all were good people--but, boy, if I ever had any doubts, you've removed them all. What an amazing encouragement your words were to me over this weekend. I am truly humbled to be the recipient of such prayers and well-wishes (not to mention the beautiful virtual bouquet from Eileen!).

I'm only supposed to send these on to 2 or 3 people, but I simply can't do that. I absolutely must send them to all of you who took a moment to offer your kind words to lift my sagging spirit. Along with these beautiful blooms, know that I have thanked God for each one of you and prayed that He blesses you back ten times over!

"Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall he has no one to lift him up... Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist." Ecclesiastes 4:10-11
Ethio-American Kids Community Happenings

The newsletter (see information at the bottom to receive this newsletter) was chock full of exciting activities for families with Ethiopian-American children in and around the Chicagoland area. Here are a few of the standouts:

Culture Camp Registration Now Open!

Mark your calendars for the Ethio-American Culture Camp this summer, August 1-3, 2008 at Wesley Woods Camp in southern Wisconsin. Join us for this exciting cultural celebration, filled with activities to enrich Ethio-American children and their siblings on their rich Ethiopian heritage!

Register today to save your spot at The early registration program fee (through 6/15) for Culture Camp is $40 to provide activities throughout the weekend, and families can also make lodging and camp meal arrangements online.

*Culture Camp volunteers are needed to help manage information/registration, activity planning, and the Saturday Evening Ethiopian Banquet. Email Bridget for more information.

Save the Date: Upcoming Events

Planning Meeting -- Thursday, May 15th, 6:30-8 p.m.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, located at 5631 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago.

Please confirm your attendance to Carol by Tuesday, May 13th.

Second-Annual Summer Picnic -- Saturday, June 21, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Burnham Shores in Evanston. Sign up will be available on the website beginning in May.

And Finally…Housekeeping:

· We need family photos for our Web site! Email photos to Katie Brabson at

· We want to hear from you! We’re trying to collect stories about adopting from Ethiopia. This is a great way to help pre-adoptive families learn from those who have already brought their children home. If you’d like to share your family’s story, email Dan Rafter at

· Join in the conversation: Sign up for the EAKC Yahoo Group at The forum is designed to facilitate social and cultural activities for families, as well as to discuss issues and share resources related to adopting from Ethiopia.

· Building a Membership Directory – Our group has many familiar faces and we’ve got new families joining everyday! We’re looking for a volunteer to develop and manage a membership directory of EAKC for 2008. Email Carol for more information.

NOTE: If you wish to be removed from or added to this mailing list, please contact

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Twists and Turns

The highs were of the nosebleed persuasion, but the lows, well-their nosebleeds were caused by the swift connection of face to pavement that accompanied some of the moments here this past week.

If you've been on the Ark for any length of time at all, you know that our family is about to increase in size, through the miracle (and I can't stress the true miracle it is enough) of adoption. While you've heard and seen a few blips on the radar about the process, I've guarded my heart tightly with any news of real substance.

Why? It's not you. It's me. No, really, I mean it, it is.

By holding all the cards in my own hand, I thought that perhaps I could keep myself from becoming too emotionally involved or too attached to the little baby girl that we've been holding in our hearts for several weeks now--waiting for the paperwork process to catch up with the longing of our hearts. But my plan (go figure) is backfiring miserably.

If everything was moving along smoothly, I would be overjoyed to share our news, our excitement with you, dear friends. Thinking along those same lines, and with my knowledge of scripture, why then, would I have decided that I could single-handedly bear the heavy burdens of this trial alone?

And to boot, wouldn't you know that in this funny blogging world, I would find this morning affirmation of the self-same thing over at Margaret's place. God didn't create us to be alone. He created us as many, unique parts, with specific gifts and talents to be shared within the Body of Christ. No one part (or person) is any less important than the other and when one part is broken, the whole body is affected, which sounds like a terrible curse, right? But, in reality, it is the most wonderful of blessings, because it offers encouragement to those of us who find that when our crosses become to heavy to bear alone, we know that the prayers, sufferings and sacrifices made on our behalf by our brothers and sisters in Christ will help to heal us.

So, with that I'm coming clean.

To date, we have had:

  • a glimpse of a referral of a beautiful, baby girl, who has some minor medical needs that would be better treated in the US
  • worry for her, followed by encouraging news of her improved health
  • concern about the completion of dossier paperwork, followed by papers which were miraculously expedited for us
  • hope that an "official" child placement referral would arrive in our hands this week
  • difficult news that there was a glitch with our official, notarized copy of our homestudy, which might delay the processing...which, in turn, might lead us to miss the court closure in Ethiopia...which, given the urgency of this precious baby girl's health needs (and here comes my worst fear of all) might strip us of the referral in order to place her with a family, who is paperwork-free and ready-to-go
  • multiple phone calls to discern the best way to attack the situation
  • and a most blessed priority package in the mail containing the official referral...
  • which we are unable to "officially" sign until we hear back about the homestudy next week
And so it the meanwhile, this part of the Body could desperately use a little help from the Body's other, stronger parts.

Friday, April 18, 2008

This Morning's Wake-Up Call

Tornadoes? Yes. But this? No.

Anyone else affected?
Test Results

The answer to this week's spelling lesson is...(drumroll please)...


Thanks to all who played. And yes, I do realize that this particular snail has some awfully large ears, but honestly, I was just happy my three-year-old could think of a word that started with the sound S and then illustrate it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Inside Layla House-A Look at an Ethiopian Orphanage

Are you looking for a practical way to help orphan children? This story, reminded me of the most important thing we can ALL do to help.

Many times, upon the Captain's arrival home from Ethiopia with Hannah and Baby T, people wanted to hear about the experience.

Heck, as the parent who didn't travel, I wanted to hear about the experience.

Sometimes people ask because they are quietly considering adoption in their minds and wondering what it might be like to travel to a strange land, so far away, for the peculiar pre-arranged meeting of parent and child for the first time. Others wish to know about the conditions there-how different it must be from America-the poverty, the disease, the heartbreak. And a rare few are simply nosy enough to want to hear more about that very intimate moment of hearts colliding. But as much as people asked, the answer was usually something short and sweet--void of much emotion or opportunity for discussion.

Often, after the inquiring minds walked away, he would look at me and say, "I just can't put it into words. Maybe someday I'll be able to..." and then the moment would be over, the story stuck in his heart and mind, overflowing with unphotographable images, to wait for another chance at being told.

This morning, however, I read the story of another mom from our agency, Carrie of Willing Hearts, who recently traveled to Layla House (our agency's orphanage). Masterfully crafted, she manages to describe in heartfelt detail her experience while there. This should be required reading for anyone who is considering adoption and for those who have made the journey, whose stories haven't yet been told.

One final thought, if you aren't considering adoption, please-at the very least-when you are finished reading, pray our family's prayer for the waiting children:

"For every child who waits, a family waits for them."

Prayers for those who wait? Works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, click here.
Spelling Lesson

Artwork by Naomi, age 3

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Memorial Mass of Angels

Sorry about the late notice, but here's an important FYI-

Our parish's Elizabeth Ministry is holding its annual Memorial Mass of Angels on Tues. April, 22nd at 7pm. I wanted to make sure the word got out to people who might find peace and healing in this Mass.

This is open to anyone (you need not be Catholic to attend) who has been touched by the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, SIDS, and infant or child death. (*In cases of miscarriage, there is an eloquently written prayer and blessing for parents over at EWTN*) A reception will follow. All friends and family are invited to share in the support and fellowship of these loved ones.

Please forward this invitation to anyone whom you think might be interested.

For those who would like to have a candle lighted in their child's name, but are unable to attend, please feel free to email me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com
with the name of the child and the date on which he or she was born into eternity. Today is the last day for submitting information.
Sites to visit for papal visit

If you're looking for additional places to find information about the Holy Father's visit to the US, when you're not watching are a few that were forwarded to me:

Benedict of Bavaria (Circle Press, 2008) is the first book to examine how the culture of the pope's homeland, Bavaria, influenced his life, character, and thought by author Brennan Pursell. To read more (or to find out about the 10% discount offered during the pope's visit, click here).
  • From the Pflaum publishing company website:
The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the U.S. this week provides a unique opportunity for children to learn more about him and the papacy. Biographical information, teaching ideas, and reproducible activities for use with students in primary and intermediate grades are now available free from Pflaum. Click here for more information.

If you have any other resources that you'd like to include, please feel free to leave them in the comments to be added. Thanks!

H/T Claire and Amy
Making the Rounds

Well, it seems like this stomach bug isn't going to have any mercy on the Ark. Baby T ran a 104 temperature yesterday between doses of ibuprofen and this morning I awoke to the unmistakable sounds of The Boy not-so-subtly informing me that he, too, had been affected. The good news in all of this? (If a stomach bug could herald good news...) At least I won't have do the drive to track practice tonight...

Monday, April 14, 2008

What does that really mean?

If you haven't ever read Jen's blog, at least stop over and read this young, insightful mother's story of her conversion from atheism to Christianity and her musings on everything from philosophy to laundry!

But her most recent offering, is on the idea of "turning something over to God", and what it means. Her house-buying example is a wonderful example of an abstract Christian concept made practical and hands-on...and worth the read--even if you're not buying a house.
An Omen?

The stomach bug hit the Ark fast and furious this weekend. I will spare you all the gory details, but suffice to say that Baby T is its latest victim, which means that Baby T's mommy is running on little sleep this lovely Monday (it is Monday, isn't it?) But don't pity us, it's a good thing. The last time the Ark got hit with such a ferocious vomit virus was the week Hannah and Baby T came home from Ethiopia! As I tore through roll upon roll of paper towels and cleaning solutions, I thought it might just be an omen. A very dirty, disgusting, smelly one--but if it's signaling the arrival of new Ark members, I'll take it. Just pass me the mop while I wait.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Christmas in April

The forecast is for snow showers this weekend here, so why not Christmas?

Particularly because we're now *officially* waiting for a very special package to open, delivered by the FedEx man Santa---hopefully this coming week! And as soon as that arrives, I'll be able to post the Ark's Christmas letter--chock full of new and exciting family happenings--here!
Ho Ho Ho! Time to go bake some cookies!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Did You?

We did. Watch American Idol Gives Back last night, that is. We watched it last year as well, but since we TiVo'd it, we skipped through any of the images that might have been disturbing for our then home 4 months, Hannah, who had just gone through a year of grief and loss that might disturb even the most stoic of adults.

Last night, though, we watched together. And when the segments appeared of the orphan children in Africa, we held our collective breath and let it play. And together we sat, huddled around one another in our cozy, American family room and watched as the drama of the HIV-AIDS crisis played out in the lives of too many African children (and parents!) on our television.

When it became overwhelming, we drew closer to one another. A little one crept onto Mommy's lap, while Daddy's arm enveloped an emotional pre-teen. It was a moment of shared sadness. And this year we didn't look away because although the pain is still there, something wonderful, something magical, something miraculous has happened in the last almost 18 months. The pain has been lessened because the pain has been shared. Not a one of us looks at the orphan crisis in Africa any more and thinks, "Boy, that is just really sad." We look at it and know that it will take more than our sadness to fix the problem. And the very little bit we've done? It barely scratches the surface. For each orphan child who finds a home--a forever family--hundreds of thousands more like him (or her) wait with no one to help ease the burden of their pain.

The face of the fifteen year old left by his dead mother to raise his three younger siblings is no longer a mirage. He is the flesh and blood eight year old who sits at our table, who took her mother's job when she was too sick to do it herself.

The mother who visits the grave sites of her three children --ALL dead from AIDS--we can't separate from the family in Ethiopia who bestowed their blessing on our family as we promised to raise the children of their second daughter whose life was cut too short.

So, did you watch? We did. But this year as we watched, we really understood and we are poised to do something--to give back. For if we watched, thinking we understood, and didn't make any plans to change our actions, then we really didn't understand at all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tomorrow Morning

Tonight if you were to swing by the Ark, you'd find me burning the midnight oil in preparation for Thursday. You see, tonight, my darling husband arrived home with the final piece of paper for our dossier; which means that tonight, I'll be busily typing up our responses to our agency's Hague Convention required training. (BTW, it's a very interesting four-part DVD series by Dr. Bryan Post of The Post Institute, which deserves--and will receive--its very own post someday soon.) But before I digress too much farther, once my typing is complete I'll methodically check and recheck each paper before safely tucking them inside the nearest overnight mailer till morning. The neurotic in me will also notify AAI of its impending arrival so that they can alert every.single.person in their office to watch for it. Then, as promised, AAI will be delivering a very important package--crammed full of stacks of statements to pore over and absorb, photos of faces to study and letters needing to be carefully signed and dated--but more importantly, full of the unseen and unspoken, cautious joy of the hopes and dreams across the Atlantic.
This weeks Catholic Carnival is here!

Stop by at Sarah's for plenty of great reads (and some beautiful springtime pictures) this week. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Method to His (March) Madness

This March, before the male of the species on the Ark became oblivious to much else other than basketball, I made a feeble, sports-challenged and yet-opportunistic-attempt at turning our couple of lemons into a fine, family-style serving of lemonade.

After divulging my plan to The Boy, he set straight to work. Selecting and printing out eight copies of this year's NCAA bracket; he went about labeling each paper with the name of each family member from Dad down to two year old Baby T. At dinner, a few nights before the fun began, I shared my plan to create family unity through the literal madness of college basketball. Looking back, probably there should have been a few handicaps worked into the scoring. Things like--unable to write (let alone read) the picks, second language English speakers, still wearing diapers and limited exposure to basketball in general should have counted for something, right? Well, maybe for me it would have. But the rest of the crew just plugged along, carefully selecting teams under the watchful eyes of their older and wiser and basketball-obsessed sibling. Using methods such as: "Do you like seed number 1 or 4?" "Hey, I've heard of that city!" or the ever popular, "I LOVE the color of that team's uniforms." Teams were systematically eliminated until each family member had chosen their favorite (or at least someone) to win it all. And, more importantly, the family member with the most points to win a chance at picking dinner one night!

Early on, those of us basketball-guru-posers, betting on the golden boy teams to easily stroll their way into the Final Four, were wondering if this activity wasn't such a good idea after all. The only one who maintained a laissez-faire attitude from the get-go was Baby T. And after multiple attempts were made to distract him from methodically applying liberal amounts of his dinner to his hair and face the night the brackets were completed, an executive decision was made to simply pick the top seeds to win all the way through.

And last night, even with one of his sisters selecting the correct winner of the whole enchilada--Baby T reigned supreme. Now if I can only convince him that the meal he chooses should not contain yogurt, raisins or apple juice.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spiritual Fatherhood

In the hopes of offering a neat and tidy, pre-packaged guide to the FAQ about affording a large family, I grabbed the last copy of Scott Hahn's CD, Be Frugal and Multiply, courtesy of St. Joseph Communications / Lighthouse Media off a local parish CD rack.

What I found, however, was less a how-to list of cutting corners, clipping coupons and living within one's means than a reflection on God's awesome gift of life-giving love through marriage and the special role bestowed upon husbands and fathers. Certainly, there are plenty of tried and true as well as some bold new ideas on frugality out there. But none of them, not a single one, has any value when taken out of the context of the WHY behind openness to a family whose size is designed by God. Again, do not hear me saying that God is holding a reproduction competition and the family with the most children wins. To believe that is to believe that God doesn't love and need families of all sizes in His plan. But in order to understand how the Church's teaching on marriage often becomes the reality of super-sized (by secular standards, at least) families; we need to look at that teaching and how we, as husbands and wives, can apply it to our own domestic churches. In St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, we read,
"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord...As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."
Taken alone, which it often erroneously is, this can sound terribly oppressive, patriarchal and perhaps, even, demeaning. When read together, with the rest of St. Paul's letter, however, we see that this is only one half of the teaching. The second half (speaking to husbands) instructs them to
"love your wives as Christ loved the Church."
I'll go out on a limb here and assume that Jesus' love for us, while we were still sinners, revealed in the mystery of the Cross is still fairly fresh in your minds from Easter. Not a small act of love, but rather a very generous one, don't you think? Jesus tells us,
"I came into the world not to be served but to serve and to lay down my life for my bride."
Christian husbands and fathers are called to sacrifice everything for their wives and children. As Christopher West jokes, "Now, I ask you, who has the better deal here, ladies?"

Real men know that for fatherhood to be authentic, it will inevitably require of them struggles and temptations of this imperfect world. It will be fraught with spiritual battles for the souls of those entrusted to them. And only by their own firm foundation in Jesus Christ will they be able to align themselves with Him and carry their families to the victorious cheers of Calvary.

When seen through the eyes of Christ, driving the less exotic--yet dependable--late model vehicle, sharing a romantic dinner at home with a nursing baby or passing up tickets to a professional sporting event--to instead meet the eyes of the child who scored the winning basket no longer seems such a sacrifice. Living out authentic spiritual fatherhood, as a man who seeks to love his family with the heart of the Father is, in the end, what will separate the men from the boys.

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel
Do any of you remember?

How long does it take from the time you file the I-600A to the time when you receive the approval to get USCIS fingerprinting done? Just wondering...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Promise, A Prayer and Another Promise

The other day, I made a promise to a friend that I would pray the remainder of my morning rosary for her. (Ed Note: I usually pray my rosary in the car on the drive back from dropping kids off at school, which gives me time for FOUR decades, leaving me to fit the FIFTH one in at some other point during the day).

As it worked out, I was left praying the fifth joyful mystery for my friend--the finding of the child Jesus in the temple. As I hopped back in the car for another trip, I listened closely, meditating on the scripture, when I suddenly heard something with a new set of ears:

"Your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety. Jesus said to them (Mary and Joseph), 'Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' " Luke 2: 48-49

Suddenly, a great burden was lifted off my heart. The worry I was carrying for our not-yet-named newest child(ren) dissipated. Because as we wait for news, as I wear a path through the floor with my pacing in nervous anticipation, I found peace through God's word about the safety of our child. In our absence, God is with her (or him..or them).

It was a truly joyful meditation on that final decade of the mysteries of the same name. The promise I had made to my friend was fulfilled and in return, I was reminded of another promise made by God to us, His children.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Eileen, tagged me for this meme:

Seven Facts You Don't Already Know about Me

*Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
*Share 7 facts about yourself that you think most people don't know.
*Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
*Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I know you have all painfully endured the "8 Random Things About Me" meme, as well as the "Re-Mix of said 8 Random Things", but this one says SEVEN, which clearly makes it different from the EIGHT things meme. So, I'm including the link for the 8 random things, feel free to not read one of them, giving you only 7 gratuitous pieces of information about me that you could wish you never knew. (I'm just not that interesting. Heck, coming up with 16 was a stretch...)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Patience Thy Name is Adoption

I haven't spent much time with my poor, little, neglected blog over the past few days. I think it's starting to get a complex, but I can't help it. I've spent plenty of time in front of the computer obsessively checking email, but not so much opening the flood gates to my thoughts via the blog.

Why not, right? Surely, your thinking to yourself, she's had plenty of nothing to write about before. It can't be that her kids have stopped providing her with humorous anecdotes or witty reflections on life, can they? Perhaps the mundane has become just too, well, mundane to write about it. We did make a big family outing to Iowa, for Pete's sake, are you telling me we're losing our edge?

While all those things may be true, it's not my excuse. It would have been far easier to sit down and write about those things, than allowing the cathartic release of emotions relating to this current adoption. So, instead of my typical ramblings, there is silence. Probably a hallmark of passive-aggressive behavior or some other certifiable tendency.

If you've ever stood on the edge of a swimming pool, waiting to take that first jump in, you know where I am. More specifically, if you've ever been an expectant mother (birth or adoptive) you know exactly where I am. From the moment you know that your child exists, you want to protect it. The instinct to mother is strong, perhaps the strongest instinct we as mothers possess. And in a pregnancy, from the moment that little pink line appears, you wait for milestones affirming the safety of the new life you carry--blood tests, heart beats, ultra sounds, etc...reassuring you that life, literally, goes on. In adoption, the instinct is just as strong. And once you *know*, both literally and figuratively, that a new life waits for you, your heart lives outside your body--until you are able to hold him or her safely in your arms.

But right now, we're still waiting for the line to turn pink. And it's the longest three minutes I've known.