Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Do I Really Need To Say This?

As I passed Naomi sitting on the stairs after dinner tonight; the sight of her shirt being sucked into the Dustbuster as she stared down with interest, forced me to declare, "New rule. Please do not vacuum yourself."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blogging Friends Forever

Therese at Aussie Coffee Shop kindly gave me this award. Thanks, Therese!

The Blogging Friends Forever Rules are:

1. Only five people allowed.

2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.

3. One has to be someone new, or recently new to your blog, or live in another part of the world.

4. You must link back to whoever gave you the 'Blogging Friends Forever' award.

I think it's mighty presumptuous of me to claim that there is anyone on the planet who is *dedicated* to reading my blog. And I have met so many more than five lovely blogging friends that no matter how I slice this, I'll feel that I'm leaving someone out. So, with that in mind, here are my five.

(My apologies to my other *dedicated* readers.)

Anne at A Cup of Tea With Anne

Laura at Simple, Ordinary Lives

Barb at SFO Mom

Michelle at Dei Gratia

Darci at not-the-end-but-the-road

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back-To-School...With A Purpose!!!


Contact me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com if you'd like the code for the blog button to help spread the word!

I am simply so excited to finally share with you this project! One major component of our adoption agency's program is the requirement that adoptive families commit not only to the child(ren) they are adopting, but also to those who wait for a forever family. (You can read about our last project here and here.) As part of the Ark's commitment to the waiting children, we invite you now to join with us in an effort to share the many blessings we have.

Beginning today until my mail arrives on September 17th, we will be collecting school supplies to bring to our agency's orphanage. Our family will transport school supplies to Ethiopia during our travel in late September. Any supplies are welcome, but some particularly useful items would be:

- tape: scotch, masking, and clear packing tape, and labels
- pencils
- envelopes
- dry erase markers
- yarn
- crocheting needles & knitting needles
-colored pencils
-water color paints
- a parachute (they finally found the one that was there but it's ripped and unusable)

A missionary sister working in Africa once visited my class of second grade students to talk about her work. When the students asked, “How can we help?” She quickly responded, “Pray---and make sacrifices.” In that order, I might add. We need to remember that prayer should be our first action, not a resigned "All I can do now is pray." We pray. God provides. And if you are so moved to send some school supplies too, well then, all the better!

Our hope is that this project will shine a light into the darkest corners of the blogosphere, illuminating hearts and minds in a call to action!

For additional information about Ethiopian adoption, or to learn about more ways to help Ethiopian orphans; please visit our agency’s website at You can also donate to them directly, (Although, it takes up less space in the suitcase, I feel a little funny personally collecting money online...)by clicking on the "Donate Now" button in the bottom right corner of their site.


if helping others wasn't motivation enough, I'm throwing in a few goodies as giveaways!

Courtesy of The Catholic Company:

Catholic Classics: Volume VII African American Sacred Songs and Audrey, reviewed here.

So, whether you are praying, donating or both, please leave a comment below (including your name and email) and your name will be entered. If your group (i.e.-scouts, school group, etc...) collects things together, feel free to enter each name for multiple chances!

Please help spread the word, not just about our little project, but to remind others of the many opportunities we have to share what we have been given. Thank you for your generosity in helping the orphan children, who are still waiting for a family.

Facts About Ethiopia

Did You Know? •

  • Average family income is $110 US per year •
  • Life expectancy is 48 years • Adult literacy rate is 42% •
  • Malnutrition is responsible for more than 50% of all deaths among children under 5 •
  • 12% of children (10-14) living without their parents in the capital city are domestic workers •
  • There are approximately 5 million orphan children living in Ethiopia •
  • Poverty, famine and disease are responsible for most deaths •
  • Only 43% of children attend school •
  • There are about 70 million people living in Ethiopia •
  • Of this number, 58 million live on less than $1 per day

  • Source: UNICEF, UNAIDS

Catholic Carnival #187

This week's carnival is being hosted -- again!!!-- by the lovely Ebeth! There are many good reads to be found. Make sure to stop by and check it out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Free Resource--Celebrate Urban Birds

As a part of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Center, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Urban Birds!

From their website:
"Learn about city birds, watch birds for science, get involved in projects to “green” up your community, and increase conservation awareness."
Click here for information on this free resource.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to School Prayer Service

We've used the original form of this service in our parish, but tonight, we'll be using this prayer service(the intermediate one, I think, even with the little ones) to bless our children as they begin their new school year.

And, yes, as was alluded to previously, we have taken the plunge. We are moving up to a whole new level of if people didn't find us unusual enough anyway...and begin a journey into the world of home education!

Look for updates throughout the year and follow along with us as we answer this new call for our family!

AND...the blog button below will be available---along with an explanation---coming very soon!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Plan Ahead

"Come Sept. 18, Venus, Mercury and Mars will form an equilateral triangle, whose sides are 4 degrees in length. And Spica now becomes a part of this array, sitting only a few degrees to the left of the triangle. Whether you'll actually be able to see it, or the even fainter Mars against the backdrop of the bright twilight sky, however, is debatable.

But to have three planets and a bright star crammed into a relatively small spot in the sky does not happen very often, so I would urge you to give it a try."
Read the complete article here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yes and No

Birthday luau for 14 ten year old girls? Yes.

Deadline for new column? Yes.

Much needed trip to the grocery store? Yes.

Husband home after a week out of town? Yes.

Last weekend before school starts? Yes.

Whole lot of blogging going on? Not so much.

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Something Else to Worry About

We used to have so much in common. Six kids, strong heart for adoption, especially in Africa...Now that we have seven, what ever will we talk about with them?
Link Round-Up

Why have I never heard of the Freebie O' The Day site? How is it that I almost missed out on free Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit facial scrub? Thanks to Faith, that won't be happening again!

Looking to make your own Frappuccino? Craving a Cherry Slurpee? How about an Orange Julius? These yummy, FREE recipes were also courtesy of Faith! She sent us this excellent link to the Everyday Cheapskate's Icy, Cold Summer Drinks.

To go along with these tasty frozen treats, why not stop over at The Catholic Company for these Family Friendly Movies and DVDs? If you haven't seen it, I can't recommend Champions of Faith enough. Our family loved it!

In case you missed it in my Google Reader in the sidebar, this week's Catholic Carnival is over at A Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars! Ebeth has done a fantastic job of hosting this week and there are several wonderful, inspiring entries. Definitely make a stop there!

Before it's next Wednesday, here's our belated Wordless Wednesday picture! Can you even stand the little ham hocks on her little legs?! And to think that this baby was failing to thrive! That was before her name went straight from our lips to God's ears! What a miracle!

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Cat Who Came To Bible Study

People say that cats are very intuitive creatures. If you don't own one, you'll have to take my word for this feline phenomenon. As the owner of several cats in my days (just enough that The Boy has dubbed me a 'Cat Farmer'), I have seen our kitties do some pretty intelligent things. Granted, our 3 month old kitten is NOT a shining example of brain power, but with time she'll grow into a wise, old girl just like her housemates.

And I can't help but smile when I get a glimpse of what might actually be going on in their furry little brains...just like I did last night.

My cat, aptly named Big Dan for his hulking 15 pound cat frame, was a shelter cat. He found me when we were choosing a kitten for Naomi last Christmas. Not planning on two kittens--let alone an adult cat--I was surprised to find myself welcoming him home a few days after Christmas. But, I'm sure he wasn't. He's a survivor, my cat. He caught one glimpse of this sucker-for-orange-tomcats and decided he'd found his ticket out. Once home, however, it was a different story. He spent the first few weeks hiding in my sweaters or occasionally under my bed. Nothing could make him come out. Not even me. But slowly as he gained my trust, during the quiet of the evenings when the noise died down, he'd cautiously make his way down the steps to the family room. He'd suspiciously scan and sniff the room and once the all clear sounded, he'd settle in next to me for the night.

But once the noise level of the day started, he'd scurry back upstairs, which is why I was so shocked to see him saunter in to bible study at my house the first time. With my mouth hanging open, I watched as he hopped up in the lap of one of the women and settled in for the hour. A bit embarrassed and apologizing all over myself, I'd try to shoo him away but his resolve was stronger. The next month, the same thing happened. Then again. And again. It became a bit of a joke that as soon as my bible study group sat down, inspite of his social anxiety, my plus-sized cat would join us. Besides being horrified at his behavior, I thought little of it. Until last night.

Last night, our core group welcomed in a family member (of the non-furry kind) of mine. The women in this group encouraged, supported, laughed and cried together, but more importantly they reached out to my struggling relative and touched her with the hands of God. Their voices were filled with wisdom from the Holy Spirit as they counseled her. And she left wanting more, wanting to go deeper in building the relationship she found amongst these beautiful, faith-filled women I am blessed over and over again to call friends.

Just before our final prayer, I turned to find Big Dan, curled up next to one of the women, smiling a Chesire-grin as his head rested on her lap. Suddenly, I knew what drew my frightened, anxious, once-been-lost-but-now-was-found feline here. The unconditional love of God lived out loud by these women brought him to them. And it was so powerful, this experience, that no matter how hard I tried to stop him, he kept coming back for more.

May God continue to use this group of women in a mighty way; drawing the lonely, the scared, the confused and all whom they encounter to a deeper, closer, never-want-to leave-Him kind of faith. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School...With a Purpose!

I think I've finally gotten a handle on creating those pesky little blog buttons. Too much time on my hands and too little knowledge of html code can be dangerous...and time consuming!

Check back later for details!

Ooooh! I'm so excited about this...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sister, Can You Spare a Prayer?

All you lovely ladies who have been carrying me with your prayers throughout our adoption process, I've got another favor to ask.

My sweet sister-in-Christ, Teri, has written a reflection on discernment that I want you to read. I have confessed to her (among many others) that one of my most disliked privileges as a Christian is the responsibility of discernment. Trying to find the balance between, as she says, "choosing my own ego over the Holy Spirit’s voice" is a constant struggle of mine.

Go and read the rest of her story and encourage her as she continues on her own inspiring journey to be open to building her family according to God's divine--but sometimes difficult--plan.
These Cheeks Were Meant for Squeezing

From the Archives
Photo: May 2008
That's My Girl!

Beulah: When I grow up, I'm going to keep a big bucket of peanut M & Ms in my house all-the-time!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's In A Name?

Adoptive children enter our families, even as babies, with loss. Adjustments may go swimmingly, attachments and bonding may thrive, but the original loss for adoptive children can not be denied.
Consider international adoption. A child loses not only their birth family, but the sights, sounds and smells of their culture. Their language, in many cases, changes. In some cases, their birthdate is unknown--or changed to reflect a more "adoptable" child. Last, but definitely not least, their name--for any number of reasons--may be changed.
As for our children's names, Hannah is her Ethiopian name. Baby T and Baby Girl's first names were given by us, but we kept their Ethiopian names as their middle names. That way, they have their *first* names as a part of their name, but growing up in the US, have a name that is more Americanized. When they get older, we'll call them whichever one they prefer---even if that changes. I have a couple of non-adopted relatives who did that with their names for various reasons. Some Ethiopian names translate easily to English (obviously Helen or Hannah or Samuel, etc...but some do not. There are others Eyob=Job or Eremaus=Jeremy or Yosef=Joseph, etc...that people keep the Ethiopian spelling but make the accent more Americanized--or change the spelling entirely.) We also felt strongly about not changing Hannah's name because she was older and we wanted to allow her to feel as though the few things she was bringing from Ethiopia would remain unchanged. But I know of people (even in domestic adoptions) who changed the name of an older child with no adverse reactions. Usually, the child had a say in the new name, which I would imagine helped.

Any other adoptive parents out there who would like to weigh in on this issue? Any adopted children who might share their perspective?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ark on Wheels

Any one who has been reading here for a while knows that the $64,000 question on the Ark has been about which vehicle would be chosen to carry our growing family.

Well, the vehicle has been chosen and it is...drumroll please...

the SAME Suburban we've been driving for the past 3 years.

What?!? How will we fit nine people into an eight passenger SUV? Do the words "double buckle" mean anything to you? No, no, I'm just kidding. Especially for those of you in the law enforcement industry, I would never *dream* of breaking the seatbelt law.

It was not an easy decision. And there were several factors that played into our decision:

  • The love we feel for our current 4x4 vehicle--it's not just transport for us. Think Knight Rider and David Hasselhof. Or (more pleasantly) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dick Van Dyke. It's one of us.
  • The Captain's religious differences with the uber-conspicuous extendo-van.
  • The price of gas leading to the falling SUV market--leaving us with a vehicle worth $5,000 less than it was 6 months ago!
  • Shocking as it may seem, dealers have no shortage of demand for 12 or 15 passenger vans and--even amidst the gas crisis--and aren't ready to deal yet.
So, we went back to the drawing board. And decided that the best vehicle for us was the one we already had with a little tweaking. We decided to invest in a fourth row for the Suburban. It will give us two additional seats, which is one more than we need---at least for now---and will buy us some time at a relatively low price.

But don't worry, those of you who see us during long car trips. We won't disappoint. We've also decided we'd do a few test runs during this interim period. We'll be renting the gargantu-van to do our long trips to see which ones, for future reference, we like best!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feast of the Assumption

We are off to an early morning Mass for the Assumption today. All the girls are getting dressed up in their on clearance, super-discounted really cute summer dresses. We celebrated with mini-donuts for breakfast this morning and are planning a special dessert (apparently something with blue frosting!) for tonight.

Before you end this day, however, take a moment and go read this special post about today's feast by another Ethiopian adoptive mom to seven. What a beautiful reflection she presents for today!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In the Midst of Suffering

Do you know the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe?

I'm sure many of you do.

He's a favorite around the Ark. He's a fairly contemporary saint, which makes him very accessible to the children. They know that even Grandma and Grandpa were around when he was alive.

His story gets me every time. His great act of sacrifice for his fellow man as well as his ability to persevere in leading others to Jesus right up until his final days.

Arrested in 1941, and sent to Auschwitz, where he spent three months berated and beaten down by the camp's soldiers. At one point, a prisoner escaped and the guards demanded the lives of 10 men in his place. When Maximilian Kolbe saw that one of the chosen ten was a husband and father, he made the bold move of stepping off the line and offering his life in exchange for the other man. The guard, when discovering he was a priest, was happy to oblige. Fr. Kolbe joined the other nine men in the "block of death", where they were left to starve. In the darkness, in the midst of the sorrow, Fr. Kolbe encouraged the men. They sang and they prayed. The day before the Assumption, there were only four men still alive. Their captors took their lives that night.

Every time I think of St. Maximilian Kolbe it makes me pause and consider my own actions. Suffering is universal. To one extent or another, we all have some form of it in our lives. Some sufferings are more visible, more lengthy or more talked about than others. Many suffer in silence. What is remarkable about St. Maximilian Kolbe is not simply his selfless act of placing his life before another, but that he did so in the midst of what must have been his own terrible suffering. And then, when confronted with perhaps the worst evil mankind has ever seen, rather than give in...he gave hope to those around him.

How many of those nine other man knew Jesus before they entered that room? Perhaps all did. But perhaps not a one. If so, it is certain that they knew Him when they left.

Today, as I go about my business, when my own crosses seem to much to bear, will I allow them to consume me? Or will I, like St. Maximilian Kolbe, look beyond myself--eyes focused on the task at hand--ready to do the work that God has set before me?

“Courage, my sons. Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes” (Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested).

Read more about St. Maximilian Kolbe here and here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Ham and Cheese Edition

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AAI Supply List

tape - scotch, masking, and clear packing tape, and labels
- pencils
- envelopes - I buy them here, but it wouldn't hurt to build up a supply if someone were willing to donate
- dry erase markers - "Pentel MAXIFLO While Board Marker, MWL5M, push button bullet point" - Birhanu says this lasts longer than the regular dry erase markers and when it dries out, you just push the button and it replenishes
- yarn
- rain ponchos - full length, like the ones that were sent previously, specifically for teachers who walk to the computer lab
- crocheting needles & knitting needles
- cat flea and tick collars
- dog flea and tick collars
- cat/dog flea and tick shampoo
- real leashes (fabric ones) / dog training leashes
- bras - training bras & 32 - 36 a, b, c cups
- volley balls
- tennis balls
- whiffle balls & whiffle bats
- baseball mitts
- soccer shin guards, goalie gloves, socks
- pump hoses (not pumps) - the hose looks like a bungie cord, it connects the pump to the needle, if you don't use this, the needle breaks very easily
- american footballs
- street hockey pucks & sticks
- a parachute (we finally found the one that was here but it's ripped and unusable)

- Movies for 12 years and under DVDS or Videos specifically
High School Musical 1 & 2
The Princess Bride
Harry Potters
Chronicles of Narnia
Cinderalla Story w Hillary Duff
The Perfect Man w Hillary Duff
The Adventures of the Water Horse
Shrek 1 2 3
Hanna Montana
Jonas Brothers
Kid centered exercise videos & dvd's
New Column

You can read my new column at the Beacon-News today: Don't Give In To The Boredom: Give Back!

Monday, August 11, 2008

If At First, You Don't Succeed...

and you can't view the video, email me at patjrsmom at yahoo dot com and I'll walk you through it!
A Dilly of A Pickle

Some of you asked about my pickling prowess posted previously (sorry, that alliteration was just begging me to be written...but, hey, now you have a tongue-twister to try)

So, I'd love to remain the highly-esteemed domestic diva that some of you seem to think I am, but in fairness to mothers everywhere I simply must kick the pedestal out from underneath myself and let you in on a little secret.

Come closer, I'm going to whisper.


Can you hear me? Okay.

I am not--repeat it with me friends--NOT--the Martha Stewart of the Midwest. Even a monkey with some cucumbers, vinegar, water and a Sprawl-Mart nearby could make pickles. Seriously, that's where I got my confidence. Ask some of the people here about my many kitchen disasters. I'm sure they'll be glad to tell you about my health-cake where I decided to omit the eggs--unaware that there is a purpose to every item in a recipe. The purpose of eggs? To bind things together so that they don't crumble to pieces when a gentle breeze blows through. Perhaps you still don't believe me? There was also some unpleasantness with one of my first ever "Casserole Made from Every-Single-Leftover-In-The-Fridge" henceforth known as Mexican Chicken Surprise. I'd give you the recipe, but you wouldn't want it. I don't know what a smart, Yankee gal like myself thought I was doing making a casserole anyway. Sheesh. Or the first *meal* I cooked my future husband--a frozen pizza that I somehow burned on both the top and bottom. Look at it this way, I love homemade things. I love to play around in my kitchen. But I have a bunch of kids and a limited attention span. If they made paper pots and pans I would use them. 'Nuf said. Now, back to pickling...

So, to review:

  1. Everyone can create the pickles in question--even the aforementioned monkey.
  2. All you need are pickling cucumbers (which you can buy for pennies at the farmers market, or if you really are a Martha Stewart-type--first, I would stop taking advice from me--and then, I would go pick some pickling cukes out of your beautiful, garden.
  3. Get as big a kettle as you have and pour in this mix--or this one, depending on your preference--and add water and vinegar accordingly (I found mine at you-know-where-Mart with the canning supplies.) Heat everything to boiling--again according to the package.
  4. Slice the cucumbers lengthwise, taking off the ends.
  5. Add together sliced cukes and hot pickling mixture and let sit for 30 minutes.
  6. Pack pickles into jars and ladle liquid in, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
These can sit in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can either consume them all or water-bath preserve them before the two weeks are up.

I'll get to the preserving process another day. Right now I have to go throw away the lunch dishes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Limited Showing...One Day Only!

Let's try it this way instead...

A grateful THANK YOU to Steve and Anne, who during their own travel remembered to think of us! You are both the best!

Friday, August 08, 2008

And Jesus Wept

There's been no shortage of heated debates found in the blogosphere lately (Remind me to tell you the story of Disco Jesus another day...). The most recent, however, has touched a nerve with women on both sides of the issue--including yours truly.

Now, not that anyone in cyberspace cares one iota about what this mom thinks, but for my own mental the confines of my own corner of the web...I've got something to say.

I had the privilege of hearing Fr. Larry Richards speak at our parish earlier this year. With several non-practicing Catholic Christians and many separated brethren in our extended family, one thing he said firmly implanted itself in my most plebeian mind. He said, "We do better to welcome people into the Church by loving them than by arguing with them." I might add, even if we know they are misguided--or just plain wrong. Another great mom, whose company I miss very much, was fond of saying, "Jesus will reveal that to them Himself." And, as regardless of the issue, she didn't force herself on the person, but continued to love them and pray for them...right where they were and wouldn't you know it if Jesus didn't do just that.

He's like that, isn't He?

And, I think about Him a great deal when we attack and tear down one another all in His name. Oh, the great sorrow Our Lord must feel. But you know who gets the last laugh, don't you? It's not the one with the best documented response or the most cutting retort or even the one who gets the final say. Oh no, for those people have been played by the Lord's most cunning rival.

The Devil.

You don't believe me? Go and read some of the *charitable* comments that were left in response to the multitude of posts linked here. If the Devil wasn't already dancing as Christ's Church splintered off into tens of thousands of different denominations, he's surely looked upon our latest means of self-destruction and began a cha-cha to envy Fred Astaire.

Even the Catholic Church, in all of her wisdom, acknowledges that while the faithful are still called to lovingly evangelize, that God--in ways known only to Him--can lead those ignorant of His message to Him and to "a faith without which it is impossible to please Him." (CCC, 848)

Doesn't this all really come down to a matter of humility?

If we were humble, nothing would change us--neither praise nor discouragement.
If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discouraged.
If someone would praise us, we also would not feel proud.
--Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Try as I might to live in God's friendship and follow Him faithfully--at the end of the day, I am still painfully human--a walking disaster of weakness and flaws. And God is, was and always will be, well, God--full of mercy and forgiveness and an unconditional love so powerful we can't begin to comprehend or interpret it. And we would be arrogant to try. But God knows this and so He doesn't ask this of us. What He does ask is that we share His love with others. And with His help and much grace, He knows we can.

"Love one another as I have loved you." John 13:34
"Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Guess Who Got Her Welcome Bag?

Here's a picture some of you might remember of a couple of other special kiddos opening their Welcome Bags---nearly two years ago!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Catholic Carnival #

this week's catholic carnival can be found here
Wordless Wednesday: Soda Shop Edition

For More Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Truth Spoken Here

My daughter, Hannah, has been home with us in America for nearly two years. She arrived speaking little to no English. As time progressed, she has expanded her vocabulary and can hold her own in almost any conversation. But there are still quirks to her spoken language that occasionally change the meaning of her words ever so slightly. I have to confess that there are times when I've taught (and taught and taught and taught!) the same grammar or phonics rule so many times that I cringe when I hear it misspoken again.

Flashback--last night
Powerful storms rocked the Chicago area just around bedtime. For those who are familiar with Wrigley Field, you'll appreciate that the entire upper deck was cleared when the tornado sirens blared. And the storms intensified as they crossed the border into Indiana, where the town of Griffith was declared a disaster area.

This morning, we surveyed the damage to the Ark. A broken flower pot here, a few scattered items there and as if needing to prove its own strength, our heavy Vermont Castings grill pushed by the wind across the deck. Not much by comparison, thankfully. Then we saw the pictures from Griffith. The witnesses spoke of the terror and destruction, shards of glass flying through the air, screaming until their throats were sore for loved ones. Miraculously, not a single life was lost.

Hannah studied my face after the news was over and then matter-of-factly made this observation:

Hannah: Those storms was very bad.

Me: (doing the cringing grammar thing) Yes, those storms were very bad.

Hannah: (considering the situation for a moment) But, Mom---it's good no one was hurt. They can fix the house but they can no fix the people.

I thought about correcting her grammar--for about a milli-second--but decided it wasn't necessary. It hadn't affected her comprehension a bit.
In A Pickle

Monday, August 04, 2008

In Case You Hadn't Heard...

Carolyn and Yordi are home. God is good.
Hello, Tech Support?

Can someone please explain why my Technorati profile has stopped autopinging and has ceased posting reactions to my blog? Have I offended the Technorati gods in some strange and powerful techie way? Please, help!
Review: Catholic Saints Prayer Book

As much as I loved Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's first book, I wondered if the second book could be as inspiring and engaging. Well, I am happy to report that this gifted mother and writer did not disappoint!

Again, the size and succinctness of the Catholic Saints Prayer Book is a big plus in this busy mom's life. In the midst of my day, if I'm looking for a quick biography of one of the many well-loved and well-known saints, I can easily find it in her book.

It's a little like having an address book for the soul. At a moment's notice, a quick glance down the table of contents is all you need to find the page number of the saint you want to *call*. (Oh, if only there really were phone numbers! ) Then, with her beautiful written prose, a prayer for calling on each saint for intercession.

And being a wee bit biased on all things Irish, I was thrilled to find both the male patron of Ireland--St. Patrick and his not-as-well-known female counterpart St. Brigid. This is a wonderful book to keep in a classroom or family prayer area, in your pocketbook for easy access or to loan out to a friend. Just a warning, though, if you decide to lend it out; buy a second one as a back-up because it may be a while before your friend is ready to give it and all its beauty back!

Thanks again, Donna-Marie! It's always a pleasure!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Our Other New Addition

She's been with us for about two weeks, but after my last feline addition announcement (and knowing people were expecting pictures of our Baby Girl soon), I decided to wait before sharing this...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Book Review: Audrey

Can a little girl--not even a decade old--bring people to Christ?

That's the premise of the true story of a little girl named Audrey, who died of leukemia at the age of 8, in the book bearing her name. Even as a young child, Audrey's parents Lillian and Jerome noticed something different, something special about their daughter:
"Little by little, Jerome and Lillian began to let themselves be influenced by the special signs of goodness that Audrey left in her wake. In their daughter, there was developing---almost imperceptibly---an instinct towards the highest perfection, a great refinement and delicacy towards others, and a deep sense of the sacred."(p. 29, Audrey)

She possessed an almost ethereal quality that is noticed first by her family and later by the many who feeling called to help her, found themselves helped by her. The author balances Audrey's unique, sacrificial personality with episodes that remind us that she was still a human child at heart. There were disagreements with siblings, moments of sheer willfulness and in the depths of her illness--terrible pain and fear.
"By contrast, Audrey was strong, serious, ordered, highly reflective, and a master organizer. She would get annoyed with her brother because she couldn't understand his childish anarchy. 'Hey, you took my notebook!' 'You ruined my puzzle!' 'You're chewing on my pencil!'..." (p. 56, Audrey)

"It was a surprise for Aline (Audrey's sister). Her sister didn't want to take a pill. Lillian (Audrey's mother) insisted. Audrey whimpered and leaned back in bed. It was beginning to become a scene. Aline was amazed, because Audrey did not normally make scenes. Lillian became firm and serious." (p. 89, Audrey)

Audrey brought her love for Jesus and his Blessed Mother to all whom she encountered. She learned lessons at an early age that some never learn. When encountering someone she found to be "un-elegant", she learned to embrace the person and teach them about the love of Christ first by her actions, then by her words. She offered her pain and suffering as little gifts for Jesus and grew to hold a special place in her heart for religious vocations. She prayed and offered her suffering to Jesus on their behalf often.

I must admit that the vignette style of story-telling that was used by author, Gloria Conde, was not my personal preference, and at times felt as though the story jumped from one episode to the next. But the strength and moral character exhibited by such a young child was compelling enough to keep me reading.

It is bittersweet to work through the book. At the beginning, you know the ending. And while reading through, and encountering this beautiful, precious child, it seems almost unbearable to know that the book ends in her death. But, as was typical of Audrey, her story transcends the pages; and by the end of the story--although sad--I found myself rejoicing with her that she was finally headed home.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Audrey - True Story of a Child's Journey of Faith.

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's Not Any Easier

Sometimes, people--even well-meaning ones--outside adoption circles joke that people who adopt "have it easy." No labor or stretch marks. No morning sickness or swollen ankles. Just a pile of paperwork and BAM! you have a child. People--highly educated people--who have adopted sometimes presume that becoming pregnant can be as easy as just thinking about it and BAM! another child.

Having been on both sides of welcoming a child into our home, let me say this: neither side has it any easier. It simply takes a ride on the roller-coaster of infertility or pulling up the old bootstraps and persevering in the face of the ever-changing bureaucracy which is the hallmark of adoption to know this. And for a parent who has lost a child, even one they have never held in their arms, the hurt and ache and emptiness is still the same.

In the midst of our celebrating, we continue to pray for those families (yes, there were a few) in our group whose cases did not pass court yesterday and for all families who long for the joy that a new child brings--regardless of their means of arrival.
Travel Prayer

For Carolyn and her daughter, Yordi, who continue to find roadblocks in their way to travel home.

May God's hand hold them both as they work to find a flight back to the USA. May our Blessed Mother comfort this newly bonded mother and daughter team through the many medical obstacles they are facing. And, finally, that God's grace is showered upon them enabling them to deal with this situation--as frustrating as it is--and place their trust in God's perfect will.