Friday, April 30, 2010

Mom on a Mission

It was 12am last night and I was a mom on a mission.

My hubby and I had just finished watching a movie and (of course) I had to swing by the computer to check my email one last time before heading to bed...

That's when I learned about the latest crib recall. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already! Something looked vaguely familiar. It was the simple lines, the curving arches, the "metal frame" causing potential harm...


Watch out. With precious cub in danger, mama bear was on a mission. I snuck into the older boys' room and snatched a pair of their "night vision" goggles. Then I headed down the hall to our Baby J's room and snuck inside, going immediately to all 4's (mind you, 32 weeks pregnant!), goggles on, crouching down to see the crib label on the underside of the bed. lol. It appeared to be *identical* to the one I saw online. I had to double check.

Out I went into the hallway, hollering to my hubby that, indeed, our crib was one of the recalled ones and could pose a strangulation hazard to our dear Baby J.

I could almost see a smile creep onto his face. You see, he's a papa bear and I'm a mama bear. And mama bears take news of crib recalls a LOT more dramatically than papa bears (or at least they do in our household!)

In no time, I was back from the computer, with printed sheet in hand to verify the crib label. It was an identical match. I don't know if I felt more satisfied at my sleuthing or more crestfallen at our new situation. How was I going to let my precious cub spend one more minute in that crib? Should we let him sleep to morning? Should we set up the pack 'n play and move him mid-sleep? Should we set up some elaborate support structure to make it all right before going to bed ourselves? My mama brain was toiling...

When papa bear brought up a theme from the movie and began pontificating as to its meaning and symbolism. Heelllloooo Papa Bear!!!!!??? Did he not realize that one of our children was in grave danger (in my hyperbolic mama bear mind!)?????

And then it hit me how different we are as mama and papa bears. His job is not to worry. I've got that part under control to the nth degree. His job is to soothe my crazy mama bear emotions. His job is not to stress, but to assuage my stress. His job is to change the subject and get my mind off my fears.

I redirected our conversation back to our baby bear in danger. "Should I go set up the pack 'n play?" was the first thought out of his mouth. Good Papa Bear. He was humoring me. Eventually as we watched the little cherub sleep, Papa Bear convinced me to let our cub rest and tackle the problem in the morning. Okay, okay--with a few extra prayers sent heavenward!!

Praise God for my Papa Bear! That's how our marriage works. We give and take. We push and pull. We're mamas and papas and we're put on earth to help bring up our little baby bears and point them toward heaven the best way we know how.

And in the morning, we might just find out that our crib is not one of the models recalled. lol. Alleluia, alleluia! Lesson learned...

Train Tracks

Friends, I am looking for your recommendations on the best websites from which to purchase lots of this:

We are overseas, so I do not have the luxury of going to a store, so websites only if you please. My 2yr.-old trainhead (and the rest of us) thank you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Rec

I think we can all agree a higher standard of ethics would be beneficial in the world of business. Our Princeton comrade, Max Anderson, has answered this call as his book hits the shelves today:

"...provides a strong case for why the MBA Oath is necessary and examples of how it can be practically applied. Using case studies of real world business dilemmas, Max Anderson and Peter Escher explain why a Hippocratic Oath for business is not only a good idea…it is good business."

And it's been getting great reviews--check it out!
Way to go, Max!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My husband and I play a little game with the boys when we hit a red light: "Mommy, Mommy," they beg, "make the light change! Remember to ask it nicely!"

And then we begin a short or long request for the light to change to green using lots of big words and fancy language by keeping our eye on the lights the other direction waiting for them to change yellow to make our final triumphant request for green. The boys squeal with glee that we have once again made the light change at our command. Rocket science it is not, but it does give the illusion to a 3 year old of power over the lights.

I recently came across this passage in The Faith Explained by Leo Trese (an excellent book, by the way, highly recommended reading!) on the workings of grace in our souls:
And then on judgement day we shall get our first square look at ourselves. We shall see the full picture of the workings of grace in our life. We shall see how little we ourselves had to do with our heroic decisions and our supposedly noble deeds. Almost, we can imagine God smiling at us in loving amusement as he sees our chagrin; as he hears us exclaim in confusion, "Why God! It was you all the time!"

He later writes, "It becomes our responsibility, then, to do our best in removing obstacles to the operation of grace; to do our best to facilitate the effects of grace."

All too often I fall into the trap of hidden pride, thinking that more effort will yield the results that I want. I want to buy into the illusion that things are in my control, rather than abandon myself to the will of our Lord, which only puts up a barrier to the grace I so desperately need. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. Perhaps a prayer from a holy man will help me today:

Charles de Foucauld's Prayer of Abandonment:

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Futile and Joyful W/a 2-Yr. Old Male

I have a 2.33 year-old son who revolutionizes my parenting daily. Many times strangers and friends alike have either commented that he is "all boy" or "soo two".... neither of which I think were particularly complimentary. He gives me no peace in his waking hours, but I don't think he has been sad for a moment in his life. Totally exuberant.

As much trouble as this middle guy makes, I am still rewarded with little puffs of refreshment from the Holy Spirit every once in awhile. Or rather, moments of humor - I credit the Holy Spirit with both in my life. Last night I had to smile as I carefully folded and smoothed a pair of his brown courduroy pants to be put away. I laughed as I thought, "how hysterical that I am meticulously folding these little 2T outfits that will be dirty and rumpled within seconds of them going on him." The actions of folding this boy's clothes are almost laughable. Yet the Holy Spirit helps me over the futile folding with thoughts of smoothing love and attention through my palms in hope that these emotions seep through his pores later when he wears that particular pair of pants or shirt. The joyful moment with Whirlwind Boy came over me just an hour ago as we lay in his trundle bed surrounded in Bob The Builder sheets. He was going down for his afternoon nap, and do you know what those chubby long arms did? The arms that get him in trouble all day for pushing, hitting, hammering, or throwing.... those little appendages wrapped around my neck and pulled my nose right up to his as his breathing became deeper and deeper and he fell asleep. The most peaceful 2 hours this apartment sees daily are now underway, and I just wanted to ensure I captured these futile and joyful tidbits of life with a 2yr.-old boy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

We've been having some fun with planting this spring, thanks to Christopher's interest in gardening (they're learning about plants at school this month!). Last week, Christopher came home with a lima bean plant and wanted to plant it in the clay behind our garage, along with some apple seeds, so he built himself a makeshift garden and was very excited that he did it all by himself...Well, with a little help from his sister, who diligently brought him rocks for his border :)
Christopher has been asking me if we could plant a garden for quite some time now, but I just haven't put the time into doing it yet. Part of my hesitation has been that our backyard flower beds get almost no sunlight in the course of a day. My understanding is that veggies need lots of sunlight (at least 6 hours a day) in order to thrive. Is this correct? Any gardening experts out there, I would appreciate it if you had some thoughts on this subject!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Holly's First Holy Communion

I just have to post these because I know that you will all want to see my sweet Holly on her First Communion Day. Here she is at the altar, with her godmother Red and with her entire family. Thanks to those who have been praying for her in preparation for this big day, it was very wonderful!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Natural Recs?

During my last labor, I had a natural delivery because I had to wait on lab results before getting the epidural. It stalled me long enough and out boy #3 came!

The process was a bit harried and crazy, but I loved it. LOVED it.
And I want to do it again.

I am in week 32 of pregnancy and know we are a little late to sign up for Bradley classes. Are there any books you all would recommend to help prepare us a bit better for a natural delivery undertaking?? I can remember "blowing out the candle" and wondering what the heck I was really doing. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Dillema of the Modern Catholic Mother

100% unposed.

Possible titles: "Jezebel gets a lesson." "Catholic School for Wooden Princesses." or "Mother-Daughter Homeschool Compromise."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

St. Gianna Novena--Begins Today

Here is a novena to St. Gianna, it begins today and finishes on her Feast Day, next Wed. April 28th.

Novena To Obtain Graces Through the Intercession of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

God, our Father, You have granted to Your church the gift of Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought You and drew other young people to You, involving them, through apostolic witness and Catholic Action, in the care of the sick and aged, to help and comfort them.

We thank You for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to You. Through her example grant us the grace to consecrate our lives to Your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.

Glory be …

Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, You called Saint Gianna to exercise the medical profession as a mission for the comfort of bodies and souls. In her suffering fellow men and in the little ones, deprived of all support, she saw You.

We thank You for having revealed Yourself to this servant as “one who serves” and who soothes the sufferings of men. Treasuring her example may we become generous Christians at the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those with whom You deign to share Your Cross.

Glory be…

God, Sanctifying Spirit, who love the Church as Your Bride, You poured into the heart of Saint Gianna a share of Your Love so that she could radiate it in her family, and thus cooperate with You in the wonderful plan of creation, and give life to new children who could know and love You.

We thank You for this model wife and, through her encouraging witness, we beg You to grant to our families the serene and Christian presence of mothers committed to transform their homes into cenacles of faith and love, rich with generous activity and sanctifying service.

Glory be…

O God, Creator and lover of mankind, You were close to Saint Gianna when, affected by illness, she was in the painful dilemma of choosing between her own life and the life of the child whom she was carrying in herself, a gift long-awaited. Trusting You alone, and aware of Your Commandment to respect human life, Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say “yes” to the new life of her baby, generously sacrificing her own. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the sparkle of new life. Grant us the grace we are praying for …………. and the joy to find an inspiration in Saint Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others.

Hail Mary…

Monday, April 19, 2010

What We've Been Up To

Giving our little sister lots of love, sleeping in new rooms, dying Easter eggs (yes, we were a little late this year, but it was a perfect opportunity to explain to the children that Easter lasts for 50 days)...This has been our life recently! The past couple of weekends have been consumed by moving the children into their new bedrooms, and all of the organization and decorating that comes with this task, but I'm thrilled to say that we're. almost. done. Thanks to my hubby for all of his hard work in this regard!
God bless all of you on this Monday morning!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gratitude In All Realms

One sure-fire way to avoid the pitfalls of complaining in pregnancy is by stopping to smell the roses in life, the abundant blessings which He has given to little, old me. I am undeserving and yet acutely blessed. And I've been challenged more toward an attitude of gratitude in the wake of these blessings.

I am acutely aware of the blessing of the life growing within. Many thanks to this lady and this one, I have been learning about walking God's path and joyfully accepting what He has for me. I have been learning to relish pregnancy blessings by the bucket load--the aches, the heartburn, you name it--all are beautiful signs of my body bringing forth life. And I don't take that blessing lightly.

As I watched the lives of both Therese Joy (Red's first child) and Lucy Rose (Kat's second child) come into this world and depart, I am desperately reminded that life is fleeting; that every moment is to be accounted for; and that health is not something to take for granted. For it is beyond easy to slip into a downtrodden mentality in pregnancy and to become uber-sensitive to the outside world and the changes happening to one's body. But what joy at these changes!! For they signal a thriving, healthy baby. I would take all the extra comments in the world times a million just to be able to hold my precious child in the end. The strength of these friends of mine are such a testament to their faiths and God's continued blessings upon them.

In addition, I have been recently blessed with a friend who teaches me about maternal sacrifice on a daily basis. While pregnant with her second child, she and her husband were given the news that the baby had a 5% chance of living. Today, her daughter is 3-years-old and can walk, breathe, use sign-language, and still give her mother every bit of stubbornness! This friend continues to stare death in the face at every turn and every surgery, but does not back down. She has come to appreciate her abundant blessings and wouldn't have things any other way. What an inspiration she has been to me!!

Would I ever dare open my mouth to complain about pregnancy to any of these amazing women (or to anyone else for that matter!)? Close it up and move on, B-mama!!! :) I am challenged to look beyond myself and see more blessings than ever. Because for all of us, the blessings are always there and always need to be relished.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Building Cathedrals Goes Mediterranean

How's this for exotic?

AWOL Mommy and I spent much of this Tuesday and Wednesday together in Bella Roma, along with our families, feasting in our apartment, attending an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square, and picnicking at the playground behind the Castel Sant'Angelo (pictured above). How delightful it was to share family adventures with our dear friends AWOL and Mr. AWOL and their loving, creative, fun children!

Wish you all could have been here.

(The kids watching Ratatouille while we adults wined and dined in the next room. In this photo, one junior AWOL is on each side, baby AWOL is not pictured, and mine are the three in the middle... they sure got along swimmingly.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roman Coffee

Juris Mater's Roman adventure has me thinking nostalgically of the time I spent living in Roma, working as an intern at the US Embassy to the Vatican. I thought I'd post one of the vignettes I sent out during my time there. This is the one about coffee. Which reminds me, and maybe I am the last person in the world to figure this out, but I have started pouring my coffee into a travel mug in the mornings, even when we don't leave the house. It stays warm for hours. Brilliant!! How did it take me 5 years to realize this??

Rome Vignette II: Coffee

By the time I arrive at work--anywhere from a 15-50
minute ordeal given the reliability of Italian
transportation and the frequency of strikes--I am
approximately 1 hour removed from my first coffee of
the day in the comfort of my apartment. Despite being
on US soil within the Embassy compound, the Italians
who work here refuse to succumb to a Folgers-Starbucks
kind of world. Ask for a cafe americano and you get a look
ranging from disgust to pity.

The feat of arriving to the Embassy at 8:30 warrants a
cafe, or so I am told by Massimo, who coordinates the
Embassy's financial matters and the coffee (equally
significant jobs). One of my first official e-mails I
received on my state department account was RE: COFFEE
BEANS. We were all asked to contribute 10 euros so that
the Embassy could buy good coffee beans. Of the 15
people who work at Embassy Vatican, 2/3 claim to make
the best coffee, and, within the course of a day, it
seems I have enough opportunities to try them all.

10am. Clearly time for a coffee break. Massimo always
has dibs on making the coffee for this coveted time
slot. Contrary to the United States, making coffee is
not a dreaded task delegated to the lowest man on the
totem pole, but an opportunity for glamour and
prestige. After the 10am break, most can usually hang
on until lunch for the next hit of caffeine. Throughout
the afternoon, there are many other opportunities to
imbibe in the other Italian elixir of life. I have been
offered coffee by drivers, security guards, a protocol
officer, a janitor, and a political genius. Apparently
it is a very egalitarian drink.

The coffee is usually made on the stove, but I happened
to be here for the day when the electric coffee maker
came. It is nothing like an American one, lest you is Italian and makes Italian coffee.
However, not one of the self-proclaimed experts was
about to be shown up by the sleek, silver machine. The
New Zealander in the office who was reading the
instructions declared the machine to be

That was the nail in the coffin. "The coffee pot must
be seasoned!!" One would have thought we had just ended
diplomatic relations with the Holy See given the
fervency of the cries. Apparently a clean coffee pot is
a bad thing. But, at the end of the day, I have had
many cups of good, strong coffee that Small World
couldn't hold a candle to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tis the season

Do you have allergies? Do your kids? Do you treat them? I feel like an antihystimine ad right now, I am walking through my day with a cloud around my head, my nose runs, my throat itches, and my kids seem to be the same. I took an OTC generic medication today and I don't think it helped, except that very honestly I feel a little bit jumpy, and I hesitate to give it to the kids, should I be consulting a doctor first? Should I keep trying for myself, are the effects cumulative? I know that some people have been dealing with this for years, so please advise! Thanks!

New Neighbors

What's almost as cool another family moving in with 3 boys and a little girl on the way???

New neighbors from England!!!!

The boys and I delivered cookies there yesterday and enjoyed meeting new friends from "across the pond".

As we were chatting, they asked if our homeowners' dues covered the cost of the "bins". I was confused at first until realizing they were referring to the trash cans! Love the Brit terminology. We all had a good chuckle.

And hopefully its the first of many.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birthday Cake Help!

Ladies, I write to you on this Monday morning looking for some culinary advice. My almost 6-year-old would like a frog cake for his birthday party, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to go about making it! The last time that I attempted a frog birthday cake, the guests all thought that I had made the Arthur character - somehow the frog eyes looked like glasses. I'm considering just making a round cake, frosting it with blue icing to look like a pond, and sticking plastic frog figurines on top. But I would love to make an actual frog cake - so if you have any ideas, please share!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Picture Perfect

My sister was in town for Easter, and in the past few years she has taken up photography as a new hobby (and she is getting quite good!). There are definite perks in this for me, and I took full advantage during her visit. I'm shamelessly posting some of my favorites from Claire's 6 month photo shoot. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If You've Ever Been In Need of Christ's Mercy...

...Then you will appreciate the Divine Mercy Chaplet, found here in beautiful sung form. Perhaps we could each take some time to pray for each other's intentions sometime over the weekend, and most especially that our families and marriages would be strengthened as we walk through our daily lives together.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world...

Friday, April 9, 2010

La Dolce Vita

Dear friends, we are in week #2 in Rome. The kids are thriving on all the sunshine and good Italian food (there's my happy boy enjoying Nutella pizza outside St. Peter's Basilica), we are filled with grace from our daily visits to holy pilgrimage sites, and we are reveling in all the unique aspects of family life in Italy.

There are fewer comforts and conveniences, but people take life more slowly and seem to embrace it more here. Things like line-drying our wet clothes in the sun, eating the fresh fruit as we shop at the open air produce markets, and letting the kids cover public plazas with sidewalk chalk designs are welcomed. Things like rudeness and rushing, on the other hand, are not culturally acceptable.

The kids and I walk several miles a day to churches and playgrounds along the cobblestone streets with our double stroller and Ergo carrier. We meet my husband along the Tiber River in the early evening on his way home from researching at the Jesuit archives in the shadow of St. Peter's Basilica. The archives are only open 6 hours each weekday, so we are relishing the family time.

Learning to cook seasonal Italian cuisine (from signs and labels I can't translate) has been a challenging and wonderful way to break out of my cooking rut. Hazelnuts, sundried tomatoes, pesto, prosciutto, romano cheese and all those delicacies are abundant, commonplace and cheap.

Our hundreds-of-years-old charming fourth-floor walkup has wide open windows and a courtyard in the center, so we can hear cheerful noises of neighbors and passers by in the morning, noon, and night. There is a warmth and neighborliness and love of strangers, in a real Catholic spirit, that runs deeper than what I'm accustomed to in suburban America.

There's still no place like home sweet USA, but Italians have a beautiful way, Christ is present here, and in a sense Rome is always home after all.


We got some new patio furniture, which came with a free toddler bed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tom Sawyer Moment

Neighbor children are now vacuuming my pool, because I made it look so fun! Suck up all those earth worms, kids!

Brain Teaser

See if you can solve this one:

"Mommy, yesterday I go to swimming lessons tomorrow!"

What does this mean? Why, it means that today this child had swimming lessons! The yesterday and the tomorrow cancel each other out, you see, to make "today" the answer. My 2 1/2 year-old is so advanced in her reasoning skills that she talks in riddles :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maternity Taboo

Top five phrases not to say to a pregnant lady:

1) "Are you carrying twins?"

2) "Boy, looks like you're carrying twins!"

3) "You're heavy with child."

4) "I don't remember you looking that big last time."

5) "Due any day now?" --This last phrase is really never a good one to say. There's no telling if, indeed, the woman is due tomorrow or two months from now. That's quite a gamble!

I've heard a few of these this go 'round. Have any others to add to the list? Red, I'm sure you've got one or two for us. Strangers usually make notoriously insensitive comments to poor Red and her big babies!! I think someone actually made comment #5 to her right around her 20-week mark!

Monday, April 5, 2010

poetry lessons

Our family tradition is that the Easter leaves rhyming couplets telling each child where their basket is hidden in the house. It is a good warm up for the Easter Bunny, who will start his haiku season today. Well, as Charlotte Mason teaches us, exposure to great art inspires creativity, so last night a five year old composed this:

Gone, Sean, John,
Your hair is so blond,
You can find your basket,
In the kit-chun.

Also, the kids are hard at work trying to find a rhyme for toilet.


Posted by Picasa

Why I need a camera on my phone

h/t to Jonathan for the photo

New Beginnings

It's Easter!
It's Opening Day!
Hope springs eternal.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter, Dear Readers!

"...Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!..." ~Luke 24: 5-6

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!


So adorable in the Easter morning sunlight, the serenity is written all over their sweet little innocent faces, ta ha haaa.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Adoramus Te

Adoramus Te, Christe,
et benedicimus Tibi,
Quia per sanctam crucem
Tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee, O Christ,
And we bless Thee,
Who by your Holy Cross
have redeemed the world.

Must Read

I am sorry to interrupt your Good Friday, but this Peggy Noonan piece is the first response to the scandals, and reporting of scandals, in the Church that has made any sense at all, and I think it is a must read for all Catholics.