23 October 2010

All Hallows Eve (Halloween)

Before I became a parent it really never occurred to me that such a fuss could be made over Halloween. I knew the history and how it started out as a Catholic holiday and it's obvious that this once holy holiday has been distorted by the secular world. I've been criticized for allowing my kids to dress-up and trick-or-treat as well, being told that I'm allowing them to participate in this satanic day. But am I really doing that? Absolutely not! As children growing up in a Catholic home, my sister and I were allowed to dress-up and go trick-or-treating- our costumes had limits and THAT'S OK. We also participated in Saint's Presentations with our homeschool group. I have to admit, I really wasn't a big fan of the dressing up as a saint and presenting her biography that I had researched, but I did it nontheless and totally see the point behind it. In fact, one day I'll probably do the same...although the report may not have to be spoken in front of all their friends. My husband and I don't allow any evil, scary, or sleazy costumes. I try to turn the girl's eyes away from ghosts, goblins and other scary things. I've tailored my lessons about this day down to a 2 year old's comprehension and told her the real meaning of this holiday and of the great men and women we strive to be like who have gone before us. Leading up to Halloween we have been doing a lot of pretend play, imitating saints and Biblical figures from stories we have read. It is a time to celebrate people and God's creation. So yes I will let them go out dressed as a cow and a pig and go door to door; after all, God did make all creatures great and small! I think that as long as you keep the real meaning behind the holiday alive, it's ok to participate in these newer secular traditions if they're not sinful and turning one's thoughts away from God. We will be celebrating All Saints Day and All Souls Day the two following days after Halloween, making them special celebrations in our home as well. We will carve happy, cute little pumpkins and toast the seeds in the oven and focus on the harvest and the bounty God has blessed us with. When the girls are older we will have lessons on how these little traditions of trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins came into practice. For now, we're keeping things simple and innocent as they have fun dressing up with their cousins and visit their grandparents. In the future, I would love to have a "saint party" on November 1st where each child dresses up as a saint and brings a treat for everyone that has something to do with that saint. An example of this would be something like eye gumballs for St Lucy or cross cut-out cookies for St Helen... You get the idea. I was actually thinking of doing that this year but my kids only being 2 years old and 7 months, I don't think they'd really get much out of it. I'd rather save that for next year, when my daughter knows a little more about her namesake and is excited to share her treat with everyone and tell them why she chose it.

I have included a brief history of Halloween and the traditions that came about in case someone doesn't know them. Just click on the link below!
I would like to hear other parent's thoughts, whether Catholic or not! Just please, keep it civil.

History and traditions at Halloween

(Referring to the Communion of Saints) “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things” (#1475).
Let's remember our loved ones and those adoring Our Lord face to face in Heaven this "All Hallows Eve"!

22 October 2010

A splash of color

So here are two funny stories that happened in our bathroom within a 24 hour period. (None of this is gross humor...just a two year old!) I figured I'd better jot them down for a good laugh later on!

(Before I begin I wanted to point out that I will be referring to my girls with pseudonyms in connection with their birth stones. Baby Blue is my now 7 month old and Ruby Red is my 2 year old)

So last night Baby Blue had a blow-out. This is pretty normal as she's now devouring table food and I cloth diaper her I put her clothes in the bathroom sink and filled it up to soak them until the girls went to sleep and I had time to scrub out the stains before they set. Ruby Red, very independant just like any other 2 year old, decided that she was going to go to the bathroom "all by my's- self" and then proceeded to wash her hands. ...And then play in the water. She often plays in the water. I have to change this kid at least 2 times a day, usually more, simply because of the soaked shirt sleeves. If this little girl could be a fish, she'd leave me for the sea in a heartbeat. It was after bathtime now and my husband and I were procrastinating on dressing her for bed because she was playing so cute. My husband and I couldn't help but laugh as her cute naked buns scampered off to get her pull-up from the bathroom when we finally insisted she get dressed. Then came the CRASH and slide.... Yes that's right. She had left the water running from her playing in the sink earlier and with the sink plugged to soak the clothes, the water flooded the floor out into the hallway and hallway closet. Our nice wood floors. (sigh) Who ever said wood floors were so nice and "oh you're so lucky to have them" obviously never had kids or a dog. The floor was a mess. I swear to you there was about 1/4 inch of water. It took 7 beach towels and one panicky toddler helping daddy clean up the soggy mess, but she was just so cute I couldn't help but smile.

Then today Ruby Red (it seems she's always up to something) and her best friend "Goldilocks" who is 3 were in the bathroom together. This isn't unusal for them. They cheer each other on when it comes to potty-ing and all things related. It's been positive for Ruby Red and she's much more successful when I leave the two of them and just check up occasionally. I was changing Baby Blue's and Goldilocks' sister's diaper (Tiger Lily- about 18 months) then figured I'd check up on the other two who had become increasingly quiet. I open the door to the bathroom to a beautiful array of color all over the floor. Mostly purple and orange crayon colorings EVERYWHERE and the adorable tracings of chubby little hands. They both looked up as Ruby Red exclaimed "Hi mommy. We're coloring our hands!" Goldilocks' response was "Isn't it so pretty?!" followed by "It was Ruby Red's idea!" I'm sure it was Ruby Red's idea, but haven't we learned that she's not full of too many good ideas?! All I could do was laugh. These are the days I'm going to remember and miss when they're all grown and too cool to color. Thank goodness for the Magic Eraser. Although I have to admit that part of me didn't want the crayon to come out so we could get rid of that horrid floor anyway, but money doesn't allow for that now so I guess it really is good that it came out!

All's well that ends well!

21 October 2010

Pray for Vocations

We visited my sister at the Carmelites of the Aged and Infirmed this weekend. She isn't in the order but discerning what God has in store for her and working closely with the sisters.
While there we had a lot of "down time". Between my sister, parents and my sisters two closest friends (who my girls also call "aunt") our girls were always with someone. It was nice for my husband and I. We got quite a bit of quiet time. It was like a retreat. The convent there looks out over the Hudson River and is on 86 acres. It is peaceful- serene. I personally took a lot of time to pray for my girls- for their future vocations, whether it be marriage, religious life or single. I pray that they always "discern the will of God; what is pleasing and acceptable in His sight" (from Rom 12).
Here is a prayer for vocations to St Therese that I found while there:
Dear St Therese of the Child Jesus,
Your love for God led you to Carmel
where you could offer your life for the
sanctification of Priests and the
salvation of souls.
Although you never left your cloister,
you helped missionaries with your prayers
and sacrifices.
Through your example countless souls have
been attracted to your "Little Way of
Spiritual Childhood".
We ask that through your intercession
many souls will follow your example in
leaving ALL for Christ, and will dedicate
their lives to Him in our Carmelite Vocation
of caring for the Aged and Infirm.

A holy marriage

Every Catholic has heard of St Therese of Lisieux and many have a great devotion to her because of her simple life and "little way". I too have a devotion to her and took her name as mine for Confirmation. However, I have recently began to be inspired by her mother; in fact, by her parents. What a holy life. It wasn't an easy one, yet they raised five saintly women. FIVE. I cannot even imagine. They must have had such calm dispositions. (sigh) Will I ever be there?!
As Catholics we each have a special calling. As a married couple we are to help our spouses get to Heaven. This holy family is such an example for each one of us. There were many saints and there are many striving to live holy lives today that don't have their family's support. Although I have been blessed with knowing nothing of what it would be like since I have both supportive and Catholic parents and in-laws, I can say turn to these two holy people for help. As parents, we really all should pray for their intercession.
To learn more about their family life and trials, here is one link.  There are many more out there.
The Martin Family

I encourage you to read about this holy family and their "Little Flower".

My holy example

Day in and day out I struggle to be a saintly wife and mother. It seems as though there's always some new weakness I have to overcome. It can be discouraging. As soon as I feel I'm getting anywhere there's a new "bump" in the road. One step forward, then a few steps back. My husband encourages me by telling me that he's seen a difference in me since we started dating, and indeed I have changed many dreadful things when I look at the big picture. But impatience, intolerance, my opinions and temper seem to be lurking around every corner, ready to bite the bait and cause me to fall. I hold very dearly to my heart many women of the Church who I feel are tangible examples of how to live a holy life. In each of their lives I find solace and encouragement. And, the even better part is that only one of them was perfect! The others messed up just like me. Well, maybe not just like me; I mean, they are saints after all and I still have a long way to go. But the journey is part of it. How can we be examples to others if they only see us as perfect, right? I will most likely be referring to these holy and courageous women often.

St Gianna Beretta Molla. If you're a Catholic the name may be familiar to you, either very much so or only a little. Growing up I knew her story and thought her life heroic. But this isn't what did it for me. We weren't yet "spiritual friends" per say. I didn't look to her for guidance or think of her almost every day as I do now. A household sister of mine (I'll get into households later on....) bequeathed me the book "Love Letters to My Husband" by St Gianna.
Intrigued I devoured it. And then re-read it over and over and over again. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for such a gift that I still treasure. My at-the-time-boyfriend (now husband) was being deployed with the United States Marine Corps. I was a sophomore in college and struggling. Our relationship seemed continually challenged by guys paying me attention away at school and friends confusing me because, looking back I honestly think they were jealous of my amazing find in dating such a caring and Catholic man and wanted nothing more than to mess things up. It's a long and rather taxing part of our relationship and so I will save the details and lessons learned for only the two of us to know about. His deployment worried us. Would we make it through these months apart? I would be studying abroad for five of the months and so correspondance would pose even more challenging as I missed many of his phone calls because I was traveling that weekend or I had horrible reception or no more minutes on my pre-paid cell phone. Yet this book was my inspiration. It seemed as though, through these beautiful letters of Gianna and her husband Pietro, I was nudged to keep going when I just want to melt in a corner and cry. Throughout much of their married life they were long-distance as Pietro travelled for work. They did the whole long-distance thing with three young children and here I would be sulking when I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world with no children left for me to tend to alone. Although his safety and the question of "us" remained at the forefront, I took comfort in their beautiful letters to each other. I wanted that so badly- a life and family with him, that is. Now, five years this past October 6th of his returning from overseas, after three blessed years of marriage and two beautiful girls later, we are back to him travelling often for work. St Gianna is always my little "prodder" and at the center of my thoughts when he travels. That poor book is dog-eared, highlighted and torn and I love it. I love the exchanges between them. Come to think of it, I wonder why my husband and I don't write handwritten letters anymore. I literally have boxes of our handwritten letters from previous years. Sometimes I would like to dismiss this digital age and all of its conveniences of texting and emails for something much more tangible. Hmmm, something to think about and try to put into practice. For now, I will have to leave my thoughts here as I hear the rustle of the girls waking from their naps. As one last thought, obviously I haven't even touched on the well-known reasons why this woman is so great and has been priviledged with the title of "saint". This isn't merely to teach a religious lesson but rather to share as to why I have such a connection to her. I have posted a link if you would like more information on her.



I never thought I would become a blogger. My husband mocks blogs and often refers to one of those "inspirational" posters he saw that said something to the effect of "Blogging: People having a lot to say about nothing".  I don't remember the exact quote but you get the gist. In a sense that is what I am doing. This isn't intended with a particular theme in mind or to be a persuasion for religion, politics or a certain lifestyle. Honestly, I've started this because I have found myself out somewhere and thought "I have to remember to write this down when I get home".  But do I ever do that?  Of course not! I'm too darn busy and when I do remember, it's on a scrap piece of paper that inevitably gets lost or thrown out. This blog serves as an outlet where I can get both the important and even the meaningless things out- a sort of journal, if you will. I don't intend to become one of those obnoxious bloggers who has an opinion about everything and has to let everyone know I know something about everything. If I wanted to do that I would be pasting this on everything. The only way one would come upon this is maybe seeing the link on facebook or, more probably, happening upon it. If this bores you, you can pass it up. If you want to journey through lifes ups and downs and the frustrating and hysterical moments with me, then come along!