Monday, September 20, 2010

Jumping into Fall

I'm not usually an Autumn gal. It's not that I don't love the colorful foliage on the trees, the cool, crisp evenings, or hot beef stew that always ends up in my crock-pot. It's just that living in the Northeast most of my life, fall means that the endless cold winter is just around the corner and that's something I've never looked forward to!! Here in Texas, I've waited for the fall seasonal changes up until we are about to put up the Christmas tree. Then I realize it's come and practically gone and I haven't even worn a sweater yet! But not this year, no sirree!

I hate to admit that I wished the summer away..... but I did, sadly at that. I had my plans, my expectations, my to-do list, but by mid-June I knew things were not going my way. For me, it was a dreadful summer and I hate to say that because nothing bad happened. My entire nuclear family was home, just like I always want it to be. My older boys are practically adults--maybe one or two of them are by certain standards and yet I long for the days when they took direction from me, I ran the show in this house, my rules were followed to the Tee and that was just how it should be. But not now. Two came home from college in early May, one finished junior year of high school and all three of them went into sloth-mode. Okay, the oldest spent a month with an army obligation & took a summer class. He's off the hook. But the other two----Mama Mia!!

I don't want to sound like a complainer--so I won't. I didn't want to be a nag, so after 4 weeks of reminding them to put the cereal away when they ate their breakfast, (at 2 in the afternoon cause that's when they woke up) I just did it for them. The point is, I want them to feel welcome in their home and not chastised or hounded to death, but things will change next summer and they are all aware of it!!! (btw--this is not just about a little cereal being left out!)

The disruption and lack of routine upset the entire balance of our family. Bad habits were picked up by the younger three who watched the older ones laze around. I am still un-doing some damage to the littlest boy. Who wants an 8 year-old with a teenage attitude?! Not me!!

So, good-bye summer of 2010 and good riddens!! I've already started putting out my fall decorations--the scarecrows & pumpkins and my, they look good! Today my house was filled with the comforting aroma of autumn thanks to a scented candle that was burning all afternoon. I splurged and bought a huge, HUGE pot of mums which are all buds now, but will open shortly into burgundy blooms. They grace my front porch. It may still be in the 90's most days around here, but you'll be sure to find me curled up in front of the fireplace, sipping hot cider. I'll be the one wearing the sweater!!

(just a little side note: I can't wait for the boys to come back from college for a visit--it's just not home without them!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Daybook "Down the Shore"--yep, we really say that!

Outside my window:
I am sitting on the deck of the shore house, 3 stories up, the sky is clear blue with the sea breeze blowing lightly on me. It's going to be a nice beach day.

I am listening to:
Cars whizz by me on the street below and seagulls chirping in the background.

I am grateful for:
Time away from the daily grind, a change of scenery, and the chance for my younger kids to make memories at the beach with their cousins.

I am thankful for:
My family and our good health. A teen that my son knew from elementary school days passed away yesterday from cancer. He was 17. Last summer when we were visiting here in NJ at the seashore, he came to visit us with 3 of my son's other friends. It was exactly a year ago this week. He looked healthy, said he was in remission.....

I am pondering:
What a difference a year can make! Live each day to the fullest, make amends for wrong-doings, pray!!!

I am reading:
Summer vacation twaddle!! I loaded my Kindle with free books before we left. I did pay for one and I must recommend it "The Glass Castle-- a memoir" by Jeannette Walls. An amazing story of growing up in poverty and rising above--loved it!!

I am thinking:
That I miss my husband!! We've never been separated for more than a week in our 22 year marriage and I wish he could be sharing this vacation with me.

On my iPod:
Before we left for vacation, Michelle and I filled my iPod (finally) with all my favorite CDs. It's such a luxury for me to bring my tunes along wherever I go. I know--finally getting caught up to the rest of the "plugged-in" generation. Better late than never....

Toward Rhythm & Beauty:
The unstructured rhythm of vacation is a nice break. I've been able to jog or exercise on a bike most days and that feels great! Sitting in a beach chair watching the waves crash on the shoreline sure has a rhythm to it, lol! I love sitting with my feet in the water in a low chair while reading a novel, feeling the sun beating down on me--does it get any better than that? Oh--I'm getting a nice tan too!

I am hoping & praying:
For Derek's family. Please pray for them--I can't imagine their pain. I went to Derek's my space page last night. A large picture of Jesus was posted with his words "someone I would most like to meet". His quotes were from the Bible and messages of living life to the fullest. Words you don't see often on a 17 yr. old's blog. I am hoping Derek's wish has come true....

In the garden:
Mike said he'd be pruning back the palm trees this week. My flowers...I haven't seen for 10 days and I've forgotten to remind Mike to water them. Hmmmm, wonder what I'll find upon my return.

Around the house:
I've been told that it's been vacuumed & mopped. Mike's been doing minor repairs that he never has time to do. He tells me it looks great and I'm sure it does!!

From the kitchen:
We've been eating out or ordering in every day. That's been a treat! Hoping my waistline can take it!!

A picture I'm sharing:
What do you do after feeding the them, of course!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

God Speaks....Are You Listening?

I have an awareness to recognize signs, sometimes referred to as "signal graces", that can have different meanings to me. Sometimes they tell me that I'm on the right path (to holiness), sometimes they mean that things will be okay, some are an answer to a prayer, and some signify God is with me. I don't exactly remember when I first started noticing them, but I'd guess it was during my teen years when I consciously started on my faith journey to know God.

The signs I receive are a huge gift to me and have often come at times of great anxiety or despair. I know they're real--I don't believe in coincidences. Not in these matters.

I went on a "Christ Renews His Parish" women's retreat this past weekend. Actually I went as a retreatant last year. This year I had the privilege of participating on the team that presented the retreat to the women of my parish. When I returned home, one of my sons who enjoys open discussion on faith, asked me about the retreat. He wanted to know what types of activities we did and how it all went, etc. I love sharing in this way with my kids, especially when they are the ones initiating a deeper knowledge and understanding. I told him about one particular woman who was sharing about a personal Marian apparition she had experienced when he said, " how come God never shows himself on earth anymore?" I was a bit surprised by this. I know he was referring to the fact the our Blessed Mother is known to make her appearance and send messages in a very tangible way to some, but not recognizing God on earth?? I think this young man wanted to see the face of God just as people have seen the face of Mary and been delivered special messages. "Son," I said, " God shows himself here all the time. Are you not recognizing Him??"

I then went on to tell him of some powerful ways that Jesus was present during the retreat. (I might add as a side note that the evil one also made his presence known on several occasions.) One of the most powerful signs from God was received during the Reconciliation service. The ladies processed in song into the church to hear a little talk by our priest and to receive guidance on Examination of Conscious. During this time, a violent storm began to rage outside....torrential downpours, lightning, thunder, the works. Part of this activity involves an outside fire pit that the ladies walk to and then symbolically they let their sins burn away into ash. Of course this means walking outside in this horrific storm! (it also meant a mad scramble to move the fire pit into a covered area). The ladies took their time during the examination of conscious and we leaders looked out the church doors with worried expressions. And then, God appeared. As the ladies one by one walked to the confessional, the rain slowed to almost nothing and then a rainbow....a completely full rainbow..... appeared in the sky right over the area where our fire pit was. Now, if you don't see God showing himself to us in all this, then maybe you're looking in the wrong places!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My First Daybook

This is an idea I've seen on some other blogs I like to read and so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Outside my window:
Rain and alot of it!

I am listening to:
Silence....I know it won't last long on a rainy, indoor day, so I'm savoring it

I am grateful for:
My husband, it was a rough evening for me with my teen sons and I know the summer is not going to get any easier. My husband is here to hold me up, even if he doesn't have the words to say, his hugs help me know I'm not alone.

I am pondering:
A plan to have a more peaceful summer in our household

"No one heals himself by wounding another" St. Ambrose

I am Reading:
"Small Steps for Catholic Moms"--highly recommend
"Saints & Other Powerful Men in the Church"--bought this for Mike, but I'm enjoying it!

I am Thinking:
Motherhood is not for wimps!!!

On my iPod:
I'm just so happy to have my iPod back after it got stolen. I'm not even into new technology, but man, I missed fooling around with that little gadget!

Toward Rythm & Beauty:
I haven't found a consistent summer rythm yet. Swim season ended and this is the first week of no where to run to every morning. I have a feeling our rythm is going to be an ongoing challenge and I need to learn to be flexible from week to week--not the way I usually roll, so pray for me!! Toward beauty, I'm getting my haircut this afternoon!! I know I'm not suppose to focus on physical beauty, but sometimes a good hair day can make all the difference!!

I am hoping & praying:
For my teen sons, especially one, who is very lost right now.....

In the garden:
The rain is doing a world of good!! I've lost alot of my annuals all ready from the scorching Texas heat. My flowers always look so brilliant after a good rain....bring it on!

Around the House:
I'm pleased with the downstairs. It's neat & tidy and an easy pick-up now that everything is in it's place. The upstairs is my next mountain to conquer!

From the Kitchen:
I sat down yesterday and planned my July dinner menu. Immediately a calmness set in. Wow, the chore of daily meal planning weighs me down so much. I love having the plan....I need to keep up with the monthly calendars again, they're so worth my sanity!!

A picture thought I'm sharing:

These four precious children (and best of friends) recently received their First Communion. We were finally able to coordinate family schedules to celebrate together with a pool party & cake.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ballerina Girls

The girls recently performed in the production of "Awaken" with their ballet studio.

Kaitlyn started in ballet this past September and has enjoyed it alot!

Michelle didn't start until March, but with her backround in gymnastics, she surprised her teachers by becoming one of the best in her class. She has been told that she possesses alot of natural skills that will enable her to reach a very high level as a ballerina. It's nice that she has this new area to focus on in her life!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy-Daughter Dance

The Pickwick Society, our homeschool groups' girls club that studies virtues & handi-crafts like embroidery, stuffed doll making, & sewing, hosted their annual end of the year Daddy-Daughter Dance. A good time was had by all!!

Mike's two best gals:
Circle Dance:

Virginia Reel:

Slow Dancing:
Happy memories made by all!!

Blackberry Pies

Before I post some of our summer happenings, I wanted to catch up on a few of our end of the year activities. One of our homeschool families hosts an annual blackberry picking & pie making day on their farm. We always have so much fun!!

Michelle finds a ripe one:

Kaitlyn & Andrew get to work:

All the kids take part in pie making:

Looking for worms:

The end result.....YUM.....each family gets to take one home:

Monday, May 31, 2010

These Boots Were Made For Marching....

I've blogged before about the Texas phenomena of rival universities--specifically Univ of Texas (Longhorns) & Texas A&M (Aggies), and how people go a bit overboard with their loyalty to a specific school. It is comical to observe the rituals of the alumni, and we chuckled along with fellow bystanders till our son became an Aggie 3 years ago. I can't speak for the other school, but learning what it means to be an Aggie has been both an education and a pleasure for our family. We definitely have become believers in this university and what it stands for--that is Integrity (with a capital "I")! Although Mike and I don't bleed maroon, we'd be proud of any of our kids who do!

At the end of junior year, cadets in the Corp, as Brian is, earn their boots. They are custom fitted to each cadet starting freshman year. Cadets wear the boots everyday of their senior year and they connote respect and honor of each soldier.

At Final Review each May, the Corp marches as their current unit, passes, then the graduating seniors dress down out of full uniform, and juniors get to don their senior boots for their first official Pass & Review. The Corp then repeats the march with each cadet now sporting their new class uniform, including boots if you are now a senior. Here are some snippets of this exciting day:

New seniors strutting in their boots

Brian (on right) with buddy, Nathan, showing off their boots
Close-up of Brian's. Each cadet chooses different insignias

Andrew & Kaitlyn "play" with the spurs!

First march in senior boots!!

Other Aggie traditions we enjoy--the internationally recognized Aggie Ring. Brian earned his last month.

The "Fighting Aggie Band"

Aggie Calvary:

School mascot, Reveille the dog.

Here she is!!!

Brian's Outfit

Gig 'em, Aggies!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In the Garden

Ever since we've had a house, I've enjoyed planting flowers each spring. I don't profess to have a green thumb, but I have had some random successes in past years. I do listen to the "Garden Show" on the radio, read books on proper landscaping, & mostly look at lawns in my neighborhood to copy what works. My biggest problem is that I learn best by watching & imitating others, so the books haven't helped too much and I haven't found anyone who wants to mentor me in my gardening skills!!

Impatiens have always been one of my favorite annual flowers. I planted them every year in NJ. They always did OK. One year they were spectacular---ONE YEAR---out of 15 that I planted them. Why?? Nothing I did--it rained alot that summer. Moving to a new climate has posed some challenges. I've had to learn what will grow best in this area and I'm definitely still experimenting. Three summers ago I planted impatiens and they grew over 3' tall. People walking past our house would stop to admire them. The past two summers, they did nothing!! Again, a deluge of rain that fruitful summer may have been the key. This year, I'm trying out a new variety called "Sunpatiens". We'll see how they do. I love that I can have more tropical flowering plants like the Hibiscus--one of my favs!! Our Texas winter this year was very harsh, so I've had to start over with a few plants. Here are some pictures of the work I did this past weekend pruning and planting.

The Queen Palms looked terrible after the winter and I thought they may have died. I just noticed some green coming back to life so --chop-chop--I know they look silly now, but in a few weeks I think they'll be looking pretty good!

After the "hair cut"

Lantana in full bloom, waiting for the butterflies to swarm around them

Here are the new "Sunpatiens". We'll check back in a month and see how they're doing.

On the back patio, some new flowers I'm trying

I bought a new Hibiscus, then noticed my old one had little green leaves at the bottom. I planted this one near it, hoping they can grow together.

Magnolia tree in full bloom, beautiful & fragrant!!

I've had bad luck in the past with flowers planted at Mary's feet. This year I'm trying Zinnia--it's a very sunny area.

I hope to post pictures later on to show how much everything is thriving. Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sacramental Grace

Oh how I love watching my children receive the sacraments!! Andrew has excitedly prepared for First Communion since receiving Reconciliation in November. Finally, the day was upon us and he was certainly ready.

Before we left for church:

Eager anticipation waiting to line up to process in to Mass. He was lined up with his very good friend, M, next to him.

Next in line!!

The smile says it all.

It appears the Holy Spirit is upon him!!

With Father Pat

Big sis, Michelle

Siblings, except Kyle, who wasn't able to come home from college

Mom & Dad

We were so glad Grandmom & Pop-pop came from NJ. Grandmom had been very ill the week before and we weren't sure she could travel, but she was able to bounce back.

Time to celebrate!!
Andrew, may the joy you felt in your soul as you received Jesus in Holy Eucharist for the first time light a flame and glow for all eternity. May you never forget where Jesus is truly present and seek him always.
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." John 6:51