Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reflections from Edel '14

 I just spent a most incredible weekend attending the Edel Gathering. For the past two days, I’ve spent way more time than I should on facebook reading the recaps. As the days before Edel shortened, I noticed the feed on our private fb page started filling up with anticipatory notes of excitement. The news feed has now exploded in post-Edel  comments of gratitude and reliving moments that will keep us laughing for months (years) to come as we try to keep the feeling alive. There are links to blog posts recapping the event from our own personal experience. I’m devouring them all and finding a common thread… Edel far exceeded everyone’s expectations!

I actually posted a selfie of myself. Edel made me feel like a teenager!
My story is a little different. I am in the scant majority of Catholic moms in attendance who would be considered an “experienced mom”.  My 30 year old high- top pink converse sneakers that I wore to crazy shoe night were older than some of the ladies attending!  A few months after my dear friend, Julie made sure I bought a ticket for this, I started feeling apprehension. I was reading about all the moms who were bringing their infants. It’s been 10 yrs. since I had a baby, perhaps I didn’t belong here. I have a bad habit of over-thinking social situations, especially big ones, and placing myself all alone in a corner living that, “have you ever been in a crowd and felt all alone?” situation.  A day before the big event, I went into complete panic mode of not wanting to go, I didn’t belong, it was a mistake. I texted Julie, who is, by the way, used to my spazzy freak-outs before anything major happens in my life. She was supportive, but I needed more. So I took a deep breath and posted my insecurities on the fb page. I was relieved to find comments on that thread that were so encouraging and also, that others felt as I did.  My spirit calmed and I knew it was ok. I was going to Edel the next day after all!

How do I describe Edel to others? A conglomeration of Catholic moms of all ages and stages of life who get together in a supportive social setting to reaffirm our vocation and see that while living that vocation is often against what society speaks, that together, whether we are physical neighbors or cyber –sisters, we are united as beloved daughters of Christ, under the mantle of the Blessed Mother, bonded to the one True Catholic Church. We are building in our own homes, in our husbands, in our children, a Cathedral of Love.  “We discover God in each other in relationship. Christianity is communal”. This is accomplished not by losing ourselves in motherhood, but by letting God find us there amidst the dirty diapers, piles of laundry, cranky toddlers, sinks full of dirty dishes, adolescent hormone surges, teen rebellion, and financial strain.  “We each have our own personal vocation and if we are always watching others we will miss God’s plan for us. We are only called to love in all situations, that will lead to self-lessness”.  We are a community of like-minded women who are spreading a glimmer of hope to all who see us faithfully wading through the muck in life and knowing at the end we won’t be beat up, weary skeletons of who we used to be, we will have a soul which emanates the light of Love of our creator and spreads to those we’ve touched.  “Our witness to others must be rooted in Truth and a witness of Hope”. We know that we are sanctified in this work and we are cathedral builders in the place where God dwells in us all. “Christianity isn’t a set of rules; it’s a relationship in love.”

Edel co-founder, Jennifer Fulwiler
So, this group of moms who listened to inspiring speakers and chatted freely with new friends can also party!!!  It was clear to me that while we take our vocation very seriously, we aren’t what upper society might deem ‘proper ladies who carry themselves with utmost decorum” Ummm….. there was some such rapping, karaoke, closing down the bar, drinking margaritas on 6th street, and dancing for hours.  It is obvious that Catholic women know how to have fun and need to let loose on occasion before getting back to the business of building…….

I am so blessed to have had this experience and hope to follow the blogs of all who attended and keep in touch with new friends so we can all live in that little community where we build each other up and crack the mold of how society says women will climb over each other to make themselves look better. I only wish this type of support was around 15-20 years ago when my domestic church was in the neophyte stage and I would have benefitted from receiving affirmatin from the most awesome and inspiring women I’ve ever known!

“Every fail to love is a sin.”*

I was one of the nerds taking ‘notes’ during the talks because I can’t remember anything. There are many inspiring take-aways from those gifted speakers. I’ve tried to weave some of their thoughts into this post and also know they are being written about on other blogs.    

*All bold quotes are from the talk given by Marion Fernandez-Cueto

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mid-Summer Daybook

Outside my window...

Our backyard is shaping up. We are in the process of building an extended covered patio roof. I should say, Mike is in the process and I just told him my desires for it. He's good at following through with my requests but is frustrated that he can only work on the project in small increments of time before life calls him back to other obligations.

I am wearing....

My exercise shorts, dry-weave top, & running shoes. I will have an hour of time this morning to wait between picking up kids and driving them on to the next activity. I want to be ready to use that time wisely!

I am grateful for....

This life I've been gifted....a secure marriage to a holy man, beautiful children, friends I can grow in faith with, a comfortable house, and the financial means to make homemaking a priority in building up the domestic church.

I am pondering....

Marian Consecration. I re-consecrated with a group from St. Edwards last Wednesday. I was privileged to once again facilitate the group. It is such a spiritual gift in my life because every time  a new group forms, I am in such need of renewal and I am never disappointed by the end of the 6- weeks.  It is a joy to be able to spiritually refresh and even better to watch the incredible transformations that happen to those in the group, many of whom begin with alot of trepidation and timidity. I feel like a mother hen watching them spread their wings and take off. This has been a treasure in my life and I am so blessed to be a part of this devotion on the parish level. Here is the program we use: 33 Days to Morning Glory .

I am praying for....

My sister's family is going through a big transition and even though it will be good for them, it is bringing alot of stress. I am saying a novena to  Our Lady of Good Remedy for them.

I am praying for my children, especially those that are young adults, I place them under the Blessed Mother's mantle. She knows what they need and can "mother" them with more influence than I.

A few friends have asked for prayers for broken-ness in their immediate and extended families. The devil loves to destroy families and so much healing is needed in this area.

I am reading...

I am always reading a few books at the same time. I've been working on "The Little Oratory" by Clayton and Lawler summer series here at Summer in the Little Oratory along with Elizabeth's blog . More on how that is changing our home later. I just finished the "33 Days to Morning Glory" retreat book as I talked about above. Also, just finished "The Shadow of His Wings" by Fr. Gereon Goldmann, which was an inspiring account of a priest's life while being part of the German army during WWII. If you don't believe in divine intervention, you will after reading his story! I am about to start " The Everyday Catholics Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours" by Daria Sockey. You can probaby figure where I hope to go with this read.....

I am learning.....

How to play the piano!! Taking lessons once a week with Andrew has been a treat. I am progressing, slower than he is, but I am still improving bits at a time and I love that I can sit at our baby grand and actually play a tune. I also learned to crochet last summer. It's been nice having something creative to do at the times when there is idle "sitting time" which seems to happen most at swim meets, long car rides, and doctor appointments. I am more than half way done a shawl, which is the first project I've worked on that isn't lopsided! I am also learning to keep my  mouth shut. This handy skill has helped keep peace when certain people who live with me are feeling grumpy or rebellious and whether consciously or unconsciously try to get me to play that game....

For better health....

"Don't be obsessed with the number on the scale", perhaps you've heard this before. Well, I've always been maybe not obsessed, but aware of that number. I decided after the holidays to stop weighing myself weekly and just eat healthy, exercise, and judge my eating habits by how my clothes fit. Epic Fail!! So, I didn't exercise regularly, ate whatever I felt like, and felt my clothes get tighter. At my annual doctor's appointment last week I had gained 8 lbs since the year before. So, I am back to eating healthy-- which means green smoothies for breakfast, juicing veggies, limiting breads, smaller dinner portions, adding in regular exercise, and weighing myself. So while I can fool myself into thinking the second bowl of ice cream won't hurt, or 2 days of exercise is just as good as 4, the scale doesn't lie, especially not in middle-age.

The week ahead...

 Lots of appointments to take care of: vet, 4 dentist visits, piano, parent volunteer obligation, Daddy-daughter dance, squeezing in a morning visit to a friend's house and then the end of the week is......

I am looking forward to.....

The Edel Gathering !!!! This Fri-Sun I will be in Austin enjoying a Catholic Mom's getaway weekend. I will be traveling with some friends, making (hopefully) lots of new friends, and just having a blast! This has been months in planning and it hasn't hit me yet that it is just days away!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Puppies and Swim Team-- Yup, that's my summer!

The fourth of July was last weekend. When I lived in NJ, this holiday signified the official beginning of summer. Usually kids had been out of school about 2 weeks (or less) and summer rhythms were being formulated. Here in TX, by the time the fourth rolls around we are in the middle of extreme heat, looong summer days have been felt for quite some time and some of us are already dreaming of cool fall evenings. The little ones have been finished their school year since before Memorial Day, so it's about time to start thinking about a summer tune up--- can you say math fact reviews and reading logs?

Our summer has been busy. Since the kids started swim team some 17-18 years ago, there is never a total relaxation when school lets out. It's more of coordination of practice times and Saturday swim meets. Texas has kicked it up a notch-- swim meets here start earlier and last until mid-afternoon. Since the heat/humidity is a little taste of what hell must be like, it's much more draining (on those of us who aren't cooling off in the water--parents!). With Andrew in his second year of competitive year-round swimming, the summer season doesn't just run April-June, but extends another whole month until the end of July-- Yippee!! On the upside--Kyle once again coached the summer league and Andrew and Kaitlyn were participants. Andrew broke 3 individual team records and 2 relay ones. Fun for parents! If you do have to suffer  enjoy watching your kids on swim team, at least it's more exciting having them beat records! Kyle drew rave reviews from parents and really is in his element when coaching and Kaitlyn is there for the fun.
Kaitlyn at the start!

Andrew has sculpted some swimming muscles this year!

Those important turns!

Coach Kyle
Celebrating an undefeated season! 

 Now for the puppies. Since I don't have any toddlers or pre-schoolers running around my home and it's hard to turn off 25 years of running a household filled with the chaos that ensues while raising a litter large family, I have subjected us for the past 3 years to rescuing puppies,or taking in pregnant mama dogs left at the shelter. Providing the  "The Home for Wayward Pregnant Dogs" and "the Mama to Mama Dogs" as
I have been called. Our latest mama-to-be arrived late March, gave birth to 8 healthy puppies (including one I had to revive at birth--whole other story), and started being adopted out at 7 weeks of age. Unfortunately, mama dog became very ill shortly after weaning the pups and didn't survive.( Difficult-- I don't want to focus on this except to say, "please  don't neglect your pets!") At first the pups were going like hot cakes. Even though I couldn't attend any of the rescue group's weekend adoption events ( see above paragraph for explanation!), the internet and word-of-mouth publicity seemed to be doing the job! Until the last puppy, we call her Dahlia, was left. Poor little Dally has been with us over 3 weeks, alone, and now thinks we're her forever family! She's had some internet interest and even went home for 3 days with a family, but for one reason or another, the adoptions haven't been a good fit. Today, hopefully, is her lucky day! A family is coming in a few hours. I believe they will like her and take her home, but she's not an 8 week old fur ball anymore. She's 3 1/2 months of chewing, running, barking, and all-over mischievous puppyhood rolled into one! She chases our cat-- these people have 2! She plays hard with our 2-year old 50 lb. lab mix; they have a 6 yr. old dachshund. I am praying this works for their family and they'll fall in love with her sweet cuddles and licky-licks! I love when I can have a small part of bringing joy to a family as they adopt one of the puppies I 'saved' by fostering, but mostly..... I love these little guys, but I need a break!!

So, with the last puppy hopefully going home today and only two more weekends of swim meets, my relaxation will soon start!!! Happy Summer!!!