Archive for the 'Musings' Category

God’s megaphone is saying:

I am selfish! Yes, it feels like that is our Lord’s lenten message to me. Quite honestly, it is coming as quite a shock so perhaps pride may be a part of the message too?

So how does this pride and selfishness manifest itself? I refuse to submit my will to anyone other than the Almighty himself. Apparently, He is the only one I feel should have more say than me because he is God after all.

I’ve always thought that I was strong willed and always right. God apparently calls that selfish and proud. Ouch.

So much for my resolutions, it seems God has some of his own in mind for me such as submitting to others (especially my husband) for no other reason than making an act of love, a sincere gift of self. He has made it very clear it doesn’t matter if I am right, if I have a good argument or a better way. It doesn’t even matter if someone else is in the wrong, I am to submit.

So this lent this is the cross our Lord’s given to me bear; submission.

If only I had a Caramel Macchiato to console me!

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:2)

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. (Eph 5:21, 22)

Whoever wishes to be great among you will become a servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:27, 28)




A Lenten Birthday Surprise

I knew my husband had something planned for my birthday by the way he was acting, lots of hush, hush, with the kids, and don’t open that e-mail sort of thing. But I could not have imagined all he had planned…

On the eve of my birthday, the only hint of what might be planned was leaked, “Children make sure you have warm clothes for tomorrow.”

 “Aha!” I thought, “We’re going somewhere outside.” 

I have a hunch of what you’ve planned for my birthday  I quipped.


“Don’t tell me! Just write it down on a piece of paper and give it to me so you don’t ruin this surprise!” I was warned.


“This surprise?Is it my fault I have such great natural intuition? Just because I guess doesn’t mean he has to give it away!”, I thought to myself, as I wrote down my far-fetched but most confident guess.


The next morning, my dear husband kissed me goodbye while I dozily responded back with a peck.

Five minutes later he was back in the room telling me to jump in the shower because we needed to leave by 7:30 am. The goodbye kiss? All a hoax. He really had taken the day off and had big plans for us!


So by 7:40 am, the children, the dog, my husband and myself were loaded in the mini-van headed to pick up bagels and coffee to eat on the way to our surprise destination. My husband turned on the CD player for my first clue:  Nuns chanting beautifully.  I was right! I knew we would be going to visit St. Walburga Benedictine Abbey, I just knew it!


My dear husband had peeked at my guess from the night before and knew I had guessed correctly leaving him enamored with what I could only explain as my feminine genius!


Three and a half hours later (after passing the exit by four miles on the most expensive tollway in America and decideing to take the back way rather than turning around and forking out more cash) we arrived at the Abbey just in time for noonday prayers.  The sisters chanted the prayers beautifully. They truly sound like the choirs of heaven when they sing and are a great testimony to the power of Beauty, that which is True and Good.  Prayers only lasted for 15 minutes before the noon hour was being announced by the striking on the bell tower that sounded for lunch. I had stayed in the chapel to pray when I heard the bells and realized it was the hour that our Lord had been nailed to the cross.  Sorrow filled my soul for my sins as the psalm resonated in my heart, “I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked…Many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me: they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look on and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vestures they cast lots.”

 Oh, Jesus, I am sorry. May my tears wash your feet and bring you consolation on the cross just as Mary’s did. 

It then dawned on me that I am now the age of my Lord when he was crucified: thirty-three. Wow, was I prepared to suffer I wondered? I wasn’t so sure. Giving up Starbucks seemed difficult enough but that wasn’t really suffering. The Lord then, in his mercy, reassured me of his love by reminding me of the times in my life when I have bled, when I have suffered, when I have been crucified with him. These memories no longer brought me pain as I thought back on them but rather joy. I felt so honored to have been allowed to suffer with our Lord on the cross.  What a gift!


Aware that was alone, I then wiped my eyes and went looking for my family, who were wandering around the beautiful grounds of the Abbey. We hiked for a while, climbing near St. Peter’s Garden for a short time, taking in the natural beauty of the granite mountains that butt up against St. Walburga. It is quite breathtaking.


We loaded everyone back up into the van and received my second surprise; a beautiful & thoughtful card with MONEY inside with a note stating it was to be spent shopping in Old Town Ft. Collins! Whoo hoo!!! My second guess was right too!

After a full but fun day shopping in all the stores you have to tell young children NOT TO TOUCH in (my dear husband took the young ones to visit a skate shop owned by an old high school buddy) I made my selection: two ceramic chickens for the kitchen! They were even 20% off which meant I had leftover money for new curtains in the kitchen to go with the chickens. What an awesome birthday.


We once again packed into the van, gave thanks for the miracle that happened with the dog which I will explain below, and headed toward home looking for a restaurant that had something vegetarian on the menu since it was a Friday in Lent.


 (About the dog: Someone let her off her leash when she was tied up outside the skate shop but I just happened across her on the corner of a very busy intersection while having to go find a public restroom for Galadriel. We figured that just about the time she was let loose, I started down the street where I met up with her! The women who were holding her said they were going to take her home if nobody had answered the phone number on her collar. I can’t even express what a tragedy it would have been if we would have had to go the 2 ½ hours home without Lil’ Anne!)


Rosie suggested we eat at an Italian restaurant in town. Samwise had just fallen asleep after an incredibly exhausting day, so I suggested we drive on towards home and eat after he got a little shuteye. My dear husband insisted that we eat in town and nothing I said would sway him. At this point I knew something else was planned, but what? I hadn’t guessed anything else last night.  As we pulled into the parking lot I saw my in-laws van. Okay, you got me, honey! I wasn’t expecting this!


As we walked to the table, not only my in-laws were there but my mother and stepfather were sitting at the table, two hours away from home too! I really was surprised! And that’s when I was presented with my last surprise. The children presented me with a card and a gift bag. In the gift bag were lots of earplugs and 13 tickets to see Chris Rice in concert. The date for the concert: February 23, 2007! We finished up dinner, enjoyed an on the house dessert and then ended the night with 3 of the 5 children falling asleep listening to there very first concert!


Thank you, honey, for such a wonderful birthday full of blessings and surprises!


What are we doing next year?!?

Lent is upon Us

You know Lent is upon you when the highlight of your day is going down to the local IHOP to fill up on a short stack of free pancakes, you make a special trip to Starbucks and get extra caramel on that Macchiato, and you have seconds on dessert which, by the way, were incredibly delicious Starbucks Coffee Mud Pie ice cream bars. (In my defense, a couple of hours have past since my 1st one and isn’t that why it’s called Fat Tuesday anyway?!?)

So now that my stomach has been sufficiently filled in preparation for the fast tomorrow on Ash Wednesday, it seems it would be a good time to reflect with you on my plans for Lent. You know those plans that are suppose to aid us on our path to holiness. Those things that we resolve to do every year (somewhat like a  Catholic version of New Year’s resolutions.) Those things that most of us eventually fail at atleast once during Lent. Well, here are mine:

  • Give up Starbucks.  I have such a weakness for Starbucks and now with the drive-thru windows and the shops in almost every grocery or discount store, it is becoming more difficult to resist the gravitational pull it seems to have on me. This really sunk in the other day as I drove past an add for cigarettes priced at $4.20 a pack. Who would pay $4.20 for a pack of smokes? How absurd! And then came the Quiet Voice with conviction, “A Cinnamon Dulce latte is $4.20. How many have you bought this week?” Ouch! Okay, no more Starbucks.
  • Keep an accurate expense record. Be accountable for every penny spent and see how it is spent. This is so intimidating to me but I feel it’s a sacrifice that must be done. It’s a little way I can make a gift of myself to my dear husband who is willing to work a paper route (in addition to his regular 50 hours a week) so we can pay off debt we have accumulated due to medical bills and other big things that have come up. So if he’s willing to sacrifice sleep, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it’s for as short of time as possible.
  • Exercise, eat well & take care of my body. It is a gift that I’ve been neglecting for too long.
  • Question for quiet time with the Lord in the morning: Lord, what gift do you have for me to receive today? How can I make myself a gift to you, my husband, & the children today?
  • Question for the Lord at night: Did I receive you today? Did I receive my husband and the children today as gifts?
  • Pray the Liturgy of the Hours with my spouse and children everyday.
  • Try to get back to praying Divine Mercy every afternoon.

 So there it is. My list. Will I execute this perfectly this Lent or will I fall short of what I have set out to do? I already know the answer. I will fall short because we all fall short of the Glory of God but it is in the falling & failing that we are weak enough to rely on His Mercy to make us holy, not on our own strength.

Have a blessed Lent and let us not forget-His joy comes in the Morning! 

Baby Slumber


Well, we did it. Something we haven’t had to do in in almost a decade of parenting we did today. We headed down to Babies R Us in below freezing temps and bought a toddler bed. The manager smiled at our clan and asked who was graduating and moving up to a big bed. Five excited faces smiled back and declared, “The Baby!”

The oldest, taking me into her confidence whispered, “Actually, he’s moving down (giggle-giggle) from yours and Daddy’s bed. His new bed is much smaller.”

And smaller it is indeed. The crib mattress fits right inside and it has little guard rails near the top. And in case those don’t do the job, it’s just a few inches to the ground which is padded with a pillow, safe in our bedroom.

This got me thinking of the older children’s sleep milestones. The curious thing is they all reached sleeping on their own in very different ways.

Rosie, our first, had her own room set up with a fun and bright jungle motif. We brought her home to the beautiful nursery that awaited her, and basically, used it as a place to change her diapers.

All of the other time, she was in my arms, and subsequently in my bed. I of course told no one about this. No relatives and definitely not the other mommies in the baby group. I have to admit, not much got done those 6 months except a lot of loving, holding and nursing.

At six months, scared, I took the advice of pop culture. All the experts in the parenting magazines said if you let children go past six months sleeping with you (if you had made that unfortunate mistake) there would be trouble to pay. The best option: let them cry it out. It will only last 2-3 nights and everyone will be better for it. So just like Baby Mabel on the sitcom Mad about You we let our dear one cry it out. With 20 minute crying sessions before dozing off she had “taught” herself to sleep through the night on her own.

Rosie’s next sleep milestone came at 18 months when she graduated into a twin size bed with a guard rail on the side and a gate at the door. Her little sister was expected in two months and we would need the crib; there was no way I was going to make the mistake of bringing baby # 2 into bed with us this time.

Well, little Galadriel came into the world and spent her first four days out of the womb, in the NICU, hooked up to oxygen. I spent those first 4 days with virtually NO sleep. I was firmly committed to breastfeeding Galadriel, something some of the NICU nurses weren’t supportive of, so every time she cried they called me down to nurse her.

The schedule looked something like this: Nurse Galadriel for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, burp and change diaper, walk back to room which was in a different wing of the hospital, crawl in bed and be called back in 15 minutes to nurse again and to start the routine over. To make matters worse there wasn’t even a soft chair to sit in. Not good for a postpartum mom!


The nurse’s expanation was if I was going to nurse, than this is what is going to happen, because I wasn’t making enough milk to satisfy her. If I let her give Galadriel formula she’ll be content for hours at a time and I can get some rest. Ugh! I knew this wasn’t true but sadly, after a couple days, I relented and fed Galadriel formula through a little tube you hang around your neck. (Much to the nurse’s dismay I refused to give her a bottle.) Galadriel’s crying did not cease with the formula feedings nor did the feeding schedule. The doctors never gave Galadriel a diagnosis.

Galadriel was still fussy as ever when we brought her home with an oxygen tank attached. This was particularly scary because during her crying spells her oxygen levels would drop and her lips would turn purple. After a full day in the hospital and a night of crying at home, I called the Pediatrician at 3 am, in tears, explaining that they had made a mistake in releasing Galadriel. The doctor reassured me that she was okay, and that maybe she was just a baby that needs the extra touch and comfort that only I could bring. She suggested I co-sleep with Galadriel and even let her sleep on my tummy while she nurses. Sage advice, but advice I wasn’t ready to take.

For months I fought bringing Galadriel into bed with me. And for months she fought sleeping away from me. This vicious cycle, I believe, contributed to PPD and at around 4 months (if not before), I was giving Galadriel bottles of formula during the day for supplemental feedings & water at night in her crib so she would not need me. At six months, Galadriel was eating mostly solids and I weaned her completely. At two years, with a baby sister on the way, she graduated into a bottom bunk (with guardrails of course) while big sister at 4 graduated to the top!

When Eowyn arrived, we once again had the nursery ready and waiting for her. She had a beautiful birth and was an eager nurser, a true pro from the beginning! She loved to nurse, and like her two older sisters nursed constantly. Unlike Galadriel, Eowyn didn’t like to sleep with me. I would try to cuddle up in bed for a nap with her and she would refuse to nurse. She didn’t like her crib but was very content in her car seat or a baby papoose seat.


The only difficulty we had with Eowyn was that even though she was nursing constantly (every 2 hours for 45 minutes each feeding) she was not gaining weight like the doctors wanted her to. The nursing physically wore on me because I just wasn’t taking care of myself as I should. I wasn’t drinking or eating well. I wasn’t getting much sleep and it was so discouraging to nurse for so long to only have her spit it right back up. The medicine they gave her did not help because that would come right back up too.

The one comfort I found while nursing Eowyn, was the awesome wonder I felt knowing I was giving myself as a gift to this precious baby just like Mary gave herself to Christ. Eowyn helped me to know the Blessed Mother and to image her during the time I was preparing to be received into the Church. What a beautiful gift she gave!

Oh, nothing became of her lack of weight gain except a tall and slender girl, true to form!

Eowyn graduated to a big, twin bed when she was two but not until after the birth of her brother because when he arrived rather than setting up nursery, we got out a sling we received as a gift with our first baby (but didn’t use) and opened our bed to him, whole heartedly! This time we didn’t take advice from magazines but rather we listened to the voices of experts like Madeline, Rosemary, & Dana, who had the credentials of mothering many children. Oh, and then there was Wendy and Lisa who were in the same boat as me and helped me learn how to use that sling that can be so intimidating!

Once again I had the privilege of holding my baby all the time like I had with my first! We cuddled and nursed all day and night. And unlike Eowyn, Frodo had no problems gaining weight. (Once someone even commented that I must be serving him Haagen Dazs he was so chubby!) He and I slept great for 15 months cuddled together until the time came when neither my husband or I were getting much sleep. You see, there just wasn’t very much room anymore with three of us in that bed. We moved a mattress onto our bedroom floor, surrounded it with pillows and there Frodo slept waking twice in the night but comforted to sleep by our presence.

Two weeks later we moved the twin mattress into a room with his sister, Eowyn, put it up on a frame with a guard rail and that is where he has slept ever since. Easy as that. No crying it out.

Samwise was much the same as Frodo. He hung out in a sling nursing till his heart was content, riding in his Ergo on nature outings, and sleeping cuddled between my husband and I until tonight. Tonight he moved out of our bed because he has grown so big. And into a toddler bed because our house has grown too small for one more big bed so a new purchase was necessary.

Just the other night a dear friend, blessed with the birth of her second daughter, asked if I could show her how to use the sling she was given. It was such a privilege to return the gift of “slinging” that my friends had given to me. Our life has been so richly blessed by attachment parenting, sharing our bed, being attentive to our baby’s need for comfort and, consequently, giving ourselves as  gifts to our children.


Rocky Mountain Catholic Home Educator’s Conference

June 21-23, 2007

The Glory of God is man fully alive! -St. Irenaus

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