A Liebster Blog Award

Lovely Joy, from joy in the morning, recognized me recently with a Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word meaning dearest.  (Interesting note:  I took German in high school and college and I know the way to say “I love you” in German is “ich liebe dich” 🙂 )

The award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who deserve recognition and support to keep on blogging.

Here are the “rules“:
  1. List 11 facts about yourself
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
  3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award
  4. Choose 5 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate
  5. Go to each blogger’s page and let them know about the award
  6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog!    

How fun!!

So!  11 facts about me


  1. My junior year of high school (1990-91), I started (outside hitter) for High School State 4A Championship Volleyball team in North Carolina
  2. I have physically exerted myself for 26.2 mile endeavors twice in my life:  the first time was as a member of the stroke pair of the Washburn University’s Open Women’s 8 in November 1993 and the 2nd time was by myself, running the Lincoln Marathon on May 6, 2007 in 4:37:19
  3. My wedding was July 24, 1999 — one of the hottest days that year — significant because when I bought my dress, I bought it for an October wedding
  4. I have a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas and MBA from Rockhurst University (a local Jesuit university)
  5. I was a toll booth collector from May 1993 through June 1996 for the Kansas Turnpike Authority
  6. My first car was a 1983 Chevrolet Celebrity bought on credit with payments of $215 a month
    It was like this…only light blue

  7. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until the spring of 5th grade (I was 11) 
    It was like this for the most part..
  8. When I was 12, I earned “Most Improved Swimmer” award for my age group and swim team
  9. When my husband and I bowled together in a league on Friday nights, ages ago, I bowled a 600 series (this is three games with average score in the 200’s)  
  10. I played piano for 3 years and I was in “show choir” in high school and was in the musical “Pippin” my junior year of high school
  11. When I was in 1st (or was it 2nd?) grade, my brother and I did an act for our school Talent Show where we sang this song called “Boom Boom! Ain’t it Great to be Crazy?” interspersed with jokes.  I just remember doing it, but I don’t remember if anyone thought it was any good
Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be!!
Okay, so now I get to answer Joy’s questions:

  1. Favorite breakfast?  2 eggs over medium, bacon, hash browns
  2. First presidential election you remember?  1980 — Carter vs. Reagan
  3. Home decorating style? favoring which time period?  Ummm?  there are styles? 🙂
  4. Favorite ice cream flavor?  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  5. And what is going on top? (Fave toppings?)  I don’t like anything on top
  6. What country/culture fascinates you most?  Italy / and the many variations of Italian cultures I have encountered!
  7. Planner or spur of the moment personality?  Planned (yup…major Type A here)
  8. Favorite board game?  Scrabble
  9. White, milk or dark chocolate? Dark Chocolate!!
  10. Favorite Easter basket candy?  Dark Chocolate!!
  11. You are hosting a 3 movie marathon: what is the theme or featured artist Hmmm, it would have to be Jason Bourne movies or Lord of the Rings

And now for 11 questions for the bloggers I nominate:

  1. The place you go for your news
  2. Greatest sports venue you’ve ever experienced
  3. Facebook or Twitter (your fave social media)?
  4. First presidential election you voted in?
  5. Sunny or Snowy Vacation?
  6. Phone rings.  You don’t recognize the number.  Do you answer it or do you let it roll to voicemail?
  7. Markers or Crayons?
  8. History Museum or Art Gallery?
  9. Transformers or He-man and the Masters of the Universe?
  10. What series of TV shows have you not seen that you would watch start to finish on Netflix?
  11. Three favorite recent books (looking for some good reads!!)
 I nominate the following blogs for this award:
Jamie at Roman Catholic Cop
Maggie at From the Heart
Sarah at Fumbling Toward Grace
Molly at Molly Makes Do
Katie at NFP and Me 
 

Thank you, Joy at joy in the morning, for nominating me for this.  It was loads of fun!!

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Today is Helen’s 7th birthday!

Helen and I have an intense relationship.  It was so from the beginning.  She was the baby I was determined to breastfeed.  And I did.  For about 5 months.  

Things were different with Helen from before birth actually.  I prayed for a baby that wanted her momma.  I did.  Sarah was my oldest and far too independent to “cling” to anyone.  Dani was a “Daddy’s girl.”  I told people throughout, “This one is MY baby.”  I was quite possessive of her future emotions.  I wanted her to want me like no one had ever wanted me.  I needed it.  I needed to have a close bond with a child from the get-go.

And…I got it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a strong relationship with Sarah and Dani and Dominic and Vincent.  But I also have a different relationship with each of them.  And the intensity varies.  And Helen’s and my relationship is, by far, the most intense of them all.

The nursing relationship was interesting.  We co-slept and she reverse-cycled and nursed and slept with me in my bed until 6 a.m. and would often sleep until 2 p.m. in the afternoon while I was at work.  I ended up needing no pumping because she never took it anyway.  She only wanted me to hold her and I never objected.  I carried her around in a sling, I carried her around making dinner.  From the time I got home in the evenings until the next morning basically, I would hold her and she would fuss and scream if I had to put her down (which of course, I did have to do, to take care of the others).

The toddler years maintained the intensity.  Helen would cling to me.  She had eyes only for me.  She loved me “the most.” She had (and still has) a direct connection to my heart.  

As she has moved into the schooling years, I marvel at her because I always thought her need for attention from me, displayed with her defiant and often ornery behavior would spill over at school and the teachers would have to send notes home telling me that she needed to behave better or something.  But instead I get lovely notes from the teacher saying she is a “great example to others” and parents of other children who tell me how cute and sweet my Helen is and the kids seem to love her as well.  

I’m very over-protective of Helen because of my own body-image issues.  I build her up as much as I can because I don’t want her to think or say that she “has fat thighs”.  I want her to understand that God made her beautiful and she has a strong, athletic body that will never betray her.  

Today we have a birthday party scheduled at the skating rink.  Helen got an American Girl look-alike doll (which she named “Jessica”) for her birthday and literally fell in love with her.  It’s so cute to watch her carry Jessica around with her through the house and play with her and take care of her.  

I am so blessed to have this sweet, beautiful baby girl in my life.  I never deserved such a complete answer to my fervent prayer for a baby who loved me and needed me.  But I’m so thankful God saw fit to send her anyway.

HELEN OLIVIA — I LOVE YOU — HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Monday Mumbles – 40

Some days, I just feel like Mumbling. Today’s one of them.  I know it wasn’t my idea to start them, but I figure I’ll finish it anyway.  🙂

1.  It’s President’s Day.  I think we’re celebrating the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Is that right?  Ok.

2.  No school for the kids.  No work for me.  Daycare, still, for Vincent, though.  He needs his routine and we’re headed to my doctor appointment in a bit. I can handle the older four while getting my appointment in, but not him, too.

3. 17 week belly pic 

(again, I wish I didn’t hate all pictures of myself…what is up with that???)

4. I’m taking the kids shopping after the appointment.  Helen can pick out her American Girl doll.  She is the first of my girls to ask for one, so she’s getting one. I have a feeling she’ll be picking out a “look-alike” version, too.  haha.

5.  I attended the KU game Saturday night and they retired Mario Chalmers’ jersey.  

Yes, this Mario:

Got to see that over and over again Saturday night…among other awesome things he did in a KU uniform.  🙂

6.  Here is a picture before the game:

7.  Here is a picture after they unveiled it:

 

8.  Added bonus, KU seems to be back to form (at least at home).  

9.  I texted Rebecca this morning to let her know I was pulling for the Mountaineers to pull off an upset over K-State tonight!  That will make Wednesday’s game a major-big-deal that if we win, we’ll be in sole possession of 1st place again.  Hopefully Bob Huggins and his boys can help us out.  🙂

10.  Well, off for a little bit of grapefruit and to get these kids moving and ready to go.  Have a great Monday!!

 

Lenten Journey One Day At a Time – 6 days in

It is now the 6th day of Lent and I’m realizing how much the little preparation can take a toll on whether one is fully present in their sacrifice, prayer and almsgiving.  Without reflecting ahead of time, one can’t get the commitment needed to go a week, let alone 40 days!

Weekends are not my typical time for reflection and commitment to sacrifice and I felt that keenly this past weekend.  We typically go to Mass at the Saturday evening vigil because Craig works all night and needs to sleep on Sunday.  But other than that, there’s not a lot of glaring opportunity for prayer…or is there?  Is it just that I’ve let so much “other” stuff creep into my periphery that I don’t take the time I should?  I think that’s more likely the case.

Take this weekend for instance.  Saturday morning, I dropped Helen off at ballet and then commenced clearing my desk that is forever a mess and paying the bills.  There was laundry to be done, a kitchen to clean up, kids to be clothed.  But there was also the “down” time, where I just sometimes want my brain to be checked out.  I have a couple of games on the computer that I can play where I don’t have to think and I like those.  I especially like to “check out” for a bit on the weekends.  Anyway, then there were showers to be taken and baths to be given and Mass and then I was off to attend the KU Basketball game.  So, Saturday got completely away from me without thinking about Lent at all.  Then Sunday, I lay in bed for as long as possible, then lounged on the couch while the boys played (still in my PJ’s!) doing nothing for the most part. 

As I sat at Sarah’s practice, I wondered why I am so tired and why I don’t feel like doing anything.  I want to blame pregnancy, but I don’t remember it being this way before.  I know my doc said I could take the anxiety meds during pregnancy, but I haven’t.  I don’t even know if I should start back up or not at this point.  

So, this morning, I realized I am still pretty worked up over the Pope, over not being prepared for Lent properly, and the fact that I’m going to have to figure out new furniture arrangements when this baby comes, although waiting to find out the gender for sure is probably a good move.  I read my Catechism readings that had piled up in my inbox, once again and plan to pray some extra St. Michael the Archangel prayers today. 
 

7 Quick Takes – 43




— 1 —
How did your Lent start off?  Good?  Well, mine was going along swimmingly until I ate something with meat in it at breakfast this morning.  Oh yeah, I’m a winner, right here… Doh!
— 2 —
I have my next appointment with my doctor on Monday.  I’m taking Sarah, Dani, Helen and Dominic with me since they are out of school and would like to hear the heartbeat and all that jazz.  I called the doctor’s office yesterday to give them a heads-up that i’d be bringing them.  When the nurse called back she said, “That’s fine.  We love kids!”  Which is all fine and dandy and I never doubted that.  I just figured they might like a heads up that that many people would be in the room, or something.

— 3 —

For Valentine’s day, my husband, sweet man that he is, made me dinner at home.  He even had the kids all fed when I got home from work so we could eat together while they played or watched some T.V.  Little Vincent still hung around in the room with us, but that was to be expected.  After all, he doesn’t leave our sides very often (when not at daycare anyway). 

Dinner for two-plus-the-little-guy

Anyway, it was a very good dinner — Ribeye steak (cooked med rare! yum!), Steamed Lobster Tail, Steamed Broccoli, baked potato.  He also had set out a salad and a plate that had garlic glazed olives and bruschetta-wrapped mozzerella. It was fun and the food was good.  As we did the dishes, though, I mentioned that I think that is why it’s more fun to go out — no need to clean up afterward.  🙂
 

— 4 —
I think it’s interesting that it was in meditating on how I will keep lent today that I realized I had just screwed up and eaten meat on a Friday.  I mean, it has been YEARS since I have done that.  YEARS!!!  I guess it’s a good reminder that it’s a sacrifice and that I need to be fully aware of thsee things to be sure and make it the sacrifice it is supposed to be.  It’s also quite humbling…I mean, it’s easy to get all pride-ful and be like, “Dude, I NEVER mess up at Lent…what’s wrong with you!?!?” right? 
Can you tell I’m a little annoyed at myself this morning?
— 5 —
Okay, so enough of that.  Anyone have cool plans for the long weekend?  My kids are out of school both today and Monday.  We don’t have any extra-special plans or anything.  Saturday will be our usual ballet – swim practice – guitar lesson – Mass day.  Then it will be KU basketball at the Phog!  They are retiring Mario Chalmers’ jersey!  AND…major big recruit on campus along with ESPN’s College GameDay!  It should be fun!!
— 6 —

Sunday, we just have volleyball practice for Sarah on the schedule.  And sleeping in, too.  Yes, that is totally on the schedule.  Of course sleeping in technically means maybe…7:30 or so.  but hey, it’s an extra hour or two!  🙂

— 7—
I hope you all have a great long weekend!!
 

Lenten Journey One Day at a Time – 2

This morning, I thought about what I needed to do today to get through this day of Lent, this first day after Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesdays is so structured. We’re already given guidelines of how to keep the day holy and focused on prayer and sacrifice because we’re given the mandate to do a simple fast and to abstain from eating meat. As I thought about what I could do today, I felt a bit overwhelmed because, there’s no direction and my lack of planning has left me with too many options to choose from.

But I still feel called to take this day by day. And today, it is hitting me hard the fact that Pope Benedict XVI has abdicated and will step aside at 8:00 p.m. February 28. I have a slight fear that is growing inside of me. The majority of Lent for my Church spent with an empty leadership spot. THE leadership of our church…will be empty during a time when we, the faithful, are already in the desert. Lent can be a formidable season as it is. Who knows how long it will take to elect a pope. It has been reported that the conclave may not start until mid-March! Easter is March 31. I pray that we have a new Holy Father in place by Holy Week, I can’t imagine going through Holy Week without the message from our Holy Father and the encouragement as we walk the Passion with our Lord.

Honestly, when the news broke Monday, I wasn’t all that struck by it. I thought, “Surely, Papa Benny has taken this action with him in prayer and fasting for many months. No, this could not be a spur-of-the-moment decision” and I felt certain this has been weighing on him heavily and probably continues to weigh on him. Then when all the conspiracy theorists started in with their opinions about why the Pope would do this, I got defensive and found opposing, supportive opinions to combat those negative ones and to make myself feel a little better. Yesterday, I didn’t think much about it.

Today, my fears rose to the surface. The trust I have in Pope Benedict XVI as our Pope is what I fear losing in the next Pope. The Holy Spirit is guiding this ship, I know that, but even then…what if the humans in charge don’t hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as they choose Pope Benedict XVI’s successor? The political landscape in this country and the huge amount of ignorance about Catholicism that spews from the airways gets into my head and makes me wonder if the squeaky wheels will drown out the true voice of the Holy Spirit and the Cardinals will pick a Pope who will not uphold the teachings and truths and traditions of our faith?

So, today, my plan is to pray fervently for whoever our next Pope is. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, I will pray as I walk my steps every time I take a break from my desk. Since I have no way of knowing who the next pope will be, my prayers will be centered on the intention that he accept the Chair of Peter without hesitation, that there be unity in our Church behind this man, that he be strong in the face of adversity and have the ability to communicate with all of us and encourage us to continue on our paths that we pray lead to being with our Heavenly Father.

 

Lenten Journey One Day at a Time – 1

Today is the beginning of Lent. I have spent the better part of last night and into this morning thinking about where I am spiritually right now. I think part of my Funk has to do with the fact that I’m kind of in a spiritual dry spell or something.

I was remembering how on fire I was for awhile. I mean, my reversion happened 12 years ago and I went pretty hot and heavy on it…reading everything, praying, daily Mass for long periods of time. I kind of sputtered after I had Dominic. I went through a prolonged bout of post-partum depression and I haven’t ever regained my mojo.

Sure, there have been spurts where I get back into things. Become a bit more activist-like in my faith…get all fired up about the HHS Mandate and the persecution of sorts of Catholics in this country. There was the Fortnight for Freedom last year. But all in all, I’ve just not been feeling it. I used to make time for my rosary and prayer…and now, I focus much more on my fatty mc-fatness and wallow in my pitiful self.

So, as Lent begins…I realize that maybe I’m in a really good place for Lent to begin this time. I’m not flying on some spiritual high where I have been an evangelizing fool, or preparing one of my children for Sacraments this year (that always provides a little boost). I’m just…flat, dry, BLAH. It’s like I’m all bare bones this time around. And maybe that is where I need to be.

When I attended Mass this morning and approached Father to get my mark of ashes on my forehead – and I heard the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” it was as if I heard exactly what I needed to hear right at this moment that Lent begins. I am dust. I am empty. I am nothing without God and all his gifts. I feel empty spiritually and maybe that is my call to fill myself, just a little bit every day. I have been called to drop to my knees at the foot of this spiritual hill I am about to climb for 40 days and begin a slow crawl to the foot of the cross on Calvary. I’m not physically crying, but I feel the tears of loneliness in my heart and I feel called to shed them at His feet.

I’m not sure how I will complete this crawl. To be honest, my Lenten reflection and preparation hasn’t gone much beyond ensuring I fast today and abstain from meat. I just haven’t been able to think much further than that this year. I know that failure to plan is planning to fail and if I’m not careful, I’ll get going through these 40- days not making any sacrifices and not making any progress. But I can’t get past the fact that I haven’t been able to think much further than Ash Wednesday yet and that maybe I can only promise myself that I’ll try to think through tomorrow when the time comes. Perhaps the only thing I can manage this year is doing Lent one day at a time. That’s been my mantra lately…just get through today and worry about tomorrow when I get up. Maybe that is how I will have a successful Lent…make a point each morning to decide what my sacrifice will be that day.

What will I do for Lent? What will I do to grow closer to Christ, to unite my sufferings to His Cross, to embrace this life He has granted me?

Today, I am fasting and abstaining from meat and getting through today.

Check back with me tomorrow, to see what the Lord has in store for me then.