Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Sweet Pics

Happily Sucking His Fingers-Against Mommy's Wishes!

A New Baby Toy Always Gets Everyone Excited

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Does My Deacon Do?

  A few weeks ago I read a great post at Catholic Mothers Online entitled, "What does a Deacon Do Anyway".  I felt it was right on the money with many Catholics.  Before my dad became a deacon a few years ago, I had no idea what deacons did either.  I would see them at Mass, and hear them preach the Gospel and even sometimes do the sermon, but I didn't understand why they were doing these things and not the priest since he was perfectly capable and sitting right there!  I think this is probably the view of most uninformed Catholics, and maybe they even take it to another level where they may think the deacon is taking over the role of the priest.   My dad was victim this kind of ignorance in the parish where they were parishioners for 30 years.  Thankfully, they found another parish that welcomed my father as Deacon and have been very grateful for all the wonderful talents and gifts my dad (and mom) have brought to the parish.

One thing I learned from my dad was why a deacon proclaims the Gospel and not the priest at Mass.  He said one of the main functions of a deacon is to preach the Gospel -both literally and figuratively.  I never was so proud of my dad as I was when I saw him proclaim the Word of God for the first time the day after he was ordained.  What an honor to be called by God to proclaim the living Word of God!

Here are some more things about deacons that you may not know:

*Guest Post by my Dad*
What can you do as a Catholic deacon?  Well, the short answer is that the deacon assists at Mass as “the deacon of the Mass”, administers baptism, officiates at marriages, wake services, funerals, benediction, and prayer services. That is some of his functions but perhaps a more accurate description can be found not in his function but in his being.  Thus a better question  might be; what is a deacon? 

            A deacon is not a “mini priest” nor a glorified alter server, but has a separate and distinct ministry. Just as a mother is not defined by her functions, what she does, but a mother is described best by who she is. So it is also with the Catholic Permanent Deacon.
Permanent Catholic deacons (vastly different from protestant deacons) are ordained men. That makes them part of the church hierarchy subject to obedience to the local bishop. With that said, the deacon is not a man elevated to the ranks of the clergy to be served. Instead he is ordained to serve others in the church and his environment.

            Most permanent deacons have secular jobs; many are married with families. The uniqueness is that they are very ordinary common men, ordained to serve the church in a special way as a deacon, a cleric living as a secular. I think of it as the world of the hierarchy streaming into the secular world. Personally I feel like I have one foot in the clerical world and the other in secular one.

            As a married permanent Catholic deacon I have two vocations. My first and foremost is marriage and family. When I was ordained in 2008, my bishop reminded me that my first vocation is to be a good husband and father.  My second vocation is clerical ministry serving the church as a deacon. Bishop Kinney told me that I cannot be a good deacon unless I place my first vocation (marriage) first in my life.

 Every deacon has different circumstances in their life and it is not always easy to maintain a proper balance. Many times the family life suffers when the clerical life takes over. The result can be a meltdown of both vocations. I firmly believe that prayer and good relationships is the key to proper balance in life. That is why my wife Bonnie and I pray together every night. We need prayer, to keep us grounded in our relationship with each other as well as our relationship with God and others.

In ending, I recall the words of Bishop   John Kinney “it’s not about the deacon, the priest, or the bishop.  It’s all about Jesus Christ and how we bring that presence into this world”.

Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Adventures in Sleep City

It's the first night my 3 month old is sleeping in his own room and the third night my 2 year old daughter is sleeping on the bottom of a bunk bed she is sharing with her four year old brother.  Some days it feels like I'm conducting an orchestra, timing each instrument to come in the song at just the right time to make a beautiful melody.  But most days it feels like I'm the ring leader of three ring circus and the animals have not been tamed! 

Have a three bedroom house has definitely been tricky on the sleeping situations.  It's every parent's dream to get their kids to bed with the least amount of tears as possible.  So far, the baby swing has been my solution to that for every nap by baby takes.  Jude's room was the hallway during the day and my bedroom at night.  He's never slept in a crib or bassinet, so this crib thing had me worried.  So far, it's been almost an hour, and he's still asleep.  I'm very grateful!

Tonight, I am the ring leader with Analee and Liam.  Putting them in the same room at night went really well for the first two nights, but tonight they are all wound up.  Last night, Liam fell asleep right away.  Analee snuck up to his bed and lied down next to him.  I thought it was really cute, but at 1:30am, when Liam discovered his sister was in his bed, he was not too thrilled. 

It's quiet now and I'm wondering if my two year old will pop out of the bedroom again (for the 11th time in 20 minutes) with a big grin on her face like this is a really fun game.  This ring leader is ready for some sleep too.

And here she's going to be a long night!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taking Comfort in Jesus

I found another very moving vision of St. Bridget's to share.  This is the second time in the past several months that I was uplifted by a vision of St. Bridget of Sweden (the first was the Nativity Vision that I shared at Christmas time), so I decided to go ahead and buy a small book of her visions today from Amazon. Here's the link to the book ($4.95):  Revelations of St. Bridget on the Life and Passion of Our Lord and the Life of His Blessed Mother 

Today's meditation of the day from Magnificat:
I am the Queen of heaven, and my Son loves you with all his heart.  So I advise you to love nothing except him.  For he is so desirable that if you have him, you will not be able to desire anything else.  He  is so beautiful that the beauty of the elements of this world, or the beauty of light, is like a shadow in comparison to him. 

Whence when I was nursing my Son, he was endowed with such great beauty that whoever looked upon him was consoled and relieved of any sorrow he may have had in his heart.  And so, even many Jews said to one another, "Let us go to see Mary's Song, that we may be consoled."  And even though they did not know that he was the Son of God, nevertheless, they received great consolation upon seeing him."

                                                                            --Our Lady to St. Bridge of Sweden

The very sight of the Baby Jesus gave comfort to those around him.  Even though I cannot see the face of Jesus, I too, take comfort when saying his name, thinking about him and talking to him.  It is my delight to share this knowledge with my children- that there is nothing else in the world worth desiring than Jesus.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Lady, Clubber of Demons

Here's where the painting is today

Have you seen this picture of Our Lady? A friend sent me an email with this picture in it. It is the funniest pictures of Mary I have ever seen. I looked it up and found this website: LOL Saints. I've seen some of the pictures before, but had forgotten how funny some of them are. They have a good explanation of the picture at the LOL Saints site. (BTW: she is clubs the demon, not the child, but I'm sure you knew that!)

Plan B- Caramel Sauce

For Christmas gifts this year, I made caramels, which I thought were a pretty modest gift.  They went over so well that I thought I'd make them again for St. Valentine's Day.  I used this recipe. It was so easy and quick. So much easier and quicker than making sugar cookies and decorating them, that I wonder why more people don't make caramels.  The thing that took the most time was wrapping them all. That was pretty much a pain in the butt, but it was worth it in the end.

Back to my Valentine's Caramel's.  I was planning on sending them to family and friends, but here's what happened. I put all the ingredients into the pot, boiled it for about 30 minutes until it reached 250 degrees- all the while doing a million other mommy things. I take the pot off the stove, then look over to see the cans above not empty.  I completely forgot to put in the evaporated milk!  In my haste, I opened the cans and emptied both of them in. Then I realized I was supposed to put in 2 CUPS of evaporated milk, not two cans (I doubled the recipe).  Whoops. On to plan B. This stuff was never going to harden, so I decided to make a caramel sauce.  This nice arrangement of nuts below were going to be some amazing caramel turtles and caramel cashews. oh well...

Instead it made some decent caramel ice cream topping. YUM!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Day For Lovers (yes, that means you)

Written for you from your lover, God himself.

1“How beautiful you are, my darling,
         How beautiful you are!
         Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
         Your hair is like a flock of goats
         That have descended from Mount Gilead.  Song of Solomon Ch.4

9You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
         You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
         With a single strand of your necklace.
10“How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
         How much better is your love than wine,
         And the fragrance of your oils
         Than all kinds of spices! Song ch. 4

6“How beautiful and how delightful you are,
         My love, with all your charms! Song of Solomon ch.7

10I am my beloved’s,
         And his desire is for me
. Song of Solomon ch.7

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Families are a Blessing- Free Button for Your Blog!

With all the recent blog talk about big families getting negative attention, I thought everyone needed a special little button just to show that big families are a BLESSING! I commissioned Michelle of Shabby Creations to make this for me. Isn't it cute? It's your to take for free.  Just copy the code and past it on your side bar.  It doesn't link back to me or anywhere.  It's just a little something from me to you.  Enjoy!

Sunday's Fun Pics

Here are some fun pictures I took today.  The kids got into this pose almost all on their own.  It's my favorite pic of the day.  It's funny that Jude looks like the oldest child in this picture.  Everyone always says how he looks like an old man- it's true!

Jude's all smiles these days.  It's hard not to gobble him up with his chubby cheeks and gummy grins.

Jude doing his best Liev Schreiber impression:

Unfortunately, I think he's loosing his edge.  I guess he's growing out of the Liev face.

The kids made some Valentine's Day. I will be sending out all their Valentine's in the mail on St. Valentine's day- a little late. I don't know how I missed that! Also, I have a very sad story about some caramels that weren't meant to be.  I'll post that another day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Top Five: Movies

I'm joining my friend, Mandy, in her top five list this week: Movies. So, here is my top five list:

1. Pride and Prejudice: love, love, love. (the new version, not the PBS five movie long one- I'm not that hard core!) Best love story ever, breathtaking screenplay,  amazing soundtrack, plus, it's just a gloriously written script.  I blame my public school education that I've never read Jane Austin, but she's on my list of reads for the future. 

2. Amadeus.  The soundtrack is o.k., but the acting is amazing. Just kidding! It's Mozart, of course the soundtrack is the best things about the movie! And the guy who plays Mozart is wonderfully quirky and charming.  I'm not sure how much of the movie is true, but it is a great story.

3. A series of Unfortunate Events. The reason this one is on my top five is because of the phenomenal job Jim Carry does with the character(s) of the Count. HILARIOUS! So funny, I laugh my head off every time. He really is one of the most talented actors. I marvel at the way he plays each character so brilliantly. 

4. The Lord of the Rings (all of them) there's no way to pick just one of these!

5. Batman Begins- probably my all time favorite action film.  or Last Samurai with Tom Cruise- just a great movie all around. Wonderful story.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

B.C. (before children)

So, I'm standing at the mirror plucking my horrendously overgrown eyebrows thinking...before kids, I would have never let my eyebrows get this out of control.  Then I start to think... there is a lot of things that I would have never done before kids or would have ever thought I'd do. Like: 
  • not even flinch at cleaning up another person's vomit or poop
  • listen to Cinderella on CD and sing, "Bibbity Bobbity Boo" all day while dancing around the house
  • not want to go to the mall or any kind of shopping (with three kids, it becomes a nightmare)
  • not really want to do anything in public where I might not have close access to a bathroom, privacy for nursing, or a gated area to reign in my kids
  • stay up late just to get some cleaning done
  • think 8:00am is sleeping in
  • eaten so many chicken nuggets (they're really not that bad with some Frank's hot sauce)
  • finished other people's plates of vegetables (someone's gotta eat them!)
  • give in to so many indulgent requests (before I had kids I knew I would never let my kids walk all over me ever)
  • turn my head from so many bad behaviors (before I had kids I knew I would never let my kids step out of line!)
  • think taking a bath is an unnecessary waste of time
  • think shaving my legs in the winter is an unnecessary waste of time
  • let my kids run in the grocery store (that's only for really bad kids)
  • let my kids go almost all day with a chocolate milk mustaches or peanut butter smeared on their cheeks (what kind of parent doesn't wipe their kids' faces right after they eat?)
  • plan all outings based solely on how much a four year old would enjoy them
  • have so many darn toys in my house!! 
  • worn sweat pants in public (not the kind with the elastic bottom- I'm not that bad) 
  • felt guilty about being away from the kids for more than 2 hours
  • had so much fun every. single. day.
I wouldn't trade this life for my perfect little life before kids any day! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Birthday Girl

My little girl is two today! After Analee opened up her presents this morning, she wanted to eat popcorn and watch a movie.  Her and her brother are not feeling well, so today, anything goes. Plus, I love to spoil my little birthday girl.  Hopefully they will start to feel better soon so we can eat that birthday cake later!

I love this age. I know it's the dreaded toddler years that can really drive a parent nuts, and believe me, she can get into some real trouble, but there is something so irresitably cute about her innocence at this age.  It makes me gush over everything she does and says.  Her personality is really coming through and her likes and dislikes are as plain as day.  Here is something she likes to do and I have no idea why:

Paint her face with anything she can get her hands on.  She also eats whatever she paints her face with.  mmmm...diaper cream.

Here's another think Analee likes to do:
Attack and wrestle with her brother.  Before we had Analee, I thought Liam would need a little brother so they could be friends. Boy, was I wrong.  Analee is as good of a friend to Liam as any brother would be- and she even plays all the things Liam plays.   But Analee also loves stuffed animals, snuggling in blankets and shoes.  Sometime she even combines her love of blankets and shoes (and nothing else but a diaper).

  Lastly, Analee is my sweet little snuggle bug.  She is often seen wrapped up in a blanket and laying on her pillow pet.  I just love our snuggle time together.  She is a girl after my own heart!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something that just couldn't wait

I ran out of these pretty little daisy flowers so I had to make some more last night.  After I finished, I thought what a cute bracelet these would make. And so....

I know I should be doing something else, but this fun little bracelet just couldn't wait! I'll probably add it in my shop when I get a chance, but for now, I just made this one for my wrist, reminding me of springtime coming soon!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Greetings from Decatur, Alabama

I recently received a wonderful email from Stephanie Weathers who teaches at a Catholic School in Alabama.  Stephanie emailed me a few times asking questions about how I make my beads and what clay I used. I have to admit, I had some thoughts as to whether or not Stephanie was trying to copy my work, but I was very wrong! (Stephanie, you should have told me!).

I first learned what Stephanie had done from my college friend, Mandy who lived in Decatur, Alabama when I stayed her and her family on spring break.  Mandy's mom went to a Catholic school's auction and saw some clay rosaries.  She thought it was strange since the only clay rosaries she had ever seen were mine back in college.  Stephanie told her that she learned how to make them from Sarah from Clay Rosaries.  It was then that the song, "It's a Small World After All" started playing and the little Dutch girls tapped their wooden clogs (Disney World ride, remember?). 

The other day, Stephanie sent me an email with some photos and let me share them here.  Stephanie said her students made color wheel rosaries and that they were a big hit.  It turned into a school wide project and all the classes made rosaries for the school fundraiser.  I heard from Mandy's mom that they earned thousands of dollars for their school!

So anyone out there who wants to copy my rosaries and start selling them on the Internet, don't.  Anyone out there who wants to make rosaries as a fundraiser for a great cause like a Catholic School, DO!  I will be happy to give you any advice you want. 

How do I put this nicely?

The topic of contraception and "how many children to have" came up again today in a conversation I had with a mom.  I've never written about my problem with having these conversations before, but I say "again" because it inevitable happens whenever I speak to a non Catholic or nonpracticing Catholic mom.  I really don't know why people have the need to talk about their family plans and means of sterilization with anyone and everyone, but they do and it bothers me.  It's not just a mom thing either.  My husband says all his coworkers who are in their baby making years talk about it a lot too.  So both men and women who are nonpracticing Catholics apparently obsess over how many kids they are going to have and how to avoid having anymore. 

I remember one particularly awkward discussion about "how many kids" at a small get together my husband and I were invited to.  There we were in the middle of yet another discussion about "should we have another baby".  One couple was undecided after having only one, the other couples said two is enough for them, some single people were silent and then there's us.  My husband and I were trying to stay out of the conversation for the same reason: we hate this conversation because we never know what to say.  I remember the stiffness in my entire body when someone asked us how many we were going to have- after being pregnant with our third.  We laughed nervously.  I'm usually the first to answer questions, but I wasn't going to say anything to his friends about this.  My husband goes, "I don't know"  and kisses me on the lips.  Thankfully one person said, "I think that is so sweet." because I'm sure everyone else in the room was thinking were were from outer space. We left soon after.

The truth is we don't know how many kids we are having.  We have as many as God wills, darn it.  There's no burden when you are not the one making the decision.  Of course it's up to my husband and I to discern God's will, but that conversation stays between my husband and God and I.   The more I think about it, the more I see how it really is a burden to be the one making such a huge decision.  It's not wonder they bring it up so often with everyone they see. They must be so torn that they are searching for answers anywhere they can find them.  This is why I really wish I could be of more help when the topic comes up.  I wish I could have told my friend today something really spectacular when she said they are not having any more kids (after two) and that her husband is getting fixed soon.  My usual response is saying that my husband and I practice NFP.  In this case, I was looking for something better to say, but after several failed attempts (in my head) I didn't end up saying anything and she moved on to another topic before I could get out my trusty old NFP line.  Oh well, that line never gets me the type of response I hope it will.  I've used that response in my old mom's group a few times after the "how many" topic arose.  I envision many eager, open moms, wanting to learn more about NFP, and how they can be more open to life. No.  No one ever asks me any questions when I use that line, they just start slowing backing away from me and start conversations elsewhere. That's when I come up with some lame excuse to leave. 

I really wish this topic didn't bother me so much and that I could embrace such opposition to my beliefs as a chance to evangelize, but I have a hard time coming up with the right thing to say.  Maybe I'm too immature in my faith, or lacking in my knowledge of Catholic teaching.   I know I have read some really good things on this topic, but when the conversation arises, I'm always at a loss for words.  I want to say something that shows I care about them and understand their situation.  I try not to be judgemental because I know how foreign these concepts are to non Catholics.   I don't blame them for not knowing any other way.  It's just that I don't know how to even begin showing them another way- besides of course being a living example.  Being a living example is all good, but I always feel like I should say something or it will look like I am silently agreeing with them.   Being confrontational is a very easy way of ending any lines of communications or friendship. So what's a girl to do?

Dear reader, please leave me a comment and let me know what you say in these situations.  Do you say something even when no one asks you? Or do you just do what I did and stay silent?  What do you say and how do you speak without sounding condescending or judgemental? 

For a much better post written on this topic, please read my NFP post I wrote last year.