Sunday, February 28, 2010

Being "Perfect"

I was very fortuntate to be able to attend the *Columbus Catholic Women's Conference* yesterday. (Thanks Mom and Colleen and Reenie and Jon who all tag-teamed watching my boys!) It was a very nice day and I enjoyed being with my friends and praying and hearing the speakers.

One of the most memorable inspirations/challenges for me came from the Bishop's homily at Mass. Based on a reading from Matthew 5, he talked about the call to "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Well, I am a perfectionist. Jon is too. We often joke about wanting things to be perfect and I spend much reflection and effort reminding myself that things can't/won't always be perfect. But here's the Gospel and the Bishop exhorting me to be perfect.

The key to this passage (which is so easy for me to miss) is to be perfect AS GOD IS PERFECT.... rather than "in the way that Katie thinks is perfect." God is perfect love, perfect mercy, perfect forgiveness. So often the perfection that I seek is ruthless and without real merit. It's about extraneous details or image or proving something or getting things done or finding my famous "sense of well being." That kind of perfection is not from God. I find myself running around in circles (physically, spiritually, mentally) trying to make things perfect and it becomes destructive to me and leads me away from God. It is selfish.

I realized in my prayer and reflection yesterday that I need to let God love me perfectly and teach me how to love more perfectly. Ironically, it may be in letting go of my quest for perfection in little things that I will grow closer to true perfection. I need to love myself enough to stop trying to make my own brand of perfection happen and let God speak and work more freely and fully in my life.

Bishop Campbell talked about perfect love, the quest for perfection in a powerful way. He reminded us that we can't say, "I forgive you but I won't forget!" We can't say we forgive someone, but keep the hurt locked up in a little cage in our heart and then take it out once in a while to visit and feed it. That is not the way God loves. That is not the way I want to love.

Another speaker challenged us by asking, "When people talk about you, do they say, 'She is just like Jesus Christ'?" (Of course we all really humbly laughed at that!) We were reminded to strive to grow in virtue, to imitate Jesus, to give God permission to really work powerfully in our lives.

And so, as I bid the "fabulous" month of February goodbye, I plan to "march" into March with a renewed heart. I felt so tired last night and today.... maybe from letting go of some things on my "perfection agenda." I relaxed and enjoyed having Jon home and not doing taxes. We went to Mass, took the boys swimming at the Y, and went to *Red Robin* for dinner.

Thank you, God, for your perfect love. Help me let go of the relentless pursuit of my own brand of perfection, that I may be transformed more fully into your image, into love that is perfect. I want to reflect you more perfectly, to be your mirror. I give you permission to lead me where you want me to go and to teach me to love more perfectly. Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The End of a Lucky Streak

Neither of my boys has ever puked.... until this morning at 3:00. It was a good run of luck that had to come to an end I guess. So, I'll spare you the pictures today. It wasn't pretty. It was Adam, by the way, and he doesn't seem to be really sick. He has complained a few times today about a sore tummy and he hasn't eaten much. He hasn't had a fever and he is still begging for cookies and treats.

I'm bummed that we couldn't/didn't go to Good Shepherd today and it's snowing AGAIN.... and I'm waiting to see if any of the rest of us will get sick. I am supposed to go to the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference tomorrow and I've really been looking forward to that. So, we'll see.

The cynical side of me is saying I should never talk about what a great day we had (like I did yesterday) because the other shoe is sure to drop close behind that.

So, I'm in my comfy sweats hanging out with the boys and getting ready to cook fish for dinner. I can't really complain much about that! There is something awesome and fulfilling about being able to hold a sick child and help him feel better, even just a little bit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Way I Hope It Can Be

Today was a really good day. It's the kind of day I hope we can have regularly as we proceed with homeschooling.

First of all, Ray did not wake up until 6:47am. This is HUGE for us! Of course, Adam was up around 6:00.... but that's ok.

This morning we attended (with some friends) a puppet show at Sharon Woods Metro Park. We learned about owls and animals that are still hibernating. (Mr. Owl was searching for his sleeping friends!)

Then we came home and ate lunch and talked about our Bible story for today ("Jesus Calms the Storm" --- goes perfectly with this week's "weather theme"). After lunch we headed to our school room and did some writing and math and coloring. It was just plain pleasant. No one was whining or fighting. We were talking about the Olympics and about next week's "Outer Space" theme.

At some point before lunch the boys mentioned wanting to go to COSI.... so that's what we did in the afternoon. It was so spur-of-the-moment and so fun! We have a membership, but we've never gone in the afternoon. It's SO much less crowded! We had about two hours there and the boys listened well and had a great time. We visited the new "Grossology" exhibit, which was a bit over their heads and a bit loud and scary for Ray.... but they did enjoy shooting balls into a giant nose. (What's the point of that? I don't exactly know.... but you can see them doing it in one of the pictures above.) It was very funny to me that Adam immediately wanted to eat lunch (even though it was 3:30) when he saw the room where we usually do that --- such a creature of habit. It's also interesting that Ray now "teaches" me about "olden times" when we walk through the Progress exhibit, which has replicas of streets from the 1890's (I think) and the 1960's. It's funny to hear him tell me what I've told him in previous visits. Such a good memory!

We went from COSI to my Mom's and out to Bob Evans with Mom and Jon for dinner. We came home, read books, and went to bed.

It was a very pleasant and educational day. We did not accomplish all of the little lessons and tasks I had planned, but we had fun learning and getting out of here. Obviously, we can't and won't always be running around so much, but it's nice to have the flexibility to do that. That's one of the very attractive things about homeschooling for me. I hope that we can have many days like today, learning here and "out there" together.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank you God for....

... books on tape! Actually, thank you God AND Aunt Susan (who has given us lots of books on tape, including this one). Thanks to the book and tape called "Icky Sticky Gloop" I was able to go to the bathroom with the door closed, check my email, and call a friend today... all while the boys were learning. Awesome!

Not exactly what I had in mind!

This morning our Lenten project was "cross crafts." I set out some wooden crosses and some paints and we had a very nice conversation about the cross as a key symbol for us as Christians. We talked about how awesome it is that Jesus died for us on the cross. Then the boys started to paint.....

As you can see in the picture, both boys were really concentrating (notice both tongues sticking out) and they were enjoying this project. I was biting my tongue, sitting on my hands, and praying. You see, the finished products ended up being very different from my vision for what these crosses would look like. I would never have used orange and green... I would have been more thoughtful and careful about applying the paint...

I wanted so badly to say, "Would Jesus like the way your crosses look?" But I didn't say that, because I'm pretty sure I heard Jesus tell me, "Yes.... that's exactly the way I want them to look!"

So often God speaks to me through the boys. Usually it's lessons I don't want to learn. I am such a perfectionist. I want things done a certain way. I am learning (a painful little bit each day) that I need to let go of some of my expectations. (Yes, Mom, Dad, and so many of my other readers --- I CAN hear you laughing!)

I NEED to let the boys express themselves and explore and discover things. It's hard for me.... but it almost always leads me to new insights and deeper appreciation and love for them. They were so proud of their crosses and they painted them with such love. Ultimately, the crosses do not look the way I wanted them to look, but they are even more beautiful than I could have imagined. The boys "got it" -- they learned about the meaning of the cross... and so did I.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today's Lenten activity was making pretzels.

Did you know that pretzels were first made by monks and given away as reminders to pray during Lent? The twisted shape of the pretzel represents the hands crossed over the chest (which is how people used to pray). The three holes in the pretzel remind us of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). The salt on the pretzel reminds us that we are the "salt of the earth" --- and we are to flavor our lives with love, patience, and sacrifice.

And so, baking pretzels is a great Lenten activity!

We used this recipe:

1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1.5 cups lukewarm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
course or kosher salt
1 egg, beaten

Add the honey to the water. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blend in flour and knead the dough until smooth. Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. Place pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.

We really had fun with this! Everyone added ingredients and took turns kneading the dough. Ray really liked rolling out the dough and shaping the pretzels. He also brushed them with egg. Adam put on the salt. We all enjoyed eating them and we even took a plate of warm pretzels up to Jon and all the people at his office. They were a big hit! Yum! We've alread decided that we will make them again soon and put cinnamon and sugar on instead!

A few people have asked me where I get my ideas. I wish I could say I think of them all on my own.... but the truth is that I've collected a lot of ideas and idea books over the years, especially when I was teaching and leading youth ministry. I do think of some on my own, but I have also really learned a lot from other people and resources. Also, there are SO MANY amazing blogs out there which I enjoy reading. I hope to figure out soon how to list my favorite blogs here on my blog so that you can enjoy them too. Also, as I post various ideas I will try when I can to give credit to where I got them.

Happy day to you!

What to do when the children are bouncing off the walls....

...Take them to *The Kingdom of Bounce!*

My friend Jen and I took our very active preschoolers to BOUNCE this morning. (The top picture shows Adam with his buddies Libby and Ryan sitting on the "throne.") It was so great for them to be able to run and jump and climb and slide and be loud. We let them jump until they could barely stand. Then we fed them lunch and sent them back to bounce some more.

We are faring fairly well through this snowy cold winter, but we are beginning to be quite eager for some hints of spring!

Thank you, Lord, for children with healthy bodies and boundless energy! Help me keep up with them and learn from them each day. PLEASE give me perseverance and hope as I look out the window at melting snow and dream of warm breezy days ahead. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lenten Dinner Table

Adam and I set the table tonight and added some "Lenten touches." My wonderfully creative seamstress mom made me a great Christmas present this year. She made me two sets of "liturgical placemats." One set (as seen in this picture) is purple on one side and yellow on the other. The other set is red on one side and green on the other. The idea is to use placemats that go along with the liturgical color of the day. (Purple for Lent and Advent, Green for Ordinary Time, Red for Pentecost and Commemorations of Saints who were martyred, Yellow/Gold - or white - for special Feasts and Solemnities and the Easter and Christmas seasons.) You can't see it in this picture, but my purple set is even trimmed with little "fish" stitches. Thanks so much mom!

The centerpiece for our Lenten table is a small tray of sand with several tea light candles - 5 purple (for each week of Lent), one pink (for Latare Sunday - the 4th Sunday of Lent), and one white (for Easter).

It doesn't take a lot of work to add these small touches to bring the liturgical season into the home. Adam even chose to use purple napkins... and everybody noticed and complimented him on that choice!

Another little Lenten practice that has become a big deal around here is not saying "Alleluia." At Mass, that is usually Ray's favorite part. He sings loudly and does the hand motions that he learned at Good Shepherd. Today - when the choir sang "Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ" instead of "Alleluia" - he stood there with his arms crossed and his face scrunched up in a pout. Oh how I wish I had a picture of that!

I'm off to watch some Olympic hockey with Jon. Have a great week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Snowmen

Ok.... those of you who know us should be able to identify which snowman I made and which one Jon made (both with the help of the children of course). What do these snowmen tell you about each of us?
Mine is the whimsical - a little bit kooky - top one. Jon's is the very even, straight-laced, serious bottom one. They're both great, huh? (Please don't ask me to explain the stick protuding from my snowman's midsection. That piece was added by Adam and later had a pair of binoculars hanging from it.)
I had to laugh this evening when I was fixing dinner and looked out the window and saw Jon and the boys putting the finishing touches on their snowman. It just struck me how different it looked from the one I made with them a few weeks ago. It reminded me of how different Jon and I are.... and how that's such a good thing (most of the time).
How awesome it is that God gave us all such different temperaments and talents and gifts! Jon and I are so different and we fit perfectly together because of that. I bring fun and ideas and vision and a million projects and adventures to his life and he grounds, protects, comforts, and supports me in everything from faith to finances. I have a thoughtful, generous heart and he has the heart of a true servant (of God, not necessarily just me). We both bring a different kind of order and organization to each other and our family.
Our differences make us really great for each other, but they are also a big challenge at times. We are constantly talking about and working on the way we parent. We know we aren't even close to perfect at it and we don't always want to handle things the same way. As I step back and think about it tonight, I realize that God is with us in a very special way precisely in those differences and in the situations when we don't agree or don't handle things in the same way. In those moments, when we open ourselves up to it, the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage come to us, fill in the gaps, and make us one.
As we go through our seventh year of marriage, we are continuing to learn from each other and grow closer together. Thank you God for Jon, for the amazing adventure of married life. Thank you for giving our boys two very different parents from whom they can learn. Continue to draw us all together toward you in love. Amen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"...and that's what it's all about!"

Today I am really thanking God for the amazing gift of the Christian community. We don't raise our children and live our faith in a vacuum. We can't. It's just not the way God designed us.

We are so blessed to be part of a wonderful Catholic homeschool group. Every Friday the boys attend a program sponsored by that group. It includes Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a religious education experience based on the principles of Maria Montessori --- very hands-on and child-directed) and also a Montessori class where they do a variety of works in different subject areas. It has been a wonderful experience for the boys, but also for me. While the boys are in class, I help watch the babies and toddlers AND I get to visit with several other moms. These are amazing holy women from whom I learn so much. Every week I take a notebook with me (yes, they all tease me about this!) so I can jot down ideas and resources they mention. Every week I seem to have something I'm worried or nervous about with the boys and these moms calm my fears, affirm my mothering skills, and give me great advice. Some of the moms have been homeschooling for a while and they are so knowledgeable, helpful, and supportive. Others of us are just starting out and we support each other as we learn together.

I can't fully express my gratitude for these women. Their advice, encouragement, and support truly empowers me to embrace my vocation as mother, teacher, and wife. How good God is for giving us to each other. We can't ( and aren't supposed to) do it alone. I know that God works through us as we lift each other up and hold each other's hands in the day-by-day process of mothering and teaching.

On another level of Christian community..... our family arranged to meet some friends at our parish fish fry tonight. It was such a great experience of sharing food, faith, and fun. We prayed grace and ate together. Then the children played and the parents visited. We talked about everyday things as well as about how to give our preschoolers the spiritual formation we want them to experience. As we were getting ready to leave, I was holding their baby (who happens to be my goddaughter! Lucky me!) and Ray - without saying anything - came up and made a cross on the baby's forehead, lips, and heart. My first instinct was to correct him for touching the baby's lips with his dirty hands... but then I looked at the baby's mom and we both smiled and I thought, ".... that's what it's all about!" We ARE learning and living the faith. They ARE "getting it." God is so good! We are so blessed to share this journey with such special and amazing people.

Thank you, God, for all of my family members, friends, and fellow Catholic Christians with whom I journey and learn. Thank you for speaking to me through them and allowing me to share all the ups and downs, challenges and celebrations of my life in such rich and amazing ways. Teach me to more fully appreciate and embrace the call to build up Your family in these times when we are so focused on ourselves and living such frantic, fractured lives. I ask this in the name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Counting to 40

Our Lenten task for today (on our Path to the Cross) was "Counting to 40." We practiced counting by ones, fives, and tens. Then we made these Lenten necklaces. The boys had to pick out 4 sets of 10 beads. Then, as they strung them, they got to put "special" beads in between each set. The special beads were in the shape of crosses, doves, angels, etc. It was a fun craft... with some Religion and Math woven in for good measure.
And now we're setting off for dinner at Steak and Shake and some RUN AROUND time at the Magic Mountain play gym with Aunt NeeNee (Colleen) and Carter! We have been really cooped up because of the snow. The roads are clear and we're getting out of here! Poor Jon is slaving away in tax land. It seems that lots of people spent their snow days gettting their tax stuff ready and now Jon has a mountain of returns to do. God bless him, though. He never complains. I am so blessed to have a husband who really loves his work.
Happy Thursday!

Olympics and Future Olympians

Ok, yes, I AM all about charts..... here's a shot of our Olympic poster where we are keeping track of all the medals the American team earns. It has been really fun to check the standings each morning and add the medals.
And, our future Olympians completed their "Pee Wee Sports" class at the Y last night. They even got certificates and gummy sharks! Ray really loved the class, in which we (children AND parents) got to play different sports each week. We played basketball, soccer, hockey, and flag football. We also played dodgeball, did warm-up exercises, and played parachute games. Ray's favorite sport was hockey and we signed him up for a seven week floor hockey class that begins next week. We looked into ice skating lessons, but WOW they are expensive! I really think swimming will be his sport anyway.... he's just got that Michael Phelps body. Adam decided to sit the next session out. He liked the running around part of the classes much better than the listening and trying new skills. Maybe next year!
Speaking of physical fitness, it's really time for me to get moving again. One of my favorite bloggers mentioned she is committing to walking 40 miles during Lent. I'm inspired, but need to get started NOW!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Calendar

Today we began our Lenten journey to the cross. Our path is made of stones (even though they look like jelly beans). Each stone has the date and an activity for the day. The activities include reading Bible stories about the life of Jesus, crafts (like cross necklaces and crowns of thorns and Paschal candles), praying the Stations of the Cross, baking foods (like pretzels and hot cross buns), commemorating saints' Feast days, and different ways of giving alms (packing up bags of toys, clothes, and food items for the poor and adding coins to the mission box). I am making cards with each boy's picture so that they can move themselves along the path each day. Hopefully it will be a good way to keep us focused on the disciplines of Lent.
My sister came to visit today and for some reason said "Alleluia." Ray quickly corrected her and told her she can't say that until Easter. As soon as Jon came home, Ray reported the "transgression" to him as well. I guess we'll be held accountable for all of our Lenten practices this year!
All the best....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snowed In for Mardi Gras


I was awakened this morning by a sweaty husband who had already been out shoveling the driveway. The piles of snow on the sides of our driveway are taller than the mailbox now! We've gotten so much snow that the boys are even tired of playing in it, although Adam took out a basket full of play dishes and had a "snow picnic" today. I'm tired of shoveling and putting on and taking off snow suits, boots, coats, hats, and gloves. I am thankful, though, to be home with the boys and have lots of time for reading and art and board games, etc. We even stayed in our pajamas all day!

Today we made Mardi Gras masks and had a lively parade, marching to "When the Saints Go Marching In." We enjoyed King Cake and Polish Paczke (punch-key). More significantly, we sang lots of "Alleluias" and then folded up our Alleluia banner and put it away until Easter. We changed the cloth on our prayer table to purple.

It's wonderful that the boys are old enough to begin to understand Lent. We (I) made a Lenten "Jouney to the Cross" poster that we will use to help us learn about and practice the spiritual disciplines of Lent. (I'll post on that tomorrow.) Ray decided to give up candy for Lent. Adam very solemnly told me he is giving up *Teletubbies* (which he rarely if ever watches, but often talks about). It's out with cookies for me and potato chips for Jon. We'll be talking a lot about what it means to make sacrifices and also about how we can do extra loving things to show our love for Jesus, especially during this holy season of Lent.

Best wishes to you for a holy Lenten season.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finally Blogging!

Hello and welcome to my blog! I've been hoping/planning/threatening to start a blog for a long time now. For months I was stuck with the excuse that I needed to find a great name for a blog before I could start one. I even had a contest with friends and family to name my blog. I got lots of suggestions, but nothing quite captured what I wanted this blog to be.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a women's retreat. The theme of the retreat was "Spiritual Makeover." We looked closely in the mirror and reflected on what it means to be beautiful, inside and out. 2 Corinthians 3:18 was the focus for our retreat, reminding us that we are called to "be mirrors that reflect the glory of the Lord." We are truly beautiful when we allow God to continue to transform us into His image, when we lare open to His grace and when we love and give and serve with our whole hearts, minds, and strength.

As I prepared for and led the retreat I came to embrace "Being Mirrors" as the title for my blog. As a Catholic woman, wife, and (most importantly) mother, my most important calling is to reflect God's image and love to all I meet. I am called not to spend my days gazing in the mirror, but rather to BECOME a mirror in which others may catch a glimpse of God. Obviously, it's a lifelong process and a huge challenge.

And so, I'm glad you're along for the ride here. I hope to share my attempts to grow in faith and holiness, especially through the adventure of motherhood. I'll be posting about our family life, especially our journeys through the liturgical year and our homeschool endeavors.

I'm so thankful for the many blogs that have inspired me. I am humbled by my lack of computer savvy as I get mine up and running. Please be patient as I learn! I hope I will be able to share and connect with many "companions on the journey" as we are daily transformed into the image of God, reflecting His glory more and more.

Why the disco ball graphic? Some of you may know of my great love for and talent with disco dancing! (Think of Elaine from "Seinfeld" ---- we've often been compared!) I love the image of the disco ball as a reminder to let our light shine boldly! It's not just one mirror, but lots of little mirrors that work together to cast a beautiful, vibrant, evolving light. That's how I want to be!

Thanks for reading! More soon....