Thursday, December 30, 2010


My little sister Molly and me on Christmas Eve

What do the following things have in common?

  • 6 Scouts lost on a trail (who were supposed to be on a sidewalk)
  • 1 new game's box chewed up by Rocky
  • 1 kitchen faucet on the blink
  • 1 forgotten wallet
  • 1 cancelled ski day
  • 3 passport applications delayed due to clerk's mathematical error
  • 1 surprise expansion opportunity for business
  • 1 traffic jam
  • 1 kitchen piled high with dirty dishes
  • 1 huge pile of dog puke
  • 1 dead cell phone and
  • a decapitated pigeon (probably by a possum) discovered by a distraught 10 year old owner
Any guesses?

Molly's boys, Niko (our Godson) and Mike pose with Zac on Christmas Eve

These are all things that we've experienced in the past 30 hours (+/-)!

What a day...
It's about time to start a New Year, wouldn't you say?
My grandma (93) with her kids: Uncle Dan and my mom
It's amazing to compare 2010 with last year's Christmas Eve.  In December 2009, my Grandma was recovering from a broken neck, dislocated pelvis and other injuries after a fall down a flight of stairs at home.  Look at her now!  Goes to show the power of prayer!  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Success! {Great Gift from Joseph}

With Grandpa Cliff's tutoring, Joseph completed the building (stool) project for his Carpentry Merit Badge.

and he gave me the stool for Christmas!
What a great gift.  

In other great gift news, Tim surprised each of us with a round-trip ticket to Rome!
Cleverly tucked inside Rome and Italy travel books, Tim had wrapped our tickets to Rome!!!

Our trip will coincide with our 20th wedding anniversary, and it's a pilgrimage we have been dreaming of taking as a family for a long time.   To compliment the tickets, Tim's parents gifted us with a week at a resort of our choosing in Italy through their vacation time-share ownership.  Let the planning begin!

Today is the
Feast of the Holy Innocents

Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage. To destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers and fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong you own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself. ~from a sermon by bishop Saint Quodvultdeus about the Holy Innocents (+450AD)  taken from: 

Let us lift up our prayers today for the thousands of innocent babies who are killed every day by abortion.
Let us ask God to heal those who have been wounded by abortion, that they may come to know the everlasting peace of Christ and to immerse themselves in His endless mercy.  May we reach out to help mothers (and fathers) who are in crisis and to assist those who are suffering in their parenting, with our works and with our prayers.  Holy Innocents, Pray for Us!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Joseph and Peter (candle bearers) and Zachary (thurifer; incense bearer) serve at Christmas morning Mass, celebrated by Father Qui Thac, our beloved pastor.

I just read a beautiful blog post about Angels seen by a little girl near the altar at the midnight Christmas Mass... what a gift!  

I also found this inspirational message about protecting our families from danger, in a homily given on Holy Family Sunday (yesterday).

At our midnight Mass, Joseph and Peter sang "Gesu Bambino" during the prelude. They sang beautifully. 

May your Christmas Season be holy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve {Flashback Friday}

"My little Jesus, 
tonight You will humble Yourself and become human for my sake, 
for all of us, 
and bear on You all the sin and suffering of this world 
so that we may have forever life! 
What greater love is to be found?" ~St. Therese

Joseph, Peter and Zachary visit the Nativity Scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Christmas Day.

from the USCCB

Today our family will celebrate Christmas Eve with a whole crowd of cousins, ranging in age from 17 to 5 months, and with my grandma, who is 93!   We were up early baking oatmeal carmelitas, and organizing a few last minute details in preparation for what will be a 3-day celebration of Jesus' birth. 

At the midnight Christmas Mass, Joseph and Peter will be singing a prelude (their first time at Church), and Zachary and Joseph are servers.  Tomorrow morning, we will attend the 11AM Christmas Morning Mass, (by the boys' request we're attending two Christmas Masses) and all three boys will be serving.  Sunday my dad will join us for Mass, and spend the day with us.  

We wish you and yours a Blessed Christmas and pray that you will draw nearer to Jesus each day in the coming New Year!

For anyone who is returning to the Church at Christmas, here's a great site to visit:  Also a great site for anyone who wants to simply learn more about the Catholic Church.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Charlie's Shame {Pizza Box Gluttony}

Someone had a little too much fun at Tim's birthday party yesterday...
Charlie will eat absolutely anything, so why not a cardboard box with greasy pizza stains?
We dubbed his costume the new "cone of shame."
Yes, we are reporting Charlie to his vet today, and hope that treatment will be forthcoming.
At least pizza boxes don't require surgical removal (like the corn cobs Charlie chowed down a few years ago that had to be surgically removed by our uncle-brother vet, Craig).

We brought home Hot & Ready pizzas for lunch after celebrating Mass together yesterday (and confession).  Tim took the day off so we could spoil him.  We hosted a lasagna dinner topped off with lemon meringue pie to celebrate with Tim's parents.
We wondered why Ezra didn't come up to join in the dessert festivities, and when we went to check on him, we found him "reading" on his bed.  Must have been a very good book!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Precious Newborn {Baby Girl}

Last night, our Goddaughter, Hope, became a big sister!

Upon awakening, Peter made a card for the family, and gave baby girl (yet unnamed) her first rosary, plus $2.

Tim and Hannah read Peter's greeting.

Peter holds the new baby, while her big sisters Hannah and Hope, and mom, Nicole, look on.

Such joy!
Such perfection!
Praise God for the gift of another new life!

Nicole invited me to be present at this home birth, which was quite a gift.  My official title was videographer; Renee was the photographer, and Melissa, the Douala.   Nicole showed amazing strength and recollection during the birth, and using her self-taught hypnosis clearly allowed her to remain perfectly calm during the most painful moments of giving birth.
It looked like Tim would be delivering his daughter unassisted, the labor progressed so rapidly.  The midwife arrived in the nick of time, and Tim was able to 'catch' the baby.  Big sister, Hope, helped cut the cord!

This home birth was an amazing experience, and one I will not soon forget.
My husband, Tim's birthday is today!  May God shower him with blessings on this day and everyday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tree Hunt {O Christmas Tree}

The hunt begins...

Joseph cuts down the tree Cliff & Billie selected.

Peter cuts our tree down.

Cousins and grandparents and trees, oh my!

Sawyer takes Cliff's hand on the way out.

Violet sings as we head back to the cars.

"The Christmas tree enriches the symbolic value of the nativity scene, which is a message of fraternity and friendship, an invitation to unity and peace, an invitation to make space for God in our life and society. He offers us His omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a child, because He wants us to respond freely with our own love. Thus the nativity scene and the tree bear a message of hope and love, and help to create an environment in which to experience the mystery of the birth of the Redeemer..."  ~Pope Benedict  XVI  Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas tree hunting is one of those family traditions that brings back strong memories.
Each year when we go tree hunting, Tim re-lives the many times he was told to "stand here" while his parents kept searching for the perfect tree.  Soon his brother, Craig, would be told to "stand here" so they could compare the marked trees and make their final decision.  
This year when Tim told that familiar (tall?) tale, Zachary pulled out his cell phone and offered to snap photos for the same purpose~ finding the perfect tree.  But there were so many beautiful trees from which to choose, that the selecting didn't take very long.  

In my home growing up, our 15+ foot ceiling made way for some gigantic Christmas trees.  One year my parents had to rig a pulley system to raise the tree onto its stand.  Big trees, big memories. 

Our tree is trimmed, and wrapped packages are beginning to appear beneath the decorated branches.  Our hearts are filled with joy at the coming of our savior at Christmas!   

Today's Gospel reading:

In the sixth month,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
~ Luke 1: 26-38 

May we follow our Blessed Mother, Mary, and make ourselves completely open to God's will in our lives.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent Baptism {Alex B}

The photos say it all:
Alex is made a new child in Christ!  Reborn in baptism!
What a wonderful celebration for our parish, and especially for Alex's adoptive parents, Michael and Selloane.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prepare the Way

Peter, Joseph, Zachary 
December 2004

One of the most important ways we prepare for Christmas, and in fact for each and every Mass at which we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, is by cleaning our souls through confessing our sins.
Near the beginning of Mass we participate in a Penitential Rite, during which each person examines his/her conscience before praying as an assembly for forgiveness from our sins.
Then the priest, In Persona Christi, forgives us our (venial) sins.  Mortal sins are not forgiven in this way, but require sacramental confession.

If you would like help cleaning your internal house before Christmas, here's a great resource from Father Corapi:  Examination of Conscience

Have you ever wondered what the early Christians believed and taught about confession and penance?

“It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles” ~ Basil the Great (Rules Briefly Treated 288 [A.D. 374]).

“Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure” ~The Didache (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).

Happy cleaning!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time for Desert {Not Dessert}

Finding Sacred Silence
Joseph ties a knot to secure greens on the wreath.

Zachary teaches Peter the finer points of knot tying.

Hosting his grandkids in his shop, Grandpa Cliff teaches Violet and Sawyer basic wreath making skills.

Our newest Godson, Phillip, makes his very first Advent wreath, with help from Zachary.  
Phillip came to the US from Lethsoto about 4 months ago, after his mother died of AIDS.
His courageous Aunt Selloane and Uncle Mike are now his adoptive parents, and we ask you to pray for Phillip and his siblings: Patricia, David, Alex, and Michelle.

Three of the four Advent candles are lit, with one final violet candle awaiting ignition this Sunday.
The external preparations for Christmas are well underway: the tree is up and decorated; the stockings are hung; the Nativity scene awaits the babe; the wise men are journeying from afar (the other side of the living room) toward the stable (on the mantle); the countdown calendar is over half way decorated; a few gifts are wrapped and waiting under the tree.

What next?
Address the cards? More shopping? Hang the lights waiting in a pile on the windowsill?
Or do nothing... and simply wait?

Finding the time to truly prepare for Christmas, to make room in our hearts for the coming of Christ may require a trip to the desert, to an inner stillness where we can ponder God's amazing love for us and nourish our anticipation of His coming.  St. John the Baptist, so often present in our Advent Gospels, shows us by his dramatic example that in order to prepare the way of the Lord, we must first empty ourselves and find silence to make room for Him.

The excitement of this season can be overwhelming~ with Christmas music coming from every speaker, and images of holiday bliss plastering every ad.  Our senses are blasted with constant reminders that something very big is about to happen.  And yet somehow, we can completely miss the whole event, really, if we aren't prepared properly.

A friend recently admitted to Tim that until about three years ago, he didn't know that Christmas was the celebration of Christ's birth.  He was raised in an all-American, but non-believing home, with all the external Christmas hoopla, including piles of gifts to tear open on Christmas morning.  But he simply did not know nor was he ever taught what Christmas meant.  He admitted that once he understood that the birth of Christ was the reason for Christmas, suddenly all the Christmas songs made sense!  Wow.

How often do we take the time to discern what is meant by what we do~to be careful that we aren't just operating on auto pilot and charging our way through the season with our monumental to-do lists and holiday social engagements? When added to the already busy lives we tend to lead, this kind of reckless "doing" can make for very unpleasant moments when stress builds and patience wanes.

Making time for prayer and finding silence for reflection may be the greatest gift we could ever give (or receive).  Let us find time for the desert in these final days of Advent, so that our hearts may be truly prepared for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

Today's Gospel:

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 
“What did you go out to the desert to see a reed swayed by the wind? 
Then what did you go out to see? 
Someone dressed in fine garments? 
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces. 
Then what did you go out to see? 
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

~Luke 7:23-28

Monday, December 13, 2010

Funny Monday

Peter requested...
and I obliged!

Fine print:
Peter's tonsure lasted about 60 seconds ~ long enough to look in the mirror, fake out his older brother, and pose for these photos.
Then off it came.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small Change {Big Expense}

Today Joseph paid for his season's pass for skiing.
Joseph filled out all the boxes and bubbles, and signed on the dotted line...

and forked over $200 of his own money...

which was then carefully counted by a clerk who would have preferred that Joseph show photo ID to prove he was really 12 and not 13 (there's a price jump at age 13).

Skiing is a favorite family recreation in the winter, and it's snowing like crazy on Mt. Baker right now! It's time to hit the slopes!

This is Peter's "5th graders ski free" year, and if it's a great snow year, it'll be the first "free year" that wasn't a complete washout for us.  Both Joseph's and Zachary's "free years" were abysmal snow years.  2010-11 looks to break that trend!

For many years, our boys have saved up the profits from their fire starter business to purchase their own ski passes.  With the sport being so expensive, we figured one of the best way to teach them how to ski would include teaching them the real costs involved and help them find a way to earn the money.

They'll soon be up on the mountain on a winter camp-out (lodge stay) with Scouts.  Skiing on Saturday, sledding on Sunday, (and home in time for Mass on Sunday evening).  Should be an awesome event.

Listen kids~ hard work pays off!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Pure is Too Pure?

Together with Grandpa Cliff, Joseph and Peter assembled our front yard Nativity Scene today, the 
day we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin”    ~Ambrose of Milan  (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).

Is there such a thing as too pure?
We hear the word pure used often to describe everything: pure ingredients, pure gold, pure form, pure water, pure intentions, and the list goes on.
But what about pure children?  How important is raising pure children?  Would you rather have pure gold, pure diamonds or pure children?

How can we raise pure children in such a messed up culture?
I don't have all the answers, just a few suggestions.  One of which is this new book:

Probably the most important thing we can do as parents to help raise pure kids, is to pray for their purity, and to teach them to pray for and truly desire purity.  And of course, we should set a good example by being pure, desiring purity and praying for purity ourselves.

When it comes to kids, or anyone seeking to grow in holiness, there is no such thing as too pure.

Our world works hard at zapping purity and stealing innocence.  As parents we need to follow our consciences, not the "norm" when it comes to setting the boundaries and training our kids.  

Prepare the way of the Lord!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Prayer Request

Prayer of Mother Teresa

EAR JESUShelp me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

Please pray with us for John B., who is deathly ill with cancer.
If you would, please ask Blessed Mother Teresa to intercede for John.  
Pray that John B. may be cured of his cancer if it is God's will.
Thank you!
You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us so that we may love him”Ephraim the Syrian (Commentary on Mark [A.D. 370]).
Some have mistakenly been taught that asking the saints and angels to pray for us (and with us) was not the practice of the earliest Christians.  But it was!  The pagans were aghast with the early Christian's prayers and devotions in cemeteries and with relics.  The pagans wanted nothing to do with the dead.  But the early Christians faithfully called upon their brothers and sisters in Christ who had gone before them... and we still do this today!  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meeting {Archbishop J Peter Sartain}

After the Mass of Installation, we were all invited to the gym at O'Dea High School for a reception welcoming our new Archbishop.
December 1, 2010
Archbishop Sartain with our family
Bishop Joseph Tyson with the boys

The gym was transformed into an elegant and festive environment in which we ate, visited with friends and waited in a long line to meet Archbishop Sartain.  

When we were near the front of the line, we decided that we would ask the archbishop to bless our rosaries.  Some were in pockets, but others were in the car. 
Peter asked for the keys to go and retrieve them.
Being in downtown Seattle, Tim required that the boys all go out to the parking lot together, which they did.  We told them to hurry, since we were nearly at the front of the line.

Archbishop Sartain, despite the fact that he had been standing in the same spot greeting the faithful for over two hours, welcomed us and took time to get to know a little bit about our family.

He blessed our rosaries and posed with us for a group photo to mark the special occasion (thanks Father Scott for being our photographer).

As we began to collect our things to head to the car, we couldn't find......

the car keys!

That's right, the keys had gone missing after the boys' trip to the car.
Our departure time was delayed, but our extra hour at the reception was very pleasant.

The caterers and decorators were busy taking down the tables and decorations, while we sat in a circle visiting with Father Qui Thac (who waited, along with Father Scott to be sure we didn't need a ride home to Bellingham to get a spare set of keys), Zac's friend Louis and his friend Jeff (both in Seminary).

Thanks to AAA...
the lock was hacked, and the key was found, in the car, safe and sound.

Of interest:
As we were waiting in a slow-moving line to get into the O'Dea gym for the reception,
 Joseph had asked, "Mom, are we going to be the last people to leave?  Like when they're taking everything down and asking us, 'are you leaving yet?'"
To this I had replied, "Yes, Joseph, we will be the very last people to leave the reception!"

How did I know??