Monday, April 30, 2012

A Big Announcement {Zachary's Choice University}

Click to play the video and witness Zachary 
sharing his long awaited university decision with Grandpa Pete...

Praise God!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jelly Beans and Big Decisions {7 Updates}

The suspense has skyrocketed, as Zachary must declare his university decision in 24 hours.   We trust his discernment strategy, which apparently includes rolling dice and keeping a chart with a few fake columns and written in runes, yet we are on the edges our seats in anticipation of finally knowing where his higher education will happen.  In fact, in order to relieve a little of the insanity tension at home, this afternoon we gave him a little bell and told him to ring it when he's ready to announce his decision.  No ringing yet; we'll keep you posted!

After many, many hours of hammering, sawing, measuring, spending, lifting, laying, lifting, climbing and stapling, Zachary's Monster Eagle Project is nearly complete.  Passing the framing inspection last week means the final phase of roofing and staining can soon begin.  The chosen roofing materials require a special order, so another small delay has presented itself.  Without the tireless efforts and unparalleled patience (not to mention expertise) of amazing Scout dads like Tom G. and my husband Tim, this project of Zachary's would have been in stall mode for another many moons.   But Zachary (with friends like Chris, below) have learned a great deal along the way and can take pride in the job well-almost-done.

Thursday night I had a very strange dream wherein a chubby little baby boy gave me a mouth-to-mouth black jelly bean.  On Friday evening we attended a 25th wedding anniversary for friends where a little dish of black jelly beans greeted us at the entry.  How odd, I thought, and told another unsuspecting person about my bizarre dream with the baby and the slimy jelly bean exchange while Tim brought our potluck dish to the reception area.  I sat down with a handful of black jelly beans, and when Tim joined me in the row, I offered him one.  He popped it in his mouth, then quickly asked, "What kind is it?" "Licorice," I answered.  Next thing I knew, he was leaning over as if to kiss me, and returned the unwanted jelly bean mouth to mouth!  (No, he had not heard about the dream!) 

Tim and I don't get out much, so the 25th wedding anniversary celebration for our friends Friday night was kind of a big deal.  Rather than following the dress code and donning black and white attire like all the other guests (including infants and small children), we chose muted browns and blues.  Sitting in the back row swapping spit jelly beans and trying not to stand out despite our obvious lack of careful invitation reading was a challenge.  Just to make the whole event a little more memorable for everyone involved, we had a small fire at our table, which Tim successfully extinguished by dumping a bottle of water on the flaming paper flower and smashing it flat on the white table cloth.  There's never a dull moment when you party with us!

Trench digging 101 began in our backyard this week to prepare to run a power line to the new pigeon loft.  Are the pigeons afraid of the dark?  No, but having a light at the loft will allow for late night  bird care should the important chores be 'forgotten' during daylight hours.  Grandpa Cliff and the boys planned a few more days of construction for the door and entry steps and for installing electricity and lights.   Fellow home schooled Boy Scout and good friend, Enoch, willingly helped with the digging, demonstrating an outstanding work ethic in the process.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena, though it was superseded by the 4th Sunday of Easter feast. We have fond memories of the time we spent in St. Catherine's home town of Siena, Italy, while on our family pilgrimage.  We slept only a few steps from her little home.  Such a brilliant and holy woman.  St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!

Ezra sent his first letter home since entering Job Corps and moving away in late March. He gave a general update on his life at Job Corps and shared his goals, "For now my plans are get my GED (and) HSD, finish my trade and do the ACT program."  Ezra also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to live with us for two and half years, "Thank you for letting me stay at your house it was nice."  Our hearts were moved with gratitude at this simple gesture, and continue to hold him in our prayers and hope that his future is bright.  Please send all your extra prayers out for Ezra's littlest brother, Apollo, who continues to struggle with breathing, sleeping and eating even after his heart surgery to repair a double aortic arch.

Make sure to visit Jen's amazing blog!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flight from Reality {Our Eventful Journey Home from New Hampshire}

Medics evacuate our fellow passenger on an emergency landing in Chicago.

Flying home from our visit to Thomas More College in New Hampshire, Zachary and I found ourselves in the middle of a medical emergency requiring an urgent landing in Chicago.  A brief synopsis:

  • Zachary announced that the man seated next to him wasn't well.
  • Flight attendants and friends of the man rushed to his aid.
  • The man had no pulse, and was not breathing.
  • His lifeless body was hauled to the back of the plane as the pilot announced an emergency landing in Chicago. 
  • Passengers with medical training stepped into action and resuscitated the man.
  • Upon landing in Chicago a team of medics boarded the plane on a mission to stabilize, evacuate and transport the passenger to a local hospital.
  • We spent a few hours on the ground in Chicago while the in flight medical kits were re-stocked and the triage area in the galley was sanitized. 
  • After a few hours, we received news that the passenger had survived the ordeal and would likely be released within 24 hours.
 Our arrival into SeaTac was delayed about two and a half hours, and we pulled into Bellingham around 2 AM, only to find our quiet residential street barricaded by police cars, flashing lights and all.
An apparent man hunt was underway in our neighborhood.  We spotted an abandoned car surrounded by another fleet of police vehicles a few blocks away as we drove around to enter our neighborhood from the southeast.  Parked in our driveway, slightly concerned that a crazed lunatic might be hovering in the shadows looking for a get-a-way vehicle and perhaps a few hostages, we decided to make a run for the front door, and entered the house safely.

Home sweet home!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thomas More College of Liberal Arts {Campus Visit}

Entrance to Thomas More College

Joining a quad of freshmen, as a guest on a top bunk in the men's dormitory, Zachary did not get nearly the 12+ hours of sleep I managed to accumulate sleeping solo in a hotel room near campus on our first night in New Hampshire.  After the previous travel day with very little sleep, that first night's recovery did the trick for me.  Zachary, on the other hand, probably banked barely a few decent hours of sleep, and in fact rolled out of bed only minutes before his first class which began at 9AM (just like at home!).  

Despite being well rested and recovered, I managed to tip over my morning cuppa coffee at the hotel, which fried my cell phone in the process.   There were endless refills on coffee in the lobby, so I survived; my cell phone didn't fare so well and devolved to texting functions only.

Thomas More College chapel (double doors) and cafeteria (side door)

 Main altar and surrounding beauty inside the chapel at Thomas More College

The chapel at Thomas More College, where our Lord is truly present in the tabernacle 24/7, is a sacred space frequented often by students and faculty throughout the day.  While I enjoyed an afternoon read on a sunny bench outside the faculty building, I witnessed an active faith alive and well on campus as many stopped in at the chapel to visit with our Savior, some staying for prolonged prayer and others simply dropping in for a brief pause in His Presence before going on about their day's business.  Our Lord has truly blessed this campus and His people who are called to study, work and worship within.

 Thomas More's resident iconographer/art teacher, David Clayton, gives Zachary at tour of his workshop/guildhouse and his latest icon which is currently 'under construction.'

 Formerly the sheep stalls, now the 'caf' for students and faculty

An immersion campus experience for Zachary, his full day at Thomas More College included attending classes in art, humanities, religion, and satire (literature).   We met for lunch in the 'caf' and shared another amazing home cooked meal around a table with new friends and another visitor, a girl from Chicago who had just arrived on campus for a 24 hour stay.  To say that the students and faculty at TMC were friendly would be quite an understatement~ the people on campus were truly delightful and showed outstanding hospitality.

An after lunch tour given by instructor David Clayton, resident artist and iconographer, led us through the chapel and the art guild classroom/workshop and gave us an inside peek into TMC's well planned, intentional, sacred beauty and glimpses of future projects and enhancements for the campus chapel.  The gift of art is a living gift at TMC, and an appreciation for beauty thrives.  The TMC liberal arts program includes a sophomore semester in Rome, where TMC has a satellite campus and where students are steeped in history, art appreciation and gain a greater understanding of the universal church.

 Thomas More College classrooms and library building

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heading East {Washington DC and New Hampshire}

Grandma Billie took this lovely photo of us at SeaTac Airport at around 4AM.

To sleep or not to sleep? That is the question one asks oneself when a departure from home is scheduled for 1:45AM.  I opted to sleep, being a person who can almost always fall into a deep sleep just as my head hits the pillow, if not sooner.  However, on this night before departure, the whole falling asleep thing didn't quite happen as normal.  So, rather than a few hours of sleep to prepare for the big day, I logged maybe half an hour or so of real sleep, but who's counting?

Paying for two nights parking at SeaTac in the 3's, we were inside the airport and checking in by 4 for our 6AM flights.  Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff headed to Washington DC with Joseph and Peter (a Christmas gift); Zachary and I were en route to New Hampshire to visit Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.  With flights departing within minutes of each other, we shared the early morning ride and the joys of passing through airport security together.  After the pat-downs, re-packing of our x-rayed belongings and putting our shoes back on, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.

Enjoying a third breakfast or a first lunch (depending upon the time zone) Zachary strolls along at Chicago's O'Hare between flights.

Met at Manchester, New Hampshire, by the Thomas More College shuttle, Zachary and I embark upon the final leg or our day-long journey to campus.

Due to an annual vocation awareness event at a local Catholic grade school near TMC, the daily Mass schedule had been changed so the priest wouldn't have to bi-locate.  After the marathon day of travel from coast to coast, we landed on campus right as the 5PM Mass began.  If you know me, you know this was truly the highlight of my day!  God is so good!  

Mass in the small, beautiful chapel was followed immediately by a home cooked meal in the cafeteria below.  Italian beef, fancy rice, freshly baked rolls with fresh salad, topped off with self-serve chocolate ice cream for dessert seemed far better fare than the standard institutional-style campus meals.  A professor joined our table just as the conversation had turned to shooting and eating snakes, which somehow segwayed into a fascinating discussion about beauty in liturgy.  Turns out this gifted professor will be speaking at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, in a few days on this very topic, and the insights he shared with us shall be treasured as a highlight of my TMC campus visit.

Ready for his immersion experience into student life at Thomas More College, Zachary surveys the campus.

Monday, April 16, 2012

365 Days Ago {Rome, Italy}

Missing Zachary, who flew home early for running start classes, our family bids Rome farewell.

One year ago today, we stomped around Rome one last time, back from Siena, Padua, and Venice, and other amazing stops on our three week family pilgrimage in Italy.  We were in Rome on Pope Benedict XVI's 84th birthday; the boys met a cardinal at St. Peter's, we attended Palm Sunday Mass at St. Susannah's and visited Bernini's St. Teresa in Ecstasy one last time.

Today we packed up our travel bags again, and some of the very same clothes we wore in Italy are heading to the East Coast in a few hours.  There are four of us flying (+2 grandparents) to 2 different destinations, with flights departing from SeaTac within 15 minutes of each other.  We will be sleeping in 3 different places tomorrow night, and 2 of us will be home before Friday.  One of us will be taking care of the dogs and birds and working hard to pay the bills.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Clean Dogs, Book Burning and Broken Skin {7 Quick Takes}

Ordinary dog washing doesn't have the thrills that dog-washing-while-dodging-water-balloons has.  Just ask Joseph, who somehow managed to wash both dogs and avoid being pelted by water balloons on a recent sunny afternoon. Neither Charlie nor Rocky found anything thrilling about being hosed down and shampooed when they had excitedly assumed someone was going to take them for a w-a-l-k when the sounds of the gathering of leashes and collars reached their ears. 

Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled that Joseph decided to bathe the beasts without even being asked.  However, the placement of the bathing operation (a few feet from the front door) did make me wonder if we are ready for dog washing 201.  Having deleted all the carpet on our main floor and stairs, the visible damage and dirt from dogs and boys has been severely reduced, mostly, sort of.

A 2+ hour webinar last week especially geared for home school students with entrepreneurial tendencies was a huge hit with Joseph and Peter.  But the real huge hit came at the closing infomercial where you can 'join' the program for only three easy installments.  The boys were ready to sign up, and granted, if the promises for potential income were to come true, the program would pay for itself several times over.  But let's just say we did not hit the 'buy it now' button.  The e-tips gleaned may bear fruit in some future money making scheme, or it may fade away like the great ideas of yesterday.

It's not every day you get to have a book burning at Church!  With the new translation of the Roman Missal, the proper way to dispose of the old books is burning, and I'll bet you can guess who jumped at the opportunity to head up this service project in the hours before our Easter Vigil began.  Before long, the fire ring was surrounded by males of all ages ready to pitch printed pages into the flames.

"Hi!" he said.
"Hi!" he repeated.
I think perhaps Luke heard a reply!
Another day at the office for Zachary at the Eagle Project carport site on Saturday, with a few adults and a brother to cut the 2x12's for the outriggers to hold up the fascia and install the 4x6 supports.  Once again the weather was amazing and although a hefty to-do list remains for the project to be complete, a little progress is better than no progress.

Zachary's shin took had a run-in with a slab of concrete at his Eagle Project during clean-up yesterday.  I'm pretty sure that lower puncture wound needed a stitch (or at least some glue), but my vote wasn't counted in the official balloting.  According to Zachary's version of the mishap, either he was leaping over a tall building in a single bound, or he was testing the strength of the concrete.
Tim's take sounded more like someone avoiding ten whole steps by taking a shortcut.  You decide!

Thanks, Jen, for hosting 7 Quick Takes!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wondrous Love {Twins}

Leia 'helping' with the recycling.
 A three-days' visit by our former foster twins (known affectionately on our blog by the pseudonyms Luke and Leia) during this Octave of Easter brings great joy and multiple opportunities to be of service before the crack of dawn.  Lights of our lives, these two have become little chatterboxes, with many new words and silly antics.  In our wildest dreams we could never have guessed it possible that our relationship with these two would blossom and grow long after our role as their foster family officially ended.  God is so good!

A few noteworthy quotes from this visit:
  • Him:
    • "Eewwwwww!" during the changing of a poopy diaper
    • "CAR! CAR! CAR!"  his same old passion, with better vocalization and an uncanny ability to find a CAR~whether a minuscule car in the background on a printed page or a full sized car speedy past our house
    • "Sissy sissy" when talking about his sister
    • "Daah daah" as he chases the dog to pet (grab) and love the beasts twice his size whose wagging tails pose a serious threat right at eye level
    • "No no" as he pointed to my lap top left open (vulnerable) in the composition of this post!
  • Her:
    • "EAT! EAT! EAT!" replaces the old sign language (so continually signed by her in days gone by) and reaches feverish pitches before most others in the house are even out of bed; if "EAT EAT" doesn't do the trick, she'll bring me her high chair tray saying, "high chair, high chair!"
    • "Rozwy" for her favorite items at our house: the colorful beaded rosaries she wears around her neck at all times (except when sleeping)
    • "MWAH" with a big dramatic, cheesy kiss to smooth things over when she's been corrected
    • "Side, side!" in begging feverishly to be let outside to play
    • "Soseph" for Joseph
Luke and Leia's mom (a delightful friend and devoted parent) reports that their glee (his especially) begins right when they pull onto our street (a few blocks before arriving).  When their mom said goodbye to the twins Wednesday at departure (to visit far-away family) Luke laughed as she walked out the door, Leia cried. 

Luke's love affair with all things 'car' continues.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Altar Servers {Easter Morning}

Easter morning debut: a first time server assists Peter (the thurifer) by holding the boat containing incense.  While his face seems to show concern about his first time serving at Mass, in reality, he had something stuck in his eye... Peter gently guided him along throughout the Mass, helping him to be in the right place at the right time.    I think he grew a few inches in the process!

For five or so years, we have been responsible for training and scheduling the altar servers at Sacred Heart.  Enriching the spiritual lives of young people by bringing them closer to Christ (literally!) gives great consolation.  For the most part, the training has been carried out by Zachary, with other servers (including Joseph and Peter) also assisting and coaching our new servers as they learn the ropes.

Zachary and two awesome servers assist at two baptisms on Easter Morning.

As acolyte, Zachary incenses Father before incensing the people at the beginning of  the Liturgy of the Eucharist during Easter morning Mass.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Begins {Alleluia!}

The Triduum liturgies and sacraments of Holy Week~phenomenal.
Easter Sunday Mass and service opportunity~unequaled.

We have entered our Easter {Resurrection} Bliss.

I have around 900+ photos to process, save and share. 

In the meantime, I invite you to read about my Easter Day Gift.

Grace and peace to you this Easter Season!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday {Our Lord's Passion and Death}

Jesus Dies on the Cross
Via Crucis (Way of the Cross; Station XII) San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy

One year ago today, we said goodbye to our son, Zachary (16), who flew from Italy unaccompanied to return home in time for his spring quarter classes.  After parting with him, we drove for many hours across Italy to the place of St. Pio, a small town called San Giovanni Rotondo.  Our arrival into SGR brought us to the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie just in time for 6PM Mass.  In the morning, we walked the uphill trail following the Stations of the Cross, pausing at each station to mediate upon the suffering our Lord endured for our salvation.  

As we celebrate the sacred mysteries of this Triduum, I am ever aware of the mystery surrounding Zachary's next step in life, and unite my prayers for his university decision making with the loving and ongoing care and prayers of our communion of saints and angels.  I draw courage and strength as a mother in all things by looking to our Blessed Mother Mary and the tremendous virtue she modeled as Christ's lifelong and closest disciple. 

In a special way today, we remember our Blessed Mother's broken (pierced) heart as she witnessed the brutal crucifixion of her Son.   We lift in prayer in a particular way the mothers (and fathers) who have known the unspeakable pain of the death of a beloved child.  We praise God for the gift of His only Son, given fully and completely to save our souls.

May your Good Friday be blessed...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday {Our Lord's Last Supper}

Celebrating the Last Supper of our Lord at the Holy Thursday Mass ushers us into the most solemn, holy three days of our liturgical year.  With grand entrance processions on Palm Sunday, we launched into this Holy Week, and tonight's silent recessional allows us to follow Christ through his agony, Passion and death to the glory of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. 

We lift up in prayer:
  • our entire Christian world, longing for a unity Christ proclaimed
  • those who have grown indifferent and lukewarm toward our Savior who suffered so for our salvation
  • those who have yet to know Christ and pray that we can become the 'glow in the dark' Christians whose very lives give witness to His saving power and endless love and mercy
  • all those who are burdened by sin and suffering and pray that they may be set free and be reborn in Christ
  • our holy priests on this day as we remember the birth of their priesthood and pray for their protection and sanctification, and with deep gratitude for their sacrifices and leadership
  • our praise and thanksgiving for the ultimate gift of the Holy Eucharist, given by Christ in the upper room on this very day ~ for Christ is truly present in Holy Communion every day!
  • those who are still waiting for the sacraments, may they be given special graces to persevere 
  • those who have passed down the faith to us and prayed for us along our journey
  • and you!
A blessed Holy Thursday to you and yours.

Flashback photos: Holy Thursday 2009

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Admitted @ 4 {University Dilemma}

Admitted to 4: Thomas More, Notre Dame, Washington State, University of Puget Sound; wait-listed at 1: Hillsdale;  Zachary's university selection now enters its final phase.  Presidential scholarships and merit based financial awards sweeten the admission deals offered by these various universities.  Congratulatory phone calls, emails, letters of welcome, and invitations to 'admitted' gatherings are all flashy lures in this sea of selection. With at least one more campus visit on his horizon, Zachary has a few weeks in which to finalize his plans for next fall. 

Zachary's choices:
  • attend a prestigious Catholic university on a large campus in the Midwest 
  • attend a devout Catholic liberal arts college on a small campus in the Northeast
  • attend a local liberal arts university on a small campus with optional participation on swim team in the Northwest
  • attend a state school on a large campus in Eastern Washington, earning a BA in 2 years (2 years credit given for running start course work)
Each university on his list comes with its own benefits and costs; each comes with some distance to travel and some climate adjustment.  Good advice abounds, but some voices can also cloud the waters with overt enthusiasm for one choice over another.  Above all, we want Zachary to follow God's will for his life and to choose wisely the school which can best support him on his path. 

And now, the million dollar question lingers: What will Zachary decide??? 

Will you please say a prayer for Zachary?

Jesus, I trust in You!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Peter holds his Godbrother Samuel
Samuel's new tongue trick
Joseph and Peter sit with sleeping Samuel while Aileen and I dart into a shop.

A side benefit to Zachary's recent appointment at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma was the opportunity for his siblings and chauffeur to visit with our Godson/Godbrother Samuel and his mom our dear friend/Godmother.  Linked by many layers of love and years of friendship (Aileen and I since second grade at St. Charles), our time together is always phenomenal in some way or another.  This recent afternoon rendezvous occurred while Samuel's older brothers were in school, Zac was touring UPS, and the dads worked, so the five remainders enjoyed a stroll in Tacoma's Proctor neighborhood with an obligatory cup of coffee. 

Samuel, with his delightful smile and energetic attention for friendly faces managed to stay awake for almost the whole visit, save a brief snooze in the stroller as we perused the shops.  He captured our hearts, and we longingly await our next opportunity to enjoy his company (and that of his fine family).
Such a treasure to behold!

Joseph smiles with his Godmother, Aileen.
Aileen and Bridget