Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our square meals

            This past weekend while others were out taking advantage of Black Friday and post-Thanksgiving sales to buy Christmas presents for others, we decided to treat ourselves to a MUCH needed new kitchen table.  

The first kitchen table that Tim and I purchased right after our wedding, was a nice butcher block table that seat 4.   It was still in great shape 7 years later when we welcomed our third child and outgrew it.  (It went into the garage where it sat for years until we unearthed it to use for our school table, for which it works quite well.)  After baby number three came though, a neighbor offered us a hand-me-down table that had room for 6.  It was a long oval shaped table that kept us so far apart we had trouble passing food.  Tim and I had to stand up and walk around the table to cut our youngest son’s food because he was at the opposite end of the table from where we sat.  Besides that, the table was not in great shape when we got it and it was not a style I would have ever chosen.   But it did accommodate our growing family--  so for 9 years we have shared our meals around that old table despite the fact that it was sort of unattractive and had a leg that was sort of cracking.  

            Anyway, our fifth child is now really ready to graduate out of her high chair.  So, we could put it off no longer-- it was time for a table that would seat all seven of us.  I was thrilled to finally have an excuse to retire the old hand-me-down table.  

Furniture shopping with five children along is such a production!  At every store, all the kids felt the need to share their opinion on every table we looked at and every sales person felt the need to sell us, not only on their table, but on their company as well, trying to convince us that no other store was even worth looking at. Still, we persevered and found the perfect table!

            As silly as it sounds, our new kitchen table has been quite an exciting new addition to our home.  It is square and seats 8.  After years of sitting at a long oval table and feeling like we were miles apart from each other at dinner- we are all cozy around our new square table.  It is plenty big enough for all of us to sit comfortably and, best of all, no one is stuck far away on the other side of the room anymore.  We are all hanging out more in the kitchen and sitting around the table even when it is not mealtime.   We are talking around the table and spending time together.  

As I have mentioned before, I believe very strongly in the importance of family dinners.  I feel sharing our meals together is one of the best things we do to build strong families and to connect with each other each day.  Our family dinners always start with Grace and end with the Rosary.  In between those prayers, we share about our days and play silly games over food my oldest daughter and I have prepared together.  Dinnertime is a (mostly) beautiful part of our days and a special time to be together without distractions or interruptions.  So now that we are finally all able to sit down to dinner at a beautiful, sturdy, and cozy new table, I pray that our meals will bring us closer together in more ways than one!

(I tried to post a picture of our new table and "Blogger" informed me that I have reached my limit for pictures.....not sure what  to do about that.......for now, I'll have to paint beautiful pictures with my words, I guess)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On this Thanksgiving....

I am thankful for.....

  • my Catholic faith
  • my beautiful family
  • a roof over our heads and food on our table
  • that I met my word goal for my 2nd novel yesterday (YEA!!!!!!!)
  • that my first novel was good enough to publish and has received positive reviews
  • that I am NOT working the midnight shift on Black Friday (thank you to my manager at work who must realize I am not as young as my co-workers and cannot pull an all-nighter selling baby clothes at this point in my life!)
  • that our wonderful babysitter is home from college and available to watch the kids while I am working on Black Friday since Tim has to work his regular hours at work too.
  • that I found a minute to blog about my blessings of the day......

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book review- Stealing Jenny

            Growing up I loved to read so much, I was teased about it at school.   My middle school locker was stuffed with "Sweet Valley High", "Babysitter’s Club", and other meaningless fiction stories.  Whenever I finished my work early, or had a few minutes of down time between lessons, I would pull out my book and read, despite being taunting by the kids around me for having my nose in a book- again.

            Looking back, I wish I would have read a few books about the lives of saints.  But, at the time I knew no better.  The stories I spent so much time with back then certainly lacked any real substance, but they were sweet and innocent enough.  When I outgrew those old middle school stories and began to read more adult fiction selections, I turned to authors like V.C. Andrews and Stephen King.  These were interesting stories but were no longer the sweet and innocent stories of my youth.  They glorified worldly values and errant behaviors.

            As I grew in my faith, I began to see the error of my reading ways and sought out great fictional stories that would encourage me in my Catholic faith and entertain me at the same time.  Sadly, I was largely unsuccessful in my mission and have spent much of my adult life reading books intended for elementary school students because they provided me the joy of reading without offending me in their secularism.

            But, now, at the recommendation of my friend Sue, I have discovered a wonderful and talented Catholic author in Ellen Gable Hrkach!  After reading the summary of Hrkach latest novel, Stealing Jenny I could not wait to read it.   The summary sounded intriguing and interesting without being offensive in its portrayal of married life.  

Stealing Jenny lived up to its description brilliantly.  The story of Tom and Jenny, a young married couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their sixth child, was realistic and beautifully written.  It was, at the same time, an enthralling tale full of suspense.  

At first, Tom and Jenny’s life together seems perfect.  They are a loving Catholic couple and have been blessed with a family that is the picture of goodness.   As the story unfolds though, details are slowly revealed about both a sinister kidnapping plot involving Jenny and her unborn baby, and the twists and turns of the couple’s early relationship.  Hrkach expertly weaves together the details of the present day kidnapping and the past struggles Tom and Jenny faced as a teenage couple.  Both storylines kept me glued to my computer screen as I flew through my very first e-book ever. 

I was truly captivated by the book.  It was all that I have longed for as an avid reader- a story fraught with suspense and drama.  And all that I desire as a Catholic mother as well- a story about a family I could relate to and be inspired by.  Beautiful in every way!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The adventure of noveling

It is almost the middle of November and I have only posted one itty bitty little blog all month.  There can be only one excuse for my negligence and that is, of course, that November is national novel writing month….I wasn’t going to participate this year, but then I decided I would.  

So I have been knee deep in noveling once again.  This year’s novel writing adventure could not be more different than last year’s.  Last year was fun and exciting and the words and story just flowed.  I had the whole novel written in my head way before November and the challenge was getting it out on the paper computer.  

This year, my novel has been a bit elusive.  My characters are sort of developing as I go along but, as the experts at NaNoWriMo will tell you, I have been writing a lot of garbage that will later need to be thrown out or completely re-worked.  I know this as I write and it is a little discouraging.  I keep moving forward though- slow and painful as it may be at times.  

I am just barely making my word count goals each day and I must keep reminding myself that slow and steady is just as good as an all-out sprint to the end.  Last year, I “won” (making it to 50,000 words) by November. 17, this year I may make it but if I do, it probably won’t be until the 30th.  

My whole life is in a different place this year, what with working part time and juggling *almost* high school level home schooling and being, as I said, somewhat completely unprepared for the challenge of 50,000 coherent words of a worthwhile story.  

Writing this novel is not all fun and my story this time is full of many more twists and turns than last time.  I need to do a whole lot more research to make it make sense too.  Still, I am grateful for the experience and that, once again, I am sharing it with my children.   

I suspect this year’s effort may never grace the virtual shelves at Amazon.com but the adventure is still worth undertaking (I think!??!?!?!).  And who knows?  Maybe someday I will work out all the kinks and edit out all the errors and make my story, if not publishable, at least, readable.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

God's call

            Two years ago when my oldest son was old enough to be an altar server, I assumed we would sign him right up.  I was picturing him in his little cassock and surplice looking holy and reverent as he assisted at Mass.  He had other ideas.  He did not want to be on the altar.  He did not want people looking at him.  

            I thought about insisting.  After all what nice Catholic boy goes his whole childhood without ever serving Mass?  Every little Catholic boy should be an altar server (I feel differently about my girls being altar servers, but I am old fashioned that way).  I really wanted to insist but Tim said we should not push.  So we let the whole thing go.  He went through fourth grade sitting next to us in the pew.  He went through fifth grade, still next to us.  

            Then one week, after Mass, a friend casually asked my son why he did not serve at Mass.  He sort of shrugged noncommittally.  Later that day, I had a little talk with him.  I still did not push, but I did suggest he think about altar serving again.  I instructed him to pray about it.  “Just be open to it and see what God wants you to do,” I told him.

My altar boy  (in stained glass effect)
            After that the subject came up again a few times, so it was not too surprising when my son told me one night at bedtime that he was pretty sure God was calling him to be an altar boy.   He did not sound excited about it, in fact he seemed to accept the call a little begrudgingly but he was willing to accept the call.

            A few weeks ago he began his training.  He was finally ready and he was excited.  Today my son served his first Mass!  There he was, in his cassock and surplice, reverently holding the candle and assisting the priest.  It was beautiful.  And it was well worth the wait, especially because I am pretty sure there was a much deeper lesson in letting him listen for God’s call instead of just insisting he do what mom says.  

            If God ever calls my son to even more ministry in the Church, to even greater service on the altar, I hope he will remember this lesson and heed God’s call again.


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