Answer Me This #2

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!

Answer Me This

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

I wore a pink blouse and black slacks, LegoFan wore his new green shirt and tie, and Diva wore a beautiful long, pastel dress with pretty pink flowers on it. She also added some pearl-colored sandals with chunky crystals on them – her new faves!

2. Easter Bunny: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

We never really focused on the bunny and always kept that casual. The kids figured that one out long before they began to question Santa. And we never had any photos taken at the mall. The costumes are never good and they really creep me out! But they still like egg hunts and a few surprises Easter morning; and so I oblige, with pleasure.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else’s house?

I’d prefer to celebrate at my own house – if I had one.

First, I enjoy entertaining. I enjoy having people over and creating a warm, family environment. But a very close second has to do with all LegoFan’s allergies and anxieties. It’s just better for me to have control over the food and lack of furry animals. It’s better for him if he’s in a setting where he’s familiar and comfortable.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

Is this a trick question? I think it’s impossible to come up with just one. I’ve always loved Brach’s Jelly Beans – not the Jelly Bird Eggs, not the Spiced Jelly Beans – just the plain ole, regular, original, Jelly Beans. But I really, really, don’t like the black ones and the red ones. Can we get bags made without those two flavors, please?

And then there’s the chocolate… M&Ms, Mounds Bars, York Peppermint Patties… I’m getting hungry!

Lastly, I love the eggs: mint, raspberry, marshmallow, and nougat. Love. Love. Love!

5. Do you like video games?

No. I don’t understand them. I can’t seem to play them. Much to LegoFan’s utter disappointment. He loves them: Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, anything LEGO. I just don’t see the fascination. But he’s good at them. So we have the Wii U in the house, the kids play the games, and I try to understand.

6. Do you speak another language?

I took three years of French in high school. I learned a little Italian when I went to Rome for World Youth Day 2000. And I tried to teach my kids a little Latin. So I guess the actual answer to this question is no. I can say and read a few words in several languages, but I cannot speak any of them other than English. And sometimes I question that ability!

Now join us over at Catholic All Year and play along!

Untitled – On Purpose

Today was a rough day. I didn’t blog about it, but I had a second foot surgery in six months a couple of weeks ago. I had gone back to the doctor wondering why I was still experiencing pain after February’s surgery. At first, the doc thought that the muscles and tendons were just taking a little longer than usual to heal. But then he felt it – another, relatively large, cyst. In fact, he ended up finding two more. He looked at me and said since it’s giving you so much pain, you know what we have to do… So I scheduled the surgery.

It was different this time. This time I had no illusions of any spousal support. He was gone and I was alone. With two children too young to care for themselves. Fortunately, my mother was able to come and help. I was even able to employ some of Lorrie’s Freezer meal techniques to ensure that there was some food in the freezer for those days she wasn’t able to be there. So, while not ideal, it was ok. God provided for my children and myself.

I was officially cleared to walk, with caution, on Monday. He told me I still had to take it easy so I didn’t overdue it; and so that the inside could continue to heal. I was also told that I could drive IF I could get a regular shoe on my foot. Well, I can’t do it yet without pain.

And that’s where today’s difficulties come in. Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in the Catholic Church. I know that there are some non-Catholic Christians who believe that we, as Catholics, worship Mary; especially with feasts like today. However, it really is as simple as this… Jesus grew up here on earth with the same commandments we were given; and following those commandments He honored His mother. And so, we follow His example and honor her too. It’s honor, not worship. But I don’t want to argue that point with anyone. The point is that I wanted to attend Mass with my children on this day that is special to us.

We had the option of attending Mass on Tuesday evening at our usual church a half hour away from the house; or tonight at our church or the church down the street. Going back to my doc’s rule, I tried to get a shoe on my foot. It wouldn’t go on. I was frustrated. Then my ex called and wanted to see the kids on Wednesday evening. I told him about church and the shoe not fitting; and he surprisingly said he was willing to to take us all to Mass and spend a little time with the kids afterwards. I was surprised, but hesitant.

So, if I wanted to attend Mass, I had to be humble and accept his help. I told him I’d accept, but I didn’t say ‘thank you’ fast enough and he yelled at me for my lack of gratitude. I immediately regretted accepting; but I had already told Diva, and she LOVES going to church. I was not going to disappoint her.

We went tonight; and it was difficult. The priest mentioned turning to your spouse for support during his homily. And here I was sitting near a man who is legally my husband, but who I know is going ‘home’ to another woman. I couldn’t stop the tears. I tried to wipe them before LegoFan saw them, but I was too late. It’s amazing to me that he seems completely out of touch with his and other people’s feelings; yet he is completely in touch with mine. He always knows. Always.

Breaks. My. Heart.

After Mass, he told the children that he was going to get them dessert and we went to Rita’s. They began to enjoy their dessert, but he rushed them and told them they could finish at home. As were getting out of the car, he took the kids up to the door and unlocked it. As I was getting my purse, his phone beeped. I looked at the screen. It. Was. Her.

So… He takes us to church and out for dessert. A strange, unsettling feeling.

Jesus, thank you for your love, and the strength to walk through this difficult time. I know you are by my side.

Contentment

As this holiday season comes to a close with Epiphany, I find myself reflecting on how this last month or two went. As I think, I realize that this has been one of the best Christmases ever.

  • It wasn’t because I got the best gifts.
  • It wasn’t because we hosted the best parties.
  • It wasn’t even because we attended the best parties.
  • It wasn’t because we had the best clothes.
  • It wasn’t because all the food turned out great.

I am realizing that for the first time, I really put Christ in CHRISTmas.Here’s how:

  • We participated in Holy Heroes Advent Adventure;
  • We took my daughter’s doll cradle and some shredded paper (added for acts of kindness and sacrifice) and made a bed for Baby Jesus;
  • We wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a Manger;
  • We followed the genealogy of Jesus with a homemade Jesse Tree:
  • We celebrated the lives and Feast Days of some Saints who loved Jesus long before we were alive – we discovered we can learn a lot from their faith and example!
  • We made many of our gifts, removing ourselves from the malls (we did go to a couple of stores, but were determined not to participate in the madness);
  • We made Christmas Eve Mass a priority – it was something special – we arrived early and didn’t rush out. We lingered. We studied the beautiful Creche. Then we went home and read The Night Before Christmas, but the last thing we did as a family was to read the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke.

It was such a beautiful time this year. There was no stress. There were no worries about the ‘perfect’ gift. There was just family and love. From the First and Holy family, to our immediate and extended family.

I am convinced now that this is a lot closer to the way things are supposed to be. It’s amazing that the more I let go of the way the world thinks I should do something, the more I feel at peace. How about you? How did you make your Christmas season centered more around Christ? Happy Feast of Epiphany!

Feast Days

Growing up we didn’t celebrate a lot of feast days, so I never really thought about it. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when we really started homeschooling, that I thought about celebrating feast days with the children. However, they always seemed to creep up on me and I was never prepared. I would find a great idea here or there, but it would be too late to do, or I wouldn’t have the right supplies/ingredients to make it happen.

But I decided to change that this year. Since Advent is the beginning of the Church year, I thought it was a good time to start and we actually began celebrating some feast days. Keep in mind that we are new at this, so our celebrations are not huge or elaborate in any way. However, I’ve also realized that they don’t have to be – the children enjoy the celebrations and they learn something about someone who loved Jesus. Just stopping the ordinary, changing the routine, is a way to signify that this is something to remember.

So far, we’ve celebrated St. Nicholas (December 6th), The Immaculate Conception (December 8th), St. Juan Diego (December 9th), Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th), and St. Lucy (December 13th). We’ve also made our very first Jesse Tree.

For St. Nicholas (sorry I didn’t take pictures, but it’s pretty explanatory) tradition has it that he helped a poor man with dowries for his three daughters and that perhaps one of those ended up in a hanging stocking. For this reason, the children put their shoes out overnight and received a small amount of chocolate (wrapped, of course). Throughout this feast day, we read several books about the life of this generous, Christ-loving man.

For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we attended Mass at a local church. Our church is a little farther away, so when we have a Holy Day during the week, we usually attend a more local Mass. We remember at this Mass that Mary had to be without sin in order to carry Jesus as fully God and fully human within her womb.

The feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe are intertwined and tell a beautiful story that resulted in the conversion of Mexico. Mary appears to a humble widower and asks for a chapel to be built. The local bishop asks Juan Diego to ask for a sign. Mary shows Juan Diego where God has allowed roses to bloom in the winter, and he gathers them in his tilma. When Juan Diego shows the roses to the bishop, that’s not the only amazing thing: a beautiful image of Blessed Mary is imprinted on the tilma. That image still exists and scientists have not been able to figure out how it got there. We enjoyed some Mexican tostadas and recalled the story as told on Glory Stories at Holy Heroes. Diva even colored some coloring pages.

For St. Lucy, it is a tradition (Scandinavian, I think) that the youngest daughter wakes the household dressed in white with a wreath of candles on her head (if you have Kirsten’s Surprise by American Girl, this is the image on the cover). She brings with her sweet buns and coffee/cocoa. While this is a great thought, Diva is not quite old enough to accomplish this on her own. Nor do I want lit candles on my daughter’s head! So, we compromised. She woke us up in an almost white dress with a paper wreath on her head. {This is where I know I’m not a professional blogger yet – I didn’t have my camera on my bedside table to get a photo!} Then we made some biscuits, cocoa and coffee and we all had a nice breakfast together.

Lastly, we have begun making our very first Jesse Tree. This tradition follows the lineage of Jesus from Creation through His birth. Each day there are Bible stories and a new ornament to make. We kept it simple this year and are making everything out of paper. I went to get a piece of poster board and the only green they had was neon, so our tree is neon. As we discuss each day’s readings, either LegoFan or Diva draws the day’s symbol and attaches it to the tree. I love how they can look at the ornaments they have made and can tell the Bible stories in order. This auditory, visual, and tactile project has enabled them to internalize Biblical history even more! We are getting our ideas and explanations from the Advent Adventure Series by Holy Heroes. Now, please don’t laugh at my crude tree drawing or the neon color…

I really think these traditions have helped my children to learn more about people who have loved Jesus before them, as well as more about Jesus Himself. They are doing much more this advent then just making lists and succumbing to the commercialism and greed we see so much of nowadays. I pray that with Advent seasons like this, my children will grow up with the true “Reason for the Season” in their hearts.

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