Thursday, December 31, 2009

25 Random Blessings in 2009

A while back there was a meme going around Facebook called "25 Random Things About Me." I liked this so much I blogged about it. Since we're wrapping up 2009 and entering a new year, I want to reflect on the past twelve months and mention 25 things to thank God for this year. I'll try to list them more or less in chronological order--roughly--but not necessarily in order of their importance.

1. Through Internet sites like Facebook and Blogger (and now Twitter) I have re-connected with many family members, high school classmates, and old friends; and made many other friends online as well. (click here to read my blog post about this)

2. For the first time this past January, Curly and I participated in the March For Life in Washington, D.C. I hope our family will have a chance to attend many, many, more of these in the future (as many as it takes until Roe v. Wade is overturned).

3. Speaking of Curly, he, more than either of his brothers, is passionate about the plight of the unborn in America and the world. Mind you, our other two boys aren't afraid to stand up for life (last year they had some conversations with their friends at school that at least one of the teachers had to put an end to because the debate was getting heated, and because some of the parents might not want their kids discussing abortion at school), but it is an issue that Curly has really developed deep convictions about. (His favorite TV personality? Glenn Beck. Not bad for a ten-year-old.)

4. Moe received his First Holy Communion in 2009.

5. For the time spent Memorial Day Weekend in North Carolina with my aunt and many of my cousins, most of whom I hadn't seen in years. There were children there I had never met; and because we were in town for a baby shower, now there is one more cousin I have yet to meet!

6. For the Montessori school that our boys attended and where I worked for the past several years; for their teachers and the friends that we made while we were there. I pray that the school will continue to grow and prosper, and the friendships will last for years to come.

7. For the Catholic school the boys are attending now, for their wonderful teachers, the principal and assistant principal, and all of the new friends that they (and I) have made.

8. Speaking of which, the cafeteria food at the boys' school is to die for. Our "lunch lady," Mrs. O, was a five-star chef at one of the fanciest restaurants in Virginia, and the food is always delicious AND nutritious. Everything is made from scratch, and Mrs. O. is always happy to accomodate Moe's food allergies.

9. For Moe's love of all critters great and small. Summer '09 found many samples of God's creation in our house and on the back porch.

Frogs and toads...
and even a baby snake.

10. That we were able to take our kids to Yellowstone this summer, which is probably my favorite place in the world. They loved it, and can't wait to go back. Read about our adventures and see some of our photos here, here, and here.

11. That we are all still alive and in one piece after our Yellowstone horseback riding adventure (see the links in #10). We had a great time and our guides were excellent, but there were a few close calls...

12. For the time spent with our dear friends B. and A. and their four kids over the July 4 weekend. We traveled to the Finger Lakes region of New York, where A's cousins had invited us to stay at their cabin. The main reason for our trip was the Indy Car race at Watkins Glen Raceway, but we also hiked in the beautiful gorge at Watkins Glen State Park, and spent time at the cabin relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Here's a rare glimpse of Moe looking for critters in the pond by the cabin:

The beautiful gorge at Watkins Glen There were many races that weekend besides the big Indy Car race. "The Glen" is surrounded by rolling hills and farms--a perfect setting to enjoy some good racing!
In case you're wondering, we did go to Mass on Sunday--we got up early to make the 7:30 am Mass at a tiny church in Hammondsport, NY. Normally we don't go that early, but the husbands didn't want to miss any of the action at the racetrack!

13. For calling me once again this year to be a catechist at our parish. It took a little bit of creative scheduling for me to do it (since my kids are in Catholic school, they no longer take part in the Religious Education program), but thankfully my family has been wonderfully accommodating and supportive of this endeavor. Plus I have a great class of just four kids, and I've had a lot of fun with them this year. And I'm learning perhaps more than they are!

14. For Our Lady's patience with me as I try to develop a closer relationship with her. I have been blessed with a wonderful priest as well as great friends from church who have encouraged me to get to know her better. I came pretty close to making a total consecration to her, but in the end I didn't. I pray that someday soon I will have the courage and conviction to pledge myself fully to Jesus through his Blessed Mother.

15. For our little niece, the first girl on my husband's side of the family to come along in many years. She arrived in July, and was baptised in November.

16. For our two-year-old nephew, who is now walking and talking. His bright smile and hearty laugh will light up a room!

17. For my wonderful sister-in-law-to-be. You've made my brother happier than he's ever been. May God bless you both with many happy years together.

18. For my awesome husband, who has been with me some eighteen years, from our first date until now. I know sometimes he feels frustrated with my gaffes and blunders (not to mention my tendency to be somewhat of a slob), but he has stuck with me and loved me and I am eternally grateful for him.

19. That my parents and my in-laws all enjoy health and happiness. May they be a part of our lives for MANY more years to come!

20. Greg Mortenson. He rocks. I picked up his new book, Stones Into Schools, last week. I can't wait to read it.

21. Sarah Palin. Look out, people; Sarah's comin'!

22. For Larry's piano teacher and for Curly's guitar teacher. They encourage them to challenge themselves and keep music fun.

23. That for the past several years our boys have friends their age living right next door. They are constantly playing over at their house or ours; sometimes building forts outside, sometimes playing video games, sometimes playing capture-the-flag, and the other day they turned off all the lights in our basement and had a ghost hunt. (Good luck; they won't find any in our house.) Now the kids all go to the same school, so we carpool together.

24. For my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, the parents of the little boy and girl in Blessings #15 and #16. They live too far away for us to see them very often, and the time that we do spend with them is very precious indeed. I am grateful for cell phones and text messaging; on Christmas morning SIL sent me a picture of their son playing with his new Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway set underneath their Christmas tree.

25. In 2009 we had a few snowstorms, and I love the way the snow makes everything around us look like a Christmas card. I'm not to fond of shoveling, or the way the kids tend to track dirty snow into the house, or having to deal with wet coats, hats, and mittens; but they love playing in the snow and that makes it all worthwhile. Just two weeks ago we had the biggest snowstorm we've had in years, and the most snow in December ever.

Last January 1, I published my first post, so I'll mention one more blessing: A year of blogging, and getting to know many of you through your wonderful blogs. It's been fun, and may we all have a blessed, bloggy 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Blessed Christmas To All

It's late. I have an unfinished to-do list. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. There are still rooms to clean, presents to wrap, and pies to make. We had a big snowstorm here on Saturday, and that has distracted me somewhat from my Advent chores. I have neglected my blog, but not because I've been to busy with other things. Truthfully, amid all the pre-Christmas chaos and the snow, I have taken frequent breaks at the computer--besides ordering gifts online I have managed to keep up with my Facebook page, as well as *some* of the blogs I like to read. Our family has tried to keep our minds focused on Christ this Advent; we light the Advent wreath every night and the kids add one more item to our Advent calendar. Today it was a camel; tomorrow it's Baby Jesus. At the beginning of Advent, we started a tradition of reading the daily Gospel at dinner when we light the wreath and "do the Advent calendar," although these last few days I have neglected to print them off of the computer. (Next year I'll be able to pull them up on my Droid phone my hubby is giving me for Christmas!) I have been a little discouraged about the wheeling and dealing in Washington, and the increasing possibility that we're entering an era of taxpayer-funded abortions. I hope and pray that Mr. Stupak stands his ground and the language excluding abortion coverage stays in the final bill.

Tonight, I thought I'd share a few photos of the beautiful snow we were blessed with (and it's melting fast--it will be gone before we know it).

On Sunday we were treated to this beautiful view in back of the house.

Lots of shoveling!

Once Moe accepted the inevitability of snow in his boots and inside his jacket, we couldn't keep him out of it.

The boys built a tiny igloo for the neighborhood cats, but I don't think they were impressed.

Curly and Moe helped their friends build a regular-sized igloo in their yard.

It isn't quite finished yet

Curly and his friend decided to make a peephole.

This is what my front hallway has looked like since Saturday.

It's always good to have hot chocolate on hand after a day of fun in the snow!
I wish you all a safe and blessed Christmas! Glory to the newborn King!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I'm a Blogger, Not a Radio Host

I'm feeling like a bit of a doofus right now.

We have XM Radio in our family car, and whenever I'm running errands or trekking to and from school, I often listen to The Catholic Channel. Today as I was out and about, I caught a little bit of "The Catholics Next Door" with Greg and Jennifer Willits. They were talking to a writer and blogger (I wish I could remember the person's name! Please remind me if you know) from, and who often blogs on Faith & Family Live. She talked about how writing and blogging helps her grow in her faith, and they got into the subject of social networking and how we can use the Internet to evangelize and help each other in our walk with Christ. As I was pulling into my driveway, thinking of the things I needed to do now that I was home, Greg invited listeners who have blogs or websites to call the show and share how we use social networking to reach others. Hmmmm, I thought; do I really want to go on live radio (nationwide, no less) and plug my measly little blog? Oh, what the heck; this might be a good time for me to thank Greg and Jennifer for the work they do, sharing their own joys and struggles as Catholic parents, and helping me have the courage to share my Catholic faith with others.

I have called The Catholic Channel once before, on Gus Lloyd's "Seize The Day" program; in that call I explained the pros and cons of watching NASCAR on TV. This should be a piece of cake, right? Not so much. My heart started beating just a little faster when the call screener picked up, and when I heard Greg's voice in my phone say, "Sharon, from Virginia, welcome to The Catholics Next Door!" I immediately forgot about two-thirds of what I wanted to say. If you were listening, you heard something like this. "I started blogging in January of this year. My blog is called Musings of a Catholic Mom, and it's on Blogger. Umm, I try to post once or twice a week...I'm a little jealous of other busy moms who find time to blog every day. Uh... (awkward pause) Oh, and it's really helped me grow in my faith, and it's put me in touch with other bloggers who are Catholic moms like me. It's great. (dead silence while Greg and Jennifer wait for me to say more) Uh, yeah!" Thankfully Greg looked me up and gave the url for this site, which I forgot to mention (shoulda made the url and the title the same, dang it), and then Jennifer and Greg both thanked me for calling into the show.

I hope the neighbors didn't see me beating my head against the steering wheel.

OK, I didn't really beat my head against anything, but I ended the call wishing I had said more about the things I blog about, maybe talk about other blogs I enjoy reading, and mention to Jennifer that I'm proud to have her as my friend on Faith & Family Connect. I wanted to ask the writer/blogger who was on the show how she found time to blog regularly, write a book, and still do all the other tasks that a mom finds herself needing to do? It can take me up to a couple of hours to finish one post, depending on how many pictures and links I include, the length of the post, and how much time I spend going back and re-reading and making changes. I can't do that every day, which is why I have many more ideas for blogs than I actually post. (I've spent about forty minutes here so far; when I'm done and ready to publish, I'll give you all the total time spent on this post. I hope with my newer, faster computer my blogging time will be quicker.) Worst of all, I neglected to thank Greg and Jennifer for their courage to share their profound faith with their listeners, and for the work that they do for the Catholic faith. (In addition to hosting a three-hour radio show, they also run a fabulous non-profit organization called Rosary Army; check it out here!)

Here's a little side note: I happened to notice that the editorial director of Faith & Family Live, Danielle Bean, wrote a book called My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom. It might be time to change the name of this blog soon. I follow Therese at "The Musings of a Mom"; guess I shoulda checked out other blog titles before picking mine. I don't want anyone to be confused. Hmmmm...what to call it?

The next time I call in to a radio show, I guess I should write down what I plan to say. I wonder if this is how President Obama feels when he has to give a speech without a teleprompter?

Total time: One hour. Not bad; I didn't use pictures.
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