Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easter Holidays and Prom 2017

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We've had a lovely Easter holiday. I think it's the first time we stayed home since we moved to SC and it was wonderful to catch up on household things. We'll have a garden this summer! Michael has built a fence to keep the critters out. We spent our days out in the yard or reading on the porch and our evenings watching movies. Prom was scheduled for Easter Friday.

Since neither Michael or I ever went to any high school dances, we've been pleased to see how much more socially adept our children are :) I like that Max, Dagny, and Alejandra have been friends since we began carpooling to go to Divine Redeemer Catholic School. It is a wonderful little school in Hanahan and I am surprised more people don't know about it. The faculty and staff sacrifice much of their time and energy to give the children a safe place to grow and learn. It always felt like an extension of home.

Here they are after a year of carpooling. They enjoyed trick-or-treating together. What's funny is how often we'd have just the girls and people assumed they were sisters. They very well could be ... only time will tell.

Here are the lovely prom pictures, taken by Dagny and Juanita Bustamante, Alejandra's very talented cousin. We had a such a lovely evening with her and Marcela (Ale's mother) and the kids were very patient with us as we took pictures. I know the mosquitoes were busy biting.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Anniversary, Book Reading, Massacres, and Music

Today we celebrate our 8th anniversary of reception into the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes I wonder when the honeymoon will end but like our marriage, it hasn't yet. We keep falling deeper and deeper in love with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And I have so many friends up high. A dear friend introduced me to St. Gemma Galgani. Isn't she a beauty? Today is her feast day. And given that Easter is a moveable feast, it's even more special that she died on Easter Vigil. I always ask her to pray for our family. What a perfect saint for our teenagers!

This past Saturday I had a great time at Barnes & Noble. The children were so attentive and we had a good time together after hunting for eggs and coloring traditional pysanky designs. Parents appreciated that the eggs were sealed. I just loved the baby in purple! She was the first to find the eggs. The little boy who's running off is besotted with my friend Sharon Chriscoe's Racecar Dreams. He wanted nothing at all to do with silly eggs. If only eggs hatched trucks :)  

 

Alas, Palm Sunday brought the terrible news from Egypt, the massacre of Coptic Christians during liturgy. Please take a couple of minutes to listen to Bishop Makar. It is heroic to practice your faith in a place where people want to kill you. Yet, as Tertullian said nearly 2,000 years ago, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Christians are being exterminated in the Middle East but their sacrifice is not for naught. Christianity may be declining in the West but the Church is growing in Africa and Asia. Pray for us, O new martyrs, even as we pray for you and your families. And please pray for Pope Francis as he travels to Egypt in a couple of weeks.

We are busy learning music for the Sacred Triduum. These are not Holy Days of obligation but our priest wonders how people transition from Passiontide to Easter without these extra days of devotion. In essence it is one liturgy beginning Maundy Thursday until the Easter Vigil. There is no dismissal when we go to Mass. We leave in silence and return in silence.  I could never miss it. When our children were in public school, I'd pull them out for Good Friday. And I just love Maundy Thursday because that is when our Lord instituted the priesthood and without our priests, we wouldn't have our Lord in the Eucharist, and without the Incarnation, we wouldn't have anything at all. We'd still all remain in our sins. And so I leave you with O Magnum Mysterium by Victoria.

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

A blessed Holy Week to all reading.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ten Easter Egg Giveaway

I can't believe I'm only now posting this here* because the giveaway ends this weekend, but if you'd like a chance to win a copy of TEE, hop on over to a dream** writer's blog and leave a comment there because Ten Easter Eggs is April's Picture Book of the Month. Many thanks to Sharon Chriscoe for hosting.

*I don't even have a good excuse besides being ill off and on :(

**You'll see why when you check out Sharon's books :) 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ten Easter Eggs in the Wild and TEE and me on Inkygirl

I'm on Inkygirl (Debbie Ohi's blog). Hop on over to see how my manuscript turned into a novelty book!

And here it is in the wild! I hope they have boxes of it in the back because I'm doing story-time and book-signing at 11 am Apr. 8th at the Mount Pleasant Towne Center. See you there!  












Friday, March 24, 2017

Reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal RIP

I've been reading so many good books and have to share a few. 

Amy Krouse Rosenthal died ten days after the publication of her Modern Love essay. Heartbreakingly beautiful. I am thankful for putting into words what I've often pondered myself. I remembered how much I loved her picture books. Imagine my delight at seeing how many more she'd published since Little Pea. It was such a treat to have a AKR read-a-thon. I think my favorite is I Wish You More. Requiescat in pace, Amy. I wish -- no, I pray -- you heaven now and forever more.

Other books gave me much enjoyment. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was a delightful love story between a Haitian girl and a Korean-American boy. I enjoyed the conversations the kids had, reminiscent of the conversations Michael and I shared as we ate Ferdinand's ice cream in the afternoons on the campus of WSU. I laughed so hard over the depiction of the Korean family. I think some things are common to all immigrant families.

I love a good historical and The Mapmaker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy was a rich imagining of the life of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown. McCoy alternates the Sarah chapters with the modern-day story of Eden, a woman struggling with infertility. The two stories intersect beautifully. The book asks what it means to be a woman, to be childless. I kept thinking how much these characters would've appreciated Pope St. John Paul's II apostolic letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.


It's been a tough week with relentless migraines. I hate losing writing days. I don't think Jules minds though. It's easier to rub her pretty belly than write. Praying for relief. Michael wonders how I manage to read but at times like these, when taking a shower seems like a major accomplishment, books like these make me happy. Thank you to all the writers who tell their stories. Never give up!




 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meets, Movies, and Music

How convenient! The three or four things I wanted to write about all start with an M. I have a fondness for alliteration. I'm finally caught up for a little while ... until the next deadline and it feels wonderful.

It's been busy with track season in full swing. Here's my girl! I'm so proud of her. I can no longer run so I take pleasure in the kids who do. This is what we do Wed. evenings. We miss Stations, soup, and choir practice, but we are able to pray and practice at home. We'll be singing Byrd's Mass for 3 voices again for Laetare Sunday.

 

Max is finished with robotics and they did so well in their competition, placing 20th out of 70+ teams. Each year they have improved. Right after, he participated in the intergenerational forum/debate. I was so impressed with the young men and women who competed and was very pleased with Max's points even though he did not win first place. Later he had a chance to speak with Senator Grooms and he complimented Max highly.

 
 


This Sat. we all slept in with robotics behind us. Rugby is still in session but we had a bye week. So Michael announced he'd like to take me out on a date! We went to see La La Land. The kids had already seen it and assured me I would love it and I wouldn't get a migraine. I've been doing so much better in Feb. so was game. It's been a couple of years that I've stepped into a theatre. La La Land is a modern love story but with the timeless theme of chasing our dreams and what it costs. It could be our story. It's a musical and reminded me of older movies of the 1940s. I may get sheet music for this. The theme song was beautiful but the song I choked up on was when Mia goes for an audition and has to make up a story. She talks about her aunt who inspired her. At first, her voice falters but then it turns into a song, strong and confident: "here's to the dreamers, here's to the heartache, here's to the mess we make." Indeed.

Coincidentally I read a few thoughts by Christopher West in the Catholic Miscellany. He said, "We’re often afraid to feel that deep “ache” of our hearts because we intuit that to feel it is to lose control of our nice, orderly lives. Yes, that is correct. In Christian terms, it’s called surrender or abandonment to God. Those who have the courage to feel the abyss of longing in their souls and in their bodies and open it up in complete abandonment to the One who put it there will, indeed, have “messy” lives … but messy in a beautifully hopeful way." 

I have always believed that our deepest regrets come from not pursuing the dreams God has placed upon our hearts. Falling in love complicates things. I've always believed that people are more important than things but to follow a person, you should have lifelong commitment, like marriage. For when it comes to dreams, it is far better to chase them together than apart. I think this is why my writing dreams are so sweet, because I am doing them with my family. As the children predicted, I did not get a migraine. Thanks be to God! Later we went out for Vietnamese Pho. Heaven!!! I've missed this so much. 

This is how I usually watch a movie: at home with a kitten purring on my lap :) I have to  entice them with their favorite toy because that's what they love best. We've watched many good movies but the big screen is a thrill, especially when there's beautiful choreography.

I've also been reading a lot of good books but I think this is enough for one post. But I must mention TEN EASTER EGGS. It's Lent, but if you wait until Easter, the books will be gone, even though the Easter season lasts 50 days. So if you have little ones in your lives, might I suggest it for their Easter basket? Happy Pi day :)
 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing and the Spiritual Life

In my email box I receive some choice quotes from the Bible and from the saints on a particular topic daily for Nineveh 90. Fr. Heilman has been including a meditation and in the past few days they've been from the writings of Fr. John Hardon. I'd never heard of him but his meditations are so beautiful, I decided to look him up and what a treasure I find in his archives. I recently bought a book for Max: How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard by Aurora Griffin: 40 Tips for Faithful College Students and one of her tips includes daily spiritual reading and writing (mine usually includes the pets). She references an article online by Fr. John Hardon. I love how God makes me pay attention. There are no coincidences. So without further ado, some quotes from Fr. Hardon on Why Write?


We have in life to master our minds, to control our thoughts. Writing disciplines the mind.

Writing controls and enables us to master our thinking. With our thoughts in control, as we know, every thought leads to a desire. Every desire leads to an action. Every action leads to a habit. Every habit shapes our character. And our character determines our destiny. It all begins in the mind.

Cardinal Newman explains why more people do not write. The reason, he explains, is that “I have to read what I have written. I must look at myself as I really am.” Writing is a mirror of our minds. And what we see, we blink [at]. What fool wrote this? I must see the vagueness of my thinking, the inconsistencies of my logic, the triviality my life; and the experience is humiliating.

Writing cultivates the memory.

Writing provides us with a moral inventory. St. Ignatius Loyola stressed the importance of a daily review of our conduct and it put into written form.

...writing in the spiritual life is so important to cultivate the art of speaking.

Too often we speak without first thinking. But we cannot write without thinking.

...“why write?” For the practice of charity in sharing our souls.

Oh dear. So many quotations. I cut out a few. Do yourself a favor and read the article. God bless and happy writing!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Gift of a Child

Eighteen years ago, I met this sweet baby, my son Max. Michael was the first to hold him, do everything for him. I managed to take a picture from my bed a few hours later of my two loves. We were in the hospital for two weeks because of ABO-blood incompatibility. Max was severely jaundiced. Even when we came home, he had to be on bili-lights for the first month. He avoided having to have a blood transfusion in the nick of time. But after a difficult start, he thrived, tripling his birth weight in just 6 months. He was such a roly-poly baby I thought I'd have a baby elephant on my hands. Thankfully he slowed down and I was glad when he learned to walk because he was getting too heavy for me to carry about. And then along came Dagny ... and Max has been a very good big brother.     






 


 




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Max is a strapping young man now, ready to leave the nest thanks to God's abundant blessings. We are grateful for all our wonderful relatives, teachers, coaches, priests, and friends in his life who've helped him develop his various talents. Michael and I feel like Tevye and Golde as we sing Sunrise, Sunset and reflect upon the great gift God has given us in Max. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears. My dear Max, I pray always you grow closer to Jesus, discern your vocation, and do God's holy will with joy. Happy Birthday Max! God bless you and make you a saint! I love you more than you'll ever know. Mom.

 

Friday, February 17, 2017

POTUS at Boeing SC

I hardly ever turn on the TV but today was a very special day. Historic. Boeing rolled out its new 787-10 and President Trump came to celebrate it with us!!! The factory was shut down for first shift, both for celebration and extra security. Michael got to go as an employee and he said it was great. I got to watch and listen to the speeches on TV. One thing that struck me was how the two pastors, of Mother Emmanuel and of the Baptist Church in Columbia, thanked God for everything and asked for His blessing now and always. I love how God is not forgotten even as we celebrate the work of human hands.

I also appreciated the acknowledgment President Trump made to American engineering and manufacturing. Boeing is doing it right! We are so grateful to God for bringing us here and for all that He continues to do.

Here are some pictures I took for memory's sake. The kittens and I also had some playtime :)