Monday, July 31, 2017

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear- Memories from last Christmas.

While it's the last day of July I am remembering this post from the week following Christmas when it was cold, dark and brisk one morning I entered church to go to Mass during the week.  It was perfect...

   It was very cold, the wind picked up the blowing snow and whisked it around the church door.  It was warm but dark and quiet inside.  Softly low voices began singing..."It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold..."
The nativity scene glowed from softly lit evergreen trees surrounding it and above the Star of Bethlehem glittered silently in the darkness.  Mary and Joseph kept careful watch of their baby boy, Christ the Savior joined by the animals and the shepherds.  The priest intoned the beginning words of the Mass and once again we are reminded why the Christ Child was here, to save us from our sins.

Preparing for a Wedding and other exciting times

So I discovered I never posted this update from February... it was too fun to miss... (okay must do something about my massive ego soon.)

I think I forgot about this post BECAUSE it was right before our daughter's wedding and then our son got married three months after I offer 'momma no brain' as my excuse.  You just wait...

So we are living the adventure of two weeks our youngest child is getting married! I still cannot wrap my head around that but it is happening no matter what.  In-between trying on dresses and getting everything together for the wedding, I've been de-stressing by knitting socks and crocheting a wedding blanket.
  I have to laugh at the wedding blanket because my very appreciative children are quick to point out that though they love the hand made things I make them, they are quite blessed with enough blankets at this point.  I figure you can never have enough blankets so I blithely keep making them more.  I should know better but I can't help but remember the huge knitted brown, crème and black blanket my husband's grandmother made us (or had someone make us...we've been married 34 years so my memory is a little sketch...) for our wedding and we still have it. I think it's still around mostly because it's made from itchy acrylic, the only yarn you could buy in the early 1980's and because it's other words it didn't get used much because of its size. It was made for two people. The color was popular in the '80's but that really doesn't bother me. It's better than puke sage green everyone loved then too.
  But I thought when my kids get married I'll make them a nice blanket for the happy couple. The first of our kids got married five years ago and their blanket has been stolen by the was a nice black and white striped number which went with their bedroom décor.  The blanket for this daughter is a gentle cream color which should go with everything except my soon-to-be son-in-law's black dog hair. 
  But hey, it's why I keep knitting and always need a new blanket.
  My fever craft right now is knitting socks...I LOVE knitting socks!!! I love the sock yarn I am using...

Beginnings of August

  What? did August get here so fast!  Yikes!  Summer always goes so fast after we get through the Fourth of July, but seriously August 1 is looking me in the face.  No!!!  And I don't even get summers off. 
  When I worked at the parish school office as secretary I LOVED MY SUMMERS off.  It was the time for me to get started on home projects that I couldn't get done on the weekends.  But ever since I began working in the parish church office, I no longer get summers off and yes...I need some cheese with my whine...I miss my summers.
  Well, with the whining over, I'll share the fun project I started a week ago when my daughter, Cait, told me she still loves elephants and wants to decorate the baby's room with elephants. Now, my usual knitting forays are limited to bears, scarves, hats and socks. So I had to hunt down a simple pattern to do the elephant but it was so worth it!  While I changed up the yarn, from sport weight to bulky because I like the look and feel of the bulky more, I love this pattern.

  But Elly, Cait already named the elephant, is turning out so cute!
Here are the parts all knitted and waiting to be assembled:

Here are two views of her head:

I think the cutest part so far is her nose!
And here is what she looks like waiting for her ears:
I am finishing up knitting the ears now and they are HUGE but so adorable!! She is going to be one very cuddly elephant! Just right to sit in on the rocking chair in the nursery!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Family That Plays Together Stays Together

  Yes, yes I am the one that is forever using this quote: "The family that prays together stays together." It's on all the newsletters I write for teens in our parish and even in our church bulletin at times.  But I also like this quote, "The family that plays together stays together," because these days it's rare to see a family all sitting down together for the evening meal much less playing in the backyard together.  But I'm here to tell you that is what your family needs: to play together as well as pray.
  As my husband and I were raising our three kids it was important for us to also play with them. This meant we built one of those wood playhouses in our backyard when our oldest son was only five years. old.  We were out there with him and his two little sisters, the youngest only a newborn playing on the slide, the swings and teeter totter.  Then it was on to putting the oldest two in the "Little Red Wagon" and pulling them around the yard while I followed with the baby.  We made play time important with our children.  We taught them to ride bikes and when everyone could ride fairly well, we all rode bikes on our town's bike trail.  We went to the city park and played on the 'big' swings, me holding the baby on my lap and my husband pushing the other older two on the swings.  In the summers we bought a wading pool and I spent many summer afternoons home with my kids playing in that pool.
  As the kids got older we went for hikes and older still we went to the beach and walked miles and miles of beach playing in the water, sand and collecting shells. We also made sure they knew how to swim well taking swimming lessons and we drove to the river where I spent many teen years floating on inner tubes on a hot relaxing summer day down the Current River and exploring the hiking trails behind the springs.
  My point to all this is my husband and I made it an important part of raising our kids playing with them.  We didn't do organized sports, except for martial arts which we did together as a family. Playing was almost as important to our family as praying.  And to this day when we all get together we share our memories of playing together.  Now as they begin their own families we joke about all the board games we have downstairs and how we'll be outfitted as grandparents for games!  And my husband and I are still game to go floating down a river or two with the kids and their kids.  It's important your children see you playing with them. It's the time you spend together that is important and makes your children well rounded.
  While it may take a few more aspirins to keep us going these days, my husband and I are always up to playing a pick up game of football in the backyard or horseshoes. It doesn't matter what the game is, what matters is we have fun playing together!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yummy Yarn

So technically I have a stash of yarn.  But also to my credit, I am constantly using the yarn in my stash so does that count as stashing?  I don't stash yarn to look at it. I use it!  And as you can see here my main yarn usage is socks and bears.

Oh wait, I did have a phase baby boxing gloves for my fitness trainer daughter who has clients expecting babies!!

And also a baby blanket for my other daughter who is expecting!  This is actually the first version of the baby blanket. At first I thought all the little extra yarn overs and holes would make it pretty...

then I realized those were place were tiny fingers would get caught, so I ripped it all out and started over again.  Now it is a nice even blanket which will have a border of satin ribbon all around the edges because my own babies and toddlers LOVED to rub the satin as they went to sleep every night. So that was the most important part of my blanket!  I even found orange satin to match the yarn colors!

In between I knit a couple of cuddly bears...

I bought so much of the baby blanket yarn I was able to make a pair of matching socks for my daughter.

 And other socks...
Knitting socks is a great stress reliever for me...some people think that sounds weird, like knitting socks would stress you out more...but once I learned how to hold 5 double pointed needles together and knit it was easy.  Granted I started several years ago trying to figure that out and suddenly last fall I picked up a set of dpn's again and voila!  It suddenly made sense and I was off knitting socks!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mom the Postmaster

  For centuries, mothers have been the disperser of news.  If you wanted to know what was going on in the family, mom was the one to ask.  There's no official title or assignment for this job. It seems it would just happen into the nurturing laps of any mom who cares about what is going on in her family. That would fit most mothers.  Mothers keep tabs on their children. It begins with the first stirrings of kicks and elbows in the womb. "Ooph, she is active today, she just rolled over onto my bladder." Mom will tell anyone who will listen.
   It continues as a baby is born, begins eating solids and walking. Moms just keep mental notes of all achievements and unfortunately sometimes bad behaviors, and share them with anyone willing to listen or ask. 
  Generations of mothers collect news from their husband, children, extended family and friends and dispense tidbits of needed information out to family members.  Sometimes moms can get a little too generous in their news gathering skills and this can lead to gossip which a good mother needs to guard against. But for the most part, mothers are passing along words of wisdom learned from their own mothers and grandmothers and this child's experience along to the next siblings who could learn from the lesson.
  In my own family I recall the many letters my grandmother would write to my own mother about how all my aunts and uncles and cousins were doing.  The letter was usually three or four pages long, written on that small letter writing pad of long ago, smaller than a stenographer page. It would always amaze me how she could write about my mom's 10 siblings and their families and only contain it to 3-4 of those small pages.  I mean that was over 100 people she was in charge of. But my grandmother was very German; concise, not gossipy and she got to the point.
  My own mother was not so much the letter writer, but the phone was her ally.  She kept and still keeps my siblings and myself abreast of all going on in our lives by calling or rather, we have to call her to get the scoop on what is going on.  Whether illness, travel, children's events, my mother is usually pretty on top of the news which is really good considering she is going on 85 and has four children, four in-laws families and 20 grandchildren,  three grandchildren in-laws, and a great grandchild on the way.
  As a mother myself of 31 years, I have dabbled in writing news, phoning and texting news to my kids.  My family has a group text we pass along messages all the time as well as photos and humor.
  The biggest similarity of all these generations of mother news gathering is the prayer chain. It's also the most important aspect of this communication; to ask all the other kids to pray for a certain child and/or their family at certain times of distress, health issues, or whatever.  We all know that the group prayer has an enormous impact on each of our lives.  None of us could face impending disaster or life decisions without knowing the rest of our family was praying for us.  It's funny though because while it doesn't seem right for any one of us to ask for prayers from each other, all we have to do is say something to mom and the prayer request goes out from there.  It's just understood that's how it works.
  As my own mother gets older, there are some facts that sometimes get jumbled up with my sisters and my brother and me. We have come to figure out when that happens a well timed phone or text message is needed to clear up things.  We don't mention to my mom when this happens but just take it as an endearing aging foible.  Recently my mom fell and suffered a very minor stroke and spent time in the hospital.  Needless to say this upset the news balance. My brother and sisters and I had to begin the habit of checking in with each other instead of asking mom for the news.  It really made each of us stop and think about how important it is we keep up communication with each other. 
  With that said, my cousins and I are discovering the same thing. As aunts and uncles age and begin their trip to heaven, we are left with less and less news sources for what's going on in the extended family. While I dislike social media there is a very good side of things like Messenger for getting the word out about an aging aunt or uncle needing prayers or whose child is getting married.
  Such is technology.
  But the fact remains, that mothers are the receptacle of not only bringing children into the world but of keeping those same children informed and reminding them to pray for each other.  I cannot imagine what life would be like without the prayer chain in our families.  My husband lost his mother almost ten years ago, and while his dad does his best at keeping up on the news, my sisters-in-law have begun texting my husband and myself when prayers are needed for different things.  These communications in families are important and even more important is the message that we need to pray for each other. 
  So thank you Mom for bringing us the message. Not only of the family news, but of the Lord's Good News through prayer.

Friday, July 7, 2017


  Forgiveness is an act of will and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

  The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.

  Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man, was I going to ask for more?  Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him... Jesus I cannot forgive him.  Give me your forgiveness...and so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Pray For Us Maria Goretti

   Today is the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young girl who though she had been assaulted, knifed and eventually would die of her wounds, forgave her attacker just before she died.  Her story is a wonder to those of us who harbor wounds and have a hard time forgiving such evil in our own society.
  I am one of those who struggles with the forgiveness of that similar sin. 
  We all have things stuck inside our hearts we have a hard time forgiving.  Small wounds are easy to forgive unless they build up over time and go unnoticed by us. Those small wounds can become larger and eat away at us inside causing us growing unrest, anger and not feeling forgiving.
  But the large wounds, the crimes committed against us, the ones that are right in your face from the start are, because they are large, are very, very hard to forgive.  Yet if left intact, if we do not deal with the journey of forgiving those sins, they attack us over and over again drawing poison into our very beings.  We must forgive. But how?
  I don't have answers. I am still struggling with forgiving such a thing. But today, the feast of St. Maria Goretti, who became a saint not because she refused to have sex with the neighborhood boy, but because she forgave him while she suffered from his assault, his knifing her repeatedly. She forgave him.  She was somehow able to forgive this wretch of a human being. She could forgive this boy who had no problem treating another human being so vilely; she forgave him.  She forgave him as she died.  She left this world bearing no ill will. And that is why she is a saint.  I pray for her intercession in my own heart to be able to be so forgiving.

Dear Saint Maria Goretti, your heart was so full of mercy, that you gladly forgave your assassin, and prayed that he might be saved; intercede for me before the Lord, Whom you now behold face to face. Ask Him to pour His grace into my soul so that I may always be ready to imitate Jesus as you did. I choose you as my friend this day and I ask you to accompany me my whole life long. In honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and in the imitation of your example, I forgive all who have ever hurt me or who desired my suffering, and I ask pardon of all against whom I have sinned. Through Christ Our Lord,  Amen