Sunday, April 29, 2007

Our Growing Church

Today the Catholic Church welcomed a new member...our goddaughter Julia Elizabeth.

I have participated in the baptism of five of my own children (soon, six) and the baptisms of our six godchildren, so I can attest firsthand to the beauty of this sacrament. In addition to being greatly moved by the baptisms of those I am close to, I am also the one in tears during the Easter vigil mass, when people I don't even know die and rise again in Christ.

At today's reception, Julia's father referred to baptism as a mystery, and truly it is. We know from scripture that a baptized person belongs forever to Christ and, through this sacrament, receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We know that baptism takes away original sin. We don't know how and we don't know why, but we believe it to be true.

Jesus was baptized by John at the very beginning of his public life. Did Jesus need to be washed clean of original sin? Of course not. He did it as an example for us, to show us what he expects of us. Later, he explicitly told his disciples to go forth, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt that Jesus asked us to do this. So we do it, joyfully and faithfully, even without perfect understanding.

Many people do not comprehend why infants should be baptized, since it is not their conscious choice but that of their parents. To me, infant baptism is all the more beautiful for just this reason. When Joey was baptized, I cried through the whole ceremony. The priest stopped and asked me why I was crying since it was a joyful occasion. I explained it was because I realized that God had given me the great gift of my child, and that now I was giving him back to God. For whatever reason, the simple truth and beauty of this act moved me to tears of joy. I was quite sure that God would take care of this child that was all His, and that He would give me the grace to raise him on His behalf. Baptism is my promise on behalf of my children. I promise I will raise them to Christ and He seals them as His own. The children will make their own promises later, when they are confirmed.

Isabella will be baptized in three weeks. (I will be needing a new tube of waterproof mascara.)

Welcome to the church, Julia Elizabeth. We will do everything we can to support your parents in raising you to know and love God. You will be forever in our prayers.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Laundry Treasure

Among the more interesting items to emerge from my wash cycle:

Now THAT package screams freshness. Or long shelf life. Or something.

This made it through my high-efficiency washer and commercial-level dryer practically unscathed. I could actually feed these to my children still.

Truly amazing. And a little scary.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


In a convenient, pint-sized package.

I Swear This Stuff Finds ME!

So there I was, innocently grocery shopping at a Vons I don't normally go to but is close enough to my house. I was looking for one little ingredient I needed for dinner. I rounded the corner, minding my own business, and WHAM! There it was.

Yep, you guessed it. It was Panda Express, in all its Orange Chicken glory, mocking me, beckoning me. I wasn't thinking about it, I wasn't looking for it, yet there it was. I didn't even know they HAD Panda Express inside Vons. Starbucks, yes, but Panda?!

I was strong. I resisted. (Luckily, I had just had lunch, otherwise I would have been a goner.) The victory was won.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that I have found myself a new grocery store.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Congratulations, Angels!

FINALLY, the Angels of Quartz Hill Little League have won a game! Yippee, yahoo! They have been close, even against very good teams, but for the first time last night they officially put one away.
Would it be bragging to mention that my very own son contributed to the winning score? Good, I didn't think so.
These days I have only been able to see snippets of the games, as I am busy keeping track of the problem know, the one who is only content if he is climbing something he is sure to fall off of, eating pieces of random trash he finds on the ground, or running into the parking lot at breakneck speed. But what I do see I enjoy.
While watching, I feel the pressure these kids are under to make the catch, hit the pitch and generally not screw up in front of the crowd and their teammates. I was never cut out to play team sports, so I am extra proud of Joey for just being there, not to mention scoring a run or stopping a play in the outfield.
Go, Angels! May you win again soon!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Two Months Old Already

She smiles. She coos. She is a mellow, happy, beautiful baby. We are so lucky to have her!

I tried and tried to get Isabella to smile and show off her lovely personality for her two month "blog photo" but, unfortunately, this was the mood I had today:

This uncharacteristic (thank goodness) grumpiness was due to our celebration of her 2 month birthday with a series of vaccines that rendered her a bit moody for the rest of the day.

She has been busy gaining weight, although at 11 pounds she is actually not as chubby as she appears here:

You will notice that, in the past month, she has not abandoned her signature tongue-sticking-out look, although I am happy to report that the crossed eyes that often accompanied it have diminished substantially.

Like before, she grew tired of having her photo taken and simply fell over in protest, falling asleep moments after I took this picture:

She was very, very good on retreat with me (which was wonderful, by the way) and was only disruptive by way of repeated hiccups during the benedictions, along with some stuffy nose-related snorting during other quiet times in the chapel. Overall, she was wonderfully supportive of my much-needed grab for peace and for this I am truly grateful!

Happy two months, Izzie Bizzie Bella. We are so glad you are here!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Retreat Time

I'm off on retreat. Look for a new, refreshed version of myself when I return on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Scar Face

Tony scratched Joey in the face a few days ago. This event spawned the following conversation:

Joey: Will this leave a scar?

Me: I don't think so. Maybe a light one for just a few months.

Joey: Darn it!

Me: What? Why do you want a scar on your face?

Joey: So I can look dark and twisted.

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tony Successfully Expresses His First Multi-Word Concept

"Eye. Bobo."

Since he was gesturing wildly toward Isabella with a pair of kid sunglasses in his hand, I could only translate that as, "Please, mom, put the sunglasses on the baby."

I did so and was rewarded with, "Yay!" accompanied by a jump and raised arms.

Let the communication begin!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

If Only I Had Seen It

Today I missed what might have been my all-time favorite kid moment, had I actually witnessed it.

Our pool has one of those heavy-duty covers on it to protect the kids from falling in. Unless we are actively swimming, it is almost always closed. Today the kids went swimming and, when they were done, we did not close the cover right away like we usually do. Tony (our only mobile non-swimmer) was not in the yard and there were adults working outside, so we just hadn't gotten to it.

We were getting ready to go to dinner at a new friend's house for the first time, so I'd had the kids put on Sunday-like clothes to make a good impression. Joey was dressed early and looking sharp, so he went outside to ride his bike around the back yard, as he often does, while waiting for the rest of us to get ready to go.

The next thing I know, a furious, dripping wet Joey is standing in front of my desk, spluttering about how someone had crossed in front of him while he was riding. As Joey swerved to avoid him, he rode his bike right into the pool, fully clothed.

Now, you have to know Joey to appreciate this story completely. He is my wonderful child who loves to be grumpy. That's his thing. Falling into a pool wearing clothes might be funny to many children, but Joey was not amused. He was even less amused by my reaction. Instead of the pity and outrage-on-his-behalf that he expected, I must admit that I laughed--because it was really, really funny! I simply couldn't help myself. He looked so silly with his hair plastered down and his jeans stuck to his legs, heavy and dripping. Naturally, I gave him heartfelt sympathy, too, as I know it had to be a truly unpleasant experience for him. But this was doled out between giggles as I wrung him out, got his clothes in the dryer and helped him find new, suitable clothes to wear.

It was a classic "America's Home Videos" moment, and I missed it! Yet, I still enjoyed it. And am still enjoying it. Even Joey, after he was dry, had to admit begrudgingly that he could see why someone, himself excluded, might find it funny. He knows perfectly well that if it had happened to any one of us he would have been doubled over with laughter.

And so it has been entered into our family lore, and will be repeated over and over again at family gatherings and holidays. Classic.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rollin' With It

Since it's Spring Break and it's not a school night (I LOVE that!), I took the kids roller skating tonight.

Tuesdays are "Rollin' With Christ" nights at our local skating rink. I have never been to one of these nights before, but saw them advertised when I was at the rink a few months ago for a birthday party. I figured it was a good night to go--since the rink is in a sketchy neighborhood and is a bit run down, I figured I was more likely to find a friendly crowd on a proclaimed Christian night. The gangsters tend to stay away from the Holy Rollers, you know. (Pun intended.)

Anyway, we Catholics are generally not organized roller skaters--or participants in Christian fun nights of any kind, in my experience. Our reputation of being formal and staid is well-earned, with the possible exception of some out-of-the-box youth groups. So, I did not expect to encounter anyone I knew. But I did expect to hear contemporary Christian music that I might be familiar with, such as Third Day or something similar. The Bible Christians, I have found, listen to some really good music.

What I walked into, though, I could have never expected. There was live music provided by "Street Gospel". And it was rap. Authentic rap. Christian rap. I did not know this genre existed. But it does, and apparently it has quite a following in Lancaster. My kids, having had no expectations beyond skating around in circles all night, were not phased by this. But my jaw was on the floor.

As the evening progressed, a Fantasia Barrino-like singer took the mike and belted out some great tunes, and shared her love of Jesus with the crowd. Most people stopped skating at this point and just stood in front of the stage to listen. By this time, I had begun to disassociate rap with gang activity and was enjoying myself.

I was definitely out of my element...musically, racially, athletically, you name it. But we had a great time. Little Julia impressed me immensely as she continually fell and got up again without being at all discouraged. By the time we left she was really getting the hang of it, as was Lindsey. Joey is already a whiz at in-line skates and had fun skating circles around the girls.

It was a cross-cultural experience on wheels, and fun for the whole family, just miles from my home. What a deal!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Hangover

I have a hangover--actually the whole house does. No, not THAT's a holiday hangover! Our household is afflicted by this condition each year the day after Christmas and Easter. You are probably familiar with the symptoms: laziness, bloating, and disorder.

When I came down the stairs this morning, the first thing I saw was Easter grass. Lots of it. Everywhere. Sticking to the walls, strewn across the floor, dangling from the dog's mouth, stuck to the bottom of my slippers, and even blowing across the patio outside. Mocking me. Because no matter how many times I sweep and discard, it comes back. I believe it has a half-life.

The kids know how I feel about Easter grass. I had to laugh when the kids, after making an Easter basket craft after church yesterday morning, told the supervisor that they would take theirs home without the grass because their mom hates it so much. (Perhaps I have not kept my feelings to myself on this topic...) I should have been embarassed, but I was only pleased. Sick, I know.

The next thing that encountered me this morning was the packed refrigerator. I was practically knocked on the head by falling ham, lamb and boiled eggs as I reached for the orange juice. Holiday leftovers, crammed into every Tupperware I own. Leftovers that I have to convince my family are really special tasty treats, and aren't we lucky that we get to have them at every meal for the next week straight?

As I attempted to prepare breakfast I noticed the oozing callous on my thumb from the FIVE DOZEN colored eggs I peeled last night to save and devil and make egg salad with. As I proudly presented them to the family I learned that everyone is totally sick of eggs and no one wants any of them, no matter how much mayonnaise I pair them with. Who could have guessed that?

Next, we all continued our post-Lenten gluttony with our leftover breakfast breads, which were restored to their former glory with just a few minutes in the oven. Yum. And yuck, since we became sluggish a mere hour after stuffing ourselves--again.

I often wish that the church portion of the holiday was separated by a day or more from the family gathering and meal portion. I spend some of the time I should be focusing on the religious significance of what I am doing thinking instead of grocery lists and Easter baskets (or stockings). I wish I could compartmentalize them, but alas I cannot.

It helps to go to the holiday vigil masses since they are a day ahead--and extra special. The Easter vigil is the most beautiful mass of the year, in my opinion. This year, I could hardly sing the Gloria because I was so overwhelmed by the joy of the resurrection. When the church goes from darkness into light, it becomes so real to me. But as soon as I get home, this wonder is quickly displaced by busy preparations. I wish I could savor it a little longer.

But, even with the inevitable hangover, I love the family gathering. And I love hosting them. Most of all, I love making holiday magic for the kids that extends from church to home. Their memories will be full of family, laughter and love.

And leftovers.