Thursday, January 31, 2013

A St. John Bosco Quote

... from the only interview of St. John Bosco (source):

Reporter: Don Bosco, could you comment on your educational philosophy and the methods you use in your schools that are so much admired? How do you manage to maintain discipline when dealing with so many boys?

Don Bosco: The Salesian way of educating the young is quite simple. Basically, I insist on letting boys be boys. Let them play and enjoy themselves as much as they want as long as God is not offended. But if I have a philosophy of education, it consists in discovering a boy's best qualities and then exploiting them to his advantage. You must admit, sir, that any person is at his best when he is doing what he likes and does best.. Children are the same. Promote their positive qualities and they will thrive. As for discipline - love and respect for the young is the answer. In the 46 years I have worked among children, never once have I had to resort to corporal punishment, which by the way is very much in vogue. And I may say so, all those children who have come under my care have always continued to show me their love and respect.

And this, dear readers, is one of a few nuggets hitting me today - very loudly, if I may say so - in response to a very generalized, I have no idea what I need but I need something kind of prayer. I can only hope and try and try again to live up to such a philosophy with my small brood. Peace to you on this day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Quick Thanks

Dear readers, just a quick note of thanks for any prayers offered up for me after my whole crazy migraine ordeal. Since then, I have experienced only two "little" headaches, both of which were short-lived and exhibited no stroke symptoms. Hopefully it remains that way! I am a teensy bit worried/scared to have an even worse experience next time, now that I know what happened. I am trying to let it go, but it's hard.

Let's leave the fun thoughts of strokes and migraines and play the guess what happened game. Here goes:

Guess what? Little Miss Z has found her way to crawling up the stairs, and has climbed all the way to the top. Though, she should concentrate on walking first. ;) The other kids love it, I could have waited a bit for this leap... I will leave you with a recent picture of her. She's using a fork with spaghetti. She reminds me so much of her oldest brother at that age. Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Physical Suffering

I am a wimp when it comes to physical suffering. I am clueless how to tie my suffering to God's suffering, in offering it up, so to speak. Ok, technically and mentally, I get it. I understand it and in theory I know how to do it. In reality? Well, in the throes of a migraine attack, I am not thinking of offering it up. I cannot even think of the simplest of prayers, "Jesus!" I am thinking, "When will this pain end?!" Actually, that's inaccurate. In reality, I am NOT thinking. I am one wall of intense pain. So, how do I overcome this? I do not know. Perhaps you do, dear readers. Are you a victim of physical suffering? Have you any insight? I think that it may have more to do with my prayer life while coherent and pain-free than anything, and I have felt a nudge to wear something physical, something I can hold onto, to remember, very much how a picture or a statue turns my thoughts to prayer and heaven.

I am coming off a pretty nasty migraine. I am a migraine sufferer. My first hit when I was 19, and the memory still makes me shake. Thankfully I have had long pain-free moments. I have also had nonstop migraines. I have found a list of triggers and yet many times am completely baffled when one pops up. I struggle to keep my life in balance to reduce the number of attacks. Yet, nothing prepared me for this last round. 

It was the oddest experience. I woke Sunday morning feeling utterly awful, and an excruciating pain in my left calf. Knowing how I felt, I quickly took myself to Mass, without the kids, so that I did not miss it by trying to go to a later one. While there, I started to feel a light sensation, a tingling/numbing along my left side, all the while my calf in pain. From that moment until the headache finally hit (Monday late night into Tuesday), I experienced this numbness and a huge sense of fatigue along my left side, especially in my shoulder/arm. I had a hard time standing for too long, walking straight, going up the stairs, holding onto things, and even a few moments of finding it hard to breathe (when the numbness hit my rib cage). Then the headache hit and I was out.

I finally went to the doctor today, and was told I had just experienced my first hemaplegic migraine. Hema what? Don't google it... too scary. Apparently it's a migraine whose aura mimics a stroke. Thankfully I did not experience full-on paralysis as some do, just the strange sensations along my entire left side. To make this particular migraine worse, I was also hit with an occipital migraine, which is just when some muscles in the neck/head get all tight and start to spasm, leading to a one-sided blinding headache. It was a double whammy. 

Thankfully I feel better, and most of my left-sided strength is returning. But what a crazy experience. I really did not know what to make of it. The doctor says I have one pass with that type of migraine, but should it happen again, we have to talk some serious medication. For now, I have a muscle relaxer / caffeine / aspirin pill for the occipital and a triptan for the regular old classic migraine. I am not sure what to do should I experience a hemaplegic one again. I did not think to ask. That's the trouble seeing a doctor when you're half out of it, even on the tail end of a migraine.

And that's probably why this post seems all jumbly and disorganized so if you read through all that, whew, you are one nice reader. I really am interested in suggestions though because the pain really does sweep away all my good intentions. If I have to have this pain, then I sure wouldn't mind putting it to good use!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So cute!

In looking for inspiration for Miss Z's birthday "theme," I ran across this picture. Isn't it the cutest?

Such a random post, but it's so cute not to share. I am sitting here, trying to wake up, and praying I only feel cruddy due to some diet changes that I made, and NOT because of impending illness. The kids have all been a little yucky - not enough to classify as sick but enough to interfere with moods and physical bodies. My husband, however, is still recovering from the flu that slammed him right after Christmas. We thought he had double pneumonia, but looks more like bad bronchitis. According to his doctor, it doesn't really matter which it is. Treatment is the same. The only time it makes a difference is if you are hospitalized with pneumonia and then you receive stronger drugs. I learn something new every day.

All this cruddiness is going around, isn't it? My little 18 month old nephew has been to the hospital twice, and has been hit with the flu two times since Christmas. Unbelievable!

I hope you have a beautiful, healthy day!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Be Present Now

Let's make it our goal to be "present moment" people. Let's practice gratitude, especially when worry tries to take over our hearts. Life will become simpler, easier and less cluttered.

— from Make Room For God

This quote came through my inbox this morning. How so appropriate for me, how needed. In finding myself adrift lately, one of the few things that anchor me to my every day life are my to-do lists, hanging on to what I know must be done in this physical world - for myself, my children, my husband, my home... Yet, it's a catch-22, because in focusing on THE LIST it is too easy to lose sight of my true purpose. I find myself too much in the Martha camp, when I really want to find a way to Mary's camp. I am too much of a planner, a thinker, a reflector, a worrier.

I need to ask, what is God calling me to do today? Not tomorrow or years from now, but today? That, I can focus on. I can let go of the worry, the stress, the planning, for one day. I can focus on the true needs of my family. 

Thank you, Lord, for a new day, a new morning of fresh starts.

(By the way, has anyone read this book? I looked it up and it looks like a good read.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Call the Midwife Christmas Special: Can you say amazing?

Do any of you watch Call the Midwife? If not, oh my goodness, it is so good! I am so glad PBS picked this up in the U.S. from the BBC. I am a big Downton Abbey fan, but I have to tell you, I enjoyed this series even more.

When I sat down to watch the first episode, I had grand ideas on wrapping up some seat work while the kids slept. The kids slept, I watched the show, but no seat work was finished (or even started!). It was that good.

First off, I love historical time pieces like this - books or tv. If done well, they transport you to that time period, to those individuals playing the starring role. This series most certainly does that as it takes you to into the world of midwifery and family life in 1950's East London. It follows a main character, Jenny Lee, as she comes to live and work at Nonnatus House, alongside an Order of Nuns (though not a nun herself). Jenny comes from quite a privileged life and is thrust into an area of London that is destitute, and most certainly a long way from home. Best of all, this series is actually based on a true story!

The show touches on a number of hot topics, and is as realistic as possible - in a nice, but not too showy way - when it comes to childbirth and other scenes as they arise. The only thing that I have found most unrealistic is how the laboring mothers give birth and then are all smiley and done with labor. Maybe I am the only one, but when I deliver my babies, I am not done and ready to be all cooey immediately after birth of the baby. I am shaking like a mad woman and still in some serious pain until I truly am done with labor, if you know what I mean. ;)

The first season aired back in the fall, and the second season starts in the States on March 31st. On December 30th, they aired a special Christmas episode, and I will share a few quotes that really popped out at me.

At the start of the show, the narrator (an older Jenny), brings you right into her Christmas experience at Nonnatus House after commenting on how the outside world was full of lights, presents and basically the secular part of Christmas:
"But at Nonnatus House, a different magic was at work. The sisters spent Advent in prayer and meditation, and the atmosphere was not one of excitement but of expectant  joyous calm. I wasn't entirely sure what I should make of it. I was young, and faith was still a mystery to me."
Love it! Even better, is listening to the sisters sing on the show - so simple, so beautiful. I could sit there, close my eyes, and just be, simply exist while listening to their voices rise up to the heavens.


Here is a quote from a delivery scene. The mother is giving birth in a communal toilet much to the dismay of the landlord. On the birth of the baby, the mother amazingly stops sweating and panting, and holding the baby, keeps repeating, "I can't believe it! I can't believe it!" To which, the narrator comments:
"There were days and deliveries where I couldn't believe it either, but this was and will always be the most commonplace of miracles. An event at once familiar and phenomenal, timeless and immediate. Briefly making angels of us all."
Isn't that the truth? I just love that quote. I got goosebumps when I heard them the first time (still do!).

To wrap up the show, the narrator leaves us with these words:
"It was a Christmas as unique as any other. For every year the mystery unfolds itself anew. And late in life, I came to see that faith, like hope, is a rope and anchor in a shifting world. Faith cannot be questioned, only lived. And if I could not grasp it then, I felt its heartbeat, which was love."
You can still watch the Christmas special online here on PBS.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Epiphany at Home

The wise still seek Him...

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. The kids were excited to see Father in gold, and to pay a visit to the Nativity scene, where the three kings have finally arrived.

At home, we spent a good part of the day relaxing. The kids had had a late night of fun at my parents' for a long-promised "movie night overnight." Plus, my husband is still having a rough time feeling better from his illness just after Christmas, and had a rough spell today. I am thinking a doctor's visit may be in order.

Our home celebration centered around the dinner table, with prayer time, three simple Epiphany gifts, and a king's cake. 

For the gifts, I gave gold (aka, gold-covered chocolate), frankincense (scented pens), and myrrh (bubble bath). The kids were excited, obviously, but Skipper most of all, as I had had two of these gifts wrapped last year, but never brought them out for Epiphany since we had our hands full with newly-born Miss Z, and he of course remembered that and was quite observant and a tad insistent in making sure I had all the gifts this year.

The king's cake? I made an orange chiffon cake with orange rum sauce. After it baked and cooled, I pushed a little dried pasta shell into the bottom. When I served the cake, I let everyone choose which section to eat, and Critter chose the piece with the shell, which tradition holds that he will have a good year. By the way, tradition usually uses a bean, but I had a bag of pasta open so I used what was on hand. ;)

After dinner, we blessed the house with chalk and the writing: 20+C+M+B+13.

All in all, a very nice way to end the whirlwind of Christmas. We will slowly take down our decorations, but I will probably leave up the wintry decor and the nativity until the Presentation of the Lord, on February 2nd.

O God, 
Who by a star 
guided the wise men to the worship of your Son, 
we pray you to lead to yourself 
the wise and great of every land 
that unto you every knee may bow, 
and every thought be brought into captivity, t
hrough Jesus Christ our Lord. 

~~The Church in Jerusalem Epiphany Prayer~~

Thursday, January 3, 2013

ONE of a kind: a little girl turns 1!

A snowflake theme! Ok, just a little theme, but I did not go crazy over it. I still really want to try this freezer paper stencil t-shirt idea, but since I forgot to buy the outrageously expensive paper for the 100th time - again - I grabbed my fabric paint and turned this mock neck into a cute party accessory. (I really like this shirt but an ink pen somehow found its way to it, and so I used the painting as a chance to hide the stain and be able to wear the shirt again!). By the way, do an image google search for freezer paper stencil ideas. AMAZING! I could waste too many hours googling... Still, I thought the fabric paint turned out cute, and now I have a little keepsake of the day.

Unwrapping presents. Little Miss Z easily grabs stuff from bags, unwrapped, and she finally tore paper on her own as well. It must have been the handful of Christmas parties over the past week that cinched that. Big sister and brothers really, really wanted to help her unwrap. ;)

Cake and punch time. The pink punch is your standard pink ale (cranberry-flavored ginger ale) mixed with raspberry sherbet. We had quite a few treats. It was not by my initiative. I was requested, mainly because the allergen-free red velvet cake is to die for and the crowd was sad to not have a second piece this past summer at Miss Bear's third birthday party. So the #1 cake is the red velvet, the cupcakes are the vanilla cupcake recipe from Cybele's book, and the snowflake cookie cut-outs were requested by Skipper who was sad all our Christmas cookies were eaten already (me too!).

And now for the real reason you even take on a first birthday party in the first place! Of all my kids, I thought that Miss Z would dive in and create the most mess. She did dive right in, and she certainly ATE most of her cupcake (versus playing with it), but she was surprisingly very neat, with only a few crumbs in her bib and on her lap.

It's so fun to be one!

Our Family's 2013 Patron Saint

Last year, I saw the idea of choosing a personal or familial patron saint for the year - a saint to learn more about, to apply to daily life, and one to pray to as an intercessor for personal intentions. I liked  the idea, but never did it, being busy with a new baby and all.

This year, however, I decided to do it. Instead of each family member having an individual patron saint for the year, I prayed for one who could take on the role for the entire family. I figured that way I would more likely stay on track and we could all focus on learning about and praying to one saint.

Using Jennifer's Saint's Name Generator, I said a little prayer, and turned the wheel, so to speak, to see which saint would come up for my family.

The Holy Doctor from Naples
Feast Day: November 16
Patron of bachelors, people rejected by religious orders, physicians

I am still wondering how this saint ties in with my family. St. Joseph was one of many children born in Italy. He grew up rather wealthy - I am guessing considering his father was a well-known magistrate and lawyer and his mother was of noble birth; not to mention, St. Joseph was able to attend university at the turn of the century and become a doctor.

Why the medical field? Apparently, he was "inspired" after his brother fell from a horse during his military service and received an incurable head trauma, and was treated at home.

He remained unmarried, taking a vow of chastity and appeared to lead a very charitable life. He of course was a doctor, a hospital administrator, and a medical researcher. You can read his contributions in that field here. He also took his faith seriously: attended daily Mass, prayed regularly, practiced charity, used faith in his medical practice (in diagnosing and in treatment). He died peacefully at the age of 46.

After looking around, I found this quote, and it definitely is a topic that has weighed heavily on me, in light of all our dietary changes and health issues (minor as they are compared to others).
"One must attend first to the salvation of the soul and only then to that of the body."
Certainly, after struggling with minor depression over the past year - and having experienced it more strongly in the past - I can say that having faith goes a long way in treating both the mental and the physical. I think it is a battle both ways... When your body is out of sync for whatever reason, your faith is either pushed to the front or to the side. But without faith, your body will only heal so much.

I do look forward to seeing how the year unfolds with St. Joseph.

Dear St. Joseph Moscati, true model of Christian doctors, in the exercise of your medical profession, you always took care of both the body and soul of every patient. Look on us, who have recourse to your heavenly intercession, and obtain for us both physical and spiritual health, and a share in the dispensation of heavenly favors. Sooth the pains of our suffering people; give comfort to the sick, consolation to the afflicted and hope to the despondent. May our young people find in you an ideal, our workers an example, the aging a comfort, the dying the hope of eternal salvation. To all of us be a pattern of industriousness, honesty and charity; so we may comply with our Christian duties and glorify God our Father. Amen.