Thursday, May 31, 2007

Guess what this is made out of?

If you click on this and get a larger view, see if you can guess what this is made from. The faces are not hand done, but everything else is. I'll leave the answer in the comments.

Nursing Mother of God

I got this one in Wisconsin on one of my Ladies Outings I take with my mom and sisters-in-law. I was nursing a baby at the time, and this holds special meaning for me. I don't know how old it is, but it is signed on the back. It is painted on a thin board. Click for a larger view.

Our Lady of Czestochowa

$1.61 ~ I still can't believe it!


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


As I am constantly feeding my addiction to thrift stores, I occasionally find some real treasures. I think I got the best ever today, which is a hand painted icon on silver of Our Lady of Czestochowa. It is gorgeous. And it was $1.61. She is already on my wall, looking over my kitchen. Someday maybe I'll take a photo of all the hand done Madonna's I have in my kitchen. I just had to tell someone about this!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Eight Things About Me Meme

Kitchen Madonna kindly tagged me with this and so here goes:

1. I am the oldest child in my family, and the only girl, with three younger brothers.

That means I have no sisters, obviously, and I have been alternately happy and sad about that my entire life. I have noticed some of the tightest bonds between sisters, and have felt that absence at times. But, I have also seen the deepest and most painful wounds happen between sisters, and am grateful to have dodged that bullet. Besides, now I have 5 sisters by marriage, and, I get all the good stuff without the hurt. Couldn't be better.

Being the oldest means I was (am) uber-responsible, nervous and a worry wart.

Being the only girl also means I spent most of my youth either reading alone in my room or playing football, baseball or other such thing with the boys and their friends and doing my best not make any of them regret having me on their team. I kicked butt out there, and it was fun!

2. I was the "new kid" in school due to my dad's job transfer in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. I have not recovered from that trauma. Seriously.

3. I was raised Roman Catholic in the early seventies, and my parents were somewhat freaked out by the " Spirit of Vatican II" they were being inflicted with. So, I spent my youth going to "clandestine" Tridentine Masses and had my first confession in a broom closet in the basement of a bank. I didn't attend Mass in a real church building until 7th grade, when we attended a Pius X mass. I am grateful for my parents efforts in preserving Tradition for me, for showing me how important Liturgy is and for building deep love for the ancient and beautiful and the true in my faith.(There was no such thing as an "Indult Mass" in those days, nor was there any Tridentine Mass in the Ordinary Church. That didn't happen til much later in the end of the eighties). After meeting my husband, who loved the Tridentine Mass but wasn't so at ease with SSPX, we found a beautiful church that allowed us to have a Tridentine wedding (first in 40 years there), church hopped for 7 years, and then finally found our spiritual home at an
Eastern Rite Church. What a journey, and we are still loving and getting benefit from the true, beautiful and ancient in our faith.

4. I am most certainly not a morning person. Nor are any of my children. This is one of the greatest and best benefits of home schooling to me. We do not have to drag everyone out of bed at the crack of dawn. That fact alone has practically made all the difficult parts of home schooling worth it. The rest is just gravy.

5. I positively loved being a physical therapist before I had children. I was made to be a physical therapist. I don't know if I will ever do the job again, but I still have it in me, and it is now part of who I am.

6. I have never been really good at anything until I began learning about iconography. I was a solid B+ student, could play the piano and flute well enough, but not great, I was on Varsity Softball in high school, but as a utility player, not a star. I am a "good" cook, but not great. I love to write, but it is spotty at best as far as skill goes. Iconography has been a new experience for me in as much as I feel it was in me all the time, but was just waiting for the time when it could be expressed. I am more "me" now that I have iconography as part of my life.

7. I love being a mother, but do not feel entirely at ease in that role. It hasn't come naturally to me, and I didn't feel the same thing about mothering as I did about physical therapy or iconography. I deeply love my children, and I think that will have to be enough to see us through. I have often felt very cheated when I read the writings of other mothers regarding the naturalness of their mothering, or when I have been around a mother who absolutely is delighted by the title of Mother. I have had to work at it, struggle with myself to submit to the duties of the job, see past the inconveniences and noise to find the joy. I have often wondered what God was thinking giving someone who likes quiet solitude seven children, but so far, it seems to be working out for us!

8. One of my favorite poems since I was in my early twenties was the "Red Hat" poem. I felt somewhat exploited when the "Red Hat" marketing scheme hit all the stores. I really have been working on being that kind of old lady ever since I was twenty. I figured you can't be a unique, secure, happy and creative old lady unless you work at being a unique, secure, happy and creative young lady. So I have been planning out my old age most of my life. I am not certain if that is entirely healthy, but I don't really care.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

I would like to tag some people for this, but do not currently have the time to see who hasn't done it, and then do all the linky links. So consider yourself tagged if you would like to share, and let me know in the comments.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Piece of History


Sad news today. Remember the parties I have talked about, the ones at my brother's farm in his old, beautiful barn? Last night the old, venerable barn burned down, for reasons unknown. My poor brother and his family are so sad ~ they had so many dreams for the barn, and we were about to have our first annual Barn Sale and Art Fair there in two weeks. The kiddos lost all their bikes, balls, scooters and my mom lost all the antiques she had stored there. We all were just there on Sunday, to celebrate 2 First Holy Communions, and 2 birthdays.

We have had all our Fourth of July parties and Labor Day parties there for the past 6 years. We have had barn dances, costume parties and many other family gatherings there. It's so sad for our entire extended family.

The most sadness comes to my dear sister in law, who felt so connected to the magnificent past of the farm by being in the barn. She was active in barn restoration and preservation, and now she has no barn. Here are her words:

Our historic barn, the Na-Da Farm barn, has burnt down to the ground. It is a pile of ash and rubbish. No descriptive word comes to mind to explain to you all how we are, nothing I can say can have you all understand the history that we felt; the connection we had with the past, through that barn. I appreciate all of your kind words, they don't go unnoticed; but really, we are just shocked, sad, and just doesn't look like Na-Da Farm anymore.

Thank you all for your support, concern, and I know we will all miss that barn, that landmark, that part of history that became part of who we are and what we do. It brought families together, it helped celebrate many my beloved husband said as soon as I saw the devastation..."It's a clean slate we will rebuild our own history- together."

They are already experiencing trouble with their insurance company, so they are in for a long, sad haul. If you could remember them in your prayers, I would appreciate it greatly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

warning... this post makes no sense unless you have lots of girls in your home

So now my baby is three years old. My fourth 3 year old girl. Three year old girls are a unique creation. It's like they go from 2 to 12 over night. Strong willed, independent, argumentative, and bossy. But the big difference is at three, they are still oh so cute and chubby. And they are still small enough to be physically picked up and put in bed, or in the corner, or in a chair.

Three year old girls also change clothes a million times a day, and have very strong opinions about what they want to wear, what shoes go with the outfit, and what sort of clip ought to go in her hair.

Three year old girls hardly eat anything in one sitting. And they don't like food they used to love. And they have a terrific pout.

I don't mean to be so negative, but I have already been through 3 other girls, and I am not kidding myself about what I am up against this year.

Also in my experience, three year old girls with clear and enforced boundaries are sweet, cheerful and very energizing. When expectations for their behavior are clearly stated, they strive to please. When given a new task, they devour it with relish, and want more. They notice so many new things about their world, and they are very generous with sharing their insights. Bugs, birds and flowers are the new thrill around here, and it gets me excited all over again about the world I live in.

At three years old, the little ones are aware of their own autonomy, and it thrills and scares them. At twelve years old, I think it is a repeat of that awareness. At this time I have both a three year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter. And I am moving towards 41 years old, which has it's own set of awarenesses to deal with. Between us, and the seven and 11 year old daughters (both a very "sensitive" age), my poor boys haven't a chance around here. And the hormones haven't even begun to flow to full capacity yet. It makes my head spin!

As I type this, my 11 year old daughter just came stomping down the hallway, arms crossed, went to her room and slammed the door. I guess I better stop my reflections on the moods of the girls around here, and go deal with the moods around here. Toodles!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Glory to Your Tender Mercy!

I realized I missed the Feast of the Ascension. I didn't miss it in real life, of course, but I did here on the blog. I love this feast, it's drama, it's promise, and it's power.

Can you imagine being with the Resurrected Jesus for 40 days, learning with Him, eating with Him, still stunned by the miracle of the Resurrection. Then, one day, while you watch, He goes away again, only this time not in shame but in Glory. And yet He still is gone. Joy, exaltation, fear, sadness. The promise of the coming of the Spirit fresh in your ears, hope, wonder, anticipation, and yet again, fear, sadness. The nine days spent in prayer waiting for Christ's promise to be fulfilled. Like waiting for the Resurrection, and yet different, as God is about to be encountered in Spirit, not in Flesh. To wait for that powerful event, not knowing how it will be, but knowing you will be transformed by God's presence, once again. The sadness of feeling orphaned, the hope for God's great mercy.

From Liturgy on this great feast :

"O Lord, Life-Giving Christ, when the apostles saw You ascending upon the clouds, a great sadness filled them: they shed burning tears and exclaimed: "O our Master, do not leave us as orphans: we are your servants whom You loved so tenderly. Since You are most merciful, send down to us you All-Holy Spirit to enlighten our souls."

I find myself imitating these emotions in my life. Sadness that Christ seems so far away at times, as if I were left. The desire to See Him, to be touched by Him. The glory of His power as the Divine, awesome to behold, the desire to serve, the fervent begging for the Spirit to enliven my life. Shedding burning tears while acknowledging His tender care at the same time. Eagerly awaiting the Heavenly Consoler and Spirit of Truth, in great hope, and yet in fear.

"Sweet Jesus, while You lived on earth, You were God, inseparable from the Father, and yet a meal Man. Ascending in glory today from the Mount of Olives, through your great love You lifted up our fallen nature and placed it on God the Father's throne. Wherefore the hosts of bodiless heavenly beings were amazed and dazzled : Together with them, we who live on earth glorify your coming down to us and your rising away from us, and implore You, saying : "Through your ascension, You have filled your apostles and your Mother with a joy that surpasses every other joy. Through their intercession, make us worthy of the joy of your elect, for You are infinitely merciful."

(icon found here)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gone Gardening...

I have a garden to put in, hostas to transplant, a slew of free day lilies to plant and a new flower bed to cut in, rototill and fill with divided flowers from my existing flower bed. The day is sunny, balmy, breezy, with freshly rained upon soil, and in short, couldn't be more perfect.

One of my favorite things to do while gardening is to say the Jesus Prayer. You'll find it top of my sidebar. There is no better way to spend your time, to be sure.

So, until this perfect weather is overcome, I'll be outside.


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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!
In honor of every self-sacrificing mother out there, here is a quote that hit me right between the eyes. I was reading this to my almost three year old daughter, and when I came to this part, I paused. This is the answer to the unsettling hesitation I have about the costs of mothering. I see my body, so changed by the process of carrying and birthing seven children. I see the hesitation to endure whatever the future has in store. I see the fear of "losing myself" amidst the constant daily demands. I see the desire, and yet am fearful, of becoming real.


"What is REAL?" asled the Rabbit one day. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
The only toy that was kind to the Rabbit was the Skin Horse. The Skin Horse had lived in the nursery longer than any of the others, and he was very wise.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens when a child loves you. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, you get loose in the joints, and very shabby."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse. "But when you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
The Rabbit sighed. He longed to become Real, and yet the idea of growing shabby was rather sad. He wished that he could become Real without uncomfortable things happening to him.

from "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams.

And I offer a sincere prayer of thanksgiving to the Heavenly King, Consoler, the Spirit of Truth; Who is in all places and sees all things; Treasury of blessings, and Giver of Life, for granting me the gifts of my children, and the many opportunities to become REAL.

And to all the Mothers reading, and to all the women who mother other people's children, and to all the women who care for others and give of themselves, Happy Mother's Day, and may God grant you many years in peace, health and happiness.

(adapted from Mother's Day, 2005)

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coming up...

Press Release

Right now, women across the United States and the blogosphere are searching thrift stores, ebay, and their mother's linen drawers for aprons to wear May 14th. Some are making their own. Wearing their aprons inside and outside of their homes, Apron Moms will celebrate their pivotal role in making a house a home.

As the search for domestic bliss continues, a search that includes cleaning and decluttering, cooking tasty nutritious meals, educating children, and the care and feeding of husbands, women will celebrate the difference they make in the lives of their families. They know an apron is like a uniform that conveys authority, unconditional regard, and motherly wisdom all at once. Apron Moms know aprons are about cooking and cleaning but they are also about emotional availability, hospitality, and femininity.

On Monday, May 14th, apron wearing women will drop children off at school, go to the post office and grocery store, and greet their families at the door wearing their aprons. Some will go to their work outside of the home. But regardless of where they spend most of their day, they will post pictures on their blogs of the places they boldly wear their aprons.

There will be a virtual cocktail party at 5pm CST to giggle about our experiences, to toast the internet's role in bringing us together, and to plan next year's Apron Mom March on Washington.

The devil very well may wear Prada but authentically feminine women wear aprons!

For further information, please email the Kitchen Madonna at

I know will be wearing my kicky little number that I ordered from KM ~ The Elizabetta. It's inspired! Tell her crazyacres sent ya!

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Drinking theCup

I just had to share this one. It went deep, I tell you!!

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)
Drinking the Cup

After firmly holding the cups of our lives and lifting them up as signs of hope for others, we have to drink them. Drinking our cups means fully appropriating and interiorizing what each of has acknowledged as our life, with all its unique sorrows and joys.

How do we drink our cups? We drink them as we listen in silence to the truth of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow, and as we act in deeds of service. Drinking our cups is following freely and courageously God's call and staying faithfully on the path that is ours. Thus our life cups become the cups of salvation. When we have emptied them to the bottom, God will fill them with "water" for eternal life.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

10 things I've done that I bet you haven't

This is from wayyy back in my archives. I don't think many of you ever saw this. It was fun to do. Anyone want to play along??

1. Gone to the World Series, in Box Seats (KC vs. St. Louis, late 80's)
2. Been part of a truly first rate marching band, like the kind you see on T.V.
3. Come home (while still living at my parents) and find the big oak in the back yard on fire. Calmly checking with my brothers about why is the tree on fire, again.
4. Been in a serious car accident, and unexplainably escaping injury-free. (My seat was smashed against the steering wheel. I was between the two, and had not a bruise).
5. Dissected a human cadaver.
6. Helped someone take their first steps again after a spinal cord injury
7. Helped someone learn to sit up by herself after she had a head injury. Being there every day, twice a day, to help her learn to sit, transfer, stand, walk, and drive. Cry with her, be exhausted with her, bask in the joy when she lives on her own.
8. Go on a blind date, get engaged 6 weeks later. Get married 7 months later.
9. Give birth standing, 3 times
10. Get surrounded by the police in a bank, while the bank manager says, "I want her arrested." (Long story, but it was all a mistake.)


Off to a great start today...

Now I'll date myself, but since I shamelessly state my age regularly, I'm okay with that.

One of the best memories of my littlehood was listening to my dad's music. Johnny Cash, Herb Alpert, and Credence Clearwater Revival, amongst others.

So on my iTunes there are a few of these lovely memories that my own children are now becoming familiar with. This morning "Zorba the Greek", by Herb Alpert, was playing. It is physically impossible not to dance or twirl or at least move some part of your body while listening to this song. My two youngest girls were twirling away, clapping and holding out their nightgowns like they were the most beautiful of dresses. But my newly 5 year old son was just leaning against the wall. I couldn't believe he wasn't joining in. Looking more closely, I noticed his hands to his mouth, fingers flying wildly, and realized HE was the trumpet player. Very essential for the dancing ladies, to be sure.

I love my life!


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Cup of Life

The Cup of Life

"When the mother of James and John asks Jesus to give her sons a special place in his Kingdom, Jesus responds, "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20:22). "Can we drink the cup?" is the most challenging and radical question we can ask ourselves. The cup is the cup of life, full of sorrows and joys. Can we hold our cups and claim them as our own? Can we lift our cups to offer blessings to others, and can we drink our cups to the bottom as cups that bring us salvation?

Keeping this question alive in us is one of the most demanding spiritual exercises we can practice."

This is from the daily meditation from the Henri Nouwen Society. The illustration is from my daughter, after I asked the children to help me get in my daily walks so that I could be in a better mood. This illustration was on the white board when I returned from said walk.

Busy, busy week, with yet another birthday and upcoming Mother's Day, and lots of end of the school year details to wrap up. I am so grateful for the reminder to lift my cup and offer a blessing to others, and keep drinking from the cup of salvation.

Blessings to you all!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some of my many blessings and joys

I just found this lovely St. Francis statue at an estate sale this weekend. It is about 5' tall, and looks amazing in my woods.

Lily of Valley ~ I look forward to it all year. It fills my room with the sweetest aroma, and makes me very grateful.

And can't you just smell the lilacs? This bush has the most amazing, huge, fragrant and dark purple blossoms. It always blooms right around my sixth child's birthday (which is Thursday), and I always remember those sweet first days getting to know my newest son, while enjoying a huge boquet of these lovelies.

And lastly, my first grader lost her front teeth, and we are all adjusting to her new look. Her name is Cecilia. Ever try saying that with no front teeth?

Life is beautiful!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Living with an open hand

I don't know if it was the icon, the fact that many people I know are pregnant, or the fact that I am forty and haven't had a baby in 3 years, but the phrase "open to life" has been bouncing around in my head with increasing trajectory for weeks.

In my history as a mother, not one other question has been asked of me with more frequency and with sincere curiosity than, "How many kids do you think you'll have?"

After about 5 years and 4 children, I landed on an all purpose answer that got my point across, wasn't hostile, and usually ended the line of questioning quickly. The answer?

"I don't know, because my husband and I are open to life."

Interestingly, no one asked me, "What does 'open to life' mean?', which was fortunate, because I am not entirely certain I knew what it meant. At the time it meant being willing to hear the "yes" to new children, even if it was challenging, or I was afraid, or I was feeling overwhelmed.

Eventually, I had to work through the idea of using Natural Family Planning, and if I was still "open to life" at that time. Could I still hear the "Yes" to creation that God was whispering to me? Turns out I could, as we had baby number 6 during that time, and when one leaves a window of opportunity open for God, and He wants something, He uses that window.

Now that I have seven children, and I am nearly 41 years old, being open to life is beginning to mean something else entirely. Something I never imagined. When people ask me now if I think I "am done", I still use the same answer, but a sinking feeling hits me at the same time and whispers, "I might be done." Now, being open to life means being open to hearing "No" to creation. It means not assuming there will always be a baby in our home, and yet, still keeping the ear ready to hear the "yes", in case that should be in God's plan.

I thought it was very challenging to keep my heart open to all the "yeses" God asked of me. I am finding keeping my heart open to the "nos" to be even more difficult. Or should I say, to the "maybes". I can say I do not look forward to 16 weeks of severe nausea, or the inevitable weight gain, or even the long, sleepless nights of the newborn phase. And yet, the thought of never having another one or "our" babies here, no more new combinations of my husband and I to marvel over and love, well, that makes my heart ache.

So now, open to life doesn't mean just being open to a new baby, it means being open to God being finished with the co-creation in our marriage. It means being willing to accept my life in thanks and joy regardless of what God's plans are for me. It means living my life with an open hand, and open heart, and not always having a vision for what my future will bring, and it means believing that God already is there, in my future, giving my all the blessings I need, no matter what they are.

(Photo found here)