Friday, August 31, 2012

7 quick takes

1 - Um, I love the following things about this song:
 a) how clean it sounds, not the lyrics of course but the singing, guitar, and air... if that makes any sense at all
 b) her red lipstick.  Probably when I'm 65 I'll have enough gumption and "I don't give a damn" about me to actually wear red lipstick.  And in the meantime I'll just wish I could pull it off now.
 c) the lyric about wiping the counters. way to my heart, I guess.  sigh.
 d) autumn.  Autumn is in the clothes they're wearing and the leaves.  I want autumn now, please.

2 - So the show that I'm making my way through right now is the fabulous White Collar.  You're probably already watching it, but if you're not let me fill you in:  The show is about a con-man on a sort of work release program with an FBI agent who deals with white collar crimes.  You can watch it instantly on Netflix.  Travis and I are both fans and probably my favorite part about it is there is no swearing, violence, or sex scenes.  Really.  Truly.  It's also very cleverly written.  Oh, and I like Mozzie.  Watch the show just for Mozzie.  He's the best.

3 - If you're looking for some new meals to try we had a successful week.  I highly recommend:
Pioneer Woman's Simple Hearty White Chili
Tyler Florence's Chicken Enchiladas
- Burgers, cooked on the grill, topped with tomatoes from our garden and seasoned with Excalibur Ultimate Steak and Roast Rub.  They're not paying me to say this (though they could by sending us free samples!) but their stuff is the. best. Period.
Rachael Ray's Mexican Lasagna (except I don't cut up the tortillas, I just bake it in my round Corning Ware dish.

4 - Here's some adorable pictures of my kids.
Bennet got sent to time out.  When I went in to talk with him about it he was asleep.   He'd literally cried himself to sleep.  


They're so big!  And sassy.

Princess Teresa, dressed up by her big sister, Princess Lydia.

5 - I got nothin'.

6 - If you need something sweet and heart-warming to read, go read this article: The Business Nine Women Kept a Secret for Three Decades.  But be warned, it'll make you want to buy a pound cake!

7 - After Labor Day weekend I'm going to begin homeschool and official chores.  I'm wondering if I should have some kind of chore chart and daily schedule for the kids.  They can't read but it may help keep me accountable and if I use pictures and words it may be helpful for them.  Do any of you have any opinions on this matter?  I'd love to hear them if you do!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And the winner is...

Let me borrow your hat, Sir Topam Hatt, sir.

40+ entries

Some help from my assistant.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  er, um, Winner, winner, Jude Landry print!

Congratulations to Veronica H!

Thanks to everyone else for playing along!  I hope you stick around and enjoy the new blog.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jude Landry Prints Give-Away!

Sorry; this contest is officially closed.  The winner will be announced after I nurse the baby...

Hopefully you've noticed the super awesome "Come Thou Font" image on my sidebar.  It's a print made by artist Jude Landry, whose wife blogs at Those Landrys and whose house-selling adventure I recently shared in my Ignitum Today article, The story of a house: one person's redemptive suffering is another's second chance.  Jude runs a one-man design studio based in Starkville, Mississippi.  The quality of his products is excellent, which I can personally attest to as our family proudly owns one of his Guardian Angel prints.  

So, of course, I am super excited that my first official giveaway is a $30 credit to Jude's online store plus free shipping!  

Maybe you'll get this one:
I wish I had a craft room just so I could hang this there.

or maybe this one:
Probably my favorite.

or maybe even this one:
Looooove it!

or you could chose two of these:
Oh golly!

To enter just do any (or all) of the following.  You can:

  • Follow my blog via email or RSS feed.
  • Or become a member by clicking on the "Join this site" button.
  • Or share this giveaway on your blog, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook with a link back to this post.  
 Please leave a separate comment for each entry you earn or you will only receive one entry (for example, if you follow via email and share on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook that is 4 entries and you should leave 4 different comments).  And please don’t forget to leave me your email address!
I’ll select the winner at random at 2 o'clock CST on Wednesday, August 29th. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If I don’t hear from you, a new winner will be chosen and contacted.
(This giveaway is only open to US residents. Many apologies to international readers!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

7 quick takes - the new blog edition

1 - Welcome to my new blog HOME!  This used to be Learning to be a Newlywed and you can find all of my old posts here.  And to show you it's still the same, we're starting these quick takes with a song.  So click on the song, stomp your feet, sway your hips, dance with your kids in the kitchen.

2 - Speaking of HOME... If you are not Catholic or if you have fallen away from your Catholic faith I would like to invite you to come home to the Roman Catholic Church.  Seriously.  I would love for you to experience the joy that I have as a Jesus-loving, Eucharist-eating, Hail-Mary-praying, nfp-practicing, Bible-reading, confession-going, joyful, orthodox Catholic.  You can start by stopping by your local parish and asking when their RCIA class begins or you can check out this great website, Catholics Come Home.  And if you want you can even leave a comment below letting me know you're thinking of coming Home to Rome - I would love to pray for you and perhaps even address any questions you may have in the blog!

3 - A big THANK YOU goes to my friend, Amanda S., who thought of the title for this blog.  I'm grateful to everyone who gave me feedback on the name change on Facebook.  There were so many good suggestions but "A Knotted Life" really struck a cord with me.  I explain why in the About section but basically it reminded me of the knot in James' cord and a name for Mary- the Un-doer of Knots.  I also thought it went along perfectly with the underlying theme of what my old blog and this blog are about - me working out my salvation with fear and trembling, aka growing as a wife and mother.

4 - The really quick change over of blogs, along with some layout help, and the header design were all made possible by the lovely and talented Natalie Ramirez.  Natalie is a multi-media major at Franciscan University at Stuebenville and will be graduating this May.  She is a part of the team behind, having met BadCatholic Marc Barnes while they washed dishes together in the dining hall.  Natalie's dream job is to head up the social media marketing for a business.  Based on the fact that she had a lot of great ideas, is incredibly amiable, and it took her less than three hours to do what would have taken me days - I think she'll be great at that job!

5 - Among the other updates here, I also have a new Speaking tab.  I've been getting asked more and more to speak at different parish events and whatnot and I'm really excited about that opportunity.  If you or anyone you know are looking for  a speaker for an event you're planning please know that I'd love to work with you!

6 - Lastly, I'm really excited to say that next week, in honor of my new blog, I'll be hosting a GIVE AWAY! You're gonna LOVE the gift!  Stay tuned!

7 - Happy Weekend!  And thanks to Jen for hosting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

crying over chicken nuggets


James has weird things with his mouth and throat and he always has.  Like he's always been on thickened formula, we had to teach him to chew, and he used to throw up almost every day.

Recently his feeding/speech therapist gave him clearance to drink normal liquids and eating has become so much better and the vomiting has stopped since we found out he is severely allergic to a lot of things.

When we were in the NICU there was a day when his feeding therapist sat down with me and told me she didn't think James would ever be able to eat.  She really thought he'd probably have to be fed through a feeding tube for all of his life.  I don't know why but a wheelchair I could handle.  Blindness or deafness I could handle.  I know it shows how naive, ignorant, and stupid I was but I just thought that he'd be able to eat and drink even with all the other issues.

I wanted my little boy to have ice cream cones and Popsicles in the summer, pancakes and bacon on Sunday mornings, Christmas cookies and Halloween candy.  I wanted him to know the crispness of a fall apple and the juiciness of a tomato from our garden.  A cool swig of water, the sip of his first beer, Holy Communion.

I was crushed when she told me that he probably wouldn't be able to eat.

And so today when he ate two chicken nuggets at lunch, asked for two more and ate those, too... well - I cried.  I cried because James was eating the same lunch his brother and sister. He was eating like a normal kid.

I'm sure you will understand when I tell you that today I am so grateful to God for chicken nuggets.

PSA on the Mass of Thanksgiving

I want to make sure everyone knows about the Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate Fulton J. Sheen being named Venerable by Holy Mother Church.

In case you don't know, being named Venerable is the step before Beatification, which is the step before Canonization.  Also, once Sheen was declared Venerable James' alleged miracle was submitted to the Vatican.  Once it undergoes extensive review by medical experts and theologians, if it is declared a real, true, no-way-it-can-be-explained-medically miracle then Sheen will be named Blessed Fulton Sheen.

This is a really, really big deal, and not because it gives my family and me some kind of 15 minutes of fame.  It is a huge honor from God and really exciting to be part of history - the Church's, our state's, and our culture's.  A man from Peoria is on his way to becoming an official saint and right now there are only two American born saints!

You have an opportunity to be part of something historic!  Please don't take it for granted that this is happening!  Here's some more exclamation points!!!!!!!!!

Here's the important details:
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Cathedral of St. Mary
Diocese of Peoria, Illinois

Doors open at 8:30am.

Holy Hour from 9-10am.
Mission Rosary recited at 10am.
Mass begins at 10:30am.

Seating is open to the public but they are expecting a lot of people at this Mass.
A celebratory brunch is happening following Mass.   Tickets are $50 per person and you can buy one by calling 877-71SHEEN.  (My family is not going to that Mass, we're going home for naps.)

You can get more info by going to Celebrate Sheen!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

News story on James and Sheen

Hey friends.

WICS News Channel 20, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, IL aired their segment on James and Sheen's story last night.  I am really impressed with the job that was done by reporter Andrew Hansen, himself a practicing Catholic.

If you want to watch the story please follow the link.  It's worth watching just to see how stinkin' cute James is at the end of the clip.  Seriously!  Adorable!  (You can even faintly hear Andrew call him a ham.)

Also, every time I tell the story of what Travis said to me in the Labor & Delivery floor I misquote my husband.  I think he said, "James is alive and everything's going to be fine," but I still have no idea.  It's the same thing, really, in the end...

Monday, August 20, 2012

a funny thing happened on the way to the convent

When we were in Nashville for my friend's profession of vows we did not have directions to get from the Cathedral, where the Mass was, to the convent, where the reception was.  I planned on following our friends but that idea was quickly shown to be a bad one when we lost them as people filtered onto the road from three different parking lots.  Factor in a traffic light and we were on our own.

And then we spotted a car with a couple of nuns.  Hallelujah!  They were clearly Nashville Dominicans, they were two cars ahead of us, and so we felt safe following them back to the convent. 

When they turned where all the other cars from the cathedral went straight we wondered if they were taking a short cut or going somewhere else but we stuck with them.  And then they made a quick turn - clearly a last minute decision - leaving us to wait for traffic.  A red light meant we were able to catch up with them and a couple of blocks later, at another red light, we decided we needed to talk with the nuns.

I jumped out of the van, ran up to the passenger window and knocked on it.

The sisters were startled and I had to gesture and ask them to roll down the window because they were just staring at me.

"Are you going to the convent?" I asked.

"Yes!  Do you want to follow us?"

"Yes!  We have been.  So no more quick turning!" I said in a slightly scolding tone while making a turning gesture that was more like a flail of my arm.  I was feeling a little bit of pressure since I was barefooted on the streets of downtown Nashville, hoping the light wouldn't change.

The sisters laughed and laughed as I ran back to the van and hopped in.  They turned and waved, still laughing at me. 

I forgot to tell Sr. Marie Noelle the story and on the way home to Illinois Travis and I wondered if the sisters in the car told the story but no one knew who the crazy lady was.  It was me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

patron saint of brain damage?

I know of three jaw-dropping, amazing stories of Venerable Fulton Sheen interceding for a baby who was then healed.  Those three stories, along with other stories of Sheen praying for an infertile woman to conceive and nine months later she gave birth, and his prayer to spiritually adopt unborn babies makes me think of Sheen as a patron of babies.  Especially babies in danger.

But because one of the things that I believe Sheen's intercession did was wipe away my son's brain damage I also believe that he could be the patron of people with brain damage.

And that brings me to Kelly Needham, a young man from Peoria who was recently in a very bad car accident out of state.  It has been almost a week and, as I understand it, he still does not have brain activity.  Things look very grim.  While several people have asked me to pray for him I was just given permission to put this prayer request on my blog, so I share it with you now.

Kelly's pastor, Father David has asked his parish and the community to pray, in confidence, through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen that if it be God’s holy will that a miracle would be granted and Kelly's life be saved.

I ask you to please join me in the following prayer:

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.
If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor We now request through his prayerful intercession, for Kelly Needham’s brain swelling to stop, for a complete healing, and recovery of his life.
We make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Thank you and God bless.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

7 quick takes

1 - So maybe I'm on a Walk the Moon kick right now.  I need music that will get me movin', ya know.  I got dishes to do, pancakes to flip, a Thomas train track to build in a figure 8 so that it has to include a bridge and tunnel, a baby to nurse, and a miracle boy to read From Head to Toe to for the 80 billionth time.  I'm busy, people!  I need some pep in my step.
Can you do it?  I can do it!

2 - My newest article at Ignitum Today is up.  It's called "The story of a house: one person's redemptive suffering is another's second chance."  So I broke the rule about short titles. *shrug*  Go read it!  Share it with your friends and your grandma!  She'll love it!

3 - The article is about my friends Alisha and Jude and this amazing thing that happened to them when they sold their house.  I even did an interview with Alisha for the post, which was a lot of fun, really long, and had many fun tangents - including one about gravy.

4 - I still have a cough and a sore throat from my stupid sickness.  Last week was horrible and when I went to the doctor he looked at my throat and said, "Ah, that's gross!"  Then he laughed and gave me a prescription.  I feel better in every other way but I still have this dumb cough.

5 - Travis and I love our family practitioner.  Who may or may not read this blog... I'm not sure.  (Hey, Mark, if you're reading.)  I asked him if I'd be well enough to go to my family reunion, which was last Sunday.  He said yes but that if I didn't want to go he'd write me a note.

6 - While at the family reunion I was holding Bennet when one of my great aunts approached.  "Is this your son?" she asked me.  "Yes.  This is Bennet," I said proudly.  She looked disappointed and confused and then  told me she wanted to see the miracle baby she was reading about in the papers.  Poor Bennet - she doesn't know what she was missing out on!

7 - This past week I've continued to keep a fairly low profile, mostly because of the dang cough.  The kids and I have walked to the park, had home-made pancakes for breakfast, and even done crafts. (!)  The days have been pretty smooth and I have realized that the thing that makes this possible is if I do not shower until quiet time.  Me in my pajamas until 2pm = everyone's happy.  I'm glad to know how to make it work, but I think that it's not too practical.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumptions about Mary

This post was originally published in 2007.  Happy Feast Day to you!

Today we Catholics celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into heaven. It's a good day.

I know that Mary can be a stumbling block for a lot of people - some goddess we worship instead of giving due honor to God. These kinds of things are implied, accused or asked about frequently in my life.

But of course that's not how it really is. Personally, I'm so grateful for her comfort, wisdom, example and love.

In art she is usually depicted as young, small and white but when I picture her in my head it is never like that. Dark hair, dark eyes and older. In fact, it is not Mary as a girl or young mother that I earn to get to know. It is Mary whose grown Son was ministering to the crowds. I like to think of her, Jesus and the apostles sitting around and she's telling them stories of the days in Egypt. Of the goodness of her husband. Of what it was like when the angel came to her. Of her three months with Elizabeth. I think that by the time she was standing at the foot of the cross she wasn't as thin as she had been in youth, though she was solid and strong. Her hands and face weren't as firm and wrinkle free. This is the woman I turn to for help in prayers.

Of course I often think to myself, "What would Jesus do in this situation? How would He love?" But I also ask myself, "What would Mary do? What would she say to her Son? How would she pray for this person or love this person? How would she reach out to this person? What good would she see in them and how would she hold on to that? As a woman, how would she act in this situation?"

I know that the more I ponder these things in my heart and the more I engage with my Blessed Mother, the closer I draw to my Christ.

Here's a portion of the first reading for today's Mass. It's taken from the 11th chapter of Revelations:
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth... She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

7 quick takes

1 - Is that Biz Markie?

2 - I've been sick all week.  Sunday night was horrible.  I thought I'd be better by today.

3 - Today my eyes are goopy.  GOOPY!  Like when I woke up my eyelids were crusted together from dry goop.

4 - Today I call the doctor.

5 - I've got a family reunion this weekend - I need to be well.

6 - I'm supposed to make Thomas birthday party invitations with my Crafty Katie tomorrow.

7 - I need to do these things without hacking on Grandma or getting goop on the special craft supplies.

Hope you're better off than me!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

a smooth road trip with a little kid

A few weeks ago Travis, Lydia, Teresa, and I left the boys at Grandma's and drove to Nashville for my friend's profession of final vows with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.  The 7 hour drive was done in a little over 8 hours each way and it was really, really smooth.  

Before we left I did some research into travel tips for toddlers and I'm so glad I did.  We don't have a dvd player in our car and there was absolutely no screen time in the car.  I thought I'd share the ideas that worked for me in case they come in handy for anyone else in the future.

#1 Leave the ornery ones with Grandma.
She fell asleep with her arm propped up like that multiple times.
Okay, this one is partially a joke, but I do want to acknowledge that 4 year old Lydia and 2 month old Teresa are both really happy, easy kids.  Not having super active Bennet and tends-to-whine James made the trip easier.

#2  Activity Binder

Lydia picked out a cheap binder and then, without her seeing, I filled it with the following:
- A map showing our route.  I printed it off Google Maps, cut it down to size, and inserted it in the front of the binder.
- A pencil case that had markers, crayons, and a pen.
- Blank paper for her to draw and write on.
- Stickers
Except for the binder we already had these things in the house, I just had to collect them and package them in the new binder and they were then special.

#3 Scavenger Hunt
Mom's Minivan has a great scavenger hunt you can print for free.  It has a words and pictures so it doesn't matter if your kid can read or not.  I still had to help Lydia with it until she got the hang of it but once she did she would proudly check things off on her own.  I printed off two, one for each way.

#4 Packages to open
This was another tip I found online.  Have a series of gifts to hand out as needed.  The gifts don't need to be new - part of the fun is just opening a present for Pete's sake!  The gifts I used were:

- Pipe cleaners.  This one was suggested on several sites but was a complete dud for Lydia.  I tried to get her to make jewelry and different shapes out of them but she wasn't interested.

- Snack necklace kit.  Around the time of her afternoon snack I gave her a bag with a shoelace, chocolate covered pretzels, fruit loops, and fudge striped cookies (they are shaped like 'O's).  She strung everything together, finished in time for snacks, and munched away happily.  I gave her this gift on the way down and the way home and she loved it both times

- Glow sticks.  This was the best gift of the bunch.  I waited until the sun was setting to give them to her and she had a blast forming them into halos, bracelets, and whatnot.  The glow sticks kept her happy for over an hour - I think the darker it got the neater they were so she didn't tire of them too soon.
Lydia's "loop-dee-loop"

- Some I Spy books.  Lydia already owned them but hadn't looked at them in a long time.  The beauty of the I Spy book is that she just has to match pictures, though I did also read them to her, too.

- A rosary.  This way we prayed the rosary as a family, asking for safe travels.  Lydia even led some of the decades.

These few little tricks made our drive so nice.  Our trip was quick - down on Tuesday and home on Wednesday - but we were able to do it peacefully and happily.  I hope some of these ideas will help someone else!

Sister and Lydia.

two funny things

"Hey, guys, you know what's quicker than waiting for the Cubs to win the Series again? Inventing human flight, improving it for a hundred years or so, and then landing a spaceship on FREAKING MARS."


Saturday, August 4, 2012

When your bff becomes a nun

Danielle and I met at Eureka College.  She was short, beautiful, kind, and a lot of fun to be around.  As our involvement at the Salve Regina Newman Center grew so did our friendship, and by our senior year at EC we were best friends.  My friendship with Danielle was very special to me because she was the first best friend I had who was Catholic like I was Catholic.  Daily Mass, frequent confession, adoration - these things were part of what we did together just like going for ice cream, watching movies, and talking about our futures.  

The Motherhouse

Our junior year Danielle, a cradle Catholic, was confirmed.  Our senior year we visited the Nashville Dominicans several times as she discerned her vocation.  And while most of our classmates applied to grad school or for the job of their dreams, Danielle applied to the convent.  The summer after we graduated we sewed labels on her socks and she gave me her blow dryer, which she would no longer need.  

The altar in the sisters' chapel.

I cried when she left.  I mourned her like she had died.  It was hard to be supportive while feeling so alone.

Top and center in the program

When Danielle, now known as Sr. Marie Noelle,  professed first vows my then-fiance and I went to watch and eat wedding cake.  It was beautiful and I was so happy for her.  And then we waited five more years and finally - finally! - I got the letter that she was to profess final vows with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Sr. Marie Noelle is on the far left.

I spent my 31st birthday, the feast of St. James the Greater, watching my short, beautiful, kind, fun friend prostrate herself on the marble floor of the Cathedral.  I heard her choke up while she vowed to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience for the rest of her life.  And I cried because I am so happy for her and I feel so blessed to have been able to tag along for parts of the journey. 

Professing her vows.

Life is filled with joy.  Our faith is so beautiful.  God is good.

We're both so happily married.

You might also like this piece, Mother Mary, where I talk about my friendship with Sr. Marie Noelle, another nun I'm friends with, and our blessed mother.

Friday, August 3, 2012

7 quick takes

1 - Once again, I thank the Mumford & Sons Pandora station for introducing me to more good music.

2 - I recently found the blog The Recovered Catholic and I've been enjoying it.  Christina is another small town Illinois girl and (I emailed her and asked because I'm noisy) she only lives an hour and a half away from me.  Oh internet, look at you bringing people together.  Sorta.

3 -I've been trying some Pinterest recipes lately.  The chicken fried chicken; lemon scones; and  black bean, avocado, and cucumber salad recipes are all great.  Today I also made the Pioneer Woman's restaurant salsa recipe with tomatoes from my garden and it was fantastic!  You can check out these recipes by checking out my "Food I Gotta Make" board.

4 - This morning my husband let me sleep until 8:35.  This is easily an extra hour and a half, and had Teresa not been hungry I would have slept longer.  The past few nights have been pretty rough around here because of the older two which means I've been becoming over-tired which means my patience has been decreasing. I'm so grateful for the extra sleep.  (And I'd love it if you could say a little prayer for me and my kids.)

5 - Also, I hope you're praying that the Landrys sell their stupid house!  We've all been asking for St. Jude's intercession and since he's the patron of impossible causes we may need his help.  Even if you whisper a "please, God" on their behalf everyone who loves them would really appreciate your prayer.

6 - Have any of you read a book that tells a story similar to James'?  I'd love suggestions of books about miracles, NICU babies, anything similar.  And if you want to give me a mini review of the book, too, that would be great.  Please leave a comment!

7 - Time to clean the kitchen!  God bless!