7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!

My toddler grandson is a book lover. His little book collection is mostly the “first book” card stock books with touch ‘n feel pictures; some look as if they’ve been run over by a truck a few times. The books with real paper pages are torn from the exuberance of “turning the page.” In other words, his books are well-loved and re-read several times daily, exasperating his mother when she tries to get some housework done.

“How many times a day can I read “Green Eggs and Ham?”

she texted me one day.

He’ll read soon, I’m sure. His mama started reading when she was three. So she’s got another year of reading, and longer, if he’ll let her!

When my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade, she was reprimanded in school for ‘reading too much.’ Yes, her father and I were actually called in for a parent-teacher conference because she would hide her books inside schoolbooks to read when the class assignments were complete. The teacher laughingly confessed that she wished her other students read half as much as our daughter did.

This post by Michelle reminds me of my daughter. She always has a book (or two or three) that she’s reading. She’s kept all her books over the years, and is now a new mom trying to decide where to place her 8 bookshelves crammed with books (in alphabetical order). The spare room that used to be the ‘library’ needs to be converted to a bedroom to accommodate a new addition to the family.  Perhaps she’ll de-clutter her collection, (there’s still books stored in boxes, too). I’ll have to ask her for her “Top 7” books.

Enjoy Michelle’s list of “7 Childhood Classics to Re-read… and Why”

7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!.

 

Advertisements

7 Quick Takes — Pondering 2014.

— 1 —

Happy New Year!  I know I’m not alone when I wonder just how happy is 2014 going to be when it begins with sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, the cough from hell, and cough drop breath?  Those of you who are well and healthy, keep on washing those hands. These germs are EVERYWHERE and they WILL find you and attack when you least expect it.  If you find a sale on NyQuil/DayQuil… buy them. And tissues.

— 2 —

FAMILY. Family is my theme for 2014. Call me crazy, but this is the year I put my family before business. God bless our families and all their little quirks! What theme can you plan to focus your attention in 2014?

— 3 —

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because there was a “learning curve” involved?  This year I’m going to scale an elusive learning curve — I’m going to seek advice and help from others in order to accomplish this goal. It’s just a computer program for Jazzercise franchisees, but it has kicked my butt for ten years. I’ve taken the first step and downloaded the program onto my laptop and now I’ve put it in writing… I will take my next baby step on Monday when I call a fellow franchisee to hire her for an hour of training. Now it’s your turn. Face a learning curve you’ve been avoiding. Conquer the curve!

— 4 —

Daily prayer in my life comes in bits and bytes during my typical day.  I have books, apps, Kindle books, alarms, sacramentals, CDs, DVDs–sometimes I use them, but mostly I pray constantly in my head and in my heart. Should I have a TIME and a PLACE each day to pray?

My cousin wrote of her mother (my Methodist aunt) reading her Bible each evening in the kitchen while her children watched TV in the living room when they were young.  Several questions popped into my head in no particular order of importance… “Did she read the Bible with her children at a different time of day?”  “Did they learn to read the Bible by her example?”  “I never had a prayer life that my children could think back and say ‘mom read her Bible each night while we watched TV.'”  My maternal grandmother was Catholic and prayed a Rosary each night in bed before going to sleep. I only know this because I lay down with her one night while visiting one summer–I was maybe 18 years old. She gave me that green plastic rosary and I use it over my other fancier Rosaries to this day. 

Gaga's Rosary

Gaga’s Rosary

 

— 5 —

This is the year I will finish painting the second bathroom. At the very least I hope to screw the light fixtures in place. It’s amazing how a project can languish after hitting a snag.  The snag in this case was the paint. It sort of “weeps and bleeds” when the room gets steamy during a shower. Total bummer. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mixed paint colors from two different types of paint?

Light fixture hanging in BR2

Light fixture hanging in BR2

There is no hope of covering the shoddy workmanship of the original owners when they used unskilled labor to hang the sheetrock and finish the walls. Some things just have to be acknowledged and accepted.  Why the wall texturing stopped four inches short of the edge of the wall is a mystery never to be solved.  Weird paint on top of crappy sheetrock finishing is barely noticeable, believe me.

Why does the texture stop 4" from the edge?

Why does the texture stop 4″ from the edge?

— 6 —

My goal of getting to bed at a decent hour each night has been squashed, and it’s only Day 3 of  2014. Did I really expect to get to bed by 11pm? My goal as I finish my 7QT is 2am. If you find errors in this post, please understand my rush to hit the sheets!

— 7 —

May the Lord bless you with faith, hope, and above all, LOVE, in 2014! 
I am joyful to have a wonderful grandson now and another grandchild in June. 

Grammy, G-man, and Grandfather

Grammy, G-man, and Grandfather

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

A funny thing about prayer

A good prayer doesn’t have strings attached, unless you consider heartstrings. When I pray, I think about the answer I’d LIKE to get, sure, but I wait to accept God’s will in the matter.  I’ve recently realized that God knows what’s in my heart, because I allow my heart to be open. Most of the time I don’t know the words anyway, so an open heart simplifies prayer. Which means that it’s not easy to immediately understand if a prayer has been answered.  Sometimes the answer is clear, other times it takes years of distance and pondering to see God’s wisdom. Like Dory singing “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” I “just keep praying” for my needs, the needs of others, and especially for blessings received. I pray for answered prayers,  whether the answer was “yes,” “no” or “not yet.”

For example, as soon as I got the go-ahead to sponsor a screening of the new epic film, Mary of Nazareth on an outdoor screen at our church, I prayed for good weather. But that was my external prayer, the prayer in my thoughts. The prayer in my heart was different. Passion resides in the heart, not the mind. My heartfelt prayer was that this incredible film would lead people to a closer relationship with Jesus through His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I thought, “How could anyone watch this film and not be moved by Mary’s incredible faith in God? Her trust? Her love?”

In my opinion, actress Alissa Jung’s portrayal of Mary is a gift to mankind. She brought Mary to life in our crazy world where lots of people expect instant gratification and avoid heartache and pain. In this film, we see and feel Mary teaching by example–patience, faith and steadfast love, even through immense suffering. We see what it must have been like for her to ponder the words of Simeon, and realize she shared these thoughts and other events with the Apostles after Christ’s death. 

The morning of the  movie, November 16, dawned weakly, as if the sun didn’t even want to show up. The sky was gray with rain clouds. It rained steadily. Not our usual spate of Florida showers followed by hot sun to dry everything out. The entire day was dreary and wet. While my husband and I enjoyed a late breakfast in Titusville, I was speculating that others would expect the movie to be cancelled due to rain. I knew this from recent experience.

Smart phones are pretty convenient. I googled a patron saint for good weather while finishing breakfast, and the saint is… St. Clare. As we’re walking out of Waffle House, out loud I beseeched St. Clare, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and God to open a patch of blue sky to encourage others. Perhaps to encourage myself, as well. As we were driving home five minutes later, not one, but two patches of blue sky opened in the gray gloom above us. It was great and I thanked St. Clare, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and God in the car as we headed home. (I’m new at blogging, otherwise I would’ve snapped a quick picture of those patches of blue sky to post here.)

In retrospect, the prayers I prayed for good weather for November 16 weren’t what I thought I was praying for, because my open heart’s prayer wasn’t about weather. My heart’s prayer was for people to draw nearer to Jesus Christ through the faithful and loving example of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The night of the movie, it was still raining. (With a sponsored screening, the DVD has to be returned within 2 days to avoid hefty late fees; we had no rain date plans.) “The show must go on” was my goal, so a solution was found. About 100 people in lawn chairs crowded together under a covered breezeway at 7pm on November 16. Everyone was closer to their neighbor than they would normally sit. As event coordinator, I thought about everyone’s personal safety in the event of an emergency, but my heart and mind were reassured that all would be well. We prayed a “Hail Mary” and began watching Mary of Nazareth, enjoying the grand adventure of close quarters for 2 1/2 hours (with a unanimous vote for a 15-minute intermission).  

Special memories were made that night, and the true feeling of love for our neighbor must’ve pleased Jesus and Mary as we moved our chairs close to our brothers and sisters in Christ on that wet evening. I feel that my heart’s prayers were answered in a way that requires pondering for years to come. The influence of this great movie and the unusual viewing situation was unique. 

One more point… the location of the outdoor screen was placed in front of our parish’s Marian shrine, opposite the covered breezeway where we sat en masse. Mary’s presence behind the screen had an impact I can’t fathom yet. It’s still in the “pondering stage” for me, and perhaps others present that evening!

7 Quick Takes: How I became an “instigator” and brought Mary of Nazareth to Mims, Florida

— 1 —

Confessions Audiobook

Confessions Audiobook

My name is Monica. My patron saint is St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. In the summer of 2012, I decided (for the 3rd time) to read Confessions, by Augustine of Hippo. Because reading the book had been a dismal failure twice before, I turned to Audible.com and chose the Confessions audiobook as my FREE book for signing up. I highly recommend this version narrated by Richard Ferrone. His voice will forever be the voice of St Augustine to me! 

— 2 —

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine

I volunteer in the office of my local Catholic church as editor of the bulletin, website, Facebook and Twitter. I receive and review information about a variety of things and sometimes nuggets of gold are discovered. When I was still basking in the after-effects of listening to Confessions, I came across the movie trailer for Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.

Non-Christians would say it was fate, but I know it to be the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. (I’ve got some experience with Him, but that’s several posts for the future.) Because I had loaned my Audible account link for Confessions to my pastor, he too was excited to explore the opportunity to see the film. So last year I spearheaded a sponsored screening of Restless Heart, the first full-length epic motion picture about a great saint and doctor of the Church, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. With help from friends, we secured donations to cover the site license and equipment rental ($1,350) to show it on parish grounds. Admission was only $5 because our pastor didn’t want price to keep people from coming to see the movie. He’s great that way!

Restless Heart came to our little town of Mims, Florida, for a glorious night on a 16’x20′ outdoor screen in November of 2012.  Over 150 people sat on blankets and chairs on a grassy slope in the cool night air. Everyone loved it!

— 3 —

Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth

This summer I received an announcement of a new movie to be released for sponsored screenings on October 1, 2013. The movie is “Mary of Nazareth.”

MARY OF NAZARETH is an epic new motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus.

I watched the movie trailer several times. Each time, my eyes watered and I could feel my heart swell with joy. Once again, it was the stirring of the Holy Spirit in my heart. It was lovely, just lovely, and I knew I had to bring this movie to our little town of Mims, Florida.

— 4 —

Mary by the sea

Mary by the sea

At every opportunity, I played the Mary of Nazareth trailer for co-workers, friends, family. My pastor. My screensaver features wallpaper from the movie. Everyone expressed a delight in the promise of this movie, but it was months from a release date, and no screenings were expected in our area, much less the state of Florida. Money is tight, and the site license for this movie is $200 more than the license for Restless Heart. I needed to raise $1,150, so I wrote letters and called people asking for donations. I continue to show the movie trailer to anyone who hangs around my desk for more than a minute. Mission accomplished–$1,150 was raised in two weeks! Ticket prices started at $10, but the pastor lowered them to $6 so people can afford to come see the movie.  

— 5 —

MON.Mary_.Jesus_-150x150Ignatius Press has been unlocking 1-minute film clips each week, and so I devour these nuggets in anticipation of watching the 155-minute film. That’s right. Two hours and 35 minutes. My favorite clip is “Tunic” — I feel the power of the future event in each viewing.

— 6 —

MON.pieta_-150x150Alissa Jung (pronounced Young) portrays Mary, and she’s incredible. And she’s German. But if you’ve read this far, you’re obviously interested, so I recommend you listen/watch the interview with Alissa Jung by Anthony Ryan, Marketing Director at Ignatius Press. It takes about 20 seconds to begin–be patient. The actress is delightful! If you have time, Alissa recorded another interview for Discerning Hearts blog. The woman interviewing her isn’t identified, but I like her interview better than the one with Anthony Ryan.

— 7 —

MON.mary_.temple-150x150Endorsements.  You must read the endorsements and watch the clip from the audience at the first screening in San Francisco. The last person’s comment brought tears to my eyes. The scene of Mary making bread and giving it to the children and to the Apostles, as she gave us the True Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

“In light of the reality that the Virgin Mary is God’s created masterpiece and the pinnacle of the feminine mystery, there is no harder person to portray in a movie than her and, yet, Mary of Nazareth offers the best presentation of Our Lady I have ever seen. Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece!  It will make you want to love her more than ever. Mary’s beauty is pure and ageless, her feminine mystery filled with wonder and virtue, and her divine motherhood is both tender and captivating.  Without a doubt, this is the most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film!”

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
 | Author, NO TURNING BACK: A Witness to Mercy

Movies like Restless Heart and Mary of Nazareth are not released to theaters. They’re not available to purchase on DVD through outlets like Amazon.com. These incredible movies are only available for sponsored screenings. The preferred venue is in a theater with the capability of playing Blu-ray or IMAX. We need to support Christian films of this caliber.

Are you the person to come forward and decide to make it happen in YOUR community? I’m nobody special. I don’t have connections or special skills. What I do have is faith in the Lord and a willingness to help people know Him better. A desire to share the love of Jesus Christ with all people who are ready to listen.  Volunteer to raise money, find a venue, market the film, (posters and tickets are provided with the site license) and sell tickets. Contact Ignatius Press for more information, the same as I did several months ago. YOU can bring Mary of Nazareth to your community in 2014!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Shutdown

— 1 —

A household shutdown is imminent.

I’m not able to focus to get any tasks complete. I need a break from this mess that I mostly created by myself. I am a slob!

— 2 —

What would my family’s reaction be to a shutdown?

Hello? Anyone home?  Oh. He’s in his “man-cave” doing serious stuff on his computer–“World of Warcraft”  No reaction. Hmm.

— 3 —

WHICH services would be denied during the shutdown?

Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. Shopping. Vacuuming. Cleaning the toilet. Yard work. Making the bed. Washing windows. Scooping the kitty litter. Washing the car. Non-essential crap.

— 4 —

How long will the shutdown last?

Aim for Christmas.  More crap will be received then, and will need to have a space all its’ own.

— 5 —

Who will resume services when the shutdown ends?

Crap.  Me.  After 2 seconds of serious thought, a shutdown is not  sounding like a good plan.

— 6 —

Is mooching at Mom’s house allowable during the shutdown?

Of course. Mom loves me no matter what. More than that though. She wouldn’t want my hubby to be scarred by this experience. He will  eat like a king!

— 7 —

What lesson will I learn from a shutdown experience?

A shutdown is like a tree falling in the forest.  No one hears it; no one cares. The tree rots. Bugs are happy.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Grandparents Day 2013

— 1 —

Giro Infant Safety Helmet saves the day!

Giro Infant Safety Helmet saves the day!


Grandparents Day started great but ended up 50 miles away at a pediatric trauma center. Our 11-month-old grandson is fine, but the grandparents are still a bit shaky about riding a bike with him (after the bikes are repaired and a new bike safety helmet can be ordered for him). Summary of the bike accident HERE.

— 2 —

It’s been a while since I regularly strolled the aisles of the toy departments of local stores. A visit earlier this week freaked me out when I was minding my own business and a stupid Furby toy started TALKING to me as I walked past. I thought those things were GONE for good. After reading Jennifer’s post on 7QT, I would recommend putting the Furby in the trash and gently explaining to her daughter that the little guy left on a pilgrimage…. It would be an act of kindness any priest would absolve.

— 3 —

I am feeling relieved and a bit proud of my accomplishments this month, as they involved three very different learning curves. (Getting our church’s new website organized with menus, content, links, widgets, setting up and organizing our parish’s new Flocknote network for text/email communication with parishioners, and setting up the new email system for the parish staff.)

Of course the rest of my life was put on “hold” until I had time to cook dinner, wash clothes, sleep, (but I don’t do that much anyway), and clean my house. I did maintain the litter box… anyone who’s got cats knows you don’t let the litter box mess pile up, or they find somewhere else to pee and poop in your home!

House Cat #2

House Cat #2


If my daughter reads this post this week, clean out your litter box. I’m sure it needs it. Learn from my mistakes.

— 4 —

New baby in the house

New baby in the house


Parenting styles are not lost on children. I recently showed this picture to my adult daughter of herself when she was about two years old. We had recently brought her newborn brother home from the hospital and no one was getting much sleep in the house. She fell asleep at the table while eating lunch.

She had the exact same thoughts as I did when I found the photo… “Dad made my lunch… because he served it to me on a paper towel.” That’s right daughter! Mommy always served (and still serves) lunch on a plate, whether it’s plastic, paper, or china.

We’ve been married 36 years, and he STILL will make and eat a sandwich lunch on a paper towel. I still complain about the cost of paper napkins.

— 5 —

Chile Verde Pork Tostada

Chile Verde Pork Tostada

.

I assume that most folks have a favorite menu item that they order EVERY SINGLE TIME they go to their favorite restaurant. Am I right? The Chile Verde Pork Tostada is only available on the lunch menu. I no longer have a desire to go to dinner there because this lunch item isn’t available on the dinner menu. That’s nuts, isn’t it? Do you ever order something that’s not on a menu? Do you get it?

— 6 —

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountains


My brother is in the midst of a monsoon currently drenching parts of New Mexico. I pray for his and others’ safety as they brave the storm. On the positive side, the creek he uses for water shouldn’t run dry this winter/spring like it did earlier this year!

— 7 —

My sister recommended a movie for me to watch soon… Fargo. If you’ve seen it, what did you think? It’s rated “L” (limited adult audiences by the Catholic News Service. I don’t have a problem with dark humor. (I recently discovered I love to watch “Breaking Bad.”)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Bike Safety Pays Off

G-man sports the Giro infant bicycle safety helmet

G-man sports the Giro infant bicycle safety helmet


A bicycle helmet is one of the best things in life you should focus on for anyone in your family who rides on a bike. Even if it’s just a bike ride down the street.

A fluke accident happened in the blink of an eye this afternoon while on a bike ride with our 11-month old grandson, (who still looks like his photo from last month)….

Long story short: Babysitting, 3-mile bike ride with infant, narrow sidewalk, tree, riderless bike, bike & infant fall, broken helmet, broken bikes, hot day, prayers to Jesus and Mary, 9-1-1, call G-man’s parents, Life Flight helicopter, pediatric trauma center 50 miles away, Divine Mercy Chaplet, x-rays, CT-scan, pediatric cervical collar around the neck, pediatric blood pressure cuff on the left arm, IV and IV board on the right arm, and oh by the way, no water or formula for three hours in the pediatric ER. Another 3 hours ’til the attending physician released infant with ‘all clear’ after observation. The only thing that kept this child calm was two full-length viewings of Pixar’s “CARS” movie on an iPad. Grandparents sustained minor injuries; parents lost 5 years off their original lifespan. Baby sleeping comfortably. Rosary.

One-Year Birthday plans may proceed, thank God, and all the angels and saints, too. If he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I don’t even want to think about the head injury that could have resulted. Thank God the bike and baby fell in sand. Not the sidewalk, not the road (which was within 3 feet).

So, make sure you and your child wear a bike safety helmet when on your bikes.

Here’s how we established bike helmet safety: When we first got the bike helmet, G-man fought to get the strange contraption off his head. He wriggled. He cried. He pulled. We did not give in to his complaints. We led by example. Grandfather would put his bike helmet on saying “Hats on!” with a smile. Grammy would put her bike helmet on saying “Hats on!” with a smile. And finally we would both put his helmet on saying “Hats on!” with a smile. When we got to our destination, his would come off first with a big “Hats off!” and a smile. Right on down the line. He learned to accept the bike helmet as a matter of course after that!

In the event his parents allow him to get on a bike again (after repairs), we’ll need to invest in a new helmet. Not sure when this will be. This accident happened so fast, I can’t even remember seeing it happen, and it happened right in front of me! One second they were THERE, the next second they were DOWN. I didn’t even have time to apply my brakes. I hit the brick wall and dropped my feet from the pedals. The sprocket from the chain dug into the back of my ankle, but I don’t feel anything wrong yet.

Don’t worry about “bike helmet hair.” If it bothers you that much, find a different sport that doesn’t require head safety.

What’s Your Favorite Color? … and why?

The yellow daffodil is sunny and vibrant and fresh!

The yellow daffodil is sunny and vibrant and fresh!


Why do we like what we like? Is it because “it” makes us feel good now, or it made us feel good somewhere back in time? One of my least favorite questions to answer was “What’s your favorite color?” There are so many beautiful colors in this world, how could I choose just one?

But I can, and I have. I do have a favorite, and that color is yellow. The reason goes back to a 6th grade Mother/Daughter Dinner at Oak Park Elementary School, more than 45 years ago. It was near the end of the school year, just before entering junior high school. The elementary school sponsored a “Mother/Daughter Dinner” in the school cafeteria, and my mom took me. Just me. No siblings or fathers were allowed (I had 3 brothers and 3 sisters), so I guess my dad was home “holding down the fort” while puttering in the garage. Dads back then did not “babysit.” (For the record, I have NO IDEA if the 6th grade boys had a father/son dinner… I can only assume they did.)

At the school, my Mom sat beside me at one of the long cafeteria tables filled with mothers and daughters, coaching me how to eat the baked chicken on my plate. This was my first experience eating chicken with a fork and a knife–using good table manners–instead of eating the chicken leg with my fingers as we did at home.

At some point in the evening, I won an award for a short story I’d written during the school year–something about a record player. This night became memorable in that it was the first time in my life a non-relative gave me a personal compliment in front of my mother. A woman unrelated to me told me I looked pretty in yellow, and that I had a beautiful complexion. Me! I was wearing a YELLOW outfit, and I was pretty in it. Amazing!

I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember WHO complimented me. Whoever she was, she told me I looked pretty in yellow, and that I had a beautiful complexion. This was earth-shaking! I remember blushing to the roots of my hair and scrambling to say “thank you!” The outfit was a pretty two-piece v-neck blouse and skirt in a yellow and white plaid, with a squared-off sailor collar. I probably argued with my mom about wearing it that night… I usually complained that fabrics were “scratchy” on my skin, which she ignored or told me I was imagining it.

I don’t believe I ever had a chance to have my photo taken in that yellow outfit, but my younger sister wore it the following year for her school picture, so I see it every few years in an album–that’s how it is with big families. I’m sure my youngest sister even got to wear it a time or two!

So yeah, my favorite color is lemon yellow. The memory of it makes me feel pretty and appreciated and young, even now, so many decades later. I can’t wear most yellows (they make my skin look sallow) but the best yellow colors are found naturally in flowers, of which the most beautiful to me is the yellow daffodil.