Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Saturday, February 23, 2013


My fondest memories of my mom include her cooking and sewing. When I was a child, it seemed like she was at her sewing machine every day. She taught me how to sew baby doll clothes. It seemed like all moms sewed back then. Lisa, Amy, and Shannon were my neighbors and their moms sewed. I'm sad to say I didn't really pay attention to those sewing lessons and I lost everything I ever learned.

I think my mom would be proud of me now. A few years ago we were visiting my friend, Rochelle, and she started showing me all her albums from 4-H. I had no idea what 4-H was. She said she was involved from 3rd through 12th grade and she still uses just about everything she ever learned from 4-H. I thought that would be great for Lauren so when we got home from Rochelle's I started searching for a local 4-H group. I found many websites, but was so disappointed not to see anything about sewing. I assumed it just didn't exist anymore. I gave up.

Last summer I ran into another friend who mentioned 4-H and she said there IS still a sewing group. The good news is kids can't start 4-H until 3rd grade so Lauren didn't miss a thing! We went to our first meeting in August and I was surprised to find that about 30% of the families go to our church. Here are some pictures of Lauren's first project:

I have to say I think I had as much fun as she did. We started planning on making some towels for Christmas gifts:

Then I was inspired by some dance bags I saw at the dance studio so I made the girls these:
And then I got the bright idea on Pintrest to make some clothes for Lauren's new American Girl doll:

Next, I made a sleeping bag for the doll, but I don't think I took a picture yet. I have tons of patterns printed from Pintrest and hope to sit down and make more help Lauren make them soon.

On a side note, I remember when I met Stephen's parents for the first time and I noticed that his mom, who was born and raised in the San Antonio area, had the exact same sewing machine and cabinet that my mom had! I never realized how odd the chances were until I tried to find their sewing machine and cabinet on the internet. I have searched thousands of pictures and finally found the cabinet, it sure brings back memories for me:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day during Lent?

I was chatting with a dear friend last night about Valentine's Day. She mentioned taking down her decorations and it made me think: Is it sinful to experience love and joy on Valentine's Day since it is the 2nd day of Lent? Is it? Some of you may be nodding yes right now, but I gave it alot of thought. The first thing that came to mind was the story my mom told me of how she never got to celebrate her birthday when it fell during Lent. Can you imagine not celebrating your child's life? It is something the kids look forward to for months! Guess what? So is Valentine's Day. As a child, there were stars in my eyes as I looked at the different boxes of Valentine's cards at Mott's. I got excited about giving my teachers a special treat. I couldn't wait to get home and neatly write each of my classmates' names on the envelopes. I'd start thinking about the party we would have at school. All to celebrate love! I still remember some of the Valentine's Day crafts we made....even in Kindergarten! Those memories bring warmth and love to my heart even to this day.

Now that I am a mom, I want my kids to feel that same joy. The joy of GIVING something to others. Is it a far stretch to say that this is the same giving in almsgiving? The children are not just focused on what they will receive, but when they are, it is totally appropriate, they are kids! Which brings me to my next thought:

The church says, "No meat can be eaten on Ash Wednesday and all of the Fridays during Lent. This applies to all Catholics 14 and older," and "Only one full meal is permitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for Catholics between 18 and 59. Two smaller meals are permitted, but the small meals should not equal a second full meal. Drinking coffee, tea and water between meals is allowed. Snacks between meals are not allowed."

You can decide for your own family at what age you think children should 'fully participate.' I do not want my kids to look at Lent as something that squashed out Valentine's Day or birthday parties. They are too young to process what we process.

As a child who was raised by a Catholic mother and Baha'i father, Lent only meant getting a little cardboard money box for the table, giving something up, and no meat on Fridays. As an adult, my knowledge of Catholic traditions has grown by leaps and bounds. I now know and follow the church's teachings. We will squeeze in extra prayer, extra rosaries, extra adoration, and hopefully daily mass. We will give to the poor. We will attend Stations of the Cross as well as go over them at home. We will make sacrifices. We will fast. We will go to Mass. We will make Lent "intentional" (as described by my friend, Lauren, here in her article posted by Austin Catholic New Media).

My children are already way ahead of where I was as a child. Lent is 40 days plus 7 Sundays. I do not think that celebrating Saint Valentine's Day just one of those days will teach my kids that Lent is not a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are models, they see what we do and when they are adults, they will follow in our footsteps.

God bless you and your family this Lent.

UPDATED: This was just in my email. It was posted on Holy Heroes:
A priest friend sent us an email about Lenten penitential practices. He said it so well, I thought I should give it to you all to read.
"The Lenten penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are not intended as a covert season of self-improvement, or worse, a time of self-bashing because we are sinners (even though we are), but are instead intended to help create an ever-larger space within our hearts to love. The practices are focused on dying to self so that we are expanded in our capacity to love. We seek deeper conversion and deeper love. By denying ourselves some good, we die to ourselves a little, so that we can grow more in love of God and neighbor. We die to self to grow in love."

Thursday, February 7, 2013


For about the last 20 months I've had horrible insomnia. I can fall asleep just fine, I just don't stay asleep. I wake up and crazy thoughts start racing through my mind. Thoughts of what I have to do the next day and the next. Things like: I need to get the chicken out to thaw and make sure Lauren put her homework back in her folder. Thoughts of errands that needed to be run, things to add to my grocery list, and and upcoming meetings would spin around in my head over and over. Part of that 20 months I was pregnant. Pregnant women are supposed to be exhausted, right? I thought I was waking up because I had to go to the bathroom so much. A dear friend suggested that I try Tylenol PM. It is safe during pregnancy and had helped her sleep during her pregnancies. So I tried it. That was a year ago. It may have helped me stay asleep a little longer, but I still woke up only to find I couldn't go back to sleep. About a month later I lost the baby. As all women do after a miscarriage, I tried to find a reason. I tried to blame myself for taking the Tylenol PM, even after a physician friend told me that wasn't the reason. We women are so hard on ourselves. A few weeks after that, a neighbor's dog started waking me up around 3:45 every morning. FOR A WHOLE MONTH. I think I know every Brazos County dispatcher's name now because I called every single night and sometimes twice a night. But that's another post.

So let me tell you I have tried EV-RY-THING! Zquil, Benadryl, Nyquil, Melatonin. We've flipped the mattress, we've bought new pillows. I slept with earplugs. I sprayed lavender spray in my pillow and darn near suffocated myself trying to inhale very deeply.

During the hundreds of hours that I would lie awake, I tried praying. I prayed for everybody and everything. I prayed thousands of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. I sang songs from church. NOTHING worked. I would stay in bed in hopes that sleep would eventually come. Dr. Oz had a show about insomnia in which his guest doctor and sleep expert said Melatonin really isn't recommended. Many people take it incorrectly and if you take too much, you can have awful nightmares. He said tart cherry juice has melatonin in it and it is good right before bed. I bought some and didn't notice a difference. I thought about how tryptophan makes everyone sleepy on Thanksgiving so I researched that. It isn't really the tryptophan that helps sleep, but the overeating itself. Bummer!

After Christmas we went to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. The first night we stayed in a hotel. Yeah, hotel beds aren't always the most comfortable. I slept 6 hours straight. Do you hear the choir of angels singing? I sure did. I was a whole new woman. The next 2 nights we slept at my aunt's house. I woke up a few times, but went right back to sleep. I'm not saying it was like the good ol' days of almost 8 hours of sleep, but it was huge progress! The 4th night we stayed with friends and slept on their hide-a-bed. Not the most comfortable, but not something to complain about. Again, I slept for long periods of time and when I did get up to go to the bathroom, I was able to get back to sleep.

I was so excited about an end to my insomnia. Then we went home.... and it came back. My patience meter no longer reset itself each night and every little bit of bickering or tattling put me over the edge. I was close to the point where I could understand how Marie Osmond walked away from her family. Stephen sensed my stress and sent me to adoration while he put the kids to bed. I was there 2 hours and it seemed like I could have stayed another 2 hours.

I posted about my insomnia on Facebook and my beloved high school youth minister said maybe a trip to a therapist would help. I tried not to be offended. I am a happy housewife. All I've ever wanted is to stay home and care for my family. How could I need a therapist? At the exact same time I was instant messaging with him, my friend Suzanne, mother of 5, made it very clear: although we are very happy in our vocation as mothers, being away from home meant I didn't have to worry about getting the kids ready for school. OR laundry. Or cooking. Or shuttling the kids to dance, etc... Being with family and friends meant I had help and other people the kids could play with and talk to and it wasn't all about Mommy so I could really, trully relax. Yep, makes perfect sense. My brain just wasn't shutting all the way down. So I looked ahead at an upcoming retreat with hope for another weekend of sleep. I put a fan on my side of the bed and when I woke up at 4, I started humming with the fan. Strange, I know. On our retreat we actually stayed up late and got up earlier than I do at home so I don't think that altered my insomnia at all.

When I returned home, it started getting worse. Monday and Tuesday mornings the exhaustion triggered my emotion hormones again and as Stephen was leaving for work, I started crying. During our Women's Endow Study on Suffering meeting on Tuesday, I held back the tears the best that I could, constantly dabbing my eyes with a napkin. Afterwards a friend, Carrie, asked me if I was okay and when I told her about my insomnia, she told me she has it, too, but not every day. She suggested having a little bit of wine and then some Benadryl. So I did and I slept 5 1/2 hours straight. I still woke up early, but just having 5 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep made a huge difference and gave me hope. Another friend, Heidi, emailed to see if I was okay. When I told her about my lack of sleep, she shared her blog post from 3 years ago about her insomnia. Finally I have found some friends who 'get it'. She said that prolonged lack of sleep is due to continued release of adrenaline, which protects your body in its vulnerable state. Makes perfect sense.

Yesterday was my birthday. The day started off with a few friends coming over for our monthly Mom's Prayer Group. It was a nice break from the same ol' same ol'. Last night Stephen and I splurged and ordered Sangia Swirls for dinner. Stephen and the kids got me lavender body wash, bubble bath, and pillow spray. When we got home, I had a long bath and took 2 Benadryl. I know, I know, never mix alcohol with medicine. I'm desperate here! After my bath my best friend called and then I went to bed. It was a good change up from my normal bedtime routine. No TV and no computer. I slept from 11:30 until Stephen's alarm woke us both up at 5. I figured I'd end up lying awake until we normally get up at 6:30, but I was wrong. I went back to sleep!!!! Ahhhh! Chime in the harps and trumpets here! It was such a breakthrough. I pray that I get the same amount of sleep tonight.