Monday, November 28, 2011


Suffering stinks.

I want to use other words, but am refraining from doing so.

My husband who turns 37 today encouraged me to write this.

Poor guy, on his birthday, we are eating lunch together and the heaviness on my heart is spilling all over the table into the awful tasting Thai food we ordered.  Seriously, I have never tasted such bad food.  And we LOVE Thai food.  It stunk.  Again, more words here that I am leaving out.

Anyway, I heard the news this morning of the unexpected death of a Trinity student (that's the fourth in about three years).  He belongs to a large family and I know his mom, the sweetest person.

I'm in the car just crying and feeling so sad for his family. For us, the Trinity family.

Deeper though, I am mourning the awful reality of another kind of suffering in another situation. Pain brought on by human choice, not by some accident or natural consequence.  It hurts too.

The contrast is...well, I don't know how to describe it yet, but the contrast is there. And, it is hard to be a part of.

Recently, I have been working with our daughter preparing her for the Sacrament of First Reconciliation. One evening, I was helping lead a group of 4th graders in an activity for them to better understand the reality of their bad choices and its effects on their relationships.  The African tale "The Festival Fabric" shows how our decisions to sin really actually affect those around us.  Our lives are interwoven, not just connected.  It's not some nebulous, cosmic or spiritual thing out there we sometimes refer to as the "Body of Christ"...its actual real human relationships that are broken down and in some cases totally destroyed when we choose to sin.  It just happens.  Whether we know it or not, like it or not, acknowledge it or not. It just does.  The tale itself is kinder in its approach to relay that message. I'm just tired of skirting around the issue or the language.  We can handle it.  There is real pain and suffering when one person chooses a horribly wrong behavior.

There is real healing that I trust will be a part of the days, weeks, and years ahead for this grieving family who lost their son last night.  The body of Christ in the form of other family members, students, faculty, friends, co-workers, the members of Nativity parish....all will support and strengthen this family who suffers much.  It is just what we do. 

There is tragedy too though when in such an unnatural way, brokenness and pain come into our lives due to the hurt caused by a person. 

I intuitively know there can be healing there too.  But have yet to see it in real form.  I think its the wait that leads to more hurt and pain.  But that's what real patience is, I'm told.  Walking alongside someone and helping bear their burdens.  Brought on by themselves or not.  Ick.  (Really refraining here.)

Life is hard.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Sweet Turkey

I was sent this photo yesterday - another version of the "sweet turkey".

Lots of high fructose corn syrup holding this baby worries, its cute factor supersedes all that.  Creativity points to the Root and Philbrick families!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Turkey

My mom posted this on our family facebook page since I am the only sibling in town this year.  It is a tradition to make them for our family Thanksgiving dinner. This year will be a smaller table, but all the more sweets for us!

"You need caramels, hershey kisses, candy corn and chocolate striped cookie. Assembly: microwave the caramels until somewhat soft (this is the trickiest part). Push the caramel on to the top of the hershey kiss. (this forms the feet of the turkey) Attach the cookie to the back of the caramel. Push the candy corn into the front of the caramel to form the turkey's nose. As you can see, the caramel has a lot to do. Happy Thanksgiving to you."

I'm thankful for a creative mom!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Reading List

Several weeks ago my mother in law, "Nana" as she is affectionately called, asked me for recommendations of books to fill her shelves so that when her grand kids come over, they have a good supply of books to read.  I mentioned a couple titles then and suggested looking at Half Price Books where we find great deals on classic chapter books.

Well, I thought about it some more and finally compiled a more complete list.  These are the books and series my kids enjoyed the first time through and ones they keep going back to for fun.  These titles have inspired their imaginative play, furthered their interest in history and contributed to their pure enjoyment of reading.  As a family, we have also borrowed some of these titles on CD from the library and listened together in the car.

I would recommend these titles for kids, some more suited for girls, ages five and older. And, our general rule of thumb is to read the book before watching the movie based on the book. The books are always more satisfying anyway.

Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.  We also have enjoyed listening to an adaptation of the entire series presented by Focus on the Family's Radio Theater.  It's a rare chance to hear narrator Paul Scofield and other talented actors.  Find it here.

Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace (currently being devoured by my six year old, lots to teach about friendship and family life). Find out more about the author and series here.

Little House On the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My girls and I spent a Fall weekend away this year taking a break from city life. We had a wonderful time touring the gorgeous hills and valleys of Southern Minnesota. We were blessed with the adventure to climb a steep bluff (in about 20 minutes flat) and overlook Lake Pepin, one of Laura's homes.  Our favorite chapter to read aloud from the entire series is the Christmas one from Farmer Boy.

Sarah Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan. These are two of my all time favorite read alouds - it can be done in one sitting and I think is just so beautifully written.  There are three more books in the series.

Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. We visited Boston years ago and saw two swans at Boston gardens and about wept with joy - the book coming to life before our eyes.

All Of A Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. This is one I stumbled upon as a kid. I introduced it to my girls who just love it. It chronicles the daily life of a large Jewish family in New York who learn how to work, get along, become more independent, bless each other, share good values, etc. - all good things.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Enter his website here if you dare.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Mysteries and adventures abound.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson and The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. My eldest loves to discover more about this amazing woman and she loves any book that expounds upon her life. She has been inspired to act out with her good friend Bella one of the most touching scenes in the book at the well, when Helen shows Annie her teacher that she "knows" what language is. 

Adapted Illustrated Classics such as Little Women and Heidi  ( I always tell my kids, "Some day you should read the original."). These though have a picture on each page and help to keep the interest of my youngest.  I purchased a few of these at $2/each several years ago.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (currently being devoured by my 10 and 11 year olds).

American Girl books. These have inspired a love of history, especially the 1940's and creative writing, at least in my house. Molly and Kit are the favorites.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson- Another favorite read aloud and can be read cover to cover in one long sitting. We laugh out loud every time we read about the six dysfunctional Herdman children and their takeover of the annual church pageant.  It is truly one of the highlights of our season to read this one and it actually does bring to light the real meaning of Christmas - the little babe born that day can bring about the most amazing transformations in one's life.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Other titles on our "To Read Someday" list, or ones that have been recently recommended by friends.

Ranger's Apprentice - Find out more about the series here.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - A feisty redhead and Prince Edward Island, Canada, a good combination!
Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. His site is here.