Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Confession

I have a confession.....I really don't like Confession. 

As I was driving today my thoughts went to our church mission.  (Many Catholic churches have what they call missions during Lent.  The mission usually involves a visiting priest who gives inspiring, thought provoking and spirit renewing talks on several nights during one week in Lent).  I went on Monday night and really enjoyed the talk.  I was thinking about going again tonight and then I remembered something being mentioned on Monday about a Penance service in addition to the talk on Wed. night.  My immediate reaction was...."hmmm, maybe I won't go".  Instead of thinking ....."great, what a good opportunity to cleanse my battered soul", I thought, "run the opposite direction!"  This has been my reaction to Penance, Reconciliation, it what you like, since about the 2nd or 3rd grade.  See?  I told you it was my confession.

I went to a Catholic grammar school and we were required to go to Confession every Friday ( maybe it was once a month but it seemed like EVERY Friday to me).  For some reason I could never remember the words you were supposed to say as an introduction or the prayers you were supposed to say.  I remember distinctly going into the haunting confessional box and stuttering and fumbling with the words and being told by the grouchy old priest to go back out and not come back in until I knew the words.  Well.....that was it, I was permanently traumatized.  This is aside from the fact that every Friday I had to come up with my list of sins and they sounded like a broken record to me; I lied, I disobeyed my parents, I was mean to my brother and sisters.....nothing too serious, after all, I was 7! 

As an adult, I know I should get over this.  I've talked to priests about my fear and trepidation over Confession.  One particularly kind priest friend heard my story and told me he would be happy to hear my Confession as we walked outside at a school retreat (I was an adult chaperone) and it didn't matter if I knew the right words or the right prayers, that he would say it all with me and it would be just fine.  What a kind man!  That should have cured me! 

I still find myself with what I consider a trite list of sins which makes me think I am in need of some serious self examination.  Believe me, it is not that I am so virtuous, probably the opposite.  I was thinking about this post and did a little research.  This site is eye opening and worth thinking about, I especially find the chart with the virtues and vices interesting, and the descriptions of the seven deadly sins is good self examination material.  It also makes me think if I do go to Confession tonight that I might be in there for a LONG time!  I need to change my focus and look at this as an opportunity to lighten the load and take it as the gift it is meant to be, instead of the torture I have made it to be all these years.  Maybe this post is just one small step towards that end.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lost Paragraph

As I reread my latest blog post last night I noticed that my favorite paragraph was gone!  I'm sure when I posted it that the paragraph was in there but last night it had disappeared.  I started wondering if the subject of the paragraph had snuck into my blog and deleted the paragraph.  I tried to recreate the paragraph but my attempt came up short.  I included it anyway but am not pleased with the writing. 
The lost paragraph was a rare combination of wit, vocabulary, and subject matter that comes along once in a while when I write.  I was so disappointed when I tried to rewrite.  The moment was gone and the brain just wasn't in the same place.  Sad for all of you who are going to miss out on some "good stuff" (in my humble opinion).  You might be able to read the last post and figure out which paragraph is the new but not improved paragraph.  The lost one had phrases like "caffeine induced exuberance" and told the story so much better but alas I can't recreate so I included an attempt, a second rate paragraph that only halfway describes the morning madness of the last post. 
If I find the culprit who deleted that most excellent bit of writing I will wrestle him/her to the ground and demand that it be given back.  Honestly though, I must have inadvertently erased it when I attached the photo....that is what I get for writing late at night.  Wit and mistakes. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Break Part 2 and Morning Madness

Rocky Mountain High
Part 2 of Spring Break has been spent in Park City, Utah.  Our last taste of cool weather for a while and I am enjoying every minute of it!  The first part of the week we had an interesting cast of characters.  One of my sisters, one of my friends and one of my cousins were all here. When you put 4 people together who have never traveled together you take a gamble, things could work out well or they could go horribly wrong.  We must all be living right because it went better than we imagined!   We each had a ski buddy and the laughs never stopped. 

We each had our role, my sister was the chef and made sure we ate well and had great happy hour refreshments every afternoon.  A key ingredient to a successful day of skiing!  We would all ski and then limp our way home and head directly to the hot tub for a little therapy.  We made lot friends in the tub... we are a chatty bunch and people like us, that was my friend and my cousin's job, make friends.  They also provided much comic relief and did the dishes.  I'll refer to them as Tort and Retort.  Their 5 days were spent playing off of each other and one upping each other, we did pass the buck every once in a while and picked on a different person from time to time just to make it fair but most of the time the comments were aimed at my friend or my cousin.  They threw them back at us most of the time too.

TJ arrived on day 3 of the trip.  We were all doing our usual "not that early in the morning" routine for a few days and then things changed.  Loud Morning Man was in the building.  On his first day TJ tried his best to sleep in but was wide awake at 6:30 a.m., thankfully he decided to go out and find other early risers to have a cup of coffee with and read the newspaper.  When he came back an hour later we were all just beginning to stir.  Since he was already 2 cups of coffee ahead of us he started to make breakfast.  He was talking on his cell phone, in his cell yell, and cooking sausage.  I guess in his caffiene induced excitement he cooked the sausage on high and the smoke set off the smoke alarm....all before 8 a.m.   I am sure our neighbors were thrilled with us!  We had rare inside blackened sausage with our eggs that morning...but we were all awake!  We fully excpected ot hear his famous line...."we are burning daylight"  at any minute that morning.  We made it to the slopes in record time and a good time was had by all.

the gang is all here, loud morning man is in the red coat

We had a fantastic day with the 5 of us and then my sister, Tort and Retort had to go home to their real lives.  It was sad and quiet when the left.  We did however have reinforcements arriving.  TJ's brother arrived the same day the friends and other family left so TJ and I did not have to spend any time alone together...unless we wanted to!  

It has been great running into all of our "new friends" here and there.  We sure do love the laid back atmosphere and spending the day outdoors in the snow.  Pretty nice life, if your knees can hold out.  So far so good.  Tomorrow is our last day and I am almost ready to go back home, even though it will be the beginning of the heat and humidity.  But more about that later.  Right now, I'm going to enjoy my last Rocky Mountain high.
The perfect end to the perfect day!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break, Part 1

Spring Breakers in are never too old for Spring Break!

My March break began last weekend in Dallas.  Every spring break should begin with 3 days of eating, drinking, laughing and fellowship!  I call it the "warm up" weekend.  I spent 3 days in Dallas with my cousin and her friend ( and mine too).  One Canadian and two Americans, who love Canada.  We were treated to perfect spring conditions, sunny skies, moderate temperatures and lots of wind!  Gotta love spring in Texas.  If you are ever hungry or thirsty you should visit my cousin!  That girl knows how to entertain.  I am sure I gained weight, even though we were diligent and did much walking on Sat. and Sunday, I don't  think we came close to breaking even.  The weekend was a great warm up for things to come.

Those things were.......
my niece and nephew

There are other people in the world besides me who need/want to take vacations and two of them are my niece and nephew's parents.  They wanted to get away so badly that they entrusted their two children to TJ and me!  I know.....   All kidding aside, we are taking care of the kids while mom and dad enjoy some and dad time, because all moms and dads need to get away sometime.  After being empty nesters for the last 4 years, going from 0-2 kids is quite the adjustment.  When they are yours things gradually build, first there is one and then there are two and you just get used to it all.  Going from none to two in one day, after 3 days of pre spring break frivolity in Dallas, is an adjustment.  I was definitely up to the challenge!  We are going to have some fun this week!

The first item on our adgenda was the zoo.  Tuesday was absolutely the quintessential spring day, perfect for a trip to the zoo.  Apparently that is what everyone else in Houston thought too.  We could not get within a mile of the zoo in our car, the traffic was so bad and the parking was non-existent!  We/I decided to excercise plan B.  The rodeo!  Conveniently in town for Spring Break.  Since everyone else in Houston was apparently at the zoo, the rodeo and livestock show was relatively free of crowds.  We got to see chickens hatching from eggs, baby sheep being born, rabbits and calves.  Almost as good as the zoo, but better!  There is also a fair at the rodeo with overpriced rides for everyone.  Niece and nephew were ready to ride!  They got to ride the rides and each won a very nice stuffed animal, take that overcrowded zoo!  We win!  It really was a ton of fun and the kids loved it too.
Day two was spent playing at the park.  Playground dynamics are very interesting to observe from my perspective now.  Did I see these things when my kids were young or is it only out of my more experienced eyes that I see the dynamics?  I love sitting to the side and just watching everything unfold.  Making friends out of strangers.  Kids are just so innocent and precious.  Both kids made "friends for the day", I even overheard a conversation between my nephew and his new friend about meeting at the park tomorrow!  Sooo cute!  We went to Target and bought a few things and yes, I spent a little cash on the kids, just to make sure I spoiled them a bit!  We bought a puzzle and spent the better part of the day after lunch putting the puzzle together.  How fun is that?

an afternoon well spent!

 As if the park and the puzzle were not enough, we went to the rodeo that night and got to see the entire show!  They even do bucking broncos, bull riding, calf roping and the calf scramble.  The kids loved did the adults!

The next day I decided to brave the crowds once again.  Not the zoo this time but the Children's Museum.  This is an awesome place if you are a kid!  I know my own children are as smart as they are because we brought them to places like this when they were young.  Kid nirvana.  So much to see, touch, explore and learn while having fun doing it all.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.  We stayed until we were starving and the only reason we left was because we were each fading due to starvation. 

Today we just had a low key day.  You, walk the dog, build leprechaun traps, do another puzzle, swim, play on the trampolene,  fish fry at the church and a sleepover with Katie.  This is the point at which I collapsed for a bit.  Ahhhh, the kids are at a sleepover, time for me to have some downtime.  I truly forget how much time and energy it takes to be a full time mom.  I did it and still have forgotten.  Shout out to all you full time moms!
check out the horns on this guy!

Mom and Dad get home tomorrow.  I am not sure who had more fun, the parents or the kids! I hope the kids had a good time.  I had fun.  I will head to the mountains for a little break of my own next week.  I only hope it is not a literal break as in body part break, only a spiritual and mental break in the mountains with some friends and family.  Stay tuned for some lovely mountain photos!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Blessings

A blessing is when you notice someone for who they are, pay attention to them in a positive way, treat them in a special way or pray for them.  Have you been a blessing to anyone today?  We should all bless someone every day,  pay attention to them, treat someone special or pray for them.  When we bless someone, we are blessed too so I guess it is a win/win situation!   Right?

I had a little personal realization tonight driving home from my late night French class.  I have the pleasure of watching two special children this week.  My niece and nephew are staying with us for the week while their parents take a much needed and deserved vacation.  It only hit me tonight after our day together what a blessing this is for me.  I could look at this week as extra work or an inconvenience but instead it hit me tonight that I am sooo lucky to be able to share time with these kids (without their parents) and get to truly know them.  I am young enough and have enough energy to keep up with them, well.... I'll get back with you on Saturday night and let you know if I have enough energy...but so far I'm doing fine.  I have the opportunity and the will to really pay attention to them, treat them special and just be with them for a week.  What a blessing! 

I also have about 41 blessings and counting. 41 followers!  Wow!  If you are out there and you really read all this stuff, make a comment and let me know what your blessings have been lately!  You are one of mine.  I'll be playing with the kids this week so might not be writing much....or then again, I might just be totaly inspired!  That would be a blessing too!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Season

This past weekend we attended an all day retreat at our church.  The title of the retreat was Becoming Who You Are.  Don't worry I'm not going to tell you how to be who you are or how I am going to be who I am.  The retreat was a good one and an opportunity to think and reflect.  One of the talks I listened to was about the seasons in the Church, which brings me to today's topic......Lent.  Don't hang up yet....stick with me here, it's Lent.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter.  It is one of the seasons in the Church.  Did you know that Lent is 40 days long but the Easter season is 50 days long?  Did you think it was just one day?  Guess it makes giving something up for 40 days not so bad, if you are going to celebrate for 50 days afterwards.  Just a thought.

Are you giving up anything for Lent?  A question circulating all around this week.  I jokingly said this morning on Facebook that I was going to give up Charlie Sheen for Lent... anything written or spoken by him or about him and we would both win.  Now that I think about it more, it could be a great idea!  Why clutter my brain?  Thinking about things I've given up in the past is an interesting exercise.  There were a few times that I gave up drinking.  It was definitely a sacrifice especially since my significant other did not do the same.  I still remember one time when our pastor found out that I gave up drinking for Lent and he asked, "Why would anyone do that???"  Cracked me up! 

One year after the "give up drinking" years, I decided to be proactive for Lent.  I joined Weight Watchers for Lent.  I had always secretly wished whether I gave up drinking or gave up desserts, that at the end of Lent I would also be about 10 lbs. thinner.  It never happened, guess God did not think I needed to lose weight.  Anyway, one year "I" thought I needed to lose weight and joined WW for Lent.  I can do anything for 6 weeks, so that is what I did.  Now I digress, just hold this thought for a paragraph.

Today at Mass, our priest was talking about Lent and the 3 things we are asked to focus on; prayer, fasting and alms giving.  The fasting part was particularly interesting to me today.  Fasting is a sacrifice of the flesh.  It requires discipline.  There is temptation all around, believe me I know, as I did my grocery shopping today and found a free sample on every aisle that I had to walk past while I was trying to fast.  His point was that when we are fasting we are self disciplined and maybe during this process we become open to other things that might have gone unnoticed.  I like that.

Back to the year I joined WW.  What started out as a selfish venture ended up being a life changing experience.  I found that while being more disciplined about what I ate I was much more productive in the rest of my life.  I was also more disciplined in other areas and felt better.  What started out as a 40 day commitment ended up being my place of employment for the next 8 years.  By giving something up I opened myself to a life changing experience, God had plans for me and I found them by doing something for Lent.

I leave you with this thought.  If you are giving up something or doing something special for Lent, let yourself be open to the new opportunities you find by living a more disciplined life, it is not always a bad thing!
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