Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mamma Mia! I'm 40?

My fortieth birthday came and went without much fanfare, I don't like fanfare.

I spent a lovely day with great friends shopping and lunching in the cute town of Vietri sul Mare, a town on the Amalfi coast known for its' ceramics.  Can you believe that this was the first time going to Vietri without the boys and the ONLY time I haven't found at least one piece I love enough to buy?  Oh well, maybe next time.

Last night we had our typical Friday family movie night with pizza.  Paul and the boys made me a cake, complete with a big 4-0 on top!  After putting the boys to bed, Paul and I toasted my big day with champagne - truly a nice day for me.

Today we're off to Umbria, a region in Italy with the most charming hill towns and places to explore.  We'll go to Assisi, Orvieto, Deruta (also known for its' ceramics), Perugia (known for its' chocolates), and several other towns that peak our interest.  I'm looking forward to a relaxing week with my boys.

Here is a link to the place we'll be staying, it looks so beautiful and I'm sure it will be in person as well.

I doubt we'll have internet access so there won't be any updates throughout the week, but I know I'll come home with several good stories and lots of good pictures

I plan on working on my 40 at 40 list while there so I can post that too.

I hope you all have a great week full of blessings too many to count!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Way to Help

I love finding ways I can help others, don't you?

One of the things on my "40 at 40" list is to be more conscientious about the purchases I make in the next year.  I want to give gifts that give twice - first by helping the cause selling them and second by giving joy and a story with meaning to the receiver.

I read this entry this morning and immediately thought these necklaces fill both of those requirements.

If you're looking for inspiration, read through Katie's blog, one woman making a huge difference in the lives of so many people and doing it all because of her love of Jesus.  Amazing.

If you're looking for gifts, please consider buying some of these necklaces - give one to all of the women in your life sharing the story of the women making them.  Women just like you, trying to take care of their families and friends.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two down.....

Two of our four family members are currently suffering from a horrible stomach virus - blech.

Sweet William started throwing up late Monday night and hasn't stopped - there are few things in life that will make your heart ache like seeing a sick child.  I know, I know, he's not seriously sick and for that I thank God, but it's still so hard to see him suffering.  He has been snuggled up in a chair with a blanket for the better part of two days and he ran a fever yesterday but that seems to have broken.  He has gone the last two hours with no vomitting and has kept a cup of applesauce and a small bowl of jello down - ahhh progress.

And then there's Paul - his sickness started early this morning and he's still in the eye of the storm.  If you know anything about my husband you know that he has to be seriously sick to miss work and he's currently huddled under the covers of our bed trying to rest between trips to the bathroom.

After dispensing the proper amount of loving and caring to each of my patients I began the necessary task of bleaching every single surface in the house to protect the remaining healthy two.  I truly believe that Lewis and I should get a "free pass" on this virus since it is our birthdays this week.  Is it wrong to start my morning prayer with "God, please don't let me be sick on my birthday?"  - I quickly added "please protect Lewis and please give healing and comfort to William and Paul.".

Any additional prayers along this line would be greatly appreciated.

And speaking of my birthday, it's a big one this year - 40!   I'm still having a bit of trouble saying that number without grumbling, not that 40 is old, it just feels a bit surreal that it's MY age.

And since it's a milestone birthday I thought I should do something life-altering to celebrate.  I'm making a list of "40 at 40" - 40 things I plan to do this next year- some will be 1st time things, some I plan to use to bring about change, some just for fun.  I've started working on the list and hope to have it finished and shareworthy soon (a week of birthday fun and virus not-so-fun can zap time).

I found the inspiration for my list at this blog   Jennifer is currently working on 101 in 1001 and I'm enjoying reading about her progress.  Also, check out her beautiful handmade crosses   I recently put in an order and I can't wait to receive my beauties!  I love to see people using their talents to glorify God.

In case you're wondering, homeschooling has been temporarily put on hold due to life, but we're always learning!

All for now, back to my nursing job.  May you all have a blessed and healthy day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Matthew 25:45

Yesterday morning I was busy getting ready for church and I heard a buzz at my gate.  I wasn't expecting anyone at 10:00 on a Sunday morning so it could only mean the person buzzing wasn't welcome.

Could it be my landlord?  No, after an particularly nasty encounter he no longer pops by unannounced - but that's a story for another post.

Usually it means someone is putting flyers in my mailbox and they want me to know.  It could mean they're trying to deliver something to someone in my neighborhood with a non-Italian name and they automatically get sent to my house.  It could be Jehovah's Witnesses, or it could be someone buzzing just for fun.

I happened to be in my bathroom at the time and my window opens and faces the street, so I opened and took a look to find a woman and her daughter (or a young girl) buzzing to sell me something and at first glance I thought they were gypsies.  I didn't take long to assess the situation,  I quickly responded with a "no, grazie" as I closed the window and heard her saying "per favore, signora.  benedizione......."

And as I turned away from them I instantly saw my reflection in my bathroom mirror - and I felt sick.

Here's what I saw.

A woman with one diamond earring on because I was changing them to another pair of earrings at the time of the buzzer.

A woman clean and healthy, nice highlights (courtesy of Fabio) and a made-up face.

A woman with more clothes, more food, more of everything than I actually need.

A woman whose children are happy, healthy, warm, clothed and fed.  Secure.

A woman with praise music on in the background, getting ready for church, all because I love Jesus and want to follow him.

A woman who turned away "the least of these" because I was too busy and not interested enough in the lives of those people to actually help - when I absolutely had the power to do so. 

But not the heart.

I opened the window again to see if I could spot them, but they were already gone.

What if I had taken 5 minutes, gone downstairs and given them all of the money in my wallet?  Would I miss it?  No.  Would it help them?  Yes.  What if I had offered them food?  water?  What if I had done anything but what I did?

I failed.  The irony of that situation is not lost on me.  I was too busy getting ready for church in my perfect little privileged world to help the people my Lord commands me to help.

What does it cost to follow Jesus?  What are we willing to do to truly be His disciples?  Can we be bothered?  Do we give sacrificially to those in need?

I heard a pastor say "What if all the people who claim to be Christians actually started acting like Christians?"

A profound thought that has stuck with me for years.

I also know of a pop-singer who wrote "I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways."

Woman in the mirror, God is working on you.  Change your ways.

"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me'."
Matthew 25:45

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
Hebrews 13:1-3

Monday, April 12, 2010

the Weekend

We had a great weekend full of fun and friends.  It's so nice when you find a group of people you like and that your kids also like so you can all have fun.

Saturday we had the Cisneros family over and stayed up way too late for this old lady, but it was nice as I don't get to see Cyndi as often as I would like (she has three very busy boys).  The kids played t-ball and Wii and all sorts of other things together.

Sunday afternoon we went to the Ragonese family's home to help break in their new trampoline and enjoy a yummy dinner.  They also have three boys - lots and lots of boys around here.

Paul's foot is very slowly getting better, he's no longer using his walking boot and it's very strange to see him wearing two shoes.

We're introducing our new school plan this week, I think the boys are going to like it.  We're starting with a pirate study (chosen by the boys).  It's amazing the things you can teach just by focusing on one or two kids books.  We'll use "Tough Boris" and study pirates, ships, seas, Holland, poetry, science, art, water safety - all from one book!  Isn't that cool?

It's a lovely rainy Monday - funny how my perspective has changed - now the rain helps beat down the pollen and for that I am extremely greatful!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Sports

It's that time of year, spring has sprung and all of the little boys and girls are gearing up for spring sports.  (that's a lot of sp words)
This year I decided to sign the boys up for T-ball and after two practices I think it's going to be very interesting.
William's first practice was on Wednesday and he loved it!  He's playing on a team with 3 and 4 year olds so you can imagine some of the chaos.  Some kids screaming because they don't want to go anywhere near the field, some kids crying because it's not their turn yet, some kids crying because they didn't get the ball, some kids meandering around in the outfield picking daisies, some kids dragging their feet through the dust creating quite a storm and some kids doing all of the above in rounds.  Interesting.  I can say it's a relief to have a  4 year old who wants to play and has a smidge of control over his emotions, all excitement and no crying.  We'll see if that lasts.

Another note on William, up until now he has always been somewhat of an aggressive kid.  You know the one, the one on the playground tackling the other little kids, hitting, bumping, causing lots of tears.  He's not mean, he just doesn't understand he's hurting them.  I tried to teach him to be a "gentle giant" (he's a big boy) but to no avail.  And then he turned 4.  I have long said 4 is a turning point, and a good one at that.  Both of my boys were terrible at 2, but in a "get into everything and never stop moving" way.  Both of my boys were really terribly at 3, in a "get into everything and never stop moving while talking back and saying NO a lot" way.  William was the more challenging of the two by a long shot!  But, 4 is a miracle age.  He's calming down, listening, not so rough (most days) and he's really really funny!  I like this age.  And secretly, as we practiced t-ball the other day, I said a little prayer of thanks because he was so stinkin' good!  I gave him a big hug and said "thank you".  He asked "for what?"  and I said "just for being you and being so good." 

Lewis' first practice was yesterday and he's really excited to play as well.  His team is 5 and 6 year olds, a bit more emotional and physical control with these kids.  I hope this will help build Lewis' confidence and teach him about being on a team.  He tends to get frustrated if he's not good at something, actually he gets frustrated if he feels he's not the best.   I want him to learn to keep going and practicing so I really hope he likes t-ball.  

At the very least it's a chance for each of the boys to hang out with kids their own age and have some fun!  You know how weird homeschooled kids can get.  ;-)

So our spring weeks will be filled with practices - did you notice they're on different days?  William is a Wed/Fri practice and Lewis is a Tue/Thu practice so we'll be headed to the park 4 times a week.  whoa.

Oh, other good news.  Last night Paul was talking with William and practiced and practiced saying "Ls" properly.  You may remember we're trying to get William evaluated for his speech delay with certain letters and sounds?  Well, after about 5 minutes William said "Lewis" with a PERFECT "L" sound!!!!  If you could have seen the look on his face, one proud little boy.  Who needs speech therapy when you have a loving helpful Dad?

Monday, April 5, 2010


"For what is Christmas without Easter?"

I love Easter.  When I was a child I loved it for all of the silly Easter things - bunnies, chocolate, eggs, new dresses and shoes - Easter.  Now that I am an adult I still love Easter for new and fun things, but not silly things (other than new clothes).

This was the first year I participated in Lent and I now know it will be a yearly ritual for me.  This year I gave up things I felt were controlling me and my time, I "sacrificed" things that seemed important.  What I learned through this process was not a surprise - these things were controlling me and giving them up really didn't feel like a sacrifice at all (well, in the beginning maybe).  Each day of abstaining reminded me of the sacrifice Jesus made for me and in comparison what I gave up was nothing.  I watched a sermon not long ago talking about the sacrifice Jesus made by simply coming to Earth.  He came from Heaven, surrounded by angels constantly worshipping and singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" down to Earth to be surrounded by crowds shouting "Crucify Him!!!!"  Wow, what a difference. 

I often feel that when I need to learn a lesson God puts people around me or puts me in situations to really hammer home the message.  This year's lesson is humbling, literally.  I know God is giving me comfort in my position in life, showing me that my "world view" needs to go.  I won't go into too much detail as this would get really long but I feel a renewal this year.  I feel comfort knowing I am where I should be, doing what I should be doing and I feel God has shown me areas of my life that really need some work.  It's a relief to know He cares enough to be involved.

In church yesterday we watched a video that really struck home.  You know how sometimes you "know" things and sometimes that knowledge hits you full force and you feel "wow!"? 

The video showed Buddha and stated that his followers make pilgrimages to his grave to honor him.  It showed Abraham and said that the Jews also make pilgrimages to his grave to honor him, as do the Muslims to Mohammed's grave.

And then it showed the tomb, with the stone rolled away.  We don't make pilgrimages to our leader's grave - why? - because He is ALIVE!!!

Pastor Tim went on to say that of the world's major religions only four are based on human leaders.
Of these four, three of them are dead.

Yesterday, and everyday, I rejoice in the fact that I serve a living God.  And of all the things to be thankful for, that one is at the top of the list.

First thing Easter morning William comes and snuggles up in my bed and says "Mom, can I wear my socks now?".  It took all the energy I had to get him to wait until after his bath.  Both boys were so excited to wear their new clothes, Lewis put on his socks before anything else and I got a very funny picture of him in nothing but those socks.  I will not be posting that on the internet but I'll be more than happy to show it to you in person if we're blessed to be together.

And the remarkable thing?  Both boys made it all the way through the church service without causing a disturbance!!!  I tell you the truth, I was proud of them.  I'm still a bit surprised just thinking about it, their first time sitting through a full service and they were soooooooo good.  And not one of them reached up for the bread!  Though, I will say, all of our preperation did cause some discussion (not a bad thing if your child truly understands whispering) and they were curious to see the bread and wine and each boy remembered what is symbolized. 

We celebrated after church with lunch and our friends, we had a lovely time.  The kids played outside so nicely and the adults were able to have a nice long lunch without too much interruption - not a common occurence with the six and under crowd around,all nine of them.

I hope you all had a very Happy Easter and that it will bring you a season of renewal too!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thanking God on this Friday

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned-every one- to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:4-7

Thursday, April 1, 2010

About last night....

I intended to write last night, I really did, but my book club went much later than expected and I was waaaaaay tired when I got home (not to mention suffering from another allergy attack due to cats at the home of our hostess).

You didn't miss much, yesterday was fairly uneventful and boring so I'll just take a quick moment to write the things I'm thankful for

1.  I am thankful for discernment
2.  I am thankful I'm not still searching for the answer.
3.  I am thankful for my new music.