Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Goals

I have been trying to formulate these for a few weeks now.  And my goals for the new year span many different areas. So here we go:

1. Daily prayer time in the morning. 
Last year, at a Holy Hour, the priest mentioned 7 Daily Habits for a better spiritual life (from St Jose Maria Escriva) :
1. Morning Offering
2. Spiritual Reading/ Scripture Reading 15 minutes a day (12 min spiritual reading/ 3 min Scripture reading)
3. Holy Mass
4. Recitation of Angelus or Regina Coeli (Easter)
5. Rosary
6. 15 min mental prayer
7. Examination of Conscience at end of day

So, my plan is to, by the end of the year, do all 7 of these each day, with the exception of daily mass.  The boys and I will go to daily mass once a week.  As much as I would like to go everyday, it is an interruption to our school schedule and I have found that the more structured we can be with our school time, the better and faster it goes.

2. Rejoice in the Now
This comes from a lot of reflection through Advent.  I touched on it in this post, but never really gave any details.  Anyways, this is what I feel God is really telling me to focus on right now.  Rejoicing in the NOW.  Rejoicing in my husband, in my boys, in my house, in homeschooling, etc NOW.  The most practical way I can do this is to start up my Gratitude journal again.  I may just read One Thousand Gifts again.

3. Read all the books on my "To Read List". 
  Buy NO MORE BOOKS until all those books are read!

4. Homeschooling -
I think that we have improved so much in this area since the beginning of 2011. So, I am going to continue the trends and Goals we set for 2011 and add:
1.Become a bit better organized.  I want to plan better on my part.
2. Have fun with it and make learning fun!  Follow more of the leadings of the boys. More field trips.

5. The house-
There are a million projects I would love to get done in the house, but a few are a "musts";
1. Finish the kitchen- our mini-remodel has been in process for months!  By the end of February, it will be done.  Painted cabinets, new counter top, painted walls and a new floor!
2. Paint our bedroom- the pink needs to go!
3. Put new flooring in the spare bedroom upstairs

6. Running-
Run my second marathon and then I think I may hang up my 26.2 shoes!  I am finding that marathoning may not be for me. I stress when little set backs hit my training plan.  I need to see a chiropractor each week during training.  And my foam roller becomes my best friend.  Plus, just the amount of miles I need to log takes time away from family that I do not like.

I think I prefer the half marathon so much more.  Once at that distance, I have found it easy to maintain half marathon fitness.  Plus, the distance is great .. . the races are done fairly quickly and I can actually plan a full day for the rest of the day because I am not wiped out!

My half marathon goal for the year: a sub-2 hr!

So, here is the plan of races for the year:
1. High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon (1/29) - registered
2. Shamrock Marathon (3/18)- registered
3. Columbia Iron Girl Half Marathon (4/29)-planned
4. Frederick Half Marathon (5/6)- planned
6. Marine Corps 10K (10/?) - probably
7. Annapolis Half (11/?)- probably
8. some fun jingle bell jog
** Notice No late spring/summer races . . . . I am not a summer runner!!

Like last year, I want to run another race with J.  All of these races are close and no travel is needed except for the Shamrock Marathon.  I am doing this because we really need to tighten our budget up for . . .

7. Adoption
If you are a friend IRL and have seen my Facebook status, you know that we have put in an application to an Adoption agency.  Well, after the orientation call, we have decided to go with another agency.  It has nothing to to do with the agency itself, it has more to do with who will do the homestudy.  So, we have not contracted with an agency yet. But, will probably do so soon.  Our plan is to adopt a Waiting Child from China.  Maybe I will write a post about why we feel led in that direction, but for now, unless God leads us in another direction, we will most likely be traveling to China in 12-18months!  But for now, my goal for this is simple.  Just to continue to have the whole process covered in prayer and led by God.  Oh, and to have the whole adoption financed without too much stress!

8. Get up early and work out first thing in the morning 
I was good at this for most of 2011, but by November, I became a night time gym rat . . . and it is so hard to break that cycle.  So, my goal is to be at the gym by 5:30 AM each morning.

9. Eating
I am writing this one last in hopes that most people will have stopped reading by now, so I will not have to be accountable to it but, I am going gluten free for at least January!  I have been wanting to try it for months and am now ready to take the plunge . . . so for the next couple days, I may go on a bread binge . . . I LOVE warm bread with butter . . YUM!

I think that is it!!  I pray that you all enjoy the rest of 2011.  May you be abundantly blessed in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How did I do this year??

At the beginning of this year I wrote this post about my goals for the year. Since we are coming to the end of 2011 and 2012 will be quickly upon us, I want to review how I did this year with my goals:

1. Pray more. Pray the divine office every morning. There is something about the rhythm of the Divine office that I need and crave right now.
~ We got a subscription to Magnificat which helped tons with this.  I started most days with the Magnificat and daily mass readings.

2. Make a Holy Hour once a week.
~ I started well with this one, but did not do a good job with it once summer hit!

3. Regular date nights with my hubby.
Could have done better with this one too.  I knew when I started to really want a date night, that meant it had been too long since our last one.  But, we do got out a good amount together!

4. Read all the books on my “To Read” book list.
Did not do too well with this one.  I read a lot this year, but the problem was was that my "To Read" list grew faster than I could read the books!

5. Continue to strive toward my “ideal day.” This one is much more abstract but encompasses many other things to make it happen. My ideal day means:

                    a. Getting up early and exercising first thing in the morning (5:30 AM at the latest)- Did well with this until I hit Oct/Nov/Dec. Got into the habit of running or going to the gym at night.

                    b. Come home, get ready for the day and eat and pray BEFORE the boys wake up. -For the most part, I did well with this one!

                    c. Start school by 9 AM at the latest.- Check!

                    d. Do not even turn the computer on until after school is done for the morning.- Did it! And boy, did it make the mornings go so much faster when I did not have the computer to distract me!

                    e. Have reading time with all the boys.- Did this most days!

                   f. Have special time with A (since he seems to get lost in the shuffle while we are doing school). - Did fairly well with this one too!  I realized that he NEEDS special time to help him be on his best behavior everyday.

                  g. PLAY with the boys. Play a game. Play tickle tag. Football. Whatever. We just need to
                      have fun and laugh. - Check!

And although I call this my ideal day, it is not a perfect day and therefore totally attainable each and every day. The key is consistency in the morning. If I can start my morning off right, most things fall into place the rest of the day.

6. Attain my goal weight. - No Comment!

7. Be less anxious. I stress way too much. And, really, if I do #1, 2 and 3, I will be a lot less stressed!
I think I did better on this one . . . . what do you think, hubby???

8. Plan dinners once a week for the whole week. Pick clean meal options. Plan every meal for the day for myself the night before. -
Most weeks I did really well with this and am happy with my progress.

9. Invite more people over. 
Still not great at this, but I really did much better with this that in previous years.

10. Running Goals.
a. Run my first Marathon on March 26, 2011 - Did not happen due to the death of my Grandfather.  But got to run my first marathon in April instead!!

b. Run at least one 5K with J this year. I LOVED running with him and he is asking to do another race, so I am sure we will run together again soon! - Did it and loved it!!

c. Run the following races (This is a wish list of races . . . we will see how many I will actually run, but I at least want to be in shape to be able to run any of these):

           i. Cloud Snapple ½ marathon (1/29)
           ii. SunTrust National Marathon (3/26) - Ran the Garden Spot Village Marathon instead (4/9)
          iii. GW Parkway 10 miler (4/10)
          iv. Marine Corps Historic ½ Marathon (5/15) or the Williamsburg ½ marathon (5/22) - Did it!!
         v. Zooma Annapolis 10K (6/5)- Did it!
         vi. Baltimore 10 miler (6/18)
        vii. Marine Corps Marathon (10/31) . . . . changed to the 10K and then could not even run it           due to hot water heater problems . . . could not leave kids alone with babysitter!
        viii. Cold Turkey 10K (11/20)

OK, crossing out all of the races I did NOT run looks pathetic, but this is what I did accomplish in running this year:
1. Ran my first marathon
2. Ran 2 half marathons
3. New 5K PR
4. New 10 K PR
5. New half marathon PR

Overall, I am happy with how I did in 2011! Now it is time to make 2012 even better!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

All I want for Christmas . . .

is my two front teeth!  My oldest can sing this one this year!!



A word that has surrounded me this Advent.  In a conversation. In mass readings.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul,
Isiah 61:10

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
Luke 1:46

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always.
1 Thes 5:16

I will stand at my watch
   and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
   and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

 I heard and my heart pounded,
   my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
   and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
   to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 2:1, 3:16-19

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Zec. 2:14

Rejoice in the NOW. Rejoice in the trials, gifts, laughter and tears of the moment. For all is a blessing from God.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This is the better

I think God is trying to drive home a lesson to me this Christmas season.

Like so many others, we live in a home. We purchased this house several years ago.  My dream home? Far from it.  Although it is big enough for us, it often feels small and cramped.  There is strange stucco on the walls in the hall way. Paneling in too many rooms to admit to.  A powder pink bathroom with wall paper.  Metal kitchen cabinets with fake wood paneling.  And a kitchen floor that is peeling up everywhere. I am well acquainted with my home's flaws.

I have dreamt about moving to a bigger, nicer house. I have dreamt about totally remodeling this one.  But, seven years later, we are still in this house.  And the only remodeling we have done is to add more dents to the kitchen floor, stains to the carpet, and holes and dings to the walls.

Maybe I am having "The Seven Year Itch" with my house.  But, this year, more than others, I longed for a remodel.  I longed for a new home.  And the more I longed, the more the "I cannot have anyone over" feeling grew. It has always been there.  This strange embarrassment over our home not being perfect.  But, this year it was intensified. And I thought of the perfect solution: A new home.  I had found it.  A big, beautiful house in the same town.  I envisioned homeschooling in the kitchen near the fire place. Designing classes and having other kids over to teach them too.  Play dates in the large backyard.  It was perfect really. Oh, you know, except for the fact, that purchasing a new home is not only not realistic, but would not be the best financial decision ever.  Plus, the house went under contract a month after it popped up on the market.

It was the day that I found out that "my dream home" went under contract. I told my husband and he said, "God just has something better."

I was tired of hearing it.  I had heard it when the possible adoption of the twins fell through.  When I could not run the National Marathon.  When it finally struck me that we probably would not have any more biological children.  I was done hearing it.  What could God have that is better?  The options were running out.

Then, my wise husband said, "Maybe where we live is the better."

That struck me. But, I did not want to hear it.  How could this smaller, oh so outdated home be the better?

On the way home from Buffalo at Thanksgiving, we stopped by the Abbey of the Genesee to pick up some Monk's Bread.  They have a bookstore too and  I was drawn to this one book: Radical Hospitality:Benedict's Way of Love.  I bought it. I have yet to start reading, knowing it will challenge me exactly how I need to be challenged.  Then today, I read this blog post titled: Your House is Only As Big as Your Hospitality.

I may not always be good at following the prompting of the Spirit, but I heard Him loud and clear today.

Yes, maybe this is the better.

Maybe it is living in this house that will teach me more about what true hospitality is, what true friendship is.  Maybe it will be living in this home that will teach me more about God's goodness. God's faithfulness.  That God's blessings are less about things of this world and more about the world to come.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tis the season of giving

 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:34-41

Every year our parish has an "Angel tree" where parishioners choose an "Angel" from it.  On the angel is a boy or girls name, his/her age and his/her Christmas list.  These children are from another parish in DC and come from a family who cannot provide gifts for their children.  We had participated in this for several years, but stopped.  One year, it just became unsettling.  We live on a tight budget.  Our own kids do not get extravagant gifts.  But, a few years ago, as I poured over the "Angels" on the tree and read the list of gifts the children wanted, I was frustrated: ipod, Wii, Nintendo, brand new bike, Converse sneakers . . . you get the idea.  These were expensive gifts that were well beyond what we would even spend on our own children.  And here are "needy" children who were not just asking for a gift, but asking for, what I considered a frivolous gift.  So we stopped choosing an Angel.  We decided to donate our money in other ways.

And this year, I found it ironic that the above scripture from Matthew was the Gospel reading the day our parish announced that the "Angel trees" were up and to "please choose a child."  It was as if God was pointing me in a different direction.  We live in a very privileged society, but there are families in our own nation and around the world that are truly in need.  They want  need something more important than an ipod for Christmas.  There are families that need food. Children that need clothing.  Parents who cannot afford to send their children to school.  There is a genuine need out there and, this year, I felt convicted to put our resources toward filling that true need.
So, I have complied a list of amazing ways to give.  Organizations that use the money to feed families, clothe families, and send children to school.  As a bonus, many of these organizations have products that you can actually buy and give as gifts to those on your Christmas list! So check them all out!

 1. World Vision, Compassion International and Heifer International
All three of these organizations have Christmas catalogues (linked above) in which you can buy a needy family items such as chickens, ducks, cows, seeds for planting, etc.  I love this idea!  We have sponsored a child through World Vision for the last several years and just love the organization and all the work they do!

2. Give Jewelry -

This organization sells AMAZING bracelets. And the purchase of just 1 bracelet feeds 1 child for 1 week! These bracelets are beautiful and make great gifts! (A full post coming on Give soon!)

3. 147 Million Orphans -
This organization was started by two moms who wanted to make a difference.   They have a whole line of apparel, bags, Ugandan bead jewelry, etc and all of the profits go toward helping orphans around the world.  I got this shirt for my birthday and  I love it!!

4. Amazima Ministries  

A non-profit started by Katie Davis, Author of Kisses from Katie. If you have not read this book or heard Katie's story, you have to!! She is a young woman who decided to go to Uganda for a year after she graduated high school and has never left. She is now in her early 20's, has adopted 13 girls, and has started Amazima Ministries to help get Ugandan children the education, food, and spiritual developments they need.  Amazima Ministries sells Ugandan Bead Necklaces to help raise funds.

(Please take what I wrote for just as it is: I am in no way saying that parishes should not do Angel Trees, or individuals should not buy a new bike for a needy child.  I am just saying our family has been led in a different direction.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Running Ramblings

I have several posts in the works for this week.  If I get time to actually sit down and write, you may see them.  But for now, I need to write about running.  More for myself than anyone else.  So, feel free to skip this post if you want.

Since running the Annapolis Half Marathon about a month ago, I have hit a slight slump and snag in my running.  Between travelling for Thanksgiving and trying to rest my IT band, I really did not run much.  By the time Thanksgiving was over, my lower back (sacrum) was really bothering me and even a 4 mile run caused my IT band to feel very sore.  I am not sure if it was the long hours in the car or the uncomfortable bed at my parent's house, but whatever it was, my sacrum was out of whack.  And right before the half marathon, I had a chiropractor tell me that that was what was causing all my IT band issues.  The sacrum would be out of alignment, causing the my glute muscles on the right to be pulled excessively, which causes a pulling of the IT band. 

By the beginning of last week I knew I needed to get back to my regular chiropractor.  I knew my IT band was on the verge of inflammation and I just did not want to take any chances of it getting so bad that I would have excruciating pain at my knee while running like I did during marathon training before.

So far I have been to the chiropractor twice and have started running again.  I can totally feel a difference.  There is no more "pressure" on the IT band like before and running feels easy again.

This is my first week back on track with marathon training. And I am nervous!!  Excited too, but nervous.  My plan is to work in speed work this training cycle.  I have done speed work and hill repeats more this fall and I have noticed a difference in my strength and endurance.  I am also making strength training a regular occurrence again.  When I trained for my first marathon, I totally dropped weight training and I feel like that was a huge mistake.

So here I am, 94 days away from marathon #2 and I am happy to feel like I am on the right path again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1. I am married to a doctor!

My husband is now a Doctor. (D. Min.) I am so proud of him and this totally deserved a whole post onto itself.  He has worked so hard over the past 8 years juggling the doctorate program and work and family life.  He was selfless in all of it and always put the family first.  We have enjoyed the last few days.  We have just sat around and talked at night because we could, he did not need to study anymore! I have been calling him Dr. everyday. Our 5 yr old keeps on asking him when he will start healing people.  My husband has tried to explain to him that there are other types of doctors, but it has yet to stick. 

2. Sickness
We have been through our rounds of sickness lately.  And now it seems to be my turn.  I do not feel horrible, but I have a stuffy nose and have been coughing most of the week.  I have not run or exercised since Sunday.  I feel like a sloth and cannot wait until I can kick this cough out the door so I can exercise.

3.  Potty training
A has successfully passed through potty training.  Once over the "I will not go #2 on the potty" hurdle, it has been easy.  I rarely need to remind him to go.  Oh, the simple joys of life!

4. Banned from the Library

Well, not really.  But I am probably on their "Watch out for this lady" list.  Last week I put about 50 books on hold.  I do this every year.  I get a bunch of Christmas books from Elizabeth Foss' reading list and we read through them until Christmas.  Well, this year, they all seemed to come in at the same time and I checked out about 50 or so books on one day. The librarian looked a little annoyed and made a comment saying something along the lines of "I think you got all the Christmas books we have."  And she was not smiling or laughing when she said it.  I felt guilty, but then I remembered . . . "Isn't this the purpose of a library? And, aren't librarians hired to help us check out books?"

5.  Advent and Feast Days
I am really loving Advent this year.  The boys and I start our school day with a Jesse Tree reflection and our St Andrew Christmas Novena.  And I love praying Advent prayers at night.

6. Socks or shoes???
Does anyone else out there use SOCKS for St. Nicholas day?  Growing up, we would hang my father's dress socks on the fire mantle on the 5th so that St Nicholas could come that night and fill them with chocolate and fruit.  Since we do not have a fireplace, the boys just lay socks outside their bedroom door.  But we seem to be the ONLY family I know that uses socks and not shoes.  Please tell me we are not the only ones . . .

7. 98 days
98 more days until my second marathon, the Shamrock Marathon! Yikes! I need to get running!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Child's Heart

If any of you read my blog even somewhat regularly, you may know, or at least guess, that we are pursuing adoption.  We have not started the stacks of paperwork yet. No home study.  No background checks. Nothing yet. We have been waiting until my husband defends his dissertation (which he does on Monday . . . please say a prayer for him!).  But, there is a folder stacked with agency information.  Plans made. We are just waiting.

But, several weeks ago a possibility came our way.  An order of nuns we know has a mission a world away.  And at that mission they have been caring for twins for the past year.  Twins that have no mother.  They had been praying for the twins to be adopted.  And, friends that heard these prayers, thought of us.  When I was first told, I was excited.  I knew it was a long shot.  A real long shot.  But I know that we have a God that can move mountains.  That if He willed it, those twins would find a home with us.

The whole family was there when I was told of the twins.  Even my boys were excited.  They prayed each night that we could adopt these two boys who have no home.

But as the days went on, and many emails sent that did not get answered, I felt that it may not happen.  And after an email last week from the Provincial of the order in the US, I prepped the boys that it does not look like we will be able to adopt the twins.

And then the final email came last night.  Even though the twins have been in an orphanage for a year, they do have a father, and the father does not was them to be adopted.  I was a little sad, but, truthfully, my heart had given up hope two weeks ago. 

But a child's heart does not give up hope.  My oldest son was sitting at the top of the stairs when I told my husband the news.  He overheard the conversation.  And he started to cry.  My husband and I met him on the stairs.   My husband held him and J said, "I wanted to adopt the twins."  I began to cry.  Not because I was sad we could not adopt the twins, but I cried because of J's sadness. And the beauty of his heart.  Here is an 8 yr old that wants to be a brother to orphan twins a world away. Two boys that he does not even know. Boys that look different than him.  But, that does not matter to him.  He wanted to love them as the brothers that they would have become.

A little while later, my husband checked on J when he was back in bed.  J told my husband that he changed his mind about his Christmas list.  A Christmas list formed at the dinner table just hours before.

"I only want three things this year." He said.  "I want the Lego City Police Boat. A Lego tank and a Lego . . ."(well, I do not remember the third thing, but it was another Lego set.)

A typical 8 yr old boy's Christmas List. But it changed.

As he lay in bed, he told my husband.
"I am changing my Christmas list.  I only want one thing now.  I want to adopt twins."

If only we all had a child's heart.

Maybe more of the world's orphans would know what it is be loved.  More of the world's orphan's would find forever familes.

I think I may need to change my Christmas list too . . .