Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I finally did it!

Well, last week brought piles of controversy. As some of you already know, there have been some questions regarding the legitimacy of our other parish. Lots of problems have ensued and that's part of why posts here went through a rapid decline.

I have exciting news to announce with you all. I am pregnant. 19 weeks pregnant by now and I'm thrilled tell all of you. However, due to the lack of ability to have a Convalidation to make our legal marriage a Sacramental one, we were concerned about our ability to have this child baptized in the Faith. So the ENTIRE argument ensued AGAIN with our parish trying to remedy the problem and finding no solutions and frankly a profound amount of "we don't care".

Last week on Wednesday, Prince Charming took matters into his OWN 6'2 former Army Sergeant hands and went down to the church's office to try and get a solution. Coming home with piles of more frustration and accusations, we thought perhaps we should consult the other "local" parish (30 miles in the OTHER direction) and see what we came up with.

So on Thursday Prince Charming and I left DS with a neighbor and went in to speak with this priest and find out what could be done. Fortunately, we found a source of beauty, strength, and frankly - a will to get this accomplished. I brought this poor priest a LAUNDRY list of what I couldn't figure out how to fix and in under 15 minutes, he had it all accomplished. We are starting our "pre-Cana" tomorrow and now for the hard part to admit - I FINALLY had my First Reconciliation.

Nearly 7 months after I received the Sacrament of Confirmation.


For those of you considering the faith (or just the nosy) who have ALWAYS wanted to know what the "big secret about confession is", here you go. No one else seems to have written about it so I figured I would share.

You do your best to prepare. As an adult who had never been through this before I had a LOT of territory to cover. I went through what is called an "Examination of Conscience" which is basically a LONG list of things I should be doing Biblically where I may have fallen short. Children usually start off with the 10 Commandments and the Great Commandment as their "reference point" for a Examination of Conscience. All things on an Examination of Conscience are generally related in one way or another to the 10 Commandments - it just goes WAY more in depth than your Sunday School teacher EVER did.

After you do your preparation and are ready, you enter the famous confessional. You know, like you see in movies. Except it usually isn't really like that at all. I'm picturing Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro as he's in the priest's place and Catherine Zeta Jones' character is confessing to him mistakenly. (For those unfamiliar with the movie - here's the clip I'm referring to. :)

My confessional didn't look ANYTHING like that. In fact, I've been surprised to find many modern Catholics choose to have their reconciliation done sitting NEXT to the priest in full view. It was a little white room. You could "hide" behind a curtain, kneel, and not be seen or you could go around the corner. Around the corner were 2 chairs - 1 where the priest sits regardless of where you go and the other is for you if you're brave enough to peek around the corner. Being pregnant and that the priest walked WITH me over to the confessional, I felt ridiculous kneeling and hiding on the other side so I went and sat in the chair.

What follows was fairly simple. We prayed. We talked about where I'd made mistakes in my life. The priest made constructive suggestions about ways to fix that and encouraged me the entire time with kindness and patience. I received my penance - nowhere near what I had feared after 31 years of sinning! We prayed again. I thanked him for his time and left.

The entire time my son was in the pew waiting for Mass to begin. He'd had his First Reconciliation last January. As I returned to the pew quietly and knelt to pray he got down on his knees as well and leaned over to me. He knew where I'd been. The conversation went something like this:

DS: You were in there for a long time.
Me: I know. I'm sorry and thank you for your patience.
DS: You must have had a LOT of sins.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was the most embarrassing moment of the ENTIRE ordeal! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Today has circled around my role in leadership and what I do. In times of both struggle and triumph, I often turn to the beautiful words of Rudyard Kipling.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Purple Heart Day!

In 1782, the Continental Congress took a cost cutting measure preventing the awarding of rank for valorous service. Up until this time, individual achievements in battle were generally awarded with a promotion. In response, 2 military awards were created for servicemen. The first award authorized a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve for every 3 years of service given to the Continental Army. These chevrons are still in use today in all branches of the military on dress uniforms.

On August 7, 1782 in Newburgh, NY General George Washington commissioned the first badge of honor for valorous action in battle. I was designed by M. Pierre Charles L'Enfant who later designed the Nation's Capital City, Washington, DC. It was a piece of heart shaped purple cloth most often made of silk or cotton. It was edged in very narrow lace and contained white embroidery. The center featured a single word, "Merit". It was awarded for "any singularly meritorious action" and was named the Badge of Military Merit. This was the first time enlisted and non-commissioned officers could earn a badge of distinction.

Awards for service to any person serving in the military for valor disappeared after the American Revolution until the Civil War when the Medal of Honor was created.

On January 7, 1931 a new award was to be created in honor of the bicentennial of President George Washington's birth. Ms. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quarter designed a sketch based on Washington's Badge of Military Merit. It consisted of an enameled heart of purple edged in gold. George Washington's profile is in the center of the medal and it hangs from a purple ribbon edged in white. The back of the medal says "For Military Merit" and is usually engraved with the soldier's rank, name, and service branch.

Officially authorized on February 22, 1932 by President Herbert Hoover, the following General Order was issued:

"By order of the President of the United States, The Purple Heart established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the war of the Revolution, is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.

The decoration is authorized to be awarded to persons who, while serving in the army of the United States, perform any singularly Meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service. A wound received in action may be construed as resulting from such an act."

It is one of the most recognized military medals in the world and is frequently considered to be one of the most beautiful.

For more information on the Purple Heart and the Badge of Military Merit, visit:

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I am disgusted with myself.

For many, many reasons.

Recently I let someone get the best of me with her bitterness...and that's not something I aspire to be.

That needs to end.


So, for the next 9 weeks I'm going to work on adding 1 spiritual habit and 1 health habit a week to my life. I need to get back on track in both of those areas and they certainly aren't going to fix themselves.

THIS WEEK I already made 2 changes that I am pleased to report. They may not seem like much to you, but they've been very good for me.

Spiritual: I got off my butt and went back to church for Mass on Saturday. I've been REALLY bad about getting to Mass since this drama started finding it easier to hide in my home and avoid everyone on earth. I made the commitment yesterday to go back to Mass and was greeted in the choir loft with literally open arms.

God then proceeded to acknowledge my desperate need for a laugh and sent me an evening full of gaffs and giggles. I am immensely grateful! :)

Before leaving, I made the commitment to cantor next week so apparently I will be continuing this pattern - I am pleased to have made this choice.

Health: This may sound a bit odd and quite possibly crazy, but at least once a day this week I have walked outside of my house around my property for at least 10-15 minutes.

I know to most people this is not something that would be surprising, but to me, it was a HUGE change. I'd been hiding inside and away from people as much as humanly possible sometimes going days without leaving my home. This has stemmed from multiple problems.

I'm afraid of rattlesnakes and our neighborhood has recently become overpopulated with them leaving me afraid to leave an environment I can control on foot. I also have been so depressed I just didn't want to go anywhere but my couch and computer.

So it may not appear to be much to conquer and indeed I didn't even realize I was doing it, but I did it and I'm glad I did. I feel wonderful for having done it and am happy I made that conscious choice.

Next week I'm picking back up my daily Rosary praying habit having already done it for 3 days this week. It really helps calm me and could be considered an improvement in both areas although I will claim it in spiritual only. For health I'm going to go back to my habit of drinking 2 24 oz. bottles of water a day. Shame on me for getting out of it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rise Above It

Sometimes life leaves us with two choices...

Get caught in the mire...

Or rise above it.

I CHOOSE to rise above it.

I CHOOSE to rise above the gossip. Not simply for Biblical reasons - although we are certainly told many times over not to perpetrate gossip nor to be witnesses/idle participants. Not simply for "setting an example" for my son - although I certainly do not want my son picking up that horrid habit from prattling lips. Not simply for avoiding being a target - for everyone knows that the more you eschew gossip, the more you become the subject at hand.

I live in a tiny town in VERY rural America. There's 150 people here - and I, once again, am the subject of town gossip. We're the only Catholic family in our town. The only family with an only child. I'm not from here - so I'm an "outsider". I'm not planning on staying.

But recently a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. I will be leaving. It's not for a couple of years - but I WILL BE LEAVING.

And suddenly, with just that minor revelation I can rise above it just a bit easier because I KNOW that when I leave, they will have to find a new target. I know that where I am going I already have a dear friend whom I am happy to have in my life and who has already supported me through many trials with open arms, an open heart, and with an open coffee pot and an empty chair at her table.

I KNOW that I have dear friends here on the internet. They may not be right here - but they help me each and every single day to help hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country. I love them with all my heart even though we have never met.

I KNOW that in the end, it is I who will get in my car one last time, pull out of this driveway, and NEVER LOOK BACK.


I look forward. I look forward to the future and all the beautiful things that will transpire. I look forward to the beautiful things I know God has in store for me and my family. I look forward to all the immense blessings that are coming my way.

I rise above it...

...because I can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shout Out to Good Samaritan Roland!!!

I have a new favorite WalMart worker. Okay - I've liked Roland for a long time. He plays Santa at Christmas and looks the part year round. He's the guy that's always grinning ear to ear at the door and reminds you of your favorite uncle. Really. He's great.

Today there was a severe thunderstorm. I don't mean a bit of rain. We're talking hail, mesocyclones, and some SERIOUS winds and rain. I turned around and I'm from tornado country. I ran inside and hunkered down after trying to flag down DH.

I saw him come into the parking lot and thought he was going to park. Unfortunately he didn't see my car and took off. I ran out the door to try and flag him down but with a full load of lumber in the back, he couldn't see me.

I ran back inside and just announced to everyone within earshot, "Does anyone have a cell phone I can use to call my husband? Mine is in his truck and he's driving into this storm!!!"

LOTS of blank stares for the crazy lady.

Roland reaches around and pulls out his cell phone. I'm guessing he's not supposed to have it on the floor. He lets me try to call my husband and then sits out in the vestibule waiting to see if he pulls in and directs DH to where we were in the store when he arrives.

Special thanks to Roland for making THIS crazy lady's day. To not have a husband out lost in a storm that's producing 80+ MPH winds and 1 1/2" hail means he is my hero. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I love to watch politics. I also happen to be a rather large fan of my rights as well as the rights of others. I have friends on nearly every side of the political spectrum. I won't get into what I believe, but I will highlight something I have watched unfolding this evening with both shock and, at the cost of some friends, amusement.

Apparently the FDA has decided to seize an incoming shipment of birthing pools for water births by saying they are "unregistered medical equipment". There is no way to register these as they are not considered medical equipment in the US. Lawyers are being called and needless to say, it is quite the "to do".

Now, when something like this happens, I am naturally appalled. I believe in a woman's right to give birth in whatever way she chooses be it at home, in a hospital, or in a birthing center. Frankly, I think it's her choice and as long as she's not high risk I see no problem with it. The potential recall of "all" (their words - not mine) birthing tubs in the US is a serious concern. Please do not believe I am "downplaying" the issue.

This problem immediately surfaced on FB. For the past few hours I have watched the posts fly as friends who are doulas, midwives, women, men, and everything in between have put in their comments on the situation.

As I stated before, I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum.

So it strikes me as rather amusing when bureaucracy red tape and stupidity is confused with a particular political party. Some comments I have seen about this issue on FB have been:

"Here come the democradorks again stealing our right to birth outside a hospital."

"First abortion, now birthing tubs - the GOP is at it again."


Red tape is not universal to one party. Neither is stupidity. Each group has made their mistakes and is never always in the right.

But let's place the pressure on this where it belongs - ON THE FDA.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Complete Homecoming

Tonight was my beautiful son's Confirmation and First Communion.

I, being the Italian mother I am, was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Pinning corsages and boutonnieres, running interference for missing children and/or their sponsors, helping with new seating arrangements created at the last minute...

It never ends.

So when I finally SAT in the pew next to my husband I had quite a shock. I knelt to pray and the prelude began. "Here I Am, Lord". One of my very favorite songs from the church I grew up in. The first piece of Christian music to move me to tears. It has always touched my heart so incredibly deeply.

I have said through this whole journey that if this is what the Lord wants for my family, He will make it abundantly clear.

Message Received. Roger.

So as the ceremony progresses and we all greatly enjoy the Bishop, his homily, and his wonderful demeanor with the kids I relax and laugh and enjoy my time immensely.

After I get back from communion, I'm kneeling and just not feeling like I should rise. The post-communion song began to play and I burst into tears.

While "Here I Am, Lord" was the song of my home original church that moved me, "As the Deer" was the song from my time in Germany that has moved me since. The calm, strong melody wafted over me as I sobbed while singing. Tears were pouring down my face while I knelt and just let myself feel it for the first time.

I was here.

I was where I belonged.

With my whole entire family.

And it felt amazing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Would Love to Say Something Profound...

...but I smell like a cheesy pine tree air freshener.

I will, however comment on tonight. Partially because it must be done - partially because it should be done - partially because I want to remember it.

If you have never attended an Easter Vigil in a Catholic Church, I highly recommend the experience. GO. And wear comfortable shoes.

The beauty of it all was breathtaking. The candlelight, the bonfire. It was really overwhelming to the senses. I almost wished I'd attended one before I had to be part of one so it wasn't so all encompassing.

What really hit me was the homily. Father Joe touched on several things but one portion in the 7 minutes really has stuck with me. He talked about how, just like Jesus, we need to get out of our own tombs and into the light. It couldn't have been more relevant. I was so grateful for those words.

I'd love to give you details of the actual ceremony portion of being confirmed...but beyond blushing, tripping, and my husband's steady hand on my shoulder, I don't remember very much.

Other than the fact that I smell like a cheesy pine tree air freshener from the oil.

The days to come will be filled with interesting musings on these various subjects, but for now, I'm going to sign off and find a way to get this smell off my head.

Tonight it ends...or rather begins.

After two weeks of being on the road and living a life that swung drastically between watching paint dry and herding cattle on crack, I can now safely say I am ecstatic to be home.

However, I arrived just in the nick of time (Literally - got here yesterday) for the ceremony tonight that will bring me into the Catholic Church. I didn't even know which of the 3 parishes in our little "system" here in the sticks I was supposed to be at until this morning.

In exactly 2 1/2 hours, the Easter Vigil ceremony will begin outside at the bonfire. In exactly 3 hours, I will likely be vomiting in the bathroom.

I'm a bundle of nerves, but surprisingly calm considering I have absolutely no idea what to expect and am petrified that I'm going to make some huge mistake.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How a Kindle Solved All My Travel Problems

I've always been a very firm believer that whatever you need, God will provide it if you only have the patience to wait for His perfect timing.

So about a month ago, I ordered my Kindle. I'm a big reader. I LOVE reading and few things in this world make me happier than delving deep into a book.

This weekend I'm preparing for a road trip I'm starting next week. The wireless internet card arrived today from my step-dad who is kind enough to share his technology with me as I bounce across the country. I'd planned to take it to the store and find a USB cord so it could be powered from the computer to eliminate yet another plug when they're always so scarce on the road.

Lo and behold, I'd just unplugged my Kindle last night next to where I was sitting and, guess what? The plug matched the wireless internet card perfectly! :)

Then I went to the bathroom to tidy up and stumbled across my Bluetooth headset. I haven't used it since my last road trip as I don't use my phone all that often. I had no idea where the charger was and figured I wouldn't be able to use it without one. Out of sheer curiosity, I opened up it's little port to see what the plug looked like and thought...hmm....that looks rather familiar.

So I brought it out to the living room, unplugged the wireless card, and tried it. Once again, the little light lit up and the Kindle cord (which is a USB cord) would power my headset as well!

1 cord, 3 amazing devices, 1 thrilled human being!!!

A Sociable Sue trying to be a Perfect Paula teaching a Competent Carl.

For those of you who have NO clue what I'm saying, allow me to elaborate. :)

My mother is the most wonderful person on earth. Really. She's fantastic. She was so organized as a child my grandmother used to take her friends into my mother's room and show them how perfect it was. She even earned the nickname "Peggy Perfect" from friends and family as a school-aged child.

So you can understand that her perfectly organized, extremely type A, beautifully wonderful person is, in Cathy Duffy's terms, a Perfect Paula.

I spent my whole childhood knowing I wasn't like the other kids. I didn't learn like them. I didn't look at the world the way they did. Music was background noise to them. It was what moved my soul. My entire being focused around my music because it was a way I could please the people around me using my gifts. I am a Sociable Sue.

People often think chatty people are Sociable Sues. That's not really what it's about. Sociable Sue's are the textbook people pleaser. We don't come second, or third. We put ourselves at the bottom of the list and devote 100% of our energy to pleasing other people. We're often artists and musicians. Our entire and total language is making other people happy. It's truly where we find our bliss. It's our every happiness.

Being the daughter of a Perfect Paula, I tried to be like my mother. Always having it together. Always being perfect. Always trying to do it all, have it all, be it all. Because, in my heart, I wanted to BE like my mother. It would make her happy. It would make the people around me happy. People LIKE Perfect Paula's.

It's kind of the ultimate irony.

So, up until a few weeks ago, I was a Sociable Sue trying to be a Perfect Paula teaching a Competent Carl.

Perfect Paula's make great homeschool moms. They're the ones who have it all together and have the perfect curriculum and perfect little smiles on their 6 perfect children's faces.

Reading Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschooling Curriculum opened my eyes. To me this book was SO very much more than about homeschool curriculum. It showed me, in simple black and white terms, why I couldn't possibly be happy with what I've been doing.

Because I can't be a Perfect Paula any more than I could be those kids on the school ground. I can't learn the way they learn. I can't do things the way they do them. Because I'm not a Perfect Paula. I'm just not.

I'm a Sociable Sue.

I'm vibrant with piles of energy. I love people and I love to be surrounded by them. I'm a free wheeling, fun loving, crazy to the point of almost being insane person.

And somewhere in the middle of trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect person, I forgot I needed to be me too.

I forgot to embrace that side of me. To be happy and free. To be that person with a crazy love for life. I forgot what it was like to dance in the rain..yes, literally dance in the rain. I dragged a bunch of my college classmates out of the building one day in the middle of a class and we went out and danced in the rain.

That's who I was.

That's who I AM.

And now that I've found it again, I'm not letting it go. I'm not going to try and be something I'm not anymore to try and make the people around me happier. I'm going to be me. Crazy, fun loving, emotional, borderline psychotic but so much fun to be with you just can't put me down. I'm that wild book you always wanted to read, that crazy woman in the movie that, secretly, you wonder what it would be to be like. I'm a lounge singer, a church cantor, and I sing lullabies to the most beautiful, wonderful little boy on this earth.


And I'm not hiding anymore.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

TrainBoy's First Reconciliation

Well, it may have taken an eon to finally get a date to stick, but TrainBoy had his First Reconciliation today after Mass and a quick potluck.

He did a great job as did the other kids in the group.

Sadly my husband wasn't able to make it due to the multiple reschedulings but he sent a letter for him to get after he came out of the sacrament. It was VERY touching.

I have to say that all of this has made me feel even more solidified in what we're doing. He did great. We were so proud of him.

And then the dreaded question came on the car ride home.

"Mom, what was YOUR First Reconciliation like?"

"umm...uh...umm...well....Mommy hasn't done hers yet."


"ummm...uh....ummm...well...because I have to take more classes than you and my classes haven't started yet."

"When will you do it?"

"ummm...uh...ummm...well...when they tell me I can. I don't know."