Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When will be the last time...?

I had a biopsy the other day. It's most likely nothing, according to Dr. Prajapati, and I'm amazed at how blasé I have become as a cancer patient. I think nothing of the stick of a needle or even scalpel because they have become my friends in my fight for survival...and I'm determined to survive. But when the day comes and my number is up, I'll go quietly and willingly. This is a gift that the past 5 or so years have given me.

Another gift I have been given is an ability to ponder without becoming melancholy...and ponder is something I often do. This lead to a conversation with Rick the other day. I'd been silently wondering about 'last times' for a while and so I decided to share with him. Have you ever thought about, ''when will be the last time''? The last times usually go marching by without any fanfare, unless it's a milestone: the last ball game, the last year of school, the last day at work, etc.

When was the last time Rick and I went horseback riding with our posse? We used to be quite the avid horse people - having owned as many as 11 horses at one time. We had a Thoroughbred stallion, Quarter Horse mares and three foals all in one spring. Wrangler Camp, for camping with horses, was a favorite haunt and we loved these times tremendously. Much to my terror now, I rode in the woods (alone) with both Rowan and Erika when they were around 1 year old or so. Erika actually 'broke' our stallion by being the first human on his back - now before you call CS, he was docile as a lamb and Rick was right there to very briefly place her in the saddle.

Later Erika got involved in 4-H. She excelled both in the Horse Bowl (academics) and in riding (poles, barrels, showmanship and dressage). It was an integral part of our daily lives. Trips to county fairs, then the State Fair, were all a family passion. Then something happened. I'm not sure what it was but before I knew it, I was horseless. Since Erika had horses for many years, I lived vicariously through her but I suppose my cowgirl days are gone...but not forgotten.

When was the last time Mom and I went shopping? She and I were quite the busy bees, dragging kids (hers and mine) to stores sometimes on a daily basis. We were big believers in retail therapy and found bargains that would make any penny pincher green with envy. But she got sick, got better, got sick and didn't get better and all the while I don't remember that last time that 'the girls' went out on the town for a day of fun and laughter. It's a memory I hold dear but it has an elusive quality about it because it wasn't marked by any one special just ended and that, was that!

As I was sharing these thoughts with Rick he made the statement that we'd better enjoy each day (and occasion) as if it is the last. Did I marry my soul mate or what?! So we talked for a while about the things that we enjoy doing together - he and I - gardening, cooking, spiritual encounters, and family. It's always a good idea to live today as if it will be our last but in ways more than just spiritual. Our Eternal Destiny depends on our believing that Jesus will come 'like a thief in the night' and we 'know not the day or the hour'...that is a good fact to stay focused on. But there are earthly reasons as well. We should cherish the times we spend with those we love or those who depend on us and treat each contact as if it were our just might be.

The kids and I went to a funeral today. It was for a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The family had many wonderful memories. He had known of his impending death and had had an opportunity to share a 'last time' with all of his loved ones. Some people, however, are not so lucky. They go in an unexpected instant...that last kiss goodbye REALLY is the LAST kiss goodbye. So it behooves us to make each 'goodbye' special...each 'I love you' an aware, 'look that person in the eye and mean it', special. It may be the last time...
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UPDATE: I received a call from the nurse at my doctor's office this afternoon. Everything went well with the cancer! Thanks be to God that I'll have a chance for (hopefully) many more 'last times'!

Thanks and blessings to all of my friends who pray for me and wait with me when I have a bit of 'drama' thrown my way ;-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lenten Rosary Project for Kids

I've been reflecting on Lent for the past week and how I am going to observe this time of penance, alms giving, and prayer. My thoughts then brought to mind the little souls with which we are entrusted as parents, grandparents, and God-parents.

Since my babies are all so young (1 - 5) I thought it would be best to help them in the 'doing' and praying category so I came up with the idea of teaching them all of the prayers of the Rosary (most of them know the Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary but reinforcement is not a bad thing) and transition their regular nighttime prayers into reciting a decade while concentrating on a particular mystery each night.

Here's a simple and effective craft I came up with that combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure:

Materials List:
  • Plastic Easter Eggs (5 larger eggs for the Our Father and 53 smaller eggs for the Hail Mary)
  • Colorful curling ribbon, dental floss or pipe cleaners
  • Paper and markers/crayons
  • Tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks
  • Glitter glue, puff paint, stickers or other embellishments
  • Hot glue gun or pipe cleaners
Lenten Rosary Project:
  • Hot glue the small Easter eggs (top and bottom) onto small strips of ribbon or floss until you have a chain of 10.
  • Alternatively you can cut small sections of pipe cleaners and thread them through the little holes at either end of the eggs.
  • Chose a petition, good dead, or prayer for each member of the family and write/draw on a piece of paper. You could also have your little ones earn pennies to share with the poor.
  • Place these papers or coins inside a plastic Easter egg.
  • Add one larger Easter egg to your chain for the Our Father in each decade.
  • Say one decade of the Rosary each evening using your chain and add your offerings for that day. This is a good time to discuss behavior, sharing and giving.
  • If you do this for the 5 weekdays you will have enough chains to form 5 decades.
  • On Saturday add the Our Father and 3 Hail Mary beads and assemble a cross using tongue depressor or Popsicle sticks and decorate.
  • Assemble the entire Rosary (5 decades, Our Father & 3 Hail Mary's, and the Cross)
  • Continue to recite one decade per day as you complete your craft.
  • On Sunday draw or color pictures depicting the mysteries you have prayed during the week and make a booklet to go along with your newly completed Rosary.
At the end of a 5 day week you will have said all five of the respective mysteries and by the end of 4 full weeks you will have said all 4 sets of mysteries...and the COMPLETE Rosary. You should now have 4 completed Rosaries (unless you reuse the same one every week) and the corresponding booklets with pictures of the mysteries.

You could now move on to coloring pages of the Stations of the Cross as your activity and reuse the Rosary you have made for praying a decade every evening as a family, as is now your practice.

Here are some links to coloring pages for the Rosary and Lent:
Now that you have spent 28 days saying a decade per day and completing your Easter Egg Rosaries you can continue with the pattern through Lent (and beyond). Perhaps you could spend the rest of Lent using your new Rosaries and drawing or coloring pages with intentions, good
deeds, and sacrifices.

On the evening before Easter Sunday fill each egg with a treat or surprise and then hide your eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Or you could keep them intact and still fill with treats. Your kids will have had a chance to count down the 40 days and reap a reward for their patience and efforts, seeing a tangible result! Hopefully you will also have enhanced your family prayer habits.

God bless you...and have a fruitful Lent. Let us all pray for one another!

*Note: you could also do the above project using a paper chain much like those that are made during Advent to adorn your Christmas tree. Each 'link' in the chain could be a Hail Mary and a larger 'link' could be added for the Our Father. You could write on the slips of paper before creating the links.
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Now for adult Lenten sacrifices:

For me it's always been simple to choose the something to give up...there are so many blessings that we have in this land of abundance that I can usually think of too many things to part with.
This year my list is as follows:

1) Facebook games: I'm a Zuma addict and will not play this game for the entire Lenten season.

2) Facebook in general (do you see a theme here?) I will greatly reduce my Facebook usage to mostly religious and pro-life postings. Fridays will be a NO FACEBOOK day (something I started doing a couple of months ago).

3) My adult beverage of choice is wine...think I'll take a break ;-)

The DOING of something extra is another resolution for Lent. As an adult some of the ideas I have come up with for this year are:

1) Extra visits to the nursing home where Rick's 95 year old grandmother resides.

2) Completing one of my religious materials (I'm leaning toward the Salvation History with Scott Hahn CD and corresponding workbook).

3) Attending extra weekday Masses.

Then there's the alms giving. There are so many worthy causes that it will be difficult to chose but chose I will and it will probably have something to do with Haiti. This poorest of nations has a real need and is oftentimes forgotten. I know a priest who is well versed in helping a priest friend of his who is there 'in the trenches'...I think I'll give him a call.

I will also be linking to a few sites that I have found on the topic of Lent. There will be a variety of family friendly and adult links. There may be additions as I find them so feel free to check back:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sewing gifts

My love of sewing goes WAY back to high school and home economics class. My mother was very crafty and would sew, crochet and knit at lightning speed so it was only natural that I would follow her footsteps in at least one of those handy dandy pursuits. Crocheting and knitting bore me to tears so sewing it was!

One of my first projects was to sew a honeymoon travel suit because Rick and I married when I was still a senior in high school. I also made a nifty little two piece bathing suit to wear during our wedding trip for that Thanksgiving weekend back in 1974. We went to Brown County State Park in Nashville, IN and the lodge had a wonderful glassed-in swimming pool where we were blessed to watch the snow come down while we were toasty warm and swimming.

After I graduated from high school and then Brescia University I began to sew again for our little family. Especially when our daughter came along. If I say so myself, I developed quite a few skills and even made her a fully lined winter coat one year. Of course frilly dresses and matching dolls clothes were my favorites.

Then life happened. School, farming, too many sports to mention so sewing took a back seat until I was down to making the occasional pair of boxers or pajama pants for Mark (boys are definitely less inspiring models).

Of course, as it always is in life, what you think will remain a forever lifestyle isn't. After the last pitch was thrown, the last basket shot and there were no more young adults to watch as they walked across the stage, first for high school and then college diplomas, my life was my own again...or was it?

Next came the grandkids, lickety split, one after another until there were 7 all under the age of 7! Now that my Nana's Day School has been limited to only 2 or 3 at a time, however, I've found my passion again. What's amazing is how much you forget when you go on a long break - you
really do lose it if you don't use it.

I was also shocked at how much the cost of sewing has gone up! One of the
reasons for sewing used to be that you could save a LOT of money. Now a days that isn't the case. Patterns cost anywhere from $8 - $16 and fabrics are just as high. Erika's mother-in-law had given her some fabric from a quilting project or two so this was passed to me and allowed me to practice without being in danger of wasting large sums of money.
This meant that my first project needed to be really I made 16 placemats for my kitchen and found that I still had a bit of skill left. I decided that my next project would be something fun for the kids. Since they all love to cook with me, the perfect project was to make the girls matching aprons. Again, the hand-me-down fabric came to the rescue...luckily purple and yellow are favorite colors too!

Hobby Lobby had a great pattern sale 10/$10 - and I easily found what I needed and few extras!

Since our living room is multi-purpose I set up my sewing desk behind one of the couches and employed the computer chair as a sewing chair. My little kingdom allows me to work online, sew, and watch television all at the same time ;-)

I cut out the fabric one day. Next I pieced together the pressed parts of the apron and had a ball reconnecting with a hobby from years gone by.

Since the girls both have March birthdays, I have decided that their newly crafted aprons will be a part of their birthday gifts. I'll probably throw in some felt food (it's a part of the pattern) and they'll be very pleased the next time we play 'Top Chef'.

Simon was drafted to try on the completed apron and as you can see from the photo, he was just a little bit reluctant. I plan to make it up to him when I make him a 'boy' crafting tunic with slots for crayons.

All in all, I think I'm really going to enjoy yet another way to be creative. I guess creativity doesn't have to be about painting or drawing. Sometimes a useful outlet is just as satisfying!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Birgit Report: news stories too important (to me) to ignore

At lunch with my friend, Kelly, yesterday I joked that although I post quite a few things on my Facebook wall there are always so MANY more articles that I'd like to post as well. I'm a 'little' bit of an over-achiever sometimes and don't want to wear out my welcome or risk having my feed hidden by friends who simply do not have the same passions that I do. This blog post is a little experiment, then, to see how it would be to post in the style of the Drudge Report.

As someone who 'lurks' on others' blogs I realize that there may be more people reading my posts than I think. To help me with this little experiment and to help me determine whether or not I will continue to do this, would you please either comment or check one of the comments below? Thanks!

Here are my articles for today with just enough to tease you into reading if something catches your eye:

Planned Parenthood: Public Funding of "Human Weed'' Removal? It will shock people from both sides of the debate to know that Margaret Sanger initially opposed abortion.

Bishops Boot 'booty' from Revised Bible Some changes in translation to accommodate English as a 'living' language. I get some of them but some of them are not so great.

Listen up! More and more samples released of new/revised Mass settings being released New compositions for the revised Missal...see what you think.

Truth TV Ireland is battling for life and death right now. This is a terrific's spellbinging. If only abortion doctors would explain it this way, there would be so many less abortions! Bravo!!!

States question Obama citizenship with legislation Georgia is the 11th state to introduce legislation to put in place requirements for verification of citizenship in direct response to the Obama administration's refusal to produce documentation of varying types.

Are AWOL Democrats in danger of recall in Wisconsin? Those pesky lawmakers who ran rather than lose a vote may be in danger of losing their jobs...yeah!

Catholic Seattle University Backs Planned Parenthood Internships Catholic university offers and encourages internships with Planned Parenthood on their website. Scandalous!!! I wrote the following to them:

It is with great sorrow that I write this email to you, Fr. Sundborg. I was shocked and dismayed to read the news that your Catholic institution is cooperating with the culture of death by promoting internships with the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers, Planned Parenthood. Not only has the Catholic Church consistently maintained the grave evil of abortion but She has also spoken out in opposition to giving Scandal to those with whom we interact. It is my humble position that your institution is in grave error. You provide publicity for Planned Parenthood internships in the section for “Public Affairs Student Internships” on the website for Seattle University. Furthermore, students are encouraged to contact the PP career services department for additional information. Conversely there are no internship possibilities listed for pro-life groups or crisis pregnancy centers.

I beg that you prayerfully reconsider this cooperation with the culture of death and return your university to one that is in complete communion with the Catholic Church and all of her teachings.
In His Name for Life,
Birgit Jones
Owensboro, KY

Address your civil comments to:

Fr. Stephen V. Sundborg, SJ
Seattle University, President
901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122-1090
Phone: 206-296-1891


As someone who 'lurks' on others' blogs I realize that there may be people reading my posts of whom I am not aware. To help me with this little experiment and to help me determine whether or not I will continue to do this, would you please either comment or check one of the comments below? Thanks!

Good night ;-)

Artisan Bread

I love baking bread so when I found this recipe for Artisan bread I was intrigued. First off, knowing that the root of the word is 'art', I had to do some research and find out exactly what it is (and how you say it)...I know, I'm a bit of a nerd that way ;-)

So here goes: Artisan bread is best described by thinking about the person who makes the bread. Compare an artisan baker to other familiar craftspersons. They know how to combine their materials to build something strong and at the same time delicate or elegant. You can tell a true hand crafted bread from one that is just called artisan by looking at the ingredients. There shouldn't be anything in bread besides flour, water salt and yeast. If the bread is made with a sourdough there may not even be yeast in the ingredients. It wasn't necessary to add chemicals to bread for centuries and it still isn't. As for the pronunciation, it's - ar' te zen

Now for the recipe:

This recipe makes enough for four 1-pound loaves and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, so you can have fresh bread any time you want. Bake it unadorned as a Crusty Boule, or roll ingredients into the refrigerated dough to create sweet and savory loaves.

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 teaspoons coarse salt
7 1/4 cups (2 lb. 4 oz.; 1027.67 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (measure using scoop and sweep method)

1. Combine water, yeast and salt in large bowl. With
spoon (or mixer with paddle attachment), stir in flour (dough will be wet).

2. Place dough in 5-quart lidded container; cover with lid (do not snap airtight). Let rise at room temperature 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight or up to 14 days.

Dough for 4 (1-lb.) loaves

Crusty Boule
(pronounced - bool, French for ball)

This classic European-style loaf has a crisp crust and hearty crumb. It’s perfect as an everyday bread to serve with soups and salads or just a slice of cheese.

1-lb. (grapefruit-size) portion of the Master Dough above.

1. Hold dough and dust top with flour; quickly shape into ball by stretching surface of dough around to bottom on all four sides, rotating dough a quarter turn as you go.

2. Place dough on pizza peel or baking sheet liberally sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper; cover loosely with lightly floured plastic wrap. Let stand
in warm draft-free place 1 hour or until dough is slightly puffed and no longer chilled.

3. Thirty minutes before baking, place baking stone on center oven rack; place empty broiler pan on bottom oven rack. Heat oven to 450°F.

4. Dust loaf with flour. With serrated knife, make 2 or 3 (1/4-inch-deep) slashes in top of loaf. Slide loaf (with parchment paper, if using) onto baking stone. Immediately pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan; quickly close oven door to trap steam.

5. Bake 30 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool completely on wire rack.
1 (12-slice) loaf

Slice, spread with butter and enjoy...crunch!

Thanks to ''Cooking Club'' magazine for this wonderful recipe!