Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fat Tuesday

For some Christians today is Mardi Gras, others know it as Shrove Tuesday. Our family celebrates it as Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the pentitential practices of Lent.

Sam and Bre get in the spirit!

In our family it is our tradition to go to my Aunt Dorothy's for filhoses (Portuguese donuts) on Fat Tuesday. It is Jake and Sam's favorite thing! The house is absolutely full of people and there are lots and lots of kids running around, eating fresh filhose for dinner. I have only missed two Fat Tuesday's since my boys have been born and both times I tried to make filhose for them. Both times, I have failed. They look good, they taste fine. But they are not the same light , crispy and sweet donuts my aunt turns out of her kitchen by the hundreds. I think next year, if we are not in Bakersfield, I am going to have to change our tradition up and make pancakes or something I know I can do!!

Will enjoyed licking all the powdered sugar off!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent 2010

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the liturgical calendar. On this day we head to church to receive ashes on our foreheads that remind us of our need for repentence, we fast and we abstain from meet. It is the beginning of a 40 day journey into prayer, penance and almsgiving. It is a walk through the desert, a time to empty ourselves so we can be truly filled by Him on Easter Sunday.

It is customary for Catholics to "give something up" during Lent as a sacrifice and a reminder of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us. I've done this as long as I can remember. Some years I have been more intentional in my sacrifices than in others and those years have definitely brought the most spiritual growth and joy at Easter.

This years' sacrifice has been mulling around in my head for some time. Maybe even for many years. You see, if you know me very well, you know that I have a difficult time understanding why I was born into a life of affluence while others were born into poverty. Why I am fortunate to have a husband who can provide for all of our family's needs and most of our wants and other mothers must watch their children cry tears of hunger? Why do I live in 3600 square feet filled with love and laughter and others have no home and even worse, no love?

I have prayed about these questions of social justice for years. And I still don't know what God would have me do. We do the obvious, we give to charity, we volunteer, we have welcomed the poor into our home on occasion, but the truth is it just doesn't feel like enough.

John and I have discussed that if we truly believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ it means our life must look different from the rest of the world. And in some ways it does. We homeschool, we don't allow cable TV or satellite in our home, we try to open our door to those in need and we do our best to live the liturgical year. But the thing is, from the outside looking in, I would say our life looks pretty comfortable.

We have prayed for years wondering if God is calling us to do something big for him. Maybe adopt a child out of poverty, maybe go into the mission field? But the answer has always been, "no". We feel certain that God is calling us to tend to our apostolate right here, in our home, in Flagstaff. And we are learning to live the wise words of Mother Teresa, "You can do no great things, only small things with great love."

And then one day I stumbled on the following words from Tonia, at A Study in Brown. She writes,

"I have four children. When they woke up this morning, I kissed them and made them a good healthy breakfast. 30,000 other children died.

Americans spend 110 billion dollars a year on fast food.
39 billion dollars a year on their pets.
We are carrying over two trillion dollars in credit card and auto debt.

The disparity haunts me. How does a Christ follower reconcile the needs of the world with the realities of everyday life in an affluent nation? I just don't know. But we are going to spend a month trying to find out."

Her words stopped me in my tracks. I felt like I had said the very same thing time and time again. But what really got my attention was her plan. It is called Thirty Days of Nothing. Thirty days where you buy absolutely nothing that is not necessary to sustain life. Thirty days to detach ourselves from the habits of consumerism and materialism. Thirty days to empty ourselves so that He may fill us. This means no buying clothes, or books or toys. No eating out. No wine, no Diet Pepsi.
John and I decided that Lent would be a good time to give this plan a try. We are going to adapt Tonia's idea and extend it for the six weeks of Lent. So for our family it will be Forty Days of Nothing. We will keep track of the money we save and we will give it to the hungry. We will fast on Fridays (just John and I) so that we can truly understand the sufferings of the poor. And most importantly we will pray. We will pray that God will show us how we can use our lives to heal the sufferings in this world. We hope to learn the difference between a "need" and a "want" and discover where we can permanently cut back, so that we can permanently give more. I highly encourage you to take a look at Tonia's journal of her family's experience with Thirty Days of Nothing at
I am committing to keeping our blog updated with our experiences, in no small part, because I am sure I will need to be held accountable! And in the spirit of full disclosure we have a couple of prior commitments that require we spend money during the next six weeks. Sam is having an MRI and seeing his neurosurgeon in Phoenix and I am speaking at a fundraiser for Angioma Alliance which will require money for travel etc. But with these two exceptions we are going to try to find out how, as Ghandi said, we can "live simply, so that others may simply live."
We'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Birthday

Heart shaped pancakes for my little sweetie
I don't think there could be a luckier girl in the world. John and Sam made me this delicious dinner of filet mignon topped with bleu cheese, and lobster and asparagus. It was as good as it looked.
Really now, could there be a more beautiful sight? Two handsome men, chocolate covered strawberries and my favorite champagne. Oh, how I love my birthday!
Sam made these strawberries and they were fantastic! The only thing missing was my oldest boy. Did I mention that he stayed in Bakersfield with my parents? He won't be home until the first of March. I miss him so much my heart aches.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Mom's 75th Birthday Party

January 29th was my mom's 75th birthday. We had a small party at the Country Club. It was a fantastic party for an amazing lady! A picture of Mom when she was younger and the delicious cake. My dad told the story that when he took this picture in to be framed the man in the frame shop said, "Who is that movie star?" My dad said, "It's no movie star, it's the girl I'm going to marry." The man laughed and said, "Yeah, right!" Poor dad!! But lucky Dad, especially since he has been able to spend almost 57 years with that beautiful girl!

Amanda putting the finishing touches on the table
Mom and Dad
My nephews, Phil and Joe and my niece Jessica
Anna and Pop
Brad and Liz with a big bottle of our favorite Madorom. Yep, we drank the whole one night! It was fantastic as usual!

Mom with some of her closest friends, Margaret, Dorothy and Sandi
Amanda and Granny share a hug
Kim and Amanda
Matt, Amanda and baby Aaron

Mom cuts the cake--Will is in the back very excited, yelling, "Let's eat cake!!"

Grammy and baby Aaron
Aunt Cheryle gives Alex's baby a rub. We all are so excited for our new great niece to arrive!
John and me
Liz and Kim
Joe, charming the ladies, as usual
Cheryle and Liz
John and Uncle Kenny
Gracie gets a hug from Aunt Kim
MOA lovin' on Aaron
Mom and Kim
Mom and me
Granny with Jessica, Anna and Gracie
Mom with her brother Tom and his family, Andrea, Thomas and Alex
Mom with our family
Mom with her girls
Kim gives Gracie a dip!
My brother, me and our favorite wine!
Brad gave Mom this cookbook--the title is so true--she could have written it!


A while back, our friends, Ryan and Michele, gave us a sewing machine that was Ryan's mothers. Sam has been wanting to learn to sew for a long time now, but I could never fit the sewing machine in the car to get it back to Flagstaff. This trip Sam had plenty of time to learn to sew. Luckily, Aunt Kim was able to spend time with him teaching him everything from how to thread the bobbin, to making a quilt. (Which is a good thing because I don't even know how to turn the thing on!) He worked very hard and ended up with a beautiful quilt that he designed and made himself. Ryan's mother would be so pleased that he is putting her machine to such good use! And his great grandmother and Aunt Nola would be tickled as well! Good work Sammy!
Sam and Aunt Kim with the finished product

Riding with Phil

Fun in Bakersfield

Pop feeding cows
Will wanted in the pasture with those horses!
Sam posing as a deer
Jake and Deets
Will and the cows
Giving water to the horses
John cleaning up the saddles
Taking Will for a ride