Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hold on to Your Kids...a book review

I was checking emails and got sidetracked by this article. It is about a celebrity couple who is filing for divorce, celebrating with friends and each other at a party in honor of said divorce, and telling everyone that while they can't be together, they have very good feeling toward the other partner and want to work together for the children. Working together is very important for the children and that is very mature...or is it?

Last week I talked about this book, High Risk: Children Without a Conscience. I explained that while I believe it was ground-breaking when it was released, and still has an excellent overview of what attachment disorder is, there were some problems with it. My biggest complaints are two-fold. Holding Therapy, which is touted as the only way to get through to the child, is incorrect. And it can be dangerous for a parent to attempt alone. Second, it talks about attachment disorder as being relatively one speed...like, your child is only attachment disordered if he or she is a mini psychopath standing over you at night with a knife or sticking feces in your hamburger. Attachment disorder, we now know, have more of a continuum...degrees of attachment problems.

As some of you know, from my facebook posts and one crazy sessions when he fainted during our call, I had been engaging in telephone counseling with therapist and radio host, Dr. Greg Popcak. Dr. Popcak had many good things to say when he helped me with some problems I was having with our son. He steered me towards a book , Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld. I initially was less than thrilled with the recommendation. I assumed it was another book on holding therapy from the name and knew I did not want to go there with my 6+ foot 16 year old son. But Dr. Popcak's discussions with me regarding attachment--building and saving the bond with my children--made a lot of sense, so I ordered the book and dove in. I was delighted and LOVED the book. I highly recommend it for anyone who has children, works with children, was once a child  himself. Yeah, I think everyone should read it. Why, you ask? I am so glad you did!!



The book defines a phenomenon that has not been named in today's society: Peer Culture. It is so spot on that it is almost frightening. The premise is that when children do not find their parents as reliable and dependable...they lose their authority with their children who then need to look elsewhere for someone to orient them; be their true north. That usually ends up being other children. The problem with that is other children do not have the emotional maturity to bond effectively with others, nor do they have the capacity to encourage other to become the individual they are meant to be. I realize, when writing that, it sounds ridiculously simplistic. It is. But it also explains some of the big problems of our times...precocious sexuality, though that is a tame name for what our children are exposed to on a daily basis, bullying which is becoming a huge problem at times leading to suicide, our peter pan boys who refuse to grow up, girls who pretend they are mature and then try and prove it by doing a grown up thing, like raising a child...and the circle continues. Many of the things that I rant against on a daily basis can be found here in the Peer Culture that we are raising our children in. Critics of the book raise two objections to it. 1. lack of remedies in the book. 2. lack of objective peer reviews in support of or even in opposition to his theories. I concur with both of those objections, but still recommend to book. First, it is obviously true. It can be seen clearly in society and in our own lives. There is something going on...Neufeld just explained it really well. Second, if it hasn't been defined before, it would be difficult for others to have studied it,  however, if we did reviews for peer cultured studies on some of the individual issues Neufeld raised in the book, I am sure that we would find support for the ideas. Neufeld just put it all together. I for one am grateful. Also, if I recognize now what the problem is, I can find solutions in my life for our children. Neufeld doesn't need to tell me what to do.

This book has caused me to take a long, hard look at my own life. I believe I used my own peer culture as my True North...now I need to examine my life and see how it has affected me. How I did not fall into the same problems as my Peers;  how it affected my siblings; most importantly, my children. It has caused me to look at how I am schooling my children. It has caused me to examine how casually my husband and I send the children to have play dates and stay overnight with friends. How we are actually encouraging the children to become independent from us before they have a chance to have a secure attachment. Most of the children in our home have only lived with us for 2 years. They do not have a strong bond and many of the things we do don't encourage a stronger bond. Their options are to look to immature peers as the source of their growth and development.

What are the things that I want to teach my kids that they won't get from their peers? Unconditional love...Responsibility for self and for others. Commitment and follow through. Family bonds and caring that is more than superficial. Maturity...self-actualization. I want my children to set goals and follow through on them. I want my children to try, risking failure. I want my children to be sure of themselves so that if someone laughs at them or disagrees with them, they will not blindly believe them or fail to believe in what they know is true. I want my children to have and be a good friend. I want them to practice that with their peers but know that they can be safe at home so that their peer interactions are not life and death. I want my child to become a responsible adult who will choose a friend to marry and be his or her best friend. And remain with that person forever. I want them to choose this person not based on what he looks like on the outside, but on what he is inside. I want them to stay together regardless of what life throws them, yes, and model to their own children what to be. Not just be mature enough not to fight and have a party celebrating their divorce. I want my children to love God and see him as the ultimate authority to trust. The arbiter of right and wrong...the true, true north.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Concluded with a Cross...

So, I confessed that I don't like confession...but what I didn't tell you was that I went back. About three week ago. It was after about 20 years. I never really felt the need; no I don't think I am sinless. I always thought that if I did a good examination of conscience and asked directly, I was good. Lately, however, I have been listening to Catholic radio in the car. Day after day, hour after hour, I was bombarded by messages telling me I was not getting the full grace of my faith by missing out on one of the few sacraments I am able to access at any time. Then at church, the priest would echo that. I didn't even have any relief at home...Shawn hounded me all the time to go. I was feeling some pressure. But two things happened to push me over the edge. 1. I told my son that I went in an effort to get him to go to mass. I didn't intend to lie, but when he misunderstood me and was so impressed that I had gone...well, what was I supposed to say. 2. When I was beginning to feel the conviction to attend, it became overwhelming. I was still under the impression that Catholics are required to confess once a year or they cannot receive. I became convinced that the priest could sense that I had not received reconciliation in 20 years and so he would deny me the Eucharist. In a panic, I fled, in tears...no drama here! In our very large parish of thousands of parishioners, we only have confession one night a week. It happened to be that day. I arranged to attend, with great difficulty---i have 11 children with active schedules; they didn't feel my sense of urgency. But Shawn did...he moved heaven and earth and children to free my schedule. My panic was immense. I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to say. I went in and sat down with a priest I have never seen before and told him it was 20 years and these were my sins...and nothing. I could not call to mind one single sin. He was silent and finally asked, "so what brought you here." "Mother Angelica was hounding me", was all I could come up with...All my sins forgiven, though I hadn't really confessed one. I fairly floated home...weight that I hadn't felt before was gone. We have an awesome God...

Oh, and I guess I lied...It was not 20 years since my last confession. I had a priest absolve my sins during that time. I was under the influence of some amazing drugs and having gallbladder surgery at the time so I suppose I can be forgiven for forgetting. I do remember the feeling of lightness from my sins (no, it wasn't just the amazing drugs!!). Even afterwards, I had thought about having a little alternative surgery done on a regular basis to have a priest give absolution without having to confess...but I forgot after even a short time. Does anyone else ever read the old testament and marvel at those silly Israelites? God would bring them out of slavery through miraculous means and they would turn around and forget. I guess we are all just as silly! The memory is so very short. But having your sins forgiven by God; hearing it from a Priest is an amazing thing. So for my Catholic sisters and brother, use Advent as a chance to go back to the sacrament and remember what you have been missing. If you regularly take advantage, good for you! And if you are a Christian brother or sister...this is just another amazing reason for Catholicism! Just one...

from google images
Now, in my effort to make a reconciliation a regular part of my life, i am trying to attend once a month. I am trying to do an examination of conscience on a regular basis. An examination of Conscience is usually based on the 10 commandments. There are other ways to do it, but we have such a thorough process by which to accomplish this in the ten commandments. Interestingly enough, there was support for this in the first reading at Mass today, so I didn't have to look far (reading is from Isaiah 48:17-19).
Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,



the Holy One of Israel:


I, the LORD, your God,


teach you what is for your good,


and lead you on the way you should go.


If you would hearken to my commandments,


your prosperity would be like a river,


and your vindication like the waves of the sea;


Your descendants would be like the sand,


and those born of your stock like its grains,


Their name never cut off


or blotted out from my presence

So, without further ado...the 10 Commandments:

1. I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
have I loved God more than anything else (sex, money, power, or ambition), engaged in superstitions (horoscope), or the occult (Ouija board, seances, worship of the devil), or let someone or something influence my decisions more than God?
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
have I spoken with disrespect about God or failed to keep vows or promises I made to God, belittled others with my speech, or spoken obscenely?
3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
have I remembered to set aside time each day for personal prayer, shopped, done labor, or business on Sunday without a good reason, missed or neglected to take a child under my care to Mass on Sunday or on a Holy Day of Obligation?
4. Honor your father and your mother.
have I obeyed what my parents have asked of me (if I am still under their care) or failed to take care of my parents in their old age, been to my children a good example of a catholic parent, lived in humble obedience to those who legitimately exercise authority over me, and not supported politicians whose positions are in opposition to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?
5. You shall not kill.
have I been involved directly or indirectly in an abortion, verbally or emotionally abused another, threatened another with physical harm, purposely provoked another by nagging, deliberately annoyed or teased another, joined a hate group or discriminated against someone, used tobacco immoderately, over-eaten, refused to forgive someone when asked, hated someone, indulged in serious anger, refused to control my temper, delighted to see someone else be hurt or suffer, engaged in animal cruelty?
6 & 9. You shall not commit adultery.
             You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
have I practiced chastity, given into lust, practiced artificial contraception, not been open to conception, without just cause, engaged in homosexuality, or dressed immodestly?
7 &10. You shall not steal.
               You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
have I stolen, envied other for their possessions, freed myself from a consumer mentality, tried to live in a spirit of Gospel poverty and simplicity, given generously to others in need, or misused natural resources?
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
have I lied, gossiped, or ruined someones reputation and destroyed his credibility, been guilty of a rash judgement, failed to speak in defense of the Catholic faith, the Church, or another person, or betrayed anther's confidence through speech.











Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Started with an Apple

"You just have such a bad attitude towards me. You don't treat me like the other kids. Dad sees it and he understands."
Those words were spoken to me by my oldest son...a boy who is having a really hard time right now...OK, a really hard time for the last few months. He is and has made some very poor decisions, but he is wrong about one thing. I love him dearly. With his sister, he was my first child. They came into our lives at 10 and 20 months old...biological siblings. I tell them the story of my first sight of them in the children and youth office. He strut into the office, big and brash. I swear he was jailing his overalls...so much swagger carrying a bottle of milk. I said "OH God, please let that be my boy..." His sister came in next in the arms of the social worker, wide as she was long and such a mean look on her face, I said..."I hope that isn't the sister!" At 10 months old, she scared me already. But the boy...I loved him at first sight. An 16 years later, I love him even more. No, I don't treat him differently, though I pray daily not to let my irritation show. I know that he needs my grace more than any of them right now. I think his perception of what I think of him causes him to think I am angry with him. A very adolescent response. However, on a daily basis he rains down hate on me. This morning, I thought, "wow, this feels like a physical assault..."

the man replied, the woman whom you put here with me-she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it. The Lord God then asked the woman...she answered, the serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it... 


Ever since Adam and Eve first allowed sin into our world, our first response to it has been an adolescent. We hide, then we cast blame; we excuse our behavior rather than accepting it in a mature way and asking forgiveness. Today is The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the first reading at Mass, we hear about Adam and Eve allowing sin into our world. The Garden of Eden was closed to all. On the Feast of her Immaculate Conception, we hear, in the Gospel, about how Mary agreed to be a Conduit to allow Jesus to be born into the world to be our Savior. To die for our sins and to open the gates of the Garden of Eden again...Life, eternal...

I had to wonder if when we deny sin in our adolescent way, if it feels, to Jesus, like a physical assault...


photo from pintrest


This weekend we will be celebrating the third Sunday of Advent...we are done with the penitential part and moving to celebration of our Savior's birth. I am afraid we have been celebrating Christmas a little too much a little too early. For the next few nights, we will be discussing our sins and doing a good examination of conscience. Many of the younger Murphy's are either not old enough to have had their first Reconciliation or just not been baptised yet. Still, none of them are too young to know the difference between right and wrong. We will spend the next week or so examining our sins praying for forgiveness so we can fully enjoy the joy of our saviors birth. Tomorrow, I will discuss how to make a good examination of conscience. However, today, I will touch on making a good confession. We learn how to make the sacrament of Reconciliation in 2nd grade and it is never talked about again. Consequently, many people are still confessing like a 2nd grader. A thorough examination of conscience is one way to avoid this. Also, telling the Priest confessor your marital status can help with his understanding of your sin. He doesn't have to know everything about you, but that can help him to put things into context. You don't have to confess every sin. He doesn't need to know that you missed Mass unless it was a larger part of habitual sin. He needs to know the one or two things that weigh most heavily on your heart. God knows the rest...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day of Note...


When Shawn called from work yesterday, he told me they had a cake for him; it was his 20 year anniversary at his company...Wow, how time flies. I thought back and instantly thought of his 1st very memorable night, 20 years ago. He was on night shift and in the middle of the night, his brother knocked on the door, waking me up fromthe sound sleep that I had so much trouble entering; their father had died. And James was still with us...

There is nothing you can do for him...you should just let him go. You will never be able to afford the treatment he will need...

Those words were spoken by a highly respected therapist I knew for years. A man who was married to a close friend and co-worker. A man who was currently working for the Children and Youth Agency where we lived, fostered and consequently adopted our first son, and the site of one of the most horrible moments of my life. I don't know when I have talked about this last; its been years. I am Catholic, but have a problem with confession. Shawn tells me I don't feel the need because I confess everything in my life every time I open my mouth. But not this...The little boy we adopted when we were very, very young was being fostered by my parents. They could not handle his escalating misbehavior. Shawn had a pretty good relationship with him and it seemed obvious that rather than allow an eight year old to go into residential treatment, we would give it a shot. He was involved with foster care through the agency that I used to work for, so it all seemed possible. It went well. We had some problems, but overall when we went to court to put in a petition to adopt and the judge immediately granted the adoption, we thought, "well alright!" We changed our tune to a more conservative, "well..." when after we got home, the boy immediately called his best friend and asked to go live with him and his family.


The next several years were a nightmare of him trying to get away from us. Typically, as it turns out, he could not handle the closeness of our new relationship of parent and child. Also, typically, he turned to me to act out his anger towards the mother who hurt him so badly. No one could see it...not even Shawn. Especially not Shawn. He wanted it that way. Pretty diabolical for a nine year old, right...but family members who helped me with him at the time saw it almost immediately. He only behaved for Shawn...it almost broke up our marriage. If my sister-in-law...Shawn's sister who didn't live with us had not been with me the day that he systematically and with a smile kicked his bedroom wall in because I would not let him go outside until he picked up the dresser that he pushed to the ground--an hours worth of entertainment for him and me getting bruised from him repeatedly hurling himself at me, I might have thought I WAS crazy when he calmly picked it up and went outside after Shawn told him once to take care of it. Shawn had been sleeping because of his night job and finally the banging woke him up. I became upset when Shawn let him go outside and Shawn told me, "maybe if you weren't so mean to him, he would behave better for you." I left that day and didn't come home for a few days. But Beth was there and she knew I wasn't crazy. There was something seriously wrong with the child that years of therapy hadn't caught. My husband didn't see. But I did and I knew I wasn't crazy. I love my husband so I went home. For us and for my sister-in-law who lived with us since the death of her father. I had gone back to work, and the child turned his mommy anger on her when there was no one else there. We took to sleeping with dressers against the door. After many intances of him becoming violent, we called the police. The police didn't want him; Children and Youth were done with him...they wanted us to get him to a counselor. His therapist told me that he probably was too far gone to work with but respectfully apologized when the Doctor said he was fine after a two minute interview. One night he came after me with a butcher knife and Shawn took him to Children and Youth and said you NEED to do something. It moved quickly after that. The conversation with the therapist and his subsequent recommendation of the book, "High Risk: Children Without a Concience" convinced us that we needed to relinquish our parental rights. I won't bore you with the details. Really...it was heart-breaking and wrong. So much wrong in that little person's life. I don't feel good about my part in it. I was supposed to be the adult. I didn't know what the problem was and in 1990 not many therepists knew what Reactive Attachment Disorder was...the average mom certainly didn't. But I did, and in my job as parent education trainer (all snickering must be hidden...well!!) I vowed to learn all there was to know about attachment and problems with it.


My first introduction to attachment disorder was the first book recommended to me, High Risk: Children without a conscience, has a great introduction on the subject and describes the problem for children who have not been able to attach to their caregivers. The outlook in the book is very grim, however, much more is known about this disorder now. We are now aware that there are continuum's in the spectrum of attachment. Next week I will be looking at a more modern book on the subject of attachment disorder. I mention this book because it was pioneer in its day. However, while it called for a very "one size fits all" approach to therapy, the basic premises of the book are still sound. I think what I like most about the book--the hope I found there was that it listed, as a symptom of your child's disorder, "a very angry mother." Don't get me wrong...I don't think it is good for mother's to be angry. In a field where we tell people all the time that they are not responsible for someone else's feeling, it is appropriate to to recognize this. These kids deliberately try to splinter relationships and make, usually the mother, a target for all the bad. They usually have a very cute and delightful personality, except for her. While it wasn't an especially happy time in our married life, the trials we went through with James helped us to become better parents and better people.

Lord, help us to remember people in our past who are gone, either through death or circumstance. Help us to remember they still need our prayers. Even if we don't always have good memories about them, they have played a part in making us the people we are today. Help me to remember only the good, in order to help us pray fervently for them. Every person and every trial has a reason. while we may not know why on this side of heaven, help us to praise you in all things. amen...












Friday, December 2, 2011

Pretty Feet Notes and another give-away

17 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nought and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction."
Isaiah 29: 17 - 24


So, I don't really get prophesy...i am a tell it to me straight out kind of girl. I can pretty much let sarcasm, innuendo, and subtlety pass me by, as well, much to the frustration of my friends and family. I do well with pointed looks and body language though, which is probably what has saved me from totally alienating everyone around me. But prophesy...in the bible, nope. I don't get it. So when I got the opportunity to attend daily mass recently on a regular basis and heard the priest talking about this guy Isaiah and some of it started to make sense...well, i felt a little like the blind who began to see. Its kind of exciting...If I am understanding some of this correctly, prophesy isn't some end times thing. Its now. It already is...The prophet, Isaiah, was a, you know, prophet. Sent by God to tell us something. Then Jesus came, and he fulfilled these prophesies...and defeated the devil. That is a great thought. The devil is already defeated. We have won. There is no contest now. We just have to believe it. The only thing he has going for him...and its big...is that we don't believe in him any more. It enables him to keep telling us things that keep us separate from God's love. We need to take our blinders off, see him for what he is, and live.

I had a thought yesterday that I would try and share, on a regular basis, some life-friendly news...taking those blinders off...kind of like my own Pretty Feet Notes...clever, huh?

And finally...its late, and I am tired, so i am just going to remind you to let me know if you would like to be in the raffle for the amazing book I have available...Different Dream Parenting by Jolene Philo. Also, I have a link to a really great blog hop by teachers at Lady Bugs teachers files...Its a 12 day hop, so check it out...especially if you are a teacher or home school!




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beautiful Feet

Yesterday I read something that made me very sad. This post, on Christianity Today, quoted a statistic that 90% of babies checked in vitro for downs syndrome are aborted. Convinced it was false, I googled it. Yep, its true. Isn't that the saddest thing...Some other individuals just confirmed the decision. "I am not in that situation, but if I was, I would abort. I wouldn't like to live like that and I wouldn't sentence my child to live like that." Wow, so sentence them to the death penalty...sounds kindof harsh. Why does the parent get to make the decision of what perfection is...they are probably inspired more by fear of the unknown. Raising handicapped children in any way is not easy, but that doesn't mean that it is not rewarding...even wonderful. If they choose adoption, it does not sentence the child to a lifetime of institutional care. Sometimes the test results are wrong, and a completely healthy infant never got a chance.
I have a whole new perspective on handicaps. I have been diagnosed this week with bells palsy. My doctor is unsure if its from my Multiple Sclerosis or a virus, but we are treating it aggresively...always fun. At any rate, the right side of my face is effectively paralyzed. Not pretty while talking, eating, or even smiling. Since I have been chided by husband and daughter about calling attention to it, I am forbidden from using humor and self-depreciation in dealing with it...my favorite safety mechanisms. I am seeing clearly how people deal with handicapped people. It ain't pretty. Even at church...but I am learning a lot of other things, too. Things about myself. I don't always have to be the funny person. People will still like me or want to know me even if I can't smile and talk...There is more to me than that which is visible. That is the message I teach to my children, who have visible and invisible handicapps. Even to my black children--horrible to think of race as a handicap, but it is. There is so much more to people than that which is known by looking at them. In this age of health care limitations and constraints, life is an issue that need careful considertion. Issues on this being heard in our congress soon include a prenatal discrimation based ban on sex and race  selection-based abortions. African babies are aborted more than 5x the rate of white babies. Babies are routinely screened for other disabilities to give parents the chance to abort if this would be too hard for them...

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!

In light of this, one has to ask how much of this is ignorance-based. One of the readings in yesterday's mass was from Roman's and included the above passage. We need to spread the information about things like abortion, pro-life nurses being forced to assist in abortions because of federal mandates, and end of life issues. We need to do God's work and bring the good news. We live in an information age, but much of what we see is influenced by a secular media whose message is not God's. Are we becoming blind to even what people saw 2 generations ago generally in every day life. Do we just not see people with disabilities out and about. Do we think it is so much harder to raise a handicapped child than a "normal" child. Raising any child is a hard job. If we go in with expectation of perfection, we are sure to be disappointed. If we plan to revisit our youth through our children, I am so sorry but it won't be the same. But wanting to parent...if that is your goal, you can work with anyone! And love them. And be fulfilled as a parent, whatever that means; it really isn't about us.


I think there are three things we can do to be "beautiful feet."
  1. We can raise awareness of the issues in the secular media. There are things like this contest, where youth are encouraged to spread the message in ways that get accross to secular and religious people on issues like abortion. Reel Life Film Costest also has a facebook page if you or someone is interested.
  2. Speaking of the media, EWTN has done much to raise awareness and interest in our catholic faith. If you are interested in supporting them, you can go to the EWTN.com or any of its affiliates, like Guadalupe or Ave Maria radio. Both of those affiliates are holding fund raisers next week and provide information on right to life issues.
  3. We can disseminate information on the dignity of life...all life.

That said, I would like to offer a recommendation on a book for anyone thinking about parenting any baby. It is Different Dream for Parenting by Jolene Philo. No, no one goes into looking for a disabled baby to raise, but increasingly, babies are being born with differing levels of disability. Combined with better heath care at birth, some babies are being born and parents are suddenly pulled into legnthy hospital stays and situations where they are called to make decisions for their child that is life and death with little preparation. Since a child can be born handicapped, needing a legnthy hospital stay, or have an accident and become disabled, it would beehoove everyone to read this. Jolene doesn't address any one issue or disorder, but instead writes about the process and navigating the medical community. She touches on everything from paying your hospital bills to organizing people who want to help (brilliant). She talks about babies who have chronic problems, to babies, like her own, who have issues that can be resolved, and finally, if necessary, she talks about ways to prepare for and plan for a death. It is an amazing reference. There is an excerpt to read a part of the book here.  Jolene's blog also holds a wealth of information. I feel pretty bad about offering to be in this blog hop because I wasn't able to generate any interest in my raffle for a copy of the book. I will extend that until this weekend. If no one enters, I will advertise it through Amazon and Barnes and Noble :o) Just drop me a note saying you are interested!








Monday, November 28, 2011

The Centurian...

It must have been easy to believe if you lived in the time of Jesus. I imagine if you met him...looked into his eyes, you would just know and believe. Course if you were wrong, you got et by lions... so there was some risk.  But the opportunity to really believe in Jesus. Lay everything out for him. I would have loved to have a chance to believe like that. It must have been an exciting time...biblical times. I love the stories in the bible, like the lady who touched his cloak because she KNEW that is all it would take to get healing from him. Or the disciples who risked everything to walk with him. Or the Centurion...a gentile, like us, who wouldn't even trouble Jesus to come to his home...told him, Just command it, and it will be done...faith...strong, unshakable, and true. faith...

I pondered this on my way home from Mass this morning. I was a little worried. I am planning a visit home to PA for Christmas. Matt will be spending Christmas with his birth mom, Shawn is taking 8 of the children to Austin to see his sister and Shamu ;o) not in any particular order. And I get a break, driving to PA with just two kids. Tina is planning a birthday party with her biological siblings. Mariah just wants a break from whole foods. And me, I just want to enjoy some quiet with my family. But yesterday Shawn noticed my mouth is drooping...weird, right. But this morning my eye felt odd. I suspect its an MS exacerbation. Sure, just when I have so much going on. So much I need to do and get done. The kids have a few weeks left in school and I really want to begin homeschooling. We have so much on our plate and that kitchen is such a mess! And Shawn had to get the biggest tree at the tree farm...all the ornaments are all over the foyer and James and Tina have home extensions due by the 30th and I haven't even begun to shop for Mariah's birthday gifts--I know she gave me a list, but I thought it was NEXT week...where does the time go...And now this. My brother called...super grapevine we have in the fils-aime family. Sue has a friend who had something like what you are experiencing...bells palsy? Who knows, you should see a doctor. And now my eye won't close...God, really. Can you help me out here...

just command it and it will be done...strong, unshakably, true...faith.






Matthew 8: 5 - 11



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5 As he entered Caper'na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him


6 and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress."


7 And he said to him, "I will come and heal him."


8 But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.


9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes, and to another, `Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it."


10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.


11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,

The Best Mother

So I have never claimed to be the best mom...my daughter often says I am, in fact, the absolute worst mom. I don't defend that...I realize motherhood isn't my strongest suit. When the new 7 children get upset with me and tell me that I'm not their mom and I'm mean, I say, "I never claimed to be...daddy and I are just people who were trying to keep you kids together...that is the only thing we promised." At parenting, we are all just trying to do our best--it is all we can hope for that we get it right some of the time; we are human. When I think of great parents, not even my own come to mind, though they weren't too shabby...I try to aim high and I think of our heavenly mother, Mary. I mean, she was without sin, so that has to count for something, right. She probably didn't yell at Jesus for bringing home his friend's yak without permission (did they have yak in the Holy land...that is just stuck in my head cause it was on someones facebook post this week...). But I digress, so when Jesus would come home with someone else's sandals or Joseph yelled for the fifth time that day she needed to get the water before it runs out...She just smiled serenely and carried on. That is a super mom!

The other morning on EWTN, I heard a priest giving an advent reflection which challenged that thought...I have never given birth, but have been present at one or two. I have had my arm clenched tightly by my sister enough to know that the nurses don't give enough care to the coach. I have seen the mess my cat made having kittens---I am not entirely naive. But this priest said, Mary, the mother of our Lord, a woman without sin, put her baby in a manger. A wooden barrel that has held mice and their excrement, been drooled on by hungry animals, and scratchy hay that had been, um, only God knows where. That is not the scene I envision. In the story in my head, Jesus is viewed by his travelling Shepperd friends and kings alike, in a somewhat cozy rustic room. He may be in a manger, but it is an adorable, rustic manger, perhaps covered by some royal cloak from a passing king. Certainly not smelly and NEVER dirty. Maybe I am a little naive...

I have held new babies...after the nurse has cleaned them off, of course. There is a purity about them. I even held my nephew, who was still-born, for several hours...my sister didn't want him leaving the room; we were in shock. But even in his stillness...his death, there was an air of purity and innocence around him. No, I could not imagine putting him in a manger described by the priest. It makes no earthy sense. But I believe it to be. The Priest posited that Mary's partner, the Spirit, let her know that this baby's life would not be easy. Yes, he is a king. But his soft flesh will be torn by much worse than straw.  Don't let him get to comfortable in this life...he has a hard road. Don't coddle him...I believe the priest may have been correct. I am sure that was a part of it. But I have to think that the best mother, the one without sin, would not have thought that her boy needed to learn to get used to suffering. Can we even do that? For Christ to suffer for our sins on the cross would he need first to know the love of his parents, both earthly and heavenly or did it just need to be another day in his life of suffering starting with the manger? I don't think that I will know the answer to that question on this side of heaven, but I have a guess...

All through the bible, we are told that we have to be childlike. What does that mean? Our priest gave me one explanation this week when talking about Mary and Advent. What is the first thing you notice about a childlike child...they are full of wonder and awe and they look to their father to explain it and give direction. Mary did that. When God asked to be his handmaiden, she said, "I don't understand and I am not worthy but thy will be done." And when she was led to a stable to give birth; that cave that smelled like animal and worse...I know I would have been screaming, "haven't I done enough...people are talking about me and Joseph. I rode that animal all the way to Bethlehem. And now you want me to have the baby here...without a doctor, meds, and water...Really!?" Childish, not childlike. But Mary, she just smiled serenely and said, "thy will be done, not mine..." Because her Father said to, she put that innocent boy...the king of kings, her baby boy...she put him in that manger and let his visitors behold him. God made man...the word made flesh...shivering on the hay in the smelly manger. The best mom...

photo from pintrest :)

by meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary, we can imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise...
 To get into the Kingdom, we all have to become childlike. To listen to the Father, we have to hear the Father. We are approaching the busiest season in our year, the winter holidays. I am having my family step back from the noise and we are making time during Advent to try and really hear what He has to say to us. We are using the Best Mother to help us; we are saying the rosary daily as a family...sometimes only the family that is present--whoever is home. We have moved out of our comfy living room, saying it sometimes during the busy evening meal prep time...whoever isn't working joins us on a couch and we pray...expectant...trying to hear what our Father has to say to us.





What are you doing to try to block out the noise of the world this Advent? Do you have customs and traditions you can share?


Lord, it can be so hard to hear your voice. Our family is tying faithfully to pray together during this season of waiting and listening for your voice. Tell us what you need us to do during this season. Always remind us to remain childlike and to ask you, our heavenly father, in all things. Help us to choose to do your will, not our own. Amen...


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Different Dream

I sit here on Thanksgiving Morning 2011, thanking God for the life he has given Shawn and I. When I reflect on Thanksgiving, 1987, our first as a married couple, I had just left my full time job as a social worker in anticipation of motherhood. We had discussed and decided we wanted a family early--while we were young enough to enjoy them and large...probably 5 children. It was scandalous!  :o) Now, an almost 50 year old mom of 11 adopted children, well...you can see somewhere it wasn't any longer our dream but His. We just listened and agreed to go along with His plan. It hasn't been easy, but I feel incredibly blessed today in ways I could never have imagined in 1987!

Many people plan the life they imagine. And then God throws them a curve ball. The blessing that they receive are often much harder than they thought up, but His rewards always surpass anything we are capable of imagining if we just say "yes" and do our part. In doing our part, there is so much to navigate. As a social worker for many years, I though I had it all figured out :o). I wish I had a resource such as Jolene Philo's Different Dream Parenting. A treasure trove of resources and lists, I would recommend it to any parent. In fact, I will write a post talking in depth about it along with an excerpt from the publisher. In the meantime, I will let Jolene, herself, tell you a little about it. But for your Thanksgiving shopping pleasure, minus the mall crowds, here is a 10% off retail code from the publisher for Different Dream Parenting. Also, I have a copy of the book to give to one poster today. You can get one chance to win the book by posting a bit about their different dream. It always helps to talk to others in the same situation. You can get a second entry by subscribing to my blog. I will draw a name on Monday. And thanks to Jolene for allowing me to participate in this blog hop...I begged her for a chance to review the book which her publisher provided, along with the giveaway book. The opinions of the book are my own! Now, in her own words, Jolene...

GUEST POST BY JOLENE PHILO, AUTHOR OF DIFFERENT DREAM PARENTING

 
When our beautiful newborn boy was transferred to a regional hospital, my husband and I felt lost at sea. A few hours later, we learned that our baby required immediate surgery at a university hospital 750 miles away. Without it, he would die. That news threw us overboard. We longed for someone who could come alongside and pull us out of the water. A book to chart a map through unfamiliar waters and assure us of God’s presence.

But our son was born in 1982 when pediatric medicine was a relatively new field. Families like ours were hard to find. Parenting books hadn’t been written. The Internet didn’t exist. Over the next twenty years, even after the surgeries and medical procedures that corrected our son’s condition were over, my search for parenting resources yielded scant results. Eventually, I sensed God nudging me to come alongside young parents lost at sea like we had been, to create a map they could follow.

Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs is that map. It’s a map for parents of kids living with medical special needs as well as conditions like Down Syndrome, juvenile diabetes, developmental delays, and autism, and those facing a terminal diagnosis. It guides parents by providing tools and resources they need to become effective advocates for their kids.

The book features interviews, advice, and resources from more than fifty families and two dozen professionals. With their help, the book addresses the situations parents face every day. Things I wish someone had told me, like:
      Asking questions after diagnosis.
      Dealing with insurance companies.
      Preparing a child for a hospital stay.
      Accessing financial resources and government monies.
      Accessing special education services.
      Determining optimum level of care.
      Mobilizing volunteers at home.
      Supporting the sibs.
      Preparing a child for death.
      Planning a funeral.
      Participating in community and church events.
      Creating a special needs trust for adult children with special needs.
 In addition to practical advice, Different Dream Parenting tackles spiritual questions families are often afraid to ask. Questions about:
      God’s sovereignty
      Parental guilt
      Setting and maintaining spiritual priorities
      Grieving for children living with special needs
      Grieving the death of a child
      Passing faith on to children with special needs

Thirty day prayer guides in the appendices are for parents too exhausted to form their own prayers.
I remember what it’s like to be lost at sea, thrown overboard by an unexpected diagnosis, and drowning under a flood of care giving demands. My goal is to put Different Dream Parenting into the hands of floundering parents so they have a map and know they’re not alone. To order the book, visit www.DifferentDream.com and click on the “buy the book” tab.
Thanks, Holly, for this opportunity to guest blog and tell people about Different Dream Parenting at Dwell in Glory.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Are...still Penn State; just a little less shiny...

I know that I promised you a book review...lets just call this a preview. I still have a book (or a few) I want to tell you about. But I have an apology to make...and maybe just one last, last word on this situation.

I am like my grandma. Took her to the funeral of her sister with my father. I don't speak creole so I missed a lot of the drama (note to self, don't go to any Fils-Aime gathering without learning creole). What I saw was my little, almost 100 year old grandmother ,argue with her nephew, the deceased son, and then, sniffling, be led out of her only sister's funeral by her son, followed by her only grandchild in attendance, me. I was also at a perfect vantage point to hear said nephew murmur something to which my grandmother executed a perfect 360 degree turn and launch all 100lbs of her self at him in the same movement...After catching grandma, carrying her out of the funeral home, and buying her donuts (another note to self, as I self-consciously push the tootsie roll wrappers off my desk...sugar really does not help in times of stress...) We settled her in her hotel bed and I googled "learn creole." I relate that story just to let y'all know that I come by it honest. If you have known me for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that I like my causes. And can get loud. Am totally not afraid of getting loud. And have had to be held back by people who know and love me when certain things are said...my triggers.
searching in the photo for my friends and family in state college and my loved ones in the State College Police Dept..I love JoePa, and I pray for the people of the city of State College. This is a nightmare

This week has been one long trigger. But as a mature almost...sigh...50 year old and mother of 11, i need to begin to take responsibility for myself. My behavior has been unconscionable. I am as guilty of those students having tear gas fired at them as any other adult who engaged in the debate of Joe Paterno's guilt in the legal proceeding going on in State College. A legal proceeding we don't have any business engaging in...we are not called to judge our brother. Just call him on his behavior. Done. But so many of us feel the need to blog, write, give our learned opinions, hear ourselves talk. Its the American way. And it was a trigger.

For me, college was a wonderful time. One big party punctuated by the occasional class. Yeah, when I did my masters at Marywood, it was about grades. But Penn State it was about parties and football. And Joe was our hero. I say that not to glorify alcohol and drinking, but to give you my point of reference. Didn't care what my major was. It was the 80's. We were as free as the kids in the 60's, but smarter. And we had a national winning football team...life was good. And even back then, JoPa was old. He walked the streets with us and didn't let his boys off the hook with grades. Get an Administration of Justice degree but get good grades!! That is how I knew Joe. I was an Administration of Justice major and so was much of his team. Joe wanted his boys to be the best on and off the field. And they loved him. Now many years later, I know as sure as I am sitting here that Joe wouldn't let a little boy be raped in his locker room and not do everything he could to ensure the boy was OK. I am completely sure, and interviews posted on the Internet bear it out, that he would not let any question of his wrong doing tarnish his team and his school. He would resign. But he would not bail on his boys at a crucial game. We all have to process that, let our conscience guide us. But every adult who entered into that debate helped fuel the turmoil that fed that riot. And our kids having tear gas sprayed at them.

A trigger. For me this wasn't all about a beloved coach though. The thing I am most passionate about is kids...my kids, our kids...I was a social worker before I was a mom (had to do something with that AdmJ degree and didn't want to carry a gun ;o) I have to wonder why that boy was in a locker room, with a man who was not his father, brother, or uncle, in the first place. My son would not have been. I wish this was hypothetical, but unfortunately, it isn't. One of my children, when they were 3 and still a foster child, was sent on a court-ordered home visit with the biological parents. On that visit, the child was molested by a sibling. I knew within literally 2 minutes of the kids getting back in the car there was a problem. Back at home, I called Children and Youth and had it reported, had collected physical evidence and was on my way to the hospital. I did not blame the boy who abused my child; he was small himself. Had been hurt. And he was sorry...I wish I could have told him we forgive him, but don't know where he is. I did not blame the caseworker, though he was, in fact, negligent. I blamed myself. I told my child that I was sorry I let them be hurt. I did that so they could heal. Ultimately, it was my fault. I was that child's parent. I eventually went to the caseworker supervisor. I did not go to the head of children and youth in that county who was at the time a close family friend. I went to the supervisor because that was the protocol. Actually, Shawn did, because he is the father and head of our household. He wondered aloud if the children's birth mother was supposed to complete a parent class but hadn't and had consistently failed drug tests while on probation but after her probation ended, they stopped testing, and wow, instant recovery. Not making light of a mom's pain. I liked the kids birth mom and spent a lot of time with her...but really. The agency made a decision, and with that, visits were stopped until she would comply with parenting and testing. She never did and we adopted the children.

It would have been very easy for us to come down on the agency and say they weren't doing their job. But it wouldn't have made it any easier for my child. And that is my gripe. My trigger...Yes, maybe Joe could have done more. But where was the child's parents. Why weren't they aware?

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 6

We send our children to school earlier and earlier. We release them to the preK teachers and retire our obligation to be our child's teacher of education. And social skills. And moral responsibility. Emotional temperature...people, where does it end. We are our children's teachers and we are responsible for each and every aspect of their lives. I have been angry that the government has been trying to erode parental responsibility for years but maybe they are just assuming it by default...































Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We are...Penn State!

If you are a Penn Stater, its been a roller coaster weekend...



I have been accused of talking too much but saying too little. I will make this long story short.

A long time member of Joe Paterno's coaching staff has been charged with sexually abusing children on Penn State property. While no charges were brought against him, there has been talk for years. Sandusky, the ex-Nittany Lion player and long-time defensive coach had allegedly been "grooming" boys for abuse by bringing them to games and buying them gifts. Allegedly, because, no one has proven anything. Sandusky makes a good case for being the injured party. He is an adoptive father, married, church-goer...foster parent.

The media speculates that there have been eye-witnesses in the showers. The students are upset because they see their thousands of dollars investment in education being tarnished. The fans are upset...JoPa is a legend. How could he not do more. How could he just do the minimum.

Lost in all of this is the larger issue...where were the parents. We are called to be the first teachers of our children. We are called to protect them. We need to be more aware...we are falling asleep.

Yes, a man who takes an interest in a child...a good man who is a football coach with access to one of the most revered coaches in our country at a football program that is respected not only for its talent but also its integrity, wants to take my son, by himself, to the school for a visit. NO!!! Big coach man can get a few tickets and my husband or almost adult son with accompany them. People, wake up. We are responsible for our children...their education, their livelihood, their souls. We do not let them go with people we don't know.

Yes, an adult who spends a lot of time working with children might be a very good person. Or they could be a pedophile. We cannot afford to know how they operate. According to Childline, the national registry for abuse of children, about 6 million children are sexually abused each year. More than 90% of juveniles know their abuser in some way. The really successful abusers (the one's who don't get caught) don't just snatch the child out of their yard. They groom the child. Get to know the parents. Buy them gifts. Earn their trust. Eventually, they might try to get the child to do something illegal...have a beer. Do some drugs. Makes the children reluctant to tell on the abuser if they might get in trouble, too.

This Sunday's first reading is from Proverbs and it talks about the wife and her duties.

Proverbs 31:10–13, 19–20, 30–31
10A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.
When I read this and thought about what on earth I could write...I don't clean. I direct the children and put away laundry...even that, I have them help. Shawn won't let me shop. I am a little scattered; he is much more efficient. Lately, he has taken to preparing dinner during his lunchtime from his very stressful job...less food waste that way. I am pretty much the anti-good wife. What do I bring to the table...why does Shawn, bless his heart, still love me. I am the information person. In this world, we need one. I am the one who knows that we don't need to check the sexual abuse registry for the perp on our block...there are plenty and they aren't registered or caught. There just are. Shawn deals in business world and then he just takes care of his family. I have seen the ugly and don't hide from it. I will help him protect the babies. And I will teach them. I will find books that they will enjoy reading and I will teach them to learn. God brought us together. He knows our strengths. We are learning to love each other because of the different things we bring to the table. We didn't know that I had multiple sclerosis when we were married. We didn't know that we would be incapable of having children together. We could have become disappointed in each other. Honestly, we probably were/are...but we are working through that. Instead, we adopted this nest of beautiful brown babies and brought a few families together...and it works.

So I promised I would be succinct...you should know me better than that by now. What am I saying...Sandusky probably hurt the boys. We need to learn that if a child is crying in the other room and someone walks out, he probably wasn't comforting her. Believe your eyes. Look at the statistics. Millions of children are being hurt each day. Look at the sex trafficking of our kids. Look at all the people and institutions that are trying to erode our rights as parents. Tomorrow I am going to review a book my counselor recommended (before he passed out during our session...are we facebook friends!!? I really blab there!!) It talks about the peer culture of our society and addresses bullying and attachment. Our children are in trouble and we are the only ones who can save them...even us handicapped moms can have our children rise up and call us blessed if we can save them from the Sandusky's and the bully's and the tormentors...and show them lots of love :o)

As for JoPa...he really isn't God. Sometimes it just seems that way. He told the police. Leave him alone. I personally hope he doesn't abandon his team while this is going on...though I certainly wouldn't blame him. Joe, do what you need. We still love you!!

And finally ;o) the lawyer I did my internship was noted as Sandusky's lawyer in a news article. Joe Amendola...if this gets back to you, remember the advice you gave me the first time we went to court...if someone starts shooting, get under the seats! Keep that in mind as you move forward and I'm praying for you!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween and a 40% sale on My Grafico on my Blog

so I stole this from pintrest...if it disappears in a day or two, know that my theft has been found out. I am going to argue that I was just caught up in the spirit of the season, but not sure how far that will take me...


halloween burlap bunting_step9b.jpg

I suppose that may be the problem with Halloween...we always push the envelope. In the case of Halloween, I am not sure what exactly the point was supposed to be in the first place...

We first decided we don't want to trick-or-treat because, frankly, we don't let the kids eat packaged poison. Then decided, we may look unfriendly, but do we want to be nice at the expense of our neighbors children eating more packaged poison supplied by us. In a last minute attack of conscious, we bought 120 Halloween pencils after which we will turn off the lights and eat organic popcorn...really. This is my biggest worry today.

After a weekend when I learned that the little boy who first brought us face to face with the local drug culture by stashing a tote in our attic wall filled with hundreds of small baggies of oregano (yes, the KPD is still chuckling about that one...) is sitting in a local hospital on life-support because of a gun wound inflicted by the father of the child he was holding up after breaking into their home. A day after my son was given by his religious ed teacher, the saints book of her son who had committed suicide last month. I understand that he was upset by a lot of things...I am guessing he is involved in local drug scene. I have spent much time learning about it through my own children's friends and their own involvement with it. I think I will have a very special night with my baby girls while daddy takes the older kids to their brother's last football game. After we hand out the last pencil and turn off the porch light, the girls and I will be praying a rosary for everyone who is celebrating or mourning or hoping...the spirit of the season.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Random Musings and some give-aways...

So, I am not blogging on the scriptures today. I am not entirely sure why, but I am strapped for time and have guilt if I don't stay with the agenda. Then I thought, hey, my one subscriber joined when I posted scrapbook pages and if she is still here she is disappointed anyway, so I will just post :o) I am not completely giving up the format. I like that it always gives me something to say even when I can't think of anything else. Also, there are going to be changes in my life...there always are in Murphy-ville.

Another reason was my trip last week to PA. Since the onset of my multiple sclerosis and possibly just old-age, I don't travel so well anymore. And I was really busy last weekend. I tried to see as many people as I could and suck as much out of each interaction as I could. It felt so good. I miss my old life. I lovelovelove TX. The weather, the beauty, the convenience of city life. But I miss my old life. Even on a day, a week before Halloween and I am reading about 12 degree nights and snow already...I still do. I have tried to remind myself about all the trees that block the light and SAD and down days when I was lonely anyway because no one could leave home for days on end. But it doesn't help. I sat with a beautiful baby girl, held her on my lap and gazed at her mom who, yesterday, was also a baby girl. She lived across the street from us. She and her sisters, one older and one younger, were a huge part of the backdrop of our lives. I sat with her and her mom and her beautiful baby and we laughed about old times. We both posted about the visit on facebook and the third mom who was part of our three house cluster but also moved away chimed in. Its not like I lost all my friends by moving. They are still there, but there is something special about going to the store and running into old friends. Friends who I have know forever and their parents and kids too...and aunts and uncles. I know, it can be claustrophobic, but I miss it all. So I am praying that God shows us where He would really like us to be.

On top of all of that, we are also praying for discernment about the kids education. I know that I have praised the public school system and have had count downs for the end of summer vacation. Heck, I was almost thrown out of our elementary school at the beginning of the school year for doing my happy dance of joy. But I really feel that I am being called to homeschool...I would appreciate prayers there as well. And some thoughts if you homeschool yourself or if you don't. Input is good...someone said to me today that we hear God in the words of the people we talk to. Talk to me...

And in the mean time...some links to share. Enjoy!
Holly

Give-aways to enter:
Picky Palate
great recipe for pumpkin ice cream glazed donuts and a give-away for a Wilton donut pan for 10 readers...I love this site and the donuts look great...super way to wave good-bye to fall.

Pennies and Blessings
Chance to win  Veggie Tales new Christmas story and a CD of Christmas music...HOHOHO!!!


Articles of interest:

Nest of Posies
Pinning it all and planning my menu for the weekend...maybe if the food is fun, they won't be so disappointed that we aren't having lots of candy!!
hey, its an apple (from Pintrest.com)