10 Random Things I Want to Learn Before I Die

Just for fun I thought I would share some things I’ve always wanted to learn. Most of the things on the list are crafty things. I don’t consider myself crafty by nature, but I do have a desire to try! For more fun top ten lists head on over to Oh Amanda’s.

1.Fillet a fish. You’d think since I grew up in New Jersey, I’d know how to do this. No can do. I’ve caught my share of fish, but never had to fillet one, so I didn’t. Why would I want to learn to fillet a fish? No reason, really, just because I don’t know how!

2. Sign language. I’ve always been fascinated with sign language. When my son was a baby I got a baby signing book out of the library and he learned to sign some basic words before he could talk. Once he started talking, he wanted nothing more to do with sign language. Still, it would be fun to learn if I had someone to sign with. 🙂

3. Latin. It turns out that I will be learning this sooner rather than later. My son and I practice a few prayers in Latin a few days a week, and recently he told me he wants to learn more Latin. If I can find a program geared toward young ones, I’ll probably get started with it.

4. Ballet. If you knew me, you might not be surprised about this, but you’d might laugh. You see, I have mild Cerebral Palsy, and so I don’t at all have the leg strength or flexibility for ballet (BUT, I can walk, Yay, me!). I absolutely love Ballet, though and can watch it for hours. The music, the costumes (most of them, anyway), the dancing, the story; it’s all magical to me. So, even if in reality I won’t ever learn ballet, I can still want to learn. 🙂

5. Irish Step Dancing. The chances of learning how to do Irish Step Dancing is pretty much nil; but, I’m adding it to the list anyway because it’s so much fun to watch!

6. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). I know enough CSS to be dangerous. lol! Mastering CSS would be very beneficial for my business, so I really want to make the time to learn this soon.

7. Drawing and painting. Some day I would love to take a beginner’s drawing and/or painting class. People who are creative and can use a brush to create beauty amaze me. I would love to try my hand at playing with colors, textures, etc.

8. Quilting. Quilts are so beautiful – and comfy! I love how some of the patterns seems quite intricate and detailed. That’s right up my alley! I have a good eye for detail and think I would enjoy the labor of creating a quilt.

9. Sewing. A few years ago, a friend of mine helped me sew a baby’s hat for someone and I loved it. It would be so much fun to be able to learn to sew my own clothes or curtains or whatever I wanted. I think I just may put down a sewing machine on my wish list for Christmas. 😉

10. A Musical Instrument. When I was with the sisters, I started learning to play the organ. It was a lot of fun but I never got comfortable enough to play in the chapel. As a matter of fact, whenever I had to play with someone watching I’d freak out and not be able to play at all. After I left the sisters, I did have an organ for a while before I was married, but I never had time to practice. The instruments I would most love to learn to play is the harp (Yep!) or the clarinet. Who knows, maybe Andrew will want to learn an instrument and I can learn with him!

Your turn! Why don’t you share in the comments some of the things you’ve always wanted to learn?! Don’t be shy!

Saint Jeanne Jugan: Champion of the Aged

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of God.” Matthew 5:3

Today (August 30) is the feast of an amazing woman: Saint Jeanne Jugan. She isn’t very well known yet, but deserves to be! She dedicated her life to taking care of the elderly poor and in doing that, she founded the religious congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

What a lot of people reading this don’t know is, I spent eight years with the Little Sisters of the Poor discerning a vocation with them. It was a wonderful experience, and even though I am called to marriage and family, I have never regretted the time I spent with the Sisters. It was there, of course, that I got to know Saint Jeanne, back when she was still a “Blessed”.

Saint Jeanne Jugan is a true witness and example for our time. In a world where life is often disregarded and the elderly are often ignored or deemed a nuisance, Saint Jeanne Jugan – and the Little Sisters of the Poor – shine out like a bright star.

I invite to you check out this youtube video which outlines the life of Saint Jeanne Jugan and the work of the Little Sisters (It’s about 10 minutes, but well worth the time spent!):

(This post is linked to Saints & Scripture Sundays.)

The Beheading Edition: Saints and Scripture Sunday

If it wasn’t Sunday, it would be the memorial of the beheading of St. John the Baptist.

“Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him , It is not lawful for you to to have her.’ Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.” Matthew 14:3-12

We are very fortunate in our country that we haven’t had to die or endure serious suffering for our faith; not yet, at least. I can see it happening in the near future though, if society continues as is and the government continues to seize control of all aspects of our lives.  We live in scary times, don’t we?

Saint John is an incredible witness to the faith for our times. He was bold and not afraid to speak the truth, to call out Herod for doing what was unlawful and not pleasing to the Lord – no matter what the cost. He was the forerunner of Christ and it cost him his life. He was not afraid to go against the grain and ruffle some feathers.

Me? I shy away from talking about the Lord or standing up for the tenets of our faith, especially in casual conversations. Sure, it’s easy to talk about Jesus and faith here on my blog. It’s almost like “preaching to the choir” because many who read my blog share the same values/belief system as me.

It’s not like talking to family, friends or acquaintances face to face. All the ‘what-ifs” pop up: What would he/she think? What if I’m rejected? What if they don’t want to be friends anymore or talk to me anymore? It’s all unfounded fear based on “me” and not pure love.

Pure love is “willing the good of another.” The ultimate “good” is God and being with him forever. If I truly love, than I want all people to be with God in heaven. So, if speaking out is the ultimate good for that person, then I shouldn’t let let fear stop me. But, I do.

There is such an assault on our values: contraception, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, pre-marital relations. The Ten Commandments are pretty much ignored and those who follow the teachings of the Church are considered “out-of-touch” and old-fashioned. If one lives out their faith with any regularity they are considered fanatics.

We (and I’m speaking mostly about myself here) need to be like Saint John the Baptist. Be bold. Go against the grain. Speak out. We need to “die to ourselves” and live fully in Jesus and then allow Jesus to work through us  to bring His love to others. Yes, we need to pray for others, but we (I) also need to reach out and not be afraid to call them out, in love, when we can.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us! Help us to be faithful and confident witnesses for Christ!

(For more Saints and Scripture head over to Kennedy Adventures.)

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (August 29)

Welcome  to this week’s edition of Sunday Snippets! Why don’t you share what you’ve been blogging with us at RAnn’s?

On Sunday, it was the (uncelebrated) feast of the Queenship of Mary.

On Monday, I shared my Secret to Holiness.

On Tuesday, it was all about my Top Ten Favorite Christian Books.

On Wednesday, I discovered The Discipline Jar which has made a HUGE difference in my son’s behavior!

On Thursday, it was (not quite!) wordless, with Andrew showing off a Proud Moment.

On Fearless Friday, the feast of Saint Monica, we joined in prayer for the conversion of sinners.

Have a wonderful week!

Fearless Friday: For the Conversion of Sinners

Today is the feast of Saint Monica, so it is fitting that I dedicate today to praying for the conversion of sinners for today’s Fearless Friday. We all have family members, friends, co-workers and acquaintances who are far from the Lord and I’m sure it often weighs heavy on our hearts.

Take heart! Saint Monica prayed some 20 years for the conversion of husband and son, Saint Augustine of Hippo. As long as there’s life there’s hope. I truly believe that our prayers for those far from the Lord brings down many graces upon them.

Prayer for the Conversion of Sinners

Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Amen.

(Prayer courtesy of catholic.org)

(Not so!) Wordless Thursday: Oh So Proud!

Andrew Certificate

Andrew is in kindergarten and we are using the Catholic Heritage Curricula. He loves the program and is way ahead of the game with the lessons. Instead of doing two letters per week as suggested, he has been doing two letters A DAY. We started school on August 9th and he is already finished with the 60 page book!

Anyway, as an encouragement for the children, when they finish the letter practice book they get a certificate of achievement (as you see above).  Andrew was so proud and excited about the certificate he asked me to take his picture and post it for all to see! 😀 (Not a shy bone in his little body! lol!)

Here’s what the certificate says:

This certifies that
Andrew Michael D’Annunzio
has completed the study of letters and letter sounds
and is ready to begin
LITTLE STORIES FOR LITTLE FOLKS: CATHOLIC PHONICS READERS.
Awarded this 23rd day
of August 2010

(Signed by both parents)

How cute is that?! :mrgreen:

The Discipline Jar

For a long while we were having some major discipline problems with Andrew. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it (don’t we all!) which would result in some terrible fits and tantrums. We tried everything: time-outs, taking away privileges and or toys, even yelling. It was making all of us miserable and we were at our wit’s end.

I know a lot of people do reward charts, but I didn’t think that would work with Andrew. He is very physical and visual and I didn’t think it would be an incentive enough, even with the possibility of an award. As I was thinking and praying about this, I decided to try doing an “rewards jar” or “discipline jar.” I talked to Michael about it and we both figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

First, we went to the dollar store and picked up a jar (actually, all we could find was a plastic vase) and some decorative stones (Andrew loves rocks, so we went with the stones but you could use marbles or anything small).

stones

We let Andrew decorate the jar. He wanted to be able to see the stones so he only used a few stickers, and a picture of himself when he was a baby. Then we used a crayon to write his name.

Andrew Jar

Also, I typed up some house rules, a chore chart and a behavior chart. On the chore chart and behavior charts, I assigned a points system. I printed out the charts and taped them to the wall at Andrew’s eye level.

This is how it works: Each time Andrew cheerfully does his chores or behaves appropriately, he would earn stones that he can put in his jar. When he accumulated a certain amount of stones he can exchange them for a special treat. For example, every time he brushes his teeth he gets two stones or every time he does his school work or obeys mama and daddy the first time he gets 5 stones. The stone value depends on the difficulty and/or “unpleasantness” of the task. We also throw in a few extra stones in here or there when he’s been exceptionally good which is helping him stay motivated. 😉

It has been three weeks now and we are so happy how well this is working! He often looks for ways to be good and earn stones. We have been heaping on tons of excitement and praise when he earns stones, which has been making him want to earn more!

Of course he still “has his moments” and there have been days when  his behavior was so naughty he lost most or all his stones, but overall, he is like a new little boy! 🙂 And believe me, a happy, well-behaved child (for the most part!) works for me!

For the record, we make it very easy to earn a lot of stones quickly and we make it very easy to earn rewards. This way he can visually see his stones build up and he gets a special reward a couple days a week. As a matter of fact, I would say that on an average day, with minimal misbehavior, he can earn about 20 stones just for doing his daily tasks. On his exceptionally good days he has earned up to 40 or more! To balance that out, he needs at least 35 stones before he can start trading them in for points.

Now it’s your turn. What tricks or tips do you have for getting your kids to do their chores or behave as they should?!

Top Ten Favorite Christian Books

Last week I shared our Top Ten Children’s Books. This week I thought I’d share my top ten favorite Christian books (for grown-ups!). These are all books that have had an impact on my spiritual or family life.

1. The Holy Bible. I suppose this should be a given, but I am including it anyway. 🙂 There is absolutely no “book” more crucial to living an authentic Christian life than the bible.  I try to spend time praying the scriptures at least a few days a week when I can.

2. The Catholic Catechism. The Catechism is a “must have” companion to the bible. It is not a book that you read from cover to cover. It is a book that you can go from section to section as you need. Part Four of the Catechism is an absolutely beautiful expose of the Our Father. If you haven’t read the section on the Our Father, you should!

3. The Imitation of Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I have re-read this book! It is a classic book loaded with admonitions, prayers and advice for living a Christian life.

4. Abandonment to Divine Providence. This is another awesome classic! This sneak peek says it all: “If the work of our sanctification presents, apparently, the most insurmountable difficulties, it is because we do not know how to form a just idea of it. In reality sanctity can be reduced to one single practice, fidelity to the duties appointed by God. Now this fidelity is equally within each one’s power whether in its active practice, or passive exercise.”

5. Handbook of Prayers. I’ve only had this book since January and it’s already has that “well-worn” look! It is chock-full of classic prayers, novenas and devotions. It even has the prayers in both English and Latin. I keep this book by my bedside and use it every day.

6. Divine Mercy in My Soul. I read all or parts of this book every Lenten season. This book relates the experiences and visions of Saint Faustina Kowalska. It is from her that the Lord gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Feast of Divine Mercy.

7. True Devotion to Mary. This book from Saint Louis de Montfort expounds on why we should have devotion to Mary and what perfect consecration to Jesus through Mary means. It also includes the 33 days of preparation for the consecration. I use this almost every year when I renew my consecration.

8. A Mother’s Rule of Life. This book by Holly Pierlot is a wonderfully practical book. Taking the idea from a religious order’s rule of life, Holly shows us how to balance our “Five ‘P’s” (Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider) by creating our own “Mother’s Rule.”  I confess to being a total failure on this. I’ve made and tweaked (and tweaked and tweaked!) my own rule but often forget to follow my own rule! I keep going back to this book though, for inspiration and keep trying!

9. The Trial of Faith of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have to come clean here: before reading this book I didn’t have much appreciation or devotion to Saint Therese. She seemed “too flowery” and “up in the clouds” for me. I’m a very practical person and she didn’t seem very practical to me. Boy was I wrong! She suffered tremendously and even suffered doubts about God. This book changed the way I thought of St. Therese and of suffering.  If you are ever struggling with your faith you should consider reading this book!

10. The Way, Furrow, The Forge. This book is actually a compilation of three books by Saint Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. They are exhortations, counsels and food for thought to be taken with you during times of meditations. In the words of Saint Josemaria himself: “Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won’t tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.”

What are you favorite Christian books? Do share! And don’t forget to add your own Top Tens post over a Oh Amanda!

Anniversary Edition: Saints and Scripture Sunday

“And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Luke 1:46-48

Welcome to this week’s Saints and Scripture Sunday! Today happens to be a special day for me, for a few reasons:

1. It is my husband’s and my seventh wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been seven years already! It feels like we just got married! LOL! (I won’t be seeing my honey because he has to work, so: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Michael! I LOVE YOU!)

2. Although it’s not celebrated this year (because Lord’s Day takes precedence), today is the obligatory memorial of the Queen-ship of Mary. The Queen-ship of Mary is a beautiful feast. Jesus has given us HIS mother to be our mother and Queen intercessor.

3. Today is also the anniversary and renewal of our (me and my husband) total consecration to Jesus through Mary according to Saint Louis de Montfort.

What makes our consecration extra special is that we made the actual consecration during our wedding ceremony! We asked our priest friend who married us if we could make the consecration during the mass and he said yes.  So, after communion, we went as a newly married couple to pray before the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which is custom for us Catholics). We prayed the WHOLE consecration (it’s a bit long) and afterward (to our surprise) Father had us sign the consecration in front of everyone. It was truly a special moment for us. 🙂

Saint Bonaventure says: “Listen, all you who desire the Kingdom of God! Honor and serve the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, and you will find life and eternal salvation!”

Let us this week strive to deepen our relationship with Our Lady! God bless you.

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (August 22)

My this past week went fast! I can’t believe it’s Sunday again already! Here’s this week’s Sunday Snippets:

Sunday: It was the feast of the Assumption of Mary and we discovered a little bit about one of Mary’s most faithful sons: Saint Max.

Monday: I discovered a beautiful prayer that I shared with everyone: O Jesus Living in Mary.

Tuesday: What are your favorite books that you love to read to your children? I shared our Top Ten Chidren’s Books.

Wednesday: Need something sweet? This week’s recipe is Tasty Fruit Tarts.

Thursday: Does the Sacrament of Reconciliation make you squeamish? Here’s How to Make a Good Confession.

Friday: Fearless Friday had us Praying for Cancer Patients and for their caregivers.

Wishing you all another blessed and wonderful week!