EMN Blogroll …

The other day I noticed that all the wonderful little links that had once filled the right margin had disappeared. So much for “network.”

I’ve now added a dedicated PAGE that you can click on to find what you need. If you’re having trouble, here’s the link.

Also, as long as I’m telling you where to go and what to do, I have a post at “Mommy Monsters” you may find helpful if you have a child that struggles with insomnia. We had Christopher at a specialist yesterday, and she suggested we check his iron levels — apparently ADHD is sometimes treated when in fact the kid is just sleep deprived.

So … “Sleep-Deprived, or ADHD?”


All Aboard!

This week I was forced into a technology fast when our phone, e-mail, and cable were all on the fritz for a week. Yes, a week. A week without Internet. A week without anyone being able to call (apart from the few who have my cell phone number, and thought to use it). A week without my favorite blogs.

While in some ways it couldn’t have come at a worse time (I had to lean on my fearless #2 gal, Amelia, to take care of the bajillion phone calls and e-mail messages that go with planning a week of Bible school), in some ways it was also a blessing.

This was Chris and Sarah’s last week at school, each day fuller than the next with parties and special (e.g. “parental attendance required”) events. In my spare time, I’m putting on the finishing touches on the VBS program I wrote for my parish, “S.H.I.N.E. for Jesus: Parable Power.” Each day we focus on a different parable, Gospel story, and a corporal or spiritual work of mercy.

My favorite day is Thursday, when we talk about Peter’s boat (e.g. the “Barque of Peter”) as a metaphor for the Church founded by Christ. As Peter (the Apostle, who is also host of this week’s game show “Name That Parable!”) rows his boat, we sing:

Peter, row that boat ashore, alleluia!
Peter, row that boat ashore, alleluia!

All those folks want in the boat, alleluia!
Those that know it and those that don’t … alleluia!

Then Peter dives in to an explanation of the Reformation we hope K-6th graders will understand.

Boys and girls, the Boat of Peter is the Church founded by Christ. As the first pope of the Church, I was like the captain of a ship. This great ship has guided the people of God safely to heaven for more than two thousand years.

Unfortunately, about five hundred years ago, some people in the boat decided to rock the boat! They thought something smelled fishy, and were afraid the boat wasn’t going to make it to shore … and so they jumped out!

They took pieces from the boat, fashioned a few rafts, and started paddling, along with their families. They rowed and rowed, and in time some of the people on those rafts forgot what it was like to be in that great boat of grace. They told stories about that mysterious ‘Barque of Peter,’ and turned it into a ghost ship!

But that’s not the way God wants it to be. He wants us to stay in the boat, His Church … to shine the light of truth out onto the waters, and show people the way to safety. Because God loves those people who are out there in the water, lost and confused. He wants them to be safe. He wants them to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. He wants them to be part of the Church. And he wants YOU to help them!

The next day, the kids are challenged to invite a friend along with them to the last day of Bible school (getting Mom and Dad’s okay, of course). This is the second year we’re doing “Bring a Friend Friday” … and so far the results have been terrific. At their age, they’re not worried about “pushing their beliefs” on other people (like we adults can be at times). They just want their friends to share the fun!

Me, I just get excited to see kids enthused about sharing their faith. As a convert who was once “in the raft,” I know from personal experience how meaningful these casual invitations can be in the grand scheme of things. And I want my kids to experience the joy of reveling with their brothers and sisters in faith … all together in the boat.

Tips in the Kitchen: Kid-friendly chicken recipes

Today on YouTube I came across this video about the best way to cut up a chicken. This is a truly useful skill that will save you mucho dinero at the store. Even the parts that don’t normally get eaten whole (such as the back) make great soup stock.

My favorite ways to make chicken include:

Chicken Mexicali: Mix 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken with 1 can of cream of chicken soup with 1 cup sour cream. Pour 1/2 jar of salsa in the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole. Place spoonful of chicken mix in tortilla (I use wheat) and wrap like burrito. Place on top of salsa, and repeat until the pan is full. Top with remaining salsa, fresh cilantro (chopped) and shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with salad.

Chicken Divan: Boil and debone 2 chicken breasts; cut meat in strips. Thaw one large bag of broccoli florets, or steam 2 crowns of fresh broccoli and chop. Set aside; mix 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup mayo, 2 tsp curry powder, 1 Tbls lemon juice, and dash pepper. Butter 13×9 casserole, put drained broccoli on bottom, chicken on top, and soup mix over all. Top with shredded cheddar and bread crumbs (if desired). Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over rice with fruit salad.

Deadline Chicken: Put chicken parts in crock pot along with 3 cut-up sweet potatoes, 1 chopped onion, can of corn, and can of black beans. Poor large jar of salsa over all. Turn on “low” and cook all day. Wa-la!~ Serve with tortillas and salad.

Hope this inspires you!

Making Mom Proud

Today was Honors Assembly at South Arbor Academy. To be honest, I almost missed it — I didn’t see the notice, and was rushing out the door to get to work on my latest deadline. But fortunately I happened to be in the building, and had time to make a choice: I made my way to the gym to sit with the other parents. The deadline would have to wait.

I shifted nervously in my seat as the children marched into the assembly. It’s silly, really, but one of my greatest struggles as a parent is letting my kids set their goals and dreams without expecting them to fulfill mine as well. Such as being at the top of their class, just as Craig and I were usually near the top of ours.

The sad thing is, we don’t always realize what we’re doing. A few weeks ago when I was visiting my parents, we talked about how much more difficult the curriculum seems to be now than when I was in school. This led to a discussion about report cards, and how I always dreaded going home if I had anything less than a “A” on my report card.

“Well, we never expected you to get all ‘A’s, Heidi. Only to do your best,” Mom insisted.

I remembered it differently. Fortunately, so did Dad. “We knew you could do it, honey. And you never disappointed us. We were always so proud of you.”

His words echoed in my heart again as I sat in the bleachers. Last term had been difficult, both in terms of academics and “moral focus” (the ability to control themselves and focus on their work). But this was another term, and we were all getting another chance.

This time, both kids made the honor roll! Hurray! I smiled and waved, elated that they had won this recognition — and overjoyed that I had been there to share their moment.

These next few weeks will bring other milestones as well. Christopher’s First Holy Communion. Sarah’s learning to sleep in her own bed. The pool goes up again, and before long we’ll be adding another member to our family (the four-footed, tail-wagging variety). In September Sarah starts first grade. And time keeps marching on.

Like many moms, I continue to juggle multiple hats: wife, mother, editor, writer, speaker, church volunteer. And, like many moms, I don’t always make the “honor roll.” As I type this, I can see the chair full of laundry that needs folding and putting away; the kitchen floor desperately in need of a scrub. For the moment, I’ve set those things aside.

Today I’m taking time to enjoy my children … and make them as proud of me as I am of them.

The Great T.V. Experiment

Well, heading deep into week three of the Great No-TV-For-Lent, Gotta-Read-Five-Hours-A-Week-Or-No-Pizza-Party Experiment. While I’ve yet to get them to embrace fully my “five different types of books each week” idea, the basic plan itself does seem to be working.

Even for Craig and me. Which, the more I think of it, is really something because we have more control over our choices than our children have over theirs. But when Valentine’s Day yesterday went to H-E-double hockey sticks in the proverbial handbasket yesterday … we sat and talked. Till almost midnight. It’s been a while since we’d done that. And at the end, just before he kissed me goodnight, Craig said to me, “You know, we hardly ever talk like this when the TV is on.”

Hmmm… maybe my dad was on to something when he pitched our television set out the bedroom window when I was in first grade. (Not quite there yet. Sorry.)

Christopher is a “Stars Fanatic” now, though. Tonight on the way home from his piano lesson, he wanted to know if he could have a star sticker (which I’ve been giving for 30 minutes of reading) because he did well on his piano lesson. I about choked.

“Christopher,” I said very seriously. “Those lessons are our gift to you, and you are very very blessed to be able to take lessons from someone as gifted as Mrs. Thoene. You should be giving ME a star for these lessons!”

That shut him up. Seriously, I was looking around the teacher’s house tonight. In her living room she has a pipe organ, harpsicord, clavicord, and upright piano. Yes, that’s right … all in one room. And she charges the same as my parents paid thirty years ago for my lessons, which were done on a little Hammond electronic.

You know how you always want to give your kids what you didn’t have? Jackpot.

It’s not so bad, though. I still can sing every verse of nearly every hymn in my “Great Hymns of the Faith” by heart. And I was the only junior high (7th grade) student who had a regular organist/choir director gig at the local Lutheran church.

How is YOUR Lent going so far?