Pieces of Heaven

Friday, April 30, 2010

Golden Lines: Sports as a Means to Virtue

"Sports are not merely the exercise of muscles, but the school of moral virtues and training in courage, in perseverance and in overcoming laziness and carelessness. There is no doubt that these values are of the greatest interest for the formation of a personality which considers sports not an end in itself, but as a means to total physical and social development." -Pope John Paul II

How's THAT for motivation to work out? I love John Paul II!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Confessions of a Wannabe Foodie on the Road to Fitness

The first year of marriage, the only thing that I really knew how to cook was scrambled eggs- and even that was debatable. Smoke and fire alarms beeping were common in my kitchen as I tried in vain to flip pancakes before they blackened. There was no attention to detail. I recall being somewhat satisfied that I had baked a Shepherd's Pie (with instant potatoes coating the top) before cutting into it and realizing it was a watery mess because I had forgotten to drain the canned corn before plopping it into the baking dish.

Long story short, it was a mess, and I knew it. And what's more, my husband knew it- but he didn't know I knew HE knew it. He very graciously ate whatever I piled on his plate with little to no comments. Browned ground beef with corn and taco seasonings became a weekly meal.

And then, one night I remembered that some optimistic soul had purchased a crock-pot for us as a wedding gift. What could be easier? I thought to myself, as I dumped in some chicken and sliced vegetables. You set the temperature, and just let it sit for eight hours. Easy and fool proof.

Wrong again.

We both came home from work, tired and exhausted (we were both teaching at the time) to find that my ingenious, fool-proof plan had been foiled. I hadn't pressed the temperature level twice, which meant that the meal never cooked. Needless to say, it was a night at Del Taco for us.

Happily, my cooking skills have grown considerably over the past three (going on four!) years, and I enjoy cooking for my husband- and he enjoys eating the food (usually). The last serious endeavor I undertook was making Rachel Ray's Mini Paella, which was glorious. I even felt exotic because I cooked with couscous.

So what's the problem? The problem is my husband and I have taken an interest in fitness and nutrition. My husband does a lot of lifting and running to train for a job in law enforcement, and I have been doing P90X to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight. (By the way, P90X is a GREAT program- love it!) We both want to eat healthier, but let's be honest, healthy food is not always palatable! I have been reading labels, reading calories, and searching websites in the attempt to find recipes that are tasty as well as nutritious- and quick to make. Having a baby and our crazy schedule does not leave much time for my culinary endeavors.

Is there anyone who has any great tips or recipes that are healthy? I would love to start a catalogue of "fit" recipes. A friend posted in her blog that "Eat This, Not That" is a great cookbook. Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's been three years since the last time my husband and I have moved, and now we're ready to go again- this time, with Joseph- (and the cat.)

When my husband is away for long hours at work, I've been spending time making lists and beginning to make preparations for the grand trek ahead of us. From Texas to Vermont is a long way! The baby and I; and perhaps the cat, will be flying to Vermont, while my Dad and my husband drive a moving truck with our few possessions.

Soon after my arrival with baby, I will begin my new job. I am excited about this, but at the same time I think I will have a very difficult time not being a stay at home mom. I thought I was going to have a hard time with it this year, but despite difficulties, I've ended up falling in love with it. I like running the household. I feel like it's where I'm supposed to be.

However, my employer is amazing and is allowing me to bring Joseph to work with me, which is a great thing. I don't think I could reconcile putting him in daycare, especially since he's a baby.

We're still waiting to hear back from places where my husband has applied- and there is another opportunity on the horizon for him. I'm hoping one will pull through.

I will have to write more later. This is one of those "brain dump" entries where I just splatter everything onto a page.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Naughty List

I was just perusing some of the 'Blogs of Note.' Since they are specially set aside by Blogger and some have won awards, I thought they might be worth the read.
Some of them are, in fact, interesting. But then, some are just so crass. SO crass. Good writing shouldn't have to be sprinkled with four letter words in order to be entertaining. I probably won't be checking out many of those blogs anymore.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Golden Lines: Mother Angelica

Occasionally, I will be posting what I call "golden lines" in this blog. When I was teaching, I would often encourage the students to highlight or copy down lines from the literature we were studying that pertained to the novel's theme, or to copy down lines that particularly inspired them.

I was browsing through Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons today, and this line not only struck me, but gave me a good chuckle.

If you're experiencing stress or tension give it to Jesus. Tell Him, "I feel like crawling the wall, but I love You and I want to give this to You." Do you think our Lord wasn't tense living with those twelve screwball apostles? p. 127

This one struck me as well:

On Perfectionism

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. p. 125

Wow. Great things to bring to prayer!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Modest is Hottest: Swimwear

Summer is just around the corner, and I've been searching for modest bathing suits. It seems like everywhere I look, the only option is to be scantily clad in a bikini- and that you end up paying for less fabric than it takes to make a real bathing suit.

I don't think so.

I'm a firm believer that even if you've got it, you shouldn't flaunt it. A lady should dress with respect for herself and for others, maintaining her beauty- and keeping an air of mystery.

Upon realizing this dilemma, on a whim I decided to google 'modest swimwear' and found this site.


Wow! I was so excited because they're cute and still leave just enough to the imagination.
I was also excited to learn that this site also sells other modest and stylish clothing. Guess
I better start saving my pennies!

My Knight

Babies are supposed to be cute. They have round faces with dimples that dent their creamy skin. Wide, innocent eyes, long lashes- soft, doughy bellies and legs with rolls upon rolls. Their giggles are contagious, and nothing brings a smile to a mother's lips like the sheer joy of watching her child sleep.

However, sometimes babies morph into little gremlins- wetting through diapers, causing fecal explosions that not only ooze out of said diaper, but travel up to the neckline of a nightie. But the worst gremlin behavior is choosing to vomit on the fresh top that you have put on after having washed up from the last vomiting episode. They will fume and cry until their little faces redden, leaving you to wonder if they are in pain or intent on causing you to have a meltdown.

Usually, my little angel belongs to the former category. However, for the past two weeks he has indulged in this 'gremlin-esque' behavior. To add to this odd behavior (complete with tantrums and hitting) he has become mobile. He's crawling (he's just about six months old) and terrorizing the cat by yanking on his fur, as well as pulling DVDs and books from their shelves and searching for electrical sockets. More than once, he has tried to wiggle his way under the recliner. He can not be left to his own devices for a fraction of a second. (Needless to say, my husband and I are going to purchase a Pack n' Play soon so we can have a few moments of peace!)

Yesterday, whilst Joseph decided to vomit for about the third time, my cell phone rang. It happened to be my husband who was at the pharmacy to pick up his medication as he was staying home from work due to an ear infection. "Do you need anything?" he asked

"What? No- yes- UGH. I don't know. Vitamins? Yes. Vitamins. UGH! BABY! Can I let you go? I love you."

My husband graciously let me go as I dealt with the mess. Joseph started wriggling and fussing, and I finally decided that it was going to be his designated nap time. After putting him down, with hair askew and covered in spit up, my husband walked through the door wearing a triumphant smile.

"I have something for you."

Just then, he pulled out a bouquet of half a dozen red roses- the most beautiful and fragrant roses I have ever seen. I stood there, dumbfounded. "What are these for?"

He only smiled and then proceeded to hand me one of my favorite chocolates.

I was not sure whether to cry or hug him, so I did both.

It was truly a 'knight in shining armor' moment. I love my husband!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Going From Classroom to Lab

While trying to soothe an irritated baby who was quite indignant about going to bed, and quiet a howling cat (whom I am beginning to sincerely believe God sent me in order to help me get into Purgatory)- I began to think about how God always answers our prayers, but not always in the manner that we hope for.

For example, there are many people who pray to become more holy- to become saints or martyrs. It can be easy to offer a fervent prayer on one's knees, but when God presents the opportunity, it can suddenly become very difficult. Some become angered by it, or even try to run away from it. I call this phenomenon "going from classroom to lab."

I realize this because I was presented with several opportunities this week- and most of them occurred during my "Sacred Hours." However, I regret to say that most of them ended in what my former students would coin as "epic fails."

And then, a dear friend happened to post an amazing sermon of Facebook by St. Leonard of Port Maurice entitled, "The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved." In it, he warns that there are many Catholics/Christians who won't make it to Heaven and gives several reasons and anecdotes that illustrate how these souls fall into Hell. (I could give an entire summary here, but my words could not do it justice- I highly suggest that you read it.)

With so many souls falling into Hell, it is vital to pray for opportunities to grow in holiness- to become saints- to search for little offerings and mortifications that can be offered as a balm to soothe the Wounds of Our Lord's Sacred Heart. Why should we run away from these opportunities, when they are poured from the fountain of Our Lord's Mercy? Embrace these things- these people. Be especially kind to the person who slanders you the most. Pick litter up off the street and throw it away and offer it as a sweet flower to Our Lord.

And if you are blessed enough to have a cat that was especially sent by God in order to launch you closer to Purgatory, endure his howls and imagine that he is singing praises to God. Much easier said than done, but I know this is something that I'm going to try! God in His Infinite Mercy has given me another week, I know I'm going to try and make the best of it. What about you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Womanhood Wednesday: Motherhood Musings

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to begin writing poetry again. I've always struggled writing poems in "form," but this one is okay. It is a prayer for my son, that I wrote after reading some beautiful poems that Yeats wrote for his children.

A Prayer For Joseph

(Inspired by Yeats)

Beneath the hood of the bassinet he sleeps
Lips dreaming of his bottle, he's swaddled tightly
Eyes are buttoned shut, lashes brush his cheeks.

Soft sighs drift from his tiny mouth
While he remains anchored by the weakness of
His new body, a house-

For the life-spark that blazes within.
And with every sigh, or gasp, or snore-
I leap from my bed and bend toward him.

And I think of You in Nazareth
Tiny, unable to form words You stayed
Close to your mother's breast, and wept.

God made Man and through Your pain-
You have experienced our weakness
Our frailty, Your Sacrifice- our gain.

While night envelops our house
And the stars sing Your nightly praise
Keep Joseph tucked into Your Sacred Heart
And never turn away from him Your Gaze.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dignifying Dishwater

Growing up, my method of cleaning was taking all the hills of clothing on my floor and shoving them into my dresser, and then shoving whatever else I could under my bed. Needless to say, if one were to peer into the dismal abyss under my bed, a wide array of dust bunnies, clothing, books, papers, and perhaps another ecosystem(s), could probably have been found.

This pattern continued into college, where papers and notebooks constantly cluttered my dorm room. And then, I met HIM.

My future husband.

Opposites attract. My husband is one of the neatest people I know. Shirts are always neatly pressed and hung on his side of the closet- and even the medicine cabinet in his bathroom is immaculate and organized. He even enjoys the fine art of vacuuming. He is logical- a philosopher. He didn't believe that my messiness could be attributed to my artistic genius. (And lets be honest, I didn't quite believe this either!)

Needless to say, I've been striving to become neater since we have been married- and even more so since we've had our son. But lately, a sort of quasi-miracle has happened. I enjoy cleaning and organizing.

Now, for some reason, I've always found it easy to be organized in my professional life (when I was teaching...) But my home life was another story. I dreaded doing piles of laundry and scooping the litter-box. However, the chore that I have always detested the most was doing the dishes. Stacks of plates in the sink, bits of food that cling onto them and refuse to be scraped into the trash- you get the idea.

But lately, I've been thinking about the Blessed Mother and how she always completed the same tasks. How she cooked and cleaned everyday, and never complained- and what a gift this must have been to Our Lord and to St. Joseph. Little offerings of love given silently, and with humility. What a beautiful thing to contemplate- and how much sweeter it is when these things go unnoticed!

And so I'm thankful that I now have a little mortification to offer up to Jesus- and something I can do for my husband that will make him happy. It's amazing what an empty kitchen sink can accomplish, isn't it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two Adorable Things To Share

Joseph is currently creeping...and soon to be crawling!

Also...I found this in my e-mail this morning, and thought that it was beautiful and so worth sharing!