Monday, December 21, 2009

Is it really a lie?

Recently, I was out running errands and I ran into a friend of mine. We greeted each other and she asked how I was doing. I responded with "Just fine." She then told me not to lie to her. She said she could tell my arthritis was bothering me by the way I was walking. Now, she said this very kindly and with the best of intentions, but it has since been weighing on my mind...was I really lying?

If I was, it was certainly without intention. I don't like complaining to people, even my good friends. I also don't like to dwell on the fact that I hurt. Yes, a lot of the time, I hurt. My arthritis bothers me in some fashion on a daily basis. Usually, nothing major, just a little ache here and there. But, if I dwelt on my pain every day, I don't know that I could even get out of bed. And honestly, I do consider it a good day when I can get out and run errands. I know that a day may come, when even simply running to the store on my own will be impossible.

So, if I said I was just fine, for that moment I really was fine - not great, not wonderful, but fine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My daughter is freaking me out

Vibiana is just too smart. She is beginning to make me a little nervous! Let me give a few examples...

1. She is potty training herself. One morning a couple of weeks ago, I had just taken her diaper off and she told me she needed to go potty. I took her and she actually went! This took me completely by surprise as I had not encouraged potty training yet at all. This has continued, much to my delight. However, the biggest drawback is that she is much more ready mentally than she is physically. She tends to get very frustrated when she goes in her pull-up because she doesn't want it there!

2. She can sort things. The package of pull-ups that we buy her have two different pictures of Dora on them and Vibiana really likes one of the pictures. So, what she decided to do, was take all the pull-ups out of the package and sort them into two piles, depending on which picture was on the pull-up.

3. She counts really, really well. For awhile, she has been able to count to three, but them she would jump to thirty-nine. Over the last week, however, she can correctly and consistently count to seven. Not just counting, but counting objects! Her favorite things to count are pennies. I had a number of pennies laid out in my hand, and she was able to count them while picking them out of my hand and laying them in a line. After seven, she sometimes goes to eight, but she also sometimes skips to ten or eleven, but up to seven she is spot on.

Did I mention she's only two??!!
She will probably be taking over the world by the time she is 10. Consider yourselves warned.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Harry Potter on a Sunday morning

I know that there is a small faction Catholic families that frown upon the Harry Potter series. My family is not one of them. We are currently working our way through the entire series on audiobook. We listen every time we are driving together (which is a lot!) and we are currently about a third of the way through Order of the Phoenix.

That, in combination with a Harry Potter marathon on TV this weekend, results in my kids being completely immersed in "magic" right now. So, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by whispered shouts of "Expecto Patronum" and "Stupify" this morning. Darian was trying to teach Vibiana to say "Expelliarmus", but it kept coming out "Yamus". Perhaps the best part was Darian saying "Imperio" and then telling Sophia that now she had to do whatever he told her. Sophia's response was "Yeah right, Darian! I don't have to do anything you tell me!"

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much Sophia and Sebastian seem to have picked up by just listening to the audiobooks. Some of the "situations" they were in this morning were straight out of the books (not the movies) and they were able to play along really well without Darian directing them.

So, while some may frown upon my kids using "spells" before getting ready for mass on a Sunday morning, this mom was quite pleased with her four children playing a game together. It is not often that they play together for so long (nearly an hour) without fighting and crying. One of my greatest joys is watching (or, in this case, listening) to my children having fun with each other.

Usually, my Sunday mornings start with trying not to yell at someone that they need to find their dress shoes or attempting to stay calm when we realize Sebastian doesn't have any pants to wear to mass. I am so pleased to have this Sunday morning start with such a tangible affirmation of the beauty and joy of family life. Of course, this may not last as I now have to actually get out of bed and start getting everyone ready to go. Oh, well. It was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

As if I didn't have enough crappy news

I was really hoping for some good news when I went to see my rheumatologist, but I didn't get any.

As most of you know, I have rheumatoid arthritis and I have been struggling with it for about a year and a half now. I have been on various different medications, trying different doses to find what works. I have finally reached a point where I feel that the medications are working and I have been feeling better and more capable of doing "normal" things. But, after I had some blood work done, it turns out I am not doing as well as I had hoped.

First, my CBC showed a high platelet count. According to my doctor, this is an indication that I continue to have inflammation which is not being controlled by my medication. Normally, he said, at this point we would probably try to change my medication up to the "next step". However, looking at the rest of my blood test results, we can't do that because the other test that came back high was my ALT (liver function). So, my liver is not responding well to my medication and my ALT more than doubled from my last test a few months ago.

So, what this means for me is that I will actually have to cut my current medication in half. We will have to try to manage pain with pain medications and try to control inflammation with prednisone (which I hate taking!). After two months of that, I will do blood work again, and if the test is o.k. then we can start slowly increasing my medications every couple of months back up to where I am now. Basically, my doctor told me that I am looking at 6 months of trying to deal with the pain and discomfort I thought I was done with.

On the bright side, I talked him into waiting until January to change my meds. Jason and I are going to Rome the week after Christmas and I did not want to have my vacation ruined. At this point, this may be my last chance to take a trip like this.

So, just for future reference, anyone willing to donate half of their liver to me???

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How do you explain the unexplainable?

My friend Suzanne has breast cancer. She is one of the most incredible women that I know and this has been a huge blow to me and all of her friends. One of the most difficult things for me to deal with has been explaining it to Darian.

Darian adores "Mrs. D". He once told me that if he could live with any of his friends, it would be with Sam, mostly because "Mrs. Di Silvestri is, like, one of the greatest moms ever." Darian knows that we have been praying for her health, but last night he happened to read over my shoulder while I was reading Suzanne's blog regarding the diagnosis of breast cancer. He asked me about it, we talked a bit, and he simply said, "We just have to keep praying."

Then, about fifteen minutes after he went to bed, he came out of his room, sobbing. I asked what was wrong and he said, "I'm so scared for Sam's mom." I held him for awhile and we both cried together. After a few minutes, he looked up at me and asked, "Mom, why did God let Mrs. D get cancer?"

That, my son, is the million dollar question. I wish I had an answer. I know that God has a plan for all of us and I know that we won't always understand those plans. I know that our God is a God of love, and whatever the outcome, it will be for the greater good. But, knowing these things in my head and knowing them in my heart are two different things. So, for the moment, my most honest response is simply, I don't know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rite of Candidacy

Yesterday, Jason received his Rite of Candidacy, the first milestone towards the Diaconate. It was a nice ceremony with Bishop Wilkerson presiding. I felt...left out.

From the beginning of this whole process, the diaconate office has stressed to us the importance of the wives participation. We are required to attend class, participate, and do homework. It has been stressed to us that this journey is a journey we make together, as a couple. If I had not given my o.k., Jason would not even be allowed in the program. So why, then, were the wives excluded from this important milestone?

Don't get me wrong. I am not asking for ordination or even my own "rite". I just think it would have been nice to at least have been able to stand up there next to my husband when he confirmed his commitment to this calling. Would it really have changed anything, liturgically speaking, if I had stood behind him with my hand on his shoulder?

He is called to this ministry, but I am called to be his wife and support him throughout the journey. I think what bothers me most is just the inconsistency from the diaconate office. Support your husband, attend your classes, do your homework, but don't expect any recognition or appreciation.

All my b*tchiness aside, it really was a nice ceremony and I really appreciated that not only did our mentor couple (Deacon John and Diane) attend, but so did our pastor and our pastoral intern. I did feel support and appreciation from them. Plus, much to my embarrassment, at the end of mass this morning, the priest and Deacon John called our entire family up for a special blessing and we processed out with them.

I am certainly not leaving the program, nor am I going to start picketing in front of churches to demand female ordination. I know that the permanent diaconate is a new concept for the Church, and I am confident that this Church that I love and believe in will, in time, find the "happy medium" needed to truly support the Diaconate Families.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prayer Requests

Yesterday was a big day for prayer requests, so I have decided to pass them on in the hopes of generating more prayers for some lovely people.

In the morning, upon visiting with a friend, I learned that her sister-in-law was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. A hysterectomy was performed, but they discovered that the cancer had already spread to her liver. My friend's children are having a difficult time dealing with the illness of a much beloved aunt.

After this visit, we went (with my two youngest) to visit at one of the local convalescent homes. We visit twice a month and say a rosary and just pray and talk. At our last visit, one of our "regulars" thanked me for bringing my young children. She said sometimes people bring older children, but they never get to see little ones. Just their presence brought her joy. Many of the residents are scared and lonely. Please pray for their comfort and peace of mind.

Lastly, and very close to my heart, I have a very good friend who discovered a lump in her breast. Though the lump was discovered a while back, her doctor originally brushed it off because she was breastfeeding and told her it was probably a lactation issue. She weaned the baby and continued to have problems. She went in for an ultrasound and was told that the mass was architecturally abnormal with uneven edges (I think that's right). This is a dedicated mother to her many children, ages ranging from 11 to 11 months. Please, fervent prayers for this incredible woman.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My name is Briana and I am an addict

For those of you who don't know, I am a book addict. My family can attest to this. I am never without a book to read. At every possible moment, I am reading. I go back and forth between reading "fluff" (anything Nora Roberts, Twilight, James Patterson) and reading "religious" books. To be honest, I usually prefer the fluff simply because reading is my escape. With books, I can go anywhere and be anything. I have made an effort to read Christian Fiction, but I found most of it to be, well, crap. Most of it was way too Protestant for my Catholic soul. Until now, the only decent Catholic fiction I had found was Michael O'Brien and his Father Elijah series. Then, I discovered the "new" Anne Rice.

I have been a fan of Anne Rice for many years. I thoroughly enjoyed her vampire books as well as some of her novels. What I didn't realize was that she had a major "reversion" to her Catholic faith a few years ago and has now dedicated all of her writing to God. Her first series is "Christ the Lord". The first book, "Out of Egypt", is a story from the perspective of a seven year old Jesus and his family's return to the Holy Land after their self-imposed Egyptian exile. One thing I have always enjoyed from Anne Rice is her historical accuracy. She always thoroughly researches her time periods and is able to truly place you there. This book was no exception. We travel with this young child, through the political upheaval after the death of Herod, from the temple in Jerusalem to the tiny village of Nazareth. We see the struggles of a young child, trying to understand who he is.

The second in the series, "Road to Cana", begins with a 30ish Jesus, just before he begins his ministry. Here we have a man, knowing his divinity, and not sure what to do with it. Anne Rice does a fabulous job of presenting a very human Jesus, while never ignoring his divinity. Not an easy task! In Diaconate Formation this year, we are immersed in the New Testament. While reading all the textbooks has been interesting, I think Anne Rice managed to really bring it all alive. She pulled stories from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and other apocryphal writings. She studied many respected New Testament authors and theologians. She managed to pull all of that together and give us a fiction story that maintained the Jesus of the Gospels. Extremely well done.

So, if you are an addict like me, or you are just looking for a good read, I highly recommend the "new and improved" Anne Rice. She also has a brand new book out called "Angel Time" that I am hoping to find at Barnes and Noble this week. If any of you have read any of these, let me know what you think!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Last Friday morning, when I went in to wake the kids for school, I found that Sebastian had been sick to his stomach in the middle of the night. Then he fell back asleep, lying in his vomit. My poor boy was covered in dry, crusty, smelly vomit, and I still had to get the older two kids ready for school. I quickly bathed him and managed to get everybody out the door on time. He spent the day a little under the weather, but no fever and no more vomiting. I, of course, spent the day trying to wash dried puke out of his blankets. I was completely unsuccessful and ended up having to go and buy him new blankets and sheets. He was happy, me...not so much.

Around midnight last night, Jason heard Sophia wiggling her door knob, but she didn't come out. He went to check on her and found her standing next to her bedroom door, throwing up. On the wall. She had already thrown up on her bed. Now I know my husband loves me, because he didn't wake me up. He stripped her bed, cleaned the wall, got her cleaned up and back to bed without me knowing about any of it.

This morning, when I went to wake Darian for school, his head popped up from the top bunk and he said he didn't feel good. I asked what was wrong and he says "I just threw up." Great. So, I told him to get off his bed so I could clean it. He said "No, it's o.k. I threw up on the floor." I looked down and, sure enough, I was standing about an inch away from his mess. He apparently felt sick and just leaned over the side of the bunk. Very nice.

Needless to say, I have all the kids home today. Sophia is feeling o.k. - not great, but not sick to her stomach anymore. Darian on the other hand, has a vicious headache and he is still sick to his stomach. And I am working on laundry plus I have to clean the carpet in the boys room. Should be a great day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


A few weeks ago, Darian brought home his first 3rd grade progress report. Darian is a great student so most of it was the expected 94%-98% range with the exception of Handwriting. His handwriting grade was 81% (a C at his school). Quite frankly, I was shocked. Darian has always had very neat, precise writing. What I had forgotten was that this was third grade - cursive writing had begun.

So, I sat down with Darian and had him write out some words using the handwriting letters he had already learned. He sat, concentrated, and very neatly wrote out my selection of words. I saw nothing wrong with them. Jason and I told him to just keep doing his best and make sure he was taking the time to write neatly. He insisted that he did, and we just reiterated that he should keep trying his best.

Over the next couple of weeks I began keeping very close attention to the "red marks" (teacher corrections) on his handwriting. The pattern I saw was, to me, appalling.

First, Darian's main problem is that he is super structured. His handwriting is so nice and neat - but the letters are straight up and down. His teacher insists that all the letters be at an angle. Well, I worked with Darian for nearly an hour one afternoon, and the boy can't slant his letters for his life. He just cannot do it. Second, he apparently makes the loops on some letters (like d or e) just a smidgen too wide.

Seriously??!! Poor Darian was getting so discouraged. He would bring his homework for me to check, and I would think it looked fine. Then, we would get it back with all the red marks. Finally, Jason and I told him that his handwriting grade was, basically, not important. We told him that as long as he was doing his best he would not be reprimanded from us on a lower grade. After talking with other 3rd grade moms, I was pleased to learn that we are not the only parents who had this talk with their kids. None of the moms that I talked to (nearly half the class) had kids with handwriting grades higher than 84%.

With so much electronic communication these days, does anyone even use handwriting anymore?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Flu has descended

Since last Wednesday there has been at least one Schalow sick with the flu. It started with Sophia, spread to Darian, then Vibiana, Jason, and now Sebastian. Fortunately, it is not a stomach flu, just fever and aches. It is hardest with the little ones because they just don't understand what is going on. Plus, they want to snuggle and cuddle with me, and I am super paranoid about getting sick. Every few minutes I am either washing my hands or using my Purell (which is being kept in my pocket!)

To really put a cap on the whole thing, Jason blew the engine on his car. He was driving it the to muffler repair place to fix what he thought was a catalytic converter issue, when he heard a pop and then the car died. We had it towed to our mechanic here in Lake LA and he told us the engine threw a rod. Fortunately, he got a line on a good used engine with only 50,000 miles on it for a great price. So, while we await repairs, Jason is driving a fabulous rental "pimp-mobile" - a powder blue Grand Marquis! Ha! At least that gives me something to smile about!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yes, that's all

At mass yesterday, we not only heard about Jonah and his trying to run from what God wanted him to do, but we also heard the story of the Good Samaritan. Our pastoral intern gave an excellent reflection on listening when God calls us. He talked about our need to help others and to think about how Jesus would react to someone asking for help. He ended with, I think, a healthy dose of Catholic guilt to really get everyone to reflect on their own actions.

So, of course, I get to put this into play today. I went grocery shopping and as I was loading up the car, a woman approached me and asked for money. She explained that she was just trying to get a few dollars together to get some food. Now, I had just spent almost $200 on groceries, but that was on my bank card. I hardly ever have cash. So, I begin digging through my purse to see what I can find. With the size of my purse, this is no small task. I know the kids emptied all my change just a few days ago. Finally, triumphantly, I find one lone, crumpled dollar bill. As I pull it out and hand it to her, she looks at it and says,"Is that all?"

Lucky for me, with four kids, I'm used to ingratitude.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My grade school education

In class on Saturday (Diaconate Formation), we talked about how most Catholics have the equivalent of a grade school education in the Sacred Scriptures. Why? Well, how many Catholics do you know that actually read the bible?

We have begun this great discussion on Scripture. We are learning not only the spiritual aspects, but also the historical aspects of the Scriptures. Some of this may be difficult for some to swallow - "What do you mean Matthew may not have written the Gospel of Matthew??!!", but so fascinating. I am learning so much. For example, never before had I sat and compared Matthew and Mark. They have so many differences! So, the next step is then looking at why they are different. Taking into account authorship, audience, and expectations. Why does Jesus seem so much more frustrated in Mark than in Matthew? Why the "secrecy" throughout Mark?

I feel like this whole new world has opened up for me. I have been through two phases of scriptural study in my life - the first was strictly spiritual and the second was strictly historical. Now, I am learning how important it is to merge the two together. Without either one of those aspects, you cannot fully understand scripture. It's like seeing a pencil sketch of a painting - you get an idea of the beauty, but you don't experience the fullness of beauty without the color.

I am definitely looking forward to spending this year expanding my grade school education!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poor Kitty

One of my poor kitties almost got eaten by a dog last night.

Granted, this is the cat that I would not be too upset about if he just up and disappeared one day. He is a jerk. He scratches the kids if they bother him, he pees on my bathroom rugs, and he loves to find my clean clothes and lay on them. He drives me crazy!

But, last night, we heard this horrible yowling. When we followed the sound, we found 3 dogs (not ours) running away. The poor cat came flying inside, hysterical. He was covered in dog saliva and dirt, had bites/scratches on his neck, he was missing some clumps of hair, and he was panting. He was completely freaked out. After awhile he calmed down enough that we were able to make sure he didn't have any serious injury. He is walking a little stiffly, but he seems to be otherwise o.k. He ate, drank water, and is currently hiding.

So, for at least the next few days, he will be my poor kitty instead of that stupid cat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I am mean!

I am a mean and unfair mom! At least, that's what Darian told me today. What makes me so mean and unfair?

Well, I actually want him to understand his homework. He had a ton of homework tonight, and he was having problems with his math worksheet. It was a word problem involving money - if you have x number of coins and they are all quarter, dimes, or nickels, what is the greatest/least amount you can have? So, mean old me, I walk him through step by step how to figure out the answer. He got really frustrated and said "Why can't you just tell me?!" When I calmly explained that I wanted him to understand how to do this, his response was ,"(name removed)'s mom will just give him the answer when a problem is taking too long!"

Well son, too bad for you that you have a mom that cares more about your learning than just getting the work done.

I proudly remain,
Mean and Unfair Mom

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Breathing and Braces

Well, yesterday proved to be even more hectic than I had planned.
First, immediately after school we rushed to the orthodontist. I had spoken to the receptionist earlier and she told me that if I could be there by 3:10 they should be able to take Darian right away. Well, we arrived at 3:10, but she must have told other people the same thing, because the waiting room was completely full and we ended up having to wait half an hour.

In the end, Darian's braces were repaired, but we missed Sophia's doctor appointment for her coughing and wheezing and ended up having to wait in Kaiser's pediatric urgent care - we waited long enough that the kids were able to watch all of Finding Nemo. Too long a wait for four antsy kids.

So, after way too many hours sitting in Kaiser Pediatric urgent care and then the pharmacy, Sophia is finally breathing well again. The doctor said she is definitely asthmatic. He has her doing breathing treatments 3 times a day, as long as we can still smell smoke. He also put her on prednisone to help control the inflammation. Fortunately, she is not too traumatized by the whole thing.

Vibiana, however, does not like the nebulizer at all!

Hopefully, we will be done with having to use it regularly fairly quickly and Sophia won't end up with severe asthma. Please, pray for her!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Anyone have a few hours to spare?

I sure could use them. These last few days have been super hectic - and it will remain so until Friday.
Yesterday was Sebastian's first day back at preschool. He fought going, but once there he had a great time. I had to pull Darian and Sophia out early to take Darian to the orthodontist for his braces. Once that was done, it was across town to pick up a prescription at Kaiser. Then, pick up Sebastian, go home, straighten up and fix dinner before the babysitter arrived, at which time I left for Back to School Night. Home from Back to School Night to discover Darian had loosened one of his brackets (he only has two - one on each front tooth). And, he forgot to finish his homework.
So, up early this morning so Darian could finish his homework plus extra time getting ready because today is picture day. As the kids are running out the door for the carpool, I realized I forgot to send the envelope/check in for their pictures. Luckily my friend drives the carpool, so she waited while I filled stuff out. Then, another argument with Sebastian about going to school - many tears and screams. Finally, I managed to get him calmed down and excited about going to see his friends. Immediately after picking the kids up from school today I have to take Darian to the orthodontist to get his bracket glued on again, and then again to Kaiser - this time for Sophia. She has been coughing and wheezing like crazy thanks to all the smoke. We used Darian's inhaler on her and she felt much better, but I need to get her in to get her looked at and get her own inhaler. Then, finally, I can come home and relax...and oversee homework, fix dinner, finish laundry...
Oh well. Relaxing is overrated anyway, right?

Friday, August 21, 2009

No, we have not converted to Orthodoxy

We just really, really like icons. This is our new icon corner. I love that I have this great little corner to say my morning and evening prayers. Now, if I could just find the time to say my morning and evening prayers...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day of School

My 3rd grader and my kindergartner started the new school year today. Darian was so excited to see all his friends - no sooner had we walked in the school gate than he said "Bye, Mom!" and was gone. Sophia was also very excited and had a great first day. The only downside - Darian already has homework in 3 different subjects!! Welcome to 3rd grade.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The newest altar server

Congratulations are in order for Darian who has become Sacred Heart's newest (and youngest) altar server. He has been going through the training for the last couple of weeks and he served his first mass this evening. He has been so excited and he did a great job. We are super proud of him.

After mass, when Fr. Tom shook his hand and told him he did a great job, Darian said "Now I'm one step closer to being a priest!" God bless you, Darian. We need priests with your love and dedication.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to School

Well. Tuition is paid (at least the first month), school supplies are bought, uniforms are hanging in closets, new school shoes are ready and, most importantly, the kids are excited. It is officially back to school time.

I, for one, am looking forward to the return of the school year. While it can be a hassle - getting everyone ready for the day, packing lunches, doing homework, etc., I am looking forward to having a schedule again. Naptimes can go back to normal, my chores can be done according to my schedule, and most of all, there will be some quiet around the house. While I really do enjoy having the kids home and playing together, they get really loud!! Plus, when they are all home, it doesn't matter what I do, the house is always a mess. An example - this morning, not five minutes after I had vacuumed, Vibiana took a bowl of goldfish into the living room. Darian gave her the bowl of goldfish without asking me if she could have a snack and then he proceeded to tickle her while she was holding the bowl in the middle of the living room. The result - not only did the bowl of goldfish go flying (at which point Sebastian started shouting "Flying Fish!!") but then Vibiana fell to the ground and rolled around, crushing all the goldfish and requiring me to vacuum AGAIN!!

The first day of school cannot come soon enough!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Some days, the kids all play together so well. I love watching them be creative and use their imagination making up games to play together. They all have different strengths - Darian is good at organizing (bossy!) and making sure everyone is included, Sophia loves to be creative and brings her artistic flair to every game, Sebastian is game for anything and Vibiana just loves to be playing with her siblings.

Today was one of those rare days that they opted to keep the television off and just play together. The game today? Restaurant. Sebastian wanted it to be a McDonald's drive-thru, but that was vetoed for a sit-down restaurant. They sat together and came up with a name (The Red Wolf Diner), a menu, seating arrangements and job assignments. Darian raided the pantry to see what to put on the menu, Sophia decorated the menu and picked out table linens, and Sebastian and Vibiana were anxious to be customers so they could eat. Sophia acted as hostess and waitress and Darian was the cook and assistant waiter. Sebastian and Vibiana were the customers and they took the game very seriously, right down to asking me for money to pay the bill!

Even though summertime can be hard with all the kids home (and arguing), on a day like today I am so thankful for the gift of my children. I am also reminded of a beautiful quote from John Paul II - "The best gift you can give your child is another sibling." I treasure my relationship with my siblings and I pray that someday my children will understand the beautiful gift they are to each other.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Camping Success!

Well, our camping trip was a complete success! Everyone had a wonderful time - even Jason and I after we managed to erect the monstrous tent. The campground was really nice (Mt. San Jacinto State Park - Idyllwild) with flushing toilets and warm showers that we didn't have to pay for. Our campsite was shaded for most of the day, so it stayed nice and cool - low 80's is my guess. Quite a change from our upper 90's, low 100's at home! We didn't do much hiking. My arthritis is mostly under control, but still not up to serious hiking. We explored the campground, played games, explored the town of Idyllwild. Darian had fun participating in the park's Jr. Ranger program.

We got filthy! Vibiana found a tree dripping sap and wiped the sap all over her hands, face, and clothes. And, of course, tree sap does not clean off. At least she managed to not get it in her hair. Overall, we had a great time and the kids are already asking when we can go again.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Here I am, preparing to leave for our camping trip in a few hours - the clothes are still in the dryer, I still need to get ice, I have too much food, and I am really not sure whether or not everything is going to fit in the van. I hate preparing for trips.

Yesterday, I put our brand new tent up. Well, I mostly put it up. It turns out the thing is so huge that it didn't all fit in the living room, even once I moved the couch out of the way. By far, the biggest tent ever!

Jason was supposed to take today off so that he could pack the car, but he ended up having to work this morning. So, that leaves me to finish packing stuff, pack the car, clean the house (I really don't want to come home to a disastrous house, but if I don't have time, the house is not going to get cleaned), and deal with 4 very excited kids. Darian taught Vibiana how to say "camping" and she keeps screaming it at the top of her lungs.

I know we will end up having a great time, I just wish we could be there already!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Little Purple Monster

When the kids went to the dentist back in June, they each received a packet of tablets to chew after brushing their teeth. These are the tablets that stain the teeth where plaque is present.

I hate these tablets. For the few weeks following the dentist visit, the kids bathroom sink, floor, and even toilet seat cover were stained purple. Clothes got stained, chins got stained, and especially fingers. Finally, I had had enough and I threw them all out. At least, I thought I threw them all out.

Today, Vibiana found some, somewhere. The kids were all watching cartoons, and suddenly Sophia starts screaming, "Vibiana's purple!" Sure enough, her hands, chin and clothes were dark purple. She had purple drool running down her chin, and to my great horror she then rubbed her eyes and hair and smeared them with purple as well. We have now bathed, scrubbed, and soaked. And this is as good as it gets. Sigh.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Somebody call a locksmith!

About a week ago, Vibiana graduated from her crib to a toddler bed. We got her this very cute little sleigh bed and a silky Dora bedding set. She loves it! She especially loves being able to get out of bed on her own. That is where my problems begin.

We have been having minimal difficulty at bedtime, but naptimes are horrid. She does not want to stay down when she knows Darian and Sophia are still up. Today, she was up and down at least a dozen times. Then, she stopped. We thought she had finally fallen asleep.

After a few minutes we heard her doorknob, but she wasn't opening the door. Then, she started freaking out. She had locked herself in! Now, her doorknob has one of those skinny holes that you have to stick something in to unlock it. So, I find a tool to do the trick, only it wouldn't unlock! I tried and tried and couldn't get it. Finally, I had Darian go outside and he was able to wiggle her bedroom window open just enough to squeeze through. Saved!

I promptly took the doorknob off and turned it around so that the lock is on the outside. When I took the thing apart, little pieces of wood fell out - it seems someone had tried to shove a pencil in the little hole and that is why I couldn't unlock it on my own. At least we didn't have to break the door or the window!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am so blessed

I have an incredible child.

This morning, we had some friends over to play - three little boys ages 5, 3, and 2. Before they arrived Darian said to me, "Mom, I am going to take care of everything. You can just hang out and relax." Darian was true to his word - he played, kissed owies, broke up arguments, and generally played babysitter. While I didn't really get to relax, (too much laundry and dirty dishes), I was able to get my "chores" done. I was really proud that he, at eight years old, was ready and willing to step up and take the responsibility of all these little ones.

And it gets even better.

By this evening, I had done about a gazillion loads of laundry and was fairly exhausted. Darian came to me and said, "Mom, I am going to fix dinner tonight." And he did, with minimal help from me. Not only did we have a nice dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread, but then he helped clean up!!

I am not quite sure what got into him today, but I certainly hope it continues!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer flowers

As some of you may know, I have, not a green thumb, but a black one- I can kill just about any plant just by looking at it. I have tried gardening, houseplants, potted plants - none of them survive. So, imagine my surprise when the sunflowers we planted began to grow and thrive!

Then, Darian pointed out that these were the flowers he planted. The empty dirt space next to them is where I planted seeds. Oh well, at least it seems my black thumb was not passed on.

This is my little grasshopper friend - can you spot him? He has been living on these flowers for about two weeks now. Vibiana is a bit terrified of him - she screamed bloody murder the first time she was trying to sniff the flowers and he moved. The rest of the kids love him. Every morning they go out to find him - he is always on the same flower. I am not normally a big fan of bugs, but this poor little guy only has one back leg and I swear he comes out every time we come out to talk to him. Hopefully he doesn't get eaten by birds. I am sure he would make someone a tasty snack!

Monday, June 22, 2009

If you are a fan of Fr. Rohr

You may just want to skip this post. I am not a fan.

Some brief comments on Fr. Rohr for those who are unfamiliar: Fr. Rohr has become quite the phenomenon. However, after reading from some of his books and listening to a few of his talks, I feel that he is, at best, confused and at worst a complete nut job. Many of Rohr's fundamental opinions and teaching lie outside the realm of orthodox Catholic teaching. For example, in his book "Adam's Return", he teaches that "Incarnation is already redemption," and "you do not need any blood sacrifice to display God's commitment to humanity." Basically, he says that the crucifixion was unnecessary because the Incarnation redeemed us all. So, then I ask you - what kind of God allows his only son to be crucified? But, I mildly digress, as this isn't exactly my current rant...

A few days ago I was subjected to a lecture based on Fr. Rohr's ideas of Christ as Light. Now, there was this comment early on that really irked me - "Fr. Rohr tells us that if we had a video camera running at the moment Jesus came out of the tomb, all we would see was a bright light." What, he was there? This was stated as if it was completely factual, but that was only the beginning.

"Jesus didn’t move from Jesus to the Christ without death and resurrection." - Fr. Rohr
There was much talk of Jesus "becoming" the Christ (Messiah). Ummm, shall I point out Jesus' conversation with Peter (pre-resurrection) when Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."
Jesus doesn't correct Peter. He doesn't tell him, that he isn't the Messiah yet. He acknowledges that God has revealed this truth. Maybe Fr. Rohr missed that part of Matthew's Gospel...

I think I probably need to stop now. Rethinking it just annoys me.

Pray for me..I think I am really going to need it over the next few years.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Finally, the end of the school year has arrived.

I hate the last week of school. Every day is a half day (which means I am picking Darian up exactly when Sebastian and Vibiana should be napping), Thursday was the school picnic at the city park which Darian insisted I attend, and Friday was the awards assembly. This all translates to my two toddlers' schedules being completely uprooted for an entire week.

On the up side, no more running back and forth to town every day! Whoo-hoo!

Darian was really excited about his report card- straight A's!! He also received some awards at the school's assembly - recognition for Christian Kindness and Excellence in Religion. I guess those dinner table discussions with his Dad on the theological differences between angels and archangels paid off!

So, summer has officially arrived in the Schalow house. Now I have to figure out what to do with them all summer. I'm sure I will be wishing for school to be back at the first whines of "I'm bored!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

The ultimate insult

This evening, the kids were all playing happily together in one of the bedrooms. This was, of course, short lived.

Darian came to me, with tears in his eyes, saying, "Sophia is calling me mean names and she won't stop!"

Now, Darian can sometimes be overly sensitive, but we have been having issues with Sophia calling people names. Nothing really bad, just calling someone a "baby" or "stinky", fairly typical little sister type things. I, however, am fairly sensitive to the name calling. I grew up with two older brothers and a younger brother who loved to tease me, so I tend to not tolerate my kids name calling.

With a bit of a sigh, I asked Darian what name she was calling him now.

"Little fish."

Seriously??? This was the traumatic, horrible name she was calling him? I tried, but could not stop my burst of laughter. Now, I have probably traumatized him. Plus, I had a hard time keeping a straight face when I told Sophia to stop calling her brother a "little fish."

It just goes to show you that a little sister can turn anything into an insult.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The descent of the "Terrible Two's"

Well, I think the "terrible two's" (and three's and four's) have come upon us a little early this time around. Vibiana is barely 18months, but she is definitely exhibiting the atrocious behavior one expects from a toddler. In the last week she has mastered "No!", "Mine!", and, of course, flinging herself to the ground while kicking and screaming when she doesn't get her way.

This evening, she has decided that everything is hers. Everyone's toys, food, drinks, even Sophia's clothes. It might have been amusing, if she hadn't tried to rip a handful of Sophia's hair out fighting over a baby doll or punched Sebastian in the stomach over a light saber.

Her most prized possession is, of course, me. Whenever anyone (even the dog!) comes near me, she quickly runs over to push them away while shouting "Mine mama!!"

I know that there will be a day when I look back at all this and laugh, but that day is not today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

I went grocery shopping this morning with Sebastian and Vibiana. First let me say, I hate having to take the kids grocery shopping, but when you are out of milk, bread and peanut butter, there is really no choice.

I hurried as much as possible, knowing that it was only a small amount of time I had before someone (probably me) broke down and started a tantrum. We got through everything and started for the checkout. Of course, it being Tuesday morning, there were 10 people with full carts, and two checkout stands open. So, we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, our turn to empty the cart!

Sebastian, of course, has long given up holding onto the cart and is trying to run circles around it, much to Vibiana's delight. As I am bending over to pick stuff up out of the cart, Sebastian runs into me and knocks himself over. He then proceeds to begin wailing, "Mommy, your butt knocked me over!" Vibiana, not to be left out, starts shrieking and yelling, "Butt! Butt! Butt!"

Good times with the Schalow kids!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The dreaded trip to the dentist

This morning, my three oldest went to the dentist. I was really dreading this because in the past, we have had numerous cavities (and expenses!). But, today, my prayers were answered!!!
Sebastian - no cavities!
Sophia - no cavities!
Darian - 2 very small cavities that only need a simple filling. This is a huge improvement over the 9 cavities/root canals a few years ago. Also, poor Darian (and my poor checkbook), have been referred to the orthodontist. He has some large teeth, and not quite enough room for them all. We'll see how that goes.
All in all, a huge relief for me (and my checkbook).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


A few weeks ago, at daily mass, this older woman approached me. She spoke only Spanish, but basically told me that I had beautiful children. She said something about her granddaughter, but I wasn't able to completely understand. She was very kind, gave me a hug, and went on her way.

On Mother's Day, after mass, she approached me with a large Nordstrom's shopping bag in hand. Her daughter was with her and acted as interpreter. She said that she had some things for my girls. She handed me the very full, very heavy bag. Her daughter said that the woman was a seamstress, so there may be some handmade items. I thanked her profusely - I love getting hand me downs for the kids! She asked me to pray for her, and to pray for her first great-grandchild who is going to be born in a few months. I assured her that I would pray for her, wished her a Happy Mother's day, and we said our good-bye's and went our separate ways.

When I arrived home, Sophia was itching to look and see if there was anything for her inside the bag. I was shocked at what we found. On top of the pile, there was a beautifully handmade pink dress for Vibiana. As we continued through the items, we discovered a few hand me downs in Vibiana's size. Very nice dresses and a couple of jackets. The rest of the items were brand new. Some were for Sophia and some were for Vibiana. They all still had tags, with the price removed. There were pajamas, socks, shoes, shirts and even a few toys for Sophia.

The extent of this woman's generosity, a woman whose name I don't even know, moved me to tears. To be on the receiving end of such generosity is a humbling experience. It also helps me to remember to appreciate how blessed we are to be in our parish. I grew up Catholic, and never would something like this have happened in our parish. This, for me, was a beautiful example of true Christian charity, love, and community. I pray that I will be able to take these gifts and bestow them on the others that I encounter.

May God bless this wonderful woman and may He bestow His blessing upon her unborn great-grandchild.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My first First Communicant

Darian received his First Communion last Saturday. He has been excited about this for months and months. Of course, now he wants to know when he can be an altar server. One step at a time, my son!
Today at school, they celebrated the Mary's Day mass. Darian was beside himself because he was picked to be the lector. He did a great job and we are extremely proud of him. We are so blessed to have such a reverent, good-hearted child. We pray that he will continue to let God guide his steps.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sebastian

Another year has passed, and now my "big" guy is 3!! He had a great birthday visiting the zoo. His favorite part was watching the monkeys swinging around. But, I didn't get any good pictures of monkeys, so I will have to settle for posting the giraffes, which were one of my favorites!

At Sebastian's request, we had "Pirate" cake. I have gotten into the habit of decorating a cake for the kids on their birthday. A part of me is regretting starting this little tradition as it is very difficult with my arthritis. But, how can I say no? So, here is my birthday boy and his cake.

Here's to another fun-filled year with my crazy little boy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just another Monday

The good thing about a terrible start to the day is that it can only get better...right?

My day started with my arthritis keeping me in bed later than normal and Sophia missing school. There was no way that my aches were going to allow me to get up, get dressed, get everyone fed, dressed and out the door before she was supposed to be there at 9. So, a play day at home for Sophia. Not too bad. Yet.

Then, I get a phone call from an investigator who is looking to verify my address because they are submitting my file to the LA county sheriff for process serving. WHAT!!?? She goes on to tell me that I am being named in a lawsuit regarding a credit account with MBNA bank that I had 10 years ago. I am being sued for breach of contract with malicious intent. They are claiming that I have not paid my balance of $227 after repeated attempts to contact me.

At this point, I am totally freaking out! Yes, I used to have an MBNA account, and yes, the last I remember there was a balance of that amount. But, I also remembered that account was one of the debts that we had to pay off when we purchased our house. So, this woman says that I can either pay them to $227 now, and attempt to contest it later, or I contest it in court after I have been served papers. So, I paid it. I probably shouldn't have, and I have a feeling I got totally screwed, but honestly, the whole thing scared the crap out of me.

If that's not enough, while I am on the phone trying to settle this, Vibiana picks up the phone in the other room and starts pushing numbers and blowing raspberries. When I have everything taken care of and I hang up the phone, I look into the living room to see that Sebastian has been playing with baby powder and not only is Vibiana covered (she looked like a ghost) but it is all over the carpet. Yes, it smelled nice, but not quite nice enough to cover the smell of the major accident Sebastian had in his underwear.

If my day doesn't start to improve soon I may just go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.

BTW- I looked up my escrow papers and yes, the debt to MBNA was paid. Now, I have to wait for AV Escrow to find a copy of the canceled check. Then, I guess I have to decide if I am going to pursue this. Blah!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Potty time - Finally!

Sebastian used the potty! Willingly!!

I have been doing my best over the last few months to encourage him to use the "big boy" potty. He will be three on Sunday and I have been trying not to pressure him too much, but I am really, really tired of having two in diapers. Sebastian, however, has had absolutely ZERO interest. When Darian was on Easter break last week, he tried to help, but my little guy wanted none of it.

We went shopping at Target yesterday, and I took him down the aisle with all of the little boy underwear, thinking I could get him excited about wearing "Diego" or "Cars" or anything. I showed him all the packages with different characters and he said "Yeah, they o.k." When I asked if he wanted to get some to wear, he said "No." As we were leaving the store, he suddenly decided he wanted the Spider-man underwear. Well, I quickly got back over there and let him carry the package all the way to the register. He wasn't interested in wearing them when we first got home, but later in the evening he was more enthusiastic. By today, he only wants to wear Spider-man! I am hoping he has finally reached his turning point. I can almost see the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Witness to a miracle

On Saturday, at Sacred Heart's Easter vigil, a miracle occurred. Some people may not have noticed, but many of our clergy witnessed it, and it was "confirmed" at RCIA last night.

A little background - during adult baptisms, the adult is immersed in water. What we have is a large fountain in which the catechumens kneel. Our priest then pours three pitchers (large beer/soda pitchers) over his or her head. I sit up front every year and this is always incredibly entertaining to watch. The water pours over their heads, faces, shoulders and backs. They always come out dripping wet. They never expect quite that much water!

This year, we had one young man who was receiving a conditional baptism. This means that it was unclear as to whether or not he was ever baptized as a child, so he was baptized "again" just in case.

This young man entered the fountain, knelt, and had the three pitchers of water dumped over his head. When he emerged, he was dry. The only parts of him that were wet were his feet and the hem of his robe.

- Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,for he is clean all over;" - JN 13:8-10

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Forehead vs Fireplace

Well, so much for our brunch. Sebastian's forehead fought the fireplace and the fireplace won. Jason is on his way to Kaiser to see if he needs stitches. In the meantime, I now have to figure out what we will have for our Easter meal!

Happy Easter!

Well, the kids have gorged on their candy and are now in sugar induced comas in front of the television. Ahhh, the quiet!

We are headed out to our traditional Easter brunch with Jason's godmother and hopefully the kids will be awake by then.

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's official

We are insane. Why? Well, what sane people would take 4 young children to not one, but TWO Good Friday services? In the end, we survived...barely.

For the first service we trekked down to North Hollywood where Jason was giving a short talk on the last words of Jesus. Jason's talk went really well, despite Vibiana fussing the entire time. Many thanks to our friend Kim for helping to wrangle the other kids while I dealt with the baby. And, congratulations to Kim's husband, Long, who, despite being very nervous gave a fabulous talk.

Once we were done there we headed back up to the AV where Jason was reading at our evening service and I was scheduled as an EM. I had intended to go home between these two services, but the first one lasted nearly two hours and by the time we got near Lancaster there wasn't enough time to get home and back. So, we ran a few errands and then headed over to Sacred Heart. In the end I wasn't needed as an EM since we had so much clergy present, and this was a good thing since Vibiana only wanted "Mama!" Considering the kids had ZERO playtime today, they were fairly well behaved. We were all really glad to finally get home. For the Easter Vigil mass tomorrow night I have already scheduled a babysitter - Whoo-Hoo!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday, Monday

What a beautiful day! I woke up to blue sky and birds singing...and a pulled back muscle! So, instead of being able to spend the day taking the kids to the park, I am sitting in the only comfortable position I can find. I cannot lift anything, it hurts to move, and if I need to walk I have to be hunched over.

How am I managing this with three kids at home? Well, Sophia is super helpful. She helped dress Vibiana and herself - she did o.k.with Vibiana, but Sophia is wearing a nice skirt and mismatched knee socks. Sebastian insisted on picking out his own clothes, which is why he is wearing Darian's shirt and Sophia's shorts. No one got their hair combed, teeth brushed or face washed. I set up the diaper changing station on the hearth of the fireplace (since I can't lift anyone onto the actual changing table) so at least their butts are clean.

While I sit here "relaxing", the dishes are piling up, the laundry is multiplying and I won't even mention the state of my living room. Oh well. At least I get to spend the day with my feet up!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goodbye, Grandma

Last evening, after a long illness, my grandmother passed away. We will miss her, but I am comforted knowing that she doesn't hurt anymore.

Darian, as usual, helped to put it all in perspective.

After I told him, he was sad and let me hold him while he cried. This morning, just before leaving for school, he said "Mom, I'm kind of glad that Grandma Monica died."


"Yeah. Now that she is a saint in heaven, I know she will be with me at my First Communion. She wanted to go, but when she was alive she was too sick. Now, she isn't sick anymore."

Rest in Peace, Grandma.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The "teenagers"

Well, our "teenagers" left us this morning. They were not actually teenagers, they were young adults. And, they were not on retreat, they are leading the retreat. They are a group called NET Team and basically what they do is travel around the country for nine months and lead retreats for the youth.

What a fabulous group! This is a group of young people, many of them discerning vocations to the religious life, living and sharing their faith. This was a group of "kids" filled with love for God. It was really wonderful to spend an evening with them and see the Holy Spirit at work in our youth.

Praise God!

Monday, March 9, 2009

How do you say no to nun?

I, apparently, don't.

Over the past few years our family has grown very close to "our" sisters at Mt. Carmel. So, when Sr. Gabriela called this afternoon and said, "We need to ask for some charity" I thought, okay, I can afford to help with something.

Then came the kicker.

"We are hosting a retreat for a group of young people who are traveling from out of state and we are in need of homes to house the teenagers."

Teenagers!! Seriously??!!

She quickly explained that it would only be for one night next week.

I, very hesitantly, said that I would need to talk to Jason.

"Oh, God bless you!," she said, "We are having such a hard time finding people willing to be hospitable to the youth, and I told Sr. Benedicta that we could count on your family!"

At that point, how could I say no? So, next week, we will have two retreatants staying the night...pray for us! And pray for me...I haven't told Jason yet!

Darian's new rosary

Yesterday, we opted to attend mass at Valyermo with the monks. We all love attending there once in awhile, it is a nice change of pace.

After mass, Darian wanted to say hello to Fr. John Bosco. Father has known Darian for about 4 years now. We got to talking and Fr. John asked Darian when he was making his First Communion. We told him the date and that Darian would be making his First Reconciliation this Saturday.

Fr. John asked us to wait a few minutes, he had something for Darian. He went into the monastery and came back a few minutes later with a rosary for Darian. He told Darian that it was a nice, sturdy rosary that would last him awhile. We said our thanks and went on our way.

As we were walking to the car, I asked to see the rosary. I discovered that this was definitely not just any rosary. Some of the beads show some wear and the face of the crucifix is worn smooth. This rosary is obviously a well used, often prayed rosary. We talked about the special gift he had been given, and Darian immediately began planning how he would keep it safe.

God bless you, Fr. John Bosco, for helping pave the path for our son.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

RE Congress weekend

Jason and I spent last weekend at the Los Angeles archdiocesan Religious Education Congress. We were very fortunate and heard some great speakers, nothing too "out there". Some of our friends were not so lucky, so we are feeling especially blessed. One of our friends had a speaker that told the group that they shouldn't teach about mortal sin anymore because it might hurt people's feelings. Do you think their feelings will be intact while they burn in hell??!!

Seriously though, we had some fabulous talks. A theme that I got from all was a reminder to be strong in our faith and don't be afraid or ashamed to preach the truth! Definitely a message we can all use. One of my favorites was Fr. Tony Ricard. If you have never had a chance to hear him, you should. He is highly entertaining with a great message. We purchased a CD of his talk so if anyone wants to borrow it, just let me know.

God Bless!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Ash Wednesday!

So Lent has officially begun.

I took all the kids and attended our school mass this morning. Afterwards, since Darian was on a half day school schedule, we went to Wal-Mart to walk around until it was time to go back for Darian. When we first walked in, I couldn't figure out why so many people were staring at us with weird looks on their faces. Then, I heard someone comment that they needed to remember to "go get ashes" today. Oh yeah! Here I was walking around with three small children, all of us with soot on our foreheads! As we continued to walk around the store, I had so many people smile at us, say hello, ask if I knew what time the next mass was, and I even had two people ask me to pray for them during Lent. Wow!

I never knew I could be such a great witness just walking around Wal-Mart!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My little Wisdom

Lent has somehow snuck upon me yet again. I know this is just me, because we have been having many a dinnertime discussion about penance. Since Darian is making his first communion this year, we have been determined that he take this Lent seriously. For myself, however, I have been in complete denial. So here I am, with a day and a half, to work out my own Lenten penance.

I hate penance - I know, that's kind of the point. I have no willpower and quite frankly half the time I feel like my life is penance. I just seem to have had a bad attitude about my own Lenten penance this year. I have been struggling to really find the meaning in my giving up sweets or my cheesy fiction books that I love so much.

This morning, as I was driving Sophia to school, we saw a rainbow. I pointed it out to her and she said, "Wow, Mom. Isn't God's love beautiful?"

Ah-ha! There it is. There is my meaning. Yes, God's love is beautiful. Not only in the form of the rainbow's, but especially in the form of his beloved son on the cross. God shows me his love everyday, in so many ways. Now it is my turn to show my love in a way that isn't easy for me, just as his death on the cross was horrible for him.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a new revelation. These are things that I know and have been telling Darian for weeks. But, sometimes I really need a smack upside the head from the Holy Spirit in order for my knowledge to enter into my heart. And talk about humility - He had to send a five year old to teach me!

Thank you, God, for giving me the wisdom of a five year old!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yet another food fiasco

What is it with my kids and their food messes?

This evening, Jason is off to a bible study and I fixed a simple meal for myself and the kids. After dinner, I sent them off to the living room to watch television while I cleaned up. Every few minutes I would ask Darian if Vibiana and Sebastian were o.k. His response was always "Yes, mom. They're fine. They're right here watching SpongeBob."

When I completed my evening kitchen chores I stuck my head into the living room. The first thing I saw was Sebastian happily crushing an entire package of saltines. I look over to Vibiana to see her licking a couch pillow. Why is she licking it? All the better to enjoy the packet of hot chocolate mix she spilled!

After taking a few deep breaths I said, very calmly, "Darian, what are the kids doing?"
His response was, "They're fine. We're just watching cartoons." What he didn't realize, due to his rapt attention to the television, was that he was close enough to both of these messes that he actually had saltine and hot chocolate mix in his hair! What an observant boy!

To top off the whole thing, when I went to change Sebastian into his pajamas I noticed his pants were wet and they smelled of pee. When I took his pants off, his pull-up was not there. These are not pants that he has ever been able to pull down on his own and the legs are to narrow for a pull-up to fall down the leg. When I asked him where it went he said, "It had poop. I don't know where it went." Hopefully I don't find it in my bed tonight.

As I sit here drinking a glass of wine, I can be amused by the whole thing. Well, maybe not amused, but at least I am not pulling my hair out. I bet a few more glasses of wine and I will actually be able to laugh about it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sophia!

Here she is, the birthday girl. I have a hard time believing she is already 5! As a surprise to all the kids, we went to Disneyland. They had a wonderful time. Sophia's favorite ride was the Carousel. Sebastian loved Mr. Toad's wild ride because he got to go "crash!" Jason and I swapped going on the more "exciting" rides with Darian. Sophia was just barely tall enough to go on some of the bigger rides - she really liked Star Tours. This was too expensive a trip to do too often, but we all had a wonderful time. We arrived later in the day (around 3:30) and stayed until after 10. We left just before the younger kids had complete meltdowns. A great day for all, but especially my "big" birthday girl. God bless you, Sophia.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't you know?

This last Sunday, I was serving as an EM at mass. I love this ministry. I love being able to bring Jesus to his people in such a tangible way. I am very blessed to serve this ministry at a parish that has so many devout people. That being said, there are always people you know just don't get it.

So, I was serving the Body and these two teenage girls came up. I do my part, holding up the host and saying "Body of Christ." Both of these girls (sisters? friends?) obviously just didn't care. The second one even responded with an exasperated, "Yeah, amen." Part of me just wanted to shake them and say, "Don't you know who this is? Don't you know all He did for you?" As they walked away, I found myself struggling to focus on what I was doing. I thought, "Why? Lord, you came and did this for us, knowing that so many people would respond just as these girls. Why?"

The next woman came forward. She was an elderly woman, leaning heavily on her cane, her knitted cap pulled down tightly to keep her warm. As I held up the host and said "Body of Christ" she gazed up with tears in her eyes and said "I love you Jesus, Amen."

I love when I get prompt answers!!

God Bless.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Crunch, Crunch

Any of you who know me know that I am not a neat freak. In fact, Jason and I tend to be quite the opposite. However, there is one thing that really drives me insane - stuff on the floor that crunches.

So, this morning when I rushed to have a quick bathroom break, Sebastian and Vibiana got into the pantry. They then proceeded to take a couple of graham crackers (and stomp them), white rice, and kosher rock salt and spread them throughout the kitchen, dining room, and parts of the living room. Did you know that salt can make a carpet crunch? Do you know how difficult it is to sweep up white rice???

The little darlings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

May perpetual light shine upon him

I just wanted to send out my deepest condolences to Amy Welborn on the sudden death of her husband, Michael Dubruiel. Our prayers go out to Amy and their children. Anyone wishing to help with funeral expenses, college funds, etc. can donate through Danielle Bean's blog.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Busy, but fruitful

Finally, a quiet Monday morning after a busy weekend. Friday morning I took Sebastian for his first "real" haircut. This was his first experience getting it cut somewhere other than our kitchen! He did great.

The shaggy dog (before):

And my big boy (after):

He looks so much older with his hair cut. Obviously, he had a treat (chocolate) for being so good.

After haircuts, home for nap and then Sophia to dance class. I wasn't able to get any pictures at dance class since all the moms get kicked out during class. Maybe next week.

After dance, it was off to Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. As I mentioned before, both Jason and Darian worked fairly hard on the construction of the car. Fortunately, it all paid off and Darian walked away with 3rd place! Great job, guys!

After scouts Jason and I had to finish homework for diaconate class on Saturday. I really need to NOT wait until the last minute - I get so stressed about finishing that I have a hard time being "nourished". The content can be difficult enough (Reading the Old Testament) but add in stressing about finishing and it can be nearly impossible. But, we both finished in time for class Saturday.

Sunday, off to mass in the morning and then a meeting afterward. After the meeting, get home, change clothes, and off to a FABULOUS Super Bowl Party. We had a wonderful time. We aren't really into sports, and we don't keep track of football at all, but the good food and great friends make my day. Jason wasn't able to go because of a sinus headache, and I really debated going on my own with all the kids, but I am so glad that I did. This particular group of friends is really more like a family. I know that I can let my kids run around and there is always someone to help them - get a drink, wipe a nose, offer comfort when they fall. To end the weekend with a feeling of love and acceptance was truly a blessing. Thank you God, for friends who are TRULY my brothers and sister in Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2009


My apologies to anyone who tried to post comments and couldn't - the settings have been adjusted and now posting comments should be open to everyone. Many thanks to my friend Rachel for letting me know!

God Bless.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just checking in

Well, it has been over a week since I last posted. The reason for the delay is, basically, nothing much is going on. I, along with Vibiana and Sebastian, have been sick. The two little ones have ear infections and I have a cold.

We spent this last week busy with Darian's school projects. We built a diorama (an arctic habitat) and a pinewood derby car for scouts. We will be racing the derby car next week...hopefully it does well.

The diorama was a pain, mostly because I tend to be a bit of a control freak (just let me do it!) and I was determined to have him do the work - it was his school project. It came out looking like, well, an 8 year old did it. Mission accomplished.

Otherwise, a fairly quiet week in the Schalow household. Tomorrow, Darian is participating in our "school" mass to kick off Catholic Schools Week. So, we not only have to attend the school's 8 a.m. mass, but we will attend the pancake breakfast afterward and then Jason is a Lector at the 11 a.m. mass. Another busy day.

If I remember, I'll take some pictures to post.

Until then, God Bless.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Oh, where dreams can lead

I had a dream the other night about an old friend from high school/college. We were briefly college roomates, and our friendship didn't exactly end on a high note. So, I had this random dream about her, and the next day I decided to try to see what she was up to. So, I googled her name. Now, as most of you know, when you google a name you tend to get all kinds of results. The first few results were regarding sentencing - as in jail time. I thought, no way is that who I'm looking for! I clicked on some links further down the page, but none of them were her.

A bit disappointed, I clicked on one of the links about sentencing, just out of curiosity. Well, as you probably guessed, this was my old friend. It seems that a few years out of college she became involved with a radical eco-terrorist group. She was arrested and sentenced in mid 2007 on two counts of arson.

This totally surprised me. My friend had always been an activist, but always a pacifist. She always had in incredible respect for life and the well being of others. As I researched more of the incidents, it became clear that she was actually brought into the group by a boyfriend (of course!!) and that shortly after the incidents she was involved in, she left the guy, the group, and everything to start over. She had completely re-made her life. She moved to a different area, got married, worked with the elderly and apparently became quite the upstanding citizen. Then, six years after all this occured, she was arrested. She pled guilty and cooperated with law enforcement. She is now in the midst of a 4 1/2 year sentence in federal prison.

So, what do I do with this information now? Well, I have decided that I will contact her. I found out which prison she is in, and I will write her a brief note to say hello. I don't even know if she wants to talk to me or have anything to do with me. But, I do believe that the Holy Spirit brought her back into my life for a reason and now I just have to see where it leads.

Monday, January 12, 2009

These boots are made for walking...

Vibiana, trekking across the backyard...after she escaped out the doggie door.

Yes, that is dirt she is chewing on...the breakfast of champions!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Epiphany!

Our new year got off to a bit of a rocky start, so I missed wishing everyone a timely Happy New Year. Instead - Happy Epiphany! (Today is the traditional celebration of Epiphany, the visitation of the Three Kings.)

After a sluggish start New Year's morning, we began a trek down to Corona for the day to visit with Jason's parents. They were planning a small birthday party for Darian (lucky kid - this was the third day in a row his birthday was being celebrated!), nothing major - just some cake and ice cream - and a few presents, of course!

For a while now, my van has been making some strange noises. However, being the procrastinators that we are, we hadn't had it checked out yet. So, a little over half way there, Jason, who is driving, suddenly turns to me and says, "I think the power steering just went out." Before I can say anything, this is quickly followed with "Uh-oh, the temperature just flew into the red!" We quickly pulled to the side of the freeway to figure out what next while the children, anxious to get to Grandma and Papa's, start in with "What happened? Why are we stopping? Are we there?"

We called Jason's dad to get the kids, called the tow truck to get the van, and we sat and waited...for an hour. An hour on the side of the freeway with a car full of bored kids. Such fun.

We arrived at Jason's parents house (I won't even bother describing the very bouncy trip in the tow truck, wedged between Jason and a big sweaty tow truck driver) to discover that we had interrupted Karl (Jason's dad) in the middle of a home repair job - the main water line to the house was broken and there was no running water. Could the day get any better? Did I mention that Vibiana had a cold? Did I mention I had started my period? Oh, the joy!!

Oh yes, and of course, the car repair places were all closed due the the New Year's holiday.

The next morning we got the van towed off to the repair shop and I took Vibiana to the doctor. Over the course of the previous afternoon and evening, her cold and turned into something worse. The doctor took one look in her ears and said that she had a rather "impressive" infection in both ears. After waiting with all the sick people in the Kaiser pharmacy to fill her prescriptions, we arrived back at my in-laws to wait. Of course, since the van broke down, my head is filled with numbers - how much was the repair going to be? Will we need a new power steering pump? New belt? Can I afford any of it???? A few hours later the shop called and Jason went to pick the van up.

When he got back my first question was "So, how much?"

"Well," Jason said, "the bad news is that we won't be able to feed Darian for awhile. The good news is, it only cost us $68."

Talk about an answer to prayers. The only thing wrong was some dinky little part (idle pulley?) that was an easy fix. What a relief!

Of course, shortly after arriving home Friday evening I started feeling sick thanks to my visit with Vibiana to Kaiser. I spent the entire weekend sick with a cold. Fortunately, I am better now, Vibiana is better and the kids are all back in school. They had a great vacation, but I am glad to get back into our "normal" routine. Aside from having to fix lunches and a frantic last minute search for a belt, I enjoy them being in school and having some quiet time for myself - if I can get the two little ones to nap at the same time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Darian!

Well, my oldest is now officially an eight year old. His birthday was the 31st. He had a party on the 30th with all his friends from school. They all had a great time. Many thanks to all who were able to attend. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures at the party because I forgot my camera. Honestly, I was lucky I made it! The morning involved a trip to the dentist for Sophia and we met my mom (who had the rest of my kids) at the party. After about an hour, my kids started getting tired (especially Sophia who had 4 fillings that morning) so my mom took them home and I got to stay and let Darian have a good time. Thank God for my Mom!! She truly helped keep me sane on what could have been a seriously stressful day.
On his birthday I fixed Darian the dinner of his choice (tacos) and he tried his very best to stay up until midnight...he made it until around 10:30 before falling asleep. Maybe next year.
I continue to be amazed and baffled by this child of mine. Sometimes he is such a wonderful child that I wonder what I have done to deserve him. Other times he frustrates me so much that I still have to wonder what I have done to deserve him! Seriously, he is a wonderful, caring, loving and special little boy. I cannot wait to see what his next year will bring.