Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Feast Day, my little Guadalupe!

My dearest Guadalupe,

Happy Feast Day! Ever since your conception, your mother and I have consecrated you to our Lady of Guadalupe. She continues to protect you and watch over you. Your life has brought an incredible and indescribable joy to our lives. Every night, I go to bed looking forward to the new day so that I can see your little face asleep on the pillow. You've recently been making a myriad of different noises and coos. Not only does each one bring a smile to the faces of your loving parents but also, undoubtedly, to the countenance of our Lady of Guadalupe.

Never forget our love for you. Never forget the joy you bring us. Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your dad. May our Lady of Guadalupe continue to keep you. You're so special to me.

All my love,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

True Love, True Feminism, The Ideal

Click here to read "Love Begins with a Dream"

A garden bower in flower Grew waiting for God's hand: Where no man ever trod, This was the Gate of God. The first bower was red -— Her lips which "welcome" said. The second bower was blue -— Her eyes that let God through. The third bower was white -— Her soul in God's sight. Three bowers of love Now Christ from Heaven above. -— LAWRENCE HOUSMAN

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Best Birthday in the World

Around 3:00pm we made our way over to Old Town Alexandria for Baby Jesus' Birthday Party here. We went to meet some of our friends there and even met up with more friends who also happened to be there for this ultimate birthday celebration. It was very enjoyable. What made it cheerful to start was the joyful atmosphere of the bookstore. I remember going to the Daughters' bookstore growing up and loving it. The nuns were cheerful and sincere, just like their Groom. The afternoon was delightful. There was storytelling, picture-taking, dressing up as one of the holy people at the Nativity and posing beside the Christchild in the creche, and last but not least, the eating of birthday cake. Jesus knows how to make toddlers happy, being that He was one Himself! Madge had a blast. She wanted to dress up as the Blessed Mama, and, with her friend (dressed as St. Joseph) posed beside the creche. On the way home, I asked her what her favorite part was, and here are two (favorites), prioritized as such: 1.) Cake; 2.) Touching Baby Jesus. After speaking to 2 of her 4 grandparents following this event, both of them were ready to take the cake, or should I say the blame(?) for Maddy thoroughly enjoying the treat aspect of the night. It was an enjoyable afternoon and a good reminder of just what all the hoopla is all about.

Just Tendin'

This morning Madge was just 'tendin baking cookies. When my Mom was here Maddy and Mom would just 'tend and play "picnic." Instead of a picnic, it was baking. She was rolling, and cookie-cutting some playdough with our new cookie cutters that we will use to make our favorite sugar cookies for Christmas gifts. I love you, Madge, and our moments together. You are my dear friend.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weak in the knees for...

Over the past couple weeks Pita has been doing the sweetest little gazes at Daddy. She'll stare at him, then he looks, and her addictive, drooly smile bursts and she turns her head into me, almost as if she's saying, "Oh, Dad! Did you catch me admiring you again?!"

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Am I not here who am your mother?"

First Day

Rose Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor......
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Second Day

RoseO Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son’s holy will always: May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Third Day

RoseO Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Fourth Day

RoseDearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son’s charity, to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Fifth Day

RoseO most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Sixth Day

RoseMary, Mother of vocations, multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious houses which will be light and warmth for the world, safety in stormy nights. Beg your Son to send us many priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Seventh Day

RoseO Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children in a Christian manner; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; that all members of the family pray and worship together. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Eighth Day

RoseWith my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you, O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life with faithfulness and constancy.
Our father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Ninth Day

RoseO God, You have been pleased to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, your humble servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face to face in heaven.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Korea fun

This week I am participating at some governmental negotiations in Seoul. I wasn't able to bring my camera, but here are photos from the web.

I have been staying at the Westin Chosun, which is a convenient walk away from the embassy. On the map, one can see the embassy location. The Chosun is next to city hall. It's chilly outside but very pleasant.

Althouggh our meetings yesterday were with officials from six ministries, they were all hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fun fact about Korea: while home to its (in)famous kimchi, Korea is actually a kimchi net importer. Thank you, China. (This is comparable to the U.S. being a net importer of hot dogs.)

Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and 7-11 have done a fabulous job of market penetration over here. They can be found on almost every corner. Madge, I'll try to get you a couple donut holes. (No kimchi flavor available: sorry!) Seriously, though, I did have kimchi the last time I was here in Seoul. Yesterday for lunch at the embassy cafeteria, however, I opted for the turkey and cheese sandwich.

My Date

Today I had a date with one of my heart throbs. I think we connected. She's a keeper.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

PicassA at Work

Madge wanted to paint tonight, so she had my 17-year-old Mardi Gras apron (given to me from Dad after his trip to Louisiana)--knotted at the neck, and thrice rolled at her waist, paint brush in-hand, and the recipient of the art already decided: Daddy. Here she is in action.

Your little PicassA

Sweets, she's making this for you.

Friday at the (Special) Mall

This past Friday, Post-Thanksgiving-Friday, the girls and I bundled up and headed north to our beloved Nation's Capital for a stroll with The Daddy-Wads after he broke out of the office into the crisp, evening air. It was delightful. Every time I look at our kids I'm humbled, for so many reasons, but for starters, their childlike curiosity and simplicity fills me with peace. As we ventured onto The Mall (The Special Mall---had to clarify for Madge since she was expecting a "real" mall) amidst the droves of tourists, DC professionals, and the old and young alike, Maddy bent down and touched the ground. Who would have thought a girl could be so lucky to find sand AND rocks at this special "mall" all in one place and one night? Maddy carefully plucked a pebble from the gritty sand and let it plop to the ground before gawking at the passers-by. The winter sky was illuminated at the horizon by the sinking sun and the Capitol stood silently in the backdrop. As we snapped photos here and there, we eventually made our way over to the playful Carousel that was dancing merrily around-and-round. We didn't even have to climb on to enjoy its jolly tempo. On our way out to Independence Avenue, we meandered through the grounds and placid gardens of the Smithsonian castle. After such an enjoyable evening, we all felt like a royal family, in just spending time together.
Update: On our way past the city yesterday, Maddy saw the Washington Monument and said "The special mall!" And, the evening before that we were on our way to the local mall, and Madge asked if we were going to the "special mall." Learning the meaning behind synonyms is the age of 2.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Saturday

This past Saturday we took advantage of time with friends (4 families total) and a mix of the guys' talents to capture our Christmas picture this year. We had a great time, and the kids loved romping around with one another. Here are a couple of picks from the 200-or-so shots. (Thank God for digital!)


Yesterday at morning Mass, during the homily, Madge decided to notice a blemish on my chin and take notice of a fellow Mass-goer's little growth. As indiscreet as a child can try to be or as quiet as one attempts to be, the chatter just isn't discrete. Her taking notice went something like this:

Madge: "Mom, you bonked?" (pointing to my chin and asking: "You hurt yourself?"
Me: "Yes, I bonked.")
Shortly thereafter Maddy gazes to the lady seated a nice, intimate 1 1/2 feet away from us in the pew ahead.
Pointing directly at the lady and the lady's nice, plump mole by the side of her eye, Maddy begins to state her next recognition.

Madge: "Mom, that lady bonked too!"
I'm glad some words in our house are coded.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Maddy Thinks You're Funny

Picture Maddy at 6:30am, standing in the kitchen, squinting with her puffy-sleep eyes at the phone screen and playing the video over and over again. She thinks you're funny! Happy 'Anksgivin'! Lub you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We are Thankful

Today on Thanksgiving we give God thanks for so many blessings from the gift of our new daughter and sweet joy, Pita, to the fact that Madge potty-trained herself, gives us kisses when she plays pretend and "leaves the house for the store," and for the most fundamental and yet precious gifts as our very lives. Thank you, God. We woke up this morning (something we are grateful of in and of itself) to Madge and Pita nestling together, snug in our bed. Their presence was a treat, a real reason to wake up thankful for a new day. Once our feet hit the ground we were off slowly but steadily to brew some "coppee" before returning to resting in bed as a family. These are the best times, and I love them. After getting some breakfast we got ready for 9am Mass. How thankful we are to have a real Thanksgiving Meal everyday in the Eucharist. In his homily the pastor stated how we often take things so for granted and that we don't need to wait for this official Thanksgiving day to come before we say thank you.
When we arrived home from Mass we made a small brunch of simmered apples with brown sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin bread, delicious coffee, and fresh whipped cream. The morning was beautiful: sunny and low 50s. We headed to our neighbors' for a visit before heading outdoors to play and then take a walk through the sun-lit sidewalks. The fresh air felt so nice and energizing. The girls layed down for a nap, while we tried to organize Christmas gift ideas. Dinner was in motion, and there was one last pie to make: a St. Louis Custard Pie. While I finished dinner, Madge awoke, frazzle-haired and rosey-cheeked and joined me in the kitchen. Caleb and Maddy took another turn outside with Maddy's friends and played soccer and catch. Pita didn't even eat turkey, but she slept over three hours. (Sometimes the habits of Thanksgiving are just instinctual.) Our dinner menu consisted of a turkey breast (made as closely to Dad's as I could); gravy with sautteed onions and celery; garlic mashed potatoes and mozzarella cheese; Mom's green bean casserole; Baking Powder Drop Biscuits; cranberry sauce; and, sparkling cider, followed by pecan pie and pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream (and maybe even some Custard Pie later). And, a larger-sized pair of pants. All in all, it was a very special day. I am thankful for so many things, but I was able to synthesize my thanks into five gifts this evening as we began a new tradition at our dinner table. We each had a cut-out of a hand and wrote what 5 things we are thankful for. We will tuck those away in a little envelope and re-read them next year while adding to our bountiful blessings as each year passes with abundant gifts. We are truly grateful to God for so many gifts including the love we have for one another, within our own family, and for our families on both sides. Each person has impacted us in so many ways, and we thank God for each member of our families as well as our dear friends and the graces we have been granted through these connections.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First Bangage Trim = First Haircut!

Last week we trimmed Maddy's hair a bit... just the front. The curls have remained untouched.

Revisiting All Saints' Eve

Madge and Pita were a pair: Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the last photo, we were at friends' home where we entered our Bob the Tomato jack'o'lantern and our Apple Cobbler. Both won!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Matt and Micah!

Today we celebrate a dual-birthday of our brothers. Happy birthday, Matt! Happy birthday, Micah! We love you and are thankful to God to have you in our lives. Thank you for the love you have shared and the people you have brought into our lives. You both have beautiful treasures, and we thank God for these jewels. May God bless you on this special feast day and may you always know the love and joy of your family and friends who rejoice in your lives this day. All our love.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Aunty Mimi!

Today we celebrate your 18 years on earth, a place that is blessed with your existence. We love you and pray that you may always know how much joy you bring to so many lives, including the four of ours. Our love and prayers are with you today, tomorrow, and always as you journey onwards reaching the goals God has planned for you. Happy birthday! Our prayers are with you in a special way on this memorial.