Saturday, July 25, 2009

Preserving a Relic

I am at my mom's place this week since Kevin is jetsetting. On Thursday morning, my mom announced that one of her coworkers is looking for bowling balls so that she can do this little craft. "Hm, interesting," I said.

It got a little more than interesting when my mom said she thought it would be a great opportunity to get my dad's old bowling ball of her hands. My father passed away about 15 years ago, and we still have many relics of his old hobbies hanging around the house. At first, the idea of giving away my dad's old bowling ball that had not been used since the early 70s seemed pretty benign.

The next morning, my mom brought the ball upstairs, and once I saw it, I just couldn't let it become a dippy ladybug lawn ornament! That bowling ball is heavy and black and polished. It even has my dad's initials emblazoned on it! It seemed a total insult to his memory to allow a prized, if little used, possession of my beloved father to be turned into something so sissy. So, the bowling ball is still around. If anyone knows of someone who needs a bowling ball to use for actual bowling, leave a comment. I think I could let that slide.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Real Purpose

A beatiful reflection from this post that I had to share...

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—-I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it—-if I but keep His Commandments. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am. I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends; He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, may my spirits sink, hide my future from me—-still He knows what he is about.

Cardinal John Henry Newman
...pray for us!!

On the Road Again

Kevin is jetsetting...again. To be fair, it's not exactly a joy ride to a tropical isle, or even an interesting foreign country. He's in the desert of Idaho at Nerd Camp. Kevin's going to be a part of a two week class put on by Idaho Nat'l Lab and Idaho State University. Something about modeling, experimenting and verifying - MeV. The nerdy part about the name (MeV) is that it's an acronym for the class and a unit of energy used in nuclear power nerdiness. Oy. I think I'm cool with staying home and concerning myself with naptime, diapers, and preventing Monica from licking dog hair off her hands. (She's crawling now and as much as I vacuum, I will never win the Yucky Black Dog Fur battle.)

Much to some people's relief (and others' disappointment) I will not be posting pictures of strange, raw food. I think Idaho potatoes, even when raw, would be utterly would stories from Nerd Camp '09 (at least to those of us who are not Nuke Nerds).

Here are few pics from kiddie pool time on the deck. I think Monica might end up being a bubble bath lover/hot tub lounger.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer in the City

Here are a few pics from my sister's bachelorette bash this past weekend in Chicago. That's the bean in Millenium Park. Strangley fascinating, I'd say. It's great when random brown shirt-wearing men pose for your pictures.

I also love the "spitting" video sculptures.

How can you pass up a photo op with Abe and Mary Todd??

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Monica Hits the Beach

She ate a handful of sand, so I would consider her first beach excursion a success!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Who Thinks of This Stuff??

Kevin brought some fun stuff home for Monica and me, but this little gadget is the most interesting.

Here's a good blog review of My Ocean

Friday, July 3, 2009

Warning: Some Content May Be Unsuitable for Those Prone to Nausea

I have the perfect recipe for lowering dinner expectations at the homestead: send your husband to Japan for two weeks. Here's a rundown of the meal to end all meals.

I made the mistake of saying that since it was my last dinner here that I wanted to try other foods. So I pretty much ate a cow from head to tail, literally. Here is the rundown (all parts are cow):

Tongue, Esophogas, Heart, Liver, Stomach (multiple different ones because cows have more than one), Intestine, regular meat, and the finale of Tail.

I forgot to mention, the liver was raw.

Actually, the heart and tail wasn't bad at all. If they hadn't told me, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between heart and regular meat. Liver was nasty. And stomach was the worst. It had little flaps and everything.

But I survived, and dessert was actually good. It was like lemon ice kind of thing. So after all that, I will eat anything when I get home, as long as we are together.

I think I could make oatmeal and turkey sandwiches for dinner for a week straight without complaint now. If I made typical meals, I bet I would be dubbed the Best Chef EVER. I'll milk this one for all it's worth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dessert: Red Beans and Rice!

Here is a typical Japanese dessert. Yes, those are red beans. You'll find them in many bean flavored ice cream, red bean filled cookies (fig newton-esque...without the figs), etc. I think this is a tough thing for Kevin to handle. He LOVES sweets. The more sugar, the better, and on the whole, Japanese desserts are not very sweet. It's probably been a rough couple weeks!

More about the food from Kevin..."I am doing ok with the food here, but I am excited to have some “bland comfort food”. My coworkers asked me what I liked to eat and I told them I liked “simple meals”. I think they have a hard time understanding what I mean. Several of them remarked that sashimi is very simple because it is just raw fish, no cooking. I don’t think that is what I meant. I meant more like simple as in bland."

Japanese Gatorade. As Kevin said, "Who doesn’t want to drink something with “sweat” in the name?"

Kevin and his coworkers at a shrine in Kyoto

All This for the King

Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus takes the reader on a journey of beauty and pain, trials and triumphs. It is the story of Fr. Dave Pivonka’s pilgrimage through the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago, which traverses about 500 miles from St. Jean-Pier-de-Port, France to Santiago, Spain, the burial place of St. James. The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage path that has been traveled for centuries, and it is full of historic villages, beautiful scenery, and unforgettable people. However, Hiking the Camino is not just a travel book; it is an intimate look into a priest’s pilgrimage of thanksgiving for his vocation, a man’s pain in walking day after day, and a soul’s continued search for the God that calls continually and loves beyond all measure.

Fr. Dave decided to walk the Camino as a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for his vocation as a priest. In preparation for his journey, he walked four five times a week, participated in sporting activities, and was careful to traverse many hills at his residence in Gaming, Austria. He also prepared for his journey spiritually by reading about various saints associated with the Camino and most importantly, by spending time in Eucharistic adoration. "I prayed that I would be able to offer God my Camino as a humble offering of thanksgiving for allowing me to be a priest. I also prayed that Jesus would use the Camino to make me holy…as I prayed I continued to be struck by the words “All this for the King.” So this became the theme for my Camino…It should be noted that I had no idea what this meant." p. 9

The connection between the human body and soul and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross becomes palpable in Hiking the Camino. Fr. Dave is brutally honest about the pain of walking mile after mile, day after day. Pain is an unavoidable reality for every pilgrim on the Camino. Like so many Christian writers before him, Fr. Dave explains that pain and suffering can bring us close to God if only we will make it our companion instead of our enemy. God’s grace in Christ makes the redemption of our suffering a reality. “As I trudged forward, I prayed; I prayed a lot. In the midst of the discomfort I found myself repeating my theme for the Camino, “All this for the King. All this for the King.” I soon realized that the pain in my body was the this in “All this for the King.” I knew God was inviting me to give everything about the Camino to Christ.” p. 24-25

In giving all of his Camino to Christ, Fr. Dave also gained many insights on giving all of life to Christ, day by day. Like the day after day journey on the Camino, the spiritual life is a day to day reality and existence. There are times when it seems that we make no progress and other times when we move forward by leaps and bounds. But, even on the shorter walking days, Fr. Dave realized his Camino required a day-in-day-out commitment to walking mile after mile, just as the journey toward heaven requires a day-in-day-out commitment to Christ. "…what was ultimately important was that I…kept moving ahead, even at what seemed like a snail’s pace. In order to progress [in the spiritual life] we must renew our commitment to Christ daily and then become committed to this over and over again. It is a lot like walking the Camino: just keep moving forward." p. 50

Fr. Dave has a knack for bringing the reader right into the action of his adventures. He has an informal, conversational writing style that helps the reader feel as if they are sitting at one of the pilgrim dinners at a village eatery along the path or watching World Cup Soccer and enjoying a beer with fellow pilgrims at the albergue. Fr. Dave is a wonderful story teller who can connect the spiritual and religious dimension of life to the senses; his encounters with fellow pilgrims like Mara, who was looking to leave her pain behind, Pablo and his backpack, as well as the elderly Teresa and her blind husband Anthony, are gripping and full of insight into many dimensions of life.

The close of Fr. Dave’s journey at the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago on the feast of Corpus Christi is the pinnacle of his story. From the emotional pilgrim’s ritual at the Cathedral, to the giant thurible, to the triumph of receiving the Compostela as proof of the journey, the reader cannot help but feel the thanksgiving and exhilaration of Fr. Dave and his fellow pilgrims. Hiking the Camino is a journey worth taking through the pages of Fr. Dave’s sincere and insightful story. I could not help but dream about my own Camino in Spain, but more importantly, I continue to carry a deeper sense of the holy pilgrimage of every moment in every day.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus.