Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Letter 2011

2011 Holiday Season

After the 2010 we had it was hard to imagine that 2011 could be better, but this year has been filled with just as much excitement as the last one. We both could barely keep up with everything happening.

This year started slow until our first anniversary in April. We enjoyed a piano concert by Jim Brickman at the Van Wezel in Sarasota. He spoke of celebrating anniversaries since he had just celebrated 15 years of writing and performing in December. It was a perfect concert to celebrate the occasion. I made Kris an album keepsake that highlighted our early years together and our first year of marriage. It was a wonderful weekend of romance and reminiscing.

The most exciting highlight of 2011 was learning we were expecting our first baby in January 2012. I had suspected for some time that we might be pregnant but was too nervous to test. After two weeks of waiting, we decided to take a home pregnancy test on my 37th birthday. Even though the line was faint, we were both excited to learn that we were, in fact, pregnant. It was the best present that I could have ever received.

The past couple of months have been quite busy trying to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Thankfully the pregnancy has been uneventful. I did not have much more than slight morning sickness and fatigue the first trimester. It had me out for the count on some days. The second trimester I had more energy and felt like I could get more things done. I tried to take advantage of these bursts of energy to get some cooking done ahead of time. During the third trimester we have been busily trying to get the house and nursery ready. It has been a slow process as fatigue has set in again.

Early in the pregnancy we referred to our little one as Special K since we did not know the gender. Everyone wondered whether our Special K had strawberries or blueberries (girl or boy). Kris had been hoping for a girl while I was hoping for a boy, so one of us was going to be right. We both would have been happy either way. In August, right around 20 weeks, we were happy to learn that we were having a GIRL. We have chosen the name Felicity after my 92-year-old grandmother, Felicidad, who went home to the Philippines shortly before we were married.

This year we enjoyed a babymoon vacation in September. We took a tour of Florida beginning in Naples with the baby shower of our friends Gary and Christine Huber. I was excited for our baby bumps to meet for the first time.  The rest of our vacation consisted of a visit to Mom and Dad Mendoza in Fort Pierce, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Daytona, the hot spots in St. Augustine and a quick lunch with a good friend in Orlando. Kris climbed all 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse while Mommy and baby visited the different museums on the campus. While in St. Augustine, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche and Potter’s Wax Museum. It was nice to have one last getaway before baby girl arrives.

Other family highlights this year include celebrating my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, my Mom’s 65th birthday and the 12th birthday of my oldest niece Lexy in November. Mom and Dad hosted a nice dinner for family and friends to celebrate. We also welcomed Izabella Anna, the daughter of Kris’ brother Paul and his wife Nicole. Izabella is the 9th niece and nephew between the both of us. It was wonderful to share the pregnancy experience with Nikki and we are looking forward to the two cousins meeting.

Here we are now at the end of 2011 and the new year is fast approaching. We both are looking forward to meeting our daughter and the many adventures 2012 has in store for us. We cannot wait to share with you all our exciting news of the upcoming year.

We would like to send you and your family the love and blessings of our Lord this holiday season. We hope you find the joy of the Lord this new year and many years to come.

Sending love, joy and peace from our family to yours this holiday season. May the new year bring good health, happiness and prosperity.

With lots of love,
Kris, Eileen Mae and, coming soon, Felicity

Our Christmas 2011 photo

8 1/2 months pregnant

Christmas 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Living Saints

On November 1st we celebrate All Saints Day. We celebrate and remember the lives of all the saints who lived before as a true example of how to live as Christ did. Some lived many centuries ago while others lived not so long ago. We could see their examples first hand. We are still touched by the miracles that occur through their intercessions for us.

Sometimes we are are very lucky to have very saintly people touch our lives in the right here and right now. They are people we know. They are people we pray and worship with. They are our friends and family. Although we are all called to be saints, there a few who really take that call to a whole new level.

I have been touched by one such couple. We have been so blessed to have met Terry and Julie Dorr. When I first saw them there was something that got my attention. I am not sure if it was the similarities I could see or if it was something deeper. Over time I really got to know them both. I was welcomed into their hearts, home and family. I saw more and more similarities between us. I also saw something very familiar. They both reminded me a lot of my parents. Terry is very simple. He does not have as he puts it much "toity." He is very caring, generous and giving. He is gentle and kind. All traits I recognized from my own father and now in my husband. Julie comes from a very strong Guamanian background which is very similar to the strong Filipino background I grew up in. There were many of the same rich traditions which made me feel right at home with them. Everything from the foods to the way of life remind me of home.

Not only do Terry and Julie have many similarities to us and my family but they have a marriage that I see us having when we have been married for forty years. You can see that they are as much in love today as they were nearly forty years ago when they first married. They still laugh, joke and tease one another. He brings out the best in her and she the best in him. He is still a gentlemen and opens and closes the car door for her. She still likes to hold his hand and smothers him with hugs and kisses. You can see their love is real and genuine. It is truly a place I want us to be forty years from now.

All of this had helped draw me closer and closer to Terry and Julie but the one thing that has drawn me even closer is their friendship. They have both gone out of their way to help us out. Not just in our marriage but in my personal faith journey as well. They both have prayed along side of me as we have struggled through some tough times in our marriage. They have cried and laughed with us through good times and bad. They have been prayer warriors with me through personal struggle. They have offered their assistance whenever it has been needed. Whether it was a ride someplace even if it was out of their way they were there. They even let me be a guest in their home.

Terry and Julie have truly been saints living among us. We are so honored to have them along side of us as Felicity's Godparents. We know she will have a great example on how to live a good Catholic way of life. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives.

Thank you Terry and Julie for being such wonderful examples and extending more than just your hand to help us. Thank you for letting us into your hearts, home and lives. We are truly blessed and grateful. Thank you for being living saints.

Happy Birthday Izabella Anna

We became Aunt Eileen and Uncle Kris for the ninth time on November 2, 2011 at 2:47pm. Kris' brother Paul and his wife Nicole became the parents of Izabella Anna today. We do not have many details except she weighed 6lbs 4oz. This makes six nieces and three nephews between the two of us. We cannot wait for our Felicity to join this happy bunch!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Job: The Frugal Lifestyle

fru·gal [froo-guhl]

1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful
2. entaliling little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty

Frugal is not just an adjective that describes us but it has become a way of life. It is a lifestyle that we have chosen to live out in our marriage. It is a lifestyle that has not always been easy for me to live.

Growing up living a frugal lifestyle had always been a part of our family household. I grew up with two relatively frugal parents especially my father. Growing up we never had many expensive things. If we did they were purchased as the fad was just starting to fade, when they were on sale or had to last several months (if not years) so that they could be handed down to the next sister or even other family members. We would often get one shot at some latest fad or craze but if it was lost or broken then it was not going to be replaced.

As an adult, the frugal lifestyle was a difficult one to embrace. Once I was in college, I fell prey to a few credit card offers. I fell into the trap of "I want and I want it now." I had not learned the dangers of credit cards since neither of my parents used them very much. I would walk by several displays all over campus and was an easy target for anyone offering a credit card. Some I would get in the mail and cancel right away but a couple I kept and used it to purchase the things I wanted without delving into my monthly allowance given to me by my parents. I thought I was living the life. I had the things I needed and the things I wanted. What could have been better?

After I graduated college, I tried hard to get myself out of the hole I had dug during my college hay days. I did  not have very much luck. I became overwhelmed and often wondered if I ever was going to get out of the mess I had created. I had not been as bad off as most people tend to get but I was in my own mess and I did not know how to get myself out of it. I could not figure out how to stay afloat and make headway on the mess I had already created. I tried to go back to the frugal lifestyle I had known as a child but it was hard to go back after having the things I wanted. I did not really dig myself much deeper but the hole I had already created was not getting any smaller. I found myself stuck in it until I could find a way out.

The way out came shortly before we got married. About six months before we got married, Kris and I decided it was time to come face to face with the mess I had created. I was afraid to even tell him how big of a mess it was but honestly I had not really taken a good look at it as I was too afraid to see how big it might have grown. Once I started to uncover the mess, I realized that the elephant was not as big as I thought it to be. So we tackled it one bill at a time. Slowly we paid off old bills and I started to relearn the frugal lifestyle which I had once been so familiar. We began the steps necessary to begin our own journey together into the frugal lifestyle.

The frugal lifestyle has now been our way of life throughout our entire marriage. It was a slow start learning how to manage our finances and take control of our budget but we have been getting better over time. A big help in encouraging our frugal lifestyle was taking Dave Ramsey's course Financial Peace University at our Church. We have learned budgeting skills that have become invaluable tools in our marriage. We embraced a cash only policy when we do our shopping whether it is to buy clothes, groceries or gas. We use coupons and take advantage of sales at the grocery store to reduce our grocery budget. We enjoy inexpensive date nights by going to the dollar theater and using coupons to enjoy a nice meal out. We combine coupons and good sales with our gift cards to stretch our gifted dollars.

Recently one of our favorite coupon savings websites Southern Savers was live streaming a coupon savings video as part of Save Up conference. I am always very encouraged to hear stories from other Moms, Dads, and families who save money and live a frugal lifestyle.

Here are some quotes and tips I leaned while watching the video:

Quotes

- Embrace the frugal lifestyle.

- Save where you can so you can live like you want.

- Be smart with your funds so you can live the lifestyle you choose.

- Frugal does not make you noble but careful and grateful.

- There is a difference between poverty and proverty of spirit.

- Save on what you need so you can spend on what you want.

- Being frugal means you can live a better life on a budget.

Tips

- Sales rotate every 6-10 weeks. Buy 6 weeks worth of what is on sale and 1 week of what you need (not on sale) After about 6 weeks, you what you need list will not be as long and your pantry/fridge (stockpile) will be your "grocery store."

- Know where your money is going and find where you can save money even if it means going extreme.

- Be focused and organized. Forecast for the things you know you're going to spend money on.

We are proud to live a frugal lifestyle in order to provide for our future and family. We are not there yet but we can certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you so much to my wonderful husband for introducing me to this lifestyle. I could not have done it without you.

You can watch more savings tips on www.youtube.com/user/southernsavers or follow Southern Savers on www.southernsavers.com.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Showered with Love


"Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.
My soul you also knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you 
    When I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my actions; in your book they are all written." 
Psalm 139: 13-16a

I already know that our Special K Felicity is loved by so many. She has been in the prayers of many of our friends and family throughout our entire pregnancy. Many more prayers have been added each step of the way. Prayers have continued through our difficult moments when I was having morning sickness and other uncomfortable symptoms. There were even more prayers of thanksgiving when we had good news to share. We have had the love and prayers of so many the past six months. It has been an incredible journey. We have been so blessed.

This past weekend we had a very unexpected blessing. Kris managed to keep plans of a baby shower a secret for nearly two weeks. I did not suspect a thing. I was very pleasantly surprised and touched by everyone who joined us to celebrate our Special K. We feel even more loved.

The decorations for the party were so cute. Kris' Mom put bows on top of small containers of Special K cereal to give to everyone as party giveaways. She used a large box to make a "Special K" baby. She wrapped a blanket around the box and put a balloon with a baby's hat on top. It was just too cute! She wrapped Special K cereal bars with a touching poem based on Psalm 139. Here is what it said:

Before we knew you as FELICITY, you were our SPECIAL K
Before that - in your father's eye, you were only a gleam
Before that - in your mother's heart, you were only a dream
But from all eternity - in secret, in the depths of the earth
Your inmost being was already woven together by God and
All your days ordained and written in His book.

I almost cried (again) when I read it. We were both so touched. It was a wonderful gathering.

The shower was just in time, too. We had recently received an outfit for her and I had mentioned to Kris how we did not have much for her. We have not even started a baby registry. She will be here in three short months and we do not have things ready for her arrival. We will have much to prepare over the next few months. Little did I know that this gathering was already in the works and in a few short hours we would be showered with love from a few people who have been praying along side of us. I was almost brought to tears when I walked into the house and saw the decorations and everyone there.

Now we have some 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month onesies. We also have a few outfits for when she is older (18 and 24-months) We got a few other small items and even a walker from Uncle Paul and Aunt Nikki. Now we have a few things to get us started. There is still so much left to do but I am excited to have a few items to get us motivated to get things in gear.

I cannot put into words how touched I am. The only thing I can keep saying is that we are so touched. We are so blessed. We thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts. We know that Felicity is already loved by so many.

This is what I saw as soon as I walked in the door
Our "Special K"
Party giveaways
The chair was all decorated for me to sit in and open gifts
A bear for Felicity's new room
We were showered with love
I was delightfully surprised
A big bow for Mommy and a little bow for Felicity
Mommy and Daddy

Dear Special K Felicity,

You are so loved! So many people have been praying for you. Long before we even knew you, there have been prayers for you. We have only dreamed of this moment. We have only prayed for this time with you. Very soon you will be here with us. We cannot wait to hold you. We cannot wait for you to see the wonderful gifts that you were showered with this weekend. So many people love you and are waiting for your arrival. Continue to grow big and strong in there. We will see you when you are ready.

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special K with Strawberries


As we were awaiting our recent ultrasound to learn the Special K's gender some of my online friends from an NFP forum were curious to find out if we had Special K with strawberries or blueberries. I have always wanted a little boy first, but Kris from the very beginning had a feeling it was a little girl. Whether Special K had strawberries or blueberries was not so important to us as the health. We wanted to be sure that we had a healthy, growing baby. Anything else was going to be a bonus. 

Our calendar the weeks before our ultrasound appointment was pretty busy. Between the OB, the dentist, the eye doctor, Church meetings and a few family obligations, we were quite busy. It helped the weeks to pass quickly. The Friday of our appointment was going to be a very busy day with errands to run before and after the appointment. Despite our busy schedule nothing could have spoiled the excitement of seeing our precious Special K again since our first ultrasound at 8 weeks. We had already heard the heartbeat twice but we were looking forward to seeing the baby again. At our first quick peek Special K only looked like a peanut. You could see the heartbeat and the makings of a tiny baby but the baby was too small to notice tiny hands or feet. We were excited to see how much our little one had grown.

Prior to arrival at the appointment I was required to drink two glasses of water and asked not to use the bathroom. Not an easy task for a 19-week pregnant woman. Fortunately the receptionist told me it was okay as long as I drank more water. So I had to continuously drink water until the time of our appointment. The ultrasound itself lasted about 45 minutes. They took all kinds of different measurements to make sure that our little one was healthy. They measured the ulna, the humerous, the femur, the chest, the brain, the head, and many other things. It was so neat to see our little one moving all around during the ultrasound. Special K was quite the acrobat. I was hoping to get a good peek before the tech told us if Special K had strawberries or blueberries but Special K just would not stay still long enough for me to get a good peek. I am not sure I would have known what to look for anyway. We were enjoying watching our little one move and dance around. We saw the baby "wave", suck their thumb, kick their leg, tumble, somersault and so much more. We saw the two halves of the brain, the four chambers of the heart, the bones in the fingers and toes and much, much more. It was like Special K was putting on a show for Mommy and Daddy. Although it was hard to lie there with a full bladder I did not want to stop watching the baby. It was so amazing to see. The baby was still rather tiny but you could see everything so clearly. Kris was so excited to see the baby again and this time Special K was more than a peanut. 

We were both excited when time came to reveal Special K's gender. We both had our hunches about the gender and could not wait to find out who was right. No matter what we both had already loved Special K so much already. Gender made no difference. Fortunately, Special K was quite cooperative when it came time to reveal the gender. The tech focused in to show us. She asked what we thought. I was not too sure but I had to ask. Then came the big news. IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!! Kris was so excited. His first comment was, "Now we have to start saving for a wedding." I was just simply moved to tears. Although I wanted a boy, I knew that having a girl was something extra special. I had always planned to name my first daughter Felicity after my paternal grandmother, Felicidad. My Mama Edad is 92-years old and we have been very close since I was young. We used to do many arts and crafts together. She has inspired me and taught me so much. I was sad to learn that she would be returning home to the Philippines a couple of months before we were married. I have had the chance to speak with her via Skype shortly after we learned we were pregnant. She was the first family member we told. I told her that if we were to have a girl, we will name her after her. Mama was so happy to hear that. There was a smile so big on her face. Mama has 6 children (5 daughters and 1 son), 19 grandchildren and now our baby girl Felicity makes 22 great-grandchildren. I am honored to be carrying Mama Edad's namesake and excited for Mama to see her even if it is only by Skype.

After our ultrasound, we met with the specialist Dr. Barron. She informed us that little Felicity is perfectly healthy at this time. She measured exactly where she needed to be (According to the OB we were 18 weeks and 6 days and she was measuing 18 weeks and 5 days) She told us we were on track for an average 7-7.5lb baby. I was taken a little by surprise since my nieces and nephews were not much bigger than 6lbs. A 7-lb baby in is a BIG baby for our family but I was glad to hear that she is very healthy. It was such a relief to hear. We both let out a deep sigh of relief. We could not be more excited to meet our little one in a few months.

This reminded me of a "classic" ultrasound picture that you might see in a book, magazine or poster but this time it was of OUR little girl.

She is such the cutie already!

The tech told us that she has Daddy's nose not a Filipino, flat nose.

She was sucking her thumb.

She has LONG legs like Daddy. She likes to kick me on my left side.

She waved hi for Mommy and Daddy. Hi baby girl!!!!!!!!

Dear Special K Felicity,

We are so happy to have seen you dance, somersault, kick and even wave for us. It was certainly an exciting show to see. We cannot get enough. I wish we could have watched all day. Keep on growing in there. Stay strong and active. I do not mind if you give me a little kick here and there to let me know you are okay but please be gentle. We will see you very soon little one. Remember you are already so loved.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 29, 2011

Special K

Before even learning that we were pregnant, I decided that I would call our baby in utero Special K. Other friends had different creative nicknames for their babies-to-be and I wanted something just as cute. I did not like referring to the baby as "it" and did not want to always have to say "the baby." I wanted something that would give the baby an identity. Some kind of name before we even knew the gender. Our last name lent a hand to that. Special K seemed perfect. Our own little K. The newest member of Team K. Someone so special to us no matter what gender they turned out to be. 

Dear Special K,

We love you very much. We cannot wait for you to join our team. Do not worry. You do not have to be the star right away. Mommy and Daddy will coach you and pretty soon you will be the All Star. Stay strong. Stay healthy. Grow big. 

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pregnancy update

It has been a while since I have updated anyone on the status of our pregnancy so I thought I would give a few highlights for those who have been trying to follow our progress.

The first trimester was a little rough. I had a bout with some morning sickness which never happened in the morning. It was always at night when I was getting ready for bed. It made it rough to get try and get to sleep at night. Most mornings I would feel fine but sometimes a car ride would set off nausea and set the pace for the whole day. I was on progesterone for the first 13 weeks to help support the pregnancy and that seemed to cause a few extra problems including very vivid and strange dreams. Certain smells and foods were an issue. The sight or smell of eggs for the first couple of months was just intolerable. Poor hubby missed out on many a big breakfast. Processed meats and cold cuts (I have been avoiding as much as possible this since we learned we were pregnant) also seemed to set off the stomach. I barely made it through preparing for a family brunch before we knew we were pregnant. The smell of hot dogs and bratwursts just made my stomach turn. The only craving that I seem to have was for watermelon which is something I usually crave all summer. Occasionally seeing a restaurant or a picture of food makes me crave it.

The second trimester has been much better than the first. A lot of the unbearable symptoms from the first trimester have pretty much disappeared. For the first few weeks I was getting a knock-me-out-and-drag-me-down kind of headache. I would have to spend most of the day in bed. Thankfully those went away after a couple of weeks. The only symptom that seems to be bothering me is my acid reflux. I find that I have to sleep sitting up most nights to keep myself from choking. It is not always comfortable but it sure beats choking in my sleep and being abruptly awakened. Around 16 weeks I started to feel fluttering, bubbling, thumping, and tapping. They were rather subtle but were not in the same areas where discomfort had typically been felt. After some research online I found out that these were the baby's first movements. The movements have been very subtle and somewhat infrequent but always a pleasure when I can feel them. Around 18 weeks the movement began to feel a little more like hard poking but it was still rather infrequent.

Our first ultrasound was at 8 weeks when Special K appeared to be almost peanut shaped. You could see very clearly the heart beating. You could already see the baby's form even though it was barely an inch long. It was so awesome to see for the first time. We have heard the heartbeat twice already. It was 160+ beats per minute when we heard it for the first time at 13 weeks. We heard it again at our next appointment at 17 weeks. It is such a relief for both of us to hear the fast paced thumping of the little heart.

We are about 19 weeks. We are almost halfway. So far everything is "perfect" as our OB likes to tell us at each appointment. It sure is a comforting word to hear. It gives us much peace to know Special K is growing bigger each day.

We have an appointment scheduled with a maternal-fetal specialist tomorrow for another sonogram. We cannot wait to see the baby's face again. It has been more than 2 months since we first saw the image of the baby. We are looking forward to seeing the tiny hands and feet and the expressions on the little face. We hope to even find out the gender if Special K cooperates.

We are looking forward to the second half of our pregnancy and seeing the progress that Special K makes over the next 20 weeks. It truly has been a miracle to experience life growing inside of me (all the ups and the downs included)

Dear Special K,

Continue to stay safe in your little "womb." I have tried to make it as comfortable as possible. I know pretty soon there will not be much room in there for you. We are getting your room here in the house ready for you. There is still much work to be done so feel free to stay in your "womb" until you are ready to come out and greet us. Grow big and stay strong little one. Mommy and Daddy love you so much already and look forward to the day when we can see your smiling face.

Lots of love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our treasure



"We who are parents see our children as treasures entrusted to our care by God." - St. Jane de Chantal

A couple of weekends ago we joined my mother in St. Petersburg for the national Salesian conference via simulcast from Washington, DC. The theme of the conference was God Desires You. We learned a lot about the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. We learned about the capacity and limitations of the human heart as well as the unbounding love of God's heart. We learned how to make our prayer lives stronger. We could apply a lot of what we learned to our present day lives. It was a spiritually rewarding day. We enjoyed a nice weekend visit with my Mom and Dad.

While we were there I saw 8x10 matted pictures. They had different quotes by either St. Francis de Sales or St. Jane de Chantal. I wanted to find something that we could use in the baby's room. There were two in particular that I liked. One was a quote by St. Francis. The picture was of a mother holding a young child while another one ran through the fields. I loved the picture. It was a great image of where I might see myself in a few years. The other picture we saw was just of a quote by St. Jane de Chantal. It had lots of vibrant colors and the saying fit perfectly how we felt. After showing both of them to Kris, we finally chose the picture with St. Jane's quote.

Dear Special K,

You are most prized treasure. We love you so much already. We are so blessed that God has entrusted you to our care. We cannot wait to finally meet you in person. Stay safe. Grow big. We will see you when you are ready.

Love,
Mommy & Daddy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saint of the month: St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Icon of St. Maximilian Kolbe

"No one in the world can change the Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" ~ St. Maximilian Kolbe

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." ~ John 15:13

Feast Day: August 14
Patronage: drug addicts, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio operators, pro-life movement

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I first learned about St. Maximilian when I was in the 7th grade attending Catholic school. His story was written in our religion book. He had been recently canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II. I was immediately taken by his story and became a devotee. prayed often for his intercession. I know since that time he has kept a very watchful eye over me.

Biography

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born Raymond Kolbe on January 8, 1894 in what is now present day Poland. In 1907, along with his elder brother, he entered a Franciscan seminary. In September 1910 he was received as a novice and took the new name of Maximilian. From 1912 to 1915 he studied in Rome and from 1915 to 1919 he studied at Collegio Serafico. He was ordained on April 28, 1918 in Rome.

As a devotee to Our Lady, he founded the Militia of the Immaculate Virgin Mary with 6 other companions. In 1922, he began publishing a monthly review, Knight of the Immaculate. It was first published in Polish and then in other languages. He promoted the devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary through different forms of media including writing and radio. In 1927, he founded a Franciscan monastery in Niepokalanow. It later became a major publishing center. He continued his movement in Japan in 1930. 

In 1936, he returned to Poland due to ill health. In Septempber 1939 Niepokalanow was occupied by the Germans and most of the inhabitants were sent to Germany. Among them was Fr. Maximilian. He did not stay there long. On December 8, he was released and returned again to Niepokalanow. Soon after, he began a shelter for Polish refugees. The community came under suspicion and was under close watch. In 1941, after publishing the only edition of The Knight of the Immaculate, Fr. Maximilian was arrested. He was first at the infamous Pawiak prison in Warsaw but was later transferred to Auschwitz where he was branded prisoner number 16670.

In July 1941, three prisoners had escaped Auschwitz. Due to the escape, ten prisoners would be picked from the blocks which the fugitives had lived and assigned to the Bunker, the underground starvation cell. Among the ten picked was Francisczek Gajowniczek, a non-commissioned officer. When the sentence had been announced, Gajowniczek cried out that he shall never see his family again. It was then that Fr. Maximilian stepped out and offered himself in his place. They were led to the Bunker where men died slowly without food and water. Fr. Maximilian led the men in daily prayers, Rosary, and singing. Prisoners from neighboring cells would often join them. After nearly two weeks, all the men had died except for Fr. Maximilian. He was often seen kneeling or standing as he looked at the SS men cheerfully in the face. Willingly giving his arm, an injection of carbolic acid was given in order to facilitate Fr. Maximilian's death. When he was found dead, his face appeared calm and radiant.

The process for his beatification began in August 1947. His cause was introduced in March 1960. On October 17, 1971 he was beatified by Pope Paul VI. Like Jesus Christ, his master, he loved man enough to give up his own life for them. "Greater love hath no man than this..." were the opening words at his beatification. His canonization was not long delayed. On October 10, 1982 Pope John Paul II declared Maximilian Kolbe a saint.

Devotion

My devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe began at the very tender age of 12. His story of sacrifice for another man had truly touched my heart. I wanted to live by his example. I am not always successful at putting the needs of other's before my own but I have learned to follow in St. Maximilian's example in my family and friend relationships. I continue to ask St. Maximilian for his intercession in my daily prayers.

I believe that it is this devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe that I have found Kris. Throughout the years of my devotion, St. Maximilian has been there to intercede for us and help prepare us both for this journey on which we are now embarking. It was not until much later that I learned that St. Maximilian is the patron saint of journalists the career that Kris has been working since his early days in college. The Lord has prepared us both for the next journey in our marriage and St. Maximilian is there every step of the way as our intercessor.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

Check out these links for more information on St. Maximilian Kolbe:

http://www.catholic-pages.com/saints/st_maximilian.asp
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=370
http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/kolbe.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_Kolbe


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Special K

No, it is not cereal but we are expecting our first bundle of joy. After suspecting we might be pregnant for a few weeks, we learned of our new bundle of joy on my birthday. What a birthday gift it was!!! We were overjoyed when we saw the EPT.

The best birthday gift

We are now 9 weeks and Special K (which is what we are calling him/her since we do not know the gender) is due on January 21, 2012. We do not really have preference except for a happy, healthy baby. Kris is thinking pink but I am thinking blue so one of us is right.

Say cheese! Baby at 8 weeks and 2 days.

video

Family photo

The next 7 1/2 months are going to mean BIG changes for us and we cannot wait for our little one to finally get here. We are slowly working on organizing the house to make room for baby. We do not know what lies ahead for us but each new experience fills our hearts with joy.

Dear Special K,

Mommy and Daddy love you so much already. We cannot wait to meet you. We are getting things ready for you here. We cannot wait for you to see what we have prepared for you. Stay safe. Grow big.

Lots of love, Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Daybook

 
FOR TODAY

May 3, 2011

After a two week hiatus from blogging, I am back in the swing of things again.

Outside my window... the sun is getting ready to set. According to weather.com, we are expecting slightly cooler temperatures tonight (in the 70s) but it will be back up into the 80s by tomorrow afternoon.

I am thinking... I need a little motivation to get some housework done.

I am thankful for... weekends with family. It was a busy weekend with much to celebrate but we had so much fun. I think I am still recovering. We have more family time planned for the next few weekends. I just cannot get enough.

From the kitchen... deviled eggs are in the making. Yummy!

Post Easter Deviled Eggs

I am wearing... a fresh pair of pajamas.

I am creating... a journal of Eileen-isms – Your everyday cliches with a dash of Eileen’s thoughts and ideas. Maybe someday I will publish it.

I am going... to the dentist. Three dentist appointments in three weeks are NOT fun.

I am reading...
nothing even though I have not finished the books I have started earlier this year. There are MANY books on the list but I have only finished a couple. I need to have a week just so I can catch up on reading
 
I am hoping praying... a Rosary every day for the special intentions of my family and friends. I pray around midnight while Kris is driving home from work. He prays in the car while I pray at home. It is like we are praying together. It has helped have restful sleep.

I am hearing...
sacred silence. It is a good time to spend some time with God and sort out the thoughts in my head.

Sacred Silence by Tom Booth

Around the house... there are always chores that need to get done. Motivation where have you gone?

One of my favorite things... a hot, relaxing, long shower to ease aches and pains and help get your mind off the worries of today.
 
A few plans for the rest of the week:

Wednesday: Dentist
Thursday: Prayer group
Friday: Family time

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

A boy and his dinosaur

My friend Rhea knitted a dinosaur (a Brachiosaurus) for my nephew Chas.

A dinosaur waits to be united with my nephew Chas.
Chas and his dinosaur are united for the first time.


http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Maestro


Holy Communion Mass
St. Margaret Mary, Winter Park, FL
Homily by Fr. Richard Walsh

Today we attended First Communion Mass for my nephew Dominic. The pastor, Fr. Walsh, gave an excellent homily. I wanted to video tape it but at Fr. Walsh's request I decided to just sit and listen. Now I wish I had a better view and continued to record. His homily was so inspiring not only to the kids making their First Communion today but also to some of the adults who were there. I can only try to retell what I remember from his Homily.

I found the video above to best retell the story that Fr. Walsh used in his Homily today. Various variations of the story can also be found online. The story involves famous pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski. The part that touched me about his homily was not the story but how he related it to our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.

In his homily, Fr. Walsh compared each of the Communicants to the little boy on stage. Each one goes up to receive Communion for the first time with very limited knowledge about faith but Jesus reaches around from the left and from the right to embrace them with his love to make them complete. The realization is that Jesus does not just do this for the little ones with little knowledge of the faith but for all of us. Some days we are weak and our faith is lacking. Jesus reaches around each one of us and makes us each complete. He reminds us that we cannot do this alone. We each only play one instrument while He plays the rest to make it sound like a symphony. Some days we are strong and he harmonizes as to complement our piece.

Jesus is the one who completes our faith. We trust that He has already begun a good work in us and with His help we can finish the task we are set out to do.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Age is nothing but a number...

Happy 91st Birthday Lola Rosa!

Me: Please Grandma, tell me your secret. How do you look so young?
Grandma: A diet of chicken, fish, vegetables, and rice.
Me (to Kris): We are changing our diet tomorrow. I want to look like Grandma when I am 91.

Grandma Rosa and I at our wedding.
Grandma Rosa and I celebrating her 90th birthday

We were so blessed to have Grandma Rosa (my maternal Grandmother) living with us since I was just ten years old. I always remembered her as having a very active lifestyle. She was athletic and played volleyball into her 60s before moving to the States. She still gardens, sews, and walks everyday. She is healthy with only a few things that come along with "old age." She worked for public health back home in the Philippines (as told to us by my mother) which required her to walk from house to house giving shots, delivering babies, and providing health care for new mothers. She even went to the far off barrios and often stayed there for an entire week. Sometimes she did more than provide health care. She would clean their house, wash the clothes, and do other any other needed chores. She has been a great example of wife and mother.

We pray that she lives for many more years to come. We will be here to celebrate 100 with you Grandma Rosa. We love you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Animal Behavior

Don't let the cute face fool you

Other than my college roommate's cat LuLu, I have never really lived with a pet full time before. I have lived with roommates who had pets including my sister and her family but taking care of the pet was never my full time responsibility. I never really had the chance to learn much about animal behavior or demeanor. In the past year, I have learned a lot about having a pet from our dear Gracie.

Gracie as a kitten circa 2001

Let me give you a little background on how Gracie came to live with Kris and now us. Gracie was a Christmas/birthday gift from his sister Hannah. He almost did not want to take her home until I convinced him he had to bring her home. He was living in an apartment that did not allow pets and was soon moving. He did not want to take her and pay extra fees to keep her. But it was too late. I was so in love with her. I kept was playing with her and trying to think of a name. My first thought was Kasey because his initials -- KCK but the name did not seem to fit her. I tried to think of names to fit her feisty personality but none of those seemed to fit her either. Then it hit. She was a cute little gray kitten. Gray-cie. Gracie. The name was perfect. He looked at me and then back at her, and he knew he had to take her home. He made some arrangements with Hannah to keep her until he found a new place and could bring her home. After about 3 months or so, Gracie came home to live with Kris.

Gracie was a very playful kitten

It was not soon after she came home that he fell in love with her, too. How could you resist her? She was cute and playful. And she kept him company at night. Since we were only dating, I had an apartment of my own. At night Kris would come home to his apartment and she would be there waiting for him. I came over as often as I could to see her and play with her. She was just too cute that I could not stay away. 

Kris and Gracie reading the Sunday comics
Gracie's curiosity has always gotten the best of her
She found her way to places she was not supposed to be

Fast forward ten years, Gracie is now a ten-year old cat. It has been just Gracie and Kris all these years. They have lived in many different places but she has been his only roommate. He has been her only housemate, too. They have taken care of one another. She has grown pretty attached to Kris and was not looking forward to anyone moving in on her territory. Little did she know that the once frequent visitor would soon become a permanent resident in her home. This was quite an adjustment for both of us. I had never had the pleasures of experiencing her daily routine with Kris. After only a few weeks, I was introduced to her daily rituals.

Gracie on our dining room chair then...
Now...ten years later

Nighttime Ritual

Gracie has a very particular nighttime ritual. Just when things are perfectly quiet and we are all ready for bed Gracie is ready to start her routine. She will parade all through the house with her "mouse" and meow as if to show off her find for the night. Her parade ends back in our bedroom (where it began of course) to announce her find. After receiving adequate praise she will finally jump into bed to settle in for the night. This routine usually does not start until it is completely silent. Sometimes I am just about to fall asleep when I start to hear her meows from outside our door. The meows do not cease until she has been given praise from both of us and a proper invitation to bed. This ritual can last anywhere from five to ten minutes without stopping. Rarely we just have to ignore her until she finally decides to settle in for the night.  

I'm not as dumb as I look

I have learned in just the last twelve months that pets are not as dumb as they look or even pretend to be. They do cute things just to get your attention and you look at them. They look so cute and innocent but they really have something else up their sleeve. She knows who to nuzzle up to (kiss up) to get what she wants. No matter how high up or out of reach I put something she will find her way to it. She knows where to hide or how far under the bed to sit so just barely touch her. She can tell you just how mad she is when we have been gone to long. She just have to give you that "look" and whatever she wants is hers. Sometimes I wonder if she really is a cat or just a small child hidden under all that fur.

Despite all Gracie's silly antics and annoying behaviors, we love her to death. She always has been OUR little girl. She is the best kitty and I am so happy that Kris decided to take her home with him. I know that he is, too!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Marriage Prayer


A Marriage Prayer

Lord,
help us to remember when
we first met and the strong 
love that grew between us.
To work that love into 
practical things so nothing
can divide us.

We ask for words both kind and loving, and for hearts
always ready to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

Dear Lord,
we put our marriage into Your hands.

Amen

Daybook


FOR TODAY

April 12, 2011

Outside my window... the sun has set and day has turned into night. It is a cool and cloudy night. There is a 30% chance of rain but there does not seem to be any in sight. Temperature is slowly rising. It looks like it is going to be another hot week ahead.

I am thinking... that tomorrow I will catch up on everything I have put off for the last week.

I am thankful for... the joys that marriage brings. The good and fun times always outweigh the bad and rough times. Both are necessary to help you appreciate the other.

From the kitchen... hubby was able to find a place for the extra mugs and dishes. They are not in their final spot but at least there seems to be a little less clutter. Now to finish the rest of the chores that still need to be done…

I am wearing... a fresh pair of pajamas as I get ready to wind down for the night and wait for hubby to come home.

I am creating… nothing now that my anniversary gift is done. I hope to get back to working on our scrapbook soon.

I am going... finish the last of my chores for the day and start to wind down for the night. It is going to be a LONG day tomorrow.

I am reading... the same book for the last 3 months. Financial Peace University is ending soon and I am still NOT done with Financial Peace Revisited. My books of interest seem to be growing. I added unPlanned by Abby Johnson. I have found inspiration from her story.


unPlanned by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert

 I am hoping praying... for all the unborn babies.

I am hearing... Gracie meowing as she parades her favorite mouse around the house.

Around the house...
my most dreaded chore awaits – ironing. I have put it off way too long and now all my hubby’s work shirts await ironing.

One of my favorite things... romantic piano music especially Jim Brickman.


Never Alone – Jim Brickman featuring Hillary Scott & Lady Antebellum

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Post-seminar What Next? by Jim Wicksall
Friday/Saturday: St. Pete
Monday: Bonus lesson of FPU (The Great Misunderstanding)

Here is picture are videos for thought I am sharing...

More Jim Brickman

The Simple Things

My Destiny


http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays.

Having Cake (and Eating it, too!)

Our cake topper: One Year Later

Throughout our first year of marriage I wondered if our cake topper would survive in the freezer and make it to our first anniversary. I had heard many stories about the cake tasting horrible a year later and most couples throwing it out after taking one bite. For the first few weeks after we were married when I would see the cake in the freezer, I would tell myself I had to take it out and wrap it up in plastic wrap as the wedding cake designer had said so that it would remain fresh. As the weeks and months went by (and the cake remained in the freezer on the plate covered with a plastic top just as we had received it after the reception) I kept praying that it would be decent enough for us to enjoy at least one slice. I was not expecting to finish the whole cake but I wanted for us to enjoy at least one slice. It was, after all, a red velvet cake and my favorite kind of cake.

A couple of nights before our anniversary we took the cake out of the freezer to defrost. I knew it would take a little while to defrost the cake after an entire year in the freezer. We left it out on the counter for a few hours then let it finish defrosting in the refrigerator before finally cutting into it on our anniversary day.

Attempting to cut the cake by myself

The initial cut was a little difficult but I was not surprised. We used the same cake cutter we did on our wedding day which had been given to us by Kris' Mom. I remembered it being difficult to cut into the cake on our wedding day, too. We had to cut through the fondant and two layers of cake. The topper was no different. Kris and I made the initial cut together just as we did on our wedding day. Then came the big moment. It was time to taste the cake. We were both a little nervous. We were not sure how to go about it. We wanted to eat a slice as part of the tradition but we were both fearful of how it would taste. We finally decided to take a taste together. We were pleasantly surprised that the cake did not taste all that bad. It was still pretty moist as when I had tried it during the cake tasting. The cake was pretty heavy but it was too be expected for a real southern red velvet cake.

Cutting the cake together
Eating our cake topper one year later

Despite the fact that the cake was not half bad, I still do not think we will end up eating the whole cake topper. We have a hard time finishing a fresh cake when it is just the two of us. How much more for a cake that is more than a year old? I am happy that it did not taste bad. I have even enjoyed another piece since our anniversary. I would have been so sad if we could not have even had that one bite.

Perhaps I will make us a red velvet cake for our next anniversary.

Our First Anniversary

First Wedding Anniversary

Traditional anniversary gift: Paper
Modern anniversary gift: Plastic/clock
Travel anniversary gift ideas: Travel gift certificate, Airline tickets

For more anniversary ideas check out this website

Husband and Wife: One Year Later

When I read the traditional gift for the first anniversary, I started to think about what kind of gift I could get for my husband to celebrate our first anniversary. Paper? What kind of meaningful paper gift can I get? Although I can write a great romantic and sentimental card, I did not want to get JUST a card as our first anniversary gift. I wanted to get something that would chronicle our first year and would be cherished. But paper? So with some extra thought we both came up with a couple of great gifts that we can cherish for many years to come.

Kris' gift: Jim Brickman tickets

Kris' original gift idea was an annual pass to one of the major theme parks. We are so fortunate to live within a couple of hours of the best theme parks. This seemed to be a great idea at first until we realized how hot it really gets in Florida. A pass good until the end of the year would have been okay if we purchased it earlier in the year when we could have used it while the weather was still cool. As the temperatures get hotter and hotter, the likelihood of using the pass in the next couple months was not very likely.

Jim Brickman in Concert at the Van Wezel
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
The back of the hall faces the bay

He still wanted to get tickets but now we were considering a show either locally or nearby. We have a couple of performing arts halls and forums within a couple of hours. We even have a local theatre nearby. We found a couple of shows of interest including a Jim Brickman concert at the local theatre the Saturday before our anniversary.

We got dressed up and headed down to the local theatre on Saturday evening hoping that tickets were still available. Lucky for us, there were still tickets available for the show. It was a perfect anniversary gift. Jim Brickman talked about celebrating his 15 year anniversary as a recording artist and performer this past Christmas. He talked about how it was much like a wedding anniversary. His music was soft and romantic. It was simply a perfect night.

 
Night Rain by Jim Brickman

The Gift by Jim Brickman

My gift: A Photo Journal

A photo journey of our the good times we have shared

After much thought, I finally decided on a photo journal for an anniversary gift. I knew it was not going to cost much money. I had all the materials (paper of course) in my scrapbooking supplies. I wanted it to make all from paper and by hand. I had some pictures from our first year of marriage as well as pictures from our early days of dating. I organized them into a small "album" which I made using black pages and a brown cover. I used letters and some stickers I had to decorate the album. I was a little worried that Kris would not find it sentimental but when I gave it to him and we looked at it together, he loved every picture and sharing the memories we have made together. We looked at it again while waiting for the concert to start. It was like taking a photo journey through our the last 10 years together. It was a great memory for both of us. He said a few times throughout the night how much he had loved the album and the memories contained in it. We have had fun just looking through it and remembering the good times we have shared.

The inside cover to start the journey
The end of the album but not our journey
The back of the album

We had a perfect weekend celebrating our first anniversary. We were able to celebrate with some family and friends who had been with us on the day we were married. We went back to the Church where were married and said a prayer or two for the year ahead. We even visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, one of our most favorite places. On the actual day of our anniversary, we went to Mass together and then enjoyed a nice quiet breakfast. It was the perfect way to end our anniversary weekend and celebrate.