Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


January 2009

The perfect tool…

My father-in-law was a remarkable man.  Brilliant, as most self-made men are.  Strong and upright, no shady deals or skeletons in his closet.  Faithful to his wife and a loving father to his children.

And practical.

He grew up during the Great Depression, and the lessons learned during those lean times, permeated his daily life until the very end.  He saved everything.  Seemingly broken tools, toys, appliances, etc. were always salvaged, never discarded.  He would either repair whatever needed fixing, or he would construct something altogether new and most certainly, useful.  He wasn’t the kind of guy who was looking for the latest gadget, the shortcut or the easy way out of honest work.  He was smart, and having learned the value of a dollar the hard way, he made sure that nothing was ever wasted.

We own a few of his “inventions.”  Tools, mostly.  To the untrained eye, most of these tools would seem to be junk.  But a closer look past the scars of previous neglect, would reveal a tool that had once been one thing, and had now become something else, entirely.  A useful something.  No slick packaging, or catchy name brand emblazoned on the side…just a homemade tool, crafted for a specific job known only to my father-in-law.  Many times my husband would have to ask “hey Dad…what’s this?”  The explanation would be offered quickly and matter of factly, the usefulness of this new tool was never in dispute…it had a place, a purpose and a use all its own; and there were never any duplicates.

It was the perfect tool, crafted to suit the needs of the master and fit perfectly to the task at hand.

And so are we, being fashioned into perfect tools, by the hands of our Maker…useful tools; each of us fitted for a specific job, with a purpose defined by the One who created us in His image and likeness.  Unique, sometimes work-worn and scarred, but sought eagerly by He who would use us for His greater glory and our sanctification.

Our throw-away society sees no beauty or usefulness, in that which is “imperfect.”  We live in a disposable world, one which discards imperfect people and imperfect things with such ease and very little conscience.  We’re far more likely to replace a broken item, than we are to fix it.  A young woman once shared her repugnance for belongings that had been damaged.  She said that when a cherished item had been broken and repaired, she still knew it was no longer perfect, sadly relating, that she no longer placed the same value upon that item as before.  The gift of vision can, at times, be a handicap.  The eyes see what they want, limiting our perception and obscuring the truth that can often only be read by the heart…

Reality:  We are a marred, scarred, damaged and inconvenient people. There are many who are seemingly broken beyond repair.  God sees our imperfections, our brokeness through the eyes of Love.  The more damaged we are, the more He reaches out to us, seeking to “fix” us, to make perfect that which is not.  He discards no one, He sees infinite value in all of His creation…He has looked upon what He has made and finds it GOOD.

He is a Master Craftsman, with a toolbox full of misfit “tools”, whose purpose are known only to Him, and who are just perfect for the job He has in mind…


A Busy Mom’s Weekly Reflection…

A moment of grace on Monday…after two weeks of prayer and searching, Gareth finally located his math book.  Behind the dresser…where we’d looked many times before.  I literally begged St. Anthony, while once again searching the classroom, and two minutes later Gareth emerges from his room dancing around with such glee…he’s never, ever been that happy to see a math book!

A moment of thanksgiving on Tuesday…when my dear husband and Clementine made it home safely, just prior to the winter storm.  Thanksgiving once again, in the wee hours of the morning when Clementine emerged from an accident, unharmed…

A moment of laughter on Wednesday…watching the children play with our dear friend, Tim.  Lots of laughter as we watched Tim disappear under a growing pile of stuffed animals…

A moment of joy on Thursdayhaving breakfast with Clementine.  For the first time in many weeks, she was home on a weekday.  Up bright and early, although actually quite late for a young woman who’s used to rising at 3:00 a.m.

A moment of peace on Fridayback from the Emergency Room with Gawain (more on that later…), cuddled up watching a movie with the little ones, happy to be home.  All is well…

A picture paints a thousand words…

Curious George’s biggest fan, my little guy, Gareth.  Taken by little sister Charlotte!


Me and my bag…

Regan!!! Enough with the tags, already!  Just kidding…this one is actually a bit fun, though I can’t begin to tell you just how much I despise having my picture taken.  That’s why I take the pictures…so I don’t have to be in them!  I’ve always felt this way about photographs, even as I child I hated being photographed.  Like listening to my voice on an answering machine, I’m always shocked by the reality.  Is that me?  I perceive myself so differently…it’s odd.  I find my smile to be rather smirky, my eyes look infinitely tired and the rest of me looks like it would rather be anywhere else but in front of the camera…compliments of 12 yo Gawain:

Okay.  So that is me.  But I don’t have to like it, do I?

As for the bag.  I like handbags.  My taste borders on the eclectic and weird.  Perhaps avant garde sounds a bit more sophisticated!  I find all of my handbags at thrift stores.  This one is my favorite.

A brand new Etienne Aigner handbag for $4.99…oh wait…I got it half-price…$2.50!  The last time I paid retail for a purse was an Amish basket purse I purchased from a gentleman by the name of Troyer.  That’s about as Amish as you can get in Ohio!  The best thing about my current bag:  it’s smaller, has lots of pockets and that umbrella stand just won’t fit! Umbrella stand, you say?  My friend Sandra has joked for a long time that I carry so much junk in my purse that she expects me to reach in one day and extract an umbrella stand ala Mary Poppins.  So Sandra…guess what’s in my purse right now?

A wallet, lipstick, compact, two receipts, a set of keys, last Sunday’s church bulletin, a box of Altoids and hand sanitizer.  Yeah…I know you don’t believe it, but you can check when you come over next Wednesday.

***note to self:  make sure purse is cleaned out before Sandra sees it…***

Who to tag…how about:


Sweet Pea

Mary Rose



Small Successes

A big thank you to Danielle Bean for organizing the Small Successes blogfest!  I really need this reminder today!  Check out more Small Successes at Faith & Family Live:

1.  I vacuumed under the sofa cushions.  You wouldn’t believe the things I found!

2.  I missed the end of a movie I was really enjoying to help 19yo Clementine fix a bowl of Cream of Wheat.  Yes, friends.  She’s 19 and hadn’t a clue how to fix hot cereal!  Well…she does now!

3.  I crocheted a dolly dress and cape for a dear friend’s daughter just because she asked me to…

So…what are your small successes?  I can’t wait to read about them, so join in!


Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday


3:00 a.m.

Clementine and Dad discuss road conditions and Clementine decides to give it a go on her own.

3:20 a.m.  Shortly after exiting the ramp onto I70E, Clementine loses control of her vehicle.  Spinning out of control the vehicle comes to rest in the median, hopelessly trapped in the ice and snow.

She’s unhurt, but terribly shaken.  She calls her dad and the state police.  A kind officer responds quickly and even tries to help move the vehicle.  It’s stuck and at 3:30 a.m. in the middle of this winter storm, it’s not likely it will be towed anytime soon.  She leaves with her Dad.

She’s at work now.  I really can’t say much more…I’ve felt sick to my stomach since 3:20 a.m., realizing how quickly we could have lost her, wishing that her dad had taken her to begin with, and wishing her job wasn’t such a priority (she works for UPS…a wonderful employer, but one that lives by the axiom “the show must go on” no matter the weather, the danger, etc.).  I praise God for His mercy…He loves her more than I, and has faithfully protected her on more than one occasion.

I can’t help but wonder, though, what the message is, in this latest accident.

Her dad is on the way to pick her up now.  Her vehicle has yet to be towed out of the median…this storm is positively wicked and I’m sure the tow trucks will be busy for quite some time.

Anxious to have everyone home…



While unloading the dishwasher, Gawain notices that I’m preparing two chickens for roasting…

Gawain:  “Ah, man…now that’s not fair!”

Now thats my kind of chicken!  I bet theyre easy to take care of, too!
Now that's my kind of chicken! I bet they're easy to take care of, too!

He reads from the package:  “This chicken was fed an entirely vegetarian diet…so they made the poor chicken a vegetarian so that it could become our meat?  That just doesn’t seem fair…”

Mom:  “Gawain…do you really want chickens chowing down on one another in the barnyard?”

Gawain:  “Even condemned prisoners get to have a steak if they want it…”

Who can argue with such logic?


Happy things…

Regan tagged me for a little blogging fun.  Happy things…

Hmmm…things that make me happy…

Oh so many!!  But here are a few:

The knitting basket beside my bed…yummy shades of russet and brown, cottons and wools and the lovely size 11 walnut needles lovingly carved by my husband.

Learning a new craft!  Creating my very first crocheted hat (my own pattern, once I got past the basic crown, that is!)  Emily loves it and it suits her so very well…she’s never without a hat!

My egg coddlers…sweet gifts from my mom and dad.  When they come for a stay, breakfast always consists of either soft-boiled or coddled eggs!

The view from my back door.  Every day I praise God for the beauty that surrounds us!

Tea.  Harney and Sons and a sweet little antique teacup picked up at the thrift store for a quarter…a small crack, but it still holds liquid.  Tea always tastes better in pretty cups…

Bird tracks in the snow…I stepped out to throw a few crusts of bread and saw that my feathered friends had already been hopping around on the light dusting of snow on the front porch…

Sunrise.  Rising early has many advantages, among them the beauty of the morning sky.  Nearly every morning is picture worthy, but some even more than others…

I’d love to see your happy thoughts!  I tag the following:





The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – January 26, 2009

Outside my Window…all is white and gray.  Snow frosted trees and a blanket of white hides the ice from the previous melt.  A promise of more snow is written upon that leaden sky…I don’t mind that promise!  Thanking the Lord that we are warm and still able to see snow as a gift…

I am thinking…that the laundry room is a very frightening place!  How did my sons manage to hide so much in that very messy room?  Ah, well…at least it’s clean and the hiding places are few and far between!

I am thankful for…everything.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  Thank you, dear Lord, for all the lessons, blessings, graces and trials.  So long as they bring me closer to You, there will never be any gifts more precious…

From the kitchen….hot espresso, bold and intense laced with a generous dollop of Chocolate Caramel creamer.  Pancakes and ham steaks for the children.  Dinner:  roasted rosemary and thyme chicken, baked apples, herbed potatoes and carrots, and a leafy green salad.

In our school room…still agonizing over Arthur.  Part of me says…persevere!  Do what you’ve been doing, help him push past this roadblock!  The other part says…don’t spin your wheels!  Find something that works!  He needs structure, more accountability, he’s bored!  Don’t keep beating this dead horse…

Praying to discern the truth.  Option one is the easiest financially.  We just keep doing what we’re doing.  Option two means a packaged curriculum and increased expense…but something we’ll just have to do if that’s the answer…Arthur wants the new curriculum.  Perhaps we should try to accommodate the desires of the scholar…

I am creating…I’ve been madly crocheting and sadly neglecting my knitting!  I’m amazed that I can crochet a really lovely dishcloth in less than an hour…I still prefer in all ways the beauty of handknit fabric, but crochet certainly has it’s place in my life!  It’s perfect for whipping up quick dolly clothing, edgings, dishcloths and you simply can’t beat it for creating  3D objects.  I really don’t need any patterns…thus far I’ve been able to envision the object I wish to create and simply “build” it.  That is very, very nifty…

I am going…to go fix those pancakes as soon as I hit “publish!”

I am wearing…black velvet lounging pants, white turlteneck and pink sweater.  Toasty warm slippers and hair up in a twist…the hair will have to come down soon!  The weight of it kills my neck and shoulders.  Yes…I’m definintely going to get it cut, just haven’t been able to coordinate the schedule with Clementine!

I am reading…see last week’s entry!

I am hoping…that Clementine doesn’t have to work as a driver-helper for UPS today.  She got in very late, had very little sleep before her 4:00a.m. shift…that girl is a workaholic!

I am hearing…the dull roar and scrape of the plow as it continues to make passes to clear the blowing snow…

Around the house…a kitchen that is significantly cleaner than the rest of the house.  Which means the rest of the house needs attention!

One of my favorite things…rosemary.  The smell, the texture, the flavor.  Rosemary appeals to all my senses…

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…pray more, worry less…or at least try!  Laugh more, complain less…or at least try!  Love more, regret less…or at least try!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Remembering my first blog header photo of the children.  My goodness, how they’ve grown!  Emily isn’t that little baby anymore, Charlotte has become such a young lady, Galahad, Gareth and Gawain are at least three inches taller and Arthur…Arthur!  He’s beginning to look and sound like a man…not that young boy dangling his feet in the water…

Sweet memories of spring and time gone by…

Have a blessed week!

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