Friday, December 31, 2010


The idea for this retrospective was blatantly stolen from one of the very best parts of my heart, Julie!  Thank You!!!!

In a little over six hours, this year will be over.  I'm actually glad.  Sure, I can write my own book of lamentations.  I could tell you how my heart hadn't recovered from Mom Carol's death three years ago that being hit with Mema's death has brought me to my knees.  I could tell you how many countless times I have failed myself and others constantly.  I could tell you of the temper tantrums I've thrown, the aches and pains as I get older, the trials and tribulations of raising three teenagers while not becoming an alcoholic (lol), or the constant uncertainty of George's job.  I could tell you all these things, but then you would miss out on all the blessings I've experienced this year.

While George and I are not a perfect couple, nor have a perfect marriage, we continue to grow closer all the time.  He continues to amaze me with his love and his constant support.  Sure, we occasionally argue, who doesn't?  But everyday, and especially through the uncertainty of his job, our marriage has strengthened.

I have this friend whom I love immensely.  And while we have always had a good friendship, this year we grew closer which filled me with great joy.  We are literally two peas in a pod and thus our Pod with Bob, St. Peter and St. Theresé and myself was born.  Julie SO ROCKS!

I was introduced by God to so many amazing women this year.  Lisa Ryan, Jenn Hicks, Alyssa Barreneche just to name a few.  While they are all wonderful, I found another pea in Alyssa.  As Anne of Green Gables likes to say, she is truly a "kindred spirit!"  I know that no matter what happens, she is there for me and I for her.  I don't have to talk to her everyday or see her all the time, our friendship will survive's, bad days, trial days, you name it!  We have the cockroach of friendship!

Tina had baby Emily (aka Shaniqua) this year!  While our friendship will always be strong, our time together is sporadic.  Having a new baby does that!  But, with our phone calls and myriad of inside jokes, we are always together.

My Carol.  How much I love her!  She's never too busy for me.  Even if she's in a hurry, if I truly need her, she's always there.  She's truly my sister in every way.  I think we should make our crossword puzzle by phone a monthly thing! lol

My Mom visited this year.  The first time in four years!  I got to spend time with her in person!  It's a lot different than on the phone.

My sister and I continue to grow closer this year.  Even going so far as to commiserate over Mema's death.  She brought me such comfort.

My children!  How resilient they are!  How much they've grown this year and not just physically!  We continue to grow in love and strength as a family.

I got to reconnect with Father Antony!

Dad came down twice this year!  Once for Maria's conformation!

My Sharon had many trips down this year!  Ahhh my 'burgh buddy!  It doesn't matter how far away she is, we are only a phone call, email, or text away!  I love that no matter how far away we are, we are always together.  She is so awesome!

And, my prayer life.  Sure, I spent a good portion of the year running and running.  And, I constantly feel that I am not praying the right way.  I learned I put so much pressure on my prayer life.  I learned it's okay if I don't say a Rosary everyday.  Mary knows how much I love her.  I learned that just talking to God and having conversations with him...that's praying.  My goal this year is to add more face time with Him.

I am constantly reminded everyday (even days when I am in my tent) how much God blesses my family.  Sure my heart has stretched and broken and been bounced all around, but when God has your heart, you never have to worry, He's awesome at putting it back together again!

So, as this year comes to a close, I wish you a new year full of happiness, love, and many blessings.  I also wish you trials, tribulations and heavy crosses.  For with them and God, is where you truly find where your strength lies and how much you are truly loved!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!
Until next time,
Don't do anything I wouldn't do tonight!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yesterday, I reached my limit. 

Actually, I'm surprised that my head didn't implode/explode.

There has been so much *noise* all around me lately.   I have three teenagers whom I love dearly.  I don't mind the happy noise, the giggling and laughing or music.  Nope, that stuff is okay.  I'm talking about tv blaring, three teenagers yelling at each other constantly, the phone ringing off the hook, noise, noise, noise.  I asked the kids nicely, more than once, more than a gazillion times, to calm it down.  I think my teenagers need hearing aids.  It turns out, if I ask them to come here, ask them to do anything, they don't hear me...ever.  However, after the gazillionth time of asking, I yell, then they hear me.  It kind of makes me think I'm going crazy.

So there I was surrounded by all this noise well into the night.  Finally, I go upstairs figuring I'll get on the computer for a little bit.  Then, I decide to lay down for a little bit instead.  In my room, it's relatively quiet.  No kids, only the ticking of the clock, the noise from my clock (tick, tick, tick), and the tv downstairs.  Which is not loud enough that you can make out what's being said, but loud enough that you know it's on.  So I lay on my bed and begin to enjoy the relative silence and start to talk to God. 

Since around me is quiet, now my head finally begins it's noisiness....Can Mom come up for Sarah's conformation in May Please help my friends.. my friends marriage is really bad, my other friends marriage is worse.  When can Tina and I get together just for five minutes, we haven't had one of our good talks in a while, dear God, please bless my favorite person with a child this year, they so deserve one, they're gonna be great parents.  My other friends marriage could use some blessings.  Jaime's going to be a senior next year.  I am not ready for that or for him to go off to college.  Will he be ready to go?  He REALLY wants to be a priest which is awesome, but shouldn't he at least date first?  Could you send him a nice Catholic girl to date so then he could really know if you're calling Him?  Maria's grades need so much help.  Please help Jaime get a job.  He dropped off another application today.  I love that boy, but he needs to learn some responsibility.  When is dad's Christmas package going to get there?  When is George going to go to the dr's to check on his leg?  I want to start walking everyday...give me the motivation.  Did I really take the Christmas decorations down too early?  Should I have waited?  Dude, I am so hammed out, I don't think I'll even want ham at Easter!  Did Carol have a good trip to San Antonio?  Where can I find boots for my Elizabeth?  Is Mema okay?  I know she is and I know she's having fun, but does she miss me?  When is my brother coming home from Germany?  Is he ever going to talk to me again?  Thanks for letting Sarah be a little girl just a little longer.   Tangled was way better than I thought it was going to be.  I need to go drop off a check at the orthodontist tomorrow.  My friend is traveling, watch over her family please.  What was the name of that movie I really liked?  Please give my Julie a less stressful year this year, she could really use a break for a bit.  Are Kindles really better than Nooks and that Pandigital reader?  If I get the Pandigital will I be bummed that I didn't wait for the Kindle?  When can I get an iphone 4?  Hey, adoration is tomorrow, hopefully, I can make it!  I know, I know, I need to make time.

In the midst of all of that noise that was in my head, I closed my eyes.  And, you know how sometimes when you close your eyes you see shapes?  Those shapes formed into faces.  I was so excited, I saw Jesus' face, then I saw Mary's face and I got all kinds of excited wondering whose face was gonna be next.  I was concentrating on Mary's face and while talking to her, the most beautiful thing happened.  I fell asleep.  No noise anywhere.  No sounds of the tv, no thoughts running through my head as I'm talking to God.  Just blissful sleep.  That was at nine.  I woke up around 1130.  I was so very happy.  All that quiet was so needed.  Then, I couldn't go back to sleep for like an hour lol  Apparently, not only my body, but my mind needed the rest.

So here I am, in the relatively quiet of the morning.  My three monkeys are all awake finally.  And by awake I mean groggy and watching tv.  They have not woken up fully yet and so there is quiet for now.  When the noise begins today, I will take that as my cue to go drop off the check to the orthodontist and then go to adoration.  Maybe I should've asked Santa for noise canceling headphones for Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Until next time,
I wish all of you Peace and love and a year full of many blessings!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Carol

I guess you could say, it started right after Thanksgiving this year.  I knew that Christmas was coming.  Well, I always know it's coming, but I knew that this year was going to be difficult.  So, I decided, unconsciously mind you, to run.  To run and run and run as fast as I could.  In retrospect, I don't know if I thought I could out run it or not.  All I know is I was running a lot. 

Dad came down for Thanksgiving.  My relationship with Dad is awesome.  We can talk about everything and nothing.  We can sit and be quiet and not talk too.  There's never any pressure.  We are just us and it's wonderful.  His visit flew by.  But then, I got ready for my Mom's visit.  Her first visit here in four years.  The first time I was going to see her (minus two hours last August).  In the midst of getting ready for her visit, I worked nine glorious days this month.  Totally awesome.  I booked myself choc full of activities.  Before Mom's visit, I had dinner with some of my chrp sisters and also attended our church's annual Christmas luncheon.  Again, it was beautiful.  It's something that my friend Tina and I do every year.  Then, my Mom came.

Her visit was awesome.  It was bittersweet.  My Mema was missing.  My Mom brought lots of pictures and things that belonged to my Mema.  My favorite being her afghan that's older than I am.  I have had many childhood naps under.  The first few days of her visit were full of stuff, friends of mine to introduce her too, cookie exchanges and lunches.  I was bound and determined that she was going to meet as many of my friends as she possibly could.  All the ones that I talk about to her all the time.  The thing about running is when I run, I really don't realize I am running till I'm like in the middle of a marathon and look up at an aww crap moment.  And, of course, this marathon was no different.  At one of my lunches, I turned into the worst version of myself.  It was like it was an out of body experience and I could only watch in horror as it happened.  I inadvertently insulted one of my very close friends.  Who to make matters worse was having a bad day herself.  Of course, when I do something, I go all out, whether it's good, or in this case, amazingly bad.  In addition to insulting my friend I mortified two other of my closest friends.  It was a banner day for me.  The insulted friend and I were okay almost immediately.  I cried for two days.  Straight.  For two whole days I was in my tent and not even George, God, or chocolate and beer could bring me out.  I was so far in my tent that it worried George.  Which usually, when I go in my tent doesn't worry him too much.  However, this time, he was really worried.  He'd look into my eyes and see that I wasn't in there, that I was somewhere else.   I was the one who was mortified that I acted so unkind and so unlike me.  I was terribly afraid that I hurt the other two friends beyond all reason and that the devil was right all along, they were too good to be true, and God, like I always said, realized that I truly don't deserve them.   After two days, I came out of my tent.  After all Mom was here.  I'm so good, I could spend time with her and talk about everything and never leave my tent.  Then, only after I came out did I talk to her about it. 

While she was here, it was the third anniversary of my Mom Carol's death.  Then, there were more parties and shopping and going and going and going.  Then, the next thing you know, it was time for her to go.  That was really gut wrenching.  She left on Wednesday.  Christmas was coming in only four days.  I couldn't run for much longer.  My whole season of advent whet to you know where in a beautifully wrapped Christmas box.  Our nightly Advent   prayers only lasted two and a half weeks.  My three teenage monkey's were going all bananas.  I was barely holding it together.

Then, last night was the beginning or our Annual Guffey/Schafer Christmas spectacular.  We went over to my Carol's house before Mass for dinner.  Then, we went to Mass.  Our entire Guffey/Schafer family takes up one whole row!  Mass was so hard.  I can't really tell you what Fr. Tuan's homily was about.  I will tell you it seemed like he droned on for 25 minutes.  Mass was running so late they cut down some of the prayers.  It was weird.  I was sitting next to my niece Elizabeth whose 8 and my George.  I would look over at George and he knew I wasn't okay.  Then, I'd look down at Elizabeth and she'd just lean on me and give me hugs.  I think she might have known I needed them.  Then, when I got home from Mass last night, I called my Mom.  I just cried and cried and cried.  All the running I did.  All the avoiding.  All the going and going and going, didn't stop Christmas eve from coming.  I was missing Mema so much I could barely breathe.  Then, late, late last night, my sister texted me.  She was missing Mema too.  We spent some time commiserating.  It was truly comforting. 

Then today, we had our Guffey/Schafer Christmas dinner and invited our friends the Jones'.  They're awesome.  At one point, My Carol looks directly into my eyes and says, "are you walking?"  I tell her 'No.  I'm firmly planted afraid to go anywhere".  It's really is comforting having her know me so well.  Sometimes, even better than George.

So, George and I went to bed at O'dark thirty only to be woken up at the buttcrack of dawn by the kids.  I couldn't fall asleep for the longest time.  So, I talked to God.  I was going to tell Him what I wanted for Christmas.  But then, I asked Him for things for my friends.  I know what my friends deepest desires are and I asked for them by name.  And then, for all the ones that I couldn't remember I asked Him to give them what He knew they needed.  And, then I told Him, I'd be perfectly alright if He would give one of my very closest friends their deepest desires this year instead of anything for me for Christmas.  Then, I told Him how much I love Him.  How I'm glad He was born and that to tell Mema how much I love her and how very much I truly miss her.

Now, the presents are all opened, friends and family have come and gone.  The sugar crashes have happened and the kids are blissfully quiet and I am in a food coma.  This month has gone by in a blur.  I am thoroughly exhausted from all the cooking and shopping and wrapping and especially the running.  All of the running.  I can't sit still you see.  For if I do, then I think, and that is just no good for anyone.  Especially me and my heart.  Which is actually funny b/c this month has been ridden with anxiety.  Maybe next year won't be so bad.  Maybe some day I realize I can't outrun anything and just go back to walking.  A new year is only a week away and miracles can happen.

Until next time,
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of blessings and love.  I love you all dearly and Thank God for each of you <3


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mom left today.  It was such a great visit with her.  The mood is really somber around here though.  On the way home, I commented to George how it just doesn't feel like Christmas this season.  Yea, the tree is up and the Christmas music is playing, but I don't *feel* Christmas yet.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed all the parties and the cookie exchanges.  Advent however, went by way to fast for me.  I'm missing my Mom, Carol.  Saturday was the third anniversary of her passing.  And, if that wasn't enough, this is the first Christmas without Mema.  Mema is synonymous with Christmas.  There isn't a Christmas of my life where Mema wasn't there if nothing but by phone.

Growing up, Christmas day was for presents.  Christmas eve however, that was family day.  For most of my childhood, before the teen years, it was a day of abstinence.  My Grandma would make this bean dish that would be poured over little homemade bread balls.  It was really, really yucky.  It's a Croatian dish.  As we got older, my sister and I were allowed to eat a cheese pizza.  Then, in our teen years, they added ham to the menu.  I can't tell you how many years I sat at the kiddie table among my cousins or the euphoria I felt when I got to sit at the adult table!  One year, four of Mema's six kids, plus all their children were there.  It was my favorite Christmas to date.  Although it was cold, Pittsburgh cold, it was HOT in the house b/c of all the people!  And, even though the family didn't always get along throughout the year, this one day, Christmas eve, all you found was love.

As I got married and got older and moved away, Christmas eve was always about my Grandma.  Yes, I wasn't there, but I would call Mema and get to hear everything in the background, the happiness.  Then, the phone would be passed around to family.  And, even if the phone didn't get passed around, being able to talk to Mema on Christmas eve was all about being home.  The last maybe 12 years, Mema stopped doing the Christmas eve dinner thing.  Her daughter-in-law, my Aunt took it over.  It was okay, but never the same as when Mema had it.  And, in the last couple years, Mema and my mom did their own thing on Christmas eve.  Still, I would call Mema and literally hear Christmas.  This year, I can't do that.  This year, a big part of my Christmas is not here.  Granted, I'm not some idiot who doesn't get why we have Christmas.  I know it's about Jesus, and He makes me happy.  But, not having Mema makes life more difficult.

So, here I sit, quiet.  Tired.  Somber.  Another year without my Mom Carol.  My Mom, Max left, Dad isn't here...(although he is coming down the end of April for Sarah's conformation) and it's the first Christmas without Mema.  My heart hurts.  My anxiety level has been through the roof the last few days.  I think I've forgotten how to breathe.

Merry Christmas everyone.
Until next time,
Enjoy your Christmas season


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mary, Fr. Tim, and the Mass.

Sigh.  I love Mass.

I love going to Mass.  I love singing at Mass.  I love participating.  I love it all.  Especially, when during the homily, I am tuned in.  Sadly, this doesn't happen as often as I would like, but God and Fr. Tim have a way of bringing me back.  I have so many favorite parts of the Mass.  Like tons!  One of my very favs is right before the Gospel when I make the sign of the cross on my forehead, my lips, and my heart.  And, every time, I say to myself "may Your words be on my mind, my lips and my heart!"  And, every time, I think to myself "this is SO cool!  If only I could continue this outside of Mass!  How cool would it be to have God's words on my mind, on my lips, and my heart always?  Truth be told, it's always on my heart, more often than not on my mind, and sadly, rarely on my lips.  Why?  I dunno.  Today at Mass, I was all kinds of excited a) b/c it was a Mary feast day!!!! WOOHOO and 2) b/c during the homily, I was *present*.  I found myself nodding my head along with Fr. Tim.  He talked about St.  Bernadette and one of my favorite movies The Song of Bernadette  (I love when the Priest tells Bernadette "you have suffered enough, my child,  for the heaven of heavens")  He talked about Mary and her Immaculate Conception.  I just love listening to Fr. Tim talk about Mary!!! Sigh, it was SO wonderful!!!

Another favorite part of Mass for me is the sign of peace.  Did you ever watch Fr. Tim?  When he says "Peace of the Lord be with you all" he looks around the entire church.  To those on his right, then middle, then left (sometimes he alternates sides).  It is so beautiful to watch.  Oh, a really great Fr. Tim moment is on a Friday healing Mass when he is blessing those who come up for healing.  It doesn't matter what kind of healing they're going up for, the compassion in his eyes is so beautiful!!!  Oh and when you get the Eucharist from him, he looks you directly in the eyes!  It makes the Eucharist so much more personal.

Then, I love at the end of Mass when he says "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord".  I love it b/c he's telling me to do something.  to love and serve the Lord.  Loving Him, that's easy.  Serving Him, well....I can always do better.  But today was one of the extra special endings of Mass when he says "Bow your head and pray for God's blessing"   I love that b/c it means I'm getting an extra special blessing.  Say it, it's okay, I'm a blessings hog.  I know it.  I embrace it.  I'll take as many blessings as God wants to give me ("gimme gimme gimme!!!" lol)

As most of you know, my Mass is shared with my family and my half of my Pod.  I've grown accustomed, spoiled actually to having my Podmate with me at Mass on Sundays.  I love this one part, when we hold hands as we say the Our Father, and I can hold my Podmate close to my heart.  I knew my Podmate wasn't going to be there tonight, and that was okay.  However, during the Our Father, I found myself missing my Podmate.  Then, as I went up to receive the Eucharist, I spotted Podmates husband (Mr. Pod) and my whole insides just filled up with love "Look, it's Mr. Pod!"  I say to myself!  It's like she's here!  And, it made my night.  Well, Mary and Fr. Tim and Mass made my night, seeing Mr. Pod just topped it off lol.  Mr. Pod and Podmate are so totally awesome for each other.  God couldn't have done any better with those two, they are so perfect for each other and I love them dearly :D

And, as I get into the minivan, riding my church high as I like to call it....the kids get in the car.  My high doesn't last long as I am bombarded with "why do you hold my hand so tight during the Our Father?!!?!? Why weren't you paying attention at Mass?  You stepped on my foot!  Exactly where is this peace that was suppose to be with me that God, Fr. Tim, and lots of people at Mass gave me tonight?  Technically, they didn't put a time limit on it like "Peace be with you till you go to bed tonight".  Or "Peace be with you till Sunday".  Sigh, but it's okay.  I have three teenagers.  Peace is a state of mind.

So, today on this feast day of my beloved Mother Mary, I wish you all a day full of happiness and love and of saying "YES!!" to God in anything that He asks of you.  Don't worry, take my hand, we'll say YES together!

Until next time,
May Mother Mary wrap you in her loving mantle, close to her heart.  I love you all.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent, Monkeys, and Christmas Specials.

Advent blows.
Advent with three children blows.
Advent with three ungrateful teenagers blows.

Every year, this season goes by way too fast.  I can't wait for daylight savings time because that means it's going to get darker faster which in turn means that the Advent season will be here.  Each year I say, as a family, we are going to do something for Advent.  Each year, I fail miserably.  This year, I tell myself it will be different!  This year, we will eat dinner at the table for the full Advent season and do the nightly readings.  (Sometimes, with different schedules, we don't *exactly* sit together as a family.  More like, watching tv or on the computer.

So, Sunday, the first day of Advent, we eat in the dining room (oooh!) and I start to tell the kids how we are going to spend Advent this year.  Then, I look at my three teenagers who have been behaving like monkey's who escaped from some testing facility while hopped up on caffeine, red bulls, and 12 5-hour energy drinks.  Who have been pmsing for what feels like forever.  Who have been screaming at the top of their lungs at each other, whose rooms smell like foot lockers after another cowgirl loss.   I look at the three deranged monkeys and I explain how they need to be *nicer* to each other.  At least to try.  I  mean, it is the season of miracles, right?  It could happen! I explain how each of them need to work on something and as I'm explaining, all three monkeys start making weird monkey faces at each other and then bust out laughing their high pitched monkey scream laughs.  I felt so discouraged.  Sigh, but we finished dinner together, and went about our evening.  

I have spent the last two days trying to corral the monkeys.  "Please, don't say that to your sister!"  "Please keep your hands to yourself!"  "Please find where the odor is coming from your room!"  "Please stop me from sticking this pen in my own eye!"  All to no avail.  The monkeys are on the loose running rampant.  As if that wasn't enough, I spent exactly 7 minutes in adoration yesterday.  I just couldn't seem to sit still to talk to Him.  Everything I wanted to say kept getting interrupted.  So finally, I'm all "Dad, you know my heart and what's in it and what I need and what's bothering me.  Here!  Take it.  And, btw-I love you!" And with that, I left.

I have not been sleeping well the last three nights.  I just lay there in bed and say prayers to God.  It helps.  Then, when I do fall asleep, they are not pleasant dreams.  One was of a boat on that sat on my chest.  Not a toy boat, but a big sail boat type boat.  The next night was over my stupid brother.  How much I miss him and how I was looking for him.  I'll tell you this, when you cry in your dream, like big racking sobs, you wake up exhausted!  Then, last night, I was going 'in my tent' and wanted to be left alone.  I took a bus to downtown Philly (wtf?) and ended up at some sort of revival where they give you tee shirts with awesome Christian songs on the back.  When you get there, you have a little tag (admittance slip maybe?) and when your ready to come out of your tent, you give one of the people in the red shirts the tag.  I didn't.  I just held on to mine.  Although, I loved the shirts.  And, some of my favorite Christian music was playing.  Then, at the end, the last song I remembered was Just the way you are-by Bruno Mars.  One of my very favorites.  And, it seemed like God, was singing it to me (minus the part about kissing...ewww).

So, I woke up exhausted yet again.  And, I've even been going to bed early.  Apparently, when you've got a lesson to learn it doesn't matter if it's Advent or Lent.  Dude, I thought I was done with school!  I have a diploma around here somewhere!  Sigh.

 So, it seems like I am living my very own Christmas special with a lesson to learn.  I fully expect that at the end of Advent, when my lesson is learned, the heavens will open up, legions of angels will get their wings, music of praise to God will be sung, and shots of tequila passed around heaven because I finally got the lesson.

Until next time,
Happy Advent.  Pray for those alone this Advent season.