Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preschool Day 2

J.M.J.

Here is day 2 for the preschool program I am putting together.  This year's plans will come in fits and spurts (and not necessarily in time for specific feast days) and as time permits, so my apologies to those who have 4 year old children this year.  But if you have 3 year olds, the these plans should be ready for you to use by next year!  Enjoy!

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We will call today Day one and a half, as we only got through half of the curriculum.  I had waaaay too much planned for a 4 year old!  But that is OK, because I have also decided he needs school almost every day.  So instead of a new plan for Friday, I will have the rest of today's plan to use tomorrow.  :)

We celebrated the Immaculate Heart of Mary today, as it is her feast day on the Traditional calendar, but it is also her month, so this would work for anyone in August.  :) 

My thought process behind today's lesson plans is focusing on Our Lady and her Immaculate Heart.  With this, we will also be exploring issues of personal hygiene and keeping ourselves 'immaculately' clean.  We only got through the religious portion of the lessons today, so tomorrow we spend the day with a petri dish, washing our hands, learning about germs, playing a fun game online and going on a germ hunt and a 'sin' hunt in the house, both of which will be appropriately labled.  (You'll just have to see it tomorrow - trust me!  LOL)

We wanted to make the Immaculate Heart cookies seen on Catholic Icing.  One quick comparison between her cookies and mine will tell you I did not have some crucial ingredients onhand today.  I thought I had food coloring, but alas I did not.  Living 40 minutes away from the nearest store meant I had to do some quick thinking.  So I convinced Fulton we needed to have the hearts white because Our Lady's heart was so clean and pure.  We colored the flames with carrot juice (and you all know why I suddenly have a gallon of that stuff aroung the house!) and the strip of flowers was made out of dough colored with homemade blueberry preserves!  We tossed a chocolate chip to give a color contrarst to the flame and voila!  Immaculate Heart of Mary cookies, natural style!

They smelled soooo good baking, but I had to resist, as they were not on my fast plan, even if they were 'natural'.  The children are still enjoying them as I type, though, which means the temptation will not last long.


Immaculate Heart of Mary

Use ‘Yes Ma’am’ page throughout the day and use as part of accountability to Daddy
Read 2nd half of Treasure Box book
Do pre-writing worksheets, write name, etc
Rosary Quilt program:  Discuss the story of the Annunciation.   Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and a Glory Be using activity blanket
Color Immaculate Heart picture and write 'I love you' on it  (picture found below)

Read this book  pgs 2-15 and 26 – 28
Quote for the day:  St. Francis of Assisi:    “Immaculate Heart of Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us.”  (Recite for Daddy at dinnertime as part of his accountability)
Make Immaculate Heart cookies –  Listen to ‘Immaculate Mary' song and try to sing it. 
 Also use this time to count, discuss letters of the alphabet, and talk about Our Lady 
Play online puzzle of Immaculate Heart of Mary while cookies are cooking  http://www.jigzone.com/puzzles/20155468E57
End with praying the prayer the angel taught the 3 shepherd children before Our Lady appeared to them:
Fatima prayer of the Angel
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not hope and who do not love Thee.
 

Coloring page


Raw cookie

Cooked cookie

Carrot juice and blueberry preserves colored cookie dough!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Catholic Preschool Plans

J.M.J.


I must be slightly out of my mind, but I am considering writing a preschool curriculum, even though none of my children are currently in preschool.  Fulton is too old, and Marialina is too young, but I had so much fun creating lessons for Fulton back in 2012, I thought I would continue them.  My plan is to eventually have 3 'classes' a week, but that will depend on how well my computer is working and if I can actually get to use it, now that the children are working on it all the time.  HA!  We shall see. 

I had so much fun doing this with Fulton, but I am getting a little teary eyed, too, remembering him before the accident.

Below is a copy/paste job from my old blog with the first day of preschool posted.  It will be tied into the liturgical year and will be mostly internet based, so the only materials you will need will be some crafting and baking items and maybe one of those mega-curriculum workbooks you can get in many stores this time of year.  I will try to use online workbook pages when I find them.

If people like this, I will maybe lay it out a little better....we shall see where the Spirit leads me.  But I need your input too!

 So let me know what you think!  Should I continue this or not?

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(Post from my old blog)

First day of preschool for Fulton!!!  I can't even believe how quickly time is flying by, but here we are, homeschooling 5 kids this year.  (Prayers, please!)

I have decided to toss the preschool programs I used in the past and piece together something I could work with. He just turned 4 in June, so I know I will have to take it a little slower in some areas, but overall I think he is more than ready for this adventure.

I decided to revolve his school year around the Liturgical calendar, using the day's feasts as my guide.  I went cheap and bought 2 different MEGA preschool workbooks, plus some Catholic-specific workbooks for him to work through.  He has never had any formal training on writing before, so this week we are working mostly on how to hold a crayon, how to trace and follow 'mazes' and so on.  He loves coloring and painting on his own, so I highly suspect he will catch on fairly quickly.  You have never seen a little boy happier than the frst time he sees his name in print - in his own handwriting!

Today is St. Bernard of Calirvaux's feast day, so here was the plan:

Read half of book #1 of the Treasure Box series and discuss
Do pre-writing worksheets, write name, etc
Begin Rosary Quilt program: Just introduce activity blanket and its components today.  (Have it out for him to get used to during family rosary at night)
Color picture of St. Bernard of Calirvaux  (picture found below)
Read some basic information about St Bernard of Clairvaux
Memorize his famous quote: "Jesus is honey in the mouth."  (Recite quote to daddy at dinner as part of his accountability)

Discuss bees
  • Only insect that makes food for people
  • Makes wax
  • What does it make honey out of?
  • Why does he make honey?
  • Why does it make the wax?
  • The bees live to serve the queen bee.  Should we live to love and serve Our Blessed Mother?  What sweet things can we bring to her? 
Read 2 quick stories on bees found here and here   Lots of giggles with these!
Make honey candy (recipe follows)
Play online bee puzzle while waiting for candy to boil and while it cools
Decorate candle for prayer room
Cut out bee pieces and have him tape together the bee.  Attach to stick and make it fly!
Read this story
Pray the Memorare (a prayer St. Bernard wrote):

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.




Devotional candle decorated with stickers


Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........
Coloring page





Honeycomb Candy Recipe


•3/4 cup sugar

•2 tablespoons honey

•2 tablespoons water

•1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Instructions
1.Grease a casserole dish or pie plate. You can use oil, butter, or non-stick cooking spray.  But be generous and grease it all the way  to the rim or you will have a difficult time removing it from the pan.

 2.Add the sugar, honey, and water to a saucepan. You can stir the mixture, but it isn't necessary.

 3.Cook the ingredients over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 300°F. The sugar will melt, small bubbles will form, the bubbles will become larger, then the sugar will start to carmelize to an amber color.  Do not burn!  LOL!

 4.When the temperature reaches 300°F, remove the pan from heat and whisk the baking soda into the hot syrup. This will cause the syrup to foam up.

 5.Stir just enough to mix the ingredients, then dump the mixture onto the greased baking sheet. Don't spread out the candy, as this would pop your bubbles adn you will lose the 'honeycomb' effect.

 6.Allow the candy to cool, then break or cut it into pieces.

7.Store the honeycomb candy in an airtight container.


 I am sure this this candy would be delicious, had I not burned it a little, and if I actually stirred it.  The baking soda made it foam up so quickly (we used a small pan), that I had a moment of panic and dumped it in the pie pan before it was completely mixed.  Hence the white chunks in the picture.  CJ loved it, everyone else just focused on the 'burnt' taste.  I took the tiniest taste (Honeycomb Candy was not part of the 40 Day Fast-40 Day Feast plan!) and could imagine it would have been quite good with a bit less time over the flames.  Lesson learned.

I think we will do preschool 3 days a week with other activities on the off days.  Fulton needs to stay super busy, both in body and mind, but I have other children to teach as well.  It is going to be a delicate balance between the 2 different types of schooling, but Lord willing, I shall succeed!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rosary: A New Way to Pray

J.M.J.



Today you will do it.  You will get through it.  You will pray the Rosary!  Queen of the Holy Rosary, you have deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three shepherd children the treasures of grace hidden in the Rosary… 

 Suddenly, the world intrudes.  Your husband can’t find his socks.  You start to compile your grocery list instead of meditating.  When your toddler bumps is head and needs a kiss,  you decide you will finish praying later.  But later comes and goes, and suddenly it is 11:30pm and you have not finished the Rosary.  Those hidden treasures of grace will have to wait for another time.

 Sound familiar?  No matter where you are in your Rosary devotion, novice or expert, I am sure that you have experienced some form of distractions or interruptions while praying and perhaps have even given up praying because of this.  These stumbling blocks are scattered along everyone’s path, but with the grace of God they can be overcome.  I present to you will open up new possibilities for you, to give you a way to find the time and inspiration throughout each day to pray an entire 15 Mysteries, and offer a simple, prayerful and gentle way of sanctifying your soul.

 Prayer has commonly been compared to breathing and for a good reason.  Prayer is as important to the soul as breathing is to the body.  Yet, unlike breathing, you have to make a conscience effort to pray.  And for busy homeschooling mothers, we are sometimes tempted to skip the Rosary and toss up a few quick prayers instead, forgetting how prayer gives life to our souls.

I myself was plagued with stumbling blocks and I actually stopped praying the Rosary for about a year.  When I finally picked up my Rosary again, I went to St. Louis for advice.  I read his book, The Secret of the Rosary and realized that it was a direct answer to my prayers.  He tells souls who are unable to pray 15 decades all at once,


“I advise you to divide up your Rosary into three parts and to say each group of mysteries (five decades) at a different time of day.  This is much better than saying the whole 15 decades all at once.

If you cannot find the time to say a third part of the Rosary all at one time, say it gradually, a decade here and there.  I am sure you can manage this; so that, in spite of your work and all the calls upon your time, you will have said the whole Rosary before going to bed.” 

I was so freed when I read this!  With my priest’s blessing, I incorporated the Saint’s first method of praying the Rosary by asking for specific graces and virtues with each Mystery, and broke up the Rosary into manageable pieces.  I was actually praying the Rosary again, and I was astounded at my rapid growth in virtues.  At last those hidden treasures were being revealed to me! 

I soon spent each day completely immersed in Our Lady and Our Lord’s life, living the Rosary and actively working on the sanctification of my soul as I went about my day.  I learned to breathe the Rosary -  to inhale the Mysteries and exhaled the grace.

Lets take a look at how easy and fruitful this method really is.  Begin the Rosary in the morning, around 6:00am if you can.  St. Louis announces the Mysteries with a little prayer, asking for the grace or virtue attached to each one.  The Annunciation prayer is:


We offer Thee, O Lord Jesus, this first decade in honor of Thy incarnation and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother, a profound humility.

Place yourself in the room with Mary as the Annunciation takes place.  Inhale the scene, absorb the lesson, let it fill you.  Ponder the perfect acts of humility unfolding before you.  “Let it be done to me according to his will…”  Pray the decade as reverently as possible, inhaling deeply the entire Mystery.

As you pray the Annunciation, try to picture the usual situations you run into in the morning and visualize an actual plan on how to handle them with humility.  Ask Mary to obtain for you the humility you need to get through the next hour of the day.  Just one hour. 

After the Glory Be, stop and then go about your usual activities.  For the next hour you are going to exhale the grace you just prayed for.  Humility.  In every interaction you have with others, whether it be your children, your husband, the garbage man or just yourself.  Humility. 

The Annunciation is a joyful moment, a challenge, and a heroic chance to say “Yes!” to whatever it is God is calling us to do at any moment.  Talk to Mary.  She will begin to show you pieces of the Annunciation that mirror your own situations during this hour in the most amazing ways.  Live humbly from 6 to 7:00am.  That is all.

So what happens at 7:00?  If you are in the middle of changing a diaper or chasing the dog, don’t’ panic.  Live humbly through the interruption and know that God is asking something else of you at the moment and you will return to your prayer in a minute.  But right around 7:00am, return to your room or prayer space for a moment.  Kneel down and review your hour.  Where were you blessed with humility?  Where did you fall?  This is a mini examination of conscience for you.  Make the Sign of the Cross and pray, the Fatima Prayer:


“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of Hell.  Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”  Then pray, “Grace of the mystery of the Incarnation, come down into my soul and make it truly humble.”

Have about 5 seconds of silence and then inhale the next Mystery:  the Visitation, for perfect charity towards our neighbor.

The beauty of this method, for me, is that I can spend the whole day with Our Lady.  I spend from 6 to 6:05 inhaling the Annunciation.  From 6:05 to 7:00 I am exhaling the grace, trying to live in the example of humility Mary is showing me.

From 7 to 7:05 I make myself account for my failings, ask for forgiveness and then inhale the Visitation.  From 7:05 to 8:00am I exhale, in my own imperfect way, charity towards my neighbors.  My husband, the children, the person who just pulled out in front of me on the highway, and to myself.  I relive the Visitation during that hour and try my hand at being charitable.  I am reminded that the greatest act of charity is to bring Christ to others, just as Mary brought Christ to Elizabeth.  At 8:00 I take another moment to recollect the past hour.  How did I do?  Can I gather strength in my successes, thanking Our Lady for showing me how to be humble?  Can I find my failings and pray for guidance next time I am tempted to pride? 

 The following is a list of the 15 Mysteries and their “treasures” as St. Louis de Montfort presents them.  Use this list as a basic framework for your day.
Annunciation - Humility
Visitation – charity towards our neighbor
Nativity – detachment from things of this world, love of poverty and love of the poor.
Presentation  - the gift of wisdom and purity of heart and body.
Finding in the Temple - to convert us and help us amend our lives, and also to convert all sinners, heretics, schismatics and idolaters.
Agony in the Garden of Olives - perfect sorrow for our sins and the virtue of perfect obedience to Thy Holy Will.
Scourging -  the grace to mortify our senses perfectly.
Crowning with thorns - a great contempt of the world.
Carrying Thy cross  -  give us great patience in carrying our cross in Thy footsteps every day of our life.
Crucifixion on Mount Calvary - a great horror of sin, a love of the Cross and the grace of a holy death for us and for those who are now in their last agony.
Resurrection  -  a lively faith.
Ascension - a firm hope and a great longing for Heaven.
Pentecost - Thy holy wisdom so that we may know, really love and practice Thy truth, and make all others share in it.
Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Thy Holy and Blessed Mother - the gift of true devotion to her to help us live and die holily.
Coronation  -  the grace of perseverance, an increase in virtue until death that we may receive our eternal crown.  Ask the same grace for all the just and for all benefactors.


If you want to honor Our Lady and make an honest effort to try to overcome bad habits and develop a virtuous soul, this method keeps you right on track.  Vigilent, in fact!  Every person you come across, every situation, every moment of every day is an opportunity for sanctification.  Do not try to go throughout day on empty lungs.  Really take in Mystery when praying.   But do not hold your breath too long, either. Exhale the graces that come to you from your prayers throughout day.  You must exhale to practice the virtue!

When I die, I want to die somewhere between inhaling and exhaling, so that my last dying breath that leaves my body will be filled with an effort and attempt to practice and spread the grace.  We are all called to sanctity and many paths to choose from on our way to Sainthood.  I choose to take my path one breath at a time.  Fifteen stairs and 15 breaths a day brings me closer to Our Lady and to Him.  Progress.  Success is not as important as the effort.  The effort comes from what is in your heart.  When you inhale these Mysteries and exhale the grace, it all passes through our hearts, doesn’t it?  And that is what Our Lord will be looking for when we go to meet Him.

Put your hearts in Our Lady’s hands and breathe the Rosary to help us know God, so that we can love Him and find ways of serving Him, surely we will find the hidden treasures of grace she promises are there.

For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also. Mtt.6:21

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tribute to My Father-In-Law

J.M.J.

After a 25 year long struggle with Parkinson's, my father-in-law passed away.  Written below is the eulogy I wrote for my husband to read today at his service held at Heritage Methodist Church.  Prayers for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of all who grieve our loss are cherished.

Rest in peace, Ken.  You are so deeply loved and will be missed.



On April 28, 1944, Kenneth Dale Poppe was born unto the world.  What difference could such a tiny child make in the lives of others? What impact would he have upon the world around him?  Would anyone even know who Kenneth Dale Poppe was, 25, 50, 100 years after his birth?  If you base notoriety on what you read in the papers and in history books, then perhaps it could be said that my father’s life was nothing more than a brief, flickering flame among so many others, indistinguishable from others at a distance.

But let us take a closer look at this flame – this single light. 

Before he was even born, he let his presence be known with the typical kicks and wiggles beneath the safety of his mother’s heart, as he prepared himself for the outside world.  Youngest of 3 and their only son, he was the pride of his father and adored by his sisters and mother.  This tiny infant quickly grew into a strong and stocky child, ready to take on the world – whether it be mastering the art of fishing, chasing imaginary bank robbers on his bike, helping his father on the farm, or wooing the much older ladies in his life with his cowboy hat and holster, a perfectly practiced Roy Rogers swagger and impish grin.

While it was rumored that his mother was his first love during those first few years, by the age of 14 he had set his sights on pursuing the other lovely ladies in town.  Finding it far easier to capture a young girl’s attention with his natural musical talents, he gave up his cowboyish dreams, hung up his holster, and replaced it with a guitar.  His melodious voice and talented strumming served him well during his teen years.

He attended Southern Illinois University, majoring in Agricultural Economics, hoping to branch out into the wider world around him while still honoring his family’s farming roots.  As fate would have it, he was attending a fraternity hayride with a blind date but all his attention was focused on another petite young lady a few feet away – my mother, Alta.

One week after graduation she took his name as her own and this flickering flame grew in brightness and in purpose.  One month later, he was drafted.  He trained at Fort Knox which was then called Fort Lewis, and because of his college degree and test scores, was invited to attend Officer Candidate School at Aberdeen Proving Ground.  The combination of his strong work ethic and likeable nature not only won him a position as a Military Intelligence Officer in the Foreign Developments Division in Washington, DC but eventually earned him an Army Commendation Letter from his commanding officer during his time of service.

His contributions as a Jaycee, Sunday School teacher and member of the Parkinson’s support group in Colorado Springs helped to light the paths of many souls whose lives are now a little brighter for having known him.  A loyal and faithful friend, he forged deep bonds with others and stayed in contact with them throughout the years, always happy to share his light with others.

For my mother he was her one true love.  Her anchor, provider, her best friend.  The light of her life. The 2 of them were a perfect pair, enjoying a highly social life and their involvement in church and civic groups.   And while my father’s light shone brightly at work and among friends, his light shone its brightest while at home.

I was born about 3 years after they married,  Kathy followed 2 and a half years later.  He blessed my sister with a beautiful singing voice and instilled in her a great love of music.  His skillful coaching helped develop her singing talents and brought to her a love of performing.  Our Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog skits would send Dad into peals of laughter – the Muppet Show had nothing on us!

He was a great floor wrestler and ‘Gotcha Bird” tickler.  And being a man with the ability to see the humor in the everyday sorts of things, he could frequently get our entire family into fits of giggles because of his contagious laughter.

He was my first coach in sports and my biggest fan.  And while that was important to me as I grew, I see now that it was the small, subtle lessons he taught me when he didn’t know I was looking that turned out to be the most important. 

A little boy sitting in the dark, listening to a discussion and witnessing his father’s love and conviction to his marriage has shown me how to love and honor my own wife, no matter what the cost.

Watching my father go off to work each day, even on days he would have rather have slept in or played golf, taught me what it means to take responsibility and be the provider for my family.

Later, I learned perseverance as I watched him accept God’s will for his life as he suffered with Parkinson’s.
And I learned unselfishness, realizing how no matter how much he suffered, he never demanded anything of us.

I witnessed, time and again, true hospitality and charity, never complaining when my children got a little too rambunctious in his home, or staying as long as he could to visit with us before he had to quietly retire to his room.  His home was always open to us, even if he himself could not participate.

And I learned humility born of great love, as he allowed my heroic mother to be his strength and the rock he once was for her.

And finally, in feeling those waning trembles in his feverish hand those last few days on earth has proven to me what a man of great dignity he always was.  Until his dying breath.

No - My father’s light has not been extinguished. I see it in my home, filled with love and laughter, his jokes and sense of humor alive and well in the joyful, teasing nature of my children.   I hear it every time I hear my sister sing.  Or catch an expression or movement that either my nephews or my own children make.  I pass these lights on to my own children and see them grow brighter each day.  And their lights shine forth and ignite a love of life and inspiration to those with whom they come into contact.  And I see his light all around this room, glistening in your eyes. 


I see now how far that little light has thrown its beams and I realize, indeed, what a tremendous difference one tiny light, born to us in 1944, has made upon us all!  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fulton Graduates

J.M.J.

I cannot believe how quickly this year has passed!  After so much deliberation about whether we should send Fulton to Pre-school, I think it is very obvious that we made the right decision.  SO much growth - learning and social adjustments alike - have brought to him a stronger sense of self and purpose.

That may sound funny if we are talking about a 5 year old boy, but truly I feel his journey through life will be made a little easier because of how well he has been cared for at Heritage Preschool.  They have truly given him the tools and confidence he needs as he continues on the path Our Lord has set before him.

Thank you so much to the entire staff at Heritage, and especially to his teachers, Amy, Alia and Tracey!

Here is a video of his class singing How Great Is Our God with sign language.  Believe it or not, I actually was able to hold myself together for most of the evening, but when the rays of sunshine came through the windows towards the end of the song, I lost it.  God truly is great!

Here is a video of him saying his bible verse:


And this is him receiving his diploma.



Here are a few photos of his big day yesterday.




Such a happy little guy!  Thank you all for your prayers and support - what a year it has been!  We couldn't have done it without your constant petitions to Our Lord.

God is Good.  Always!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Small Success Thursday: One hour at a time

J.M.J.



This week has been such a blur, all I can really remember is the last 7 hours (I am writing this at 11:09am).  So without further ado, these are my hourly accomplishments…

5:00 – 6:00am
I actually opened my eyes!  I am notoriously lazy – therefore waking up at this time was quite an accomplishment all by itself.  So impressive, in fact, that if I didn’t actually HAVE to get out of bed at that time, I would have just buried myself back under the covers and called it a day well lived.  But alas….

6:00 – 7:00am
I managed to put on a little makeup and brush my hair.  Jay (husband), CJ, Fulton and I got dressed and headed out the door to the hospital, where we checked in and dozed briefly in the waiting room.

7:00 – 8:00am
Settled into the recovery room, where we waited to hear what the plan was going to be for the day for Fulton’s surgery.  Jay took over the dozing duties for me while I sat quietly with a very grumpy Fulton.

8:00 – 9:00am
Slowly moved from vegging mode to surgery mode.  Changed Fulton into his medical gown and did some serious snuggling while watching the Cat in the Hat.  Unfortunately for Fulton the woman from Child Life came in and started explaining a few things about the surgery to him just as the episode about giraffes was about to get interesting.  We ALMOST found out whether giraffes actually eat monkeys or not.  Jay thinks they do – why else do they have such long necks and always have their faces in the trees?  Fulton, on the other hand, seems to think they eat leaves.  Perhaps another time we will finally learn the truth…..

9:00 – 10:00am
Watched a new show called Peg and Cat.  That was a new one to me, anyway.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It was decided that Fulton did not have to take his ‘nose medicine’ (drugs that knock him out fairly quickly) and that he would only take the oral anti-anxiety meds.  He was a trooper.  But even with the meds, Fulton continued to sport the grumpy face, so we did some more serious snuggling.  CJ discovered the Wii set in the recovery room and we haven’t seen him since….

10:00 – 11:00am
Moved to the ‘launching pad’ – a waiting room in the surgical unit where we received more instructions and watched Dinosaur Train in the hospital bed.  Even Fulton was feeling a little sleepy by this time.  At 10:30 am, per Fulton’s request, I donned a surgical gown, mask and cotton candy blue surgical hat and was able to walk with him right into the operating room.  He wanted me to put the mask on him, so I stroked his head and held the oxygen mask on his little face until he fell asleep.

Lord help me, that was so difficult.  I can't even ponder the heaviness on my heart.

 Mother Mary, be with him for the remaining hours he will be in surgery.  Please guide the surgeons’ hands and hearts, and bestow upon them the wisdom they need to see this surgery through to the end.  May their God-given talents bring about the help Fulton needs and may the healing hand of God pass over my son and bless him.  Amen.

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What have you been up to this week - or for the last few hours?  Join your fellow Catholic Moms HERE and see what we have been up to on the Small Success Thursday linkup!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Small Success Thursday Episode #2

J.M.J.


What can I say - this week has been like most others.  Full of business and nothingness, sometimes at the very same time!  But despite to random whirlwind that is my life, I did manage to get a few things done:

#1
I made real, organic, all natural sunscreen!  And it was easy, too - you have to try this stuff!  I used it on Fulton's scars today since he is having a Track and Field Day this afternoon.  We shall see how well it works...


#2
We made it to Mass on time and fully dressed.  TBTG.

#3
I managed to get my raspberry plants out to the garden instead of sitting on my pantry floor (my apologies to Thomas - they are almost there, though - I promise!)  Mind you, they are not IN the ground yet, but at least they are outside...


#4
I finally found my manuscript I had been wanting to finish editing.  I am a paper girl at heart and do my best editing with a pen, so losing the printed version with weeks worth of edits scribbled on it was a big deal.

#5
I received 4 of the 5 nightgowns I ordered in an effort to look more feminine, even when I sleep.

"What?!" you say, "Snoring with your mouth wide open and hair all over the place, wearing an old painter's T-shirt and ripped sweat pants is not feminine and pleasant to look at?"

I was shocked - SHOCKED I tell you, to find out that this is not the sort of look a husband appreciates.  I mean, really!  It was his T-shirt and sweatpants - you'd think he'd be kind of like, "Hey, girl, you make this homesteading homeboy's work clothes look pretty appealing!"

After a few chats with Colleen Hammond, she set me straight and we decided to dump the frump and to use a little tax refund money for this splurge.  Mind you, there is nothing "eye popping" about these nightgowns - they are full length and 2 of them even came with beautiful matching robes for proper, modest cover-up.  In order to make this change, though, I first had to get rid of such things as my ratty old Tweety Bird nightgown (much to my husband's delight)  I liked Tweety Bird.... but even the children complimented me on my matching nightgown and robe this morning and I actually felt pretty, even before I brushed my hair (which, I might add, I still haven't done yet...)


#6
I bought a rustic looking 3 drawer nightstand to go beside my bed.  The pile of 'stuff' was getting so bad, Marialina was able to use it to launch herself onto our raised bed with no problem.  Now it is much more organized in our room, and I have to completely wake up and sit up to help my toddler onto the bed to snuggle instead of just drowsily giving her a little help.  I guess this one is kind of a trade off....


#7  Since my new doctor prescribed diet and accidentally losing about 8 pounds, Shannon and I have decided to start a daily walk each morning to continue this positive trend.  Today was the first day.  We walked 2 houses down and jogged back home because of the lightening and the neighbor's loose German Shepherd.  Not very impressive, I know, but it is a start anyway!



And that, my dear readers, is my week.  What have you been up to?  Curious what others have been up to this week?  Go to this CatholicMom.com link and take a peek!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Organic Sunscreen

J.M.J.

Fulton, as you are well aware, has special needs when it comes to his skin.  His skin grafts require vigilant care when it comes to cold weather, but even more so when it comes to the sun.

Most agree these days that your skin needs a certain amount of sunshine to help boost your vitamin D levels, and I have never been one to slather too much sunscreen on my children.  It seems to me that there are more benefits to moderate sun exposure than benefits to exposing your skin to toxic chemicals found in most sunscreens, just to prevent a little sunburn.

Being of Irish descent, I understand the hazards of too much sun, but I have always longed for a happy medium.  Sunshine for its benefits vs harmful chemicals to prevent a burn.  What to do.  What to do.

Since Fulton's burn, I have learned far more about the skin than any non-medical person should need to know.  And one of the most concerning things that I learned has to do with the sun and Fulton's scars.  He is completely missing the dermis - the thicker under-layer of skin.  And because of this, he has lost all natural protection from the sun's rays.  So sun exposure on those scars is an absolute no-no.  However, because the dermis is missing, anything I put onto his skin is also quickly absorbed into his bloodstream and at higher levels than normal skin.  The last thing I wanted to do was put those chemicals on the skin we worked so hard to harvest and nurture.

My solution?  Fulton's Super Special Sunscreen! (as he likes to call it!)

I modified the recipe found HERE to address Fulton's needs, plus I added some tamanu oil and sea buckthorn oil for some extra scar nourishment and therapy.  According to the original recipe, the spf should be about 20.

Interested in the recipe?  Here it is!

Please note:  All ingredients are assumed to be organic - I am just too lazy to type out the word over and over again

1/2 cup almond oil  (use olive oil instead if you are allergic or sensitive to nuts)
1/4 cup beeswax pastilles  (I subtracted about a tablespoon plus a teaspoon less to make sure it will be a soft cream for his scars)
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 T shea butter
5 drops tamanu oil
5 drops sea buckthorn oil  (do not use if you are allergic or sensitive to nuts)
3 drops lavender essential oil
2T zinc oxide

Combine all ingredients except the zinc oxide in a canning jar, and slowly melt the shea butter, coconut oil and wax using the double boiler method.

When everything is melted and combined, add the zinc oxide (wear a mask - do not inhale the powder!) and mix thoroughly as it cools.  Fulton only got to mix this when the powder was already well incorporated - much to his disappointment!



Pour into whatever containers you want to store it in, and continue to stir until it is pasty and the zinc oxide no longer tries to settle to the bottom.  I divided this into 2 containers - the large one for home use and a smaller purse sized one for outings.  

BTW:  Remember to reapply every 2 hours as needed, just like any other sunscreen!


Wow!  I love this stuff!  Soft and creamy, so I don't have to rub too hard on his face, easy to see where I missed a spot, and smells pleasant and mild.  I am completely comfortable putting this on his scars, and I am also able to leave the unscarred skin on his legs exposed to the sun for a bit each day to boost his vitamin D. 

The entire family can use this without fear of chemicals or sunburn - a happy, sweet smelling compromise for us all!




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Face Your Flaws with Joy

J.M.J.


I saw an ad for the Wounded Warrior Project the other day.  As the ad played, they showed soldiers with various injuries dealing with 'real life' after their life changing event.  One soldier, in particular, caught my eye.  He was getting dressed for the day, but because of his severe burn injuries, one of the things he had to 'put on' was his ears.

Fulton's ears (or lack thereof) is kind of a topic we haven't hit head on yet with him.  He knows his hearing is not very good, and that his ears are 'very small'.  Cleaning them is vastly different from the way it used to be, since his scars have created a few deep pockets in the ear area that require regular attention in addition to his regular ear canals.  He has taken this all in stride, and honestly, unless we are washing his hair, we are pretty much at the point where we do not notice that his head is missing a few accessories.  Which was why this commercial caught my attention.

The physical therapists at Shriners had mentioned that as he grows he will be getting some ears.  And sometimes when we are getting him scanned for his face masks, I will see various prosthetic body parts on the counter, awaiting their final fittings.  And I wonder - how will Fulton feel about having fake ears?  Will years of not having them and dealing with the stares break his confidence down?  Should we get them sooner, if possible?  And how on earth do those things stay in place, anyway?

Later that day, I mentioned to Fulton that I saw a soldier on TV who was burned like he was.  "And you will never guess what he had to put on as he was getting dressed for the day!"

"What?" he asked, only half interested.

"He put on," what was I doing bringing this up right now?  "a pair," are you kidding me, Cassandra?  Why are you telling him this?  "of EARS!"

Would we have a detailed conversation about why someone would want prosthetic ears?  Would he suddenly become self conscious about his own ears?  Would he start asking questions to which I did yet know the answers?  As I finished the sentence, panic hit me, and I wondered why I even brought it up in the first place.  I awaited his response...

"BWA-HAHAHAHAHAHA!"

His entire face contorted as only his face can, laughing.  Laughing so much, in fact, his eyes started to tear up.  And off he ran.  "Hey Shannon!" he called.  "Guess what!  There was a soldier who was burned and he had to put on his ears!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Someday I'm gonna get ears, too, and you can watch me put them on!  HAHAHAHAHA!"  This, of course, was followed by various demonstrations of how the ears probably are attached, and each sibling joined in the creativity of the moment.

Good grief - this child is laughing at himself!

And then I smiled.  Could it be, this is the way Our Lord wants us to look at our own human imperfections?  To not get bogged down with the downside of it all to the point where it paralyzes and prevents God's glory to shine through, but instead focus on what joy can come of it?

To be humble enough to laugh at oneself takes courage.  It leaves you exposed.  Vulnerable.  But when, out of a deep love of God, you embrace the cross with which you have been blessed, a transformation takes place within your heart that allows you to not only accept your flaws and your burdens, but take joy in them and spread that joy to others.  Your struggles are transformed into a source of sanctification and become the vehicle by which you ultimately give God glory in Heaven.

Fulton's journey has only just begun.  I have been warned that at any time, the effects of his injuries and appearance can suddenly take a turn for him emotionally and darker days may be ahead.  But for now, we are building on the joys at hand.  He has accepted what has happened to him as part of God's bigger plan for his life.  He brings joy to others through his cross.  He embraces his role as one who serves as a warning to others to be careful around fire.  He inspires.  He renews people's faith.  And he laughs.  A lot.  Which immediately puts others at ease and helps others laugh, too.

As I pondered this, I noticed the children had redirected the conversation from how to get the ears on to the multitude of ways the ears might come off.  "And maybe," Fulton was giggling, "I can be on a roller coaster and they will fly off my head because I am riding so fast!"

At this point, all of us were laughing so hard, tears were streaming down our faces.  Dear Lord, this child brings us so much joy!

Thank you, Lord, for showing me how to find the joy mingled within our sorrows.  Help me to embrace my own imperfections.  Remind me of the humor found in them.  And give me humility to laugh at myself as I struggle to overcome the things You have given me for the betterment of my soul.  


"Be merry, really merry.  The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity."  - St. Theophane Venard





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (as told by Fulton)

J.M.J.

Fulton came home from school the other day just bursting with excitement.  He had learned the story about the Very Hungry Caterpillar and relished the retelling of it to each one of us.  Yes, we all enjoyed our own exclusive performance of this well loved story, and I just couldn't deny all of you the same joy.  (Please forgive the quality of recording - I am working in it!)

So without further ado, here is Fulton telling the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar....






Saturday, April 5, 2014

Highway to Heaven

J.M.J.

Do you recognize this highway?



Probably not.  Not at first, anyway.  But I think we all have traveled on it - or one like it - in our lives.  It is the path of life.  Our highway to Heaven.  Or to Hell.

I have actually traveled this road - it is the road we live on.  Nothing spectacular about it, really, beyond the fact that last year, at precisely the time I am writing this post today, I was on this road headed home.  I hadn't been on this road for 3 months, and while it may look rather bland and uninteresting to you, it was profoundly beautiful to me.  Heavenbound.

Three months before this photo was taken, on January 8, 2013, I had traveled this road in the opposite direction, not sure whether I was headed towards what felt like the flames of Hell.  Riding shotgun in an ambulance, we headed to a nearby elementary school where a medical helicopter awaited to take my son to the hospital in Tulsa, OK.  I remember nothing of the ride.  Just the prayers.  And the one stop we had to make because they could not keep Fulton stabilized as we bumped along the road.

"Jesus, I trust in You.  Mother Mary, help us."  Over and over these prayers rose from my heart and streamed down my face.  "Jesus, I trust in You.  Mother Mary, help us."

Finally we arrived at the school, most likely ruining recess, and I anxiously waited while they tried to get my son stable enough for the 28 minute helicopter ride.  "Where are we going?"  Hell.  This has got to be Hell.

"We are taking Fulton to Tulsa.  But you cannot go with.  You will have to find another way and meet him there."  Panic replaced the prayer. How can I get there?  My husband was also burned and was headed in the opposite direction to a local hospital, and I was unable to drive.  "The pilot never takes extras.  We are so sorry."  The EMTs continued their work inside the ambulance while the flight medics went from ambulance to pilot, exchanging information and making plans.

Darkness.

Would he even be alive when I finally got there?  Tulsa was over 2 hours away.  What if he didn't make it?  He would be all alone....

Lost.

I shivered in the January breeze and prayed.

I had caught a glimpse of the helicopter when we first drove onto the school's field.  To keep myself moving, I walked around the ambulance, wanting to see what my son would be riding in.  At the door, standing sentry, was the pilot.  Dark shades covered his eyes, and he had an expressionless face.  But I was struck by how similar he looked to my father who had passed away from cancer in 2008.  A fit and healthy version of my father - and it left me breathless.  "Dad," I prayed, "If you are somewhere where you can hear my prayer, please help me now.  You know the situation we are in.  I have to be with my son.  Please, Dad, pray for us!  Pray that I may go on this ride!"  I followed this with prayers for the repose of his soul and went back to the other side of the ambulance, to sit on the step.  And wait.

Before long, one of the flight medics came to me and announced in complete amazement, "He says you may go!  He has never let anyone ride along before!"

Praise God!  Our first miracle!  "Thank you, Dad!" I whispered as they began moving my son to the helicopter. I was allowed to go with - invited to follow Fulton on his journey, never once leaving his side.

Indeed the first 2 weeks were a spiritual agony - a hell of sorts - the worst times of our lives.  But soon there were glimmers of hope.  Over the course of the next few months, Fulton and I stayed the course, keeping our eyes on the ultimate prize:  Home.  Every day, every moment was dedicated towards the day we would return home.

There were speed bumps.  There were detours.  And a few times we feared the end was near.  But by completely trusting in Our Lord, I knew that someday, somehow, we would be coming home again.  I did not question.  I did not force my will.  I became like soft clay in the holy hands of Our Lord, and He shaped me, strengthened me and set me on the path I needed to be on to get us Home.  For during that time, I had renewed my faith, grown closer to Our Lord and Our Lady and learned to embrace each cross with which I was blessed.  God had a plan - not just for me, but for Fulton and my entire family.  And I trusted Him completely.  But, with my husband's help, it would be up to me to help guide my children through it.

Then finally, the day for which I both prayed and dreaded had come. The surgeons gathered around Fulton and I and unanimously agreed that it was indeed time to go home.  We were ready.  We were strengthened by their care and armed with what we needed.  Not only the medical supplies and medications, but more importantly the prayers and continued support from all of you.  Without you all, I truly believe we would not have come through as well as we did.  And I am so very grateful.

It was a journey - an adventure of sorts - not knowing where it would lead, but knowing that as long as I stayed faithful to the path that was set before me, it would all be alright in the end.  For strength, I feasted on the fruits that grew alongside the road - the struggles and miracles - the bitter and the sweet - and my eyes opened to the power that comes from completely surrendering to the will of God.  Letting Him lead me where He willed, and slowly becoming the kind of wife, mother and woman I never would have become, had this road not been set before me.  A path to holiness.  A highway to Heaven.

Sure, I stumbled a few times while I was so far from home.  There are many things I wish I had done differently if given the chance.  But even through my failures I have learned how to better respond to the crosses and graces set before me in everyday life, and find ways of giving God the glory He so rightly deserves in all things.  Hindsight is sometimes the best lens through which we try to see how to better respond.  And I pray that I am able to apply what I have learned to whatever future roads Our Lord places before me.

One year later, I look at the picture I took of our road and recall how I felt as we traveled those last few miles.  Excitement.  Apprehension.  Joy.  And I see how, even after returning to our happy home filled with cake, balloons and streamers, and after our new 'real life' has settled in, I am still on a journey.  Firmly set on the pathway to holiness as wife and mother, guiding all my children as they embark on their own journeys, as they stumble along the roads He has set before each of them.  None of us have made it yet.  But by the grace of God, one day, we will finally make it Home.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Fulton at his Welcome Home party April 5, 2013
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6



Friday, March 7, 2014

Another Step Closer for Ven Fulton Sheen!

J.M.J.




I am so very excited to hear of Venerable Fulton Sheen's progress towards canonization!  When we named our own Fulton, we just knew that eventually the holy Archbishop would one day have his name listed among the greats.  And we wanted to be one of the first in line to have our child named after him.


My email is getting flooded with notifications about his progress and I rejoice every time I read of it.  My mother's heart goes out to Bonnie for the suffering she endured when her son James was born.  Her prayer - her very words - were my own words during those first 2 weeks at Fulton's bedside in those moments when it seemed so bleak.  "Fulton Sheen, please heal my baby!"  Bonnie, you are my hero, proving the power of a mother's faith and tears can move both the heart of a Saint (OK, saint with a lowercase 's' ... for now!) and the heart of Almighty God Himself.


I keep crying when I see that sweet boy's face - so very thankful we have such a merciful God who shows us His love through souls such as Ven. Fulton Sheen's! God is so good!



However there is another side to this that I am struggling with. And I am embarrassed to even admit it - because this is so NOT about me! 


I know you all mean well and know what this approval means to the Poppe family as well. But when I am told, "Keep praying - I know God will bring about a miracle for you, too!" this is a pressure becoming difficult to endure. Especially today for some reason. (more tears here)

I do not want other people to lose faith in God because their prayers for Fulton have not come to fruition in the ways we sometimes hope. And sometimes I feel I am letting all of you down somehow when Fulton's scars remain, his ears are still missing, etc. But please know that miracles are happening, nonetheless. Our Lady of Lourdes already saved him once. That is good enough for me!

As one dear, online friend put it: 

The miracle you've received in having Fulton with you here I think is enormous, wondrous and cause for being incredibly in awe of God every day. Fulton is a walking testament to the greatness of our God just the way he is. What God will do with his future will be a continuation of that miracle and whatever The Lord's goal is will be accomplished and for that I praise him.

 Fear not - I have not lost hope in those bigger miracles of which we Catholics marveled as children, and I continue to 'covet your prayers like candy' here, but please also accept that perhaps we are to go the long way with Fulton's suffering and the long road will be the best for our sanctification. (I'll take prayers for that intention, too BTW!)  Sometimes, well, most of the time, Our Lord chooses to work the great miracle of inward conversion instead of physical healing.

If He decides to miraculously heal him at some point, PRAISE GOD!

And if not, PRAISE GOD!

Always


Prayer for the Canonization of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen 

Heavenly Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people. If it be according to your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Prayer for Fulton's Miraculous Healing through the Intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit. If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession - that Fulton Poppe's body heals and functions normally and that he is spared any detrimental scarring. I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Real Bread ...For Real

J.M.J.

I have had many people ask me for my 'famous' bread recipe, and instead of emailing it to people when they ask for it, I have decided to just post it here.  Every Lent I get requests, so here it is again!  While I do make this bread by hand, I also cheat on busy days and use my Kitchen Aid mixer to do the kneading for me, as it takes far less time

Poppe's Perfected Wheat Bread


3 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour  (I use non-GMO, organic Prarie Gold.  Prarie Gold has the best balance of protein resulting in a finely formed loaf of bread)

2 cups warm water
2 Tbl instant dry yeast
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
2 Tbl wheat gluten
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
(Note:  You may substitute the powdered milk and vinegar with either plain or vanilla yogurt for a similar texture.  1/4 cup does the trick for me)

Use the paddle and mix on low until gluten is well formed.  This mixture will resemble moist cookie dough at first.  But as it mixes, you will notice that the gluten texture begins to 'spider web', meaning the dough will begin to bond together and stretch instead of breaking apart right away. This is the gluten beginning to form.  Soon the dough will take on a bubblegum like texture and you might have to cut it away from the paddle.  This is what you want!  When you have found this texture, add another half cup of flour, mix it in for about 3 minutes and let it rest for 20 minutes.  I recommend you remove the paddle and install the dough hook before it rests, as the dough will rise and can get messy if you wait.

After the 30 minutes, the dough should be pretty puffy.  Add:
1/3 cup oil 
1/2 tsp salt

I used to use canola oil because it has absolutely no taste and allows the yummy nutty-wheat taste to come through in the bread.  However I know that canola is a huge health no-no and I now use organic palm kernel oil instead.  I do not recommend coconut oil, as it leaves a subtle coconut taste.  I have also tried about 2.5 Tbl butter (not margarine!) with a splash of olive oil with good results.  If you just use the coconut oil in this recipe the bread is still good but there is a texture issue that needs to be fixed.  I'll let you know what needs to be done if I figure it out!

Knock this around with the mixer until it is well incorporated.  Then add more flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough is slightly sticky but not so sticky it is messy to handle.
 Do not use more than 6 cups total in this recipe or your bread will be super dry and blah.

Let your mixer work the dough for about 20 minutes and the dough can pass the stretch test.  It won't be as bubblegum-like as before, but if you flatten it out and sllllooooowly stretch it, it should almost double in size before it breaks.  If not, knock it around on the slowest speed for another 10 minutes.

Divide into 2 equal sized loaves and set into 2 greased loaf pans.  Cover and let it double in size (anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the weather) 

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  Cover tops with foil if it is browning too quickly.  When time is up, use a meat thermometer and take the bread's temperature in the center of the loaf.  Dead center temperature should be 200 degrees.  Any reading cooler than that and you might get a raw center.  (Blech!)  If it is not done yet, continue baking and recheck temperature every 5 minutes.

When it is done, let them sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Pop the loaves out of the pans and brush the entire loaves with butter to soften the crust.  Slice and eat!

We eat these at dinnertime.  Any leftover bread is saved and used for delicious Frenchtoast the next morning.  Leftover bread also tastes great as hot buttered toast or garlic cheesebread.  I do not recommend you keep it around for more than 24 hours, as the wheat begins to ferment and it takes on a slight beer aftertaste.  There is nothing 'wrong' with the bread, but the taste is not so good for kids. 

 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Lady of Lourdes Prayed For Us

J.M.J.



This season has been a bit rough on me.  The weather reminds me so much of the time when the accident happened last yer.  Many 'anniversaries' have already come.  The accident.  The removal of the vent.  First steps.  First words.  First cuddle.

But today, February 11, is the anniversary of an event I hadn't even realized happened until several months after the incident.

Last year, on this day, Fulton went in for some surgery that was estimated to take no longer than 2 hours. For some reason, I felt an incredible urge to bless him with holy water.  Not just any holy water.  It had to be holy water from Lourdes.  Thankfully someone had sent us some to the hospital, so I blessed him and we headed to surgery.

Below is a 'cut and paste' of my CarePages entry for that day:

"Fulton had a 6+ hour surgery today. It was supposed to be a day surgery with the possibility of going 'home' tonight. Unfortunately, his potassium levels were quite high. Almost 7.0. Not good. Needless to say, they will be keeping him there for at least the next 2 nights to get it under control and figure out why his levels skyrocketed. The doctor said it was a good thing he had his surgery scheduled today, or they may not have caught it. I didn't want to know what would have happened if they did not catch it in time - I am just glad they caught it and I trust he will be healed.

It is also a relief having him admitted, as I do not have to be terrified of his new skin grafts. They did a lot of work on the left side of his head, patchwork on his face, and a 3 inch square on the back of his neck. Hopefully no infection will set in and these areas will finally heal. Once his wounds are closed and secure, I hope I will feel more capable of taking care of him. But I am sure something else will pop up, and I will flounder once again. This parenting thing sure is hard work! But I am trying now more than ever to remember Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. May her humble, loving example be my inspiration to persevere!

I am in my room and it feels lonely all of a sudden. He was not talking much at all while he was with me, unless he was complaining about the medicines or bandages, but seeing his shoes on the floor here makes me miss him. I got to be 'the good mom' again today, at his side, soothing him and talking to him. I think we both needed this break. I get to sleep tonight and tomorrow night and will be better able to take on whatever other challenges await me later this week.

Thank you, prayer warriors - your intercessions are keeping me together!"

This is actually a picture of a much later surgery, as I have precious few photos of Fulton in his earlier days

All I knew that day was his surgery took longer than usual and that his blood chemistry was very off.  Scary, yes, but manageable compared to everything else we were going through.

Fast forward toward the date when we were about to go home:  The head surgeon was reviewing his records and mentioned this particular day as the day Fulton "held his breath."  He was talking about so many other things this comment he let slip flew right by me.  It wasn't until later when I finally said, "Heeeeeyyyyy!  What was that?"

When one is under general anesthetic, you cannot voluntarily 'hold your breath' like a naughty child trying to get your way.  No.  You just stop breathing.  While there was no point in being terrified over something that happened several months before, I staggered under the realization that I almost lost my son.  Again.  And so I reviewed the above post and noted the date.

February 11.

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

And terror slowly transformed into amazement.  I was stunned.  And tearfully grateful for the way Our Lady urged me to tend to him spiritually, knowing what might happen that morning.  I cooperated with her persistent  urging that morning and obeyed without realizing the greater need behind it all.  And in doing so, she was invited into the operating room that morning and given permission to guide these great doctors and protect my son.

A miracle?  Probably not.  God's hand in Fulton's journey has been generous beyond belief and i have accepted the fact that perhaps immediate and complete healing is not His greater plan for Fulton.  So be it.  But Our Lord and Our Lady have never left us.  Ever.  And I can only wonder how many more times, through chance meetings, words, actions and prayers from around the world, they have worked such hidden miracles.  And I am sure there have been many.

God is good.  Always!

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!




For other miracles, big and small, check out Kendra's 'miraculous' link-up!