Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Windown and SOOC Link-Ups

I love weekends. My husband is currently in the kitchen whipping up cinnamon roll french toast. (That's where you make french toast out of almost stale cinnamon rolls from last weekend! I've never done it or had it, but the hubs is swearing by it... I'll let you know how it turns out.) Anyway, breakfast is totally his thing. And I'm more than happy to let him take over the kitchen while I relax on the couch for a bit.

Here's a SOOC (straight out of the camera) picture of Gemma watching the Royal Wedding yesterday. I totally put her princess skirt on over her pjs. It just felt like the right thing to do.

Hope you all have a great weekend! :)

SOOC Link-Up

Blog Hop

Saturday, April 23, 2011

He is Risen!

Happy Easter everybody!!! May you have a joyous and blessed day!

"Death couldn't handle Him and the Grave couldn't hold Him!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Week

Wow, it's hard to believe that Lent is almost over. My prayer is that you have all had as spiritually fruitful of a Lenten journey as I have. As we wrap up this Liturgical season and prepare for Christ's resurrection, we can't overlook the reality of the price Jesus paid to achieve so glorious a triumph. 

Having grown up Catholic, and being passionately involved in the life of the Church, I can't even count how many times I've seen a crucifix. How many times I've heard "Jesus died for you." How many times I've read the crucifixion account in the Gospels. I'm ashamed to admit that I've often become so "used to" the fact that Jesus was crucified and died for me, that I don't truly embrace the reality of what that means for my life. I've sometimes forgotten why he went through all the pain and dereliction. And even now, as I reflect on it more deeply, the words sound tired, overused. Jesus died for me so my sins could be forgiven. Jesus died for me because he loved me. Even if I were the only person in the world, Jesus still would have gone through his agonizing Passion. These statements can at times, strike me profoundly, and at other times, fall on my ears as casually and familiarly as a jingle for a car commercial. And I'm ashamed. 

I think if I lived in a reality without so great a Savior... a reality which held no hope for everlasting life with God... a reality where Jesus never came into the world for us... I probably could not even fathom the idea of being bored with the Paschal mystery.

This Lent, I have found the only way to combat this numbness to Christ's Passion is to go back in time. Place myself into the time of Jesus, and truly become a disciple. I've been meditating deeply on the Scriptures and have found myself particularly moved by the Gospel stories of Jesus' encounters with people during his time. Oftentimes, we are asked to imagine what it must have felt like for people to be in Jesus' presence. But I say, can you imagine how Jesus must have felt in their presence? What did he go through? What kind of emotions did he experience? You see, it's not so hard for me to put myself in the shoes of the woman at the well, full of shame and loneliness, or of Martha and Mary, mourning and longing for Jesus to show up, or of Peter, desperately seeking to be a true disciple, yet struggling with his own fears and insecurities. It's not hard for me to put myself in their shoes, because I have been all those people, at one point in my life or another. And I don't have to wonder what it must have felt like to stand in the presence of Jesus, because this I have also done, each time I adore the Lord and receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. 

But to put myself in Christ's shoes... now that is another thing altogether. For although he was not only human, human he indeed was. And as Scripture tells us, he did not find equality with God something to be grasped at, in other words, something to utilize to escape his captors or ease his suffering, but rather humbled himself taking the form of a servant, being made human. He became obedient to DEATH, even death on a cross. For me, it has often been easy to diminish the pain of the Cross by saying, "Yea, it's awful, but I mean... he was GOD. He could handle it." And again, I am ashamed. For all the times I have sinned, and thereby taken up with the soldiers who drove the nails into Jesus' hands, for all the times I have doubted and tested God, like those who mocked him saying "Save yourself," for all the times I have just been too timid or lazy to defend my Lord, like those who just stood by and watched him be crucified... I am ashamed. 

This year, I choose a different role.

As we remember and partake in the Last Supper tonight, and the Passion tomorrow, I challenge you to see these events through the eyes of our Lord, Jesus. Be with him; console him. Many of his closest friends did not even do this for him. They betrayed him, fell asleep on him, fled from him... denied him. May we choose wisely and rightly this year who we will be during his trials. Let us walk with him, wipe his tears, share his cross, and follow him to the very foot of it with John and his holy Mother. Let us share in his cross intimately, that we may all the more joyously celebrate his triumph over it!

I wish you all a blessed Triduum and look forward to sharing in the joy of Christ's glorious resurrection with you this Sunday!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Putting Babies Through College

Money. Yeaaaaa. A lot of people have a love of money, but if you're like me, you hate it. It always seems to create more problems than it solves, and there never seems to be enough of it! Most families operate on some sort of a budget, and although it might seem a little bit early to add "College Savings" to that budget, it really isn't. It's never to early to start saving! (Even if it's just a little bit).
As I sit here looking at my 8 month old playing with a paper towel roll, I find it hard to imagine her starting college. But she will. Sooner than I know it I'm sure.

So. Here are a few tips for saving some of that degree-winning dinero.

1. Open a savings account of some sort. Can't save without a savings account. Well... there's always the ole stash-it-under-the-mattress gig, but there may be better options for you. In fact, there are lots of options out there for different types of accounts, and some are specifically for college savings. Talk to your banker about the best option for your family.

2. Once you've got the account set up, put some away every single month. The best way to do this is to set up an automatic transfer of the amount you're putting away, that way you're not tempted to "just wait till next month to start" or worried about forgetting to do it. Work this into your monthly budget plan. Even if you're only putting in $5 a month, at least it's a start. And getting into the habit of saving is very important.

3. When your baby receives any money as gifts (Baptism, birthdays, etc.), immediately put that into her account. It's her money, and that's the best place for it. Remember, you should already have an allotted category in your budget for her day-to-day expenses, like diapers and food. And as your kids get older, talk to them about the monetary gifts they receive. This is a great time and way to start teaching financial decision making early on. As kids, they're likely to want to blow it all on the newest video game but teach them the value of saving. See if you can work out a system where half of it goes to their savings and the other half is theirs to spend.

4. Windfalls. These may not come often, but when they do, boy does it feel great. Whether it be a tax return, winning lottery ticket, inheritance checks, or a generous gift at Christmas, there's nothing quite like the thrill of unexpected money. And since it's unexpected, in reality, you don't always need it right then and there. The best thing to do with unexpected money is put half of it - that's right, HALF, into your child's savings. Put thirty percent of it into your own savings. And then blow the other twenty percent. Splurge on a nice date, or new purse, or a set of congas. Whatever you fancy. And don't feel guilty about it! That's the beauty of unexpected money. 

5. Don't touch the account, other than to put money IN. Your future self will be very grateful. Once the money's there, it's there. I'm sure it may be tempting to dip into it a little bit when the kitchen sink blows or when your health insurance didn't cover quite as much of the hospital bill from your kid's broken arm as you'd hoped. But the goal is to have an emergency savings account of your own for times like that, so your childrens' savings accounts are free to happily grow over the years, right along with your children. 

I know there are some people who are not big fans of budgeting, seeing it as a limitation on their lifestyle. But in reality, budgeting, when done right, opens up more possibilities for your life! Sure, you may need to cut back on going to the high-end sushi restaurant for every date night, but the money you save doing so can be going towards saving up for a family vacation to the beach, or a down payment for a more comfortable car. 
And in this case, the security of knowing you will be able to help your baby, even just a little, when it comes time for her to go off to college. As a mom, I know I'll be grateful to have one less thing to worry and cry about when that day comes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blog Hops and Sunrises

Check it out! Lots of great blogs to discover over at this Blog Hop. I'm making all kinds of new friends from it! :) Hope you can join up and find some you like too!

On another subject... my baby has decided over the past week to become a crazy early riser!! I know this is like a classic mom thing (having to wake up at the crack of dawn with your baby) but it's something I've more or less been able to avoid for almost 8 months, as Gemma typically sleeps till about 7:30 or 8. (Before I was a mom I thought 7:30 was super early. Those of you who are moms -myself now included- are thinking "7:30! That's sleeping in right there!") 

Anyway, Gemma's been waking up quite literally at the crack of dawn lately. This morning it was 5:54! Yeesh. The good news is, I get to enjoy some really pretty sunrises! :)

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Corned Beef & Cabbage ... PIZZA!!!

Reemiiiiiiix!!! Who says corned beef and cabbage can only be served one way? And who says it can only be served on St. Patty's day? Well whoever they are, they are sorely mistaken! 

Alright, so here's the deal. We're a little bit obsessed with pizza over here at the Rhoades Casa. We'll put just about anything on a pizza. You name a meal, we'll make it a pizza. Steak fajitas? Easy. Shrimp stir-fry? No sweat. Macaroni and cheese? Why not. (Haven't actually done that one yet, but the future holds no bounds). So, when St. Patty's day week rolled around, we figured, heck, let's take the traditional CB&C, as we like to call it, and throw it all on a pizza! Well, let me just tell you. This pizza was ... in a word ... genius. Sheer culinary genius. And because it's so darn delicious and simple, there's nothing stopping us, and now you, dear reader, from making this meal any day of the year. Except, of course, Lenten Fridays. ;)
So here goes.

Pizza ingredients:
1 fresh pizza crust
1/2 cup diced cooked potatoes
1/2 cup fresh chopped green cabbage
1/4 cup sliced or diced onions
a few thick slices of corned beef from the deli, julienned
1/2 lb of swiss cheese (shredded or sliced)
1/2-3/4 cup Super Secret Special Sauce

Super Secret Special Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prepared horseradish (sub creamy horseradish sauce for less potent flavor)
1/2 mayo
2-3 tbs yellow mustard
1 tbs apple cider vinegar

Pre-heat oven to 425. (If you just made your crust fresh, it should already be hot.)
Prepare your pizza ingredients and set aside. Mix all your sauce ingredients together and set aside. 
Once your crust is all ready to go, spread the majority of your sauce evenly over the crust. (You'll want to save some for the dippin later). Add a layer of cheese. Now add all your toppings. Bake on bottom rack for 7 minutes.
Pop the pizza out and add the rest of your cheese over the top. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

so good.
so very, very good.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Milestone: Crawling!!!

That's right folks, you read correctly: Gemma is now crawling. After about a month and a half of practicing various baby yoga poses, pushing herself backwards, and then crawling backwards quite successfully, she at last figured out how to do the official forward crawl!

Here she is, getting buff and practicing her moves:
Workin' on her guns
Downward-facing Dog
Cow Pose

Aaaaalmost crawling!

And then, at long last, she did it!

Now, it's been just two short days that she's been crawling now, and already I've had to take some much more serious baby-proofing measures around here. Despite my efforts, she still manages to find the exact things she shouldn't and swiftly gets to work on ruining those things. Or attempting to eat them. Yesterday I looked over and she was happily chewing on something, which I discovered upon retrieval was a fragment of padded envelope. Where she got it? No clue. She sure was mad when I took it away though. But then she saw some wires calling her name and away she crawled.

The weather seems like it's slowly trying to become nicer more permanently... there are even buds all over the trees outside my window right now. So hopefully we'll be able to get to some parks soon where she can crawl around to her heart's content without my having to worry about wires and bags and ribbons and paper finding their way into her mouth. Sure she may eat some dirt or worms or something but heck, I'll just chalk it up to some extra minerals and protein! Good for her, right?

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