Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Edel Gathering 2017

The Edel Gathering is a conference for Catholic women, focused on spiritual refreshment, social time, encouraging talks, and fun. It's different from most religious conferences in that there are so many fun activities...a crazy shoe cocktail party, morning exercise with rosary reflections (SoulCore), unscheduled time to socialize and go out to eat, a cool vendor area, two afternoon talks, a formal dinner with keynote speaker, and dancing and karaoke into the night.

I attended three years ago with baby Katie who was 5 months old. This time I hesitated about going, since Peter would be 8 months and is a much more high-needs baby. But a friend from high school asked about rooming together, and it all just fell into place. As the date inched closer, I ultimately decided to bring the two big girls along with Peter and me. I just knew it was going to be too physically hard to make it work without my helpers. I was so grateful for them when I got to go to some of those events by myself, or I could text them to come and grab him for me if I needed a break.

It was a wonderful weekend, but wasn't quite the full experience of last time. This time I seemed always occupied with the baby or the girls, and didn't get much down time to get all the rest or socialization time like before. I also missed so many ladies who couldn't come this year. But overall it was still a fabulous weekend, a great trip away, and a fun experience to meet other ladies and catch up with old friends.

Some things I got from the talks...Christina Jaloway speaking on "The Waiting is the Cross." She spoke about waiting years to meet her husband, but it also relates to all of us who have had difficult times of waiting in our lives. This was a reminder to me of God's faithfulness during those times in life when I have had a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh and she had a fun prayer acronym...ARRR (pray like a pirate!): Acknowledge your feelings, Relate your feelings to the Lord, Receive what He desires to give you in that moment, and Respond to Him in gratitude and love. Some other important points I noted in her talk relating to emotional health were to identify avoidant behavior, be more intentional in time with friends, take time to write letters, and read good books.

The next talk was by Angela Neumann from the St. Catherine of Siena Institute and discussed our personal charisms. She shared different stories relating to spiritual gifts and charisms, and I think it challenged many of us to do some prayer and research to find out what our own charisms might be. She described charisms as gifts given to us at Baptism, different from natural talents, given for the benefit of others. We should have inner joy and/or satisfaction when we use our charisms. They allow us to do what we were made to do, help alleviate burnout, enable us to say "no" without guilt, and bring us intimacy with the Lord. Someone shared a nice Spiritual Gifts Inventory from St. Austin's parish to help us discover what these charisms might be, although I think at this stage in life most of us can probably easily identify our own spiritual gifts pretty easily! (My top two were Hospitality and Craftsmanship.) The challenge is to find ways to better use these charisms in our daily life, our service to our family and to others in the way God calls us.

The final talk was by the keynote speaker Mary Lenaburg. I have followed Mary for many years on social media. She speaks faith, love, joy and so much laughter as she shares the story of her beautiful daughter Courtney who passed away several years ago at age 22. Courtney had a quiet life of illness and suffering, she never spoke a word, and yet her story has touched so many lives. Mary shared many stories about Courtney, in particular their experience on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, and how they found healing in themselves, and in their marriage as they came to accept their daughter's condition. Her experience brings about a profound respect for parents who care for chronically ill children, really for anyone who cares for the sick. But most importantly, her daughter is an example of why we value the right to life from conception to natural death. There is a purpose and a calling for each life God creates. And I hope I can be as loving a mom to my own children and be able to see Christ in them the way they saw Him and served Him in Courtney.

And now I must share the photos!

My hardworking crafters prepping my shoes all week

A labor of love by my big girls

I tried dresses in-store but ultimately went with one from Amazon 

Road trip to Austin!

View from our room at the JW Marriott

My shoes ready for the contest!

So fun and they actually weren't too uncomfortable!

I wore my Sketchers underneath!

I got honorable mention (11th place). We were a little disappointed with the amount of work the girls put forth for these, but I think the novelty shoes with lights and sound and all kinds of interesting things glued to them were the ones that won out in the end. Still it was so fun to wear my family on my feet and was a great conversation starter as I met new people. Maybe I'll add lights and sound to these for next time!

Saturday morning I enjoyed the SoulCore workout and then brunch with my girls, Peter, and my roommate at a wonderful restaurant a block away called Annie's where I ate last year on our Austin girls weekend. It was so good! (But I guess I didn't get any pics there)

Big boy at a fun frozen yogurt place

Girls arguing over babysitting roles

My sweet roommate and long-time friend Dana

The girls at Gourdough Donuts Sunday morning

Texas State Capitol

St. Mary's Cathedral

One of the most miserable Sunday Masses ever for me with this guy, 
but he's a doll and I forgive him.

We had a safe trip home after mass, and thankfully made it just in time for MC to make it to a friend's surprise birthday party that we didn't know about until we got into the car to leave the hotel! Then we brought Ellie's friend home, and I took the girls all out to Mexican food that night while the boys went fishing. Talk about a whirlwind day and a full and blessed weekend!

Edel was a true gift to me as a mom, and I hope the girls got a taste of a fun ladies' weekend too. I hope to attend more in the future, and I pray that this wonderful ministry for women continues as the years go by. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer Snapshots Part 2

Some more snapshots of our summer fun, starting around early July...

The big boys had some fun fishing outings with Daddy

Mama had quite a few visits to the doctor with kiddos this summer, 
mainly for some recurring skin infections.

Had to get a shot of this bathroom, with the special baby seat!

Our one summer visit to the cool YMCA pool

Cecilia and Peter

A little fairy birthday party for a friend

Sweet fairy girls

Shopping at Old Navy

At the July 3rd Symphony

July 4th Fireworks

Neighbor friends playing with chalk after a pool outing

During our visit to the Godparents' new home in Tyler

Coloring sisters

Their house from the road home

Chickfila Cow Appreciation Day!

Peter loving the ice cream!

Our 16th Anniversary Dinner

My two friends since childhood, Melissa and Elizabeth,
came over with their kids for a Saturday brunch

The youngest 3 :)

The big kids went to see "The Lion King" musical with Steven's parents,
it was their Christmas present!

VBS/Catholic Kids Camp

The big girls went to volunteer at a downtown 
Houston soup kitchen several times this summer

This face. This is why it's been hard to go on many outings this summer.

A little mall visit. Katie enjoys PBK.

Schoolroom cleanup...All the old schoolbooks

3 brothers before bed

Sisters at the ballet store getting Katie's dance clothes and shoes!

Little sis feeding little bro

Back to homeschool potluck and dance

SJ leading the boys in games at the dance

And we have one more week of memories yet to come, including a trip away for a Catholic family conference. Can't wait! Gonna savor this last week of summer...

Summer 2017 Snapshots Part 1

I've still got a few summer posts to catch up on, but wanted to do a little summer update before fall starts in full swing in another week. We've had a pretty low-key summer. The first few weeks were filled with ballet recital, swim team, and baseball All Stars. Then things slowed down and we've just been hanging out around the house, with a few outings here and there.

Ballet recital 2017,
Aunt Jill, Grampatti, and Aunt Pam

NeNe and PaPa

Ballet friends at BJ's restaurant

Friends at the Confirmation Party for Ellie, Gab, and Josiah

A quick visit to Aggieland for Mary Clare to compete 
in an event for the State 4-H Roundup

Always starts with a visit to St. Mary's

Katie in Adoration

Eating their Freebirds and Pizza lunch

Katie a bag of shirts at a closing Aggie store

Peter and bubbles at baseball

Tommy always looking up baseball scores

Tommy's baseball end-of-season party

Katie after Sunday mass

Steven's All Star Team

A special dinner with high school friends

Tommy and Andrew with their swim team ribbons

Swim meet

The craziness of a divisional swim meet

My one trip of the year to the library!

With my big boys at the Mother Son Dance

Peter at Best Buy when my laptop was being worked on

Another post for Part 2
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