Saturday, March 27, 2010

Because by your Holy Cross you have Redemmed the World.

Our Stations on Fridays have been said with friends again this year. I write this post more to document our time than to share an idea. Hopefully I will remember to re-post a version of this idea to inspire others to copy us as we have copied others in their great tradition.

When we first moved to Houston years ago we were encouraged by a set of friends to start a Stations group. It was a little off putting at first because in my group of friends there were several families that all met together. We were never invited to join them just encouraged to start our own group.

After a few years of watching friends gather together were were invited to join a group that was in their second year. The idea is that you form a group of about 5 to 10 families. During the Fridays of Lent you gather at one of the homes and say the stations together as a group. It is much more child friendly than the stations said at the church. After the stations you share a meatless meal together. This is a potluck style meal with the theme being devised from that weeks hosts.
With a few big Catholic families your group will grow quickly. It is hard because you want to invite everyone but you just can't.
Your group can use which ever version works best for you. One of the first families in our group purchased a group of 14 prints of the stations, candles and some push pens. The host families post the stations around their back yard and we walk from station to station, blowing out the candles as we end that station.
We use a child version of the stations printed in a simple book. They were not too expensive to buy and it works great for our group. The stations are simple. The kids can read and lead the stations if they want. This serves the purpose of letting the stations become part of the children's faith as well and not just what we as parents push on them.I love watching the children grow from year to year. We were not able to be a part of the group the past couple of years so getting back to it was great this year. The kids also enjoy inviting a friend as well. They love to share this others.
For the adults it is a wonderful time to share in our faith with each other. We all love to build friendships based in our beliefs. We love to share with each other the joys and sorrows of our lives and of parenthood.
I hope that I can remember to articulate this before Lent begins next year to remind you to find a group and gather together in the same way.

For now I just want to "document" our fun times with friends in which we shared our faith during the Fridays this past season of Lent.
Our meal ideas went like this:

Week One: Breakfast foods Hosted by the S Family
Week Two: Meatless Pastas Hosted by the Tomball D Family
Week Three: Soups and Sandwiches Hosted by the K Family
Week Four: Baked Potatoe Bar Hosted by the S Family (again)
Week Five: Cheese Pizza Night Hosted by the other S Family
Week Six: Meatless Chili Hosted by the Texas T Family

So much fun, too much fun to meet on Good Friday. Most of us like to be a part of our parish programs for Holy Week so we don't have plans for this week.
As it turned out we never served treats this year. We stuck with just main dishes. We have talked about getting together at least one Friday during the Easter season and have a huge treat bar, we hope to include all those things we gave up: chocolate, sweets, coffee, etc.

Something else that I love about our Fridays is that the parents build relationships with the teens and the children. There is nothing more important in a teens faith growth than to see their parents and other goal moms and dads enjoying their faith.

So much fun! Thanks to each of the families that were involved and welcomed us into their homes and lives to pray with us!

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Can we afford to pay it?"

Kids Say the Darnedest Things! Friday
Check out some great stories on a blogger friends website by clicking the words above. This is our Friday contribution:

"Did dad pay the health care bill last night?" Pickle, our serious 9 year old son, asked Monday morning when dad wasn't listening.

I stopped what I was doing to try to understand his question better. I knew that the "health care bill" known as Obama-Care passed on Sunday afternoon but was a little surprised at the tone of his question.

"What are you worried about, Hon?" I asked as I turned to him. The poor child looked scared to death.

"Dad was really upset last night about some 'health care bill'. He said it was going to cost a fortune and ruin everything. I just wondered if he had to pay it last night, or do we not have enough money for it? Mom what will happen, can we afford to pay it?"

Needless to say one of our lessons that day included watching "I'm Just a Bill!" from School House Rock to try to explain the difference between a bill - meant to become a law, and bill - as in money owed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What I love about Bagel!

Bagel is one of the most determined people I have ever met. She is strong willed and stubborn. I love it about her. She has a smile that can melt the hardest of hearts. Her love of life is infectious. She loves all of her siblings. She is my only left handed child (We are pretty sure Jumba is right handed). She is a quick thinker that doesn't like change. She reminds me of her dad in so many ways. She is an all around wonderful, beautiful young woman.

On Monday of this week she decided that it was time for her to ride her two wheel bike without help, so she just did it. Just like that. She tried and tried last year but always gave into to her fear of not being able to do it perfectly. Monday she just decided that it was time, end of story, and she just did it. There will be no stopping this young woman as she grows into adulthood. I can't wait to see all that God is forming her for.
Way to go girl, you know you could do it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

RODEO 2010

What does Rodeo mean to you?

I am from a city in the mid-west. I had no idea what a rodeo meant. After living in Houston for years now I admit that I thought it was a huge concert venue that latest several days. To entertain the guests before the concert began there were a few rides outside and then a few cowboy type stuff before the concerts began . . . boy was I wrong.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
"The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (TM), also called Rodeo Houston (TM), is
the world's largest livestock exhibition as well as the richest regular-season
PRCA rodeo event, held at Reliant Park in Houston, TX, USA. An average of almost
2 million attendees a year, which requires the support of more than 21,000
volunteers on nearly 100 committees. The event is 20 days long. It is kicked off
by the Downtown Rodeo Roundup held near Houston City Hall, the Downtown Rodeo parade and the Conoco Phillips Rodeo Run - 9+ and the World's Championship
Bar-B-Que Contest. The Show features championship Rodeo action including bull
riding, livestock judging, concerts, a carnival, pig racing, barbecue and the
Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, shopping, sales and livestock
auctions. The City of Houston celebrates this event with Go Texan Days, where
residents are encouraged to dress in western wear for the duration of the Show."

My teens started going to more and more concerts. Sugar told me all about the animals that she saw with the Tobias family at the livestock show. I admit that the definition is just words until you live it. J got me and five older kiddos tickets to one of the concerts. We met another family with 9 children. We walked into the concert and sat down to watch the "cowboy stuff". If I tell you that my favorite part is the Mutton Busters and you have never seen them you will think I am crazy but to my Texas friends they get what I am talking about. They also love to watch the children clinging to a sheep as it is released. So fun watching these little cowboys and cowgirls.

After a great concert our friends left and my children encouraged me to walk around. We walked through the carnival setting until about 11:00 p.m. We tried some fried oreos and a fried twinkee. I don't think they are worth the hype or the cost but we could at least say we tried them. I was told there was lots of food at the rodeo but so far all I saw was corn dogs and turkey legs, real carnival foods.

Then our homeschool group met up at the rodeo for a school event and tour of the livestock show. It was here that I feel like I finally came to appreciate all things related to this rodeo. Inside the same convention halls that we saw 600 RV's we were now looking at pigs, cows, chicken, sheep, rabbits, bees and so on. We climbed on tractors, watched an egg hatch, and learned a little about a world that this city girls knows little about.

Our friends the Snow family joined in our adventure making the day so much more fun!

It was during the tour that one of the kids heard Pickle asking our guide if she really knew what she was talking about. We all believed everything she had said. This is when she confessed to Pickle that she had only given one other tour. Pour lady, she was very nice. We did learn a lot from her but she just wasn't the same after a young one from the group walked off to explore on his own.

After all that fun we headed outside to get a bite to eat. This is when we found all the food that the rodeo is known for. Yummy. Some of the local restaurants offer their dishes at the rodeo and we loved trying some new dishes. It was expensive so we shared everything except the seafood dishes that dad and I got.

We stayed outside for some more fun. We tried to make it across to the horses but never got there. Instead we were outside in the little kids area. We let the big kiddos venture off for a little while by themselves and we hung out and learned about the economics of farm life.
The lessons were really cool. The kiddos got "feed" and then "took care" of the chickens, they then "gathered an egg" and took it to "sell". Here they were given "money" that also worked as "seeds". The kiddos then went to various stations where they learned about different Texas fruits, vegetables and even cotton from the sheep. As they "spent" their money and "grew" their crops they then collected the goods and even some cotton, we also got to touch a sheep skin. The next visit on the path was the market where they "sold" their products and were given a "dollar" from this market they went into the grocery where they got to "buy" a real snack and box of Texas orange juice. It was a very cool and well thought out path. I learned a lot. After this awesome little snack we ventured out again still trying to get to the horses. This is when we got side tracked by some of our friends who's children were riding the mechanical bull. Believe it or not Moogie and Pickle tried it and did pretty well at it. The older kiddos rejoined us to watch.

They did pretty well considering. I am beginning to understand why this really is a big deal for the people of Houston. All kinds of things to do, lots of fun to be had, lots of learning, celebration of our heritage and the local economy, all centered around the children and the family.

After these adventures our friends left one family at a time. We stayed behind to see what the carnival was all about. It had been such a fun morning but by now I was getting tired. So was Jumba. He feel asleep in his stroller and I grew more and more jealous that he was able to catch some zzz's. The big kids went off again with a few friends that joined us for the ride home.

We left after we all gathered back up together. We talked about our favorite things on the way home. Everyone really did enjoy themselves. We talked about how fun it is to dress Texan. We all want boots. We all want hats. We never understood that before and now we want to be a part of it. Then came Sunday the last day of the Rodeo. Sugar was invited to go back, to play at the carnival, to watch the last bull riding and to see the ending concerts. The only issue is that the group of young teens needed a chaperon. I was elected to join them. We had a blast and now I really felt more a part of this adventure in Houston than ever before.

I loved the time with the girls but hated teh ski lift. Not pretty! AFter it was over everyone laughed at how silly I was and then we headed into the rodeo and concerts.

We left the concerts, used our last ride tickets, and then headed out. The girls had school the next morning and we left the rodeo grounds at 9:00PM I was shocked at how many people were still there as we prepared to leave. I was even more shocked at those coming is as we were leaving to get an hour or two more out of the carnival.

The Texas T family became a little more Texan this past rodeo season. We all took a little more pride in watching, learning and celebrating all things Texan. We are so thankful to all of our friends that took us with them or came with us to enjoy this event.

God Bless Texas!