One for the Road

February 9, 2009


Yesterday was gorgeous here in Florida. One of those winter days the Sunshine State is famous for. After a week of record breaking cold it was a welcomed relief and it was about time.

It’s also about time for our regular winter/spring Sunday beach outings to start up again. This is one of my favorite family traditions: Sunday Mass, family brunch and then off to the beach for some R & R. Well, I get some R&R, Scott usually gets to bury his little girls in the sand and toss them around in the water. The water was a bit cold this Sunday but the girls still kept him busy.

Our beach tradition starts with loading the car with every beach toy we own. Then the girls buckle up, put the windows down and request their favorite tune for the road trip. We love the fact that the drive takes about one song and then we’re at the beach.

Their favorite tune to jam out to is Matt Maher’s Grace is Enough. Their second favorite was their one request for the road this Sunday. Claire prefers to sing while Ella moves and grooves.  My two drama queens/rock stars requested I put a link to the song on my blog, so here it is. [Note: Duffy’s performance isn’t nearly as good as Claire’s and Ella’s but it’ll  have to do]. 

[To  my northern friends: Build that next snowman for us. We’ll build a sandcastle for you.]

Protected: Our Christmas Morning Traditions

December 30, 2008

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‘Tis the Season…for my favorite tradition

November 28, 2007

Advent Wreat  


With Christmas decorations and advertisements arriving earlier and earlier each year [this year I saw them going up before Halloween decorations even came down, yikes!] it seems like we can’t escape the “commercilization” of the  Christimas “hol-y-days.” Escape is what I wish I could do when this season comes upon us.  I can’t stand the consumerism and materialism.

Before you write me off as a grinch let me tell you that I do like certain aspects of the Christmas season. I love  time spent with friends and family celebrating our faith in Christ and love for one another. I like Christmas cards and family letters that bring news about the lives of distant friends and family we rarely see.  I like Christmas trees and lights.  I even like Christmas music. But…

More than anything, I like the season of Advent that prepares us for celebrating the birth of Christ.


Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar year and it’s one of my favorite seasons.  It’s a season of repentance as we acknowledge we are a people in need of a Savior and prepare for the celebration of the advent/coming of our Messiah. It’s a season of joy and expectation as celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Messiah and it’s a season of anticipation and hope as we cling to the promise that He will one day come again.  

The season of Advent, as celebrated in Church and at home, is what makes this time of the year so meaninglful to me. That it is why during the four weeks before Christimas we practice one of my favorite family traditions: lighting the candles in the Advent Wreath at home every night. This tradition was something my parents practiced while I was growing up. If you’re not familiar with the Advent Wreath here’s the basics: The Advent Wreath is traditionally a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Each candle has a name and tells part of the Christmas story. [That’s Ella and Claire with our Advent wreath in the picture above.]


When I was growing up we’d light the candles each night at dinner and my dad would ask us the name of each candle and quiz us about the Bible story or history behind the candle. “What’s the first candle? Who was the Prophet? What did Isaiah prophesy?” Such a simple thing and yet it meant so much. Scott and I love sharing this tradition with the girls but we even practiced it before they were born; it kept us focused on Christ when the world is so focused on consumerism.

I like this tradition so much that I’ve been known to hand out wreaths and candles to my friends. A few years ago I created a document from various sources that talks about this tradition and how we practice it in our home. If you’re interested here’s the link: Advent Wreath Document.

So, that’s my favorite tradition.  

Thanksgiving is over and the hectic ways of the world’s holiday celebration are in full force.  Don’t let it suck you in. Take time during this season to examine your heart before celebrating the “coming” of Christ our King into this world. Focus on what the incarnation of God in the flesh means in your life and  prepare the way of the Lord in your heart during Advent.

Funny big brother, very funny!

November 23, 2007

My brother’s idea of a fair  Thanksgiving cornbread dressing competition!

Pat’s forks

Sibling Rivalry and Mom’s Cornbread Dressing

November 20, 2007



Haven’t shared a Tuesday tradition lately (so much for follow-up and follow-through). Thought I’d share a little Thanksgiving ritual I have with my brother. A little history first. My big brother, Pat, is six years older than I.  He’s my only brother. While growing up he spent most of his time putting up with with my sister Meg and me, the baby of the family. I could tell you all kinds of stories but most of them would make me look bad so in the spirit of vanity and pride my lips are sealed.

Like most families we have our favorite dishes that my mom serves at Thanksgiving. The all-time Thanksgiving favorite in our family has to be my mom’s cornbread dressing. Pat and I love my mom’s cornbread dressing. As far as I’m concerned it’s not a Thanksgiving meal if it doesn’t include mom’s cornbread dressing. I recall the first Thanksgiving I spent away from my family. The experience was tragic (ok, maybe it wasn’t tragic, but it was disturbing); they did not serve my mother’s cornbread dressing!

I think my brother must have had a similar experience because in recent years I’ve noticed a certain desparateness when it comes to mom’s cornbread dressing. As soon as the bird comes out of the oven my brother and I hover with forks in hand in order to get the first taste. The hovering has become a bit competitive as we race to see who is the first to plunge their fork in that moist oven roasted cornbread dressing. [Yes, I know, it’s a bit silly for a 40 something year old man and this  30 something woman to act that way. The only excuse I can offer for myself is that he’s the older sibling and the one setting the example for this little sister.]

Last year my brother spent Thanksgiving with his in-laws. I don’t think they served mom’s cornbread dressing. As I waited with fork in hand for the bird to emerge from the oven it felt a bit strange without my toughest competition standing nearby to claim the victorious first bite for himself. So, I gave him a call to let him know what he was missing (aren’t I a sweet sister?). As always the dressing tasted great but something seemed to be missing. Was it poultry seasoning, salt, or maybe pepper? No, it was the sweet taste of victory. It just wasn’t the same without my big brother next to me vying for that first bite.

This year I’m hosting Thanksgiving and cooking the bird and dressing. I’m not sure if that disqualifies me from competing for that first bite. At least my big brother will be with us this year and I’m sure he’ll let me know either way.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, especially the time you spend with your loved ones.

Family Tradition: Bagel Monday

September 4, 2007

This week’s Tuesday’s Tradition: Bagel Monday 


A couple of years ago my husband left his “corporate America” job. Too many hours spent commuting and pouring himself into the the job and the lives of the 50 plus people he managed, not enough hours at home with Claire, Ella and me. He’d be the first to tell you that he dreaded Sunday nights and Monday mornings. I could see his presence slipping away on Sunday evenings as his mind drifted toward all that needed to be done at the office the next day. I didn’t know it at the time but Monday mornings were even worse. The girls would walk him to the door and Claire would say “Daddy don’t go, stay home with us” while Ella would cling to his leg. He told me later he wouldn’t even get to the car door before the tears would start. It was a happy day in our home when he decided to leave that job. It was also a step a faith because he had no other job lined up at the time.

After Scott left his job he took a year-long hiatus from the mortgage industry and ended up working with a family friend helping him to develop his computer networking business. It was then that we started a new tradition in our home, we called it Bagel Monday. Every Monday morning we’d head out as a family and get bagels for breakfast. Instead of dreading the end of the weekend and our family time we made Monday mornings an extension of the weekend and a celebration of the week to come.  In their excitement, the girls would wake us up very early on Monday chanting “Bagel Monday, Bagel Monday.” Although their wake up call came much earlier than I would have preferred it was still a much better way to start the work week!

This little tradition conjures up fond memories; like the way that Claire called it Cinnamon Roll Monday because that’s what she always convinced her daddy to get instead of a bagel. Eventually Bagel Monday morphed into Bagel Saturday which later morphed into Daddy Date Night when I needed a night off to work on a project related to a ministry we support. It will morph again and again depending on our family needs.

My hope is that the girls will always remember these family traditions/rituals and have fond memories too. As they get older (epecially as they become teenagers and young adults) I pray our traditions become ways for us “keep in touch” and “in tune” as a family. I may be idealistic but I envision heart to heart talks with the girls over coffee and bagels; times of sharing what God is doing in their lives as well as laughing about life. My idealistic vision starts off something like this: Claire and Ella come home on a college break. They’ll probably stay up late all weekend as college students are known to do. On Monday morning Scott and I will knock on their door (much earlier than they would prefer) and chant “Bagel Monday, Bagel Monday.” 

Family traditions (and paybacks)…you gotta’ love ’em.


So what’s your favorite family tradition or ritual?