Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Appreciate a Man With a Good Sense of Humor

The other day, I posted on facebook, an invitation to my family members - Honey, Johnny, Gracey, Katie Rose and Mickey. I invited them to a party in our kitchen from 10am to 11am on Dec. 31, 2011. I promised them loud music, games and some snackin' foods.

Well...word got out that it was a ploy to get them all to clean the house for one hour - to bring in the New Year with a fresh, clean start. Needless to say, no one showed up this morning. I wasn't surprised, really. I sort of had a plan in the back of my head that whoever showed up, I would take out to lunch when we were done. So I guess I saved myself a few bucks.

As I was going on about my business this morning, I walked into to the laundry room and was greeted by a HUGE pile of laundry. I thought I was talking to myself, but apparently I said out loud, "Wow! That's a big pile of laundry."

From the man cave, I hear John reply, "Don't think of it as laundry. Think of it as party favors."


Friday, December 30, 2011

Free Ride Day?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Me and Skunk

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Tattoo Post

I LOVE my tattoo...I just want to get that out there. I am going to post some pics here of the experience.

First off, I found this piece of work I did several years ago and thought it would be fun to post it here.
I have been thinking of getting a tattoo for at least a year and maybe even longer. I didn't know what I wanted but I sort of knew that I wanted it on the back of my neck. I had been to my brother-in-law's tattoo parties in the past and never thought I'd even consider it. I can't remember now why I was opposed to them, but I guess I least on my body.

There is a Dolan family history of tattoos...John and his brothers all have a shamrock on their buttocks, with Patrick's being the largest for some reason. (Side note: now that John is getting older and a know...bigger...we joke that his tattoo is now the largest of his brothers' tattoos.) each of the children of these brothers turn 18, they, in turn, get their own shamrocks. In addition to his shamrock, my son, Johnny, also got a huge kairos cross on his upper right shoulder. I thought it was totally cool and realized that tattoos weren't as taboo as I had previously thought.

I love my "married-into-family". I really do, but I didn't want to copy them. I wanted my own Whalen identity to always be a part of my soul. I needed a remnant of my own self, aside from my husband and children. That's why it wasn't a shamrock on my butt that I wanted. I wanted something special.

My sisters and I get together for a "retreat" each year, as some of you already know, not just because you know me, but because I talk about this special time for weeks and weeks and weeks before and after one takes place. Every other year, we invite husbands and children and we call it "Cousin Camp" intead of "Sister's Retreat". The year 2011 was a "Sister Retreat" year. We met in Nashville, TN. I was the first to arrive this year and as my sister Jeanette lives nearby, she picked me up at the airport and we went to lunch.
This is my sister, Jeanette. Here, at this very table, the tattoo thing started to become a reality. I said, "Hey, let's get tattoos this trip."
"YEAH!", she said.
We immediately called up the other three, who were in various airports across the country...
"Hey, you guys want to get a tattoo this trip?" (Around our little lunch table, Jeanette and I made bets on who would want to and who wouldn't.) Much to our surprise, the idea was well-received.

As these retreats go by, our spontaneity tends to take us in directions we hadn't planned, so it was toward the end of our trip when the tattoo idea sort of fizzled a little. There were more important things to do...we are a "play it by ear" sort of group at times. On Friday afternoon, we headed to downtown Nashville to eat and try and grab some crumbled stone from the famous theater (can't really remember the name now, but it starts with an "R" - the Top Ramen Theater?) for Margie's husband, as well as some photos from some famous place for that same husband. We stopped to eat at a Jimmy Buffet restaurant (we almost had a repeat of the previous day's lunch, but I nipped THAT in the bud real quick.)

As we were walking back to the car - it was H-O-T and we thought we'd go back to Jeanette's for a swim - IT just appeared, IT being the coolest tattoo parlor in town. We looked at each other. Let's do it! Mom was really tired and if we had all been good daughters we would have taken her home so that she could rest, but that tattoo parlor was calling to us.
"I'll just take a nap in the car," says Mom. "I don't mind that it's 110 degrees outside and that the car that I'll be sleeping in is black and in the sun. You girls go on ahead and get your tattoos."

I had to ask, "Mom, are you sure you don't want to get one with us?"
"No...I'm too old and the tattoo would sag."

So we left mom in the car, making sure that the windows were open and entered the most awesome tattoo parlor ever. It's "hook", if you will was that it was a Christian tattoo parlor, run by good Christian people. It even had one of Jeanette's husband's gold records hanging on the wall...although the word "gold" here is deceiving. It looked more silvery to me.

We spent a goodly amount of time looking through the pictures of tattoos we could get. As I said before, it needed to be special. We looked at flowers, butterflies, crosses, all kinds of things, but there wasn't any one, special thing that we all agreed on.
"How about a word?" someone suggested.

Great idea! We had the tattoo parlor people look up the word "sisterhood" in Hebrew. There were about five symbols for the Hebrew version of "sisterhood". We wanted to keep it small and simple, so we kept looking. Someone looked up "sisterhood" in Kanji (an eastern Asian language). It had two symbols - one for "sister" and one for "tree." Together it meant "sisterhood".

After signing our lives away and making multiple copies of our Drivers Licenses and insurance cards and birth certificates, we were ready to begin. They assigned us to our tattoo artists, placed mock-ups of the actual tattoos on our bodies, let us take a look at them and then went to work.

Here is a photo of me getting mine on the back of my neck:
Here is the finished tattoo:
Here is a photo of all of us with our tattoo artists - a great bunch of guys:
I LOVE my tattoo. I LOVE my sisters and I LOVE our adventures together.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Before the Tattoo Post

I know you all want to hear about the tattoo. I am surely getting to that, but I need some photos from the actual event and I have requested those from the designated sister historian, Nancy. So until I can get those, I'll postpone the tattoo post.

It was hot in TN. These photos are from our thrift store day. When thrifting, you have to understand that you may not find yourself in the best areas of a given town. From about 1pm to 4pm, we were in different stages of hunger, with the need to eat in the forefront of all of our minds. I say 1pm to 4pm because that is how long it takes five women to decide where the best place to eat is. So we're driving for about 3 hours looking for a place to eat in Nashville...yes...a big city where you'd think you could find a satisfying "restaurant" on every street corner.

Sister #1: How about Cracker Barrel...
Sister #2: Let's save Cracker Barrel for another day...
Sister #3: How about Denny's...
Sisters #4 and #5: It's too late for breakfast...
Sister #2: I know there is a great place right around this corner...I think...
Sister #1: Let's just go to Taco Bell...
Sister #5: Taco Bell would be fine with me, I'm so hungry...
Sister #3: Naw, we can get Taco Bell any ole time...let's go for something unique...and so on and so on and so on for three hours.

Finally, one of us, let's call her Sister # Smart says:
"We have not eaten all day! I am starving! Pull over the damn car and let's eat!

It was quiet for about a minute as we all processed what to do with this outburst. Most of us get really uncomfortable with tension, so there were some attempts made at laughter at the outburst, some staring out the window at the run down gas stations, and some just explaining why we needed to find the "right" place to eat.

Sister #2: Hey, there's a Fat Mo's. Do you want to go there?
Sisters #1, #3, and #5: YES!!
Sister #5: I had a cab driver who knew the owner of Fat Mo's! (We LOVE serendipity)

So we pull into Fat Mo's, hop out of the car into the sweltering heat and welcome the air conditioned space called "Fat Mo's".

We are the ONLY people in the joint...well us and the Indian cashier.

Sister #5: Are you the owner?
Indian Guy: No.
Sister #4: Are you Fat Mo?
Indian Guy: Nope
Sister #5: Do you know a guy that drives a cab?
Indian Guy: (Just stares like he doesn't understand the question)

So we order. We order gyros, burgers and spicey curly fries. Two of us are very health conscious and try to clean off the table as we sit.

As our food is ready, we eat and think it would be fun to mark this moment with photos of each of here we are.






And there you have the Fat Mo story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Sister Retreat 2011

Let's talk about the horse races, shall we? On Saturday of our Sister Retreat, my step-father bought us tickets to the races. We all LOVE the races, so we were excited to go. It was on Friday, the day before race day, as we lounged in the pool to get away from the million degree heat, that we all realized the races were about a 2 1/2 hour drive away in Kentucky.
At that point, some of us gave each other looks...(okay, Kelley and I gave each other a look that said, "What? Two and a half hours each way? In the car?") Being the matriarch and all, I felt it was my duty to tread the waters of perhaps NOT going to the races the next day. Upon some tentative questioning, it turns out that someone went to a lot of trouble to get us the tickets and wanted very badly to do something very nice for us during our retreat.
So, after seeing the disappointed look on Mona's face, we were all gung ho again about the races.
Cut to the next morning...The first car/van was leaving at 7:30 am in order to beat the heat, as they did not have air conditioning in the van. The sisters were going to leave much later...we HAD air conditioning. The races were going to start at 1:00.
Here's the funny thing. Without even realizing it, my mom and step-dad came out to the car wearing EXACTLY the same thing...white pants and a lavender top. We sisters laughed about it, took pictures and thought it was cute. Once the van left, though, an idea hit two of us at the same time. What if we stopped at the Goodwill on our way to the races and each purchased an outfit of white bottoms and lavender tops. Hilarious! Great idea. We headed for Goodwill as soon as it opened. As Matriarch, I allotted 15 minutes to make our purchases.
Here is where sister Margarita (said with a Spanish accent) came out of the dressing room in a floor length lavender ball gown. It was a bit big for her, but she was sort of determined to wear it. She was going to wear a white sash or belt with it. Fortunately for us, it was $20 and she just didn't want to spend that kind of money. She found an appropriate outfit, like the rest of us.
Once we got to the races, our fun idea paid off as Mona (that's my mom) laughed hysterically as five lavender and white dressed sisters met her at the entrance. Sometimes other people stare at us in public...we just get used to it.

Anyhow, here is a photo of us with my mom and step-dad in our lavender glory.
Once we were making our way through the race park, all of the other people wearing purple that day wanted to have their picture taken with us. Below is a photo of two random men who wanted a purple photo. Their wives took the picture.

So that's the story of our day at the races. Kelley won her first bet EVER! I was so excited, telling her that I think she won like $100 or something, but it has been awhile since I've been to the races and my figures were a little bit off. When she took her ticket up to the Mutuels booth, they gave her her $30 in winnings. :) Sorry Kelley...although she DID get a free drink out of the deal.

More later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sisters Retreat 2011

I guess a bit of background before we begin. I have several sisters of one kind or of them share the same father and of them share the same of them is the daughter of my step-father and one is married to my brother, Bob. Together, we make up a fabulous team of wisdom, laughter, creativity and...well, if I were to be honest...a bit of psychosis.

The woman we all have in common is pictured above. She is Mona (her real name is Nancy, but her name got changed and it's a long story, so I'll save it for another post).

Each year, come summer time, we all take a retreat together. We alternate years with Sister's Retreat and Cousin Camp. One year we are sisters alone and the next year, we invite husbands and children.

This year, 2011, was Sister's Retreat year and we met in Nashville, TN from July 13th through the 17th. Now, we don't just "get together"...oh no...we DO IT UP in one way or another. This year, our theme/challenge/task was to only pack underwear for our trip. We wore our traveling clothes, but other than the clothes we had on our back, we brought nothing but underwear, a swimming suit, and our toiletries. On the first day of our retreat, we visited the Goodwill and other thrift stores in the native area. That is where we developed our wardrobe for our entire vacation.

This is a photo of Sister Margaret (we call her Margie, Margo, Gracie, Margarita - with a Spanish accent of course, etc) before the thrift store adventure. Margie lives in Northern, Northern, Northern California. She has two boys. Out of the 5 sisters, she is the 2nd youngest. Later on in my story of this particular retreat, Margie is the one who, when we all had a challenge to wear purple and white to the horse races, picked the most beautiful lavender, full length prom gown. We had to talk her out of it, only because it was $20 not because it was so over the top...well...okay, part of our reasoning was because it was so over the top.

I'm going to stop at this point, so that I can save some. I'll post again tomorrow and introduce you to some of the other characters in this story.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Was Blind, But Now I See

A fabulous group of women met at my home on Wednesday night for the purpose of digging a little deeper into the upcoming Gospel reading. We put a bit of a spin on it and I'd like to share with you what we did.

The story is about a man born blind. Jesus heals him. We talked a lot about spiritual blindness and spiritual sight.

As an exercise in helping us wrap our minds around all that this gospel story has to offer, we started the evening off in the craft studio. There we filled our paper plates with different colors of paint. We blindfolded ourselves and began to paint a flower on a 6x12 canvas.

Some of us were planners and marked our paper plates in some way so that just by touch, we could tell where our colors were. Some of us used tools - paintbrushes or our fingers. We listened to meditative music as we each created a beautiful flower.

When time was up, we took off our blindfolds to discover what we had created. It was an awesome experience to see what each woman had come up with.

We then made our way upstairs to the incensed, candle-lit "study" room to discuss our experience in conjunction with the gospel story. As our canvases dried, we shared our hearts with each other, grew from each other's experiences and learned how God was visibly working in each of our lives.

At the end of our discussion time, we went back down to the studio to put any finishing touches on our canvases, now that we could "see". We each had a strip of paper that said, "I was blind, but now I see" to finish off our creations. Pictured above is mine. I really wish I had taken photos of all of the women's art. Each one was unique and spoke volumes of who we are as God's creation.

Thanks to all of you who were there. It was a very special time. I can't wait until this Wednesday night.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Soul Restoration is good for the Soul.

Sometimes my husband belongs on the moon...
and I now know how to send him there. :)

Day 1:
Husband: "Oh, honey, are you mad at me? You forgot to bring up my coffee this morning."

Day 2:
Husband: (Weird look on face of husband) "No coffee this morning?"

Day 3:
Husband: (Making hand gestures as though bringing an invisible cup of coffee up to his mouth) "Huh?"

Day 4:
Husband: I've had the worst few days lately at the studio and only two things are different. One - I'm getting critiques on my paintings again (He's a Fine Art Painter) and two - you haven't brought me my coffee for the last 4 mornings. It has to be one of those two things.

Day 5:
Husband: (Silence)

Day 6:
Husband: (I'm sitting in my comfy corner chair doing some journaling when my husband walks up to me and hands me my morning cup of coffee).
Me: Oh, thanks, hon.

I signed up for the Soul Restoration Workshop in early January 2011 because it was time for me to remember my soul. Throughout the six weeks, I realized some very life-altering lessons about myself. I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN SOUL HOUSE. I get to say who is invited in and who I will only meet down the street at the local coffee house. I threw the party and now I'm cleaning up the mess.

When Soul Restoration was over, my spic and span soul house, looked and smelled clean and fresh. It still had all of it's charm and character. It was just easier to identify that charm and that character. The cleaning supplies and tools I have learned to use effectively through this workshop have enabled me to bring coffee up to the moon where my husband stays sometimes and has also enabled me to accept a cup of coffee from him when I invite him in.

Soul Restoration I begins again in April. Go to


Friday, March 25, 2011

Rethinking this Picture Post each day.

Happy March 25th morning. Wow! That's all I have to say about that. I'm not sure one person should be having as much fun as I do each day. Seriously...there is NOTHING like a full day ahead of no obligations...NOTHING.

Well, lookie dere. I had SO MUCH FUN redecorating the living room yesterday. It was as though I had my house back. The Realtor came over to take measurements of the rooms for the new brochure and we talked about staging a little. We have been down the staging road before and I wanted to try my own hand at it. I have 3 days of Spring Break left and so I'm taking those days to stage things myself and see what happens. If the realtor doesn't like what I've done, then we can move to plan B, but I swear I love what I did in the living room. And this photo is just one corner. The rest of the room is awesome as well - at least in my eyes.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

New stuff/Old journals

I'm trying a new thing. Now don't get all excited. I'm pretty sure it won't last but two days, but here goes. This is a photo of me taken this morning. Remember when I said that I was taking a morning photo of me each morning for the year 2011? Well, I have been keeping up on the taking part, just not the downloading/showing part. So just in case you wanted to see me each and every I am.

John found a box of old journals that I have been browsing through. I came across something I wrote on June 20, 2007 - two things actually. Here they are: 1) Life Interrupted Equals Death and 2) Be still for a moment; Ask a question; Be still for the answer.

I think my California is coming out.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eye Exam

It's spring break this week and so I'm taking the opportunity to get all sorts of medical stuff taken care of - annual checkup with general physician, eye exam, mammogram, dentist, stuff like that. I went to my eye exam at Lens Crafters yesterday and had a thorough eye exam. The recommendation as a result of that eye exam was that I should get some progressive lenses in three separate areas...reading, computing and distance. I selected a very inexpensive frame and a clearance sunglass frame, thinking about how often I'm wearing my sunglasses while driving and can't see stuff that I need to look closely at, like mapquest directions or phone numbers or grades on papers that my children insist on showing me as I'm driving. I asked the sales clerk to work up some total numbers on the two frames plus the exam (on which I got a 25% discount through my insurance) making sure to include the 50% off lens sale, which apparently can't be used with the general 30%-off-the-entire-package-deal, but after an hour of calculations turned out to be less of a discount than the 50% off deal...

Anyhow, the clerk came up with a grand total, with discount, of $638. What???? Perhaps only one of the frames - forget the sunglasses....$320-ish. In my discussion with the eye doctor, I asked him if I could just get away with magnifiers and he said that I could, but there was a slight difference in the amount of magnification I would need for each eye (2.75 for one eye and 3.00 for another - give or take). I asked him if by not using the progessive lenses, was I harming my eyes in any way? He said that I wouldn't be harming them. My eye issues are a part of aging and they will degenerate no matter what. Things would just be clearer (and when I say "clearer" I mean very slightly clearer) with the progressive lenses.

Okay, so I then did something I have never done based on the fact that I realized something that I had never comprehended before....Lens Crafters' job is to SELL glasses. Duh! That's how they make their money. I don't HAVE to buy their glasses. I needed the exam to check for eye health issues, but I didn't have to buy their glasses. So I said, "Thank you very much. I will need to think about this." and left the store with my prescription in hand, but no glasses!

I was so so so thrilled. I knew that there was one person that would be as thrilled as I was that I figured this SELL vs NEED thing out. His name was John...Big J, little o. h. n. I immediately called him after I got to my car to share this good news. He would be SO proud. I was giddy. I selected contacts on my phone...pressed J for John and selected connect. The phone rang a few times and finally was answered..."You have reached the cell phone of Jane." (read Big J, little a n e). "I am not available to answer your call right now....blah, blah, blah."

In my excitement over telling John my good news, I couldn't see well enough to get the right number. I dialed Jane instead of John.

I laughed very hard at myself.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blank Canvases

How many of you, when faced with a blank canvas, get completely paralyzed? I do. That's what happened to my yesterday. I had an entire special day that was all about me. I could have done anything I wanted. I could have spent the entire day in my craft studio just creating to my heart's content...I could have redecorated a room...I could have gone to an antique/thrift store...I could have hopped on an airplane and soared off to the Figi Islands (well...okay, I couldn't really have done that...but I could have written about it). The point is, I'm not so good when it comes to blank canvases. It's like I need to pick the very best option because my window of opportunity seems so small. If I pick one thing that I love to do, then the opportunity to do the other thing that I love will be gone. Does this happen to you?

Today, I am faced with a similar dilemma. I am going to an all-day crafting workshop-y thing from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. I need to pack my supplies to take with me, but I am absolutely paralyzed as to what I want to do once I get there. Do I want to work on photos? Do I want to work on canvases? Do I want to work on my journal? Do I want to just live dangerously and go there with nothing and start from scratch? I. Just. Don't. Know.

I know there is a life/spiritual lesson in here for me and darn it all, I WILL figure it out. What is it when facing a "blank canvas" that keeps me from moving forward? I crave a bit of direction - even something quote, a photo, a color, a goal...SOMETHING! In my attempt to be all free and elderly, I have no direction. I can't very well pack up my entire basement full of crafting supplies ( luggage) just in case I'm going to need it, can I? It would be impossible to move...too many restrictions. I need only bring the supplies (luggage) I will likely use on my journey. I need only bring the things that bring me joy and cause me to use my energy in the most productive way.

Walking into life situations and experiences only require the life luggage that bring joy and cause me to use my energy in the most productive way. I walk into a tense conversation...all I need are my open-mindedness and my positive thinking. I run into someone in need...all I need is my smile and my ears. I walk into a craft workshop...all I need are my paintbrushes and my patterned paper and my adhesive and my rub-ons and my paint and my substrate and my heat gun and my bubble wrap and my vintage magazines and my stamps and my ink in a variety of colors and my scissors and my....creative heart.

I can totally see myself spending the entire 6 hours just sitting at a table watching others create while I twiddle my thumbs thinking up the perfect project on which to work. Right about 4:00pm it'll come to me. I'll be inspired beyond belief and it'll be time to go home. At least I'll get some freebies out of the workshop.

Wish me luck.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Uncategorized Moments in Time

As many of you know, today is my birthday. Today I am going to share a story with you that may have you refusing to ever visit this blog again and I hesitate to share it'll see...

The reason I have decided to share it is that it caused me to laugh so much that I thought it wouldn't be fair to keep this story inside. I needed to get it out to the world to hopefully cause others to laugh as well...

So...I'm getting to that age where sometimes I don't have as much control as I would like over some bodily functions. ( may want to stop reading here.) I was directing some 8th grade students in a scene from our annual play. Katie Rose was with me because she is my sidekick...thank goodness for her. She was next to me manning the sound system.

I'm not sure what it was that I ate that afternoon, but when the gas was expelled (quietly, of course), the stench was almost unbearable. One hopes that it will only linger around ones own body and not venture too far, or one hopes that it will dissipate before reaching other humans. Katie Rose (being used to this odor as it is a familiar to her), quietly reached over to me and whispered in my ear, "Mom, did you fart?" I smiled and nodded and we shared a family chuckle.

I prayed it was the end, after all the other students were pretty far away on the stage from where I was standing. The scene began and Tommy entered stage left and started to laugh for no reason. I was fervently praying that it was because he had just gotten the giggles. He had to start over a couple of times, but finally the scene was underway and I heaved a bit of a sigh of relief (no pun intended). The princess in the scene suddenly broke character and said, as she waved her script back and forth, transforming it into a fan, "Tommy, did you fart?" The other girls immediately did their "ewww, gross" noises and backed away from Tommy. He was so cute in trying to defend himself.

Katie Rose and I started giggling as we looked into each others eyes, wondering what we should do. More Tommy-bashing on the stage and more laughter beginning to rise out of the bellies of all who were there. I could tell Katie Rose was at a complete loss. She couldn't stand by and watch Tommy take the blame for something he didn't do, yet she so fervently wanted to protect her mother from embarassment.

I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't just stand by and watch Tommy be "eww-ed" and "gross-ed" on account of me anymore. I fessed up. "You guys! It was me!", I said. The shock on their faces caused us all to laugh even harder. One of the students (a delightful young woman) commented, "It's okay. It happens to everyone." She was trying to defend her elder to her classmates. It was, needless to say, an awkward moment. We all laughed until we cried.

I'm not sure what lesson we learned from this. I think it was just one of those moments in life that you just can't's just out there, floating around in eternity.

We were able to eventually move on through the scene and I made darn sure that my legs were squeezed together so tightly that even if air wanted to escape, it would have a very difficult time.

Thank you for listening to my story and....Happy Birthday to me. Getting older is quite an experience.


Saturday, March 12, 2011


Bernadette is the name that Katie Rose has chosen for her confirmation name. Gracey and Mickey were out for the night, so on this night before her confirmation, Katie Rose, John and I found ourselves home alone. We decided to watch The Song of Bernadette together as a sort of confirmation family "gathering" of sorts - okay, John and Katie Rose had already planned this time together, but I budged my way in.

It's a b&w movie. I remember John making me watch it early on in our relationship just because he thought it was so good. I really liked it at that time, but had a hard time hearing the words.

Last night, watching a remixed version, where the sound was hearable, the three of us sat in John's dark office and watched Jennifer Jones portray this young Bernadette.

My sweathshirt that I was wearing is so covered from snot and tears because I was crying so hard and John's was the same way. We were both just sniffing and crying and wiping our noses throughout the movie. We are both anxious to see Katie's reaction and look at her. She just shrugs. Nothin'...not even a little mist in her eyes. What? How can you watch that and not be balling? I mean....the Holy Card that she didn't get preparing for her first communion because she was "stupid". And then, the Dean giving her the same Holy Card when she goes off into the convent. And then, her sending the Holy Card back to the Dean of Lourdes when she is close to death as a message that she needs to see him before she dies. Mama was so good.

And this dear, sweet child of mine has nothin'...nothin' coming out of her eyeballs.

Well...that's just...really...interesting.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Approach

Good Day to you, Marissa, Julie and the rest of you who have been getting a wee bit upset about my lack of blogging lately.

I'm approaching my fiftieth year here on earth. It's just a number, I know, but it's an even number...a big even number. I totally thrive on fresh starts, new beginnings, rearranging of furniture, new journals...that kind of stuff. As I approach my fiftieth year here on earth, I know that it is a year that will happen only once in my life. I know that it is a year that I want to remember. It is a year that I want to live fully no matter what it brings. It is a year in which I want to set goals for the rest of my life.

When I was younger, I had a whole list of things that I knew I would do "later". Now that it IS "later", I realize that there are things that I will not do in my lifetime. I also realize that some of the things that I WILL do on that list will not be done in the young physical body I was in when I thought up the list in the first place. These are exciting things to contemplate. It grounds me and lights a fire under my butt at the same time. It's time for action, but before the action, it's time to figure out what I REALLY dream about and spend my energy on accomplishing those kinds of things.

I still have a few days before I enter that fiftieth year on earth, but here are a few things that I've realized and want to explore more:
I LOVE road-tripping with my children.
Retreats with my sisters and at cousin camp are times that swell my heart with joy.
"Connecting" with my husband lightens any load I am carrying (and no, I don't mean what you think I mean...I mean those moments when you just "get" each other because you know each other so well)
Discovering truth through diligent studying or contemplation or observing brings an electric sort of jolt to the system that is unmatched. I like it.
Playing with art supplies while listening to MY favorite music is an incredible way to live life to the fullest.

This is just a beginning. I have more contemplation to do in the next 8 days. Stay tuned. Maybe it won't be so long before my next post.

A little fact: My brother, Johnny and I am the same age for 6 days each year. That 6-day period starts on Sunday. Happy birthday, little brother, wherever you are.


Friday, February 4, 2011

My Little Corner of the World

Here in this little corner is where I spent the majority of my mini-vacation (aka 2 snow days). It has everything I need...knitting, coffee, computer, chaplet of Divine Mercy DVD, journals, colorful pens and a glue stick. This is what heaven looks like to me. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

God said, "Hello" this morning.

As most of you know already, we are enjoying a snow day today because of a blizzard. I think this is my favorite winter day ever in my whole life.

Today is Katie Rose's 13th birthday. When I went to the window this morning to see how much snow we had, I gasped. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. The white, white, white everywhere. It was on the ground, it was in the air, it was just soaring whiteness everywhere. What I saw next, made me involuntarily gasp aloud. "Katie Rose," I quietly called. "Come here, quietly to the window. God has a birthday present for you." (I tell my kids each morning to look for ways that God is saying 'hello' to them each day, in a special and unique way just for them). Katie Rose quietly came to the window and I pointed out to her the reason I called her over. There, in the pure whiteness, was the fattest, reddest, male cardinal I had ever seen. The contrast of the red on the white background was inspiring. As I pointed to the bird on the branch of the Rose of Sharon bush (which, by the way, was purchased and planted in honor of her because of the "rose" in the name), I said, "There. There is God saying "Happy Birthday to you." She gasped aloud as well and said, "Thank you, God."

Then the cardinal flew away.


P.S. I made the mistake of trying to explain this surreal beautiful thing that had happened to my loving husband, John. He rolled his eyes and said something about how cardinals were everywhere - no big deal, but that he didn't want to ruin my moment.

Here is the difference between seeing God in your life each day and taking God for granted in your life each day. God is there either way, but the joy is yours if you choose to see it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Speech for Tomorrow.

Before I start to write this speech, I want you all to know that I've been taking a self portrait of myself each and every day in the month of January. I missed one day, but that's pretty okay for someone that doesn't keep up with stuff. I warn husband's reaction when he saw the first 9 photos was...."Gee,'re not very photogenic." As soon as the month is done, I'll post them...promise.

Okay, now onto my speech writing.

The purpose of this speech is to tell others about why I send my children to Catholic Schools, as a part of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, which we are celebrating this upcoming week. The effect of the speech is to encourage others to see Catholic Schools as a good option for their children and grandchildren. I'm speaking this speech at another Catholic Church in our same town - one that shares our school sort of.

When I go out to a fancy restaurant, I get really nervous. I sweat, I babble, I forget which fork is which. I feel so uncomfortable that I wish I'd not even agreed to go. There is no way in heck that I could ever be my best self in such a place. It's too unfamiliar. It's not what I live each day.

Nah, that's not the approach exactly...

Good Morning. My name is Diane Dolan. Today parishes all over the nation are celebrating the kick-off to Catholic Schools Week. As a part of that kick-off, I would like to share a few words with you about Catholic Schools.

When I laid my eyes on my children for the first time, I was in awe and I felt more fear than I have ever felt before. What in the world was I thinking? I wanted to tell the Doctor to put them back. There was no way that I was capable of keeping these precious souls safe from the big, bad world. It's full of sin and hurt and violence and pain. You know what? I was right...there IS no way that I or my husband can keep them from this big, bad world that we live in. God gentled my fears each and every time they came up. Our home, our lives, our very existence is built on a firm foundation of Christ's love. He would help us. He would comfort us. He would always be there with us on this journey of parenting.

The first few years of their lives were not so difficult in terms of keeping them safe from the big, bad world. They were never long from our sight or our reach. When they were hungry, we fed them. When they fell down and scraped their knee, we cared for them. When they felt sad because their stuffed animals got lost or torn, we comforted them. For the majority of their early years, they were cocooned in God's arms, via us, their stewards...their parents.

But something happened that brought up all of the old fears of how to protect them. They grew older and it became time for them to start school. I realized that this wasn't something that I could fix. It was life. They would continue to grow older and with growing older, the time that they were physically with us would decrease. For chunks at a time each day, they would be in the care and nurture other people . Uh oh...this is where the big bad stuff in the world happens...out "there". How can I possibly protect my children from the big, bad world when they are required to spend about half of their waking hours out of our safe cocoon and in an unfamiliar place. Once again, God gentled my fears. He reminded me that my children belong to Him. He will protect them as they grow older and venture out into this big, bad world. "But they aren't ready yet!", I cried to Him. "We will get them ready to face this world and we will do it together and we will do it with baby steps." I didn't have to open my eyes too much wider to see what God was showing me. An obvious transition from safe cocoon to big, bad world was right in front of me. Our children would go to a school that was as familiar as possible to our cocoon. Our home was founded on Christ's love and so we would find a school that was founded on Christ's love. Our home was a place for our children to learn about how much God loves them and so we would find a school that taught them about how much God loves them. In addition, our home was a place of thanksgiving and so we would find a school that would embrace thanksgiving as a way of life.

The natural step was to enroll them in a school that was an extension of our life, whose teaching and nurturing would be a trustworthy substitute for us as they learned about the world in which they lived. We enrolled them in a Catholic School.

I have 4 children and all of them attend one Catholic School or another.

Johnny, my oldest is a sophomore at St. Louis University. He is currently studying abroad at the St. Louis Campus in Madrid, Spain. The other night he was mugged and robbed. After assuring me that he was okay, via the wonders of the internet, his comment was that he hoped the robbers enjoyed the lunch his 7 euros bought them.

My daughter, Grace is 16. She attends Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette. She would much rather go to Glenbrook North because "that's where all her friends go." I often tell her that when I, as her parent, am convinced that she, in these hormonal teen years, will choose to feed and nurture her faith on her own, then I'll think about it.

Mickey and Katie Rose are 11 and 12 respectively. They are in 6th and 7th grade at St. Norbert School. I happen to also work at the school as the front desk lady, and am especially blessed to be a part of their lives as a sort of "fly on the wall" as I watch them interact with their peers and teachers with respect, as they serve others in need, as they live with full assurance that they are special and loved by God.

My children continue to grow older and as it happens, the older they grow, the less time they spend in our cocoon. In addition, the older they grow, the more they are exposed to the big and the bad of the world...but I am noticing something about the people they are becoming. I have noticed, that even though the world isn't always a good place...they are equipped to deal with the big and the bad in this world because their foundational years were spent surrounded by Christ's love - both at home and at school.

This is what I celebrate this Catholic Schools Week. Please celebrate with me.

Please continue to pray for the children of Our Lady of the Brook and St. Norbert...pray that they will ALWAYS be aware of God's love for them. Thank you for your time and thank you for listening.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kindergarten woes

Yesterday, January 18th was my very best friend from Kindergarten's birthday. I lost track of her in about 2nd grade or so, but for some reason, I remember that Jan. 18th is her birthday and I say a silent Happy Birthday to her.

Her name is Gayle Bullock and we lived in Hayward, CA at the time. She was my first best friend because we walked to school together each morning. It was a glorious time! It was always warm - because it was California and not Illinois where it's freezing for most of the year. We were in the same Kindergarten class - Mrs. Baily's (we accidently called her Mrs. Belly once and almost peed our pants laughing so hard). That year I had a crush on David Sims. At recess the boys would go around trying to lift up the girls' skirts. Really? That strikes me as incredibly odd at this moment. What would kindergarten boys hope to gain by glimpsing a kindergarten girl's undergarments?

Anyhow....Happy Birthay, Gayle, wherever you are in this world. You always had WAY more Barbies than I did, which was why I loved playing at your house instead of mine. I think you were more rich, too. I had only one Barbie that I can remember. You had the house, the cars, the Kens, the Skippers - everything. I envied you. I guess that is when I first started seeing myself as "less than" because I didn't have as many material possessions as someone else.

Kindergarten? We can think of ourselves as "less than" in Kindergarten? Geez. I so needed that therapy!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My New Year Resolution was to stop blogging so much...:)

Okay, I've been absent here. For those of you who live and die by my blogs, I apologize profusely. The crazy thing is that I've been writing my thoughts down more than ever...just not here. I'm working on some stuff...some internal stuff and it's causing me to be "still."

We skyped with Johnny yesterday. He's in Madrid for a semester. It was wierd. No one could think of anything to say, really. I kept trying to think of questions to ask, but I just wanted to enjoy being "still" and see his face looking out at our faces and the other kids' faces just looking at him. What is it to miss a person? I don't "miss" him in that I miss his presence. Technology keeps us in constant communication whether it's via skype or facebook or my blog or his blog ( or email. What I feel is an ache that he is so far away geographically. I don't know that this defines "missing" someone. It's more of a fear that he's out of physical reach to me...and it's only been a week and a half, so the ache is not even that strong yet. I imagine with time the physical separation will grow the ache...and perhaps that is what "missing" is.

In other news...I'm having an awesome 2011 so far in that I am totally embracing me for who I am. I'm trying to love and accept love. I know...this just went too deep for many, so I'll work on that kind of stuff privately, but I would like to apologize to anyone I have hurt...ever...especially if I haven't even realized that I hurt you.

My great experiment is to let my hair grow out completely naturally - no more coloring. I am wanting to embrace the grey. I think it'll be okay...I think I'm not going to get lost if I don't have blonde hair...I think it will be an outward sign of an inward embracing of my life. My word of the year this year is "moment". I desire to live each one fully. For example...the other day, KR, Gracey and I were walking into Borders. The two of them were slightly ahead of me and all I could see was their backs entering the store. I was struck by the fact that I prayed for this as a little girl. I wanted daughters...I wanted to be a mom...I wanted to enjoy activities with my offspring. My heart stopped momentarily as I embraced how totally God answered this long ago prayer of a little girl who had no real knowledge of Him - only trust.

Okay...that's it for now. Have a great day.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Almost Endless Possibilities

It's good. It's a good New Year. The possibilities are...well...not endless...but at least they're there - those possibilities.

It IS possible to look forward to going back to work tomorrow. It IS possible to take a glance outside and see that God has delighted you with the gift of a cardinal playing in the leaves - just because.
It IS possible to ask your teenage daughter how to do something on your computer, like somehow get a Youtube song onto your ipod and not lose your dignity.
It IS possible to run through the parking lot of Target with your almost teenage daughter because she didn't think she needed her jacket even though it was like zero degrees outside.
It IS possible to wear the same pair of jeans for two weeks in a row without washing them...well alternating between those jeans and your PJs.
It IS possible to get up again and rejoice at the new day.
It IS possible to make banana pancakes when the bananas are getting too ripe, instead of throwing them away.
It IS possible to love life and live each moment fully and enjoy just being.