Click the picture above to find over 2 dozen more pictures exemplifying humanity at its finest. (Just be aware that the first deals with homosexuality and some may find it offensive.)
Sometimes we need reminders like this. We need to remember that although we're capable of the evil we see in the news, we're also capable of true, genuine beauty. Can you imagine what the world would be if we'd all remember that and act accordingly?
This is God's Will... that we love one another. In doing so, we really do help bring about Heaven on earth. Start your random acts of kindness today!
Stumbled upon this today and wanted to share it. This wonderful little video brought back a lot of sweet memories. Plus, the beat isn't half bad! Ha ha!
Vince and I - he was about 8 months!
Katherine over at Having Left the Altar has tagged me with a list of questions - and you very well might be next!
I remember doing these on MySpace at one point, so forgive me if I cheat and use that for my 11. *Grin*
Post these rules.
Post a photo of yourself, then write 11 things about your life.
Answer the questions for you set in the original post.
Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.
11 Surprising Things about Gina
1. I was kidnapped and spent 2 hours in the trunk of my own car, completely calm due to the fact that hyperventilation would have smothered me. This happened about... eight years ago. Wow - time flies!
2. My favorite prayer is a toss up between the Memorare and the Purgatory Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great.
3. I'm extremely ommatophobic (eyes) and extremely carpophobic (wrists). I even get irked when I hear that latter word. I honestly think it has something to do with the stories of Christ's crucifixion as a kid... some theories of Him being nailed through... well... you know. Ugh.
4. I used to pretend I was Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly, the Pink Ranger from the Original Power Ranger series) and instead of falling for the Green / White Ranger, I fell completely in love with Austin St. John (Jason, original Red Ranger).
5. I used to collect crack vials with Mary as a kid (5th grade) because I thought they were the capsules for those "Put your Name on a Grain of Rice" necklaces that were so popular way back when. Our D.A.R.E. Officer's reaction was priceless. Ha!
6. I once tried to save the life of a mouse that was stuck to a glue-trap. I was unsuccessful (mainly because my Dad stopped me and disposed of the poor little critter himself), but when a bird became trapped on one a year later, I reigned victorious.
7. I was never one of the "popular" kids, but everyone always knew who I was, regardless of my societal place value.
8. I was voted Most Theatrical back in HS due to the fact that I was a lead role in every play from Freshman Year to Senior Year. Everyone thought I'd end up on-stage someday... kinda gave it up after the Footloose Fiasco in college, though. Ha ha ha.
9. I "borrowed indefinitely" There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom (Louis Sachar) from my older sister's library collection in 4th grade because the title sounded funny. It was the first book I ever actually read and it opened the world of reading up to me.
10. I (along with my mother, two younger sisters, and a priest) were witnesses to a double homicide. The priest's response to the shootings shaped my awe-filled respect for the priesthood. I think I'll be blogging about him later.
11. I still cry while watching Mufasa's death scene in The Lion King. Wanna fight about it?
My Answers to Katherine's Questions:
1. Favorite movie genre? I'm a nerd - documentary.
2. Ideal date? Dinner at my favorite place and then home to snuggle with a show on the couch.
3. Favorite painting? This one. As an ex-dancer, I can't help but find myself drawn to the passion that this dance solicits. The colors are electrifying, the shoes make me want to pry them off her feet, and this painting is actually a "sequel" to another McDowell painting called "The Last Tango."
4. If you had/have a garden, what would you plant? I'm horrible with growing things. I've tried everything and nothing has stayed alive. Weeds die on my watch. I'd love to grow veggies or a fruit tree, though!
5. Mountain person or beach person? Beach, but I spent every summer in the Pocono Mountains as a kid.
6. Favorite type of restaurant? My favorite is Bonefish, but Olive Garden is a close second.
7. Do you play video games and if so, what is your favorite? Streets of Rage II. As I kid, I used to take all my frustrations out on that game. I purchased it as an adult and I can say that it still works like a charm. I'm able to defeat the game (on the hardest setting) with plenty of lives to spare. Plus, it's one of the rare games from my childhood that included a female protagonist.
8. You won the lottery. What's the first thing you'd do with your winnings? Bills. Technically I guess I'm supposed to tithe it, but I'd totally be paying down bills. Mine, John's, my family's, etc.
9. Ideal vacation? For John and I, I want to go back to the Caribbean. For the family, weekends at the beach are always perfect.
10. Beverage of choice? Dr. Pepper (unless Mr. Pibb or Dr. Thunder are somehow available). LoL
11. Favorite childhood toy? Glo-worm. I took him everywhere with me straight through college until some jerk kidnapped him while he was hitching a ride in my souvenir bag on a trip back from Disney. I cried the whole way home.
My Questions for Catherine, Shalimar and Michelle. Actually, I'd love it if anyone who stumbled onto this page would answer these. I love finding out about people!!!
What is a book that you read (whether for school, work, etc) that you thought you'd hate but ended up enjoying?
If someone were to write a story about your life, what would the title be?
If you chose your own saint for Confirmation, who did you choose and why?
What is your favorite image of the Blessed Mother?
What is your favorite go-to prayer?
Do you wear perfume on a regular basis?
If space and money abounded, how many pairs of shoes do you think you'd have?
Favorite farm animal?
Best advice for a child who wants something he or she cannot have?
Most embarrassing parenting moment?
Proudest parenting moment?
Now I'm gonna break from the rules a little bit. If you don't want to repost your own entry to answer these, feel free to comment or message me. Also, feel free to tell me you refuse to answer because you gave this sorta stuff up when MySpace got swallowed up by Facebook. Ha ha!
Geez, I'm on a roll today.
Just stumbled across this article summarizing one man's journey through a whirlwind taste-test of 12 different faiths.
He and his wife suffered the trauma of miscarriage. Wife, Heather, finds solace in the Baptist Christianity and husband, Andrew, spends a few years hating the idea of a god who could so cruelly take away the miracle of life they'd participated in creating.
When Andrew finally hits a wall where his hatred threatens to destroy him, he develops the idea for what he calls Project Conversion (complete with its own Facebook page). He took it upon himself to follow 12 different faiths for 12 months, spending half the month learning and half the month practicing these new faiths.
In theory, this is a fairly decent idea. He was reaching out to God in the only way he knew how - to sample the various faiths and see which one fit him the best. I know a lot of hard-line Catholics will razz me for that (considering that faith should not conform to you, but you to the Truth), but I think it's very important for someone with no real religious background to do a bit of digging. It's important for cradle Catholics (or cradle Buddhists, Muslims, etc) to broaden their perspectives, too.
I'm not advocating trying to practice other religions, mind you. I'm suggesting learning about these different theologies and cultures because, as Andrew Bowen found out, there truly is something to be gained from each.
I've always believed the idea of God to be similar to a mountain. God is at the top of the mountain, and our journey to Him can take us through many paths. Some may find their way to Him through Islam. Others may find their way to Him through non-denominational Christianity. Others, still, might find their way to Him by virtue of their defense of all that is good in the world. I believe Catholicism offers the straightest path to God, but I don't discount the virtues in other faiths.
I think that's what this guy was trying to get at as he made his way through the cycle of religions.
However, I wish the author of the article pointed out that it is impossible to even skim the surface of these religions - many (though not all) of which date back thousands of years.
I also take the statement "But this was no reality TV stunt" with a grain of salt. Considering the pictures that accompanied the article, it was obvious that from the start he was looking to do something with this "Project Conversion." Also, you don't start calling something a "Project" unless you've got an idea in mind of what you plan to accomplish. Ha ha ha.
But that's fine. He's now looking to write a book about his experiences, and more power to him if he cashes in. It's a great idea that could very well have a very positive impact!
However, I still wish that you can't "immerse" yourself in any religion within the confines of one month. There simply isn't enough time, and no mentor (no matter how brilliant) could possibly cover the nuances of the various faith sets.
Regardless, it's an interesting experiment, and I'm curious to see where it will lead. Thought you folks might be interested, too! :)
Special thanks to my buddy Frank for cluing me into this gem today.
Father James Martin has apparently been the victim of an entertaining (and absurd) trend that, at some point in time, we've all been both victim and perpetrator of. Interestingly, this is a post specifically geared towards Catholics attacking other Catholics, because this really is a struggle many of us are familiar with (yet seldom do we talk about it).
Father Martin paints a picture of how foolish and nit-picky we can get regarding what is, in essence, nothing.
Read all about it here! Bust out the popcorn for this one... it really is entertaining.
I admit it. I'm a McDonald's girl. Always have been, and probably always will be. I once went through an entire semester eating nothing but #2's (their two cheeseburger meal which, after a couple years of hibernation, now seems to be their #4 in S. Jersey).
I could drench my fries in Sweet-n-Sour sauce all night long and never once think to myself, Gina, maybe you're overdoing it a little bit.
Nope. I'd give people directions using McDonalds' as landmarks. Friends would get me McDonald's gift certificates for holidays. I even bonded with my future-husband over McDonald's history and lore. Apparently it's what cemented his love for me...
But I digress.
In all my years as a McDonald's girl, I've scoffed at those who preferred Chick-Fil-A. One of my best friends, Frank (you can check out his Phillies Blog here), swears by it. I'd religiously pass it up in favor of McDonald's. If I'm gonna have fast food, I may as well have the good stuff, right?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, over the last year or so, I've heard an increasing amount of arguments in favor of Chick-Fil-A. My husband always liked their stuff (he didn't have loyalties like I did), but he could never convince me to give them a fair shot. It took a troupe of Mommy Bloggers to finally pave the way for me to give them a real go.
Thus, when John asked "Where do you want to take Vince to lunch?" while we were out last weekend, I surprised him with "Chick-Fil-A." I seriously think he had a minor heart attack.
Anyway, we made our way to the one down the street from us. John was in his glories (he loves their nuggets), and I was in the playroom with Vince. I had already eaten (since I wasn't expecting to like anything - chicken sandwiches never appealed to me), but John got me a sandwich anyway. "It's for later" he said.
Anyway, the restaurant was just what all the Mommy Bloggers had talked about. It was clean, the staff was extremely friendly, they were very obviously "kid-friendly," and as a result, their customers seemed very much like us... young families looking to capitalize on a good deal.
I was amazed!
The playroom was perfect. It had several activities and kept Vince thoroughly entertained for about 45 minutes. When we finally pulled him away for food, he enjoyed that, too! John had gotten him nuggets and waffle fries with an apple juice to drink.
I tried one of the nuggets because they looked homemade. I don't like nuggets, but since these looked so (for lack of a better word) natural, I took a nibble and was thoroughly surprised when I liked that, too!
The real test came a few minutes later when I had to change Vince in the bathroom. Imagine my surprise when the bathroom not only had a changing station, but a clean one at that! It was even stocked with little baggies to toss away diapers, and extra wipes in case a mom forgot her own!
And as we were leaving the bathroom, I spotted a little step stool for Vince to use to wash his hands. I didn't have to help him levitate (which inevitably leaves him soapy and covered in water)!!!
Okay, Chick-Fil-A... I think you may be on to something!
So I decided to go back again today. I wanted to see if I'd just gotten lucky and saw them on the best day they'd ever had. Today's trip was even BETTER!
The staff was in full force today, giving balloons to all the kids, asking parents if they wanted free "toys / books" for them, making sure every one had all the condiments / drinks they wanted.
The playroom was still pristine (with the exception of a tiny Purell packet on the floor which immediately got swept up by one of the staff members), and yes, the bathroom was STILL stocked with extra wipes!
Alright, alright... I can admit defeat. Chick-Fil-A, you have a new raving fan. Now I fully believe what all the other Mommy Bloggers were saying when they swore by this place. Now I can go back to Frank and say, "Alrighty, I apologize... you're not entirely wrong in your opinion of Chick-Fil-A." And John... John can be super happy that Chick-Fil-A has become a possibility for the family again!
So yes... for any of you folks wondering if Chick-Fil-A might be for you, give it a whirl. I wish I had done it a lot sooner!
So Vince has a new favorite toy for the car. It's a Buzz Lightyear game that sorta looks like a Buzz-shaped calculator. It's got games, music and all of Buzz's famous sayings. As soon as I get Vince into the car, he immediately requests "Buzz!"
Knowing how much he cracks up when he starts DJing Buzz's slogans, I rigged my camera up to the back of the passenger seat and caught the above video. So no worries - I didn't kill anyone while driving trying to capture his giggles!
I found this through a friend of mine, Catherine, about three years ago. It is absolutely INCREDIBLE and great for kids! :) Enjoy, and may your celebration be lively, joyous and blessed!
Just a quick tally of a few links I found particularly interesting / edifying today. Hope you enjoy! :)
Canonical info regarding Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson by Edward Peters, an actual Canonical lawyer.
***NEW*** Here's an awesome response from Phil Lawler to the horrible letter written to appease Johnson from the Archdiocese. Spot on. Evil has permeated our ranks. May God save us.
A great "advice" letter written by Supertradmum that was originally meant for seminarians, but can really be utilized by anyone looking to advance in holiness and charity.
A super nerdy look into the size and scope of the universe both big and small, and how we fit into it. Our God is an incredible God!
Incredible music / art video with extraordinarily powerful lyrics that young women everywhere need to hear.
Here's the video so you don't even have to go clicking anywhere! :)
I definitely made a diaper cake tonight. It's the one you see to your left.
My friend, Lien, is having her baby shower tomorrow, and I wanted to go ahead and do something extra special for her. This is what I came up with.
It consists of diapers (sizes 1 and 2), various things like a brush, washcloths, diaper cream, sunscreen, lotion, and teethers, a few plush animals (she's going for a safari theme), and a few bath toys. I even snuck a little wall-cross into the top tier!
All in all, I think it came out pretty well for my first go at these babies!
Plus, the cake itself will be part of the games. Guests will get a chance to guess how many diapers went into the cake for a prize!
The answer, BTW, is 86.
I had originally wanted this to be part of a cake tower (with the diaper base being used to hold up the cupcakes), but it dawned on me that the icing would end up ruining the diapers. So I nixed that, got a stand for the cupcakes, and embellished with ribbons and such.
Anyway, here's some more pictures! I hope it survives the hour commute to the shower. Ha ha!
I got a lovely little booklet in the mail today from the Franciscan Missions. It's titled "Little Francis' Love Notes." It must be the most adorable little booklet I've ever seen!
It's filled with cartoon images of Franciscans (like the plush version pictured) and sweet little sayings that help you open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world.
One, in particular, caught my attention.
"It's best to try to look at others from the inside out. God makes everyone's heart the same color."
Mmmmmmm - I adore that. Even those I don't necessarily agree with or even like too much - we're all children of the same loving God. All of us have been given a sacred dignity and a share in the gifts of our Father.
In other words, it's best to don a pair of those "Resurrection Glasses" and see folks for who they really are, not just who they seem to be.
Just give the video a few minutes to pick up. Excuse the shoddy acting - the point is worth it. <3
On Thursday, Vincent got sick at school so I had to pick him up early. The poor little thing had caught a horrible stomach bug and he was puking left and right the whole day. I must've done four loads of laundry to account for all the outfits and bedding he went through.
However, he was a champ through it all. In between bouts of being sick, he'd smile, laugh and be super affectionate. I absolutely loved it, since he hasn't been as affectionate with me in a while. He'd much rather hop up into Daddy's lap to watch funny videos, or play basketball with him. I've been chopped liver for the last few months!
But when he gets sick, he typically wants Mommy - so I was absolutely in my glories. Poor John was feeling left out, especially since he was leaving for Vegas on Friday. But he knew Vince just wanted to be coddled, so he didn't put up too much of a fight.
Anyway, by Friday, Vince was feeling much better. He wasn't throwing up anymore, but his belly was still acting up. Late in the afternoon, when I felt we were "all clear," I took him to Kid Junction, a fun little spot that has basketball, ski ball, a jungle gym and slides. When we got there, they were in the middle of switching ownership, so we got in free! The new owner even gave us some free tokens! The place was mostly empty, so Vince got full run of the place. He mostly played basketball (80 tokens on basketball and ski-ball... ay), but he had a really good time doing it!
Afterwards, I took him to Cracker Barrel. I guess his poor tummy still wasn't up for anything because he refused his pancakes. He did eat a few of Mommy's apples, though, so that was a plus. We purchased a toy police car since he'd been such a good boy, and off we went into the night. By the time we got home, he was completely tuckered out.
_Saturday rolled around and I had a super special day planned for him! We got up nice and early and hopped over to Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill. For anyone unfamiliar with it and in the NJ area, this is a definite MUST for you if you've got children. For his birthday, I purchased a membership there (which also extends to places like the Please Touch Museum in Philly!).
But I digress...
He had an absolute blast. I took him home for his afternoon nap, but once he was awake again, we went right back! Their new room - dedicated to Dinosaurs - was a huge hit with Vincent. He spent most of his time in their "Dino Dig" area, just scooping mulch into his little bucket over and over again. :)
Finally, we did a little bit of shopping. I had to pick up some art supplies for him and decided to finally start on his bookcases. The last few John and I had gotten were horrible Ikea things that simply buckled once any real weight was put into them. So I was determined to get sturdy ones this time that would take the abuse we tend to dole out.
I concocted a brilliant solution, but my DIY project hasn't yet finished. Once it is, I'll be sure to post about those babies as well!
Anyway, while we were shopping, I got a text from John that he wasn't feeling well and was spending his trip confined to his hotel room. To make him feel better, Vince and I sent him this:
Granted, a complete inside joke, but it's still a ridiculously adorable picture with equally ridiculous sunglasses. :)
Anyway, the last store we stopped at Vincent found a sheep that he really, really liked. Vince isn't normally one for stuffed animals, so when he repeatedly asked for the "sheep," I felt compelled to get it for him. He rewarded me with snuggling it, repeatedly kissing it, and falling asleep with it. He even took it to Mass with him after holding and petting him for a good portion of the morning! I, to say the least, was impressed!
So yes - Vincent had himself quite the entertaining weekend. And I'm glad he did, too! After feeling so awful and then missing his Daddy on top of it, I wanted to be sure he had a smile plastered to his face! So far, so good. Well... until he falls asleep, that is. :)
Tonight was my first night back teaching CCD since the break.
The two questions I pulled from the Question Box tonight were:
If Jesus and John the Baptist were alive today, would they celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah?
(I guess this one was put into the box before the break.)
If "BC" means "Before Christ" and "AD" means "After Death" what comes in between?
Ha ha ha ha - seriously! This is why I adore my Tuesday night lessons. Never a dull moment. Every class is full of innocence, a sincere thirst for learning, and such touching sentiments. I am so grateful for the chance to work with these children. :)
_BTW - special shout out to my wonderful mother who celebrates her birthday today. YAY!
I am so blessed. I have such a wonderful little boy and sometimes I have to stop and scratch my head in wonder at how amazing he is and how little I've done to deserve him.
Mommy's little munch!
Goodness... there are times I get so frustrated with him, but as soon as he cracks a smile at me or says "Hug" or "Mommy" I melt and he could quite possibly get away with murder. Heh. He's such a little sweetie, though. Absolute heart of gold... I hope and pray I'm able to raise him into a good, strong man with solid values.
I was giving him a bath when I realized - again - how much he's grown. It catches me off guard every now and again. Sometimes, I note that his feet are too big for his socks, or his ankles are showing now that his pajama legs are too short. Other times I just acknowledge that my little butterball is getting too heavy to "superman" around as much as I'd used to. Tonight, however, as I was giving him a bath, he just looked bigger. I don't know what it was, but it was as if this tiny little human sprouted out of nowhere and became a toddler who was trying to help Mommy with bathtime - even reaching for tooth paste and singing the toothbrush song.
Where does time go?
Well, I've got my camera to help me prove that my little munch was, indeed, a little munch... at least for a little while. So I'm going to enjoy this precious gift from God as much as I possibly can. Every stage of his development is an adventure, and right now, I'm beyond grateful for the wonderful surprises each new day brings. <3 Thank you, Lord, for such a perfect, perfect gift.
Here's Vince attempting to walk around in Daddy's shoes. I think this is my new favorite picture, even if it's a little blurry... :)
Stop, already, Gina!!!
I'm going to keep posting these smile-making videos until I can't find 'em anymore! It's Christmas, gosh darn it, and I'm determined to spread the happy!
I've always been a huge Groban fan. This just makes me love him even more! Enjoy!
Sheesh! Triple post today. Usually the good news piles up on Wednesdays, but WOW! Today is shaping up to be quite the smile-maker!
I just came across this story through a friend.
A woman decided to pay off three random Christmas layaway bills, leaving only a $10 balance on each. In her words, she simply wished to anonymously "bless others" as she's been so abundantly blessed.
Don't bother sopping up your melted heart just yet - it gets better.
Upon broadcasting this kindness through a local news channel, ANOTHER secret Santa decided to pay off 13 more to the tune of $2,000.
Opening your heart in kindness and gifting in so selfless a way is the TRUE meaning of Christmas. That is the TRUE lesson St. Nicholas taught us. When Saint Nicholas dropped coins off to poor families, he wasn't simply giving them money... he was giving them HOPE. He was showing them love. St. Nicholas, in truth, was bringing these people Christ. He was the perfect role model of Divine Providence, and that's why his image as "Santa Claus" exists today.
These "Secret Santas" are carrying on the tradition of anonymously spreading the blessings of Christ to others. As one recipient correctly explained, "It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people." In a word - hope. :)
May the domino effect continue!
I love finding new things, and it seems I got THREE fun things to share with you folks today... my previous post, this music video, and the book I found because of the video! The above is from a musician by the name of Matt Wertz. I've heard some of his stuff before, but I was totally blown away by this one. I can't get it out of my head and the video has been on constant repeat here on my computer. It's so sweet.
I was also entertained by the Scratch-n-Sniff book he was "reading" and went online to Amazon to find it for my own son (who loves that sorta stuff). Score all around. Enjoy!
Seriously - this is adorable. :) I love improv, and I love surprises. This is the best of both worlds, plus it's adorable, adorable, adorable. :)
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