The Latest from Brooke

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From the Cross to the Crown

Faith in the resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered...God exists: that is the real message of Easter. Anyone who even begins to grasp what this means also knows what it means to be redeemed. -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Here we are, once again entering into the Sacred Triduum and the anticipation of another Easter. As has been customary over the last several years, I find myself not feeling ready. Lent has escaped through my fingers before I could grasp the heart and depth of all it holds. We had a surprise gift in the form of an antiquated old movie last weekend though, and it resulted in an encounter with Christ and the reminder of his mercy. It's called "Barabbas" starring Anthony Quinn. If you can get past the...rough special effects and music, it's really worthwhile.
As I type this, it's Wednesday night, just hours before the observance of the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For other moms (and dads!) that are searching for ways to really punctuate that in their hearts and homes, I've compiled a few things that we've shared on The Fish over the years, as well as a few new things. I hope you are blessed by the love of The Lamb, held by his love, and sanctified by his sacrifice as you walk these final hours with him during Holy Week, and then rise to new life on Resurrection Sunday.  Here are a few things I pray will aide in the journey.

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday)

Washing of the feet
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
John 12: 1-17
(Pope Francis washing the feet of AIDS patients as Bishop of Argentina.)

Many families (including ours) have begun this tradition in the home.  As a reminder of humility, service, sacrifice and love. On a side note, it's also a beautiful practice at some weddings as well!

When you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death, until He comes again.
1 Corinthians 11:26

Catholics recognize this day as the Institution of the Eucharist. It is a beautiful opportunity to pray the Amima Christi (also my favorite personal prayer after receiving Holy Communion)

Family menu idea:
A traditional Holy Thursday Seder meal always includes unleavened bread.
Maria Von Trapp's Unleavened Bread recipe. 

Judas betrays Jesus. This poem, entitled "Two Mothers" shares the powerful reflection of Mary encountering the mother of Judas in heaven.

O Crux, ave spes unica! (Hail, O cross, our only hope!)


Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They stood there puzzled about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them. Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’”

Luke 24:1-12 (GNT)

(Not the best video, but a great song).


Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,

Glory and power are his forever and ever

St. Hippolytus (AD 190-236)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Autism Beatitudes

April is National Autism Awareness month. Prayers for all those on the journey. Through the hills and valleys, may you always feel God's amazing grace and unfailing love. 

Autism Beatitudes

Blessed are those who do not speak, for they shall teach us what lies beyond the limits of words.

Blessed are those who wholly focus on the simplest things, for they shall see wonders no one else can.

Blessed are the spinners, for they shall experience life from every angle.

Blessed are the picky, for they know exactly what they want.

Blessed are the stimmers, for they shall grow their wings and fly.

Blessed are those who always take the same path, for they are steadfast and true.

Blessed are those who are faithful to their rituals, for to them all the world can be a holy liturgy.

Blessed are those who repeat themselves, for they shall savor every sound and silence in between.

Blessed are the persistent, for they shall triumph where others have given up.

Blessed are those who are devoted to a single passion, for they shall explore depths no one has ever seen.

Blessed are those who memorize every detail, for they preserve that which would otherwise be forgotten.

Blessed are those who watch and wait, for they shall discover and know and understand.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pixie Cut Update

Well, it's going on on 5 months since I cut my hair into a pixie. I thought it would be fun to mark the progress and see how it's going so far.  
Other than when I was in first grade, I've never been able to grow my hair more than a few inches past my shoulders. I've tried everything: regular trims, deep conditioning treatments, prenatal vitamins, you name it! The good Lord just did not gift me with Rapunzel's DNA. So, it's been an easy temptation to want to chop it, since it never really changes much anyway. Last year, I kept going shorter:

Until I saw a really cute picture of Michelle Williams wearing a pixie cut. With my husband's blessing, off it went!

Six weeks later it was beginning to grow out, and I was due for another appointment. I opted to go FULL pixie, and give it a try since it was already so short anyway. Here is the before/after:
That was in December. we are at the end of March and I have officially hit the awkward stage. The dreaded mullet. Mama Mia! You can't see it in this picture, but here's at least a front view showing the length of my sides:

This photo is deceiving because it almost looks like a bob, but it's really not. It never seems to look this nice in real life! So, here we are. Since I chopped it off again at the end of December, I really counting that as starting over, making this month 3/4.

 It's just hair, I realize that. It's a trivial thing and it WILL grow back, but I also think it's nice to look back and chart the process.

I just uploaded a You Tube video showing the progress so far. You can check it out here:

 I'm going to try to make more videos on my channel. If you haven't subscribed yet, just go to my page and click the "subscribe" button and you'll be notified as soon as videos are uploaded! Thanks for stopping by. Have a GREAT week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day in the Life of a Radio Mom

This week I went way out of my comfort zone and tried to record and edit a video using iMovie. Blogging and making basic You Tube vids I can do, but when it comes to shooting and editing video with extra bells and whistles, I am totally lost! :) Since I'll be recording daily vlogs while in Italy, I thought it would be fun to give it a try. A big thanks to dear friends Jennifer and her husband Greg for the tutorial.
Note: My phone ran out of storage at around 6:30pm and I wasn't able to film the rest of the day (Jim coming home from work, reading to the boys, tuck-in-time and BED for me...the best part! haha). This at least offers a good idea of an ordinary Monday. I'm still figuring out audio, but if your volume is up you can hear the music and some clips of Gus.
I hope you enjoy this " real and raw" (maybe a little too real..dirty floors and all) video!

 Have a GREAT day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

10 Takes for St. Patrick's Day

 May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
Happy St. Paddy's Day to you! :) In preparation St. Patrick's day on our morning show and gathering material for our program, I feel like I hit a pot o' gold with all the great resources out there! Too many fun things not to share, so I hope you don't mind. Here are a few of my favorite things when it comes to celebrating the iconic Irish saint.
*Note: not everything is directly related directly to St. Patrick, so I did take the liberty of also including general Irish heritage, but it can be used in any St. Patrick celebration! :

1: St. Patrick's Breastplate from Christ Music Kids. I stumbled upon this several years ago and it's been a fun one to play on road trips and during dishwashing dance parties.:) It's the famous prayer of St. Patrick set to music and sung by children. You can get it on iTunes and Amazon. A secret: Mom likes this one maybe even more than the kids. ;)

3. Fun Irish films. We watched "St. Patrick: The Irish Legend" on Amazon streaming, and although the kids gave it poor reviews, I still thought it was edifying and interesting. Other movies on our list include:
"Darby O'Gill and the Little People" (with a very young Sean Connery)! I have to admit, I was wishing we had subtitles for this one, but I loved the special effects, music, and story just the same.
The Quiet Man (one of my favorites, with John Wayne).
Evelyn (starring Pierce Brosnon)
St. Patrick Apostle of Ireland
The Duggar's in Ireland and Scotland (Season 5) :)

4. Every year I love to read the famous poem by writer, journalist and Irish nationalist Joseph Mary Plunkett (who has a pretty remarkable story in his own right):

I See His Blood Upon the Rose

I SEE his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;       
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,      
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

 This is a good general resource for Irish blessings and prayers.

5. The Veggie Tales version of the history of St. Patrick's Day.

6.What would the celebration be without delicious dishes? :) I attempted these "Minty Pudding 
Parfaits" today (although it looked nothing like the picture) it was still tasty and green-themed. Yum! :)
And of course Pinterest offers a plethora of recipes as well as Catholic Cuisine. I love how easy this looks!

7. Trinity Shamrock craft. We've done this in the past and it's a keeper.

8. "We Irish" by Dolly Parton. Try not to do a little jig when you hear this, I dare you! Lol. :) Such a happy song with the penny whistle.
 I also love the hymn "Lord of the Dance" and anything by the Irish Rovers (I love the memory of my dad singing the Unicorn Song).

9. The full "Lorica of St. Patrick." The Breastplate of St. Patrick is often abbreviated, but this is the payer, in it's entirety, and it is beautiful.

10. Celebrating dad. Today, March 16 (The Eve of St. Patrick's Day) is my dad's birthday. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 years ago today, on his birthday. Although he is no longer with us on earth, we enjoyed celebrating his life today with a little Irish party.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Preparing for Lent Pt. 2

Gus is still sleeping and it appears I have a little window of time for a quick blog follow-up. Two blogs on two consecutive days...this is rare and highly exciting in my life! Ha ha. :) First off, I have to say that no matter how busy, unorganized and overwhelmed I am, I always try to make a point every year to at least post something about Lent. Then I usually second guess myself  on Ash Wednesday during the Lectionary reading that says: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others." -Matthew 6:5.
I hope if I share something that has worked for our family that it doesn't come across that way! I hope if anything I share makes even one person's life easier with planning or offers an idea, that's a blessing and makes it worthwhile. 

So, to to continue where we left of yesterday, I've made a little more progress in getting the house ready to go. Organza cloth from the wedding section at Flower Factory makes for a good table runner (and for less than $4), it'll work!:)

The crucifix is from Haiti and the candles are homemade Stations of the Cross luminaries we made few years back.
The basket will be presented tonight (on the Eve of Ash Wednesday) to each family member (with the exception of the babies).
Inside are the "Little Lent Bags" I mentioned yesterday:

 Jim scored major SuperDadHubby points by laminating the prayers inside. They include the Pater Noster, Hail Mary in Latin, the Ten Commandments and a special scripture verse. With boys, the more things you can make stain-resistant and rip-proof the better! Okay let's face it, for mom too. :)

I also have a miraculous medal inside of significance for each boy, as well as a 10-decade rosary for when they are on the bus or whenever they want to pray for a moment.

In our prayer corner, we have the same setup as last year, including the "Writing on the Rock."
We still have to finish the prayer chain and remove the last hidden stashes of chocolate (my precious!) but I think at this point we are ready. And I hear the bus, here come the kiddos! Thanks for reading, have a very special and blessed Lent. +

Monday, March 03, 2014

Preparing for Lent

 "My Jesus, I am going into the wilderness today to speak only with You, my Master and my Lord. The the earth be silent, and You alone speak to me, Jesus. You know that I understand no other voice but Yours, O Good Shepard. In the dwelling of my heart is that wilderness to which no creature has access. There, You alone are King."
-St. Faustina Kowalska
Happy March! I've never been more excited to turn the calendar page, and I trust and hope this month will be easier on us weather-wise! I spent the weekend gathering items and gearing in preparation for this week. Ash Wednesday will usher in the 2014 Lenten season and the first step of the journey toward Resurrection, Easter Sunday. This year's theme is "Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up" as explained by the USCCB:

 "In his Lenten message for 2014, Pope Francis takes inspiration from the words of St. Paul (Cor 8:9), and asks us to contemplate Paul's invitation to live "a life of evangelical poverty." Embrace his call by fasting from or "giving up" material things, including food, superfluous to your basic needs; "taking up" charitable habits directed to helping and caring for others; and "lifting up"those in need through giving alms, praying and participating in devotional practices.

With the recent trip to Haiti with Food for the Poor still fresh in my mind, I've been praying for the Lord to till the soil of my soul in ways that will bear lasting fruit, not just momentary emotion. Between the sadness of hearing that precious little Francois died just days before he was to undergo surgery, and the constant struggle to balance the busyness of life, I have to say, this year I am ready for some time in the desert with Jesus. I've selected a few favorite books and decided (again) to work on my annual crusade against chocolate, so I feel pretty set to go for the most part. It's the kids and family I always wonder/worry if I'm doing enough, or even (based on years past)..too much? I think/hope I found a good variety of things, and thankfully they don't challenge my crafting skills too much! :)
First, is this very practical Lenten Prayer Chain. I got so far as to print the petitions, tonight's objective: cut, paste, staple and assemble! :)

 I love everything she creates at Catholic Inspired, and you can also find dozens more ideas with the Lenten Link up posted on the same page.

Next, is something that I thought of as I was out shopping and saw these cute little bags in the wedding section of a craft store. Something like: "My Little Lent Bag" for the boys.
 We do many things to prepare for Easter as a family, but I've often wondered if the kids are also spending their own special time with the Lord, individually. Either way, hopefully these little bags will encourage that. Inside, I am placing certain scriptures that I think they would enjoy, and having that be something little they can memorize. Last year we also tried to learn the Lord's Prayer (Our Father) in Latin, and had about 85% success.  We are going to attempt 100% this year, so I also printed out the Pater Noster as another item in their baggie. I'm hoping to get to the store and include a holy card or medal as the "goodie" and present them on Ash Wednesday. I'm really shooting for the sky by hoping to laminate the scriptures and prayers this week too...oh the pressure! :-) We'll see.

For my own journey, I've started a little Lenten library in addition to daily Bible readings, I'm hoping to make some headway with these books as well.
 Jim has opted to read "The Rite."

(Also listed is the 2014 Saints Calendar which is my schedule helpmate!:))
I'm also hoping to order "Lent and Easter Wisdom from Pope John Paul II" this week.

We've got other things sprinkled in, like Stations of the Cross and family rosary night, but I think that covers all the actual "prep."

When it comes to movies, I gave Jim an assignment (since he is usually the tech/entertainment guy) to track down a few edifying but good quality family films for us to enjoy. Here's a copy of his e-mail response to me today:
"The Good Pope: John XXIII - 
The Scarlet and Black - iTunes to buy only
The Mission - |Amazon rental $1.99
Grace Unplugged - Amazon $3.99
Karol: A Man Who Became Pope 
Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story  - iTunes rental $1.99
Padre Pio: Miracle Man -

Jim adds:
"Here is the check I did on unfortunately, religious items seem to be missing from all areas of rental/streaming/dvd venues."
(Worth noting).
You can also find a good list here with many more titles.
These 25 Creative Lent Ideas from Lifeteen are also worth noting again this year. 

Finally, something else worth mentioning is the USCCB Lent Calendar for daily inspiration. You can view and print it, here. 

Since the culmination of our Lenten journey will end not only at the empty Tomb in Israel, but at St. Peter's Square in Rome this year, it's an intense combination. We depart on Easter Sunday for a trip to Italy that will include the canonization of Bl. John Paul II and John XXIII on Divine Mercy Sunday. It's still hard to believe the trip is actually happening, and the boys are positively over the moon not only at the prospect of going someplace "exotic" but to fly on a real airplane!:) Life is so much fun through the eyes of a child, I can't get enough of their joy about it.

Thanks for sticking through this really long post. I pray you have a holy, and happy Lent experience. My apologies for any awful errors on today's blog, my proofreading time just vanished as Gus is awake and playing the harmonica in his room and shouting at me! Ha ha. God bless you.