Defining moments – J.R. Murdock

Apollo_11_first_stepAfter being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.

Defining Moments by J.R. Murdock

Life is filled with many things that will change a person forever. Many are things that a great number of people will experience. Yes, these things will change your life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Marriage (or finding a partner to spend your life with), getting a degree or two or three, children, burying one or both of your parents. It’s the course that life takes. For me, the biggest life-changing events were in moving.

There are other things that also change your life forever that may never happen to another person. Possibly a course of events that put you into a position to make that life changing event.

At thirteen I was living in a very small town. I had no prospect of a better life. Things were what they were. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hated physical labor, but living with my mother and step-dad in the back woods of Minnesota, you did physical labor. Mowing lawns for spending money. Shoveling driveways. Raking leaves. Cutting wood. Helping neighbors. Going to a worksite to help shovel gravel, sand, cement, or carry roofing material. Never a shortage of things to do.

Then my mother left my step-father. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My father, a man I’d only spoken to on the phone a handful of times over the years and gone to visit twice, wanted my brother and I to move and live with him.

The jump was made and we moved from the little town of McGregor, Minnesota to Durango, Colorado. Life was easier. Still, there was no shortage of things to do. The winters were a little lighter, but there was still snow to shovel and grass to cut. Fewer trees meant no leaves to rake.

After only a couple of years, my father decided to move back to Minnesota. My senior year in high school was in an even bigger city, Minneapolis. I liked the big city and I loved the house we had moved into. I didn’t like the cold and I hated the snow. I needed a change.

When I was eighteen, I joined the Navy. Sure, millions of men and women have joined the military. For me it was a chance to get away from the life I’d always known. I had dozens of reasons to join, but mostly it was to get away from home. To become my own man. To do my own thing. I moved from coast to coast while in the Navy. I lived in Orlando, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Lakehurst, New Jersey, Seal Beach, California, Long Beach, California, back to Pensacola. In a few years I’d been on beaches from the Atlantic, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the pacific, and back again. Each time I drove across the country, stopping and seeing everything I could see. Before I was twenty-two, I’d been in over half of the lower forty-eight states.

When I got out of the Navy, I moved back to Durango. When I was in high school, and in the Navy, I played drums and bass. My best friend had lived in California while I was there and he’d moved back to Colorado. I moved there so we could start a band.
We did.

Durango isn’t known for its music scene. So we packed up everything we had and moved to San Diego.

At twenty-six, when I finally decided that the band thing was never going to work out, I was fairly confident that I would never marry, and I would never have kids. I had been to the bottom as a starving musician. Being a musician was awesome, but starving really sucked. I needed to reassess and start over.

I got myself back into school. I got a degree. I got a good paying job. Then I got a better paying job. I met my wife. Got married. We had my favorite daughter.
One thing doesn’t seem to have changed, though. We still move from place to place to get ourselves into a better place.

If it hadn’t been for all the moving I’d done throughout my life, I would be a completely different person. Now, at 45, I’ve lived in 24 different places across six different states. I’ve stayed in hotels in more than a two-dozen different cities and driven through at least 30 states.

For me, change is constant. Many things will never change, but I’ve settled down so many times, that I can call almost anywhere home. Yes, growing roots for many helps define their life. For me, it’s all that moving and uprooting that’s helped define who I am. Sometimes I think I don’t want to move any more. Then I find myself moving yet again. For me, that’s just a part of life. Something that will probably never change. Sometimes, I hope it won’t. It keeps me guessing just where I’ll lay my head next and when the next adventure I will have.

Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal. There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.j.r.murdock_1361732631_04[1]

His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to. Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told! I’m telling you here and now…

Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).

Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk to at appropriate times and that’s when books happen. Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.

When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite). They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.

Find out more about Mr. Murdock
http://jrmurdock.com
http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com
http://about.me/j.r.murdock

If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

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Fathers in the background – St. Joseph

st_joseph_the_carpente-242x300
Over the years I have given a lot of thought to fatherhood. I remember when I was in 7th grade, and I was reading Bill Cosby’s book Fatherhood. At the time my lab partner teased me about the book asking if I was going to be a father or something? Of course at that moment I said no. No, I don’t think I was looking at fatherhood way back then but it was a pretty funny book.

The truth is that even with such dubious role models as Bill Cosby, Tim (the Tool Man) Taylor, Michael Keaton and Ray Barrone I was pretty sure that I did want to be a father even then, just not yet.


*** I think that I should stop for a moment here and say that I don’t think of myself as a great father. I don’t even think of myself as a particularly good father. This is not one of those, “Look how good a dad I am” posts. I am just a dad who is trying to figure things out as I go.

I think despite the questionable role models, or the lack of good role models on TV, I still wanted to be a father. I still wanted to have kids of my own. Why? Well I am not sure, but I did.

Over the last few months, St. Joseph has become my hero. He really should have been all along but what can I say, I am kind of slow learner. For me it all kind of started with the little youtube video that always shows up around Christmas. You know the one. (Yes, it is a little silly, but the video is a beautiful reminder of what they faced together and how it would translate in our world.)
The important part to me starts right about 1:13 when friends of Joseph start to question what is going on. We don’t all face the same things that St. Joesph did in bringing a child into the world. We don’t face God being the father of our children, but we all do face a fair amount of uncertainty. One of those uncertainties, will be the people that we count among our friends before we have children. Some of whom will question our choices, and some, as happens to Joseph at 1:54 when 23 people un-friend him, some of them will abandon us altogether. Looking back at it now I say, good let them go, I remember how that felt. And I am not saying it is going to be easy.

stjoesephThat is another lesson learned from St. Joseph, some times being a father really isn’t easy. A personal example of that, one day before our eldest son was born we were told there was something wrong. So we had to drive over the mountains to Denver, and then once he was born. Because of a health condition we couldn’t go home again. It was a trying time, but that is nothing compared to what the Holy family had to deal with. They had to leave home and to go to a crowded city, where there was no place for them. Once they get there, having their baby be born in a stable. Then in the middle of the night being told, by an Angel, that you have to leave now. Not to go home, but go even further away to Egypt. It was a good thing that Joseph was a carpenter and could find work just about anywhere.

That brings me to the reason I chose the title for this post. Most of the time, in today’s society if you see a father portrayed at all, he is portrayed as a bumbling idiot, who some how manages to make money so his family can survive. He is often in trouble, with either his wife and some times his kids, and normally is the laughing stock for all of us. Yes, these are sitcoms, but are there really any good father figures on TV anywhere else?

In this we could all take a lesson from St Joseph. It is a hard lesson to learn especially in today’s culture, Being a good father is not about being the center of attention. It is not about your friends, either the ones who have stuck with you, or the ones that have abandoned you. Even when St Joseph probably had something to say it was not recorded. And yet he was still an effective father.

While it is unclear when he died, it is generally accepted that St Joseph died before Jesus was very old. Despite that, he spent enough time with him, teaching him and being a father to him, that when he did die Jesus and Mary were able to survive on the skills learned from his father. And yet, we never really hear about that. We don’t have any records or youtube videos of the afternoons spent in the shop working. We don’t have any accounts of Joseph spending time with his son, teaching how to play ball, or fix the house up or use the tools. We have to assume that he was an effective teacher because Jesus was also known as a carpenter, and known to be good to his mother.

So Today I think about St. Joseph. He is the role model that I want to follow. I hope that I am managing to do a good job of it, but I am likely not anywhere near as effective as he was.

A Father’s Prayer for His Children

Saint Joseph, I come to you with my concerns for the welfare of my children. I recall your anxiety when, to your surprise and Mary’s, Jesus was not among your relatives and friends on your return from Jerusalem. I too worry about my children. Many dangers surround the youth of today. Sometimes, in my loving concern for them, I may seem to them to be difficult or even harsh. Help me to remove the barriers that may come between my children and myself. I love my children and desire good and wholesome things for them. Good Saint Joseph, watch over my children and inspire me to know how to speak and act in love. Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for me. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your Son,
you rescued Him from the danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.
Amen.

I am Torn About NFP

Our new pope, Pope Francis, has said that we need to step out of our comfort zones when it comes to our faith, that we need to challenge what we have been doing all of our lives and look at what the Catholic Church really teaches.

I have been trying to do that, but I admit it is not an easy task. He (the Pope) has been taking us to task on the poor and the oppressed, As well as challanging a lot of people’s conception on what it means to lead a Christian life.

For me this means looking at what I am doing. Looking at what I have been doing and trying, the best way that I can, to understand why it is that I am doing it. That means understanding the churches teachings behind it.

As I have shared before, my wife and I are NFP Teachers. In the last couple of years something about doing this has been niggling at the back of my mind. I do feel called to help people understand NFP. But It was not until I had a conversation with my wife that I think understood some of what has been eating at me.

The conversation was about a question that came up. What do you do / how do you approach a family who is totally open to life. This came from a teaching couple who live in a diocese where the NFP class is part of the marriage preparation. The answer my wife gave, which at first startled me but the more I thought about it the more it made sense was, “You don’t need to do anything with them.”

I understand that using NFP is a choice. Heck if you read my other post, you know that we call ourselves the NFP dropouts, because while we know it, and we teach it, we don’t usually feel called to use it.

That has kind of set me on a path of trying to figure out what it is, exactly, that the Church teaches about NFP. This morning, at my wife’s suggestion I read the following article. (Yes, my wife is very smart) Heroic Parenthood and The Sorrow of Natural Family Planning

NOTE: Below I have stolen (borrowed / Made Reference to) several parts from the article. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing, but here are some of the things that I found important and relevant to my topic today.

One of the things that I was, well surprised is not the right word maybe interested to find out, was that NFP is a dispensation.

the Venerable Pius XII in his Allocution to Midwives:

The individual and society, the people and the State, the Church itself, depend for their existence, in the order established by God, on fruitful marriages. Therefore, to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life. Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned.

(I used wikipedia but this appears to be pulled from canon law)
A Dispensation is defined as In the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, a dispensation is the exemption from the immediate obligation of law in certain cases.[1] Its object is to modify the hardship often arising from the rigorous application of general laws to particular cases, and its essence is to preserve the law by suspending its operation in such cases.

And this is also backed up again by Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II in Humanae Vitae

What does all this mean? In plain simple language that someone like I can understand, Pope Pius XII said that sex, (the marital embrace) has a procreative aspect that cannot be divorced from the rest of it. Despite that, the church recognizes that there are times when a married couple may have serious reasons such as medical or economical to avoid a pregnancy. It is in those cases that the dispensation of NFP is permitted.

That in short means that unless you have a serious reason, you should not be using NFP. (a little side note here, and this is going to be me talking. Keeping up with the “Joneses” economically, is not a serious reason. But tif you can’t put food on the table, cloth your kids and for goodness sakes a roof over your families head that is a serious reason. You might find you are are happier if you are not keeping up with the Joneses, maybe even move out of their neighborhood and find a community of people who, like you believe that the Joneses have it all wrong in the first place.)

Alright so where to I stand:

Up until recently I would have said that I thing all married couples should learn NFP. I still don’t think that is a bad idea. I am a big believer in knowledge is power. I also believe that you can’t make informed decisions without all the information. I believe that having the information about knowing how to read a woman’s body is not a bad thing. But as my wife points out, once you know NFP and know how to read the signs, it is not like you can ignore them. (See I told you she was smart.) So the temptation would be to use them. Even if you are not actually charting or any of that, if you have really learned NFP, then you know what you are looking for and you know when you are fertile or not.

So the argument might come up that NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy as much as it can be for avoiding it. To that I say, “Yes! of corse it can.” But if you are open to life, and you trust that God take care of this, then shouldn’t it be more like, you will get pregnant when the time is right? Again there is the dispensation for couples who are having trouble conceiving.

So how do I plan to approach this in the future? I’m not sure yet. I still thing teaching NFP is very valuable. If nothing else it keeps women from being put at risk by using the really dangerous hormones in artificial birth control. But I really believe that we need to approach it differently, and to do that we need to approach family differently, and to do that we need to approach marriage differently.

One of my favorite parts about the article I read this morning was the suggested way that we approach the subject in marriage preparation. I am guilty of having approached it like this:

Catholicism does not require that you become parents of a large family — rather it wants you to be responsible parents. NFP offers you a reasonable alternative to artificial contraception: a way for you young couples to be responsible while not availing yourselves to drugs or devices that degrade your humanity. You should use these NFP techniques to grow closer, to communicate better, and prayerfully consider whether and when you should bring children into the world in a responsible manner. If that means that you need to delay — even permanently — having children, that is acceptable today with the use of NFP. And what’s more, NFP is proven to be 99% effective for avoiding pregnancy — just as effective as the pill.

I would love to think that I have the strength of faith to approach it more like this:

For you young Catholic people who are marrying in your twenties, you can expect, God willing and absent a physical impairment or grave reason, to have a home filled with many children. You should mentally, physically and spiritually prepare for seven, eight, nine or more children given your ages. You should be prepared to accept the hardships that come with having a large family for two important reasons: children please our Lord and your cooperation with the Lord in bringing forth new souls will in turn please our God, which will bring you many graces. Second, having a large family will help you be saved, it will re-focus your attention from the material attachments that are both rampant today and hazardous to your eternal destination. Your many children will help you to become better and holier people and will stand as a contradiction to a world that has forgot how live the abundant life. You, and your large faithful families, will turn the tide against the scoffers and misanthropes who would revile God’s creation and man’s place in it. We cannot promise you it will be easy because it won’t, but if you persevere in prayer and virtue, you will overcome with God’s grace. And should you live to see your children’s children, you will praise God all the more that he saw fit to give you the gift of faith.

This will not be popular. This will not be easy. But, this, I think, is where we are falling down and where we need to start, with God’s Grace, to pick ourselves back up.

The Hobby Farm and the Real Hobby Farm

sheep_DSC02339When we moved from central Florida to Westen New York, one of the reasons we moved here was because we wanted to be able to do some small scale farming, or at least have a garden. We have tried various times to make this work and always had some trouble. I think most of that trouble was that we were not really willing to put in the work that it required to get it done, and our results showed.

This year, I think that we have what would officially qualify as a hobby farm. We have chickens, sheep and now a small garden plot. I think and hope things are a bit different than they have been in the past. First, we have other people relying on us to keep the sheep alive, and second we have kind of a model to follow, even if that is kind of our own model.

Four of the six sheep we are hosting belong to folks who belong to our little collective farming project. We all come and work one piece of property and we will all get a share of the crops. It works out pretty well. So there is that motivation. We have to make it work because other people are expecting us to.

But the model that we are following is a little different. Like I said, part of the reason that we likely failed in the past was the amount of work. We were not prepared for it, and not willing to put it in. This year, we are working on the collective hobby farm and getting an idea of what needs to happen. I call this the real hobby farm because while we are using about a 1/3 of our 5 acres for farming and most of that is dedicated to animals, they are using 4+ of their 5 acres. They are using it for various crops. But by putting in the work there, the work that we have to do on our own small garden plot seems almost negligible. Sure the sheep and chicken require work, the middle children and I get up early every morning to go tend to their needs, but it is not a lot of work to feed and water the chickens, or to move the sheep from the barn to the field where spend their days.

Alright, the work that we did yesterday on our own plot did not seem negligible, it took us almost all day, to carve out the plot and get things planted all by Crew_working_DSC02345hand , and only with hand tools. We decided not to try to rent a tiller or any of the other power tools that we normally use, so everything was done with shovels and a pickaxe. It was slow, hot and hard work but I will be honest it really felt good to get it done. I am a bit sore from the two days of work (between 6 and 8 hours each day) but it really kind of feels good. Besides getting out and working with the kids is always a lot of fun, not to mention good for all of us.

Life on the Run

Photo 2013-01-03 15.35.25The last three weeks and the coming three highlight in stark detail why I call this site, “Barely Controlled Chaos.” It has not all been bad or all been good, but it has all just been. I mean, really been. It has felt like we are just barely holding things together no matter how positive or negative things got.

Having said that, I can’t really tell you everything that happened in one post, it would be way too long, so instead I am just going to share the story of what happened last night, as a kind of allegory of what the last month has been like.

sheeptransportIf you didn’t know, we are working with a group of folks who all used the same CSA last year. They wanted to continue to support the CSA but the family that was running it just could not make it happen. Not anything they did, it is was one of those cases where the idea was great but the money just was not and so it would not work. So this year they said, we will use our land but we need everyone to come and help us. There was some desire to also expand into other areas were people had some expertise, or just really wanted to add that to what the “farm” could provide. Among those was sheep.

We, other than the family that have the farm land, have the largest piece of property and most of it sits unused most of the year, so I volenteered to host the sheep. Based on everything I was told, it was pretty darn easy, you keep them outside in a rather small pen that is somewhat mobile, and as the eat all the grass in one spot you move them to the next spot. Yup I can handle that. No Problem.

My wife and I made a plan. It kind of fell part, and so on the spur of the moment while I stood in Home Depot, I made up another one. Now, I will pause here to say I am not brilliant or anything, it just seems to have been an better idea. (Mumbles something about lightening striking.) So my older boys and I set up a pen, and we were ready to go.

Plot BunniesNow it was time to get the sheep (lambs really.) We arranged with a farm to get them from, worked out a price, and arranged to pick them up. by arranged to pick them up I mean that someone said we needed to get them this week and yesterday was the only night that we could make that happen.

I called The farm a couple of times during the day to make sure that we could come get the lambs but had not gotten any responce. But since this was the only day this week to make it happen, I moved forward with the plans. My older boys pulled the seat out of the van and put the old dog crates in the van ( we were told this was a good way to transport them, and really it worked very well.)

I got out of work, picked up the van and headed to the farm. So good news is the farmer was there, and they were ready to sell us the sheep. So we got ready to take them home only to find out that they were not fully weaned, and they had never been outside. See the paragraph above about the outside pen that I built for them, OUTSIDE.

I am pretty sure the farmer saw that deer in the headlights look on my face and said he would also sell me a bale of hay for $5, since they would need food not being outside and all, and for the first few days would need to be introduced to the outside.

We finally got them in the van and part way home when I realized that I didn’t have the supplies I would need to build a pen for them in the barn. I had the space in our shed / barn thing but we didn’t have the supplies. (Read nails) So after a couple of calls to my wife explaining the plight and how it would be difficult to go to Home Depot with 6 kids and 6 sheep I determined that I would go home and make something work.

Did I mention that every time I got out of the van the sky opened up? Don’t forget that detail because it is important.

For the next thirty minutes I worked with one of the older kids to trying to get something built with the supplies I had, knowing that my wife was coming with better ones soon. Then two other families showed up. They didn’t have the supplies with them either, but a quick phone call and 30 minutes later someone did show up with the supplies we needed.

after what felt like an hour though I am pretty sure it was shorter than that we managed to get a pen built, and started to get the sheep moved into their new home. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

#6 got out of her cage before someone could grab her. There was a small issue with one of the boards on the pen so I was distracted and my son thought sheep were like dogs and would need to be chased. Sheep want to be together and it would have followed the others but he didn’t know that. So he gave chase. Five minutes later he was still chasing and he was tired out and the sheep was still fresh. So It was my turn. I followed the sheep, who was was really scared at this point, around our yard, into the neighbors yard, and back again a couple of times. It finally headed toward the back of our neighbors property toward a small stream.

At this point I will remind you that, these sheep have never spent any time outside, and are only about 3 months old. They have been as sheltered as sheltered can be. The sheep heads for the very rain swollen stream, and decides to jump in. It hit the water and the look on its face was priceless.

Since this was the first time It had stopped moving in almost 15 minutes, I jumped in after it and was able to capture the sheep. The water was only about hip deep, so there was little danger to the sheep or I but it was still very cold and obviously wet. Not like I was not wet enough from the sky opening up.

A note here is that, wool is like a sponge. The sheep that had weighed about 30 pounds now weighted closer to 50 and was not used to being carried by me. Eventually we got back to the barn and I set her down in the pen. Everyone was happy. Well happy is a relative term. They had food, and were together. I was glad I was not chasing them any more, but was also very wet, and by this point tired and frustrated.

The good news is that I can laugh about this now.

It is now a week later. (Yes, it has taken me almost a week to write one stinking post.) The sheep are pretty darn happy, and we have learned to move them all in one herd from the barn pen to the outside corral about 300 feet away, and can usually do so in less than 5 minutes so we are pretty darn happy.

So that was our adventure last week. There have been more, and I will try to get them posted a bit quicker. I promise there is more to come. After all there is the adventure that will be Balticon.DSC02308

How I meet Their Mother – A Date with my Wife

Picture 37I don’t get out a lot. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I don’t get to go out on dates with my wife a lot. It has become a lot easier in the last couple of years . A lot of that has to do with our wonderful oldest son, who at 15 does a pretty good job watching his younger siblings while his parents sneak out of the house for a while.

So on Sunday we went to an evening Mass at one of our local Parishes. (As a side note I am very happy this Mass exists since it gave us a chance to go to Mass together, even though I had to work this week. Thank you to the folks at Our Lady of Mercy for giving us this option.) After which we went out to dinner at Red Lobster with a gift card I got from my employer.

Normally I would not mention the restaurant but it plays an important part in this story. On the ride between Mass and dinner my lovely bride and I had the discussion, of where we would like to go. The gift card we were given was for the parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and a few others, so we had some choices. We finally came to a conclusion when she said, “let’s do Red Lobster, it has been a long time since we have been there.” we rode a long in the relative quiet of the car for a little while as decision made we headed toward dinner.

The silence was broken when I said,

“You know, I think the last time we when to Red Lobster you threw up in my car.” A moment of thoughtful silence
“Wow, that date was before child #1, and I have thrown up so many time since then that I had forgotten about that.”
“Well I am glad we are now measuring time in numbers of times you have thrown up.”

Our conversation continued in the silliness for a while, but eventually lead us to a discussion of how we met and our feelings around that time.

Back when I looked like this,—->piza<—– and yes I am in this picture but I am not going to tell you which one, I met my wife. Techically this picture was taken after I met her but more on that in a few moments. Needless to say, it was a long time ago and very far away.

We got to talking about how we felt about each other in the time between when we met and when we actually started dating. It was a unique time in my life. We had lived in Germany for a number of years and knew that this was likely the last year we would be there so we were trying to cram as much as we could into it as possible, doing as many of the exciting things as we could. Clouded by time when I think back to when we lived there much of what I remember was that year.

That year was also the year that my wife moved to town. I have always maintained that the moment I met her I knew I wanted to be with her. And that really is mostly true, but as we talked about it, I discovered something a little bit different. Slightly Paraphrased:

Me: In October Andy suggest that we should maybe date.
My Wife: I wasn’t ready then.
Me: I know neither was I.
MW: You should not date someone unless you can see yourself married to them, and I could not see that in you yet.
Me: Right. By November though, I was pretty sure.
MW: [smile remembering it]
Me: and by The Christmas concert [smiling remembering the cookie that she had given me that I never ate because could eat it and have it too.] I knew for sure and I was just trying to figure out how to reconcile it with the rest of my life. And by the time I went to Italy I realized I wished I had brought you instead of my other friends
MW: That probably would not have gone over well with my Dad.

The point is that looking back on it, I remember thinking that I knew as soon as I met her, but really it wasn’t until later that I really understood what spending the rest of my life with her really meant. Now (22+ years from that Christmas concert) I can honestly say that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it was the best misunderstood decision that I ever made.

Book Review – Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless


When I first heard about Sarah Reinhard’s book, Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless I knew I needed to read it. My wife and I are always looking for idea of things to do with the kids as a family.

Now, being the parents of 9 kids means that there is not a lot that my wife and I have not really tried before. I am not saying that I am a super genius and I have thought of everything under the sun, but over the years we have tried a lot of different things for family entertainment. What it does mean is that we are always on the lookout for new ideas, enter Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless. This book is full of ideas.

For us many of the ideas were things that we had tried before, but even those Sarah had taken the time to put together lists of how you could change these ideas up in the “Make it Your Own” sections so that it fit your family, and how you could make use them to build your faith. Although we tend to be the fly by the seat of your pants kind of people, the planned details in to book were great. Information on what you would need and how long each activity could take and how long you would need would to take to setup ahead of time where invaluable

This book is just filled with ideas. If you have a family whether you are a first time parent or you have nine kids like us, you have to have this book on your selves.

Sarah Reinhard writes about marriage, motherhood, the Catholic faith, books, and life on a farm at her blog: http://www.snoringscholar.com. She is also a frequent contributor to other blogs, podcasts, and websites such as: Catholic Mom, Faith & Family Live, Catholic Foodie, and Catholic Writers Guild. Sarah lives in central Ohio with her husband and their three children.

It is Wednesday and I haven’t posted anything yet

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I am spread a little thin.  What might surprise some of you is that I stress about things like that a lot.  A lot of stress is coming from my day job.  There is nothing I can do to control that but I am working on managing my stress level.  But enough about how stressed I am

Let’s talk about the rest of what is going on.

Last week I got it in my head that I really needed to start writing on a regular basis again.  My writing blog World Builders Unlimited, which I was posting to at least two or three times a week had gone silent about a month ago.  On top of that my goal of getting several new stories published was not happening.  So I have set a new goal for myself.  It is a weekly goal, so the deadlines will be tight, but that has worked pretty well for me in the past.  I won’t go into all the details about here, but if you want to know more about it, check out my post from Monday, and the original announcement that includes the goal.

This last weekend my wife and I talked to a group of soon to be husbands and wives as part of a Pre-Cana program, about Natural Family Planning.  Now that I have gotten over the awkwardness that is talking about people’s sex lives with a group of strangers I really like giving talks like this.  As much as I enjoy teaching the NFP classes I think I like talking about it in rather free form  manner better.  I get a chance to tell people why it is so very important to me, while still giving them some real information about it.  The whole process can be very rewarding.

On a similar note, our local chapter of NFP teachers and promoters has been looking into ways to extend our reach, and gain some more interest in the program.  As I said, this is something that is really important to us and we really feel like it is important to let people, especially young people, know that there are alternatives out there.  So in order to do that, we have been trying to do an outreach to priests.  Yesterday during lunch I drafted a letter addressed to all the priests and deacons in the Rochester and Buffalo Diocese and sent it out to get some feedback.  The feed back has been very positive, with some very helpful suggestions that my wife and I working on  integrating into the letter.

I have also been working on writing some fiction.  I have a story started with a working title of “Isabella,” that is based on the prompt from Monday.  I have about 3000 words written so far.  It is very much in a first draft state and I don’t have an ending yet, but I should at least have something to post on Friday. So wish me luck on that one.   I working am another story that is tied to the same universe as Cargo with a working title of “The Lump that Ate Long Island.”  I think I have finally overcome a logistical problem that I have been struggling for the last few weeks so I have given myself the green light to move forward with the idea.  I hope that it will start to answer some of the questions that I have gotten from readers about Cargo.  That is a universe that I have a lot of material in, but that needs a good deal of editing to get into it a publishable state.

And yes I have yet another project in the works.    This one is a story that I am writing for and about my kids.  Working title, “Family Ties.” The idea with this story is to finish it up, get a very limited print run created have something to give to the kids for Christmas.  It is a much larger project than I typically work on, and so far I have about 10,000 words written.  I suspect that it will be about 45K when it is done but I really have no clue.  I have been toying with the idea making some small changes (like changing the kids names) and then also releasing the story into the wild. It is a fantasy story that I think would work well for teens and young adults.  I read the first chapter to the kids the other night, and they really seemed to like it. Then again since it featured all of them they might be a little bias.  I have been working on this project since before Christmas last year, but I think I can get it done by summers end.

So one final rather sad note.  This week, I announced to the rest of the team at Flying Island Press that I was going to going to officially put Pirate’s Cove on a more official hiatus for the foreseeable future.  I dearly love the working we were doing there, but as I said at the beginning of this post, I am spread very thin.   There is just not enough of me to give that project the attention that it rightly deserves.  There will be a post on the Pirate’s Cove site and the Flying Island Press home page some time this week about the change.  There is hope that once Flying Island Press becomes more successful that there will be time to return to “The Cove” and continue the work there.  Thank you to everyone who has participated in the work there.

Announcement

I have an announcement to make.

My wife and I are incredibly excited to announce that baby #10 is on the way.

The newest member of the Hite house should be here by the end of the year. I will have more details as the become available.

I think this puts us firmly in the big family camp. Honestly I could not be happier.

Egg Salad

I am not a huge egg salad fan.

I can remember on long car trips my father used to love egg salad sandwiches. As soon as he opened the cooler the whole car would fill with that smell. It was not a bad smell, just one that you knew what it was and it was rather strong. As I said I don’t hate egg salad, I will eat it, and once in a while I even get a craving for it probably connected to childhood memories, but it is not something that I would write a post about.

A year or so ago I found a recipe that changed all that. This is not my father’s egg salad. In fact, when I made this the first time it took my wife saying, “I don’t like egg salad,” for me to even think of it as egg salad. But oh my goodness, it is good. I mean eat it out of the bowl with a spoon good, be careful you might not have enough to make all the muffins kind of good.

Long and short of it, if you are looking for something to do with all those hard boiled eggs, Here is your solution.

Special thanks to The Pioneer Woman at ThePioneerWoman.com for sharing such a wonderful recipe. The image used for this is right from The Pioneer Woman’s site. I don’t think I could have taken a better one, so thank you for that.