Jam Packed July 2021

Jam-Packed July

This summer? It’s been nuts. Take a minute and catch up with us!

In this July 2021 update we’ll cover:

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Whirlwind Colorado Roadtrip: Photo Post

After the sudden death of our dear friend, Tom, we decided to return to Colorado.

Below are a bunch of pics from the trip.

But first, some background:

Our youngest three kids haven’t been back since we moved away in 2016 and they not only wanted to attend Tom’s memorial, but connect with old friends and sites.

So less than a week ago, Jennifer baked up a mess of bread and prepared tons of snacks to cut down on road trip expense and we loaded up the van, leaving on a Wednesday, arriving in Colorado Thursday night, and departing for home Sunday after Mass and arriving — road weary — on Monday night. So we were only gone 5 nights and traveled over 3000 miles.

We recorded two full-length podcasts during the trek home, recounting all of the blessings and amazing experiences including:

  • A visit with our friends Paul and Karen Camarata (longtime Catholic podcast listeners will remember Paul from his SaintCast podcast),
  • A trip to Benedictine College (where Ben will begin his studies in mechanical engineering this fall),
  • A visit to our old neighborhood (where Lily was reunited with a dear friend and we discovered a McDonald’s under construction in our backyard),
  • An encounter with holy relics,
  • Lunch with my old boss,
  • And more over the next few days and even on the way home

And while you’ll hear all this on upcoming shows (next week we have the interview scheduled with Bishop Strickland, so these will launch after that), consider the photos below a preview of coming attractions.

The two road-casts (where we talk about many of the things you’ll see in these photos) will launch on August 2 and August 9.

Thanks to all of our co-producers who support our work either through Patreon or PayPal or simply by purchasing something from our store.

Days One and Two – Wednesday and Thursday

We got on the road just after 5AM and worked our way to Kansas City where we stayed the night with our friends, Paul and Karen.

The next morning was another early start as we drove northeast to Atchison, Kansas where our son Ben will attend Benedictine College this fall. It was our first time on campus and it was amazing!

After a quick guided tour and meeting with the college president, we were back on the road by noon to finish our trek to Colorado. Upon our arrival, we recreated a family photo in front of the iconic welcome sign (minus Sam and Walter this time), and were greeted by an unbelievable Colorado sunset as approached Denver.

Day Three – Friday

Friday was devoted to seeing old sights and visiting old friends.

Our first stop was our old neighborhood where we discovered with horror (but not really surprise) that the enormous field directly behind our former house has recently been excavated in preparation for a new gas station and McDonald’s. Had we stayed, our kids would have probably loved that. Jennifer and I, however, would have been miserable.

While in our old cul de sac, Lily was reunited with her buddy, Mr. Nick. In the nearly four years we lived there, Nick was eternally patient as Lily (then 4-8 years old) followed him around his yard and garage, constantly asking questions and engaging him endless games of tic-tac-toe using chalk on his driveway. We lost touch with each other and Nick and his wife said they regularly wonder where Lily is and how she’s doing. It was a tearful reunion for them both. Afterward, Jennifer, Lily and I walked up the hill near the kid’s former school. This was the hill I always ended my walks on every day back in 2015 when I lost a bunch of weight. It’s also the hill of the infamous coyote incident.

After visiting our old neighborhood we headed for lunch with Msgr. Fryar, the former vicar general for the Archdiocese of Denver and the priest responsible for bringing us to Colorado.

One of the most amazing parts of our visit was having the opportunity to venerate his parish’s collection of holy relics, including relics from the veil of Mary, the robe of St. Joseph, and a splinter from the true cross of Jesus Christ.

After lunch we stopped for food supplies at the local King Sooper’s (Colorado’s equivalent of the east coast’s Krogers). I know it sounds weird to want to stop at a grocery store, but given the countless hours we stopped here, even this was sentimental for us. Especially Jennifer 😉

Finally, we ended the night by visiting our dear friend, June, the wife of our friend Tom who died. This was our first time to see her since Tom’s passing, and we wanted to see her before the busyness of his memorial the next day.

Before we left June’s house, Jennifer asked if we could walk around. Even though we’d been in their house many times before, we just wanted to feel Tom’s presence. I would never have asked to do this, but I’m so glad Jennifer did. Right away, June walked us into their bedroom and I was stopped in my tracks. Hanging on their bedroom wall was a painting of roses that I had done years ago and completely forgot all about. I was completely taken aback by the place of honor that painting has had in their bedroom over all these years. What’s more, June pointed out another painting I did that I’d forgotten all about that hung in their kitchen.

Day Four – Saturday

We had no idea what to expect for Saturday, the day of Tom’s memorial. But what a day of blessings it was.

Just before we left Colorado, Tom truly began living his life for Christ and he and June became heavily involved in a local Church. As a Catholic, I’ve only been to a handful of non-Catholic funerals, but Pastor Rob and the team at Summit Church did an amazing job not only eulogizing Tom, but truly inviting people into accepting Jesus Christ into their lives. It was a reminder to me that Protestants and Catholics still have much we can learn from each other.

After the service we continued to celebrate Tom’s life with a fantastic BBQ held at the beautiful home of someone who knew Tom and June and made that space available for the celebration. The woman in the red shirt in the pictures below is June. She and our son Ben always had a special connection, and I think it was particularly good for the two of them to reconnect. We also had a chance to spend time with other former neighbors including Laura and Mike (I got to ask Mike if he still has the punching bag I passed onto him when we moved) and Chris and Stephanie (seen in the photo below with me and Jennifer). Chris often joined me and Tom on our front porch for drinks. We had tons of laughs together. Two of the best next door neighbors ever.

Day Five – Sunday

After several days that passed in the blink of an eye, we woke early (again) and went to 7:30 AM Mass at the new parish of our friend, Fr. Daniel. We met Fr. Daniel literally one week to the day after we moved into our Colorado house. He was still a seminarian at the time and frequently came over to our house for dinner and eventually our son Walter asked him to be his confirmation sponsor. Right before we left he was ordained a transitional deacon and a year later was ordained a priest. This was just his second week at his new parish assignment so it was special to briefly catch up with him.

We then (quickly) drove through the parking lot of the Archdiocese of Denver and then headed east.

As soon as we hit Kansas (literally at the sign announcing the state line) we were forced over for the first of four times as we were bombarded with a torrential hail storm that stopped traffic in all directions and delayed us for at least an hour.

Since Kansas is 424 miles long, after a few hours we started looking for distractions. A sign for the “Basilica of the Plains” caught our attention and we made the split second decision to get off at an exit and investigate. We’re so glad we did as we discovered the Cathedral of St. Fidelis in Victoria, Kansas.

Given that this trip from the beginning felt more like a pilgrimage than a vacation, it made sense that our last major stop would be to give thanks.

Day Six – Monday

We stayed in a hotel in Columbia, Missouri for less than six hours Sunday night. I woke up around 4:30 and wanted to beat morning rush hour traffic in St. Louis so I rousted everyone up and we pounded through the next eleven hours, getting home sometime after five.

We brought with us a gift given to us by June before we left her house for the last time on Saturday.

After Tom died last a few weeks ago, she’s received many plants and flowers, one of which was a Magnolia tree sapling.

“This won’t survive being planted in Colorado,” June told us, so she entrusted it to us.

We’re not sure how long you can keep a magnolia in pots before it needs a permanent home in the ground. But we also suspect that in six years or so, once Lily graduates high school, that we’ll be ready to downsize once more. Given this connection to our friends Tom and June, we’d like to see this tree grow into fruition.

I doubt June realizes how much this sapling means to us.

But hopefully she knows after this trip how much SHE means to us, too.

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Tom Loveday

What we can learn from Tom Loveday

I don’t remember meeting Tom Loveday, but he was an immediate and contagiously joyful presence in our lives upon our arrival in Colorado.  We moved in April 2013 and by June, Tom told me to hop in my truck and directed me westward.  We drove into the mountains, Tom pointing out the best camping sites.  He showed me what gear to get, where to get it, and lent us his portable stovetop for our first outing.

Scouting camping sites with Tom. June 2013
Scouting camping sites with Tom. June 2013.

Who gives up a Sunday afternoon for a stranger — a camping newbie — a Georgia-boy fish out of water? I couldn’t do it.  Not sure I would now.  But Tom Loveday would.

He corralled the cul-de-sac for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day outings. With Tom, everything was can-do, and if Tom was involved, everything got done.

Fireball shots in Tom’s basement after another cul-de-sac get together.

For an introvert like me, it’s hard to share personal space, but our front porch gladly became a shared space whenever Tom spotted me drinking coffee…or something else.

This drew other neighbors to join us for drinks and hours of conversations.  

As a once lonely kid, I never found a group of my own until moving to a small South Carolina town back in eighth grade, and never again since. 

Through Tom I was invited in and instantly a part of a group of friends that moved from one yard to the next, enjoying each other’s company, shoveling each other’s sidewalks, loaning tools, and taking shots of Fireball whiskey in open garages.

Who can make that happen?  Who attracts people together like that?  Tom Loveday.

He walked his daughter down the aisle just two weeks ago, celebrated his wife’s birthday days after that, went to work on Thursday, then spent ten hours under the surgeon’s knife on Friday to remove cancer which had made a sudden and completely unwelcome appearance. His jaw was removed, the cancer extricated, his jaw fused with bone from his leg, and staples put across his face from ear to jaw.

He awoke Friday night, grateful to have made it through the process and miraculously greeted his wife, June, and daughter, Hailey, both of whom loved on him and left him in the care of the ICU. 

Sometime that night, swelling set in, choking out air.  His heart stopped, but was revived by chest compressions.  But Tom was unresponsive too long and brain activity had ceased.  Life support was discontinued and our dear friend Tom died shortly after 5PM MT on Saturday, June 26, 2021. 

Tom left me a random voicemail last year and I’ve kept it in my inbox ever since:

“Greg, what is going on? It’s Tom. Hey, God just put it on my heart to give you a call so I finally got off my derrière and giving you a call. I hope you had an awesome morning drinking coffee. If you get this message and have some time give me a call the next couple days. Been thinking about you, bud. All right man, love you.”

My close guy friends can be counted on one hand: Mac Barron, Mark (my best friend from my teen years who was my best man when we got married), Moose, and my buddy Eric from my brief time in SC. And Tom. So truly, I could count on one hand, and now it feels like I lost one of my fingers (terrible analogy, but you get it).

Since we moved away from Colorado, we didn’t talk all the time, but life was better knowing he was there.

What lessons can we take from Tom Loveday?

We should love more, and love more willingly.

We should laugh and smile more, and laugh and smile more willingly.

We should engage strangers more, and engage more willingly.

We should seek to help others more, and do so more willingly.

We should lend tools, run errands, loan trucks, lift furniture up precarious staircases and laugh until we’re red in the face. We should share as many cups of coffee and other beverages as often as possible.

The word I heard most from Tom was this: “Really!?”

It was his catchphrase, even if he didn’t realize it.

When something was exasperating, Tom grinned wide and said, “Really!?”

When something was ridiculous, that same smile.  “Really!?” 

When something was a part of life, one of those things, because these things happen, unbelievably, Tom would grin wide and say it again: “Really!?”

And so, what would Tom do in the face of the sudden death of a dear friend? Especially a friend who died in the light and love of a loving and merciful God Who promises salvation through His Son, Jesus?

Will we see Tom again? Will our grief ever be eased?

Tom, I’m sure, would answer in the affirmative:

Really.”

Drinks on the porch with Tom.
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Short or long podcasts?

Input Needed: Many short podcasts or one long episode?

In this video we discuss the pros and cons of each. Please take a look and share your thoughts in the comments below!

We’ve created thousands of hours of podcasts since 2005 and have experimented with multiple formats. Long shows, weekly shows, daily shows, and more.

For the last year or so, our podcast has averaged between 90 minutes to 2.5 hours.

So the question is: would you enjoy smaller episodes (releasing 3-5 times a week) or do you prefer one long episode each week?

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Join Jennifer at the Catholic Mom’s Summit!

When I married Greg nearly 25 years ago, I had no idea that I would be forced to confront the complications of depression in my new marriage.  He actually kept it a secret from me during our courtship.  Maybe he thought it would be solved after he married me.  I’m not sure.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  While we both brought unwelcomed baggage into our marriage, depression filled up his biggest suitcase. 

Join me for this year’s CATHOLIC MOM’S SUMMIT as I open up and share my personal story of how God transforms through the hurts we carry. 

I recorded a quick video for you with more details.  Register today and don’t miss the largest online gathering of Catholic moms packed with over 80 Catholic mom presenters all with one goal: 

To help you find your joy no matter what struggle you are facing!

Please watch the video and register today.  

If you’ve already registered, THANK YOU!  But would you do me a favor and maybe forward this email to a fellow Catholic mom you know? Who’s the first woman that pops into your mind right now?  Yes, her.  Forward this blog to HER.

“See” you at the FREE CONFERENCE this November 13th-15th!

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Forgiving Lino

A few years ago we did an episode where we talked about my falling out with our former co-worker, Lino Rulli.

You can listen to that episode here.

Recently, I was invited to present a meditation on the Enkindle podcast about forgiveness. So of course, I couldn’t help but think about Lino!

Check out the meditation for the Enkindle podcast here.

Enkindle

And once you’ve listened to that, don’t miss the replay from Lino’s The Catholic Guy Show where he listened to this story live on the air!

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Married with Married Children

Our oldest son, Sammy, got married last week.

We had a crazy whirlwind trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he lives now. None of us could have planned for the mind-numbing Derecho that tore through town on the Monday prior. Over 100,000 people were without power and destruction was everywhere.

This video (not ours) shows just how insane this storm was, and what we arrived to the day before the wedding.

To make matters more surreal, it was our first time on a plan post-Coronavirus. My brain can’t wrap itself around the idea that we have to stay at least 6 feet away from each other at Church, but it’s still perfectly acceptable to be squeezed in like sardines on a plane.

Our arrival was equally strange as cell-phone (and therefore GPS) reception was spotty. Nearly every traffic light was out, transforming most intersections into 4-way stops.

The roads were endlessly lined with toppled trees, roots fully exposed.

Grain silos were smashed like soda cans.

Electrical poles were either knocked down or leaning askew, as if an earthquake had rolled underneath them. Those, in particular, reminded me of the scene in the 1978 Superman film when Lois Lane drove through the desert as power lines fell all around her car.

When we finally arrived to our hotel – which we’d been assured was one of the few with electricity – we were instead greeted by a darkened lobby.

The desk clerk walked us through a pitch black staircase to an equally dark hallway on the second floor. We weren’t given keys as they card key system wasn’t working. Only the master keys from the desk clerk could get us in the room.

Inside, without air conditioning, we could only open the window a little less than two inches. It was stifling.

People had been already been dealing with these inconveniences for days.

We share more of the weirdness of arriving on episode 340 of Adventures in Imperfect Living. Listen here.

But despite the crazy weirdness, God still showed up.

There were too many-God inspired moments to list, including the moment we were able to give our new daughter-in-law a gift we’d been saving for over 17 years. (A video of this gift is available to our Patreon co-producers here.)

We’ll be processing this last week for years to come. But the most amazing thing to come from it is simply witnessing our son receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

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Interested in Spiritual Direction?

We have some really cool behind the scenes news we want to share with you. So let's get right to it:

Many Thanks!

First off, major thanks to you and everyone else who reached out and shared some kindness with our family a couple weeks ago after we had to say goodbye to our dog, Jody. It's been a strange couple of weeks getting used to her not being around. While we know not everyone reading this is an "animal person," we appreciated the prayers and kind words, nevertheless.

We never knew how much food we apparently drop on the kitchen floor until Jody was no longer with us!

Ever Wanted to Podcast?

Secondly, as we mentioned on this week's podcast, given his 15 years of media development experience, Greg has started developing a new online course to help others get a podcast up and running quickly and professionally, but still having fun along the way. The goal is to include not only the equipment and mechanics of podcasting, but also the many lessons Greg learned from hosting over 4 years of radio with Jennifer on SiriusXM. There are plenty of podcasting courses out there, but not a single one like what Greg is working on.

Before getting too deeply into development of the course, he's looking for a small handful of people who'd be willing to share with him their concerns, hopes, and struggles with podcasting.This includes people who have already launched a podcast, as well as people who have been thinking about it for awhile (whether for personal or business use).

He's already had several conversations just since mentioning it on our podcast, and the feedback has been INCREDIBLY useful. 

Interested? If so, let Greg know right away (his email is greg [at] willitsworks [dot] com), or you can contact him directly from our website here. 

Once he hears from you, if he's still looking for input, he'll send you his calendar so you can pick a time that works for you, and then he'll schedule a 1-on-1 video conversation (should only take about 20-30 minutes) to pick your brain (that phrase has always grossed us out, but you get the picture). It would be of great help!

Curious About Spiritual Direction?

Another area we're starting to explore is personally journeying with people just like you who want a deeper faith life, or perhaps just some objective feedback and guidance in life, relationships, and work.

To that end, we are now offering individual spiritual direction and life coaching.

You can meet with either Jennifer or Greg for one hour at a time via live video conferencing. We're "tip-toeing" our way into this as we want to offer this while also working on all the other areas of content development that we know bring value to people's lives. So we're currently working with our first clients while also gauging the overall interest.

So if you've been on the search for spiritual direction or life coaching, click here to join our waiting list. or just drop your name and email in the form below. We're currently reviewing applications for new clients, but new openings become available regularly. We'd love to help you experiencing a deeper faith life and more joy.

Our Next LIVE Video Chat

Thanks to our $5 and above co-producers, we're now hosting a monthly live and interactive video chat. Our third session will be on Sunday night, September 9, at 8PM EST. If you haven't yet signed up as a co-producer, you can do so here. For those of you who are already signed up at the $5 or higher level, be sure to mark the date on your calendar and keep an eye on your email for the exclusive link as the date approaches.

Happiness On Demand FREE Video Course

The response to our free Happiness on Demand Video Course has been fantastic! If you haven't yet had a chance to check it out, make sure to enter your info in the form below and you'll get INSTANT access!

We Need More Hate

Wait. What? Yeah, we know that sounds confusing, but "We Need More Hate" is the name of this week's podcast episode. In this edition we share the amazing co-producer news we woke up to the other morning. 

Plus we talk about our daughter Lily's recent attempts at comedy, and wonder if she might genuinely have a talent for this and we also get quite transparent when we share some of our recent failures, how they've affected our family, and our attempt to pivot in yet another new direction. And lastly, in light of last week's Grand Jury report out of Pennsylvania, combined with the ongoing fallout of the McCarrick scandal, we share the pointed response from Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison where he surprisingly calls for more hate in the Church, but not in a way you might think. If you haven't already checked it out, you can do so right here.

And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Adventures in Imperfect Living and leave a review for it on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts!

And that's it for this week! Whew. That was a lot!

As always, we're so incredibly grateful to have you in our lives. If you think someone else may get something from this email, please feel free to forward it along!

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Yesterday was a Tough Day

Yesterday was a tough day for our family.

You see, on January 1, 2007, our family took a huge leap of faith.  I'd just resigned from my career in the IT industry so that Jennifer and I could work as full-time media missionaries, creating podcasts and video and other fun resources to help people through life.  

Given that we'd just taken a huge financial risk by giving up health insurance and a steady paycheck, we're still not sure what compelled us the next day to adopt a rescue dog.

But this 9 month old black dog named Jody just seemed to pick us, as if we were already hers.  As we were deciding what to do, she even let our then two-year-old son Tommy slowly lead her along by a leash, staying by his side with each step.  She was gentle and playful and there was just something about her that made our entire family know she was supposed to come home with us.

Soon after, we began producing our That Catholic Show series and Jody played a major role in the very first video (but my favorite Jody appearance was her cameo in episode 7).

In the ensuing years, Jody's occasional barks and jangling chains made many appearances on various podcasts and our former radio program on SiriusXM. 

She watched over our daughter Lily when she was born in 2009, and was there with us every step of the way through future job changes and two cross country moves.

When Jennifer's mother moved in with us a couple years ago, she and Jody -- now over a decade old -- developed a certain kinship, these two elderly ladies regularly resting within close proximity of each other on the main floor of our house.

Then earlier this week we noticed a large mass on Jody's right side, and she suddenly became lethargic and stopped eating.  When we took her to the vet on Tuesday, it was suggested that a series of medications could bring down the inflammation in her kidneys, pancreas, and stomach. But two days later, the mass had nearly quadrupled in size and the doctor confirmed what we already suspected.  The mass was inoperable and there was little we could do to ease Jody's pain.

So while Jennifer and our son, Walter, stayed at the vet, I drove home to get the other kids and my mother-in-law so they could say their goodbyes.  Even though Jody would soon turn thirteen, we were all in complete disbelief that her end was already here.

We all gathered then around this suddenly very old dog who never stopped acting like a puppy until this very week.  We said a prayer and thanked God for our time with Jody, and for giving her to our family.  And we sat with Jody as the doctor administered two shots and our good girl took her last breath.

We knew this day would happen.  Animals and humans all come to their inevitable end.  But still, we were as shocked by our grief as we were by Jody's sudden illness and death.

When we returned home, we put away her dog dishes and swept the floor.  We saw her everywhere we looked. 

As the day progressed, we were all very, very tired.  We made the obligatory Facebook post and were comforted by the kind words that so many people shared.

Jennifer, exhausted from grieving with the children and from her own sadness, went to bed at 8:00, an unusually early hour for her.  Our younger three kids began prepping for bed shortly thereafter as Walter and I attempted to distract ourselves with an inane 1990's Adam Sandler movie (Billy Madison, for those who are curious).  

But then something completely unexpected happened. 

Around 9:30 PM Walter got a text:

"Hey, we're outside."

He jumped up and went to the front door where three of his friends stood in the dark bearing gifts: two pizzas, and boxes of cookies and muffins.

They'd seen Walt's own Instagram post from earlier in the day and came to cheer us up.  

So Jennifer got out of bed.  The other kids came back downstairs.  Tommy brought his rabbit, Hazel, to the living room, and our cat Marty came in to see what all the commotion was about.  

For the next hour we ate and laughed and played with our two remaining pets.  Our children forgot about their grief for awhile, as they laughed with Walter's friends.  

And so did we.  

We were comforted by others who Jennifer and I barely even know.  These three teenagers, all recent high school graduates, had the character and thoughtfulness to seek out and comfort not only their friend, Walter, but his family, as well.

Some people may say Jody was just a dog, and that perhaps we were taking it too hard.  But these three teens saw what yesterday truly was: an opportunity to bring joy to the lives of others.

I went to bed last night thinking not only of our good fortune at having had such a good dog in our family, and from experiencing the unconditional love of one of God's creatures in this mutt of various breeds.  But more than anything, I found myself so grateful that three wise teens showed up at our door late at night bearing gifts of food, compassion and love.

Who do you know that could benefit from an unexpected phone call or visit from you this weekend?

Your sudden appearance may mean more to them than you will ever know.

Yesterday was a tough day for our family.  But it was a very blessed one, as well.

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13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Years Ago Today

p-640-480-881edbf7-747f-444c-a784-a21b6bc90901(Note: I originally posted this on our anniversary in 2008, and again in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. This is the eighth year of this tradition.)
1314151617181920 years ago this morning, I got up and took a shower. I was very relaxed, all things considered.

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Back to School Lunch Box Ideas

While I’d LOVE to take credit for this, I can’t.  Instead, I’ll give credit to all the creative moms out there who can think like this on their own.   With our five kids going to public school, bringing lunch from home is a must.   But it’s never been easy.  What I deem appropriate for a lunch box is hardly what my children desire.  Then, Greg told me about an image he saw on social media that illustrated how one mom took charge on helping her kids build a better lunch.  I never saw the image, but I didn’t need to.  It was enough to get my brain going.

Now, with a little sorting help from our son, Walter, I was able to conquer the pain-in-the-butt that is helping our kids to make halfway nutritious lunches from home.  I started thinking in categories like:  fruit, dairy, cheese, meat/protein, veggie, salty carb and/or sweet carb.  Then I sorted items that I wanted to offer in each category and LABELED them!  Now each child can pluck one item from each “bucket” and be guaranteed a well-rounded lunch.  AND … wait for it… it only takes our kids less than 2 minutes to make their own lunch!!! BooYah!

IMG_7596First I chose two easy veggies: baby carrots and celery sticks.  Our kids are not real big on veggies, but seeing it so neatly organized just made it attractive.  I have to work with what I can here.  So far it seems to be working. There are clearly less veggies in the bucket only a few days in.

IMG_7595Next, I selected at least four quick grab fruits.  Since apples and oranges are naturally one serving, only the red grapes had to be put into snack baggies.

IMG_7597Now for the slightly expensive option.. non-refrigerated sources of protein.  We choose our favorite brand of protein bars which are sweet.  Then, we provided a saltier protein bucket that contains options like beef jerky (portioned into snack baggies) and canned tuna and chicken.  I seriously doubt the kids would go for the tuna or chicken, but Greg surely might.  If those protein options don’t work, then I’m ready for that too since I try to keep deli meat, cheese and/or turkey pepperoni in fridge.

IMG_7598And probably the buckets of most fun are the carb buckets.  One for salty based carbs like single portions of ritz crackers, goldfish crackers and pretzels, etc.  And the other for sweeter carbs like chewy granola, rice crispy treats, etc.

I know what you might be thinking. These are a lot of options.  Eh, you’re probably right.  These are not as nutritious as it could be.  Yep, you’d be right there too.  I’m not a fitness guru who avoids all processed foods.  I’d like to be, but I’m not.  I’m just a regular mom who wants to feed our kids with the best options I can come up with and afford. With our five kids needing to build a lunch that will sustain them through a seven hour day PLUS help provide quick solutions for their after school feeding frenzy, this seems like a good compromise for all appetites involved.

Now I’m sure the mysterious other woman who came up with the original masterful organization of back to school lunch food items had the more Pinterest worthy presentation.  But I’m more than pleased with our “make do with whatever buckets we can find around the house approach.” So far, so good!  Thanks lady, whoever you are 🙂

 

 

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Maximize Your Time

With this latest edition of Caffeine and Catholicism, a new video series designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic Faith, which we’re producing at my job, I dive into the preciousness of time, and how to make the most of it.

Jim Croce wanted to bottle it and The Rolling Stones said it was on their side. Everyone it seems from the Foo Fighters to Pink Floyd and even Cyndi Lauper have sung about the impermanence of TIME.

We’ve had decades of books and movies from Back to the Future to the Terminator that explore the ramifications of tinkering with time.

But what about right now?

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1007 reminds us that “Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life.”

The end of time.

That aspect of death, the Catechism says, lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment.

Your local parish is one of the best places your TIME can produce the greatest fruit for Christ. Maybe you’re not called to lead religious education or be a lector at Mass, but each of us have been given gifts that God calls us to use for the service of others. And what a great feeling it is when those gifts are fully realized!

My own mom could sew you a tuxedo if you needed her to. For years she’s given of her talents in repairing vestments and ironing the cloths used during Mass.

Maybe you’re handy with a saw, or a lawnmower, or are a good listener, or a powerful prayer warrior.

Chances are your parish could find a place for you to put these gifts from God to amazing use, even if in the quietest of ways.

So make a commitment to put your gifts to work, by giving up time for the sake of serving others in your local parishes.

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