I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Monday, December 26, 2011


You can call it a break,
or some time to just be.
More sleep's on the docket
with some reading and TV.

There's been plenty of time
with friends and family in town.
Good food and sweet treats
have been duely passed 'round.

We've celebrated Christmas
New Year's on the way
School won't start again
for another 6 days.

So pack in the fun
and don't think of to-dos
Avoid all the malls,
which are surely like zoos.

Get time on your side
The present's what we've got
Make memories today -
ones that cannot be bought.

For it's times just like these
that we're meant to enjoy
Realizing that one day
we'll look back on them with joy.

Happy Holidays!

Well, sometimes, it's best to just take a break. So, that's just what I am planning to do.

I'll see you back here after the new year.

Until then, be well my friends...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas present is here to stay...

As Christmas draws ever near, here is my number one favorite Christmas song:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 

(It wouldn't let me embed this video for some reason.)

Why it tops the list: I wish I had some great reason to give why this one is my all-time favorite Christmas song, but, honestly, I don't. Probably what I like best about it is its focus on what (and who) we have so that we might feel blessed and happy with the present Christmas, look back on past Christmases with fond memories, and look ahead to Christmases that will come in the future. Time keeps turning, and we all keep moving, but this song reminds us to stop and cherish the special moment of Christmas each year, no matter where we find ourselves.

At least, that's what it says to me.

So, what about you? Have you thought about your favorite Christmas song? 

No matter what it is, remember to "have yourself a merry little Christmas now."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Place Like Home for Christmas

"All Hearts Come Home For Christmas." Here's my #2:

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Why it makes the list: It is natural to gather together at Christmas, but for some of us it is not physically possible (due to either death or distance), and such realities can make the holidays an especially difficult time. This song reminds us, however, that at least in thoughts and prayers, our loved ones are with us (and we with them) during this holiday of great joy.

And if we truly believe this, then we all of have something to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Little Town Made Christmas History...

#3 is a song that brings hope:

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Why it makes the list: The mix of such beautiful music and even more beautiful (and hope-filled) words make this probably oft-overlooked Christmas song one we should all cherish.

Take some time today to really reflect on these incredible lyrics:

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bells Are Ringing

"...Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe." #4 coming at you:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Lyrics found here

Why it makes the list: This song is for all who believe and all who have ever doubted God's promise of His peace. As the song progresses from the introductory chords to its final refrain, it tells of the realization of inherent good in people - the truth that there is "peace on earth, good will to men." 

When we find ourselves bowing our heads in despair, let us be reminded that the bells are ringing...and God is watching.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I'd wager a guess that most of us have been in the shoes of the young boy in this song (my #5):

Little Drummer Boy 

Why it makes the list: Like the little drummer boy, we often find ourselves with no gift fit to lay before Jesus. We come before God empty-handed, and, in light of this, we may feel embarrassed or unworthy.

But God does not see us as unworthy. He sees this as an opportunity to fill us - in the words of St. Augustine of Hippo, "God gives where He finds empty hands." (Our hands should be empty!)

And, in fact, we each do have a gift to bring - and that gift is the talents and love God has given to us that we, in turn, are called to now share with others.

And you thought I liked this song because it has the word "rum" in it, didn't you? Hmm...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Did YOU know...?

Where would Christmas be without Jesus' mother? Here's my #6:

Mary, Did You Know? 

(If the video above does not work, try here --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiaZYZor6vI&feature=player_embedded)

Why it makes the list: I have a confession - this song will always hold a special place in my heart for two reasons: 1- I can still see my lovely sign language club offering up this song as a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe last year (and my own mom was there to watch too); 2- Because of the Salesians, I will never wander far from Mary's presence and prayers - pray for us!

Does this beautifully written song hold a special place in your heart too? It is the story of both Mary and Jesus. It is a perfect reminder of why we celebrate Christmas...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

If You Just Believe...

Getting closer to Christmas now with #7:


Why it makes the list: Perhaps I am partial to this song this year because our students sang it for the Christmas concert, but I feel it truly captures the spirit of Christmas. No matter what is happening the rest of the year, Christmas appears to be this "wake-up call" for each of us to remember what it's like to believe in the goodness and joy all around us.

On a short side note, we gave the students their very own bells in Christmas goodie bags yesterday - it was in honor of their song and the fact that we had watched "The Polar Express" in class - and they were so grateful and cute about them. They shook their bells and said, "We believe!" They were priceless.

So, here's a question to think about - Does the bell still ring for you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let nothing you dismay

And on to #8:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Why it makes the list: In the midst of all the busy-ness and rush of the holiday season, this song reminds us to all slow down. God can handle it - we just have to remember to offer all of our worries and problems up to Him. This song brings greetings and wishes of "comfort and joy" - isn't that what we all want (and need) this holiday season?

So, remember, if you are getting caught up in the rush, take a rest...and look to God.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Come a-waltzing with #9

And 1-2-3, 1-2-3... Here's my #9:

The Christmas Waltz 

Why it makes the list: How can you not love Frank Sinatra in this song? It's short and sweet...and it paints a vivid image of a living room festively prepared for the holidays. Such a pretty picture! And an added bonus? --> Being a waltz, this song is in 3/4 time, and I love how the song actually makes use of that in its lyrics. Clever!

Will you have this dance?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Counting Down...

By no means do I claim to have the ultimate Top 10 Christmas songs list - for one, I'm likely to have forgotten one or two - but, for what it's worth (and to bring a little Christmas cheer your way), here's my list, starting today with my #10:

Winter Wonderland

Why it makes the list: It's one of those put-me-in-the-Christmas-y-mood songs that make me want to curl up by a warm, cozy fireplace with some hot chocolate and look out at the snow, while, at the same time, being one of those songs that makes me want to go catch snowflakes on my tongue.

Would this song make your Top 10 Christmas List?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

That's All

3 more days.

That says it all.

...No, really, what more is there to say?

(Join me tomorrow to weigh in on the Top 10 Songs of Christmas Countdown, starting with #10...)

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Alternative Christmas List

With holiday sales and online shopping hitting their all-time highs these weeks, it's time to stop and think.

Maybe this year it's time to consider an alternative Christmas list...

“Christmas Gift Suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect."
- Oren Arnold

As we prepare for the Christmas holidays, let's remember to not get so wrapped up in the stress and gifts that we forget the aforementioned "items" that should be on all of our lists.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joy Instead

In the Catholic tradition, we celebrate Gaudete (or "rejoice") Sunday today. For me, quite honestly, the timing ain't so great. Admittedly, I'm not in the rejoicing mood.

But then I came across an article on one of the blogs I follow regularly: http://liturgycatechesisshallkiss.blogspot.com/2011/12/rejoicing-in-world-that-has-forgotten.html - There's a difference between joy and happiness. And during times of mourning, it is possible to maintain that deeper sense of joy rooted in our Lord: We believe that all will be well.

I love how these kinds of articles come across my Google Reader just as I need them. Amen!

I pray that today you are filled with joy, even during times of difficulty.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We Have Today

Highly doubtful if the thermometer reached 30 degrees today - in fact, it started out in the mid-teens according to the Today Show at the gym this morning. But, nevertheless, it was a perfectly wonderful day to be outside.

In fact, it was one of those days that I kept searching for a reason to go outside:

A quick jog to the gym (+treadmill run inside) and back - brr!...

A familiar walk up the street for a simple breakfast of chocolate-y chip goodness (in the form of a bagel) and a cup of joe from Panera with my sister...

A smooth drive to my school, where some of my students were playing in a basketball game - they won!

A brief trip to the GAP right at the corner of my street - it's hard to resist a buy one get one free sale...

A short "hike" to a nearby restaurant to meet my sister for dinner (after she went to Mass)...

I know the weather won't last like this much longer. Snow's bound to come and barometers are likely to fall sharply. But I had today.

Yes, I had today...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Immaculate Mary

Remember, it is almost impossible to reach Jesus without Mary's mediation. Therefore, entrust everything to her, especially your soul.
~ St. John Bosco

Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for Us!

This short, simple prayer says it all. (I love how the Salesians make it so simple!) When we draw near to Mary, we draw near to God.

So, clearly, Marian feast days are the best: Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Opportunity's a-knocking

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas Edison

If I teach my students one thing this year (in addition to coming closer to God), I want it to be that they should not be afraid of working hard. I want them to look a challenge (or a hard word problem in math) in the eye and believe they can do it. Even if they have a chance at failing, I want them to make that leap. If not here in a safe learning environment, then where? when?

Is that too much to want for my students? I know I always harp on the fact that if something was easy, then everyone would do it. But an opportunity occurs when you work hard to create it. Plus, isn't it that much better when we finally achieve something after working hard at it?

Yes, Thomas Edison sure was a bright guy.

So, the question is, when opportunity knocks, will we be prepared to answer, even if the "work" seems hard?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Laughing Matter

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

And what makes it really neat is when that laughter comes as part of your job, and you take the time to really appreciate those little funny moments.

I was fortunate to have a few of those moments today.

And for those I am truly grateful.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Words, Don't Fail Me Now

My Grandpa
(A Memory Rhyming Poem)
December 3, 2011

A man of few words,
but wise, nonetheless.
Stubborn to a fault
as his patience we'd test

He served in the Air Corps,
was a civil engineer
And a good man to his family
year after year

He bled green and white -
A Spartan fan true.
Best beware of "the look"
if you mentioned "Go Blue."

Ev'ry morning he'd have
his coffee without fail
As he read the newspaper
and sorted through mail.

He liked everything plain -
a no fuss kind of guy.
On his burgers, no "garbage"
on the side, he'd have fries.

His dislike for pickles
was one of a kind
"I'm allergic to them" -
he had made up his mind.

Manhattans and Mai Tais,
a cold beer or two
Celebrating with friends -
that he knew how to do.

Public Broadcasting programs
and NCIS
USA, Big 10 network -
on TV, those were best.

He taught us to play card games -
Pinochle was fun.
And we always enjoyed it,
no matter who won.

He gave generously
of his money and time
For he believed that to give
any less was a crime.

A brother, an uncle
a grandpa and dad
A friend, a coworker,
an MSU grad

Words simply can't tell
how I miss him - I've tried
It just hasn't been 
the same since he died.

But his memory I'll carry
with me where I go.
Blessed to be his granddaughter -
that I sure hope he knows.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Grandpa, Sparty, and Me

As a twelve year old kid, I confess I didn't know much in the ways of the world. (And perhaps I still don't, but that's another story.) The point is that it was that year when I really started watching college basketball.

And, let's face it, it wasn't just any college basketball - it was Michigan State. (I'm pretty sure I dubbed myself an honorary member of the Izzone.) A fanatic (me) was born.

Why Michigan State? You know, people still ask me that to this day, and I love telling the story.

Actually, it's not much of a story, per se. It's really just for one simple fact - I wanted something in common with my grandpa. (I guess I realized even then what an incredible man he was.) Whether watching in the same room or on different TVs across the country, I knew that we would always be able to either celebrate or lament the team's results and stats at the end of each game. Without fail, it would be something we shared.

And we did just that for 14 years.

Eh, who am I kidding? He's still watching (wherever he is), I'm sure of it.

And I'll definitely keep watching too - heck, the team picture and schedule is the desktop background on my computer.

As I'm sure my grandpa would say, Sparty on...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Meeting Adjourned

How quickly things change. And how fast life keeps moving forward even when you want it to just stand still (or even go backwards)...

Grandpa, I miss you so much. Because of you my blood will always run green and white. (Go State!) I will forever hum "Waltzing Matilda" and hear "The Bedbugs and the Cooties" rhyme in my head. And, as you constantly reminded me, I will "save my money and buy whiskey." Whenever I see a pickle on my plate, I will remember how you always claimed you were allergic to them just so you wouldn't have to deal with that nonsense. (Pure genius.) And when it's time to leave the table, I'll always note (at least to myself) that the meeting's adjourned. I love you, and I am so proud and blessed to be your granddaughter.

(In loving memory, July 11, 1924 - December 2, 2011)