A Birthday Legacy

Written By: Kim - Sep• 01•11

Today is my birthday and if I can make the arrangements, I take the day off from work.

After I had breakfast with my husband, I hit the gym for yoga. My daughter wondered, the night before, why I would go to the gym on my birthday. She said I should do something fun. I reminded her that in order to have many more healthy birthdays, regular exercise was part of the plan. And, I planned to do something fun later.

Part of my "something fun" birthday: pedi/mani for me and Abby.

While yoga moves are the same in every language, what moves each instructor exposes you to are different. As usual, I was not disappointed to learn something new.

As with any yoga class, we closed with relaxation. She asked us to envision a jewel or crystal and the light and warmth it emitted. I admit that visualization has never really worked for me. This was part of the Lamaze child birth strategy class we took before my oldest child was born. Despite the beautiful beach sunset picture we had in the delivery room, I could only get through contractions by breathing, groaning and squeezing the hell out of my husband’s hands. And, I made it through both births of my children without drugs, but that is another blog post for another time.

While in yoga, I pictured something like the Hope Diamond (if you’re going to visualize, visualize big). Then I realized that it really didn’t matter. Inanimate objects do not add value to our lives. What matters are my family, friends and colleagues. So, instead of visualizing a priceless object, I visualized the most priceless people in my life: my children. All of the adjectives that the yoga instructor used were some of what we see, I hope, when we really see our children: light, energy, warmth.

People become parents for a lot of reasons. Sometimes parenting is a thankless job. Sometimes your heart bursts with joy and love at this person you are sharing a life with. Other times children break your heart. You laugh because you are so happy and at other times wonder what in the hell you were thinking when you decided to bring another life in to the world. You begin to question why you thought you were qualified to be a parent. You watch “19 Kids and Counting” and wonder why you aren’t more like Michelle Duggar. That woman should be sainted and she’s not even Catholic.

But then you realize that you acted on faith. You had faith that you could do this; that God would provide and that your heart had room for more. You created another life because you could not imagine your life without children. All the negatives about parenting fall away and you realize that this is your legacy. The only one that matters.

So, here’s to many more fun, healthy birthdays, faith and a long legacy. No one said it would be easy.

Our Catholic Roots Are Showing at Vatican City

Written By: Kim - Aug• 06•11

On our fourth day in Rome, we spent all day at Vatican City. Despite the fact that we allowed plenty of time to get there, we did not anticipate that the Metro train sign near our hotel was really a walking corridor to the next stop. Fifteen minutes later….

Once we got on the Metro train, the train was packed, despite the fact that it was 10:15 am. Cognizant of pick pockets, we were on alert. In the throng of people, Mike had gotten separated from us. After we got off the train, he told us that an older woman tried to steal from his cargo pocket. The pockets were buttoned and he felt something brush by his thigh. He checked and the pocket was unbuttoned. Luckily, there was nothing in it but gum, but she didn’t even get that. He closed the pocket and she tried again. This time, he slapped her hand away. Our second experience with Rome’s infamous pick pockets.

Still rushing from our misunderstanding of the Spagna Metro Stop, we headed toward the Vatican, a 10 minute walk. Thank God I listened to the advice of others and booked our tour tickets ahead of time. The regular line wrapped around two city blocks along the Vatican Wall. We arrived 15 minutes late, but were greeted by our lovely guide, Christina.

Swiss Guards protect the Vatican and the pope. ©Mike Howard

If you go, pay the extra charge and get the audio tour. It is much easier to hear your guide since most of the rooms are crowded and cavernous. It is also worth the price to pay for a guided tour. If you bother to go to Vatican City, you should learn as much as you can while you are there. Art lovers and appreciators will thoroughly enjoy seeing and learning about these Vatican treasurers.

One of the Vatican Museum ceilings. ©Mike Howard

We spent the first 30 minutes in front of a huge touchscreen showcasing the details of the Sistine Chapel paintings. The ceiling is 20 meters above ground and during peak months, it’s crowded. People milling about and others sitting on the coveted benches pressed up against the walls. They are not moving so be prepared to stand. This is also the room where the cardinals convene to elect the new pope. The Sistine Chapel is the pope’s private chapel and he says mass there.

To say that we were overwhelmed by the manmade beauty is the understatement of the year. To say that God granted these artists unbelievable talent and eyes for seeing and creating things that mere mortals do not, is the second understatement of the year. The sheer vastness of the Vatican’s collection of artwork makes this visit a must for novices and connesiours. Amazing.

After touring the Vatican Museums, which included the Sistine Chapel, we headed to St. Peter’s

The alter over St. Peter's crypt. Only the pope is allowed to say mass here. ©Mike Howard

Basilica. Only the pope is allowed to say mass  at the Alter of St. Peter. And what an alter it is. Literally located over the tomb of St.Peter, the alter boasts copper columns that almost reach the ceiling. There are several chapels where you can get married, baptize your children or have your parish priest say mass if there is a group coming. Apparently, you have to book early, but what an experience!

We then headed back to the little shop run by nuns. The religious items they sold were simply stunning and reasonably priced. What a lovely group of ladies to shop with. A final shot of the Swiss Guards and we headed out to St. Peter’s Square. The sheer vastness of this and the fact that the buildings are shaped to form outstretched arms tells us that the architect knew his customer quite well.