Friday, December 26, 2008

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord

For those of you who didn't already know, I'd like to ask you to pray for the repose of the soul of Tom's grandpa, Lee Snider (Theresa's dad), who passed away last Friday and whose funeral we will celebrate tomorrow at Star of the Sea.

His entrance in to eternity was one that I wish everyone could have. He died with the Sacraments and holding the hand of his beloved wife, Kathy.

December has been a little sad for the Herring family, having lost two of our dear grandparents. But we are thankful for the time that we had with them and look forward to spending eternity with them praising God forever in Heaven.

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A new spin on "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

Here's a poem that someone forwarded me about how the true meaning of CHRISTmas has been eroded. I pray that we all remember Whose birthday we are celebrating tomorrow. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Twas The Month Before Christmas

When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Snow and a Lesson in Charity

I don't know what it is about snow that I love so much. I certainly don't enjoy the prospect of driving in it. I don't like the puddles that it makes on the floor when you bring it inside on your shoes. I don't like having to go scrape it off of the car in the mornings.

What I do like, though, is how quiet everything is when there is a blanket of snow over it. I like that it's so quiet that you can almost hear individual flakes landing on the sidewalk. I like that it forces us to slow down, maybe decide to stay at home instead of making that one extra errands trip, and enjoy each other's company. I have to wonder if God planned it that way. Just in time to celebrate His Son's birth, we have the opportunity to slow down, breathe, take a walk, and enjoy the silence.

This is our house a couple of hours ago. It's continued to snow since I took this.

Here are some pictures of our little snow angel. Clare loved her first experience playing in the snow, and cried when I brought her back inside because her nose was bright red.

My friend Cheri posted a few pictures of their Christmas decorations, so I thought I'd do the same. I try to make all of our decorations by hand if possible -- our Nativity is store-bought, though. The cedar swag was made out of florist's wire and cedar boughs from the tree in our back yard. The wreath is also homemade. I hung it with gold wire-edged ribbon instead of a metal wreath hanger, and I really like how it looks so much better. You may notice a trend here -- I like ribbon. A lot.

For the record, I hate the screen door. It ruins a perfectly good picture. If I have it shut, you can't see the wreath. If I have it open, the other side of my cedar swag gets cut out. I just can't win with this door. Oh well, you get the idea.

This is only the corner of a homemade garland that I have hung across the front window. I took a picture of the whole thing, but you really lose some of the effect, so I thought I'd go with a closer-up picture.

I took a picture of our tree too, but it came out looking very strange with the window backlighting it, and in the daylight you lose the entire effect of the lights. I may take one tonight and post it.

On to a Lesson in Charity...

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you're completely overwhelmed by someone's charity, and edified by their example? We had one this past weekend.

We went to Bellingham for Lauren & John's wedding on Saturday -- it was beautiful. And it even started to snow as they were leaving the reception. How romantic.

Then it kept on snowing, and Bellingham's roads got very nasty in a very short few hours. As we were leaving the Xavier House (about 9:30 PM) - Clare was SUPER cranky (sorry to all who endured her screaming) because she missed her nap and it was getting late - Fr. Nguyen asked if we could give him a ride back to the rectory, as he didn't think his car would be able to make it. So we put it in 4WD and pulled out of 35th Street no problem. But the road report was not good, and there were tales of roll-overs and people in ditches so Tom and I thought that after we dropped Father off we should probably put on the chains at a gas station just to be safe.

Father suggested that we do it before getting up the hill to his house so that he could help Tom while Clare and I stayed warm in the car - looking back on it, I don't think we would have been able to even get near Sacred Heart without the chains on. Anyway, poor Tom and Fr. Nguyen jumped out of the car (Tom no coat, and neither had gloves) and proceeded to put the chains on. Now these are supposedly the "Quick Fit" variety. There was nothing quick about this. It took them nearly an hour outside in 20-degree snowy weather to get these things on. It was our fault for not having done a test run on them in our garage before leaving. Lesson learned.

Anyway, they got the darn things on and we were able to get to the rectory just fine. Father said he was going to run in and grab some Cheerios for Clare to keep her happy on the drive down. A few minutes later, out comes Father with a whole bag full of food for us all and 2 cups of steaming hot tea. Tom and I were so thankful not only for his help in putting the chains on our car, but for his generosity in bringing out a whole lunch bag for our trip home. And how did he know that Peppermint tea is my favorite? What charity!

Thank you, Father Nguyen.

Here's a picture of the "Quick Fit" chain incident:

We did make it home just fine. The roads were pretty bad between Bellingham and Mt. Vernon (cars all over the road, rolled over, and in ditches, tow trucks...) so we were thankful for the chains. It took us over an hour to make what is usually a 30-minute drive. In Mt. Vernon we took the chains off (incidentally, a very quick chore) and by the time we hit S. Everett we were comfortable taking it out of 4WD.

We barely made it to Seattle in time to catch a 1 AM ferry, and tumbled in to bed at almost 3 AM on Sunday. What an adventure!

Some of you may be asking, "Why the heck did you even try to drive? Couldn't you have stayed the night?" The answer is yes, we could have stayed over, but our friend Patrick pointed out that it might be best to take our chances with the snow rather than wait until the morning when it's all frozen over to a sheet of ice. We thought he was probably right.

Well, stay safe out there everyone. Enjoy the snow, and enjoy each other. God bless you!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Finally...some recent pics

I've just simply not had the energy or time to sit down and post some new pictures and an update since the election. But I find myself with some time now - so here goes.

Life with Clare at 15 months has very few dull moments. Maybe when she's asleep. Speaking of sleep, it's been really interesting trying to get her to sleep. She's sleeping alone in her big girl bed through the night, but since we got back from Minnesota it seems like there's always been an extenuating circumstance that makes it so that we have to baby her a bit. The month of November she's been teething (molars -- ouch!) and getting over a cough/cold. Both have made it hard for her to go to sleep, so we've been pampering her by cuddling with her until she falls asleep. Long story short, it's been a challenge getting her to sleep on her own.

She's talking more and more, and her vocabulary has expanded to include "Papa" (my dad), "Mammy" (my mom), banananana (banana), "bye-da" (help me), Anna (Tom's sister is the first auntie whose name Clare can say), "dow" (down), "tee" (teeth - she loves getting her teeth brushed), and she says "Da-da" after every time you give her anything (means "Thank You" - she says it with the correct intonation and everything).

I'll just post a few pictures and put captions to give a short update on the life and times of the Herring family.

Clare took a tumble down the stairs at church. She was not a happy camper. On the upside, she's VERY cautious with steps now and never goes down without holding a hand.

Clare and Dominick on our road trip to visit our friends in Spokane

Reading with Grandpa ("Papa") after a bath. She loves reading and will hand a book to any person who looks like enough of a sucker to read her the same book 18 times.

Our little Halloween princess waiting for her aunties to come home from trick-or-treating and fill up her buckets with candy.

Clare likes cheese.

If for any reason we can't find Clare at the Herrings' house, it's likely that she's made her way in to this room and has climbed up on the piano bench. She'll sit there all by herself and play.

Clare's first experience feeding ducks at Tumwater Falls Park over Thanksgiving weekend at Grammy's. She was really interested in the ducks until they started coming closer, then she shinnied up the closest person's legs to get away. I would tear off pieces of the bread for the ducks and Clare would eat it. I ended up feeding the ducks while my mom held her.

Clare chasing down Grandpa & Daddy while we were looking for our Christmas tree this weekend.

"Hurry up, Aunt Shannon!"

Hanging out with Aunt Kristy. I'm trying to teach her to say, "Kiki," much to Kristy's chagrin. :) You're going to have a hard time being the cool aunt when you're being called "Kiki."

After the annual Christmas tree hunt, we got everyone outside to put up the Christmas lights. Tom could actually reach the peak of our house just by standing on the ladder.

So that's where I'll leave you so that I can follow our little one and go to bed. Thanks for all of your support and prayers the last week. Gibby's funeral is tomorrow, so we'll be counting on them for a bit longer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord

Thank you all for your prayers for my grandma and my dad's family the past couple of days.

Yesterday morning, after all of us had an opportunity to talk to Gibby and say our goodbyes, her doctor explained to her what was going to happen and why. He explained that her cancer had spread rapidly and was wrapped around the blood vessels in her lungs, crippling her right lung and making her heart (already weak and with a pacemaker) have to work twice as hard to get blood moving. He said that they would take the breathing tube out and that she would begin to die then. She was so weak that they didn't think that she'd last the 4 hours that she did the day before when they tried to take the tube out. She was alert and understood everything that was going on, and shook her head vigorously when we asked her if she was afraid.

She'd been holding the rosary that I brought back from Assisi for her, and when the doctor told her the news she started rubbing the beads. She was comforted by the Rosary and prayed it daily, so my dad and aunt asked that I stay in there while she was dying (as family came and went) and just pray the Rosary out loud for her to hear. I told her that I was going to stand behind her and pray after they pulled the tubes, and she squeezed my hand and nodded her head to let me know that she wanted it. I told her that I would do my best, but that it was going to be hard for me, so if I got quiet for a minute I just needed to compose myself and that I would be praying silently.

Fortunately my sisters were there by my side the whole time. Hearing her granddaughters praying the Rosary together for her gave Gibby tremendous peace, and comforted the whole family - Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

They removed the tubes and sat her up so she could see all of us (she was conscious the whole time) as she passed away. She was in no pain, but was still able to see everyone and squeeze our hands. Modern medicine is so amazing.

We were able to make it through 2 Rosaries, a Divine Mercy chaplet, a couple of litanies, and prayed the prayer for a happy death as she stopped breathing.

I couldn't imagine a happier death. She died at peace with God and with her family surrounding her (my dad is one of 9 kids).

Gibby was a strong woman - strong in faith and in character - and she passed it on to her family. I still cannot believe that just a few days ago we were all sitting around her dining room table making our annual family Christmas craft and she was reminding all of us not to cut the wire with her good scissors.

We all went over to her house after we left the hospital, exhausted in body and spirit. I was sitting on the step next to the fireplace - my favorite spot in her house - and Clare came and sat down next to me. I wish that Gibby was here to see that Clare loves sitting there with me just as much as I loved sitting by the fire with her while I was growing up. Clare has some little curls at the ends of her hair, just like I used to. I'm going to have to find someone that will play with her hair and put it in ringlets like Gibby used to do with me. Maybe Aunt Margo...

Anyway, sorry for the rambling and random memories, but I wanted to give you an update and thank you for your prayers.

I'll post sometime soon about our family and include new pictures of Clare. She sure is getting big, and was such a bright spot in this time of sadness for all of us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prayers Please

I know that I haven't posted anything in a long time due to the election craziness, but I need to ask for prayers.

I am with my grandma, Margaret ("Gibby") Wigren at St. Peter's hospital in Olympia. She came in on Tuesday because of what they thought was an asthma or emphysema attack -- she basically couldn't breathe. Anyway, she's been in and out of consciousness for the past 2 days - such a blessing because I was able to talk to her and pray our favorite prayer (the Memorare) with her. Anyway, earlier today she was doing much better and they were able to remove her breathing tube and she was sitting up and talking for a couple hours.

Then she started having trouble breathing again so they had to put the tube back in and sedate her so that she's more comfortable. They did a CT scan to see if maybe she had a blood clot that was making it difficult to breathe. Good news: her doctor said that there wasn't any clotting. Bad news: her cancer has spread and taken over both of her lungs now - that's the reason she can't breathe. There's nothing they can do about it, and tomorrow we're going to have the ventilator removed. They say that she should last about 4 hours after that point.

There is an upside to this suffering. She and I had a really good conversation about a month ago after her most recent heart attack. She's at peace and is ready to die. Her soul is in a good place, and we were able to make sure that she is dying with the Sacraments. God is so faithful.

So, prayers are appreciated, as this is very difficult for my dad and all his brothers and sisters.

Thank you, and I'll update later.