God Bless America

 

Our country was founded on the love of God. The American Flag is our banner of unity, One Nation Under God. I will not be influenced by anyone or any mega corporation that choses to desecrate our Flag. I wrote this poem in honor of  our beautiful Flag:

 

Old Glory, you are a symbol of pride

We need not ignore your meaning or what you imply

I salute your banner waving high

Your colors and stars polish the blue sky

Who in this land cannot notice the freedom for which you stand

You’re an anthem of courage and are still in command

Liberty weeps at the thought of those who defy your side

She bows her head at the great divide

Your roots are deep and you honor those who strap on their boots

They fought for us to keep us sound and to them you are profound

 

© Lynda Ciriza

God Bless our beautiful imperfect country! Happy 4th of July!

The birthday selfie 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
Hold your tongue or else you'll be called out John 8:44
My High Adventure days During my sabbatical from the Catholic Church,
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The Caregiver

Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob

2 Timothy 3:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I knew I was in trouble when agreeing to add another day to caring for two of my grandsons. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my grandkids, but finding things to occupy their days has made for a summer of adventure.

So far they have participated in a science camp, learning to build a robot. When I picked them up from the camp they said a kid was bullying them. Jacob said, “Grandma, this kid said that I attract mosquitos, and I even took a shower today!” Lucas claimed the same kid kicked him in the head. I told the boys to point out the bully, and that I would wait in the bushes and attack him. Then we just laughed it off.

one day of  art class, really?

They only attended one art class. This class was a freebee from Groupon. The boys did not want to go back, in Lucas’ words, “I will never go back to that class. The teachers drew everything for us, and plus they don’t even speak English.” He was right about them not speaking English; I believe that they were speaking in Farsi. They disliked this class so much that they didn’t even like for me to drive past the art studio.

These kids live on their tablets, and that drives me crazy. I had a choice: let them become hypnotized on their devices, or think of activities that allow body movement.

We made up a list of things we could do. They protested almost everything on the agenda, with the exception of getting ice cream (of course!) Monday is going to be dedicated to going to the Orange Library and joining a book club. Lucas wanted nothing to do with that, but I forced him to check out two books. Jacob was excited to join the club, boasting to the librarian about how intelligent he is, and that his reading level is much higher than kids of his age. Then he added how good he was in math too. I couldn’t take another word, “Please, Jacob, tell the lady how humble you are too!”

Sweet Paco and Jake reading
Lucas reading

When we got back from the library, for the first few hours all was quiet and the boys were enthralled in their books. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. These boys were really reading! We had come to a consensus that if they read for an hour then they could use their devices for a half an hour. I left the room and, sure enough, Lucas turned on his Chromebook. The battle was on, and Lucas insisted that the books that the librarian chose were above his reading level. He desperately tried to prove his argument by asking both Suri and Alexa, neither of which gave the answer that he was looking for. They never do.

In frustration I yelled, “Lucas, I do not want to hear another excuse for you not reading! Get your book out and read!”                                                                                                                                                                                          “But grandma, how can you expect me to read a book that is too hard to understand!                                                       I’ll prove it to you!”                                                                                                                                                                  “No, you’re going to read!” I answered.

Lucas wanted so badly to prove his theory so he asked for my phone and looked up Lexile. I had never heard of this system that measures the reading level of books. It took him a good half hour to prove that, indeed, this book was meant for 7th grade reading. He’s entering 4th grade, but I still have my  suspicions.

Lucas and Jacob, Miraculous Meda

On Wednesdays we will be learning about saints or Bible stories. This week we studied the life of  St. Catherine Labouré, a French nun and visionary. The Blessed Mother appeared to her and instructed her to make a medal with this prayer written on it: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. The Blessed Mother also said that those who wear the medal with trust will receive many graces.

St. Catherine’s incorruptible body, The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Paris, France

I have been to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France several times. I always go into the small shop adjacent to the church and purchase Miraculous Medals to share with others. In our home there are  three drawers dedicated to all the small religious purchases I’ve made when I travel. I found some durable yarn and threaded two Miraculous Medals for the boys to wear.

Soon we will be studying about St. Francis of Assisi. I looked on Amazon to purchase a book about this holy saint but refused to pay $7. Instead we drove over to The Bookman, a popular used book store in Orange. There I found a treasure of St. Francis books for $27. It’s a lost cause and inevitable: this summer is going be filled with me spending money.

Our precious Maddie
Wil, best 12 year old basketball player

My other two grandkids are so busy that their parents barely see them. Maddie has soccer camp all week, trying out for the high school team and practicing for her club team as well. She is also taking a summer health class, and will be trying out for the volleyball team in July. Wil is busy with basketball camps, two so far, and now he has taken up skateboarding. He is a gifted athlete and fascinating to watch. I imagine that my poor daughter-in-law Jenny is worn out with all the driving she has to do.

Next week the boys will go to visit family in Minnesota. You’d think I’d get a break, but no, their obnoxious dog Paco is staying with us. There is a slight possibility that this dog could be bipolar. He barks at airplanes, butterflies, and whatever his keen ears pick up on. You cannot walk Paco in public; I learned that the hard way. We were almost to the house when an old man with a black lab approached us. “Can they be friends?” He asked. I was about to open my mouth to yell, “No!” when that half-a-dog Paco  tore out of his leash and attacked a dog twice his size. In a panic I tried to get ahold of him and was knocked on my butt. I leashed him again, and again he went after the dog. The old man who  was walking the black lab was in shock. I was in complete humiliation, having to drag my battered body off the cement only to witness scene two. The dog fight was loud and seemed overly dramatic. Then I saw the old man give Paco a swift kick to stop the altercation. In disbelief  I watched with my mouth fully extended as I heard the old man saying, “Wow! Wow!” as he walked away.

Other than being the biggest jerk dog, he can also be the most loving.

There has to be a balance when being a grandparent. Above all I am going to teach them to love God.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea
Everyone looks forward to a wedding, right? Well, maybe not so much the men, but
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I Love My Kitchen But Hate To Cook

Maddie, Sonja, Russ, me, Mike, Jacob, Lucas, Wil, Jenny, and Mikos

Psalms 37:4 NKJV

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Ten years ago Mike finally agreed to have our kitchen remodeled. We have been living in the same home for 37 years. This house was built in 1974. It is a solid lath and plaster home, which means that no drywall was used in the original building.

We did a small kitchen remodel shortly after we moved in. I made the worst decorating mistake in the world by installing a white tile floor and white tile counter tops. I became a slave to the floors, having to mop them every time we used the kitchen.

Me, my beautiful Mom, and sister Norma, in the flower kitchen
The puke green walls of the gutted kitchen

To add character to the old kitchen, it went through many metamorphic experiences. It was wallpapered, painted a hideous green, and we had two electric stove tops replaced. When Mike took over the cooking, we switched to gas. Gas made all the difference in our meals and Mike’s meals taste like we hired a personal chef.

I had a great desire in my heart to redesign the kitchen,  I started a campaign by nagging; when that   didn’t work, I prayed. It took a long time before I could convince Mike, but he finally agreed. We had a lot of expenses that took precedence over this huge undertaking. Both Mikos and Sonja were attending private colleges, and I decided that it was time for me to finish my education. So I applied and was accepted to Biola University. Mike was overwhelmed with paying part of three tuitions. After a little breathing room, we seized the opportunity and started the project.

We researched and got several estimates, but I wanted was a dream kitchen. Originally I wanted to expand the kitchen, but that idea quickly ended when the estimates came in at over $90,000.00, and that was without the kitchen remodel or new appliances! I prayed again on how to expand without breaking walls.

Our wonderful designer and friend Jonathan

When we were about to make our decision between two contractors, I received a dream from the Lord. In the dream, two bay windows were added to make room for seating. The following morning Jonathan, one of the designers, called me. Jonathan  shared with me his idea on how to expand the kitchen. He told me that we should add two bay windows for seating. This was exactly what I dreamt! It was a clear confirmation for us to go with his company, Le Gourmet Kitchens. This is how God takes care of those who trust and believe in prayer.

My custom kitchen was a project of love, which took over 3 months to complete. I wanted Jerusalem stone for my countertop, but it was too porous, so I went with Caesar stone, which is also from Jerusalem. It was important for me to have products from the Holy Land. I brought back decorative tile from the Old City in Jerusalem. Jonathan is Jewish, so he really understood what I wanted. He ordered Jerusalem crosses from Israel to complement the tiles that I purchased.

My cabinets were made in Salina, Kansas, because there are too many E.P.A stipulations in California on how wood is treated. Also it does not compare to the quality of the wood from this part of the country. My cabinets have a lifetime guarantee.

Tile from the the Old City in Jerusalem, and gold Jerusalem crosses for each corner
Mint Julep stove

I wanted the stove to make a statement, so we picked a Viking mint julep stove. It was perfect!

If you are wondering why am I writing about my kitchen, it’s because this is where families gather, where bonding takes place, where heartfelt stories are shared. The kitchen is the heart of a home, and it should be  filled with love.

All of my cooking is done without a recipe. If I do use a recipe, for some strange reason it always comes out different. I have accepted that cooking is not my gift, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Sometimes I cook the worst meals; at other times I surprise everyone with a tasty meal. Such is life.

I thought for sure that the beautiful kitchen would improve my cooking, but it didn’t. Once I tried a quinoa recipe and it kept growing so much that I had to change pots twice. Nowhere in the recipe did it warn that it was going to keep expanding. Dinner that night went down as another adventure that finally had us eating at 8:30 p.m. Never take the advice from a well-meaning friend who told me to cook the corned beef in a crock pot. That was a disaster that lasted until the following day, when we were finally able to enjoy the meal.

I am currently creating videos to give cooking tutorials for others who share my dilemma. Just recently I ruined a pot of rice; even the dog turned his nose up at it.

Mornings in my kitchen are my favorite. You can find me sitting in my breakfast nook every day around 7:30 a.m. I eat the same breakfast every day: a cup of coffee with Ezekiel toast. My cat Prudie usually joins me. I use this room to pray; sometimes when I’m overcome with uncertainties and unanswered prayer, I sit and cry in that same spot.

Our granddog Rosie and the Dutch door

When our grandchildren were younger, all ten of us would gather for dinner every Monday night. Now that they are in sports and have their own busy lives, we try to get together at least once or twice a month. The kitchen is my favorite room of our home because this is where the sun greets me every morning after Mass. I look out the Dutch door and thank God for my beautiful bougainvillea that Mike planted.

I thank God for my ten-year-old kitchen, and am grateful that it still brings us together as a family. Happy, sad, mad, we are family, and will always meet in the kitchen for healing and laughter.

1 Corinthians 10:31 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The birthday selfie 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
Hold your tongue or else you'll be called out John 8:44
My High Adventure days During my sabbatical from the Catholic Church,
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