Friday, February 27, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. We're exhausted around here! I don't know why, but this week has been long and busy. Maybe it's just Lent, but I'm going to make an effort to make our schedule next week less hectic. Oh, wait, it's Spring Break already, so I guess it will be unless I decide to do some serious spring cleaning.

2. Yesterday evening, TMax, Pipster, LP and I all went to the church to help organize donations for the giant yard sale on Saturday. My friend Kath was there. We kept bemoaning all the handknit items that were being ruthlessly tossed aside. "Stop knitting! No one appreciates it!" she would say. I say, "Stop using acrylic for your creations!" Yes, acrylics have improved since my grandmother made me and my sister ponchos in the '70s (which we still have, thanks to their acrylic nature!); they're a lot softer. But they're still acrylic. If you're spending the time to knit a beautiful baby sweater and cap with cables, especially if it's for someone you know and love, take the time and money to buy a beautiful yarn!

3. I spent a fair amount of my organizing time looking for items to repurpose, thanks to Fawndear's influence. I'll do my real shopping tonight at the pre-sale during the Friday Fish Fry. Saw some cute stuff!

4. Going gray has been a topic of conversation this week. It's quite an adventure. Thankfully, I've grown out my colored hair already. I'm not too gray yet, so maybe it wasn't as dramatic, but I got seriously tired of paying good money for dark brown hair that always ended up turning red/orange. So, I'm really glad it's grown out and I don't have to listen to Little Princess tell me how much she loves my orange and black hair! Now, Barbara has done it, too, and she looks great. Getting it chopped off definitely speeds up the process! Like Barb, I actually wish I were more gray! I'm driving my hairdresser nuts.

5. I just signed up for Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure, thanks to Jessica. I hadn't heard of it before, but it sounds like fun for the kids. They get tired of me and they like almost anything on the computer.

6. Finished LP's quilt top for her bed yesterday. And I don't know if I have it in me to finish the rest of the quilt. Sigh. My sewing machine is on its last legs; it makes a horrible ca-chunking sound now. I think it just needs a new belt, but I haven't had time to research getting one. I'm seriously losing my motivation to continue this project. Although, heck, I think the hardest part is finished, isn't it?

7. Another long day ahead. I'm going to go do my Lenten reading and get to it!

You can visit Jen for more Quick Takes in multiples of 7!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Is here and we're mostly ready, for once. I took advantage of Jessica's post the other day and we made a Lenten Calendar, planning out our days of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.

We liked the idea of choosing items out of the pantry every week and saving them for the end of Lent to give away. We'll probably also do a bit lot of that this week with household items since the parish is having a yard sale Saturday!

Since we've been working hard at keeping the grocery budget down, we'll put our savings in the family "rice bowl." Plus the money from other sacrifices, like beer. And we'll have the kids count things in the house and put pennies in the bowl for those items.

We're also doing a "Jesus Tree" after I painstakingly cut and pasted the readings from Jessica's sidebar. We decided to make our own ornaments out of foam sheets and they're turning out pretty well so far. The foam is definitely easier to cut than felt! We were able to make about 15 of them the other day. I think we won't be putting them on a tree this year, but on our Lenten calendar at the end of each day when we do the readings together.

I ordered the Lenten Faith Folder. It's not too late to do so if you need one! We did the cover yesterday and will do the Ash Wednesday page today. These are a fun way to talk about the different aspects of our faith with the kids. I like to think that they will pull the completed folders off the bookshelves on occasion and read through them!

Another little thing I found that is easy to do is a "cootie catcher." I prefer that name to a "fortune teller." You know, the little folder paper things that you do with your fingers and pick a number, lift the flap, and it tells you something? I found one on that was pre-printed, but you could just fold your own and put your own sacrifices in it. Then, the little ones who can't manage to give up the same thing for all of Lent, can randomly pick a new sacrifice each day.

In fact, here's a whole page of Lent ideas from Catholic Mom.

Have a blessed Lent!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

Today isn't turning out to be the party I expected it it be, not that I expected much since I'm in charge of all party-planning around here. I was just over at Charlotte's and she's grumpy, too.

Somehow, I think this is a more appropriate start to Lent than a huge party. My mood is not hormones; it's not stress; it's not my kids. I can't blame it on anyone but me. It's me and my diet----eating things I know I shouldn't eat because they make me feel bad. I don't feel guilty that I ate something I shouldn't; I feel sluggish and cranky. That just sets the whole cycle in motion of not wanting to do anything and being irritable with everyone. I heard myself the other day being snappish and I thought, "Whoa! Where's that coming from?" All other things being equal, the only thing out of balance was the amount of sugar and wheat products I was consuming. Oh, and perhaps the fact that I was turning to food when I should have turned toward The Giver of All Good Gifts.

Everyone starts the New Year with a desire to lose a few pounds (at least those gained between Thanksgiving and New Year's). Barbara started a Google Group dedicated to changing your life and your diet (for good) and letting God use it to create a new you. I joined, but I knew at the time that I was not in the right frame of mind. So many other people have huge reasons for changing their diet or losing weight: obesity, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, etc. I have none of those issues. In fact, I even like myself at this weight more than I ever did when I was young and slender. I have no health issues. But my dear friend Carol pointed out to me that my "huge" reason for changing my diet for good, and getting rid of the sugar and grains, is my mood and what those things do to me psychologically, and, of course, the impact that has on my family.

For a really good explanation of the Saint Diet, which I am beginning tomorrow, go here. Jen explains it all beautifully. No, this isn't a diet to lose weight. It's a diet that will not hinder me from becoming a saint. Eating oatmeal cookies definitely hinders my bid for sainthood! I hope I will be growing closer to God through this because I will need all His help to resist temptations. And lest you think I'm also doing this to lose weight, the scale will be given up as well. My clothing will tell me all I need to know.

I really had no intention of coming here and proclaiming to the world (or my 12 readers) what my Lenten sacrifice will be. And I've had multiple impulses to just delete the whole post, but I'm going to keep it. There will be other sacrifices, I'm sure, but I'll be quiet about those. However, you'll be relieved to hear that I don't plan more posts about my diet (except as it may pertain to my sainthood), because I don't like to talk about dieting and losing weight as a general rule. Except over coffee with a good friend. I think I'm right where I need to be on the eve of Ash Wednesday. I'm on my knees, ready to make changes, anxious to draw closer to Our Lord, willing to make these sacrifices for the good of others and the good of my soul, knowing that He wants this for me and that it's not just my vanity.

May you have a blessed, holy Lent!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Emmeline Apron

KT came home on Friday and immediately went to get her long hair cut off. Isn't she adorable?

Here she is modeling her new Emmeline apron that I made in just 1 day (well, it was an afternoon and a morning, but the total time was probably less than 6 hours. It was fun to make and I love the result---especially on my sweet girl.

Anybody know any nice Catholic boys in Georgia?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cletus Take the Reel

Not to take away from the excitement of my 7 Quick Takes Friday....

But you've got to watch this. It just about made my day. It's not easy to get a belly laugh and tears out of me at 6 a.m.!

Seven Quick Takes Friday


Last Friday was too busy to sit down and come up with 7 Quick Takes, so I think I'm going to work on it throughout the week this time. Last Friday was crazy busy and I won't bother to relive it for you!


Saturday was full of little accomplishments. I got a lot of things done that were on my to-do list,and the amazing thing is that it was easy and relaxing. Some of it involved mending a bunch of clothes. I think that what made the difference is that,
  • I stayed in my pajamas most of the day, and
  • my sewing machine was upstairs instead of in the school/sewing room.
I'm realizing that I really don't want to spend my time alone down there. I like to sew upstairs where the family is. Unfortunately, I don't like the mess it involves. What to do? Any suggestions?


I have acquired a big stack of fabric to make a quilt for Little Princess's bed. I'm looking forward to getting it started soon. Maybe I'll get to watch some fun movies while I stay up late and cut squares! That's my idea of fun---staying up late, working on a project with a movie on. But not too late. Don't want to ruin the next day!


KT is coming home for the weekend. Not to see us, to see her BFF who is in town for the weekend, too. But we're happy to have her back for a little while! She's just in time to pick up the adorable apron I made for her this week. The reversible Emmeline. Too cute for words! Pics to come when KT can model it for us!


Since I'm working on my 7 takes over the course of several days, I can now report that I just brought the sewing machine upstairs to the kitchen and got a lot accomplished very quickly. Now I'm cutting out quilt squares for LP's quilt and we're just living with the mess for a little while. I did take the machines away for the time being, though!


Approaching the end of my sock, though not very quickly since I've been sewing and cutting instead. But I plan to finish it this weekend.


I'm working on a special "project" at church that involves singing. It's challenging, and exciting, and fun (sometimes). Oh, pretty much anything that involves truly beautiful hymns makes me happy! But you knew that already!


Stop by Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"I could never homeschool my kids"

That's what people say to me all the time. Yeah, me too. I could never do it if I wasn't certain that it was what I was supposed to be doing. Sort of like getting the don't get it because you want it, you just get it. Although there are a lot more benefits to homeschooling.

Homeschooling is hard work. Relentless, you might say. It's there, staring you in the face on Monday morning, and every morning, except maybe Saturday and Sunday. It's a full-time job, but it doesn't take you out of the home. You stay in the house with all your kids, messing it up all day long. Quite unlike sending your kids off to school on the bus and going to the office while your house stays as neat (or as messy) as you left it.

Planning for the next year often starts in the spring, before school is even out for the summer. If you wait until July to order books, chances are there will be shipping delays and back orders. Most of my summer is spent planning and entering lessons into Homeschool Tracker. I rarely am able to tackle more than one of those big jobs on my list that need to be done around the house.

You're with your kids all the time. All day long. And it can be hard to get a break. Even if you have a great husband, like mine, who says, go to Mom's Night Out, or go to a movie, or go out for coffee with a friend, or whatever, it doesn't seem to be enough. I've done those things and had a great time, but I came home and the world just came crashing down around me again. All the stress, the mess, the to-do lists, the needy children. The relaxing times never helped for more than a few minutes.

There's only one way to succeed at homeschooling that I know of. Prayer. Preferably not a "God help me. I'm at my wits end" prayer, but a prayer for God's glory. Prayer where you draw yourself close to Him and give Him the love He deserves, and in return He gives all you need.

Don't get me wrong. I fall waaaaay short of this goal. It's a constant effort to pray more, do more spiritual reading, get to Adoration more, but it's an effort that pays off abundantly. Unlike, say, the laundry, where constant effort will still result in more work to do. The times when I've been really diligent about morning prayer have always been the most fruitful and peaceful for me and the kids.

Homeschooling Helps:
Daily Mass as much as possible
Weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament---with or without kids. "With" can be difficult and trying, but very beneficial!
Morning Offering
Morning Prayer/Spiritual Reading---Magnificat has been one of my favorite tools. Children can be taught to wait for a few minutes while you do this. Read to them for your book, or have a basket of Bible and saint stories for them to read to themselves.
Family Rosary---We just pray a decade of the Rosary every night as a family. I try to get my own rosary in as often as possible.

During busy seasons with small children, just remembering to offer different activities to God for a special intention helps. Every effort to draw closer to God helps, even if it's not the quiet, uninterrupted prayer of a monastery!

I'm sure some of you have tips, too. Carol??? Shelly? Anyone?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sock Update

I had some free time to knit this weekend and I actually surprised myself with how much I accomplished! I am this close to turning the heel on my second sock!

But I noticed yesterday that the Redbud trees have begun to bloom! Alas and alack! Who will win this race? Spring, or me?

OTOH, my house doesn't warm up until late afternoon in the spring, so I'm pretty sure I can wear my new wool socks indoors for a while.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homeschooling is a Mess!


I may look good, but my house doesn't. Maybe it's just me, but every day my house gets trashed as we try to navigate our way through meals, schoolwork, appointments, laundry, and errands. I don't know how it happens! I'm a "clean surfaces" sort of gal, meaning that I can't be at rest unless all the surfaces are clean. Somehow, every day we manage to make a huge mess. We dashed out to piano lessons the other day and this is what I saw when we came back.

Now, we manage to get most of it cleaned up and put away every day, but our house is very lived-in. If you called and said you were on your way over for a visit, chances are you wouldn't see any of this. We would scurry around and do the dishes and pick up the clutter that ends up all over the main floor. If you just dropped in, (please do!) you might be lucky enough to see the reality of our homeschooling life!

Like the shadows of our snowflakes on the window?

I used to pick up constantly, and probably nag constantly, too. But I've decided there is not much point in that and the sofa cushions can be picked up and put in the proper places later in the day. The dishes in the sink pile up because someone didn't empty the dishwasher first thing, and it creates a veritable avalanche of dirty dishes. Especially when I'm busy and I don't notice right away! The sink dishes are the responsibility of the dishwasher person who slacked off. It's to his advantage to empty it asap so people can use it!

On some hormonal days, I can't tolerate the mess that builds up. Other days I'm much more peaceful about it. After all, I love being around my kids and spending this time with them (except on those hormonal days!!!). We have fun together and I'm trying not to nitpick about the little things. Someday, there won't be any socks lying around the house, or sofa cushions askew, or schoolbooks scattered around, and I won't know what to do with myself.

Well, I'll probably knit.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Day at Callaway

Yesterday we went to Callaway Gardens on the spur of the moment. We had a day with no appointments or errands to run and decided to go have fun. I, and the 2 youngest, had never been there before. Granted, February is not the best month of the year to go to a giant garden, but it was still beautiful and peaceful. We had fun, saw nature, and got some exercise. And did I mention that it's free for the month of February? That influenced our decision somewhat.

After a 2 hour drive and a relaxing lunch in the sun, next to the lake, we went to the Birds of Prey show. We got up close and personal to Windy the falcon and Vinny the Vulture. He was very neat and a free-flight bird, i.e. on the loose the whole time. He was very well trained and I have a new respect for vultures, which are NOT, btw, birds of prey. So don't ask me why she was showing him to us!

Of course, one of the highlights of the trip is the Butterfly Center. It's a wonderland of plants and flowers and butterflies fluttering everywhere. Unfortunately, they don't often sit still for photographs, but I got a couple of good shots.

This is the Owl Butterfly. It's amazing how realistic that "eye" is! And he's a gorgeous blue and black on the other side!

We made a special point of seeing this 1830's log cabin since we're studying pioneers now.

There were some goofy kids playing in it!

A couple of gratuitous flower shots. I even took a photo of the lichens because they're beautiful up close!

I guess that's a berry, not a flower. But it was pretty.

Here's a beautiful Lenten Rose, which was just starting to bloom. I wish I had some of these in my yard!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Not a "Botched Abortion"

It was a birth...the baby that was born alive was callously put in a plastic hazardous waste bag and thrown in the trash! Dear God, help this country come to it's senses!

This is why abortion has to be stopped---because it produces an inhuman disregard for all human life! It's not because we don't care about women that pro-lifers are so anti-abortion---it's because we do care about them and their babies!

The "choice" about whether or not to have a baby comes before the life is conceived. Not after. Save sex for marriage and we won't have this problem.

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Finally finished with the fish hats! I dreaded starting Little Princess's eyes because I was going to embroider the eyeballs (since she wanted hers "alive"). I finally got around to starting yesterday while they did their school lessons and I realized it was going to take forever, and why couldn't I just sew on little black felt pupils, instead. So, I did. It was done in 10 minutes and is adorable!

2. American Heritage Girls was good last night. We're working on getting the moms more involved so our little group will grow. If anyone knows of an easy, quick fundraiser for little girls, I would love to know about it!

3. Confirmation was awesome on Tuesday night. It was a smaller group than usual, so the church wasn't overcrowded. Archbishop Gregory gives a great homily, but more than that, I love the way he quizzes the Confirmands when they come up for the anointing. He asks them various questions about the patron saint they chose, questions about the Church, or why they chose a certain sponsor. Sometimes its embarrassing for the teens who have a hard time coming up with the answers, but it's always fun and we get a bunch of 30 second homilies. I'm very proud of my son---not only for giving a good answer, but for being who he is!

4. When I went on a mini-retreat last month, I picked up a brochure on reading the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in one year. There is an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a section from the Catechism each day. So far, I'm not getting it done every day, though it is very doable. It only requires about 20 minutes per day. And until I went to look for that link just now, I had no idea it was from Marcus Grodi's Coming Home Network!

5. I'm still thinking about Amy Welborn's sudden loss of her husband, Michael Dubruiel, on Tuesday. She posted his last column on her blog; it is beautiful and thought-provoking. Go on and read it. It's what I keep coming back to during these dark days. We're surrounded on all sides by people dying, suffering horribly from cancer and other illnesses, terrible betrayals by people we thought we could trust, and the only thing to cling to is God and His Church.

6. I think I'm 2/3 finished with my first sock. I can't wait to wear them----it has been so cold here lately and my feet stay cold frequently. I just haven't had enough time to sit still and knit this week.

7. My boys are all going on a retreat tomorrow at Mother Angelica's Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I would love to go, too, but it's for men and boys. I will just have to content myself with sewing and knitting, and spending the day with the Little Princess!

Go visit for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Michael Dubruiel

Please pray for the soul of Michael Dubruiel, Amy Welborn's husband, who died suddenly yesterday. And pray for his suffering family!

Getting Started Homeschooling

In response to some questions I got after Mass the other day, I thought I would post part of the answers here. The questions I get most often are:

What kind of curriculum do you use?
Where do you get your schoolbooks?
How do you do it???

When we started homeschooling 14 years ago, we were amazed at the amount of resources available. We went to a NACHE (National Association of Catholic Home Educators) convention in Maryland that first year and saw a huge room filled with vendors. Dh had been afraid that we would have to cobble together all the resources ourselves. I don't know, like, teach out of an encyclopedia? That is absolutely possible if that's the kind of person you are, or if you have serious budget issues. A good encyclopedia and a good library can provide an excellent education! However, there are amazing resources out there that are actually designed specifically for homeschooling.

It's been so long, that I can't even remember how we actually started, or what we used, for the most part. I know we started the Monday following KT's graduation from our parish kindergarten! She was actually excited to get started, although I must add for the sake of new homeschoolers, that we spent a full year de-programming her from the school mentality. So, if you're pulling your kids out of school, expect a year of adjusting and getting used to the new system. Especially the fact that Mom is now the teacher. I can't tell you how many times she told me that "Miss So-and-So did it this way!" I had to constantly reinforce the message that I'm the Mom (i.e. the Boss) AND the teacher, so we do it MY way.

It has been my experience, both personal and through observation of other families, that discipline is necessary for homeschooling. That might be one reason people often comment on how well-behaved the homeschooled kids are. Not that I have any illusions of being a perfect parent, or a perfect disciplinarian, or having all the answers, not by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that I have seen first-hand over the years that a lot of parents allow the school system to discipline their children and since they see them for only a few hours a day, they need to do very little themselves. Then, when they bring the kids home to homeschool, they find that they have practically no authority over their own children.

I'll even go so far as to say that the same thing is occurring in my own family. Not that I don't have authority over my children who are in school, because even though they're over 6 feet tall, they know we're in control (having established that early on), but that most of the discipline they are receiving at this time comes from their school. They're away from home 12 hours a day and I really just see them at dinner before they go do their homework. I'm fortunate that they are in a solid Catholic school that supports our values and reinforces everything we've tried to instill in them, otherwise, they'd be back home in a heartbeat.

This post was supposed to be about curriculum choices, but I guess the Holy Spirit had other ideas....

Discipline is a huge issue and homeschoolers are forced to develop self-discipline (Mom and children!), and parental authority. Many homeschoolers give up, or never even get started, because of discipline problems. Homeschooling will bring to the forefront any issues you have in this area! If you have any such concerns, I highly recommend going to see the Doctor. Dr. Ray Guarendi is my go-to guy for discipline questions. His books are awesome. His conference talks are better. He'll have you rolling on the floor, laughing, with tears in your eyes. He's a solid Catholic, but he's also experienced. Unlike some parenting experts who have 2 children, he has 10, mostly adopted, many with special needs or challenges. I sold books for him at a couple of conferences and he's incredible. I'm so excited that he'll be coming to speak to our Torch group in August!!!!!

I guess I'll get to the curriculum questions next time. This post was obviously from the "I could never homeschool; my kids drive me crazy" category. We're still not perfect and we never will be, but we're a heckuva lot better than we would be if homeschooling hadn't forced us to be better parents!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confirmation Night

Not much time for blogging in the past few days. Plenty of time for blog-reading---so maybe it's really a lack of inspiration. But in addition to having visitors in the form of Grandparents, there has been a lot going on and I find myself running around trying to get things cooked or cleaned or driven places so I can sit down and knit a pair of socks!!!

Today's running around consists of homeschooling, baking cookies and doing the school pick-up for Madden's Confirmation tonight. Just for fun, we might see how much more we can squeeze into the day. Mercifully, the grandparents have taken on the task of picking up KT from school so she can come, too. I hope they'll enjoy the scenic drive and the tour around her campus!

I am excited about my son "Sebastian" becoming a soldier of Christ, tonight!


Confirmation, by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1712

Acts 8:14-17 "Now, when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as yet come upon any of them: but they were only baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them: and they received the Holy Ghost.

Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption."

First, what is Confirmation (also called "Chrismation")? What does Confirmation do? Confirmation:

  • indelibly seals us to the Holy Ghost, hence its name, "Sacrament of the Seal." Because this seal is indelible and leaves a permanent mark on the recipient's soul, the Sacrament, like Baptism and Holy Orders, may be received only once.
  • gives us the sanctifying grace to become perfect Christians and true soldiers of Christ, well-armed to defend Christ as King, His Mother as Queen, and the Church Militant as His Kingdom on earth. God confirms us (strengthens us) so we may do spiritual battle.
  • imparts to us the 7 Gifts of the Holy Ghost, as in a "personal Pentecost":
    • Wisdom
    • Understanding
    • Counsel
    • Fortitude
    • Knowledge
    • Piety
    • Fear of the Lord

The Sacrament may only be received by one who is baptized, preferrably while he is in a state of grace (i.e., not in a state of mortal sin). If it is received when the recipient is not in a state of grace, it is illicilty but still validly received; the fruits of the Sacrament will be delayed until he receives Penance. In addition, if the confirmand (the one to be confirmed) has reached the age of reason, he should be well-catechized and know the Pater (Our Father), the Ave (Hail Mary), the Apostles' Creed, and the 10 Commandments.

The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop; priests are extraordinary ministers of the Sacrament and may offer the Sacrament if the Bishop authorizes them to. The matter is the imposition of hands, the chrism, and the annointing. The form of the Sacrament is:

"N., I sign thee with the sign + of the Cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation; in the Name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Ghost.".

"N., signo te signo crucis + et confirmo te chrismate salutis, in nomine Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti."
(Excerpt from Fisheaters)


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