Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Day of 2012 Daybook


Outside my window...
The sky is full of those adorable, cottonball clouds.  I think they're stratocumulus---because it's a "layer" of "cumulus" clouds.

I am thinking...
About the new year and all that it may bring.  I'm really trying NOT to think of the Fiscal Cliff, however it's unavoidable, and managing the household better factors into the "resolutions" I'm making.

I used Jen Fulwiler's tips  this morning as a starting point for resolutions which I wholeheartedly resolve not to make. ;) It is good to spend a little time thinking about what can be improved in your life.  Let me rephrase that:  thinking about how you can improve.  But really, that's something we should be doing daily.  In the Catholic world, that's called an Examination of Conscience which is, ideally, done nightly, and then you get up and try to do better the next day.  Making New Year's Resolutions seems a lot like starting a new diet (and don't we all do that on January 1?), and then when we cheat, we go ahead and say the whole day is shot, might as well keep cheating and start again tomorrow, or next Monday.  (Don't even try to tell me I'm the only one!) Or worse, we give up for the whole year until we gain another 5-7 pounds over The Holidays, and yada yada's time to make more resolutions.  :)

So...instead of Resolutions, I have a list of 8 things I can work on to improve certain areas of my life.  And the nice thing is that I'm not a failure if I don't accomplish any one of them in a day.  They're things to work on every day.

What are you working on this year?

I am thankful...
For the new (used) car that DH got.  Now he's got a nicer ride to and from work, and there's another car for a young man who needs it.

From the learning rooms...
We are still on vacation until the 7th.  I'm yearning for some more structure to our days, so we'll have to institute that this week, or I'll just send them all back to school!  Or, more likely, I'll give them reading assignments and get them to help me strip wallpaper or clean out closets!

In the kitchen...
I have been absolutely l.o.v.i.n.g. the perpetual broth in the crockpot.  My turkey carcass went straight into the pot after dinner, so we we've had turkey broth all week.  Yesterday, I used some in the amazing gumbo that we had for dinner (totally new to us!), bottled the rest, and freed up the crockpot for tonight's pulled pork.  We'll have another chicken in a couple of days, or I'll roast some beef bones for the next batch of broth.  I know, you think it's weird, but it is so nice to have a cup of hot broth whenever.  If there are any Jewish mothers reading my blog, I'm sure they'd approve!

I am wearing...
New jeans that make me happy.  A new red cardigan that makes me smile, and some big, festive earrings that belonged to my mom and are perfect for New Year's Eve.  Even if we are staying home. :)

I am knitting...
An infinity scarf that I've started twice.  Today, I think I'll start it a third time on larger needles, otherwise it will take me an infinite amount of time to finish it!

I'm also crocheting a sparkly red shawl that I saw on the Drops Advent Calendar.  December 5.  I had the perfect yarn that I wouldn't use otherwise, so I'm making it.  One of my goals for the year should be to use all my yarn, or at least a lot of the scraps, because all my bins are full.

I am going...

I am reading...
I'm supposed to be reading 1776 for this month's book club.  I haven't started, but then I've listened to it before.  Maybe I'll pull out the discs and listen again.

I am hoping and praying...
For an answer to my Christmas novena that gives me peace!
For my friend who was rear-ended and got her car totalled the other day.  I have a good idea how she feels physically and emotionally, and it's not good.
For baby Dominic Pio and his continued recovery.
For baby Simeon.

I am looking forward to...
Birthday month!  Three birthdays for the 3 youngest this year, starting on the feast of the Epiphany.  Pippo wants a Settlers of Catan themed party---has anyone done one of those?

I am hearing on my ipod...
Two new podcasts that I'm listening to:  The Catholics Next Door (who used to do a podcast, then moved to Sirius XM radio where I couldn't listen, and now they're back and better than ever!)

And something completely different:  Econ Talk with Russ Roberts.  It's fascinating and educational. 

Around the house...
I am making a list of projects that I'd like to accomplish this year. (You know I mean next year, right?  The one that starts tomorrow?)  I'll probably share those with you shortly!

One of my favorite things...
The lights on my my Christmas and Jesse trees that stay lit constantly from Christmas day onward.  (Note to self:  buy new lights before Thanksgiving---as soon as they show up in stores!)

A few plans for the rest of the week...
One meeting.

Here is picture  thought I am sharing...
Paperwhites:  Soon to be a motion picture!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

4th Day of Christmas Quick Takes

My thoughts on Christmas.  What works and doesn't work.


The highlight of Christmas was the Mass.  Is the Mass.  Always.  It's my favorite part, and then it gets lost in the present exchange and the food.  The endless food---preparation, eating, more eating, and cleanup.   All of that is good, but the Mass is my favorite, especially Midnight Mass because it's usually a grander celebration befitting the occasion.  However, the morning Mass was very nice and well attended, too.


Fewer Christmas presents seem to work really well.  We've always kept it to about 3, but this year it was 2.  I'm starting to think that one really good present is sufficient.  I don't mean that from a Grinchy perspective, but it obviously makes the shopping and wrapping much more manageable, and it means that the Mass of the Nativity has less chance of being lost in the wrapping paper shuffle.


Another reason for one gift on Christmas is that it makes it easier to focus on the liturgical year.  We like to open stockings on St. Nicholas Day---some people do shoes on St. Nick's Day and they still do stockings on Christmas, but we just have St. Nicholas fill the stockings on his day, and then those are put away for the year.  Then, we also have the option of doing 3 little gifts on Epiphany in honor of the 3 Wise Men.  That's what I'd like to do, but we don't always because we also celebrate a birthday on January 6.  Epiphany is always moved to Sunday, now, and this year it's also the 6th.


I did most of the Christmas cooking in advance, and froze it, which seems kind of silly when it's just our immediate family here, but I've found that it makes all the difference.  I'm so happy not to be spending the whole day in the kitchen!


We baked several batches of Christmas cookies during Advent, which were frozen until Christmas Eve, but I've come to the conclusion that it's not really a good plan.  On a feast day when we already have a huge dinner and dessert, people are eating cookies all day long, and then they're gone by the 26th.  It seems to encourage gluttony, especially in sugar addicts like myself.  I think from now on we will start baking cookies no earlier than Christmas Eve.  That way, we can bake every couple of days until we run through our repertoire of Christmas Cookies, and we can still be celebrating the Christmas season.  Because doesn't it feel like Christmas is over when all the cookies are gone?


Speaking of cookies...I found this toffee bar recipe yesterday over at Misty's Morning's.  OMG.  Yum.  I didn't really need a new cookie recipe, but everyone needs one that can be whipped up in a heartbeat and is super simple and super, super delicious!  Seriously, folks.  


Meg, Pip, and I had a great time reading Destination: Bethlehem during the Advent countdown to Christmas.  It was much harder to remember to read after we finished school, and the last days before Christmas were so busy that we didn't finish it at all!  Well, I finished it.   I guess they're not really interested in learning that the long-awaited Messiah was born in a stable just outside Bethlehem.  ;-)  Or maybe they already know.  It is a very good book; we enjoyed the story and actually had a hard time waiting for to read the next chapter! 

I hope your Christmas was (and is) awesome!  What was your favorite part?  What didn't work for you?

Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

3rd Day of Christmas {PHFR}

round button chicken
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
3 French Hens...and another day to relax and enjoy the season.

My boys are so handsome in their Christmas duds.   The other 2 were just as handsome, but they didn't feel the need to get their pictures taken.
Meg has been asking for this bike. for. months.  Every time we went to a Target she went to "visit" it.  One time, they were all gone.  First at one store, then another (we frequent 3 different Targets in our travels!), they disappeared.  You should have seen the tears!  So Santa and I got off our duffs and worked a little magic to be sure "Lulu" was here for Christmas.

She couldn't believe that we actually got it since she never saw us come home with it.  Children are so funny!  I'm just happy no one found out where it was hidden.

Brothers photo-bombing the bike portrait!

I got a pic of my favorite gift---all my children together---before leaving the church, while everyone was still dressed up.

Are you still enjoying the Christmas season?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Relaxing Quick Takes


I'm finished!  Yay!  Except for a few panic attacks this week when more than one child said I needed to take them somewhere (in opposite directions) at the same time, I just kept thinking that it would be over eventually.  And now it is!  All the craziness of this past week is finished, and I can relax.


I'm finished with my Christmas shopping, too!  I managed to knock that out with a list while I waited for Tom to get out of school.  Hoorah!


"I'm finished" and "I can relax, now" roughly translates into:  Now I can do a lot of cooking and baking for Christmas, and make lots of trips to the store for that forgotten item, and I can take the kids out shopping for their Christmas presents for siblings.  That I can deal with.


Oh, it looks like relaxing also means making sure the kids get a lesson on How to Clean a Bathroom.  I was in there getting the towels to wash, and phew, what a mess!  And I don't mean stuff-all-over-the-place; I mean Mom-will-never-notice-if-I-don't-clean-the-pee-off-this-side-of-the-toilet messy.


We decided to watch a relaxing beginning-of-vacation movie, and while I was out of the room, the boys evidently decided that Mission Impossible 3 would be relaxing.  Um, no.  So, I'm here blogging.


Speaking of vacation movies....What movie(s) are you planning to see over Christmas and New Year's?  We've seen The Hobbit, rabid Tolkien and Peter Jackson fans that we are.  I'm dying to see Les Miserables, but I don't know if Christmas Day is the day for that.  Well, pretty dang sure it's not, so we'll see.  What else is there that you want to see?


I'm probably not going to be back here for a few days.  I'll be busy "relaxing". LOL.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas and experience the peace and joy that only Christ can give!



Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pink Week Daybook!


Outside my window...
The sun rises in a clear sky, a new and different twist on the weather which has been overcast and drizzly for many days.

I am thankful...
...for another, unexpected, family dinner last night.  My Katie had to come up here for some supplies so she hung out with us and had dinner.

From the learning rooms kitchen table...
Right now, it's covered in paper scraps from Katie's project and snowflakes.  Maybe we will clear it off this morning for a little schoolwork.  We're doing a lot of reading and some science and math this week.

In the kitchen...
My crockpot has been going since Friday.  I started this "Perpetual Chicken broth" idea I had heard about.  We had roasted chicken Thursday, and the carcass went into the crock with peppercorns, bay leaves, carrots, and an onion.  And a lot of water.  Whenever you want a cup of broth---it makes a great coffee replacement if you just want something hot to drink!---just strain it through a reusable coffee filter, add a little salt, and enjoy!  Don't forget to replace what you took with fresh water for the crock.  Aside from a little evaporation, it stays full all week, and at the end of the week you can toss it and start fresh.

I am expecting NOT to get sick this winter, but what a blessing this idea is for families who are struck down by influenza or stomach flu.  It's such an easy way to keep something nourishing and digestible on hand!

I am wearing...
The most amazing merino wool socks that St. Nicholas picked up at Costco!  If they have the Wigwam socks at your Costco, for men and women, BUY THEM!  All the kids have been raving about them.  I need to make a trip back so everyone can have a second pair---they've all asked for more!

I am knitting...
...the endless k2p2 hat.  I've seen other people on the Yarn Harlot's blog rave about this hat.  They love it.  They've made several.  It's a great pattern.  So easy.  Yada yada yada.  I'm sorry, Steph, it's boring.  And when you're not a fast knitter, that's a lot of boring.  :-)

I am going... go a little crazy this week.  No, that's not because of all the Christmas stuff that has to be done---although I suppose it does.  I'm just not thinking about it.---College boys are home, and Pete needs to be taken to and from work at random times.  Oh, and that's near the mall , so a potential nightmare every time!  Tom has early pickup every day because of exams.  Except the days he goes in late AND gets picked up early, and generally mucks with my day.  Plus, the Boy Scouts have scheduled a special activity for early in the day because the public school is out, but we're not, and Tom has to go in late and be picked up early, and I have things to do during those 2 hours, and I sort of want to scream when I think about that day.  And if Pete tells me he has to work that morning, I think I may die.

Now that that's off my chest....It will be fine.  It always is.  Someone has to go early.  Someone has to go late.  Or someone has to get a ride.  And somehow, we'll get through the day by the grace of God.

I am reading...
Not much reading going on.  Too many WWF games to play in my spare moments!

I am hoping and praying...
....for baby Simeon, baby Dominic, both of whom are having surgery today; for all those sick children in our community (the flu is bad this year!); everyone with cancer.

I am looking forward to...

I am hearing on my ipod...
Two new podcasts that I'm listening to:  The Catholics Next Door (who used to do a podcast, then moved to Sirius XM radio where I couldn't listen, and now they're back and better than ever!)

And something completely different:  Econ Talk with Russ Roberts.  It's fascinating and educational.  I see the latest one, which I haven't heard yet, is on F.A. Hayek's work.  If you listen to that, you have to watch this You Tube video which my son thinks is awesome.  I admit I really like it, too.  Listen to that even if you don't want to listen to the podcast. Well, that's Round 2. and there are others, I see.  Funny, I just saw that it's produced by Russ Roberts!

Around the house...
Too much clutter.

One of my favorite things...
My Jesse Tree ornaments.  They stay in a pretty Christmas tin under the tree so they're handy when it's time to hang them.  Well, Gus the Destroyer found he could open the tin, and on Sunday we found a whole pile of them under the chair where he had taken them to eat them.  I guess they weren't very yummy, so he kept going back to get another....and another.  He probably ruined half of them.  I haven't had the heart to do an inventory.  Fortunately, it happened on Gaudete Sunday when my priorities were in order and there were more serious things to mourn, like murdered children and teachers in Connecticut.

A few plans for the rest of the week...

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Joy & Orange Coconut Balls

We are seeking Joy in our lives during these dark days.  There is the physical darkness as we approach the shortest day of the year, coupled with gloomy, cloudy days, and there is the darkness in our hearts as we mourn with the families in Newtown, CT.  As we were reminded in yesterday's Gaudete Sunday homily, Joy is only to be found in Jesus.  If we put our faith in earthly things, or look to them for happiness, we will be disappointed.  So, we're taking pleasure in the little, happy moments in our lives, and appreciating them as gifts from God.
We celebrated yesterday by enjoying having the whole family together again.  My big boys are finally both home from college, so we could all decorate the Christmas tree, which has been sitting bare in the living room for a couple of weeks.
With the assistance of Pippo and my Dear Husband, I made what I think are the family's favorite Christmas cookie.

Orange Coconut Balls

These are one of the staples that my Dear Mother+ made every Christmas.  I don't think I ever got the recipe from her before she got sick, so I had to find one on the internet, and I think it's the same.  I'm putting it here for my children who may never get around to asking for their favorite childhood recipes.  The linked recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar, which I cut in half.  I haven't noticed a lack of taste; the dough may be a little more moist.  It also suggests rolling them in chopped pecans, which might be good, but seems a little sacrilegious to me!

Orange Coconut Balls
1 12oz package of vanilla wafers, crushed
2 cups of sifted powdered sugar 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 6oz. can orange juice concentrate
1 bag of coconut flakes

Mix the first 4 ingredients together.  Shape dough into 1" balls, and roll them in coconut.  Chill.

Yesterday, we accidentally put in waaay too much orange concentrate, but were able to save them simply by adding unsweetened coconut to the dough until it was the right consistency.  I'm glad I had it on hand because it didn't change the flavor at all.

Super easy and yummy.  I love that tangy, orange flavor in every bite.  To me, it's like a little burst of joy, so these were perfect for yesterday.

Just do me a favor....if you're making these with your children, make sure they wash their hands and understand that they can't pick/wipe their noses or lick their fingers until they're all done!  Because....gross.  Especially in a no-bake cookie.  I can tolerate a little laxity in a baked cookie!

Please tell me about your favorite Christmas cookies!  I'll share the other two biggies as we make them.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

{PHFR} Advent

round button chicken
Someone has been saving her allowance for a bike for months.  She finally gave up and bought herself boots!  She's counting on us to get the bike, though she's really upset that she hasn't seen us make the trip out shopping!

Sopaipillas for Our Lady of Guadalupe yesterday.  Ymm!

1st cup of eggnog for the season with a roaring fire.  Double Yumm!


He really, really, really wants to be out in the backyard where Daddy is raking leaves!


Waiting for the doctor to confirm a bad case of conjunctivitis.  Not that that's hard to diagnose.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration

 We are having a relaxing school day today, taking the opportunity to celebrate Advent and our Catholic faith.  Lots of reading and activities, maybe some cooking.  Enchiladas are on the menu for tonight.

Inspired by Maria's post, I decided we would play around with Wordle for a little Language Arts exercise. 

How are you celebrating today?

Monday, December 10, 2012

A New Saint for the Year

I told you how we chose our patron saints for the year last week, but I didn't tell you was chosen for each of us.  The Saint Name Generator gave me Bl. John Duns Scotus---which meant nothing to me, but I decided to go with it, anyway.  After all, I had said the prayer for the appropriate saint, and I figured God knew more about him than I did.  Last year I was too smug to keep the saint chosen for me.

Due to a busy week, we didn't say our prayers very much last week, and I kept forgetting to look him up (or even remember his name).  Saturday afternoon I saw a tweet that said we should read about him on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, so I followed the link.   He is known for not being very bright and asking the Blessed Virgin to help him with his studies.  She, in turn, took away those difficulties and gave him a "sublime intelligence" which allowed him to comprehend and teach the yet-to-be-defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary with great clarity---more than 500 years before it was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

In light of my consecration in August, I have a sneaking suspicion why he might have been chosen as my patron for the year.  I am looking forward to getting to know him better.  Looks like there's a movie about him, too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Knitting and Reading

I'm making progress on the k2p2, most boring hat in the world, and we really enjoyed this book , The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Mayer, this morning. Lots of beautiful St. Nicholas art and stories.  One thing that took me aback, slightly, is that the author comes right out and says that Santa Claus doesn't exist.  Not that I mind her saying that, but it kind of shocked me!  In her note at the end, she expresses the same conviction that I've had all my life.  When I was young (and non-Catholic, and completely ignorant of all things saint-related), I refused to stop believing in Santa Claus because I felt in my heart that such goodness as Santa exhibited could not be purely fiction.  In fact, I believed that Santa or The Spirit of Santa should be present all year long.  I can't remember how it came about exactly, but I was thrilled, while on my road to Catholicism, to discover that Santa was (and is) really real!  And he didn't give gifts just on Christmas, but all the time.

::Hymnal in the background for singing Advent songs while knitting.

God Created Man and Woman

Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman", they reflect the Creator's wisdom and goodness.
In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.241
"Each for the other" — "A unity in two"  

God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him."242 None of the animals can be man's partner.243 The woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."244 Man discovers woman as another "I", sharing the same humanity.

The Catechism really says it better than I can, that men and women are equal in dignity before the Lord, but we are different.  We are physically and emotionally different.  Wired differently, you might say.  God in His wisdom knows that to be helpmates to one another, we cannot be just alike.  Although you'd think sometimes that would make life together so much easier,  it wouldn't make life better.

Monday, December 3, 2012

1st Monday in Advent Musings

We made some progress on Advent prep this weekend.  I put up the Jesse Tree which I just love with it's purple and pink ribbons awaiting its ornaments.  Stockings are hung, nativities are out, and my St. Nicholas collection.  And that is quite enough to make me cranky and the house a mess.  :-/

Simplicity is my new mantra, and I'm going to figure out how to simplify the decorating this year.  ....well, I say that, and then I immediately think that there are things I love and can't do without---like garland and lights on the bannister---but I can take all of Advent to put those things out, and all of the Christmas season to slowly put them away, as I normally do.

I'm kind of neutral on the subject of outdoor lights, but the weather was super-warm yesterday (in the '70's!), so my dear DH grabbed an idle boy and got to work.  It looks rather festive out there, I must say!

I sang with the church choir in their annual Christmas Gala on Saturday.  It was with a local symphony, and it was not at all what I expected.  There was a variety of music:  Ave Maria, songs from Home Alone, and the GaTech women's a cappella group.  Even a reading of The Night Before Christmas.  It was fun for me to sing with an orchestra for the first time.

One of our family traditions is for each of us to choose a new patron saint for the year at the beginning of Advent.  For the past couple of weeks, after our family decade, I've reminded everyone to choose a new saint.  Before bedtime, we pray a decade of the rosary, our family consecration prayer, and then pray for the intercession of each saint.  When I got to my saint, I'm last, we all looked at each other and said, "Fail!"  Oops, I mean, "Amen."  We had all forgotten, so we immediately went to the computer to Jen Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator to help us out. Now we're all set, except for Pippo who didn't want a random saint, but a patron for a specific intention.

And after repeated online reminders to go out and buy candles for the Advent wreath, which smug blogger who bought large boxes of purple and pink a few years ago is now forced to use used candles?  Me, that's who.  

But I'm going to drop in the Catholic shop that is conveniently located next to Tom's school, today, to see if they have any left!


Is your Advent off to a great start?  What did you do this weekend?

Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Jesse Tree Quick Takes


Hello, my name is Sara, and I'm a Jesse Tree Junkie.  I fell in love with the Jesse Tree as a new Catholic when I got these books at a homeschooling conference, so I would know "how" to celebrate liturgical seasons.


The same year I came into the Catholic Church we moved to the Atlanta area in the fall.  We knew nobody and had no money, because we still owned a house in VA, so the kids and I had plenty of time to make our first set of Jesse Tree ornaments out of salt dough.  We painted them with food coloring, sealed them with Mod Podge.  We put up our artificial tree at the beginning of Advent and began the tradition of doing a Bible reading every night and hanging one ornament.  When we finally put the rest of the Christmas ornaments on on Christmas Eve, or a few days before, I was in love.  There was our beautiful Christmas tree, with ornaments carefully chosen during the early years of our marriage, interspersed with salvation history.  It was all there from the Creation of the Earth to the Fall, to the Sacrifice of Isaac....all the way to the Annunciation.   It made so much sense to me!

I heart the rustic look of these, but we have so few left!


We eventually sold that house and were able to purchase a smaller, 5-foot tree to use as the Jesse Tree.  We also made a new set of ornaments out of Crayola fast-drying clay last year to replace the broken, original ones.  It was very easy to work with, and we painted them with acrylic paints.  No Mod Podge this time because it makes them a bit sticky and the paper they're wrapped in every year sticks to them!

I'm sad to say that when I unwrapped these just now, for your viewing pleasure, they are all bumpy, as if we sprinkled salt on them.  Not happy, Crayola, not happy.


This year, one of my friends put together a Jesse Tree ornament swap.  Finally!  I've wanted to do one for years, you know, where you make a zillion of the same ornament and everyone else does the same and then you swap so everyone has a complete set?  They turned out so cute!


I printed out these from Michele Quigley, today.  I've hesitated over these the past couple of years because I didn't think they would come out well on the printer, but I tried one page and they look great.  


And, we have this set from Illuminated Ink which is very cute and doable.  I think we have 2, maybe three of these!  I don't know why I bought 2, but Meg won one in one of their old coloring contests.  I brought 2 of the "trees" upstairs yesterday, and I know there's a third because it makes a great place to hang my earrings and bracelets!  ;-) 


Aaaannnnd, finally, I have instructions for cross-stitching a set of ornaments   One year, when I was into stitching, I planned to make one ornament per day of Advent.  I think I finished one.  And it took more than one day, so that set doesn't technically exist.  

Please tell me there is help for someone like me!  I like to think that my excuse is that with 6 kids, I can send each of them out into the world with a set and I will have done my duty as a Mom.  What do you think?  Tell me about your Jesse Tree or which ornaments you would choose!


Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


round button chicken

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If you're visiting from Just a Catholic Dad, Welcome to my little blog!

You probably think I'm crazy, but pretty this week is the ginormous wasps' nest that my neighbor cut off his tree.   It was hanging right over the path to our back yard, and he finally cut it down now that the wasps are gone.  Where do they go?  South for the winter?

Anyway, he was going to throw it in the woods, but I thinks it's simply stunning and I asked if we could have it.  It's got to be 18" from top to bottom---slightly less now that we've crushed the bottom by setting it on the ground.

Honestly, isn't that one of the most stunning things you've ever seen?  It's a gorgeous work of one of God's amazing creatures.


I found a nice, sturdy caddy at Goodwill for our Advent books.  Or whatever books.  Right now, it's holding all of our Advent and Christmas books, but we can always use something to hold books in this house!  It perches upon the stone hearth now that it has received a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Versailles (same green as the island in the background).

Cousins who are close enough to get close to each other.   I love these boys!

Picture credit

That about sums up how I've been feeling lately.  Holiday stress, humiliations, hurts, and hormones all combined to make me feel like that ^ , and to want nothing more than to curl up in a ball in my room and avoid the world----my family, my friends, my blog, my responsibilities.  Everything.  Thankfully, God is always calling us to Him, and I know that what I really feel like doing isn't an acceptable option.  I have to keep trying to overcome my feelings to do His will, which is good, because it actually helps those feelings go away sooner.  The flip side of that is that You Know Who capitalizes on that self-pity and tries to draw you down into despair.

One thing that helps is trying not to think of Self.  This prayer kept coming to mind, and I think I'm being asked to pray it more often.   Pray it.  Period.  Because, quite honestly, it's one that I have actively avoided.  ;-)

Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twinkie Lamentations

Photo Credit

"And the prophet said, cast ye your countenance toward the Walmart, and follow thy heart to the junk food aisle, for there the snack cakes are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. For the munchies are upon you, and the hunger is deep. Look with wonder upon the gifts you have been given. Of the puffed cheese and popped corn, you may eat, but not the HoHo. Of the jerky and Nutella and Doritos you may have your fill, but not the Twinkie. Of the potato chip, plain or barbecue, ranch or sugar coated, you may eat, but not the Donette. Of the oil based snack of dubious origin you may eat, but not the Ding Dong. Though your craving be deep, think not of the little chocolate cupcake with the white squiggle thereupon. For the punishment is upon us and Hostess is no more. And the people wept."
Lamentations 8:11-20

Did y'all see this?  I thought it was hysterical, so I had to post it.

My Disney-watching kids, Meg and Pippo, have been begging me for ages to buy "fat cakes" which are really pink snowballs---I'm not sure what their real name is---but they call them fat cakes on the Disney channel.  Good mother that I am, I bought HoHos and Ding Dongs and Snowballs for them since they have been deprived all their lives.   We They ate them for breakfast at the rest stop on our trip to Virginia.

We did not have any Twinkies since Target was sold out when I looked, and I remember them fondly, but no one enjoyed their breakfast that day.  It kind of surprised me that my sweets-loving family did not like them, but no one seems to be sorry that Hostess is out of business now.  We regret it from an economic standpoint, not a dietary one. 

Tell me, did you go out and buy Twinkies and stuff for the last time? 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday after Thanksgiving Daybook


Outside my window...
It's cold.  Suddenly, the leaves are gone and the wind is brisk.  Much more brisk than last week.  It feels like winter is upon us.

I am thinking...

About Christmas.  It's time to sit down and make a plan for Advent and Christmas shopping.

I am thankful...
For the time spent with family in Virginia over Thanksgiving.  We had a great time with all the cousins and siblings.  It's wonderful to see these children who have grown up together become grown up friends.  But I'm also thankful to be back home in my own bed, my own home, and with my own routines.

Oh, and internet access is nice, too.  There was not much flowing through "the tubes" in VA, and it was strained by the smartphone and ipad users.  Most of whom are in my family.    I had thought I might do a little blogging while I was there, but it was not meant to be.

From the learning rooms...
It's going to be hard getting back into the routine.  I'll need to find a new math plan for Pip who has finished his book earlier than expected.

In the kitchen...
Back to Paleo eating and cutting waaaay back on the sugar for the non-paleo eaters.  Last night we did celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King with Pumpkin Pucks---which are basically pumpkin pies in muffin tins, sweetened with honey and syrup, and topped with unsweetened whip cream.  I thought they were delicious!  I also whipped up some paleo pancakes with the rest of the pumpkin.

I am knitting...
Yes!  I'm knitting!  I'm working on the boorrrring k2p2 hat, which I'm happy to say is growing.  I knitted a shawl-collard cowl for my sister-in-law on a whim, which I finished in a miraculous 4 days.  And last night I started an infinity cowl, like the ones I've seen at Target this season, out of the most beautiful raspberry merino.  I don't plan to keep it for myself, but it might be too pretty to part with!  Maybe there is enough yarn for 2?

I am hoping and praying...
...for our old parish and former pastor
...for healing for a very sick little girl named Erica
...for everyone with cancer

I am looking forward to...
Advent, and getting out our Jesse Tree.  I hope to get to my Jesse Tree post in the next day or so!

Around the house...
It is time to remove all the fall-ish decor, of which there is, thankfully, very little, and start decorating for Advent/Christmas.  It's really, really nice to have a whole, extra week in which to make the change!  There is way too much Christmas decor downstairs, and I'm planning to thin it out this year.  I'm sure my Katie will be happy to take some of it off my hands for her new home!

One of my favorite things...
Advent.  Because I didn't grow up with this Tradition, and I love the Church seasons that we use to prepare our hearts for Christ, and then we celebrate His birth for 12 days.  As a child, I thought it was sad that it was over and done with so quickly.  Those Christmas trees on the curb on December 26 make the holiday seem so empty and meaningless.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Every night of the week is busy.  Choir rehearsal Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, November 22, 2012


....for all this...and more: the blessings of faith, large families and small families, IRL friends and online friends, good health & healing. For life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading the Catechism - Week 5

I almost didn't do this today because I'm 4 days behind in reading!  I don't know how that happened----oh, yes, leaving it for "later" which rarely comes.  I imagine that this may be one of the most difficult sections of the whole Catechism.  At least I hope so.  It would be a lot easier to take in those small, daily doses, instead of all at once, so I'm going to stop leaving it for later.

It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.51

St. Nicholas of Flüe; cf. Mt 5:29-30; 16:24-26.

It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.52

Then we move on to the Holy Trinity:
The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77 The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason",78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle",79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

I thought this was interesting about the ancient disagreement with the Orthodox Churches., though I gather it's not a "rigid" disagreement that prevents them from being united with us.

The following section that continues the relationship of the Holy Trinity was/is completely mind boggling, but St. Gregory manages to make it slightly more comprehensible:

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian", entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down... the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God... the three considered together... I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me...92


St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40,41: PG 36,417.
Even more clarity.  Bring it down to something really simple that I can follow:

Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.99


And wrap it up with a beautiful prayer by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity:

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.102


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