Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy Innocents


Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents commemorating the martyrdom by Herod's cruel decree of the boy babies born in Bethlehem and the surrounding cities. Many have come to associate this day with the "Holy Innocents" lost each day to abortion. I was born on this day in the year abortion first became legal, 1973. Often, those of us born in this year are called the "first survivors" of abortion and I understand the meaning, but in the womb of my mother and under her heart, I was never in any danger.

It occurred to me the other day that the story of Moses is a foreshadowing of the massacre in Bethlehem and a parallel to abortion, as the Egyptians slaughtered the Israelite male children during the captivity in an effort at "population control." Moses is rescued from this fate by his mother who floats him in a basket of reeds down the Nile where the Pharaoh's daughter finds him. She knew he was an Israelite child, she knew her father's law required his death, but somehow when she saw this child, heard his laughter, held him in her arms, he became something precious, something to be protected, and so he was saved.

In a lesson from the Baltimore Catechism I was reading with my younger sons, the image of Herod ordering the death of the Innocents is used to exemplify the effects of mortal sin in the soul. The analogy being that Christ's life and grace flees from the soul that commands its death as the Christ child fled into Egypt to escape Herod's murderous decree. I've read the story of Herod many times over the years and I still find it shocking, but reading it to my sons that day it seemed especially fresh and especially terrible. How could anyone slaughter so many baby boys? Had we lived at that time and in that place, we likely would have had a dreadful visit from Herod's hit men. I could see the boys looking at one another as I read. Behind their serious eyes I could see them wondering, how? How? This will not happen to you, I assured them. Nobody will come to take your brothers. Still, the analogy between this and the real danger many unborn children face today is troubling.

On this feast of the Holy Innocents I pray that as the innocent unborn are carried by the swift current of our culture in the thin, but carefully woven reeds of pro-life efforts, that the world might look upon their face and see in them something precious, something to be protected.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Midnight Mass

OK, that was totally worth it. I'm exhausted, bleary-eyed in fact, but after Mass, Father T told us how much we reminded him of his family because when he was young his parents always brought him and his five brothers and one sister to midnight mass. He gave us a special blessing and prayed with and for our family privately for a few moments. It was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

This was my Christmas gift, we all agreed in the car afterward. A good and holy priest prayed with our family on the anniversary of our savior's birth, that these children might grow in strength, health, and holiness and serve God in all they do. I couldn't ask for more.

Jesus is born! Blessed are we! Unto us a child is born and He shall be called Wonderful!

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas

More pictures to come. Santa's elves took two days to finish this project and told us to keep off the wood for another day or so to let the finish dry. By the way, elves are no where near as short as everybody says they are and they didn't show us, but they did say their ears were pointy underneath their winter hats.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One!

Dearest Micah, Has it really been a year since we first laid eyes on you?

First touched your newborn skin?

You still feel so new to us, your laughter and antics a gift to us each new day. How did a year pass so quickly?

But then again, haven't you been here forever? I can't imagine a time without you. The way you've wrapped yourself about our lives and hearts, I'm sure we could never get along without you. You're the best thing that ever happened to the seven of us.


Happy Birthday, sweet child.

Ha!

Older Boy: (watching movie) Oooooo...those women are fighting.

Younger Boy: But they are smiling at each other.

Older Boy: Yes, that's how women fight. You'll learn.

The Weather Outside is Delightful!


Let it Snow!
It won't last long.

On the ipod

I don't always find time to read Magnificat and my kids have an unwritten deal with me: They will behave beautifully at Sunday Mass, but if and only if I agree not to take them to daily Mass. For these reasons, I LOVE this podcast that brings audio recording of the day's scripture readings to my ipod. You can download a month at a time and then following the Lectionary cycles becomes as easy as pushing "play."

These Golden Nights




Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God.

Listen to these chanted in Latin at Fisheaters.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The fruit of Honesty

Boy: Mom, can I have a fruit?

Me: Didn't you already have a piece of fruit?

Boy: No, I put that one back.

Me: Hmm... really? Well, if you are being honest with me you may have fruit, but if you are not being honest you can't.

Boy: OK, can I have a cookie then?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Truth in Advertising

Shopping at a popular chain store tonight (I bet you can guess which one)...

Me: This a good deal on raw honey. The jar is larger than what we find at the farmer's market and the price is lower.

Zachary: That's because it says "Expect More, Pay Less" over the door.

Pandora's (Roku) Box

Do you like Pandora, the best in internet radio?

I've enjoyed it for years, now, listening to my favorites and finding new music to like as I paid bills or read email, but now Pandora is something more to us.

New channels are offered by Roku that allow you to stream Pandora to your home entertainment system through your Roku box. We're listening to Bing Crosby, Harry Connick Jr, Nat King Cole and all our favorite classic Christmas tunes as well as others we've never heard before. In the living room, it's music the whole family can enjoy. It's tailored to our tastes as much as we care to tailor it and it's FREE! Love it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nine!


Happy 09 to my millennium baby!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Overheard

Boy #1: I've seen some places it says X mas instead of Christmas. Why is that?

Boy #2: Some people are very careful not to take the Lord's name in vain and so they bleep it out with an "X."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Call it a Day

I sip cappuccino, still wearing my flannel pajamas and new slippers. Laundry is moved, a math sheet is completed. I correct it. A spelling quiz is followed by lunch and I cut peanutbutter and applebutter sandwiches into triangles. "May I have a fruit?" "Yes, you may."

Some children are outside now and some are inside. Someone is playing the piano. I clean a bathroom, talking on walkie talkie to boys who are deep in the woods. "We just made a fort out of pines, do you read me?" I read them and scrub another toilet.

Then there's science classes--biomes, food chains, ecosystems, followed by amphibians and birds and reptiles--and I stir cranberries into sauce on the stovetop. A husband calls, a mortgage agent calls, a friend calls with exciting news--a new baby on the way! I realize the crockpot won't cook my pork roast in time and I move it to the oven, adding onions.

A neighbor stops by with her dogs and we talk on the porch. The dogs run off with my boys. "Leave it to Beaver" is now on, UPS is here with yet another mystery Christmas package. I stow it away on the highest shelf in my closet. The baby nurses and insists on being held as I make dinner. I slice potatoes for scalloping.

"Mom can you tie my shoes, Please?" "Be in before dark." And it is dark--so early. Vegetables steam--dinner is ready. I eat standing up and call up the stairs to the oldest child, "Get ready! Come Eat!" He eats sitting down, choking down what I thought was a four star dinner.

A husband arrives home. He kisses me. A baby is extatic--his hero is here and he must be held by his hero. The hero holds him as I slip out the door with the oldest child--off to Tae Kwon Doe in the darkness. The boy is chatty and pleasant in the car and I am grateful for the quiet, the darkness, this still innocent boy. I drop him off.

I head to the pharmacy and pick up medications for this one's this and that one's that. I print Christmas cards and bump into a friend. My cards are misprinted, I leave them there and go pick up the boy. I return and reprint them.

I arrive home with stocking stuffers and Christmas cards. Alas, I have forgotten the breakfast cereal, but now I am the heroine and a baby is so glad to to see me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

His Favorite Food?


Chili, no kidding.
I don't recommend this (Note: it isn't me feeding him chili in this picture) but it does make me laugh that such a little squirt can be such a big fan of chili. It reminds me of this picture Jenn of As Cozy As Spring fame posted a while back. Funny.

Tall and Small

At the dentist today, a tall man came through the door and little short-legged Micah walked right up to him. The man bent down and the two looked at each other.

"I know it, isn't it weird, Dude?" the man asked Micah, "Everybody is SO big. What's with that?"

This man was so funny-- line after line, he had us rolling on the waiting room floor. I could tell he was having a good time bantering with the boys and was sorry to go when his name was called,

"What? Do I have to go already? But I just found my fan club," he said.

He punched every boys' fist and they wished him luck. Micah opened and closed his little hand, waving bye-bye.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Atmospheric


Part of the reason I was so tired of painting was that the foyer wasn't my only recent painting project. One of the others was the big boys' room.


We painted it Atmospheric and have really been enjoying these wall transfers. And also these.

At night, they have their glowing stars on the ceiling and the Moon in My Room.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Done!


Thank you! Thank you to all the kind readers who emailed me encouragement. I needed that. I really needed that. I love the color! It's SW sea salt.It wasn't easy and it didn't come out perfectly. I mean, I got good at it after a while, but it would have been nice to have two or three twenty foot foyers to practice on first, but hey, I didn't. Besides, if ever I am so obsessive compulsively inclined I can get out the ceiling paint and touch up.

I've sworn off all projects for a while now and even told the nice people at Sherwin Williams not to sell me any more paint until February, at least, even if I beg. But as I was putting the last bits of paint over a doorway at the top of the stairwell I saw the upstairs bath in a new angle, "Green," I thought, "I want to paint that bathroom green."

In Over My Head

Have you ever started a project and then really regretted it? I just did. I had a thought to put the Christmas tree in the foyer, but then it would be nicer if the foyer were painted now wouldn't it? Yes, and no. Yes, I am sure it will look nice, but the price I'm paying is steep. It's high, it's out of reach, it's over my head...

It's twenty foot walls in the stairwell and I'm going to use this reachy-pole-thingie that extends to do it. I had all sorts of energy when I started this project, but that's all gone now and the hardest part is all that's left. Those twenty foot walls are staring at me and I just want to take my sore muscles to bed. I'd like to be observing Advent more, but here I am thinking about nothing but paint. I had all my Christmas shopping done by December first, but what's the benefit of having the stress out of the way if I use the opportunity to add other stresses? I can be so stupid sometimes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

To rescue you from your passions, the Word took on a body...

He was man, but God. David's offspring, but Adam's maker. A bearer of flesh, but even so, beyond all body. From a mother, but she a virgin. Comprehensible, but immeasurable.

A manger received him, while a star led the Magi, who so came bearing gifts, and fell on bended knee...

Food was set before him, but he fed thousands and changed the water into wine...

As man he took rest, as God he put to rest the sea.

He was the sacrifice, but the high priest: making an offering, but himself God.

He dedicated his blood to God and cleansed the entire world...He had company with the dead, but he rose from the dead, the bygone he raised up: There is the mortal's poverty, here the incorporeal's wealth.

Do not, therefore, dishonor his divinity on account of his human things, but, for the divine's sake, hold in renown the earthly form into which, thoughtful of you, he formed himself, the incorruptible Son.


St Gregory Nazianzen (circa 390) Selections taken from this month's Magnificat.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Special Moment of the Day

Nicholas, after wrapping himself in a winter blanket with a snowflake pattern on it and looking at my sweater that has a similar pattern:

Now I'm snowing like you are snowing. Will you cuddle with me?

Absolutely. Why not? Let us snow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Believing What You Read

"Life isn't fair," I said in response to someone as it seems all parents do say at some time or other in their parenting career. I think this was a first for me.

"That is SO true," Jacob replied with a sigh.

"How do you know that?" I asked wondering what experience gave him his certainty.

"I once read it on a tea cup."

High Hopes

Now that Thanksgiving will be quiet around here, my mind naturally started planning Christmas. "Should we get a real tree this year?" I wondered to myself aloud. The last few years we've opted for the convenience of an artificial tree and while it sure is convenient, I always miss a real tree.

"Oh yes, yes, yes!" Zachary said listening in on my thoughts. "Oh and also...no wait...that can't work."

"What can't work?" I asked.

"I was going to say we should also get a real star to put on top, but that can't work can it Mama? Because stars are actually very big, they look small, but are too big and that wouldn't fit now would it?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pil(Grim) Thanksgiving

We have the flu and so we've had to cancel our Thanksgiving plans. The turkey has been put back in the freezer and I'm trying not to be so down about it. Still, there is much to be thankful for. This year I am thankful for a husband who will clean up vomit, for humidifiers and children's Motrin. I am thankful for homemade chicken soup, this thermometer, flannel pajamas, gingerale and rainy days that match your mood. I am thankful for Netflix (I want to especially thank Voltron, Defender of the Universe for passing our time), and we couldn't have done this without Lysol or Clorox with bleach. I am thankful and praying that all are well on the day we reschedule our family gathering.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Love a Baby Who Tells on Himself

Micah going up the stairs: Uh-oh, uh-oh...uh-oh.

Micah heading for a toilet: Uh-oh!

Micah, rummaging through spices in the pantry: Uh-oh.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Before and After


Since it's the side of the house we drive up to, we've been wanting to hang shutters on these windows for a while now. We finally did and I'm pleased. Such a simple project, but it makes a difference.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leaves and Acorns


I'm just now finding comments over at the Virtual Kitchen that were left for me LAST YEAR. Sorry about that, folks. Some asked how I made the little leaves and acorns on my pumpkin pie crust last Thanksgiving. I actually used old cookie cutters and a paring knife for details, but this year I ordered these fall forest cutters from Williams and Sonoma. I expect the result will be just as pretty and it will take me less time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is it Still Passing Notes...



...when you're passing them to the teacher?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I'm Reading and Really Enjoying...

"Raising Real Men," by Hal and Melanie Young is an invaluable resource for all parents of boys. Lots of good stuff here, very real, very encouraging. I love it! More to come...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nuts for Thanksgiving


Cranberry Orange and Toasted Pecan Bread

1/3 cup orange juice plus 1 tsp. orange extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 Tbs. melted butter
1 large egg lightly beaten
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 oz fresh cranberries chopped coarse
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375, grease loaf pan. Stir together orange juice and extract, buttermilk, butter and egg in a small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking power. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans (to toast pecans: heat chopped pecans in a fry pan until aromatic, stirring constantly).

Scrape batter into greased pan and bake 20 minutes. Then, reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. Cool ten minutes in pan and at least one hour before serving.

Recipe from an old Cooks Illustrated magazine.

Last year, we had Thanksgiving with a family that suffers from severe nut allergies. I couldn't make anything with nuts. So, this year we're having this and chestnuts and I'm going to make this, too. I like the idea of Pecan Pie without corn syrup.

Moving On

April 2008


Zachary grows into a new/used bike. I'm so sad to see the little green bike outgrown.

First Words

Micah understands...

nigh-night
nappy nappy
bye-bye
Micah-Mikey

...and a few other words.
He very clearly says "Mama" now and means it. He repeats many sounds and, yesterday, when we paid a visit to the icon hanging in the hall, Micah said "Jesus" for the first time. It sounded more like "Suss-suss" but I knew who he meant and I think Jesus must have, too. I love teaching this to little ones. It's wonderful to hear the Holy Name among a child's first words. "Jesus loves Micah," I tell him, "Micah loves Jesus"--the first catechism lesson and the one that contains them all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Springtime in the Fall

We had another beautiful Sunday here so we headed out to our favorite park. This time we brought the kids' bikes and let them ride ahead of us. At one point along the trail, we noticed a party going on in the distance and we joked about crashing it to get free drinks. A little farther on we met up with an old man and his dog. "Are you guys with the church?" he asked pointing back in the direction of the party. "No," I thought to myself, "We're Catholic." I actually thought something along those lines so, were we ever surprised when the trail opened up to the parking lot and we saw someone we knew from, well, our church.

"Fancy meeting you here," we said and he invited us to join the rest of the party. Yes, THE party. It was our church. We were with them and we didn't even know it. Why didn't we know about it? Well, the group wasn't the whole church, but one "Contrada," as we're calling them. Our pastor, you see, broke the whole parish into smaller local groups just as it was done in Italy in the times of our patron, St Catherine of Sienna. Each Contrada has it's own flag and color and wrist bands in that color with St Catherine's words, "Be who you are and set the world ablaze" inscribed on them. It's pretty neat and while our Contrada hasn't had a picnic planning party at the park yet, apparently others have. They let us join them and not only gave us free drinks, but insisted we take home platters of leftovers, too. Also, we met some new people and saw some people we haven't been able to meet up with lately and made plans for later in the week. It was just great.

I am thankful for Father T and all he has done for our parish. He has a way of bringing people together and all of us closer to Christ. He has vision and humility and he thinks outside every box. He's doing wonderful things here. I hope you're experiencing some of the "springtime" in the Church John Paul II spoke about, too. We're certainly seeing some of the sprouts down here in the south and it is a beautiful thing to see.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Overheard

Boy#1 Woooo, you just accidentally stepped into the lair of the Black Dragon.

Boy #2 But that's OK because he mistakes me for one of his children.

Boy #1 Right, but the Black Dragon usually EATS his children.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lessons Learned (or Perhaps not)

Friends of ours from church invited us over as they had the day off school today on account of "Veterinarian's Day," as they told their mother. My kids started asking if they'd get the day off, too. I hadn't planned on it, as we generally go by a if-Jeremy-is-at-work-we're-schooling policy, with the exception of two months in the summer. But then, after stopping at the library last night and picking up some really great finds I thought a book reading morning was in order. It wasn't a day off, per se, as we read together from a great assortment of books for three hours straight. I don't often get to just sit and read with my kids anymore so this was a real treat for me, too, and we learned plenty. We spent the rest of the day with our friends--thank you P family--you are wonderful! Then, on the ride home we talked about veterans and who they are and what they have done for us. We prayed for them and their families. Turning in the driveway, we decided to check the mail from the van on account of the rain. No mail? Ah yes, the kids realized, the mailman has "Veterinarian's Day" off too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No More Training Wheels

"Mom, can I use one of Dad's tools?" Alex asked from the garage.
"Sure, what are you doing?"


"Fixing Nicholas' bike," he said.


Squeals and cheers were heard soon after.
"Mom!" Alex called, "You're going to want to see this!"


And off he went.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cheating November

I don't know what kind of weather you have been experiencing, but it has been in the high 70's almost 80's around here. It is wonderful.

Yesterday, we went for a Sunday walk at a new park in town designed for joggers, walkers and bikers. The scenery is so inviting with restored farm buildings and old Pecan groves. The fall colors are glorious and we saw more than a few parties taking advantage of the vibrant color and late autumn light for those special photographs. There was the boy scout posing for professional photographers through the window of an old chicken coop. There was the family of four all dressed in fancy purple and black siting on a rock wall for a family portait. There was the mother of two young sons dressed in their Christmas clothes, she would dance to make her baby smile as Grandma snapped shots.

We walked a long way stopping only to swing on the swinging benches, making the most of a short weekend and a short day as the days are now. Sure enough, when the sun set at 5:30 or so, the temperature dropped 10 degrees and counting and our camera was at home in the camera case. I stopped for the moment, before the rush of dinner and Sunday night obligations and looked around. There was the sight of hot air balloons on the horizon and the sweet smell of burning leaves in the air and I felt as though we had cheated November, somber November. The simple gift of a lovely day spent with those we hold dear, passing, and unexpected and not captured on film. Just us. Just being together in that lovely place on a lovely day. Thank you, Lord, for setting this day apart.

Kids: They Can Help You Out In a Pinch

So, I was up late the other night painting by myself while my husband was out of town. When I slid the roller brush onto the roller I caught the soft part of my littlest finger between the teethy metal parts and the roller. Ouch. I tried to get it off myself but my efforts only made the problem worse. The children were all sleeping. I headed up the stairs trying not to think of the pain or the flashes of heat that accompanied it. "Simeon" I said in an urgent whisper, "I need you to help me."

After a few pleas he awoke from a deep sleep. I turned on the lights and gave him clear instructions. He pulled the brush off the roller, freeing my finger. "Oh," I said with relief, "It's fine... It's fine." I had worried that I might need medical attention. Simeon assessed the wound as he wiped his eyes, "I don't know," he said groggily, "It isn't the prettiest either."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nail Pops

We're getting the living room and foyer walls ready for painting this weekend. I gave the job of digging out nail pops and removing the offending drywall screws to Alex. He loved it and did a fantastic job.

"Mom," he said, "This is the best job you ever given me because it allows me to be destructive and helpful at the same time. I can't believe I get to pop holes in all the walls and I won't even get in trouble."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

or: In Defense of Procrastination.

I never adjusted the clock on my cell phone for Daylight Savings last spring. Thanks to fall back, that clock is once again accurate and I didn't do a thing.

Future in Marketing?

Found in the margins of somebody's schoolwork.

Monday, November 02, 2009

All Souls


May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy All Saints Day!


Almighty and Everlasting God,
who dost enkindle the flame of Thy love in the hearts of the saints,
grant unto us the same faith and power of love;
that, as we rejoice in their triumphs
we may profit by their examples, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gothic Missal

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Antidote

Alex (on the ride home from the Halloween party): Mom, when we get home, can we eat broccoli?

Boo



He glows in the dark.

Happy Halloween!