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 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...

nappy nappy

...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


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