Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


October 2008

Awww, nuts!

Hickory nuts, to be precise!

This evening the entire family took a walk to the woods to gather the fallen hickory nuts, before the squirrels and other woodland creatures get them first.  Though a bit tricky to crack, these jewels of the forest are certainly worth the effort.

It was a lovely evening, warmer than it has been of late and perfect for walking…though a few of the children chose alternate forms of transportation.  Aren’t big brothers the best?

6th picture…

Esther tapped me for this unusual meme.  As I’m using hubby’s computer right now, this picture folder is much more recent.

Here’s how it works:

Go to your pictures, go to the 6th file, go to the 6th picture and then post it. For bonus points [yeah, sure, there’s points] see if you can remember even taking the picture.

And here’s the 6th picture from the 6th folder:

Aren’t they lovely?  My mother and grandmother.  Taken on a Tuesday morning, shortly before noon on September 16, 2008.  Two of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known…I don’t look a thing like either of them!

I tag all of the sentimental people out there who want to take a peek at their old photos.  If I was on the other computer…wow!  I have a lot of really old photos, including scanned heirloom photos from way back when.  Have fun!

Nature walk and journaling…

The younger children are enjoying Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Botany. What an outstanding program! Before class this morning, we took a nature walk to the woods. There is still much life left even as we are in the midst of the change of seasons. Butterflies and moths flitted before us, the corn rustling noisily as we proceeded down the path. Cookie was meowing anxiously, as if to warn us of the impending danger of the woods. We marched onward, marveling at the profusion of remaining plant life, now a bit more accessible, since the poison ivy has begun to recede. The dried flowers are still rather beautiful…we brought home quite a large bouquet, observing how very different these are from the living flowers gathered not so very long ago. We took time to stop regularly to photograph and sketch our observations for later identification. What an invigorating way to start the day!

If your currently studying botany or are simply interested in identifying plants and trees, here is an excellent resource.

Here’s a slideshow of our morning’s adventure:

A lone, pink rose…

Just a brief “good morning” as well as a hearty “Happy Feast of the Most Holy Rosary!” and then I’m off to the schoolroom…

This morning I noticed that the single pink rosebud on the bush next to the statue of our Lady, has begun to open.  How lovely it would be if our rose would bloom today, in honor of our Lady’s feast!  The rest of the roses are long gone, this is the last for the season…

Not too many plans today for this special Feast.  We are, of course, continuing our nightly Rosary throughout this month, and were honored to have received a few prayer requests yesterday…we’ll continue to offer our Rosary for any and all prayer requests…

Check out Catholic Cuisine’s Cupcake Rosary…very sweet, and fairly simple to accomplish.  Perfect for a large group!

Catholic Culture also has a page full of ideas and information on this Feast.

Here is a positively adorable coloring page on the Rosary.  Your little ones can “color along” as you pray!

Have a blessed day!

Alphabet of Catholic Saints

As promised, here is the finished Alphabet of Catholic Saints. I apologize for the poor resolution, my photography skills need much improvement. Our “Communion of Saints” were great fun to paint and it wasn’t terribly difficult to look at the illustrations in the above book and determine which attributes would best identify our heavenly friends.  I’m sure there are many more creative possibilities than the ones I’ve employed, but simplicity was my goal and these were extremely simple to embellish.

Clear-coating after painting is essential, if you want your little ones to be able to play with them.  The paint tends to rub off rather easily and the “white robes” are quite easily sullied without the protective finish.  We’ve already dropped ours many times and they seem to be holding up well.

And I can’t praise Along the Alphabet Path nearly enough.  This is easily becoming my favorite part of the day.  This afternoon, two of the boys abandoned their studies to listen to the story.  Fantasy is ageless and all children appreciate an occasional “flight of fancy.”

The Alphabet of Catholic Saints:

St. Ann, St. Bernadette, St. Cecilia, St. Dominic

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Francis, St. George, St. Helen

St. Ignatius, St. Joseph, St. Kateri, St. Lucy

St. Martin de Porres, St. Nicholas, St. Odelia, St. Patrick

Mary, Queen of Saints, St. Rose of Lima, St. Sharbel, St. Therese

St. Ursula, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Wenceslaus, St. Francis Xavier

St. Joseph Yuen, St. Zita and an Angel

October devotions…

During the season of Lent, our family has established a devotion which encourages offering the rosary for friends and family members.

But why stop at Lent?

October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary.  Beginning October 1st, we began pulling names out of the prayer jar, offering the rosary for two individuals or families, every evening.  The children take great delight in pulling the names, asking God to help them pull the names of those in most need of prayer.  Since tomorrow is the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, please feel free to submit your name for prayer!  We’d be delighted to pray for you and your intentions.

Nine voices are ready to lift you up, eager to petition God on your behalf…

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – October 6, 2008

Outside my Window…rosy-tinged morning sky, crispy-brown cornstalks rustling in the early morning breeze, silence upstairs.  Shhhh…the children are still sleeping…

I am thinking…about today’s plans.  How much more prepared I am after last week’s trials…

I am thankful for…a lovely weekend.  For nature programs offered by our local conservation officers, for cool days and chilly nights, for the dancing flames of Saturday night’s bonfire, for the sticky goodness of roasted marshmallows, for the company of good friends…

From the kitchen…espresso with Creme Brulee creamer for mom, chocolate chip pancakes for the children.  Tonight’s menu:  roast chicken, mashed potatoes, pan-fried corn, greenbeans and homemade bread.

In our school room…much more order.  A well-planned day.  After last week’s blessed realization, I pulled my self up out of the puddle of self-pity had I created and am delighted to have not only a better attitude, but a better plan.  Thanks be to God…

I am creating…hmm…finishing up those leg-warmers.  Had fun making a lot of these sweet little paper creations.  Clear-coated the remaining Alphabet of Saints.  Need to knit a new pumpkin hat for Charlotte.  Emily has hers, but Charlotte’s is missing…

I am going…to take a walk to the woods today.  We’re starting new nature journals and will observe the changes that are taking place with the new season…

I am wearing…brown tights, clogs, a brown micro-suede skirt, sage turtleneck and burnt-orange sweater.  I look a lot like a pumpkin…

I am reading…nothing.  Nil.  Nada.

I am hoping…that my dear friend and her family recover soon from the illness that has plagued them for the past couple of weeks.  Prayers for you all, dear friend!

I am hearing…The tap, tap, tapping of the keyboard.  Silence reigns upstairs…yesterday’s trip to the creek really tired the children.  Peace…is…good!

Around the house…Not too bad.  Dishes washed, laundry not too terrifying, bedrooms in fair order, finally finished picking up the branches all over the yard.  Need to put the rocking chairs back on the front porch…they’re still beside the remains of Saturday evening’s bonfire…

One of my favorite things…doting on my children when they’re sick/injured.  Gawain and Charlotte were so sad yesterday when they weren’t able to go to the creek with Daddy and their siblings.  Nonetheless, it was fun finding ways to distract them and they were able to show the others that staying home with mom isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…ohhh…I just want to revel in the fall temperatures, observing the changes in my favorite season.  I’m thinking about taking that glider flight this Saturday and then hunting for fossils at Caesar Creek.  I hope the weather holds out.  An arial view of the fall foliage?  Sweet!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Too much thyme on my hands! This sweet, little birdhouse gourd was growing wild in my compost pile…a nice surprise:

Paper crafts

1 sick child + 1 injured child = two very sad children

Two very, very sad children who didn’t get to go to the park today with dad and the other children.

Then mom found this website.

The Toymaker

A few sheets of cardstock, a printer, scissors and a glue stick, and voila!  A whole lot of fun and a few neat gifts for brothers and sisters.

We made the Fairy Window, the Puppet Theater and the Paddle Wheel Boat.

I’ll be printing up a few more projects for those rainy and sick day blues…

More creekside fun

Fossils, butterflies, spear-chucking and seining were on the agenda this afternoon at our local Metro Park.  Mom stayed home with Gawain, who was sick and Charlotte, who had severely burned her finger.  The remaining able-bodied family members spent the afternoon enjoying programs offered by the Metro Park system conservation officers.  The weather was beautiful, frost this morning and warming to 70 degrees by this afternoon.  Wish the rest of us could’ve been there…

Hubby took pictures of the fun:

The children were fascinated by this mastadon fossil

First bows, now spears?! I wonder what’s next…

Butterflies…Emily enjoyed observing the many specimens on display

Hope your Sabbath was equally enjoyable!

On target…

While mom ran errands this morning, Dad marshalled the troops and accomplished much of the morning’s work.  The reward?  An afternoon at Sycamore Plains where the children were instructed in the use of a compound bow.  Even little Emily was able to try her hand at archery:

The conservation officers were excellent instructors:

So was Daddy!

Emily made this shot by herself…she’s pretty good!

Charlotte is paying close attention:

Proper form is very important 😉

Gareth has his stance perfected:

Check out my warriors:

Ready for battle!

Right on target…

Youtube breaks a promise…

Thanks to the effort of the American TFP and other devout Catholics, Youtube received more than 18,000 signatures on a petition requesting the removal of blasphemous videos showing the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament.   On October 1st, Youtube complied, removing more than 40 videos.

Yesterday, the videos were back up.

C’mon guys…you promised!  Would you allow a video of someone descrating the Koran?  Or scrawling graffiti on the Wailing Wall?  I think not.  Catholic bashing is the last acceptable form of bigotry.  But this is much more than Catholic bashing…this is the desecration of the Body of Christ.  Stand up, Catholics!  Sign this petition, boycott Youtube until they comply.  I won’t be utilizing their services nor posting any Youtube videos until they end the double standard.

Here’s the petition.

Gnocchi report…

Wow!! I’m hooked. What an amazingly simple recipe with such outstanding results…

Move over Soup of Suffering…we have a new Friday favorite! Last night’s homemade gnocchi was a tremendous hit. I didn’t make nearly enough. I was trying to “fill in” for the insufficient amount of angel hair pasta. The children were fascinated by the process and began “tasting” them as soon as I tossed them in the burnt butter and sage.  Needless to say, no one wanted the angel hair pasta.  The gnocchi had just the right consistency:  light and fluffy, yet with enough body to hold up under any sauce.  Though I preferred the butter and sage, they were equally delightful served with a tomato basil sauce.

Delicious! Tonight…homemade gnocchi again and a fabulous loaf of “no knead bread.”

Angels all around…

Galahad calls this the “Angel bouquet”:

And he calls this one the “Mary bouquet”:

A few of our “angel inspired” crafts:

It’s been a productive day.  I finished clear-coating our Alphabet of Saints and whipped up (pun intended!) the fluffy cloud dessert.  I think I may try my hand at homemade gnocchi…Charlotte is obsessed with Italian cooking and, well, they kind of look like little clouds, right?  I don’t think I have enough angel hair pasta for this army…I’ll let you know how it turns out!

The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels

Happy Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels!!  Today we honor our best and dearest friend…the one given to us before all others, our very own Guardian Angel.  Here are a few ideas for angel-inspired crafts and a nice coloring page.  Here’s another one and a very sweet Guardian Angel Booklet. Tonight we dine on angel hair pasta with sauce and a fluffy cloud dessert.

FYI:  The image to the right is a painting that we’ve had for many years, given to my sweet girl, Elizabeth when she was seven years old.  It’s one of my favorites!

A few meditations for this holy feast from Goffine’s Devout Instructions:

This feast was instituted:

1. To thank God that to each one of us He has given a particular guardian angel to conduct him unharmed through the dangers of this world.

2. To inspire us with gratitude to the angels who do us such great good, and to incite us to efforts to render ourselves worthy of their guardianship.

What is the office of a guardian angel?
To guard men against dangers of soul and body. The Psalmist says: “He hath given His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways; in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 90:11); that is, that thou mayest neither fall into sin nor misfortune.

“Oh, what great regard for us,” hereupon exclaims Saint Bernard, “what wonderful love! Who is it that has given charge? God. To whom has He given charge? The angels, those noble spirits, His own household. What charge has He given them? To guard and defend us, poor men. ‘O Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him’?”

Saint Paul calls the angels “ministering spirits” sent to minister to them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). In innumerable other places in the Bible they are represented as friends of children, guides of youth, defenders of innocence, promoters of good deeds, monitors against evil, guardians of the pious, protectors against misfortune, comforters in need, deliverers in danger, helpers in combat, companions of the souls in everlasting joy.

What should we do every day, but particularly this day?
We should thank God for having given us guardians so holy and powerful, and our guardian angel himself for the help he has rendered us; should think of and call upon him often, especially in the hour of temptation; finally, we should promise fidelity and obedience to his admonitions. Whatever in this regard is at any time binding upon us should especially be done to-day.


O God, Who by an unspeakable providence dost vouchsafe to send Thy angels to guard us, grant to Thy suppliants to be ever defended by their protection, and to rejoice eternally in their society. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Exodus 23:20-23

Thus saith the Lord: Behold I will send My angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned; for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and My name is in him. But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. And My angel shall go before thee.

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-10

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest Thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto Him a little child, set him in the midst of them, and said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come, but nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven.

Prayer to the Guardian Angel

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

(100 days’ indulgence each time)

Blessed realization…

Yesterday afternoon I had an enormous temper tantrum.  Monday was supposed to have been our first day of school.  Poverty and poor planning had necessitated the late purchase of our homeschool curriculum.  Thanks to a well-timed gift, we were finally able to order the most essential books.

The week after I placed my order, the storm hit.  We evacuated and a dear family friend made sure that all our packages weren’t left to weather, chance, or curious woodland animals.

After we returned home, the books continued to trickle in until this weekend when, praise God, the final shipment arrived.  Hastily, I assembled the much needed tomes, threw together a weekly schedule and announced to the children that we would start school on Monday, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel…

Then Dad got sick.  Michaelmas plans were suspended and we accomplished very little in the way of school other than familiarizing ourselves with some of the new texts as well as tidying the classroom.

Which means that the first day of school for us was actually yesterday.

What a disaster!  Poorly begun is poorly done.  Everything that could go wrong, did.  As a mom who’s been a home educator for over twelve years, I have very few excuses.   But, of course, I’m going to try to make as many as I can…here’s a synopsis:

**No concise plans drawn up for the high school student. He’s pretty flexible and rolls with the punches as much as he can, but what a disservice to a new high school student!  My selfish desire to start as quickly as possible added stress he didn’t really need as his academic load is greatly increased.  To his credit, he complained far less than I did.

**A new spelling program. Well…not really new.  One that I used for my first three homeschool students, exclusively.  Why I abandoned Spelling Power for the artsy-cutesy CHC Catholic Speller is beyond my reckoning.  Though I’m very familiar with the Spelling Power format, I failed to take into consideration just how much time it would take to assess four students.  Two hours…sigh…

**Six students. I’ve never had six students before.  It’s different.  I didn’t think the extra child would make that big of a difference, but it does.  This year, I’m educating a high school student, a junior high student, three elementary students and a kindergartner.  I know I’ll find the rhythm, but it’s a bit mind numbing at the beginning.

**No school supplies. Where did all the notebooks go?  I had a clear bin full of them…but I failed to check the status of that same bin before the first day of school.  And the pencils?  Is there a black hole in this house?  We managed to find four pencils, only to discover that one of them broke repeatedly when sharpened.  Is there anything more annoying?  Yes.  This:  no transportation and no cash.  It was payday, but hubby wasn’t scheduled to be home for several hours.  It was at this point that I had my nuclear meltdown/temper tantrum:

“Dear Lord!!!!  I’m not asking for a trip to Aruba, a fancy house or a $400.00 pair of shoes!!!!  I just need some pencils!!!  And some glitter glue!!!  My little girls have never owned a tube of glitter glue!  School supplies…is that too much to ask?  I NEED SCHOOL SUPPLIES!!!

Yep…like a very whiny, intolerant child, I actually said those words aloud, visions of other homeschooling families and their neatly appointed, well-stocked supply cabinets dancing in my head.  I realized that I was coveting another mother’s glitter glue…

I smiled.  Then I laughed.  How I love the way God works!  How thankful I was that my complaints were so small, that if asked to pinpoint my greatest desire at that moment, I would have asked for school supplies.  Truly.   It was another break-through moment for me.  I’ve overcome so many obstacles to get to this point.  I’m not proud that I had my little fit over pencils and paper, but I’m comforted by it.  There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t have gone to the mailbox without wearing makeup.  I dressed exclusively in designer clothing, had more than fifty pairs of shoes and the most important thing I did all day was lunch.  I lived to shop and shopped to live.  That woman died, praise God, and the one in her place is just a little bit nicer.  Just a little…and definitely more content.

I don’t have to sell my soul for a Dooney and Bourke purse.  I don’t have a credit card, don’t shop at the mall and while I absolutely appreciate the finer things in life, I no longer need them.  My kids aren’t being shipped off to daycare, so mom can work at her “very important job” so that we can all have quality time in Hawaii in a couple years.  I’m now satisfied with a fruitful trip to the thrift store.  I’m so happy that by stepping out of the work force all those years ago, I effectively said to my husband “I trust you.  You can do this.  You have what it takes to provide for us.  I can be content with whatever God sends us…”

The rest of the afternoon improved dramatically after that blessed realization.  When my dear husband came home from work, I was happy to share the day’s events, including my tantrum.

“Let’s go get some school supplies…” he sweetly responded.

So we did.  I have a lot of glitter glue.

And pencils and paper, too!

Glitter glue…

A few more crafts for the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux.

I love glitter glue.  So do my children.

Even the boys…

Roses from St. Therese…

October 1st is the Feast of St. Therese Of Lisieux, according to the new calendar.  For adherents to the Tridentine Calendar, the Feast is celebrated on October 3rd.  This family traditionally celebrates the feast days as delineated by the old calendar, but had to make a small exception today.  The weekday Traditional Latin Mass is offered at our parish only twice a week, Monday and Wednesday to be precise.  Last night we made an enormous bouquet of these roses (thanks, Jessica!), to give to our friends at today’s Mass.  What fun it was to have the children tell each recipient that “St. Therese wants me to give you this rose…” It’s amazing how much joy can be contained in something as small as two chocolate kisses, a bit of tulle and floral tape!  We still have plans to recognize our dear saint’s feast day on Friday, but it was such a pleasure to shower our friends with roses!  By the way…if you decide to make a bouquet yourself and aren’t able to find  red cellophane, four layers of tulle cut in 4 inch squares works nicely!

Blessings on this feast day,

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