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Catholic Family Vignettes

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

Month

September 2009

Treasure hunt…

Finishing up school a bit early, we ventured to one of our favorite hiking spots on a wet and windy Michaelmas day…

Ah, the treasures that abound as the leaves begin to fly!  Mushrooms and moss.  A bouquet of colorful leaves.  Trees to climb…

Nature.

And in the midst of all of this bounty, we were engaged in yet another type of treasure hunt. Yes…we’re hooked!  If you’ve never done it, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Geocaching…two caches found, and we’ll be looking for a couple more today.  What an outstanding way to utilize our map skills, to develop an understanding of topography and to exercise deductive reasoning…

And…we DON’T EVEN OWN A GPS!!

A GPS system could certainly make the hunt easier, but we’ve discovered just how creative and resourceful we are.  Galahad used a satellite image on Google to locate one cache.  We had looked for more than an hour and were about to give up, when he looked at the image once again.  He matched the satellite image, with the trees that he could see surrounding him, and narrowed the search field a bit.  We focused our efforts in the area he insisted upon, and within 5 minutes discovered this nifty cache:

Look at those smiles!

Such fun, no cost…and the thrill of discovery?  Priceless…

This was our second cache.  A large plastic box.  Much easier to find than this, the first:

Yep.  That tiny…Arthur’s find, and every bit as exciting as Galahad’s.

Well…back to the books.  Work to finish and then…treasure to find!

Blessings,

Flag girl…

Who says homeschoolers don’t have flag girls?!

Little Emily takes her turn during the Pledge

Blessings,

Who is like GOD?

MICHAEL

A name which is battle cry, question and statement of faith:

Who is like God?

WHO is like God?

Who IS like God?

Who is LIKE God?

Who is like GOD?

A VERY HAPPY MICHAELMAS…MAY ST. MICHAEL GUARD AND PROTECT YOU AND YOURS!

Blessings,

P.S.  A late discovery:  The best coloring page image of St. Michael that I’ve ever seen!

and my post on how our family observes Michaelmas…off to bake a bannock!

A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – September 28, 2009

Outside my Window….sun peeking past torn gray clouds, wind gusting at 40 mphs, leaves and limbs tossing madly in the midst of a windstorm.  Please, Lord…not like last year!

Thinking…about the day, the many chores not done this weekend due to bad weather and illness.  I did manage to cook every evening, make a yummy treat and crafted a blue fairy doll for the little girls to play with…they are quite taken with her…

Thankful for…the sunshine…we’ve had a lot of gray skies lately…

From the kitchen…English Breakfast Tea.  I HAVE NO COFFEE!!  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!!  Ah, well…I do enjoy a cup of tea, usually in the afternoon.  I’m such a creature of habit.  Breakfast this morning:  eggs, sausage and cheese sandwich for dad, cereal for the children, mom’s drinking tea and eating grapes…still feeling yucky.  Lots of leftover soups for lunch today.  Meatloaf, mash potatoes, buttered corn and salad.  How’s that for country cooking?  Can you say…cholesterol?  Mmmm…mmm…good!

Faith and learning…On our third week and maintaining momentum.  It all rests with me…I’ve always known that, but I’m really approaching school in a whole new way.  I’ve decided (finally!) to quit looking at it as yet another “chore” that must be “done.”  I’m ashamed to say, that I’ve been treating this wonderful privilege with the same disdain that I would give, say, cleaning the toilet.  Necessary, but not entirely pleasurable.

So…I’m giving school my heart.  I’ve decided to be as passionate a home educator, as I am a knitter.  Or baker.  Or crocheter.  Crafter.  You name it, I’m more than capable of pouring myself into anything that I truly enjoy…well, I’ve decided to enjoy school and it is making all the difference.

Enthusiasm is caught, not taught.  My children are catching the fever, though we still have the meltdowns and the stress, it’s alright.  This is how it works.  It’s hard, but it’s not the end of the world.  We get sick, we miss this or that, but it’s okay.  We  simply dust off, smile and get back to work and everyone’s happier…

May God grant that we maintain our fervor, that we keep our eyes on Him and perservere…

Creating…a gift for Charlotte’s birthday.  She so loved her Gnome Home…I think the Blue Fairy needs a suitable dwelling…have gourd, will decorate!

Planning…well, we had to cancel a playdate with friends today due to illness (sorry Julie!), but I’m hoping the windstorm will abate enough to allow us to have a family bonfire on Tuesday for the Feast of St. Michael…also known as Michaelmas.

Wearing…blue jeans, long sleeved tee, socks…hair in a twist…face terribly swollen.  Again.

Reading…text books, a storybook or two, knitting catalog…that’s about it.

Praying…for my children’s health.  Would you also join me in prayer for a young woman’s father?  Melissa is a regular reader and her dear dad has been hospitalized with angina.  He has an ongoing heart condition and could really use prayer right now.  Thanks!

Hearing…the clang of spoons on bowls.  Breakfast…

Around the house…the soy has turned from gold to amber, corn stalks from green to gold, leaves are taking on a rainbow of hues.  Zinnias continue in proliferation; morning glories, too.  Outside:  grass is clipped, air is crisp; inside:  laundry is piling up, walls need painting, carpet needs cleaning…can you tell I’ve been inside too much this weekend?  All the flaws seem to jump out at you when you find yourself stuck in the same room for a couple of days…

One of my favorite things…watching the wind toss the leaves and limbs of trees against a deeply blue sky…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

The wild tangle behind the barn looks like this from a distance:

But up close…this:

And this:

Blessings,

A question…

Okay…so I’m fooling around with the blog, because I’m too miserable to do anything else.

So I change the header, change colors a few times and then decide to experiment with a patterned background.

I like the colors…but now the post container seems to be scrolling a bit slowly…

Is it my computer?  Is the background loading slowly, scrolling slowly for everyone else?  I’m not yet attached to it, but just wondered if it was me or image overload…

I tend to like running fairly clean and fast, and always try to make sure my images aren’t so large that they cause loading problems for readers.

So…is this an issue?  If it is…any suggestions from the techies out there?  Feedback most appreciated!

Blessings,

On the Feast of St. Wenceslas…

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Wenceslas, the Good King.

History tells us of his charity and fervor…heart blazing with the love of Christ, so much so that the fire of his love was felt by the young page who trod in his footsteps.  Murdered by his brother, his final words were:

May God forgive you, brother…

We remember him most often at Christmas, as we all sing “Good King Wenceslas.” The Feast of Stephen falls shortly after Christmas and thus the song has become a carol…though it is certainly more than appropriate to sing it on his feast day!

This was the very first song that young Gareth learned to play on the piano…I’m quite sure he’ll be delighted to play for us, though I’m not quite sure just how willingly his brothers will sing!

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Family in Feast and Feria has a lovely coloring page and story about the Good King…

Blessings,

Popovers…

Mmmm…

Who knew that such a light and airy creation, could hold so much pleasure?

My first attempt at popovers, a real hit with the family.

Charlotte and I are both under the weather (yes…me, again. Not sure what’s up with this…swollen glands, left side this time, Charlotte experienced such dizziness today that she fell out of a chair and seriously scratched herself from chin to collarbone…prayers, please?) A drippy sky outside and drooping spirits inside the house, we all needed a “lift.” Confined to the couch, I watched two episodes of America’s Test Kitchen and saw a segment on making the perfect popover…Charlotte said, “could you, mommy?”

I did.  The tips and trick worked like a charm and the popovers were pronounced “most excellent…”

Looks like Saturday just might become “popover day…”

Blessings,

Not me!

Okay.

I’m willing to concede that I can be a bit absent-minded.  And it certainly isn’t beyond me to do something a little nutty with a dishwasher gel pack.

But…I don’t recall doing this:

I didn’t do it.  Nope.   Uh-uh.   Not me.

Investigation to follow…

**ah, yes…a picture of the interior of my fridge. My mom must be so proud right now…it could be a whole lot worse, mom…

Blessings,

Welcome, Fall!

Fall has officially begun and my mind and heart are turned to the lovely month of October…

With September galloping swiftly by, I’m busily preparing for the coming month…a month brimming with many of our favorite feast days.  Not only is October dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, but we also honor our Guardian Angels, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Margaret Mary, St. Raphael, and, a feast that is very dear to this family, the traditional Feast of Christ the King, a day upon which my daughter Charlotte will receive her First Holy Communion, as her brothers before her.

So many preparations to make!  I’ve been preparing our Fall Nature Center and our October liturgical display.  The children truly enjoy these visual teaching aids, and love to contribute to the creation of each.  The Nature Center is the perfect place for Gareth to exhibit his many treasures from the great outdoors.  Gourds, seed pods, feathers and dried flowers, books and pictures…our display will hold all those things that remind us most of the lovely transition from Summer to Fall.  Pictures to follow, as everything “comes together.”

In the meantime, I’m including a few links in the hope that you, my dear friends, will find them useful as you too, plan out new and exciting ways to live the liturgical year.  I sincerely hope that Embracing Tradition – a traditional Catholic planner, is an aid to those of you who are following the pre-1962 liturgical Calendar…it is certainly simplifying the planning process for me!  It is necessary to make the distinction that all of these Feast Days are according to the traditional liturgical calendar.

I’d like to recommend a few of the resources that I rely heavily upon, and give a great big note of “thanks” to a few mom bloggers out there, who make it possible to put together a celebration as conveniently as possible.

A big thanks to:

Catholic Cuisine:  thanks to all the moms who put together such luscious and creative meals and desserts…

Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda:  her coloring pages are exquisite and she is generously sharing them!

Family in Feast and Feria:  I don’t know why I don’t have this delightful blog on my sidebar…what a wealth of information and incredible ideas!

Catholic Mosaic:  We’re very much pleased with this sweet book, and are thankful to have such a comprehensive and thoroughly Catholic, literature-based resource.

Fenestrae Fidei:  Windows of Faith…indeed, and truly lovely to color.  A great companion for Catholic Mosaic.

And a big thanks to all the other families who so lovingly and freely share a glimpse into their homes as they live the liturgical year…

Here are a few “helps” to set you on your way for the month of October:

Feast Days:

Holy Guardian Angels  10/2

Ah, our very dearest friend…with us since our conception.  These dear guardians are so very worthy of the recognition that we will give them on this holy Feast day.  It’s the perfect time to recite the Angel of God prayer…perhaps you’d like to try it in Latin, since most of us are pretty familiar with the English:

Angel of God

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

Angele Dei

Ángele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me, tibi commíssum pietáte supérna,
illúmina, custódi,
rege et gubérna.
Amen.

Here’s a sweet little booklet that your littlest one’s might enjoy.

Charlotte’s lovely coloring page may be found here.

A lovely reflection from Goffine’s Devout Instructions.

Here are a couple of lovely recipes, to remind us of our heavenly friends.  How about a delicious alfredo sauce, served over, you guessed it, angel hair pasta.  You might like to try this fluffy cloud dessert, or perhaps a heavenly angel food cake would please the whole family.

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St. Therese of the Child Jesus  10/3

Have you read the Story of A Soul?  If not, this is the month to pick up that sweet little tome, and lose yourself in the charm and grace of St. Therese’s amazing story.

Let your little ones discover the joy of offering small sacrifices and marking them on a string of sacrifice beads they crafted themselves.  A very simple tutorial may be found here.

Another sweet coloring page from Charlotte.

Make a bouquet of these roses to give to friends, loved ones or perhaps a stranger…shower everyone with roses from St. Therese!  I can’t begin to describe the joyful expressions of surprise on the faces of friends and strangers as my children presented these roses to several parishioners following the Mass on the Feast of St. Therese…beautiful!

Here are a variety of rose recipes…yes…you can eat roses, too!

And since this is the Year of the Priest, why not begin reciting this lovely prayer, composed by our dear Saint:

Prayer for Priests
by St. Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, eternal Priest,
keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.

Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with your Precious Blood.

Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.

Let Your holy love surround them and
shield them from the world’s contagion.

Bless their labors with abundant fruit and
may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and
everlasting crown. Amen.

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St. Francis of Assisi   10/4

Good St. Francis, lover of all God’s creation!

Start the day with Italian Pancakes.  A recipe may be found here. Or perhaps you’d prefer a dessert…Mostaccioli.

Then there’s Charlotte’s beautifully rendered coloring page

Remembering our good Saint’s devotion to all God’s creation and his vow of poverty, special activities might include making a special donation to a local animal shelter, soup kitchen or some other act of charity.

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Our Lady of the Holy Rosary   10/7

As the entire month of October is dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, this is the perfect month to promote devotion to the Rosary.  Throughout the month, our family will pray the Rosary nightly…I wish that I were devoted enough to do this every single night, throughout the year, but alas…we thus far have only managed to commit to Lent, Advent and the month of October.  Slowly but surely…

Family in Feast and Feria has a simply lovely collection of vintage Rosary coloring books for the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries…

Color and pray the rosary…perfect for occupying the littlest ones at home.

Our Lady of Fatima…a stained glass window coloring page.

And check out this amazing Rosary inspired craft.  Kimberlee’s idea is too precious…

Consider supporting this worthy endeavor…

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St. Teresa of Avila   10/15

Doctor of the Church and author of the Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila was and is a powerful witness for a life lived in service of her Beloved, Jesus Christ.

Memorize this prayer…keep these words of comfort close to your heart:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.–St. Teresa of Avila

Your little girls might enjoy these paper dolls…mine did!

Consider this delicious recipe for Sopa de Ajo Castellana from Catholic Cuisine.

St. Teresa of Avila coloring page.

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St. Margaret Mary of Alocoque   10/17

A Sister of the Visitation, St. Margaret Mary began receiving visions of Jesus Christ at the age of 20.  Chosen by her Beloved to spread devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, she devoted her life to this cause, despite early opposition. We can honor our dear Saint by placing an image of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in a place of promise in our homes…a small altar with a votive might be a nice tradition to begin on this day…

Here is a lovely stained glass window coloring page of St. Margaret Mary

Kimberlee has a precious craft to honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus...a June craft that’s still appropriate for October!

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St. Raphael, Archangel   10/24

Are you in need of physical healing?  St. Raphael is an excellent intercessor.  Here is a prayer to beseech his aid:

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God,” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (name your request) and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

A majestic St. Raphael color page…compliments of Charlotte.

You can also utilize many of the same recipes suggested above for the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

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The Feast of Christ the King   10/25

The best way to honor Christ as King is to, of course, attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  This year, we’ll mark the day with Charlotte’s First Holy Communion.  Many preparations in the works…we’re finishing up our catechism and reading King of the Golden City…a very appropriate title, don’t you think?  Here are few other ideas to help you celebrate:

Paper crowns to decorate. Very simple…

How about a meal fit for a King?  Thanks to Catholic Cuisine…

Christ the King craft. A very simple craft activity…printer and cardstock required.  Of course, you could simply use the image as a coloring page, as well.

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All Hallow’s Eve   10/31
The beginning of Hallowtide, the vigil before All Saint’s Day, and traditionally, should be observed as a day of fasting. Revelry associated with this comes with the stark reminder, firmly ensconced in tradition, of hell and all those souls consigned there for all eternity. Should you choose to observe “trick or treat,” you can make it an act of piety. Approaching each home, skip the “trick” and remember to say a little prayer for the dead before you receive your “treat.” This is reminiscent of the tradition that children of old engaged in as they went begging for “Soul Cakes.” Having received their treat, they would offer prayers for the dead at each home visited.

Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven’t an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all!

This family observes All Hallow’s Eve with all the fun and frolic.  For a detailed explanation, you can read a post I wrote a couple of years ago:  All Hallow’s Eve.

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For more Fall fun:

Consider a leaf collection.  The trees are bursting with color, giving us the perfect excuse to fill a notebook full of brightly colored leaves.   Or how about a delightfully simple paper leaf garland?  Paper and scissors are all you need!

Here are few other fun fall activities:

Print and decorate your own pumpkin.

Or carve a virtual pumpkin…

A paper strip pumpkin…

Raid the cupboards and create a work of art!

Acorn Fairies, anyone?

Take a walk in the woods, gather a few twigs and craft a couple Nature Pals.

Nifty craft idea for a damaged paperback book…three dimensional pumpkin or apple!

And, of course, corn husk dolls…

My goodness…we’ve made many of these…fall leaf suncatcher

It’s time to harvest apples, pick pumpkins, tumble in the falling leaves…Finally, memorize this beautiful poem, and the glories of October will be ever fixed in your heart:

October’s Bright Blue Weather

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

by Helen Hunt Jackson

Blessings,

The Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew
sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this
and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat
with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well
do not need a physician,
but the sick do.
Go and learn
the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous
but sinners.”
Matthew 9:9-13

Today is the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle.  Here’s a bit of interesting information:

Patron of: Accountants; bankers; bookkeepers; customs officers; security guards; stock brokers; tax collectors; Salerno, Italy.

Symbols: Angel holding a pen or inkwell; bag of coins; loose coins; halberd; inkwell; king; lance; man holding money; man holding money box and/or glasses; money bag; money box; purse; spear; sword; winged man; young man; book; man sitting at a desk.

Here are a couple of coloring pages to help you celebrate:

shield with money bags

St. Matthew Icon:

Perhaps you’d like to bake a few Apostle Cookies…here’s a wonderful suggestion with an activity for the feast of St. Matthew.

Blessings,

A busy mom’s daybook…welcome Fall!

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – September 21, 2009

Outside my Window….Gray and weepy sky, gold-hued soy fields awash with a riotous profusion of morning glories.  Pink, blue, purple, white…a veritable rainbow.  It’s hard to believe that we literally have to battle these beauties in the garden.  They take over everything…

Thinking…about the coming of Fall.  How I love this season…cool weather, sweaters and pumpkins, mums and falling leaves.  The sights, sounds and smells intoxicate the senses…

Thankful for…last week.  School was a joy in every way.  The days were long, but teacher and scholars were very motivated.  We finished off the week with a field trip to see the Spirit of America performance (entirely free, though you must obtain a ticket!) by the U.S. Army.  Nationwide Arena was packed to the rafters with public school students, homeschool students, senior citizens, moms and dads, veterans of all ages.  It was a moving sight, one that reinforces my belief that we live in a country worth fighting for.  No matter the ideology and skewed perception of our left-wing, liberal government and media.  This country is the diadem in the crown of the earth, and deserves to preserved as it was established:

One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…

Thank you, all of you out there, with loved ones who are serving to protect this great nation and the rights and safety of each of its citizens…

From the kitchen…cold cereal and hot coffee.  I love cold cereal mornings…for lunch today:  homemade veggie beef soup and sandwiches.  Dinner tonight:  Ribollita, italian bread and fruit.

Faith and learning…school is pure joy.  We’re enjoying our Ohio history studies, and each scholar is working on a lapbook of facts and figures.  If you’re not yet a fan of the lapbook (I’ve only recently jumped in!), here is an outstanding resource for entirely free materials. We are having great fun with them…the three youngest are currently working on three of them:  About Me, Ohio History and Astronomy.

As an aside:  we’ve decide to utilize school uniforms.  A couple of my good friends out there in blog land had embraced the idea, but I was having difficulty in understanding the need.  Aren’t all of our clothes “school clothes?”  Yes…and that’s the point.  There seems to be no real differentiation in the minds of the younger students.  Not to mention, I just can’t stand to see my boys in their grubby play shirts and ripped jeans.  I kept sending them upstairs to change, with protests of “but, Mom!  We’re going outside after school to play in the dirt pile!”

Indeed.  And they looked the part.  So I picked up two pairs of black trousers, two black skirts, and four red polos.   I’m not enforcing the “dress code” for the two older scholars…the dignity of their advanced years have purchased a few perks…they are quite happy and always attire themselves neatly.

So…now the youngers know exactly what they’re wearing for school.  No play clothes…school clothes.  And they are very, very happy.  As am I…

Creating…see last weeks post!  Knitting, sewing, crocheting…organizing my time is paying some handsome dividends.

Planning…school.  Feast day celebrations.  That’s about it…

Wearing…denim skirt and paisley peasant blouse, hair up in a twist.  Socks…my feet are cold!

ReadingReading Rescue, 1-2-3.  Common sense, practical suggestions for boosting a struggling readers skills.  I’ve picked up a couple useful tips, thus far.

Praying…for my darling Clementine.  Would you pray with me?  She’s been sick and is having a really tough time lately…

Hearing…snipping scissors and crumpling papers.  The little girls are creating…

Around the house…a cleaned up and weeded courtyard, a chicken coop nearly completed and a garden in decline…

One of my favorite things…getting an early start to the day.  But that’s not happening today…sigh…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

A wonderful gift from my dear husband.  He mowed the most amazing trail through the woods…to protect his oldest son from the terrors of poison ivy, and his wife…who’s been having a bit of a hard time getting around.  The woods look like a public park, thanks to his expert landscaping and mowing skills!

Our Sunday stroll…a rainy, misty day. We hardly felt it under the lovely canopy of trees…

Not deterred by rain, one bit!

A lovely mowed entrance, devoid of poison ivy…

A winding path…

Wide enough for a bike!

Our dreaded enemy…poison ivy.  Until Dad mowed, every bit of the forest floor was covered in this carpet…

Puff balls…of every kind…enormous!

Calvatia gigantea…sounds so elegant…

This one is nearly 24 inches in diameter!

A jay feather, tangled in wildflowers and weeds.  Alas, there were many.  I believe a raccoon may have gotten him…

Sharing the bounty…

Isn’t it lovely?  A curved arch of trees…a perfect spot for a picnic or to pitch a tent…

Would you pick a thistle?  Not me!  She’s a brave, brave girl…

Enjoy your week…

Blessings,

A defining moment…

As I frequently reiterate whenever I post a news snippet…this is not a news or political commentary blog…

However…anyone who knows me can tell you of my great love for words. And the dictionary. So I couldn’t have been more tickled to see the nifty way that George Stephanopoulos turned the tables on Barack Obama as they sparred over the definition of tax.

Here’s a snippet of the transcript from the segment which aired today:

“Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?” the host asked.

Obama responded: ” No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.”

Stephanopoulos then offered the dictionary definition.

“I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: ‘Tax, a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes,'” he said.

Visibly taken aback, Obama rejected the notion it was a tax increase and said pulling the dictionary out was a sign the host was “stretching” a little.

“No. That — that’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” Obama said.

Thank you, George Stephanopoulos.  And thank you, Merriam-Webster…for another defining moment in politics.

Blessings,

Not so little…

How to instill confidence and build ego in the perpetually-younger-always-smaller-little-brother who is trying desperately to prove he’s getting bigger…and stronger:

Carrying in the groceries yesterday…he says:

Hey, mom!  Did you buy different potatoes this time?  They feel so much lighter…kinda like they’re hollow…

Mom says, (carefully considering her words):

Well, Gareth…I actually thought that bag was a little heavier when I loaded it.  You must really be getting stronger!

You could have lit the room with his smile…

Blessings,

Painted Lady

Isn’t she lovely?  These beauties are loving my zinnias…I couldn’t resist the shot!

Blessings,

Nightfall…

It comes so much earlier, now.

Darkness creeps upon us, supper dishes only recently in the sink, as the evening sun sinks low on the horizon…

Time to bed down the chickens…roosters and hens must roost, safely enclosed from the night’s predators, internal clocks winding down. Nature’s lullaby begins with the receding light…

We wind down, too. PJs and blankets…candlelight and prayer. Tonight we prayed the Seven Sorrows of Mary…as we did this morning, so desperately needing that reminder of the suffering of our Blessed Mother.  In our comfortable home, the day’s joys fresh in our minds and hearts, we need to know this sorrow, to have this lamentation sear our hearts:

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam,
attendite, et videte,
si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.
Attendite, universi populi,
et videte dolorem meum,
si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.
Behold, all ye people of this earth,
to see if there be any sorrow
like unto mine.
Lamentations Of Jeremias 1:12

And yet…there is joy in these prayers.  Joy, in the midst of sorrow.  To see young faces reflect and pause in contemplation of our Lady’s sorrow…their understanding limited by youth and ease, brings joy to the heart of two parents often wearied by the world’s, and, indeed at times, our own, indifference.  It is amazing how sorrow transforms, makes beautiful, this suffering of such unimaginable depth.

We love our Sorrowful Mother, her heart “pierced by a sword.”  We see written in her tears, our salvation…and it is beautiful.

Blessings,

Impostors…

There it was again.  That strange croaking noise, early in the morning…like a car trying to start or a really, really hoarse dog attempting to bark…

But it wasn’t a car.  Or a dog.

It was a rooster…or, dare I say it…TWO roosters.

That’s right, folks.  Cecilia and Penny are actually Cecil and Penn.

Sigh.

I didn’t want roosters.  As quaint as it may seem to wake up to the “cock’s crow” – it really doesn’t work that way.  You see…roosters don’t crow in the morning.  They crow morning…noon…and night.  And they are terribly aggressive.  Especially when you have two males.  Never mind that each can have two hens apiece…that’s not nearly good enough.  One of these guys wants to “rule the roost.”

I’m thinking Coq au VinChicken Cacciatore.  Or maybe Chicken Parmagiana.  Cruel?  Perhaps.  But I didn’t sign up for cockfighting.  No…I was simply looking for a few free range chicken eggs and the sweet clucking of a few companionable hens.

Dinner anyone?

Blessings,

All’s well…

…that ends well.

Such was the day. It began beautifully. Morning devotions…six eager faces, six new journals…journals to record 1000 gifts or, the many ways we experience joy in the day to day.

There were the inevitable stops and starts…tears on a couple occasions (okay…I didn’t really cry that much, but hey…it was the first day!  Just kidding…little Emily is not pleased that mommy bumped her up so quickly in handwriting!  She’s only too happy to put on the brakes.)  Our scholars are facing new challenges this year…it’s quite a transition from kindergarten to first grade.  The fourth grader is learning that Saxon is definitely not MCP.  The eighth grader has decided that D.I.V.E. is actually a very cool way to “dive in” to Algebra.  The second grader really likes her new scissors and is quite simply thrilled with every little thing.  Imagine that…thrilled!  Not so, last year…

Ah, the difference a year makes.

All, in all, we sailed through the day.  The teen boys were elated that all their hard work was rewarded by a night out with several other homeschoolers for our group’s first ever Teen Game Night.  The boys had a blast and are still talking about it, hoping to perhaps host a group of their new friends, some crisp and cool fall evening.  The kind of evening that would be just perfect for a bonfire and mashmallow roast.  For laughter, fun and games and conversation.

New school year, new friends, new adventures…

A renewed sense of hope and the continued realization that we are privileged.  Privileged to have been called to this beautifully-crazy-exhausting-yet-exhilarating-occasionally-frustrating-and-constantly-joyful lifestyle that we call home education.

Day one, down.  179 (give or take!) to go…

Blessings,

A busy mom’s daybook…school days edition!

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – September 14, 2009

Outside my Window….Mist rising with the sun, soy fields turning gold, freshly mowed grass and birdsong…

Thinking…about our first day of school…today!  Last week’s surprise visit by Clementine threw us off schedule.  No problem…it was a lovely distraction and the scholars are more anxious than ever to get started.  Here’s hoping that the week begins smoothly.  First days are always a bit shaky…

Thankful for…the privilege of homeschooling.  Lord…forgive me for the times it seems such a chore.  What an honor that You trust us with the complete formation of these children; academic, spiritual, social, moral and emotional.  It’s hard, without doubt…but You’ve equipped this family for this task.   Please help me undertake it joyfully and faithfully; persevering in spite of seeming obstacles…resting in the blessed peace that comes when conforming to Your most holy will…

From the kitchen…sweet, blessed hot coffee.  Oh, yes…I need it.  Looks like I won’t be de-caffing anytime soon!  Oatmeal for breakfast, chicken finger and fries for lunch (doesn’t that sound healthy?  It’s school…we need a “school lunch!”).  For supper: homemade vegetable beef soup with homemade biscuits and fresh fruit.

Faith and learning…today we begin our new school year.  We’re excited to begin our American History studies utilizing the Artner Reader’s Guide to American History. We’ll take a brief detour for the first few weeks to “knock out” our required state history studies…we’ve done a poor job in the past, always leaving it for last.

As this year is the International Year of Astronomy (and as we’ve just received our Galileoscope!), we’ll devote the first semester of science studies to Astronomy.  We’ll round out our studies with a visit to the Perkins Observatory and will attend a night sky program hosted by the Otterbein College Astronomy Department.

We’ll continue Latin studies for all scholars.  This will be the first year of exposure (outside of Mass!) for the four youngest.  Charlotte, Emily and Gareth will use Prima Latina, Gawain and Galahad will continue Latina Christiana I&II and Arthur is using Henle. Gareth will also start using the Tridentine Latin Mass Study Guide for Altar Servers. It’s time he memorized his responses!

Creating…Knitting a secret project, crocheting an enormous family-sized afghan, and just made two of the most adorable prairie bonnets for my little girls…my own design.  I think I’ll make a couple aprons/pinafores to go with them…they’re adorable!

I’ll post our daily schedule later this week, as time allows!

Planning…feast day celebrations and school days.  Not much room for anything else…

Wearing…khaki skirt and striped long sleeve tee.  Ballet flats, hair up in a twist…

Reading…little bits here and there…mostly children’s books.  Loving Anne of Green Gables.  Again.  Oh, how I love that red-haired girl!  She reminds me so much of my very own Jane…

Praying…that I’ll soon overcome this ridiculously painful sore throat.  The swelling is pretty bad, as well.  I look like Marlon Brando.  Hubby is calling me “The Godmother…”

Ha.  Ha.  Ha…

Hearing…the little girls singing together as they are dressing for school.  Sweet.

Around the house…Laundry:  two loads left to wash, two to fold.  Chapel:  in need of order.  It’s such a lovely space…but there are too many things that simply don’t belong.  Mostly secular literature.  Right now it’s more like a combination chapel/library.  The unfortunate result:  the little ones want to play and do crafts up there.  Bits of paper and fabric everywhere…not exactly an atmosphere conducive to prayer.  I’m working on it.  I’ll keep you posted…the rest of the house is fairly orderly considering that mom’s been sick since Friday.  Amazing!

One of my favorite things…starting the new school year!  Rising earlier, finding the day’s rhythm.  Order and simplicity.  That’s what I’m praying for this year.  Order and simplicity…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

Prairie bonnets for country girls…

And now, off to school!  I’m excited!

Blessings,

Thankful…

For thirteen years of life with our good Gawain…steadfast, loving, affectionate, and obedient…oh, so many more adjectives that could describe this boy, who from this day forward will be called, “young man.” Happy Birthday, son!

Happy Birthday, to a fine young man!
Happy Birthday, to a fine young man!

For good friends who shared this afternoon with us, marking the day in a special way. For the yummy brownies and gifts, and from this mom who is feeling quite unwell, a special thanks for the vitamins and echinacea!

For my dear husband, who’s out buying a loaf of french bread and milk so that I can finish making dinner…Gawain wants potato soup more than anything. Yep…the Soup of Suffering! Isn’t he adorable?

For that same dear son who is patient enough to understand that the real birthday celebration is being postponed…just a bit. His cake of choice? A garbage cake. He wants me to design a cake that looks like the City Dump. Complete with banana peels, fish heads and worms. This should be interesting…

If you have the time, would you leave Gawain a birthday greeting?  I can’t offer him very much right now, but good wishes and prayers are of infinite worth…

Blessings,

Home is where…

For two days I set the table for nine…and now we’re back to eight.

It was lovely having Clementine home, seeing her face at the breakfast table, sharing meals and conversation. Rocking chairs and music on the front porch, laughter and marshmallows around the bonfire…

And over too soon.

My friend Krislynne and I, took her home on Tuesday evening…chatter and laughter punctuating the long drive to Kentucky. Kisses and hugs in her apartment, one less voice in the car…

A brief overnight at my parent’s home…where my mom welcomed her own “little girl”; woman, mother and grandmother, to her home…bed prepared and turned down, a neat stack of towels and washcloths so we “girls” could wash up before bed…

Girl…it’s been a long time since I’ve been one, yet I am ever one to my mom…just as mine are to me. It’s hard to use that word…woman…it seems so far from their childhood, the childhood that I remember and shared with them. Their womanhood is shared in bits and pieces…and some of the sharing has been hard, even painful, to bear.

To call them girls, is easier for me, just as calling me a girl, is easier for my mom.

As I watched my mom bustle around her home, her kitchen, fixing my coffee “just right”, fussing over Krislynne like a mother hen…I’m reminded that I did the same with Clementine. Wanting to baby her, to smooth the way and give her ease and comfort…

It’s what we do, isn’t it? Fuss and worry, fix that favorite meal…when all we really want to do is just fix home firmly in mind and heart.

And fixed it is.  She takes home with her, wherever she goes.  Her memories and our love.

They are constant, unchanging and irrevocable…home is where the heart is.

Blessings,

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