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Catholic Family Vignettes

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

Month

November 2009

A busy mom’s daybook…1st week of Advent!

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – November 30, 2009

Outside my Window….a heavy curtain of gray clouds shrouding the sun.  It’s time to take down our fall display, to put away pumpkins, to continue to live the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout this season of Wait…Advent has begun; Happy feast of St. Andrew!

Thinking…about joy.  I struggle throughout the season of Advent to keep joy, to nuture this illusive gift…illusive because I spend too much time analyzing, planning and doing.  Time to be still.  To wait…to hope, pray and not worry.  May Christ be born in my heart, every heart anew…may that day be today…

Thankful for…a Thanksgiving feast with family.  For the trip home with Clementine and all the children packed tightly into the van…for yesterday’s Mass and Father’s homily.  For kerosene heaters…brrr…it’s getting much colder!  I don’t miss air conditioning, but boy…I sure miss my old central heat system!  I never realize how much until we spend a few days at Grandma’s during colder weather…

From the kitchen…would you believe I’m roasting a turkey?  Yep…fully stuffed and in the oven for the past 4 hours.  Having Thanksgiving away from home means no leftovers and my children are very, very sad.  So…Thanksgiving all over again today!  The smell of roasting turkey is always delightful…

Faith and learning…SCHOOL’S OUT!  We worked hard for our break and will spend the next few weeks on Advent and Christmas crafts.  Arthur wishes to continue with his studies (can you believe it?  I love that kid!)  We’ll keep up with our reading but I’m so looking forward to a guilt-free break!

Creating…knit socks, and a homey-haven full of the sights, sounds and smells of the season.  There’s not much available for the purchase of gifts, but creative juices are flowing and we have a lot of ideas…

Planning…a going away party for dear friends on the feast of St. Lucia.  We’ll also be keeping all the special December feasts and holy days…

Wearing…blue jeans, maroon turtleneck and a navy Eddie Bauer sweater…

ReadingA Tale of Two Cities…for the umpty-eleventh time.  Just watched an amazing musical version and I just had to read it again…

Prayingthis novena.  You can find it on the sidebar.

HearingGregorian Advent by CantArte Regensburg and Hubert Velten.

Around the house…Advent wreath and greenery.  Nativities and the O Antiphon House.  Clearing space for a Christmas tree…eventually…

One of my favorite things…this season.  Hope…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

Sisters…Elizabeth and Clementine:

Blessings,

Over the river…

…and through the woods…

That’s right!  Off to Grandma’s house…my favorite place to spend Thanksgiving!  The children have been excitedly packing for days.  Sorting, folding, making lists and cleaning…all preparations for our trip.  I do hope you and yours have the happiest of Thanksgivings.  This is such a wonderful time…the crisp fall air, the smell of turkey and stuffing; I can hardly wait until tomorrow!

We are still busily preparing for Advent.  We haven’t yet chosen our slips for our Nativity Advent-ure, but I imagine that will take place this weekend…Clementine and Elizabeth will be there, and I’m delighted that they’ll be able to begin the Advent journey with us.  It’s wonderful to have this “busy time” – getting things set ahead of time helps us to immerse ourselves with a little more peace during this coming season of stillness.  I’ll leave you now, with best wishes, prayers and a few links for your enjoyment.  Blessings!

O Antiphon House

O Antiphon Prayers

St. Andrew Novena

Nativity Advent-ure

Preparing for a Holy Advent-ure


Grace moment…

Jesus says “Come to me…” but there’s so much noise in my head and heart that I miss that still, small voice.  Jesus says “I’ll heal you…” but I’m so busy trying to heal myself with busy-ness and distraction, adding to my “wounds”as the days go by, until finally reality sinks in and I know what I need:

Confession.

It’s funny…my heart has been so heavy this weekend, I felt such a need to seek Father’s guidance and yet Sunday morning, a bake sale forgotten, I find myself harried and stressed, madly baking brownies and pumpkin bread, ushering the children, rushing the spouse, climbing into the van a frazzled mess.  Frustrated.  “No confession for me this morning.  And the boys will probably be too late to serve.”  Yes…Little Miss Rain Cloud…can I rain on your party?  We arrive at Church, much later than usual, the boys rush up the sacristy stairs; Mom, Dad and girls rush into the Church.  Hubby awaits the little girls who need to make a quick bathroom break (didn’t they attend to that at home?!) while Mom steels herself for the approach to the Confession line, which is usually no less than 8 to 10 deep.

No one!

The line is empty and the light on the confessional is on.  A few moments later, shrouded in darkness, hushed whispers, tears and prayers…absolution.  Words of comfort and peace.  All the hurry-worry smoothed away, and the days’ challenges faced with resolve, words of wisdom easing pain and doubt.

It was a grace moment.  How many more of these beautiful, providential examples of God’s loving care and generosity do I require before I fully trust?  All of those inconveniences, the craziness of that Sunday morning exist as part of His plan…He alone orders all things according to His good pleasure.  All my predictions of failure and doom mean nothing, are nothing in the reality of what He can and will do.  There’s a certain humbling realization that comes when one realizes that the confessional line is open and there’s one person…one…who needs it more than anyone else at that particular moment…though I’m quite sure there were people before and after me that Sunday, that empty line was a powerful visual for a doubting heart.

While heart and soul struggle under the weight of a private sorrow (don’t all Mothers have them?  St. Monica, pray for us!) I feel God’s hand upon me, the blessed weight of a cross no heavier than I can bear and the realization that He will continue to order all things to my salvation and His greater glory…

Blessings,

O Antiphon House

School books put away, house tidied and vacuumed and a friend preparing the evening’s meal provided ample opportunity for finishing up a sweet little Advent project:  the O Antiphon House.

Many of you have already incorporated this tradition.  I had hoped to assemble one last year, but just never managed to get things together.  This year I’m preparing early and have been so blessed to find the necessary materials for most of my projects for very little cost.

The house itself was purchased at Michael’s.  Retail cost:  $5.99 + a 50% off coupon = roughly $3.00.  Wooden blocks:  ummm…borrowed…ahem…repurposed from the children’s block collection.  A shiny gold bit of scrapbooking cardstock:  79 cents.  Paints: purple and gold –  had those on hand and illustrations were done by hand using the website above and an ultrafine Sharpie marker in dark blue.  Total cost:  less than $5.00 and time invested:  about 2 hours.

The results:  delightful!  The children are quite excited, as we’ve been reading the Antiphons and accompanying prayers for years.  The O Antiphon House will provide a very nice visual for our prayers.  Here are few photos of the end result:

I’m so looking forward to finishing up school next week for our extended Advent/Christmas break. More time for projects and crafting…and no guilt!

Blessings,

Bigger, bolder…

And the Apostles said to Jesus, Lord increase our faith.  And the Lord said:
If you had faith like to a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this mulberry tree, Be thou
rooted up, and be thou transplanted into the sea: and it would obey you.

(Luke 17:5-6)

Faith.

It is a gift, not a given.  How many times have I chastised myself (and others) for a lack of faith?  God alone bestows it, we can’t manufacture it, nor can we ever truly fake it.  Wrapped in thorns, this gift can be one of the most painful we will ever open, and yet its beauty transcends every earthly reward.  Pushing past fear, sometimes daring only to peek inside, I’ve often missed its splendor, shrouded in suffering…

And then I pray…

I pray for an increase in faith.  “Lord…give me a bigger, bolder faith!” But do I really mean that?  Am I willing to accept the consequences of spiritual growth, moving from complacency to a life poured out in complete sacrifice, and ultimately embrace the test that must come when one steps out in total trust?

That is a bigger, bolder faith.  Oh, Lord…that I might embrace the cross, conform my will, trusting that every transitory thing has nothing in it, that all that isn’t You shouldn’t be me, either.

I need a mustard seed, that grain of faith that will cast doubt and fear into the sea, as readily as a mulberry bush.  May God grant it and I so will it, that I might love and serve in a bigger, bolder way!

Blessings,

The weekend’s loveliness…my “brag” book!

Moms and grandmas having bragging rights, no? And if you have really, really cute friends you can brag about them as well…right? So humor me! Here are a few lovely pictures of the weekend…a few pics stolen from my dear friend Krislynne (you don’t mind, do you?)

Blessings,

A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – November 16, 2009

Outside my Window….a gray November morning, mild with a promise of rain.  Leaves have been composted, grass and trees are bare.  These spring-like temperatures have produced some unusual contrasts…pumpkins and roses.  I do love November!

Thinking…about this weekend and all its loveliness.  Elizabeth, Clementine and baby Ben made an impromptu visit.  As brief as it was, it’s amazing the memories one can make in such a short time.  Watching Ben chase the chickens, interact with a treasure trove of aunts and uncles was too precious for words.  A cookout and bonfire, hastily assembled, with friends and family was like a bit of heaven on earth.  And then Mass.  Eight of my nine children present…plus one grandchild.  Beautiful!!  God be praised for such a beautiful ending to a stressful week…

Thankful forthe answer to a fervent prayer…and…for YOU!  Thank you for praying!

From the kitchen…oatmeal for breakfast, leftover burgers for lunch.  Dinner?  Grilled chicken, herbed rice, Steamed mixed veggies and baked apples.

Faith and learning…buckling down.  Two weeks of school before our Advent break.  I’m really excited, but really wanting to get a bit more behind us.  I feel so blessed by what we’re accomplishing this year.  Pushing past fatigue and excuses, our days have been full and yet, we’ve managed to squeeze in plenty of fun and games.  This week, we’ll wrap up our studies on North American explorers and try to squeeze in a unit on the Pilgrims before Thanksgiving.  We’re continuing our Astronomy unit, including our lapbooks are making plans for crafts and activities for Advent/Christmas.

Creating…ah, the list is growing.  I’m praying the Advent break will afford me the necessary time to craft homemade gifts and such.  There are a myriad of projects that I’m working on as well as a few I want to begin…

Planning…Thanksgiving/Advent/Christmas…my plate is full!

Wearing…blue jeans, white turtleneck, pink baby-cable sweater and socks, hair up in a twist…

Reading…my only reading time (outside of children’s and text books) is at Adoration.   The Imitation of Christ is my personal favorite, and this weekend my sweet Galahad presented me with a lovely gift.  Our local Una Voce chapter has been hosting a bake and book sale all this month, and Galahad found a pocket-sized copy of The Imitation of Christ that slips neatly into my purse.  I wish you could’ve seen his face when I expressed my delight.  Priceless…

Praying…that my energy level will increase.  I need to improve my nutrition, activity level and start cutting back on caffeine.  Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…I’m such a procrastinator when it comes to caring for myself!  Lord…please help me to just buckle down and do it!

Hearing…my children…

Around the house…a tidy yard, the remnants of this weekend’s bonfire, cackling hens and crowing roosters, a fairly tidy house, a ton of laundry and a momma who feels blessed beyond words with the order and the chaos…

One of my favorite things…a Sabbath nap.  I took a three hour nap yesterday, my sweet hubby answered the phone and took care of the children.  It…was…wonderful!

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

Sweet Elizabeth, baby Ben and Grandma K

More pictures of the weekend, to come…

Blessings,

Free range…

Free range chickens are nice:

Free range kids?  Even better!

Blessings,

Blessed relief…

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16

As I’m by no means righteous, nor as effectual or fervent as I ought to be, I credit your prayers, dear friends, to the wonderful news I received this afternoon.

No cancer.  No lymphoma.

It appears I have an enlarged salivary gland most likely due to a virus (I’ve had at least three over the past two months!).  This gland should begin to decrease in size on its own and I’ll have a recheck in a few weeks to make sure.  I’m sure you can imagine my relief…it’s amazing the nasty little roads the mind can take one down, until faith steps in to right the course.  While I avoided fear for the most part, I became increasingly introspective and emotional.  I found myself wanting to stay closer to my husband and children, spoil them, stay home with them, all the while imagining the possibility of chemo and radiation…a road of pain and suffering that a few of you may have already been down.

So…

I’m praising God for sparing my dear husband and children.  And for sparing me.  The only suffering ahead at present is the fatigue and my rather odd appearance.  Ah, well…an odd lump in exchange for no cancer?  I’ll take it.  And pull the turtleneck up a little higher…vanity, you know?  Yeah…still not quite done with that one, but I’m working on it!

Blessings to you, my prayer warrior friends…praying for all of you at this evening’s Adoration hour,

Houston…we have an egg!

Our very first egg from our very own chickens!  I can’t begin to tell you how much time, effort and cash it has taken to produce this one egg…of course, we  do expect more and the benefits of free range, farm-fresh eggs are not to be disdained!  With all the whooping and hollering from the children, you’d think one of them had laid it…it is rather pretty.  Perfectly formed, light brown and surprisingly clean…much cleaner than the little hands that gathered it:

Here’s to at least a dozen a week!

Blessings from the chicken ranch,

A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – November 9, 2009

Outside my Window….an exquisite sunrise and nearly spring-like temperature 41, significantly warmer than last Monday’s 28 degrees.  The sky is a collage of pink, gold and orange fading to pale lavender, then darkening to a deeper blue.  I never tire of sunrise…I keep my camera on the kitchen counter, and of course, had to take a picture of this morning’s glorious display:

Thinking…about our Advent plans.  I’m such a creature of habit and tradition, though this year I’m making one of these.  I love the O Antiphon house and have been thinking about making one since I first saw in on Elizabeth’s blogJessica is also creating her own lovely rendition.  Aren’t we blessed to have such an abundance of lovely ideas and equally lovely women willing to share them?  I think so…

Thankful foryour precious prayers, my dear friends.  I’m much more at peace and will go forward with each test realizing that’s all it is…a test.  Thank you for your kindness and encouraging words…

From the kitchen…hot coffee, eggs, toast and sausage.

Faith and learning…the children are so excited about their early American History studies.  Tales of Leif Eriksson and the Vikings are just the thing the boy’s have been waiting for.  We’re constructing a really nifty Viking ship, charting courses and studying Viking culture and Norse mythology.

The children receive grade cards today and I’m thrilled with the progress we’re making.  Everyone is working so hard, in anticipation of our Advent break.  We’re taking the whole month of December…I’ll continue to work on reading with the youngers (I hate to lose ground!) but I’m so looking forward to guilt-free baking, decorating and crafting with my children.  It’s still “school”, right?  Just a bit more fun than readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic!

Creating…knitting socks and a sweater, preparing for Advent…the usual pre-holiday stuff!

Planning…for Advent…and to get these troublesome medical tests out of the way.

Wearing…still in my nightgown, a warm sweater and socks.  But not for long…

Reading…THIS!!  My mom found a copy for me at a thrift store.  I’ve wanted a copy for many years.  She paid 50 cents:

Praying…prayers of thanksgiving for God’s sweet mercy.  For good friends, a wonderful parish, a blessed life…

Hearing…the roosters crowing.  Cecil is an evil rooster.  I fear he may be heading for the crockpot.  He’s torturing the hens and the other rooster.  Two roosters…not…a…good…idea.

Around the house…the chicken coop is nearly finished!  The chickens spent their first night there…we’ve been using a storage building to house them.  The coop is enormous…six nest boxes and lots of room.  A very nice abode…for a chicken.

One of my favorite things…my parish.  There can’t possibly be another parish like it.  I’ve been to so many, this one is heaven on earth.  We love each other, hang out with each other…imagine that!  This weekend was our annual Una Voce (or as Emily calls it  “Ono Vuchy”) picnic, bake sale and book sale.  The picnic is just for fun and the bake sale and book sale proceeds support an FSSP seminarian from our parish.  I love my Church!

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

The bake and book sale in the Undercroft at Holy Family.  Yep…that’s none other than Mary Rose, our very own Catholic Prodigal Daughter.  And Mr. William Heyer, classical architect extraordinaire!

Blessings,

Be not afraid…

These words mean so much, when fear and uncertainty rear their ugly heads, threatening to destroy peace and trust…

As many of you are aware, I’ve been having some health issues for the past few months, starting with extreme nearly debilitating back pain in August and culminating with what seemed to be a virus, then an infection, but as yet still remains undiagnosed.  Yesterday’s visit to the doctor affirmed that there is a very large mass in my neck…it has continued to grow over the past few weeks.  A chest xray, mammogram and CAT scan of my head and neck should, God willing, reveal the cause and lymphoma exists as a distinct possibility, as it is prevalent on my mother’s side of the family.  It’s really hard to put this in writing…I’m posting prayer requests here and there, and seeing the words in black and white make it just a little too real.  I’ve been pretty calm, after all…I don’t have a diagnosis and worry should be left out of the equation.  Still…it’s hard to not do the whole “worst case scenario” thing.  I’m trying, trusting in God’s loving care and providence, hoping for the best possible news.

Once again, I find myself beseeching my friends, begging for your prayerful intercession on my behalf.  It so much easier to ask you to pray for this or that…asking you to pray for me takes humility, a virtue most difficult for the prideful child of God…

Thanking you in advance…I’ll keep you posted and will continue to post the upbeat and lighthearted, as I await the results…

Blessings,

Take a letter…

Transcript of the letter that Charlotte dictated this morning and asked me to write in my fanciest cursive:

Dear Senorita,

I am going to China. Then I will go to Mexico. I will bring you a big ruby, as big as your foot. I will also send a letter to your daughter saying “I love you so much.” I will also take many pictures of everyone in Mexico, in black and white.

Love,

Marco

Now…I have a couple questions:

Who is this Marco and where’s that ruby?

Blessings,

UPDATE:  Apparently our unit studies on world explorers has piqued her imagination.  Marco is none other than Marco Polo!

And God said…Good morning!

This morning’s view from the backyard:

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day…

lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Blessings,

Seasonal view, week 4…the world from our classroom window

The busy-ness of last week seriously hampered my posting time…which is not an entirely bad thing. Real life is always worth living in real time…not that the blog isn’t real, it just has to be shelved occasionally while memories are made.

This week’s view truly reflects the rapidly changing season. From deep greens and blues, to gold, russet and fire red hues…and finally, stark brown. Trees are stripped, the zinnias are dead, only a tuft or two of sweet alyssum have braved the hard freezes of the past few days. We’re in for the long haul…soon brown will give way to white and we will celebrate with all the childlike wonder and enthusiasm that even the most adult of us experience upon the season’s first snow.

Wishing you a happy start to the month of November. How’s the world from your window?

Blessings,

November Liturgical Display…

We’re really enjoying our monthly liturgical displays!   November is such a lovely month…a month of feasts and family tradition. The joy we have as we contemplate the “communion of Saints” is tempered with the holy obligation we all share to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  This month’s display contains elements of barrenness…bare branches and dried flowers remind us that we are approaching Advent.  Images of the Saints in the glory of Heaven, and the Holy Souls help us to keep our focus on eternity.  Fr. Alder is attired in black today…the first time we’ve used the black vestments.

Happy Feast of All Souls…may the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace…

Blessings,

A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – November 2, 2009

Outside my Window….the sun rising, a vivid pink ball of fire in a pale blue/pink tinged sky.  Bright pink and orange patches of light pushing back the shadows in the classroom.  Jack Frost has traced a pretty pattern upon the grass and leaves this morning.  28 degrees on this frosty November morn…

Thinking…that the month of November starts off in the best way possible!  Two great Feast days, All Saints and All Souls, set the tone.  Advent is nearly upon us and this month provides so many wonderful opportunities for all to “prepare the way of the Lord…”

Thankful for…sweet Charlotte’s First Holy Communion day.  It couldn’t have been lovelier…nor could she!  The best part?  Her excitement all week following that great day.  “I get to receive Jesus again…every time now…until I die!”  Ah!! That I should have that fervor as I contemplate each Mass!

From the kitchen…Hot coffee, soft-boiled eggs and soldiers.  Lunch: mac n’ cheese. Dinner: pork roast with herbes de provence, roasted potatoes, onions and carrots; sliced pears and homemade biscuits. Yum, yum!

Faith and learning…school is back is session!  I’m so very glad…I’ve missed the rhythm of our day and that blessed feeling of accomplishment that comes from a hard day’s work well done.  And sometimes, not so well done…but done, nonetheless!  So, it’s back to the books.  We’ll continue our study of Astronomy, armed with a fantastic new telescope…a precious gift from our dearest friends.  We’ve wrapped up our Ohio studies unit, will finish up those lapbooks and begin our American History studies.

This week I’ll be printing up report cards.  Do you issue report cards?  My children love them, and are so motivated by seeing the results of their efforts.  Here’s a template I created several years ago, should you wish to use it (there are two pages to print, front and back…card folds in the middle):

Creating…I so need to get back to my knitting. I owe my dad a pair of socks!!

Planning…just school. It’s lovely to be able to focus on one thing…at least for now!

Wearing…blue jeans, blue cable knit sweater, pink turtleneck and socks.

Reading…little bits of this n’ that…nothing heavy. Children’s books and school texts…

Praying…for friends who are sick, friends who are moving, family health and that this second round of antibiotics knocks out this evil malady. Yep…still sick. Since September 7th…I believe this is a new record for me!

Hearing…the children dressing and arguing over who owns the St. Maximilian Kolbe card. We have three of them…

Around the house…kind of scruffy. Not terrible, but a little unkempt. And laundry, of course. Always laundry…

One of my favorite things…Daylight Savings Time. Yep…I’m one of the weirdies that actually like the early dusk, early sunrise. I sleep better and appreciate the peace that comes with an earlier bedtime for all…it’s so hard to sleep in the summer, when the sun has only just set…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

My favorite picture of Charlotte, from her First Holy Communion:

Blessings,

Wishing you a happy Feast of All Saints!

From our saints to yours:

The All Hallow’s Eve crew…

A couple of “sisters…”

St. Bernadette:

And St. Therese:

As well as St. Michael the Archangel and St. Wenceslaus, the good king:

And the “communion of saints” (242 relics resting on the high altar at Mass today!):

We’re all wishing you a joyful Sabbath on this Holy Feast of All Saints!

Blessings,

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