Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Eve: A time that inevitably makes one think of the dreaded New Year's resolutions. I might think about them, but rarely do I ever make any. That doesn't mean I shouldn't. Of course I should exercise more (okay, I guess that is not accurate - I should say: I should exercise). I shouldn't eat as much chocolate as it gives me a headache and makes me crabby when I eat too much. I should be more consistent in my discipline (this is one I KNOW my kids are glad I don't follow up on!).

The list could go on and on, but it doesn't, because I never even make it. I have no problem making resolutions - and even sticking with most of them - during my yearly silent retreat, but for some reason the thought of a New Year's resolution makes me gag. So instead I will go blindly forward into this New Year without a list of things that I should be doing to improve myself. Even if I made a list, I probably wouldn't remember it after a month, anyhow!

I guess the only resolution that I will continue to keep is to try to remain as close as I can to the Lord so as to keep that connection open and active. This way, if He wants me to do something, I might have a chance of actually hearing Him. Going into uncertain times, I guess the best resolution anyone can make is to remain faithful to their prayer life. To back up that statement, here is Our Lady Queen of Peace of Medjugorje's December 25, 2008 message to the world:

"Dear children! You are running, working, gathering - but without blessing. You are not praying! Today I call you to stop in front of the manger and to meditate on Jesus, Whom I give to you today also, to bless you and to help you to comprehend that, without Him, you have no future. Therefore, little children, surrender your lives into the hands of Jesus, for Him to protect you from every evil. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Even if you don't believe the Blessed Mother is appearing in Medjugorje, there is still a lot of food for thought in those words. May the Lord bless all of you in the coming New Year.

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time to Start Thinking About School

New Year's is almost upon us, so that means it is time to start thinking about school again. We have just spent the past month in what I termed "Advent Immersion School" - you know, kind of like a month long religion class. At first I felt guilty about not cracking a traditional school book for the whole month, but when I look back at all the things we did instead, I feel that we had a good month of learning!

Anyhow, since it is almost time to get back to that sit-down-and-open-up-a-book type of learning I guess it's time to decide what our main theme is going to be and how we are going to organize our time. I set out for Adoration last night with my note pad and schedule in hand, having a pretty good idea of what it was I wanted to think about. That's what I love about Adoration - it usually ends up being completely different than what I had "planned".

Right before we left, I had an impulse to throw into my bag this magazine that I had started looking at yesterday. It's a Christian based magazine, so I didn't feel too guilty, but yet I wasn't sure that it was what I should be spending my time on in Adoration. Nonetheless, I brought it with but told myself I wouldn't spend a lot of time reading it.

After spending some time in prayer, I felt this strong pull to get out the magazine and I ended up spending the rest of the hour reading the whole thing. The neat thing about it was that it gave me some good direction about what it is I think we are supposed to be studying in school. It's not where I thought we would head, but I always try to be open to Inspiration.

That's one of the amazing things about God: He doesn't always lead you where you think you should be going. I didn't want to "offend" God by reading a magazine in His presence, but I found out that it was precisely what He did want me to do! Hopefully we will continue to be led in the right direction once we begin our schoolwork again. Once I get it more organized, I'll let you know the direction we're headed. Maybe it will spark some ideas for you, too.

God Bless!

Monday, December 29, 2008

White Elephant

We had one of our extended family Christmas parties yesterday. Each year we have a grab bag for the adult men and one for the adult women. This year my aunt suggested we shake things up a bit and do a White Elephant.

At first I thought it was a good idea because every year I would dread trying to find grab bag gifts to buy. Quite often, these would be the last gifts I would purchase because I could just never figure out what to get that would be pleasing to a wide variety of women or men. The women usually ended up exchanging Christmas decorations while the men usually ended up exchanging small tools.

Once I realized that I had to find something in my house for this White Elephant, I realized it wasn't going to be that easy. After a year of whittling down our "stuff" the only things left in my house were things we use. My mom and dad came to my rescue. They found stuff for us in their basement!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I had the privilege of "winning" what has to be the epitome of a White Elephant gift: big, ugly and not very practical.

My first thought when I saw it was that it could be used for a really big soap dispenser. I mean, we have seven children, we go through a lot of soap around here! My next thought was: who in the world has enough counter space for something this big (it's about 15" high and 13" at its widest part)? But the thought that finally won out was: this thing is really ugly!

Unfortunately they made a rule that you can't bring back these gifts for next year's White Elephant. If anyone else out there participates in a White Elephant and needs a "good" gift, let me know and I would be happy to send this to you!

God Bless!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

O Holy Night

My daughter got some Josh Grobin CDs for Christmas and I decided that I really like his voice. Finally someone I can sing along with! My neighbor then sent me this video link which is a combo of him singing "O Holy Night" with footage of Jesus' birth from the movie "The Nativity". It's worth the four minutes just to hear him sing! Hope you enjoy!



God Bless!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


May God Bless You!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Thoughts Before Christmas

Today's O Antiphon brings us to the evening before the vigil, and before coming to the town limits of Bethlehem, where we salute Him with the last Great O, O Emmanuel, God-with-us.

The "O" Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Did you know that the first letter of the Messianic titles: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—spell out the Latin words ERO CRAS, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." ? Pretty cool, huh?

Well, I am RRREEEAAALLLYYY slowing down today: I threw out my back this morning big time. Yes, the day before the festivities begin - while presents are still unwrapped and food and desserts still need to be made - I will lie on my back contemplating how much God loves me and how much He really wants me to spend time thinking about Him. Of course, at the same time I will still be directing all of the kids in their various cooking and wrapping duties. I don't think I could really chuck it all out the window. Could you???

God Bless!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter

The sixth O Antiphon is O Rex Gentium, when we know that He is king of all the world of man.

In case those of you in warmer climates missed it, yesterday was the first day of winter. I know we weren't alone in having some nasty weather. Below zero wind chills, blizzard conditions from 40 mph winds, whiteouts and freezing roads. Today was sunny, but the roads around our house are so icy from the winds whipping across them for 2 days that they are very hard to drive on!

I think God is trying to tell us to stay home. Every time we try to leave to accomplish that "one last thing" something else happens to make it more difficult. After today's adventure with a flat tire and then another flat tire and a broken brake caliper (don't ask) I finally gave in. I was supposed to join some friends tonight for our annual Mom's Cookie Exchange, but no more! I am tired of the weather and am staying home. Hope the weather is better wherever you are.

Here are a few photos from yesterday, just in case you live somewhere where there is no snow!

Here is my husband pulling our car out of a snow-filled rut on our own driveway. At least it was close to home!
Some pictures of the snow-blown landscape. Imagine the 20 below zero wind chill temperatures so you can appreciate the last picture more!

This is where we spent the first official day of winter! I guess this is one thing you don't get to enjoy very often when you live somewhere that is warm all the time.

God Bless!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

O Antiphons and Molasses Crinkles

Today's O Antiphon is O Clavis David. Here we have come to the year 1000 B.C.

Tomorrow's is the fifth, which is O Oriens. With this we see that the line of David is elevated so that the peoples may look on a rising star in the east

And here is one last cookie recipe before Christmas. We really like these cookies but for some reason, we only make them at Christmas time. Enjoy!

Molasses Crinkles

1/2 C butter (no substitutes)
1/4 C molasses
3/4 C sugar
1 egg beaten
2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 to 2 Tbl additional sugar

Melt butter and beat with molasses and sugar. Add egg and continue mixing. Sift together all dry ingredients, except the additional sugar. Add them to the wet mixture, stirring until well combined. Form balls of dough. Roll in additional sugar. Smash them down with a fork. Bake 12-15 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

God Bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Back again with another 7 Quick Takes Friday thanks to Conversion Diary.

1.

Today's O Antiphon is:
O Radix Jesse
. With this O Antiphon we have come to the time when God was preparing the line of David (about 11oo B.C.)

2.

This quick take is courtesy of a friend of ours. Here is the miraculous story of this picture:

Here are a few pictures from the Blue Knights' pizza party last night. As I told the dads, this first picture of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima somehow managed to be on my camera as we headed to the Pizza Party. Only thing is, we had this travelling statue at our house in May of 2007. I did take a picture of it, but it was with our old, $20 camera, which had built-in memory. No memory stick. I downloaded it on our computer a year and a half ago. We got our new camera last Christmas, and the memory stick a short time later. Needless to say I was dumbfounded when I saw this picture, that I took a year and a half ago, on our new camera. I asked my wife and the kids if they somehow brought the picture up on our computer, and took a picture of the computer. They looked at me as if I lost my marbles. My son and I asked Our Lady to be with all of us at the pizza party, since this is Her group. I guess she wanted Her picture to be included, along with all the other pictures of Her brave little knights. She certainly must love and appreciate these little guys and their prayers more than we know. Pretty cool, huh?

3.

I really can't stand blogger sometimes. As soon as you copy something in, the rest of your post immediately takes on the font and boldness of the copied material...no matter how many times you try to change it!!!!!!!!!!

4.

As I mentioned yesterday, here are some photos from the Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe's performance of "A Silent Nativity". This first picture shows Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of Jesus.


5.

Here are the angels announcing the birth of Jesus.


6.

The evil King Herod....(don't ask me why the font changed again. See #3)



7.

Everyone rejoicing over the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior!

Try not to notice the change in venue too much. We did two performances in two different places and I really liked this picture! Hope you enjoyed them, too!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The O Antiphons and other things

Yesterday began the O Antiphons. I was going to post a little about them each day, starting yesterday, but I couldn't because I was stuck in this:
We had to make our way home Tuesday evening from a performance that my girls were in and after 3 1/2 hours of being stuck on the highway, and making it only half way home, we bailed out and all 12 of us (I had our neighbors with us) stayed the night at my in-laws. Sometimes having family scattered all over the area is a hassle but that night it was a blessing!

I also have to say that the nifty little email feature on my cell phone came in handy, too. Being away from home, I was still able to keep up with what was going on for the next day's performance!

It's funny, but one of the biggest things that kept bothering me (other than my new found claustrophobia) about being stuck on the highway was wondering what I was going to do about a bathroom. One must think about these things when 10 out of the 12 passengers are girls, and the 11th is a recently potty trained 3 year old! Do you pull off to the side of this jammed highway and stand out there with blankets around each other? Not too obvious, is it? Do you find a container in the car??? No one was too comfortable with either of those options so instead we prayed the rosary and were able to make it off the highway and into a restaurant in time! Thank you, Blessed Mother!

Anyhow, we are home again and preparing for the next storm to hit this afternoon. So back to my original thought. Here is the information I got from Catholicculture.org about the O Antiphons:
December 17 marks the beginning of the "O" Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer. The antiphons beg God with mounting impatience to come and save His people. The order of the antiphons climb climatically through our history of Redemption.

Yesterday was the first O Antiphon, O Sapientia. In this, we take a backward flight into the recesses of eternity to address Wisdom, the Word of God.

Today's O Antiphone is O Adonai. Here we have leaped from eternity to the time of Moses and the Law of Moses (about 1400 B.C.).

Tomorrow, electricity willing, I hope to bring you another O Antiphon as well as some pictures of the performance that the Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe did of the "Silent Nativity".
God Bless!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penance? In Advent?

I was thinking on Sunday about how I wanted to write a blog post about the penitential side of Advent in response to a comment that I received a week or so ago but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say.

Sunday evening a friend called to tell me about the homily she heard on Saturday evening. The topic had to do with the penitential side of Advent, but in this case, the priest was more or less dismissing that aspect of Advent.

Now I knew that this was going to be a blog topic this week, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to say. Lucky for you, God didn't want me to say anything about this topic. In my email inbox Monday morning was the perfect response! Isn't God good?

I do not know Fr. Perez or where he is from or even where/why this piece was originally published. All I know is that it says everything far better than I could have said it. Hope you find it interesting, also.
Lately I have heard of a local ongoing debate, which
I fear is probably pretty much universal, regarding the Season of
Advent. The debate focuses on whether Advent is just a time of
preparation for Christmas, could we then call it a pre-Christmas,
or a penitential season. The Church's answer, as usual,
stands in the middle - "Virtus in medio stat." While it is a
time for preparation for the great Feast of the Nativity of the
Son of God made Man - and as such what a wonderful event that is -
it is also a penitential season, that is, a time of penance
and sacrifice. When we were little, those of us who were
fortunate enough to have had good old fashioned sisters as our
teachers in grade school, were told to make many acts of
penance and self-abnegation, sacrifices, special devotions and to
have a crib for the Baby Jesus in which we would put a piece of
straw for each act we performed. The idea was that we would have
so many acts of penance that we would make a comfy bed for the
Baby Jesus. It was childlike, yes, and simple. But isn't
Christmas all about childlikeness and simplicity? The idea was
that according to age-old Church practice Advent was - and is - a
season of penance. That is very difficult in the post-Christian
and secularized world in which most of us live. Christmas carols
and decorations spring up as early as Halloween (yes) in many
places and for the most part after Thanksgiving. Those same
decorations are thrown out and the carols cease the day after
Christmas. We as Catholics should be counter cultural - as Pope
John Paul II
often reminded us. Christmas lasts for forty days
until Candlemas on February 2nd - which goes back to the Law of Moses
which Christ came to fulfill to perfection. The Vatican is a
good sign of this since by order of the Pope the ancient Roman
practice of leaving up all Nativity scenes (even in St. Peter's
Square) until Feb. 2nd has been both kept up and restored in
the last few years (as far as St. Peter's is concerned). Thus we
have Forty Days of Christmas. It is then that we should have
Christmas parties and feasts, not before Christmas Eve. In too many
quarters, too many Parishes, and Catholic organizations we have
succumbed to the ways of the world. Instead of bringing the light
of the Truth to the world we have molded ourselves about its
erroneous criteria. This must change.

On the other hand we have this time of Advent. It is a
Season of Penance for which the Church vests Herself in violet or
purple (except Gaudete Sunday in Rose which signifies a lessening
of the rigors of penance). So it is a Penitential Season,
primarily. Yes, it is a time of preparation for the Birth of
Christ, just as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. Does
that mean we start to celebrate Christmas before Christmas and
forget the penance which our Faith and Tradition tell us we must
do? Does that mean we start to celebrate Easter on Ash Wednesday
and forget our Lenten penance? I think we all know the answer.
The Liturgy and Discipline of the Church (which follows the Liturgy)
tell us otherwise. We prepare for Christmas - or for Easter -
by repentance, by penances, sacrifices, increased quality and time
and number of prayers and devotions. We gather, as it were, many
pieces of straw to make His crib more comfortable. So yes, this
is a time to performs acts of fasting and abstinence. Of giving
witness - "No I cannot partake of that because I am preparing
for Christmas which starts, not ends, on Christmas Day." It is
a time of renewed repentance. A time to make a good Confession
of our sins. Needless to say, we repeat with John Paul II, the
desire and advice to all that they should go to Confession
regularly, at least once a month. The just man sins seven times
a day. Once or twice a year is hardly sufficient to make a
good thorough confession or to partake in the elements of
spiritual growth which this wonderful Sacrament affords us. It
is a time when we should try to attend and participate in the
Sacred Mysteries of the Mass and perhaps in at least the readings
of the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours which are so very
beautiful. A time to meditate more deeply in the Joyful
Mysteries of the Rosary
with Her who was so essentially central
to their taking place and their remembrance by the Evangelists and
the early Church. With St. John the Baptist who plays a
central role in this Season we also must yell from the rooftops:
"Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!" "Make straight the ways
of the Lord!" Fill in the valleys and bring down the mountains
of our sins so the Lord's coming will be easy and fruitful for us.
Repent! Prepare! Rejoice, because our salvation is close at hand!

Fr. Héctor R.G. Pérez y Robles, STD

"Embrace Mary, for she is the very Gate of Heaven
who brings to you the Glorious King of the New Light."
(Antiphon for the Procession on the Feast of Purification of the
Blessed Virgin Mary/Candlemas - Feb 2)

God Bless!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Five Year Olds Take on Advent

I decided to interview my five year old daughter to find out what Advent means to her. (okay, can you tell I was at a loss for what to post???) I typed as she dictated:

"Advent is about Jesus and about loving Him and there is an Advent wreath. There's loving your neighbors, your friends, your cousins. There's three purple candles and one pink candle and pine cones and evergreen trees on the Advent wreath. If there is someone with a birthday in Advent then you would pray for them and for their birthday party. You say the rosary and pray to God. Don't be angry at your mom and dad. Don't hit your cousins, your friends or brothers or sisters. You shouldn't punch your brothers or sisters, either. You could watch Advent stuff on your TV or your computer. Sing Advent songs."

I think she has a pretty good handle on what Advent is about; especially the part about not punching your brothers and sisters :) If only everyone in the house would listen to her. I'm impressed that she didn't say anything like: Advent is about watching mom run around like a crazy lady as she tries to keep up with everything! Or about how it's all about what she wants for Christmas. Maybe we're making some headway around here?!

I asked my three year old if he had anything to say about Advent. His response, "Uhh, no." Oh well, maybe in a few years...

God Bless!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice Cream Kolachky

Sorry I haven't had a recipe up in awhile. Since it is fast approaching Christmas, I thought I would post one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Ice Cream Kolachky

1 pt. vanilla ice cream
1 lb. butter (yes that's 1 pound!)
3 1/2 tbl sugar
4 c flour
Your choice of jelly or filling

Cream the ice cream and butter together. Add the sugar and flour. Mix just till blended together. Chill overnight. The next day, roll out dough on floured board and cut with round cutter. Place 1/2 tsp of filling in middle. Bake for 15 min. or until a light brown color.

God Bless!


Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday again so here goes:

1.

As I said here, I went on a Christmas shopping spree this past Monday. It was not very fruitful. It seems that even more so than in years past THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE! I came home frustrated and tired and did exactly what I should have done in the first place, sat in front of my computer and ordered everything online. I did so well that my credit card company called this morning to verify all the activity!

2.

We participated in the amnesty program at our library this week. For a limited time they were erasing all library fines in exchange for donations of baking items (you know, flour, oil, etc). I probably donated more than I had in fines, but it still felt good to imagine I was getting a break!

3.

A friend tipped me off to a good deal over at Sophia Institute Press. This is a list of books that they are selling at only $2 a piece. I have my eye on "Keep It Simple" - it looks like a good read right about now. I also ordered "Saint Worship and the Worship of Mary" to help us with the neighboring Lutheran Pastor. Hopefully it is an easy enough read to just pass along to him.

4.

Speaking of the Lutheran Pastor, our friend had a meeting with him yesterday. They had some discussion and it seems as if the Pastor will be correcting his error on the Immaculate Conception, however everything else that our friend said was met with "Well, where is that in the Bible?" There are three Catholic homeschooling families in the neighborhood so maybe we'll invite the Pastor and his wife over for some dialogue. We meet every Monday night to pray the rosary together, maybe that would be a good place to start!

5.

I just loved that story about the Girard family. After I posted about it, I was looking around the website some more and came across some newspaper articles. What disturbed me about them were the comments that came after the articles. Why is it that people have to be critical about even really nice things? Why do they get so hung up about things that don't have anything to do with them? It was so disappointing to read people complaining about this family getting a new home. On a better note, however, the episode about the Girard's and their new home will air on February 8th at 8 eastern/7 central. I'll try to remind everyone about it as the date approaches.

6.

You just have to love Illinois politics. Chicago is famous for its Democratic political machine and now, not only do we have one former Governor in jail, but the current one is potentially on his way for allegedly trying to sell Barak Obama's senate seat. It will be interesting to see just how this goes.

7.

Sorry to end on a disturbing note but I cannot believe the audacity of Planned Parenthood of Indiana. It seems as if they have been offering gift certificates that you can purchase for their "services". How ironic is that to give someone you love a gift card for an abortion or contraception on the very feast day that celebrates birth! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Way to Combat Selfishness

Advent is a time for preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus as well as to anticipate His second coming. During this time we need to look into our hearts and see what it is that is keeping us from totally embracing Christ - and then get rid of it (whatever that it might be).

For many people (and I include myself in this group!), one big thing that might be keeping them from giving all of themselves to Jesus is selfishness. What a hard thing to root out of our souls! It is so hard to fight against all the time. This time of year it seems especially difficult to fight off selfishness because we are so tired and so stressed preparing for the holidays.

Well, the best way I know of to fight off selfishness is to do something nice for someone else! Last night I came across an incredible example of this in action - an entire community getting together to give to a family that has had one incredibly horrific year.

You might remember the Girard family. Their dad, Thom, and oldest son, Marc, died this past summer in a swimming accident. This was after they lost their home to a fire and had been living in a trailer. This past week they became the recipients of a brand new home built through the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". This is what it's all about, folks: hundreds of people donating their time, money and services, working in rainy and freezing conditions, to give an incredible home to a very deserving family. Take the time to check out this house and follow the progress through the blog. See how God takes care of us? I know a new house will never make up for losses this family has been through, but what a comfort to know that they now have a house to live in.

While checking this all out, I found myself overwhelmed when I thought of the gift of themselves that all these people gave and at the same time I felt bad for the grumbling I've done the past two weeks over minor inconveniences. I'm so glad that God puts these examples in our face so that we can gain from them, too. Please join me in praising God for His goodness and generosity and I pray that we can all learn from this great example.

God Bless!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Lutheran Pastor is Misinformed about Catholicism

My husband and I came across video footage of last Sunday's service from a nearby Lutheran church. It seems that the pastor chose to spend some time discussing Mary. Was this a coincidence or was it planned, seeing as how Monday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception?

Before the pastor got to what was his "main" point about Mary, he took a few minutes to talk about those people who worship Mary (aka Catholics). The sad thing about all of this was that what he said was downright wrong. For instance, he said that the Immaculate Conception meant that Mary was born of a virgin. He also said that Mary ascended into Heaven. Each time he tried to make a point, he used very faulty, misleading or downright wrong information.

Most people who witness sermons like this will take what the pastor says to heart. If they've heard it before, it will reinforce ideas about Catholics that they already have. If they haven't heard it before, how many of them will question what they've heard? How many will look into this in more detail? Probably not many. However, since this has been brought to our attention, we feel a responsibility to help this pastor see that he is wrong about a lot of things he said. It is one thing to state a doctrine of the Catholic faith and then say you disagree with it. It is another to incorrectly state Catholic doctrine and then attempt to explain why it is wrong. Witnessing something like this sermon helps to back up what Bishop Fulton Sheen said, that many people don't hate the Catholic Church, they just hate what they think is the Catholic Church (although by stating that, I'm not meaning to imply that this pastor was spewing hatred).

So, homeschooling lesson for today: How do we explain to people like this pastor that his sermon contained a lot of wrong information? Did you know that Luther was actually very Marian? How can we use that fact to show this pastor that he was even contradicting the founder of his own faith? Sounds like a great assignment for a high school student, doesn't it? I know it got my husband going; he's digging through books and pamphlets as I type! What a great way to strengthen your own faith!

God Bless!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Feast Day!

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! What a great day to celebrate Mary and make her a part of our Advent. Advent really should have a Marion flavor to it since it was Mary's fiat that brings us Christ. I came across a quote from St. Francis about Mary that I wanted to share: "Mary is the celestial staircase for arriving more rapidly at Christian perfection." What a blessing the Church gives us by having two Marian feast days in one week!

I found a great article about how to connect the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with Advent. It would make a good teaching moment with the kids. Unfortunately, I can't do it with my children today because it is the ONLY day between now and Christmas that I have free to do my Christmas shopping. Pray that I survive this all day shopping adventure!

God Bless!

Friday, December 5, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

It's "7 Quick Takes Friday" over at Conversion Diary so I'm joining in again! Enjoy.

1.

Most of my "quick takes" today have links to other things, so here goes. Last week I stumbled across something really neat for Advent. It is put together by the family that runs the Holy Heroes website. When you sign up for their Advent Adventures you will receive an email each day of Advent (except Sundays) that will have a short video presentation, an audio clip of a decade of the rosary as well as other links to Advent puzzles, coloring pages and a little quiz. It is a great idea and very easy to use. We've managed to keep up with most of the pages this week. You can join any time in Advent - so it's not too late. There's even links to the days you've missed.

2.

Speaking of Advent, has anyone else noticed that the penitential side of Advent seems to be coming out more in recent years? Sometimes I think the trials we face during Advent are worse than in Lent! Oh well, as the saying goes, "Just offer it up". There certainly is enough to offer it up for!

3.

Last night Catholic author Regina Doman was on EWTN's "Life on the Rock". Congratulations to Regina on a fun and informative interview. We enjoyed listening to it through the internet since we don't have cable! Listening to the show reminded me that her books would make excellent Christmas gifts for those teens on your list that are so hard to buy for. And not just the girls, either...Check them out and help support a great family!

4.

Speaking of Christmas gifts - if you're looking for ideas for grab bags or co-workers or those hard to buy for adults in your family, consider buying some Mystic Monk coffee. It is very good coffee and buying it helps out the Monks in Wyoming who sell it (and me, too!) Click on this little logo here and check out their Christmas gift packs.


5.

Another great Christmas gift idea I found will help you with the girls in your life. I came across a lady in Pennsylvania that has been making and selling Catholic jewelry for a number of years. She has a wide variety of styles - all with a Catholic flavor. How cool is that? Click the banner below to check out her work and support another great Catholic business (and me, too. Thanks)!

Handmaid For The Lord - We Blend Faith & Fashion!

6.

Alright, enough selling. How about a laugh? There's a country song by Taylor Swift called "Love Story" that we have all been enjoying lately. Naturally, when you listen to a song over and over, you tend to remember the words and sing parts of it throughout the day. (If you aren't familiar with the song and would like to be, you can check it out here). The song is about a boy and a girl named Romeo and Juliet who, as you probably guessed, are in love but Romeo has been told by Juliet's father to "stay away from Juliet". The other night, our five year old asked her sister to sing her that song about the father who told Romeo to stay away from Joliet. If you aren't from around Northern Illinois, you won't necessarily know that Joliet is a city in IL that is famous for its many prisons - think Blues Brothers and Stateville Maximum Security Prison. Maybe we could make our own version of the song!

7.

Alright, one last laugh. My sister-in-law, who has a son who would do something like this, sent this video to me this week. It's pretty cute!


Little Kid Is A Bad Liar - Watch more Entertainment

God Bless!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Museum of Science and Industry

As you know it is the first week of Advent. It seems as soon as this time of year hits, our schedule goes crazy, which makes it hard to homeschool, keep the spirit of Advent and still plan for Christmas. Unfortunately, homeschooling usually ends up with the short end of the stick.

Despite our schedule I still wanted to find some educational things to do to make up for the lack of book work. Earlier in the week we took a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. Most of my kids had never been there and my husband and I hadn't been there for years. What a great museum! If you live in the area or are planning on visiting Chicago anytime soon, this would be my #1 museum recommendation.

Why did I like it so much? Well, let me first say that there are two types of museum goers. My uncle terms one kind the "Slowski's". You know them. They are the kind that like to go through museums and read every word that is written, even signs like "Employees must wash hands before returning to work" . If it's a sign, they'll stop and read it. This makes it impossible to get through the entire museum. In case you hadn't guessed, my uncle and I do not fall into this category.

Those of you like us like to go through a museum the same way you shop; walking along at a reasonable pace, browsing the displays, stopping when something really catches your attention. This method allows you to learn a little about a lot of things because you can make it through more exhibits this way. The Slowski's only can learn a lot about a little because they never leave the first room!

Anyhow, I liked this museum because there was a lot of cool things to see, but not a lot that we had to stop and read. We went on a few tours and listened to people talk, which is great for auditory learners. My son came home with a boat-load of information on submarines and coal mines. We were all able to push buttons and touch things and really learn a lot. There were even a few things to read, so the Slowski group was happy, too!

About half way through the museum I remembered that I had a camera on my cell phone - see, all that time I spent last week came in handy. The pictures aren't that clear (come on, I'm supposed to hold that little thing still long enough to take a clear picture? with NO flash???) but I thought I'd share some of what we saw.

During December the museum has their Christmas trees from around the world display. This is the center tree:



You can't really see my daughter, but check out the cool German U-505 Submarine. This was a great tour!



They had a great section on transportation. Here is a picture of a big steam engine they have there:


And this is an awesome railroad system they had set up. My son was mesmerized.

If you can, check out this museum in January when they have a whole bunch of free days!

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology Follow Up

Yesterday an anonymous commenter commented that in a few weeks the novelty of my new cell phone will wear off and my life will get back to normal. I agree. Really, due to the hecticness of life, I've already been forced to forgo playing with my phone so that I can take care of may daily duty. I got to thinking, though, that my point wasn't to whine or complain about being overcome by my cell phone. What I was really wondering was why in the world these technological devices cause us to "waste" so much of our time in the first place.

For example, when I got a new mixer, I certainly didn't feel this compelling urge to spend all my time baking. Likewise, when we got a "car that was new to us", it didn't make me want to drive around constantly (although it seems that that is what I do anyhow!). Why is it that when we get a new computer program, we become completely engrossed in trying to figure it out? Why are we willing to waste so much time setting up all our appointments and contacts on a new computer program or PDA when the calendar on our desk and the old-fashioned address book have worked so well for us before?

The only thing I can connect it to is like when my son gets a new "Thomas the Tank Engine" movie and he wants to watch it multiple times a day until he has memorized every word and gesture of every train! Is it something in us that remembers how we were obsessive like this when we were three years old? Since it wouldn't be appropriate to sit down and watch Thomas for hours on end, do we relive that feeling through our electronic or hand-held devices?

My husband's take on this is that the attraction comes from the fascination over how something so small can do so much. But, he's a guy, and guy's tend to think like that. Doesn't work for me. I think it must be the latent three year old in me coming out!

God Bless!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Technology - A Blessing or a Curse?

About a week ago, my husband dropped his cell phone into a lift station, which essentially means that it went for a swim. About four hours later they were able to suck it out with the vacuum truck, but, of course, it was too late . Like most business people, he depends on his cell phone so off to the store he went. Two hours later he walked out with a brand-new, hip, up-to-date mini-computer-phone-camera. I believe it even makes dinner if you tell it to. Since my cell phone battery would only hold a charge for about an hour, he went in with the intention of buying me a new battery. Instead, for the same price as a new battery for my OLD phone, he got me a brand new, hip, up-to-date (although not as cool as his) cell phone. Let's just say that it took us a whole day to figure out how to make phone calls on them. My husband's theory is that we should have given it to our five year old to figure out - more on that later.

By the next day we were able to figure out a few more things and realized how cool some of the features were. Mine has a calendar and I can program the weather to show up on my screen, you know, fun stuff like that. Then my husband found this very addicting game on his phone called "Bubble Break". Well, our five year old did get a hold of the game and she is the one who explained how to play it to the rest of us. In fact, for a few days, she held the high score!

Then a few days later I discovered that I have access to the music store. Well, my daughter and I spent quite a bit of time listening to 30 second sound bites of our favorite country songs. I finally convinced my husband that I would just download ONE song when the message popped onto the screen, "You are not authorized to purchase songs. Please go to your account and change the authorization". I guess he knows me pretty well.

So why am I now spending time posting about my cell phone? Isn't it bad enough that I've wasted quite a few hours over the past week playing with it? What I'm really trying to figure out in all of this is: Why do you get something like a new computer, a new computer program, a new phone or whatever, and it
immediately becomes something that you have to put in its place or it begins to control you. I can't believe how that bubble game alone has gotten a hold of all of us (especially the five year old). Why do we continue to get sucked in by technology? Is it a blessing or a curse? I guess you could look at it as a chance to build your character by overcoming your will. You can also look upon all of this new stuff as a good educational experience. Sometimes, however, I think we'd all be better off without it!

God Bless!

Friday, November 28, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.

I decided to participate in 7 Quick Takes Friday since it seemed like fun. Actually, I found that coming up with 7 things is difficult. I also discovered that these "quick takes" will be longer than many of my other posts. Oh well, have fun and check out other people's quick takes, too.

2.

A friend of mine emailed me this last week. I liked it so I thought I would share it with you: Cardinal George spoke and said, "our prayer is that we live long enough to be Saints--it is easy to pray to live long lives", he said, "but it is much more difficult to pray that we live long enough to become Saints"--he said, "That YES to God is a difficult thing sometimes because we know it will entail much suffering and sacrifice but we know it is worth it--Just as Mary said Yes to God"

3.

Am I the only one who lives in a family that is not capable of playing games together? Something usually goes flying - whether it is the nearest object or person available, or the game board itself. So last week when our Foozball (?) game got brought up out of the basement, I had my doubts about whether or not it was a good idea. True to form, the game got shoved around, the ball went flying and loud stomps were heard going down the hall. Then a miracle occurred. By mid-week, the loser could actually walk away without throwing anything! I've even seen a few smiles after the game is over (and not just the gloating kind, either). I guess it proves what I read this morning in my mediation, "No situation is fixed"! Alleluia!

4.

In my post the other day about my ever-aging eyesite, a friend commented that he is surprised that I use such a small font in my post. Guess I never noticed it because on the screen when I'm typing it, it looks so much bigger. So, how is this Roger? Can you see this one? :) Maybe I should consider switching so as to help out all those other over-40 people that I can now identify with?

5.

After having some discussions about blogging recently, my daughter found this website and emailed me the link. It's about blogging just for fun and without that feeling of obligation. I'm trying to assimilate that way of thinking into my life, however, I tend to be obsessive about things, so it is difficult to imagine being so blase about something so important :) (Really, I'm just kidding. Of course I realize that what I have to say everyday isn't that important. At least not to everyone...especially, it seems, to people I live with......)

6.

We went to our first Latin Mass this past weekend. Let's just say that the jury is still out. Some of us didn't like it, others are willing to try again. We'll see. I think I must be missing something....

7.

Hope y'all had a nice Thanksgiving. Keeping with the theme of giving thanks, here is an excerpt from an email we got from the Family Research Council about some things to be thankful for:
Today we seem to be floating on a tattered raft of bad news, but this is a week for Thanksgiving, and it seems only right to note that for all the trouble we face, we live in the most blessed times in human history. We have the capacity to feed ourselves and the know-how to feed others, we live longer than any other generation ever (especially if we control the kind of excess that now, rather than want, shortens our lives), and we are able to transmit and share ideas with lightning speed around the world. Despair and panic, we know, can spread quickly, but so can words of consolation and redemption. This is also an extraordinary era for medicine.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something to Think About

This video is incredible. I found it over on Jennifer's Favorite Links and I just had to share it. As we approach Advent, which is the time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus, this is definitely some great food for thought. I love this!!!!!!!!!



God Bless and have a very Blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mine Eyes Can Now Clearly See the Glory ...

Well, it has happened. My eyes have realized what the rest of my body already knows: they are over 40 years old. At first it was just barely noticeable. Once in awhile I'd have a hard time seeing something really small. After awhile it seemed to be happening more frequently. "HMMM," I wondered, "is it really going to happen to me? Am I going to turn out like all of my "older" friends? Not yet", I kept telling myself. "Not me!"

The next time I noticed it was a few months ago when I was trying to read the really tiny print on the side of a children's pain reliever bottle. If it is so important to know how much to give your child, then why on earth did they make the print so SMALL? Well, I must have gotten through that okay because no one complained of an overdose.

A few weeks ago, however, it snuck up on me again. I was taking pictures at my in-law's 50th anniversary party when I realized that I couldn't see the images clearly enough on my digital camera to tell if they were coming out okay or not. These were important pictures, but I had no idea how they were going to turn out until I got home and looked at them on the computer screen - you know, so they were magnified about 100 times!

The clincher, however, was a few days ago when I noticed a sore spot on my thumb and I honestly couldn't tell if it was just a cut or if it was a sliver of some sort. In defeat, I made an appointment with the eye doctor, whom I just saw today.

She confirmed it. I can officially join the ranks of those people over 40 who are constantly searching for one of their ten pairs of Wal-Mart glasses so they can see all that stuff that has suddenly become too small to see. I will drag myself there this week and purchase the symbol that tells the world - "Yes, I am over 40 and I am not too proud to admit it!"

God Bless!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Odds and Ends

Well, it was a sad day on Saturday because the Celtics lost in the last playoff game before the State Finals. Our nephew, however, still had an awesome game. Congratulations, Pat, on a job well done!

The first snowflakes fell this morning. It was nice to see them because it got everyone up out of bed and in a good mood so we actually made it to mass on time - something we rarely do on a Monday morning!

A week ago, our pastor's column in the bulletin dealt with the importance of having some type of daily prayer routine. In his column he shared with us a prayer he prays every day: the COMPLETE version of the Serenity Prayer. I have heard this prayer for years, but never have I heard this version. The second part is even more beautiful than the first, so I thought I'd share it here today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference;
Living one day at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Let me take, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it;
Trusting He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.
May I be reasonably happy in this life
And supre
mely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

I feel cheated all these years, never having heard this prayer in its entirety. Maybe it got shortened because otherwise it is too long to fit on a coffee mug :)

Note: I just finished posting this and went on over to Conversion Diary - a fabulous blog I read - and there was this post. It is such a great reminder - and the prayer is another great one to add to your daily prayer list - that I had to come back and link to it. Help spread the message that every moment is one that we will never get back. Life is too short to hang on to things!

God Bless!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Minestrone Soup

After a cold afternoon watching a high school football playoff game, what better dinner to come home to than a nice hot bowl of homemade soup! We are trying this for the first time tonight, but it sounds good. Go Celtics!

Minestrone in Minutes

3 sweet or hot Italian sausage links, sliced
1 C chopped onion
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 small zucchini, cubed
3 tsp beef bouillon granules
3 cups water
2 C finely chopped cabbage
1 can (15 1/2 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbl minced fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield 2 quarts

God Bless and have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Day in the Life Part IV

My last two "students" are my five year old and my three year old. When my oldest daughter was 5 I was so anxious to get started really teaching her things. I found myself getting frustrated that we weren't really getting into "meaty" stuff yet and I wondered why she didn't have her mutliplication facts memorized. Six kids later I have definitely "lowered" my expectations and standards.

Now that my little 5 year old is in kindergarten, we spend about 1 hour a day in formal studies. I got a big workbook for her to help her learn her letters and numbers and all that other fun stuff. I know I could have just taught her this without the big workbook but it would have taken more time for me to get it all together and I'm afraid I would have never gotten around to it. For now she enjoys her workbook pages and is catching on to that whole alphabet thing. The rest of her learning occurs by just following the rest of us around and by being in the same room during a lot of our discussions and reading. I continue to be amazed at the things she picks up.

There is one thing I've noticed about the differences between my girls and my boys for which I am very thankful. It appears as if my boys have much more vivid imaginations than my girls do and therefore are quite capable of entertaining themselves for long periods of time. Now that he is three, my son in quite content playing with whoever happens to be available to him. If no one is, then more often than not, he doesn't mind playing by himself.

Throughout the day I schedule the other kids to take their turn with the younger ones, so this way I can focus on the difficult subjects a little better. More often than not, though, these two are never very far away from the hub of activity. For the most part they are content with this setup, but I assure you that if either one of them is having a bad day it definitely has an impact on the school day.

So that is how we run our school day. We are pretty consistent with a 4 1/4 day school week. We use Friday mornings to finish up things from the week and take any math tests that might need to be taken. Sickness and clubs are about the only things that get us off track the rest of the week.

I've given you a glimpse of our day, but if you are interested in how I put my whole day into a schedule and how I've learned to live with a routine, check out my website. I have put together a workshop called "A Plan for Joy in the Home - A Workshop on Organizing your Day for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers". In it I walk you through some important areas that I think need to be organized and at the end of the workshop, we put all of these areas together into a master schedule. If you are organizationally challenged and would be interested in this workshop for yourself and some of your friends, check it out here and contact me for more information.

God Bless!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day in the Life Part III

Today we will follow the next set of students: a 3rd grader and a 4th grader. God is good in that I am able to pair them up, also. Both of them are required to be up at 7:00 and be ready to start school by 8:30 a.m. They, too, have subjects that they can take in the car with them if we head out to mass in the morning.

This year I decided to let them pick some subjects that they were interested in studying. So, while they might be similar in ability, they have somewhat different interests. Their day begins with the 3rd grader reading history books. At first he was studying the American Revolution and now he is back to some in-depth reading about the Civil War. The 4th grader starts with the current Saint book that she is reading.

For the next hour the 3rd grader practices his handwriting (I can't believe it but he has the nicest handwriting out of all of them!!!), works on his map skills book and spends some time with the French program. The 4th grader is studying US geography and learning the states and capitals, is also doing a map skills book and spends some time doing French.

After that we meet to do math together. For this age level I have been using Math U See. We watch the DVD lesson together and then will spend the next couple of days doing the worksheets. How well they are doing determines how many sheets they have to do. They end each lesson section with the test.

They each are assigned time during the morning to play with the little kids so that I can work with other students. Since we have finished our election study, I will be spending some time with them learning grammar and writing. We have also incorporated our read aloud time again and we are currently reading "The Bronze Bow".

After lunch I meet with the 3rd grader and we read from his St. Paul book together. Then the 4th grader joins us and we go over a lesson in the 1st St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism book together. During this time I also grade their math sheets and we discuss any projects they might be doing. We also plan their studies for the next day.

If they have finished all their work, they are free for the rest of the day. If they owe me any time for misbehaving, now is their time to pay up.

They seem to be enjoying the fact that they can do some of their work on their own. They also like being able to pick some of their subjects to study. I have found that this motivates them to keep up with the work, too.

Tomorrow I will bring you the last two students in our school. Until then, have a good day.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Day in the Life Part II

After our Junior, we have two more girls who are currently in 9th grade and 7th grade. I noticed early on that more often than not they worked at about the same pace, so I decided to group them together for most of their studies. Since the 9th grader is now technically in high school, I've had to make a few changes to this arrangement, but they still do some work together.

Both girls are supposed to be up by 6:45 and be ready to begin their day by 8:00. Like their older sister, they take schoolwork in the car if we are heading out to morning mass.

The 9th grader's schedule looks something like this:

The day begins with Science. She also did the Biology dissection lab last year, but this year was not quite ready for the Biology book, so she chose to study Botany using the Apologia book. She works through this on her own.

Like her older sister, she is reading through "Christ the King, Lord of History" and reviewing the questions and doing projects. She is also responsible for reading classical works by foreign authors.

Next is math - the dreaded subject. Both she and her 7th grade sister are doing Saxon Algebra 1/2. I've decided to try teaching each lesson instead of using the DIVE CD (which we have done in the past. It is okay for some, but not for others) or having them do the lesson on their own. So far we are all enjoying this method immensely :)

Like all her siblings, she is learning French with Rosetta Stone. For her religion class, she is focusing on reading stories of the Saints and then either writing a report or doing some sort of project to express her knowledge.

After the Christmas break, I will be having her finish up our study of the American Government using the Abeka American Government course. It looks like a good, comprehensive coverage of the subject.

Our 7th grade daughter (who really wanted to have her own post. Sorry DD :) begins her day with the second St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism book. She is reading through it and answering the questions.

I found this really neat Vocabulary book a few years ago called "Vocabulary Cartoons" It is a book of hundreds of SAT words that you learn with mnemonics. This is her next subject. After that she joins her sister and I for MATH.

In the place of our unit study, I plan on working with her and some of the younger ones on writing and grammar. MORE FUN together. After lunch she practices the piano and reads "Beautiful Girlhood" which is a study for young teens on how to become a godly young lady.

Both girls each have 1/2 hour scheduled with me at some point during the day. During this time we correct the math lesson and plan for the next day's studies. We also have time go over other papers and brainstorm for projects they might be working on. I really like this idea of a scheduled time to meet with them. In the past, I would always say that I was going to meet with them but things always seemed to get in the way and I would never get to it. It really helps me to keep on top of what they are doing while allowing them to work on their own.

They are also both involved in a number of other clubs and performances as well as helping out around the house and playing with their younger siblings. While not quite as independent as their older sister, they are learning how to become more responsible and independent.

Tomorrow, the next twosome!

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Day in the Life part I

Today I will give you an overview of our homeschooling life from the perspective of our oldest student - a Junior in high school.

Basically, my daughter has always been a self-starter. I have been blessed with someone who picks things up easily, likes to work on her own, is creative and responsible. This has been a double-edged sword. I was terribly spoiled by her ability and expected everyone to follow suit. This, of course, hasn't happened. On the other hand, she has been a great example that, in some way or another, everyone has followed.

Her day starts at 6:30 when she gets up and gets ready. If we don't go to morning Mass, her school day begins at 8:00. The days we do go to morning Mass, she packs up what books she can and does her work in the car since we have at least 30 minutes to travel in each direction.

She does the following classes in this order: (in our schedule, most subjects are given 1/2 hour time blocks)

Religion - She thoroughly enjoyed learning apologetics last year, so she has been continuing her study this year using the "Beginning Apologetics" series by San Juan Catholic Seminars.

Once or twice a week, I set aside 1/2 hour where we both meet to discuss what she has been doing, go over any problems or discuss future projects.

Next is Biology. We really like the Apologia series. They are interesting to read and most of the experiments are very do-able. She is using the "Exploring Creation with Biology" book. Last year we were fortunate enough to have a mom teach a dissecting class for any interested high schoolers.

The math program I've had her following for the past 2 years is "Life of Fred". This year is geometry and we allow an hour for this subject.

In history she is studying world history. In addition to reading "Christ the King, Lord of History" and going over the questions and doing one project per chapter, she is also responsible for reading classics written by authors from other countries. Fortunately all of my children are avid readers.

For the past two months we have all been working together on a unit study of the founding of our country and the election process. Now that we are done with that portion, my daughter will be tackling the book "The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution". I wish I had the time to read it as it looks quite fascinating.

After our lunch hour, she then works for an hour on a web site that she is building. We have found a great program called Site Build It! They walk you through the whole process of how to build a content rich web site from the ground up. It is a lot of work, but it is fun and an incredible learning experience.

Finally she spends some time with the Rosetta Stone French program that we got this year. So far I am very impressed with the program - I just wish my computer was. I think it's time for an upgrade!

The rest of the day is spent either blogging, cooking dinner, reading a book, watching her younger siblings or writing something for the next contest she is entering. A couple times a month she is involved in different clubs or performances so when that happens, that becomes school and the other book work is picked up the next day.

She is pretty much our only stand-alone student. As you will see over the next few days, I switched gears a bit with the next couple. Hopefully you found this fly's-eye view interesting.

God Bless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Smorgasbord of Topics

For those of you who have been sitting on the edge of your seat since Saturday wondering if the Celtics won.....YES they shut out the top ranked school in the 6A division - 38 to 0. Another great game. Final game before the state playoffs is this coming Saturday. I'll keep you posted.

I got this email from a friend of mine this morning. It was published in the bulletin of a Catholic Church in Chicago. I'm posting it here because I'm finding it very interesting how many times I keep coming across this same message. See, it's not just me! I had nothing to do with putting this in their bulletin :) I hope you agree that God is trying to tell us that now is the time to really get serious....
New President for the United States of America

Now that a new President has been elected, I suggest you read and meditate on Psalm 27. Many changes are promised in the future in our country and many changes will have to take place in the Catholic Church and in the Christian community as a whole. There has been a significant shift in the American hierarchy with over 75 bishops statements (nearly one third of the bishops) instructing Catholics to make abortion the preeminent issue in this 2008 election, unfortunately maybe too little too late, telling Catholics that they cannot support candidates who advocate for legalized abortion. The future holds a more spiritually militant Church and a more militant (in the right sense) of a no compromise pro-life movement. No more accomodation with the culture, no more learning to live with the Culture of Death, no more Catholic pro-abortion politicians---they simply cannot be Catholics and publically advocate the laws that kill the innocent. That era is over!!! This would probably be true no matter who won. A new age of martydom may have begun. Now hear the words of our Lord: "If you find that the world hates you-know that it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own, the reason it hates you is you do not belong to the world ... I tell you all this that in me you may find peace. You will suffer in the world. But take courage! I have overcome the world." (Jn. 15:18-19, 16:33).
And finally, I think it would be neat to be a fly on someone's homeschooling wall. There are families I know that I would love to secretly hang out with for a few days to find out exactly how they accomplish their school work. (Sorry to those of you who know me, I won't admit to who those families are!!) I think it can be very helpful and motivating to hear how other people homeschool. So, in that vein, I thought I would spend the next week or so giving you an idea of how we homeschool each of our children - both individually and as a group. I love reading those "A Day in the Life Of" stories, so if you don't, you could probably check back in here again next week. If you do like those kind of stories, I'll start tomorrow. Hope to see you then.

God Bless!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barm Brack

Since today is another high school football playoff day and the team our nephew is on is the Celtics, I thought I'd leave you with an Irish bread recipe that our neighbor gave us a few weeks ago. The girls in her club made it and we got to taste it and it was GOOD! She told us that the Irish would make this on Halloween and bake a wedding ring into it. The person who finds the ring can be confident that he or she will become engaged before the year is out. Hope you enjoy it too. GO CELTICS!

Barm Brack

4 to 5 C bread or all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 pkg dry yeast
1/2 C butter, room temperatures
3/4 C water
1/2 C milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C chopped mixed candied fruit
1 tsp sugar dissolved in 1 tbl water
1 wedding ring (just Kidding)

In a large mixing bowl, measure 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, lemon peel and yeast. In a saucepan, combine the butter, water and milk and heat over a low flame until the liquid is hot (120-130 F). Add to the dry ingredients and beat by hand with a wooden spoon or with the flat beater of a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs and the 3/4 C flour, or enough to make a thick batter. Beat vigorously by hand or at high speed in the mixer for 2 minutes.

Add flour, 1/4 C at a time, beating with the spoon and working with your hands, or in the mixer using a dough hook, to form a shaggy mass that can be lifted from the bowl and placed on the work surface.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, or with the mixer. The dough will leave the sides of the bowl in the mixer and gather around the dough hook. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave until risen to twice its original size, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and turn onto floured work surface. Work in the raisins and candied fruit. Divide dough in half, shape into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes, under a towel.

Form into a loaf, place into pans and let rise again, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake until done about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn out one loaf and tap the bottom with a finger. A hard hollow sound means the light golden brown loaf is done. Finally brush the crusts with the sugar glaze. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until shiny. Remove from oven and cut into thick slices while still warm, served with ample butter.

God Bless and have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Johnny Appleseed Spreads Peace and Joy

Last week in our Miles Christi formation group we were discussing purity of intention; how it is important to do all that we do for the Lord and not for human respect or praise. In order to do this, we have to make sure that we are paying more attention to the opinion of God than to the opinions of others.

Even in difficult situations - whether it is a somewhat unfriendly family situation or co-workers who are not very pro-religion - we can still win souls for Christ if we focus on serving these people for the love of God. In our group we talked about how Jesus has invited us all to follow Him very closely. He wants us to be His hands, feet and mouth to the world. Our aim should be of "walking the earth sowing the peace and joy that the world cannot give."

This last sentence struck me. I immediately envisioned Johnny Appleseed walking the countryside sowing apple seeds. I then envisioned myself in a plaid shirt, an overall skirt (of course!) and a big straw hat with a big burlap sack slung over my shoulders. As I walked the countryside, I spread peace and joy to all those I met. Interesting vision, isn't it?

It seems like it would be so easy to spread peace and joy as you walk by various people and towns. How much harder it is to maintain that vision of myself spreading peace and joy at all times to the people within the walls of my house - although I suppose if I walked around in an outfit like that, the family might laugh a lot more!

Well, no matter what our outfit is, we are all called to serve others for the love of God. We are all called to spread peace and joy to everyone we meet, even if we are tired or crabby or sick. We are all called to take advantage of the thousands of circumstances that are put before us in our own little corner of the world. We don't even have to travel very far to carry out this call to discipleship.
God Bless!