Friday, February 27, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 13

1.

Hello again, and welcome to another Quick Takes Friday thanks to Conversion Diary. This week I thought I might list some of the books that I have read over the years that have really made an impact on my life. Many of these would be good books to read during Lent so hopefully there is one on here that you haven't read yet! I haven't exactly planned this out, so let's see if I can come up with six of them!

2.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you knew I would start off with my all time favorite recommendation for growing in holiness, "In Conversation with God". If you only can spare a few minutes a day to read a good meditation, this would be the book to get. Also, if you are like most of us and are strapped for cash, you only need to by Volume 2 which will cover Lent through Pentecost.

3.

I still haven't finished it but I feel very confident in recommending "Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love" by Father Stefano M. Manelli. This book about the Eucharist is beyond description. Every section gives you so much to think about and so much to aim for. Someone gave me my copy so I'm not sure how easy it is to find this book, but it is definitely worth the effort!

4.

"Abandonment to Divine Providence" by Jean-Peirre De Caussade is another great book. I first got this book about 7 years ago and when I picked it up to read it I thought that maybe it was the French translation because I found it impossible to understand. When I picked it up a few years ago, however, I had no problem devouring the information and using it to change the focus of my days. This might be one of those books that you can only read when "it is your time"!

5.

Along those same lines is the book "Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence" by St. Claude de la Columbiere. This book is a bit more "hands on" as it gives you some very practical examples of how to trust completely in God. It's hard for me to say which one I liked better. I read them a few years apart, so this one was a good refresher course to the one above.

6.

In a slightly different genre, I really liked the book "A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Pierlot. I really was able to see the spiritual side of scheduling after reading this book. Her concept of a rule for your life helped me to form the spiritual side of my organizing workshop. Read the book to get the idea and then host one of my workshop's to help you put it into action!

7.

My last recommendation doesn't come from a Catholic source but it was one of those life changing books. I'm referring to the book called "Created to Be His Help Meet" by Debi Pearl. I can't say enough about how this book opened my eyes to the way that men's and women's roles in marriage have been distorted. This book made me see that, even though I stopped wearing pants years ago, I forgot to give them back to my husband. A must for every Christian married woman (or those about to be married). You can order it here.

7.5
I did it! I came up with six books that should keep you busy for quite awhile. Happy reading!




Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Chaplet with Stations

I thought I would pass on a Lenten practice that we have done in our house for the past few years. I'm not sure where this originated or who the person(s) was who put these two prayers together, so I apologize for not being able to give them due credit. The prayer I am referring to is a beautiful combination of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Stations of the Cross. We try to pray this together every day at 3:00 (with a big emphasis on try!) It is a nice way to bring the Stations into every day of Lent and I have found it a very good way to actually learn and remember the Stations. The first year we did this I didn't even know all of them. It took a couple of years for me to actually memorize the order. Practice does make perfect, I guess!

Here is how it is done: You pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Creed.
You then pray the Divine Mercy chaplet as follows:

On the Our Father bead pray "Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world"

Announce the 1st Station - Jesus is condemned to death
On the next three beads pray "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
The 2nd Station - Jesus Carries His cross - Pray four "For the sake..."
The 3rd Station - Jesus falls for the first time - Pray three "For the sake..."

"Eternal Father..."
The 4th Station - Jesus meets His mother - Pray three "For the sake..."
The 5th Station - Simon of Cyrene takes up the cross - Pray four "For the sake..."
The 6th Station - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus - Pray three "For the sake..."

"Eternal Father..."
The 7th Station - Jesus Falls the second time - Pray three "For the sake..."
The 8th Station - Jesus consoles the weeping women - Pray four "For the sake..."
The 9th Station - Jesus falls the third time - Pray three "For the sake..."

"Eternal Father..."
The 10th Station - Jesus is stripped of His garments - Pray three "For the sake..."
The 11th Station - Jesus is nailed to the cross - Pray four "For the sake..."
The 12th Station - Jesus dies on the cross - Pray three "For the sake..."

"Eternal Father..."
The 13 the Station - Jesus is taken down from the cross - Pray five "For the sake..."
The 14th Station - Jesus is laid in the tomb - Pray five "For the sake..."

Finish the chaplet by saying "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world" three times. You can then add "Jesus, I trust in You, Jesus, I trust in You, Jesus I trust in You, may I live in You, may I die in You, may I trust in You forever. Amen."

It might take a few tries to get the rhythm of this down, but once you do, you'll enjoy the beauty of these two prayers. Announcing a new station every couple of beads really helps to keep your mind focused. If this is new to you, I hope you get a chance to give it a try. And if anyone knows where it first originated, please let us all know!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

To All: I pray that this is the first day of
a very blessed, holy and fruitful Lent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Shrove Tuesday, etc.

Happy: Shrove Tuesday Fat Tuesday Paczki Day Mardi Gras Day before Ash Wednesday

I think I have covered them all. Yes, it is hard to believe that Lent is almost upon us. By the time you are reading this, we will probably have already gorged ourselves on Paczkis from our local bakery. Once a year it's worth the effort to get out early for these delicious treats - especially the ones filled with fresh strawberries and loads of whipped cream. As we eat them, we are, of course, focused on the fact that tomorrow starts the great season of Lent - a time that I look to with both joy and trepidation.

Joy because by the end of Lent I can usually look back at all of the trials and see the immense graces and blessings that have come from them.

Trepidation because I have to go through all of the trials.

More often than not, I make a Lenten plan and then chuck it all because God shows me what it is He wants me to do for Lent. Usually it is things that are not on my list.

Well, we spent Sunday laying out our Lenten plan anyway. Every year we try to do something as a family that is food related. Last year I made them all give up wheat. It was interesting, to say the least. This year I suggested we give up high fructose corn syrup. We spent Sunday and Monday checking all of our food labels and finding out how many items we now have to find replacements for!

Right before we sat down to plan this all out, I read an article in the "National Catholic Register" about using your diet as a Lenten sacrifice. The author's point was that if the diet is not focused on God, but instead on just how it will help you, it's missing the point as a Lenten sacrifice. I brought that to the table and asked how we could focus more on God by giving up high fructose corn syrup. For some of us, maybe the mere act of focusing will become easier! In general, however, we decided that because we will be making more things from scratch, we will have more work to do and will be spending more time together in the kitchen. Therefore, the struggle of trying to do all of that joyfully and charitably will bring all of us to our knees a lot more often!

For the past number of years we have also picked six meals and eaten them on the same night throughout Lent (i.e. spaghetti every Monday, tacos every Tuesday, etc.). In order to keep control of how many things we will have to make each day, we decided this year to schedule our breakfasts and lunches, too. Our Lenten meal plan for this year will look something like this:

Day - breakfast - lunch - dinner
Monday - oatmeal - chicken - ham steaks
Tues - muffins - sandwiches - tacos
Wed - pancakes - eggs - soup supper at church
Thurs - oatmeal - sandwiches - pizza
Fri - toast/fruit - baked potatoes - grilled cheese/soup
Sat - eggs - whatever - Parmesan chicken

It should be interesting, especially for Mr. 3 yo who doesn't like anything but cereal for breakfast and lives on breakfast bars for snacks. (I'm hoping to see an improvement in his behavior after all of this!) Throughout Lent I will let you know how it is going.

Also, every year at this time for I can't remember how many years now, my husband and I have done the "Preparation for Total Consecration" according to St. Louis de Monfort. I just realized that it began on February 20th. That means we have already missed the first three days! In case anyone else out there meant to start this on the 20th and forgot, too, here is a reminder! If you've never done this consecration, this year would be a great time to consider it. It is a wonderful way to consecrate yourself to Our Lady and it is one that you can renew every year. If you miss this cycle (more than we already have), the next one starts on March 26th. I have an older copy of the book, but this newer copy looks like it should be the same thing, and for only $5!

With all that being said, I'm going to go and finish off my Fat Tuesday part of the day. I pray that your Lent will be joy-filled and fruitful!


Monday, February 23, 2009

To Believe Like a Child


We were at our monthly Miles Christi Evening of Recollection this past Friday and during benediction a thought struck me. I had Mr. 3 yo on my knee trying to keep him quiet (after 3 hours of trying to keep him quiet, it was getting tough!). Father was just picking up the monstrance to bless us when he started talking again. I told him to be quiet and watch as Father was about to bless us with Jesus.

At that moment, he turned and looked right at the monstrance and we made the sign of the cross together. Just to the right of Father there was a crucifix. Mr. 3 yo leans over and whispers, "There's Jesus, too".

The thing that amazed me then, as it has at other times when my children were about this age, was that, when I told my son that we were about to be blessed by Jesus, he didn't look all over the church trying to figure out where Jesus was. He looked straight at the monstrance and never once asked me why Jesus looked like a circular piece of bread. I like to think that it is the simple innocence of children that allows them to so easily believe you when you tell them that that circle is Jesus. At the same time, he was able to look to his right and also see Jesus in His human form, too.

I guess I love the fact that not one of them has ever questioned me about how a host and a person could both go by the name Jesus. With their simple hearts and trusting minds, they just take it all in and believe that what I am telling them is the truth. I guess that's what it means to believe like a child. Ah, if we could all only have that childlike faith!



Friday, February 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 12

1.

My regular supplier of interesting little tidbits is out of town this week, so I thought I might try something different. Carmelitemom has been posting a gratitude journal lately, and since I need to get back into the daily habit of spending time being grateful, I thought I would dedicate today's Quick Takes to things I am grateful for. For starters, assume the obvious - like my family, my health, my faith...

2.

I am grateful for incredible wisdom and a good reminder from St. Basil, "When you eat bread, do it giving thanks to Him who is generous. When you dress, give thanks to Him who graciously has given you clothing. When you contemplate the sky and the beauty of the stars, cast yourself at the feet of God and adore Him who with His wisdom provides all these things. In the same way, when the sun rises and when it sets, while you sleep and are awake, give thanks to God that He created and ordained all these things for your benefit, so that you may know, love and praise the Creator."

3.

I am grateful for the desire, grace, ability and the gas money to get to Mass every day.

4.

I am grateful for my formation group that meets each week. I have the privilege of meeting very early once a week with some very special women. It is always an uplifting start to the day (okay, except for a few weeks ago when I was seriously concerned about everyone because NO ONE said anything the entire hour and everyone looked so down I went home worse than I started!!! Hopefully it was nothing I said!)

5.

I am grateful for the Catholic church. I was reading a report about the Underground Church written by a Protestant Minister and it made me appreciate the Catholic church even more. Not only are the priests in the Underground Catholic Church risking their lives to bring the word of God to people, but they are bringing God himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in the form of the Eucharist. WOW!

6.

I am grateful for the right to still be able to wear sleeveless shirts in America. You never know when they will take away our right to bare arms :) (or is that bear arms?)

7.

I am grateful for Quick Takes Friday from Jen at Conversion Diary. It is an easy, fun way to see what's on other people's minds and I love having people stop in here for a visit, too. If you don't follow Jen's blog, I would suggest you check it out once in awhile. For a relatively new convert, she has some incredible insights into the faith.

Have a great day!




Thursday, February 19, 2009

Systems of the Body Part II

Yesterday we finished up everyone's presentation except mine. Ms. 16 yo did her power point presentation on the skin and it was, indeed, very impressive. Full of big words that most of us can't even pronounce, let alone remember. We did learn some interesting things, though, about the biggest organ of the body.

Realizing that we had a bit more time before lunch, Ms. 5 yo took her position behind the table and announced that it was HER turn now. She picked up a book about the skeletal system and began to point at pictures and ask us questions.

Her first question was, "How many bones are in our feet?" Someone said, "27!" to which she promptly nodded her head and said, "Yes". The next question was, "How many bones in our hands?" Someone answered, "26!". Her response, "Yes, that's right." Even Mr. 3 yo tried to get in on the act. The "teacher" asked him where his small intestines were, to which he promptly replied, "Your chin". When she told him he was wrong, he slapped his knee and said, "OH man". And so it went on for about 20 minutes.

Towards the end, after we were laughing so hard at her gestures and seriousness that we couldn't stand it, she did the unthinkable - she assigned us all homework!

With her arm extended and her index finger pointing, she would call out a letter of the alphabet and ask what part of the body began with that letter. When someone would answer, she would tell them that they had to write a report on that thing. I think we ended up with reports being assigned on the mouth, the ear, the trachea, the rib cage and the salivary glands. She told us they were to be done for today and that we would be able to present them then. I haven't done mine, yet, I better get to it before I meet with her wrath.

As most homeschooling moms do at one time or another, I occasionally worry that Ms 5 yo has not learned enough for her age. You see, she has a cousin the same age who has been attending pre-school for the past three years, and of course there are questions about writing and alphabet memorization and such. As I think back over the events of yesterday, I rest assured that she is learning more than enough! AAAHHH, the fun of homeschooling!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Systems of the Body Unit Study

We've been studying the systems of the body for the last month or so and instead of teaching them all myself, I thought it would be better to have each student pick a system that they wanted to teach the rest of us about.

Mr. 8 yo (year old) picked the digestive system - a great one for boys, or so I thought!
Ms. 10 yo picked the respiratory system
Ms. 13 yo picked the skeletal system
Ms. 14 yo picked the muscular system
Ms. 16 yo picked the integumentary (skin) system and
I picked the cardiac and circulatory systems.

We began by going to the library to find some books and movies on each of our systems. Everyone then spent the next few weeks (we only do this twice a week) pouring over their books and deciding what they wanted us to learn and how they wanted us to learn it.

Last week, the presentations began. Ms. 13 yo and Ms 14 yo did very nice presentations on their systems. They each had some written notes, some pictures to share with us as well as a movie and a game for the skeletal system. For the muscular system we ended with some stretching exercises that left us all feeling muscles we haven't felt in awhile.

This week we began with Ms. 10 yo who did a great job on her presentation about our lungs and how we breath. She even made up a game where we had to guess system related words that began with the letters that spell out RESPIRATORY. Let's just say she had to give us a few clues.

Next came Mr. 8yo and his digestive system. A few weeks ago he decided that this system was disgusting and he refused to look at any books that showed pictures of the various parts - you know, like the intestines or the liver. Maybe his 3 yo brother isn't too far off in calling him a "girly boy" :) (really, I'm just kidding!) Anyhow, he is the kind of kid that reads something once and has it memorized, so he was able to very accurately describe what happens to the food that we eat. He then entertained and educated us by reading the book "The Quest to Digest", complete with different character voices and everything! It was highly entertaining.

Today, Ms. 16 yo will give us her POWER POINT presentation on the skin. Should be good and it will definitely show us all up! Last night she had the nerve to ask me if I had been working on my presentation (which I conveniently saved for last to give me more time!) Of course I have been working on it! It just won't be as flashy as hers. Fortunately, I have a movie to fall back on!

Overall, it has been a very fun way to learn a lot about the different body systems. I know they have all learned a lot more than if I had spent the last four weeks teaching them! It always amazes me what they are capable of when I let them have a say in their learning.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Exploring with National Treasure

Since my daughter went to Washington DC a few weeks ago, she wanted to rent "National Treasure" again so that she could look at all of the places that she got to see that were in the movie. Once we watched the first movie, we decided to rent the second "National Treasure" movie again, too. Our family finds both of these movies to be quite entertaining.

I was thinking about it more this morning and I realized that they could both be good springboards for some American History learning, too. Here are a few ideas that we came up with:

~Who was Charles Carroll? Was he really a Mason?
~What are the Masons and what has been their role in our country's history?
~Was there really such a thing as the Templar Treasure?
~What are the Knights of the Templar and how did they get started?
~How many of the founding fathers were Masons?
~What is the history of daylight savings time?
~Was there such a thing as Cebola?
~What was Queen Victoria's association with the Confederacy?
~Who were the Knights of the Golden Circle?
~Who was Edouard
Laboulaye and what was his role with the Statue of Liberty?
~Is there more than one Statue of Liberty?
~Research the HMS Resolute. Were there two desks that were really made out of it? If so, where are they?
~Research the Olmecs and ancient Native American languages.
~Research Mt. Rushmore and Gutzon Borglum.
~What is Area 51?
~Is there really a President's Book?
~What does the FBI do?

And this is just the beginning.
What a fun way to brighten up a gloomy old February day. Rent one (or both) of the movies and explore some of the topics above. Who knows where your research will lead you?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Black Forest Trifle

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

In honor of the day, I'm posting a nice, sweet dessert that you can make for your sweetie today (okay, it has to sit overnight so you'll have to eat it tomorrow:) It's really rich and really good! Enjoy!

Black Forest Trifle

1 package brownie mix
2 packages (2.8 oz each) chocolate mousse mix
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling (if you want a lot of cherry taste, you will need 2 cans)
1 container (16 oz) whipped topping
4 Skor candy bars, crushed

Prepare and bake brownies according to package directions; cool completely on a wire rack. Prepare mousse according to package directions.

Crumble brownies; sprinkle half into a 4 qt trifle dish or glass bowl. Top with half of the pie filling, mousse, whipped topping and candy bars. Repeat layers.
Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Yield: 16 servings.



Friday, February 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 11

Welcome to another volume of 7 Quick Takes Friday via Conversion Diary.

1.

Congratulations to Benjy, the son of a friend of mine, who got 100% correct on the Know Your States quiz on his first try. Great job, Ben!

2.

Well, here it is, the material (pun intended) for my next confession:

It looks nice from far away, just don't look at it too closely!

3.

I received an email this past week with helpful household tips. I liked the one that said, "If you have a headache, rub a lime on your forehead and the throbbing will go away". I waited around all week for a headache to show up and finally my eldest got one. I promptly cut open a lime and made her rub it on her forehead. All it did was make her smell like a margarita - and make her skin itch. I thought about it and asked her if her head was throbbing beforehand and she said no. Maybe it only takes away the throbbing and not the headache. Oh well, I'm glad my children are so willing to let me experiment!


4.

Just wanted to bring up spiritual communion again. I've been reading various sites and paying attention to what is going on in the world and it dawned on me today that it is not out of the realm of possibilities that we might, some day soon, not have easy access to the Mass. In that case, spiritual communion might be the closest we can come to the real Eucharist. Why not make it a habit now so that if this happens, you are already accustomed to asking Jesus to come and dwell in your heart many times a day?

5.

Since I have a handful of friends that are already grandparents, I've been watching how they deal with being homeschooling parents (some with young children, still) and grandparents at the same time.
From what I've seen, it is a bit of a balancing act. When I had my first child, I had my mother's undivided attention. I look at my own kids, do some quick calculations and realize that I probably won't be able to be there for them in that way. Well, at least I have a few more years of observation time to try to figure it all out.

6.

If you live within the Chicagoland area, I just wanted to tell you about the upcoming performances of "The Seven Last Words of Christ". This year The Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe will be putting on three performances: March 28th in Wheaton, April 4th on the South side of Chicago and April 7th in New Lenox. Tickets are $10 for ages 13 - adult and $5 for ages 5-12. Clergy and toddlers are free. If you are interested in attending this outstanding performance, just contact me with the details and we can arrange it.

7.

Don't have anything else, so happy St. Valentine's Day to you all!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sanctifying my Sewing - NOT

I have come to the conclusion that there are certain types of fabric that should never be allowed near a sewing machine. Lets just say that I learned this the hard way. That sewing project I mentioned here, well, I'm glad that my daughter didn't help me because it would not have been beneficial for our mother/daughter relationship. I barely made it through alive; it would have been much worse for her :)

As bad of a time as I had, God was looking out for me. Yesterday, before I went down to tame the wild beast of fabric that made up the arms of the dress, I read my "In Conversation With God" meditation about sanctifying your work. It was a great meditation, unfortunately I didn't even think of applying any of it until I had already pulled half my hair out and grumbled at numerous children. Even once I did think about it, I wasn't able to really put much of it into play - I was too far down the grumpy road by then - but I'm thrilled to death that at least I THOUGHT about sanctifying the work at hand. I actually THOUGHT about offering up my struggles and frustrations, I even made a feeble attempt at it. Hopefully that counts for something. Baby steps, right?

Well, anyhow, the dress is mostly done. Hopefully later today we will add the final touches and I can include some pictures in my 7 Quick Takes Friday post. While I busy myself with that, you go and do the Know Your States game and tell me how you did. As of this writing (Thursday evening), 38 people visited my blog and only four people (other than my children - and I made them do it!) told me their scores. I'm looking for someone other than my 10 year old daughter who will admit to doing worse than I did. Come on, I dare you!

P.S. I just played again and got a 90% (with some help from daughter #3), but I'd still like to see if someone can "beat" my first score of 78%!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Test Your Geography Skills

Let's carry on with that homeschooling theme, shall we? I mean, it is not often that I get more than one post in a week that has anything directly to do with homeschooling!

For those of you who think you know your geography, here is a great place to see how well you really "Know Your States".

I'll tell you that on my first try I got a 78% and my average margin of error was 46 miles. See how well you can do and then come back and let me know! (I mean that. I would like it if you would send a comment telling me how you did! Really!)



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Bronze Bow

We just finished reading aloud "The Bronze Bow" by Elizabeth George Speare. This book won the Newberry Medal in 1962 and we all found it to be a very good book. I like it when we pick a really interesting book to read aloud because then the excitement is always there to get together and continue on with the story. Besides, when it is a good book, everyone shows up on time AND they even ask me to read it on a non-school day. Let me tell you that that doesn't happen very often.

The story is about a teenage boy named Daniel who lives during the time of Jesus' preaching around the area of Capernaum. Daniel is on a quest to avenge the death of his father by the Romans, so he joins a band of outlaws that live in the mountains.

After being with them awhile, Daniel has to return to his village to take care of his sister, Leah, after their grandmother dies. Leah is possessed by demons and refuses to leave the house, so Daniel must find a way to carry on with his desire to overtake the Romans and still care for his sister.

What I really liked about the story was when the author would tell about what Jesus was doing and she would put Daniel into the context of a Bible story, for example the healing of Jarius' daughter. A lot of the story seems to revolve around events in Mark's Gospel, so the fact that we are reading from that Gospel at Mass right now really made the story come alive.

In a sense, this book is like a good meditation. It does exactly what we are supposed to do when we meditate on a scene from the Gospel: put ourselves somewhere in that scene and think about what is happening. As always happens when we get to the end of a good book, I am very disappointed that it is over. I'm not quite ready to leave all of these characters behind.

I would highly recommend this book, especially as a read aloud. It has a little bit of something for everyone: action and adventure, romance, religion, suspense, beauty and a happy ending. If you haven't read a story out loud as a family in a while, consider starting with this one!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Yawn!


Welcome to Another Monday!

I'm sorry, I can't post anymore today, I'm still sobbing over last night's episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" about the Girard Family.

If you missed it, you missed a good one!






Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Cool Blog Award!

Thanks to my daughter, I've received a fun blog award: the FOMUBA "Eye Rock" award! (FOMUBA - The Fake, Obviously Made Up Award). Thanks, DD, for the vote of confidence.



In honor of a new year and a new award, I have decided on a new look. Hope you all like it.




Friday, February 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 10

Welcome once again to 7 Quick Takes Friday graciously hosted by Conversion Diary.

1.

I received this in an email from the Family Research Council and thought it was worth sharing.

"Halfway through his remarks at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama made a stunning, pro-life statement. "Some of our beliefs will never be the same," he said. "...but no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that... [t]here is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being." In that instant, many of us were struck by how powerful Barack Obama's voice could be if he moved beyond rhetoric and harnessed all his hope, eloquence, and enthusiasm to lead this nation toward a culture of life. " (emphasis added)

KEEP PRAYING!
2.

How exciting! The time has finally arrived for the airing of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" that will show the Girard family's new home. If you've followed their tragedy, you won't want to miss out on this wonderful chapter of the Girard family story. The show will air this Sunday (Feb. 8th) at 8/7c on ABC. Praised be Jesus Christ!

3.

My sometimes belligerent three year old was up to it again the other day. I was running out the door to make it to an appointment when I noticed that he was struggling with the tape dispenser. Had I not been in a hurry, I might have stopped to think about what I was doing. That not being the case, I helped him to rip off the large piece of tape that he was struggling with. At that point it dawned on me to ask him what it was he needed the tape for. As he stomped out of the room with it, he firmly told me that he was using the tape to tape his older brother's mouth shut because his brother kept being mean to him. As any good parent would do, I yelled at him to not tape his brother's mouth shut as I ran back out the door!

4.

I used to think that it was just our little corner of the homeschooling world that suffers from the month of February! I like to refer to it as the month of cabin fever. My husband has learned to ignore all of my threats and complaints during this month, for it is usually at some time during the month of February that I threaten to put all of the kids in school and go and hide. Apparently we are not alone as I ran into this same phenomenon on another blog. Here it is referred to as Third Quarter Blues. I'm glad we are not alone.

5.

This week I have heard of two families where the father will be losing his job soon. Both of them have big families. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning. Please keep them and all of the unemployed and underemployed in your prayers. Thanks.

6.

From the book "Jesus Our Eucharistic Love"

"Here is one of the counsels which Blessed Pio of Pietrelcina gave to one of his spiritual daughters: 'In the course of the day, when it is not permitted you to do otherwise, call on Jesus, even in the midst of all your occupations, with a resigned sigh of the soul and He will come and will remain always united with your soul by means of His grace and His holy love.'"

7.

And finally, for those of you within driving distance of Chicago, on February 15th at 2 p.m. central time:

A family afternoon of Austrian culture and music. Her Imperial and Royal Highness, Maria Anna, Princess of Galitzine, Granddaughter of Blessed Karl of Austria, will speak to families about Austrian culture and our Catholic faith followed by a music program in which the St. Cecilia Choir will sing the Liebeslieder Waltzes of Johannes Brahms with piano accompaniment. Light refreshments and beverages for children and adults will be offered. Tickets are $15 for families or $5.00 for individuals and are available online at www.Cantius.org, by phone 1-800-838-3006, or mail in a reservation with your name, address, phone number, and the number of tickets you will need. Check made out to St. John Cantius Church. St. John Cantius is located at 825 N. Carpenter, Chicago IL 60642. 312-243-7373.

God Bless!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Being Engaged

Last week Friend A and I were at Friend B's house. During our time there, Friend B told us that she had something she wanted us to know. She proceeded to tell us that her eldest daughter (I believe around age 20), is now engaged. Well, Friend A and I knew that she didn't have any kind of boyfriend, so Friend A said, "What, did she meet him last week and now they are getting married?" My first thought was, "Oh great, they've gone and signed her up to be some mail-order bride!" (Don't ask)

At this point, Friend B let on that this was not an earthly spouse she was engaged to. OOOOOHHHH now we get it: Her eldest has been discerning a vocation to the religious life and has been working on entering an order of Dominicans, maybe as soon as this fall. Well, that makes more sense, as we can all see that she will make an absolutely wonderful nun.

Later on I got to thinking about that idea of this being an engagement. In my mind, engagement meant about a year of total chaos, stress and financial turmoil (as well as excitement, of course:) I stopped to think about it in the light of a religious vocation and I conjured up a much more peaceful image. I began to imagine this as a time of getting to know your future Spouse better, of prayer and peaceful time spent discerning whether or not you are called to spend the rest of your life with Christ.

Why not carry that thought over to a married vocation? Shouldn't the engagement period be focused on getting to know your future spouse better, spending time together in prayer and peace trying to discern whether or not you are ready to spend the rest of your life together? Instead it seems to be focused on getting a lot of stuff done to prepare for that one day, instead of spending the time preparing for the lifetime part of it.

I'm hoping that this new outlook on the engagement period will help me down the road when my children start that process, for whatever type of vocation they are called to. Hopefully I can remember to help instill into it a sense of prayer and peace so that it does not become the often stress-filled time I remember it to be.

God Bless!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Problems , Obstacles and Crosses

A friend sent me this quote from the book "Yesterday, Today and Forever" by Maria von Trapp:

"By the way: this word, problem, has only slipped in here. It should really be eliminated from the vocabulary of a Christian. When we look at the first Christian era, we see there were no problems. If something came their way in the line of adversities, they treated it first as an obstacle. An obstacle we have to overcome. We have to do everything in our power to get rid of it. Only after we have tried everything and it still doesn't move, then we know. This is not an obstacle, this is a cross. If obstacles are meant to be overcome, crosses are meant to be borne, and if we can manage at all, borne gladly accordingly to His example. "Problems" are a dangerous hybrid of modern times. They seem to be meant only and solely to be talked about. How often you find when you earnestly try to help somebody with his problems, how often you learn to your own astonishment that he doesn't really want that. He needs problems in order to be able to talk about himself. This is a disease of our time......We shall be astonished when we notice how often the word creeps into our conversation, but we should consciously fight it."


That is a very powerful thought; one that I pondered over for quite some time on Monday. Quite often when adversities come our way, what is the first thing we do? If you're like me, it is to complain. I can't recall too often coming face to face with a small to medium sized "issue" (I'm trying not to say "problem" :) and pondering whether or not it was just an obstacle or if it was a cross to bear. You know, like a house full of crabby kids or a car that won't work when you need it to or an issue with a product that you just purchased. How often those are seen as problems to be complained about - both to myself and to anyone else who cares to listen.

At least with the big issues in my life, I seem to be able to correspond to the available graces better, and I tend to take more time to figure out what it is all about. Take, for example, the loss of a job or business. With something like that I am more apt to take a step back and look at the situation and ask myself whether it is something that God wants me to overcome or something I just need to take a deep breath about and deal with. Again, chalk that all up to grace.

I think this quote needs to be added to the ones I should be copying and posting all over my kitchen to remind me every day not to complain about the many small to medium sized trials. By stopping before I complain, I can decide whether I need to try to overcome them (like putting that crabby kid in his room till he shapes up!) or just realize that they will be my friend for the day and bear them patiently. I know from experience that spending time muttering and complaining about them is not going to get me anywhere good. Pay attention today and see how many times the word "problem" creeps into your thoughts or conversations, and math time doesn't count!

God Bless!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy One Year Birthday to my blog! It is very hard to believe that one year has already passed by. It is even more difficult to believe that I have managed to keep up with it for an entire year! Let's see, 365 days in a year and this is post number 275. Not bad. God willing, I will keep this going for another year! Thanks for being here to help me celebrate.

God Bless!


Monday, February 2, 2009

It's Eagle Time

Way back before we had kids, my husband and I went on an eagle watching weekend with the local community college. We drove out to the Mississippi River area and were fortunate enough to see hundreds of bald eagles wintering along the river. In fact, the guide we had said that was the most eagles he had seen in a very long time. It was such a cool time that we always wanted to go back.

Fast forward a number of years to when we had some children old enough to appreciate the trip. We loaded up the van, took a nephew and some grandparents along with us (because we had talked about how cool this weekend was for so long that they wanted to go with us) and drove the three or so hours out to the Mississippi River. We drove through some good snowy weather just to see THREE eagles. I'm not kidding.

It was right after that that someone told us that all we had to do was head out to Starved Rock. They told us that there are a bunch of eagles that winter there by the dam. The next year we packed up the van and drove only an hour out to Starved Rock, saw more than three eagles, and we've been going there almost every year since.
Yesterday was our day out there and we were again blessed with the opportunity to see many of those majestic birds.
The weather was a bit warmer so they were fairly active. It's always cool to see those beautiful birds flying around. While we were walking the trails, it dawned on me how a simple trip like this is such a multi-subject educational experience. Not only is it enjoyable, it is always a great learning experience. Through pictures, I'll tell you what we learned:

Science - by studying these birds and discussing why they come here during the winter and why it is they are not so active when it's cold


Physics - how best to climb back down a slippery slope. Here's two examples:


Art - in this case, someone else's idea of art humor. We all agreed it looked like a bunny mishap

Physical Education - If you've ever been to Starved Rock State Park, I don't need to say anymore!

History - The history of this park and why it is called Starved Rock.
And last but not least, nutrition and economics - as in "No, I'm not buying you each a $1 candy bar. Eat the nutritious popcorn and water that we brought with us!"

There you have it, a lot of fun, and a lot learned. As an added bonus, here's my hot tip: go on Super Bowl Sunday and there's hardly anyone there!!!!!

God Bless!