Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Or at least New Year's Eve if you're reading this on Monday.  What a blessed and busy week we've had since Christmas.  I so enjoy our groups that wait until the Christmas Octave to host their parties.  We went to a family dinner with the priests of Miles Christi on Thursday night,  my hubby's Knights of Columbus council Christmas dinner on Friday night and then we hosted our extended family Christmas party on Sunday, which is always a blast.

Today brings a funeral for a very dear man from our parish.  He was in the choir with my girls and had a great, deep voice.  Only Ms 16 yo is able to sing with the choir today for his Mass as Ms 20 yo is in Rhode Island visiting her boyfriend and Ms 18 yo is sick on the couch while I stayed home to keep a watchful eye on her (yes, she must be sick if I'm doing that!).  

Since I'm home instead of out for the day, I felt inspired to write a New Year's post and reflect on all of the things I am grateful for from 2012.  My first inclination is to think back upon how difficult this year was.  Difficult in so many ways:  financially, emotionally, spiritually.  However, that is not how I want to remember this past year.  So, here is my list of 12 things that I am grateful for specifically from the year 2012.  The fact that I am immensely grateful to God for my faith, my husband, my children, my family, my friends and our home is a given!!!!

1.  Being able to go on my yearly silent retreat with my two oldest daughters.  Even thought we didn't get to talk to each other, it was still wonderful sharing something so spiritual with them.

2.  A few days away with my husband this fall.  When you don't have anyone else that you have to focus on except the wonderful man you married, it brings back a lot of memories :)

3.  Feeling healthy enough to get in better shape.  To lose some weight, gain it back over the summer and then be able to lose it again this fall and feel better than I have in a long time.  I know how great of a blessing it is to be able to do this!

4.  For the many awesome parties we were able to host this year.  The hosting isn't what made them awesome, it was the people who came to each and every one of them that made them so fun and memorable.



5.  To have daughters with beautiful voices and a son who is maturing into something wonderful and the fact that they are willing to use their talents in the service of the Lord.

6.   To have graduated another child from our homeschool this year.  To see her standing up there in her cap and gown with that big smile and know that all of the blood, sweat and tears over the past 12 years of schooling is SO worth it.



7.  For the opportunity to get to know some new people this year.  Hosting about 30 people at our house for five days this summer was a great experience and a chance to meet some wonderful people.  We even added another "adopted" member to our family.



8.  For the opportunities I've had this past year to photograph so many people.  I love to keep honing my skills and I've been blessed to take some pictures of some truly beautiful people and events.  If I have a passion, this is truly it.



9.  For the trials that we've gone through this year and the grace to endure them and come out on top of them.  Truly the work of God!  Our trials can either defeat us or make us stronger and I am grateful that I was given the grace to not let them defeat me.

10.  We had another great extended weekend in Michigan this year.  It is always so much fun to go there to relax, swim, boat and have our yearly reunion with a great family we are blessed to know.



11.  A peaceful fall semester.  We had such a good first half of the year of homeschooling.  If you homeschool, you know how rare those can be.  We covered a lot of ground and weren't moving at our usual frenzied pace.  

12.  For work for my husband; it may not be perfect but it has kept us fed, sheltered and clothed.  For a job for my daughter and the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps us always looking for ways to expand our knowledge and help others.

There are so many more things to be grateful for but I'll keep it to these 12!  I pray that you will be blessed with a peaceful, healthy and fruitful 2013!  

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas Season and may you be filled with His grace and peace in the new year.

God Bless!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 23

Reflection:

Go meet your Blessed Mother.  Lead her to the manger of your heart and be her to lay the Divine Infant in it.  Shorten your chats and telephone conversations and spend more time today thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.  Come, dear Jesus, Come.  My heart longs for You.

Bible Verses:

Here are the last two verses:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning colas upon his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thoughts from Mass:

We got up early, despite everyone's groaning (even my own), and got to the church in time only to find out that apparently Father wasn't saying Mass this morning.  That is always a big bummer.  Oh well, we eagerly anticipate tonight's Midnight Mass.  The three older girls will sing in the choir, Mr 12 yo gets to serve and my husband will be an usher.  That leaves me and Ms 14 yo, Ms 9 yo and Mr 7 yo in the pew together.  To me, this Mass is what makes Christmas!

Advent Activities:

This morning brings the final preparations:  a few presents that I forgot to wrap, another batch of fudge and maybe one batch of cookies, a lot of hairdos and nails to be done!  May you all find peace during these final hours of Advent!

God Bless!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 22

Reflection:

Accompany St. Joseph from door to door.  Learn from him silently and patiently to bear refusals and disappointments.  Open wide your heart and beg him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  St. Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy Christmas Communion.

Bible Verse:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay" says the Lord.

O Antiphon:

O Emmanuel, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Savior:  come and save us, O Lord our God!  Amen

Thoughts from Mass:

"And how did this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"  I can ask the same thing.  Who am I that my Lord should come to me in every Holy Communion?  No one who is worthy, but that's okay, the Lord comes to us in the Eucharist, not because we deserve to receive Him, but because He loves us and He wants to remind us of that.

Unfortunately today, after Mass, someone found a consecrated host in the parking lot.  What a horrible thing!  Our Lord comes to us in such a humble form; He even allows himself to be abused in such a manner.  We must pray for these evils to cease. Come Lord Jesus, and save us from ourselves!

Advent Activities:

Today we spent some more time in the kitchen making up cute hot chocolate gift packs, some fudgy-mint squares to take on Christmas Eve, and the first batch of our awesome, secret-family recipe Christmas fudge.  This stuff is magnificent!  We also spent some time gathering up our white elephant gifts for our family party on Christmas Day.  I'm not a big fan of white elephants, but we'll try to make our gifts as fun as possible while still being useful (maybe :).  Tonight: family movie night.  Not sure what yet, but we have a few saint movies to choose from.

God Bless!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 21

Reflection:

Invite the angels to adore God with you.  Cheerfully obey the inspirations of your guardian angel and of your conscience.  Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that you are always with me.

Bible Verse:

If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.

O Antiphon:

O King of nations and their Desired, The Cornerstone who make all one:  come and save our race, whom you formed out of clay. Amen.

Advent Activities:

Today was choir practice for the girls and Christmas card assembly for all of us!  This evening, my hubby and I will spend wrapping presents.  I thank the Lord for the sun today and for the quiet day to prepare and to pray.  There is so much suffering in the world that it can be overwhelming to think about it.  I am so appreciative of these days where I'm not under a lot of pressure to get stuff done so that I can ponder things and pray for the people I know who are suffering.

God Bless!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 20

Reflection:

Provide the stable with a key to keep out thieves.  Exclude from your heart every sinful thought, every rash judgement.  Dear Jesus, close my heart to all that hurts You.

Bible Verse:

Repay no one evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

Thoughts from Mass:

Hope...we need to hope in the Lord as Mary did, not in earthly things like, as Father pointed out, Mayan calendars!  We need to believe like she did, too.  Elizabeth said to her, "Blessed are you who have believed, that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."  How wonderful it will be for us if we hear that from the Lord when we meet Him at the end of our days.

God is faithful and has said that He fulfills all of His promises.  How good that is to remember on those days when I'm feeling like He isn't near or doesn't hear me.  He is always with me and I need to have that same hope and faith that our Blessed Mother had.

O Antiphon:

O Dayspring, brightness of eternal Light and Sun of Justice come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Amen.

Advent Activities:

Today was another quiet day.  I am so glad that we do not have plans over the next few days.  We will be home, wrapping and making treats to bring with us over the two days of celebrations.  I'm glad we will have this quiet time to make our final preparations in our home and in our hearts.

Tonight we are going to pile in the van, grab some hot chocolate, listen to the Christmas music station and check out the lights!  

God Bless!
 
 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 19

Reflection:

Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our new born King.  Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is important because Jesus will be born again in you.  Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

Bible Verse:

Never be conceited.

Thoughts from Mass:

Humility.  A very difficult thing to live correctly and fully.  Mary was humble and therefore she could accept what the angel said to her, even if she didn't fully understand it.  Because she was humble, she could believe it when the angel said that nothing is impossible with God.  As Father said today, "Humility comes from your heart, not from your head."  Those are good words to remember.

O Antiphon:

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel:  you open and no one shuts; you shut and no one opens.  Come and lead forth from his prison the captive sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Amen.

Advent Activities:

The boys and I went to get our Christmas hair cuts today.  It always feels so much better when I get that extra hair cut off!

The rest of the day was cold, dreary and rainy.  We got a fire going in the fireplace and waited for the winter storm Draco to come calling.  In the meantime, some of the girls and I baked more cookies.  



I think we are officially good on cookies right now.

This evening was supposed to be choir practice for the girls and our annual Mom's Cookie Exchange.  Well, with the impending storm, a decision had to be made; and let me tell you that I am horrible at making those decisions.  Do you take the chance and go somewhere when you have to drive on open, country roads with a potentially heavy snow and strong winds coming?  This time I chose not to go and, of course, it hasn't snowed :(  Go figure.  Oh well, there's always next year.   At least Father cancelled all parish activities, so choir practice was rescheduled!



 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 18

Reflection:

Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and patient.  Do not murmur or complain.  Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.

Bible Verse:

Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.

Thoughts from Mass:

"My mouth shall be filled with your praise and I will sing your glory."  Does my mouth sing the praises of God, of my fellow man, or does it criticize and complain?  Zechariah's mouth questioned the Lord and did not sing His praises.  I am glad that the Lord has not made me mute when I have done the same.

O Antiphon:

O Root of Jesse, who stood as a sign for the people, before you kings shall remain silent, and to you the gentiles shall make supplication:  come to deliver us, and delay not.  Amen.

Advent Activities:

The girls cleaned and baked for a Christmas gathering they are having tonight.  They hung lights and put up a small tree and their dad started a nice cozy fire in the fireplace for them.  Should be a fun time!  

I also came across two addresses today to send cards and notes to the people of Newtown, CT.  The first is to send cards to the priests at St. Rose of Lima parish.  They are having a difficult time with all of this and have two funerals a day for the next three days.  You can send cards and spiritual bouquets to:

Msgr Weiss and Fr. Luke
46 Church Hill Rd
Newtown, CT  06470

The other address that has been set up is for the people of Newtown.  You can send cards to this address and they are being collected for the people to read.  That address is:

Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700
Newtown CT 06470


Thanks, Allison, for sharing these.

God Bless! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 17

Reflection:

Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and His Blessed Mother.  Give alms for the poor and say an extra decade of the rosary.  Come, Jesus, to accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

Bible Verse:

Live in harmony with one another. 

Thoughts from Mass:

The priest at today's Mass continued talking about Joy.  He asked us, "Where can we find joy?  Emmanuel - God is with us.  That is where the joy is.  God is always with us, in all things, even if we can't feel Him."  

From the Preface II for Advent:  "...the Virgin Mother longed for Him with love beyond all telling."  The feelings of a mother, amplified to perfection in the Blessed Virgin.

O Antiphon: (from the Magnificat Advent Companion)

O Adonai (Lord), and leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai:  come, and with an outstretched arm, redeem us.  Amen.

Advent Activities:

Today we went to Grandma's house to clean for our Christmas Eve gathering.  After that, we hit Goodwill and tried to tie up all the loose ends on the Christmas outfits.  I'm pretty sure we have it all together, except for Mr 7 yo who is one incredibly picky clothing person.  He says he's content with what he wore last year:  a white shirt and a black pair of pants.  Oh well...

God Bless!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 16

Reflection:

Bring the donkey to the crib.  Offer to the Divine Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service of others.  Jesus, accept my service of love; I offer it for those who do not love You.

Bible Verse:

Weep with those who weep.

O Antiphon:

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reached from end to end, and disposed of all things sweetly and mightily:  come and teach us the way of prudence.  Amen

Thoughts from Mass:

Father talked in his homily about how there are a few black sheep and even some non-Jews in Jesus' lineage.  He made the point that God can use anyone to advance His plan; they don't have to be perfect in order for Him to use them for His Divine purpose.

Advent Activities:

Today we finished decorating the house, which is always a good excuse to do some dusting, too!  Here is our finished tree and my attempt at some Christmas bokeh:


 


After that the younger kids and I did a round of sugar cookies.  Although these aren't my most favorite kind of cookies to make, I finally found a recipe that I like.  Both the cookies and the frosting have some almond extract in them, which, in my opinion, makes anything taste great!  Here's a picture of the messy side of it all:



 And here's a shot that proves that presentation is everything :)



God Bless!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 15

Reflection:

Lead the ox to the crib.  Obey cheerfully without making excuses and without asking "why".  I will obey for love of You, Jesus.

Bible Verse:

Rejoice with those who rejoice.  (How appropriate for today)

Thoughts from Mass:

 Joy - something that should be in our heart even amidst the sorrow of life;  A deep abiding joy that Jesus has saved us.

The Communion Antiphon also seemed appropriate for today:  "Say to the faint of heart:  Be strong and do not fear.  Behold our God will come, and he will save us."

I also have to put this video in today because of it being Gaudete Sunday and I absolutely LOVE this song:


Advent Activities:

Today was our day to decorate our tree.  We usually do this on the weekend right before Christmas but because that is just one day before Christmas Eve, we decided to do it today.  Mr 12 yo got to go to the Bears vs Packers football game today (jealous mommy!!) so we're waiting till he gets back in order to put the tree together and decorate it.  

Joy to you all today!

God Bless!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 14

Reflection:

Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed by a cozy fire.  Be grateful to God for the love He has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful respect towards your parents and relatives.  Jesus, how can I return Your love?  How can I show my gratitude to You?

Bible Verse:

Bless those who persecute you.

Thoughts from Mass:

I was struck last night while we were praying the Litany of the Mater Dolorosa before Mass how Our Blessed Mother must be grieving, too.  

Lord , have mercy
Lord , have mercy
Christ , have mercy ,
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy ,
Lord have mercy

Christ hear us
Christ hear us ,
Christ graciously hear us,
Christ graciously hear us,

God the Father of heaven ,

Have mercy on us
God the Son , Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity , one God ,

Holy Mary ,
Pray for us
Holy Mother of God ,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Crucified Mother,
Sorrowful Mother ,
Mournful Mother ,
Afflicted Mother,
Forsaken Mother ,
Desolate Mother ,
Mother bereaved of thy Son ,
Mother pierced by a sword ,
Mother overwhelmed by grief ,
Mother filled with anguish ,
Mother crucified in thy heart,
Mother most sad ,
Fount of tears ,
Mass of suffering ,
Mirror of patience ,
Rock of constancy ,
Anchor of confidence ,
Refuge of the abandoned,
Shield of the oppressed ,
Conqueror of the incredulous,
Solace of the wretched ,
Medicine of the sick ,
Haven of the shipwrecked,
Calmer of tempests ,
Recourse of the needy ,
Terror of the treacherous ,
Inspiration of the Prophets ,
Treasure of the Faithful ,
Staff of the Apostles ,
Crown of Martyrs ,
Light of Confessors,
Pearl of Virgins ,
Comfort of Widows ,
Joy of all Saints,

V. Lamb of God , who takest away the sins of the world ,
R. Spare us , O Lord

V. Lamb of God , who takest away the sins of the world ,
R. Graciously hear us , O Lord.

V. Lamb of God , who takest away the sins of the world ,
R. Have mercy on us.

V.Pray for us , most sorrowful Virgin
R.That we may be worhty of the promises of Christ.

V. Let us pray,

O God ,in whose Passion , according to the prophesy
of Simeon , a sword of grief pierced through the sweet soul
of Thy glorious Virgin Mother Mary : grant that we ,
who celebrate the memory of her Sorrows , may obtain
the happy effect of Thy Passion.
Who livest and reignest ,world without end.

R. Amen


Advent Activities:

Today we cashed in on our gift from St. Nicholas: we all went to see "The Hobbit".  I admit to never having read the book, so I went in with very little knowledge.  Add to that the fact that I haven't memorized every line from all three LOTR movies like my children have.  I asked a lot of questions afterwards, but I must say I did enjoy the movie.

God Bless!
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 13

Reflection:

See that the crib has sufficient light.  Be neat and orderly about your person; keep everything in its place in your room.  Jesus, be the life and light of my soul.

Bible Verse:

Practice hospitality.

Thoughts from Mass:

 Actually, because I am posting this early today, we haven't been to Mass yet, therefore I have no thoughts from it!  Tonight is our monthly Evening of Recollection put on by the priests of Miles Christi.  It is a beautiful evening of the rosary, Mass, Adoration, confession, two spiritual talks and, of course, social time!  It is especially appreciated during the Advent and Lenten seasons.  God bless our holy priests. 

Advent Activities:

Today officially begins our Christmas break!  A big Yippee from everyone in this house!  The kids are busy making Christmas gifts for all of their friends.  It amazes me how creative they can be.  Ms 9 yo is very crafty, something that she gets from her grandparents and NOT me!  She's been making cute little boxes and bowls and all kind of neat things...and she doesn't even have Pinterest!!

I hope to get home from the grocery store in time to bake our first batch of Christmas cookies to bring tonight.  We'll see if that happens!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 12

Reflection:

Bring a supply of food to the crib.  Deprive yourself of some food at meal time; or a dessert or candy, especially when you feel like eating!  Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

Bible Verse:

Contribute to the needs of the saints.

Thoughts from Mass:

Father focused on the last two lines of the Gospel today, "And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.  Whoever has ears out to hear."  He talked about how Jesus told His people back then just like He tells us now, "Listen to what I am telling you.  I am showing you the way to the Kingdom.  Why are you not listening?"  People didn't hear then and they still don't hear now.   Father said there would be more peace, happiness and love if we would hear what God is saying through His church.   Amen!

Advent Activities:

Today was another stay-at-home day.  We had a lot of soap packing to do, but it is all done now and it was great to see everyone work like a well-oiled machine!  

I must admit that we've never done anything for the feast of St. Lucy but after seeing everyone post about their wonderful hot chocolate and cinnamon buns and other baked goods, I had to do something.  Well, the best we could muster was some kombucha tea and a bagel!  Maybe next year!

God Bless!
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 11

Reflection:

Bring fresh, clean water to the crib.  Avoid every untruthful word and every deceitful act.  Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for my sins.

Bible Verse:

Be constant in prayer.

Thoughts from Mass:

Our Lady didn't create the Word but she bore Him in her womb and her heart magnified Him.  Does my heart magnify the Lord?

Advent Activities:

Today we celebrated the feast of the Patroness of our homeschool group by going to Mass.  After Mass the kids went downstairs to partake in some Mexican hot chocolate and breads while I ran Mr 12 yo over to our home parish to serve for a funeral Mass. 

Later in the afternoon Ms 16 yo and I went to get a few gifts at the mall and then meet some friends for a good cuppa joe and some long overdue conversation.

The rest of the day found us wrapping up 350+ bars of soap for a soap fundraising project the girls ran.  Lots of great smells going on in this house today!

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 10

Reflection:

Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus.  Give up your own will; obey your superiors cheerfully and promptly.  Jesus, let me do Your will in all things.

Bible Verse:

Be patient in tribulation.

Thoughts from Mass:

"In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."  Something to always remember!

Advent Activities:

Today we had the opportunity to do some volunteer work at Feed My Starving Children, which is a wonderful, Christian organization that packs nutrient dense food packets and sends them off to people in need around the world.  We got to spend about 1 1/2 hours scooping chicken-flavored powder, dried vegies, soy and rice into bags, weighing and sealing the bags and then packing the boxes.  There were about 65 of us working and we packed 62 boxes!  That's 2,232 bags of food - enough to feed 37 children one nutritious meal a day for 1 year.  

They have sites in Minnesota, Illinois and one in Arizona so if you ever get the chance to volunteer there I would highly recommend the experience.  Also, they get no government funding and rely totally on donations to buy their supplies and ship their boxes overseas.  Even if you can't donate time consider donating money to help them get the food to those who need it.

God Bless!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 9

Reflection:

Provide the manger of your heart with soft, warm blankets.  Avoid harsh and angry words, be kind and gentle to all.  Jesus, help me to be meek and humble like You.

Bible Verse:

Rejoice in your hope.

Thoughts from Mass:

First of all, some days I am just so thankful for noon Mass!  We just couldn't get it going this morning, which is what usually happens after a bunch of days of being gone.  To have a nice, slow morning and still have the option to make it to Mass is a blessing.  We don't go to this church too often because it is a bit farther than our other options, which is a shame because this priest is an excellent homilist!

Today Father drew the comparison between the first reading from Isaiah and the Gospel.  He pointed out that the prophesy from the Old Testament reading was not only fulfilled in the Gospel by Jesus, but was surpassed.  Not only did the lame man get up and glorify God, his sins were forgiven, which is the greatest gift that Jesus can give someone.  Jesus always goes above and beyond what was prophesied about Him.

Advent Activities:

Today was our quiet day.  Other than Mass this afternoon and Adoration this evening, we have been home.  These days, especially during Advent, are precious and give us the time we need to step away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world (notice I specified the "outside" world - in a house of nine, there is always hustle and bustle in our "inside" world :)

God Bless!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 8

Reflection:

Prepare the swaddling clothes for the Divine Infant by folding your hands when you pray, and by praying slowly and thoughtfully.  Jesus, let me love you more and more.

Bible Verse:

Serve the Lord



I guess my son took this to heart today :)  He had the privilege of serving Mass with the Bishop.  Just love to watch him serve!

As a bonus, we all got to take a picture with the Bishop, too! 



Thoughts from Mass:

"And this is my prayer: that your love may increase more and more..."

"Prepare the way of the Lord"  We must recognize the Lord coming to us in our lives.  Then we must bring Christ to others, but we must do it in such a way that they can recognize that Christ is coming to them.


Advent Activities:

Today after Mass we had our Knight's of Columbus Breakfast with Santa.  Everyone who attends brings a toy that the Knights then distribute to families in need.  It's always a nice breakfast and Santa is great, too!

After that we went to visit a wonderful man from our parish who is dying from cancer.  He sang in the choir with the girls and so they sang his favorite Christmas carol to him.  Needless to say I was bawling.

Later in the day we went to celebrate the feast of St. Juan Diego by attending the premier performance of Ballet Folklorico Tepeyac.  This is a group of our homeschooling friends who have been learning Mexican dancing and tonight they put on a wonderful display of their hard work.  


God Bless!
 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 7

Reflection:

Also provide your manger with soft straw by performing little acts of mortification; for instance, bear the cold without complaints, or sit and stand erect.  Dear Jesus, who suffered so much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

Bible Verse:

Be aglow with the spirit

Thoughts from Mass:

Hail, full of grace.  Father told us that the original Greek read more like "Hail, She who has been filled with grace", which leads us to believe that Mary being full of grace was something that occurred previously...perhaps at conception??  

The communion antiphon for today was moving:  Glorious things are spoken of you, O Mary, for from you arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.

Advent Activities:

The most glorious of our activities today centered around 8:00 am Mass at our parish.  Three of the girls sang in our parish's new Schola so they sang the Mass parts in Latin and it was wonderful.  Mr 12 yo served and it is always a joy to see him up there.  

After Mass we stopped for a few minutes to take our family Christmas picture.  I haven't even had a chance to look at them yet so I hope at least one of them turned out.  Boy was it cold out there.  All of our noses will probably be bright red!

God Bless!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 6

Reflection:

Supply the manger of your heart with hay by overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.  Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest sins.

To that end, our formation group is working on figuring out our own predominant fault.  This coming week's talk will be about how to get rid of it! Can't wait!!

Bible Verse:

Outdo one another in showing honor


Thoughts from Mass:

Faith is a gift from God.  Faith helps us to trust completely in Jesus.  Jesus is always there for us.  We need to trust in Him completely even if it doesn't seem like He answers our prayers.  

Boy is this something timely for me to meditate on!

Advent Activities:

Today we took a drive and went to do some Christmas shopping at a large shopping mall around where I grew up.  It was fun to go back and see how the old stomping ground has changed (read that as "become much more congested").  Not everyone loves to shop but we had a nice time and enjoyed the scenery and the company of each other for the day.  Our favorite stop:  The Lego Store, of course.

God Bless!
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 5

Reflection:

Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart for the manger of Jesus.  You will do so by abstaining from what you like most in the line of food, comfort and amusement.  Mary, use these sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion.

Okay, so I typed this up last because it was in another room and then I realized what the other part of this post was all about...good food today and fun times at the movies.  Oy vey!  I guess sacrifices on other days are in order!

Bible Verse:

Outdo one another in showing honor

Thoughts from Mass:

What is your spiritual house built on?  Is it Jesus Christ, the rock, or is it something feeble or worldly,  the sand?

Father said the fiscal cliff is looming close.  Why aren't people worried about the spiritual cliff they are about to fall off of?

Advent Activities:

Of course, as you all know, today is the feast of St. Nicholas.  Even the dolls got involved at our house.



It appears as if St. Nicholas is a Tolkien fan as he left us all tickets to see "The Hobbit" on the 15th! 



And there was much rejoicing :)

It is also Ms 14 yo's Baptismal feast day today so it is a double celebration for us.  We're having lasagna (made by Mr 12 yo!) and a wonderful lemon poppy seed bunt cake I found a recipe for.  Yum!

We also made a trip to the library today to renew our library cards and I happened upon a very pretty book called, "The Legend of St. Nicholas" by Demi.  It looks wonderful and I'm so pleased that I was led to it today.

God Bless!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 4

Reflection:

Build a fence about the crib of your heart by keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially at prayer.  Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

Bible Verse:

Love one another with brotherly affection.



Thoughts from Mass:

The Eucharist is the banquet of Heaven; the banquet of Love.

Jesus required our help to feed the crowds.  He could have done it on His own, but He chose to accept the offering from the people.

"The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all the faces."

Advent Activities:

Not really an Advent activity, but today was our day to spend an hour outside of Planned Parenthood.  So sad...but three people pulled over to talk to the sidewalk counselor so please pray for them as well as all of the people who went in and the lady who yelled at us.

Here's something Adventy to view :)


God Bless!

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 3

Reflection:

Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.  Diligently remove from your heart every inordinate desire of being praised.  Renew this intention at least three times today.  My Jesus, I want to please You in all I do today.

Bible Verse:

Hold fast to what is good

Thoughts from Mass:

Abandonment...I had to practice this this morning because just as we had all gotten into the van (and we were actually on time, too!), the repair man we have been waiting for since Friday pulled up.  I had to stay home so that he could fix our furnace!  Oh well.

Advent Activities:

Today is my annual trip to the shopping mall with my mom.  Neither her nor I are big shoppers, but once a year we get together and spend the afternoon and evening Christmas shopping together.  Of course, we also take a break for a delicious dinner and yes, dessert, too.  This is something I look forward to every year - the time with my mom, and the food, not the shopping :)

We also watched this today:


Wouldn't it be cool to be a part of something like this? 

God Bless!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 2

Reflection:

Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the stable so that the wind and cold may not enter there.  Guard your senses against temptations.  Guard especially your ears against sinful conversations.  Jesus, help me to keep temptations out of my heart.

Bible Verse:

Hate what is evil

Thoughts from Mass:

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News

St. Frances Xavier, intercede for us that we may be good missionaries in the places that God puts us.

What you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops

Advent Activities:

Today we took down the fall decorations from our family altar



 and made it look more Advent-like.


In the above photo you will see something that caused a bit of tension in our house this afternoon.  You see, we've never put the empty manger out this early before.  I thought it would be a nice touch...we could add a few animals at a time and then finish it off like we always do.  Some members of the family must just have a problem with change - especially when it has to do with "traditions".  Oh well, in this case it stays!  We also have Our Lady of Guadalupe out seeing as how her big feast day is still to come.

We also got the basics of our Advent calendar put together today.  Once we get caught up with some of the adornments to it I'll post a picture.  

God Bless!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent Daybook - Day 1

This is my Advent Daybook; something I will be doing all through Advent to have a memory of it for myself and anyone else who is still on the internet :)

Reflection:

(These will be taken from a magazine article that was forwarded to me.  Unfortunately it does not say what the magazine is called, it just says "Magazine for Homeschooling Families")

See that the roof of the stable is in good condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected from rain and snow.  This you will do by carefully avoiding every uncharitable remark.   Jesus, teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

Bible Verse:

(Our Advent calendar this year is going to be built around the verses from Romans 12:9-21)

Let love be genuine

Thoughts from Mass:

Will there be room for Jesus in my heart when St. Joseph comes knocking?

Do not become drowsy...from the anxieties of daily life

Be vigilant at all times

Pray you have the strength

Activities:

A wonderful sacred music/Christmas concert put on my a group that friends of ours are involved in.  Beautiful voices singing beautiful music.  They even looked beautiful :)


A Beautiful Advent Song:



We saw Tajci in concert on Friday and she is wonderful.  This is a beautifully meditative song to begin Advent with!  

 God Bless!

Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes November 30 2012


--- 1 ---

I ran a couple of posts this week about wonderful products you can buy and/or sell that will help women around the world.  I also received info on a few other groups that I would like to mention.  You can click on the links and check them out.  The first is Mercy Covers"Mercy Covers is an initiative of the St. Bryce Foundation with a two-fold purpose, providing meaningful work and discipleship for women in rural Costa Rica while gifting hand-made quilts to orphans and trafficking victims. "

--- 2 ---

The other one I was sent was for Made by Survivors, which is  "an international nonprofit organization which employs and educates survivors of slavery and other human rights abuses, including many women and children living in extreme poverty."  Lots of good stuff to check out. It is mind boggling to realize how many women and children are victims of trafficking and abuse.  We truly do lead a sheltered life in this country.


--- 3 ---

I mentioned this in my newsletter this week and I'll mention it here, too.  I am currently updating my Catholic Owned Companies page on my homeschooling website, so if you or anyone you know has a Catholic company or product and would like to advertise on my site, just contact me here.  It's only $10 per year and there are many perks!
--- 4 ---

Any woman who lives in the Chicagoland area and is interested in an Advent retreat, there is an opportunity coming up SOON, December 7-9th, at Marytown in Libertyville:  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius preached by the wonderful priests of Miles Christi.  You can go here for information and to register.

--- 5 ---
Here is a wonderful dress made by a friend of Ms 20 yo. 



The two of them are in business together and Ms 9 yo was the wonderful recipient of one of their first dresses.  It might be too late for Christmas, but never too late to get "Your Little Princess" a wonderful custome-made dress :)  You can check out their site here.


--- 6 ---

Since I'm on a huge roll here with Quick Takes that have links in them, why not continue...If you're counting down the minutes until Christmas break because your day just doesn't go as smoothly as you'd like it, why not consider checking out my book "A Plan for Joy in the Home"?  It is just what you need to get your second semester off to a great start.  Order it now through December 8th and receive FREE SHIPPING!!!  Can't beat that, can ya?  Consider getting one to give as a gift, too :)
--- 7 ---

So thats that.  No more links.  Just a few words to wish you a great weekend and a blessed First Sunday of Advent.  Get those wreaths out, pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena (ha, I lied, I just put another link in :) and make it a great liturgical time!

God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Wonderful Way to Really Learn the Rosary

I don't know about you, but no matter how hard I might try, I'm constantly having to reign in my wandering thoughts while praying the rosary.  My kids, especially the younger ones, have a difficult time, too. 

Over the years we've tried a variety of ways to stay focused:  rosary videos, a  rosary CD, rosary coloring pages, laminated pictures of the rosary (yeah, that worked great...the kids constantly fought over who would get to switch the picture!).  I figure it is our job as parents to just keep trying to reign everyone (even ourselves) back in every once in awhile so we can hope that we might get one truly good prayer with each rosary!  I know, lofty goals, aren't they??

A few months back, I received a copy of a wonderful rosary program aimed at helping children really learn about the rosary and learn how to focus their prayers.  Cassandra Poppe, the author, describes why she wrote this program:

  "I created the Rosary Quilt, Rosary Quilt Manual and Rosary Quilt Workbook to help teach the Rosary devotion to my children. My children already knew the prayers and had a basic idea of what the Mysteries were about, but they had too much energy in their little bodies and nothing to keep them focused. The Rosary Quilt served as a “practical aid”, which certainly increased their appreciation of the prayer! And the book served as a learning tool to deepen their understanding of the Mysteries as well."

The Rosary Quilt Curriculum is a very detailed and thorough program that will help you to teach your children the mysteries of the rosary using information from many sources, including St. Louis de Montfort's "The Secret of the Rosary", as well as information and many activities to teach them the virtue associated with each mystery.  For example, the Annunciation focuses on the virtue of humility, so there are five days of lessons and activities to help your children learn the mystery and the virtue of humility.  

There is also a workbook that contains a variety of pages for each mystery, including a coloring page and a page to record appropriate bible verses that have been memorized.

I think the thing that makes this program so unique is that it also has instructions on how to make a rosary quilt.  The pictures I saw of an already made rosary quilt were wonderful.  The quilt is meant to be made by the family and used during the praying of the rosary as an aid to staying focused.   If you are crafty, this quilt would be a wonderful project for your family to do and then to use whenever you prayed.  If you aren't crafty (ME!!) this rosary quilt is not an essential part of the program.  Cassandra gives you ample directions on how to work without it (although I do think it would make a wonderful addition to family prayer!).

If you are looking for a comprehensive, well layed-out program to teach your children this powerful prayer and its corresponding virtues, I would definitely encourage you to take a look at The Rosary Quilt Curriculum.  This would be great with an RE class or homeschool co-op, too!  Although it could be used and adapted to any age, it seems best suited for kids up through third grade.

You can purchase the Rosary Quilt Program through her etsy shop.  

I think that this would make a great gift for a young family, so if you don't have young children, consider giving it as a gift to someone who does!

BTW,  I did receive a copy of this program in order to do this review, but I'm being completely honest in saying that I would not recommend it if I didn't really think it was a good program!  

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baskets from Ghana


 

 Yesterday I mentioned the lovely jewelry from Haiti that we were next to at the craft fair.  Across the aisle from us was this vast display of baskets.  I LOVE baskets.  I can never think of anything to put in them, but I absolutely love them.  For an entire day I sat looking at all these baskets trying to envision them in my home.  



The two women who were selling them were very outgoing and funny.  We had a lot of fun during all that time we had to kill.  I got to talking to them about what they were all about.  They told me that they import these fair trade baskets and sell them at craft fairs and farmers' markets and then use the money to support not only the women who make them but other young girls who live in Ghana and want to go to school. 


The name of the organization they work with is called BaBa Blankets and its corresponding group SISTAworks.  SISATworks is the part of the organization that helps put young, ambitious girls through high school.  You can check out their page to find out which girls are currently in need of sponsoring.

Other than finding the baskets at a farmers' market or craft fair, I don't think there is a way to get a hold of them.  I asked about this and she said they are a bear to ship and they are always different so it is really hard to keep a website going.  

 

You can, however, check out the girls from Ghana and see if there are any of them that you would like to sponsor.  Again, there are so many pleas for assistance all over the world, but you never know which one is going to strike your fancy...especially if you never hear about them.


I finally did buy a basket and it is sitting in my mud room just waiting to collect all of those hats and gloves that seem to never have a home during these long winter months.  It's great to have a beautiful,  well-made basket in my home.  It is even better knowing it is helping rural women in Ghana.

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jewelry from Haiti


While at our last craft fair, we had the wonderful fortune to meet some great women.  The first lady I am going to tell you about was at the table next to us.  She was selling bracelets, necklaces and rosaries made from women in Haiti.  These women have been trained to make the bracelets out of empty cereal boxes and newspaper.


 Each bracelet comes with a story about the person (usually a woman) who made it.  

 

The bracelet I bought, however, was made be Francisco.  He is a 19 year old boy who is making jewelry to support his mom, brother and sister.  His dad died and his mom can't work, so Francisco learned how to make this jewelry so that they can live.  He is also working to help pay for his own schooling.

The organization that makes these bracelets available to the US is called Three Angels Children's Relief.  They have an orphanage, a school and a medical clinic that they support in Haiti to help the poor.  Through this group you can sponsor children, give donations or take a less standard route and sell jewelry, just like the wonderful woman who was sitting next to us.  She even went farther and adopted her son from Haiti!  While that is out of the realm of possibilities for most people, providing some assistance probably is not.

I'm putting this post out there in case you are looking for an organization to support this Advent, or even all year round.  If you have someone on your Christmas list who might like a bracelet or a necklace that will help support the poor in Haiti, you can go to their website and find out how to have a jewelry party.


I hope you get a chance to check out this wonderful organization and help support it either through your prayers, spreading the word, or through a donation of some kind. 

 

 God Bless!