Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!!

God Bless!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday

God Bless!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

God Bless!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some Thoughts to Chew On

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to an Evening of Recollection on Friday and a women's retreat on Saturday.  Both were full of good things to chew on so I thought I'd share some notes I took in the hopes that one, or more, of them will resonate with you.  

*  Suffering is good because it makes amends for our past sins and helps keep us from future sins.
* Pain is the path of sanctification.  Pain purifies.  We cannot make progress in our spiritual life without pain.
* We must accept our crosses joyfully.
* Suffering is an act of obedience and love to the Father.
* We either accept our sufferings or we reject them; there is no other choice.
* We must overcome our disappointments and see that this is our path to Heaven.
* We should never compare our crosses to someone else's cross.  Our cross has our name on it and we must embrace it.
* Remember that Christ suffered before us.  He chose suffering.  He chose it because He loves us.
* Jesus' flesh and blood came from Mary, but it was nourished through the work of St. Joseph.
* We need to create silence within ourselves in order to find Jesus Christ.
* Jesus shows us that it is possible to say no to sin and to the devil.
* The Holy Spirit is our spiritual GPS.  If we head off in the wrong direction, He will keep saying "redirecting, redirecting" until we finally listen and get back on the right path.

Well, I think that's enough to chew on and digest for now.  Happy meditating!

God Bless!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Catholic Woman's Almanac

Moments of Gratitude:

* A wonderful 1 1/2 days of reflections and retreats.  We heard some wonderful talks, had confession, benediction, time to dig deep and repent.
* A fun day of visiting with friends and family.
* Kids having a great time auditioning for a new performing arts center.
* Everything getting done even though it looked like that wasn't going to happen.
*  Seeing my name in print :)

In the Kitchen:

Very much a simplified kitchen this week.  We try to do meatless for the Triduum so we're serving up some easy meals, but we're very much looking forward to my mil's hot cross buns on Good Friday.

Listening to:

Kids trying to figure out their math problems and asking questions about spelling and grammar.  We are so looking forward to our Spring break next week!!

The Week Ahead:

Definitely taking a lot of quiet time this week to enter into Holy Week more fully.  The girls will be singing and Mr 12 yo will be serving at all of the Masses/services this week.  We are, however, going to go to the local Byzantine church for their Holy Saturday liturgy because friends of ours are having their newborn son receive the sacraments then.  We've been to their liturgy one other time and really liked it so we're looking forward to it again.


For a blessed Holy Week for all of us and all of you.


How fast Lent went by and whether or not it was very fruitful.


This week I will be reading my usual book for Holy Week "The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God" by Gerald Vann.


Mr 12 yo before his haircut:

Mr 12 yo after his haircut (I'd say the "A" word, but it's still Lent :)

 God Bless!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Setting a Time for Prayer

It seems like forever, but a few weeks ago I wrote about finding yourself a nice, quiet, comfortable place to pray.  Having that place where you can keep your prayer books, journal, rosary, bible and whatever else you need, will make getting to that prayer time so much easier.

But wait.  When IS that prayer time?  You have your place, you have all of your "stuff", now you need to decide when you are going to go there and actually do that prayin' we're talking about.

I really do think that the best time to pray is first thing in the morning.  Maybe you won't even get out of bed before you begin, although I can't do it that way because I fall back to sleep.  You might even have your breakfast and then hit your prayer spot.  There's something, however, about that somewhat quiet time in the morning, when your brain isn't too overwhelmed with other thoughts, that allows you to converse with God and get your day off on the right foot.

There might be days, or even seasons, when all you can manage for morning prayer is the Morning Offering.  Doesn't matter, do it anyway and set a good tone for the day.

If you're a mom with a nursing baby, maybe you find that you can get in some good prayer time during those middle of the night feedings and/or changes.  Having a nursing baby who wakes up at night reeks havoc on your sleep, so having some quiet time in the morning might not be possible right now.  If it isn't, then carve out a few minutes during your day when it IS quiet and stick with that as your daily prayer time.

If you can't find any other time during the day, try to at least do a few minutes before you go to bed.  I find that this can be risky because if you stay up too late and get too tired, you're more likely to vote for sleep over prayers.  I have my nightly prayer routine that I stick to religiously, but sometimes I'm just too tired!

This brings up another good point.  In order for you to stick with your prayer times, it really is important to decide what time you need to get up and then do  it.  It really doesn't matter if that time is 5:00 am or 9:00 am, just make sure you get up on time!!  There's nothing that will kill your morning prayer faster than oversleeping.

Of course, in order to get up on time, one must make sure that they get to bed at a reasonable hour, too.  If you are consistently NOT getting enough sleep because you stay up too late on your computer, then you will have a hard time getting up on time.

If you need more help with finding time in your day to pray, I have a whole section with worksheets and suggestions in my book "A Plan for Joy in the Home" that can help you to plan out an effective prayer schedule that will work for you.  

It is Wednesday night when I am typing this and my time is up...must go get started on my night time prayers so I don't fall asleep in the middle of them (again)!

God Bless!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Rapunzel Let Down"

I had the most awesome opportunity a few months ago to work with Regina Doman on her newest Fairy Tale Novel "Rapunzel Let Down".  Well, let me clarify that.  I got to read an advanced copy of the book and then I got to take pictures of the cover model they used.  Being "in print" is a photographer's dream!!  I know, it is a small part of the whole project, but still...

 So now what you have to do is go and pre-order a copy and read it!  The story is different than the past Fairy Tale Novels in that it is meant for an older audience - probably 18 and older is best.  The story definitely deals with much more mature themes than the other books, but it is true to form in that it is very much a page-turner!!  I read the entire book in 24 hours!  I'll have to go back and read it again at a slower pace this time.

If you've never read one of Regina's books, I'd highly recommend them!  If you have teenagers and are looking for good books with a Catholic flavor to them, check out the rest of the Fairy Tale Novels, and then order this one for yourself :)

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Feast of St. Joseph

One of our favorite saints!  St. Joseph has helped us in soooo many ways over the years and we are truly grateful and so happy to celebrate his feast day.

Life has been crazy this past week...We had a bunch of field trips and a bunch of chaotic episodes involving cars and such so just now I'm getting back to the calm of my routine.  It was looking like we weren't going to make it to Mass on this great day because of our car issues, but our parish is having a Mass this evening in celebration of the Pope's inauguration.  Works for me!  Thank you, St. Joseph, for pulling that off for us :)

Have a blessed day and make sure to celebrate!

God Bless!

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes March 15 2013

--- 1 ---

Prayers of thanksgiving for our new Holy Father.  Let us be a people of faith, hope and love.  Let us rejoice in this gift to our church and pray that he will lead us through these trying times.  Viva il Papa!  We're so excited that he has an Ignatian background!  St. Ignatius was a powerhouse of spirituality.

--- 2 ---

Now back to our regularly scheduled Lent.  How is yours going?  I have to admit that the hardest part for me this Lent is not having my 4:00 pm cup of coffee.  It's been so chilly and dreary around here lately that that warm cuppa joe about that time really hits the spot.  Can't believe how much I miss it some days!
--- 3 ---

We were given another Lenten sacrifice the other day...our van broke down.  Seems like it is something with the transmission.  We hope it is only a hose or something like that, but irregardless of what it is, right now we are without the vehicle which can transport us all.  This means a lot more strategic maneuvering as well as splitting up for things like Mass and activities.  Yay!
--- 4 ---

Are y'all excited for St. Patrick's feast day? Our parish is a St. Patrick church and since we can't celebrate it on Sunday, we are having a special Mass on Saturday morning.  We will be bringing Mr 7 yo there and then he will celebrate his first Reconciliation.  Please say a prayer for him :)  On Sunday we get to eat our annual St. Patrick's day dinner at my in-laws...corned beef and cabbage with carrots and red potatoes and her wonderful soda bread.  I'm not Irish, but I sure do look forward to this feast!

--- 5 ---

 Don't you just love this face?  We went to the zoo this week and were lucky to find the giraffes indoors which meant that we were able to get a really good look at them.  This is the face of a mama giraffe that is due anytime now.  Giraffes are pregnant for 14 months and deliver babies that are about 6 ft tall.  I have to say that she looked pretty good given the circumstances.

--- 6 ---

Have I mentioned here yet that I've been reading Matthew Kelly's book "The 
Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic"?  I haven't?  Well, let me tell you that I am finding it a very good read and I would highly recommend it to everyone.  It is an easy, quick and very engaging and informative read.  I believe there's something in it for every Catholic.

--- 7 ---

Car issues and eating.  That's all we have planned for the weekend!  Hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend yourselves.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

God Bless Pope Francis!

I have to say that in our household we were quite excited to see that our new pope has an Ignatian background!  Okay, so Jesuits may have a bad name in general, but from what I understand, he's not been a part of that! 

I also learned that our new pope has only one lung!  An interesting fact, is it not?  

Here's a link to a very good article that gives some basic information about our newest Holy Father.  I so enjoyed the ending of the article when the author said:

Well, look at it this way: the Almighty managed to guide the conclave to elect a South American bishop who’s not into liberation theology, a Jesuit who’s orthodox, and an Italian (on his father’s side) who speaks Spanish, all in the same man.  If that’s not a big papal gift from God, I’m not sure what is.
I find it so discouraging that some people were immediately trashing the new Pope only minutes after his election.  Let us remember that the Holy Spirit DID guide the cardinals in this decision and we must trust in the Lord in all things. How wonderful that we have been blessed with a holy and humble man who was heading off the balcony to go pray to the Blessed Mother.  What a happy day!

God Bless!

Wordless Wednesday - Zoo Edition


God Bless!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

St. Mary Magdalene

As I've mentioned a few times last week, we had the opportunity twice to venerate the first class relic of St. Mary Magdalene.  This is her tibia, in case you were wondering.

This relic is traveling through Illinois this month and happened to be close to us so we went to the talk they were giving for homeschool students.  Deacon James Divine (he is to be ordained a priest on June 30th.  Isn't that a cool last name for a priest!!  Think about it...Father Divine :) is an Irish priest living in the south of France with his order The Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist.

He has been traveling with the relic in the US and he gives a wonderful talk about St. Mary Magdalene and about the Eucharist.  Their order's mission is to establish Eucharistic chapels throughout the world. He lives at the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene in France.

You might be wondering, why France?  Well, unbeknownst to me and most of my family (somehow Mr 12 yo knew this), after the Resurrection the Jews didn't like the fact that Jesus' disciples were preaching but they were afraid to kill them, so the put Mary along with her sister Martha, her brother Lazarus, and five others on a boat and towed them out to the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, took the sail and oars away and hoped their ship would get wrecked in a storm.  Through the hand of God they ended up near what is now Marseilles, France.  From there, St. Mary went and found a cave that she lived in for the next 30 years.  She would go into her cave for most of the day and night to do penance and to ponder the mysteries she lived through, but during the afternoon she would come down to the town and preach to the people.  Right before she died, she traveled 20 miles to receive the Eucharist for the last time and then died in the town of St. Maximin, which is where the Basilica is located.

This was truly a great grace, during this year of faith, to have this relic come to our parish.  St. Mary Magdalene is known for many spiritual healings, so the Deacon encouraged us to pray for our friends and family that have strayed from the faith.

As a side note, Deacon James told us that the Church does in fact teach that St. Mary Magdalene was the sister of Mary and Lazarus, was a woman with a public sin, was cured of seven demons by Jesus, anointed the Lord twice but was NOT the woman who was condemned by the Jews and was about to be stoned.  He said there is much confusion over that point, but that Tradition and scripture do not support that the woman about to be stoned was St. Mary.  Just thought I'd mention that since it got brought up at both talks we went to!

To end with, here are a few other pictures I took today.  

God Bless!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Catholic Woman's Almanac

Linking up with the lovely ladies at Sucipio!

Moments of Gratitude:

* The incredible morning we spent with the first class relic of St. Mary Magdalene
* Ms 20 yo's boyfriend arriving safely and the fact that he is so good with all of the younger kids who love to hang on him.
* The incredibly beautiful St. John Cantius church in Chicago and the beautiful and reverent Mass they say.
* TWO cups of coffee because it is Sunday.
* Brothers who will play Axis and Allies together and not fight.
* Playing in the snow for a couple of days.
* The beautiful scenery we had this week.
* A good morning of job searching with the girls.

In the Kitchen:

We had some awesome Minestrone soup and another Olive Garden knock off salad for dinner on Sunday; comfort food for a rainy day.  We're diverting from our Lenten meal schedule a tad this week and having Shepherd's pie for dinner instead of Chili Mac and then going out one night - which is an incredibly rare event around here.  I'm looking forward to my MIL's kitchen on Sunday as we all descend on it to devour our annual corned beef, cabbage and her yummy soda bread.

Listening To:

Our heat pump run 24/7.  Our climate is not meant for a heat pump and when it gets to be around this 40 degree range it doesn't quite know how to handle it so it runs CONSTANTLY.  All I hear is ka-ching, ka-ching as the meter spins away.  Other than that, I hear the noise of things being blown up in the Lego realm, my husband talking to me about muscles and capillaries, and the timer beeping on the oven telling me my cranberry bread is right back.

The Week Ahead:

Okay, I'm back, and boy does that bread smell good :)  We get to spend one more morning with the relic of St. Mary Magdalene and this time I will bring my camera!  With Ms 20 yo's boyfriend here (okay, so I really need to give him his own blog name because Ms 20 yo's boyfriend is just too much to type all the time, so I guess I'll stick with the same format and call him Mr 21 yo, okay?) we usually like to do something all together one day, so while we wanted to go to the zoo, the weather just isn't going to cooperate.  Instead, I understand the Shedd Aquarium has a free day so I think we might just hit that.


Of course we're all praying for the conclave which starts on Tuesday. I'm also praying like this since I read this over the weekend:  
"Every person must embrace the state for which God intends him. And parents should
therefore not be so anxious and exercised over it but should rather pray to God
to grant the state of grace to each of their sons and daughters." St. John of God
I received a free copy of "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic" by Matthew Kelly this week in the mail and I am absolutely loving it!  It wasn't next on my list, but it arrived and I was drawn to it.  I would recommend this to everyone! 
From the book I was just telling you about:  "Every day many prayers go unanswered, and it seems to me that this is not because God did not want those prayers answered, but because He sent us to answer those prayers and we didn't heed the call".  Wow! 
Here's what's been happening this past weekend; the temps went up, the rain came down and all that snow began to melt.  We haven't seen this much water around here in almost two years.  After the drought conditions last summer, this is a welcome site (as long as it stays outside and doesn't decide to visit us downstairs!!)

Here's what is left of our snowman from Tuesday (as of Sunday afternoon).  Oh what a difference a few days can make around here!

God Bless!

Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes March 8 2013

--- 1 ---

We all thoroughly enjoyed the snowstorm that actually occurred here this past week.  I think we ended up with about 8 inches or so; the most we've had this year for sure, and maybe even last year, in one snowfall.  It would have been a beautiful site around Christmas time, but hey, we'll take some winter beauty even if it is the first week in March.  In reality, it will all be gone by the end of the weekend anyway, so we enjoyed it while it was here.
--- 2 ---

 Here's the first snow person some of my kids have ever made because, you know, the snow just ain't what it used to be when we were little.  I'm calling it a snow "person" because there was some debate about whether it was a boy or girl.  Mr 12 yo said it was a boy because every thing else the girls do is a girl.  The girls said it was a girl because it had a pink Barbie hat on.  We decided on "gender neutral" to be politically correct.  (Who am I kidding, we're never pc.  I just wanted to avoid WWIII from breaking out in my backyard!)

--- 3 ---

Ah, the joys of sledding, even if it is only down the berm in your front yard on sleds that have lost their "slide".  
-- 4 --

One last snow picture just because I thought this scene was so peaceful looking.  You know, this house might not be perfect, but it sure has some beautiful scenery. 

--- 5 ---

We had the incredible opportunity to venerate a first class relic of St. Mary Magdalene this week.  The Deacon (soon to be a priest) that traveled with the relic from France is from Ireland and it was a joy to listen to him talk (of course, I will admit to having flashbacks to Downton Abbey at times :). I forgot my camera but we'll have a second chance to venerate this relic next week and I fully intend on remembering it then.  What we learned about St. Mary M. was fascinating so check back next week and I'll share some of it with you.
--- 6 ---

Well we finally got some important dates nailed down for our upcoming festivities and I feel so much better now.  In May we'll be celebrating our last First Holy Communion and mine and dh's 25th Wedding Anniversary.  In June we'll be celebrating two graduations and a Confirmation.  It's Mr 12 yo's Confirmation and rumor has it that he is still leaning toward St. Roch for his name.  
--- 7 ---

Kind of a quiet weekend least as far as activities go.  It will be far from quiet as far as volume goes when Mr 7 yo wakes up on Saturday and realizes that his good buddy (in the form of Ms 20 yo's boyfriend) has arrived for the week!  Hope your weekend is safe and peaceful!  

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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Foray into the World of Homemade Laundry Soap

I finally took the plunge and tried making my own laundry soap.  I'd been hearing for years how incredibly easy it was to do but the one time I tried making all-natural soap it was a huge flop.  All I had to do was add water to a pre-made mix, heat it and stir it and I just couldn't get it to work.  Since then I've been convinced it was an impossible task.

Recently, however, I'd run across a blog friend who wrote a post about all of the natural cleaners she used in her home and I was intrigued enough to try again since she made it sound so easy.

I gathered my necessary ingredients:

A box of Borax
A box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
And a bar of Tea Tree soap from The Goat Milk Soap Shop :)

I found my plastic container and added my 2 parts of Borax and 2 parts of Washing Soda.  

Next I had to figure out what to do with that bar of soap since it was supposed to be grated.  I had two options that I thought of right off the bat:


my hand grater and my mini food processor.

I opted for the food processor first and all that happened was that the soap pieces got jammed on the blade and it started to smell like an overheating appliance.

Next I turned to the hand grater.  After this amount


I decided it was for the birds.  That's when I thought of my other grater and got out the big guns.  It worked like a charm.


Unfortunately, the recipe said the bar of soap should be finely ground, which this is obviously not.  I really hope that there are no ramifications for not having it finely ground!

 I added my 1 part of bar soap to the container and then decided it wasn't enough so I went another round of 2 parts Borax, 2 parts Washing soda and 1 part bar soap until it looked like this:

All I had to do then was to put the lid on and shake it up until I got it to look like this.  I'm still wondering about the large pieces of soap in there.

 We've done almost a week's worth of laundry so far and it seems to be working great.  The clothes appear to be clean (or at least no worse for the wear), they smell clean (there's even still a hint of the tea tree smell to the clothing!), my he washing machine hasn't clogged or oversudsed yet, and the clothes don't feel like there is any soap left behind.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and call this a success.  If there is any problem with the soap being this big that anyone knows about, please let me know, otherwise I will stay my new course.  

Next round, I'd love to try a different fragrance of soap, like lavender oatmeal or honeysuckle or Fresh Brewed Coffee!!  Just think of all the fun you could have with this.  If you've always wanted to try this but haven't, I'd say give it a go.  It really was easy.

God Bless!