Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?
The Anima Christi and Divine Mercy Chaplet
2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?
The Rosary, Angelus, Memorare, and Litany of the Seven Sorrows of Mary
3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
Sadly, No. I did wear the scapular, but after having lost it I never bought a new one. This is a resolution of mine for the New Year.
4. Do you have holy water in your home?
We have a holy water font, but no holy water in it presently.
5. Do you ‘offer up’ your sufferings?
6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?
7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?
Sporadically, but I've been aching to make it more a regular part of my week.
8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?
9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
Yes. Grace, a prayer for the departed souls, and an invocation to St. Joseph.
10. Favorite Saint(s)?
Saint Joseph and Saint Gianna
11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?
12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
13. Where is your favorite place to pray?
In my home with my girls, and in a darkly lit church.
14. Bonus Question: When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?
Helen’s bonus question: If you could visit any of Our Lady’s apparition sites, which one would you choose?
I tag Cheryl, Melissa and Michelle for this meme!
Friday, December 29, 2006
"Uuhuuh.....thanks. Good job, sweetheart."
Lesson of the day: When teaching your child to perform tasks properly, keep in mind you may be setting yourself up for reverse-correction later.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I have known Suzanne for fourteen years now. She and I were college roomates. We were involved in a life and death experience together. We dated our (now) husbands at the same time, got engaged the same year, and were each others' maid of honor on opposite sides of the country within the same year. We were separated for a short while, and then reunited while our husbands pursued their advanced degrees at the same school. There we became godparents to each others' children, and I watched Suzanne's family grow and witnessed as she blossomed into a devoted, attentive, wonderful mother. She encouraged me in my pursuit of adoption and rejoiced with me the day I brought my first baby home. We are separated again now, and though we talk often on the phone, I miss her company and long to meet her last two boys, who were both born since we've parted.
Suzanne is the best friend a person can have in this life. She gives her friendship to others in the highest form, based on charity and the love of God. She exemplifies all the other virtues as well, and inspires her friends to strive for them with her. She is kind, loving and generous to all who know her. She considers her vocation to marriage and motherhood very seriously, and the result is a beautiful example for wives and mothers to behold. On top of her great spiritual gifts, she is also great at everything she does--she's a specatacular cook, an excellent seamstress and quilter, a talented artist and, as you well know, a tremendous writer. And no, I'm not finished yet. She also happens to be blessed with great wit and a fantastic sense of humor, and she is SUPER fun to be around.
I love St. Francis de Sales' description of true friendship, found in one of my favorite spiritual guides, Introduction to the Devout Life. In fact, I think I wrote it out and mailed it to Suzanne a few years back, because I thought it a beautiful characterization of the companionship I am so blessed to have with her:
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
This week the girls and I will make a series of short pilgrimages, visiting the nativity of a church or mission each day and presenting special gifts for baby Jesus. Oh, how I am looking forward to this! Don't children make life so much sweeter?
We hope you have a glorious twelve days of Christmas, and may your Christmas Novena petitions be granted!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
If this is not miracle medicine, then I don't know what is! The label reads, "Get over your cold faster with Zicam cold remedy!" Perhaps it is true that one can shorten the duration of their cold with this stuff, but in my experience this medicine aborts the cold at the very first sign of illness. That's right, folks, there IS NO COLD! Unbelievable.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Here is little Gianna at her Christmas performance. (This is mostly for the grandparents/friends who know her, so don't feel you have to play it). The show was very sweet.
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Sunday, December 17, 2006
As I sat gazing at my sleeping baby, I soaked in the great joy of mothering her and her older sister. I remembered the first day I became a mother, to Gianna in 2003, and the day I became Madeleine's mother in 2005. For the six years of marriage previous to Gianna's birth, not having been able to conceive was probably the greatest suffering I have endured in my life. And I still have not been able to conceive. But today I rejoice for that very thing which was once a great hardship, yet has become the cause of my greatest joys, my daughters. (Notice, that a "greatest suffering" becomes the cause of a "greatest joy". Sound familiar?) Had I been as fertile as I once desired, had I given birth to as many children as all my dear Catholic friends who had three and four children by the time I had one, I would never have met my own two girls. The mere thought of it brings on the tears. My daughters were both infants when we adopted them. We have known and loved them their whole lives. To think it is possible that we could have bore children "naturally" and not known these two miracles makes me shudder. And it reminds me that God always has a better plan for us than what we think we may desire for ourselves.
Awakening from her sweet slumber, Madeleine opened her eyes, and having found her mama staring at her in awe, smiled with that boundless love and admiration only a baby can give. I quickly removed her from her carseat and held her tight, kissed her sweet baby head, and looked to heaven with joy and gladness!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"Mary Did You Know", sung by Clay Aiken
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kissed your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
Mary did you know....
The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.
Friday, December 15, 2006
~My sweet girls in their winter jammies.
~A generous husband, who makes delicious coffee in the morning and reads to the girls while I get ready for the day, then still tends to them while I do my morning spiritual reading.
~Paper snowflakes (and real ones too, but we don't get that variety in our neck of the woods) and Christmas lights.
~Singing Christmas carols.
~Fussy babies, who remind me to appreciate that I am not childless.
~Holiday parties, good food, and true friends.
And so much more....
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I forgot to say that you can find a great variety of presses online, not just Christmas molds. There are beautiful Easter molds with heavily detailed images of the Resurrection, Crucifixion (though I'm not sure I could eat a cookie imprinted with an image of Jesus dying on the cross), and paschal lambs. There are seasonal molds and Valentine molds and floral molds. At House on the Hill you can find more than 500 different presses to choose from, as well as a no-fail recipe. Please check out their beautiful picture gallery while you're there!
Finally, the presses can be used for all sorts of crafts, not just cookies. Use your imagination and have fun!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Springerle cookies are traditionally anise-flavored, but lemon, orange or even chocolate can be substituted. They are similar to a roll out cookie, but are imprinted with beautiful, intricate designs by means of special presses or molds made of wood. Some of the original cookie molds are as old as 500 years and are now housed in museums or personal collections, but replicas of the original designs are made in Switzerland, Germany and the U.S. and can be purchased online or at specialty cookware shops.
Springerle cookies are delicious, but I didn't like them the first time I tried them. I remember thinking they were dry and stiff and I wasn't fond of the strong anise flavor. But if you are a tea lover, or enjoy a hot cup of flavored coffee (I'm a vanilla fan myself), these cookies are delightful.
(Pic 1) The molds
(Pic 2) Before each cookie is pressed, the images are to be dusted with flour.
(Pic 5) Madeleine wakes up from her nap and "helps" us.
(Pic 6) First batch completed. Now the unbaked cookies are to rest on a dish towel for up to 24 hours before baking.
Voila! These cookies turn out beautifully (you can even buy edible paint to christen them with your own artistry), they are easy to make and kids love pressing the designs. Interestingly, springerle improve with age and it is recommended that they be made in October or November, making Christmas preparation even simpler!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
We had a wonderful weekend! Between our local Christmas parade, buying and putting up the Christmas tree, attending the Nutcracker with Gianna and enjoying a memorable holiday dinner put on by a lovely friend of the family, we truly "filled our hearts with Christmas cheer".
Friday, December 8, 2006
"At Mary's conception, a new way of being human happens, and we are "chosen, destined" to share it. Adam and Eve were tricked by the serpent's "conception". The yes of Mary at the Annunciation, the culmination of the Immaculate Conception, undoes the disobedience of Eden and makes paradise a possibility once again for us."
This great feast has become my favorite of all solemnities since I became a mother. I start looking forward to it in November. I have two girls. Every year when this feast approaches I am reminded of how essential it is that Mary was immaculately conceived. For the sake of my girls. How sublime it is that they have a woman to look to, a spotless handmaid who radiates of purity, obedience and beauty. Every virtue I desire for my daughters is in her, and perfectly. Thank you, Lord, for our Mother!
Have a wonderful feast day today!!
Thursday, December 7, 2006
I am so grateful for these women. I love how beautiful it is that God allows us to follow Him in such different ways. I appreciate the many things I learn from these lovely families--the diverse methods we use to educate our children; the distinctive marriages, unlike my own, but equally as beautiful; the different temperaments, struggles, joys and ideas of women all striving for the same eternal goal. I love how every time I depart their company I leave having gained something new, something wonderful, to enrich my daily life just a little bit more.
Thank you, dear friends!
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Gianna: We have Christmas music at our house.
Lady: Wow! Is Santa coming to your house this year?
Gianna: That's not important. Baby Jesus is coming!
What more can a mother ask for??
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
In Southern California we can't seem to decide on a season, so we'll just take all of them! These photographs were taken on our short drive to the park today. It was a beautiful afternoon.
Monday, December 4, 2006
On some levels being a minimalist is very liberating, not having to care for too much, living in a clutter-free environment, and living a happy but simple life. But I do miss out on some wonderful aspects of life that go hand in hand with having extra things lying around, such as the amazing crafts and projects I've seen on many other Catholic, homeschooling-type blogs out there. I have been inspired by the beautiful Jesse Trees, the creative Advent Cubes, the clever O Antiphon Houses, and so much more. Perhaps one day I will venture into a craft store and "go to town", but for this season of Advent our home reflects our tendency toward the few and simple.
Every year we buy a fresh wreath for Advent. I just love how the evergreen perfumes the house before the Christmas tree makes it's way into the living room. Some years it is decorated with sprigs of purple lavender or pink pepperberries, but this year we didn't add anything to it's simple beauty.
This is the first year we have implemented the "Preparation of the Manger" idea with our daughters. Gianna is just old enough now to understand her role in this, and she is loving it! I'm seeing acts of sacrifice and love from her FOR THE SAKE of making a soft bed for the Infant. She is eager to add more warmth and comfort to the manger for baby Jesus. "What can I do for you, Mama?" "Here, Madeleine. You can have the rest of my cookie!" It is so sweet.
Finally, we have the traditional Advent calendar found in most Christian homes at this time of year. But this year, my dear mother sent an adorable Advent calendar box for the girls. They LOVE it! It is shaped like a Christmas tree and adorned with snow and winter critters. I placed small notes in the boxes with colored pencil-drawn pictures of something special we would do for each day. For example, I drew an angel with the inscription "Snow Angel" underneath to indicate that we would make paper snow angels that day. One day will be making cookies, or driving around town to see the Christmas lights, and so on. Nothing fancy, just things we would normally do at this time of year. But Gianna is so excited every morning to open the next door to discover what is planned for that day. Thank you, Mom!!
Sunday, December 3, 2006
This morning's mass, devoted to the beginning of Advent, the liturgical season in which man prepares himself for the sacred birth of our Lord, provided a necessary reminder to me of the need for simplicity and silence during the next four weeks. When you have little ones in the home, sometimes silence does not seem possible! My girls, for example, are not your typical calm, gentle, reserved members of their gender, though they can be at times. No, they are active, loud, excited toddlers full of great wonder and love for life, with Irish tempers that occasionally come to the surface. OK, maybe every day! So as I listened to the homily today about peace and silence and watchfulness, I first thought to myself, "He's a priest. He doesn't know about the busy life of a mother!" But after some true reflection, which one is often able to accomplish there at the abbey, I realized that silence and quiet and a prayerful atmosphere ARE possible in a home with children, no matter how many little ones you are blessed with. God doesn't ask of us mothers that we demand our children to remain immobile, whisper all their expressions, and meditate around our Jesse Trees all day long during this season. Silence and expectation can be exemplified by a simple act of charity for a neighbor, a stop to say the Angelus at noon, a conversation with your children in the car instead of turning on Catholic radio, and in so many other ways. While we wait for Jesus to be born, we can give birth to Him every day, through our love.
Fortunately I managed most of my Christmas shopping before advent this year, which is a rarity around here. After having been at the post office it seemed almost every other day last December mailing gifts, cards, cookies and whatever else, I resolved to not make the same mistake this year. Who knows whether next Christmas will be as prepared, but for now, I'm enjoying not having any shopping to do. I am enjoying the silent and watchful spirit of Advent. For now.
Saturday, December 2, 2006
I'm new to this wide weblog world, and at this point I'm not even certain whether I will post every day, a few times a week or even less. One day at a time, I suppose. I have been inspired by many wonderful bloggers out there, who share the events of their lives, their ideas, their crafts and their love with so many of us. They seem to open their homes and their hearts in a way that is very Christ-like, desiring to share the good with others, even strangers, and it is only natural to want to be a part of it.
And so it seems fitting to begin this adventure by sharing a glimpse of the greatest treasures God has given me, my daughters. This picture was taken a few months ago. It's a bit formal and the girls have changed quite a bit since then, but soon I'll post a newer photograph.