Friday, March 25, 2016

Monthly Recap vol 31 ~ March 2016



March was a great month. I turned 33, and it was quite the liturgical fanfare over here! With St. Patrick's, the end of Lent and the Triduum and Easter coming up right around the corner, we've certainly stayed busy! I'm thankful for all of it.
English Rose tearoom, with a truly clever gent, for my birthday ;) He spoiled me rotten! How I love that guy.


We're going out of town (Spring Break FTW), so Imma just leave this little thing riiiiight here, even though sadly, the party at the Lyceum isn't happening today. Will link up there next week when Kelly is back from her break! ;)


Reading:

I love reading and I actually read seven and a half books this month! That is more than usual for me, so I am quite proud and I expect a pat on the back! ;)

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

This was a good pick. It was a kick in the pants and a reminder to focus on what matters in work and life. I became much more self-aware about the lack of organization in my blog, and I want you to know, dear reader, that I am working on it. I appreciated his take on work-ethic. ;)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

After seeing the movie with my older sister Kira a few years ago (when it came out on video), I was eager to read this book by Gaiman. Short, satisfying, and really well-written, the creepiness is tame but the takeaway is decent.  This would be a good place to start with Gaiman. (I've also read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, also fantastic.)
Let me sew on your buttons eyes, said her Other Mother.



Until Lily by Sherry Boas

I love it when a book lives up to your high expectations. I was so curious to learn how a child with Down Syndrome can transform a person's heart in specific, practical ways. This book  lived up to that fascination! If you're interested, remember it is the first in a series of four, I believe.;)

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

This absorbing novel, set in the Pacific Northwest, was the epic, enjoyable escape I was hoping for. Not only was it 491 pages, I can safely say I enjoyed every last one of 'em. I was also happily surprised by how edifying it was. I hate to tell you much lest I give it away, but let's just say this: put Kristin Hannah on your to-read list!

Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

I read this on my iPad. I was laughing out loud whenever he rolled out a bunch of made-up British city names. He's really good at mocking the British without ever being too offensive. Underlying his humor is a deep respect for their kindness and their culture. He really knows his stuff; (I believe) his wife is British. Good thing for us, Bryson knows the world of England inside and out. Well done (if longish).

Walkable City by Jeff Speck

I found this a bit dry, but the dullness wore off when I realized how strongly I agree with Jeff Speck. Growing up my parents were huge travelers. I've been to lots of cities, and to hear him analyze the categorically Walkable City vs. categorically Not Really made a ton of sense to me. I really hear him on this, and I think our overall health as Americans totally depends on how walkable our city is!!! ;)

Finding True Happiness by Fulton Sheen

Now here's a good devotional!

Links:

This is a Good Story About Growing Up Evangelical by Laura Turner


This is the Story I Have to Tell You @ Mothering Spirit


To the Strangers in Whole Foods Who Surrounded Me After My Father Committed Suicide @ The
Mighty


Hillary Clinton ~ Going out of her way to defend Planned Parenthood.

Poe's Influence on Modern and American Literature~ short but interesting, with some quality links.



Eating/Drinking:

I gave my foodie website a little facelift: see it here. I just added this recipe for banana bread, and most recently, a recipe for spicy tilapia. I am super, super excited about the new look, so go check it out! ;)



Funny Things They Say:

(mainly just cute)

My Mom: Do you want quesadillas for lunch?
Madeleine: Maybe... not?

Anders: The spoon is talking.
Me: What is it saying?
Anders: Silence
Me: Mommy?
Anders: No.....(long pause)It is saying Poopy.

{later}

Anders: Old McDonald's had a farm... EIEI-O
And on that farm he had a ..... poopy....

EIEI-O!!!!!

(after giving Annabel her first taste of rice cereal)
Madeleine: Do you think we can give Annabel some mushy rice again for dinner?!

Watching/Listening:

I've been enjoying the revival/continuation of Full House-- AKA Fuller House-- on Netflix. What a CLASSIC show. Hysterical and happy all rolled into one.

I've also been enjoying Fixer Upper, The Trip to Italy, and Mary Poppins with the kids. Looking into buying this for my ear(buds).

Recently:


My cousin Solvi came from Norway to visit. Here she is on the TN river, standing in the middle, with my Mom (to her Left) and my Mom's three sisters Marnie, Meredith, and Sally (L to R). She is so kind, and I remember her from a previous visit, so it was fun to get to know her a little more. My Mom went to visit her in Norway when she was a little girl, and she has a picture, and said she still remembers the purple barrette my Mom gave her!

While she was here, a dog fell in the River, and he had his paws on a log, but couldn't quick climb up or out of the rushing current. After my Aunt Meredith and I called and called and offered him bits of food to no avail, my Mom called the friendly neighbor man to crawl into the thigh-high water and carry the dog out to safety. (He was a very large brown lab). We thought of getting into a boat to try to get him out; it was just far enough out in the water that we didn't think we could carry him out ourselves. The man fell and soaked his shirt as he carried the dog to shore, and then promptly informed us of  his name (River), and our kids got the biggest kick out of that. "River fell in the River!" They kept saying. Apparently he belonged to some other neighbors further up the river. Poor dog! I'm so glad someone was willing to rescue him! ;)


Newsworthy:

(#making)


We made these salt dough shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, and they are so easy!
2 c. flour
1 c. salt
1 c. water
green food coloring (optional)
green acrylic paint
sharpie markers

Simply combine flour, salt, and water. Stir to combine. Incorporate green food coloring throughout. Shape into shamrocks.
Bake on 210* for 2-3 hours.
When cool, paint with acrylics and decorate, using a sharpie, with the words GOD: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and polka dots to cover the entire shamrock.

adding my link to This Ain't the Lyceum



What are you into? ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Is The Purpose of Your Lent?



What is the purpose of your Lent? Is it to test your self-control? Is it to challenge yourself to a duel of fuel limits? Is it just a game between you and sugar, or you and grains, or caffeine, or butter?  Is it a wound, or just a bloody finger (#gross?) ? Or is it more? Does it affect your prayer life? Lately, I've been thinking that Lent is whole lot like sheep shearing.

The sheep go into the shearer's hands, and they are probably a bit of a mess. They may have spots of dried mud, some briars or burrs, and definitely some mats in their lovely white wool.  They get into spots of trouble, when, all is interrupted, like little drunk lambs happily playing on a spring green pasture on a lovely, warm, sunny day.  But all it takes is some shears, and they emerge from the hands of the shearer, their wool is shorter, with a freshness and sheen that's enviable.

When we go into Lent, as Christians, we should prepare ourselves for some suffering.  It is a penitential season, and so, it should make us sigh and perhaps even groan when we stoop.  If you are anything like me, some trouble has come your way during this Christian season of Lent. Perhaps, like me, your washing machine broke, you got a flat tire, you got slapped in the face by your car door, you got sick, and you ran out of gas. Perhaps like my cousin visiting from Norway, your cell phone fell in the river and it took four cousins, a net, and the power of prayer to retrieve it. Perhaps you tried to make a favorite dinner, but at the last minute, realized you were out of a key ingredient. Cheese, maybe? Believe me, I know your pain, and I'm sorry. ;)

Whatever your troubles, take heart! You are not alone. We are all in this season together. However, if you are living out a purposeful Lent, your suffering has purpose, and it will also, in turn, reap great rewards!

Just like sheep in a shearer's hands, we are in God's hands. The purpose is a purification, of sorts. God longs to take our burrs, briars, and spots of mud and in their place, give us a clean and fresh start. It begins on Easter Sunday and continues on for fifty days!

For Lent this year, I gave up something that was really hard for me. That would b:e all social media channels on the weekends (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).  In return, I got lots of new ideas, a break from the traps that can often come from these technological advances, as well as a few lessons in self-control and time management.

As you experience the last few weeks of Lent, I pray that you would see redemptive suffering and the chance to "offer it up,"as one stop on the highway to God's ultimate goal for your life: Salvation from sins, and purification from the filth that can penetrate our hearts and slowly kill us. I pray that you would see the purpose of your Lent, and that it would be fruitful.

Easter isn't just bunnies and flowers and sheep, or lambs.  It is a time to celebrate rebirth, and renewal. It is a time to stop, and be thankful for newness of life and the chance to grow and develop into something more, and something deeper.  Ultimately, it is a resurrection in our hearts, with Christ, as we are slowly but surely united to him in our suffering and in our purification.

Questions or comments? I welcome both. ;)
adding my link here and here

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day!!! ~ PHFR

~Pretty~

Here in the South, the tulip trees are already in bloom.

Well now if that isn't pretty, I don't know what is!

Also pretty~ this beautiful Lenten Rose from my Mom's garden!!!




~Happy~

Our washing machine broke, so we went up to my Mom's to do a necessary daily load. While it was washing, we went for a walk around her neighborhood.
Happiness is on Grandma's lap!

Slowly but surely, the Spring flowers are coming to life!

Daffodils coming up and in full bloom!

On our walk, Frances took the picture on the left (grape hyacinth- so pretty!), and Madeleine took the picture of the  forsythia in full bloom on the right! ;)
  I just love Spring- always have, since my birthday is in March, I think- and these early flowers have always been among my very favorite flowers all year long.

~Funny~



Madeleine wanted to take a picture of this Rainbow Brite book at my mom's house... so many memories!The cartoons of my childhood are so much cuter than the cartoons today. Le sigh. 


This is funny, because I asked the girls to color an Easter egg, and then cut it out. When I looked a few minutes later, I noticed Frances had drawn a Lenten Easter Egg- purple and black. That's what I get for trying to do Easter crafts too early!
#catholicjokes


Also funny: In the car on our way to get macarons at a local coffee shop, Molly was singing the line from The Sound of Music "I'd like to stay and taste my first champ-pay... Yes? No." And then baby Annabel made a sound that sounded almost exactly like that next part in the song: "dun duh du du du du du du... dun dun dun dun du du." ;)


~Real~

Setting our table for St. Patrick's Day!!! 
Here is my ~PHFR~ post from last year's St. Patrick's Day!
And can I say I am so excited about seeing this feast day come to life in the blogosphere. I'm already loving this St. Patrick's Day post from Sweet Little Ones, and I can't wait to see the results of another Hooley of Kendra's  (10 Quick Tips for Throwing a Great Party) at Catholic All Year!;)

Lenten decor is out. If you're curious, here is my ~PHFR~ post from last year at this time featuring the same Lenten decor. 

Shining Light dolls are a big hit around here... such a big hit, in fact, that when I uploaded this and realized I wanted to take another, better picture, the dolls had already been moved and carried away by... who? Someone? Someone 8 and under because there are 10 hands that belong in that category in this house!

Our jar o' beans for Lenten sacrifices.


Up close and personal.
#liturgicalawesomeness

~community~ My cousin Solvi, visiting from Norway
#ancestrypeople #itsimportant






In light of today's feast day, it is time to pull out the Irish soda bread and the Irish coffee!
Yummy Irish soda bread can be your's! Easy to make, a filling breakfast, etc. This tastes a lot like the scones I make. It was a recipe adapted from an Ina Garten cookbook I used a lot when we were first married.

Yummy Irish Soda Bread

 4 c. Flour
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/4 c. whipping cream
1 c. raisins (or currants)

optional: 1 tbsp. melted butter + brown sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 375. 
Add softened butter to flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Incorporate through the dough.
Mix milk and egg, and slowly add to the batter.
Fold in whipping cream.
Add raisins (or currants) and incorporate slowly throughout.

Mix dough. It will be wet.  Knead on a floured surface until the dough holds together nicely.  Make an X or a snowflake with a serrated knife. Using a plastic baggie, pipe the butter and brown sugar mixture into the X or snowflake shape on top of the bread.

Bake for 40 min.

Enjoy!
adding my link to Like Mother, Like Daughter

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You Don't Have to Be a Homeschooling Mom to be a Good Mom.



When Molly was 4, I thought I had to homeschool her.

... in order to prove something?

...in order to demonstrate my mad Montessori skills?

...in order to create a visually appealing atmosphere and a gorgeous line-up of books?

And so I did. For a little while. About a year. Honestly. I think it seemed like the cool thing to do, to me, at the time. (Hip and trendy, much?;)

Now, I don't think that you need to tirelessly homeschool your tender babies all the day, bathe them every night, and maybe once a month throw in the towel and plead insanity, so you can work on your own two interests.

My philosophy, that is not.

When my Mom finally said to me, "Please... don't  homeschool," the light went on. That is all she had to say. And I realized that I agreed with her and she was right (within the hour, I'm pretty sure;).

My Mom is a smart lady.

A few years ago, I wrote a post for Catholic Mom called, "Being Pro-Life is Responsible Parenting."

Remember the snafus between parents, non-parents, and babies/children being unwelcome in public places?

You don't have to look hard, or very far, to see articles about children being unwelcome or mistreated. And as it has been mentioned before, the comments on this article might make you cry, if you dare to look.

But let me ask you which is worse: a spanking on the hand? Or ripping them limb from limb... um, literally?

All goriness  and inappropriateness aside (ahem...because, GOSH, who would want to think about something like that?;), we need to recognize, as the American people (and beyond;), the difference between turning the light on ... what some Mom-bloggers hope to do for other Christian Pro-Life Moms out there.... and Arrogant Deliberate Hypocrisy, AKA being Pro-Choice and meanwhile trying to criticize other people for their parenting choices.

Um....


...?


I choose LIGHT.

And meanwhile, I recognize what my gifts are, and what they are not.  I was a teacher for a time. I found out that while God called me to do it (Pre-School, High School, and more), ultimately, it wasn't my true and deepest calling.

That would be motherhood. To five beautiful babies who are gifts from the Lord.

Homeschooling, it is not.  And honestly, I am of the persuasion that formal education is invaluable. But I'm not here to toot my own horn;)

My Mom's horn is the one worth tooting. ;) ;) ;)

(And to get a little practical, and to clarify that yes, homeschooling is for some and not for others...)

Here is a paragraph of reasons I'm not homeschooling any longer:  ;) Get your coffee ready. ;)

- I had 5 babies in 7 1/2 years
-Molly and Frances receive excellent instruction from teachers trained at that (their) specific level of learning each day
-No, the teachers are not perfect, but they are certainly more patient than I would be, and they bring a competence to the specific age group that I cannot (springing from training and in some cases lots and lots and lots of experience with the instruction and intentional, specific lessons at hand)
-Molly and Frances get the repetition and reinforcement with formal training that, frankly, I could not give them all by my lonesome
-Molly and Frances are stretched emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, and their lives are deeply enriched by their Catholic school 
-They are also enriched by the experience of making friends, keeping friends, sharing, and playing well together
-we can still read Great Books, good books, picture books and everything in between together at home
-we still do devotions at home, and informal catechesis at Church;)

and that is not all....

but. you get the idea. One more ;) for good measure. ;) sorry.

Adding these thoughts to Tuesday Talk

Friday, March 11, 2016

America, I’m Disappointed in you.



I usually try to avoid bitter posts on my blog. I also try to steer clear of political rants and raves. However, there are a few things that have made me truly frustrated with America recently. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I feel like we can do *so* much better. Here's what I see: Money speaks. And it is speaking. And for some of us, that's disappointing and sad, because it feels just so empty. Giving voice to those things will hopefully help me to get it off my chest once and for all. ;)

1.  First things first: How is the book Me Before You, which glamorizes euthanasia, being made into a Fuzzy Feature Film? This may not seem important to you, but it is heartbreaking to me that this is brainwashing young people today. After reading the book and reading some of the posts in the blogosphere about this movie, I am truly in a state of panic and Depression that this agenda will be worming its way into the thoughts and conversations of - likely- millions of young people. What are we going to do to prevent the outbreak of this way of depressed thinking in the world?! If you see it, buy my ebook and read it. I counter this concept of a need for this sort of horrific ideology.

2. The themes in Coraline by Neil Gaiman show me what is wrong with America. I saw the movie Coraline shortly after it came out on video. I liked it so much, I wanted to read the book, which I am reading right now. The themes of an alternate, creepy reality, people who are a half or other version of themselves with black button eyes (and really more like a shell of a person) rings true, and the image he creates of two people convered into one existing in a sort of sac, echoes of a culture where in utero babies are murdered. The creepiness rings true because frankly, that’s what we’re in the midst of here in the mighty U.S. of A.

3. Politics and mainstream media are finally colliding.  If the popular people win, we’ll have an election between Trump Towers and It Takes a Village.  And why not? We’ve been thinking this way as an American people for some time now. These shallow platforms echo of the fashion-crazed culture of Victoria’s Angels and ne’er-do-wells posing as “leaders.” If you’re a beautiful actress like Angelina Jolie, it doesn’t matter what trashy magazine covers you’ve posed for: people respect you because you’re pretty (and you maybe did a Charity trip and adopted a kid) and rich. Hmm, a wee bit circular, perhaps? And being wealthy for being an actress, in many movies that clearly glorify and celebrate ungodliness? This is our culture today, 'muricans. How much more shallow, dishonest, and hypocritical can we be? I'm not trying to be disrespectful to actors and actresses, but...???

4. Worried about Trump? Let's worry about something and someone even worse. Hillary Clinton. She is a liar  poor excuse for a candidate with convictions. Claiming to be shrewd, she may be diplomatic, but she is too nice; in fact she is too safe. The plain truth is, her politically correct platform is dishonest and it points to a bigger problem in our culture today. She is a money family and said platform is empty power.  Her power arises from the ability to back away from- or back out of- the problems and tangles her ideals create for her. Popularity is her motive for being pro-choice, money is her roots, and power is her fruit. Why would I say something so harsh and sad? Because the politics of emptiness will breed corruption and death. She will probably garner many votes, but I'm not so sure pragmatism will get us anywhere in this particular case.

5. The slave act points to the larger problem of greed in our country today. Recently, Obama made slave labor illegal (one of the best blog posts I've read in the blogosphere in a while):

I live in Iowa and can barely even imagine the ocean right now, through this haze of February snow. But I have created a world in which I can walk right in to Red Lobster, have a plate of fried shrimp shoved under my nose in 15 minutes, and never once wonder where it came from.  Meanwhile, there is a mother in Thailand crying herself to sleep every night because her oldest boy was taken to work on a shrimp boat three years ago and she hasn't seen him since.

How did it take this long to do something about slave labor, and why do we set up our society in such a way as to create such socio-economic problems in third world countries?!  Could it be our selfishness? Ahem. Why can’t we do more Salad Bar and less Give-Me-Shrimp-or-Give-Me-Death? This is yet another reason why I'm disappointed in you, America.

6. How are so many people voting for Donald Trump?  Voting for a Business-minded Bully speaks to a larger problem in our society today.  His ego and derring-do have been nauseating since the first time we saw him on the cover of GQ and fancy car magazine. However, look around and ask yourself what we value in this country, and it makes perfect sense. Take heart: the Christian PostMax Lucado, and National Review have all officially, publicly denounced him. When I was growing up, he was the epitome of someone you didn't want to look like. Ugh don't do that or you'll look like Donald Trump. How did we go from that to this?!

7. We lack the structure and hope of the Church. Really, what our culture is lacking is the tent-stakes of the Church. Ever wonder why we’re veering toward the shallow and barreling toward the empty? It is because the foundation of society lacks depth and scope. The Church- and faith in the good work that lies therein- would give us both of these things.


I hate to point fingers and seem cynical. And honestly, I don't think the name of the correct game is worry. On the other hand, I can’t really stay silent, because it would make a dishonest person out of me, and all of these things are heinous problems and beg to be addressed.  I don’t believe we can begin to address them until we face these things for what they are. And that’s what I hoped to bring light to with this post. I’d rather be a gadfly than a snail….

Agree? Disagree? Please respond with charity in the comments.

Linking up with Kelly at 7QT

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Magnet Friends: Good or Bad?



Imagine this scenario with me:

It's Monday morning. You’re entering your favorite coffee shop, sort of hoping for a chance to read or get something done. You’re hoping for some productive time, but it’s sorta a toss-up.  Why? Because…. *dun, dun, dun*… you know, that if a certain someone sees you, they’ll pull up a chair… and let’s be honest-  hope for a chance to talk to you.  And the truth is? Your window of opportunity, your moment of hope… and really, all hope of productivity for that morning, or moment, goes out the window. What’s the natural consequence? You get your coffee to go, and perhaps grumble a bit that you lost your chance for some work-time in a clean, quiet space.

Here’s another scenario. Imagine this:

Picture you’re at a baseball game. With the same people. Every week or so. ;)  You bring your kids, and a hopeful attitude that you might get a swing at talking to a friend of yours. However, you see the same people approach that mutual friend. The same person- actually- each week. She’s the magnet friend. The friend who swoops in and steals your opportunity to talk to that special person. And soon, you start to see her and that premonition turns to guilt, and you say hi, even though she’s not your favorite person- at all.

Of course, we are called to love and respect others. But sometimes, the actions of others can be downright annoying. It doesn't exactly bring out the "spiritual" in all of us. ;) Are these people good? Or bad? Or are they just plain ugly?

I think in the nineties we might have called them “co-dependents.” Or “insecure attachments.” I’m not sure what they’re called today, but it might be something like unhappy losers who leach onto our happiness and suck us dry, taking it home and calling that power their own.  Oh ok, that’s a little harsh. haha.;)

Or maybe it’s not?

The truth is, they really can be annoying, and they really can turn into a problem. Trust me.

One final scenario. You finally get a chance for a date night. Your spouse is running late, and you’re waiting for a seat (or waiting in line), and... you’re bored. Someone tries to call, wanting to talk. Do you take the call out of boredom? Depends. If that person is just calling for the bajillionth time, to talk about nothing special, don’t take the call. It will end in bitterness. If you do take the call, their chattiness could cut into precious date time. You might encounter an unfriendly voice if you have to call it and end the call. And let’s face it: You're Not a Fan. And? You Know Something Needs To Be Done.

So…. what do we do about these seemingly harmless moments, that frankly, add up to no good? Seems somewhat easy to feign respect when you’re on your phone, right? But what about those in-person situations where the lines are a little bit more muddied? What is nice? What’s rude?

If we’re lazy, we do little to nothing. We continue being “nice,” and we keep letting the problem trip us up. Because frankly? We’re not sure *what* to do about it. And bordering on unkindness is just not in our best interest. One would think.

But in my experience, magnet friends need to be confronted.  What they are doing to you- to us- is unkind. And? It is surefire annoying!

These folks need to be told that they are invading personal property. That property might be your time, or your friends, or worse, your marriage. And guess what? It is YOUR time, and those are YOUR friends (your spouse!), too! Setting up boundaries with a little conversation might be in order.  That property line- or boundary- might be your friends. If they are stealing your “friend time,” a little confrontation re: this type of bullying, might go a long, long way.;)

Magnet friends are the new Co-dependents. And they need to hear a little truth, because… let’s face it. A little truth goes a LONG way. ;)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, March 4, 2016

7 Ways I'm Preparing My Daughter For First Communion



 I have not yet written about preparing our daughter for First Communion, even though it is coming up this April. I think that's because well... it's two-fold. For one, it really didn't occur to me to write about it until just recently. And second, because I know I'm gonna cry if and when I do it. When I went to God in prayer about it, I really felt him saying, "You must first prepare yourself. You can't tell her anything until your heart is in the right place, and not until you are ready and happily willing to get down on her level and share your heart with her." And that has made me emotional a time or two.

I have gotten as far as shopping minimally for her First Holy Communion dress.  But it is too much pressure. My Mom has even helped me (!!!!) by giving me pointers for where to look.  But so far, I have looked at a childrens boutique located inside an Antique Mall (Grandma Heaven), and on Amazon.com. After I look at my favorite regular consignment shop, I have heard of only one more place I want to check. I did put some white shoes in her size on my wishlist on Amazon. So. Ha. ;) Soon, I'll be done. Go me.  ;)

But other than getting her white dress and some white shoes for this season, I want to talk today about what I am doing to prepare her for her First Communion spiritually.

I posted Prayers to Know as a Catholic Family (with a free printable) one year ago.-->
Prayer as you say the sign of the cross 
Hail Mary prayer
Apostle's Creed
Hail Holy Queen
The Memorare
Glory Be
Sanctus
Ecce Agnus Dei
The Confiteor
The Angelus
Act of Contrition
St. Andrew Novena Prayer
St. Michael the Archangel Prayer

 I think the question I would have for myself one year ago would be: "Ok, so what does that look like?" So in this post I will attempt to answer that question.

1. Prepare Myself.

In order to prepare those around us for their First Communion, we need to prepare ourselves to prepare them.  Pray. Obviously I should know the above prayers and teach them to my children. But also... pray for spiritual guidance. Read spiritually mature books. ;)  Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberley Hahn is a great place to start if you haven't read it, or, if you are unfamiliar with the Hahns' story. It is a really beautiful book, chock full of lessons, and in my experience, promptings from the Holy Spirit. The rosary is a powerful prayer and it will humble you, and it will help you to teach it to your kids. A devotional book that I am so in love with is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

2. Have good conversations with her

This goes without saying, but you really can get deep and meaty with an eight-year-old. And so you should! I bought a DVD "Brother Francis and the Rosary."  It is touching and sweet, and it will impact your child. Watch it, and then talk about it. This is just one example. Have a crucifix on the wall of your child's bedroom. This is another thing you can do. Talk about why it is there. Then, pray for her, and then, let her know that you're praying and why. You are praying that she become a Someday Saint! So pray hard! ;)

3. Teach her the prayers and the vocabulary of the Church.

As a convert, I'm struggling to catch up. But I will do my best through what I know and her CCD classes to make sure she knows what is going on in Mass.  (What is a chalice, a host, a chasuble?) Formal catechesis is invaluable.  There are also many books available on the market, and through good, solid trusted Catholic publishers that will teach these things to your child.  I am going to give this to my daughter as a gift, since we haven't previously bought it. I know my other children will enjoy it as well! And I will pray that she catches up as soon as she can, without pushing her or pressuring her too hard! ;) What do I mean by this- not pressuring her? Recently while we were in Mass, I frowned and whispered in her ear: "You must kneel down, or you won't be ready for your First Communion." She started crying, and scooted down the pew, as far as she could get away from me! Not only did it embarrass me, it scared (scarred?) her. So the next week, I simply smiled in her direction and said, "Kneel down!" And she did, without any questions (!!!).

4. Talk to her about how this does and will impact her soul. 

In receiving Christ through the experience of the liturgy, her heart is joined to Heaven. We learn in Scripture that this is the same liturgy of Heaven. Wow! No wonder we are kneeling down!!!! We *are* in his presence at Mass!  She will then have the grace and power in her own heart to know what to do and say through the grace of the Eucharist. Talk to her also about her First Reconciliation. There are a whole lot of resources out there for talking about Reconciliation and preparing kids for it.;)

5. Talk about special moments in the Scriptures with her. 

Does she know the story of the man Nicodemus, who said, "How shall I be born again?" She can experience this lifting of her soul unto the highest heights of Heaven, she is redeemed through the Sacraments of Peace ~ Eucharist and Reconciliation with her Divine Maker. When praying the Rosary, are there any Scripture passages she is unfamiliar with? In praying the Joyful Mysteries recently, I felt prompted to explain to her the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. This helped her understand the importance of Mass and the Church building, as well as giving her a window into Jesus' world as a baby/young child. ;)

6.  Teach her to be sensitive to the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit in her life. 

We read and discuss the Catechism at dinner. Stephen often pulls it up on his iPhone and he tests the memory skills of our children.  Inn addition to examining their conscience, it will prompt your child to pray for Jesus to purify their hearts. Your child preparing for First Holy Communion should have her own prayer life. She should pray at Mass, at mealtime, and at bedtime, if not more. Salvation from sins may culminate in Confirmation, but it should start with a healthy prayer life at home. She needs to "hear the Word and obey it," and she should know the verse, "My sheep hear my voice...and I know them... and they follow me." (John 10:27). Try putting a chalkboard or chalkboard paint somewhere for writing verses on, for the ultimate goal of Bible Memory. My family grew up with Bible verses written on cards in a little bowl in the middle of the kitchen table: another great way to learn verses and hide them in your heart!

7. Teach her peace, love, and joy (and all of the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit) by modeling it for her. 

She learns her holiness from you, and she learns it from  the Spirit inside of her. There might come a time in her life that she endures mocking and taunting from the clucking tongues of those people around her, who may harbor in their hearts jealousy or outrage against her, or her faith/good works. She must have an inner peace and an inner joy that surpasses those moments, and her own understanding, in order to stay strong against the temptations of the devil. God's power as manifested through David (We sing a song in our house, and it goes :
"Only a boy named David, only a little sling, only a boy named David, but he could pray and sing... only a boy named David, only a rippling brook, only a boy named David, but five little stones he took, and one little stone went into the sling and the sling went round and round... and hit that giant in the head, and the giant came tumbling down!")

and then through his Son who comes in Glory and Power.

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant 

us peace.
Adding my link to 7QT

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring is on its way.... !!! {PHFR}

*capturing* the context of contentment in the everyday... with the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

~Pretty~
After church on Sunday, we headed out to the backyard, and the morning chill turned into 70 degree weather.

Lest you fear, she was still smiling, despite having kicked off her socks on the way home from church.;)

~Happy~
Loving her baby doll.

And just because... Cutie.

On their way to Church... Anders wore a tie, and was playing with a little bus he found at "Good-wheel" for .99. I just love Goodwill, sigh. (And as Frances was playing, I said, "It's time to give up playing, it's bath time. And she said, "I never give up... except at Lent." {smiling really big}. And I said, "Well, what do you give up for Lent?" and she said, "I..... haven't decided yet." {and ... laughter;)}
And along with my love for GoodWheel...I also love spray disinfectant. :0)  ;)


A bunch of gorgeous tiny (field) pansies, collected by Molly! Spring is certainly on its way, and God's creation is just glorious.



~Funny~

At 4pm, I was not expecting the shadows to be so intense...
but I guess I should have known that! ;)

I asked her, "What do you have to say for yourself, Madeleine?!"
She said, "Lots of beeeeeeerv," (???) and then "Lisa!!!" which apparently means her baby is named Lisa!!!   LOL... A-Okay. :-) ;)
Later, I told her Daddy was studying French, and asked her, "What is Daddy learning about French?"
Her answer: "That it's Spanish."


~Real~

True confessions: we haven't been outside much recently! ;) But we are making up for lost winter time. ;)

I've been reading a mash-up of Real Simple articles online for years, but finally decided to subscribe. All the cool people read it, yo. ;)

By the way, have you heard of the Lily books series, by Sherry Boas?  I just started it. While it isn't as esoteric as this book, it is certainly Pro-life, and I'm enjoying it. It is about a little girl named Lily who has down-syndrome.

I have a lot of other ~real~ pictures.... you know, the classics: pretzels on the floor, and the art of spilled ketchup, but I'll spare you. ha, ha. ;)


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can You Throw a Birthday Party for $20? (RevisitRH)


There are only four Wednesdays left in Lent (including today). Let's continue on with the #revisitRH on Wednesdays in Lent!


Being frugal is something I was raised to value. At times, it can be so hard to stick to our goals, though... especially when kids' birthdays come into play! This year, we had to keep our daughter’s birthday party expenses to a frugal $20. But how? Seems impossible, right?


After all, birthday parties are a three-pronged affair: food, decorations, and gifts. Parties can be catered, or you can scale down to fancy homemade food; you can buy expensive pre-made party decorations or make them yourself; you can bake the cake or simply purchase the cake, on a budget.  


Did I mention cards, wrapping paper, fresh gift bags and tissue paper (if you need it), ribbons and bows, party favors, and candy and/or a piñata?


Did I mention house cleaning supplies, thank you notes, and … can you catch my drift? It goes on and on ad infinitum.  We didn’t consider hiring a magician, but if that’s your cup of tea... dude, I’m impressed. You’re on the awesome side of dude.


The genius of a good party is knowing when to say stop and knowing when to say no. For example, how many people do you invite? How many presents do you buy? How nice should they be? Do you play games? Or not? Are piñatas still cool?  (Yes, the answer is yes).


Unfortunately, I don’t have Melissa and Doug working for me, nor do I have their creative genius or production speed.  However, I do care deeply about my kids (that’s a fact), and I want them to have very happy birthdays.


Here are the party decorations.  A few extra little touches to tell Frances how much we love her-- that definitely can’t hurt!  And just a few simple, homemade adornments to say, “Welcome to our home, we’re glad you’re here.”


not the best picture, but at least you get the idea. 
It looked better on.;)

First, I made a fancy party hat. I made it by simply tracing a Melissa and Doug hat that we already had; it came with a dress-up set she got for Christmas a few years ago.


I used wrapping paper that my mom bought for a dollar at a consignment sale (score!), and I used an HGTV magazine for cutting out the letter for her name. I didn’t even have to buy letter stickers! Sweet!


The hat was a little small, so I extended it by cutting some trim from the magazine to lengthen it. After that, it fit perfectly. Win again!


Finally, attach a tassel to the top of the hat, and you’re done!


turned this into a banner/garland



I made the tassels myself, out of used tissue paper, and they are actually ridiculously easy to make.


To make fold three pieces of pink (or whatever color you choose) tissue paper over, and cut out a square.  


Then, simply cut long lines so that it looks frayed.


Finally, twist it together on the fold, and close it off with a piece of pretty tape (Duck Tape for the win, again!). Attach to a ribbon for a birthday banner. So simple, easy, and a fun touch all told.


I added some tissue paper flowers for some added fun, and voila! All done.  





For the food, I made some fun fruit-and-yogurt parfaits, using vanilla yogurt, mixed fruit, and a dollop of whipped cream with a slice of cantaloupe on top.


And I bought a cookie cake and fresh vanilla ice cream besides, because yum. A cookie cake from a grocery bakery is often cheaper than a frosted cake, although those are yummy, too. Also, try getting an undecorated cake and trying a DIY frosting to save money!

At Goodwill, I found a little pink car for a little bit of nothing, a little purple make-up bag in great condition, some used books, and a stuffed rabbit that I washed up in the washing machine.

The $20 breakdown:

~$14 for homemade food (cake, icecream, yogurt parfaits)
~$4 for Goodwill presents/used wrapping paper
~$2 for homemade decor

I also ended up making Sloppy Joe's with a few sides (carrots and dip, chips) and some caffeine-free drinks. I know our guests had a great time, and I can honestly say I was much less stressed at this party, knowing I stuck to our budget. I slept well that night, and I think that’s the way it should be! I know this approach is my own, and we have varied the parties based on the budget for that go-round (month), but this is always a good reminder! ;)


adding my link here.