Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roots and Shoots

Odd title, yes?

When I was a young mother with 4 kids 6 and under, living Advent intentionally was easy. Yes, you heard me. It was easy. It is so simple to prepare those young innocent hearts. So simple to sit down and read beautiful books. Really. As my family grew, I learned what it means to parents teens and young adults. It is a consuming task. I love it, truly. But then somewhere in that hustle and bustle of "big" kid parenting, my new crop of littles have gotten a bit short changed. Some circumstances have been beyond my control. Three of my children have birthdays between December 17th and 26th. That baby born on the 26th, he is turning five this year and his entrance into the world was not without its own drama.

I wanted more this year for my littles. I wanted to make the time to read and craft. I  wanted to make the time to prepare their hearts like I did for older children, not just hoping they'd tag along and just kind of soak it in. I want to hear little voices lisping the Advent song my now 13 year old loved to sing when she was 4. I want us to come to Christmas Eve having made ample room in our hearts for the Divine Infant.

Slowing down is really hard. It takes effort and sometimes hard choices. I'm digging deep, examining and asking of my older children, what rooted this season for you? I am adding and subtracting, finding what is essential and letting traditions once again flourish in our home.

We have always celebrated St. Nicholas. Nothing more than chocolate coins and few other sweet treats left in shoes. We bake Speculaas. This year I mentioned to Lilly (17 year old) that maybe I should do more, like "everyone" else. She strenuously objected. They loved the way we celebrated, why mess with it, why worry about "everyone". Old tradition, deeply rooted.
Last year, the day Ella was born, December 19, my older children directed all their little siblings and set up the Christmas tree so it would be up and ready to welcome us when we came home. It still brings tears to my eyes. A new tradition. Ella's birthday will be our tree trimming day.

We are reading our favorite books and adding new ones. Johnny is learning the Advent song and Mara loves "her" candles. They know the Baby is coming and it gives them joy. Me too.

Friday, December 6, 2013

On This Feast Day

Just a few notes to myself, to capture some moments I want to cherish on one of my favorite feasts...     
Very simple, just chocolate coins and candy cane cups (like a peanut butter cup but with a minty, candy cane filling, yummy) in their shoes. But oh, how it delights them.
Reading The Miracle of St. Nicholas, getting teary, again. Thinking Mara is not paying attention at all, but when we get to the page about the candle, she stops me to point at the Advent wreath and says, "Mama, these are MY candles." Thinking Johnny is not paying attention, but then when we get to the page about the bread, he stops me to ask me, "Is that the bread that becomes Jesus? See, I knew that!" Kay's delight at "knowing all along" that the shoemaker is the priest. The "big" girls not too big to listen intently to a picture book.

Baking speculaas. Because we do it every year.
This year, we'll read a new St. Nicholas book as we wait for cookies to come out of the oven, The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale.

Joyous Feast dear friends! St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, pray for us!

Friday, August 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes:Waterpark Edition

1. Went to the waterpark with the kids yesterday. Met up with my parents, my sister and cousins. Honestly, I was dreading it just a little, because, you know, waterpark with all the kids, especially 4 yo, 2yo and 7 month old.

2. It was awesome! I had so much fun with my littles. So much fun. Mara floating down the lazy river in her little safety vest was hysterical. She just puts her head back and closes her eyes. I just hold her feet so she doesn't get away from me. Watching Johnny go down the little kid slides over and over again does wonders for the soul.

3. Ella does not like the pool. At all.

4. We were getting ready to leave. I changed Mara, had her all ready in her dry clothes. I firmly admonished her not to go near the water again. Then it rained, like a minute later, like torrential. Like Mara was soaked.

5. If you don't own a proper bathing suit, do not go to the waterpark. No lady, a cami over your bra does not count.

6.At one point, I went to look for my parents. I found them standing near the snack bar, with 6 of their grandchildren, all ages 6 and under, from 3 different families. It was so beautiful! I wish so badly I could have snapped a picture. Even so, I won't forget for a long time.

7. I was tired last night.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Early August: Gathering My Thoughts

Right now~My three littles are playing around me. Earlier I played  a game with just Johnny (4) and Mara (2). John told me it always more fun when I play with them. Honestly, I get so caught up in the business of my big kids lives, I forget to just sit and play with my littles. I love the big span of years I've been blessed to have children. But this "middle" part right now of young adults AND babes and toddlers...its hard. Worth it, so worth it, but hard.

In a little while~I'm out to sign up Kay (9) for dance and pick up big girls from the mall.

This week~Carmen's never-ending soccer. She has joined a travel team. We are very happy about the team. Its a great fit, great families. We are very excited to see her get to play at a more competitive level. But good grief, it is a lot of soccer. She couldn't be happier.
Anna tests for her black belt on Saturday! So proud!
Hopefully Thursday will be nicer outside and we'll enjoy a day at the waterpark with the cousins.

Praying~Well, I want to say, cancer sucks. But you all know that, right? So, since complaining is futile, all I have is prayer. For family, for friends.

In the schoolroom~Lots of deep cleaning, lots of planning. Feeling good. And so strange to not plan for Maddy. Maybe I'll share some plans. I also have a new year of art class to lay out, an 8 week Botany course for grade 1-2 and a little boys virtues (imagine Justice League meets the saints, so excited to do this with Johnny this year) club to plan for.

In the kitchen~Need serious crock pot/casserole/teen-can-pull-together menu planning. Falls is busy, but I a still committed to good healthy food on the table every night, even if we eat in shifts.

Living the Liturgy~Ugh, personal prayer. Yeah, that's where I'm at. Working on it. 
Oh yeah, did I mention Carmen gets confirmed and Aggie makes her First Communion this year?

Time to go get the girls. Consider this my feeble attempt to jump back into the blogging. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Favorites: No Sleep Edition

Five Favorites, hosted at 
1. Vanilla Sugar. I made a cake that required vanilla bean this weekend. Part of the reason I picked this cake was because I wanted a reason to buy vanilla bean, use it in the recipe and then put the pod in a container with sugar. I wanted to do this because I have heard how incredibly awesome the sugar becomes once the vanilla begins to share its essence with the sugar. All true. Awesome. And now I must find ways to add vanilla sugar to everything.

Rapidan River Peach2. This Virginia wine. I picked it up at my local Wegmans. It was for the same party that required the cake with vanilla bean. I purchased totally on a whim. The party was around teatime with light fare. Lots of fruit and cheese and a chicken salad. I had never tasted it. I vacillated between worry that it would be too sweet and cloying with peach and confidence that it was the perfect choice. It was perfect. Yay me!

3. Baptisms. This Sunday we baptized Ella and Mara. The reason and circumstances for Mara being two years old I won't go into. Suffice it to say I am so so happy. It was lovely. My girlies looked darling. 

4. St. Gianna Molla. Sunday was her feast day. I did not know this when I scheduled the date. But this dear saint did. When I was pregnant with Mara, right after a complicated pregnancy with John necessitating a pre-term delivery, I was nervous. I was lucky enough to be blessed with a relic of St. Gianna and I begged her intercession to keep me and baby healthy. I stayed healthy, but had some pre-term labor. The family and I weathered it all beautifully and Mara is a sweet delight in our home. 

Much to my surprise, and pretty far into it, I realized I was pregnant with Ella. So uncomplicated was this pregnancy, I had no (NONE) morning sickness, very little fatigue, excellent overall health. Once again I begged the saint's prayers and once again was able to be blessed with a relic. Sunday morning I realized this was her feast. I am so delighted my little girls will share their baptism day with the saints who interceded so powerfully for us.

5. Fresh flowers on my table...or kitchen island....or counter. I bought a bunch of white tulips to decorate for Sunday. Carmen went out a snipped some small branches of Virginia Redbud to add to the vase. It was so pretty! The Redbud was already fading, so it didn't last past Sunday. But the tulips are still going strong and look lovelier every day. I've decide a small bunch of flowers is a good thing to add to the grocery list every week.

Check out more favorites at Moxie Wife.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday

Gospel- John 20: 19-31

This week keep praying the Divine Mercy Novena (started on Good Friday).

Learn how to pray Divine Mercy Chaplet. Beautiful audio can be found here.

From The Liturgical Year by Inos Biffi- Read pages 82-83

From the Office of Readings-
1 Peter 1: 3-5
Baptism is a symbol of Christ's Passion (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)

Read Lolek- The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II by Mary Hramiec Hoffman and Mark Hoffman.

May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who coming back from death’s dominion has shed his peaceful light on humankind, and lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(from the end of the Easter Exultet)

Make a wool art depiction of the image of Divine Mercy. This is like a painting with wool instead of paints. See here for what you’ll need. See here for how to do it.

Paint your own peg doll of St. Faustina and Our Lord as he appeared to her.

Psalms in Living Color- We will be reading and illustrating Psalm 104 for the next few weeks.  This week read verse 1-4 and illustrate.
“Bless the LORD, my soul! LORD, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak. You spread out the heavens like a tent;
you raised your palace upon the waters. You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind.
You make the winds your messengers; flaming fire, your ministers.


Divine Mercy Sunday (Catholic Mom)

Divine Mercy Sunday (Catholic Culture)

Divine Mercy for Young Hearts CD-ROM (Some free sample pages here)

St. Faustina (That Resource Site)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Power of a Good Book

Today most of the children attended the home school Lenten retreat at our parish. It was amazing. Over 170 children from preK up to high school. Truly a labor of love for the creative moms that brought it together.

I brought Johnny along. He has not been in any play groups or preK classes or activities before. When he was smaller I found that he sometimes quickly became overwhelmed in some settings with lots of strangers and noise and just too much going on for him to handle. Sometimes he would just shut down and cling to a parent or big sibling. Sometimes he would cry and tantrum. But I decided to give this a try today since I would be able to stay with him and help him out.

Sure enough, we walked into the room with the other little children and his body stiffened. He did not want to color. He did not want to listen. He did not want me to leave his side. He did not want to be there. Period. I sighed. I whispered to him that I would be right there, that I knew he would have fun if he gave it a chance, all he needed to do was try. Poor little man had the sourest look on his face. But he sat. Stiff, not coloring.

Then the leader took out a book. I smiled. I knew things would be fine. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. His absolute favorite. He knows it by heart. When he saw the book I saw him turn his body to face the front. He looked up. His face softened, and I tell you, I could visibly see his body relax. He started to smile and mouth the words as she read. By the end of the book he was grinning, eager to see what other "stuff" he would learn and do.

Just like that. Almost instantly. The words and pictures of a familiar and beloved story change the day for my son. Amazing. Wonderful. Powerful.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to Life

Let's catch up, shall we?

Eleanor Marian was born December 19, 2012 a week after I turned 40. I don't know why I point that out. Except that the day she was born, as I was being checked into the hospital, all the nurses kept saying happy birthday. And I was like, what??? Oh yeah.

She is darling. Hates the car. Quite a bit. However, we drove to Philadelphia yesterday (3 hours) for my nephew's baptism, and she did great. The twenty minute drive to take my husband his work badge this morning because he forgot it and he MUST have it (yes, it was that kind of Monday), not so great. Go figure.

Mara, my almost two year old, loves Ella. Quite a bit. I was worried about how she would deal with a new little person stealing some of her spotlight. Silly me. I look forward to my girlies growing in friendship.

I have an 18 year old now. That happened a month before I turned 40. That is all I have to say about that.

And this week her sister will be 17. Lord have mercy.

I have a new nephew (see above) AND a new niece. In a period of about 90 days, my parents welcomed 3 new grandchildren. Amazing. Yesterday, at my sister's house, we took a picture of ALL the grandchildren on the stairs. All 18. Wow. God is good.What else is there to say?