Children

Children
"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Waiting for Baby

As Christmas approached, we were waiting for the birth of Jesus and of our little one. I kept thinking about Mary and how in the last days of her pregnancy, she traveled to Bethlehem. I thanked God for his goodness and listened to Theresa pray each night that the baby be born at Christmas time.

Theresa is continuing to pray that the baby is born at Christmas time and I know that her prayers will be answered. The only thing that I am not sure of is which day of Christmas our newest little one will be born. According to Bernadette when doesn't matter because "this baby is an early birthday present to" her.

As we continue to celebrate Christ's birth and wait for the birth of our little one, I cannot help but think, "Children are so wise."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Windstorm

On December 15, we woke up at 1:00 AM to one of our carbon monoxide monitors beeping. The power had gone out during the night and the battery in the monitor had died. Shortly after waking, we heard a crack and a crash outside. I raised the blind to see what had happened and found the children's favorite tree lying flat on the lawn. Within seconds, I was yelling and praying as I saw two of our tall, old pine trees starting to fall. Miraculously, these, 70 some year old, trees fell, missing everything but a section of the fence. God is so good!


The power remained out for almost 3 days. The temperature in our house dropped to a low of 50 degrees (outside it was in the 20s and 30s), despite a constant fire burning. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the power outage. Catherine was happy to be "living kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder" would have lived. They all liked sharing beds at night and being covered with lots of blankets, in addition to their comforters. The storm proved to be quite an adventure for them.

I found that the 45 mile an hour sustained winds, with gusts between 60 and 100 miles per hour, brought neighbors together. Some of our neighbors shared their wood with us. A man, who lives in the neighborhood behind us, offered to cut up the trees for us. We will be working in our backyard together.

We will be spending the next couple of months, or so, getting rid of the debris via our yard waste, filling in the huge hole left by the trees' roots, having at least one precarious tree (another tall pine) cut down, and planting a couple of new trees. In the spring, we will put grass where the three pine trees stood. The children are excited, as they will have more room to play.

All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Daniel 3:65-67

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

O Antiphon House

Thanks to Katherine, we have a new custom this Advent. We have been busily preparing our O Antiphon House so that it will be ready by December 17. We used Katherine's wonderful idea and Jennifer Miller's pictures at Catholic Culture as a guide. Instead of placing a picture of Christ's Nativity at the top of our O Antiphon House, the children decided to use our miniature nativity figures. I am very excited about this new tradition. The picture below shows what our finished House will look like.


Thank you Katherine for sharing your beautiful O Antiphon House with us.

Update: Since Katherine's blog is no longer available, I have had a few questions about the O Antiphon house. Below is one response that I sent:
I bought the Nativity figures at our local Catholic bookstore. All of the other supplies were purchased at Michaels. The children used purple, yellow, and gold acrylic paint and various colors of permanent markers to decorate the house, stars, and blocks. 
Starting on December 17, each night, a child places a block in the O Antiphon House. As one of the children does so, we all sing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Baby Jesus is placed in the manger at the top of the house while we sing all of the verses on Christmas Eve. The O Antiphon House has become a beautiful part of our Advent traditions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Saint Nicholas

I have been a little preoccupied getting ready for the appearance of our little blessing from God and am therefore a little behind in my blogging. On December 3, St. Nicholas visited our parish in anticipation of his December 6 feast day. All of the children enjoyed his visit, except for Patrick.

Patrick was excited when St. Nicholas first came into the parish hall. However, when he went up to receive a bag of candy from St. Nicholas and was given a holy card, Patrick tossed the card on the floor.

When one of St. Nicholas' angels gave Patrick a bag of candy, he was quite pleased to show it to St. Nicholas.

Once it had been shown, Patrick focused on his candy and wanted nothing more to do with St. Nicholas. Our little boy has a lot to learn.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Things I Heard

I know this is a little late, but on Thanksgiving day I heard two things that I thought were cute.

Upon seeing the dining room table, Patrick said, "Oh, turkey lurkeys on the table."

Theresa watched me as I rolled L'il Smokies in crescent rolls. All of a sudden, she said, "Mommy that's what Samuel Whiskers and Anna Maria did to Tom Kitten."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Catholic Homeschool Carnival

Mary Ellen is hosting this month's Catholic Homeschool Carnival. For some wonderful ideas about observing Advent and celebrating Christmas, please be sure to visit O Night Divine.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Meme

I saw this on Dawn's blog and couldn't resist.

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
I like both, but my better half would rather I stayed away from the hot chocolate when I am pregnant.
2. Turkey or Ham?
We've done both. This year, we are planning on Turkey (that is if the little one in my womb doesn't make an appearance to prevent us from doing so ~ I wouldn't mind in the least).
3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?
We definitely get a real tree.
4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
Yes, colored icicle lights and a nativity scene.
5. Snowball fights or sleddin'?
Both
6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?
I used to really enjoy going to the mall to shop, but since becoming a mother this has changed. Most of our presents have already been purchased. Those that haven't will be purchased online.
7. Favorite Christmas song?
Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas song is Silent Night.
8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
I like the classics. We enjoy watching them during the Christmas season. My husband usually takes time off, starting on the 24th of December and returning on the 7th/8th of January and we have fun watching Christmas movies sometimes with and sometimes without the children (late night date nights are great).
9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
I used to wait until Advent (The Nutcracker Suite was always listened to throughout the year), but a couple of my children like to listen to Christmas music year round. Also, since my oldest started taking piano lessons, we've been listening to her play Christmas music starting in October.
10. Stockings before or after presents?
Whatever the children want to do.
11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them?
Unfortunately, we don't have any.
12. Go to someone else's house or they come to you?
We used to go to our parents' and/or my sister's house, but my husband's parents and my dad moved. My mom passed away almost 5 years ago. Thus, we now spend Christmas at home.
13. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
Yes, after dinner and baths.
14. What do you do after presents and dinner?
Play with the children, clean up the dishes, relax, pray the Rosary as a family.
15. What is your favorite holiday smell?
I have to think about this one.
16. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
Even though I no longer do it, I would have to say walking around the mall. I did not inherit my siblings' athletic skills. If I were to ice skate, most of my time would be spent falling on my bottom.
17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
We wait until Christmas morning. Growing up, we used to open our presents after Christmas Eve Mass.
18. Favorite Christmas memory?
My favorite childhood Christmas memory encompasses my family's Christmas tradition. We would eat a delicious meal, leave early for midnight Mass, hear the beautiful singing of the choir, followed by Christmas Eve Mass. After Mass, we would stop briefly at our spiritual grandparents' house (Alan and Murielle), then we would head home. Upon arriving home, we would open our presents which St. Nicholas had left under our tree while we were out. There was always something miraculous about Midnight Mass that I cannot explain in words. It was my favorite Mass of the whole year.
19. Favorite Part about winter?
The birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day.
20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?
Yes, my husband once kissed me under mistletoe.

If you read this, please take the time to answer the questions on your blog.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thank You, God!

Our neighborhood looks like a winter wonderland, but earlier tonight that winter wonderland was anything but inviting. As I do every Monday, I took the children to their Catechism classes tonight. After sitting in the parking lot for about 30 minutes with my two youngest sleeping, I heard my phone playing a tune. I answered the phone and my husband told me that it was snowing (it was not snowing at our parish). He advised me I should get the children and start heading home. I dutifully, did so. Before leaving, a mom stopped me and said, "Don't be scared. You will make it home. I will pray for you." Since I wasn't really feeling scared, I responded politely and placed Jane's comment aside. Little did I know that I needed her prayers and I would soon be terrified.

As I pulled out of the church parking lot, it started to snow. I drove approximately 40 miles an hour on I-5, due to the ice. I felt quite comfortable, until I got off the freeway and started towards my house. Everyone on the main street going towards our house, including me, was driving between 5 and 10 miles an hour. Even though we were all driving carefully, a Safeway truck started to slide, followed by a jeep, followed by me. Thankfully, we had adequate spacing between us. From that point on, my drive towards home was terrifying. Everytime the van drove on a patch of ice, it started to slide. At times, after a slide, it was virtually impossible for me to get the van to drive, let alone drive straight. Most, if not all, of the other big vehicles on the road were sliding like me and we were all leaving plenty of space between each other.

Catherine was on the cell phone to her dad as soon as we saw the Safeway truck sliding, providing him with a blow by blow of what was happening and where we were, while at the same time she prayed in her head. I asked all of the children to pray and I was thankful to hear Bernadette and Brendan doing so (Theresa and Patrick were sleeping). I finally turned into our neighborhood and slowly drove towards our house, where my knight in shining armor was coming out the front door. Parking in our driveway proved impossible to both my husband and me, due to a big patch of ice.

Thank you, God and our guardian angels, for getting us home safely. Please help everyone else to get home safely tonight.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Birthday

to our Thanksgiving Boy!

A belated Happy Thanksgiving

from our family to yours!

Better Late than Never

This summer Catherine and Bernadette enjoyed making some crafts.

Bernadette focused on making flower fairies or little people (she still makes them at times).

Catherine enjoyed quilling (Alice sparked Catherine's interest in this craft which she often returns to when making cards).

I promised the girls that I would share some of their final results on my blog. My husband lovingly took photos of his daughters' crafts. Me, I forgot to share the photos, but hopefully I've made up for my forgetfulness today.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Beauty of Advent II

During Advent, the Church blesses us with several special days that my family celebrates. These days include:
December 6 ~ Saint Nicholas
December 8 ~ The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 12 ~ The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13 ~ Saint Lucy

On the eve of December 6, the children set a shoe outside their bedroom door and in the morning they find a little something left by St. Nicholas. We spend December 6 making crafts, baking goodies, and reading stories in honor of Saint Nicholas. The craft ideas and recipes for baked goods come from St. Nicholas Center. The children enjoy coloring pictures of St. Nicholas and then brushing their pictures with vegetable oil. The vegetable oil gives the pictures a stained glass look which makes them perfect for hanging in the window of our front door. Another craft that they enjoy is making St. Nicholas figures to place along our mantle. One of our favorite recipes is Ciastka Miodowe (Polish Honey Cakes). However, we do not cut the honey cakes into round shapes. Instead we use various cookie cutters to make shapes that remind us of St. Nicholas. When we are finished with our baking, the children take some of our St. Nicholas baked goods to neighbors. Two books that we have enjoyed reading in the past are, The Miracle of Saint Nicholas and The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. This year, we might also try reading some of the recommendations made by Jenn Miller at O Night Divine. Finally, we end our day by watching CCC's Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa.

The observance or celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception is a very special day for me, as it is the day that I made my First Communion. It is also the day that my parents made their First Communion many years before me. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we enjoy reading Tomie de Paola's Mary: The Mother of Jesus. We make the crafts that are recommended in Seton's Art 1 for Young Catholics and CHC's A Year with God. We go to Mass and I finish the Immaculate Conception Novena found at EWTN.

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we celebrate Mary's appearance to St. Juan Diego (his feast day is on the ninth of December) and Patrick's Baptism Anniversary. We begin our day with Mass. Upon returning home, we read Tomie de Paola's The Lady of Guadalupe and watch CCC's Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe. Brendan usually dons his Juan Diego tilma that his dad and I made for him several years ago and the children act out the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego. Finally, we eat Mexican food for dinner, usually tacos.

We never really observed St. Lucia's feast day until last year. Last year, our Little Flowers group met on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to learn about St. Lucy and the corresponding virtue. Prior to the meeting I was racking my brain for a craft. My husband had nixed the first craft that I had planned on doing (a first for him). I went to Michaels, praying that I would find a craft. As I walked up to the store, I saw nine foot evergreen garlands on sale and I thanked the Holy Spirit for inspiring me.


After placing the necessary number of garlands in my cart, I went into the store and added 21 grapevine wreaths (the size that would fit on the head of an 18" doll) to the cart. Next, I located red ribbon and placed it in the cart. After purchasing the necessary supplies, I went home and called my co-leader. I told her that we would be making St. Lucia Wreaths for our Little Flowers' meeting. I explained how and asked if she had any wire cutters that I could borrow. I also mentioned that I was still trying to figure out what we should use for candles. She promptly responded, "White birthday candles." Two days later, the Little Flowers thoroughly enjoyed making St. Lucia wreaths. They began by wrapping the garland, which I had cut in half, around the grapevine wreath. Next, they tied the red ribbon to the wreath, making a loop so that the wreath could be placed and secured on a doll's head. They then tied two more bows on the wreath, using the red ribbon. Finally, they took five birthday candles each and secured them to the wreath, using the wire of the garland. As the girls placed the candles in their wreaths, I repeatedly reminded them that the candles were for decorative purposes only and not to be lit. The moms really liked the craft when they saw it.


Catherine's St. Lucia Wreath 12/12/05

Some of the Little Flowers used their wreath for their dolls. Others used them as an Advent decoration on the dashboard of their family's car. This year, our family will be making a larger wreath (one that will fit on a child's head). On December 13, Catherine will wear the wreath on her head as she brings us breakfast in bed.

I love how God inspires us with ideas that spill over into traditions that enrich our home life.

Related post: The Beauty of Advent

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Beauty of Advent

Each year my family and I look forward to Advent with eager anticipation. When Advent arrives, we set aside our regular learning schedule and focus on preparing for the birth of Jesus. We prepare physically for Christ's birth by slowly decorating our house, focusing on some of the saints' feast days, and baking for neighbors.

On the first Sunday of Advent, I place a wintery tablecloth on our table. Then, we take our Advent tub off of a shelf in the garage and carry it into our living room. The first thing to come out of the tub is our Advent wreath which was given to us by my parents the first year my husband and I were married. The Advent wreath is placed on the center of our table and one of the children places the candles in the wreath.

Next comes Christ's manger and a little box that contains yellow strips of yarn (hay). The manger is placed in front of one of our statues of Mary. Throughout Advent, our children offer their good or special deeds to Baby Jesus by taking a piece of yarn and placing it in the manger. Through their good deeds, they are trying to make a soft bed for the Divine Child. On Christmas morning, the first thing the children do is check to make sure Christ has been born. Then we all gather around the manger and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

After the manger has been placed in front of Mary, we take out our nativity scene and set it up. The stable is placed in the living room. Mary, Joseph, and the donkey are placed at the opposite end of the room, so that they can slowly travel from Nazareth to the stable in Bethlehem. Each day, one child is chosen to help Joseph and Mary travel. The shepherds are placed in what we refer to as a field. The three wise men are hidden away until Christmas morning, when they will begin their journey. The wise men arrive at the stable on January 6.  The animals are in the stable, save for the donkey. The angels and Baby Jesus are put safely out of sight until Christmas morning.

We hang a traditional Advent calendar on one of our kitchen windows and we organize our interactive Advent calendar. Our interactive calendar consists of a calender from my childhood that contains 24 pockets. In each pocket, I place a figure from our Playmobil Nativity set, trying to make sure that each child will draw something that they feel is fair. As each figure is taken out it is placed in the girls' bedroom or boys' bedroom (we switch each year).

This year, we will add a new tradition to the season of Advent. We will display an O'Antiphon House. The inspiration came from Katherine sharing the houses that she and her children made, here and here.

On Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent), we hang our Christmas lights outside and grace the front of our house with our outdoor Nativity scene (some years, like the one pictured below, we only put a couple of figures out). Our neighbors, across the street, are always happy to see us setting up the Nativity scene.

A day or two before Christmas, we buy a Christmas tree and place it in our living room. My husband and I hang the lights on the tree. After the lights are hung, my children and I decorate our tree. Once the tree is decorated, my husband does a final inspection which usually means moving ornaments so that the tree looks prettier. Then I place our Little People Nativity sets in front of the tree.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, once the children are in bed, I carefully place Baby Jesus in the main manger and in the Nativity manger (along with the angels). I pray that the external decorations affect my family and me internally and help us prepare our hearts for the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ!

Related post: The Beauty of Advent II

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thankful Thursday

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
~ Colossians 3:15-17 ~

I am thankful to God for blessing me with a wonderful life.

I am thankful for my husband who never forgets to tell me that he loves me when he comes home from work.

I am thankful for my dad who brightens my day whenever he calls.

I am thankful for my mom who loved me unconditionally and taught me so much, even when she was dying.

I am thankful for my children who make me smile and laugh and give me an excuse to read children's books.

I am thankful for my older sister. She has a heart of gold and is always willing to help however she can.

I am thankful for all of my siblings. They bring a lot of joy to my life.

I am thankful that our Little Flowers' meeting went well on Monday.

I am also thankful for Alice. For the last three years, my Little Flowers' co-leader (Peggy) and I have been coming up with craft ideas for our Little Flowers' group. This year, I have used three wonderful crafts from Alice. We made Our Lady Star of the Sea (by the sea) in September, Marian Shelves in October, and Saint spoons in November. These craft ideas have been very helpful to this pregnant mother and truly enjoyed by all of the girls.

I am thankful for my husband's co-worker (Brenda) and her son who made a delicious lasagna for our family and sent it home with my husband on my birthday. It was the tastiest lasagna I have ever eaten.

Finally, I am thankful that God called my husband and me to homeschool our children. Living and learning with my children is a wonderful blessing.

Thank you, Diane, for hosting Thankful Thursdays this week.

It's Official!

I am old. Recently, I celebrated a birthday. As I was cutting my cake, Bernadette informed me, "You are an old lady now."

On the other hand, according to Bernadette, my husband is not old.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Please Pray for a Mother with Cancer

After Mass, my friend, Mary, told me about a friend and neighbor of hers, Lori. Lori is a Catholic mother of 14 children (some of her children are adopted). Many of Lori's children are special needs; some have Down Syndrome. Two weeks ago, Mary saw Lori and commented on the fact that Lori looked like she had lost a lot of weight. Lori confided that she had not been feeling well. This week, Lori was admitted to a hospital in Tacoma. She has ovarian cancer.

Aside from prayer, Mary cannot even begin to imagine what this family is going to need. A restaurant in Olympia is trying to organize meals for the family, but their needs go way beyond meals. In addition to homeschooling, Lori used to take her children to various doctors' appointments. As far as Lori's medical care goes, Mary does not know how the family is going to pay for it, as she does not have medical insurance coverage. This famiy is in desperate need of a miracle.

Mary suggested that we ask St. Gianna Beretta Molla for her intercession. A novena to St. Gianna can be found here, http://www.saintgianna.org/novena.htm

It might also be good to ask for the intercession of Pope John Paul II:
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.
- official prayer to ask favors through the intercession Pope John Paul II

Dear God, I know that in your wisdom and goodness you know what is best.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Does He Like to Clean or Does He Like to Mess?

Yesterday, Patrick had me scratching my head. I walked into the dining room and found him spreading peanut butter on the floor. The minute he saw me, he got up and ran to get some wash cloths. He returned and started cleaning up the peanut butter. I had to assist in order to get the floor cleaned.

When I was making dinner, I turned around and saw Patrick pouring water on the floor. My, "Oh no!" prompted Patrick to run and get some rag towels. He returned and cleaned up his mess. Does Patrick like to mess or does he like to clean? I believe the latter is most likely the case.

Monday, October 30, 2006

All Saints Potluck

Last night, we celebrated our annual All Saints Potluck at our parish. The children look forward to it every year and plan who they want to be well in advance of the date. On the other hand, I tend to put their costumes together at the last minute, sometimes changing who they are going to be out of necessity. For instance, this year, Theresa wanted to be St. Zita. Instead, she dressed up as St. Catherine of Siena. She was quite happy to do so, but she told me that next year she wants to be St. Zita.

My animal lover wanted me to decide who he should be. It was quite easy. Of course, I chose St. Francis. He was quite happy to tell me what he wanted to say about St. Francis and to be surrounded by fake birds. He did confide to me that he wished they could be real animals.

Bernadette wanted to be her patron saint and wrote some beautiful clues about her. But alas, I really did not feel up to sewing this year (all of our costumes were made by mixing and matching previous years' costumes) and so she decided to be Blessed Imelda Lambertini. I thought that this was very appropriate, as Bernadette will be making her First Communion in a few months.

I am happy to say that Catherine dressed as St. Rosalina of Villeneuve. This is who she wanted to dress up as. In doing so, our family and friends learned about a saint who we had not been aware of previously. However, after I saw the above photo, I wondered whether I should have taken the time to make a St. Faustina costume for Catherine.

What did we do at the All Saints Potluck. We ate some delicious food. Listened to the clues that the children provided, regarding who they were. Finally, the children played organized games.

Prior to leaving, I found myself thanking God for some wonderful friends. Catherine became sick towards the end of the evening and vomitted in the carpeted stairwell. Several moms offered their assistance. One of them did not want me down on my hands and knees and so she (Barbara) got down and cleaned up my daughter's vomit. I do not mean to make anyone queasy, but I am still in awe of Barbara's giving nature. She is one of the most selfless people that I know. Dear God, please help me to be selfless and giving.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

God has blessed me with a good friend (Rosalie), who I met at a swimming pool, shortly after moving to our current home. Rosalie has received all three levels of training for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (something that I would like to do, but God has not called me to do). Two years ago, Rosalie, guided by the Holy Spirit, started an Atrium in her home. Brendan attended the Atrium and grew in his love for Jesus. Last year, he was not able to participate and he really missed doing so. I knew how he felt, but for various reasons, it was not feasible.

This year, Brendan is happy to be participating in the Atrium once more (I wish Theresa were doing so too). Every Friday, I take him to Rosalie's house. He walks in, takes off his shoes, placing them under a bench. If necessary, he removes his coat and hangs it on a peg. Then, he quietly walks into another room and sits down on a mat.

When I pick him up, he voluntarily shares with me what he and the other children did. He mentions, Lillian ringing the bar tone, Joseph making leaven and how big it got, and that he traced. He shows his siblings how to carry a chair and roll a rug. He asks me to do certain things in our home that he has experienced in the Atrium.

What changes have we made in our home due to Brendan's participation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd? During Advent, we use a snuffer to extinguish the candles (Brendan has taught us how to use it). An appropriately colored cloth graces our prayer area. Brendan enjoys helping me change the cloth based on the liturgical year. We have a Mass kit that he and his siblings like to use. We have plants (two philodendrons) that the children are responsible for watering. I have found that Brendan brings home what he learns by participating in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and our lives are made richer because of it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Poetry Friday

After Apple-Picking
by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

10 Random Facts about Meme

I've had the honor of being tagged by Alice at Cottage Blessings and Margaret a.k.a. Minnesota Mom. Now for the challenge:

1. I am a middle child.

2. I was born in

3. Before moving to the United States, my family stayed in Switzerland and Canada. We visited various shrines, etc. while in Canada.

4. We entered the U.S. in New York and then proceeded to drive across the U.S., stopping at all the shrines along the way, until my mom found a state in which she wanted to live. When we arrived in Oregon, she had to decide whether we should go North or South. She chose North, but often said she should have chosen South. When we drove into Seattle, it was the middle of winter, clear weather with an incredible blue sky ~ my mom fell in love and ultimately helped shape the rest of our lives.

5. From the age of 12 or 13, I babysat for 3 wonderful children, Kyran, Kristin, and Kara, almost every week. I also stayed with them when their parents went on trips. When it came time to write my high school memories for my year book. I mentioned them as KKK, not knowing about the awful organization that uses these letters (yes, I was naive). When I learned what KKK means to most people, I was mortified. I pray that anyone who read or reads my memories never thought or thinks that I was referring to the organization. Kyran, Kristin, and Kara will always have a special place in my heart.

6. I was a valedictorian.

7. I double-majored in English and French with a minor in Philosophy, but my favorite subject is Math.

8. I saw Pope John Paul II in British Colombia (of course this doesn't hold a candle to the numerous times that my brother saw him in Rome).

9. I thought that I was being called to be a nun, until I met my best friend, my husband, at a young adult prayer group. We have continued to pray the Rosary together almost every night.

10. List making is not something that I typically do. I keep almost everything in my head from grocery lists, to telephone numbers, to schedules (since having children, I write appointments on the calendar for my family's benefit and mine when I am pregnant). My husband and some of my children are definite list makers, which might be good since I suffer from memory loss during pregnancy.

If you read this, please consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe for South Dakota

The November 7 vote on Referred Law 6 (the abortion ban) is critical for the unborn in South Dakota and stands to have an impact on abortion laws in twelve other states. Planned Parenthood is stopping at nothing to try and kill South Dakota's abortion ban. They have unleashed an unprecedented $8 million to assist them in their efforts. As Christians, we have the power of prayer. On October 29, please show your support for South Dakota's law protecting unborn children by starting a novena (9 days of prayer) to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The novena will end on election day, November 7.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, we turn to you who are the protectress of unborn children and ask that you intercede for us, so that we may more firmly resolve to join you in protecting all human life. Let our prayers be united to your perpetual motherly intercession on behalf of those whose lives are threatened, be they in the womb of their mother, on the bed of infirmity, or in the latter years of their life. May our prayers also be coupled with peaceful action which witnesses to the goodness and dignity of all human life, so that our firmness of purpose may give courage to those who are fearful and bring light to those who are blinded by sin. Encourage the citizens of South Dakota to vote YES on Referred Law 6; help them to be instrumental in upholding the abortion ban in their state that they may protect the unborn and give voice to the cry of the oppressed, in order to remind our nation of its commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people. O Virgin Mother of God, present our petitions to your Son and ask him to bless us with abundant life. Our Lady of Guadalupe, protectress of the unborn, pray for us.
(adapted from a prayer said at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on January 22, 1999)

"Ask your pastor to put a prayer intention in the bulletin that the citizens in South Dakota vote YES on 6. Get the word out to ask for the Holy Spirit to bless the efforts of those working tirelessly on the campaign in South Dakota. Don't let a day go by that you don't remember this very special fight for LIFE in your prayers, but do anything you can to ask others to pray and offer sacrifice for the total BAN on abortion in South Dakota."

For more information, regarding South Dakota's abortion ban, please read the following article by David Bereit, America Must Stand with South Dakota
Donations can be made by visiting www.VoteYesForLife.com or by calling 605-271-3975 or by mailing a check made out to VoteYesForLife.com to: 600 N. Western Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57104

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Safe at Home

Catherine and Bernadette arrived home safely on the 19th. They were well taken care of by all of my family during their stay in and around Switzerland. Both girls thoroughly enjoyed their vacation. Catherine is still talking about returning in nine years and Bernadette often says, "Next time, I go to Switzerland..." Both girls have expressed a desire to live there.

Prior to returning home, Catherine and Bernadette were blessed to spend a day with a friend of my brother and sister-in-law (an e-friend of mine who I have not been good about emailing). Isabel homeschools her three children and invited Catherine and Bernadette to join them on the seventeenth. The girls enjoyed learning French from Isabel and getting to know her children better.

Since being home, Catherine and Bernadette have been adjusting to the time change. Actually, Bernadette adjusted immediately. Catherine has had a slightly harder time. The first night, she woke up at 2:00 AM and proceeded to wake Theresa. The girls played together in their room, until I told them to go back to bed. The second night, Catherine woke up at 3:00 AM and proceeded to wake Brendan up. The third night, Catherine woke up at 3:00 AM and woke all of her siblings up...I told them to get back in bed and stay there until I said it was time to get up. Being pregnant and anemic are making me need my sleep! Last night, was the first night that Catherine actually slept until a reasonable hour. I hope that she does the same tonight.

I am so thankful to have my daughters home again. Our family did not seem complete without them.

I hope that the girls eventually write about some of their experiences. I also hope to eventually share photos of St. John Vianney's body and his house. I know that Alice and Alicia will most likely appreciate seeing them.

Thank you to my family for taking such good care of Catherine and Bernadette. Thank you, God, for bringing them safely home.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Coming Home

I am waiting with eager anticipation for Catherine's and Bernadette's arrival tomorrow. In the interim, my dad sent a few photos. I have been trying to post them with the appropriate journal (blog) entries that I have been making regarding their travels. Please pray that my daughters and other family members have a safe trip home.

Thank you, Alice and Ana for your kind words during my daughters' absence! Alice, I also appreciated the link about St. John Vianney.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Little Flowers Meeting

Today, the Little Flowers met at my house. They learned about St. Zita and the virtue of orderliness (or being organized). They enjoyed painting shelves on which to store little statues, pictures, etc.







Hunting, the Curé, and Driving a Quad

Catherine and Bernadette spent the weekend hunting. Actually, they didn't hunt. Catherine told me that the children and the mothers stayed at her aunt's parents' hunting house, while the men went hunting. The hunters killed five wild boar.

Catherine spent her time learning French from and teaching English to Camille (another one of my brother's nieces).

Bernadette was happy to share that everyone went to see St. John Vianney's (the Curé of Ars) incorrupt body on Sunday. They attended Mass in an underground church.

My brother and Dad have been touched by some of the things that Bernadette says. They shared the following with me:

Bernadette ~ "Please leave me in peace, so that I can enjoy this solemn moment."
Bernadette ~ "Boppa, your room looks holy." (what my dad heard)
Boppa ~ "Thank you for telling me that my room looks holy."
Bernadette ~ "Boppa, I didn't say that your room looks holy. I said that it looks homey, but it looks holy, too."

Today (yesterday for the travelers), the girls stayed at my brother's house. They played and drove their cousins' quad. When telling me about it, Bernadette exclaimed, "Mommy, I drove it all by myself and it uses real gas!"

I can't wait for Catherine and Bernadette to be home, but I am thankful that God has provided them with this opportunity.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Poetry Friday

The Legend Beautiful
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Hads't thou stayed, I must have fled!"
That is what the Vision said.

In his chamber all alone,
Kneeling on the floor of stone,
Prayed the Monk in deep contrition
For his sins of indecision,
Prayed for greater self-denial
In temptation and in trial;
It was noonday by the dial,
And the Monk was all alone.
Suddenly, as if it lightened,
An unwonted splendor brightened
All within him and without him
In that narrow cell of stone;
And he saw the Blessed Vision
Of our Lord, with light Elysian
Like a vesture wrapped about him,
Like a garment round him thrown.

Not as crucified and slain,
Not in agonies of pain,
Not with bleeding hands and feet,
Did the Monk his Master see;
But as in the village street,
In the house or harvest-field,
Halt and lame and blind he healed,
When he walked in Galilee.

In an attitude imploring,
Hands upon his bosom crossed,
Wondering, worshipping, adoring,
Knelt the Monk in rapture lost.
Lord, he thought, in heaven that reignest,
Who am I, that thus thou deignest
To reveal thyself to me?
Who am I, that from the centre
Of thy glory thou shouldst enter
This poor cell, my guest to be?

Then amid his exaltation,
Loud the convent bell appalling,
From its belfry calling, calling,
Rang through court and corridor
With persistent iteration
He had never heard before.
It was now the appointed hour
When alike in shine or shower,
Winter's cold or summer's heat,
To the convent portals came
All the blind and halt and lame,
All the beggars of the street,
For their daily dole of food
Dealt them by the brotherhood;
And their almoner was he
Who upon his bended knee,
Rapt in silent ecstasy
Of divinest self-surrender,
Saw the Vision and the Splendor.
Deep distress and hesitation
Mingled with his adoration;_
Should he go, or should he stay?
Should he leave the poor to wait
Hungry at the convent gate,
Till the Vision passed away?
Should he slight his radiant guest,
Slight this visitant celestial,
For a crowd of ragged, bestial
Beggars at the convent gate?
Would the Vision there remain?
Would the Vision come again?
Then a voice within his breast
Whispered, audible and clear
As if to the outward ear:
"Do thy duty; that is best;
Leave unto thy Lord the rest!"

Straightway to his feet he started,
And with longing look intent
On the Blessed Vision bent,
Slowly from his cell departed,
Slowly on his errand went.

At the gate the poor were waiting,
Looking through the iron grating,_
With that terror in the eye
That is only seen in those
Who amid their wants and woes
Hear the sound of doors that close,
And of feet that pass them by;
Grown familiar with disfavor,
Grown familiar with the savor
Of the bread by which men die!
But to-day, they knew not why,
Like the gate of Paradise
Seemed the convent gate to rise,
Like a sacrament divine
Seemed to them the bread and wine.
In his heart the Monk was praying,
Thinking of the homeless poor,
What they suffer and endure;
What we see not, what we see;
And the inward voice was saying:
"Whatsoever thing thou doest
To the least of mine and lowest,
That thou doest unto me!"

Unto me! but had the Vision
Come to him in beggar's clothing,
Come a mendicant imploring,
Would he then have knelt adoring,
Or have listened with derision,
And have turned away with loathing.

Thus his conscience put the question,
Full of troublesome suggestion,
As at length, with hurried pace,
Towards his cell he turned his face,
And beheld the convent bright
With a supernatural light,
Like a luminous cloud expanding
Over floor and wall and ceiling.

But he paused with awe-struck feeling
At the threshold of his door,
For the Vision still was standing
As he left it there before,
When the convent bell appalling,
From its belfry calling, calling,
Summoned him to feed the poor.
Through the long hour intervening
It had waited his return,
And he felt his bosom burn,
Comprehending all the meaning,
When the Blessed Vision said,
"Hadst thou stayed, I must have fled!"

*Painting: Monk Feeding the Poor, by Louis Gallait, 1845

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Sisters of Bethlehem

When Catherine was one, we visited the Sisters of Bethlehem. The Mother Superior (I believe), Sr. Marider, held Catherine and whispered something in her ear. Catherine responded with a huge smile. A friend of ours snapped a photo of the whisper and the smile. When Sr. Marider was asked what she had said to Catherine, she responded, "It's a secret."

Today, my family visited the Sisters of Bethlehem again. They joined the Sisters of Bethlehem for Mass. They ate lunch with Sr. Marider. Catherine and Bernadette led everyone in the bénédicité (we include a long prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with our grace before the main meal of the day ~the girls did so today).


Catherine reminded Sr. Marider of her previous visit. She also told Sister that one day she would return to the monastery and become a nun. Sr. Marider told Catherine to come back in nine years and she would be waiting for her. Catherine sounded ecstatic when she spoke to me on the phone. I could not help but think, "I would like it if you became a nun, but I would prefer you to stay closer to home." Catherine may have guessed my feelings because she proceeded to tell me, "I told Karlee that I like Switzerland and the places we have visited so much that I think my family should move over here."


While at the voirons, my family went to the monastery store (the sisters make beautiful works of art). Sr. Marider told another nun, "I am stealing two souvenirs for two very special girls. I do not think that the Virgin Mary will mind." She gave the souvenirs to Catherine and Bernadette. While in the store, Bernadette stopped in front of something and said that she wanted to buy it as her souvenir of her trip. My dad told me that she couldn't have chosen a better souvenir. It suits her perfectly.

Both girls sounded like they had had a lovely day. My dad (please keep him in your prayers) and my sister-in-law, Marie-Caroline, sounded like they had enjoyed themselves, too. I am sure everyone else did, as well.

Missing my Daughters

As most of you know, I am really missing Catherine and Bernadette. Our home just doesn't seem the same without them.

On Monday, I picked my brother-in-law (Kevin) and two of my nieces up from the airport. Kevin gave me a short letter from Catherine. Kevin and his daughters told me that the girls were doing very well. Catherine is enjoying evertything and Bernadette knows no language barriers. No matter where they go, Bernadette is off in minutes playing with other children. Both girls are being very helpful with their younger cousins. Catherine is also enjoying spending time with her cousin, Karlee. Our relatives are noticing the unique personalities of our daughters and commenting on aspects of their temperaments that my husband and I have been aware of for a long time.




Yesterday, Catherine and Bernadette visited Gstaad and Gruyere (Catherine purchased a souvenir here) with my family. Catherine enjoyed their visit and found it hard to believe that Gstaad will soon be covered with at least 2 feet of snow. Bernadette promised to draw me a picture of her favorite thing that she saw today.



There are 8 more days until they come home. Thank you for the comments and support.

Dear God, please continue to protect Catherine and Bernadette. Dear Mary, please wrap your mantle around them. St. Therese, please continue to watch over them.
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