Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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'?
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
Friday, November 24, 2006
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
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.
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
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
Sunday, November 05, 2006
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.
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
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.