Friday, December 31, 2010

This Moment

In This Moment...One Photo...No Words.

For More Fun Moments...visit Soule Mama.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Break

Eating.  Sleeping in.  Playing with gifts.  Playing with friends.  Movie theater.  Cookies and hot cocoa with more cookies.  Reading.  Just being.  (Plus one case of bronchitis for me.)

Are you all enjoying your break so far?  Except for the illness, we sure are!

I had two a row...where all the littles were gone...for a few hours on end.  I had the entire house to myself!

P.S. This has never happened to me before.

P.S.S.  I love it!!

We are still soaking up books throughout this beautiful season.  I bought each of the kids a new book after they finished the second quarter.  (They really look forward to this.) 

The deal is, I get to pick out the the books and surprise them.  This time around, Stan and Mabel each received an age-appropriate Christmas book.   (You probably have these or heard of them already.)

Ester received Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill.  It is the first in the Fairchild Family series published by Bethlehem books.  You can find the series here.  (Recommended for young readers.)

Sally received The Wind Blows Free by Loula Grace Erdman.  It is part of the Texas Panhandle Series published by Bethlehem books.  You can find that series here.  (This is recommended for age 11 and up.)

The older girls ended  up loving their books.  I'm excited since they are part of a series. 

We have also continued reading books from the Christmas Mosaic.  We have focused on the themes: Christmas Around the World,  the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, and Epiphany.

We included a bit of Italy, the Caribbean, and Mexico with the following:

The book Too Many Tamales is also in video.  It is by Scholastic with the title The Night Before Christmas and More Christmas Stories.  We found it at the library and on Netflix. 

The book, The Legend of Old Befana could also be used for the Epiphany.

Next year, I plan to mix in the theme Christmas Around the World throughout Advent.  There are a few titles that tie in nicely with feast days of the December saints.


Bonus round: good weather.

Sunday and Monday brought the kids playing outside with neighbor children....for hours on end.  (Peace and quiet in the house.) 

Double bonus since it leads to easier bedtimes.  (*wink*)

Unfortunately...we now have rain.  The gloomy, cold, yucky kind.  Heard it is suppose to stay for a couple of days.


I continue to carry out the "In With One/ Out With One" rule.  The kids were really good about cleaning out the gently used toys and bagging them for charity. 

These with a bagful of trucks and plastic animals will soon be leaving the house.  If you live nearby and would like any, give me a holler.  By the end of the week, they will be gone.


I had grand plans to clean this; paint that over the break.  Being sick really is not for sissies. 

The silver lining?  Two of them in this case.  It happened when school was out and it has forced me to take a couple of siestas here and there.   

Now...praying for better health since David and I have a luncheon date set for Friday, New Year's Eve.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Funny Little Thing...

Another Christmas tradition that is.

Way back in B.C. (a.k.a. before children), somewhere along the way, (read it in a magazine since this was even before www had evolved), I came across a great, family, Christmas tradition. 

It was one of those that just grabbed my branded itself in my that I would not forget as a newlywed. 

Fast forward...I am the matriarch of this house and we have that Christmas table tradition.  I love it!  And my family loves it!

You see, once the littles graduate from plastic, holiday dishes like so...

...they get to take a trip with Mama to the store to pick out their own Christmas place setting.  And boy! do we have a variety of fun place settings. 

There is a bit of holly & ivy with some snowflakes sprinkled in.

We table a Santa and snowman set.

Actually, a few snowman sets.

The holly & ivy was new this year...ran out to Kohl's at the last minute when I found we would be having an extra dinner guest.    (I think I spent around $22 for the place setting. )

The kids like to eat off of their "own" plates on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and then they switch around throughout the holiday week.  ( I leave them out until New Year's Eve.) 

Not only is it fun but our table just rocks with holiday spirit!

I'm thinking as they grow and and the family grows....we will continue to add a new place setting for each new family member. 

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Hope you all have enjoyed a peace and blessings of the past two days. 

Christmas Eve usually finds us hamming it up for the camera...(love my remote)....heading to Mass ...enjoying  listening to Ester and Mabel in the children's choir... and this year, Sally did a beautiful job narrating the voice of Mary in the "teens" pageant.   

We also brought our Korean neighbor Kye (pronounced Kay), who was home alone on Christmas Eve.  She came over for dinner afterward baring delicious Korean pears. 

Watching our favorite version of Scrooge (with Albert Finney) brought some tired eyes and bedtime.  Santa arrived shortly afterward.


Christmas day ushered in peace, prayers, and quiet (when I woke before everyone - a first),  lots of joy, food, company, and brisk, fresh air.

I found Mabel and her friend Bailey partaking in what looked to be a rather deep discussion....most likely comparing notes on what Santa had delivered.    (Bottom-right photo above.)


Christmas night we watched another favorite Christmas movie, The Christmas Story and some televised activities from the Vatican (I just tear up when I see our pope blessing the children as their parents hold them out to receive such a gift.)  

Our day was completed  with an early bedtime for everyone!


May the peace and blessings of Christmas follow you throughout these days!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing a very blessed Christmas to you and your families!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Memories

My most memorable and  favorite Christmas, was way back ...34 years ago when a new baby brother was born into my family! 

I am not sure which  twist and turn in the story stands out the most.  There were so many that any sane woman (or man) would think my parents completely crazy.  But they pulled it off perfectly with their sanity in tacked. 

My mother was seven days over her due date.  She had been in a small state of panic wondering just when the baby would come. 

Lying in bed completely uncomfortable, the hour nearing midnight, Dad made her a high ball to sip in order to help calm her nerves. 

That  high ball worked.  (So we like to think.)  No sooner did she take a couple of sips, but  her water broke.  Midnight.  December 22.

The next morning came the division of the troops.  We were all being ushered off to different of us had to be split older sisters and I were sent off to Aunt Bernadine's.   

This grand adventure was just the icing on the cake after our 10 lb 5 oz baby brother was born...a new brother to even out the ratio of 4:4.

A funny thing happened though.

The first night at my aunt's house found me having a heck of a time getting rid of this real itchy spot on my shoulder.  So, I showed Aunt Bernadine my "itchy spot" and she announced, "Chicken pox!"  And with a dreaded afterthought added, "Your poor mother!" little sister Jane and I shared a bedroom together.  Phone calls were made.  You know what is coming next.  Jane had the chicken pox as well. 

My poor! poor! mother!

By Christmas Eve, Jane and I were really sick with the chicken pox and we were all home under my maternal grandma's care.  Even though I remember being quite ill, what I really recall is the magic and joy, utter happiness and peace.  A Christmas spirit, one that was truly unique for us, had filled our house.

My grandmother was at our house whipping up homemade chicken noodle soup with fresh baked bread.  The house smelled divine, and the snow was drifting. The trees were lit, the stockings were hung, and we were all together. 

On Christmas Eve night, Mom came home with baby a red stocking that the hospital sent him home in.  He was oohed and aaahed over...a little prince....lying under the tree in his red stocking. 

Jane and I had to just roll over in our sofa bed to gather a glimpse of that sweet baby.  It was so magical for a 7 year old girl.  And then I'd roll over the other direction to get a glimpse of my beautiful mother sitting in a chair with her very sore legs elevated on pillows. 

Mom had a rough time with varicose veins.  Each pregnancy was rather dangerous.  She had a history of throwing blood clots.   

For me, that seven year old girl, all was well with the world because Mom was home. 

Miraculously, Jane and I were able to sleep.  We were out cold.  Never heard Santa or his helpers making the noise they did; never felt the sofa bed being bumped into. 

Christmas Eve night, my two big brothers were initiated into "the club".  They helped Dad bring in the gifts that were secretly stored in the neighbor's garage across the street.   Through the snow drifts they trudged bearing gifts...back and forth...back and forth.  We never heard a sound.

I cannot imagine pulling off what Mom and Dad did that Christmas Eve night.  Too many twists and turns for this mother.  Utter and complete chaos....but beautiful chaos!  In the eyes of a child, it was filled with nothing but the beauty and peace of Christmas.  And that is all that matters.

Advent blessings~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gingerbread Fun

For our first ever attempt at a gingerbread house, I purchased a pre-fabricated one built by Wilton.  The exterior designs were engineered by my littles. 

Each had a turn at creating some beautiful piece of art. 

There was peace and sanity after it was all said and done.  I'll probably go this route again next year.

The only issue raised came from Stan and Mabel.  They just could not believe you couldn't eat it when it was all finished.  

According to Mabel:  "What a waste!"   (That's my Mabel - she calls it like she sees it!) 


Personal book review: 

I picked this book up at the library.... was on our reading list for this week. 

After going through it, I decided there was one illustration that was inappropriate for my children.  It was an abstract illustration of Adam and Eve...with a bit too much my opinion

The rest of the book was just beautiful in Eric Carle's wonderful way.

I simply would not want to recommend this to anyone else personally, but you can always check it out at the library and make your own decision.


Advent blessings~

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You Know It's Cold When...

...your nostrils instantly freeze together after stepping outside and breathing the frigid air. 

That is how cold it gets up north.   By just stepping out into your garage, your lungs hurt from the icy arctic air invading that warm space of your body cavity.     

I worry about my in-laws and  mother in that kind of bitterness.

Speaking of Mom...

...she sent a Christmas card this year that shows my childhood home blanketed in snow.  I think it may be from last weekend?

Beautiful, isn't it?  That will be our white Christmas this year. 

We cannot be there in person but we do have a beautiful reminder of "home".


Down south, in a round about way, we feel your pain.   Our blistering summers...well...they even make the swimming pool feel gross.

Our winters are mild and beautiful.   

Every now and then we will receive snow...had a white Christmas last year (the first in decades they say)....but it melts rather quickly. 

(That's just fine with me ;)

The other day, I took this photo of David playing jump rope with the girls and a neighbor friend.

Where is Stan?  The girls drive him nuts.  He was off digging in the empty lot next to us.  He is always digging in hopes of finding animal bones.

Maybe he will be an archaeologist?


~On to reading.

We really enjoyed our books from week three of Advent

Week four of Advent will find us reading books based on the Nativity and Angels

**Again, following Cay Gibson's Christmas Mosaic.**

Not sure how much longer I'll be able to sit and read to all of them.  Sally just announced this morning that she was getting tired of being read to. 

If she only knew how quickly time quickly she is growing up...and how bittersweet that is for a mother.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Moment

In this words.

For more fun moments...visit Soule Mama.
Advent Blessings~

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On My Mind...

*Why is it that the threat level raises to  RED, compliments of my littles....right after I go to confession?!?! 

*Wishing just once that.... my house was cleaned, cupboards stocked, laundry done...all at one time!  (Are fairy godmothers available on Craig's List?)

* For the sake of chores were put on hold till school wrapped up last week.  

Lovin' the clean toilets!  I  want to put up a sign on all toilets ..."No one is allowed to poop... for three least!"  


Done venting.


Around our house...

Science continues~

David and Stan went out into the woods last Sunday.  Stan says that he'd like to be an archaeologist (amongst other things) when he grows up.

Look at what they found!

The skull of a wild, baby  pig.  Stan thought it was the coolest thing ever!!!  (I kind of thought it was cool, too.)  It still needs to be bleached and the teeth glued down tight.


Postcard Buddies~

We received another postcard this week.  Yeah!

Isn't it fun?!  Sparkles and all!

This one came from Kat and family over at Pappa Doodles.  We know Kat and family when we all lived up in Illinois and belonged to the same homeschool group.   They moved shortly after we moved...but in opposite direction!  Drat!

Always open to more postcard buddies.  Just ask for my address.

**At this point, I probably will not have the US map up on the wall till after the holidays.**


A couple people asked about the kids' Christmas trees and our learning room(s). 

So ...come on in and I'll give you a tour...

The game room upstairs is where we pray, pledge, and play...where Stan and Mabel learn and grow.

By the way, I took these photos right after we cleaned.  It doesn't always look like this ;)

Stan's parking spot is on the left...Mabel's is on the right.

I found that my students need their own "quiet" learning room as they  reach the higher grade levels.  This is Sally's learning room (a.k.a. her bedroom).

David built her bookcase some years back.

Ester upgraded to her own "quiet" learning area, too.  She is doing so much better this year with fewer distractions from the others.

This is Mabel's tree...

And this is Stan's little tree.  (Can't trust him at ground level just yet.)

We are enjoying our first week of Christmas vacation!
Advent Blessings~

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookies For A Crowd

Italian Christmas Cookies

Ricotta cheese in the batter makes these morsels so moist!

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup butter, softened
3 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Colored sprinkles

1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in ricotta and vanilla. 

2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda:  gradually add to creamed mixture. 

3.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

4.  In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Stir in vanilla.  Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.  Frost cooled cookies and immediately decorate with sprinkles.  Store in refrigerator. 

Yields 7 dozen cookies!

 Advent blessings~

Friends and Flowers

Sunday afternoon brought me sitting in church waiting for Sally's pageant practice (...that would be the church pageant).

I had brought my camera to take a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

That is when I noticed just how many roses were left from Las Mananitas the night before.  I could not believe what I was seeing.

 I found myself walking around and taking more and more photos.

Look how beautiful these friends of God look with the gorgeous flowers arranged around them...

Amazing, isn't it? 

Of course there were more for Our Lady and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I completely forgot about the chapel and the room that houses the Pieta. 

I was wanting to share with you the beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe statue that was set up for the procession during the novena. 

Here she is...

But...I'm saving the best for last. 

Sitting in the front pew, the choir director pointed out this...

The Crucified Christ next to the Risen Christ being reflected on the wall and window from a window on the opposite side. 

Beautiful!  It caught my breath.

Advent blessings~


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