Monday, October 31, 2011

On All Hallow's Eve

Our family doesn't really 'do' Halloween.  At least, not in the secular typical way that it is observed in our country.  This has less to do with the idea that kids dressing up in costumes and getting free candy from the neighbors is evil and more to do with the place in our hearts that the Solemnity of All Saints holds.  I love All Saints' Day and I've never been able to make a clear connection between the whole trick or treating thing and celebrating one of the most beautiful feasts in the liturgical year.  I actually wish they could do a pseudo-Halloween on another day of the year, because I think it would be just plain fun.  (Although my kids would still be put through the torture of a mother who picks through all that free candy and takes away the ones I deem unfit for consumption.  I am that cruel and I am okay with it.)

We are Catholic and when you have the amazing treasure of the Faith and the beautiful feast of All Saints' and so many ways to celebrate it with your family, the traditional Halloween for me just pales in comparison.  I can't see how a child who is raised to place tremendous significance on trick or treating (I mean, free candy!) will be just as impressed, and hopefully moreso, by celebrating All Saints'  unless a significant amount of energy is put forth by parents to make the celebration of All Saints' bigger and better than the night of trick or treating before.  How many of us have that kind of energy and time?  There are some amazing blog moms out there who do it and do it well...I just don't happen to be among them.  My memories of All Saints' Day are that is was the day after Halloween rather than the reverse which is how it was originally intended.  It was the day after the sugar-induced coma that you (ugh!) had to go to Mass.  That was about it. 

Since having children, we have put a good amount of energy into the observance of All Saints' Day.  For a little while, we toyed with the idea of trying to do both.  We took John Paul out in his little saint costume one year for trick or treating.  But as we soon saw, there was so much emphasis in costume and home decoration on the dark side of Halloween that we were quickly uncomfortable with it.  I'm that person who can't watch a violent or scary scene in a movie without those disturbing ugly images sticking in my head.  Did I really want my two year old seeing these same images that he couldn't understand just for the sake of a few bites of free candy and mom and dad reliving their childhood tradition?  We decided no.  People seem to have gotten deeper and deeper into the grim decorations and death stuff, at least in my observance, and I just don't want those things exposed to my child's imagination.  Some call it overprotective or paranoid...I call it prudent.

For the past few years our family has organized an All Saints' party on Halloween night in order to really get the kids excited for this blessed day.  We've always been joined by other families and have a ball.  It's been a great alternative to the trick or treating option.  I have little doubt that the children have way more fun at the party than I ever did trick or treating. There is food and candy and games and the children dress in saint (or saint-related) costumes.  I've never had any of my children complain that they couldn't be something else...this is just what they know and they love dressing up.  And since there are a good amount of saints who are able to carry a sword, we are all good.  I love that they choose a saint that they admire and want to emulate.  I am so grateful for the friendship and intercession of the saints and see the energy and time we put into honoring them is a token of gratitude from our family to our heavenly family that has done so much for us.

I'm not critical of people who decide to do the whole Halloween thing with their children and I hope that people who do things differently don't assume on the intentions of people who don't do the Halloween thing.  I just think in Catholic households it is so important to make sure that the observance of All Saints' takes precedence.  In our family that means Mass, saint costumes, the Litany of the Saints, great food, scavenger hunts and lots of fun games for the children.  And in all of it we remember the stories of those who have gone before us and have entered into the heavenly joy which we long to share. 

May all the saints, both known and unknown, pray for us!

Because I can't resist posting a pic of my favorite All Saints' costume...John Paul at age 3 so excited to be Pope John Paul!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Next on The List: A Gutted Bathroom

This is the current state of our upstairs bathroom:



Pretty, right?  Because what better time is there to gut your bathroom than when you're eight months pregnant?  This is our last big project before baby.  There's a bit more on the list after, but it's smaller paint jobs and baking and odds and ends that need to be bought.  Someday I should make a list of the crazy amount of things we have gotten done since finding out that this little one was coming.  Seriously, I am a nut job.  I'll be sure to update when the project is finished and we have a nice clean little bathroom upstairs!

Anyway, so this is our bathroom.  We are hoping that it will be done by mid-November (please, God?).  I'm excited because Brian did things a bit out of order so that I could again have the luxury of an upstairs toilet while pregnant.  And the boys are even more excited that the new toilet meant new boxes to play with.  They've been playing with them all morning...





Nothing better than a big cardboard box in my boys' book :)



Monday, October 24, 2011

Squire!

John Paul passed his fencing test and is now a Squire and able to use a real foil during bouts.  He gets two free Squire lessons before we have to decide whether this is something we'd like him to continue (and if the expense is worth it!).  I'm pretty sure he's the cutest squire I've seen in my day :)








Saturday, October 22, 2011

First Feast Day!!


Today we in the Catholic Church celebrate the very first feast day of Blessed John Paul II!  We are so excited in our family to have an official feast day for our John Paul who looks up to his namesake so very much. 

I was never privileged enough to meet the late Holy Father or even see him in person.  But like so many others, I felt like I knew him and he knew me.  I always pictured him as my grandfather and learned so much from his writings and words.  His teachings changed my life.  So much so that my husband and I decided to name our firstborn after him.  I am so grateful for the memory of holding my almost one year old John Paul in my arms as we watched and kept vigil while his namesake was leaving this world.  And I am so grateful for the Papal Blessing that his Godparents gifted him with on his Baptism.  It is so awesome having the blessing given from John Paul the Great to our sweet little newborn John Paul.  There is nothing I could say that would give this great man the honor he deserves for his gifts to the Church and the whole world.  I pray that someday we will meet in heaven and we can have the meeting and long talk that I've always longed to have.  I encourage you, whether Catholic or not, to read some of his biography and learn about this amazing man.

Tonight we will be celebrating with a Polish feast in honor of the heritage of Blessed John Paul.  After dinner, a dessert of Papal Cream Cake is planned!

Blessed John Paul II, we love you!  Please pray for us!




A Polish feast - Kielbasa, Cabbage, and Pierogies.  I love Polish people but I don't think I could ever eat like them :)

Papal Cream Cake - Note for future reference:  Make sure the custard is VERY firm when you are cooking it and whipping the egg whites!  Mine didn't hold up too well, BUT is absolutely delicious and even more so when frozen!

A feast day gift from Mama and Papa...a JPII comic book.  We are such Catholic nerds :)



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Best Fall Craft Ever

We spent our afternoon the other day finally preserving beeswax leaves.  I've been wanting to do this since last year when Ginny posted hers but had to wait until we had, you know, leaves.  Thank you, Ginny!  You have the best ideas.  This was such a fun and simple project for all the boys and for me!  I completely admit I'm not into pipe cleaners and glitter and popsicle stick crafts.  I do it (sometimes) for the sake of my boys, but this craft the boys loved AND it comes out beautifully - something I actually love for decorating our home.  That sounds awful, doesn't it...hmm...it's not that I don't enjoy my children's crazy creations out of beads and cardboard and cereal boxes.  They just don't fulfill that whole beauty aspect I'm going for in my home...does that sound any better? ;) 

We rushed out after lessons were done for the morning to pick out our leaves before the threatening downpour.  It was raining while we got them, but the boys thought it was great!  We are blessed to have an abundance of old maple trees on our property that are very generous in the leaf department so we had a wonderful selection of colors and perfect looking leaves to use.  Once we got in it was raining outside and the house smelled like beeswax and all was good and right.

 
Preparing the beeswax for melting.  The crockpot was a garage sale find and I plan on using it for any future beeswax crafts (postpartum/first aid healing salve soon!).  I found that a local produce market sells those giant 1 lb. blocks of beeswax for $6.99!


 Find the leaves!

 (Love this pic!)



Pick out the leaves.


Dip the leaves.  
(Using wax paper underneath the crockpot and the drying leaves made it so easy to scrape off any big drips to reuse.)


Dry the leaves.


String the leaves.



Hang the leaves!


The finished product!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - volume 2


{pretty}


I can't believe I never got around to posting our newly painted porch!  Brian finished a few weeks ago and I love it.  So much cleaner and crisper than before.  The previous owners had tried a homemade semi-victorian hunter green and maroon thing on all the porch spindles and rails.  It just didn't work for me, nevermind the fact that two coats really should have been done and the paint was peeling and needed to be redone anyway.  This?  So much better!

{happy} 


Happy is a four year old boy who finally learned to ride that two-wheeler.  I'm so impressed with how hard he worked when this is my guy who normally is afraid to try new things and be out of his comfort zone.  He is so proud of himself and it is so good to see!

{funny}

 

What you can't tell what they're impersonating?  Really?  Why, it's plywood!  Obviously.  See the different layers of wood?  Ah, now you can see it, can't you? ;) 

{Real}


My boys figuring out how to blow up a balloon using baking soda and vinegar.  The real part of this is that I had nothing to do with it.  Who needs fancy homeschool plans?  Just teach the oldest to read, give them some good science books, and then let them have at the kitchen pantry.  (Okay, perhaps that's just a wee bit hyperbolic...I would probably have heart failure if I REALLY let the two year old have at it in the kitchen cabinets.  I did get the materials out for them.)  

Hope you're having a wonderful day!  And please visit the rest of the {phfr} links at Like Mother, Like Daughter!




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yarn Along 10/12/11 - Adventures in Cabling


Back again for a Yarn Along with Ginny!  I'm still working on the mittens for the boys but needed something I could work on during the day when they're awake.  So, I'm trying my hand at the Bitty Cabled Cardigan using Knitpicks'  Swish worsted weight wool in bare.  I was really hoping that this would be much whiter than it is.  It certainly looked that way on the site but it is most definitely a cream color.  Not bad, but I was really hoping for white...possibly something the baby could wear after his or her Baptism.  Anyone know if bleaching the yarn would do anything to lighten it?  I don't want to ruin anything but there's got to be a way to get white wool, right?

This is my first attempt at doing anything with cables and with the help of Youtube, I think I may get it (at least for this simple pattern)!  I am working on being comfortable with the straight needles.  Almost all of the projects I've done have used circulars so this takes some getting used to!

Still slowly reading Heidi and have started reading a chapter at a time out loud with the boys.  They weren't super enthusiastic about it but I think as the story picks up, they'll enjoy it.  It is so sweet and right now, I think these boys could use some sweet :)

Hope you're having a wonderful day and feel free to visit the rest of the Yarn Along posts over here at Ginny's!


Chores for Boys

Yeah...so I'm not that mom who freaks out when her children are playing with yard tools.  In fact, I will most likely be encouraging it if it gets a chore done that I didn't really feel like doing myself.*  The sunflowers are down now and the heads are being saved as special winter treats for good chickens.





*Fear not, no little boys were maimed in the completion of this chore.  Though, I suppose they could have been.  But I would have been right there watching and taking pictures when it happened.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Train Ride

My sister called us the other night and told us we had to check out this place right around the corner from our house.  Apparently, there is a model train hobby group that has its headquarters in a house right near here and they were having a small open house on Sunday.  I'm so glad we went over!  I always thought the model train hobby was about those little toy trains that went around the Christmas tree and was never that interested.  Not so.  There is a whole other type of train hobbyist that specializes in larger model trains.  Trains that you can RIDE ON.  Seriously.  Take three little boys to someone's backyard where they have over a mile of track going through the acres behind their home all through the forest and it makes for a magical day.  When my sister told me about it, there was a definite reference to the old T.V. show Silver Spoons and Ricky Schroeder to help me get the idea of what this place was about.  And it was so cool.  Riding through the forest on this little train over bridges and through the gorgeous trees...so neat.  They didn't even charge for the ride but just had a small jar for donations.  The older men who made up the group were wonderful and showed us everything.  They had engines they had built from scratch and explained how they worked.  We were given two long rides through the woods.  The owner of the house even showed us his basement workshop.  John Paul is already trying to figure out how to build a track and train for our own yard. 











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