Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You Should Put This on the Blog


John Paul is all stick bombs lately.
I didn't know what they were either and I don't even remember how he stumbled upon the Youtube videos that enchanted him with all their kinetic energy goodness.  But even I can admit they're kind of fun.  (Search stick bombs on Youtube and you'll see.)

Last week he used some of his leaf money (and a 40% off coupon because he's my son) to buy a box of craft sticks at the store.  He spent several days building tracks for hours at a time and asked me to record a few for him.
And ever the showman he is, he then declared,
"You should put this on the blog."
Alrighty then.


(This one was taken by Michael hence the poor camera positioning.  Sorry!)

I love that he named the one "The Cobra."

(I love Michael's laugh in this one!)

Questions?
I can't answer them but maybe the resident bomb expert can :)





Monday, November 24, 2014

Um. Hi.


Ahem.
Hi.

I've been a bit absent around these parts, I know.  I don't like it but that's what it is.  Pregnancy and four home schooled kiddos can do that to a girl.  So, mind if I chat and brain dump a bit?  No?  Good.

Can you believe the year is almost over?  In a few days Advent begins!  Now is the time to get out those Adventy things, make some plans, and make sure you have what you need so you're not frustrated and scrambling on Sunday afternoon.  Right?  Right.
(No, really.  Go do it.  You'll be happy you did.)

We're going out of town for Thanksgiving so it's especially helpful to have everything ready now.  We rolled our candles this afternoon and the Jesse Tree is already up so that we can begin when we get back.  Any fun plans for Thanksgiving?  It's always a bit different not being at home for a holiday but it'll be good to reconnect with the far away family again.  I'm pretty sure the worst part of not being home is that you don't have days of delicious leftovers stocked in the fridge.  Not looking forward to the ten hour trip in a car with four children except that there's a Chik-fil-A on the way so there's that.

I feel at peace going into this Advent.  I'm good with simple and that's how I've been trying to live our Advent preparing for Christmas.  (For more on specific ways we observe Advent, please click on over here, here, and here.  Or here, too.  I, um, really like Advent.)  I have almost all Christmas gifts purchased or at least planned.  That feels really good. I'm excited to enter into the quiet and joy of Advent again.

Because I like to be all Catholic subversive I think now is the best time to do that whole 'word of the year' thing that people do.  Because Sunday marks our real new year, right?  A few years ago my word was 'surrender' and that word crept on into this past year where 'humility' piggy backed right onto it.  This year I feel God putting a new word on my heart, and a very welcome one it is.  It isn't fancy or creative but I crave it more than the olives I was shoveling into my mouth in the Aldi's parking lot the other morning.
Joy.
Yes, that sounds like a very welcome word indeed right about now.


Things here at home have been okay.  I'm fourteen weeks (!) and on the upswing but haven't yet gotten that great second trimester awakening yet.  I'm still having some bad days and my motivation to do anything is low but I'm praying that a reprieve comes soon.  If not, that I have the grace to accept it as what God wills for me right now.  I've had a bunch of people unexpectedly make us meals over the last few weeks and I feel so blessed and so grateful.  Brian's been a rockstar taking over things I normally do.  The maternity clothes were brought out the other day and I'm realizing that I may need to borrow or buy a few sweaters.  The majority of this pregnancy will be in cold weather and the few I have are pretty worn.  I so appreciate the prayers that have been offered for us and have been praying for those of you who gave your intentions as well.

The huge storm that hit our area is over but with warmer temperatures yesterday and today there are serious threats of flooding.  We have zero snow at our home (the boys have been outside without coats all day playing and I have windows open!) but just a few miles away they are still under six feet, shoveling off roofs and prepping basements for water.  Thank you for all the prayers.  Fourteen people have died in the storm that we know of.  I am amazed and proud, though, at how beautifully our area comes together in a crisis.  Did you notice that there was not one report of looting or rioting or anything like that?  Not one.  I don't think that would happen in a lot of other areas.  There are shovel brigades going out to help strangers dig out.  There are people plowing driveways and homes for free.  So many many people rescued strangers trapped in the snow, digging out cars, literally saving lives and delivering meals and medicine to the vulnerable.  People are really really good.  Thank you so much for praying for us!


Let's see...
what else can I yammer on about?

Last month a few friends and I held a praise and worship night at our church.  I have been longing for something like this for years.  There are few times I feel more alive than when I'm singing in praise.  I don't pretend to be all that good.  I'm no soloist.  But I can carry a tune and I got to sing with Heather again which was really great.  I used to sing a lot and I miss it so much.  We're planning on doing these monthly and alternating adult nights with family-friendly nights so if you're in the area and want to stay up to date on upcoming nights, please let me know.

Oh!  I'm super excited to be going to an Advent conference in Canada in a few weeks, too!  (That sounds far and exotic, doesn't it?  It's really only half an hour away.)  I got an email in my box the other day advertising Marian Grace's upcoming concert schedule and my heart jumped when I saw that they'd be so close!  I clicked through and realized it wasn't just a concert but a whole day long conference with Mother Olga and Dr. Sri speaking and Marian Grace not only doing praise and worship but then having an evening concert.  I registered as soon as I could and Brian and I are going (overnight!  Eek!) and I'm kinda really excited.

Also, don't forget when you're making your Amazon purchases to do so either through a Smile charity or through a blogger affiliate!  At no cost or trouble to you, you can have a percentage of your purchase go towards that charity or blogger.  We really really appreciate it!
(psst...You can find my link right over there in the sidebar ------>   )


So.  Enough randomness from me.  How are you doing?

Some serious concentration






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prayers for Buffalo, Please.

So it's pretty bad out here in Buffalo.
Except where it's not.
The atypical lake effect snow band hit an extremely narrow portion of the area and did so quickly so that just five or ten miles away from our home people are under three to SIX feet of snow while we here at our house have just a couple inches.  

For many it's been a couple fun and cozy snow days.  It's been fun seeing all the crazy pictures on Facebook.  (Click over here to see some...they are all real, it's insane.  Seriously, click.)  It didn't hit me until today, though, when it was reported that a man froze to death in his car in a nearby town just how bad this is.  

People were trapped on the thruway for thirty hours.  There are people literally trapped in their homes and driving bans in all the affected parts of town.  The police have asked for help from anyone with a snowmobile to rescue people.  Several have died from heart attacks while shoveling and the emergency response crews are tapped to the max.  To greatly compound the problem, we are expected to get warmer temperatures this weekend which will inevitably cause a whole lot of homes and roads to flood.

I keep thinking about all the elderly and disabled who may very well be dying in their homes right now due to lack of food, heat, medicine, or because their furnace vents are buried in snow and carbon monoxide is leaking in their home.  In some towns you literally cannot get out your door without tunneling your way through the snow.  They're trapped.  

Would you please stop right now and say a Memorare (or whatever prayer you'd like) and maybe offer a sacrifice for those people?  

Thank you, friends.  

from WGRZ



Monday, November 17, 2014

Thoughts on Angry Jesus


We don’t often think about wild Jesus. It isn’t all that comfortable to hear in the Sunday Gospel reading of a few weeks ago that Jesus got angry.  And not just kind of upset but flipping tables and making a whip upset. That story of Jesus cleansing the temple of what defiled it is sometimes an overlooked passage of Scripture almost seeming out of character for the Lord. We tend to often hear about suffering Jesus and merciful Jesus and kind, gentle Jesus. We don’t often hear about wild, passionate Jesus. We can sometimes forget that it’s all the same Jesus. That same Jesus making the whip is the same Jesus who is complete mercy, complete love. It is only in His love that He wishes, no longs, to return to God what was supposed to be kept sacred. The zeal for God’s house consumes Him.


It wasn’t until last Sunday and the juxtaposition of the readings that I had ever seen how clear it all is...


I'm over posting at Elizabeth Ministry again and would love for you to come over and maybe leave a comment or share.  Thank you, friends!

The Cleansing of the Temple by El Greco



Saturday, November 15, 2014

This Month in Boys - November 2014

John Paul


-has become enamored with rockets and researching recipes to make his own rocket fuel.
-began watching the The Fellowship of the Ring with Brian.  This is a huge milestone in our home :)  I'm not sure who was more excited - father or son?
-has started to get very frustrated with Latin.  This is the first time we've actually had to work through something and it's not clicking right away (and in his mind isn't logical).  It's a good lesson in many ways, though.
-is already pouring through our new-to-us encyclopedias.  They may be slightly less out of date than our old ones.  "Mama!  These ones have the moon landing!"
-won third place in his spelling bee age group!
-from the four classic temperaments, he is definitely our sanguine child.
-is rooting for the name Anthony if the baby is a boy.

Michael


-has been super enthusiastic with helping to cook dinner.
-draws like crazy lately.  And is getting pretty darn good!
-has also been all about the crafts lately.  Clothespin people, pilgrim hats (get ready, Thanksgiving peeps!), and hot glue all the time.
-started piano lessons.
-when he sings (if he doesn't know you're listening) has the most beautiful little voice.  I love hearing it.
-has been wanting to play Mass more and more with David.
-is our classic melancholic.
-is undecided on baby names.  Francis, Joseph, and Maximilian have all been mentioned.

David


-began illustrating his autobiography.
-has also been in drawing and coloring mode lately.  They both LOVE using these books.
-is pretty sure he's going to make his First Holy Communion in the Holy Land.  Upping the ante much, buddy?
-has the most infectious giggle pretty much ever.
-uses hand gestures and facial expressions in the most adorable way.  Especially when conveying something VERY exciting.
-is doing well on a half dose of his medicine every 3 days.  This is a pretty big deal for us.
-is most definitely our choleric.
-is pretty convinced this new baby is a girl.
-so randomly chose "Rose" as his first baby name choice.  

Luke


-has begun spontaneously telling us he loves us "with his whole heart."  
-is convinced that one of my breasts is actually the baby's head.
-upon seeing an inflatable snowman and santa at the store:  "Mama!  Look!  A big silly marshmallow man...And GANDALF!"
-if he doesn't fall asleep at nap time (which is pretty much every day nowadays) will soundlessly climb out of his bed and change his clothes (which involves emptying most of his dresser).
-is the first child to require us to install locks on a few interior doors.
-requests that Phillip Phillips be played whenever there is music on.  ("The Fire Song" and "Gone, Gone, Gone" are his faces.)
-is a big fan of singing the alphabet.  And puzzles.
-if I had to pick right now, I'd say he's a sanguine-choleric.
-thinks he is absolutely hilarious when he gives his baby name choice:  "David's House."
(??  I don't even know.)



Thursday, November 13, 2014

So David Made My Week (and some other things, too)


We're having our first snow today!  
It waited until November 13 so I think I'm okay with it.

Despite my photos it does look so cozy and {pretty} outside!



I'm glad the Brian and the boys were able to spend some time cleaning up the garden before the snow.  There's a lot of work left and the garden will need a major overhaul next year but at least they found a fun surprise while they were working!

Surprise carrot harvest!  

A few days ago the boys were crazy {happy} to carve pumpkins.  There's no statute of limitations on that, right? 

I was happy to let the husband take over all carving duties.

David insisted on a spider.

Michael's was decorated with Andruil the sword, Gimli's axe, Legolas' bow, and the one ring.  (And who didn't get a picture?  This gal.)

Luke was quite content to scoop seeds in and out of his pumpkin shell.  Later Brian helped him carve a "silly face" into his.


And John Paul carved a pretty impressive Andruil as well.
I'm so bummed I didn't get a picture of them all before they were brought outside and have already started wrinkling and collapsing...

And then there's this. 

This {funny} project of David's pretty much made my week.  He found a small photo album and decided he was going to turn it into his autobiography.


So all by his own volition he began at the beginning and spent several days' work illustrating his life.

This is his birth.  I'm in the water in the fish pool holding him.  I absolutely adore Brian's pose and expression.  

And here we have when the older brothers woke up and learned they had a new brother.
Page 3 is his Baptism.

Then we have us moving into our new house and then building the new chicken pen.  He did get help from John Paul for this last drawing. This is the last page so far but I really really hope he continues because I get SUCH a kick out of it.

Same child also took it upon himself to make a crown a few days ago.  

"The cross is for Jesus and the feathers are for the birds flying up to heaven."

He wore it two days straight and all through his classes at the learning center on Tuesday.  

This kid.  {Real} cute sometimes.


Hope you're having a great day!

(Linking up with LMLD for {phfr})




Friday, November 7, 2014

The Things You Should be Buying at the Dollar Store


Are you a dollar store shopper?  
I am.
But only for very certain things.  For clarification, by dollar store I mean the stores where everything is a dollar (and not just have the word dollar in the name (I'm lookin' at you, Dollar General).  Around here that's Dollar Tree. 

Don't get me wrong, I am totally all about small and local businesses and buying handmade when possible.  I love that.  I love Etsy and small boutiques and such.  But that's not the reality for most of us with every single purchase.  And if you're just as well going to Target or Walmart or whatever for these foreign-made things anyway, you might as well be going to the dollar store and getting yoself a better price.  Right?  Right.


So here's the following things that if you buy them, you should be buying at the dollar store:

1.
Pregnancy Tests
Because it's silly to urinate on a ten dollar bill when you can do it on a one. 
Really, they work just as well as the ten or fifteen dollar ones for the most part and for most purposes.  The only drawback is that they're not the kind where you go directly on the stick one and you have to use the enclosed dropper to drop the urine in the special spot.  But if you're possibly pregnant, you may as well get used to close encounters with bodily fluids anyway, amiright?  And it's way easier to stock up and explain to the husband a $10 crazy purchase versus a one hundred dollar one.

2.
Greeting Cards


I almost physically hurt when I see the prices on greeting cards in the normal store.  Five dollars?!?  For a card??  The cards at our Dollar Tree are two for $1.  And really, they're just as good as the others.  (And does anyone ever read the actual card anyway?  Like ten percent of the time maybe??)  They also have packs of thank you cards or invitations for that same buck.

3.
Gift Bags


I have the same visceral response to the price of gift bags as I do to greeting cards.  You can find them at the dollar store for either a buck each or two for $1.  Get them there when you need a new one.  Then, of course, save them all and rotate them through your family repeatedly like we do.  I think I still have a few saved from John Paul's birth a decade ago.  Heck, I think we even have some from our wedding.  And I've seen the same bag passed back and forth for various cousin birthdays, too, because cheapness runs in the family.

4.
Paper Plates/Cups/Napkins


The dollar store is by far the best place to buy colored plates and cups and things for parties when you need them.  They have a ton of colors and themes as well as other party supplies.  We've hosted a good many parties in our day and the best value I've always found there.  

5.
School, Office, and Craft Supplies
(Posterboard, glue, notebooks, tape, googly eyes, popsicle sticks etc.)


I don't feel like I need to go crazy stocking up at the back to school sales anymore since the dollar store has most of those items just as cheap all year round.  Or if they are a ton cheaper at the Target sale, you know it's only because they're luring you in to also buy the more expensive inflated items along with it.

6.
Plastic and Aluminum Storage Containers
When you make a meal for someone in need it's really nice to be able to put it in a storage container that they can keep or toss.  Our Dollar Tree has some good size ones that are perfect for this.  I like to keep a few on hand for when an occasion arises to gift a meal to someone.

7.
First Aid Supplies
(Rubbing alcohol, bandages, cotton balls, aspirin, etc.)


John Paul went through this thing last year (probably due to The Dangerous Book for Boys) where he decided to put together first aid kits for our family.  Which was good because we didn't have anything like that.  We went to the Dollar Tree for almost everything in it - bandages, wipes, aspirin...they even have braces, ace bandages, and epsom salt (this pregnant lady is loving her epsom salt baths right now).  I now make sure bandages are bought there...four boys and all.


So what shouldn't you buy at the dollar store?  Food.  Pretty much any of it.  :)


Do you shop at the dollar store?  What do you make sure to get there?


(Linking up for Seven Quick Takes!)




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Luke Revelation and A Tiny Treat for His Feast


Luke and his namesake have been an enigma to me.

Allow me to explain.

I'm a big believer in the power of a name.  I think the name parents choose for their child is incredibly important.  In Old Testament times and in many other cultures, the name a person was given signified some reality about that person.  Look at all the great names God gives directly to people in Scripture or that are chosen for them based upon their literal meanings.  I think that same reality still holds true today.  So when we name our children it is a huge decision for us.  None of this trendy stuff or "that just sounds nice" stuff.  It's got to be the RIGHT name, a name that will infuse that person's character, in a way.

Luke's name I had in mind from the very beginning of my pregnancy.  It was the right name for him.  I just knew it.  But how would this particular child personify that name?  I thought for a long time that it was maybe because he would be artistic or scholarly.  St. Luke was an artist, a doctor, a scholar.  A calm thoughtful child he would be, I so foolishly foolishly thought.  So the last couple of years after his incredibly easy babyhood have had me stumped and made me question my whole naming philosophy.  Because Luke?  He is the exact opposite of that it seems.  Perhaps when he is older he'll become the artistic, doctory, scholarly one, but for now?  That is not in any way, shape, or form his temperament.

How could he be a Luke?

AND THEN it hit me a few weeks ago.  It aaaalllll makes sense.

What is the symbol for St. Luke?

An ox.

And that THAT is why he is named Luke.  It's all clear now.  THAT is Luke.
(Funny enough, several other of the little Lukes I know seem to be giving their moms a similar run for their money.  I'm thinking we should put em all in a barn ;)

So anyway, after that tale, I shall now get back to the main point of this rambling post.
Which is how we "celebrated" our little ox's feast day.

I know.  The feast of Saint Luke was, like, three whole weeks ago.  It's true.
Poor fourth born child.
We weren't able to celebrate his feast day on the proper day due to other obligations plus feeling all first trimestery.  I did have Brian pick up the necessary ingredient for my only thought-of treat for the occasion...but I just couldn't pull it off on the day.  Or even in the same week.  Which is incredibly sad once you see how simple it really is.

It wasn't until last week that we added a tiny treat to our dinner in honor of St. Luke.  I mean it.  It was the smallest little addition to dinner but I'm a BIG believer that incorporating special feasts and observances of the liturgical year does NOT always mean spending all day in the kitchen or planning grocery trips weeks in advance.  Sometimes that's awesome.  And sometimes that just doesn't work.

So for our little Luke's feast day we had some Ox Horn Rolls with dinner.

Which are not at all the same as crescent rolls from the tube and curled up strategically at the ends.  Ahem.

Small or not, the boys loved them, it was a treat for us, and it gave us a chance to talk about and celebrate St. Luke a bit.  And that's what matters most, I think.





And our little blurry ox-boy himself 

Maybe next year we'll add on these adorably sweet artist palette cookies from Jessica.  And maybe by then my little ox will have embraced the artistic life.  But I'm not going to bet on it ;)



Saturday, November 1, 2014

For ALL the Saints (including the babies)


I think I've uncovered one of the reasons that I love All Saints' Day so much.  
Part of it is that the saints have done so so much for me in my life.  They have provided me prayers, miracles, an ideal, motivation, and friendship.  Honoring and thanking them on this day and making sure that this day far eclipses any secular celebration of Halloween seems like the appropriate approach for me as a Catholic.  But there is another reason I love it so much.

This day is for ALL the saints, both known and unknown, who are now in the full Presence of the Trinity.  We remember all of them.  We even name it a Solemnity it is so important.  Our Church remembers every single Joe Schmo who made it, who fought the good fight and who has now won the race.  We remember that we little Joe Schmos still fighting can also do it, too.  And why I love it most?  Because it means that those little ones who were lost to us here on earth, Baptized by desire, are also celebrated by the universal Body of Christ.

My Joseph Mary is a saint and that means today is his feast, too.

So today I celebrate that little one whose days in this life were brief but who now lives forever in the Presence of God.  I remember that the suffering, the pain, and the grief of that loss were worth it for the sake of another soul in heaven.  I thank God that His mercy extends beyond the limits of my imagination and that He welcomes all those little ones.  I'm grateful for a Church that recognizes their dignity and worth.  

Let us remember all the saints today.  And if you have a little saint of your own, take hope and joy and consolation in the recognition that this feast is for that precious little one, too.  

May all the saints, especially those precious little babies lost to us on earth, pray for our families until we can meet them again.

Happy ALL Saints' Day!

(Painting by Albrecht Durer 1511)



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