Thursday, April 30, 2009

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

May 1st is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. I like to imagine a scene of when Jesus was a boy growing up, of Joseph holding Jesus' hands as they are gripped around a hammer teaching him how to do the work of a carpenter. I imagine Mary folding linens peacefully watching. I love the feelings that fill my heart when I am teaching my children some task. Can you imagine what is was like for Joseph to teach the son of God how to hammer a nail? Do you think Joseph had any clue as to the great irony of a moment like that and Jesus' death - hammered with nails to a cross of wood? In honor of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, have the spirit of Christ and St. Joseph in your heart as you do your daily work today. Also recognize that the daily work of a mother in caring for her family and home has a special dignity.
"Workmen and all those laboring in conditions of poverty will have reasons to rejoice rather than grieve, since they have in common with the Holy Family daily preoccupations and cares"(Leo XIII).
Prayer to St. Joseph Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who devote their lives to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in order thereby to atone for my many sins; to work conscientiously, setting devotion to duty in preference to my own whims; to work with thankfulness and joy, deeming it an honor to employ and to develop by my labor the gifts I have received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties; to work above all with a pure intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes the hour of death and the accounting which I must then render of time ill spent, of talents wasted, of good omitted, and of vain complacency in success, which is so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all in imitation of you, O Patriarch Joseph! This shall be my motto in life and in death.
Amen.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Palchelbel Bedtime

Very funny...
I love the giant mess in the background.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rice Krispie Flower Crown for May Crowning

Early in the month of May it is tradition to have a May Crowning to honor Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother, as the month of May is dedicated to her. This is often done as a procession with a ceremony of placing a crown of flowers onto a statue of Mary and flowers at the foot of the statue. Hymns honoring Mary are sung and prayers such as the Haily Mary, Hail Holy Queen, and Memorare are said. For more information on how to have a May Crowning in your home and the history of May Crownings go here and here.

To celebrate this event with food I came up with this yummy idea of making an edible replica of the floral crown for Mary with Rice Krispies using this recipe. Decorate it however you like with blue and white icing flowers, sprinkles, jellybeans in the shape of flowers. The possibilities are endless. I used blue food coloring to symbolize the blue in Mary's mantle but you could keep it the basic color too. Inside the crown you can display your Mary Candle.
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
- OR -
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon blue food coloring
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
frosting, sprinkles, jelly beans etc. 1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows & stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in food coloring.
2. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Transfer cereal mixture to wax paper. Using buttered hands shape mixture into wreath approximately 8 inches in diameter. Decorate with frosting, sprinkles, candies, powdered sugar. Best if served the same day.
Note: This picture above is only a half recipe because someone got a hold of the marshmallows and ate half the bag. Also, I had planned on using the blue and white jelly beans left over from Easter as the center of the flowers, but they got eaten too before I could use them.
So I made a buttercream frosting with butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. I use a simple ziploc bag for piping the frosting out. I am not a very good frosting decorator but I think you can tell that the crown is decorated with flowers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Feast of St. Gianna

April 28th is the feast of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. I have a special fondness and devotion to her for many reasons, including that she was a mother of young children while also being a physician. While I am not a physician or is my work as a veterinarian any where near as valuable or life changing as her work with the poor and elderly, I nonetheless feel connected to her in that way. First and foremost though she was a mother who taught her young children in words and action a life of faith and love. I pray everyday and especially today that I can emulate her life and for her to ask Jesus and the the Virgin Mother to look down on me and my family and bless us. I also pray to St. Gianna for the lives of all unborn children and their mothers, especially those considering abortion and for an end to abortion as St. Gianna is the patron saint of doctors, mothers, and unborn children. St. Gianna had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother, so pray the rosary and the prayer to St. Gianna below today in her honor. Children can color a drawing of her made by Charlotte by downloading it here.

Prayer of St. Gianna
God our Father we praise You and we bless you because in St Gianna Beretta Molla you have given us one who witnessed to the Gospel as a young women, as a wife, as a mother, and as a doctor. We thank you because through the gift of her life we can learn to welcome and honor every human person. You, Lord Jesus, were for Gianna a splendid example. She learned to recognize you in the beauty of nature. As she was questioning her choice of vocation she went in search of you and the best way to serve you. Through her married love she became a sign of your love for the Church and for humanity. Like you, the Good Samaritan, she cared for everyone who was sick, small or weak. Following your example, out of love she gave herself entirely, generating new life. Holy Spirit, Source of every perfection, give us wisdom, intelligence, and courage so that, following the example of Saint Gianna and through her intercession, we may know how to place ourselves at the service of each person we meet in our personal, family and professional lives, and thus grow in love and holiness.
Amen.
"The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day". - St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Mary Ann Glendon Declines Notre Dame Laetare Medal

In this letter here to Notre Dame, Mary Ann Glendon declines receiving the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame at the 2009 Commencement. I respect and admire her for this decision. Maybe these words will make Father Jenkins realize his mistake. We can only offer continued prayers for his change of heart.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Speech by Pro-life activist Lila Rose

This video is long but it is worth the time. It's hard to believe that this well spoken woman is only twenty years old. From gloria.tv "Pro-life activist Lila Rose talks about posing as a pregnant 15-year old in Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country and their blatent disregard for the law."

Novena to St. Gianna

I meant to post this novena earlier this week so that it could be said for nine days finishing on her feast day on April 28th but I just kept forgetting. There is nothing wrong with starting it late and finishing a few days after her feats day. To learn more about St. Gianna Beretta Molla, go here and here.
God, our Father, You have granted to your Church the gift of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought You and drew other young people to You, involving them through apostolic witness and catholic action, in the care of the sick and the elderly.
We thank You for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to You. Through her example, give us the grace to dedicate our lives to Your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.
Glory Be...
Jesus, Redeemer of humanity, You called Saint Gianna to become a doctor, a role she lived as a mission for the comfort of bodies and souls. She saw You in all the sick, in the needy and the weak.
We thank You because, through this servant, You revealed Yourself to us as one who serves and who alleviates the sufferings of all men and women. As we treasure her example may we become generous Christians at the service of our brothers and sisters, especially of those with whom You deign to share Your Cross.
Glory Be...
God, Sanctifying Spirit, You who love the Church as Your bride, You poured into the heart of Saint Gianna a share of Your Love so that she could give it to her family, and thus cooperate with You in the wonderful plan of creation, and give life to new children who could know and love You.
We thank You for this model wife and for her encouraging example. Grant our families the serene and Christian presence of mothers committed to transform them into cenacles of faith and love, capable of generous actions and sanctifying service.
Glory Be...
O God, creator and lover of the human family, You remained with Saint Gianna when she painfully had to choose between her life and the life of the child she was expecting, a long-awaited gift.
Trusting You alone and aware of Your commandment to respect human life, Saint Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say yes to her baby's life, thus generously giving her own.
Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of Saint Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the seeds of a new life. Help us all to have great respect for human life.
Grant us the grace we seek... and the joy to find an inspiration in Saint Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others.
Hail Mary...
Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Prairie Angel

On a recent trip to the NC mountains with my husband, we visited one of my favorite stores - The Mast General Store. It is a modern day "general store" with everything you could want to buy - from sweaters to cast iron skillets to books to wildflower honey. It has a quaint old-timey country feel that I love. I feel like I just fit right in. There are also these huge old-fashioned barrels filled with every candy imaginable. While I was there I fell in love with this bonnet and knew it would be perfect for my little baby girl. It was only $8 and one of my favorite purchases of all time. I love to be outside but I am very sun shy, so my children and I all wear hats to protect ourselves from the sun. This is an adorable timeless bonnet that covers her delicate head and face and makes her big eyes and chubby cheeks look even more innocent and sweet.

We were playing at my friend's house the other afternoon, and she took these impromptu shots of my little prairie angel in her bonnet. They are so precious that I just couldn't help but share. If you want some timeless shots of your angels just like these, please contact Julie at J. Rae Photography here or from the link under My Gifted Friends on the left sidebar.
Note - I couldn't find the bonnet on the Mast general Store website but you can call their store in Asheville and find out more information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Like Mother, Like Son

Pumpkin has inherited my genes for obsessive order and organization, for better or worse.

Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's Today

Today is Free Cone day at Ben & Jerry's. Yummy!! www.benjerry.com/scoop-shops/feature/free-cone-day

Monday, April 20, 2009

Keeping it Simple

Many of my friends with young children have had their kids enrolled in this class or that activity since they were very young, everything from Kindermusic to Gymboree to infant massage. A year or so ago I used to feel very anxious and "behind the times" because I didn't feel the need to participate in these activities. Were my children missing out on some crucial developmental activity? Was I not doing right by my children? I just couldn't imagine budgeting so much money for glorified rough housing for a 12 month old. I don't mean to sound crass but I just didn't get it. I'm not saying that any of those classes are anything bad for a young child, but I could not see how my children would be missing something if they instead just played at home on the rug with me, some pillows and a bowl and spoon.
I have been enjoying this rejection of suburban baby and toddler classes for some time now and enjoying the fact that my time with my children is not organized around any activities. We can on any given day spend the morning in pajamas reading books or head to the greenway for a nature discovery walk. It has been a wonderful "toddlermoon." However I realize these days are going to end soon. I am going to within a year or two join the ranks of the moms I know who are rushing from preschool to practice to ballet to scouts. While I am excited about these activities and how happy I am sure they will make my children, I am trying desperately to hold on to our carefree days.
I realized I had to sign Pumpkin up for his first "activity" when we were swimming at the indoor pool, and I realized I can't continue to hold on to a toddler on one hip while trying to catch the older brother as he jumped into the water. I was exhausted and it just was becoming more dangerous and stressful keeping track of both of them than it was was fun and relaxing. I am a horrible swimmer and have no idea where to begin teaching anything about holding your breath or strokes or floating. So I signed him up a few months ago for the beginner swim lessons. We just had our first session. It was an experience. I spent the entire 30 minutes hiding behind a pillar peeking around to see him as he craned looking everywhere for me screaming "mommy." He wore his back floaty (or whatever you call those things) and hollered the whole time he was in the water, clawing up the chest of the patient swim instructor. His reprieve came every few minutes when it was another child's turn and he sat along the pool's edge. I was thinking that that was $50 for 6 weekly classes down the drain. But I am holding out hope that he will get used to it and thrive. Now I am wondering if I should have kept up with my original feeling that I should wait until at least 4 years old to do these activities. I'll stick it out and see how it goes.
I guess at the end of the day sometimes I feel like why are so many moms in such a rush to have their babies grown up. I am so eager to slow the days down and keep them as simple. I want to keep them little and carefree for as long as possible. I hope I'm doing the right thing.
Fortunately after swim lessons, we went strawberry picking and this peaceful and happy adventure brought me back to basics. I think what babies and toddlers need the most are books and nature, cuddles and kisses, tickles and tackles, sunshine and singing. I can give them all of this and more at home anytime all for free, except for the occasional mommy tax (a big kiss and a double hug).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus said to St. Faustina "The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."
To learn more about Divine Mercy Sunday go here. For more on devotion to Divine Mercy and praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy go here. Additional Divine Mercy sites are this and this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fabulous, check this out

You must watch this you tube video. I can not embed the video only link the URL because the embedding was disabled. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY I have to say Les Miserables is my absolute favorite musical and I have been singing this song since the eighth grade.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Egg Garland

Here is a picture of the foam Easter Egg garland we made. It came as a kit from a craft store but we used a box of pre-cut foam religious stickers in addition to the decorative stickers that came with the egg kit. I tied each egg with a knot along a piece of ribbon so the eggs hung front/back instead of sideways. We decorated each egg on both sides but I just took a picture of one side. It was a very easy and no mess craft, perfect for a rambunctious two year old boy whose mother wishes he liked crafts more.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alleluia! Christ is Risen

Happy Easter to all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Watch Easter Vigil Mass at National Shrine live 8pm

For those of you like us, whose little ones don't allow you to attend Easter Vigil Mass, tune into EWTN and watch the Easter Vigil Mass from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception live tonight at 8pm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena Begins Today

The Divine Mercy Novena starts today Good Friday and lasts until April 18th. For the full Divine Mercy Novena go here. The first day is below. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.
First Day - Today bring Me all mankind, especially all sinners.
Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins, but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever.
Amen.

Good Friday

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.”
– John 19:17-18
Jesus suffered greatly for us. Think of His wounds, His pain, His last breath. Be with Jesus today. - Pray the Stations of the Cross, Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, Litany of the Passion, or Chaplet of Divine Mercy - In the hours before and especially at 3:00pm (luckily nap time) which is "the hour" He died be especially quiet and reflective.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Holy Week Plans

My ultimate goal for the next few days of Holy Week is to have a relaxed and quiet home, reflective on Thursday, somber on Friday, excited on Saturday and celebratory on Sunday. I don't have many activities planned, mostly just reading and cooking. Here are some excellent books for reading in preparation of Easter. There are so many good ones, these are just a sampling.

by Aileen Fisher
by Jude Winkler
by Dubose Heyward
by Lori VandenBosch
by Paul J. Maier
by Fricch Lewandowski
Our activities will be fairly light. We are going to decorate foam Easter eggs and hang them as a garland. We will also do some coloring pages from the Coloring Book About Easter by Paul Bianca. Here is a link to a post listing numerous cute Easter crafts you could do. We are hoping to make it to Stations of the Cross on Friday afternoon but the evening services are not an option for us this year.
I am trying to keep our food plans simple. On Holy Thursday we'll have a special meal to remember Jesus' Last Supper. It won't be a Seder meal replicating the passover meal, but reflective of some of the foods Jesus would have eaten or symbolic of Jesus. I got my ideas for these from this wonderful post at Catholic Cuisine about Holy Thursday. This article does a much better job than I could explaining the historical and religious significance of these foods.
- meatloaf shaped like a lamb because we don't really like leg of lamb (I don't have a lamb cake pan but I am buying one for next year, so I am going to do my best to hand mold this this year) to symbolize Christ as the lamb of God
- spinach salad (fresh from our garden, we have so much spinach) reminder of the bitter herbs eaten at Passover
- homemade artisan bread with a cross on it served with apple butter as a reminder of the Charoses, the Unleavened Bread, the Eucharist, Jesus as the bread of life and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross
- grapes for the kids and wine for the parents as a reminder of the wine of the Last Supper which becomes the Blood of Christ
It is tradition to read the story of the first Passover from the Bible (Exodus 12:1-20) before dinner. Following we'll read the New Testament reading about the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist is read from either Matt 26:17:30; Mark 14:12-26 or Luke 22:7-20.
On Good Friday, I'll make Hot Cross Buns as this is tradition for Good Friday. I'll use this recipe from Catholic Cuisine.
On Holy Saturday, we will make Resurrection Rolls as a family. This easy recipe is all over the internet and very popular because it is such a delicious and creative way to explain Jesus' Resurrection to young children. Here it is:
Resurrection Rolls
1 package Crescent Rolls, divided into triangles Butter, melted 8 large Marshmallows Cinnamon/Sugar mixture
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Give each child a triangle of crescent rolls. The crescent roll represents the tomb and the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in .
Read Matthew 27:57-61
Give each child a marshmallow. This represents Jesus.
Dip the marshmallow in the melted butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. This represents the oils and spices the body was anointed with upon burial.
Lay the marshmallow on the dough and carefully wrap it around the marshmallow. Make sure all seams are pinched together well. (Otherwise the marshmallow will "ooze" out of the seams.)This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body after His death.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. The oven represents the tomb and the cooking time the three days from Good Friday to Easter.
Read Matthew 28:5-8
When the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open their rolls (cloth) and discover that Jesus is no longer there, HE IS RISEN! The rolls will be hollow because the marshmallow melted. While the children enjoy the rolls, explain that knowing Jesus is alive and He loves us feels so good, like the rolls taste good and sweet.
On Easter Sunday we'll open Easter baskets, go to mass, come home and have brunch. The highlight of brunch will be Cross Monkey Bread. I guest posted at Catholic Cuisine about my Cross Monkey Bread here last week. Then off to our in-laws for Easter dinner and their Easter Egg Hunt which all the children (even adult ones like me and my husband) participate in. Hope you have a blessed and reflective Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Earth Shattering Coincidence

I have owned "The Passion of the Christ" on DVD since it came out four years ago, but I had never watched it. I just didn't feel ready. Last night on Palm Sunday, my husband and I decided that we were ready to watch it. It would help center our hearts for Holy Week. The movie is 2 hours and 6 minutes long. It was a very powerful gruesome movie, but those images will stay with me forever. It certainly created a more vivid visual focus for my thoughts about Jesus Passion. We started watching the movie around 7:30pm. The crucifixion scene is near the very end of the movie. After Jesus breaths his last breath, as is written in the Gospels, an earthquake occurs in Jerusalem. When I woke up this morning, I read about a strong earthquake in Italy. The earthquake occurred at 3:32 am local time in Italy, which is 9:32 pm US Eastern time for us. This is almost exactly to the minute when my husband and I were watching the earthquake following Jesus' death. A very strange coincidence. My prayers go out to all those affected in Italy affected by this tragedy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Palm Sunday

This post comes a little late but below are some ideas for celebrating Palm Sunday.
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord! Mark 11:9
Make palm crosses. Follow these directions with pictures here.
Have your children color a picture of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem like the one here or click on this picture below.
Palm Sunday is also known as "Fig Sunday" because it is believed that Christ ate figs after his entrance into Jerusalem. A Fig Newton vanilla icecream sundae sounds like a good way to eat some figs today. Maybe with caramel sauce too. For other fig ideas, visit Catholic Culture here.
Click here for an assortment of creative crafts for children for Palm Sunday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Monkey Bread Cross

Our family has a tradition of eating monkey bread, sweet, gooey and delicious, on Easter morning. Usually I make it in a bundt cake pan, but this year I wanted to try making it in a cross shape to honor Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross. I bought the cross cake pan for $5 on ebay. It took me a couple trial runs to figure out how to change the recipe for the different cake pan, but no one in my family minded eating monkey bread twice this past week.
Cross Monkey Bread
4 packages of standard size biscuits
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 sticks margarine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each biscuit into four uarters. Mix all dry ingredients above in a bowl. Spray surface of cross cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each individual biscuit quarter into the cinnamon sugar mixture and then into the cake pan. Pour half of remaining sugar mixture evenly over biscuits. Melt margarine in microwave and pour all of it evenly over biscuits.
Then pour remaining sugar mixture over biscuits especially in pools of melted butter. Place cake pan on foil covered cookie sheet because it will spill over and be messy. Bake for 35-40 minutes depending on your oven. We like our monkey bread a little undercooked so we cooked it in that range. If you like it really cooked or even a little crispy, then maybe cook between 40-45 minutes. Immediately after taking out of the oven, carefully flip cake pan onto platter and let stand until cool enough to eat. (please note the above picture was taken on a practice round when I didn't cook it long enough so that is why there is margarine and melted cinnamon seeping out when I flipped the cake pan)
If you want to make it in the traditional circle bundt cake pan, follow the same recipe as above but only cook it for 30 minutes and you don't need the cookie sheet under the cake pan. One idea for being creative with the circle monkey bread would be to put toothpicks in it and have it resemble a crown of thorns. This would maybe more appropriate earlier in Holy Week. Another idea on Easter Sunday would be to put a white candle in the center (another opportunity to reuse your Mary candle) symbolizing Christ being the light of the world.
Please share your Easter traditions and recipes.

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