Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Home Ready for A New Baby

Pictures of the sweet places for the new baby in our home soon...
Nursery

A sweet lovey and cute crib bumpers and bedding

the glider in the nursery and book basket for cozy snuggles and reads
Baby's First Picture Frame in the nursery animal theme. My mother-in-law made this for me for Pumpkin and I have put each new baby's ultrasound pictures in it.
Changing Table
Mother & Child Plaque overlooking the changing table. I love this picture of Mary tenderly wrapping the infant Jesus in swaddling clothes. Nursery dresser. The oval frames with felt animal giraffe and lion are from my nursery as a baby Baby's Home for the Early Months
The bassinet in my bedroom that I restored and stained a little under two years ago for Peaches right before she was born.
The new glider my parents got me for this baby so I have a place to nurse and rock the baby in my bedroom. The pillows were made by a friend who made our window treatments and bed pillows for our bedroom. I love how the light blue pops off the chocolate chair.
A view from the other side of my bedroom, the bed throw pillow matches the glider throw pillows.

38 Weeks...

Me at 38 weeks on Christmas Eve.
What may be the last picture of our family of four. Any day now...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God

Orazio Gentileschi 1565-1647, Madonna And Child
January 1st is the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. Below are some ideas for celebrating this day with your family.
"Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the "Seat of Wisdom." — Catechism of the Catholic Church 721
Prayer
This day honoring Mary as the Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation, so the principal activity to celebrate the day is to attend mass. • Pray the Rosary (as a whole or a decade, or even just a Hail Mary as a family) • Pray the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary • Pray the Magnificat • Pray the Angelus
Read
Food
• Have a white meal to symbolize Mary’s purity. • There are numerous ideas at Catholic Cuisine including
Activities
• Create a Mary candle as a centerpiece for a table or mantle with a white pillar candle and embellishing it with blue and white cloth or decorative details and light this candle during prayer time • Color Charlotte's coloring page of Mary, Mother of God • Sing Immaculate Mary
"Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents

The Triumph of the Innocents, 1876, by William Holman Hunt
December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is the day the Church honors all the little children who were killed by King Herod because he wanted to kill the infant Jesus, King of the Jews following His birth. These Holy Innocents were the first to die for Christ, and so they have been honored, since very early times, as martyrs. On this day it is especially appropriate to pray for unborn children and victims of abortion, as they are today’s holy innocents. Pray a rosary, start this Novena for the Protection of the Unborn, or attend mass at a local parish in remembrance of the unborn victims of abortion. You may also bless your own children on this day by tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads while saying:
"May God bless you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit".

"While it is easy to get lost in the nightmare of what happened to the Innocents, it's to be remembered that they ultimately triumphed! They are Saints of God, as this [above] painting by William Holman Hunt shows. The Innocents are seen with the Holy Family, in spirit, during the Family's Flight to Egypt." (from Fish Eaters)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family

The Holy Family with a Small Bird, c. 1650, Bartolomeo Esteban Murillo
The Feast of the Holy Family which celebrates the family unit and the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is on Sunday, December 27th this year. "The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit." (from Church Year). Here are some ideas for celebrating this feast day with your own family.
Prayer
- Pray for the grace to always imitate their holiness in our own families - Pray this prayer as a family
Prayer for the Family
Jesus, our most loving redeemer, You came to enlighten the world with your teaching and example. You willed to spend the greater part of Your life in humble obedience to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth. In this way, You sanctified that family, which was to be an example for all Christian families. Graciously accept our family, which we dedicate and consecrate to You this day. Be pleased to protect, guard, and keep it in holy fear, in peace, and in the harmony of Christian charity. By conforming ourselves to the Divine model of Your family, may we attain to eternal happiness.
Amen. from New St. Joseph People's Prayer Book
Food
- Make Lebanese dishes, as it resembles the food Mary would have made for Joseph. For ideas visit Catholic Cuisine.

Christmas Rosemary Tree

The story of the Rosemary Tree:
During the Holy Family’s escape into Egypt, Mary rested under a rosemary bush and spread her cloak on it to dry. The flowers miraculously changed from white to the blue of Mary’s cloak. The Spanish name for rosemary is romero, or pilgrims plant, and derives from this legend. A variation of this legend says during the flight into Egypt, the Holy Family stopped to rest and Mary washed the baby’s clothes in a stream. She placed His garments on a bush to dry in the sun. For it’s humble service, the plant was named rosemary, and God rewarded it with delicate blossoms of the same heavenly blue as Mary’s robe.
Place a rosemary tree on your mantle or table as a centerpiece to remind you of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Christian Meaning of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829. Legend has it "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).
4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
So the next time you hear "The Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith. adapted from email messages,from "How To Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas,"by Hugh D. McKellar,U.S. Catholic, 12/1979,and from "‘12 Days of Christmas’ is no nonsense, but a serious riddle"by David CrowderEl Paso Times, 12/19/1993.Also, Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"An Underground Catechismby Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95 http://www.cin.org/twelvday.html Copyright © 2009 · Abbey Press. All Rights Reserved.One Hill Drive, Customer Service Plant 1, St. Meinrad, IN 47577 USA · 1-800-962-4760

Friday, December 25, 2009

For Unto Us a Child is Born...

"The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." - Luke 2:10-12 "O God, whose Son was born in bethlehem, on that wonderous night,
lead us to the same place where Mary laid her tiny child.
As we look on in wonder and praise, make us welcome Him
and all new life, and care for his handiwork; the earth, the sky, and the sea.
O God bless us again in Your great love.
We pray for this through Christ our lord, amen."
- from a Christmas prayer card Merry Christmas to You.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas. Our edited (keeping the kids names private) Christmas card.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

We just made these Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies I found on MarthaStewart.com as our Christmas cookie. Martha's cookies are pictured left, ours are below. We decided to tweak the recipe by making our own family chocolate frosting instead of using Martha's recipe. We also crushed candy canes to make candy cane sprinkles for some of the cookies. These were very easy cookies since there was no rolling or cutting of dough. the kids devoured them, and how could they not with a gooey marshmallow between a chocolate cookie and chocolate frosting.

Our Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter or margarine

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 box powdered sugar

6 tablespoons milk

Melt butter and cocoa on stovetop. Pour into mixing bowl and add powdered sugar and milk and mix until blended.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monkey Bread Birthday Breakfast Christmas Cake

We always have ooey gooey yummy Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. Since the children understand that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, we now put candles in the monkey bread and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I don't have a picture of my Monkey Bread, but here is the recipe.
Monkey Bread
4 packages standard size biscuits (not Grands)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each biscuit into four quarters and place in separate bowl. Mix all dry ingredients above in a bowl. Spray surface of bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dip a few biscuit quarters at a time into cinnamon sugar mixture completely covering them with sugar and then place in bundt cake pan until all done. Pour half of remaining sugar mixture onto biscuits. Melt butter in the microwave and pour it all evenly over biscuits. Then pour remaining sugar mixture over biscuits. Place cake pan on foil-covered cookie sheet. bake for 30 minutes depending on your oven. We like our monkey bread a little undercooked, so if you want it cooked more then bake for 35 minutes or so. Immediately after taking out of the oven, carefully flip over onto a platter and let stand until cool enough to eat. I have to say that the above recipe is a double recipe for the cinnamon topping, so it has lots of ooey gooey crust. If you prefer you can decrease the sugar, cinnamon and butter by half. Below is a picture of our Monkey Bread Cross that we eat at Easter since I don't have a picture of our Monkey Bread Christmas Birthday Cake.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Catholic Embroidery

Earlier today I was honored to become the godmother of a sweet little baby boy. For his baptism gift, I gave him a beautiful baby blanket with his name and today's date of his baptism and a gold cross embroidered upon it from Catholic Embroidery. I can not tell you how much I am impressed with Catholic Embroidery's products and customer service. Originally I ordered a blue fleece blanket with white embroidery, but because the little boy's name was longer than most, the font has to be decreased in size. When I received the fleece blanket, due to the plushness of the fleece material and the smaller font size, the thread almost had a light blue instead of a white appearance. I wanted to make sure it really was white thread and contacted them. Once they explained the above explanation, I was satisfied as I had just wanted to make sure the white thread color I had requested was used. The blanket still looked beautiful. However, because Catholic Embroidery wanted me to be completely satisfied they rushed me another blanket that was the thermal material instead of the fleece and separated the boy's name into two lines. I received it exactly when it was promised and could not have been happier with how it turned out.
I was so overjoyed to give my friend the blanket for her son, and she of course loved it. My friend's family was eager to get the information for Catholic Embroidery, and I am delighted to share Catholic Embroidery with them and with you. I plan to order some monogrammed mass bags for my children soon, and they have so many other lovely products including adult and children's aprons, blankets and afghans, bookmarks, and tote bags. I just wanted to share with you this wonderful company.

A Blessed Day

Pope Benedict XVI baptises a child.
Today I was honored to become the godmother of a dear friend's little baby boy who was baptized this morning. It was a beautiful baptism ceremony following mass. What an honor it is to have been entrusted with such a special role in this sweet little baby's life as he grows in his faith.
"The greatest gift that God could send He sends with love to you:
a dear and helpless little child, a responsibility too.
Each child that God gives to us is only lent a while
to treasure, love, protect and guard from every snare and vile.
To form within its innocent heart His image good and true.
God bless this tiny newborn baby and may He bless you too."
- from a baptism prayer card

Friday, December 18, 2009

Glimpses of Advent in Our Home...

Our Christmas Tree
A precious little girl putting her very first ornament on a Christmas Tree ever
Mary, Joseph and the stable animals awaiting the birth of Jesus
Our Advent Wreath and Mary candle (peaceful candlelit evenings of prayer and song, my favorite moments of the day this Advent)
Our family room with our Christmas stockings, Jesse Tree, children's nativity set and Christmas book basket
Christmas Reading
Our Christmas book basket, so many wonderful treasures (many of the books we have are listed and reviewed by Elizabeth here and here)
Peaches looking through some of those beautiful Christmas books
Our Jesse Tree so far (so many Bible stories told to lay a foundation for the birth of Our savior)
Christmas Crafting
Candy Cane Reindeer (Rudolph and his mommy)
Hanging candy cane reindeer on the Christmas Tree (I promised they could eat them on Christmas Eve)
Cheerio Christmas Tree (this was an impromptu craft we made up one morning)

Our Gingerbread House

We haven't yet started our Christmas baking and yummy treat eating. We also have some more fun and simple crafts to try to do, this and this. We'll be reading more beautiful Christmas books and watching some classic Christmas movies this week as we PREPARE for a joyous Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holler to Heaven

Those of you who know me well know that I am very organized, to the point of obsession. Some could consider it a gift, but sometimes it can be a real handicap when you just can not relax unless the floors are swept or the kitchen counters wiped. But this is just who I am, and I thrive and find peace in order, usually...
However, I have had a few episodes though with my children lately where this personality trait has not brought out the best in me. On a few occasions (though not TOO many as I am usually calm and mild-mannered with my children) I have lost my temper over the loss of order in my life. Just this past week, when I was busy doing morning chores, making beds and gathering dirty laundry, my children were peacefully playing together in the playroom. Or so I thought. When I walked into the playroom, I saw that my son had dumped all of the bins of toys into a great big pile. All the blocks, matchbox cars, play food, trucks, tractors, and dress-up clothes were now in a huge heap on the floor. Let me add also that we needed to get out the door to go to the dentist in about 10 minutes. Instead of reacting calmly or just letting it go and cleaning the mess up after we got home, I yelled loudly, really loudly, not at my son, just into the air out of frustration. Then I went to sit on the couch and put my hands over my eyes, and my son came over to me and said it will be OK.
That whole day and the days that followed, the guilt at losing my temper had been eating away at me. I wish I didn't care so much about a little mess, it didn't seem like any reason to scream or show such intense frustration and anger. Even if it had been, is that really a reason to behave like that? I tell my children all day how to behave with good manners and show restraint, and here I was acting out like a toddler.
A few days later, my son didn't get his way at a store we were at, and his reaction was just to yell really loudly out of frustration. Sound familiar? I impressed myself with my calm in the store by just taking my kids and leaving. However, once we got into the car after listening to his tantrum and carrying him kicking and screaming to the car in the parking lot (did I mention I am eight months pregnant?), I lost my temper again and yelled at him out of frustration. He was so sad that his beloved mommy was so angry when he was just mimicking my behavior. Again I was consumed with guilt.
That day I decided I couldn't keep screaming like this and losing my temper when something did not go right. My son and I had a talk the next day where I told him one of the things I would give him for Christmas was to not yell anymore. His face lit up at this and he said with the sweetness of a child, that that was a good idea, that we would just "throw the yelling away." "Throw it up into the air to Mary and Joseph and Jesus in Heaven."
Could it really be that simple? To ask for the Holy Family's help. Maybe it was. Today when he didn't get to the potty in time, I was presented with a big mess to clean up. There was no frustration or anger, just calm. I told him it was no big deal, and I would clean it up for him. He said he was so happy that I didn't yell, that he was "happy I threw the yelling up to Mary and Joseph and Jesus."
I guess in a way with all my prayers to Mary, the gentle mother, for her intercession to help me be a gentler mother that I kind of did "throw the yelling up to her in Heaven." And she caught it and put it away where I hope I'll never find it again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Children Around the World

Last week with Little Saints, we learned about Children Around the World. It was a very light week as we had many things going on. We have also been busy doing a lot of Advent and Christmas reading, crafting and baking that I'll post about later.

Books We Read
Not pictured that we read also, because I forgot it was upstairs in the kid's room when I took the picture, is Our Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola which coincided nicely with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.
Yummy Treats
We made brownie stars and decorated them like the stars on Our Lady of Guadalupe's mantle on Saint Juan Diego's tilma. I didn't have white icing or feel like making it, and maybe cookies would have been better, but I was craving brownies.
We made and decorated our gingerbread houses to coincide with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th because the aroma of gingerbread reminds us of the passage in the Book of Sirach, 24:20-21 that describes Mary smelling like spices:
"I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh; and I perfumed my dwelling as store, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odor is as the purest balm."
We also went to a local Italian restaurant's kids pizza making event with some friends, which I thought was an appropriate activity for celebrating cultures around the world. Pumpkin had fun making pizza and ate the entire pizza which is not typical for him right now.
We also made shrimp alfredo as our white meal symbolizing Mary's purity for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, but the picture didn't come out right and didn't show how yummy it was.
Fun Activities
We went to an exhibit of gingerbread houses and castles on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Here are some of the masterpieces.
Arts & Crafts
We did a few crafts and coloring activities, but I forgot to take pictures.
Music Appreciation
We have been listening to lots of beautiful Advent and Christmas songs.

We also watched the Little Drummer Boy DVD (you can watch it here on youtube.com)

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