Saturday, December 24, 2011

O Holy Night

Peace to you on this Holy Night

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; 
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. 
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. 
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: 
God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 
In this is love: not that we have loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 
No one has ever seen God. 
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, 
and his love is brought to perfection in us." 
1 John 4:7-12

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Meditations

Thought I would share these wonderful and insightful meditations on the birth of Christ...

I could listen to Fr. Barron speak all day long. 

I have been reading this Christmas mediation by Saint Padre Pio every Christmas for the past few years.

I also love this...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our Saint Lucy Morning

One big girl was very excited for her first morning being a big girl enough to deliver sweet breads to wake her family. She loved her crown of lights, her white gown and red sash.

 I cheated and made easy Lussekatter and braided sweet bread out of crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls. 

 Sweet husband was already awake and had been working already for a couple hours. He loved his morning surprise though.

One big brother was "asleep" waiting

A delicious and sweet way to start the day.  We did some of these activities too. It didn't work out this year, but next year we plan to drive around and see the Christmas LIGHTS in honor of St. Lucy's day. Hope you had a wonderful Feast of Saint Lucy.

Saint Lucy, Pray for Us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I am loving...

how the contour of his face fits just so perfectly against my arm as I rock him to sleep.
I took this picture with my phone which was sitting next to me. I didn't want to wake him by turning on the light so it's a little grainy.

I am loving also how my oldest daughter loves just "to be next to you mommy." She is my little companion whenever I am feeding little Bean Sprout. She leans up against me, resting her head on my arm and loves to rub his feet and toes. We can usually steal a few quiet moments like that a couple times a day.

I am loving how my big boy still just wants his mommy to snuggle with him every night and lay with him until he falls asleep. The things he says and tells me during those snuggles echo in my head like little wind chimes making me smile during the day.

I am loving how my little baby girl is not such a little baby anymore. She's talking in sentences and sometimes it's the bigger kids that translate for me. I needed some help with "Ariel band-aid fell off in the shower" today.

I am loving how I have been catching my children, even Sweet Pea, singing and humming "Time to say goodbye." We have been watching the Andrea Bocelli concert in Central Park on PBS and they have asked me to rewind that song over and over. I love opera and classical music, and my soul smiles to see them so mesmerized when they hear such beautiful music.

We of course listened to his version of "Ave Maria" today for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It went perfectly with our little snack after mass of blueberry muffins (recipe below) in honor of Mary cloaked in a blue mantle. And coffee for me.

And since this is a random mish-mash, post, look who's loving his tummy time.

Mary, thank you for being the model of a pure and selfless mother. When I follow your model and stay home, slow down and just enjoy my little ones, life is so sweet and so good. I am stepping away from the hustle this Advent. I have listened and I think that is what God wants for our family right now.

O Mary conceived without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup butter at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (I used more like 3-3.5 cups of whatever berries)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup
butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over
muffins before baking.

Heat oven to 375°.
Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups (or 12 large size or 24 regular
size muffins).
In bowl, mix butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.
With spoon, fold in half of flour then half of milk into batter; repeat.
Fold in blueberries.
Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle topping onto each muffin.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes for large muffins, 12-20 minutes for regular
sized, until golden brown and springy to touch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2011 Fun Advent Ideas

To celebrate Advent and Christmas, we are lighting our doing our Advent Wreath and Jesse Tree tradition each evening. And we'll get our tree this weekend probably and decorate it and the house. And on Christmas Eve and Day we'll have lots of fun and feasting. But here is a list of some fun things we have always done each Advent season and some new ones to try. I am writing this list down so I can remember it and also to help me out on the many sluggish, new baby and no sleep days I'm having lately. Thought I would share...

2011 Advent Fun List

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Advent Evenings

I get so excited about Advent for many reasons, but one of my favorites things is the sweet and peaceful moments with my children around the Advent Wreath. There is something about candlelight in the darkness that quiets the soul. This is what we do each evening to celebrate Advent...

Sign of the Cross
Light the Advent candle(s) as we sing "Light One Candle" (lyrics below)
Say this Advent prayer (below)
Sing a Christmas song
Sign of the Cross
Hang up the Jesse Tree ornament
Open Advent chocolate calendar window and eat piece of chocolate

Light One Candle
(each week of Advent add one more verse)

1. Light one candle for hope One bright candle for hope 
He brings hope to every heart He comes! He comes!

2. Light one candle for love One bright candle for love 
He brings love to every heart He comes! He comes!

3. Light one candle for joy One bright candle for joy 
He brings joy to every heart He comes! He comes!

4. Light one candle for peace One bright candle for peace 
He brings peace to every heart He comes!
He comes!

Advent Wreath Prayer

How dark outside!
but see -- a star's in the sky;
Mary and Joseph are passing by.
So let's light a candle to welcome them
as they go on their way to Bethlehem.
We'll light a candle in church each day,
We'll light one candle each week and pray.
We'll light a candle at home each day,
We'll light a candle each week and pray.

O God,
as light comes from this candle,
may the blessing of Jesus Christ come to us,
warming our hearts and
brightening our way.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of this world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Remember these two special novenas this Advent

Starting on November 30th, add these special novenas to your daily prayers

Immaculate Conception Novena
St. Andrew Christmas Novena

  The Immaculate Conception - Satan's Mighty Foe - by Piola
Domenico from Church of Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Genoa 
The Immaculate Conception Novena

Start on November 30th and end on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You can light a novena candle to say with this prayer, pulling aside the veil on the last day of the novena to reveal the baby Jesus inside. There He can stay until Christmas when he is placed in the manger.
The Immaculate Conception Novena  

Opening Prayer  
God, Our Father, you have given us Mary whom we honor as the Immaculate Conception. You have favored her with holiness and purity, freeing her from the stain of sin, to be chosen as the Mother of Jesus. Through her intercession and protection, may we live our lives in holiness and in complete trust of your loving plan for us. Amen.  

Day 1  
O Blessed Virgin Mary, from the beginning of time God chose you, sinless and full of grace, to be the Mother of Jesus. Because of your unselfish “fiat,” you are for us the example of perfect faith and obedience to what God is calling us to do. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception,
help us to be open to the Word of God in our daily lives.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 2 
 O Mary, Mother of God, we honor you for your submission to the unfolding mystery of salvation history. From Bethlehem to Calvary, you were present to Jesus as faithful mother and courageous disciple, sharing in the mysteries of his life. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may we be for others
a living presence of God’s joy and compassion.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 3  
O Mary of Nazareth, you were filled with the light of the Holy Spirit as you prepared for the birth of Jesus. You became the Mother of God and the Mother of the Redeemer, our mother and intercessor for the People of God, his Church. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may we wait in hopeful expectation this Advent for the coming of the Lord Jesus in our hearts.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 4  
O Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, you were in a sense the first tabernacle for Jesus. In your womb his Sacred Heart beat under your Immaculate Heart. You are the Vessel of Honor, the Ark of the Covenant, and Gate of Heaven. Filled with grace, you give Jesus to us that we may bring him to others. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may we have a deep and reverent love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 5 
O Mary, Mother of Sorrows, your heart was pierced with a sword as you stood on Calvary beneath the cross of your Son. Only a mother could experience such deep pain and anguish to see her only son die such a death. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may we acknowledge that suffering can become for us redemptive and truly identifies us as one with Jesus.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 6
O Mary, our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope, from age to age you are called blessed among all women. You, above all others, have a deep communion with God. You are the model of virtue, prayer and discipleship. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, lead us into a prayerful and deeply authentic relationship with Jesus so that we may be holy and reflect his goodness to others.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 7 
O Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, your holiness and obedience changed the course of history through the redemptive power of your Son. You give us the example of discipleship and what it means to witness to the Way, the Truth and the Life—Jesus. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, we pray for holiness, especially as lived through the priesthood and consecrated life.
Hail Mary, full of grace…  

Day 8 
O Mary, Mother of Divine Grace, you intercede for us and lead us to your Son. Jesus said to John, “Behold, your Mother.” You are our spiritual mother, who draws us ever closer to your Son. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may our devotion to you increase our love for Jesus.
Hail Mary, full of grace… 

 Day 9  
O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, you gave Jesus, the Eternal Word made flesh, to the world. What a privilege was yours—to bring him forth into the world so that all peoples and nations may be drawn to him, Incarnate Wisdom. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, may the Gospel of Jesus Christ, reach the farthest ends of the earth. Help us to grow in knowledge and love of the Blessed Trinity.
Hail Mary, full of grace... 

Concluding Prayer  
Mary, we honor you as the Mother of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, we delight in your singular privilege of being born with the fullness of grace, completely preserved from the stain of original sin. Blessed among all women, you are especially favored by God. Confident in that honor we place before you our needs and intentions (name the intention). Through your intercession, may it be brought to fulfillment. In gratitude for your motherly concern, O Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States of America, we pray: You are all beautiful, O Mary. The original stain is not in thee. You are the glory of Jerusalem, The joy of Israel, The great honor of our race, The advocate of sinners. Virgin most prudent, pray for us. Intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ. 

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Say it fifteen times a day from November 30th until Christmas. It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight,
in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,
To hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jesse Tree 2011

The Jesse tree is a symbol of Jesus' family tree.
It is based on this verse from the book of Isaiah, and is a way of teaching the Old Testament background for the coming of the Messiah, which is the first long "Advent."

"A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots" - Isaiah 11:1

Our Jesse Tree which we have used for a couple years is from this kit (pictured above as I keep forgetting at the end of the past couple Advent seasons to take a picture of our completed Jesse Tree).
We have also at times colored coordinating coloring pages.

Since every year the number of days in Advent is different, I tweaked previous years reading lists for this year. I have also changed it to better match this particular ornament kit, which meant deleting some significant Old Testament stories. There are various symbols for each story that will coordinate with multiple different ornaments. Here is a link to a calendar with additional daily activities for the Jesse Tree. Below each reading and symbols is a link to a coloring page that corresponds to the story.

November 27
Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4
Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
Creation coloring page

November 28
Adam & Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24
Symbol: Man & Woman, tree
Adam & Eve coloring page

November 29
Fall of Man/Original sin: Gen. 3:1-24
Symbol: Serpent, tree, apple
Adam & Eve Expelled from the Garden coloring page

November 30
Noah: Gen. 6:5-22; 7, 8, 9:1-17
Symbol: Ark, animals, dove, rainbow
Noah's Ark coloring page
December 1
Abraham: Gen. 12:1-9, 15:1-6
Symbol: Stars, torch, sword, mountain
Abraham coloring page
December 2
Jacob: Gen. 28:10-22
Symbols: Ladder, kettle
Jacob wrestling with Angel coloring page
December 3
Joseph & his brothers: Gen. 37
Symbol: Multi-Colored Coat, bucket, well, silver coins
Joseph coloring page

December 4
Joseph's Greatness: Gen. 41
Symbol: shock of wheat
Joseph storing food coloring page

December 5
Moses as Prince: Ex. 1 & 2
Symbol: basket, baby in basket, river and rushes
Baby Moses coloring page

December 6
Moses and the Burning Bush: Ex. 3
Symbol: burning bush
Moses burning bush coloring page

December 7
Moses - Plagues: Ex. 5-12:1-36
Symbol: frog, parted sea
Moses Parting Sea coloring page

December 8
Moses - Parting Sea: Ex 5-12:1-36
Symbol: parted sea

December 9
Moses receiving Ten Commandments: Exodus 19, 20, 24:12-18
Symbol: stone tablets

December 10
Moses water from the rock: Exodus 17:1-7
Symbol: staff

December 11
Samuel: 1 Sam. 3
Symbols: Oil lamp, candle lamp, temple

December 12
David Chosen King: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Symbol: sheep
David chosen king or Star of David coloring pages

December 13
David & Goliath: 1 Samuel: 17
Symbol: slingshot

December 14
Solomon's Wisdom: 1 Kings 2:1-6, 3:4-28
Symbol: Scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword, crown

December 15
Elijah's Contest: 1 Kings 18:3,21-39
Symbol: burning rock

December 16
Jonah: Jonah 2:1-2, 11 or entire book of Jonah
Symbol: Whale

December 17
Tobiah's Journey: Tobit 5, 6:1-9, 10:1-6, 11:1-15
Symbol: fish

December 18
Daniel and the Lion's Den: Daniel 6:1-29
Symbol: Lions

December 19
John the Baptist: Luke 1:5-25, 57-80
Symbol: sandal, Shell with water, river

December 20
Annunciation: Luke 1:26-38
Symbol: Angel

December 21
Visitation: Luke 1:39-56
Symbol: Mary

December 22
Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25
Symbols: Joseph, Carpenter's Saw, hammer, chisel, angle

December 23
Journey to Bethlehem: Luke 2:1-6
Symbols: manger

December 24
Jesus is Born: Luke 2:6-20
Symbols: baby Jesus

Epiphany - January 6
Visit of the Magi: Matthew 2:1-12
Symbol: shining star

Monday, November 21, 2011

Somebody's smiling

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just to get away from it all...

  We just had a little family getaway to a friend's lovely home in the NC mountains.

A chance to slow down and savor each other.

Too many photos,
a product of being too busy to narrow them down and too fond of each moment to not share each one. 

Some moments you know as they happen they are going to be memories that last a lifetime. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Never Grow Up

My baby sister got married this past weekend and I was in tears watching the slideshow at her rehearsal dinner with pictures of her as a little girl to this song. What a sweet song. It made me think of my childhood with her years ago and also the childhood of my kids right now. I bought the song today from itunes, and my kids and I have been listening to it all day. I just uploaded some of my favorite photos of the kids from the last few months and put it to this song. This makes me smile and want to go squeeze my sweeties.

note to self: think of this song at the bewitching hours of the evening from 5:30-7:30pm and whenever trying to get out the door in a hurry and then think twice about losing your temper when things are moving along just right.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Silly & Saintly

Two days of costume fun...

Halloween 2011

Meet Superman, Snow White, a pink fairy princess


and a sweet pumpkin

All Saints Day 2011

Meet St. Francis of Assisi, St. Gianna and Blessed Mother Teresa

and St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Pumpkin" Pizzas

These pizzas look like pumpkins but aren't made of pumpkin. This was a spur of the moment use of some leftover marinara sauce, a package of crescent rolls and shredded orange cheddar cheese. It would have looked cuter with olives for the eyes, nose and mouth but the only thing we had that worked was white goat cheese which we rolled for the facial features. We still have some fresh basil growing in our garden to serve as the leaf on the pumpkin. We just rolled and flattened the dough (two triangles for each pizza) into the shape of a pumpkin, added sauce, cheese, face and leaf and baked at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

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