Thursday, December 31, 2009

25 Random Blessings in 2009

A while back there was a meme going around Facebook called "25 Random Things About Me." I liked this so much I blogged about it. Since we're wrapping up 2009 and entering a new year, I want to reflect on the past twelve months and mention 25 things to thank God for this year. I'll try to list them more or less in chronological order--roughly--but not necessarily in order of their importance.

1. Through Internet sites like Facebook and Blogger (and now Twitter) I have re-connected with many family members, high school classmates, and old friends; and made many other friends online as well. (click here to read my blog post about this)

2. For the first time this past January, Curly and I participated in the March For Life in Washington, D.C. I hope our family will have a chance to attend many, many, more of these in the future (as many as it takes until Roe v. Wade is overturned).

3. Speaking of Curly, he, more than either of his brothers, is passionate about the plight of the unborn in America and the world. Mind you, our other two boys aren't afraid to stand up for life (last year they had some conversations with their friends at school that at least one of the teachers had to put an end to because the debate was getting heated, and because some of the parents might not want their kids discussing abortion at school), but it is an issue that Curly has really developed deep convictions about. (His favorite TV personality? Glenn Beck. Not bad for a ten-year-old.)

4. Moe received his First Holy Communion in 2009.

5. For the time spent Memorial Day Weekend in North Carolina with my aunt and many of my cousins, most of whom I hadn't seen in years. There were children there I had never met; and because we were in town for a baby shower, now there is one more cousin I have yet to meet!

6. For the Montessori school that our boys attended and where I worked for the past several years; for their teachers and the friends that we made while we were there. I pray that the school will continue to grow and prosper, and the friendships will last for years to come.

7. For the Catholic school the boys are attending now, for their wonderful teachers, the principal and assistant principal, and all of the new friends that they (and I) have made.

8. Speaking of which, the cafeteria food at the boys' school is to die for. Our "lunch lady," Mrs. O, was a five-star chef at one of the fanciest restaurants in Virginia, and the food is always delicious AND nutritious. Everything is made from scratch, and Mrs. O. is always happy to accomodate Moe's food allergies.

9. For Moe's love of all critters great and small. Summer '09 found many samples of God's creation in our house and on the back porch.

Frogs and toads...
and even a baby snake.

10. That we were able to take our kids to Yellowstone this summer, which is probably my favorite place in the world. They loved it, and can't wait to go back. Read about our adventures and see some of our photos here, here, and here.

11. That we are all still alive and in one piece after our Yellowstone horseback riding adventure (see the links in #10). We had a great time and our guides were excellent, but there were a few close calls...

12. For the time spent with our dear friends B. and A. and their four kids over the July 4 weekend. We traveled to the Finger Lakes region of New York, where A's cousins had invited us to stay at their cabin. The main reason for our trip was the Indy Car race at Watkins Glen Raceway, but we also hiked in the beautiful gorge at Watkins Glen State Park, and spent time at the cabin relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Here's a rare glimpse of Moe looking for critters in the pond by the cabin:

The beautiful gorge at Watkins Glen There were many races that weekend besides the big Indy Car race. "The Glen" is surrounded by rolling hills and farms--a perfect setting to enjoy some good racing!
In case you're wondering, we did go to Mass on Sunday--we got up early to make the 7:30 am Mass at a tiny church in Hammondsport, NY. Normally we don't go that early, but the husbands didn't want to miss any of the action at the racetrack!

13. For calling me once again this year to be a catechist at our parish. It took a little bit of creative scheduling for me to do it (since my kids are in Catholic school, they no longer take part in the Religious Education program), but thankfully my family has been wonderfully accommodating and supportive of this endeavor. Plus I have a great class of just four kids, and I've had a lot of fun with them this year. And I'm learning perhaps more than they are!

14. For Our Lady's patience with me as I try to develop a closer relationship with her. I have been blessed with a wonderful priest as well as great friends from church who have encouraged me to get to know her better. I came pretty close to making a total consecration to her, but in the end I didn't. I pray that someday soon I will have the courage and conviction to pledge myself fully to Jesus through his Blessed Mother.

15. For our little niece, the first girl on my husband's side of the family to come along in many years. She arrived in July, and was baptised in November.

16. For our two-year-old nephew, who is now walking and talking. His bright smile and hearty laugh will light up a room!

17. For my wonderful sister-in-law-to-be. You've made my brother happier than he's ever been. May God bless you both with many happy years together.

18. For my awesome husband, who has been with me some eighteen years, from our first date until now. I know sometimes he feels frustrated with my gaffes and blunders (not to mention my tendency to be somewhat of a slob), but he has stuck with me and loved me and I am eternally grateful for him.

19. That my parents and my in-laws all enjoy health and happiness. May they be a part of our lives for MANY more years to come!

20. Greg Mortenson. He rocks. I picked up his new book, Stones Into Schools, last week. I can't wait to read it.

21. Sarah Palin. Look out, people; Sarah's comin'!

22. For Larry's piano teacher and for Curly's guitar teacher. They encourage them to challenge themselves and keep music fun.

23. That for the past several years our boys have friends their age living right next door. They are constantly playing over at their house or ours; sometimes building forts outside, sometimes playing video games, sometimes playing capture-the-flag, and the other day they turned off all the lights in our basement and had a ghost hunt. (Good luck; they won't find any in our house.) Now the kids all go to the same school, so we carpool together.

24. For my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, the parents of the little boy and girl in Blessings #15 and #16. They live too far away for us to see them very often, and the time that we do spend with them is very precious indeed. I am grateful for cell phones and text messaging; on Christmas morning SIL sent me a picture of their son playing with his new Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway set underneath their Christmas tree.

25. In 2009 we had a few snowstorms, and I love the way the snow makes everything around us look like a Christmas card. I'm not to fond of shoveling, or the way the kids tend to track dirty snow into the house, or having to deal with wet coats, hats, and mittens; but they love playing in the snow and that makes it all worthwhile. Just two weeks ago we had the biggest snowstorm we've had in years, and the most snow in December ever.

Last January 1, I published my first post, so I'll mention one more blessing: A year of blogging, and getting to know many of you through your wonderful blogs. It's been fun, and may we all have a blessed, bloggy 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Blessed Christmas To All

It's late. I have an unfinished to-do list. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. There are still rooms to clean, presents to wrap, and pies to make. We had a big snowstorm here on Saturday, and that has distracted me somewhat from my Advent chores. I have neglected my blog, but not because I've been to busy with other things. Truthfully, amid all the pre-Christmas chaos and the snow, I have taken frequent breaks at the computer--besides ordering gifts online I have managed to keep up with my Facebook page, as well as *some* of the blogs I like to read. Our family has tried to keep our minds focused on Christ this Advent; we light the Advent wreath every night and the kids add one more item to our Advent calendar. Today it was a camel; tomorrow it's Baby Jesus. At the beginning of Advent, we started a tradition of reading the daily Gospel at dinner when we light the wreath and "do the Advent calendar," although these last few days I have neglected to print them off of the computer. (Next year I'll be able to pull them up on my Droid phone my hubby is giving me for Christmas!) I have been a little discouraged about the wheeling and dealing in Washington, and the increasing possibility that we're entering an era of taxpayer-funded abortions. I hope and pray that Mr. Stupak stands his ground and the language excluding abortion coverage stays in the final bill.

Tonight, I thought I'd share a few photos of the beautiful snow we were blessed with (and it's melting fast--it will be gone before we know it).

On Sunday we were treated to this beautiful view in back of the house.

Lots of shoveling!

Once Moe accepted the inevitability of snow in his boots and inside his jacket, we couldn't keep him out of it.

The boys built a tiny igloo for the neighborhood cats, but I don't think they were impressed.

Curly and Moe helped their friends build a regular-sized igloo in their yard.

It isn't quite finished yet

Curly and his friend decided to make a peephole.

This is what my front hallway has looked like since Saturday.

It's always good to have hot chocolate on hand after a day of fun in the snow!
I wish you all a safe and blessed Christmas! Glory to the newborn King!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I'm a Blogger, Not a Radio Host

I'm feeling like a bit of a doofus right now.

We have XM Radio in our family car, and whenever I'm running errands or trekking to and from school, I often listen to The Catholic Channel. Today as I was out and about, I caught a little bit of "The Catholics Next Door" with Greg and Jennifer Willits. They were talking to a writer and blogger (I wish I could remember the person's name! Please remind me if you know) from, and who often blogs on Faith & Family Live. She talked about how writing and blogging helps her grow in her faith, and they got into the subject of social networking and how we can use the Internet to evangelize and help each other in our walk with Christ. As I was pulling into my driveway, thinking of the things I needed to do now that I was home, Greg invited listeners who have blogs or websites to call the show and share how we use social networking to reach others. Hmmmm, I thought; do I really want to go on live radio (nationwide, no less) and plug my measly little blog? Oh, what the heck; this might be a good time for me to thank Greg and Jennifer for the work they do, sharing their own joys and struggles as Catholic parents, and helping me have the courage to share my Catholic faith with others.

I have called The Catholic Channel once before, on Gus Lloyd's "Seize The Day" program; in that call I explained the pros and cons of watching NASCAR on TV. This should be a piece of cake, right? Not so much. My heart started beating just a little faster when the call screener picked up, and when I heard Greg's voice in my phone say, "Sharon, from Virginia, welcome to The Catholics Next Door!" I immediately forgot about two-thirds of what I wanted to say. If you were listening, you heard something like this. "I started blogging in January of this year. My blog is called Musings of a Catholic Mom, and it's on Blogger. Umm, I try to post once or twice a week...I'm a little jealous of other busy moms who find time to blog every day. Uh... (awkward pause) Oh, and it's really helped me grow in my faith, and it's put me in touch with other bloggers who are Catholic moms like me. It's great. (dead silence while Greg and Jennifer wait for me to say more) Uh, yeah!" Thankfully Greg looked me up and gave the url for this site, which I forgot to mention (shoulda made the url and the title the same, dang it), and then Jennifer and Greg both thanked me for calling into the show.

I hope the neighbors didn't see me beating my head against the steering wheel.

OK, I didn't really beat my head against anything, but I ended the call wishing I had said more about the things I blog about, maybe talk about other blogs I enjoy reading, and mention to Jennifer that I'm proud to have her as my friend on Faith & Family Connect. I wanted to ask the writer/blogger who was on the show how she found time to blog regularly, write a book, and still do all the other tasks that a mom finds herself needing to do? It can take me up to a couple of hours to finish one post, depending on how many pictures and links I include, the length of the post, and how much time I spend going back and re-reading and making changes. I can't do that every day, which is why I have many more ideas for blogs than I actually post. (I've spent about forty minutes here so far; when I'm done and ready to publish, I'll give you all the total time spent on this post. I hope with my newer, faster computer my blogging time will be quicker.) Worst of all, I neglected to thank Greg and Jennifer for their courage to share their profound faith with their listeners, and for the work that they do for the Catholic faith. (In addition to hosting a three-hour radio show, they also run a fabulous non-profit organization called Rosary Army; check it out here!)

Here's a little side note: I happened to notice that the editorial director of Faith & Family Live, Danielle Bean, wrote a book called My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom. It might be time to change the name of this blog soon. I follow Therese at "The Musings of a Mom"; guess I shoulda checked out other blog titles before picking mine. I don't want anyone to be confused. Hmmmm...what to call it?

The next time I call in to a radio show, I guess I should write down what I plan to say. I wonder if this is how President Obama feels when he has to give a speech without a teleprompter?

Total time: One hour. Not bad; I didn't use pictures.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Praises for Christ the King

I am way overdue for a Praises post! Thanks always to Jennifer for hosting, and encouraging us to count our blessings.

1 Praise God that Christ is our King! At last night's Vigil Mass, Father K. explained that the Solemnity of Christ the King was established as a feast day in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. At that time fascism was rampant in the world, and the Church needed a day to remind us that Jesus Christ is our one true King. Father K. went on to point out that today we need the Solemnity of Christ the King as much as ever. Praise God for the kingship of Christ!

2. Praise God for putting TWO altar servers in our family (so far)! Larry has been serving for a couple of years, and now Curly has joined the fold. This weekend Curly got to serve at the Saturday vigil Mass as well as the Friday morning Mass at school. Last night Father K, along with a teenage altar server with lots of experience, helped guide Curly and another new server through the steps during the Mass. He did a great job at both Masses. As our pastor, Father R., was distributing communion, Curly stood by his side with the paten. When Father R. presented me with the Host and said, "The Body of Christ," I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye. I'm so proud!

3. Praise God for the beautiful weather He has given us this weekend!

4. Praise God for our beautiful niece, who was baptized into the Body of Christ last weekend. I am grateful to God for giving me a second set of parents and another brother when I married my husband, a sister when my brother-in-law was married, a sweet nephew, and now a niece.

5. Praise be to Christ for giving us his mother, Mary.

6. Praise God for my husband, my best friend.

7. Praise God for our new computer! It's WAY faster than our old one, and it has tons more memory. I can fit LOTS AND LOTS of photos on it, and watch many hours of video (as if I had time, ha ha)! Yippee!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

7 Quick Takes, Volume 3--What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

1. Traveling and Celebrating. Last Friday we hopped in the car for the 9-hour trip South for our niece's baptism. She is the first female grandchild for my husband's parents, and on Saturday she was officially brought into the family of God. Another nine-hour trip on Sunday (during which time I did quite a lot of reading--more on that in Quick Take #4) brought us safely home from a wonderful, whirlwind weekend. Is it just me, or are "whirlwind trips" often the ones you have the fondest memories of?

2. Substitute Teaching. Actually, this isn't much of an excuse for neglecting my blog, since I've only substituted three days in the last two weeks. I'm happy to be earning a little income again, while keeping enough free time to still feel like a stay-at-home mother. The best part is I'm in school with my kids, getting to know their friends and the other families at the school.

3. Watching and Listening to Sarah Palin. I haven't read her book yet, only because it came in the mail two days after it was released, and I had already started another book that morning. I watched the Oprah interview, as well as the ones on Fox News with Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. I recorded last night's "20/20," where she was to be interviewed by Barbara Walters, and I'm hoping to watch that this weekend.

On a side note, I am somewhat jealous of two cousins of mine (specifically, my first cousin's wife and her daughter-in-law--but I don't bother with technicalities; cousins they are, and therefore family) who attended her book signing yesterday in Cincinnati and had the privilege of meeting her. I hope they'll post pictures on Facebook--hear that girls?

4. Reading Books. So, what am I reading now instead of Going Rogue? This one:

I began following Elizabeth's blog recently, and it's fascinating and inspiring. Of course when I saw that she had written a book about her conversion from atheism to Catholicism, I went over to Amazon and ordered it (along with Sarah's book; Elizabeth's happened to arrive first). The other day while at the auto dealership waiting on some car repairs, I had a chance to read a significant chunk of it. Elizabeth has an incredible story, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Two other books I have read recently--most of it in the car last weekend-- are St. Louis DeMontfort's True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin (more on this in Quick Take #7) and Trial by Ordeal by Craig Parshall. If you enjoy John Grisham, I would recommend checking out Craig's books. He's a Christian attorney whose wife Janet, is a fairly well-known Christian radio host. Although he isn't Catholic, his books have Chritian themes (no sex or profanity, also a plus), and are as exciting and suspenseful as any national bestsellers.

5. Watching "V" and "Flash Forward," with a bit of reluctance. Truthfully I don't know how many more episodes of "V" I can endure. As much as I enjoy looking at Scott Wolf (Is he the reason I began watching? Maybe. Hubby remembers the show from the '80s, and that's why he was interested) the acting from him and almost all of the other players on the show is mediocre at best. Or maybe it's poor script writing. I'm also a little perplexed about the portrayal of one character, Father Jack, who is a Catholic priest but doesn't seem very priest-like. He has a strange friendship with a leading female character (played by Elizabeth Mitchell from "Lost"), and when the two met, he didn't tell her he was a priest. Now she calls him "Jack." Huh? Not Father Jack? It's not offensive, really; just strange, as if the writers don't quite know what the role of a Catholic priest really is. Plus the concept of aliens suddenly bearing down on the world and expecting everyone to kowtow to them seems a little icky.

As for "Flash Forward," at this point I have a kind of love-hate relationship with that show. In the first episode, everyone on earth blacked out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, and during that time saw a vision of their own future. Or was it REALLY a vision of the future? Those that survived (after all, if you're driving a bus and you black out, you're going to crash and people will die) must decide whether to try to prevent their flash forwards from coming true, or live their lives in order to bring them to fruition. A number of things on the show have made me cringe, though, especially one episode that portrayed two women in a same-sex relationship. That part didn't bother me all that much; it was more the flippant and in-your-face way their relationship was portrayed. Particularly offensive was a conversation they had where lewd comments were made about two prominent American women (I won't say who--I have too much respect for both of them and their positions in our country today) that were in very bad taste and completely unnecessary. I've stuck with the show, though, and I will say that the most recent episode raised some interesting--and dare I say--even pro-life questions. The subject of a future blog? Maybe.

6. Washing Dishes By Hand, since our dishwasher went on the fritz this week. I've also been trying to catch up on some much-needed housework.

7. Praying More--but just a little. My women's Bible study group recently discussed "True Devotion to Mary," and Father L. has been talking to the group about making the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I bought the book as well as the booklet that contains the meditations and prayers for the 33-day preparation, but I am not proud to admit that I have not been consistent with keeping up with the prayers. I have tried to say the Rosary almost every day, and followed the consecration preparations for several days, but slacked off; for a few days this week I tried to play catch-up, but sadly have let it slide once more. I missed most of Father L's talks because of sick kids and school activities, and I haven't attended any of the seminars offered by our church as well as a nearby parish. I haven't decided NOT to make the consecration, but I don't know if I will be prepared enough by December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Admittedly, I haven't even talked to my family about it, either (Why? I'm not sure--but I guess I should now that I've put it on my blog); but it's something I have been drawn to consider doing, if not this time, possibly in the near future.

I wish I could list one more: Getting More Exercise. Sadly I can't because it's not true. I hope I will be able to include it in my next edition of "Seven Quick Takes!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dazed and Confused--it's no wonder we keep going around in circles

Watch this video, and then CLICK HERE too see what Patrick Madrid has to say about it.

It's things like this (who's spewing hate-filled rhetoric??) that make it more difficult to defend the truths of the Catholic faith. I'm sure the person who made this means well, and hopefullly his (or her?) intention is to lead people to Christ. What he and others like him don't realize is that by leading others away from the Catholic Church, they are leading them farther from Christ.

I picked up a book recently called Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. I hope it will be a good reference for me when those tough questions come up in my conversations with non-Catholics. I am thankful for people like Peter Kreeft, Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn, Thomas Howard, and others who speak the truth and encourage seekers like me to learn more about my Faith and give me courage to share it with others.

I will pray for this person, and for all others who, because of their ignorance and misconceptions about the Church, lead others into confusion, however unintentionally.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pro-Life Rosary: Sorrowful Mysteries

Today our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the mass shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas today, their families, and also for the shooter. Pray for his conversion, and for Christ to comfort those who have lost their loved ones. And now there's been another shooting in Orlando; let's also pray for those victims, too.

There might be a vote tomorrow in the House of Representatives on Nancy Pelosi's 2,000+ page health care bill. If the bill is passed, it would mean you and I will be forced to pay for elective abortions, and the elderly and terminally ill might be under pressure to end their lives in order to save money. Lord help us. Please follow this link to contact your representative in Congress now.

Today is Friday, when the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are traditionally prayed. Here are the mysteries with pro-life meditations, posted on Priests For Life's web site.


The Agony in the Garden
Let us pray for mothers and fathers who are in agony because they are tempted to abort a child. May they be given the good news that there are alternatives, and may they make use of the help that is available.

The Scourging of Jesus
As Christ's flesh was torn by the instruments of those who scourged Him, so the bodies of babies in the womb are torn my the instruments of the abortionists. Let us pray that abortionists may repent of these acts of child-killing.

The Crowning with Thorns
Jesus suffered the pain of thorns in His head, and did so silently. We pray for the mothers and fathers of aborted children. So many of them suffer deep grief and regret over a choice they can never reverse. So many suffer in silence, because others tell them it's no big deal.

The Carrying of the Cross
Jesus was not condemned by the power of wicked people. He was condemned because of the silence of good people. Silence always helps the oppressor, never the victim. Let us pray that we may never be silent about abortion, but rather will clearly speak up to save babies from death.

The Crucifixion
As we ponder the death of Christ, let us remember the many women who have died from so-called "safe, legal" abortions. Let us ask forgiveness and mercy for them. May their memory save other women from making this tragic mistake.

Now, more than ever, we need to be united in prayer for the sacredness of life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recipe Swap Thursday: Easy Apple Cake

Growing up, I learned a lot about cooking from helping my mother and my grandmother. One of my mother's favorite cookbooks was (and maybe still is) The Joy of Cooking. When I started experimenting with making meals on my own, that was the cookbook I turned to. When I got married it was one of the first cookbooks I had.

Here's a recipe for a fruit cake that comes straight from The Joy of Cooking, and it's one of my family's favorites. Usually, I double the recipe and make two. It's a great one for dessert (yummy with ice cream on the side), but last weekend I made it for Sunday's breakfast because it's kind of like a fruity coffee cake.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
If the fruit is very juicy, reduce the liquid in the dough by at least 1 tablespoon. Sift together:
1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons butter
Work these ingredients like pastry (cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs). Beat well in a measuring cup:
1 egg* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Enough milk** to make a 1/2 cup mixture
Combine with the flour and butter to make a stiff dough. You may pat the dough into the greased pan with your floured palm, or spread it in part with a spoon and then distribute it evenly by pushing it with the fruit sections when you place them closely in overlapping rows. (I usually just spread all the dough with my fingers before I put the fruit on.) Use about:
4 cups sliced pared apples or peaches or sliced unpared plums, preferably freestone blue. (They also recommend guavas; I've never eaten them so I have no idea what they would taste like.)
Sprinkle with a mixture of:
1 cup white or brown sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 tablespoons melted butter
(I usually only put on half the amount of topping that the recipe calls for. If I double it, I just keep the topping measurements the same.)
Bake about 25 minutes.

For Moe, I make these changes due to his allergies:

*1 1/2 heaping tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer beaten with 2 tablespoons water for one egg; 1 heaping tablespoon Egg Replacer to 1/4 cup water for two.

*I use soy, rice or oat milk (Moe's new favorite drink, and it works really well for baking!)

I've made this a lot lately because I've been buying quite a few apples from the farmer's market. I've made this with fresh peaches before, and it's delicious that way, too.

The cake dough kind of has the consistency of biscuit dough. If you're pressed for time, you might get away with using Bisquick and milk, maybe a little sugar, and calling it done. If you make it that way, leave a comment here and let us know how it turns out. Here's the finished product (with apples):

Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes, Volume 2

I missed Recipe Swap Thursday (again); but now that it's Friday I thought I'd post a few little tidbits today. Here goes:
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1. There is still one more name left for Fallible Blogma's Support a Catholic Speaker Month: Dave Durand. Hurry on over and grab it while you still can! Post a few paragraphs about him and link back to Fallible Blogma. Soon all the names will have links to their respective posts; for now you can check the url's assigned to them and read what bloggers have written. I've already read a few; I wish I had time to read them all!

2. Back in May I posted this recipe for allergy-free cake that I use for Moe. Recently we celebrated his ninth birthday, and he wanted a football-themed party. I tripled the recipe (just like I did with the cross cake), and I got a larger football shape,

and a smaller helmet.

For the football I used a Pampered Chef oval baker, and a round cake pan for the helmet. Easy-peasy!

3. When I was preparing to make Moe's birthday cake, I finally broke down and bought a cake decorating kit, with disposable bags and tips. I should have done that a long time ago! It makes writing and drawing on cakes MUCH easier than when you buy the individual tubes of decorating icing. I need more practice, but slowly I'm getting better. (Although, when I was viewing the pictures we took during the party, I noticed a couple of spots I missed:

Oh well, nobody's perfect.)

4. So far, the Swine Flu has stayed away from our house, thank the Good Lord! Yesterday Curly woke up with stomach issues and in the afternoon he had a fever. When I called the doctor for an appointment, they told me they would give him a mask to wear. Oh, boy, I thought, here we go. Well, I took him to the doctor today, and they didn't give him a mask; the verdict was it was probably a stomach virus. He's feeling much better now. WHEW!! And we thought he was going to miss Halloween.

5. Speaking of Halloween, I'm curious to know whether or not you celebrate it, and if so, how? If not, do you have an alternative? We have always celebrated Halloween by dressing up the kids, carving pumpkins, and going trick-or-treating. The last few years our kids have chosen the creepiest, freakiest costumes they can find and this year is no exception. Our neighborhood is somewhat quiet, and we've never had many trick-or-treaters come to our house. When we're out and about we don't see too many other people. (All the neighbors are quite generous with the treats, though!) Last year, we went with friends to another part of town where people decorate their houses to the hilt, and sit out on their porches (in coustume) and hand out candy. There were lots and lots of ghosts and goblins milling about, and we had a blast. Our feeling about Halloween is that it's good harmless fun. I know there are many who disagree, but as long as we keep our children grounded in the faith, and make sure we teach them that ghosts and goblins are imaginary, and it's NOT ok to carry around REAL bloody axes and knives, we'll keep on trick-or-treating.

6. With Halloween comes the carving of the pumpkins, and we always wait until the last minute because frankly, I'm not a big fan of getting my hands in all that goop. Plus my jack-o-lanterns don't look all that great. I will say that last year we had fun carving these:

Unfortunately, our dog ate one of the stars off of the elephant. Figures. I wonder if we had made an Obama O, would she have eaten that?

7. Don't forget All Saints Day on Sunday and All Souls Day on Monday! The kids' school is having an All Saints Day parade Monday. Curly is dressing up as St. Isidore of Seville (green robe left over from when they dressed up as shepherds for a Christmas pageant), and Moe will be St. Francis (brown robe from the other shepherd costume.) Again, easy-peasy.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pro-life Rosary: Luminous Mysteries

This past week, I had the privilege of participating in two one-hour vigils for 40 Days for Life outside a Planned Parenthood clinic about an hour's drive from where I live. (Praise God that the closest abortion facility is 45 minutes away!) My friends and I discovered that to pray all four sets of mysteries of the Rosary--Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous--it takes just about exactly one hour. We use Father Frank Pavone's pro-life meditations. Last week I posted the reflections on the Joyful Mysteries; today I'll share the Luminous ones:


1. Christ is Baptized in the Jordan

When Jesus is baptized, the Father's voice is heard: "This is my beloved Son." All are called to become adopted sons and daughters of God through baptism. We pray that children in the womb may be protected, so that they may be born and welcomed into the Christian community by baptism.

2. Christ is made known at the Wedding of Cana

Jesus revealed His glory by the miracle at Cana. The new couple was blessed not only with wine, but with faith in Christ. Let us pray for strong marriages, rooted in the Lord, and open to the gift on new life.

3. Christ proclaims the Kingdom and Calls All to Conversion

"Repent and believe the Good News." Let us pray that these first wods of Jesus' public ministry may be heard by all who have committed abortion. May they know that the Lord calls them to conversion, and may they experience life-giving repentance.

4. the Transfiguration

Christ is transformed on the mountain, and the kisciples see His glory. May the eyes of all people be transformed, that they may see each and every human life as a reflection of the glory of God Himself.

5. Jesus gives us the Eucharist

"This is My Body, given up for you." The Eucharist teaches us how to live and how to love. Let us pray that parents who sacrifice the babies for the sake of themselves may learn instead to put themselves aside for the sake of their babies.

Please continue to pray for the unborn!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pro-Life Rosary: Joyful Mysteries--and Another Marian Feast Day! Yay!

It's Columbus Day, and no one in our house is going to school or work today. I have a long list of tasks on my mental to-do list (including figuring out how to celebrate Moe's ninth birthday, which is sneaking up on us too quickly), but I'm feeling inspired to blog at the moment.

This morning as I was praying the Rosary, I decided to dig up my copies of the Pro-Life mysteries that are posted on Priests for Life's web site. I began to think to myself, October is considered the Month of the Holy Rosary (we just celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7), and since we're in the middle of the Fall 2009 40 Days for Life campaign, why not post those beautiful mysteries here? (And it was fun searching for pictures to go with each mystery!) Today I'm posting the Joyful Mysteries, and hopefully between now and the end of this month I'll post the Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous ones as well. These are great meditations for when we pray for an end to abortion:


The Annunciation

Mary is troubled by the angel's greeting, yet rejoices to do God's will. Let us pray that those who are troubled by their pregnancy may have the grace to trust in God's will.

The Visitation

John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother's womb. We pray that people may realize that abortion is not about children who "might" come into the world, but is about children who are already in the world, living and growing in the womb, and are scheduled to be killed.

The Nativity

God Himself was born as a child. The greatness of a person does not depend on size, for the newborn King is very small. Let us pray for an end to prejudice against the tiny babies threatened by abortion.

The Presentation

The Child is presented in the Temple because the Child belongs to God. Children are not the property of their parents, nor of the government. they--and we--belong to God himself.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

The boy Jesus was filled with wisdom, because He is God. Let us pray that all people may see the wisdom of His teachings about the dignity of life, and may understand that this teaching is not an opinion, but the truth.

I also learned this morning that today is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, considered one of the earliest devotions to the Blessed Mother. According to tradition, Our Lady, even before her assumption into Heaven, appeared to St. James while he was in Spain. She appeared by bi-location atop a jasper pillar, and handed him a statue of herself and asked him to build a chapel in her honor. You can read more about this devotion here and here. There's a recipe for a beautiful cake honoring Our Lady of the Pillar on Catholic Cuisine. (Today is also the Feast of St. Seraphin of Montegranaro, and you can find out more about him here.)

I think I put more links in this post than I ever have. I hope it isn't too many. Have a great Monday!
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