Thursday, December 29, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. ...And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 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.”And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Take #1. I have this great app on my Ipad called "Home Routines" that helps me organize my daily and weekly tasks. It follows the guidelines of The Fly Lady, and you can adjust it to your own needs. You have a "morning" list, an "evening" list, a "weekly tasks" list; these generally stay the same all the time. Then you have several other To-Do lists: "Today," "This Week," and "Later." These are constantly changing. You can check off each task as you complete it, and it's an easy way to keep track of what needs to be done. It also gives you a place to list chores for each "zone" in your home--a room or area that you try to do little extra cleaning and organizing in each week. (Theoretically. Don't ask me when I last dusted my ceiling fans or cleaned the baseboards.) This Advent I've made a kind of new (liturgical) year's resolution to make better use of it because frankly I'm never been good at organizing my time or my home. (Ginny recommends a book called Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder. I don't know if I actually have ADD or not, but it sounds like something that might help me. We'll see; I still have Peter Walsh's book Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read.)
Anyhow, one of the tasks I listed (quite a while ago) in the "Morning" category is, "Prayer and Journaling." Most days I leave that unchecked. I'm working on a solution to that, especially the "prayer" part., and I'll tell you about that in a future post. (I'm also working out a system to help me get more "weekly" tasks done. I don't even look at the "zone" lists. Baby steps.)
Take #2. I almost skipped praying one morning this week. I had made beef stew the night before, and had left it on the stove to cool before putting it in the fridge for the next day; when I got up in the morning I discovered I had left it out all night and had to throw it out. I wanted to cry. I cursed myself and of course the first thoughts that came to my head were harsh words of reproach about how stupid I could be sometimes and that I'm a loser, a failure, etc. Being angry at myself (or at anyone, for that matter) doesn't exactly put me in the right frame of mind for prayer. But I also realized that even spending a few minutes talking and listening to God would calm my spirit and I would have a better day overall. God certainly isn't angry at me for being forgetful. After praying a decade of the Rosary--trying not to scold myself for not praying the whole thing--I felt much better and was able to put that mistake behind me and focus on the tasks of the day.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart. Amen.
Take #3. Recently our nephew in Atlanta turned four, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law threw him a birthday party last Sunday. We talked to him on the phone that night, and he was excited to tell everyone about his party. When I got on the phone, he said, "Hi, Auntie Sharon! I had my birthday party! But why couldn't you come?" I told him I wished I could have been there but we live too far away. "But you could go fast!!"
We spent last Christmas at their house in Atlanta, and this year we miss them more than ever.
Take #4. In Art class, Moe and his classmates were given a plain, silver-colored Christmas ball and instructed to draw what they saw in the reflection. The teacher had four or five kids sit around a small table with the ball in the middle, and gave each of them Shrinky Dink paper and colored pencils (or whatever you use for Shrinky Dinks--I haven't seen those since I was a kid!) Here's how his turned out:
Take #5. In Technology class--here I go bragging about my kids' school work again--Moe used Power Point Auto Shapes (whatever that is) to make this:
(He says the manger looks like a flying saucer. Curly said it looks like a bobsled. Personally I think Joseph's mustache is way cool.)
And just for kicks, here's the one Curly made two years ago when he was in fifth grade:
(I love Mary's big hair in this one.)
Take #6. My paternal grandmother used to collect all kinds of whimsical things, including salt-and-pepper shakers. She had a whole china cabinet full of them. One of her most memorable sets was made in the image of a large-breasted mermaid. They sat on a tray shaped like the lounging mermaid, and the shakers were her, um, girls. Over the last couple of years I have started a collection of my own (although I don't think I'll ever have any that resemble body parts), much to the amusement--annoyance?--of my family.
The most ordinary-looking ones are what we use from day to day. The blue and white ones in the back match our wedding china, and I'm pretty sure we've had those the longest. The little redbirds and the peppermints are ones I found at Cracker Barrel just a few weeks ago. (I used to have more than these, but since I insist on actually USING them, some have gotten broken. And I did get just one more set this week that isn't in this photo; a little Christmas present for myself.)
I fell in love with these a while back at an antique show:
I didn't buy them, though, because the lady selling them was asking $90 for them. I almost wish I had, though; maybe I could have talked her down in price.
Take #7. In my last 7 Quick Takes post, I included this picture:
I received several comments about how beautiful my wreath is. It's actually my mother-in-law's wreath that she had out on Thanksgiving weekend. Here's the one she had on her door.
I'm sure she has put out some more Christmas-y ones by now (although these are pretty Christmas-y already); she has a whole collection of them hanging in a row in her attic. I sometimes jokingly call her Martha because her decorating and cooking often rival Martha Stewart's.
Here's the wreath I have on my door.
I picked it up at the Farmers' market, made by a nice lady who sells pies and cakes and things. The Santa was given to me a few years back by a friend and fellow teacher I was working with at the time. I'm sure Martha Stewart wouldn't have this on HER door, but we like our little holly-who wreath.
And be sure to check out Jen Fulwiler's blog, Conversion Diary, for more Quick Takes!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I love my little blog (and my even littler one, Cooking Nick's Books). Not many people read it, and I don't have many followers; I rarely get comments in my comment box. I've never put any ads in my sidebar, and I generate zero income from this hobby of mine. Occasionally I find myself wondering if I shouldn't just quit and find something more useful to do with my time--like folding laundry, vacuuming, or mailing Christmas cards. But I love blogging; it's a way for me to connect with people and share my faith and put some of my thoughts into words. It's my way of journaling, I guess. And when I see that someone in Brazil or somewhere has looked at my post about The Seven Sorrows of Mary, or when someone leaves a comment about how much they like a photo I've taken, I know my time is not wasted. That's why, as a thank-you gift to my readers, I'm offering my copy of Our Lady of Kibeho, signed by Immaculee Ilibagiza.
Lots of other bloggers have giveaways. They're usually the bloggers with LOTS of readers, ads in their sidebars, and sponsors (is that the same thing?) Maybe they're really good at knitting or crafting, and they'll give away something they've made. Many have Etsy shops where they sell their creations. Or, if it's a book that's the prize, it's one they've written, and maybe even self-published. I don't do any of those things, and when I decided to host this giveaway, I think the devil started whispering in my ear, telling me that I'm a fool for doing so. Nobody will enter your stupid drawing; what's the point? And you spent good money on that book; isn't there someone you'd rather give it to than some random person you may never meet? I'll bet you can make some dough if you sell it on ebay. (Heaven forbid. I've bought signed books on ebay before, but I don't think I would EVER sell one.)
Well, this is MY blog, dang it, and if I want to spend a few bucks every year or two for a prize for my fabulous readers, by golly I will. So take a look at my last post, leave a comment, and share it with your friends. (Heck, I'll even take comments on THIS post.) And don't forget to follow my blog if you aren't already! I've got a cute little reindeer mug (actually, it's pretty hefty, more like a tankard) full of green slips of paper, and I'd love to add your name to it. I'll keep the drawing open until midnight on Friday, an announce the winner over the weekend.Can you tell I took these photos with my phone? I do get lazy on occasion. I know you don't mind, because I'm sure you're all as busy (or busier) than me. So thank you, my friends, for taking time to read my little labor of love. You rock.
Friday, December 2, 2011
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We spent a glorious few days with Joe's parents in Williamsburg. The weather was beautiful. Joe enjoyed a round of golf with his dad, and we all had some much-needed R&R--watching football, walking the dog, reading, video games, and we took in the new Muppet Movie. (If you haven't seen it, go. It's most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational...) It was even warm enough on Saturday to enjoy an alfresco breakfast at Aromas Cafe' in Colonial Williamsburg.
Sunday Mass with the New Translation went swimmingly! (For my non-Catholic friends, this past Sunday the Church introduced an new edition to the Roman Missal for masses in English. The new version is a more literal translation from the original Latin, and many of the prayers and responses are slightly different. The language is richer and more eloquent, and we're now using wonderful words like "incarnate" and "consubstantial.") Our choir director led the congregation in a practice round of the prayers and responses before Mass, and that was helpful. Father R reminded us throughout the Mass to say "And with your spirit," and everyone was given a cheat sheet when we arrived. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new Eucharistic prayers! I mean, "you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name." Awesome!
When we arrived home on Saturday, I decided to reorganize my kitchen cabinets. I spent a good-sized chunk of time on Saturday and Sunday taking things out, packing things I don't use into a box to send to Goodwill, and moving items from one place to another. I found about twenty or thirty brown paper bags of various sizes stuffed into a couple of drawers--I can't imagine why on Earth I wanted to save them. I had bread pans in three different places (I mean, who keeps bread pans in three different places? Joe is delighted because now he knows where to find things), and I dug out two serving trays I completely forgot I had. I was able to clear away some of the clutter that had built up on the countertops over the summer. This weekend I hope take some time and tackle the study shelves, and find places for all my Religious Education stuff, which is mostly in cardboard boxes at the moment.
I've been going over the changes in the Mass these last couple of months with my third graders in CCD. Recently I found this Mass response booklet over at The Catholic Toolbox blog. I printed it out and made black-and-white copies, and gave them out to the kids to color and take home. A few weeks ago I wrote the words to the new penitential rite on the white board, and covered up the words one by one and had the kids fill in the blanks. They loved that one, since they were competing for prizes. We only have one more class before the Christmas holidays (classes are cancelled Wednesday and Thursday for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), and they'll be having treats, listening to Christmas music, and decorating their own personal Jesse Trees. (I'm just using the one that's printed in their textbooks, and I printed off some symbols I found at Our Sunday Visitor for them to color, cut out, and glue to their trees. One of these days I'll plan far enough ahead to make a real Jesse tree, and have the kids make the ornaments. I want to do that at home too--maybe next year!
Now for the part you've all been waiting for--the giveaway!! I'm fast approaching my 200th post, and my three-year blog-aversary is not far behind. With Christmas coming soon I thought it might be a good time for a giveaway (And I'd better do it now before I change my mind. More on that in my next post.) What's the prize? A signed copy of Our Lady of Kibeho by Immaculee' Ilibagiza! Last spring I had the privilege of meeting Immaculee', and I bought several books that she signed for me: one I gave to my mother (Left to Tell), one is for me (Led By Faith, Immaculee's story of her faith journey, which I still haven't read), and one to share with you! We just celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Kibeho on the 28th of November, too; had I known beforehand I would have had this giveaway earlier. Ah, well...
To enter the drawing, all you have to do is:
1. Follow my blog. If you already follow me, leave a comment letting me know you want to be in the running.
2. Leave a comment here.
3. Share this post with your friends, either via social networking or by email. Let me know in the comment box (or by Facebook, Twitter, or email) that you've done this. I operate under the honor system! :-)
You don't have to do all three to get your name into the cup (the last time I had a giveaway, I used a Dave and Buster's mug that we acquired on a visit to Atlanta; this time I'll probably use a Southern Living At Home Rudy Reindeer Mug. They're my favorite, and dang it, they've been discontinued.) If you do all three, your name will be entered three times; if you do two, I'll enter you twice, etc. You get the idea.
You have until ONE WEEK from today to enter--Friday, December 9. I will announce the winner on the 10th or the 11th. My goal is to get the book in the mail on Monday the 12th so you'll have it before Christmas!
Let the ADVENTures begin, and be sure to visit Jen Fulwiler's Conversion Diary blog for more Quick Takes!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Joe spent all of last weekend blowing leaves. And the weekend before that, and the weekend before that. A couple of years ago he invested in a heavy-duty gas-powered backpack monster blower, and the first time he used it he threw his back out. Now he's got the hang of it, but Monday morning, after the three-day weekend, he was sore and stiff. One Saturday recently, Moe built quite an impressive fort with the piles Joe had made.