Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Eve: A time that inevitably makes one think of the dreaded New Year's resolutions. I might think about them, but rarely do I ever make any. That doesn't mean I shouldn't. Of course I should exercise more (okay, I guess that is not accurate - I should say: I should exercise). I shouldn't eat as much chocolate as it gives me a headache and makes me crabby when I eat too much. I should be more consistent in my discipline (this is one I KNOW my kids are glad I don't follow up on!).

The list could go on and on, but it doesn't, because I never even make it. I have no problem making resolutions - and even sticking with most of them - during my yearly silent retreat, but for some reason the thought of a New Year's resolution makes me gag. So instead I will go blindly forward into this New Year without a list of things that I should be doing to improve myself. Even if I made a list, I probably wouldn't remember it after a month, anyhow!

I guess the only resolution that I will continue to keep is to try to remain as close as I can to the Lord so as to keep that connection open and active. This way, if He wants me to do something, I might have a chance of actually hearing Him. Going into uncertain times, I guess the best resolution anyone can make is to remain faithful to their prayer life. To back up that statement, here is Our Lady Queen of Peace of Medjugorje's December 25, 2008 message to the world:

"Dear children! You are running, working, gathering - but without blessing. You are not praying! Today I call you to stop in front of the manger and to meditate on Jesus, Whom I give to you today also, to bless you and to help you to comprehend that, without Him, you have no future. Therefore, little children, surrender your lives into the hands of Jesus, for Him to protect you from every evil. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Even if you don't believe the Blessed Mother is appearing in Medjugorje, there is still a lot of food for thought in those words. May the Lord bless all of you in the coming New Year.

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time to Start Thinking About School

New Year's is almost upon us, so that means it is time to start thinking about school again. We have just spent the past month in what I termed "Advent Immersion School" - you know, kind of like a month long religion class. At first I felt guilty about not cracking a traditional school book for the whole month, but when I look back at all the things we did instead, I feel that we had a good month of learning!

Anyhow, since it is almost time to get back to that sit-down-and-open-up-a-book type of learning I guess it's time to decide what our main theme is going to be and how we are going to organize our time. I set out for Adoration last night with my note pad and schedule in hand, having a pretty good idea of what it was I wanted to think about. That's what I love about Adoration - it usually ends up being completely different than what I had "planned".

Right before we left, I had an impulse to throw into my bag this magazine that I had started looking at yesterday. It's a Christian based magazine, so I didn't feel too guilty, but yet I wasn't sure that it was what I should be spending my time on in Adoration. Nonetheless, I brought it with but told myself I wouldn't spend a lot of time reading it.

After spending some time in prayer, I felt this strong pull to get out the magazine and I ended up spending the rest of the hour reading the whole thing. The neat thing about it was that it gave me some good direction about what it is I think we are supposed to be studying in school. It's not where I thought we would head, but I always try to be open to Inspiration.

That's one of the amazing things about God: He doesn't always lead you where you think you should be going. I didn't want to "offend" God by reading a magazine in His presence, but I found out that it was precisely what He did want me to do! Hopefully we will continue to be led in the right direction once we begin our schoolwork again. Once I get it more organized, I'll let you know the direction we're headed. Maybe it will spark some ideas for you, too.

God Bless!

Monday, December 29, 2008

White Elephant

We had one of our extended family Christmas parties yesterday. Each year we have a grab bag for the adult men and one for the adult women. This year my aunt suggested we shake things up a bit and do a White Elephant.

At first I thought it was a good idea because every year I would dread trying to find grab bag gifts to buy. Quite often, these would be the last gifts I would purchase because I could just never figure out what to get that would be pleasing to a wide variety of women or men. The women usually ended up exchanging Christmas decorations while the men usually ended up exchanging small tools.

Once I realized that I had to find something in my house for this White Elephant, I realized it wasn't going to be that easy. After a year of whittling down our "stuff" the only things left in my house were things we use. My mom and dad came to my rescue. They found stuff for us in their basement!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I had the privilege of "winning" what has to be the epitome of a White Elephant gift: big, ugly and not very practical.

My first thought when I saw it was that it could be used for a really big soap dispenser. I mean, we have seven children, we go through a lot of soap around here! My next thought was: who in the world has enough counter space for something this big (it's about 15" high and 13" at its widest part)? But the thought that finally won out was: this thing is really ugly!

Unfortunately they made a rule that you can't bring back these gifts for next year's White Elephant. If anyone else out there participates in a White Elephant and needs a "good" gift, let me know and I would be happy to send this to you!

God Bless!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

O Holy Night

My daughter got some Josh Grobin CDs for Christmas and I decided that I really like his voice. Finally someone I can sing along with! My neighbor then sent me this video link which is a combo of him singing "O Holy Night" with footage of Jesus' birth from the movie "The Nativity". It's worth the four minutes just to hear him sing! Hope you enjoy!



God Bless!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


May God Bless You!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Thoughts Before Christmas

Today's O Antiphon brings us to the evening before the vigil, and before coming to the town limits of Bethlehem, where we salute Him with the last Great O, O Emmanuel, God-with-us.

The "O" Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Did you know that the first letter of the Messianic titles: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—spell out the Latin words ERO CRAS, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." ? Pretty cool, huh?

Well, I am RRREEEAAALLLYYY slowing down today: I threw out my back this morning big time. Yes, the day before the festivities begin - while presents are still unwrapped and food and desserts still need to be made - I will lie on my back contemplating how much God loves me and how much He really wants me to spend time thinking about Him. Of course, at the same time I will still be directing all of the kids in their various cooking and wrapping duties. I don't think I could really chuck it all out the window. Could you???

God Bless!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter

The sixth O Antiphon is O Rex Gentium, when we know that He is king of all the world of man.

In case those of you in warmer climates missed it, yesterday was the first day of winter. I know we weren't alone in having some nasty weather. Below zero wind chills, blizzard conditions from 40 mph winds, whiteouts and freezing roads. Today was sunny, but the roads around our house are so icy from the winds whipping across them for 2 days that they are very hard to drive on!

I think God is trying to tell us to stay home. Every time we try to leave to accomplish that "one last thing" something else happens to make it more difficult. After today's adventure with a flat tire and then another flat tire and a broken brake caliper (don't ask) I finally gave in. I was supposed to join some friends tonight for our annual Mom's Cookie Exchange, but no more! I am tired of the weather and am staying home. Hope the weather is better wherever you are.

Here are a few photos from yesterday, just in case you live somewhere where there is no snow!

Here is my husband pulling our car out of a snow-filled rut on our own driveway. At least it was close to home!
Some pictures of the snow-blown landscape. Imagine the 20 below zero wind chill temperatures so you can appreciate the last picture more!


This is where we spent the first official day of winter! I guess this is one thing you don't get to enjoy very often when you live somewhere that is warm all the time.


God Bless!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

O Antiphons and Molasses Crinkles

Today's O Antiphon is O Clavis David. Here we have come to the year 1000 B.C.

Tomorrow's is the fifth, which is O Oriens. With this we see that the line of David is elevated so that the peoples may look on a rising star in the east

And here is one last cookie recipe before Christmas. We really like these cookies but for some reason, we only make them at Christmas time. Enjoy!

Molasses Crinkles

1/2 C butter (no substitutes)
1/4 C molasses
3/4 C sugar
1 egg beaten
2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 to 2 Tbl additional sugar

Melt butter and beat with molasses and sugar. Add egg and continue mixing. Sift together all dry ingredients, except the additional sugar. Add them to the wet mixture, stirring until well combined. Form balls of dough. Roll in additional sugar. Smash them down with a fork. Bake 12-15 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

God Bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Back again with another 7 Quick Takes Friday thanks to Conversion Diary.

1.

Today's O Antiphon is:
O Radix Jesse
. With this O Antiphon we have come to the time when God was preparing the line of David (about 11oo B.C.)

2.

This quick take is courtesy of a friend of ours. Here is the miraculous story of this picture:

Here are a few pictures from the Blue Knights' pizza party last night. As I told the dads, this first picture of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima somehow managed to be on my camera as we headed to the Pizza Party. Only thing is, we had this travelling statue at our house in May of 2007. I did take a picture of it, but it was with our old, $20 camera, which had built-in memory. No memory stick. I downloaded it on our computer a year and a half ago. We got our new camera last Christmas, and the memory stick a short time later. Needless to say I was dumbfounded when I saw this picture, that I took a year and a half ago, on our new camera. I asked my wife and the kids if they somehow brought the picture up on our computer, and took a picture of the computer. They looked at me as if I lost my marbles. My son and I asked Our Lady to be with all of us at the pizza party, since this is Her group. I guess she wanted Her picture to be included, along with all the other pictures of Her brave little knights. She certainly must love and appreciate these little guys and their prayers more than we know. Pretty cool, huh?

3.

I really can't stand blogger sometimes. As soon as you copy something in, the rest of your post immediately takes on the font and boldness of the copied material...no matter how many times you try to change it!!!!!!!!!!

4.

As I mentioned yesterday, here are some photos from the Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe's performance of "A Silent Nativity". This first picture shows Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of Jesus.


5.

Here are the angels announcing the birth of Jesus.


6.

The evil King Herod....(don't ask me why the font changed again. See #3)



7.

Everyone rejoicing over the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior!

Try not to notice the change in venue too much. We did two performances in two different places and I really liked this picture! Hope you enjoyed them, too!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The O Antiphons and other things

Yesterday began the O Antiphons. I was going to post a little about them each day, starting yesterday, but I couldn't because I was stuck in this:

We had to make our way home Tuesday evening from a performance that my girls were in and after 3 1/2 hours of being stuck on the highway, and making it only half way home, we bailed out and all 12 of us (I had our neighbors with us) stayed the night at my in-laws. Sometimes having family scattered all over the area is a hassle but that night it was a blessing!

I also have to say that the nifty little email feature on my cell phone came in handy, too. Being away from home, I was still able to keep up with what was going on for the next day's performance!

It's funny, but one of the biggest things that kept bothering me (other than my new found claustrophobia) about being stuck on the highway was wondering what I was going to do about a bathroom. One must think about these things when 10 out of the 12 passengers are girls, and the 11th is a recently potty trained 3 year old! Do you pull off to the side of this jammed highway and stand out there with blankets around each other? Not too obvious, is it? Do you find a container in the car??? No one was too comfortable with either of those options so instead we prayed the rosary and were able to make it off the highway and into a restaurant in time! Thank you, Blessed Mother!

Anyhow, we are home again and preparing for the next storm to hit this afternoon. So back to my original thought. Here is the information I got from Catholicculture.org about the O Antiphons:

December 17 marks the beginning of the "O" Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer. The antiphons beg God with mounting impatience to come and save His people. The order of the antiphons climb climatically through our history of Redemption.

Yesterday was the first O Antiphon, O Sapientia. In this, we take a backward flight into the recesses of eternity to address Wisdom, the Word of God.

Today's O Antiphone is O Adonai. Here we have leaped from eternity to the time of Moses and the Law of Moses (about 1400 B.C.).

Tomorrow, electricity willing, I hope to bring you another O Antiphon as well as some pictures of the performance that the Little Flowers Catholic Dance and Theatre Troupe did of the "Silent Nativity".

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penance? In Advent?

I was thinking on Sunday about how I wanted to write a blog post about the penitential side of Advent in response to a comment that I received a week or so ago but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say.

Sunday evening a friend called to tell me about the homily she heard on Saturday evening. The topic had to do with the penitential side of Advent, but in this case, the priest was more or less dismissing that aspect of Advent.

Now I knew that this was going to be a blog topic this week, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to say. Lucky for you, God didn't want me to say anything about this topic. In my email inbox Monday morning was the perfect response! Isn't God good?

I do not know Fr. Perez or where he is from or even where/why this piece was originally published. All I know is that it says everything far better than I could have said it. Hope you find it interesting, also.

Lately I have heard of a local ongoing debate, which
I fear is probably pretty much universal, regarding the Season of
Advent. The debate focuses on whether Advent is just a time of
preparation for Christmas, could we then call it a pre-Christmas,
or a penitential season. The Church's answer, as usual,
stands in the middle - "Virtus in medio stat." While it is a
time for preparation for the great Feast of the Nativity of the
Son of God made Man - and as such what a wonderful event that is -
it is also a penitential season, that is, a time of penance
and sacrifice. When we were little, those of us who were
fortunate enough to have had good old fashioned sisters as our
teachers in grade school, were told to make many acts of
penance and self-abnegation, sacrifices, special devotions and to
have a crib for the Baby Jesus in which we would put a piece of
straw for each act we performed. The idea was that we would have
so many acts of penance that we would make a comfy bed for the
Baby Jesus. It was childlike, yes, and simple. But isn't
Christmas all about childlikeness and simplicity? The idea was
that according to age-old Church practice Advent was - and is - a
season of penance. That is very difficult in the post-Christian
and secularized world in which most of us live. Christmas carols
and decorations spring up as early as Halloween (yes) in many
places and for the most part after Thanksgiving. Those same
decorations are thrown out and the carols cease the day after
Christmas. We as Catholics should be counter cultural - as Pope
John Paul II
often reminded us. Christmas lasts for forty days
until Candlemas on February 2nd - which goes back to the Law of Moses
which Christ came to fulfill to perfection. The Vatican is a
good sign of this since by order of the Pope the ancient Roman
practice of leaving up all Nativity scenes (even in St. Peter's
Square) until Feb. 2nd has been both kept up and restored in
the last few years (as far as St. Peter's is concerned). Thus we
have Forty Days of Christmas. It is then that we should have
Christmas parties and feasts, not before Christmas Eve. In too many
quarters, too many Parishes, and Catholic organizations we have
succumbed to the ways of the world. Instead of bringing the light
of the Truth to the world we have molded ourselves about its
erroneous criteria. This must change.

On the other hand we have this time of Advent. It is a
Season of Penance for which the Church vests Herself in violet or
purple (except Gaudete Sunday in Rose which signifies a lessening
of the rigors of penance). So it is a Penitential Season,
primarily. Yes, it is a time of preparation for the Birth of
Christ
, just as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. Does
that mean we start to celebrate Christmas before Christmas and
forget the penance which our Faith and Tradition tell us we must
do? Does that mean we start to celebrate Easter on Ash Wednesday
and forget our Lenten penance? I think we all know the answer.
The Liturgy and Discipline of the Church (which follows the Liturgy)
tell us otherwise. We prepare for Christmas - or for Easter -
by repentance, by penances, sacrifices, increased quality and time
and number of prayers and devotions. We gather, as it were, many
pieces of straw to make His crib more comfortable. So yes, this
is a time to performs acts of fasting and abstinence. Of giving
witness - "No I cannot partake of that because I am preparing
for Christmas which starts, not ends, on Christmas Day." It is
a time of renewed repentance. A time to make a good Confession
of our sins. Needless to say, we repeat with John Paul II, the
desire and advice to all that they should go to Confession
regularly, at least once a month. The just man sins seven times
a day. Once or twice a year is hardly sufficient to make a
good thorough confession or to partake in the elements of
spiritual growth which this wonderful Sacrament affords us. It
is a time when we should try to attend and participate in the
Sacred Mysteries of the Mass and perhaps in at least the readings
of the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours which are so very
beautiful. A time to meditate more deeply in the Joyful
Mysteries of the Rosary
with Her who was so essentially central
to their taking place and their remembrance by the Evangelists and
the early Church. With St. John the Baptist who plays a
central role in this Season we also must yell from the rooftops:
"Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!" "Make straight the ways
of the Lord!" Fill in the valleys and bring down the mountains
of our sins so the Lord's coming will be easy and fruitful for us.
Repent! Prepare! Rejoice, because our salvation is close at hand!

Fr. Héctor R.G. Pérez y Robles, STD

"Embrace Mary, for she is the very Gate of Heaven
who brings to you the Glorious King of the New Light."
(Antiphon for the Procession on the Feast of Purification of the
Blessed Virgin Mary/Candlemas - Feb 2)

God Bless!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Five Year Olds Take on Advent

I decided to interview my five year old daughter to find out what Advent means to her. (okay, can you tell I was at a loss for what to post???) I typed as she dictated:

"Advent is about Jesus and about loving Him and there is an Advent wreath. There's loving your neighbors, your friends, your cousins. There's three purple candles and one pink candle and pine cones and evergreen trees on the Advent wreath. If there is someone with a birthday in Advent then you would pray for them and for their birthday party. You say the rosary and pray to God. Don't be angry at your mom and dad. Don't hit your cousins, your friends or brothers or sisters. You shouldn't punch your brothers or sisters, either. You could watch Advent stuff on your TV or your computer. Sing Advent songs."

I think she has a pretty good handle on what Advent is about; especially the part about not punching your brothers and sisters :) If only everyone in the house would listen to her. I'm impressed that she didn't say anything like: Advent is about watching mom run around like a crazy lady as she tries to keep up with everything! Or about how it's all about what she wants for Christmas. Maybe we're making some headway around here?!

I asked my three year old if he had anything to say about Advent. His response, "Uhh, no." Oh well, maybe in a few years...

God Bless!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice Cream Kolachky

Sorry I haven't had a recipe up in awhile. Since it is fast approaching Christmas, I thought I would post one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Ice Cream Kolachky

1 pt. vanilla ice cream
1 lb. butter (yes that's 1 pound!)
3 1/2 tbl sugar
4 c flour
Your choice of jelly or filling

Cream the ice cream and butter together. Add the sugar and flour. Mix just till blended together. Chill overnight. The next day, roll out dough on floured board and cut with round cutter. Place 1/2 tsp of filling in middle. Bake for 15 min. or until a light brown color.

God Bless!


Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday again so here goes:

1.

As I said here, I went on a Christmas shopping spree this past Monday. It was not very fruitful. It seems that even more so than in years past THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE! I came home frustrated and tired and did exactly what I should have done in the first place, sat in front of my computer and ordered everything online. I did so well that my credit card company called this morning to verify all the activity!

2.

We participated in the amnesty program at our library this week. For a limited time they were erasing all library fines in exchange for donations of baking items (you know, flour, oil, etc). I probably donated more than I had in fines, but it still felt good to imagine I was getting a break!

3.

A friend tipped me off to a good deal over at Sophia Institute Press. This is a list of books that they are selling at only $2 a piece. I have my eye on "Keep It Simple" - it looks like a good read right about now. I also ordered "Saint Worship and the Worship of Mary" to help us with the neighboring Lutheran Pastor. Hopefully it is an easy enough read to just pass along to him.

4.

Speaking of the Lutheran Pastor, our friend had a meeting with him yesterday. They had some discussion and it seems as if the Pastor will be correcting his error on the Immaculate Conception, however everything else that our friend said was met with "Well, where is that in the Bible?" There are three Catholic homeschooling families in the neighborhood so maybe we'll invite the Pastor and his wife over for some dialogue. We meet every Monday night to pray the rosary together, maybe that would be a good place to start!

5.

I just loved that story about the Girard family. After I posted about it, I was looking around the website some more and came across some newspaper articles. What disturbed me about them were the comments that came after the articles. Why is it that people have to be critical about even really nice things? Why do they get so hung up about things that don't have anything to do with them? It was so disappointing to read people complaining about this family getting a new home. On a better note, however, the episode about the Girard's and their new home will air on February 8th at 8 eastern/7 central. I'll try to remind everyone about it as the date approaches.

6.

You just have to love Illinois politics. Chicago is famous for its Democratic political machine and now, not only do we have one former Governor in jail, but the current one is potentially on his way for allegedly trying to sell Barak Obama's senate seat. It will be interesting to see just how this goes.

7.

Sorry to end on a disturbing note but I cannot believe the audacity of Planned Parenthood of Indiana. It seems as if they have been offering gift certificates that you can purchase for their "services". How ironic is that to give someone you love a gift card for an abortion or contraception on the very feast day that celebrates birth! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Way to Combat Selfishness

Advent is a time for preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus as well as to anticipate His second coming. During this time we need to look into our hearts and see what it is that is keeping us from totally embracing Christ - and then get rid of it (whatever that it might be).

For many people (and I include myself in this group!), one big thing that might be keeping them from giving all of themselves to Jesus is selfishness. What a hard thing to root out of our souls! It is so hard to fight against all the time. This time of year it seems especially difficult to fight off selfishness because we are so tired and so stressed preparing for the holidays.

Well, the best way I know of to fight off selfishness is to do something nice for someone else! Last night I came across an incredible example of this in action - an entire community getting together to give to a family that has had one incredibly horrific year.

You might remember the Girard family. Their dad, Thom, and oldest son, Marc, died this past summer in a swimming accident. This was after they lost their home to a fire and had been living in a trailer. This past week they became the recipients of a brand new home built through the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". This is what it's all about, folks: hundreds of people donating their time, money and services, working in rainy and freezing conditions, to give an incredible home to a very deserving family. Take the time to check out this house and follow the progress through the blog. See how God takes care of us? I know a new house will never make up for losses this family has been through, but what a comfort to know that they now have a house to live in.

While checking this all out, I found myself overwhelmed when I thought of the gift of themselves that all these people gave and at the same time I felt bad for the grumbling I've done the past two weeks over minor inconveniences. I'm so glad that God puts these examples in our face so that we can gain from them, too. Please join me in praising God for His goodness and generosity and I pray that we can all learn from this great example.

God Bless!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Lutheran Pastor is Misinformed about Catholicism

My husband and I came across video footage of last Sunday's service from a nearby Lutheran church. It seems that the pastor chose to spend some time discussing Mary. Was this a coincidence or was it planned, seeing as how Monday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception?

Before the pastor got to what was his "main" point about Mary, he took a few minutes to talk about those people who worship Mary (aka Catholics). The sad thing about all of this was that what he said was downright wrong. For instance, he said that the Immaculate Conception meant that Mary was born of a virgin. He also said that Mary ascended into Heaven. Each time he tried to make a point, he used very faulty, misleading or downright wrong information.

Most people who witness sermons like this will take what the pastor says to heart. If they've heard it before, it will reinforce ideas about Catholics that they already have. If they haven't heard it before, how many of them will question what they've heard? How many will look into this in more detail? Probably not many. However, since this has been brought to our attention, we feel a responsibility to help this pastor see that he is wrong about a lot of things he said. It is one thing to state a doctrine of the Catholic faith and then say you disagree with it. It is another to incorrectly state Catholic doctrine and then attempt to explain why it is wrong. Witnessing something like this sermon helps to back up what Bishop Fulton Sheen said, that many people don't hate the Catholic Church, they just hate what they think is the Catholic Church (although by stating that, I'm not meaning to imply that this pastor was spewing hatred).

So, homeschooling lesson for today: How do we explain to people like this pastor that his sermon contained a lot of wrong information? Did you know that Luther was actually very Marian? How can we use that fact to show this pastor that he was even contradicting the founder of his own faith? Sounds like a great assignment for a high school student, doesn't it? I know it got my husband going; he's digging through books and pamphlets as I type! What a great way to strengthen your own faith!

God Bless!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Feast Day!

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! What a great day to celebrate Mary and make her a part of our Advent. Advent really should have a Marion flavor to it since it was Mary's fiat that brings us Christ. I came across a quote from St. Francis about Mary that I wanted to share: "Mary is the celestial staircase for arriving more rapidly at Christian perfection." What a blessing the Church gives us by having two Marian feast days in one week!

I found a great article about how to connect the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with Advent. It would make a good teaching moment with the kids. Unfortunately, I can't do it with my children today because it is the ONLY day between now and Christmas that I have free to do my Christmas shopping. Pray that I survive this all day shopping adventure!

God Bless!

Friday, December 5, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

It's "7 Quick Takes Friday" over at Conversion Diary so I'm joining in again! Enjoy.

1.

Most of my "quick takes" today have links to other things, so here goes. Last week I stumbled across something really neat for Advent. It is put together by the family that runs the Holy Heroes website. When you sign up for their Advent Adventures you will receive an email each day of Advent (except Sundays) that will have a short video presentation, an audio clip of a decade of the rosary as well as other links to Advent puzzles, coloring pages and a little quiz. It is a great idea and very easy to use. We've managed to keep up with most of the pages this week. You can join any time in Advent - so it's not too late. There's even links to the days you've missed.

2.

Speaking of Advent, has anyone else noticed that the penitential side of Advent seems to be coming out more in recent years? Sometimes I think the trials we face during Advent are worse than in Lent! Oh well, as the saying goes, "Just offer it up". There certainly is enough to offer it up for!

3.

Last night Catholic author Regina Doman was on EWTN's "Life on the Rock". Congratulations to Regina on a fun and informative interview. We enjoyed listening to it through the internet since we don't have cable! Listening to the show reminded me that her books would make excellent Christmas gifts for those teens on your list that are so hard to buy for. And not just the girls, either...Check them out and help support a great family!

4.

Speaking of Christmas gifts - if you're looking for ideas for grab bags or co-workers or those hard to buy for adults in your family, consider buying some Mystic Monk coffee. It is very good coffee and buying it helps out the Monks in Wyoming who sell it (and me, too!) Click on this little logo here and check out their Christmas gift packs.


5.

Another great Christmas gift idea I found will help you with the girls in your life. I came across a lady in Pennsylvania that has been making and selling Catholic jewelry for a number of years. She has a wide variety of styles - all with a Catholic flavor. How cool is that? Click the banner below to check out her work and support another great Catholic business (and me, too. Thanks)!

Handmaid For The Lord - We Blend Faith & Fashion!

6.

Alright, enough selling. How about a laugh? There's a country song by Taylor Swift called "Love Story" that we have all been enjoying lately. Naturally, when you listen to a song over and over, you tend to remember the words and sing parts of it throughout the day. (If you aren't familiar with the song and would like to be, you can check it out here). The song is about a boy and a girl named Romeo and Juliet who, as you probably guessed, are in love but Romeo has been told by Juliet's father to "stay away from Juliet". The other night, our five year old asked her sister to sing her that song about the father who told Romeo to stay away from Joliet. If you aren't from around Northern Illinois, you won't necessarily know that Joliet is a city in IL that is famous for its many prisons - think Blues Brothers and Stateville Maximum Security Prison. Maybe we could make our own version of the song!

7.

Alright, one last laugh. My sister-in-law, who has a son who would do something like this, sent this video to me this week. It's pretty cute!


Little Kid Is A Bad Liar - Watch more Entertainment

God Bless!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Museum of Science and Industry

As you know it is the first week of Advent. It seems as soon as this time of year hits, our schedule goes crazy, which makes it hard to homeschool, keep the spirit of Advent and still plan for Christmas. Unfortunately, homeschooling usually ends up with the short end of the stick.

Despite our schedule I still wanted to find some educational things to do to make up for the lack of book work. Earlier in the week we took a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. Most of my kids had never been there and my husband and I hadn't been there for years. What a great museum! If you live in the area or are planning on visiting Chicago anytime soon, this would be my #1 museum recommendation.

Why did I like it so much? Well, let me first say that there are two types of museum goers. My uncle terms one kind the "Slowski's". You know them. They are the kind that like to go through museums and read every word that is written, even signs like "Employees must wash hands before returning to work" . If it's a sign, they'll stop and read it. This makes it impossible to get through the entire museum. In case you hadn't guessed, my uncle and I do not fall into this category.

Those of you like us like to go through a museum the same way you shop; walking along at a reasonable pace, browsing the displays, stopping when something really catches your attention. This method allows you to learn a little about a lot of things because you can make it through more exhibits this way. The Slowski's only can learn a lot about a little because they never leave the first room!

Anyhow, I liked this museum because there was a lot of cool things to see, but not a lot that we had to stop and read. We went on a few tours and listened to people talk, which is great for auditory learners. My son came home with a boat-load of information on submarines and coal mines. We were all able to push buttons and touch things and really learn a lot. There were even a few things to read, so the Slowski group was happy, too!

About half way through the museum I remembered that I had a camera on my cell phone - see, all that time I spent last week came in handy. The pictures aren't that clear (come on, I'm supposed to hold that little thing still long enough to take a clear picture? with NO flash???) but I thought I'd share some of what we saw.

During December the museum has their Christmas trees from around the world display. This is the center tree:



You can't really see my daughter, but check out the cool German U-505 Submarine. This was a great tour!



They had a great section on transportation. Here is a picture of a big steam engine they have there:


And this is an awesome railroad system they had set up. My son was mesmerized.

If you can, check out this museum in January when they have a whole bunch of free days!

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology Follow Up

Yesterday an anonymous commentor commented that in a few weeks the novelty of my new cell phone will wear off and my life will get back to normal. I agree. Really, due to the hecticness of life, I've already been forced to forgo playing with my phone so that I can take care of may daily duty. I got to thinking, though, that my point wasn't to whine or complain about being overcome by my cell phone. What I was really wondering was why in the world these technological devices cause us to "waste" so much of our time in the first place.

For example, when I got a new mixer, I certainly didn't feel this compelling urge to spend all my time baking. Likewise, when we got a "car that was new to us", it didn't make me want to drive around constantly (although it seems that that is what I do anyhow!). Why is it that when we get a new computer program, we become completely engrossed in trying to figure it out? Why are we willing to waste so much time setting up all our appointments and contacts on a new computer program or PDA when the calendar on our desk and the old-fashioned address book have worked so well for us before?

The only thing I can connect it to is like when my son gets a new "Thomas the Tank Engine" movie and he wants to watch it multiple times a day until he has memorized every word and gesture of every train! Is it something in us that remembers how we were obsessive like this when we were three years old? Since it wouldn't be appropriate to sit down and watch Thomas for hours on end, do we relive that feeling through our electronic or hand-held devices?

My husband's take on this is that the attraction comes from the fascination over how something so small can do so much. But, he's a guy, and guy's tend to think like that. Doesn't work for me. I think it must be the latent three year old in me coming out!

God Bless!