Previous month:
January 2007
Next month:
March 2007

February 2007

Homeschooling Has Many Perks ...

Like going to a birthday party during your lunch break!


Here are the older two boys who were invited to a "Pump it Up" birthday party this morning from 11:30 till 1. (Nana stayed home with EB.)

Pump it Up is a ... well, how exactly do I describe it? It is a party place at which kids play on all manner of inflatable moon-bounce apparatus for an hour or so. There's some music involved as well as much running, jumping, sliding, laughing and sweating. There was also pizza and cake before all was said and done.


Above you see Crackerjack sliding ...


Bookworm "boxing" ...


And this is CJ casting one last look at his mother before beginning his match ...


Here is the group taking a breather just before lunch was served.


And joining the birthday boy on his throne are my two guys. Happy Birthday Kurt!


The light saber favors were a huge hit with the kids. Before we all headed out, a group duel was a must. By 2:00 we were back home and back to work! :)

Lunch and gym were never this fun! Hope you had a fun day, too!

A Lenten Meme

Matilda tagged me for this Lenten Meme. It took a bit of pondering, but here it is ...

What is your favorite Sorrowful Mystery?
The fourth, when Jesus Carries the Cross, and His mother comes upon Him - I feel some relief that He is no longer alone.

What is your favorite Station of the Cross?
Well, this would be the same moment, The Fourth Station, when Jesus meets His Mother. I say favorite, but what I mean is, this one pierces my heart the most. I cannot imagine Their pain, and yet, I am sure she was a comfort to Him. Mary's maternal suffering only pushes the point home for me all the more. When we as children fell or were injured in some way, did it not provide an intense emotional comfort when at last we were found by our mothers? For an instant the pain hurt all the more, and yet, we knew in our heart it would be better, now that she was here.   

Do you fast during Lent?
I fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We abstain from meat on Fridays throughout Lent.

What is your Lenten Resolution(s)?
As a family we are trying to give more of ourselves every day - small offerings which will allow us to remove a thorn from His crown. We are also keeping our lights off and heat down as much as possible. (Bookworm has taken this on as his responsibility.) We will compare next month's utility bills with last month's and deposit the difference in our alms box. We are reading from the Bible every night before bed and the boys have elected to work on memorizing new prayers for Easter. 

Personally I gave up soda, as I did last year. I waffled on this. I wondered if I should give up coffee, as it would be infinitely harder than giving up soda. I am sure it would be, but I feared the lack of coffee would affect my family in the long run, so I chose something that would only be a sacrifice to me. Truth be told, that one can of Coca-Cola a day is sorely missed. I would usually have it right around 2 when my energy was flagging and the sugar, caffeine, and the fizz - was just what I needed to pick myself up. I have some more personal resolutions as well that I'll keep between Him and me. :)

Do you use Holy Water during Lent?

The only thing we do differently is at Mass when we bless ourselves, I remind the boys that before too long the font will be emptied. (What a striking image as we enter church on Holy Thursday.) I would like to prepare our home Holy Water font before the Easter Vigil night. 

How many times do you go to Mass during Lent?
We attend every Sunday, and on Holy Thursday for the Mass of The Lord's Supper.

Thank you, Matilda, for tagging me with this thoughtful meme. I would like to tag Rebecca, Ruth and Cay, but please consider yourself tagged if you would like to participate. (Leave a comment below and I'll link you here.)

Blessings, my friends.

Are You an Edith Holden Fan?

If you are Charlotte Mason-inspired, or just a nature enthusiast (in practice or heart), I'll Edith_holden_1bet you are! (I certainly am!)

Thanks to a message on the CM Nature Walk group, I found this post at this blog and ... oh my. What lovely kits! I had no idea such things existed. Any one of these Country Diary crafts would make a beautiful Easter gift for some lucky young (or not so young!) lady. I see the order time is currently 4-6 weeks, so it's best to get cracking if you are so inclined to make a purchase!

The Tuesday Plan

Of Note: International Polar Bear Day, Bookworm's oral surgery (please say a prayer for his peace and comfort!), Crackerjack's CCD class

Tuesday household chores: Clean the bathroom, continue laundry ... and to this I add, clean off the learning room table #2.

Mama's To-Do: Set up March planner, continue working on mid-year review, begin an outline for 4-month element study (water, earth, air, fire), read waffle-maker instructions.


  • Breakfast: peanut butter-Nutella waffle sandwiches, bananas, apple juice (bagel w/cream cheese and pear juice for EB)
  • Lunch: fruit-and-yogurt smoothies, rolled up nitrate-free ham, Crispy Wheats (for those who can crunch)
  • Supper: omelettes with leftover chicken and broccoli (just cheese for BW), soft wheat biscuits, roasted potatoes & carrots on the side
  • Dessert: polar bear cake (may postpone this depending on BW's mouth)

Earlybird: 5-Minute Mouth Time, Simon Says (body awareness), Read Jeremy Fisher and look through one frog science book, coloring picture of frog (practice saying color names), help Mama fill birdfeeders (practice getting boots on and off), take a "pond" bath (plastic frogs, fish and ducks), watch this DVD for quiet time.

Math: On hold today - BW gets a free pass on all lessons due to (multiple) tooth extractions, CJ is waiting for his new Seton math workbook to arrive, (EB will be working on colors, sorting and counting) ...

Language: Continue reading The Warm Place for Thursday's Book Group meeting (we're loving this book!), Language of God A page, narration (record for later copywork).

Science/Nature/Geography: Earth science: poles and oceans; blubber mitten activity (polar bears).

World Cultures: Introduce Children Like Me.

Religion: Watch (and Tivo) our pastor saying Mass on local channel, Read "Daily Life in Jesus' Time" in children's bible, Read about The Last Supper (CJ's CCD lesson this week).

All plans subject to change, of course. :) I hope you have a wonderful day!

9 a.m. ETA - All together now - phew! No teeth pulled today! Today's appointment turned out to be just a consultation, and instead, Bookworm will have four teeth pulled a week from Thursday ...

So, as you might expect, Bookworm's exemption from lessons is also on hold. ;)

Three Cheers for the Polar Bears!

Thanks to the nifty bulletin board in the waiting room at Earlybird's speech therapy, we Polar_bear2learned that February 27th, is International Polar Bear Day!

This probably explains why this week's Mini Page was all about polar bears. (Do you get one of those in your local paper? Check and see; I'll bet you do! My boys enjoy these kid-friendly news articles very much.)

Naturally, Crackerjack immediately suggested a cake was in order, by which we might honor these beautiful, almost endangered creatures. Bookworm took the idea one step further, recommending a chocolate cake with white frosting since polar bears have black skin and white fur. Or, technically, he clarified, translucent fur which appears white (or ivory as the case may be) due to its light reflection. A distant bell was ringing in my memory, but I had to look it up to be sure (Bookworm was right, but in my defense his brain cells are fresher):

"Polar bears have clear hairs with shiny surfaces. Since the hair reflects light, the bears look white to us. The white-looking fur helps camouflage the bear, or helps it blend in with its surroundings. The bears have black skin that also absorbs the heat of the sun. The bottom layer of their hairs is oily and water-resistant." ~ Betty Debnam, The Mini Page

Well, there you go. Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting sounds just about perfect for our polar bear celebration! :)

If you, too, are interested in a quick polar bear study tomorrow, here are a few places to check out:

And a book to read:

And speaking of Jan Brett AND polar bears - mark your calendars, my friends, for her new book The Three Snow Bears will come out this September!

Have fun!

*Endearing mama and cub photograph by Flip Nicklin, for National Geographic, Near Wager Bay, Canada, 1996

Baker's Delight!

The Loveliness of Baking is up at Cheryl's this morning, and ooh, I hope you have a Loveliness_logo_12cup of coffee or tea by your side, because you will want to sit and savor this one! Thank you, Cheryl, for a scrumptious fair!

And since I always have a few more words to say, I thought I would share an impromptu baking meme of sorts! :)

Favorite baking cookbook: Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking ... though I would really love a peek at The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (my library has it)!

Favorite baking magazine: The Baking Sheet (I LOVE it and have a few years' back issues saved.)

Favorite baking catalogs: The Baker's Catalogue, Williams-Sonoma, Kitchen Krafts

Favorite baking show: Growing up I loved Julia Child (the original show - really!) and now I love The Barefoot Contessa. Alton Brown is very funny; we try to catch his show once in a while, and if I had more time, I'd watch Martha, too (though I get very bored by all the celebrities - I wish she'd just bake and craft).

Favorite thing to bake: Bar cookies and fruit-filled quick breads (because they're easy!).

Thing I wish I baked better: Yeast breads (need more patience) and pies (my grandfather was the best pie baker ever - I aspire to make pies like he did!).

The next thing I can't wait to bake: Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and Lenten pretzels (talk about two extremes!).

Favorite baking equipment: My Kitchenaid mixer, it's such a workhorse.

Favorite baking ingredient: Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla (it's like baker's gold)!

Favorite time to bake: On the weekends when the kitchen is clean and Bill has the boys out on a walk. ;)

Favorite kids baking book: Williams Sonoma Kids Baking (though there are great recipes each month in Family Fun and Nick Jr. Magazine).

Favorite pie: Apricot tart (or lemon meringue or my grandmother's blueberry or ...)

Favorite cake: Chocolate with chocolate frosting, although I really love vanilla pound cake too!

Favorite cookie: Scottish shortbread - butter, sugar, flour - what more do you need?

Favorite muffin: Gingerbread!

If I owned a bakery it would be called: Comfort & Joy

Favorite baking memory: Any of my grandmother's handwritten recipe cards and the beautifully decorated cakes my mother made for our birthdays. (I remember the standing doll cake the best.)

Posts from my blogging past:

As you can see, Cheryl's fair got me quite inspired to think about baking! Be sure to stop by and get inspired too!

Today's Mass: The First Sunday of Lent

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

A reflection from Celebrating the Gospels: Activities & Prayers for Sunday Cycles A, B & C:

"At his baptism, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was with Jesus for his desert journey as he resisted the three temptations of the devil and chose to walk the road to Jerusalem not as a great king but as the suffering Son of God.Cactus_banner_symbol

During Lent, we should allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit into our own desert for forty days. By setting aside quiet moments, we can speak with God; we can learn to listen by becoming docile to the Spirit in our life; we can show appreication for others and, by not giving in to our every whim and desire, we can begin to make God and his people the center of our lives.

In our forty days of desert wanderings, let us reevaluate our lives by asking ourselves where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. As a group or family, let us provide the environment necessary for moments of silence and reflection. Together, let us live in a spirit of enthusiasm as we prepare for new life."

Other resources we use for Mass preparation and reflection:

I try to begin preparing for the weekly Mass by Thursday. On that afternoon, many times over tea (and snacks), we read the upcoming Sunday's Gospel, using our Magnifikid as a guide. There are usually some nice supplementary activities in each issue, including vocabulary words, a comic strip, a writing project, and Scriptural background information. (I haven't checked out the Magnifikid Minute yet, but it looks neat.)

Over the next few days, as we have time, we do some further preparation. Often, we look up the corresponding story in our children's Bible, and I might have the boys do a coloring sheet, a small craft or hands-on activity. (For example, this week I meant to purchase a small cactus for the altar, but we never made it over to the nursery.) My goal for Sunday is a familiarity with the week's Scripture - so that the Gospel and Father's homily are more appealing and interesting to the boys.

After Mass we bring home the week's Pilot which has a fun kids' page in the back (as does our weekly parish bulletin). The kids enjoy looking over those puzzles and games. First thing Monday morning, we begin lessons with a Mass worksheet from I let the boys work on it together, and refer to their Magnifikid if they need. This is done entirely without pressure - just a fun way to see what we remember. :)

Other areas of our faith formation I would like to address in the future:

  • Catechism
  • Home life
  • Parish life
  • Living the liturgical year

I'm making up a notebook as a kind of teacher's guide for our family faith formation. I noticed one of Crackerjack's CCD teachers had such a binder where she kept all her plans, papers and outlines. I'm keeping my version, along with my primary resources, in a roomy tote bag. So far I have a liturgical calendar in there and some tabs.

Today I will print out and file Helen's wonderful series of posts on Mass preparation. She generously shares so many wonderful and informative ideas: The Challenge, Foundations, Before Mass and many, many more ...

A blessed Sunday to you all!

A Year in a Baker's Kitchen

As I sat down to post about baking, so many things came to mind, it was hard to knowLoveliness_logo_11   where to begin. There are many things I love about baking ~ some of them I've learned from firsthand knowledge, some of them I've gathered from memory ... while many more I've conjured up through pure speculation (in other words, I read a lot of magazines and cookbooks).

I should begin by saying that I don't bake nearly as often as I'd like, and consequently, I'm not nearly as accomplished a baker as I perhaps could be. I come from a long line of excellent bakers, so, really, I have no excuse. When I remember back to family meals and holidays growing up, I always think of the delicious foods on the table, the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen ... standing at my mother's elbow, peeking over my grandmother's shoulder. At an early age I began collecting recipes - family cards and then torn sheets from my mother's magazines. To this day I hoard recipes in the hundreds; sadly, not nearly so many have come to fruition.

Why? Well, that is a post for another time - when I'm ready to delve into my time management issues. For today, in honor of Cheryl's upcoming fair, I want to concentrate on the loveliness of baking. Simply put, I don't bake enough and that's not lovely - that's frustrating. For today, I want to pretend I am a more constant and competent baker. I'm going to imagine all of the things I could bake some day ... some season ... some year!

The loveliness of baking, for me, begins with the inspiration. I find myself moved to bake as the calendar turns. As a holiday nears, I am eager to cook for it; as a season changes, I rush to celebrate it with signature fruits and flavors.

So that's where I found my focus today, in inspiration. I rounded up a year's worth of ideas and recipes that I would love to try in the coming months. That list grew quite long, and mind you, I'm not planning to make all of these things - my imagination, as it often does, got the better of me!

For today, I hope you enjoy peek in a baker's kitchen ...

In winter, the kitchen gets a good scrub down after the holidays. Depleted supplies are noted and replaced. Bits of greenery are plucked down, holiday knicknacks are packed away, and all feels refreshed and new. In the other room a fire crackles merrily, and just outside a gentle snow has started to fall. 

It's time to get baking, for winter brings ...

Spring brings warmer days and open windows letting in a soft new breeze. Pretty white curtains flutter in the fresh air and a windowbox full of pansies dance just outside.

Spring also brings the first seasonal produce and plenty of opportunities to bake ...

Summer finds us spending more time outside than in, and that's as it should be ... but there's still plenty of opportunity for baking! Fresh produce is at its most plentiful, so stop by the farm stand and pick up a bunch, a bushel or peck!

Summer days bring simple but glorious delights, like ...

Autumn draws us back into the kitchen. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and the days are growing short once again. Our baking days kick into high gear as we head into the holidays.

Autumn brings homey and humble things like ...

Now, next of course comes the baker's favorite time of the year - Christmas! That will have to be a post all its own, because there's simply no end to the baking ideas there ... when fresh supplies are laid in and dark cozy afternoons are unfolding ... we bake together ... listening to carols ... watching the day's light fade as the Christmas lights come on ... oops, here I go again - better wrap up! :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I'm off to buy some flour! (And don't forget Cheryl's fair on Monday!)

The Loveliness of Baking ...

Is coming to Cheryl's Thoughtful Spot next week! She'd like your submissions by the Loveliness_logo_9end of the day tomorrow. I hope you'll join us!

What do you like about baking? Do you have a recipe you might like to share? (It doesn't have to be new - take a look in your archives, I'll bet there's one in there!) Do you enjoy baking with your kids?

Here are some more of Cheryl's ideas:

favorite recipes
fond baking memories
baking failures you can laugh about now
your best baking tips
pictures of your set-up
how you organize your baking supplies
how you learned to bake
baking traditions in your home
favorite cookbooks, shows, and other resources
your baking staples or "must haves"
recipe organization
experiences with bake sales or baking co-ops
unique birthday cake ideas

Remember, you can send Cheryl links to your blog posts or e-mail her notes or pictures. You don't have to have a blog to participate! Send your info to cherylwilcox at comcast dot net ...

Hope to see you at the Fair! :)

Poetry Friday: Snowflakes by Longfellow


Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent and soft and slow
Descends the snow ...

~ Snowflakes, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We woke to a snowy morning, and this poem popped into my mind. We're heading out to speech just now - for a short drive over hill and dale, going slowly, watching our steps, anticipating our afternoon at home. All the hallmarks of a winter's day in New England. This is a nice treat for the kids on break this week - a final day to revel in the beauty of winter's nature!

Have a wonderful and wintry day!

More on Mr. Washington

From a beautiful, old (1919) book I have on hand, In the Child's World: Morning Talks and Stories by Emilie Poulsson. Where I came across it I cannot recall, but it can be viewed online here. Charming poems, lovely illustrations - just a sweet collection of lessons for young children.

Here's an excerpt from this morning's "talk" to Ms. Poulsson's children:


Cherries and Good Cheer ...

On Washington's Birthday! Cherry2_2

And, to begin, a quote from his lovely wife:

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." ~ Martha Washington

A few more ideas ...

~ How would your children like oatmeal and dried cherry cookies today? (They could even pass for a healthy on-the-go breakfast!)

~ In our home today, every good boy will find a dollar bill tucked beside his plate of cookies, as well as a mug of warm almond milk. Just the thing for a snowy February morning. :)

~ Now, if I were invited to tea today, I might bring my lovely hostess one of these little loaves, wrapped up with a cherry-red ribbon. They would also be nice for neighbors, teachers and friends!)

~ Certainly, Daddy will not be left out of the patriotic fun, for tonight's dessert will be Slow Cooker Cherry Cobbler. Perhaps with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

~ By the way, here's the cherry tree story and here's a neat coloring page.

~ One more quote for the day - a few lines from an old folk song. When Bill and I were first engaged, his dear grandmother would sing this to us with a wink and a smile ...

Can she bake a cherry pie,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie,
Charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie,
Quick's a cat can wink her eye.
She's a young thing,
And cannot leave her mother.

Have a fun day!

Ash Wednesday at Home

This morning, after returning home from Mass, we set up our Lenten altar. This is basically just a small area on top of our fireplace where we've placed a few remembrances of the season.


We set up our crown of thorns as we did last year, as well as our alms box, but this year we added two new aspects: a simple bowl of dirt sprinkled with ashes and a small box containing the missing Alleluia. These two projects were easy to do, and yet I think they made a big impression on the boys. I would like to add a small purple cloth or placemat as a base, but have not yet found what I want.

Making up the bowl of dirt and ashes involved two elements - fire and earth, so needless to say, within seconds of starting the project I had three eager helpers at my side. We have never burned palms before, and it was quite an experience! We worked quickly at the kitchen sink (windows wide open), Mama doing all the hands-on work, with the boys standing at a safe distance, oohing and ahhing as they watched. Soon we were discussing the meaning of palms and ashes and Bookworm said an impromptu prayer. I was amazed at how tuned in they all were. (Granted, I was wielding fire at the time, so I had their rapt attention.)


I had read about the bowl of earth idea in All Year Round and it sounded very symbolic and meaningful to me. We sprinkled the soil with the palm ashes and set it on our altar. (In this frigid clime, we had to rely on organic potting soil instead of dirt from the yard.) There it will stand, unadorned and undisturbed, for the next several weeks. On Palm Sunday we will sprinkle the soil with grass seed and watch for the changes throughout Holy Week.

I find the history behind faith traditions very interesting - why some of us do one thing and others do not - or perhaps do something similar. There are many aspects of my faith I am just learning about, or coming to understand more fully as an adult. It's exciting! Today I wanted to learn more about the meaning and use of blessed palms and ashes, so I looked in my copy of A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball and here is what I found:

"The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremony of imposing blessed ashes in the form of a cross on the foreheads of the faithful while the priest pronounces the words, "Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen 3:19). The name of the day was officially introduced in 1099 by Pope Urban II; previously it was called "Beginning of the Fast."

"The ashes used are made from burning the blessed palms of the previous Palm Sunday. They are given a special blessing before being distributed on Ash Wednesday, and the prayers in the Roman Missal for this ceremony date back to the eighth century.

"Ashes have been used as a token of penance and sorrow from the time of the Old Testament. The Church accepted the custom from Jewish tradition and kept its original meaning. Originally, the imposition of ashes applied only to public sinners. By the end of the eleventh century, many devout people voluntarily submitted to it, and it has become a general practice worldwide. In medieval times, the Popes walked barefoot on Ash Wednesday, accompanied by their cardinals, to the church of Santa Sabina, where the Pope received the ashes from the oldest cardinal-bishop and distributed them to all the cardinals.

"The imposition of ashes was discontinued in most Protestant churches after the Reformation, but was kept alive for a time in the Church of England. In recent times, some Protestant churches have returned to this ancient practice. Ash Wednesday is not observed in the Oriental Churches. Their Lent begins on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, which they call "Clean Monday" because the faithful cleanse their souls in penance and also wash and scrub all cooking utensils to remove all traces of meat and fat for the penitential season."

We also hung this grapevine cross in our family room window:


On Palm Sunday we will hang a lovely palm cross in its stead.

Now, this post is getting quite long, but I would like to share with you our Alleluia craft. I have to say, I love Elizabeth's wonderful idea as well as Matilda's beautiful take on the Alleluia farewell. Both are lovely ways to bring the nuances of our Faith to life in our children's hearts.

Well, I decided we too would take notice of the missing Alleluia this year. I am rather fond of painting and displaying wooden letters atop our bulletin board, as you might recall. That space is empty right now and will remain so until Easter morning when the Alleluia will appear in all its golden glory ...

Here are a few pictures I took while making the craft yesterday:


Materials: wooden craft letters, a plain white box, golden paint and glitter and floral stickers (not shown is clear glue).


I painted each letter with the golden paint and once dry, added some spring floral stickers. I then spread on a bit of clear glue and lightly sprinkled the letters with a fine golden glitter.

Here is how the sign will look at the top of the board (which holds our Lenten Journey chart):


Of course, the Alleluia needs a proper and careful hiding, so we wrapped ours inside a sheet of purple tissue and tucked it inside a plain paperboard box.


Won't it be a surprise to find the box opened and turned golden on Easter Day?   


After we said our farewell, we tucked the box at the back of the Lenten altar (some families might "bury" theirs beneath their couch, ours is safer on the alter - believe me).

And so Lent begins at last. Our home is ready - our hearts are too. Though I stand here stomach rumbling, and smelling faintly of smoke, I feel wonderful. Contemplating Lent, and the limits we will put on ourselves these next several weeks, I remembered a saying I once kept taped to my desk:

"Limits are a tonic to the soul."

Lent is a good time for limits, and it is a good time for the soul.

I can't remember where I read that quote - it might have been in this, my most favorite mothering book, which, come to think of it, would make a nice Lenten read ...

Well, let me finish up as I've gone on quite long. (Obviously I'm not limiting my blogging, lol!) As always, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in our day ...

Blessings to you as this new season begins!

Morning Reflection

"Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, theBurlap_cross_2 beginning of the Lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast. It cannot be otherwise, as it forms part of the great Easter cycle ...

We must remember the original meaning of Lent, as the ver sacrum, the Church's "holy spring" in which the catechumens were prepared for their baptism, and public penitents were made ready by penance for their restoration to the sacramental life in a communion with the rest of the Church.

Lent is then not a season of punishment so much as one of healing." ~ Thomas Merton

A blessed Ash Wednesday to you, my friends.

Pancakes and Crafts on Shrove Tuesday

No tea today, but plenty of flapjacks, with maple syrup and whipped cream and roasted potatoes. YUM! Pancake Day was a big hit in our household! (How could it not be, lol?) The boys ate several pancakes apiece; in fact, they got a little game going - when you finished a pancake, if you wanted another, you had to yell Mardi Gras first! I asked them if they remembered eating pancakes for supper last year and they did. :)

Looking ahead to tomorrow, I made our Lenten Journey chart this afternoon. I made a similar one last year, following an idea I found in yet another lovely British festival book, A Book of Feasts & Seasons by Joanna Bogle. Last year I made the mistake of posting the chart behind the computer corner where we could barely read it and certainly couldn't reach it. This year I'm posting it front and center on our learning room bulletin board.

Here are the materials:


Purple posterboard, small white cards cut into even smaller squares, a package of multicolored star stickers. (Not shown, thin brown cardboard.)

I made a small square for each of the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday and laid them out in a path leading up to a simple brown cross (made from the cardboard). On each square I wrote the date and one small thing we would do for God each day. (The boys and I brainstormed this together.)

Here's how the chart looks on our bulletin board:


Below you see the square for Ash Wednesday close-up. On this day we will go to Mass and receive ashes, and we will not eat meat. (Children may abstain from meat but do not need to fast; full Lenten regulations can be found here.)


We each chose a star color and when we complete a day's offering, we'll each apply our sticker to the square.

Taking another cue from Ms. Bogle's book, I will make some embellishments to the poster after the boys go to bed on Easter Eve. Come Sunday morning we will wake to a transformed board - golden glitter will line the pathways and a golden Alleluia will hail the new day from above. (I made the Alleluia sign today - I will post about that tomorrow.) There will likely be flowers and joyful phrases around the edges of the chart as well.

(Note ~ for two more Lenten chart ideas please stop by Matilda's here and Theresa's here. Lovely!)

We also read a cute Tomie dePaola book today, Pancakes for Breakfast, and we perused a lovely new Easter book I bought this weekend.

The three wooden frames seen below are tiny, and were a snap to paint. I chose the colors of Mardi Gras and will place a picture of each of my own princes inside. :)


I can't let you go without a peek at the pancakes! 


And the revelers ... with their crowns and masks!


The third little prince simply could not be pursuaded to adorn his Mardi Gras attire. He was all about the pancakes. :)

Well, what a fun day! I hope yours was too. Tomorrow we shift gears dramatically, and will rise extra early to attend morning Mass. For now, I wish you a good night and God bless! 

A Few Quick Notes

I am slowly (and finally!) updating my blogroll. I've added 30 or so blogs just today! There are so many wonderful blogs out there now - it's hard to keep up! I've been combing the blogrolls of other 4Real-ers but my time is up and I must leave it as is (for now). If you see your blog is missing, please leave me a comment and I'll plug you in. :)

Also, I have updated our "Feasts & Fun" typelist for the week ahead, and I hope to be filling up my rather neglected photo albums throughout the week. (Because really, we have done more winter nature study than just that one leaf.) My booklists are in need of serious pruning, too ...

In other blogging news, next Monday is The Loveliness of Baking, hosted by my friend Cheryl at her Thoughtful Spot. This is one of my favorite subjects, so I will surely be drumming up a post (or two!) for that fair! Posts are needed by Saturday, so stay tuned for more details.

Ooh, and finally, I have joined a virtual wine tasting! This was a great idea of Macbeth's that caught on like wildfire, and now many of us have ordered our Bogo wines and are already sipping away. (Ours arrived last week, but we'll be cracking it open tonight!) Many years ago I attended a few wine (or vintner) dinners as a very green editor's assistant. I didn't know what I was talking about then, and I don't now, but it will be fun all the same - and our overall goal is to choose a nice wine for Easter dinner. So, bear in mind, it's a working wine tasting. :)

Well, off to make that Lenten chart. Have a great day!

Muffins, Snow and Paczki ...

... on Presidents' Day Weekend!


My family just never knows what to expect around here, lol! Today they woke up to cherry and corn muffins in remembrance of Presidents' Day! (You can't tell, but the serving plate bears the image of Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.)

This weekend was cold, bright and just right for lots of time exploring the woods and testing out the snow gear that has been so neglected since last year. Here are some photos for you ...


Who needs a sled?


Oh, to be young again!


Bookworm and Crackerjack on a momentary sliding break.


The quiet woodland trail ...


Back home, our slightly sloping front yard serves Earlybird's sledding needs just right! (He's the one with the jingle hat on Daddy's lap.)

While looking for a presidential quote to close this post, I came across the following by Abraham Lincoln. It ties in with yesterday's gospel so I thought I'd post it:

"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

It might not be the cheeriest of thoughts, but it is thought-provoking.

And speaking of Sunday, I wanted to post a picture of our breakast after Mass yesterday ...


Bavarian-filled Paczki and coffee! I have only come to know Paczki (pronounced ponch-key, I believe; please correct me if I'm wrong) in the past year. From what I understand, these jelly- or cream-filled donuts are a traditional Polish food savored on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). From what I, ahem, observed, they are delicious in a very creamy, fluffy, fattening way.


I saw them at the local supermarket this weekend (right next to the hot cross buns, mind you) and I remembered having read about them! They were all stacked neatly and prominently in the bakery section (new products always catch my eye).

I just love these small signs of faith that appear here and there in the otherwise mainstream world. Like the fish department with its "Lenten Specials" and even the International House of Pancakes which is offering free pancakes tomorrow from 7 to 10 a.m. in honor of Shrove Tuesday (also known as National Pancake Day)! Then of course there will be lamb cakes come Easter ...

Well, next week will be a quiet one for us, not much to do out-of-the-house, lots to do within. My homebody self is quite pleased. :) And it's a nice way to begin our Lent, I think.

I hope you had a wonderful long weekend and I wish you a Happy Pancake Day/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Carnivale!

The Loveliness of Lent

Nissa has done a wonderful job putting together today's Loveliness of Lent! Please Lives_of_loveliness_logo_200612_9stop by her beautiful blog Simple Gifts to be guided through a collection of posts exploring the meaning of this sacred season. Also, don't forget to check in with her other blog, These Forty Days, for further inspiration all throughout Lent. Thank you so much, Nissa!

As I continue my own Lenten preparations this week, my head is swimming with ideas, but what I really want to do is keep it simple. Not just for practical reasons, but for spiritual reasons as well. Its the very theme of Lent isn't it? To hold ourselves back from the excess and commit to the simple but true.

I'd like to share this passage considering Lent in a lovely British festival book called All Year Round:

"Easter is very much a morning festival - the women disciples came to the tomb 'very early in the morning.' To be properly awake to what the morning can bring, we need to have had a 'good night.' We need to have spent some time in our own quiet darkness away from the outer stimulation, in that mysterious space which is yet familiar - a space which is, above all, restorative.

That is what Lent could be for all of us, a time during which we gather the forces needed to meet the vital renewal of our daily lives. For young children, who carry the joy of life so close to them anyway, their pleasure in the fullness of Easter Day can only be greater if they have been prepared through the quiescent 'night' mood of Lent.

Because of this we must consider carefully how to lead a child through this time before Easter ...

In what ways can we develop an appropriate Lenten mood for a young child? We could sit together for a few minutes each morning, listening in silence as the birdsong gains strength from the ebb of the night. We could take time to watch for the moon as it unfolds its rhythmic process between darkness and light ... if an unlit candle stands on the dining table each day instead of flowers, this can make a very deep impression ... A special herb tea could be chosen just for this time of Lent: these may seem small matters, but it is so often the small things that need attention.

If a bowl of dry earth (mixed, perhaps, with a pinch of ash) is prepared on Ash Wednesday, and stands barren on the seasonal table until Palm Sunday, this simple picture will have time to be well 'digested' by the child. Then, if grass seed is sown in the same bowl on Palm Sunday (or grain is sprinkled there on Maundy Thursday), and watered well, the contrasting picture of the transformed earth on Easter Day will stand out all the more."

Have a blessed day!

Color of the Day

You Are Red Orange
You are a very genuine person, although it takes a while for you to show the true you.
A bit introverted, you desire respect and affection from those close to you.
You are quite empathetic, and you have a true concern for the well being of others.
Many people have warm, heartfelt memories of you - even if you don't remember them well.
Hat tip ~ Jenn, Ruth, Kathryn, Rebecca and Kristina!
How about you?