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Crackerjack's Confirmation!

 Confirmation 2

Good Monday morning, my friends!

Well, it was quite a weekend here for our family - our Crackerjack made his Holy Confirmation! There was a beautiful Mass on Saturday morning, and afterwards there was much celebrating back home! I took loads of pictures and I'd love to share them here with you all. I have a few of the prep, and some of the party itself ...

Now, at the top of this post is the Confirmation cake my mum and I made - using a cross pan I had on hand, and basing the design on a project I saw on Pinterest. It probably looks a lot more complicated than it actually was to make ... it just took a lot of time! We used a "classic white" cake mix (1 box) in the aforementioned cross pan ...

Confirmation cake 1

The cooled cake was frosted with homemade buttercream ... my Mum made a ropey edging all around the bottom edge of the cake.

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I used a butter knife (flat edge) and a toothpick to trace the design first - we referenced the Pinterest pic as I went - then I filled in the outline with black decorating gel. By the way, we used Wilton Sparkle Decorating Gels - easy to use and the taste was just fine. (I'm not crazy about artifically-colored frosting for a variety of reasons, but this special cake called for an exception!)

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Next we filled in the "panes" with various bright colors, emulating the stained glass windows one might see in a church. We made the center symbol a sun because CJ brings so much warmth and light into our lives! You'll notice I had Bill take over once my hand got tired ...

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As a final step, I added a clip-on dove to the corner of the serving board and, using red and gold gel, made flames to represent the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Technically, there are only seven gifts ... but I got carried away with the gel, lol!

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We finished the cake on Friday night and as the weather was quite hot, we left it in the fridge to keep cool overnight. On Saturday, I set up the dining room table with a pretty white cloth, the cake and other decorations I'll describe below ...

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Crackerjack chose "George" for his Confirmation name - in honor of two of his great-grandfathers as well as his patron saint. We had St. George prayer cards for guests to take as favors from the day. The candle is one we use for liturgical celebrations and the wooden stand was ready to hold the Confirmation certificate.

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This is our much-loved, somewhat worn out, copy of Saint George and the Dragon ... open to Crackerjack's favorite (and most dramatic!) scene. We read this story every year on St. George's Day (April 23rd) and Michaelmas (Sept. 29th) ... CJ has loved this book, and had a fascination with knights, since he was a little boy.

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 In addition to the cross cake, my mum also made these cupcakes - another Michaelmas/St. George's Day tradition. These are chocolate cake topped with buttercream and red and gold sprinkles - with cocktail swords piercing the devil's food underneath ...

Get it? :)

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And you all know how I feel about punch ... it's just not a party without punch! This one, a new recipe, was very nice - it's called "Autumn Orchard Punch." And I forget where I found it - might have been Facebook or possibly Pinterest - but anyhow, it's pretty simple: apple juice, frozen cranberry juice concentrate, a bit of orange juice, ginger ale and floating apple slices. So refreshing on a warm autumn day! And I think it looks gorgeous in my grandmother's crystal punch bowl.

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One of my favorite things about hosting a party is it's the perfect excuse to buy pretty     flowers! The above photo was taken the day before our party - my mum arranged all the flowers for me and I hid them here in the living room from the cats (and little curious fingers). I bought bunches and bunches at Trader Joe's where I find the prices are quite reasonable and the blooms are fresh and interesting. I love all these autumn shades!

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 I really love how Mum did these Mason jar arrangements - the purple looks fabulous with those flowers! These went on the dining tables set up outside under the canopy. I meant to do something more with these tables - like a vine twisted along the center line between the vases or perhaps along the canopy - but I never got around to it. (Go figure ... )

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 And finally it was Confirmation Day morning! Here's CJ's robe, hanging by the front door to release some of the wrinkles.

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CJ needed a little help tying his tie. :)

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And here's our young man with his sponsor, his Papa (my dad). Papa's been pressed into sacramental service twice now - he was also Bookworm's sponsor three years ago.

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 We were not allowed to take photos during Mass, but I snapped this before things got rolling. Apologies for the odd lighting and purple splotches -  my phone does not take the very best pictures ... and my camera, as I explained a while back is out of service. But I could not miss capturing this moment ... :)

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Just moments after Mass with the freshly confirmed, his dad, and his little brother ... who had clearly had enough of his tie.

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I love this picture because I'm with my two "bookend boys" - my oldest (Bookworm, 20) and my youngest (Little Bear, just 2 years old!).

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Pictures outside church ... it was a bit hectic and the sun was in everyone's eyes, but we managed to get a few nice shots.

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Happy, happy day ... the Mass was held, not in our own parish church, but at a local Catholic college. Our church is too small to hold so many people.

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Group shot! With grandmothers, aunties and dear family friends ...

Then it was time to get back to the house and meet up with the rest of the party! I didn't get any pictures of the luncheon buffet but I can tell you there was a LOT of food. (I just can't cook small, lol.) The day was so nice we ate outside, but cake and coffee were served back inside ...

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Soon it was time to cut the cake!

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(Crackerjack could not WAIT to get out of his "spiffy" duds. But in a way, the Star Wars shirt works with the (jedi) knight theme ...)

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Just love that smile! When did he get so grown up?

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"May I have a cupcake, pretty please?"

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 It was a great day to spend outside, catching up with family and friends ... so grateful to have so many wonderful people in our family. 

Can't resist another flower shot - at the end of the day, guests gone home, sun going down - we gathered up all the arrangements and left them outside. So pretty in the soft light.

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 Crackerjack's special cards were placed along our living room mantle ... he also received a St. George medal to wear on a chain, a daily devotions book for teens, a St. George and the dragon figurine (he loves collecting figures) and just before Mass, Bill and I gave him this to wear. :)

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We are just so happy for our Crackerjack - this is such a big day in the life of a Catholic child - and for the family who's raising him! We are very proud of our CJ ... for who he is, his kind spirit and all that he holds in his heart. It's a dear and brave heart, one we've nurtured these past 16 years as best we could ....

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Dear friends, may I ask you to say a little prayer on our boy's behalf - that he continues to grow in his Faith and know God's love for him always? That he also knows just how much his family and friends cherish him?

Thank you so much, everyone - for those prayers, and, as always, for stopping by and sharing in our joy. I hope you are all doing well and that your new week is off to a nice start!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll be back here again very soon!

A Cozy Day + New Calendars!

Vintage new year card

Happy January, my friends! I hope your new year is off to a great start!

First off ... did you remember to say "Rabbit, rabbit" yesterday morning? I did - just barely - at 12:14 a.m., having been awoken by Little Bear - who had been woken by fireworks going off somewhere nearby! And also, have you noticed your first bird of the year yet? Tradition says the first one you see in the new year will be "your" bird for the year. I saw a robin on the way to Mass, and I'm quite pleased with that. :)

Speaking of Mass, here I am with a sleepy Crackerjack, just pulling into the church parking lot. It was hard getting up and going but we were very glad we made it.

Jack and mama at mass

(Quick story: Just before Mass begun we were asked to bring up the gifts, something we've never done before! I had just finished praying my request that God help me grow more fully in faith and become more involved in my church. A lovely sign, don't you think?)

On our way home, we stopped at a local Staples where I had my new weekly planner all bound up nice and neatly! I am just sooo happy with it and will be showing you all what it looks like and how I organized it in my very next post. I know I keep saying that and I honestly don't mean to be a tease ... I just need to find some quality "snap-sit-and-write" time! "Snap" being the picture- taking part of the process. :)


"There's nothing like staying home for real comfort." ~ Jane Austen

Oh, Jane - we are of like minds! Our New Year's was a quiet, homey day ...

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This stuff might not look very appetizing but let me tell you, it smelled so incredible! It is a concoction of milk and cream and spices and marshmallow that cooked on low for a few hours and became this ...

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(Disregard the mess surrounding the mugs, please - we had a bit of a whipped cream mishap!)

This is Spiced White Hot Chocolate - a recipe I found on (where else?) Pinterest. It is almost like a warm eggnog (the nutmeg is predominant) and just so rich and creamy ... very indulgent. I knew I wanted to make a white treat in honor of the Jan. 1st Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Served in blue mugs, natch. :)

Bill hung my new wall calendar - my hope is it will be a "family central" kind of calendar.

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 (And it's awfully pretty to look at!)

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And because I am a nut for calendars, I also have this pretty engangement calendar set up on the kitchen counter ...

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As well as this page-a-day calendar I found in my stocking ...

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A daily dose of forgotten English and folklore - should be fun!

Here's a peek at the January page divider in my planner - love this vintage style.

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And below are last year's domestic journal pages, a calendar of sorts as my notes and clippings are quite seasonal, all stored away in a binder ...

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 And here are a couple more pictures from our quiet (relatively speaking) New Year's Day ...

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 Earlybird asked for a "selfie" and I love it when he's ready to smile for the camera!

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Pretty blue mug, creamy white hot comfort ... just a dash of cinnamon on top!

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 I asked the boys to watch this movie with me (sweetening the deal with that hot chocolate!) because it's one of my all-time favorites and they'd never seen it.

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Love spending time with my boys - the youngers and olders!

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A beautiful sunset to end a lovely first day of the year.

Well my friends, I hope you all had a nice New Year's, and that 2015 is kind to you and your loved ones. Enjoy your Friday and I'll see you here again very soon!

(p.s. Are we all excited for a new season of Downton Sunday night???)

A Citrus Craft for Candlemas

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Blessed Candlemas, my friends! A Happy Groundhog's Day, too!

 I hope you are all enjoying a nice Sunday. Pleasant weather here in my corner of the world ... almost spring-like, dare I say it - the birds are singing and the light is just a skosh brighter. Nearly 50 degrees right now - way above normal - but we'll take it!

Yet according to Mr. Groundhog, we're in for another 6 weeks of winter?

Here are a few pictures from my morning ... first off, what a sunrise! One of the perks of rising so early is witnessing those beautiful first moments of the day ... as the sky changes its color and mood. I was so taken with the scene over this frozen marsh on our way to Mass, I had to pull over and snap a picture with my phone. The sun like a candle-flame peeking through those low-lying clouds ...

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And when we got home from church (with a fresh supply of blessed candles), I set to work on a little craft I'd seen in a magazine recently ...

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So much easier than you might think! You start with a fresh orange ...

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(And citrus is so lovely at this time of year ...)

Halve the orange and scoop out the flesh so you're left with just the white inner rind. Then take some candles (it's smart to use up old ones, but I had surplus tealights so I went with those) and melt them in a double boiler ...

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Once the wax was melted, I poured it into the orange shell, with a candle wick supsended in the middle. (I ordered these natural candle wicks through Amazon, but I'm sure they're available at local craft stores.) I just held the wick still for a couple of minutes until the wax had stabilized enough to grab the wick.

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Then I pushed whole cloves into the rim of the orange, trimmed the wick, and waited for the wax to fully set.

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 All done and smelling fantastic!

I think these would make really lovely Christmas gifts, don't you? Simple enough to do with the children (teacher's gifts perhaps?) - just add some pretty wrap, maybe a soft handkerchief and some ribbon. I'll be making a note about this in my seasonal planner! :)

Now, in honor of St. Brigid's Day (which was yesterday) I am planning to make shepherd(ess) pie for dinner ... just some scrambled hamburger topped with kernel corn and rich cheesey potatoes. Some crusty bread, too, and a mixed berry cobbler for dessert ...

That all sounds good of course, but I'll see what fits in! My day begins early so by necessity, it must end the same way ... and sometimes things that appear quite "do-able" at dawn, seem near impossible by dusk ... does that ever happen to you?

Well for now I'll sign off, with a wish that you enjoy a pleasant evening, and a hope to see you here again very soon ...

Blessings to you all!

Monday Bits-n-Bobs (+ a few leftover from the weekend)

Happy Monday, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice weekend. I have a whole bunch of notes and pictures to share this evening, things I "jotted" down while I could ... :)

* Bought our spring-flowering bulbs at the nursery Saturday morning. Hope to get them in the ground sometime this week (but more likely next weekend).

Bulbs 1

* On Sunday I made an apple-blackberry crisp in honor of Michaelmas ...

Apple blackberry crisp 1

As legend goes, when St. Michael threw the devil out of Heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush, and so, those fruits are cursed (i.e. no good for eating) after Michaelmas Day. I love to serve blackberries in some form around - but not after! - this feast.

Apple blackberry crisp 2

This recipe was new, but proved to be a keeper for sure!

(Note: I used Macintosh apples, not Granny Smith as did the author.)

* Ok, another gratuitous Little Bear pic ... 

Owen trouble 1

Here comes trouble, indeed! ;)

* Did you hear that HRH Prince George (Kate and Will's little one) will be christened on October 23rd? What a special day that will be for the royal family - and for England as a nation. Fun to watch for the rest of us, too! (It happens to be a special day for Bill and me as well - it's our 20th wedding anniversary!)

* Our priest's homily on Sunday was so beautiful, it moved me to tears. Half of it has already leaked out of my brain, but I know the message was to A. appreciate the small things (slow down and see them) and to B. see Jesus in everyone and allow that to lead us to do good works. I'm wildly paraphrasing but nothing beats a really good homily to inspire your week. :)

* So apparently it was National Coffee Day yesterday, and how on earth did I not know this? Well, I have marked it down in my calendar for next year. (And yes I do have a 2014 calendar already!)

* In each of the houses we've lived (there have been four), I gather together a mini "acorn family" made up of acorns found in the yard. I keep them on the nature table, sometimes on display, sometimes tucked in a treasure jar. Well now we have our new little family for this house - complete with one extra acorn this time!

Acorn family

* One last thing: Don't forget Rabbit-Rabbit tomorrow!


Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you all again sometime soon!

A Baptism & a Graduation Party! (BIG post ahead!)

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Happy Monday, my friends!

My apologies that I've been away so long, but we've been quite busy here - settling into the house, relishing our babymoon, and preparing for a very special day in our family ... a day on which Little Bear received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism! A day on which we celebrated not just this one very blessed event, but also, Bookworm's graduation from (homeschool) high school and his college acceptance!

So on Saturday, after the ceremony at our parish church, we hosted a "double party" back at our new home - and I'd love to share some pictures with you all, but there are a LOT of them, so I'll (try to) keep my comments (somewhat) brief.


First off, here we are just before the ceremony with Little Bear's godparents ~ his big brother Bookworm and my dear cousin Kate.

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I love this photo - a random shot of all our family milling about, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Such an exciting day!

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Bill's brother Greg was able to make it out from Chicago - it was so good to see him! Here he is with our Crackerjack. (Who turns 14 next week!)

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The Baptismal Font ...

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Little Bear was baptized by Father Tom, a wonderful new priest to our parish ...

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And I must tell you all that LB barely made a peep! He didn't even cry when the holy water was poured - three shells-full, mind you - over his head. He just gave Father Tom a sharp glance and that "furrowed little brow" he's become famous for. 

I didn't get any close up shots of Little Bear in his Baptism outfit, so here it is laid out back at home:

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LB is a bit bigger than his brothers were at their Baptism so we ordered a new outfit for his special day. This is a lovely short romper with matching bonnet, a soft cable knit blanket and a tiny pair of socks embroidered with a white cross. The wooden rosary bracelet was a gift from a dear family friend.

(Truth be told, LB scoffed at the bonnet so to keep the peace, we left it off ... and the socks, while darling, turned his legs blue so off they came as well.)

Back at home we had the house set up for a big celebration! Below is the cake and coffee table arranged in the living room ...

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We had two cakes ~ one decorated in blue and white for Little Bear and one frosted in maroon and gold for Bookworm. :)

Beneath the front window we had a table set up for punch and appetizers - the deep windowsill held presents and cards. 

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We had four balloon colors: blue, white, maroon and gold ...

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(The balloons were eventually dispersed throughout the house and all around outside.)

The table in the breakfast nook held more food and a vase full of flowers from our yard, artfully arranged by my mother.

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These gorgeous hydrangeas are also from our yard and they look so pretty in this copper pot! (Also my mother's doing!)

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This is yet another table in our dining room that would be filled up with even more food (we were expecting 50 people!).

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Entertaining tip: we used wide-mouth mason jars for holding the flatware. 

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Canopies kept the sunny patio in comfortable shade ...

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My brother's bocce ball set was a big hit with kids of all ages!

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My cousin Kara and brother Matt - love the enthusiasm!

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Some more photos of friends and family ...

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And lastly, me and my Little Bear ...

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How I love this little guy!

Well my friends, I hope you all have a lovely week, though honestly - how can it be August already?! This summer is flying by ... now that our party has come and gone, I will be concentrating on organizing Bookworm's college supplies and writing up my education plans for the new year (and the new town). Also, setting up the new learning room and getting myself back on the "organized" track - new routine, new file folders, new planner, new desk!

So we've got lots to talk about, and I'll be back again soon to get around to just that!


☀ Little Bear's First Mass

Owen's 1st mass

Little Bear - who is 6 weeks old today! - went to his very first Mass this morning. He slept in my arms till the end (at which point he woke and "socialized" a little with the folks who sit near us) and received a blessing from Father Michael, our new pastor.

There's something very sweet about holding a new baby in church ...

as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you ...

(from today's first reading)

Enjoy your Sunday, my friends! It's another scorcher here in New England!

Holy Smoke!

White smoke                                                                                                    photo credit: Boston Globe

 Just a few minutes ago, we learned that a new pope has been elected! What an exciting day for Catholics around the world!

Habemus Papem!!

We have a Pope!



Pope Francis I

With love and prayers for Pope Francis I!

In Today's Homily ...

Advent candles lit

... our pastor reflected on the season of Advent, and his words really touched me. I'm paraphasing here, because - though my memory is fuzzy these days - I felt funny whipping out my post-it-notes in the middle of Mass. ;)

"As Christians we don't just sit back and wait ... we are not a passive people ... but rather, we get ready and prepare. We actively give of ourselves in Jesus's name. In fact, the famous prayer of St. Francis is a perfect to-do list ..."

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Father went on to talk about the recent photo that made national news, of a NYPD officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man. I had seen the photo of course, but today, the story behind the photo really moved me to tears. Sure, I'm hormonal but that's a truly beautiful story - and a wonderful example as well.

Advent in action right there.


So Happy Advent, everyone! And Happy New Year, too! In the Catholic Faith, our new liturgical year begins today. Gosh I love those crisp new missals ...

Have a lovely Sunday my friends!

Bookworm's Confirmation!

It was on Saturday and it was a wonderful day!

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Bookworm is pictured above with his Papa (my dad, his sponsor) and Aux. Bishop Peter Uglietto of Boston. What a nice man ... the Mass was beautiful.

Arriving at the college ...

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(Our church did not have enough room to hold all the candidates, their sponsors and families, so the Mass was held at a local Catholic college.)

The altar looked beautiful ...

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Such a proud moment, watching Bookworm process in with all the candidates.

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We were not allowed to take photos during Mass, but here we all are, outside about an hour and a half later ...

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(My brother Matt stayed home with Earlybird who was very sick last week and is still recuperating.)

Bill and I could hardly believe this young man was our little boy!

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But he'll always be our little boy, right? And in a few years it will be Crackerjack's turn!

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By the way, Bookworm took "Thomas" as his Confirmation name. It's a family name, and St. Thomas Aquinas has always been special to him.

Here is the cake ...

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(It read, "God Love Bookworm," only with his real name, of course, lol. Oh, I had such grand plans for this Confirmation cake ... but a series of events this past week conspired to keep me from spending much time and energy on the project. Still, it tasted good and looked very "boyish!")

And here is Bookworm with his Confirmation Punch ...

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"Per Request."


So it was a very lovely day - a milestone for Bookworm as a young man and a Catholic, and a wonderful memory for our family.

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today ... I hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

See you here again very soon ...

Friday Felines ~ by the Boys

Archie under runner

Archie, making himself comfortable on the dining table, under the quilted runner.

(Taken by Bookworm)

Ollie on bench

Oliver, hanging out on the deacon's bench.

(Taken by Crackerjack)


What are your pets getting up to these days? :)

Our church does a "blessing of the pets" for the Feast of St. Francis - which is a lovely idea, really - but I think we'll opt out this year. For one thing, our cats would not be pleased with the impromptu car ride (nor the caged carriers) but for another, they're both vulnerable to upper respiratory infections so I don't want to risk the exposure - or their wrath, lol!

I hope you all have a nice weekend ... see you here again very soon!

Sunday ☼ Snippets

Just jotting down a few thoughts from my day ...

There's a PBS preview here ...with a bit more information on Downton Abbey AS WELL AS a new Martha Stewart Cooking show! As many of you know, the MARTHA show was cancelled this year, and though I must admit I was an infrequent viewer, I will miss that big pretty studio she had! Actually, I still like her original show best - the one set at Turkey Hill, where she just showed you stuff but didn't try to "banter" with celebrity guests. Still, it's nice to know she'll continue to be a presence on TV! (And here's another article about the new Martha show from way back in April. Clearly I've been out of the loop!)

This was a beautiful song sung at Mass this morning. I'm sure I've heard it before, but it really struck me today ...

I just love it. 

I have more skls/bnls chicken breasts in the crockpot today - which means more shredded chicken for salad, pizzas, wraps, etc. I'll keep my portion plain, since I'm pretty sure it was Bill's bbq sauce - or rather, the chipolte pepper in Bill's bbq sauce - that set off my crazy reaction.

(Note to self: call an allergist first thing tomorrow.)


And Crackerjack took this picture of Archie ...

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He's holding his own - still sneezing now and again, but also still acting completely normal otherwise (eating/drinking/playing, etc.). Hates the meds of course, but what can you do?

But I love how we all flock to the learning room, whether we're learning or not.

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But really, when are we not?

The older boys are at a "big boy" birthday party this afternoon, so EB and I made crafts and had "Sunday Sundaes" at home. The boy just loves to paint, and he'll paint whatever I give him ... though funnily enough, he absolutely refused to paint rocks today, lol ...

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And I had planned to do this frame craft mid-week, for the Feast of St. James, but we made them up today since the mood was just right. :)

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EB did the painting, I did the pictures. :)

And in another window ...

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I love putting starfish and sand dollars in the windows at this time of year. I'm not sure if this is strictly a New England thing, or more of a coastal thing, but I see them here and there and they always make me smile ... so I hope our "seaworthy" windows make passersby smile, too. :)

Going a bit further with the shell theme - since shells are a symbol of St. James - I'm planning to make lemon madeleines and scallops provençal this week, and we may make this adorable seashell koala craft. Of course, I've been hunting high and low for my madeleine pan without any luck ... but I did find the minifig cake pan! Just in time for CJ's birthday next month! (You're not going to believe this, but he'll be 13!)

Lately, we've been enjoying the goldfinches enjoying our lavender bed ...

Goldfinches in lavender bed 1

I had kind of been kicking myself (as I do every year) for not doing much with our large patch of lavender... but seeing how dearly the birds love it, I feel somewhat less guilty.

Also, I wrote out a rather lengthy post on how I get ready for a new school year, since I've had a few requests for a post of that nature. Alas, I was on Benadryl at the time, so it needs a little polishing before it posts, lol.

(It should be up sometime tomorrow!)

Well, I'm going to sign off now, my friends - I expect my older boys and Bill home any minute, and I'm sure they'll be eager for supper. I hope you all had a nice weekend ... and I wish you a lovely Sunday night. 

I'll see you here again very soon ...

Pentecost Sunday Supper!

{The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 Apostles and Our Lady, 50 days after Christ's Resurrection. In the Catholic Faith, this marks the birth of our Church, as well as the end of the Easter season.}

We've had a full and lovely day ... Mass was beautiful this morning ... the vestments and altar linens were all done in red, adorned with golden flame and white dove. There was a display of fruits and burning candles on the altar. And our pastor gave a wonderful homily about finding God in silence ... remembering to quiet ourselves and our souls so we can hear Him. And as he spoke, he quoted Mother Teresa:

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence ... We need silence to be able to touch souls."

I'm not sure I've ever heard that before, but it really speaks to me. :)

After Mass, as detailed in this post, we visited the graves for Memorial Day, and throughout the balance of the afternoon we worked around the house and yard. One "emergency" trip to Staples for printer ink, but otherwise just a fairly typical, quiet Sunday. :)

But this is a special feast day for us, and so our dinner menu reflects that distinction. Tonight we're cooking over flame (chicken and veggie kabobs), and enjoying a fruit salad ...

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... and ending our meal with delicious "birthday" cupcakes!

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(One for each Apostle, plus one for the Blessed Mother. Tender white cake, buttercream frosting, and a flaming candle set atop each.)

"Fire gives us light and warmth, and that's just what the Apostles were given: light to understand all that our Lord had taught them and the warmth of the love of God which made them ready to give their lives to spread His Kingdom over the world."

(From The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children by Marigold Hunt)


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice weekend! If you're from the US, then tomorrow you'll (most likely) enjoy one more day "off," as it's Memorial Day, a very important national holiday. We'll all be at home, and Mum and I have a nice cookout planned for midday. There are many things to be thankful for this weekend, including the brave men and women who serve our country as protectors of freedom. We'll remember them in our thoughts and prayers ... especially as we raise our flag, and watch those fireworks over the woods late at night ... we have much to celebrate ... much to appreciate!

See you all again very soon!

A Happy Mother's Day Brunch ❤

MD brunch 1

Well, this has been such a lovely day!

We had an early start (natch) ... I savored my first cup of coffee in bed ... then headed into the kitchen to bake something special for brunch. And just before leaving for Mass, I pulled this buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake from the oven ...

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Earlybird helped, especially with the lemon zest and the tossing of berries with flour. (He has a special love for lemons, lol.) I highly recommend this recipe ... it's very easy to make and super delicious to eat!

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In my big red glass decanter, I mixed up a cold, fruity punch - it was just a strawberry juice blend mixed with seltzer - simple, but special. There were supposed to be floating strawberry slices too, but alas - I forgot to buy fresh strawberries! I served this over ice, in our pretty green glasses, and it was a very refreshing drink. The moms got a splash of Malibu rum just to give it a little zing.

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EB and I scoured the yard for our "floral arrangements." You really can't beat azaleas for bright, punchy color, and as for dandelions ... well, if you're a mom, there's a special place in your heart for dandelions. :)

The rest of the meal consisted of two homemade quiches (one plain, one bacon) made by my mother, and a plate of apple-chicken sausages grilled up by Bill. There was also fresh fruit, a few pastries and freshly brewed coffee. And then of course there was the aforementioned blueberry cake ... I made up some whipped cream, just to put it over the top!


And here's a handmade card from my boys ...

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"Mom, like the parable says, you are the tree and we are the branches. You support us and help us in everything we do."

      (And here is my heart --><-- swelling with love.)

Here I am with my Mum ...

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I will always count my mum as one of my greatest blessings in life. She not only gave me life - which, hello, you can't beat that as gifts go! - but she showed me how to live in a sincere and honorable way. She taught me how to be a lady, and that family always comes first. Today she supports my life in any way she's able ... she never hesitates to help or encourage, and she's the kindest person I know.

Without a doubt, the mom I am today is thanks to the mom she's been to me ...

I love you, Mum!

And here we have two special gifts ...

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The pen was a gift from our pastor this morning - there was a basket filled by the door, a pen for every mom - and how I love the bright pink! (The message is lovely, as well.) And we will always know who this belongs to, because anything pink in this house must be mine, lol! ;)

Now, the item sitting behind the pen takes some explaining ...

Crackerjack, as you all know, is taking an art class this year. He enjoys it so very much and we've been pleased to see him take such pleasure (and pride) in his artistic endeavors. Well, a few months ago, the class worked on clay projects ... I'd pick up CJ from class and he'd be covered in bits of clay, and his hands were so dry they'd drive him crazy! But he told me - very sincerely - that he couldn't tell me what he was making ... but that "someday," I'd know.

(Every mother knows what this means, but we never ever give away that we do.)

Well, come to find out - though not in the way CJ meant me to - he made a little teacup for me, knowing how much I truly love tea. He made some swirly rose shapes for the edge, and painted it all in my favorite shades of yellow, orange and red. And once it was dry and "set," he brought it home, just in time for Mother's Day ....

But then he left it in his bag.

The bag that sat in his bedroom.

Under his brother's bag, and, as the days went by, a multitude of other things such as shoes, jackets, toys and a couple of books.


While I was out shopping yesterday, Bill tried valiantly to glue it back together for CJ ... but as you can see, there was nothing he could do. The cup was crushed - and so was CJ - he rushed to tell me about it the moment I walked in the door.

And oh my gosh, my heart just broke ... because he tried so hard to make this such a big and special surprise. But I assured my 12 year old son - my sensitive one, who truly takes everything to heart - that I loved this unique cup first and foremost, because HE made it himself. It was made by his hands - with me in his mind and his heart. And that no matter its original purpose, I would love it and cherish it all the same.

So now ... I have a really awesome paperweight! Something that will hold down a stack of papers to grade, or receipts to look through or maybe some magazine clippings to peruse ...

Best of all, it's something that will always make me smile, and that's something I can truly use, every day.


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Sunday, and if you're a mom (in any capacity) I wish you all a happy and relaxing evening. My night looks to be fairly simple - just as I like it - a little reading, a little supper, a little TV. Can't wait to catch our two favorite shows ... and can't wait to come back in the morning to chat with you all about it!

So thanks as always for stopping by and sharing in my day ... I will see you all again very soon!

Some Happy Weekend Things

Hello, everyone ~ I hope you're all having a nice weekend! We're enjoying beautiful spring weather here in New England. It's bright and brisk and feels just like spring should. So I have some photos and thoughts to share with you ... just a few simple, happy things.


First of all, I stopped at my favorite paper-craft supply store yesterday:


And they kindly allowed me to take pictures. Doesn't it look yummy?


When I visit this shop, I always feel a little like a kid in a candy store ... and very happily this time I had a gift coupon to use for my purchase!

Speaking of which ...


I bought some lovely floral papers, vintage looking stamps, tea-themed stickers and a package of small, ivory doilies.

I also "splurged" on the newest copy of Where Women Create and The Herb Quarterly. The current issue of THQ focuses on "The 2012 Herb of the Year" which is the Rose. (Which is SO much easier to work with than last year's Horseradish, lol. Next year it's Elderberry, by the way.)


And did you know that next week (as in, the week leading up to Mother's Day) is "National Herb Week?" I'm thinking a trip to the nursery is in order. ;)

There were also many "happy" things to find in the yard this weekend ...


The lilacs are in full bloom (so early!), and just look at these little beauties ...


Our lily-of-the-valley plants are really spreading out ... they have the sweetest spring scent.

Our red azalea bush is also in bright bloom:


It will hopefully help entice our friendly little hummingbirds back to our yard. Remember Our Happy Hummers from last year?

We also put up our feeders yesterday, filled with freshly made hummingbird nectar. According to the Mass. Audubon Society this week is the perfect week to put out hummingbird feeders.


Now we just sit back and wait ... 

Of course, Archie would take a more proactive approach.


(He's actually crying at me because he does not like to be left inside while we're all outside. He so wants to be a real boy. Archie and Oliver are strictly indoor cats, however, so the screens are as close as they get to the great big outdoors.)

Speaking of my feline fellas, here are Archie (left) and Ollie (right) watching Bill work on the front steps this morning.


I love how they're always all up in our business, lol.

And finally, one more picture to share, an early morning shot of our church ...


It never looks prettier than it does at this time of year, when those twin trees flanking the entrance are in perfect bloom.


Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off for now, as it's getting quite late in the day. Early tomorow I'll have the "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can get the conversation rolling (including Birdsong, part 2 and Once Upon a Time), and then I'll announce the winner of Earlybird's Arbor Day Poll & Book Giveaway. Thank you again for the terrific response! I find your votes so interesting, but I especially enjoy reading the little stories and memories behind your selections. It's quite clear we all have a real fondness for trees. :)

A file crate post is also in the works, because it's that time of year again! I almost had it done in time to publish today, but then I got busy with some thing or another. (Isn't that always the way, lol?) So look for that post coming up, too.

Have a good night, everyone! See you here again very soon ...

Palm Sunday Breakfast

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone! And Happy April, too!


Goodness, but it was a beautiful morning ... quite sunny and fairly mild for April first. In fact, I wore a light sweater to church - not a jacket! (Though admittedly, I shivered a bit on the way in and out.)

And did I remember to say "Rabbit, rabbit" first thing upon waking today? Why, yes - yes, I did - but only because it was 2 a.m. and Earlybird was talking in his sleep ... and, light sleeper I am, I was awake. So there I was lying in bed, straining to hear what he was saying - to determine if he required help, or was just talking ragtime - when it hit me: Rabbit, rabbit! Lol. So now I'm set for a month of good luck (or so the old tradition goes). And it began with EB not actually waking up, but staying asleep ... though unfortunately, I could not do the same ... *yawn*

Anyways, today we had a little breakfast after Mass. This is one of my favorite days all year ... there's just something about Palm Sunday - I've loved it dearly since I was a young girl. :)


This is a coffee cake I picked up at that bakery on Friday. To be honest, it was not as good as homemade ... but it was still quite nice - especially to have something all ready. :)

We also had a Palm Sunday "punch," toast with fig butter, assorted sweets and a lovely ricotta/ham pie as well as a winter squash quiche my mum brought.


It seems like we had a lot (I tend to do food for 20 no matter how many I'm serving, lol!) but this was a very easy meal to pull together. After all, it was mostly prepared things - we'll be doing enough cooking next weekend!

And not surprisingly, with all those good smells wafting around, Archie was lurking about ...


("Am I invited to Palm Sunday Breakfast?")

And here we have EB, Crackerjack, Papa, Bill (a bit obscured by the forsythia), Uncle Matt, Bookworm and Nana.


Sunday mornings don't get much better than this. 

Here's my sunshiney mug ...


... filled with the caffeine that keeps me sunshiney, too. ;)

And here's our palm cross:


We had a palm cross for many years, but it finally fell apart, so I "splurged" on a new one last weekend. We usually hang ours on our front door (or as in this case, the sliders to the deck) but the stake design intrigues me ... is this meant to stick in the ground?

And here's another lovely cross, this one in front of our church:



Well, my friends, I hope you've had a nice Sunday, too. I must say, I'm quite excited about our television plans tonight! First we'll watch Once Upon a Time with the older boys ... then we'll shoo them off to bed and tune in to Masterpiece Theater ... Great Expectations begins promptly at nine. So I'll be back here tomorrow morning with my "Masterpiece Monday" post ... where we can chat about all our viewing experiences, the good, the bad and the ambivalent.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend. :)

Good Candlemas Morning!

KGsnowdrops(And 'Happy Groundhog's Day' too!)

I have just a few things to share with you this morning ... we have an early start to our day and it looks to be a busy one, too. First thing ... in just about ten minutes, the groundhog will tell us his prediction: will we have an early Spring or a lingering Winter? I set the kitchen timer for five minutes before so we don't forget to watch it on TV!

Of course, whatever the groundhog might have to say, there is also the Candlemas proverb to consider:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.

(Our weather forecast is for partly sunny skies and temps in the 40s, so I'm calling that pretty "fair and bright.")

But back to the groundhog for a moment ... here is his website for more information, and here is a roundup of "Groundhog Day crafts" found at The Crafty Crow - just in case you're looking for something fun to do with the littles today. :)

I have a small candle craft to work on with my younger boys later today ... and I've readied our basket of candles for the blessing at church this morning ...

Candle basket2

 And how lovely are the delicate snowdrops - also known as "Candlemas Bells" - shown at the top of this post? I found this image in my Kate Greenaway Illustrations Book. This book was a birthday present from Bill and it came with a CD-ROM filled with hundreds of "royalty free" Kate Greenaway images. I think you'll find them in many of my future posts!

So have a great Thursday, everyone, and thanks for stopping in ...

I'll see you again very soon!


Happy Epiphany!

Many blessings to you and yours on this special feast day! I hope your Sunday's going well ... I'm just stopping by to say hi, and share a few pictures from our day.

First of all ... isn't this just lovely?


This beautiful creche is on display at our church; it extends all along the front of the altar. We've enjoyed watching the nativity story unfold all through Christmas (figures appear or move in a certain direction) ... and just this morning we spied the three magi, kneeling in adoration before the newborn king. I just had to take a picture today, since the creche will be put away soon, not to be seen again until next Advent.

(We had to retire our own nativity set early this year, because the cats - Oliver, mostly - just would not leave the poor figures alone! Hopefully he'll get over his little obsession, but I'm planning/hoping to make/build an outdoor creche next year ... something I've noted on my "Next Christmas" page.)

After Mass, we had Nana and Papa over for coffee and pastries:


Nothing homemade here - just a bunch of supermarket baked goods the boys picked out "special" for today. (It probably helped that I was famished while we shopped, allowing them to pick out just about one of everything, lol!)

A little later in the morning we performed our home blessing, using chalk distributed at church.


As for the balance of the day, I spent my time finishing up the daybook ...


And I was thisclose to being done - and I was really hoping to get this thing bound before the end of the day - but alas, on the first page of December, my black ink just completely gave out! 


So yes, I headed back to Staples.



Luckily there are different people working there on the weekend, so there were no eyebrows raised at my repeat visits. And you know, I just have to laugh at myself (and feel free to join in) because I'm putting all this time and energy into getting organized - but I'm being pretty disorganized about it!


Well, now it's a few hours later (I broke away from this post for a bit) and I'm happy to report that the printing is finally all done! Of course, now all the copy shops are closed ...

No worries, though ~ this actually gives me time to comb carefully through the daybook and make sure the pages are all in order and lined up just right. Had I finished this a smidge earlier, I would have surely foresaken proofreading for fast spiral-binding ...

Tomorrow, though - it's the copy shop for sure!

*knock on wood*

 Well, that's all for me, friends ... I do hope you all had a nice weekend. (Is it me, or did this weekend fly by especially fast?) I see I've had a few questions/comments left this weekend and I will get to those first thing tomorrow morning ... right now, though, it's suppertime for me and my brood!

So have a great night, everyone - you-know-what is on in just under three hours! - and I will see you all again very soon ...


Fish, Ninjas and a Very Pretty Sky

 (Our Sunday @ Home)


Well, I had thought we'd be entertaining this weekend, but those plans didn't pan out, so instead it was a quiet, homey couple of days.

The skies were breathtakingly bright ...


... but the air was bitterly cold! (Apparently tomorrow will bring the coldest temperature we've seen in six years!)

We worked on a little craft that went along with today's Mass ...


... a basket full of foam fish in the cool shades of the sea. This week we'll be writing names down on our "fresh catch." :)

And here's another "craft" I "whipped up" today ...


Lol, Crackerjack has been so into ninjas lately - ever since Lego introduced "Ninjago," a new line of building sets and a weekly television show, to boot - and he's been after me to make him a *white* ninja mask. I finally googled instructions and found a neat site showing how to Make a "Ninja Mask" out of a T-shirt.  It sounded easy enough - and it was! He was very happy with the results.


(Back to work on Lego Digital Designer.)

Bill called my attention to a gorgeous woodpecker outside Earlybird's bedroom window. (I think this one's a Hairy, not a Downey.)


And then, following up on the "fishing" theme, I baked a cake for our Sunday dessert:


I tried a new recipe for this - it came from the back of the King Arthur Cake Flour box. A "Tender White Cake" made with yogurt, egg whites, and natural vanilla as well as almond flavor. It rose beautifully in the oven and the taste is absolutely divine.

Bookworm's pretty excited to sample the Swedish fish - now that he's sans braces, he's able to try gummy candy like this. Once in a while, of course. ;)

And now for a couple of sunset shots ...


... taken on our way home from leaving my van off at the dealer.


It's almost like the sun burns brighter for us at this time of year.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. They go by much too fast, don't they?

Have a good night, my friends - keep warm and stay well - and I will see you all again very soon. :)

And so it begins!

A new week - Holy Week - is beginning! It's a whole week of beginnings in fact: Easter is coming and so is the first day of spring. There is much to celebrate this week!

We had a lively kick-off last night, as we participated in our parish Passion Play. I only took one brief picture at the end of the performance, the final song ~


My boys are at the far left side of this picture, the second and third children in (wearing helmets). It was a wonderful time, and we had a great turnout! We were so pleased to see our family and friends in the audience.

After the performance, there were refreshments served downstairs in the church hall. The kids who performed in the play got first dibs, lol!


There was also a craft room in which the children could work on stained glass pictures and other activities. I never made it into that room (too busy chatting, I'm afraid), but very kindly our music director (and play co-producer) sent me home with leftover projects to do with my boys.

So the new week is here, and our plans are shaping up in this way ~

  • Lessons will be brief (just math and writing).
  • We'll be Spring Cleaning!
  • Everyday that's fine, we'll get out in the fresh air.
  • Every afternoon we'll have quiet time, and read from our Bible.

But right now I'm off to start breakfast; all my boys are up and that means I'm "on the clock." ;) I hope your week is off to a good start! I'll see you all sometime tomorrow ...