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"Palm Sunday Pops"

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Now, I know what you're thinking ... what on earth do lollipops have to do with Palm Sunday? Well, maybe not much, but today is Palm Sunday and we did make these white chocolate pops for a festive gathering tonight at our church. They were so easy to make, I just had to post about them! I think they would make wonderful treats for the children to hand out at Easter - to relatives, friends, neighbors, their pastor, etc. This is a very doable craft for kids!

These were the simple materials, which can be found at any craft store:

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(Not shown is the pastel ribbon I ended up using in place of the gold twist-ties. It just looked much better.)

I'm sure many of you are familiar with making this kind of candy, so I'll be brief in my how-to's. Basically, you just melt the chocolate wafers in the top of a double boiler (or in a microwave oven) and spoon the liquid into the molds. You place the stick in the mold and turn it till its coated with chocolate. Chill the mold for 15-20 minutes and then pop the pops out - it's that quick and easy!

To dress them up, and keep them clean, I slipped each pop into a plastic treat bag and secured them with the ribbons as you see in the top photo.

All together, they made a pretty presentation in a small Easter basket:

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As I have mentioned, my older boys are playing soldiers in a Children's Passion Play this evening; it is being performed by parish youngsters in grades 2-10. They've worked so hard for several weeks now, I can't wait for all their hard work to pay off! After the play, there will be an Easter craft for the children to do and refreshments will be served. We'll be bringing our basket of "Palm Sunday Pops," along with a tray of Vienna cookies I bought today. Yes, bought - I'm afraid all my baking plans flew out the window when I came down with this wicked cold. ;)

Well, I hope your weekend was nice ~ Blessings to you all as Holy Week begins!


Our Holy Week Plans

The weekend is here at long last and I have much to do - but now my list incudes Yelloweggflower_2fighting off a little bug I came down with last night. Rats! This is no time - there is no time! - to be sick! It's snowing here (somewhat steadily I might add), so actually, it's a good day to stay in, rest and reflect. (And make lists, of course!)

I thought I would share our plans for next week, which - one can hardly believe - is Holy Week already! As always, there's so much we could do, but I want to keep the week simple ~ simple, yet meaningful. Some of these plans are subject to change, but for now here's how I hope next week shapes up for my family. And I'd love to hear about your Holy Week plans ~ what are your hopes for next week?

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! Stay warm and be well!

Palm Sunday:

  • Light candle in prayer corner.
  • Early Mass.
  • Bring date bread and palm cross to Damee.
  • Sow grass seeds in bowl of earth.
  • Weather permitting ~
    • Burn last year's palms; sprinkle ashes over garden beds.
    • Have a small procession around "boundaries."
  • Passion Play (acted out by our parish children, including mine!)

Monday of Holy Week:

  • Candle lit in prayer corner.
  • Begin Spring Cleaning ...
  • Make St. Patrick stained glass panel for door cross.
  • Have Irish brown bread with tea

Tuesday of Holy Week:

  • Candle lit in prayer corner.
  • Continue Spring Cleaning ...
  • Work on Stations of the Cross pictures for Friday activity.

Wednesday of Holy Week:

  • Candle lit in prayer corner.
  • Finish Spring Cleaning ...
  • Read Matthew 26: 14-25.
  • Work on Stations of the Cross pictures for Friday activity.
  • Serve "silver dollar" pancakes for supper, along with cottage fries and fruit salad.

Holy Thursday:

  • Candle lit in prayer corner.
  • For dinner ~ spinach omelettes (for "Green Thursday").
  • Purchase Easter lilies at nursery.
  • Read John 13:1-15.
  • Tea and a Craft ...
  • Make Spring stained glass panel for door cross.
  • Mass of the Lord's Supper in the evening.

Good Friday:

  • Candle lit in prayer corner.
  • Fast (adults), abstain (kids).
  • Hot cross buns for morning tea.
  • Make seed pots for Easter favors.
  • Walk the Stations of the Cross in our backyard (weather permitting).
  • 3:00 quiet hour ...
  • Blow out candle in prayer corner.

Holy Saturday:

  • Color eggs for baskets.
  • Daddy takes boys on a nature walk.
  • Cook for tomorrow.
  • Prepare clothing for tomorrow.
  • Set up tables for tomorrow.
  • Easter Vigil Mass ...

*************EASTER SUNDAY! ALLELUIA!**************


Tea & a Craft for Palm Sunday

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But before I get to the craft - or the tea for that matter - I must show you a few pictures from our "recess" today. It wasn't very warm out, but we're just so in the spring mood these days, we couldn't help ourselves. Admittedly, there was not a lot of spring to be found, but we did spy, of all things, a spider (alive!):

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The boys inisisted I show you the spider, even though I felt it didn't really go with the whole tea-drinking, craft-making theme of my post. But I suppose this is a household of boys after all ... :)

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Earlybird and Crackerjack were mighty glad to get back in the saddle!

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While I headed in to make lunch, the boys filled a bowl with all kinds of treasures for the nature shelf ~ spruce cones and needles, bark, acorns and maple tree buds. They also found evidence of a skunk visit, and several small but deep burrows which must belong to either a mole or a chipmunk. (Or maybe something else? Any ideas?)

After lunch, it was time for our tea-and-a-craft; our focus this week, Palm Sunday.

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I saw a neat project in The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children's Faith Formation ~ a Palm Sunday banner made of green paper hand (or palm) prints. I thought this would make a nice decoration for the learning room this week.

Now, one of my fellas was a bit too squirmy to have his hand traced (I'm not naming names!) but he did acquiesce to having his palms photocopied, lol!

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After cutting out all the hands (a tricky task which fell upon me) we lined them up along a long length of green paper, a "spine" for our palm frond and taped them all down. Bookworm made a Hosanna sign, and then we hung up our "palm of palms" in the windows (top photo).

And for tea? Irish decaf with plenty of sugar and milk and a batch of freshly baked oatmeal date cookies. As in palm dates, of course. ;)

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As we munched, we looked over this week's Magnifikid and talked about the word Hosanna. I asked the boys if they recognized it (they did) and asked if they could name at which point it is said (or sung) during Mass (they could).

Our final plan for the afternoon was to run through their roles for the Passion Play this weekend, but a friend of Crackerjack's showed up on the doorstep so we put that off for a while. We still have a few things to tweak on their costumes, but I think they have their parts down pretty well. :)

Well, I'm going to wrap things up here now, as it's just T-20 minutes to Lost! (Is it true this is the last episode for awhile? That went fast.) Have a good night, everyone ~ I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. 


Tea & a Craft for the 5th Sunday in Lent

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Today's weather could not have cooperated better if I had asked it to. A dark gloomy morning gave way to a bright and brisk afternoon ~ just in time for our weekly tea-and-a-craft! So, after our lessons were all done (more or less) it was time to gather the boys 'round the table for a little snack, a quick craft and some chat about this Sunday's gospel.

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First thing first ~ I read aloud from our Magnifikid and then Bookworm read aloud the story of Lazarus from our Children's Bible. The boys were familiar with the story and recalled seeing it acted out at VBS last year.

This passage in particular stood out:

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

(Now this certainly gave us something to discuss!)

Once our conversation slowed, it was time for some refreshement, and this time our snack doubled as our craft! I had heard of resurrection cookies before, but in this month's issue of Take Out magazine, I noticed a brief mention of something called resurrection rolls. They sounded intriguing, so I looked them up online, and found further instructions here.

In addition to a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, these were the main ingredients:

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Cinnamon-sugar, melted butter and marshmallows; yesiree, the boys dove right in!

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Each marshmallow was first dipped in melted butter and then rolled in cinnamon-sugar, before getting wrapped up in a triangle of crescent dough:

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They baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Now, I think the rolls are actually supposed to stay closed; ours burst open as they baked (oozing marshmallow all over my cookie sheet). By the time they had cooled, and were ready to show to the boys, they looked like little caves and were definitely empty inside.

(Note: Next time I will be sure to get the 10 ounce can of crescent dough instead of the 8, and I will be more careful about pinching the dough tightly closed over the marshmallows. I might even cut back a bit on the cinnamon measurement - the mixture was yummy but a bit pungent.)

Here's Bookworm showing you his roll:

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And here's Crackerjack's cracked open:

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This was quite easy and fun ~ a nice symbolic craft for the season. It would be easy to do this with a group of children at an Easter party, and I also think it would make a special family breakfast on Easter morn. Quite delicious with coffee or punch (and portable for those backyard egg hunts). You could set out all the ingredients the night before, so the rolls are ready to assemble early Sunday morning.

Before I go, I must show you the beautiful Hellebore I purchased at the grocery store last night. I have wanted one for so long! (Especially since Rebecca showed us hers two years ago!)

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The Hellebore is also called the Lenten Rose because it blooms right around Lent each year. An early bloomer is most welcome in the garden, especially up here in the northeast! I will do my best to tend my little "rose" until it warms up enough to plant it outside. (I have just the corner for it!) Sometime before I move it out though, I will have the boys sketch it for their field journals, as a sign of early spring.

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Well, now I'd best wrap up; I've kept you all long enough! It's 4:00 anyway ~ time to tidy and cook. On the menu tonight: turkey meatloaf, maple acorn squash, roasted potatoes and garlic breadsticks. Good hearty late winter fare. :)

I hope you had a wonderful Wednesday, and I hope to see you all again sometime tomorrow!


Rose Sunday ~ A Few Notes & Photos

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Here we have a light breakfast after Mass with my folks: thick slices of raspberry danish, coffee of course, and the boys had pink lemonade, in keeping with the theme of the day. :)

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Take a look at this poor little finch. Do you see how his eye is all well, a mess? I spied him the other day, and we immediately suspected house finch eye disease (or I should say, Bookworm did; he had read about it somewhere) which, come to find out, is highly infectious among the varied finch species. This morning Bill took down all the feeders and cleaned them out thoroughly with a bleach-water solution. (What a good guy.) Has anyone else ever seen something like this?

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I got a touch of spring (cleaning) fever and tackled the learning room for awhile. Above you see our jam-packed utensils basket. I had no good reason for photographing it - I just liked how it all looked in the sunlight. :)

Mid-afternoon I called Earlybird over to help with a new stained glass panel for our cross:

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In honor of Rose Sunday, we used shades of pink to surround a picture of our Pope:

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With thanks to Karen E. for the image; I scooped it up at her blog. :)

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It's coming along very nicely, don't you think?

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Did you know March 2nd is National Banana Cream Pie Day? Well it might not have made my March Themes and Plans, but it caught my attention anyway. So today I made mini banana cream pudding pies. I had meant to make the slightly more traditional and definitely more nutritious egg custards as I did last year on this day. But these easy desserts seemed a good pick just the same. (Keyword: easy.) They're not Feingold, of course, but EB only eats the whipped cream anyway.

The funny thing is, I don't care much for banana cream pie myself, but they were fun to make. It's the same way with quick breads. I love to bake quick breads, but I almost never eat even a crumb. My family loves to eat them though, and that's what counts, right?

And where were the older boys during all of this cleaning, crafting and baking you might wonder? Well, Bill took them into the Museum of Science for a Planetarium show all about Star Wars. Needless to say, they enjoyed it.

And where are all my fellas now? Well, after a quick supper, Bill took the older two over to church for play practice, and just a bit ago, Earlybird called it a night. So here I sit, surrounded by cats - blogging and watching Night in the Museum (which is such a good movie, btw). I have a stack of Sunday reading at my side, but now I hear my gang coming in the door, so I'm signing off for the night ~ I hope yours is a good one, and I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. :)


Sunday Fun ~ Rock Painting!

Here's a quick idea for your Sunday, if you're looking for a simple family activity, perhaps oneLeopardbutterfly that ties into today's liturgy. Maybe you have an hour or so this afternoon to devote to painting rocks with your children? :)

Having just celebrated The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, we are reminded of the Scripture from Matthew 16 ~ "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." And now, here's a neat idea proposed at Open Wednesday which also ties in the readings today:

"Good week to learn something about rocks! Both the First Reading and the Psalm mentions rocks. Go rock hunting. Choose the best rock you can find and paint a Cross on the rock. The Psalm refers to our Lord as "the Rock of our salvation." Talk about a rock making a strong foundation."

And wouldn't it be doubly fun to make a real adventure out of looking for "just the right rock?" I'm sure there are rocks lying in wait just outside your back door, but how refreshing it would be to take a leisurely Sunday walk together - in the woods, at the beach, or just down the street. Weather permitting of course - this is February, I realize! ;)

Perhaps this is something Daddy could do with the children while Mother prepares the worktable at home (or vice versa!): acrylic paints, paintbrushes, cups of water, newspapers (or oil cloth) and paper towels (or sponges and rags). When the children return, no doubt quite rosy-cheeked from time spent out-of-doors, the craft is ready to go.

Of course your children can paint the rocks any way they wish to! There's a great book my mum bought for the boys called Painting on Rocks for Kids by Lin Wellford. It gives lots of ideas and instructions for turning plain old rocks into all kinds of artwork. Even a simple word or phrase could be painted on a particularly smooth-sided stone. When the rocks are dry, they could be placed at your nature table or prayer corner, or even tucked in your garden.

To be honest, my own boys won't be doing this activity today, but rather, tomorrow. This morning they are off to Boston for a special outing with Bill's parents. And when they all return here later today we will enjoy some cake and ice cream to celebrate Grandma B.'s birthday. But I still wanted to post this idea here today in case it might be something someone else can use. :)

Well, whatever your plans today, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!


Tea & a Craft for The Chair of St. Peter

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For this week's tea & a craft, we focused on today's feast, The Chair of St. Peter. For "tea" we had hot milky cocoa in celebration of the snow (still falling fast and furious as I type) but no other treats were served. (We were all saving our "one sweet a day" for the cherry cobbler bubbling away in the crockpot!) We first read today's gospel, and then we read ahead for Sunday in our Magnifikid. And then, much to the boys surprise, I opened up my laptop ...

... for an online tour of St. Peter's Basilica!

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The boys were fascinated by this floorplan:

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We quickly found the Cathedra Petri on the map and opened its link:

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The image of The Holy Spirit, in stained glass above the Altar is so striking.

I then remembered we had a great picture of the Basilica in one of our Discoveries books - it happens to be a fold-out multi-page section.

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Next I pulled out a fun little paperback story, Lost in Peter's Tomb. Bookworm read this last year (and its sequel Break-in at the Basilica) but not Crackerjack. In fact, I had forgotten we had these books until just today! (You know, as much as I love to plan, half the time I'm making things up as we go, lol.)

Bookworm remembered a passage about the Chair of St. Peter in the book:

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"There's another picture of a dove at the end of the church," observes an excited Delaney, pointing toward the very end of the basilica.

"Is that a giant's chair?" Delaney asks, seeing what looks like a chair floating in gold and silver clouds beneath the dove. Now Delaney is sure giants live here.

"That is the very famous and sacred 'Chair of Peter' or Cathedra Petri in Latin," says the workman.

"Did Peter actually sit in that chair?" questions Riley. "It looks awfully big. How big was Peter?"

"No, he wasn't a giant. Just a normal-sized person. I don't think he ever actually sat in that chair," answers the workman. "It looks to be about ten feet tall; much too big for the average man to sit in. That big chair more importantly symbolizing that this is the place where the head of the Church belongs. However, a chair that Peter really did sit in is enclosed inside that big bronze chair."

Next we set about making our craft for the day, our own "stained glass" dove:

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I've shared this craft method before - it's a very common one, and a favorite of mine. Easy for the boys to do too, if I prepare things ahead. It's just bits of colorful tissue paper stuck onto clear contact paper, around a printed out image, and all set within a construction paper frame.

Our finished product:

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Which we added to our Lenten cross:

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So far we have a panel for St. Valentine, and now one for the Chair of Peter. Over the next four weeks we'll add the rest of the panels, colorful images representing special days of the season. Come Easter Sunday our cross will be filled with color and light!

Well, our day has now come to a close. The snow is still falling, and here we sit together, savoring these steaming bowls of cherry cobbler and watching a wonderful movie. A fitting choice for this time of year, as we long for the return of the spring. :)

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!


Special for Sundays ~ Homemade Donuts!

A few readers have asked for my donut recipe, and of course I'm glad to share! ActuallDonuts2y, it's really not mine - the recipe I use is found on the back of the donut pan packaging. And truth be told, though I've had my pan a few years now, I have only made donuts twice! It's just one of those things I think is going to take more time (and work) than it actually does. But the payoff is just so great ~ freshly baked donuts for my family!

Now first off, I must link to the pan for baked donuts. (I know you can prepare homemade donuts in deep pans of boiling oil but that is not something I'm going to attempt -more for safety reasons than fat content, lol!) I ordered the standard size pan, but you might prefer the mini-donut pan.

I also must admit that donuts are a treat and I know many of my readers have given up treats for Lent. But Sundays are always a day for rejoicing, a day to take a break from the fast ~ and warm homemade donuts are a memorable treat to come home to after church! And more than anything else, I love making memories for my boys. In fact, I often think those that involve food "stick" with them the best. :)

So without further ado, here are the two recipes, one for chocolate and one for plain:

Chocolate Cake Donuts

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325. Combine the four, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick. Combine milk and butter. Alternately combine egg mixture and milk mixture with flour mixture and mix until smooth and soft. Spray pan lightly with cooking oil. Fill with batter 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes. Cool. Carefully remove. Repeat with rest of batter. Frost or glaze.

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons HOT water

Cake Donuts

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray donut pan with cooking oil. In bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat until well blended. Fill each donut hole 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes or until tops spring back lightly when touched. Cool. Remove from pan and dip into glaze.Donuts may also be dipped into cinnamon and sugar instead of glaze. When the pan has cooled, wipe clean with cloth or paper towel and repeat process. Yield: approximately 36 mini donuts.

I must say a quick word about glazes and whatnot. :) First of all, the donuts are quite delicious plain, but they are fun to "decorate." I made up the glaze described above and lightly drizzled it across the tops of the donuts. It was rather thin, so I'd like to play around with the measurements a bit, to make more of a frosting. I think maple-glazed donuts would be perfectly delicious in March, don't you? (Those happen to be my favorites at Dunkins!) And at Eastertime, a white chocolate glazed donut would be festive - sprinkled with pastel jimmies of course! The mini donuts would be a lovely teatime treat for the children, especially if they are allowed to choose their own toppings!

Of course there are all kinds of ways to make Sundays special, and that's a project I'm working on just now. But something warm and fresh from the oven brings my family such joy, and that's just the mood I hope to foster on this day ... and when it's something really special, something reserved just for Sundays - such as coffeecake or fruit danish or homemade donuts - it's even more of a treat. :)

I'd love to hear what your favorite baked goodies are! Is there something you love to bake ~ any day or especially on Sundays? Please drop me a note below if you have a moment ~ I'd love to add to my Sunday collection. :)

But for now, I'm off. I hope you have a happy evening, and I'll see you all again sometime tomorrow.


Home, Our Little Heaven

I always have one housekeeping book going at a time, and right now it's Mrs. Dunwoody's Victorian_homeExcellent Instructions for Homekeeping. I remember years ago seeing this book at the bookstore and thinking it might be nice to own, but not having heard much about it, I figured I'd wait for it to come to the library. Which of course it finally did, and thanks to our very convenient inter-library loan system, I was able to track it down - first virtually and then physically, and now it sits here on my kitchen counter and I page through it every chance I get. It's a very nice book filled with inspiration and information.

I'd like to share this quote with you from the introduction. The author, Miriam Lukken, has this to say about Mrs. Dunwoody, or "Big Mama" as she was called by those who loved her:

"She, too, believed that the ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. "Taking care of our home enables us all to feel nurtured and safe; it brings comfort and solace both in the fruits of our labor and in the freedom it affords to experience life to its fullest. It is important work, and others will suffer if you do not attend to it properly," she wrote in one of her diaries. Big Mama was just as fussy about the manner in which things were done as she was about the substance of those things. She taught that women were not just doing chores, they were creating ~ creating a home, a place of security, warmth, contentment and affection. A place where even the everyday things in our lives were held sacred and should therefore be cared for and treated in a special and orderly way ...

In a letter to a grandchild Mrs. Dunwoody wrote, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Home is a sacred place for you and your family. Home interprets heaven. It is heaven for beginners. Take the time to come home to yourself, every day." She taught that home was where you came to rest, and so it should thereby be restorative. It should be a relief to come home at the end of the day, close the door behind you and find things as they should be, (and always have been). She truly believed that our own inner peace and happiness could be worked out by organizing our physical surroundings."

Well, it's Sunday morning now, and in a little while I'll be rousing the troops to get ready for Mass. When we return home with my folks it will be to a pot of hot coffee and a pan of crumb cake. My mum and dad will stay for a while to chat and catch up. The boys will be eager to show them things like a new Lego they've built or a new book they're reading or the ladybug habitat they've made. It's such a nice way to start our week ...

Later on, Bill will take the boys on a woods-walk, their usual Sunday "adventure." I myself have planned a rather domestic day filled with little tasks I have to get done: folding laundry, lesson planning, baking breads, catching up on emails. All small things, and certainly things I just take for granted. But if I stop to think about it (and I hardly do enough), I am truly grateful for all these little have-to's. I am humbled to be the one creating this space, this place in time, for my family. It's all so much more than just daily or weekly or monthly tasks, because, like Saint Stanislaus Kostka I can "... find a heaven in the midst of saucepans and brooms."

But to find something means you first have to look.

So this week I am going to look for the blessings in the little things - the daily bits and pieces of life. I am going to look for our little heaven at home - the comforts that only I can bring to my family.

Sundays are a good day to make plans for this ~ to sit down and look at the week ahead. What can be done for my loved ones this week? What needs can be met with love? Clean clothes? Fresh beds? Good meals? Kind words? My attention?

It's not to say it will be easy ~ to do or to remember. All these things take time and effort, and maybe even a little extra of both. But, it all begins with today, so now with one last keystroke, I'm off to get that crumb cake in the oven. :)

Have a wonderful Sunday, my friends.


Ash Wednesday at Home

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It is such a dark morning, rainy and cold too. Though it definitely snuck up on me, it does feel like Ash Wednesday should. A bit ago, we got back from early Mass and now the boys are clamoring for breakfast. I'll get them some yogurt and toast, while I pour myself another cup of tea ...

Our Little Plan for Lent is underway, and this morning I altered the mantel for the season ahead. I removed the pinecones, wooden creatures and other decorative touches and put in their place, our crucifix and this small wooden bowl of dirt. Besides the mantel clock and the rice bowl, that is all that stands here now - such a stark contrast to the (cheerful) clutter of Christmas!

We did this same activity last year, a variation of an idea I found in the book All Year Round:

"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."

Later this morning we will add a pinch of palm ash to this bowl of dirt (once the sleepiness has worn off and I'm fit to wield fire, lol). This year I've added a small tea light to the bowl - throughout Lent, we'll light it only on Sundays, but I lit it here for effect. The rest of the week it will stand quiet and dark on the mantel. On Easter morning I'll replace the small tealight with a tall pretty candle we've made, and there it will stand, hopefully surrounded by a new crop of grass. I think this will be a meaningful and visual project for the boys.

Later this afternoon, we'll also bury our Alleluia. Unfortunately, I can't find my letters from last year (!) but I have a small project in mind to take their place. (Thank goodness for ample craft supplies, lol!) I'll try to post a picture of our craft later on.

But for now, I wish you all a good day, and a most blessed beginning of Lent!


Our Faith-at-Home Notebook

I've mentioned this notebook a few times now, and have been meaning to follow up on it. (I've been meaning to do a lot of things, lol, but today is the day for the notebook.)

Basically, I was looking for a way to keep our weeky liturgical plans in order. I thought if I had a notebook where I kept it all together - the plans I make and then the things we do - it would serve as a practical guide and a nice memory book as well.

I chose a plain, see-through, 3-ring binder. (I happened to have an extra on hand.)

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For now, I have the calendar page from a magazine in the front panel. It's colorful, in a seasonal way, and shows feast days, holidays and the Gospel for each week. I might try to make something more decorative - a photo collage or some thematic scrapbook paper perhaps. But this works for now.

Inside I have 8 dividers for the year:

  • Ordinary Time (January 14 - February 5)
  • Lent: (February 6 - March 22)
  • Easter: (March 23 - May 11)
  • Ordinary Time (May 12 - November 29)
  • Advent (November 30 - December 24)
  • Christmas (December 25 - January 11)
  • Projects
  • Misc.

Inside the first section I have a certain arrangement of papers, the first set being a printout of the coming Sunday's readings and Gospel:

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I printed them on green paper to tie in with the liturgical season. Starting with Ash Wednesday I will begin printing them in lilac. (And so forth through the year.)

After the readings, I file the Mass worksheets we do on Mondays. (We do these informally, but I have found that the boys notice more details now, hoping to answer more questions correctly!) Sometimes our parish bulletin includes a puzzle page for the kids and then I photocopy that for the boys, too.

Next come any photocopies or printouts for the week ahead. I survey my primary liturgical idea books to see what I might like to use - whether it be teaching ideas for the readings, or activities for an upcoming feast day. I also check my favorite online sources. (I try to be realistic about what we can and can't do - there are so many ideas, but some weeks are busier than others.)

Everything gets hole-punched and inserted in the binder. Then, using these sources, I pull together a general plan for the week: What will we read? What will we do? What theme(s) will shape our week? From my seasonal planning I have a general idea what happens and when, but this preparation lets me get more specific. I can only plan so much in advance. :)

Later in the week, after we've had our Faith-at-Home tea (and I've blogged all about it, lol), I print out the post and file it here as well. Below you see the "Lovely Doves" post from last week:

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Yesterday, we read the Gospel story in which Jesus chooses his first disciples, Simon-Peter, Andrew, James and John. He calls them to be "fishers of men." Adapting a tip I found in this book, I saved a netted bag from our fingerling potatoes, and tacked it to the bulletin board:

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We talked abut how these men were the first disciples of Jesus as well as his friends. I had the boys write their friends' names on multi-colored fish and add them to the net. All this over a lunch of fish sticks, of course. :) A snack of goldfish, gummy fish or cookies like Paula's would work nicely too!

Since I'm not doing a big post about that activity, I'll just print out the above picture and adhere it to a sheet of green paper. I might add a few of their fish for decoration. I will also print out the post we did about the Feast of St. Agnes and our Snowflakes of Kindness.

Today I printed and sorted the papers for next week, which will be, liturgically speaking, a very full week. :)

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And if can you believe it, the week after next brings Ash Wednesday! So of course there are Lenten plans to be making this week, too ...

Later this weekend I'll share our plans - liturgical and otherwise - for the upcoming week. But for now, I have a round of cocoa to make. The boys have a friend over and they're knee-deep in Legos as I type up this post. Lol, it's all about Legos, Star Wars and Monster Jam around here lately. So, I'm off to find a quiet corner for my cocoa break ~ 15 minutes of Austen should put me to rights. ;)

Have a good night everyone, and Happy Weekend!


On a Winter's Day ~ Cookies & Kindness

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Agnes, so today we had a little celebration ...

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It all started with the cookies, of course. :)

I'll bet you're not surprised we made cookies. (We're always making cookies it seems, lol!) But what's a Feast without ... well, a feast? And what better feast food in the eyes of a child, than a platter of freshly baked cookies?

So today, in honor of St. Agnes and the winter season itself, I tried a new recipe. I read in this book, (one of my favorite liturgical craft books for young children) that snowflakes were once called "St. Agnes flowers." Last year on this feast, we ate vanilla pizzelles dusted with powdered sugar, but this year I made White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies - from here after known as Snowdrop Cookies in our house. ;)

Anyway, as the cookies were coming out in batch-after-sweet-smelling-batch, I set the table with a very easy little craft: "Snowflakes of Kindness." We built upon something Father said in his homily last Sunday ~ (and I'm paraphrasing here) ~ the kindness we show may be the only light in someone else's life. He stressed that it is so important to give of ourselves, to think of others whenever we can. I believe he quoted St. Francis and urged us to remember that how we live is the greatest gospel we can preach.

(You know, I usually find Father's homilies enjoyable, but sometimes they really make me sit up straight in my seat. It's times like these when I wonder if it would be acceptable for me to rummage through my purse for a pen.) :)

But, back to our craft! To begin, each boy got a set of three snowflakes (paper doilies) in graduating sizes. We brainstormed things we could do for others - something very easy (for instance a smile), something more of a challenge (doing chores without being asked) and something that asks even more of us. For this biggest snowflake we each talked about what is hardest for us to give. For me it was time. It is the hardest thing for me to give up, so my biggest snowflake said "Volunteer my time to help others." The boys had wonderful thoughts and we wrote them all down on our doilies.

A final step: we hung our snowflakes in the windows ...

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And there they hang, not so much for all to see, but for us to remember:

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By the way, this would make a nice Valentine project, I think. You could cut rounds of tissue paper to the shape of the doilies, then cut out a heart in the center of the doiley itself. Lightly glue the edges together so the tissue shows through the doiley. On the front of each doiley, around the heart shape, write in something nice you'll do for someone, or the names of people you love.

This all took under 30 minutes to do (except for the baking part, of course, but that was all me). It was a quick and easy craft, but I think it will be something the boys remember. If nothing else, I hope they'll remember our time spent together, the warm smell of the kitchen and the truth behind Father's wise words.

Well, thanks for visiting today, and thanks for your patience too! For one thing, I keep promising my homeschool routine post, (tomorrow, really!) and for another, I write such very long posts. Short ones are rare, and I know your time is short too, so I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read!

Have a great night, everyone. :)


Tea and a Craft: Lovely Doves

“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” (Jn 1:32)

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Remember the dove cookies I baked the other day? Well, we usually have our Tea-and-a-Craft days on Thursdays, but this week Thursday was an incredibly busy day. So instead, we set aside time Friday morning to sit, read, craft and eat. :)

I try to do this with the boys each week ~ to read aloud Sunday's Liturgy of the Word, so we can talk about it a little. Usually I prepare a simple craft to go along with our talk, something to make the readings more memorable. I often tie in (or sometimes focus on) a current or coming feast day. Quite often we also weave in a book we're reading (something from Cay's Catholic Mosaic, perhaps) or even a seasonal theme from nature. Nature brings its own beautiful inspiration to the table! (I know many of you are familiar with this activity, but since I have some new readers, may I link you to my Tea and Crafts archive?)

I use several resources to plan out these teas (which for lack of a better term is what I call them; we only sometimes have tea, though, lol). Online there is 4Real, and many blogs of course, as well as places like CatholicMom, Catholic Culture and Open Wednesdays. I draw from the books I've listed on the lefthand sidebar under Living the Liturgical Year and we also subscribe to Faith & Family, Take Out: Family Faith to Go and Magnifkid.

Now it goes without saying, I don't use everything at once! But I like to check through all the resources to see my options. Usually something sparks an idea and our weekly tea takes its shape ...

But always, without doubt, there is a snack to be shared. Nothing draws a bunch of boys to the table like something good to eat! Especially when there's frosting involved. :)

The craft this week came from The Complete Children's Liturgy Book: Liturgies of the Word for Years A, B and C):

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And having decided on this craft (which reflects Sunday's gospel) I also decided to tie in our snack to the theme of the dove. My parents gave me a beautiful dove cookie cutter for my birthday, and so sugar cookies became the snack of choice this week. (A great idea is to collect cookie cutters (alphabet, religious and nature themes) and keep a stash of frozen sugar cookie dough in the freezer - you'll always have a snack at the ready!)

As the boys assembled their dove crafts, I read Sunday's Gospel aloud. And yes, my boys do the crafts readily. I get asked that a lot, lol. We've always done crafts, and they enjoy them! I keep them very simple and the promise of a delicous treat at the end also holds their attention. ;)

By the time we were done reading and making, the doves were ready to hang, and the cookies were ready to frost:

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Crackerjack kept his plain, but Earlybird's (shown below) was generously adorned with crystal white sprinkles.

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Speaking of EB, the poor kid, he is suffering a terrible cold. He didn't even want to eat this cookie - for him, it was really all about the decorating today.

Finally, the cookies were consumed, and the craft was hung on display:

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Don't they look nice hanging from the beams?

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Even better when there are so many smiling faces beneath them. :)

And now here's the weekend at last ... oh, the promise of a weekend! And a long weekend, at that! It's bright and early here as I finish up this post. EB is feeling better, thank goodness. He had a good night's sleep and I am sure that helped a lot. I have a long list of things to do today - little errands, catch-up chores - and then we'll be settling in for a quiet family weekend. Well, quiet except for the part where we cheer on our beloved Pats! :)

And don't forget, today begins the Barnes & Noble Educator Week! And, I hear tell, JoAnn's has a good sale going on too. Hmmm ... books, crafts and football? Sounds like a great wekeend to me!

I hope you all have a good one too! I'll be back again sometime soon.


Poetry Friday: Christina Rossetti

*Christmas Daybreak*

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Before the paling of the stars,

Before the winter morn,

Before the earliest cock crow,

Jesus Christ was born:

Born in a stable,

Cradled in a manger,

In the world His hands had made,

Born a stranger …

*

Jesus on his mother’s breast

In the stable cold,

Spotless Lamb of God was He,

Shepherd of the fold.

Let us kneel with Mary Maid,

With Joseph bent and hoary,

With saint and angel, ox and ass,

To hail the King of Glory.

A few days ago we set up our Nativity Corner. Here's a quick tour:

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On the tabletop are favorite nativity books:

*Not shown are the three books I picked up at the library yesterday: The Friendly Beasts by Tomie de Paola, A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith, and The Cobweb Curtain by Jenny Koralek (a Christmas Mosaic book).

Underneath the book display is where we keep the boys' nativity set:

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A small basket holds all the soft dolls - shepherds, wise men and angel:

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And inside the sturdy wooden manger we find the Holy Family:

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We are looking forward to seeing the beautiful creche set up at church, but what has the boys really excited is Parish Breakfast this Sunday! Me too, but oh, sometimes it's hard to concentrate on Mass when the fragrance of maple syrup and sausages is thick in the air! ;)

On a side note, last night Bill and I caught the very last scene of The Nativity Story on HBO. The cinematography (not sure that's the right term) looks gorgeous, and I see the movie's rated PG. But I'm not sure it's suitable for children, so we'll try to catch it sometime this weekend and preview it ourselves. (If you saw it, what did you think?)

Well, I'm off now to start my day (in the up-off-the-couch sense of the word). So far it's just me and Earlybird, and the sky is still dark in the east. (He's not called Earlybird for nothing, lol.) We're breakfasting on cold pizza (him) and coffee (me) and while I do my morning blog-thing, he's watching a show all about Mars - whoops, make that Jupiter. I stand corrected. ;) (Oh, the boys loves his planets!) He's all talk about "moon rocks" and the "snow" glitter I mentioned casually between sips. Fridays at home usually mean crafts, but I'll need a good deal more coffee in me before I break out the glitter and glue!

I haven't yet tracked down who's hosting the Poetry Round-Up this week, but I'll update this post when I do. In the meantime ...

Happy Friday!


Coffee & Gingerbread for Mum's Birthday

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Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

My mother's birthday is tomorrow, but since tomorrow is a very busy day for all of us, we decided to celebrate her birthday this morning after church. I've also been waiting for just the right occasion to make that delicious gingerbread I had at my friend Kim's house earlier this month. What can be better on a cold November's day than a warm and sticky old-fashioned gingerbread, slathered with homemade whipped cream? Not much, I tell you.

So let me share the recipe with you straight away (since I promised it a loong time ago) and then I'll have a few pictures from our day. :)

Hot-water Chocolate Gingerbread (from The Boston Globe, circa 2002)

Makes 1 large cake or enough to serve 12*

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons hot tap water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. Set oven rack in the center position. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper, butter the paper and flour the pan, dusting out the excess.
  2. In a bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, and oil on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
  5. Stir together the baking soda and hot water. Quickly beat it into the batter.
  6. With the mixer set on low, add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time.
  7. Remove the beaters from the bowl. With a rubber spatula, stir in the boiling water until thoroughly combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 60-65 minutes, rotating the pan from back to front after 30 minutes. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center springs back quickly after pressing lightly with your fingertip.
  9. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool. Cut a sheet of parchment or waxed paper larger than the cake. Turn the cake out onto it and carefully peel off the paper from the bottom of the baked cake. Use a large sharp knife to trim the edges on all four sides to expose moist crumb, then cut the cake into 3 1/2x3 inch pieces. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

*Kim's notes ~

  • Expect too much batter for your pan. Fill your pan only 3/4 of the way full. Toss remaining batter or use for cupcakes.
  • I think the cake would be dry if you waited for the top to spring up. The center can take too long to cook and the edges would dry out. When the cake starts to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean (more or less), it's done.
  • I don't trim the edges; that's a waste of perfectly good cake.

And now on with our day ...

... which began - can you ever guess? - bright and early! (I know you're wondering, does her day ever not start bright and early, lol? And the answer to that would be yes; sometimes it's very dark.) This early rising has its advantages, however. For one thing, on Sundays, you have all kinds of time to eat (and digest) before infringing upon the hour's fast before Communion. For another, you have plenty of time to whip up a multi-step gingerbread cake before heading out to first Mass. Well, almost. I was just able to get the cake into the oven, slap-dash myself together and then leave Bill with (two sick kids and) detailed instructions re when to turn and when to test.

And an hour later we returned home with Nana and Papa, as we do every Sunday, but today the house smelled of more than just freshly brewed coffee. Today the air was thick and warm with dark, rich gingerbread!

Now all we had to do was wait for Uncle Matt to join us. The two younger boys set up vigil in the doorway:

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In the meantime I got the cake all ready. It came out of the pan like a dream, and as Kim advised I didn't bother trimming any edges. I even waited on the whipped cream till we were serving. I just added these lollipop candles that the boys had picked out (though they might have been balloons ~ there was quite a dicussion over this).

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And the concensus? Very, very yummy - but very, very rich. I couldn't even finish my piece (though I did have seconds on the whipped cream). I think I'll make this at least once or twice during the Christmas season. What a fabulous way to use up all those unopened jars of molasses in my pantry!

Naturally, Nana got some help blowing out her candles, and then we sat back with our coffees and visited for a while. Mum and I synchronized our calendars (babysitting requests) while Bill, Dad and Matt talked up the Pats ... meanwhile the boys kept themselves busy, poring over toy ads and coughing every two minutes (into their elbows when reminded).

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Happy Birthday, Mum ~ We love you so much!

Well, I hope you all had a great weekend. It went by so fast, didn't it? And now the boys are in their pj's (some of them never got out!) and kick-off is near, so I will sign off till tomorrow ... Good night!


Sweet and Simple

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We had our weekly sit-down-to-tea yesterday (Wednesday) since today (Thursday) will be a busy one for us. This might remain a permanent change as Wednesday afternoons look to be the quietest of the week this fall. I like to have our tea when we've got the whole afternoon at home. This way I have time to prepare, and they have time to digest. :)

I didn't have a craft planned, or a picture book picked out, but I printed out the weekly coloring page at Catholic Mom.com, and we read aloud Sunday's Gospel (Luke 14: 1, 7-14) from our Magnifikid. The boys colored as I read and we all nibbled on the fruity snack I laid out.

It was quite warm here yesterday, and I had planned to serve this, our last "summertime" tea on the deck - but the lure of the AC was too great! Not shown is the refreshing "Zingerade" punch, the recipe for which I found in Parents magazine, a lovely last hurrah for the summer:

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add 4 lemon-zinger herbal tea bags and brew for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. In a large pitcher, combine 1 can (6 oz.) frozen lemonade concentrate, 1 liter plain seltzer and tea. Serve with orange, lemon and lime slices.

As you can see in the photo above I served watermelon "sticks" and apple slices along with strawberry yogurt for dipping. (It was just too hot to bake!) I explained that these fruits formed a bridge between the seasons - juicy melon from summer and crisp apples for fall. Beginning next week, our table will adopt a distinctly more autumn feel.

In fact, the windows have already begun the transformation:

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I picked up these garlands at Michaels along with the clip-on silk "fall" butterfly. I only got enough to do one set of windows, so I'll wait for the next store coupon to buy more. ;) I'd like to have Bill weave a strand of tiny white lights in with the garland. I think fall's dark afternoons will be much enhanced by soft lights twinkling above our workspace.

Well, I hope you enjoy these last few (unofficial) summertime days! So far the morning here is bright and breezy, a welcome foretaste of fall ...

Before it gets too warm (as it's bound to do), I'm going to get some banana breads in the oven. And, later this morning I'll place some calls to local farms to inquire about the availability of green tomatoes.

Labor Day means picalilli, of course! :)


Wahoo ~ What a Week!

This time last week we were wrapping up our last day at VBS 2007. I can't believe how quickly that week went by! If you are involved with a VBS at your church you know how much planning and effort goes into preparing for such a special week of the year. It's an amazing experience for the grown-ups and children alike - really, for the whole parish! I have lots of pictures from VBS week to share, but I will try to restrain myself a bit and show just a few (or 16). :)

To clarify, VBS is shorthand for vacation bible school, and each summer Catholic and Protestant churches alike all across the country organize these day camps for the children of their parish. Last year it was all about Fiesta, and this year we took a Wild Ride through God's Word! (And next year, rumor has it, will be a science experiment theme!)

Bookworm, Crackerjack and I have participated in VBS these past two years. (Earlybird is still too young, so my mum stays with him on camp mornings.) It's a lot of work for everyone involved, but a wonderful way to get to know the families of our parish. I love how many children know "Mrs. Hanigan" as the "Games Lady" by the end of the week. :)

So without further ado, here are some scenes from Avalanche Ranch!

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Every morning the entire VBS group (100 children, 70 volunteers) gathered on the lawn to sing songs and get into the spirit of things. The children were grouped into "ranch crews" with fun names like Spinning Spurs, Bucking Broncos and Kickin' Colts. Seven or eight children to a crew, led by two or three teen volunteers.

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At our small church we use the inside and outside for VBS. Volunteers worked tirelesslely to transform walls and hallways and every little corner into a western ranch scenario.This is a corner downstairs in the church hall where the children had pictures taken for "Wanted" posters:

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Pretty cute if I may so myself. :)

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I don't know what was behind this door - I took the sign to heart!

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Here is a portion of a lovely sunflower mural that adorned one end of the hallway - each crew had a flower blossoming with its members' names.

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At midmorning, snacks were served that went along with the Bible Point of the day. This day's theme was "God is Real" and the song of the day was "Saddle up your horses, we've got a trail to blaze ..." Hence the baggies of trail mix!

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Here's a long shot of the hallway. Aren't those murals fantastic?

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Even the doors were transformed!

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Here are my two buckaroos, posing one morning on our way up to the lawn.

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Above you see the craft room in action. These ladies did a terrific job coordinating meaningful projects for the kids everyday. This was one of the stops on the crews' daily rounds. The crews would rotate every 20 minutes from crafts to games to Bible stories to Heroes of God (saints etc.) to helping with snacks. We gathered together as one large group three times a day - at Sing and Play Stampede (opening songs and welcome), Chuck Wagon Chow (snacktime) and Showtime Roundup (more singing and dismissal).

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The youngest children (pre-K and kindergarten age) were kept in one spot, under tents tucked beside the church. We called them "Prarie Dog Campers" and they were as cute as the name would suggest. Their leaders had their hands full, though!

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The kids in my son's crew trapped one of their leaders in the "jail." I don't think he really minded, lol. ;)

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The above picture was as close to a wide outdoor shot as I could get. This shows the back of the gathering area where everyone was dancing and singing on the second to last day of the week. This was taken during "Showtime Round-up" which was the last activity before dismissal each day.

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Gratuitous sky photo ... the weather held up for the most part - we just had two drizzly days, but we were still able to hold the games outside (since we were under tents).

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Here are my two guys doing the movements to one of my favorite Avalanche Ranch songs, "Awesome God." (By the way, the CD is wonderful - and I'm not typically a country-western fan, but this music is great!) My two are the ones in blue in front and in red with the hat in back. Crews were invited up to sing with our VBS leader (our music director) in turn throughout the week.

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Thursday is always a reflective day in the week and the above photo shows a part of a wonderful activity. Just before we began, our VBS leader talked about sin, and the crew leaders handed out dry blades of grass to the children in their group. Each child and leader in turn spoke of something they had done in the past that they felt badly about. The leaders then took all the grass and sprinkled it at the foot of this cross ...

And then, while our leader led the children in song, facing away from the cross, (a truly goosebumpy song called "Were you there?"), the teens "planted" beautiful silk flowers in place of the dried grass. The children turned around at the end of the song and this is what they saw.

It was such a sweet moment - just one of many in the course of the week. I was blessed to be part of it all, and I am so looking forward to next year.

Well, I hoped you enjoyed this peek at our week! With VBS over it feels as though summer is coming to a close, and well, I guess really it is! I'm perfectly OK with that - this is one of my favorite times of year!

I hope you all have a great weekend. We have birthday parties to host and attend and in between I will be working on lesson plans and learning room preparations. All just in time for Kim's Loveliness of Back-to-School Supplies and Lesson Plans on Monday.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Friday y'all! :)


Miss Rumphius on a thundery afternoon ...

Missrumphius

From the porch of her new house Miss Rumphius watched the sun come up; she watched it cross the heavens and sparkle on the water; and she saw it set in glory in the evening. She started a little garden among the rocks that surrounded her house, and she planted a few flower seeds in the stony ground. Miss Rumphius was almost perfectly happy.

"But there is still one more thing I have to do," she said. "I have to do something to make the world more beautiful."

But what? "The world already is pretty nice," she thought, looking out over the ocean.

Today is the birthday of beloved children's book author and illustrator, Barbara Cooney, so I fished out Miss Rumphius from the summer basket, and gathered my boys on the couch for a story. An afternoon like this was just what we needed - thunder was rumbling off in the distance and we were all tuckered out from our first morning of Avalanche Ranch (some of us more so than others).

It was a cozy, happy read and I thought - you know, I'm not sure just what I would do to make the world a more beautiful place, but right now, curled up with my little guys, the storm raging beyond the windows and a cup of hot tea in my hand, the world feels pretty perfect as it is.

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And do you know what was the most wonderful thing about our little storytime? Well, there were two things, actually.

First, Earlybird not only sat for the entire story (listening with rapt attention as he licked his lemon popsicle), but he asked to hear it all over again.

And then, as we sat in quiet appreciation of the story, I asked the boys what they would do, if they could, to make the world a better place.

Bookworm admitted this was a very hard question, but Crackerjack offered softly:

"Help more people to know God?"

Ah yes, that VBS vibe is kicking in ... :)

This evening I'm remembering Ms. Cooney on what would have been her 90th birthday, and wishing you all a beautiful good night.


Happy Summer!

Golden_daisies

If you notice, my Countdown Widget reads 0-0-0-0! It's time to update that to a Countdown-to-Autumn (my favorite season of all). But before I get ahead of myself, a bit about summer, which technically, begins at 2:06 this afternoon.

First off, how's the weather where you are today? (I'd love to know - leave a comment if you can!) Does it feel like summer yet? It is absolutey gorgeous here in my corner of New England today. Nice and warm - 78 degrees on the dot. And breezy - so breezy! We have every single window open and it's the most refreshing thing. I told the boys that we're changing the air today ~ we're letting out the spring and welcoming in the summer. It's like a wind tunnel in here, lol, but it's nice to air out the whole house in one fell swoop. I'm cleaning the windows too, to catch all that extra daylight. ;)

Secondly, did you see the space-station/shuttle flyover last night? So very, very cool. The viewing was even better last night than the night before. We also spotted a planet or two, some bats and fireflies, as well. Summer nights are the best.

Oh, also, this is short notice, but today at 1:55 p.m. the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to return to earth.* I would guess most of the major news channels will show it live. We have the NASA channel here so that's where we'll tune in (I believe you can see it online; check their site). In fact we've set both our kitchen timers - one for the shuttle and one for the solstice. An exciting day all around. :)

So what will you do with all this extra sunlight today? Technically, today is the day the sun gives up it's reign and starts making more room for the night. Yes, from here on out, the days will actually be getting shorter. Maybe that's why summer seems to fly by?

We'll be having our Thursday tea this afternoon. I bought half-moon cookies (also called black-and-white cookies in some places) because they seemed to complement the light/darkness theme. Technically they'd probably suit an equinox better than a solstice, but I'm sure I won't hear any complaints. ;)

Half_moon_cookie

The white part also happens to mirror tonight's crescent moon!

We'll be reading ahead for Sunday ~ for Mass and the Nativity of St. John. St. John's Day is also celebrated as Midsummer all over the world with bonfires, special foods and stories. I have a nice book of Shakespeare for kids which recounts, in just a few pages, the well known tale of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think I will read that aloud as we eat - maybe tomorrow, depending on time and attention spans. I also have a simple sun craft for the boys to work on, too, one I found in All Year Round. I'll try to post pictures when we're done.

Well, however you celebrate this most summery of all days, enjoy!

*Update: The shuttle landing has postponed till 3:30 p.m. due to cloud cover. Make that Friday. Thanks, Nancy!

*PS: Just to clarify - that top picture is not mine; it came with my computer as a sample. Lovely though, isn't it? :)


The Loveliness of Fathers ...

Loveliness_logo... is up at Paula's Catholic Harvest today! Stop by for a tour of posts dedicated to honoring the men in our lives. Thank you, Paula ~ you did a wonderful job!!

Our Father's Day was very nice. We surprised Bill early in the morning with his rock (see earlier post) and told him to keep it on his desk at work to remind him that we think ... he rocks! :)(This was Crackerjack's idea, by the way ~ I think it was a cute one!)

After Mass we had mum and dad back for a big breakfast - scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes with blueberry syrup, fruit salad, yogurt, granola and hot coffee. Yum! The boys handed out cards they had made with pictures of bicycles they had drawn and cut out from the sales flyers. This is our gift to Bill this year - a new bike to replace his old (really old) one. Considering how much he enjoys bike rides with the boys this will be a very useful gift! My folks gave him Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - on 23 CD's! He's thrilled ~ he loves listening to books-on-tape during his commute.

But instead of rushing out to purchase a new bike yesterday Bill_at_workafternoon, Bill decided to do some research into what kind he should get. Instead, as soon as he'd changed into his work clothes, he ran over to the hardware store and bought loads of lumber with which to frame (finally!) our family room windows! He spent the rest of the afternoon measuring, cutting and hammering away. Now, this might sound like no way to spend a Father's Day - laboring instead of relaxing - but actually, Bill was pleased to do so. He loves woodworking, but it seems he hardly ever finds the time to do it! And of course I'm pleased to have my family room (almost) finished off at long last. It might be time to start looking for curtains! ;)

I made one of Bill's favorite suppers last night - baked chicken (coated with cheddar cracker crumbs) with yellow peppers and roasted potatoes. For dessert - chocolate-chip pan cookies. Yum, once again!

Before I go, I'd like to share with you a prayer card that was handed out at church yesterday morning.

Dear Father in Heaven,

May we remember that children need:

Time and Attention,

Love and Patience,

Discipline and Guidance,

Caring and Affection,

Trusting and Security,

Laughter and Play.

Like Joseph, father of Jesus, may we also be a good role model and be the best example for our children.

Amen.

A good reminder for all of us who are blessed with children in our lives. Have a lovely day, everyone!