Friday, November 30, 2012

One of my Favorite Prayers...

...begins today: St. Andrew Christmas Prayer

( http://cajuncottage.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-favorite-prayer-begins.html)

Sadly I can't seem to locate the lovely chaplet that my sweet friend Ruth @ Loreto Rosaries sent me last year.

( http://thetuckerbunch.typepad.com/ave_maria_rosaries/2009/11/st-andrew-chaplet.html )

I'm so sad. While I know I can pray the novena still; the little beads are physical reminders of prayers said, prayers answered, love given, and the prayerful thoughtfulness of a friend. Her fingers prayed for me and mine as she made it. I want to have it in my fingers as I pray for her and hers.

Please pray that it turns up. I know it's near my bedside somewhere but the bookshelf and book pile is a scary place to lose something so delicate. :(

* * * * *
If you're Catholic, a special part of our Christmas observance begins this Wednesday, November 30th.
(This is one of my most favorite prayers EVER...if not in fact my favorite of all.)


St. Andrew Christmas Prayer
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at

which the Son of God was born of a most pure

Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the

piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech

Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires.

Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

Amen.

A Perfect Combination

Last night, while inspecting his precious little face, Auntie Annie declared Hudson to be "...the perfect combination of his mommy and daddy."

I agree.

God only creates perfection. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

15 Minutes of Advent & a Giveaway

{Scroll below to see how to enter this Advent Giveaway}...
 
* * * * *

In honor of the new liturgical year soon beginning and the hum of Advent in the air, I wanted to offer one of you a special something.

Part of it are the extra printouts for Christmas Comfort for Moms which was offered a few years ago at Hillside Education.

What is it?

"This Christmas Comfort for Moms is not a study or a curriculum guide. It is a reflective time for you to break away from your other multitude of wonderful, life-giving plans and embrace the holiday season, reclaim the peace and joy that God desires for all wives and mothers this time of year. Hopefully, it will give you the motivation to draw richer meaning out of the other riches you find sprinkled around the Internet. As I have espoused in A Picture Perfect Childhood, sometimes we only need to capture 15-minutes to reclaim our vision of who we are called to serve and what we are called to do."

The real intent is to reflect for 15 minutes that Advent "is the time to remind ourselves and our children that Christmas really is just a baby and a family wrapped in the soft heavenly glow of starlight."

15 minutes of intent. 15 minutes of joy. 15 minutes of reflection. 15 minutes of silence. 15 minutes of richness. 15 minutes of Advent.

You will receive three (3) book guides that will invite the mother of the family to reflect upon the manger and that "Christmas really is just a baby and a family wrapped in the soft heavenly glow of starlight."

This will fill you in on its purpose and intent: Christmas Comfort for Mom.

Three picture books go along with the guides. You will need to check the library or bookstore for the picture books. The links below direct you to Amazon:
  • Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt/ Raul Colon
  • Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry
  • The First Christmas Stocking by Elizabeth Winthrop/ Bagram Ibatoulline

  • And there is one little something extra. I graciously received a copy of the Magnificat Advent Companion (which is beautiful and encouraging) after I had already purchased one.

    So I thought it fitting to offer my extra copy as a gift to one of you.

    It begins with an essay of "Christmas in England" followed by an Advent Penance Service along with the blessing of the Advent Wreath and Christmas Tree. Daily reflections follow along with the Announcement of the Nativity, prayer before the Manger, Advent Stations (which I'm anxious to meditate upon), Advent Prayers, and the heavenly "O" Antiphones.

    Good luck, everyone!

    Please return Friday morning to see who the giveaway winner is.

    {Leave a comment below telling me in one word what Christmas means to you (along with your name and a link on how I can reach you), and on Thursday evening I will draw a Secret Santa name to mail the above goodies to as an Advent gift.}


    Monday, November 26, 2012

    A Belief in and Love for Christmas


    Part I

    This year I have happily pulled my Christmas Mosaic off the bookshelf and am hovering over it even as I type.
    What a great Christmas resource, I am reminded, as I flip through it.
    The book is a tradition in and of itself. Perhaps you would like to choose a picture book from its lists (or two or three or one for each week) to focus on. You might want to try the Let it Snow Supplement or a Typical/Untypical Australian Christmas Dinner. What about simply turning to page 181-198 and selecting some new recipes to try? What about retelling the ancient tale of the Golden Cobwebs and weave the unsung domestic spider into your Christmas in remembrance that:
    The fairies said: 'Each living thing
    that creeps, or crawls, or flaps a wing
    shall share the birthday of the King."
    The First Sunday of Advent is on its sled scheduled for arrival at our homes this coming Sunday, December 2nd.
    Prepare!
    
    {order Christmas Mosaic to have in time for the Advent / Christmas season and, those of you who have a copy, please share what sections you plan to focus on this Advent. }
     
    * * * * *

    "Each year there is always some starry night that I bask in a bejeweled Christmas tree a-twinkle with lights and a straw-laden nativity set on a table nearby. I draw back from what the outside world views and any parties and merrymaking that are echoling through the frosty streets that night and I breathe in the Christmas spirit that only quiet and reverie can bring. I remember the wonderment of Christmas that only the very young can wrap their arms around and I recommit to focusing on the baby and family and starlight rather than the expense and the commercialism and the unattainable expectations. My belief in and my love for Christmas has not swayed.

    Christmas is not what the world makes of it, but what we make of it."

    ~ Taken from Christmas Mosaic, copyright (c) 2007, published by Hillside Education
    * * * * *

    Some of my family's Christmas traditions that have withstood the test-of-time, expense, exhaustion, and Scrooge:
    • St. Andrew Novena
    • Advent Calendar
    • Tree set-up and decorating the house with eggnog and hot chocolate
    • Gumbo with the family
    • Malts/ Shakes and ride to see the Christmas lights in town, in country and on the lake
    • Rereading favorite Christmas picture books
    • Discovering new Christmas picture books
    • Christmas baking
    • Christmas menu planning
    • View gingerbread displays at tourist center
    • Decorate our own gingerbread house and man
    • Chocolate gold coins and new book or video on St. Nicholas feast day
    • Christmas carols on radio all month long
    • Advent Wreath
    • Nativity Setting
    • Secret Santa
    • Various flavored eggnog all month long
    • Lighted Prayer Garden Tour, hot chocolate, and cookies at our church
    • Bethlehem Nativity Tour at area Baptist church
    • Christmas tree-shaped cinnamon rolls on St. Lucia feast day (new tradition and for Annie's bday morning)
    • Watching A Christmas Story, Bill Murray in Scrooged, It's a Wonderful Life, and Elf
    • Read Dickens' A Christmas Carol
    • Enjoy Christmas decorations, gifts, and breakfast at Cracker Barrell
    * * * * *

    What Christmas Mosaic has inside of it:
    Advent Week One: Decoration and Preparation Stories
    Advent Week Two: Giving/ St. Nicholas/ Santa Claus
    Advent Week Three: Family Time/ Hanukkah as Jesus Would Celebrate
    Advent Week Four: Nativity/ Epiphany/ Angels

    Supplements: Let it Snow Mosaic
    Recipes
    Coloring Pages
    Reflections
    Legends
    24 Days Before Christmas Countdown (pg. 69-71)
    Poetry
    Picture Books that Teach, Sing, Worship, Share, Pray
    

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Prepare Ye the Way to Christmas

     
    Many years ago I was pushing a blond-headed, blue-eyed baby boy through the department store when I overheard a little girl ask her mother, "Mommy, how much longer until Christmas gets here?" The mother, overwhelmed with the shopping task at hand, began to lament the expense and commercialism and over-zealous expectation of Christmas to the little sprite in her shopping cart. The little girl was drawn into her mother's grown-up version of disillusion and disenchantment as her mother ended her tirade with "Christmas comes way too soon, if you ask me!"

    I lifted my son's drooling chin and allowed him to slurp on my finger rather than the shopping buggy's germ-infested handlebar; and I made a commitment to myself never to speak disgruntling of Christmas to him, never to be disillusioned by the expense and commercialism, and never to become disenchanted by over-zealous expectations. Each year I would remind myself and my child that Christmas was really just a baby and a family wrapped in the soft heavenly glow of starlight.

    Many Christmases have passed since that new mother made that resolve to herself. Many Christmas dinners have been eaten, many presents have been bought and wrapped, and more babies have been added to the Christmas photo greeting. Many times I have faltered (and sometimes failed) in my resolve. This Christmas that little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy is a twenty-five year old, six-foot-three-inch married man with darker hair and hazel eyes. In Christmases past, my husband and I have gone overboard on gifts, have shaken our heads over the commercialism, have worried about the expense, and have faced the disillusionment and disenchantment head-on.

    This year we have every reason to refocus and recommit to that original resolve. We have our first grandchild to gaze upon Christmas day.

    It is time to remind ourselves and our children that Christmas really is just a baby and a family wrapped in the soft heavenly glow of starlight.

    Christmas is not what the world makes of it, but what we make of it.

    ~ Taken from Christmas Mosaic, copyright (c) 2007, published by Hillside Education

    {order now to have in time for the Advent / Christmas season:
               Advent Week One: Decoration and Preparation Stories
               Advent Week Two: Giving/ St. Nicholas/ Santa Claus
               Advent Week Three: Family Time/ Hanukkah as Jesus Would Celebrate
               Advent Week Four: Nativity/ Epiphany/ Angels

    Supplements: Let it Snow Mosaic
                           Recipes
                           Coloring Pages
                           Reflections
                           Legends
                           24 Days Before Christmas Countdown (pg. 69-71)
                           Poetry
                           Picture Books that Teach, Sing, Worship, Share, Pray

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    My World This Week...

    I was feeling somewhat lost about a week or so ago, even pondered if I should stop blogging because life is coming @ me so fast and furious. I remember in the beginning days of my blogging how I'd blog sometimes two (even three) posts A DAY!!!

    Where has my life gone!?!
     
    Now I'm lucky to catch-up or post here very randomly.
    Still, my phone loads up with pictures that I wish to share and which are quickly shared on Instagram.
    My journal loads up with quotes and thoughts and sayings and menus and recipes and sharings.

    I have it all. It's the sharing time I lack.
    Then the other day my youngest showed me how to load the Blogger app on my iphone and how to easily load pictures to that app, the task which had always aluded and eluded me.
    I was grateful...I AM grateful...for this quick tutorial by my 10-yr-old.

    I have also worried off and on regarding the aimless contribution I am doing in clicks and tweets just to get people to take a peek at my world.
    Is it worth it? Is it necessary? Is it worthy of my time and the time of others?

    “Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, it is true, does it improve upon the silence?”
    ― Shirdi Sai Baba

    "Does it improve upon the silence?"

    Oh, goodness, how I love that message.
    And so I have plans to restructure because I do want to share, I do want to give, I do want to have voice in a world where I have none.

    Yet does it improve upon the silence?

    As I was considering this and as my 15 yr old was telling me the unbelieveable amount of photos I had stored on my iphone and which I needed to dump, a revelation literally dropped from the cyber cloud above or, more realistically, from this blog Coffee Tea Books and Me .

    Each week she shares photos from her world.
    This creates a sharing and a meaningful giving.
    It holds beauty and it balances blessings and time.

    And, most of all, it improves upon the silence...

    This is my first enlightening. My first world of blessings this week.
    Not a whole lot of words but lots of sharings.
    Meaningful messages.
    Something that improves upon the silence.
     
    I hope you all enjoy it.
    I have other little "works of art" that I plan to share but these little art tiles will change with the pictures of my world this week.
     
    Pretty Art ~

    Meal Art ~
    {Crescent Italian Cake}
    Brown 2 lbs ground meat and 1/2 cup finely chopped onion...Drain...Add 1 tsp salt/1 tsp. pepper/ 1/2 tsp oregano/ 1/2 tsp. basil 2 (8oz) cans tomato sauce, 1 (4 oz) can drained mushrooms (optional)/ and 1 (8 oz) carton sour cream...Roll out 2 cans of crescent rolls and spoon a scoop onto each roll...roll up and place side-by-side in 9" x 13" pan...Bake at 350 for approximately 22 minutes then top with 16 oz of shredded cheddar cheese and bake til completely melted.
    Nostalgic Art ~
    {1969---age 3---my first pedal car}

    Quoteable Art ~


    Baby Art ~
    {adoring auntie}
    Fashion Art ~
    {Heelys}
    Religious Art ~

    Creating Art~
    {don't remember what it was but it was worth camera space}
    Decorating Art ~
    {Looking @ wedding cake designs and textures and styles and colors...}
    Writing Art~
    {Catholic Mosaic booklist has been updated and new mosaic tiles have been laid...to get ready for the new liturgical year---Dec. 2---or the new calendar year---Jan. 1---order this beautful---if I do say so myself---year-long teaching tool to enjoy for years to come with your children and grandchildren}
    Prayer Art ~

    {It's the end of November and many poor souls need our undying litany of prayers...they are in purgatory because of their free will and because of their sins...they are also in purgatory because of God's mercy upon them and because of  our prayers for them...keep praying}


     

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    We Are Thankful for...

    Our little butterball turkey.
    Hudson Conner Gibson
    6 lb, 6 oz
    18 3/4"
    11-20-12


    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Pumpkin of Thankfulness

              
    Cut strips of orange construction paper and fold in middle. Make a "cross" and glue middles together.

                      Take two "crosses" and glue middles together so
                      that you have a "star".

    Write something you are thankful for on each "strip" of the pumpkin.
    Begin with top strip of "star" and fold upward---make sure your words of thanksgiving are on outside of pumpkin---gluing strip at the top as you go.
     
     
     You now hold a pumpkin full of thankfulness seeds in the palm of your hand.
    {Many thanks to my friend Brandie for showing the girls how to make these plentiful pumpkins}
     {Here is the link where she got plucked the idea from Domestic Diary and we're thankful for their shaing. You will find the leaf template there as well.}
     
    Autumn is the time to enjoy your kitchen as never before. Spend some time with your children on the sofa reading these Pumpkin, Thanksgiving, and Autumn Treasure books then take them into the kitchen to prepare and enjoy the recipes offered at the back of each book.
     

    The books just take 15 minutes a day. The memories will last a lifetime.
    (Booklists excerpts taken from A Picture Perfect Childhood)

     


    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    I Hesitate. Life Doesn't.

    "In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."
    ~ Brother David Steindle-Rast
    * * * * *

    I hesitated this morning to post yet another "I am grateful for..." on my FB page.

    Would you like to be brutely bored, annoyed, exhausted with my blessings?

    If so...excuse this space a minute. I want to preserve my gratitude here for just a second so when times get tough and the path gets rough and the dark night of the soul overshadows my life, I want to remember and play a weak rendition of the biblical character Job:

    Day 1 ~ Grateful for faith, family and friends  (in this order it sums up every blessing I don't touch upon this month)

    Day 2 ~ *Grateful for late night living room talks with Hudson's mommy and getting to enjoy our little man playing on the inside while we talked.
    *(continued) Cleaning out my office and not complaining because a huge reason my husband made this office was so that a writer, dre, and homeschooling mom could shut the door on a life of paper piles. I am grateful.

    Day 3 ~ *Thankful for Saturday mornings with no where to go and nothing expected of me. #&mybed.

    * (continued) And I'm grateful for daughters who bring me a cup of coffee in bed without me even asking for it

    * (continued) Then I woke up and if it was just me, myself, and I; everything would get done. But there's too many other people involved in too many different areas. But I'm grateful because it's my life serving the people I love. #full-steam-ahead

    * (continued) They took us out to eat. :)
    Grateful for these two and what the future holds.



    Day 4 ~ Grateful for:
    * older brother and great friends who throw diaper parties during LSU game for Hudson's daddy.
    * my daughter who professionally cleans my house...for FREE! ;-)


    Day 4: grateful for family gatherings

    Day 5: grateful for co-op classes and our wonderful homeschool group #friends

    Day 6: grateful for freedom
                grateful for 18 1/2 years with man's best friend - Frenchie (4-27-94/ 11-6-12)




     Day 7: Grateful that a president is only allowed to serve 2 terms

    Day 8 ~ Grateful for a daughter-in-law who drops Chels off in the morning so I don't always have to...who asks if I want anything from Roly-Poly for lunch :)...who texts me to see if I need anything from the store...who often cooks supper for the family on the night I'm working CCD...and who loves my son! She's awesome!

    Day 9 ~ Grateful for daughter and soon-to-be-son-in-law who picks-up middle sister from soccer practice, buys her supper, does the CCD shuffle on the one evening I serve my church, then let's youngest sister do whatever she wants  babysits the youngest til I get home.

    * (continued) coffee mornings and table talks with Oma and Opa 

    * (continued) Starbuck afternoons with oldest daughter
     


    Day 10 ~ Grateful for Religious Freedom.

    Day 11 ~ Grateful for our Veterans.

    * * * * *
    Would people get exhausted with all this goodness?
    Would people get annoyed?
    Would people proclaim my life a fake and a fraud?
    Would people block my posts?
    Would people sneer at the blessings in my life?

    And so I hesitated?

    I guess that's the vice of someone who worries too much about other people's feelings. We hesitate. We hesitate to speak. We hesitate to write. We hesitate to hug. We hesitate to acknowledge. We hesitate to thank. We hesitate to live.

    As I was hesitating my decision to continue what could seem to others a piece of narcissistic overload, a video from a high school friend popped up on my FB feed that read:

    "I was looking back at some old videos and thought I would share some that make me smile!
    I hope it doesn't get annoying but I love my family so much and I love to celebrate their lives."

    * * * * *
    

    That little decree gave me so much peace, so much bravery.
    There is no time, no space in this life for hesitation.
    Life is to be celebrated!
    Time is a gift to be lived and up-lifted.

    There comes a moment in time when you cannot hesitate. Rather, you must live life in leaps and (((hugs))) and shouts of joy and celebrations and prayers.

    Many, many prayers.

    One must live life full of grateful noise.

    Even when it's full of sinners.

    How else do we show our gratitude to our Creator for the gifts He has given us?


    "Love what you love without apology."
    ~ Elizabeth Berg
    (ht: Sarah @ knitting the wind)

    * * * * *

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Netiquette

    "The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. ... This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.

    "This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision."

    Anais Nin, 1946~ 10 Smartphone Habits You Should Avoid

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Classroom in the Corn Maze

    It was a lofty fall day with children swarming the corn field. Not in a spooky, scary way though. :-)

    We made our October field trip with our homeschool group to CM Farms in Dry Creek, LA. This gave us an all day excursion to escape into our outdoor classroom  nature study. We live for opportunities such as these and enjoy this trip annually.



     
    It gave us the chance to play and exercise and socialize.

     
     
    And a chance to just sit and look pretty.
    In a tub full of corn kernels, no less. :-)


    The prime attraction was the corn maze nature walk.
    There were signs and hints and clues and a crystal sky overhead.
    Last year we went on a dark October night and ran the corn maze.
    Won't do that without dad accompanying us. This was a lil bit easier to find our way out though I'm nnot sharing how many times the children lost the adults in the maze itself.
    It was perfect.


     
     
    Special times is something I want my children to know.
    Special times that have a scent, a feel, a warmth, and a sound.
    These picture are the visual.
     

    Popsicles make the leaving a bit easier.
    Momma---that would be me---brought home a package of CM Farms famous pecan fudge. :-)
     
    September Nature Walk: Legacy of a Good Childhood

    Recommendations by Engageya

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