Friday, February 26, 2010

Pretzels Symbolize Prayer

My CCD class and Annie's 2nd grade class were thrilled with this Lenten basket full of pretzels. Of course we talked about the use of purple Mardi Gras beads draping the basket, the purple being symbolic that we are observing the Lenten Penitential Season within the church calendar.
The priintable sheet is offered here at Catholic Icing (I placed them on recloseable zip-lock snack bags and left them plain for the children to color): Pretzels for Lent
This is the story I shared with them (excerpt from Lenten Pretzels by Fr. William Saunders )

"According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just like the big soft pretzels one can find today. (To be fair, some traditions date the story to even the 300s.)

"Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they were called bracellae, the Latin word for "little arms." From this word, the Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar word pretzel.
"Another possibility for the origins of the word pretzel is that the young monk gave these breads to children as a reward when they could recite their prayers. The Latin word pretiola means "little reward," from which pretzel could also be reasonably derived."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today Was...

Today was such a great school day.

One of those days when so much gets accomplished. So much is learned. So much is explored.
So much is questioned and answered. So much is read. So much is discussed. So much is retained.

New books unveiled. New status gained. New pinnacles scaled. New problems solved.

All done unwanted arguments.
Just peace...the perfect school day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cottage Culture in the 21st Century

They came to a small green gate half-buried in the hedge on the right and almost hidden by the overhanging hazel branches. Miss Honey paused with one hand on the gate and said, "There it is. That's where I live."

Matilda saw a narrow dirt-path leading to a tiny red-brick cottage. The cottage was so small it looked more like a doll's house than a human dwelling. The bricks it was built of were old and crumbly and very pale red. It had a grey slate roof and one small chimney, and there were two little windows at the front. Each window was no larger than a sheet of tabloid newspaper and there was clearly no upstairs to the place. On either side of the path there was a wilderness of nettles and blackberry thorns and long brown grass. An enormous oak tree stood overshadowing the cottage. Its massive spreading branches seemed to be enfolding and embracing the tiny building, and perhaps hiding it as well from the rest of the world.

~ Matilda by Roald Dahl

* * * * *
I've always loved the image a cottage paints.

Poetic. Quaint. Comfort. Peace. Tranquility. Retreat. Beauty.

I'm romantic enough to appreciate this image yet, as a child of the 70's, I'm realistic enough to know that a cottage in the 21st century is hardly a romantic ideal at all. Many times, it's the foundation of jokes as homes and families become a primitive dinosaur to this modern world. Before long, the cornerstones of these cottages will be dug up and no one will know what they once stood for.

Surprisingly to some, revolting to others, there are some of us who truly LOVE staying home and are called to cultivate what we believe is the forgotten realm of our society. We love what is inside our cottages (the heart and soul and breathe) enough to pocket the key to the lauders and butteries and pantries inside our own pockets and not to entrust them to others. There is something safe within the home, something sensitive and nurturing, something apart from the outside world. It is where God has called me...insufficient, undomestically-inclined, hard-headed being that I be...this is where God has called me.
Cottage-dwellers wish to live apart. We embrace our homes and the hearts within them above everything else. We are aware of what a privilege and pleasure it is to be the keepers of the keys for these little forgotten cottages: to work in them, care in them, love in them. It is a gift really.We sacrifice the extra income and, often, the respect of family and friends to embrace the heart/hearth life that beats and bleeds within these little cottage.
Often people wrongly assume that this utopian lifestyle is selfish and unrealistic. Perhaps. But I've heard what is in the outside world, and these I do not wish to see. So I go through extreme measures to make my world the utopia I wish my family to live in. It is not perfect, but it is golden. I have seen within myself how this lifestyle has made me less self-centered, less selfish and more realistic of the mission I have been assigned on this earth.
I take extreme measures to ensure peace within my home, to guard against angry voices within my home, and to create a haven within this worldly havoc. Isn't that what a home is supposed to be? A haven! Isn't that was a home is supposed to offer? Rest from havoc?
"An enormous oak tree stood overshadowing the cottage. Its massive spreading branches seemed to be enfolding and embracing the tiny building, and perhaps hiding it as well from the rest of the world." ~ Roald Dahl
I realize that the world I have created within my home is much like the monasteries of old and people outside the walls do not understand what takes place within them. It's a mystery to them. It's a hidden world they do not understand within a world they think they understand.
But it's my world. It's the place God has put me so that I can better serve Him and be who He wants me to be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras Dining

Mardi Gras fare:
  • a nice hot meatloaf full of MEAT
  • Buttered corn
  • Snap beans and spicy potatoes
  • Creamed potatoes
And leftover confetti cake.
After numerous King Cakes served at every dinner, party, and get-together we've been to since Epiphany; we're pretty tired of King Cake around here.
Now it's time to pick-up Dad from work and hit the Krewe of Krewe Parade.
Happy Mardi Gras!

Valentine Pause Daybook

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook

Outside my window... a day quickly fading into night.
I am hearing...the dryer spinning and Entertainment Tonight.
I am thinking...of Lent.
I am thankful for...daddies and daughters and Valentine dates.
I am jeans, red t-shirt, no earrings.
I am utterly pretty I thought the face of Sinead O'Connor was when I was in high utterly wasted I thought her looks were when she shaved her head for no proposeful utterly disappointed I was with her when she tore apart the picture of Pope John Paul II.
This is my note to myself...actually I'm making lots of grateful notes in my Blessings Journal. Personal notes for my heart only. :-)
I am reading... what I am currently reading is not Lenten material...I am still debating on what to read for the upcoming 40 days.
I am creating...just spent the afternoon downloading pictures of various homeschool activities on the yearbook website.
I am hoping...for a truly spiritually quiet Lenten season.
On my mind...the lessons God will teach me this Lent.
From the learning rooms...I have very recently come to the knowledge that my older children don't have the a clue who Mick Jaggar and David Bowie are. Dear me! what kind of music education have I given my children!?
From the Lenten far all I have to get me through is my Magnificat
My list this week...Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Dance, Kayleigh's post-surgery doctor appointment, busy weekend
Pondering these words..."Everything is Grace" ~ St. Therese of Lisieux
From the husband and girls are on a Daddy/Daughter Valentine Date at Olive Garden. I'm home eating brownies for supper. :-)
Around the house...I swept the floors, washed laundry, and paid bills today. Super exciting existence here.
One of my favorite things...Daddy and Daughter Valentine Dates
I am children and their future spouses on this Valentine pause.
From my picture journal...Mark on a "Valentine date" with two of his daughters (oldest had to work and couldn't join them).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Babysitting 101

Bananas...chicken noodle meatballs in bbq sauce...watching "Finding Nemo."
We babysat Kayleigh's goddaughter today. Called it Childcare 101. Done in a real home. Outside of a classroom. Such is the lifestyle which homeschooling affords us.

How do you entertain a child in your care?
Valentine heart stickers...on the floor and plastered on their faces.

And, for any educators who wonder and worry that learning is not taking place in home-centered babysittiing, we played this cute game found last week at Books-A-Million for only $7.00: How Tall Am I?
Teaches measurement while creating funny characters.

And magnets always supply lots of teachable moments.
Let me say it again...Magnets!
And I'm quite sure we got more sunshine and fresh air than they do in school. We played outside in the cajun cottage and with the family pet.
Music? No problem. Banging around on the piano was another nice way to pass the time.
There's a lot more we could have done but she left too soon. So the girls and I (and Garrett) are looking forward to next time.

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