Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feast of Saint John Bosco

Today is the feast of Saint John Bosco. My boys asked if we could make bread since St. John was always giving "homemade bread" to the kids...

Hum... SURE!!! Why not! So, I pulled out the bread maker, and after a quick lesson in math few ingredients and a push of the button, we will have some "homemade bread" for our afternoon teatime!

I TOTALLY thought I had ordered this book, Story of Saint John Bosco, but I can NOT find it anywhere! So, instead we read our daily story from Saints for Young People. It has a nice short story about him which I thought I would share:
January 31

St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco was born near Turin, Italy. Like many Saints, he was a poor farm lad, who was brought up by his holy mother in the love of God and Our Lady. John's father died when he was young and his mother had to work very hard to feed her family. John, too, worked as hard as he could to help his mother. He was an intelligent lad, who knew how to keep his playmates from offending God. He would do tricks to win their attention and then he would talk to them about spiritual things.

In order to become a priest, John had to work his way through school. He did all kinds of work. He was a carpenter, a shoemaker, a cook, a pastry-maker, a farmer, and many other things. At the same time he was a fine student and always happy and cheerful.

After he became a priest, Don Bosco, which means Father Bosco, began his great mission of helping orphan boys. He gathered together hundreds of these boys who had no home. He taught them all kinds of work, so that they would not steal and get into trouble. At first people were angry with Don Bosco, because they did not think those boys would turn out to be good. But he proved that they would.

"Do you want to be Don Bosco's friend?" he would ask each new boy who came to him. "You do? Then, you must help me save your soul." Every night, he wanted his boys to say three Hail Mary's, so that the Blessed Mother would help them avoid sin. He also recommended that they go to Confession and Communion as often as possible.

One of Don Bosco's boys became a saint, St. Dominic Savio.

Later on, Don Bosco founded two Religious Orders to take care of poor children and he also built many homes and schools for them.

Let us help our parents at home as much as we can. The more things we learn to do, the better we can serve God.

We LOVE these books. I know I have mentioned them before, but they are just so great. Every day has a short story just like the one above.

The children also colored pages out of a couple of our coloring books to add to their Liturgical year notebooks...

We will end the day with an Italian dinner in his honor. I have a new favorite recipe that we are loving from Pampered Chef's 29 minutes to dinner cookbook, Skillet Lasagna.

After dinner we will watch St. John Bosco: Mission to Love once again. It is such a WONDERFUL movie!

Saint John Bosco ~ Pray for us!

"Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul." - Saint John Bosco

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Simply Lovely Soup

Today Suzanne is hosting this weeks Loveliness Fair, Simply Lovely Soups, over at her blog Blueberry Cottage. Hop on over and check out what all the other mommas are making to keep their families warm this winter. I am looking forward to browsing through through the links and getting a few new ideas!

I thought I would share one of our favorite soup recipes. It is super easy, super filling, and SUPER YUMMY!

My Favorite Minestrone

1 ½ pounds Ground Beef – pre-cooked
1 can Kidney Beans
1 can Black Beans
1 can Garbanzo Beans
1 can Pinto Beans
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 can Stewed Tomatoes
¼ cup Dry Lentils
2 cloves Pressed Garlic
1 Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
8 cups Vegetable or Beef Broth
¾ cup Barley
1 cup celery diced
1 cup carrots, diced
8 oz small pasta shells

Combine everything but pasta. Simmer on stove for 1 hour. Add Pasta and continue simmering till cooked. Top with grated cheese and croûtons. Serves 10+

I usually serve it with croûtons, but we were out this past week, so I made rolls instead. This soup makes ALOT. It was enough for 2 meals for my family, and I have big eaters (2 bowls each easily.) Since it makes so much, it's great for company as well!

I'd love to hear if you give it a try, and what you think.


The Jesus Tree ~ Week One

Here are the first symbols, for Ash Wednesday thru the first Sunday of Lent, which we will be using on our Jesus Tree this lent.

Starting on Ash Wednesday, each afternoon we will read a bible story from our family bible. Following that, I plan to re-read the story from New Catholic Picture Bible (NCPB) by Father Lovasik. The simplified stories and pictures in the children's bible help to capture my children's attention. I will list the pages here as well, in case any of you want to join us in this activity. The children will then take turns placing a symbol that represents the story on our tree. I am hoping to find coloring pages to go along with each story as well to finish off the activity.

In fact, you could do this Lenten bible study without even doing the tree. You could read the readings and then color a corresponding picture... (Older children could draw their own!) I will add links as I find them for coloring pages.

Day 1 ~ The Presentation

Symbol: Two Doves
Readings: Lk 2:22-38
NCPB: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple Page 103
Coloring Page: The Presentation (Update: The Presentation)

Day 2 ~ Jesus in the Temple/Hidden Life

Symbol: Saw
Readings: Lk 2:41-52
NCPB: Jesus is Found in the Temple; The Hidden Life of Jesus Pages 108-111
Coloring Page: Jesus in the Temple (Update: Finding Jesus in the Temple)

Day 3 ~ The Baptism of Jesus

Symbol: Dove on Water
Readings: Mt 3:11-17, Mk 1:6-11, Lk 3:21-22
NCPB: The Baptism of Jesus 112-113
Coloring Page: Jesus is Baptized (Update: Baptism of Our Lord)
More Fun: Baptism of the Lord Crossword

Day 4 ~ Jesus Tempted in the Desert

Symbol: Tan Stones
Readings: Mt 4:1-11, Mk 1:12-13, Lk 4:1-13
NCPB: The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert 114-115
Coloring Page: Jesus Tempted (Update: Jesus is Tempted)

Day 5 ~ Jesus' Miracle at Cana

Symbol: Wine Jar
Readings: Jn 2:1-11
NCPB: The Marriage at Cana 116-117
Coloring Page: Water into Wine (Update: Wedding at Cana)

To Be continued... only FORTY-TWO more to make! :) It will be worth it though, and we will be able to reuse it every year!!**

**note: this is me talking myself into finishing this project ;) Yikes! I wish I could get a couple of my sisters over here to help!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From the Jesse Tree to the Jesus Tree

During Advent, one of our favorite ways to prepare is through the study of the Old Testament through the use of our Jesse Tree. Last year, I thought it would be so neat if I could find something similar to do during Lent. We do make a Lenten calendar each year, which I will try to share with you soon, but I had been wanting to do just a bit more. Anyhow, I ran across a great kit for a "Jesus Tree."

It was just what I was looking for... welllll... ALMOST!

Like Cheryl, I missed that key little word "kit" and so I thought it would arrive as pictured, all ready to go. Instead, I received a package of felt and a stack of patterns, the day before Ash Wednesday no less, which has been sitting on a shelf in the closet ever since. Well, this past weekend, I pulled out the kit and scissors, and got started!

Our Lenten Bible Study will pick up where our Advent Bible Study left off. Each day during Lent we will read a Bible story from the New Testament about an event or teaching during Jesus' life from His Presentation in the temple to His death and Resurrection. Like our Jesse Tree, we will have a felt symbol to represent each story. Instead of placing them on an evergreen tree like we did in Advent, they will be placed upon a dead, barren branch, also made from felt.

At first, the dead branch symbolizes the barren and lifeless feeling of the Lenten season as we reflect on our own sinfulness and the crucifixion of our Lord. As the season climaxes with Easter, we see the gift Christ gave us through His death and Resurrection. The beauty of that new life is reflected in the way the dead branch has "blossomed" with all the symbols of Christ's life and teachings.

To begin the project, I started with taping the tree pattern to the brown felt. You could use pins as well, but I didn't have any, and I think that the taped edges made cutting the felt much easier!

Next I glued it to the blue felt banner with some spray adhesive. I think tacky glue would have worked even better, but I am out. I still need to press it, and I'm not too happy with the photo--I think it looks better in person--but here is a photo anyway.

Like our Jesse Tree, I plan to hang the banner on the wall. I'm not sure if I will use a dowel and some cord, or just pin it up... It will depend on if I can get back to the craft store in this crazy weather.

**I suppose you could make this on your own, but the patterns came in so handy... In case any of you would like to purchase the kit, I ordered it from Scripture Trees. There phone number is 651-426-2174. Last year, the kit was only $10.00 plus shipping.

As I make the felt symbols I will post pictures and the corresponding bible stories. There will be 47 in all, one for each day starting from Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what you have planned for Lent!

Monday, January 28, 2008


I've always wanted to go to Boston...

It seems like everyone has been doing this little quiz, so I thought I would join in...

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.
Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.
And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

I always find it interesting what these little quizzes say... I sure hope that I'm not snobby... And I wonder what it is that makes them always say "I think I have/am the best?" I hate that!

Excellent Award...

Kathy at The Daily Grotto just sent this award my way. Thank you Kathy for nominating me, I am in such wonderful company!

The rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

I am going to pass it along to:
  1. Knit Together in Love, Amy was the one who initially got me interested in blogging.
  2. Trina, at Merryheart Acres, is one of my best friends, who moved too far away, too long ago... I'm so excited that she has started a blog, and it is EXCELLENT!
  3. Regina, she is always making me laugh!
  4. My cousin Margaret, it's so nice to keep "in contact" once again! I love her ability to create such interesting blog posts. They are such fun to read.
  5. Unam Ecclesiam, my hubby's blog, is definitely excellent, in my TOTALLY UNBIASED opinion!
  6. Sweetness and Light, is one of my FAVORITE blogs. I still think Meredith REALLY SHOULD HAVE WON the award for best cyber-buddy! In my mind she did. :) (I know Kathy awarded you already... but the rules allow me to send it your way too!)
  7. Just another day in Paradise is another of my favorites, and I just love Ruth. Her blog is wonderful!
  8. Waltzing Matilda never ceases to amaze me with her creativity!
  9. I just found Totus Tuus Family & Homeschool, or rather she found me., which I am really enjoying.
  10. And last I am nominating the Josephine County Right to Life blog. It's brand new and is has many, many wonderful pro-life links and videos! I encourage you all to link to it in your sidebars, if you can!
I wanted to nominate so many more, there are some truly wonderful blogs out there through which we are so blessed. Thank you!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Weather Forecast says:

Hazardous Weather OutlookHeavy Snow Warning

I'm not complaining, I love the snow! We still even have power, although, this type of weather usually always causes it to go out. And even then, a power outage is better than being stuck at Costco with a dead battery!

This morning we woke up to a (typical for here) damp, raining day... However, after lunch the snow started falling... In no time, this was the view from our front door:

Right now, a few hours later, it looks like this:

And, it isn't letting up! The forecast shows snow ALL WEEK! This winter has been SO abnormal, but the kids are LOVING it! They can't wait till I let them out to play in it, tomorrow.

(If you look closely, you can see the deer!)

Preparing for Candlemas

The Feast of the Purification is also called Candlemas or Candle Mass Day.

It is observed on February 2nd, which is just a week away!

This feast commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the temple, which took place 40 days after his birth as Jewish law required. It is also called Candlemas day, since the blessing of candles takes place on this feast.

I have been browsing around online and through a few of my favorite books, trying to collect ideas of things I might do with my children to commemorate this feast, and so I thought I would take a second and share them with you all.

First of all, on the Eve of Candlemas, we will take down the last of our Christmas decorations and store them away till next year, since this is the last day we see the infant Jesus in the Gospel readings. This old poem, Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve, is about doing just that:
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.
On Candlemas day, which is also First Saturday, we will all go to Mass. If I can get them all together in time, we will bring along all our candles for the year as well, and ask our pastor to bless them.

I think I will also plan a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, since this spice is associated with the Blessed Virgin. (Sirach 24:15 "Like cinnamon, or fragrant balm, I give forth perfume.")

In one of my favorite liturgical year resources, Celebrating the Faith in the Home, it says:
The doves that Mary and Joseph brought with them to the temple should also be incorporated into your Candlemas observance. They are significant because they demonstrate the Holy Couple's poverty, for the doves were only the alternate sacrifice for the poor not able to afford the prescribed offering.
I absolutely love the centerpiece Matilda made last year which incorporates the doves. I hope to make one like it with the children and use it as the centerpiece for our candlelit dinner that night! Isn't it beautiful?

In another favorite resource, The Year and Our Children, the author, Mary Reed Newland, recommends having a shadow-box show and a family procession. She says:
After dinner the children tell the story of the Purification and the Presentation and present it in their shadow-box theater...

...This night, after the story is told and the theater is alight, we say the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary while we meditate on this scene.

Then we have our family procession with lighted candles. Small paper cuffs keep the wax from dripping on hands. The babies have their candles alight in candlesticks on the mantel. All through the downstairs we walk, with a grownup reading the Antiphons for the procession of the morning and the children joining in hymns. We sing Salve Regina in English, and O Sanctissima, and the familiar "Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above." Families who know chant well have a large repertoire of songs to choose from, and for those who are anxious to add to their repertoire or improve it, the Pius X Hymnal is an excellent investment. We have just been given one by a holy friend who is anxious that we improve our repertoire. Bless her!
Doesn't that sound like fun? The directions for making this shadow-box production can be found in The Year and Our Children, in the Advent/Christmas edition of Celebrating the Faith in the Home, as well as in Art 1 for Young Catholics. You can also find directions online here.

Catholic Culture also gives a few suggestions of things to do, including:
  • Read Luke 2:22-35, the account of the presentation including the Canticle of Simeon.
  • Meditate on the constant fiat of Our Lady of Sorrows, who embraced the will of God even as Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce her heart.
Also, since we never got to use our Candle Decorating Pens that arrived late in Advent, this might be a fun day to put them to use!

Oh! Don't miss checking out last years Lovliness of Candlemas Fair over at Blessed Among Men. It contains links to so many wonderful posts.

If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments. I would love to hear them!

"Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Choices Meme

Ruth just tagged me for another meme that Robynn (my sisters sister-in-law) started! Thanks for tagging me Ruth!

Here I go... Let's see if I can be decisive for a change:
(My choices are in bold italic type.)

If you HAD to choose one or the other would you choose...
  1. Thai or Mexican
  2. bubble bath or back massage
  3. boots or sandals
  4. the 90% "pro-life" good chance or the 100% pro-life long shot (This is a hard one, but if everyone choose the 100% pro-life candidate, he would no longer be the "long shot!")
  5. a cruise ship or a mountain cabin
  6. Rome or Paris
  7. Ordinary or Extraordinary
  8. Rosary or Stations
  9. surf or hang glide
  10. Regal Cinemas or Netflix
  11. sweet or salty
  12. pen or pencil
  13. how-to book or fantasy novel
  14. crossword or sudoku
  15. lose a leg or lose your sight
  16. North or South
  17. a power outage at home or a dead car battery at Costco
  18. classic rock or country
  19. wool or linen
  20. lots of good friends or a few great friends
  21. soup or salad
  22. Merlot or Chardonnay (Although I am allergic to both!)
  23. Picasso or Da Vinci
  24. charades or trivial pursuit
  25. Evangelical Protestantism or Orthodox Judaism
  26. stone age or dark age
  27. Steven Spielberg or Ken Burns
  28. Thermopylae or Alamo
  29. Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster
  30. babies or teenagers
I tag: Meredith, Matilda, Amy, Kathy and Regina

Friday, January 25, 2008

March for Life Photos

This past weekend our family participated in our annual March for Life.

After Mass, we had lunch and said the rosary at the home of some friends, and then headed downtown for the March. The weather forecast said it would be snowing... But, instead, we were blessed with a BEAUTIFUL day!

Upon arriving, I was disappointed to find the flashcard of my camera full, and for some reason, it wasn't even letting me delete any pictures... I love pictures, and camera problems TOTALLY frustrate me... So, much to my dismay, I wasn't able to take any pictures.

However, a friend of ours was there videoing, and since we stand out with five little ones he happened to get a few shots of our family, he was able to email me a few still clips of the video!! Yeah!!

In fact, I am actually shocked that he already emailed these to me!!! I figured--when he mentioned last night, that he was going to--that I would receive them in a couple years, give or take, considering we are still waiting for the video of Chiquita's baptism, which was almost 3 years ago... But, to my astonishment, unlike the baptism video, they were in my inbox this morning!! I have been told, that things get better with time? So I expect Chiquita's baptism video will be pretty awesome by the time we actually get it. (hint...hint) Right?!?

I'm just giving you a hard time, Marc. Seriously, THANK YOU so much, for the pictures! Now, all my dear blog friends can see them!

(Chiquita is showing off the doll puppets on her favorite mittens)

Following the March, there was an awesome rally. Here are some photos of Snuggles during that rally... (Its always nice to find out you were unknowingly being filmed... Isn't it!? Looks like Snuggles didn't mind.)

Snuggles does look so snugable and lovable though, doesn't he? Just looking at him is such a wonderful testimony for LIFE! Babies are SUCH a BLESSING!

"Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!"

Psalm 127:3-5