Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Catholic Magazine for Children

Do your children have a favorite magazine?  I've been meaning to share about the magazine subscription that we have for our children for awhile now, and was reminded yesterday when our Summer Issue of St. Mary's Messenger arrived in the mail! 

St. Mary's Messenger is a full-sized, full-color, quarterly Catholic magazine for children, ages 7 to 12, which provides children with a fun and entertaining way to learn more about their Catholic faith, Jesus, Mary and the saints!  It is an excellent magazine, and our children get excited every time it arrives in our mailbox!

Yesterday afternoon, as Captain was reading was reading the article Bear of St. Clare's, he stopped and  said, "MOM!  I know these nuns!  There is Sister Agnes Clare, the one that always helps at Family Camp!"  It ended up being the first thing the kids showed their daddy when he arrived home from work last night!

Some of the other articles in this latest edition include:  Fun for Life (an article on raising funds for ultrasounds), a poem about The Boston Tea Party, Two Tones New Home (another story about a dog), The Pilgrimage to Santiago, Young Washington Boy Miraculously Healed by Bl. Kateri, Recipes and Games, Summer Saints, Seeds and Weeds, information on Spiritual Bouquets, and even includes a packet of wildflower seeds to plant.  It really is a wonderful magazine!

You can find out more about St. Mary's Messenger or order a subscription here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Daybook :: July 30, 2013

Outside my window...
it is beautiful!  I'm determined to relax and enjoy the rest of summer, and this glorious warm weather!

I am thinking...        
about prioritizing.   My body just hasn't been able to keep up with my mind lately!  ;)  It didn't help that I couldn't move on Thursday, then spent Saturday night and all day Sunday in bed with the worst headache of my life.  (I finally caught that cold/cough that my kids were passing around...)    One of the first things that has to go, when I get behind, is answering emails and comments.   So, if you haven't heard back from me, now you know why... Hopefully I will catch up soon.

I am thankful... 
for vitamins and supplements that I can take (unlike pain meds) and that I am feeling (mostly) well today!  Thank you God!!  I've tried my best to not complain (too much) and offer it all up, but it seems like it has just been one thing after the next lately!   I'm so thankful for my husband, who has been awesome, making sure that I am getting enough time to rest and get better.

Learning all the time... 
Math lessons every. single. day. this week!  My kids need to get busy if they are going to finish last year's textbooks before the new year begins.   A couple of them still have 20-30 lessons to complete.   Are we the only ones out there still working on finishing last year's school work?   So many families seem to be starting their new school year already!   We won't be starting again until September.

Celebrating the liturgical year... 
tomorrow is the feast of St. Ignatius.   It is also Captain's baptismal day!   I think we will celebrate with St. Ignacio's Nachos for Dinner and maybe some Ice Cream Cones with "Shell" topping for dessert!  ;)

From the kitchen... 
organic fruits and vegetables from our local Growers Market!   I have been meaning to go all summer and finally made it to the market on Saturday morning.   I'm hoping to make it a weekly trip for the rest of the summer/fall.      

I am creating... 
lesson plans and check lists for next year.  Last year I made weekly check lists for my kids, at least for the first half of the year, before the baby arrived!  This year I'm leaning towards Sarah's Color Coded Progress Lists. Love them!!

I am working on... 
simplifying and organizing our home.  It's a never ending job, especially with a family this size, but always rewarding!

I am going... 
to try and post our family's curriculum picks for this coming year by the end of the week.

I am hoping... 
{still} that Bud's 2nd tooth breaks through soon.   It is so close! The poor little guy has been miserable lately!  {It's been a very long week!}

I am reading... 
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.  This is the first book by Julie Klassen that I have read.  I picked it up from the library and I am really enjoying the story.  It very much reminds me of Downton Abbey!

I am praying... 
St. Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity.   "Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will."

Pondering these words...
I included a few quotes from My Nameday - Come for Dessert in my last post on Celebrating St. Anne's Day.  An anonymous commenter asked the following:

This from your post jumped out at me: "How do you find the time?" mothers ask. "Something less important must go undone," is the answer.   How do you decide what to leave undone? There is much to celebrate every week, especially with a large family and the beauty of the Catholic Church. I would be interested in any tips you have in how you accomplish such beautiful celebrations.

That question has been on my mind since reading it, trying to think how best to respond...  After so many years of celebrating the liturgical year, it has become very easy for me to do so.  Let me put some more thought into it, and perhaps I can come up with some helpful tips for you.  In the meantime (because knowing me it might be quite some time before I get around to it...) here is a quote from one of my favorite books on the topic:  The Year & Our Children by Mary Reed Newland.   I highly recommend this book!

"There is also the question of time.  Where do you find the time? Like these other questions, the answer is, we can find it if we plan for it.  We can find it quite easily by looking to see where we waste it.  Not wasting it is not easy, because the habits of time-wasting, although they are harmless, are hard to break - as I know from expierence.  Mothers have this struggle all to themselves.  It involves such things as the radio habit, coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, long telephone conversations, chatting with neighbors, a heavy involvement in outside activities.  Somewhere most American women can "find time" to devote to the enriching of their families' spiritual life.  The joyous discovery is that once we have struggled and found the time, tasted and seen how sweet are these pursuits together, we begin to gauge all our doings so that there will be time - because we are convinced there must be."

I am listening...  
to all the cute things that my kids have been saying.  Like Snuggles at swimming lessons this afternoon, when he said: "I'm done playing this swimming lesson game!" lol

Around the house... 
gifts from a blog friend from France!   My husband thought it was very interesting that he and the kids opened the package while I was at the hospital for my ultrasound, just before they prayed the final day of prayers of a novena to St. Jean Vianney.   I didn't know that he and the kids were praying a novena for me, and he didn't know that this package was on it's way to our family!

One of my favorite things...  
Roasted Vegetables.   One of our new favorites is Roasted Broccolette with Garlic and Olive Oil. Yum!!!

A few plans for this week...
  • Swimming Lessons Monday-Thursday
  • Host a Curriculum Sale Blog Hop here at Shower of Roses
  • Final Little Flowers Meeting for Wreath IV
  • Friday Morning Mass
  • Wedding Rehearsal on Friday
  • Wedding on Saturday
  • Mass on Sunday

A little peek at my day...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Celebrating St. Anne's Day

A nameday commemorates the feast of the saint whose name we received at baptism. To the Church's mind, the day of the saint's death is his real feastday, and that is the day usually assigned as his feast--his birthday into heaven. In some countries and in most religious orders it is customary to observe name-days instead of birthdays. ~ My Nameday: Come for Dessert

I'm curious... Do you celebrate namedays in your home?   If so, and your parents didn't give you the name of a specific or well-known saint, how did you figure out when to celebrate your nameday?

Our children are all named after specific beloved saints, and we have always celebrated their namedays.  A good number of our feast day celebrations, at least most of the ones that we make sure to celebrate every year, are actually namedays in our home.  But when it comes to my own nameday, I've never been completely sure when to celebrate...  For the past 5 or 6 years (basically once our children got old enough to ask when we would celebrate mom and dad's namedays, too) we've been celebrating my nameday on the feast of St. Anne.   My name is actually just Jessica Jo, but I choose to be confirmed with the names Ann Elizabeth, so choosing St. Anne's Day for my own nameday works, right?

(My Grandmother's name was JoAnn, so I choose St. Anne in honor of both our Heavenly Grandmother and my own Grandmother, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary because, in my opinion, she was one of the prettiest saints in our Picture Book of Saints! ;)  I was confirmed when I was about 12, and didn't develop a devotion to St. Therese until years later.)

Anyways... I had plans to make a special dinner and dessert in honor of St. Anne, but I somehow managed to throw my back out and have hardly been able to move all day!  (Which explains all the extra time for blogging today!)  Despite not being able to move, my kids were amazing today!  They helped me get back up off the floor after trying to change a diaper, put away all the laundry, help make all the meals, took turns holding the baby, and even finished preparing a special treat for their momma's nameday!   (I guess all those State-by-State baking "classes" are starting to pay off!) 

"How do you find the time?" mothers ask. "Something less important must go undone," is the answer. Namedays need not be all work and no fun. The solution lies in systematic planning. Like all other household activities, advanced planning relieves the pressure. It is easy to work out a nameday routine that will become a family tradition. Change the routine here, change it there, but keep the same outline from year to year. Done in this way, the celebrations are easier to manage, and children will love the program the more for its familiarity. They will feel a part of it. As they grow older, they will take the whole thing out of mother's hands.  ~ My Nameday: Come for Dessert

Some of the treats we have made in the past include Crème Sainte-AnneWatermelon Pie, and Watermelon Cupcakes.  This year, continuing the red and green theme inspired by Charlotte and originally suggested in our cookbook, I picked up some red and green fruits to decorate a "Dessert Pizza" and use up the (not at all healthy) roll of sugar cookie dough leftover from our latest birthday party.  

Through the ages she {St. Anne} has been depicted wearing a green mantle and a red dress, colors symbolic of immortality and divine love.  Rev. Edgar Schmiedler in "Your Home: A Church in Miniature" mentions the custom in Louisiana of children of French extraction named Anne wearing red and green ribbons in her honor. These are colors to bear in mind for party decorations on her feast. There is no need to look "Christmasy" by using equal amounts; rather, use cool green for the main color scheme with accents of red. ~ My Nameday: Come for Dessert

I did show Twinkle Toes a picture, and she ended up decorating our Dessert Pizza with "Red & Green Fruit Ribbons" just like Lisa did last year. (Thanks for the additional inspiration Lisa!)   It turned out beautiful and delicious.   I posted the recipe over at Catholic Cuisine!

Family Prayer on the Feast of St. Anne:

Father: We all rejoice in the Lord, 
As we keep holiday in honor of blessed Anne, 
Of her whose feast fills angels with joy, 
And sets them praising the Son of God. 
All: Amen. 

Father: Spotless Anna, Juda's glory, 
Through the Church from East to West 
Every tongue proclaims thy praises, 
Holy Mary's mother blessed. 
All: From thy stem in beauty budded 
Ancient Jesse's mystic rod; 
Birth from thee received the Mother 
Of the almighty Son of God 

Father: Let us pray. O God, You were pleased to bestow Your grace upon Anne so that she might fitly become the mother of her who was to bear Your only-begotten Son; grant that we who keep her feast will be helped by her protection. Through Christ, our Lord. 
All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

P.S.  The only reason my kitchen has been looking so spotless in these last two posts is because yesterday afternoon was the "every other Wednesday" when I have a cleaning lady for three hours! I told Hubby we could stop using her for awhile so we could catch up on all these new medical bills, but he said no, not yet... I feel so spoiled!  She is such a blessing!! So, yes, I have been resting!  :)

Happy St. Anne's Day! 

A Few Pictures from the Feast of Sts. James & Christopher

A Couple Transportation Themed Snacks for the Memorial of St. Christopher 

Coupe Saint-Jacques served in Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Cups and topped with handmade Chocolate Cockle Shells, the symbol for St. James

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. ~


Can Legos be considered pretty? 
 It didn't take long for Captain and his friends to assemble his new lego set on Saturday morning, following the birthday party.  The boys thought it looked pretty cool all put together!  


The birthday boy with his baby brother, who was very happy at the moment despite that brand new tooth.


I was trying to take Captain's picture as he opened and discovered his newest Catan game... I didn't even notice the look on Snuggles face!   That boy is always making me laugh!! 


And speaking of Snuggles... He wasn't exactly happy about that one little piece of broccoli that his Dad put on his plate.

I'll be back soon to share a few pictures from yesterday and today's feast days!

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Daybook :: July 25, 2012

Outside my window...
it is still looking like a campground!  The kids have all been having such a fun time camping in the backyard this week.  We all slept out in the tent on Saturday night, which made me realize that I am now way too old to sleep on the ground... especially with a nursing baby.  Ouch!  I am still sore!

I am thinking...        
about this morning's (or I guess I should now say yesterday's since it is after midnight) doctors appointment.  I still don't have an answer to what is causing my liver to be inflamed, and I will be going to see a specialist soon.  I guess now they want to test for some autoimmune disorders.   Don't they know that I don't have time for all of this?  ;)

I am thankful... 
that "when God closes a door, He opens a window!"  I was recently reminded of that by my Dad's cousin, after posting on facebook a few weeks ago that I had just found out that the great teacher we had coming to our home once a week this past year (as part of the homeschool charter school we were using) won't be returning.   I also said that I wasn't sure that I wanted to stay enrolled without her and that I had some decisions to make...   Well, within minutes of that reminder, I received an email from a friend letting me know that she had just been hired by our charter school as the department head for Math and Science and that perhaps she could be assigned to our family!  I couldn't have hand-picked a better person to help teach my children!!  Not only is she incredibly smart and doing an amazing job of home educating her own children, she is Catholic, and also happens to be one of my Little Flower moms!  (And she also reads my blog...  Hi Kathleen!)  This past Thursday I stopped by the school, and it's official.  She will be our new ES for this coming year.   My husband is just as excited as I am, and we feel so very blessed.   (Even though we will still dearly miss Cynthia!) 

Learning all the time... 
I just finished ordering most of our schoolbooks for this coming school year!  I still need to make a few decisions for Snuggles, who will be starting Kindergarten, but other than that I am really happy with our plans.   The four oldest also participated in their very first online class this past Thursday, learning all about Prizes and Penalties: The Ancient Olympics.   It was the perfect way to kick off their Summer Olympics Unit Study!  (Thanks for the suggestion, Charlotte!) 

Celebrating the liturgical year... 
today is the feast of St. James and the memorial of St. Christopher!   I have some fun Transportation Themed Snacks, in honor of St. Christopher, patron of travelers, planned for the kids, which we will enjoy while reading The Legend of St. Christopher.  Hubby is also planning to make a "Spanish Dinner" in honor of St. James, patron of Spain.  I organized a much needed Mom's Night Out at a local restaurant, but I should be home in time to make the Coupe St. Jacques for dessert.   Then, tomorrow, we have the feast of St. Anne, who is one of my patron saints!  I'm still trying to decide what I am going to make, but I'm leaning towards some sort of "dessert" with lots of red and green fruits (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, kiwis, etc) representing the colors she is traditionally shown wearing - red for Divine Love and green for immortality.   It might be fun to create a whole dinner in red & green!  Spaghetti (julienned zucchini for me) and Red Sauce, Garden Fresh Basil and Cherry Tomatoes, Green Salad, and maybe even some sparkling grape juices.  Yum!

From the kitchen... 
special meals in honor of the saints, as usual!     

I am creating... 
a list of ideas for Twinkle Toes' birthday next month... She's up next, and has requested a "Camp" themed birthday.  That shouldn't be too hard, right?

I am working on... 
improving my health.  I haven't been exercising this past week, but I have been eating extra well and taking my supplements.  I plan to get back on the treadmill soon today!

I am going... 
to try and post a few more pictures from Captain's birthday party in a {pretty, happy, funny, real} post, but just in case I don't, here is one more that proves that Rose was indeed at the party!  :)  I hadn't realized that I didn't include a picture of her in my original post.   I just wasn't able to get her to take a nap the day of the party and, sure enough, she fell asleep while eating her dinner and the slept right through the whole party!  (Pictured from left to right:  my brother Brian with Bud, my brother David with Rose, and my sister-in-law and niece)

I am hoping... 
that Bud's 2nd tooth breaks through soon.   It is so close! The poor little guy has been miserable lately!

I am reading... 
a new blog, after seeing Charlotte's link.  After just clicking over to get the links for this post, I laughed at Barbara's comment... I too have recently "threatened" my children with giving away half (or more!) of what we own.   I'm not sure I could go that far, but I sure wouldn't mind some extra inspiration!

I am praying... 
for Sam and her little Steven Thomas.

Pondering these words...
from an article I read weeks ago on "The Busy Trap", after a friend emailed me the link.  It has been on my mind since, and I have been re-evaluating all of our extracurricular activities for this coming year.    Click on over and read the whole article... I'd love to hear your thoughts!

"It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in."

I am listening...  
to the baby swing rock back and forth, the air conditioner, and one of my little ones coughing in their bed.  I just gave him some cough syrup.  It sounds like we have another virus making it's way through our family.  That always seems to happen after I take my kids to the doctors office for their annual well child checkups... sigh.

Around the house... 
lots and lots of laundry.  How does it pile up so quickly?

One of my favorite things...  
the sacrament of Confession!  We all went on Saturday evening, stayed for Mass, and then went out to dinner.  It was great!!

A few plans for this week...
  • Followup visit with my Doctor
  • Mail a couple packages to friends 
  • Celebrate the feasts of St. James, St. Christopher, and St. Anne
  • Mom's Night Out
  • Mass on Friday
  • Opening Night of the Summer Olympics

*Basically this week is the calm before the storm... The following two weeks are jam packed with two more weeks of swimming lessons, one more week of golf camp (in the evenings), a Wedding (the boys will serve), the St. Anthony's Festa (boys will serve for that too), and more!  

A little peek at my day...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Settlers of Catan Birthday Party and Game Night

This past Friday our oldest son turned 12 years old!   I still can't believe he will be a teenager next year... His childhood is going by way too quickly...  He is such a great son, and we are so proud of the wonderful young man he is becoming!

For this birthday he requested a party based on one of his favorite games:  The Settlers of Catan!   We decided to have a game night and invite a few friends to join us.   He does have the extension games for Cities & Knights and Seafarers, but for the party (since some of our guests would be playing for the first time) we decided to just play the original version of the game with the 5-6 player extension.   We set up one game at the dining room table and another (my brother brought his game for us to use too) at the coffee table.   It was such a fun birthday party... "The best birthday!"  as my kids tend to say every. single. year!  ;)

.:  Catan Decorations & Games :.

I had all sorts of plans that I had hoped to pull together for decorations, but my time was extra limited this past week between doctors appointments and babysitting my niece.  I made his "cake" the night before, and then the morning of the birthday/party (while the boys were at Mass with their Dad and the birthday boy received a birthday blessing from Father!) I scrambled to pull a couple things together starting with a "Happy Birthday Banner!"

Normally I use my Cricut to make banners, but I needed something extra quick and easy, so I created the banner using reddish marble hexagons with the font Garamond MT (adding black lines to the edges and gradient color) in yellow.  I printed it onto white card stock, cut them out, and punched a couple small holes in the corners for the ribbon.   You can download my document here.

As much as I loved this idea to decorate plates (and even purchased clear disposable plates) I ran out of time and just went with red plates and napkins.   I did pull out all of my wicker serving baskets and trays, made up labels for our resource card inspired appetizers, and also decorated with all of our Catan game boxes.

.: Catan Party Foods :.

Oceanside/Harbor Drinks:   Pacific Cooler, Coastal Cooler, and Surfer Cooler Capri Suns

Forest/Lumber Terrain: Broccoli Forrest with Dip and Pretzel Logs

Mountains/Ore Terrain:  Oreo Cookies or Donut Holes

Hills/Bricks Terrain: Twizzler Cherry Bites and Cheddar Cheese Cubes

Pasture/Sheep Terrain: Popcorn/Sheep in a Sheepfold and a Sheep Butter Mold

Fields/Wheat Terrain: Wheat Stalk Rolls & Wheat Cookies

Longest Road:  Rocky Road Ice Cream

We also served Pizza and Brown Rice Vegetable Casserole.

.: Game Time :.

Captain choose his brother, his uncle (my youngest brother), and three more of his friends to play at his table. 

The girls and the adults (my brother, sister-in-law, husband, and a couple friends) all played at the other game table.   

And Snuggles kept us all entertained, as usual!  ;) 

For prizes, I had a basket full of mini candy bars to hand out, one for every Victory point that was earned, throughout the game... 

... and the winner at each table also won a KING sized candy bar as well! 

.: Birthday Cake :.

Instead of an actual cake this year, we decided to make individual cupcakes representing the various hexes that make up the Settlers of Catan board game.   Here is the link to the post about our "Cupcakes of Catan."

.: Birthday Gifts :.

Captain was blessed with so many gifts from his friends and family, including such thoughtful and loving birthday cards (and an extra funny one from Uncle Brian, of course, who is always so much fun at Captain's birthday parties!), Nerf Super Soakers, Gift Cards, and Playmobil toys!

Bud was so cute to watch as he crawled around checking out all of the gifts and playing with the wrapping paper.

   Along with illustrating some beautiful cards for their brother, I loved that a few of his siblings had been saving up their tickets all summer to purchase him gifts!  Twinkle Toes redeemed 25 of her Summer Bingo Tickets to purchase him the new Lord of the Rings Gandalf Arrives Lego Set, Rascal redeemed his tickets to get his favorite big brother a new model airplane kit, and even Chiquita picked a stick of beef jerkey (Captain's favorite) from the prize box, instead of something for herself!  :)

Hubby and I surprised Captain with the City Police Forest Station, a tennis racket, and one more expansion to his Settlers of Catan game series Traders and Barbarians.  

.: Birthday Campout :.

We rarely have sleepovers, but we decided to let Captain ask his friends to stay and "campout" in the backyard!

It was nearly midnight when I finally sent them to bed the tent... I think they would have stayed up all night, had I let them!   You would have thought they'd sleep in, but sure enough they were all up at the crack of dawn assembling that new lego set!

Happy 12th Birthday Captain!