Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

She was wide awake most of the night, after getting home from Midnight Mass. 
I took these sweet pictures of her discovering Baby Jesus at 3:30 AM Christmas morning. 
Thankfully she slept for a few hours before the rest of the kids woke up! 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Year of the Hanging Advent Wreath

December 1st:  I've always admired the pictures of the hanging Advent wreaths I've seen shared by friends each year and have wished I could figure out how to hang one above our dining table. (We also set up another Advent wreath on our coffee table in the family room to light during our evening rosaries. You can see that one pictured at the top of this post.) After seeing a tutorial (posted by Jennifer Macintosh in a Facebook group) the other day, my girls and I just spent some time trying to come up with a hanging wreath using what we had around the house... I grabbed the wreath from the front door, wooden craft candle holders, and some ribbon and we did our best to hang it. We tested it with leftover candles from past years... The girls think it looks great. Of course they recognize the idea from one of their favorite Tasha Tudor picture books. Our older boys, on the other hand, aren't sure what to think and said they prefer our usual tabletop wreath. We are still trying to decide which we'll use this year. What do you think?

A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor 

My very first introduction to the idea of a hanging wreath was during Advent of 1990 when I read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers for the first time.  My grandmother and I were very close and she was always giving me new books to read. She had just passed away that year, at the age of 61, and Grandpa Murf continued the tradition and gave a copy of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers to two of my siblings and I on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, as the oldest sibling and book lover of the family, I was the first to read it and apparently claimed it as "mine." Twenty-seven years later I still have that treasured and well-loved gift from our grandpa! 

It was the Saturday before the first Sunday in Advent. During lunch I said to Maria: "Where do you usually put up the Advent Wreath?" 
"Put up what?" 
I was aghast. "Don't you have an Advent wreath every year?" 
"No, we never did. What is it?" 
"It is a large wreath made of fir greens, holding four candles, one for each of the four Sundays of Advent. People put it up in their living room. It reminds them of the coming of Christmas. They light the candles and sing Advent songs."
"Oh, how nice! Couldn't we have one this year? Papa, please buy a large Advent wreath for us."
"Oh, you don't buy Advent wreaths. We could easily make one ourselves," I interrupted, and then explained to the Captain that we would need about two basketsful of fir twigs and perhaps one of those wagon wheels from an old buggy I had seen in the tool shed. 
"What else?"
"A spool of thread, four wax candles, and eight yards of silk ribbon." The Captain offered to fetch those from town. Everybody was excited getting the Advent wreath ready in time. The gardener was ordered to bring the fir twigs and the boys ran out to fetch the wagon wheel and clean it before it was brought into the nursery. 
Then we went to work. The children picked the fir twigs out of the basket and passed them on to me, and I wound them around the wheel, fastening them with thread. It took quite some time because it was a large wreath. Four long spikes had to be put through the wheel at equal distances to be used as candle holders. When we had just finished and were starting to clean up the mess we had made on the floor, the Captain came back from town. Now the candles were put on the spikes, the ribbon was cut into four equal parts, which were fastened to the wreath so that it could be suspended from the ceiling. Our first Advent wreath was finished...

I wasn't sure if we'd use the hanging Advent wreath we had quickly created, but when I woke up to the news that my grandfather had passed away on the first Sunday of Advent this year I decided to keep it up in his memory and as another little reminder to pray for his soul every day. 

December 3rd - The First Sunday of Advent: I made a couple adjustments to our hanging advent wreath and the girls created a simple "Advent Calendar" path/table runner for St. Joseph, Mary and the donkey 💜💜💗💜 The countdown begins!

I briefly mentioned in this year's Advent Book Basket post that I hoped to modify the activity suggestion in Catholic Mosaic to go along with St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey and make an "Advent Calendar" path for St. Joseph, Mary and the Donkey to travel. The girls did a lovely job creating the Advent path and every morning, before I made it out to the kitchen/dining room, our little ones had already moved St. Joseph, Mary and the Donkey to the next spot along the way! They also ended up adding other wooden figures for the feasts of St. Nicholas, St. Lucy, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

December 12th - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: It's been a very full day: school, math tutor, working at the office for the afternoon with a tired baby, high school basketball game for one of our teens... but the girls and I were able to pull together another Our Lady of Guadalupe brunch for dinner! Aztec Cocoa, Orange Juice, a Crown of Twelve Stars (Cinnamon Star Cookies), A Woman Clothed with the Sun (Orange Slices), Crescent Moons (Crescent Rolls filled with Turkey and Cheese), St. Juan Diego's Tilma of Roses (Crepes cut into "Tilmas" with Whipped Cream and Strawberry "Roses" for the kids and a Paleo Pancake with Strawberries and Maple Syrup for me! Mmmmm), Crushed Serpents (Crispy Bacon), and Bishop Zumarraga's Croziers (Candy Canes leftover from St. Nicholas Day). 

We weren't the only ones with a hanging Advent wreath this year! 
The Dolls hung their wreath too!

"We all stepped back and admired the beautiful big wreath with the four candles. It gave the whole room a festive look and a festive smell, too." 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Six Months

December 8th • Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Six months old and officially started crawling on her hands and knees!
...or at least I'm finally willing to admit it.
She's been trying to crawl since the week she was born!

Update: Here is a short video of her crawling just after Christmas. 
She started pulling herself up into a standing position on Christmas Day. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saying Goodbye For Now

After receiving his law degree at Notre Dame University, my grandfather served in the Marine Corps from 1953-1957, achieving the rank of Captain. My dad was born at Camp Lejeune while he was in the Marines. 

On December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent this year, I woke up to the news that my grandfather had passed away early that morning. So many emotions and tears, both sad and happy... Sad that he is gone, but happy that he had long faith and family filled life, and I can't help smiling at the thought of him seeing my grandmother again. She passed away in 1990 and I still miss her dearly.

Dancing with Grandpa on my wedding day • Party following my baptism and my grandparent's 25th Anniversary Mass
Grandpa holding me sitting next to his mom when I was almost a week old • My grandparents on their wedding day

I had really hoped to make the trip to his funeral, but when it was scheduled for our daughter's 8th birthday, combined with how hard it is to travel with the baby and not getting enough sleep, I decided to stay home... but early Thursday morning, after getting a decent nights sleep (six hours or so, two three hour stretches!) I decided that I just couldn’t miss my grandfathers funeral. I made some last minute plans, packed my bag and the diaper bag, and got on the road with two of our teens and the baby, to make the long drive to California. 

As the first-born grandchild, I have so many wonderful memories of my Grandpa Murphy, my dad’s dad, and I’m so thankful that I was able to attend the rosary (we made it just in time Thursday night), funeral Mass (Friday morning- I was asked to do the first reading and prayers of the faithful, my youngest cousin did the second reading) and his burial.


My Dad is standing next to my grandma in this picture. 
My oldest son laughed when he saw that his grandpa, my dad, had his famous "head tilt" even as a child! 

Despite the sad circumstances, it was so great to see all my aunts and uncles together again, and see many of my cousins and childhood friends as well! 

My Grandfather's 10 children in birth order. My Dad is the oldest son.
Three of my uncles (including the twins) and one aunt were adopted as babies.
I loved hearing the story of how my Grandpa flew from CA to South Dakota with my one week old auntie, and just a diaper and a bottle, when he brought her home to meet the rest of her family after her birth. 

I'm the oldest grandchild and I'm standing next to my 13 year old cousin Byrce who is the youngest. My uncle asked Bryce and I to do the readings for the funeral Mass. Out of my grandparents 28 grandchildren, 17 of us were able to make it to Grandpa's funeral. A few cousins had to leave before we snapped a picture.

Richard R. Murphy
Jan. 24, 1929 - Dec. 3, 2017

Richard R. Murphy (Richie, Dick), of Stockton, 88 years of age, was born and raised in rural Iroquois, South Dakota, and received his undergraduate degree from St. John's University, Collegeville, MN. He went on to receive his law degree at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, where he met JoAnn Baltes (1929-1990), whom he married in 1953. They raised 9 children together in Orange County, CA, Dell Rapids, SD, and Stockton, CA, where they owned and operated West Lane Tennis Club as a family business. After JoAnn's death, Richard married Mary Berry of Susanville, CA, and they had a son, Richard B. Murphy, in 1993. In 2006, Richard married Darlene Gunda, and they enjoyed 11 years together.

Richard served in the Marine Corps from 1953-1957, achieving the rank of Captain. He enlisted after he completed his law degree. Richard practiced law for over 50 years in Southern California, South Dakota, Northern California and Indiana. Richard was very devoted to his faith, and took pride in helping others, both professionally and in his personal life. He relished raising his family and enjoying his grandchildren. He loved athletics and was an avid racquetball and basketball player. He also enjoyed watching the University of Notre Dame football games.

Richard is survived by his wife, Darlene Gunda-Murphy; 10 children: Shannon, Pat (Josephine), Tom (Cheryl), Sean (Lori), Jeb, Tad, Kelly (Jackie), Casey (Tonia), Bridget (Shawn), and Richard B. Murphy. Richard also had 28 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. 

In your charity, would you please offer a prayer for the soul of my Grandpa Murphy?

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Santa Lucia Day

Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) was a young Italian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304 AD. During Advent in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is Santa Lucia's Day originating from the stories told by the holy Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. Traditionally ‘Lussekatter’, St. Lucia's Day Buns flavored with saffron and dotted with raisins, are served by a girl dressed in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head.

As I mentioned over on Instagram, I wasn't able to make our annual Saint Lucia Braided Bread, a festive bread inspired by the candle-covered crown she is said to have worn to light her way as she brought food to the persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs, last night or early this morning. It's the first time in ten years (look at the girls back in 2008!) that I haven't and I was feeling awful about it. Our children are all so great though... We woke up this morning to our twelve year old, who celebrates a nameday today, in the kitchen baking traditional Lussekatter (Lucia Buns) completely on her own! I’ve always wanted to make them and never have. She did an amazing job!

We may not have been able to light the candles on a Saint Lucia Braided Bread crown this year, but we did light real candles on the crown our daughter wore as she passed out the Lussekatter! 

It was beautiful!

Santa Lucia

Night walks with a heavy step round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth, shadows are brooding. 
There in our dark house, walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia! 

(Every year we give our daughter a little nameday gift to celebrate this special feast of one of her patron saints. This year it was a Santa Lucia Mug!)

"Early in the morning of December 13th, the oldest daughter in the family in Sweden has the privilege of being the Lucia, wearing a long white gown sashed in red, with a wreath of lingonberry leaves on her hair. Candles - now usually run on batteries - are set into the wreath. Her sisters wear white gowns with tinsel in their hair and around their waists. Boys in the family wear tall pointed hats with stars on them. The "Starboys" traditionally are associated with the three wise men. The children awaken their parents and offer them coffee, saffron-flavored buns called Lussekatter and ginger snaps, called pepparkakor." - Lucia Morning in Sweden

Lussekatter recipe from Lucia Morning in Sweden

Santa Lucia, ora pro nobis!