Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For All Those Teachers Out There

The Lesson

Then Jesus took his disciples up to the mountain and, gathering them around him, he taught them saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,
Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are they that mourn,
Blessed are the merciful,

Blessed are they who thirst for justice,
Blessed are you when persecuted,

Blessed are you when you suffer,
Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven."

Then Simon Peter said, "Do we have to write this down?"

 And Andrew said, "Are we supposed to know this?"

 And James said, "Will we have a test on this?"
And Philip said, "I don't have any paper."

And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?"
And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this."

And Matthew said, "Can I go to the boys' room?"
And Judas said, "What does this have to do with real life?"

Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus's lesson plan and inquired of Jesus. . .
"Where is your anticipatory set and your objectives in the cognitive domain?"

And Jesus wept.

Original article found here

Monday, August 29, 2011

A, B, C...1, 2, 3

First day of school.  Remember that feeling of excitement, mixed with a little nervousness as you paged through your school books and wondered how on earth you were going to fit all this new information into your brain? Remember the smell of Fall in the air, the crisp cool morning?  I loved that first day of school....and I was homeschooled!  I loved opening all my brand new books, carefully organizing my desk and setting up my routine and schedule for the coming year.  (That excitement and motivation only lasts for about a week---might as well enjoy it while its fresh right???)

As I look around me and see many students preparing for their school year, and read the blogs of all the homeschool moms getting their curriculum in order, it fills me with that a comforting nostalgia of school days past.  (Don't get me wrong, I was just as eager as the next person to finish the year up and enjoy my summer too!)  I can't wait until Lily is old enough to start homeschooling her.  But in the meantime, I must content myself with gathering all those creative ideas for motivating your child for the beginning of the school year.  Here are just a few I've come across!

These yummy School Pencils will make any child want to sit down and write his/her lessons!  Made from a tube of Rolos and a Hershey, these are not only easy to make, but shows off your "creative classiness" too!

A Schulute is an old German custom where, on the first day of school, the children of the house would receive a cone shaped "gift" filled with goodies and school supplies.  Leave it on their desks, or kitchen table the night before and see how easy it is to get those kiddos out of bed the next morning, just to open their Schulutes!

For all of you who are either starting classes back up, getting in front of the classroom for the first time, *cough Violet!*, or just love that "new school year" feeling like me....I wish you all a very happy, holy, and intelligent semester!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Pressed Petal: Carnation

The Carnation is also known as Mary's Love of God. As German legend  has it, Carnations bloomed at Our Lord's birth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Catholics Love Wine

I heard this little ditty from a seminarian in full cassock with a beer in his hand.

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"
~ Hilaire Belloc

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At the Communion Rail

I read once that we should always pray to Our Lady just before we receive Communion at Mass. It is the perfect time to ask her to intercede for us and help us to receive Our Lord well. Afterall, she was the only human who received Jesus in the Eucharist perfectly. Who better to ask?

For this reason,  a priest suggested keeping a holy card of Mary in your missal just before Communion to remind us to ask her for this special grace. What a wonderful idea!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life is Precious

Life is precious.

Take the time to discover your surroundings.


Discover even the smallest treasures.

And laugh at yourself.

Life is a gift.  Don't waste it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

And the Thunder Rolled

Look what happened last night! Our poor neighbors don't have windows anymore. On the upside, we did get to meet a lot of our neighbors last night...in the rain...in our pajamas...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do not be afraid- It is I, Jesus

Recently, I've been reading a lovely little book called "I Believe in Love" by Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus D'Elbee.  He features St. Therese's philosophy of the "Little Way" by applying it practically to the day-to-day struggles we face.  Today, when I opened the book, I did so randomly, and came across the chapter on Abandonment.  It was as if God was directly speaking to my soul.

Yesterday, Violet and I had a long discussion on how we both felt the need to "step it up" a bit in our spiritual lives.  And how, often in our lives, we get bogged down with worries and fears, and the "what ifs" of the future.  The chapter I read this morning was so inspirational to me, I thought I would share it with our readers.  I hope you find as much wisdom and comfort in these words, as I did.

"Practically speaking, of what does abandonment consist?  It consists of seeing the will of God in all that creatures and events present to you; it is, according to St. Francis de Sales, to be found in a disposition to ask nothing and to refuse nothing.  Obviously we must reason and judge.  We must foresee, make our plans, and act as if all depended on us.  I insist upon this because abandonment is neither quietism nor fatalism.  If you have a problem to resolve, you must inform yourself, get to know well the given aspects of the problem, study them, seek the best solution and follow it.  If you are sick, you must call the doctor and follow his prescriptions.  In order that no one shall have anything for which to reproach you, you must at least be in total good will.

We must devote ourselves to doing all we have to do, with the greatest fidelity, the greatest generosity,   notwithstanding, of course, all our weakness, for we can never say, "I have done all I could."  Who can say this besides Mary?  We always could have done more.  But finally, our task is to have worked with our good will, in spite of our state of misery, without ever forgetting besides, that Jesus is there to carry us.  Then, having acted this way with him, we must never worry over the results.  If he wills an apparent failure-I say apparent, for a failure will ed by God is not a real failure--all is well.  "Thank you Jesus."

If he destroys my little plans, I kiss his adorable hand.  It is because he wants to realize his own, which are more beautiful anyway than those which I could have made myself.  If he permits a very beautiful success, "Thank you again." ......Jesus always has his victory when he has your abandonment.  He needs nothing more than that to bring about the divine wonders that His heart has prepared for you from all eternity.  What spoils everything, what paralyzes him in his providential action on us, is not material difficulties.  What can be a material difficulty for him who created heaven and earth?  Not his enemies.  He will reign despite his enemies.  What makes things difficult for him is lack of faith and abandonment on the part of those who call themselves his friends and who ought to be his faithful instruments. We thwart his plans by imposing our own views, our little plans to which we hold so tightly.  And, quite often, why do we do it?  Through fear of a cross, fear of humiliation, thirst for enjoyment, earthly ambition and above all, lack of confidence.

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin.  But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. ...How much you, o ye of little faith?  (Mt 6:25)

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice and all the rest shall be added unto you."  This is what we do not do.  We do not seek first the kingdom of God.  We seek first our advantage, our interest...whatever it is.  And Jesus turns away.  In any case there will be failures, contradictions, very difficult moments and sometimes very distressing ones.  But if there is, on our part, this total confidence which we ought to have in Jesus, he will take care of everything.  He will bring good out of evil and even, as I have already told you, a greater good than if there had been no evil' and the trial will have been an immense good for us.  Yes, do everything as if it all depended on you, and leave the result to the Divine Master on whom everything really depends.

"....the moment you realize you are worrying, make very quickly an act of confidence: "No, Jesus, I know you are there.  Nothing, nothing happens without your permission.  I have no right to worry."  Perhaps he is sleeping in the boat, but he is there.  He is always there.  He is all-powerful; nothing escapes his vigilance.  He watches over each one of us as "the apple of his eye." (Dt 32:10)  He is all love, all tenderness.  It is really an offense against him if we worry voluntarily about anything.  That is what causes him pain.  That is what wounds his heart more than anything else."

If you are suffering, I will suffer with you;
If you are lonely, I will comfort you;
If your cross is heavy. I will carry it with you.

"Do not be afraid.  It is I, Jesus." (Mt 14:27)

Monday, August 15, 2011

How is Mary like Ripe Fruit?

 "Mary dies without pain as gently as ripe fruit falls from the tree. Her soul ascends on high to exultant union with God." ~ From the Rose Garden of Our Lady

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lunch Date

How about a little lunch date?  Just you, and me...and a whole lot of good, girly chit-chat.  Ever have one of those days?  Where you just need a real good friend to sit down on your couch beside you and share some "tear-rolling-belly-aching" laughs, or maybe a nice long cry?  Doesn't it feel so good afterwards?  Its like....therapy.  Seriously!

So what should we have for lunch.  If you're coming to my house, our options are slightly limited.  (Not to mention its a Friday).  Care to re-live childhood memories and just enjoy a nice PBJ sandwich?  How about some potato chips?  Watching your weight?  Oh honey, you don't need to worry about it...you look great!  Besides, we'll balance it off with nice cold glasses of water.  There.  I'm so happy to have you over for lunch!

Between a very "un-Catholic" society, lack of true femininity, and our day to day chaos, isn't it easy to feel lonely?  You start to wonder---maybe I am the only female in the world who still wants to do the right thing.  I go to my OBGYN appointment; there are posters on the walls displaying all the many options for birth control.  (leaving you to feel like the odd ball when you tell the midwife, "I don't use any.")  You try to sit down and watch a movie and nine times out of ten turn it off because you couldn't take any more of the crude humor, and seductive dress.  You walk through a grocery store and feel completely overdressed simply because you're wearing a skirt, and everyone else....simply forgot to get dressed in the first place.  You turn on the radio, and switch it off again because the lesbian commercial really makes you sick to your stomach.  Suddenly, you're left wondering.....where did all the women go? 

Are those days of sitting on the porch chatting none stop with your best friend really just left to books like Anne of Green Gables?  Or the days of wearing long dresses and dancing with class and style left to the days of Jane Austen?  No.  It's simply changed a bit...that's all.  Technology can really be quite annoying, but! it can totally make a lonely girl a very happy one too.  Think of all the girlfriends you can find just through the Internet.  All the websites for Traditional Catholics.  All the people who congregate on Pilgrimages.  Email, skype, Facebook....twitter.....gmail chat....the ways of communicating now are endless!  You may not be able to sit on each other's beds and have those long delicious chats...but who says you can't do the same over an email...or a phone call? 

Violet and I met for the first time in our college dorm....five years ago!  And we now have a blog together specifically for Catholic women.  We chat, we call, we cry, we laugh...we do all the wonderful things best friends do together---just a little differently.  There are days we both would LOVE to head over to the other's house to watch a delightful Jane Austen movie....but then we remember how blessed we are that we can have an equally delightful chat online, or over the phone about the very same thing! 

So honey, don't worry.  Some days you may feel isolated and alone.  And feel down and depressed because there's no one to call up and go shopping with.  But just remember---God knows exactly what you need, when you need it.  And I guarantee, when you're at your wits end and need a friend....He'll send you one.  Even if its through cyberspace. :) 

More chips?

As the Bird Feeder Turns...

Look who we found sunbathing on our deck today...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Bowl Full of Chair-ies

This afternoon one of my roommates and I began our "apartment beautifying" project. The 3 of us found mutually appealing fabric and decided to cover our yucky dining room chairs in something more cheerful. After popping out the seat cushions, we stapled the new fabric over it, and popped it back in. A quick  way to bring some life to tired furniture!     
Start stapling the fabric to the cushion, pulling the fabric tightly.
Gather the corner fabric and staple about 3 times in the corner
The finished product!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Small Steps for Catholic Moms

(Taken from "Small Steps for Catholic Moms"
        by Danielle Bean & Elizabeth Foss)

"Love consumes us only in the measure of our self-surrender."  ~St. Therese of Lisieux

God, St. Therese always reminds me that you love me more than I could ever imagine.  Today, remind me that to surrender to your will, I also have to love myself.  Help me to see myself as you do and to be as kind to myself as I am to my most fragile child.

Turn off the negative internal conversation you are having with yourself.  Be charitable towards yourself.  Beg for grace and then grant yourself the benefit of knowing that you are loved by an all-knowing God.  Then, extend that same grace to someone else who might be feeling as if he's worthy of love.

The Bird Feeder Saga Continues

Today Ralphie discovered there are 2 ways to skin a cat.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

On the news the other day, I caught a clip about a woman who was assaulted by a random man, trying to force her into his car.  The thing that caught my attention was that the woman had been pushing a stroller.  I guess I always assumed that, having a stroller and a baby, I might not be a likely target for predators---but the news story really enforced that, we as women are unfortunately extremely vulnerable.  For instance; did you know that most predators will look for a woman wearing a pony tail?  Or a woman wearing a skirt?  Or a woman distracted by her cell phone, or looking for her keys? 

I think its important for all women to know at least the basics on how to defend herself.  And by "defending herself" I don't mean she needs to learn Tai Chi!  For a woman to properly defend herself in a predatory situation, it actually needs to start before anything becomes physical; like being aware of her surroundings and having the common sense to pay attention to that "gut instinct" that woman are so famous for having.  Here are some Top Ten Tips on how to better protect yourself and ward off any potential, or God-forbid actual!, predators:

1. Awareness: Your first line of defence. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defence.” However, true self-defence begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defence is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.

The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence,” many altercations which are commonplace on the street can be avoided.

2. Use your sixth sense. “Sixth sense.” “Gut instinct.” Whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.

3. Self-defense training. It is important to evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a women’s self-defense program before signing up. Here are two tips:

a) Avoid martial arts studios unless you specifically wish to train in the traditional martial arts techniques and are prepared for a long-term commitment. Many women’s self-defense programs teach watered-down martial arts techniques that are complex and unrealistic under the stress of an actual attack;
b) The self-defense program should include simulated assaults, with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you’ve learned.

4. Escape: Always your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.

5. Your right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defence training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.

6. Pepper spray: Pros and cons. Pepper spray, like other self-defence aids, can be a useful tool. However, it is important to understand that there can be significant drawbacks to its use. For example, did you know that it doesn’t work on everyone? Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Also, if you’re carrying it in your purse, you will only waste time and alert the attacker to your intentions while you fumble for it. Never depend on any self-defence tool or weapon to stop an attacker. Trust your body and your wits, which you can always depend on in the event of an attack.

7. Home invasions: A crime on the rise. The primary way to prevent a home invasion is simply to never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there (dressing up as a repair person or even police officer is one trick criminals use). In the event that an intruder breaks in while you’re home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.

8. Avoiding a car-jacking. Lock all doors and keep windows up when driving. Most car-jackings take place when vehicles are stopped at intersections. The criminals approach at a 45-degree angle (in the blind spot), and either pull you out of the driver’s seat or jump in the passenger’s seat.

9. A travel tip. Violent crimes against women happen in the best and worst hotels around the world. Predators may play the part of a hotel employee, push their way through an open or unlocked door, or obtain a pass key to the room. As with home safety, never open your door unless you are certain the person on the other side is legitimate, and always carry a door wedge with you when you travel. A wedge is often stronger than the door it secures.

10. Safety in cyberspace. Although the Internet is educational and entertaining, it can also be full of danger if one isn’t careful. When communicating on-line, use a nickname and always keep personal information such as home address and phone number confidential. Instruct family members to do the same. Keep current on security issues, frauds, viruses, etc. by periodically referring to “The Police Notebook” Internet Safety Page.

Just remember.....a safe woman is a prepared woman!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pick Another Checkout Line, Honey!

Yes, that IS actually the name of the book I'm going to talk to you about.  And I guarantee, whether you are a single woman living on her own, or a mother of three trying to save a few extra coins, you are going to take away at least SOMETHING from this post!

After making our move cross country, and now settled here in beautiful California, I have discovered a major incline in grocery prices.  And I'm not just talking "up the little speed bump in the parking lot" kind of incline.  I'm talking about "up and over Mount Everest" kind of incline.  Needless to say, I was and am determined to make necessary changes so hubby and I don't end up selling both cars, our identities, AND our children in order to scrap up a few meals!  I happened to see an episode on a TV show one afternoon talking about cutting your grocery bill in half, and naturally, my little ears instantly tuned in.  This woman had 3 kids, and was spending $415-500 on groceries......every single week!  Yeah...you read that right.  So two woman who refer to themselves as the "Krazy Coupon Ladies", and believe me...after you read their book, you'll know they're not just saying they are!.....intervened and was able to cut this woman's grocery bill 90%!  For those of US who are horrible in Math, that means the woman only spent roughly about $30 on her groceries! 

Now, I'm not usually a sucker for these kinds of promotions.  But as my hubby and I had just been talking about ways to cut our expenses, I thought maybe the book would be a good idea to have hanging around the house.  (At least if I wasn't interested in it, people would THINK I was a smart shopper by seeing it on the bookshelf!)  Anyway, I bought the book and have to say, its a must have for every woman who is trying to live life on a budget.  These Krazy Ladies explain everything there is to know about couponing and saving money, and getting that nasty grocery bill to numbers you can strut proudly to.  They're big thing is to coupon, stock up when you hit sale prices, and choose the stores that are offering the promos and deals.  Now I thought I was doing all this, but after paging through the book, realized I'm not quite "up to par" with the rest of the "Couponing Krazies!" 

For starters, check out their website: http://www.krazycouponladies.com/  They have it divided up according to stores, and store policies, as well as blogging about upcoming deals that are coming to stores near you.  Also, they have a whole couponing database that's easy and convenient to use. 

You like saving money, right?  Well here's your nudge.....get couponing! 

A Thousand Words, Part 2

Apparently we have opened up a gourmet restaurant on our balcony.

It was all fun and games until the little guy on the left realized we had a kitchen...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Cook a Husband

How to Cook A Husband

taken from a cookbook of the 1800’s
(published in The P31 #11)

A good many husbands are utterly spoiled by mismanagement in cooking and so are not tender and good. Some women keep them constantly in hot water: others let them freeze by their carelessness and indifference. Some keep them in a stew with irritating ways and words. Some wives keep them pickled, while others waste them shamefully. It cannot be supposed that any husband will be tender and good when so managed, but they are really delicious when prepared properly.

In selecting a husband, you should not be guided by the silvery appearances in buying a mackerel: nor by the golden tint as if you wanted salmon. Do not go to the market for him as the best ones are always brought to the door. Be sure to select him yourself as tastes differ. It is far better to have none unless you will patiently learn how to cook him.

Of course, a preserving kettle of the finest porcelain is best, but if you have nothing better than an earthenware pipkin, it will do—with care. Like crabs and lobsters, husbands are cooked alive. They sometimes fly out of the kettle and so become burned and crusty on the edges, so it is wise to secure him in the kettle with a strong silken cord called Comfort, as the one called Duty is apt to be weak. Make a clear, steady flame of love, warmth and cheerfulness. Set him as near this as seems to agree with him.

If he sputters, do not be anxious, for some husbands do this until they are quite done. Add a little sugar in the form of what confectioners call kisses, but use no pepper or vinegar on any account. Season to taste with spices, good humor and gaiety preferred, but seasoning must always be used with great discretion and caution. Avoid sharpness in testing him for tenderness. Stir him gently, lest he lie too flat and close to the kettle and so become useless. You cannot fail to know when he is done. If so treated, you will find him very digestible, agreeing with you perfectly. And he will keep as long as you choose unless you become careless and allow the home fires to grow cold. Thus prepared, he will serve a lifetime of happiness.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Pressed Petal- Our Lady's Little Glass

Field Bindweed is a flowering plant closely related to the Morning Glory. It's also known as Our Lady's Little Glass. It's pervasive once planted and, so, is generally considered a weed. 

Its old common name according to the Grimm's short tale of the same name is "Our Lady's Little Glass." The story in its entirety: "Once upon a time a wagoner's cart which was heavily laden with wine had stuck so fast that in spite of all that he could do, he could not get it to move again. Then it chanced that Our Lady just happened to come by that way, and when she perceived the poor man's distress, she said to him, 'I am tired and thirsty, give me a glass of wine, and I will set thy cart free for thee.' 'Willingly,' answered the wagoner, 'but I have no glass in which I can give thee the wine.' Then Our Lady plucked a little white flower with red stripes, called field bindweed, which looks very like a glass, and gave it to the wagoner. He filled it with wine, and then Our Lady drank it, and in the self-same instant the cart was set free, and the wagoner could drive onwards. The little flower is still always called Our Lady's Little Glass." from Mary Gardens

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Franciscan Profession

Since I have moved, I have been enjoying the unique privilege of living near a Franciscan convent. Today I was thrilled to be able to take part in their profession ceremony.

While the ceremony itself had its setbacks (i.e.- no A.C. in 108 degree weather and my height challenge made it hard to see), it was a privilege to have the rare opportunity to see such a beautiful event.

Two Sisters took their first vows and received the black habit while three Sisters renewed their temporary vows.

After receiving the black veil, the Sisters also received a crown of roses.

 Afterward, the "freshly vowed" Sisters wore their crown of roses at a small party in the (air conditioned!) basement where some of the more musical Sisters led us in a sing-a-long.

A postulant sings a song she wrote about St. Francis for Father

What a blessing to spend the day with Brides of Christ!