Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Books Are Made To Share

Aren't books made to share?
This is a special Christmas book that holds a dear place in my heart.  It's the first Christmas book I bought for my oldest son in our time of trial.  (This same 3 year old son is now 18!..sniff, sniff) Alabaster's Song remains a timeless treasure and we continue to read it every Christmas Eve, just prior to the Christmas Story from the Gospels of Matthew or Luke.
It is a sweet story of hope and belief, not to mention the beautifully vivid illustrations!
This delightful story is about a little six-year old boy who hears the angel singing on top of their Christmas tree.  The angel goes on to tell the boy what it was like to see Bethlehem.  The book ends with the sweetest twist:)  It's the perfect book for boys...But great for girls too!

A family member gave me this book the first Christmas that I was a widow...
Boy could I relate but it was very difficult for me to pick it up again until several years later.  I am grateful to say that God's grace prevails and I can actually enjoy it now and appreciate the deep heartfelt message of the joyful miracle.

Like many families, we have continued to collect many Advent and Christmas books over the years.  We always look forward to placing them out on our display shelf.
Believe it or not, this is only about half!
We have to be very disciplined to work through all of them each year.  Of course some undoubtedly get missed until the next time around:)
Here are a few books that our toddler loves!
Santa's prayer is really sweet and comes with an audio CD and cute song to Baby Jesus.  (This book is published by Pauline Books and Media). Advent has just begun and Angel toddler is wearing it out already!
This Is the Stable has the most peaceful rhythm...I love a book with rhythm...
Also perfect (and very inexpensive) for Pre-K and up.
For the whole family...
This is our newest addition and we are loving it!  Laurie from Catholic Baby Steps recommended Jotham's Journey last year and we have been saving it until now.  We read a chapter each day and it's the perfect Advent journey for the whole family.  Thank you, Laurie:)
A few other favorites!
What is it about Christmas mice and donkeys?  These seem to be the favorite animals to write about!  We have several Christmas books about mice AND donkeys but our children LOVE Mortimer's Christmas Manger... So much that  I've even passed this one on as a gift:)
Only A Star was new for us last year and it captivated all of us.
Classic Favorites all in one big book!

Here are a few other fun ones we enjoy for the soldiers and firefighters of the family:)
Firefighter's Night Before Christmas
Soldier's Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve is not complete without reading the Christmas Story!  We often read the direct Biblical account but we enjoy these throughout the Christmas season.
I'm linking up to Jessica's Favorite Advent and Christmas Books over at Shower of Roses.  Be sure to stop over for some amazing ideas and links to other lovely blogger book baskets!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Novena

Our first candle is lit!
It's a week of Advent Hope as the first week's theme directs our path...

In honor of Advent Hope, I am offering my prayers through this Novena to the Immaculate Conception for all of my friends and the many precious bloggers out there who are expecting new babies, both natural and adopted.  (You know who you are:)  Babies bring hope and light to the world.  How can they not, if God sent His only Son to the world as a baby?

I am also offering up the intentions of a few friends who have special Crosses to bear at this time.  In addition, I am including military soldiers who are deployed and their families who are separated.
Why pray a novena?
A novena reminds me of our journey through Advent and through our spiritual life as well. 
"Whenever we undertake a novena of prayer, we are declaring that same supreme desire to wait for the promise, persevering with confidence until the end."

Be sure to visit Lena at JOYfilled Family to print the Christmas Novena that begins tomorrow (November 30), on the Feast of St. Andrew.  She is so graciously offering beautiful prayer cards to print freely.  Thank you, Lena!
May you receive many special Advent graces from novena prayers offered and received!

If you are looking for Advent ideas and traditions, see this previous post:)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday~Not!

California's First Cathedral...
And oldest continuing functional house of worship in our State
(Isn't that the cutest bird on top of the Cross?)

I just love that the word Eucharist means Thanksgiving...It was the highlight of our thankful day, yesterday.  The kids and I traveled out of town with my parents and began our morning in this historical dwelling for Thanksgiving Mass, a true banquet of The Lord.
All of my siblings and extended family had their own plans for Thanksgiving this year so it was just my parents, me and the kids.  I was so thankful to have their company!
~So there began our plan for a great escape to the sea~
Am I a terrible Mom for secretly being glad that I wasn't cooking?  

Yesterday was a bit stormy...

Storm or no storm, the coastal views never cease to take my breath away!
This view is along the famous Hwy 1...A little piece of heaven.

Our holiday Friday was spent hiking around this beautiful State Park with views that evoke amazing grace.
 It made for a nice day to actively avoid crowds, shopping, and traffic at all cost...
Our "deal of the day" was this magnificent gift from God, free of charge!

This is my Mom and Dad...
They are troopers and great hikers!
NO BLACK FRIDAY HERE...Just peace and gratitude.

Thank you God...Oh what a glorious day!
Grandpa and the boys
Big Brother gave little sister plenty of rides!
Me and Mom
I just loved this giant cypress stretching up to the heavens.
The ending to our day was a stop to see Dad at the Fire Station!
Princess helped out with the ladder truck, despite having a touch of the stomach far the rest of us are still standing:)
 Our (almost 13 yo) son is thrilled to be staying at the station tonight...He ceases the moment any chance he gets!
+Everyone was happy to give Dad a big hug, especially Mama+
Then we headed home with ocean views dancing in our heads, thankful for a Friday that was NOT Black Friday:)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings To All

We are having a very untraditional Thanksgiving since....
Our firefighter Dad is on duty today!
 It's a particularly bummer year for the children since Dad works Christmas too!

God Bless them one and all...Firefighters, Police, Soldiers, and all who keep us safe.
We won't be with him in person but he is always in our hearts. These times help us realize the importance of not taking things for granted, like having our loved ones with us all the time.  We are praying for all those who are separated from their families on holidays such as these.

"When it comes to life, the central thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." ~G.K. Chesterton~

++Wishing a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving To All ++

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wrapping Things Up

It's a week of finishing things up around here!
We finally completed our California relief map project, made out of paper mache...
It's taken the better part of 2 months to get it made, painted and complete.  We've just had too many distractions to get it done sooner, so "whew", we did it!
Finishing a project is a lesson in itself, don't you think?
Princess also made this beautiful California Quail in an art class...I just love the vibrant colors!  It was fun to hang them up in celebration:)
It felt good to wrap up our studies with nothing major hanging over our heads!  Now we can move into a Thanksgiving break and the next final thing...The end to our church year.  I am so excited for Advent and the new liturgical "Year of Grace" ahead.  How fitting that we move into Advent after Thanksgiving.  There is so much to be thankful for as we move into the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  That is reason enough to be thankful.

We will be apart from dear husband this Thanksgiving as he will be on duty.  This is always difficult for me and the children but mostly, it helps us appreciate all those who are separated from their families on holidays, especially our soldiers and other public servants.  We always keep them top on our Thanksgiving prayer list:)
I am reminded of this scripture verse:
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."~1 Thess 5:17-18~

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving!
Oh, and one last amazing pumpkin recipe to share.  
These pumpkin muffins were the easiest and yummiest I've ever made.
Another hit with all 7 family members!
~ONLY 3 simple Ingredients if you add mini chocolate chips~
Hop over to Patty's @ Reasons for Chocolate to check it out.  The only thing that I did differently is to sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top before baking.  
YUM Gobble, Gobble!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Soaring Like An Eagle!

We are soaring like an eagle around here for 2 reasons!
First on the list was a special award yesterday.  It was one of those proud parent moments as our oldest son officially pinned on his Eagle Scout award!  I don't usually make my blogging a place for parental boasting but I just had to make this one exception:)  For those of you who know scouting, this is a tremendous feat of perserverance. Not only was it the culmination of 11 years of scouting, it was a celebration of a boy becoming a man.  It was a very emotional day, to say the least!
I read this poem...barely making it through without a tearful breakdown:)

An Eagle Mom's Poem
It's every mother's dream to see,
her son grow tall and strong.
To teach him what is right to be,
to keep him from the wrong.

Mom so loves that little boy,
and uses all the skills at her employ.
She teaches him the things she can,
and hopes that he'll become a man.

He learns that words can hurt or heal,
that words can change the way we feel.
He learns that truth is right and good,
to treat his fellow man the way he should.

He learns that where there's greatest freedom in this world,
there also stands his Nation's flag unfurled.
He learns to live by faith and love,
to always trust in God above.

The years have passed and in their wake,
a taller straighter lad there stands.
And mother's pride is great indeed,
her little boy is now a man...
An Eagle Scout.

I really don't like this photo of my self but I really like it of son and dear husband:)
The scouting symbol (fleur de lis) is dear to my heart.
The 2nd reason for our soaring is that we got official word about COLLEGE...YAY! He was accepted by this fantastic University!
We are just elated....Praise God, we have so much to be thankful for!
He is soaring like an eagle and so are we!
Now off to enjoy every minute that he's still here in the nest:)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Feeding The Soul~10 Things

This was a week that fed my Soul...10 things to share!

1. A Free Field Trip to our favorite aquarium kicked off our week.  (It was a free homeschool day)
 I just love the jelly fish. Can you believe these photos were taken from my phone?
Our whole family favors the sea...We are definitely ocean lovers!

Our favorite was the Sea Horse...

Especially the red ones:)

Doesn't everybody love a penguin, so stout and sassy?
Wish I looked that cute with my belly sticking out:)
Gotta see a SHARK!
And a Sea Turtle...
Said "Hello" to some cute little Puffins...

The day was officially complete upon Finding Nemo!

2.  I basked in the glow of Autumn, ablaze all around us.

3.  We enjoyed our favorite "soul food" and had a much-needed family dinner.  All 7 members of our family LOVE this dish.  Anyone who has multiple children knows this is a small miracle:)

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 lb. pkg. tater tots
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/2 can water
Brown and season beef.  Place in 13x9 casserole.  Add layer of onions, mixed frozen vegetables, then frozen tater tots. Pour the soup, mixed with water, over the top.  Bake 2 hours at 350 degrees. (1 1/2 hours covered, and last 1/2 hour uncovered)

4.  We enjoyed some fun Leaf Art!
I got the idea from Little Page Turners.
It was pretty messy...But very FUN!

5.  The Gift of a Mass from a thoughtful friend.  She gave me this gift for my birthday last month and I got to enjoy it this week.
 "The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death.”~Pope Benedict XV~
Read more about this over at EWTN

6.  The Peace of Adoration.  I have missed the last couple of weeks so I got back on track this week...Serious food for my soul!
"When we are before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open His."~St. John Mary Vianney~

7.  The Catholicism Project came out this week on EWTN and it was amazing!  It fed the souls of our whole family:)  If you haven't been able to check out this new documentary television series, be sure to visit the website.  You won't be disappointed!

8.  A trip down memory lane to our local museum.  They displayed some of my old Army paraphernalia for the month of November to honor Veterans of different wars.  You know you're OLD when your junk is in a museum!
This is me and my Dad, who is history-buff-extraordinare:)
The museum display included "those shiny boots"...definite soul food.

9.  Friday morning Bible Study...need I say more?

10. Rosary Making with our Little Flowers/Blue Knights home school group closed out the week.  We all joined the Rosary Army! I am loving this project, shared and brought to us by a special family.  I am a very awkward learner but the girls are patient with me, bless their hearts.  The girls are making these knotted twine/chord rosaries for charity and also to donate to the troops. 
Hope the weeks ahead are good for your soul!
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