Thursday, February 28, 2013

Words to Warm a Mother's Heart....

...amid the ick.

".......Thanks for taking care of me, Mom....

                            ..... you really out did yourself with all your help..... "

Racing from one to the other and doing ninety-seven loads of laundry ( not really, just feels like it ) as the stomach virus grips our house....

Good kids, good sentiment and something I want to remember. Despite the awful.

Thank you friends.....for stopping in.  

See you next time, hopefully withiin a  healthy home

Until next time,

~Chris

God Bless You, Papa: A Reflection and a Few Links in Honor of Our Holy Father

Good morning on this historic last day of February~

What strikes me most about our shepherd and his decision is that the Moms and I know, the Moms with whom I am blessed to share friendship, is that we all  want nothing more than some piece of him for our children and their futures. Some nugget, something to hold onto.  The days ahead are uncertain..... we know though, that our Papa is not leaving us "orphans" as he has gently explained. 

Here's  what I want for my children:  Words. The words  of our Pontiff which I want most for my boys  to remember, to make their own are these: 

I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the 21st century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. By far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.”

When my boys were just 5 and 2 1/2, our Holy Father assumed the Chair of St Peter. He is the Pope they know. Yes, we talk of our Bl JPII; boy, do we talk of our JPII.  He is larger than life to them. He is the stuff of legend. Yet, he is reality. His youth, his early adulthood in Nazi - occupied Poland, his secretive entrance into the seminary. And when he was Bishop of Rome,  kissing the ground  upon disembarking on his travels.....  forgiveness of his would-be assassin... our Blessed Karol emulated humility, did he not?  In fact, his life, was it not,  was a testament to service and trust in our Lord. 

But what most intrigues my kids is his friendship with our Papa Ben. For theirs was a story that transcended time and history. All the chapters in all the history books of the 20th century come to this. Their bond, despite it all.  So we look with sadness, but anticipation, to the future.
  
 Yesterday, my dear friend Allison, shared the beautiful photo above,  along with the Twitter event on Facebook and on her blog. 

Phenomenal plan!  

I've been blessed with inspiration and the  peace that comes through acceptance  by Allison's affinity for our Papa Benedict which shines through her posts.

Well. we've been reading, crafting, researching and learning a tremendous amount around our Holy Father in the two and half weeks since he announced his abdication.  I'd love to share a couple of resources I have found; these are chock full of plans for a study of the papacy. If these are new to you, you're in for a treat. I can't wait to adapt a few of these ideas:

Take Up and Read:  Unit Study on the Papacy and   Shower of Roses: Papal Unit Study and Lapbook. are bursting with creativity. Wait until you see what these ladies have put together.

Also, my friend Nancy at The Breadbox Letters, has written a beautiful farewell and included a compilation of papal blog posts. Please click over if you've not been there yet today; it is a treat.

Tracy, of A Slice of Smith Life, another creative blogger I am proud to call "friend," has complied a few fun and meaningful activities as well. I love how she weaves family life into the seasons and the curriculum. 

You'll  also find  some informative links to Papa Ben's life, his writings, light fiction around the papacy and the election of a new pope in my post, Papal Resources.

Have you seen this  Busted Halo video yet? Don't miss it! Enjoy....




And from the Pope's twitter page yesterday:
We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.

All that's we need for today. For the future, right?

Friends, thank you for stopping in. Can you believe that tomorrow begins March? Spring is in the air. As is hope........

Until next time,

~Chris




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The "A" String

Good morning friends!
I hope today finds you well....
Here's our Almost -  Wordless -  Wednesday!





After much anticipation, the boys began violin lessons this week....

They. Love. Their. Violins.

(Though each has already broken a string. Both "A's."  No more tuning against the piano! )  Here they are with their very kind and accommodating, very talented teacher. Now I want them to hurry up and learn  "Devil Went Down to Georgia!!" 


Thank you for stopping in.....  
I'm happy to link up for the Wordless Wednesday hops with:
Nancy at Do Small Thing with Love

Small Things


And Create With Joy

Wordless Wednesday


Have a  wonderful day! Until next time,



~Chris

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Recipe Tuesday: Bailey's Irish Hot Cocoa



Good morning friends!

Love a Tuesday! We're getting deeper into the school/work week and while we maintain  the momentum, how fun  it is to be able to connect with friends through recipe link ups and in the process, swap tasty and practical recipes!

Now as for my weekly share......... Since many forego sweets during the Lenten season,  I hesitate to link this one...BUT it is still winter and with temps dipping into the single digits many evenings, we do, I have to confess, indulge in  an occasional hot cocoa on these coooooold nights.....

And then I think of  my reflection expressed here in one of my Lenten posts 
or here in another and that pretty much summarizes sweets-during-Lent.

 Okay, so onto this couldn't-be-easier recipe that my husband concocted last winter on a frigid night....
Start out with your favorite mug and : 

One package of  cocoa mix 
 in 1 C boiling water:   



  Drop in 1 tbsp of Fluff ( a staple in our house):
    
(My son had fun cropping these pictures...:)

Now HERE's the s-e-c-r-e-t ingredient:
1 tbsp of either of these absolutely yummy creamers:




Both are delish and will make your hot cocoa to-die-for:
On the left: French Vanilla. On the right: Original Irish Creme.
Both are in our fridge right now!

 Curl up under a cozy blanket with your kids , a good book and ENJOY!

I'm  happy to link up with my friends who host these awesome blog hops...



Image result for birthday themed post dividers

 Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!

Have you signed up to receive my posts in your email inbox?
   If not, just enter your email address here
so we can be in touch regularly!

Enter your email address:
  
You might wish to follow on Facebook as well.....

Until next time,


~Chris




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Memoir Monday: The View from Our Cabin


Welcome back friends, to Memoir Monday!

Here are memoir posts from previous weeks, 
if you'd like to click around:


Please link to the other bloggers who've contributed their memoirs as well. Their posts are rather inspirational.

Summer's less than six months away and my family's recently 
reserved our camping/vacation "spot" for this upcoming year ...I've gotten to thinking about our past years there and how vastly important those dear days, those dear summers, those dear memories have been.....yes,  because of our planning, I've been pondering. And also because of  one of  my replies to  Monique's 11 fun questions 

So I reflect on summer after summer after summer.....

2006
 
2006
                                           

The lake. Our lake.
          The lake that captures western sun and turns glassy waters pink like salmon as day draws dusky. That captures eastern sky with new day’s brightness, flourishing crystal waters as an orange never-used crayon. That dawns with possibility and newness. Each day, as if untouched.
          The lake that sees summertime memory making. Whose permanence is landscape to our memories. The backdrop for so little, yet so much:  Horse shoe clinks. Badminton swishes. Dock jumping. Fledging friendships begun over sand castle building. Catching first fish. Rowing first boats. Grilling quiet dinners.
          And yes, even the mosquito bites, the sunburns, the poison ivy, the late afternoon, sans-nap toddler, tantrum-ing and rife with wriggling, wet sandy bathing suit.

2011
For memories, like life, we find, even here in this perfect haven, are punctuated with the good, the bad. Those light, airy, happy and those etched with tinges of sadness or regret. Because our yesterday and our today are not all sunshine and unicorns.
          The lake that mirrors staggering old growth pines from island to shore. Alone. Unrippled. Undisturbed. Perfect. We dub it Tom Sawyer Island, our island in lake’s middle.
          And even in the weeds, beauty. Rooted dozens of feet below surface in muddy, silty lake bottom. Lily - pad clustered flowers. Delicate mauves and lucent yellows. Pinks, pastel and radiant. Greens, lush and lime-y. Radiance brimming as we approach and admire up close their inviting newness in screeching, clunky rowboat.  Nature’s decorations. These petals curving skyward. Giving homage it seems, to their creator.

2007
And the summer sounds, the-unnoticeable-elsewhere-yet-intensified-here soundtrack of the lake. Canoe and paddler rhythmically slicing glassy waters. A widening V disappearing, reappearing. Whose continuous beat, it seems, if set to metronome, would not falter.
          The insistent cicadas. Grabbing us, pressing into our consciousness, forcing us to notice. Throbbing. Louder, thicker. Their near hysteria, unremitting, garnishing our senses. An awakening to the ever presence of God’s creatures. Even the insects we deem unappealing. These creatures, at the lake, our lake.
2008
          And above, azure skies hold chunky, ragged-edged clouds of pure white. Sailing, racing almost. Casting silhouettes of pine, of birch, of long necked Canada geese ashore.
          Our lake is storybook. A storybook that is real. As real to us as deadlines, as commitments, as taxes, as ever present life, as eventual death.  And so, we create intermission in our lives, a schedule-less time out to touch this realness and live the lake’s story summer after summer.
          With those who matter most. Discovering what matters most.
2009
          Even on days not idyllic, not picture perfect. When storms threaten and drizzle lingers. Days whose dawns hold sticky grey-ness and a promise for dullness ahead. Whose afternoons hold a harsh word for which we eventually ask forgiveness or offer forgiveness. On these days too, even on these days, it is a place where eternity is glimpsed.
2012

          It is a place whose stories will be lived and relived in many times and many places: 
Southward on I -87 as we wind homeward the Saturday bookending our week. 

On a Tuesday evening two years from now after baseball practice, over an uneventful spicy chili and crusty Italian bread dinner. 

Over our Thanksgiving feast a half dozen years from now, pumpkin pie and simmering cider fragrances wafting throughout dining room.  

Or Christmas Eve a decade from now, tree adorned and Adirondack ornaments admired once again, as my boys settle into home after an autumn away at college. 

During tuxedo fittings where one son is groom and one, best man, two decades in the future. 

And perhaps as their own children, the same ages my boys are now, trick or treat together, flit around playgrounds together, perhaps even swim to our island or cast fishing lines together.

2010
          Our lake is the closest place to Heaven that there is on Earth.


How can you sponsor a child through Compassion International?
Wait til you see these adorable faces!

  
 
Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!
And hey:

Have you signed up to receive my posts in your email inbox?
   If not, just enter your email address here
so we can be in touch regularly!

Enter your email address:

You might wish to follow on Facebook as well.....

Until next time,

~Chris












Saturday, February 23, 2013

~Honesty in Writing~





Hi there, on this dreary-outside-but-lovely-inside-end-of February afternoon!

Thanks to my dear friend, Denise, for posting this on her Facebook page:   I just love Anne Lamott's honesty about writing, don't you?  A tongue in cheek view on writing, but kinda true. 

I hope, my friends, that you are having a lovely, relaxing/productive weekend. We are heading out into the drenching rain to  Timmy's basketball game in just a little while. We're reading The Hobbit and  before we go, we're being drawn to one more chapter.....

Blogging friends, it will be Monday before you know it! Please consider linking to my Memoir Monday blog hop. I'd be honored  to have you join in.


Until next time,

~Chris


Friday, February 22, 2013

Artful Friday~ Mercy Crosses, Lenten Wreaths, Rosary Making, Music Lessons

                                               Good morning friends!


As you know, I've devoted blogging on Fridays to our endeavors 
within The Arts in our homeschool.
 This week, I've a few more Lenten projects, as well as progress in our music study.

If you'd like to read my  previous posts within The Arts,  I'm happy to 
re-share them here:
Everything You Need for a  Cezanne Study
The Arts in Our Homeschool This Week
 ( knitting, winter crafts, the theater and piano)
 Lenten, Valentine and Papal Crafts

We had a pretty busy and enjoyable week; nothing gets the creativity going like  a liturgical season! Here are a few more  artistic/spiritual endeavors within our Lenten study:

Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy Crosses

                    We began with simple foam cross cut outs as well as a package of  foam-y flower stickers. Easy and time saving during a busy week.   Both items obtained at The Dollar Tree.  Love The Dollar Tree, don't you? 
                                              

The kids glued a cross on each of two  pieces of pastel card stock. 
They then  wrote key words  from the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, after an in depth discussion of ways that, as a family, we could endeavor to accomplish as many of  the Works as possible during Lent. And of course, during Ordinary Time as well.
 There's a great explanation of the Works of Mercy at this site. 
Every time they/we accomplish a Work of Mercy,
 they'll stick a flower on the cross;
 by Easter, hopefully, the crosses will be covered!

Not an artistically challenging project for either of my kids, as they are 10 and almost 13, BUT the faith and  the service meaning behind the project is, of course of utmost import and will serve as a tangible  and visual reminder of living the way of the Cross this season.

                                                                       ~Creating~

                                                             
            The finished crosses. 
                   A bowl of stick-on flowers, below, on a table.

Lenten Wreaths




Here's a  simple, no -frills but extremely lovely decoration to remind and instill  
in us all to 
"PRAY, FAST, GIVE ALMS" 
which I found at A Blessed Journey.
Above, are the items needed to create the wreath.
 Again, all were purchased at The Dollar Tree. 
As you can see, you start with a
simple wreath (about 10 inches in diameter), purple ribbon
 (  I picked up dark and light  shades for my kids to choose.) and purple card stock.

About to wrap the ribbon around wreath:

Adding letters to the card stock "mini banners."
I love the "Sticko" brand. 
And here, affixing the card stock "mini banners" so they 
hang from the center.



                                       
                                Here's T's wreath hanging from the den doors:
                          He decided after all, that he didn't want the ribbon on the wreath.
                              K just did not get to work on his as of yet.....perhaps today!



                                     
And here's K's lovely wreath:



                                 

Rosary Kits
My kids literally collect rosary beads. They have a thing for rosaries, seriously. Some go in backpacks on trips; a couple stay in a pouch in the car; some have special origins
 ( communion gifts, etc) and stay tucked away in memory boxes when not being being used. They even have glow-in-the-dark rosaries for the tent, when we camp, too.

Despite the abundance,  this liturgical season, I wanted to make  rosaries with the boys while we read scripture and just talked about our Lenten "progress."

There are so many lovely spots on the web from which to purchase kids'  rosary making kits. So many.  I choose this one because of my family's special affinity for  Our Lady of Guadalupe and the fact that this particular site features easy to make OLG kits.
 The home  schooling mom  who runs the business was lovely as well. We had a long chat a few weeks ago when I called to order the kits.

K created this absolutely beautiful OLG rosary:  The variety of colors for the heart beads represents St Juan Diego's Aztec nation.




And here is a beautiful diagram he made, just for fun,  which explains the rosary:


Shown here, is a beautiful set, which was my Mom's. K took the picture, then digitally described  the prayers.  Isn't it well done?


  T, meanwhile, made the St Benedict rosary: The black heart beads represent the habit of the "Black Monks" of St Benedict's rule. Legend has it that when St Benedict made the sign of the cross over a poisoned goblet of wine, the goblet shattered. The purple heats of the third decade are symbolic of the wine and  this miracle.

                                                       



Even though it was not Our Lady's feast day,  we  read the Tomie dePaola classic on Our Lady while making the rosaries. Couldn't resist.

By the way, do you know this book? We used this constantly when my kids were younger. It gives a decade by decade, mystery by mystery explanation in graphic novel format, really grabbing the kids.

                                                              


Not Lenten related, but "art"-related:
Piano study

As for our family piano study, there are  a variety of resources I'm using to  teach the the kids, which I link  here.  and here. ENJOY!

                           


Thank you very much for  stopping in, friends, to share out work and fun in "The Arts" this week!

If you are looking for papal resources/crafts, here's a post I wrote with a few ideas.

Have a lovely weekend....

Until next time,

~Chris




Subscribing Issues~

Good evening friends!

Feedburner has been awfully difficult of late with subscribers to my blog.  My son opened up the blog's feedburner site  two nights ago and worked a bit of magic, it seems. It appears that subscribers are actually GETTING posts by email, as I did a test with my two email addresses and with my son's. Success, it seems.

And that would be wonderful!

From what I understand, those who subscribed in  readers, did receive posts though.  Not email subscribers. Hmmmm.

I apologize ! 

So to those of you who did sign up and did not receive emails, if you'd  like to re-subscribe with the "new and improved" thing-a-ma-jig that my son installed,  I'd be honored. Let's just hope it continues to work!~

Have a wonderful night!


Until next time,

Have a lovely day,

~Chris

Thursday, February 21, 2013

~My Blog Award! ~ And Some Fun Random Stuff

                                                               
My very first blog award!
My friend,  Monique, fellow blogger and creator of  Mountain Grace,  was  also nominated 
AND she  honored me as well.
Thank you, Monique!
Hers is a blog that shines.  
Have you visited Monique's blog today? Lately?  It's  a treat!
Head on over for inspiration and beauty!

What is  the "Lebster Award" actually?
The award is given to up - and - coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. 
  From what I understand, 
liebster is German for~
 "sweetest," "kindest," "nicest," "dearest," "beloved," 
"valued," "endearing," and "welcoming."

Well, imagine my delight and surprise to be labelled as such.
And to be grouped with bloggers of such high caliber, who were also nominated.


So, let's have  some fun.  
Here are the "rules" for The Liebster Award:
1. List 11 things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator has posed for you.
3. Nominate 11 up and coming bloggers who have  less than 200 followers.
4. Create 11 questions to ask the nominees.
5. Go to the page of each nominee  and tell her about her award.

So, here goes:
~11 Things About Me~

1. I love travelling! When I was young Mom and Dad took us all over the USA; hubby and I traveled much BC too ( "Before Children") I've been to 48 states in the USA, never had the pleasure of visiting North Dakota ( sorry, Roxane!) or Alaska! We've spent the past few summers traveling with the boys across the country, as well.


Glacier National Park -  July 2012

2. I've lived in NY all my life; I  think Queens is the best place to grow up!  Really.

3.  I loooooove planning birthday parties for my kids. Love it. Party planning takes over my life. Here is the most recent party we threw for Timmy's 10th! 

4. My Mom passed away 4 years ago; my Dad, 20. I miss them every day and  I write about them often.


October 3, 1943


5. I can play the piano.

6. I'm a ruthless poker player...I'm unbeatable at Texas Hold 'Em....

7. Despite my  last name, I'm only Italian by marriage;  I'm 100% Irish!  Alas, my poor kids are <sniff> only 1/2 Irish...... !    All four of my grandparents emigrated from Ireland  to NY. They endured harsh living conditions in tenements on the lower west side. They had all passed into Eternal Life by the time I was born, but I know they'd be quite proud to see that their vision of The American Dream is being lived by all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. I take nothing for granted.

8. I love anything BBC. Merlin, Sherlock and of course, DW.

9. My husband is supportive, brilliant and fun. Even though we drive each other crazy on occasion, I love him more every day. We've been married for 16 years.

10.  Love chocolate. Love it. Anything chocolate.

11. I'm the youngest of five.


Answers to questions posed by Monique of Mountain Grace, my nominator:

1. Favorite quote~ The one on my blog header!
And one attributed to Mark Twain: "I have never let schooling interfere with my education."
2. Vacation spot~The Adirondacks in upstate NY:




3. A food I'd like to learn to cook~Fondue!
4. "I wish I knew how to~" figure skate. Really figure skate. Like Dorothy- Hammill -figure- skate! ( I did have her hair in the 70s! So did every girl in America, right?)
5. How I pamper myself~ It doesn't happen often but I love a few minutes with a hot cup of tea or coffee (depending on my  mood) and  a good book! Oh, and I think I may have mentioned that we loooooooove Doctor Who around here? An ep of The Doctor saving the universe from the Cybermen or the Daleks,  with Winston Churchill's help, is a pretty great way to unwind.
6. Fave time of year~Summer! Not much of a schedule! 
7. Fave color~ Shades of purple
8.Why I decided to begin a  blog~ In order to chronicle our family's journey and to hold myself accountable for my writing and my picture organization. Never did I anticipate meeting and becoming friends with such amazing people through the blogosphere.
9. If I could have anything for dinner tonight, what would that be? Veal! Potatoes and veggies fixed in a really fancy way alongside...
10. One thing I'd like to do  learn to do this year? Knit

                                                   Now, onto :
~Blogs that  I am honored to  nominate for this award~

Building Rocks

Call Her Happy

Catholic All Year

Fifth of Five

Homeschooling with Joy

Mommy Bares All

Peace Garden Writer

St Elizabeth Ann Seton Exchange

The Breadbox Letters

The Irish Lassie Shop

This Cross I Embrace


Readers, if there are any on this list that you have not yet visited, please do so.  Treat yourself to some inspiration and wisdom! Congratulations, bloggers, for creating spaces that are inviting, welcoming and in which you write with creativity, sensitivity and kindness!


Okay, some more fun:
Questions for my nominees:

1. Where did you grow up?
2. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
3. What is your favorite book? ( Yes, pick ONE! LOL.!Okay, really, any number of faves!)
4 Favorite movie?
5. Saint who inspires you?
6. Hobby?
7. Why did you begin your blog?
8. What's your fairy tale wedding like?
9. If you could have dinner with a-n-y-o-n-e, who would that be?
10.  Louisa May Alcott or Jane Austen?
11.  Best spot for a relaxing dinner with the family?




Well, friends,  I am now off to contact the 11 blogger-nominees and let them know how much they have brightened MY days since I have discovered their little blogging corners of the world wide web!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! Thank you!


Until next time,

Have a lovely day,

~Chris