Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hospitality: visit from a couple of wonderful ladies ...

... Dominican sisters in full regalia!

I'd LOVE to be able to say this basket is full of our bounty that we gave to our guest. No such luck as we haven't even planted our garden. No, the lovely sisters brought these sumptuous (and spicy!) fresh and ripe veggies to us. We had the squash and zucchini tonight stir-fried and the tomato with mozarella as a side. The orange pepper (below the bell pepper) is just called "HOT" ... we can't wait to try that one! There are also home-grown jalapenos and the yellow grape-like veggies are tomatoes that ripen yellow! YUMMY!

These are two of the sisters who have been praying for us for the past 14 months: praying that we would sell the house in Denver ... and praying that we would be able to buy a house here in Virginia ... and generally, well, just praying for us!

Only two of the Dominicans living in Northern Virginia were on the road today ... but they spent more than an hour chatting and borrowing books and teaching and learning from us all at once! They were on the way to their Motherhouse in Nashville -- a wonderful, blessed spot -- for their annual retreat and guess who is right on the route?

So we loaded them up with coffee, bagels/cream cheese, fresh cherries and books for the 10-hour drive across the mountains and into Tennessee. One of the books is a copy of my In His Image for another dear sister and fellow knitter, Sr. Thomas More -- altho I believe they'll delve into the prose on the road.

God bless these wonderful women and their cohorts ... and prayers for a safe and fruitful retreat and a safe drive back (with maybe another stop at Hilltop on their way back in?).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Serendipity does it again!

I just wrote up a blog post on a very cool creative idea I found this morning. Check out Nurturing Creativity to read more about Serendipity's new curriculum plans for tweens -- girls 11-15 -- with everything (except math) integrated into a solid Catholic package that helps the girls "at the bend in the road" love, live and learn ... and thoroughly enjoy the journey as they go!

I'm excited to begin collecting the resources over this next year and then using it for my String Bean for next year. She is so not the canned curriculum kind of kid ... Lego Maniac is and Bam Bam probably is, but NOT String Bean. This one looks right up her alley as it's creative, nurturing, lots of beauty and truth ... just what I've been looking for!

Are you going to join the journey with your girl(s)?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Prayer: please pray for a couple of guys ...

... who really could use the prayers:

First, my 20yos who "somehow" fell 10 days ago and fractured ribs 7-9, breaking rib 10. He can't work until he heals ... which means he's going through the money saved this summer for school to live while he waits to get back to work. Please pray that he quickly heals and that during this time of rest and recuperation he is able to discern God's will for him!

Second, a week ago, my bil Ben was in a car accident -- broke his foot in about four places, compressed some discs in his back and broke his right hand. Pray that he continues to heal and improve and that he doesn't drive the hospital staff and his friends and family nuts while he is on bed-rest (for up to 3 months!) while his back heals. Also, pray that if he needs us to head down there, that he has the humility to ask us to come down and help out.

God is so good ... and sometimes all we have to do is ask! Please join us in prayer for these two guys!

Hospitality: handsome man and friends abound

We have had such a lovely weekend and it's not even over yet!

On Friday, we finished off VBS at Church with a pot-luck supper and slide show (where BamBam featured prominently) and then a big soccer game while we waited for dh to return from the train station with one of my favorite men: my godson and rising FUS senior! He has been working in Maryland all summer on a Federal grant/internship and decided to come spend his second to last weekend with his favorite aunt named Mary!

We had a great visit last night and today. While he was here, we had one of dh's fellow-teachers and his family come for a visit to the lake and dinner here ... Godson joined us at the lake and he and Kotch did wonders with keeping the kids entertained while dh and I visited and barbequed up a pile of burgers, dogs and beef (can't really call it "steak"!) .

Here's a photo chronicle of the visit:

That would be our favorite godson swimming in the lake ... yes, he's outside the swimming rope, but he's big enough ...
Here's our guests' only daughter -- a 2 year old cutie that won the hearts of both Lego Maniac and BamBam!
Our guest's 4 year old son and BamBam having a blast while younger brother looks on ....
Bam-Bam swimming and enjoying the gorgeous afternoon ...
including the building of an amazing mountain, sand dam, and moat!

In the evening, dh made awesome barbeque and the kiddoes toasted marshmallows. It was the first time for our friends' children and our kids mentored theirs with the start of wonderful memories ... What a wonderful experience for us all ...

Unfortunately, said evening had to come to an end ... and said godson has to go back to Maryland tomorrow ... but we'll see all the guests again soon!

If you can spare a moment or two ... please send up a prayer for dear godson as he starts his senior year at Franciscan University and discerns God's will for him in this next stage of life!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Homeschool Discount: Friends of the Library

In my post last night about our wonderful time at the Fair, I omitted mention of a very cool discovery I made.

As we were walking around, my "spidy-sense" honed in on tables with used books. As I got closer, I noted the signs on each box reading "free books", so that made my smile bigger. As I neared the first box, I spotted a copy of Quo Vadis -- a great hardcover edition of this marvelous Catholic classic (written by a Pole, no less). Since this is one dh really likes, I figured it'd be ok to grab it -- it's not that he needs to "ok" every book brought in the house, it's just that it minimizes questions if it's a book he likes and we don't have AND it's free! Then I glomed onto a book about cooking outside -- everything from vegetables to fish to squirrel -- another book I thought dh would want as we were just talking about the joys of barbequing and how we should learn to cook other things ... God is good, huh?

On top of our wonderful finds, I got talking to the man behind the tables. Seems he's a volunteer for the Orange County Library Friends' Bookstore in Orange. I didn't even know they had a store-front! As he's telling me the hours, he mentions that the week-day hours aren't the most convenient for most people -- I say, "but I homeschool, so that's not a problem". Well, HE says, "we give books free to all teachers and homeschoolers"!

Guess we're I'm going as soon as dh goes back to work?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Field Trip: Traditional County Fair

We've been doing Vacation Bible School all week at our parish -- and the kids are loving it; it's 8:45-12:30 every day and I'm exhausted when I get home as I'm helping in the preK-K room (with kids from 3-6 years old!). By the time we get home, eat lunch, and I work with String Bean on her spelling/reading, I'm ready for an early dinner and an early bedtime.

But today was different ...

We got home from VBS, ate quickly, and jumped into the van and headed down to Montpelier and the Orange County Fair. This year's theme is "We've got a good thing growing" and they definitely do. We spent almost five hours there and it was DEFINITELY worth the trip down.

This is one of those authentic, old-fashioned fairs with lots of agriculture ... including tractors and other farm equipment in every size and shape and color (orange Kubotas for Uncle Noah and blue New Hollands for dad)...
animals of every shape and size ...

from a one week old Jersey ... to a long-horn steer that was not much older ...
rabbits (for sale, of course!) but no, we didn't add any to our menagerie (yet!)...
alpacas from Peru that had just been shorn. These guys gave their lovely hair for spinning into even more gorgeous yarn (but at $20/skein, I didn't succumb to the yarn's siren song!).
... and many types of String Bean's favorite, goats! There was even a breed we'd never seen before: LaMancha goats that don't have outer ears but give wonderful milk. Odd looking but beautiful in their own way.

We spent lots of time talking to a wonderful, elderly man explain about bees and beekeeping and honey. It was fascinating ... nothing quite like talking to someone passionate about a hobby-turned-sideline. This guy was so patient with our goofy questions and didn't mind BamBam going off and coming back and interrupting and generally soaking up only so much for a six-year-old.

We had such a great time going through the judged exhibits ... with the kids (and me) thinking about all the events we can enter next year including: lego building, painting and sketching, photography, crafts, gardening and (of course) knitting and other fiber crafts. We can't wait!

After a traditional fair dinner of corn-dogs, Carolina barbeque pork, and apple slices with caramel, we attended some of the events including:
Hogway Speedway -- pet pigs trained to race with names like Hammy Hamlin and Piggy Gordon (#24, of course). It was great.
A fabulous magician show ended our evening, with String Bean assisting for one of the tricks ... this guy (and his real assistant) did some pretty amazing tricks that amazed all ages.

I didn't get a picture of it, but the kids joined in the bubble-blowing contest, but only got "participant ribbons" but lots of great memories. This was such a wonderful fair ... complete with all but those nasty midway rides/games that are overpriced and run by those raunchy roustabouts!

One thing's for sure: we've got a good thing growing ... here in Orange County!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Astronomy: God gives us wisdom to understand His stars!

There are times when I think I’ve got the whole school year planned out all nice and neat, and then something comes along to “rock my world” and coerce me into shifting things around a bit.

Did you know 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy? Did you know that the Vatican operates TWO observatories – one at Castel Gandolfo and one on the top of Mt. Graham in Arizona (in cooperation with the University of Arizona)? Did you know that the Vatican scientists have been doing amazing research on our galaxy since before Galileo came on the scene?

Well, I didn’t … which leads me to this review!

I have just finished an amazing book, The Heavens Proclaim - Astronomy and the Vatican . Published by the Vatican Observatory and edited by (Jesuit) Brother Guy Consolmagno, curator of the Vatican Meteorite Collection and a scientist-historian, this book is a fascinating look at the history, science, and beauty of the Specola Vaticana.

At first glance, this book looks like the typical coffee-table book – pretty pictures, some text, but basically something to be thumbed through occasionally. But that is just “at first glance”.

This book does a great job at first explaining why we should study the stars. The book then goes into the history of astronomy, the Vatican scientists’ contributions through the centuries to scientific research of the heavens, and concludes with what’s in the future for the Observatory. Throughout the book, quotes from encyclicals, papal bulls and letters and talks from pontiffs throughout the centuries reinforce the importance of linking science and religion. In addition, scripture quotes further prove the importance of studying God’s creation.

In fact, the first chapter is replete with scriptural quotes helping to define the raison d’etre of the Specola. By the way, I’ll be using these quotes as copywork for my children while we’re studying all things astronomical over the Fall! This chapter is beautifully illustrated with parts of artworks that show the stars as well as photographs of things like the thin section of a meteorite that looks like a stained glass window! The bottom line is summed up by a quote on the final page of the chapter: Stars are evidence of God’s glory!

Chapter two delves into the history of how the stars first came under the purview of the Vatican: organizing the calendar for standardization of holy days (especially Easter and the feasts surrounding the holiest of holy days). This chapter also discusses and refutes the traditional view of Galileo’s treatment by the Church and then gives the history of the Specola.

The next three chapters can only be described as a crash course in astronomy – stars and the Milky Way, the Universe, galaxies, Sun, planets, meteorites, and extra-solar planets. Within these chapters are glorious photos from the observatory as well as archival photos of items the Observatory has collected over the centuries.

The next section is heavy! Articles that would be perfect for high school students delving into science include “Is Big Bang Cosmology in Conflict with Divine Creation” and “Mathematics: the language of astronomy and the Mind of God”. This chapter concludes with an overview of the pontiffs and their views of astronomy – from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI. Again, linking theology and science.

This valuable volume concludes with some basic questions/answers about stars, astronomy, God’s creation and the future of the Observatory. The format makes this section particularly easy to read (especially coming after the heavily technical previous chapter).

I’m so excited to be able to use this book … and others … to kick off our science explorations this year. We’ll spend the Fall exploring the stars. Watch this blog for other recommended books and other media that we’ll be using as we learn about God’s heavens and reveling in this International Year of Astronomy!

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This review was written as part of the Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Heavens Proclaim - Astronomy and the Vatican and start your own study of astronomy!

Consolmagno, Guy S.J. (editor) – The Heavens Proclaim - Astronomy and the Vatican . Vatican Observatory Publications (Castel Gandolfo, Italy). 2009. Hardcover. 230 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59276-645-1

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week in Review: July 12 - 18, 2009

This has been an amazing week here at the "farm" ....

On Sunday, July 12th -- Lego Maniac tried out for the Fall musical here at the Lake -- Mame! -- and he garnered the key role of Patrick, 10-year-old orphan adopted by his Auntie Mame.

So we spent much of the week ... pulling Lego Maniac off the roof (yes, he was THAT thrilled), hauling him to pre-rehearsals, and listening to the songs and dialogue of the script and getting him ready for his role as a wealthy 10-year-old orphan living with an eccentric (but very unschooly!) Aunt. The show will be NOV. 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 & 15 -- so if anyone is interested in watching our little meadowlark sing his heart out, please let us know as we have room to house you!

We also found out this week that one of our favorite nieces is expecting, due on February 15th (altho hoping for a February 14th delivery) with their very first child. String Bean and I are already designing a knitted layette ... just waiting to hear on the gender!

On Thursday, July 16th -- we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel ... including Kotch making a batch of granita di cafe -- wow, this stuff is great. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it (and it is definitely worth trying, especially in July when the temp reaches 95+ and you want coffee but not hot coffee!) :
Granita di Caffe (Coffee Ice) Italians are big celebrators of this feast so here's a traditional drink that is well worth making. This coffee ice is cool and refreshing for this summer feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
· 3/4 cup sugar
· 2 cups warm water
· 1/2 cup lemon juice
· 2 cups strong coffee
Stir the sugar into the warm water until it is melted and add the lemon juice, stirring for about five minutes. Add the coffee, strain, place in a freezing tray, and freeze, stirring frequently, until it becomes a mush.
Serve the ice slush in glasses, topping the glasses of ice with any of the following: whipped cream (add vanilla, sugar, almond extract, etc.) liqueurs (Amaretto, Kahlua, Baileys, etc.) chocolate curls or small pieces candied citrus peel or even just a twist of fresh lemon on top of the ice ... wow!

This is definitely worth making and eating ... and eating somemore!

On top of our wonderful week, on Friday String Bean and I stopped at the brand new knitting shop (not one mile from the house with a brand new coffee shop next store ... is God telling us we should be here or what?!) and we found out that the owner will be hosting a weekly knitting night starting soon. How cool is that? And the night she chose does NOT conflict with anything else we're doing (or planning) so it is now on the calendar as a sacrosanct day!

We've also been doing LOTS of work around the house -- weeding, cleaning, fixing and generally getting the house into great shape. This is definitely a house worth working on ... and living in ... for many years to come!

And with the lake to go walk to ... and play in ... every evening ... what's not to like?

So, when are y'all coming to visit?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feast Day: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

I’ve always loved the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, primarily because it’s also my mother’s birthday, and thus easy to remember! More importantly as I grew older in my faith, I realized the beauty of this feast day and how important it is for me to help my children “get it”...

To read more of my post, head on over to Phases of Womanhood . While you're there, roam around their website for a bit. Phases is a wonderful site dedicated to women of all ages and stages of life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In His Image: available ...

In His Image: Nurturing Creativity in the Heart of Your Home now is able to be ordered direct from Amazon. Please, ignore the "ships in 1 to 2 months" as Margot has them to Amazon much faster than that.

If you'd like to comment about the book or have any questions, check out Nurturing Creativity and post there. I'll be happy to

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hospitality: visits from long-time friends

One of the great benefits to living in Virginia is our proximity to Washington, D.C. ... and therefore, visits from friends and family!

And we all love to welcome them to our new home, Hilltop Farm!

Yesterday, we had a visit from a friend and her family from Georgia. They'd spent the 4th in Washington and stopped on their way to NC beaches.

I've know this woman for 20+ years ... she was at both of my weddings, is the godmother to my oldest son, I used to feed she and her husband when they were dating and I hosted her wedding shower. I'm godmother to her oldest and we co-chaperoned trips to Walt Disneyworld when our godchildren were each 4 years old. I worried and prayed with her when she delivered her second daughter -- a 2-month early preemie who was so tiny, she was the size of a Hershey bar! I cried and laughed with her as we saw her father, a sufferer of Parkinson's, succumb to the disease.

That was four years ago ... and our paths have not crossed since the funeral. Until yesterday ... when she and her husband, my goddaughter (now 14!), her second daugher (8) and her youngest (5) stopped by for a few hours.

We so enjoyed seeing them again and can't wait for a chance for a longer visit .... after all, there was someone for everyone:
  • dh and Vince hid out in the garage and then later at the beach ... talking guy talk
  • goddaughter hung out with her "older and wiser cousin" and enjoyed talking with the grownups
  • the younger girls -- who are NOT girly-girls -- had a blast running, tumbling, tagging and generally wreaking havoc with our younger three!

A successful visit all round ... come on back now, y'hear!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review: Angelic Doctor or Dumb Ox

I’ve always been fascinated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, probably because he’s not so easy to understand! He’s been called both Angelic Doctor and Dumb Ox. Although he died more than 700 years ago, he’s still considered one of the smartest, deepest thinkers of all time – by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And yet, he was so humble that fellow students thought he was just a big lump of slowness … until he opened his mouth to elucidate a problem posed by his mentor, St. Albert the Great!

Thomas Aquinas is one of those saints that needs to be known today: his thought processes were logical, he was humble and most importantly, he put God and God’s will above that of all else. We definitely need more of his ilk today. Obviously a great way to “know” Aquinas is to read his writings – but these are often beyond the ken of the everyday reader, certainly tough for middle-schoolers or high-schoolers: an age that would do well to know and imitate the Dumb Ox, to help today and tomorrow’s world.

Thanks to Sofia Institute and Raissa Maritain, St. Thomas Aquinas is now very obtainable for the 10-15 year-old crowd, and even us older folks. It seems that Mrs. Maritain, back in 1934, wrote a biography of the great man called Saint Thomas Aquinas: for Children and the Childlike. Maritain’s book has just been re-printed by Sofia Institute and a whole new crop of “children and the childlike” can learn much about Aquinas.

With a reading level of a middle-schooler or higher (or as a great family read-aloud for the younger ones), this short volume helps to explain the facts of Aquinas’ life – from birth to death, and all in-between. There are quotes from Aquinas’ writings and quotes from his beatification and canonization documents. But further, this book resonates with the author’s respect and affection for this humble man. Maritain, and her husband Jacques, created a community of prayer and contemplation focusing on Aquinas and his works in their native France (after their joint conversion in 1905); this community helped teach the great man’s works and kept alive his memory. The writing style makes this book accessible to the young adults who need this book!

The reprint of this book is beautifully illustrated by Ted Schluenderfritz with images of the saint that symbolize his humility and great love of the Trinity and the Catholic Church. A quick-read, this book helps to place the saint in context while also implying the need today’s Church has for scholars like St. Thomas Aquinas.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am thrilled that Sofia has decided to republish it. It’s definitely going on the list of read-alouds for my younger kids for this next year -- some of the vocabulary makes it tougher than having them read it on their own. I’m also recommending it to my older kids and husband to read -- dh is about mid-way through and will be using excerpts in his courses this year (at the high school level)!

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This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Saint Thomas Aquinas: for Children and the Childlike and to purchase your own copy of this soon-to-be thriller classic.

Maritain, Raissa –Saint Thomas Aquinas: for Children and the Childlike – Sofia Institute Press (Manchester, NH); 2009. Paperback, 114 pages. ISBN: 9-781933-184470

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Novena: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16th)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel has always been important in our family -- Mom's birthday (she'll be 78 this year) is on the feast-day!

Tonight, at our evening prayer, we started the novena to Our Lady, with the intercessions for Mom's continued health and happiness and for all her intentions.

Here's the novena we'll be praying for nine days:

Novena To Our Lady of Mount Carmel -- July 16

First Day:
O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother!(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Second Day:
Most Holy Mary, Our Mother, in your great love for us you gave us the Holy Scapular of Mount Carmel, having heard the prayers of your chosen son Saint Simon Stock. Help us now to wear it faithfully and with devotion. May it be a sign to us of our desire to grow in holiness.(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Third Day:
O Queen of Heaven, you gave us the Scapular as an outward sign by which we might be known as your faithful children. may we always wear it with honor by avoiding sin and imitating your virtues. Help us to be faithful to this desire of ours.(pause and mention petitions) s)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Fourth Day:
When you gave us, Gracious Lady, the Scapular as our Habit, you called us to be not only servants, but also your own children.We ask you to gain for us from your Son the grace to live as you children in joy, peace and love. (pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Fifth Day:
O Mother of Fair Love, through your goodness, as your children, we are called to live in the spirit of Carmel. Help us to live in charity with one another, prayerful as Elijah of old, and mindful of our call to minister to God's people. (pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Sixth Day:
With loving provident care, O Mother Most Amiable, you covered us with your Scapular as a shield of defense against the Evil One. Through your assistance, may we bravely struggle against the powers of evil, always open to your Son Jesus Christ.(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Seventh Day:
O Mary, Help of Christians, you assured us that wearing your Scapular worthily would keep us safe from harm. Protect us in both body and soul with your continual aid. may all that we do be pleasing to your Son and to you.(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Eighth Day:
You give us hope, O Mother of Mercy, that through your Scapular promise we might quickly pass through the fires of purgatory to the Kingdom of your Son. Be our comfort and our hope. Grant that our hope may not be in vain but that, ever faithful to your Son and to you, we may speedily enjoy after death the blessed company of Jesus and the saints.(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Ninth Day:
O Most Holy Mother of Mount Carmel, when asked by a saint to grant privileges to the family of Carmel, you gave assurance of your Motherly love and help to those faithful to you and to your Son.Behold us, your children. We glory in wearing your holy habit, which makes us members of your family of Carmel, through which we shall have your powerful protection in life, at death and even after death. Look down with love, O Gate of Heaven, on all those now in their last agony!Look down graciously, O Virgin, Flower of Carmel, on all those in need of help! Look down mercifully, O Mother of our Savior, on all those who do not know that they are numbered among your children.Look down tenderly, O Queen of All Saints, on the poor souls!(pause and mention petitions)

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Encyclical: Caritas in Veritate

Pope Benedict's much anticipated economic encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth),
is available in English. Dated June 29, 2009 (Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul), and published today, this document outlines the Catholic teachings on the economy and the need to temper all deeds (particularly when profit becomes the motive) with Christian charity ... love for all.

Here are links to commentaries and summaries of Charity in Truth:

I'll update this post with new links as more articles become available.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Home Blessings and Gratitude

For all who have asked, we are settling in nicely to our new home. We are loving the lake environment and can't wait to see the changing seasons, plants and wildlife which we'll be able to play with for years to come ...

We're planning out our gardens and living outside as much as possible, marveling at the difference in environment from a northern Virginia town-home subdivision to a home near a lake, packed with deciduous tress, evergreens and lovely plantings all round.

Tonight, our favorite priest came and blessed our home -- using a large aspergillum to bless every corner inside and out (including the attic, the screened porch and the boxes still stacked in the garage). He even threw in a confession session so we were purged inside and out! We fed him a great meal (prepared by dh who is, truth be told, a much better cook than I) and then took a lovely evening stroll down to the lake and chatted about his upcoming trip to Chile (where he'll go to visit the shrine of St. Teresa of the Andes, arriving on her feast day in time to con-celebrate mass at the shrine!).

All of this brings me back to our new Pastor's sermon on Sunday ... based on St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2Cor 12:7-10) where St. Paul talks about contentment and gratitude:

"Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ"

Father Taylor talked about being grateful for all that God has given -- the good, the bad and the ugly. That we should be content and not always grasping for more. This is something I do need to work on ... something that became very clear this past year of "hardships and persecutions" in trying to sell and buy houses. Father challenged us to daily, before noon, think of three things to thank God for.

Here are my three from this morning:

  1. for my family, especially my dh who loves me even when I'm not very lovable

  2. for Hilltop Farm and the beauty of God's creation right outside our front door

  3. for the challenges that I'll face today ... which will only serve to make me stronger if I turn them over to God's mercy and love

So what three things are you grateful for?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sundays are family days!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holiday: 4th of July!

God Bless America!

Happy Birthday, America!

On this our 233rd birthday, we have much to be thankful for ... freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to bear arms ... these are rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. We have these freedoms because people have given their lives to secure these for all Americans ... no matter our race, creed or ethnic background.

On this day, we celebrated with all our new neighbors ...

in our community we had a lovely parade ... with classic cars, politicians, youth groups, community clubs and vets from WW2, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq all parading past.

Once the parade finished, a barber-shop quartet serenaded us with classic American songs and then sang the Star-spangled Banner while the flag was raised.We then had a pleasant picnic by the lake ... with great hamburgers, hotdogs and of course, the ubiquitous sno-cones! Various clubs and others were on hand with freebies and "suggested donation" games/activities. Bam-bam got a "Junior EMS/Paramedic" bag of goodies from our Volunteer Fire Department.Home for a bit and then back in the evening for a water-ski show organizedby the Lake's water-ski club. These kids are amazing ... ranging in age from 7 to late teens, these girls and boys did great stunts including jumps, criss-crossing each other and a couple of pyramids as the finale.Lego Maniac was enthralled with the whole show and Bam-Bam wants to join the club!

The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks show over the lake

God bless America ... and thank you to all those who have protected our freedoms for the past 232 years ... may we always be a free democratic republic dedicated to the basic human rights for ALL Americans through all stages of natural life!