Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent: Jesse Tree scriptural quotes and symbols

We have done a Jesse Tree every year for the past 5 years or so.  Normally, we use the wonderful book by Geraldine McCaughrean, The Jesse Tree; reading each chapter at dinner and placing the symbol on our tree.  This year, we'll be doing the scriptural quote and ornament-placing during the school day.  We made our ornaments out of Sculpey clay and hang them on a special Jesse Tree cloth I made back when we started this.  You and your kids can make the ornaments out of anything ... paper, coloring pictures, hand-made ornaments or ornaments purchased.  The nice thing about the Jesse Tree is that it's an easy thing to catch-up with ... and really helps make the scriptures (and the interconnectedness of the OT and the NT) come alive.

Here are the quotes and symbols:
Day 1: Sun and Moon – creation of the world. Gen 1:1-2, 26-31

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. … Then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground." God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth." God also said: "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food." And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed--the sixth day.

Day 2: Apple & snake – the Fall Gen 2: 15-17, 3:1; 3:12-13

The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die." … Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, "Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?" … The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me--she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it." The LORD God then asked the woman, "Why did you do such a thing?" The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."

Day 3: Ark – God’s providence and love Gen 7:1, 4-5, 17; 9:1

Then the LORD said to Noah: "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just. Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate; likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, and of all the unclean birds, one pair, a male and a female. Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth. Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made." Noah did just as the LORD had commanded him. … The flood continued upon the earth for forty days. … God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: "Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.

Day 4: Camel – Abram follows God Gen 18:2-3, 14

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. … Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son."

Day 5: Lamb – Sacrifice of Isaac Gen 22:2-3; 10-13

Some time after these events, God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Ready!" he replied. Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him. … Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD'S messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son." As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Day 6: Ladder – Jacob’s dream Gen 28:10-15

Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran. When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set, he stopped there for the night. Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep at that spot. Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God's messengers were going up and down on it. And there was the LORD standing beside him and saying: "I, the LORD, am the God of your forefather Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants. These shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth, and through them you shall spread out east and west, north and south. In you and your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing. Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you."

Day 7: Coat – Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel) Gen 37:3-7

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. Once Joseph had a dream, which he told to his brothers: "Listen to this dream I had. There we were, binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf rose to an upright position, and your sheaves formed a ring around my sheaf and bowed down to it."

Day 8: Cup of Plenty – Joseph in Egypt Gen 45: 1-8

Joseph could no longer control himself in the presence of all his attendants, so he cried out, "Have everyone withdraw from me!" Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers. But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him, and so the news reached Pharaoh's palace. "I am Joseph," he said to his brothers. "Is my father still in good health?" But his brothers could give him no answer, so dumbfounded were they at him. "Come closer to me," he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest. God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made of me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.

Day 9: Whip – Moses in Egypt Ex 5:1-5

After that, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Let my people go, that they may celebrate a feast to me in the desert." Pharaoh answered, "Who is the LORD, that I should heed his plea to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD; even if I did, I would not let Israel go." They replied, "The God of the Hebrews has sent us word. Let us go a three days' journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God; otherwise he will punish us with pestilence or the sword." The king of Egypt answered them, "What do you mean, Moses and Aaron, by taking the people away from their work? Off to your labor! Look how numerous the people of the land are already," continued Pharaoh, "and yet you would give them rest from their labor!"

Day 10: Bundle of Wheat – Ruth and Boaz Ruth 4:9-12

Boaz then said to the elders and to all the people, "You are witnesses today that I have acquired from Naomi all the holdings of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon. I also take Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, as my wife, in order to raise up a family for her late husband on his estate, so that the name of the departed may not perish among his kinsmen and fellow citizens. Do you witness this today?" All those at the gate, including the elders, said, "We do so. May the LORD make this wife come into your house like Rachel and Leah, who between them built up the house of Israel. May you do well in Ephrathah and win fame in Bethlehem. With the offspring the LORD will give you from this girl, may your house become like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah."

Day 11: Lamp – Samuel 1 Sam 3:2-3, 10-20

One day Eli was asleep in his usual place. His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see. The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. … So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." The LORD said to Samuel: "I am about to do something in Israel that will cause the ears of everyone who hears it to ring. On that day I will carry out in full against Eli everything I threatened against his family. I announce to him that I am condemning his family once and for all, because of this crime: though he knew his sons were blaspheming God, he did not reprove them. Therefore, I swear to the family of Eli that no sacrifice or offering will ever expiate its crime." Samuel then slept until morning, when he got up early and opened the doors of the temple of the LORD. He feared to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called to him, "Samuel, my son!" He replied, "Here I am." Then Eli asked, "What did he say to you? Hide nothing from me! May God do thus and so to you if you hide a single thing he told you." So Samuel told him everything, and held nothing back. Eli answered, "He is the LORD. He will do what he judges best." Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect. Thus all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba came to know that Samuel was an accredited prophet of the LORD.

Day 12: Sling – David vs Goliath 1 Sam 17:37-53

David continued: "The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine." Saul answered David, "Go! the LORD will be with you." Then Saul clothed David in his own tunic, putting a bronze helmet on his head and arming him with a coat of mail. David also girded himself with Saul's sword over the tunic. He walked with difficulty, however, since he had never tried armor before. He said to Saul, "I cannot go in these, because I have never tried them before." So he took them off. Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag. With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine. With his shield-bearer marching before him, the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David. When he had sized David up, and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance, he held him in contempt. The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?" Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods and said to him, "Come here to me, and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field." David answered him: "You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted. Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will leave your corpse and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God. All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD'S, and he shall deliver you into our hands." The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line in the direction of the Philistine. David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground. (Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.) Then David ran and stood over him; with the Philistine's own sword (which he drew from its sheath) he dispatched him and cut off his head.When they saw that their hero was dead, the Philistines took to flight. Then the men of Israel and Judah, with loud shouts, went in pursuit of the Philistines to the approaches of Gath and to the gates of Ekron, and Philistines fell wounded along the road from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. On their return from the pursuit of the Philistines, the Israelites looted their camp.

Day 13: Crown – King David 2 Sam 3:1; 17-21

There followed a long war between the house of Saul and that of David, in which David grew stronger, but the house of Saul weaker…. Abner then said in discussion with the elders of Israel: "For a long time you have been seeking David as your king. Now take action, for the LORD has said of David, 'By my servant David I will save my people Israel from the grasp of the Philistines and from the grasp of all their enemies.'" Abner also spoke personally to Benjamin, and then went to make his own report to David in Hebron concerning all that would be agreeable to Israel and to the whole house of Benjamin. When Abner, accompanied by twenty men, came to David in Hebron, David prepared a feast for Abner and for the men who were with him. Then Abner said to David, "I will now go to assemble all Israel for my lord the king, that they may make an agreement with you; you will then be king over all whom you wish to rule." So David bade Abner farewell, and he went away in peace.

Day 14: Threshold – Solomon’s Temple 1 Kings 3:3-14; 9:1-5

Solomon loved the LORD, and obeyed the statutes of his father David; yet he offered sacrifice and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the most renowned high place. Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand holocausts. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, "Ask something of me and I will give it to you." Solomon answered: "You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David, because he behaved faithfully toward you, with justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne. O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?" The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: "Because you have asked for this--not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right-- I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like. And if you follow me by keeping my statutes and commandments, as your father David did, I will give you a long life." … After Solomon finished building the temple of the LORD, the royal palace, and everything else that he had planned, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him in Gibeon. The LORD said to him: "I have heard the prayer of petition which you offered in my presence. I have consecrated this temple which you have built; I confer my name upon it forever, and my eyes and my heart shall be there always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, sincerely and uprightly, doing just as I have commanded you, keeping my statutes and decrees, I will establish your throne of sovereignty over Israel forever, as I promised your father David when I said, 'You shall always have someone from your line on the throne of Israel.'

Day 15: Raven – Elijah the Prophet 1 Kings 17:1-6

Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word." The LORD then said to Elijah: "Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there." So he left and did as the LORD had commanded. He went and remained by the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.

Day 16: Bear – Elisha the Prophet 2 Kings 2:23-25

The guild prophets in Jericho, who were on the other side, saw him and said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." They went to meet him, bowing to the ground before him. … From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up, baldhead," they shouted, "go up, baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces. From there he went to Mount Carmel, and thence he returned to Samaria.

Day 17: Candelabra – Zechariah Luke 1:5, 8-20

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, 3 there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. … Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, 5 Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. 6 He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah 7 to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord." Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, 8 who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk 9 until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time."

Day 18: Lily – Mary Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, 11 and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" 12 And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived 13 a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Day 19: Tablet and pen – Zechariah speaks Luke 1: 57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 18 When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

Day 20: Baby – Birth of Jesus Christ Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus 2 that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. 3 She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Day 21: Sheep – Angel comes to the Shepherds Luke 2: 8-15

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 5 For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 6 "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

Day 22: Gifts – The Magi come Matt 2:1-2, 9-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, 2 behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star 3 at its rising and have come to do him homage." … After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Day 23: Angel – Flight to Egypt Matt 2:13-15

When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, 7 and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him." Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Day 24: Star – God’s call to us to follow the Light John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Scripture passages from: USCCB’s online NAB 

Advent: Plans for Week 1

Advent Week 1 -- plans for celebrating Advent in the heart of our home ...

Advent 2009 Theme: in a separate post, I give the scriptural quotations and symbols for our Jesse Tree which we will start filling on Tuesday, Dec 1st.

Christmas Traditions from Around the World -- thru legends, facts, foods and crafts!

Books and resources we'll be using throughout Advent and Christmas:
Chapter Book Read-alouds this week:
Saint of the Day:
This week:  Austria, Poland, Sicily, Spain, (and Switzerland, through our read-aloud).
Sunday:  1st Sunday of Advent -- Stir up Sunday -- make Virginia Bourbon Cakes for Christmas.

Monday:  prep the Nativity by reading the story of St. Francis (from CAW, pg 123-124); read DB chap 1; W "Gospel and History"; CSRW: Austria (12-17).  Read pg 9-45 of Christmas Stove; outline all gifts, decorations, card-receivers, etc for us to make during this Advent; evening activity: story and hot chocolate.

Tuesday:  start working on landscape of Nativity; DB chap 2-3; W "Origin of the Feast" and "Midnight Mass";CSRW: Poland (60-71); L Poland (14-15).  Read pg 46-94 of Christmas Stove; English tea-time in honor of St. Edmund Campion; evening activity:  game and popcorn.  Jesse tree ornament: sun and moon.

Wednesday: [co-op day so no advent activity]; evening activity - hot cider and story.  Jesse tree ornament: apple and snake.

Thursday:  continue working on landscape of Nativity; DB chap 4-5;  W "Christmas in the Middle Ags" and "Decline and Revival"; CSRW: Sicily (72-79); L 22.  Read Chap 1-2 of The Christmas Donkey; make origami ornaments in honor of St. Francis Xavier's mission trips to the Far-East. Evening activity:  kids put on play of one of the legends they've heard this week.  Jesse tree ornament: ark.

Friday:  finish landscape of Nativity; DB chap 6-7; W "Ancient Hymns and Carols", Carols for Every Mood" and "Familiar Hymns and Carols"; CSRW: Spain (80-86); JW 58-77; Read Chap 3-4 of The Christmas Donkey; make icons in honor of St. John the Wonderworker (feast on Saturday) who fought against the iconoclasts.  Evening activity:  snack dinner and family movie.  Jesse tree ornament: camel

Saturday:  Jesse tree ornament: lamb; "Emperor's New Clothes"; visit with Santa at Community Center
Sunday:  Jesse tree ornament: Jacob's ladder; make St. Nick cookies; evening activity:  Christmas Movie classic and cookies with icecream.

Our Advent book basket ...
 we'll be using other books from the Public Library as well as Christmas picture books we own for our evening stories (not listed above as the kids will pick out which ones to read each night).

God bless you during this first week of Advent 2009!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent: First Week of Advent 2009

Starting tomorrow, I will post our weekly plans for celebrating this great time of preparation!

God bless you all during Advent!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent: Preparing to Prepare for the King's Birth

We are so amazingly organized for Advent this year:
  • we've picked our "patron saints" for the year -- the chosen were St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Vianney, St. Damien Molokai and St. Catherine of Siena.  Each of these saints has a connection to the common theme of the priesthood (since this is the Year of the Priest).  We made frames for these patron saints "cards" and have them all ready to hang by each person's bed tomorrow.
  • we've redone the Advent blocks we've used for the past three years.  This year, due to a lack of really good Advent calendar choices available, we are using the Advent blocks as our Advent Calendar -- starting Dec 1st, we'll pull a block which gives us the Saint of the Day, the piece of the Nativity we'll be making, the treat or craft activity we'll work on, the prayer intention for the day, and an image that represents that day.  Our previous version of these blocks were pulled randomly -- I'm striving for organization this year!
  • we've got the Advent Candles -- this year we're foregoing a "wreath" and instead doing a 5-candle strip that has the white candle in the center and the four advent candles which will be changed to white candles during the Octave of Christmas.

  • our Jesse Tree is ready also
  • so, we have everything ready EXCEPT I can't seem to find the Advent-purple cloth for the altar (yes, I do have a Lenten-purple but I KNOW I put the other one somewhere .... St. Anthony please come around and help me as the Altar is just not quite ready for Advent ...

Blessings and prayers for your own Advent events!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday: baking instead of shopping!

Why go shop (do it all online ... Amazon is having some amazing deals .. and if you click and order, I get a 15% "referral fee"!) on Black Friday, when you can bake instead (recipes are below appetite-inducing pictures):

Sourdough Sandwich Bread for leftover-Turkey sandwiches

Maggie's Cranberry Bread (a new recipe that is BETTER than any other!)

Applesauce for post-Turkey overload Ham dinner!

Sourdough Sandwich Bread (from the Sourdough Cookbook)
Sponge (make the night before):
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (make a few days before so that you'll have it ready for making the sponge -- scroll down thru this past post for the starter recipe)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (this fools the kids into thinking this is "bunny bread")
Combine ingredients, cover with a towel and let stand in a warm place overnight
Bread ingredients --
  • overnight sponge (above)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbls butter
  • 3 tbls sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbls active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 7-8 cups flour
  • softened butter for tops of loaves
Warm milk to just below boil (1-2minutes in microwave). Stir in butter, sugar and salt and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or so.  Sprinkle yeast over warm water; set aside to soften for 5 minutes or so.  Stir yeast/water and milk mixture into sponge.  Add 3 cups of flour and stir until batter is smooth.  Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place ofr 30-40 minutes (until doulbed in bulk).  Stir down dough and then stir in enough additional flour to make a medium-stiff dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead dough until smooth and elastic.  Add more flour if necessary.  Divide dough into two equal portions.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, grease two 9x5 loaf pans.  Shape dough into loaves and place in pans.  Brush softened butter on loaves.  Cover with a cloth and allow to double in bulk -- about an hour or so. 
Preheat over to 375 and bake bread for 45 minutes or so (covering with foil if tops are browning too fast.  Cool top side up on rack.

Maggie's Cranberry Bread (makes 1 large loaf or 6 mini-loaves)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda in 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1-1/2 c frozen cranberries, chopped
  • 1 c pecans, chopped
Pre-heat oven to 325.  Grease 9x5 or 6 mini-loaf pans.  In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water and set aside.  Beat egg and juice together in a bowl.  Add all other ingredients (except the cranberries and nuts) and combine completely. Add cranberries and nuts.  Put in loaf pan and bake 40 minutes for small loaves, 1-hour-and 15minutes for large loaves.

Applesauce (makes about 4 cups)
This is one of those recipes that I just wing with whatever kind of apples we have on hand.
Wash and core 6 medium apples (a combination of sweet and tangy makes a great sauce).  Chop unpeeled apples into 1-inch pieces and place in heavy pot.  Add cinnamon, allspice and cloves to taste.  Add 1 cup white sugar.  Cover apples with water (barely cover them) and place on stove.  Heat to boiling, turn down to low and simmer for 3 hours or until sauce is the consistency you like.  Allow to cool to at least room temp before serving. 



Thursday, November 26, 2009

For all our family, near and far ...

Happiest Thanksgiving greetings!

You are all in our prayers today and everyday ... we are so thankful for you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family: Happy Birthday to my youngest!

It's very hard for me to believe that the little guy, born during our sojourn in Austria is now SEVEN YEARS OLD!

Happy 7th Birthday to our own BamBam ... we daily thank God for the gift of you!

Frugality is NOT a four-letter word

There is no doubt that the American economy continues to tank.  Personally, we have been staunching the flow of red-ink since we sold the house in Denver, but it will take time for us to recover our hard-earned nest-egg ... a nest-egg built when dh and I (before we even met each other) left our corporate ladder-climbing jobs to do what we believed (and still believe) was God's will for us.  In fact, that's what brought us together over 12 years ago ... so we must have been doing something right.

But now-a-days, if you tell people "Oh, we can't do that, we can't afford it" or "well, that's not in the budget this month" or "sorry, we don't have any money" ... the proverbial "they" think you're broke ... or are being overly negative.

Not at all.

Yes, I am on a budget.  Yes, I have to be careful with the resources God has given us.  Yes, I have to be frugal.  And, you know what?  I actually enjoy it.  I like thinking of ways to stretch a dollar ... either through inexpensive meals, creative gift-giving or simply by doing without.  These are not bad things. 

But American society would say differently, don't you think?  In this country, we've come to believe that if you don't take your kids out to fast-food joints at least weekly, you are depriving them of something.  If you don't buy them everything they WANT (not what they need, but what they want), you are being unfair.  If you make your kids (or yourself) wait till a special occasion to get something, you are being cheap.  If you have left-overs for supper, somehow you must be on the way to the "poor house". 

Me and mine are trying to re-order our priorities away from STUFF to a deeper something ... a deeper Someone.  We are trying to have less and do more.  We are trying to, in the words of Mary Englebreit, "Let Go ... Go On". 

As we finish off the last week of the liturgical year and begin Advent 2009 ... we seek the Way to happiness through a "less is more" mentality.  But we can't do it alone ... we need to use prayer to help us know the needs from the wants ... the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.  And God has that covered for us ... Jesus gave us His mother to help:

Before, by yourself, you couldn't. Now, you have turned to our Lady, and, with her, how easy it is!

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #513

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We are in mourning ....

Ole Miss beats LSU 25-23 in one of the best (and saddest) games we've seen!  There was MUCH crying and gnashing of teeth around here but it was a college ball game like none other.

Congrats Ole Miss for your first win against LSU in the past 11 years.  And LSU, we still love you and Les Miles!

See you next week in Arkansas!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Third Time's the Charm ....

Can you believe it?  After dissing it for years, this will be my third pro-post about Facebook (see here and here for the previous pro-post mentions).  I am really enjoying connecting with folks I haven't seen in a while (like years!) and finding some really cool sites and articles and ideas from a whole new spectrum of folks. 

Thus, the point for today's post.

Thanks to Alicia at Studeo and the brains behind Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers, I now have a very cool ... insightful ... creative ... interesting ... eclectic ... blog to read:  The Pious Sodality of Church Ladies.

This is a great mix of frugal gift-giving tips, catechesis, knitting notes, and just a wonderfully feminine place to visit.  It's one of those blogs where you grab a cup of tea ... when the house is nice and quiet (or relatively) ... and sip and read and note and generally enjoy.

Thanks, Alicia!  And the Pious Sodality Church Ladies ... please keep up the good work.  You have one very vocal fan here.  Oh, and I love the graphic, don't you?

BTW, just so you don't think I've completely gone over to the other side ... there are still things about Facebook that irritate the fire out of me ... and I continue to stumble through trying to "friend" folks and link blog posts and try and get around.  But, I do have to say, my original general impression of FB has definitely changed for the better.

Feast Day: Christ the King Sunday!

Sunday, November 22nd, is the Feast of Christ the King.  This is the day Catholics and Christians round the world celebrate that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and therefore King! 

I love this feast for a few reasons: 
  1. this feast reminds me of Jesus' rightful place at the right-hand of the Father;  all the images of Christ as King are so beautiful, it's always hard for me to pick just one.  This icon will be our screen image till Advent starts on November 29th.
  2. this feast ends the liturgical year with all the attendant promises of a new start.
  3. this feast reminds me that Advent is coming and then the Birth of Jesus as a poor babe born in a cave, laid in a feeding trough, and here for one purpose only -- to save us! 
May you and yours enjoy a beautiful weekend, filled with love of Christ the King!

I LIKE this: Christmas shopping in my pj's

See that new graphic in the side-bar?  It's one of the coolest things I've seen lately.  I'm a big fan of Amazon (that's why I'm always sending my readers to Amazon to buy everything from books to bran) ... I like the prices, the ease of ordering and the free shipping on many things.  Why would I brave the malls to buy elsewhere.

Well, seems Amazon is doing a full week of "Black Friday" sales ... electronics (including the Wii, I'm hoping), cameras, toys, books, housewares!  When you have kids ages 7-10 who still pretty much "believe" in Santa and the magic of Christmas, being able to shop when the kids are asleep ... receiving boxes from Amazon (which they're so used to seeing they don't even ask anymore) ... getting everyone's gifts without waiting in line ... sounds pretty good to me. 

By the way, if you click on the link in the side-bar or above, I'll get a percentage of everything you buy (a referral fee, if you will) ... which means that I'll be able to buy more stuff from Amazon!

Here's to a very merry Christmas for one and all .... and no trips to the Mall for me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: From Peanuts to the Pressbox by Eli Gold

Eli Gold, a veteran of some 30+ years at sports broadcasting, has written a wonderful book on his life from literally selling peanuts at Madison Square Garden (not for the financial benefits of sales, but just to get into the games) to being the voice of the Crimson Tide and NASCAR Today. Titled, From Peanuts to the Pressbox, Gold describes a world of journalism that spans from the hard-wired mic days and no cell phones to the digital-remote days of today.

His book is filled with detailed, often humourous, stories of some of the more colorful sports personalities with whom he's crossed paths. One exciting story describes the dangers of reporting the Pocono Winston Cup of 1982.

But more importantly, his book is filled with how to take the "fire in the belly" need to broadcast sports and become tops in the field of radio and television broadcasting. From Eli Gold's experiences retold in this volume, the road isn't easy but the journey is worth the sweat, tears and hardships of flea-ridden motels, non-airconditioned buses and too-much time away from home.

This book is perfect for sports fans (especially NASCAR, arena football, hockey and college football and basketball), sports historians, broadcast/print journalism enthusiasts and those just interested in reading about one man's journey from being a Brooklyn high school peanut-stand seller to the Voice of the Crimson Tide!

This is all great stuff.  I do have one small quibble.  The book doesn't flow as well as it could -- some jokes and comments are repeated as if the chapters were separate articles strung loosely together and the text can be a bit rambling.  All in all though, this is a great read and one I'm saving for my seven year old son who loves to practice "sports broadcasting" all the time. 

Also, from a personal side:  we're LSU fans here so comments about the coaching staff at the Crimson Tide were hard to get through.

This review was written as part of the Thomas Nelson Publishers Book Review Program. For information about becoming a book reviewer, check out the BRB website.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Family: we are part of the 21st Century (at last!)

Although I am pretty tech savvy (and dh is pretty good, also), we have avoided some of the latest (as in, the last ten years or so) technological advancements ... Game cube, Wii, iphones, cable tv, HDTV, TIVO, ipod ... well, I think you get the picture.  Some of the deprivations have been purposeful:  we don't want to teach the kids that life is all about entertainment ... that personal entertainment devices (ipods or xbox) are a better substitute for playing games with siblings ... Some of the deprivations have been "just can't afford" issues:  sure is a lot cheaper to have a free cell phone with our contract than to buy the iphone on top of the contract commitment! 

But, since we've settled in rural Virginia (God willing, permanently), we have been getting more and more into the 21st century -- yes, it's paradoxical, but that sort of sums us up!  We have digital cable and can wifi when people come visit!  These are conveniences which really help us ... especially dh as he's able to do his grading/classwork remotely so he's home instead of hanging at school and can bring the laptop into the bedroom and still connect to school.  Digital cable has also allowed us to watch college football as a family (even occasionally getting LSU coverage up here in ACC territory!), great shows on EWTN and even Sherlock Holmes on PBS!  Life is good in the 21st century.

I have even re-activated my Facebook account and am loving it!  Originally, I opened it to keep an eye on my college-bound ... but decided that was a bit creepy, even voyeuristic.  But now I'm finding that Facebook is a GREAT tool for me:
  • reconnected with old friends from our various abodes (including far-flung folks from our years in Austria)
  • connected to knitting and free-lance writing folks
  • ability to talk to family wall-to-wall
How cool is that?  I'm also tapping into a larger world of homeschool folks, good opinion pieces and world-wide news. 

We are in the 21st century!  What else could we possibly need?

Well, it looks like Santa (shhhhhh, don't tell the kids, please!) will be bringing us a Wii (including the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board).  This is both a social and a financial decision.  We have had so many different families tell us how fun the Wii is for the whole family: bowling, tennis, etc from the comfort of the living room.  This is NOT a personal entertainment device, but rather a family-night boon!  The three littles have been lobbying for this particular Santa-gift for the past year or so ... this year, they've talked dh and I into also signing the Santa letter to, and I quote, "make sure that he knows he only needs to bring us a Wii for the whole family".  Cool huh?  And financially, the Wii is $100 less than it was and we can get other games for Little Christmas and the kids, dh and I will be having a blast throughout Christmas break!

What more could we want?  Isn't the 21st century fun -- now that we're 10 years in?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Prayer: update on my 14yo-God daughter ...

Here's a note I received today from my dear friend and mother of my Goddaughter  with an update on Katherine's health ...

Greetings everyone,

Thank you for the overwhelming prayers, thoughts and sacrifices offered on behalf of Katherine and our family. You all have surrounded and blanketed us in prayer, which we felt all throughout the day yesterday, and are so grateful to have from our community of prayer warriors.

Katherine had her medical tests, and while preliminary results did not provide us with 'answers,' their result was positive in that the neurologist who administered the tests remarked, "this is good that she doesn't have any nerve and muscle damage." So, he will turn over his findings to Katherine's neurologist, and we wait to hear from him as to the next steps.

On a very positive note, Katherine went to rehabilitation physical therapy in the afternoon (and her Dad has been her great coach at home!) and she has made great progress in the last two weeks. When I think of 'great progress,' I envision huge strides being taken, but at our level, being able to bend her knee an additional fraction of inch, or turn the stationary bike one rotation (when she couldn't do that last week) are the great strides we celebrate. She also stood up, supported by her two therapists, for five minutes :)

Again, I/we cannot relay to you how powerful your prayers and actions have been to us. A common saying that we all hear at times like "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." Well, I've learned differently. A very young and wise priest once shared in his homily, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle? Oh yes, He does." And he went on to explain, more eliquolently than I ever could...because in doing so, He allows us to call upon one another and build a larger, stronger community in Him. In joining with us our time of trial, you have built up this Godly community, and have made the challenges for us more bearable. We trust that in God's time and plan, His will, will be done. We thank you for joining us along the path to witness, and to do His greater work here on earth.

Please continue to pray for this teenager and her family ... and for the docs and technicians that they figure out what is causing these problems ... and that they're able to help her regain her health and mobility.

Family: stage mom reflections

WARNING:  the following post is a bit sentimental and sappy and brags a bit on my child.  If you don't want to read it, don't.  If you're with me this far, listen on in!

After months of rehearsals ... many that got in the way of family or personal activities or desires ... THE play opened last night. Dh and the littles were in the audience, along with our favorite priest/chaplain. Opening night was upon us.

A plague of butterflies filled my too-little dinner stomach ... while my heart beat it's own tattooed message:  "don't screw up, don't screw up".  I was restless, nervous, anxious, worried ... I was a stage mama.

You see, this was LegoManiac's first real performance.  True, he's always acted (and acted-up) in the living room or school room.  True, he was a superlative monkey in a version of Magician's Nephew last winter.  But ... this was real theater: admission, costumes, lighting, mics, make-up ... the whole nine yards. 

LegoManiac's role in the musical Mame is a big one -- he gives the first line ... he sings a few solos ... he buzzes the audience on his black heelys ... and he's in every scene but one in the first of the two acts.  Yep, the evening is fraught with opportunities for him to screw-up throughout the almost two hours that he is on stage.

And where's mama?

Watching helplessly from the wings ... opening and closing the curtain ... getting tennis elbow while the butterflies are overproducing in my stomach and my heart continues to pound.  I can't help him with costume changes ... or props ... or get his tail out on stage.  He has to take care of it himself.  He has to be a big boy and focus and emote and ennunciate and slow down and remember the words ... all by himself.  But he's still my little boy ... and I so want to protect him from making a mistake ... from forgetting a line ... from generally just screwing up.  But, I can't protect him forever ... and with this play he gets a chance to practice being "a big boy".

And that boy didn't make any obvious mistakes (actually making one forgotten line into a better, more emotionally-charged bit) ... the audience enjoyed every minute ... and, more importantly, LegoManiac felt good about himself and his fellow cast and crew at the end of the day. (I know this because he and I sat up from midnight till almost 1:30, discussing it all, sipping wine (me)/tea (him) and noshing). 

I love this little boy of 10 ... and when Mame sings "Where's that boy with the bugle" ... it makes me want to cry because it reminds me that he won't be little for too much longer and I'm so thrilled and honored that I can spend this much time with him, experiencing his successes, his failures, his big and little triumphs ... experiencing his life!

Thanks to Mame and all the veteran cast and crew who have helped this stage mama and her little boy learn so much about the great art of acting.  God bless you all.

OK ... one down, seven more performances to go .... and I'm sure I'll be just as nervous and worried at each one.  But nothing will ever beat the thrill of seeing my little boy ... act like a big boy, doing his best with his God-given talents at opening night November 5, 2009!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Knitting: a felted backpack

Back on Columbus Day, I mentioned that I was designing a simple knitted backpack for a class I was teaching the next day. 

Here are pictures of the before felting

and after felting
here's the front:
here's the back:
The overall size decreases by about 25%, depending on how much you felt -- or shrink on purpose -- the bag.  BTW, at a certain point, the yarn will not felt anymore -- once that happens, you can wash and dry in the machine!

I love felted projects for beginners -- the irregular stitches are hidden and the knitting tends toward the rote.  Also, once the item is felted, the knitting can be cut (!) without fear of raveling and the resulting fabric can be made into whatever you'd like.

When I finished the design, I realized that this could also be used in an article I was writing for the January issue of mater-et-magistra, the ONLY Catholic homeschool periodical in publication.  The article covers some cool crafts for co-op participants ... different crafts (sewing, painting, knitting) that can be called into play to make useful items for co-op classes.  The article will have a link to a pdf I created for this file.  If you just can't wait for the January issue to make this fun project, email me (or comment below) and I'll be happy to email you the pdf ...

... but don't forget to subscribe to the wonderful mater-et-magistra ... for all the articles, columns and great information (and the advertisers are a treasure trove of wonderful Catholic products)!