Sunday, January 31, 2010

Novena: thank you St. Angela!

As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, our dear friend Karen asked us to pray a novena to St. Angela Merici for her intercessions on helping Karen attain her goal of wiping out her financial debt so that she can enter the Dominicans in August. 

Yesterday, Karen was notified that St. Angela had pulled through for her and the grant from Mater Ecclesia came thru -- Karen is now 51% of her way through with fund-raising. 

If you have a minute please pray a prayer of thanksgiving to St. Angela; also it would be wonderful if you could take a minute and send up a prayer that Karen's fund-raising efforts continue successfully so that she may follow God's call to become a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia!

Snow's Done ... now for some fun ....

The January snow stopped last night ... and today dawned bright, sunny and COOOOOOLD -- 5 degrees at 7a.m. ..  very much snow-shoveling weather.  I even got out there and helped with the path-clearing so we could get to 9:00 a.m. Mass (which looked more like a daily Mass ... I guess most folks don't have a dh who gets up at 4:00 to strategize the snow-clearing once the sun is up!).  Here at the Lake we got about 12-inches ... and with today's blue skies, it looks gorgeous!

These are a few pictures from this morning ... the kids will be sledding later but for now, BamBam has built a snow fort in the front and is ready to pelt anyone brave enough to go out (sunny but 22 at 10:45 a.m.)....

Hope y'all stay cozy and warm and enjoy God's bounty today ...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow: January ends with a bang!

Never getting over 19 degrees (!) today, we woke to snow and it's still snowing ... not hard, but enough to keep most of us indoors, cozy, and knitting up a storm (getting LOTS done)!   Thank goodness for the Wii that kept the kids busy (and relatively active all morning long).

The only ones brave enough (or maybe, just crazy enough) to go out were dh to start shoveling .... and BamBam:
Ninja boy or Brave Snow Fort Builder?

Snow Fort Builder!

Hope you and yours are cozy and warm and enjoying the final days of January 2010! 
God bless you all ...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: The Winter Olympics: An Insider's Guide to the Legends, the Lore and the Games

The Vancouver (Canada) 2010 Winter Olympic Games start in 14 days on February 12th.   We are planning a unit study to coincide with these games and have I found an amazing book resource: 

The Winter Olympics: An Insider's Guide to the Legends, the Lore and the Games is the perfect "spine" for building a unit study, using during the games, and accessing after the games are over.  Written by veteran Seattle Times columnist Ron C. Judd, this book is amazingly readable while still being packed with information, statitstics and information for armchair-athletes and sports-historians alike.  Judd, who has covered every Olympic game (winter and summer) since 1998's games in Nagano, Japan has created a source book with:
  • historical, background information about the Winter Olympics from the first in 1924 (Chamonix, France) through the Turin Games of 2006 (including personal experience of tracking down information about the first Winter Olympic which wasn't an Olympic until two years later!)
  • a sport-by-sport guide to the Games: 
    • the rules of each game, where (what kind of field) the event occurs, how one wins, what equipment is needed, etc.;
    • historical background for each event -- the high- and low-lights of the past;
    • information about the best atheletes [note:  for detailed specifics for every Olympic match-up, the author recommends referencing David Wallechinsky's The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics] and/or the North American best in each event;
    • how Vancouver will be handling each event (where and any other pertinent information)
  • scattered throughout are past columns written by Judd for different Winter Olympics to give a historic feel of "you were there" proportions
Judd is particularly well-suited to author this book that we'll be using:  he is a veteran sports-journalist, living in the Seattle area (120 miles south of Vancouver), enjoys winter sports and has been to the venues as a sports-enthusiast (mountain-climbing and hiking the area) and is an excellent writer.  The book opens with a descriptive essay describing the journalist's experiences in Nagano -- the endless, over-packed, media buses driving three hours to a venue only to turn back without a story because the weather was too warm ... or too cold ... or too foggy ... or too much snow had fallen -- the writing is sports-journalism at its best.  This is a living book of the first water!

Later in the book, Judd describes Vancouver's anxiety while waiting the July 2003 morning for the announcement from the IOC about who would get the 2010 Olympics -- the majority of Vancouverians wanted these games.  Judd details the excitement tinged with trepidation as the time passes with no word from Prague.  Finally, Vancouver was named the winner -- with a small voting margin of 56-53 -- to beat out South Korea for the honor of hosting the world in 2010.  Millions of dollars later, Vancouver -- the largest, most metropolitan city ever to host a Winter Games -- is poised to greet the world and show their stuff.  Judd gives great detail about each of the venues and locations where the 5000+ athletes/officials from the 80+ countries will compete for Olympic Gold for the 15 days in February (Feb 12-28); these sites will again be used a month later for the Paralympic Winter Games in March (another part of our overall unit study).

We're excited about our unit study and I'm thrilled to find a one-stop, spine for using with our study. 

I'll give other resources we'll be using in a post specifically about our study, but would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the ways we'll "live" the Olympics:   Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (on the Wii).  We have found that the Wii is a great way to experience different sports and the Mario/Sonic game promises to add quite a bit to our Winter Olympic 2010 experience.  Fun, active learning at its best! Want to join us?

Budget: belt-tightening just a bit more

Dh and I have a running battle with our budget ... in the words of Mr. Micawber from David Copperfield (played to perfection by Bob Hoskins in the excellent BBC version): 
He [Mr. Micawber] solemnly conjured me, I remember, to take warning by his fate; and to observe that if a man had twenty pounds a-year for his income, and spent nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, he would be happy, but that if he spent twenty pounds one he would be miserable.
Well, we'd rather be happy than miserable. 

So, we have to belt-tighten just a bit more ... trying to shave off the monthly budget (and keep it UNDER budget) is not hard, but does take some additional strategies and willpower (and I'm pretty good at the strategies, not so good at the willpower part!).

What are we doing?
  • by making and baking our own sandwich bread; we are saving almost $50 per month while also getting a better food-product for the kids and warming the house with the oven.  Besides, making the bread not only gets out my agressions but is building my upper-body strength.
  • by saving our credits from Amazon to buy resources for our home-school unit studies; for instance, I just ordered The Winter Olympics: An Insider's Guide to the Legends, Lore and Events and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games with our credits.  See, everytime someone orders a resource from Amazon that I've linked, I get a small (REALLY, REALLY small) commission ... but the commssions add up and I didn't have to pay anything for our upcoming Winter Olympic Unit Study!
  • by baking cookies, brownies and other treats from scratch; again, we're saving probably $10-15 per month by not buying the already-made or packaged mixes for treats.  When Lent starts, we'll wipe out this category completely (well for Monday-Saturday; Sundays we can indulge!).  Again, the kids are getting a better, healthier option and we're heating the house.
  • by putting the thermostat down to 66 and using the gas-log to take the chill off the house in the morning.
  • by designing and knitting gifts for various folks; as I knit a gift for someone, I always say a prayer for the recipient.  So, not only is the recipient getting a unique gift, they are also getting the benefit of the prayers said.
  • by grocery shopping every two weeks, avoiding the pre-packaged and sticking to the staples -- flour, sugar, milk, butter, eggs, cheese, etc.  It's amazing how much I can shave off our monthly grocery bill by avoiding the seductive pre-packaged stuff.  And, again, we're eating better.
Some of the other ideas I have "cooking" include ebaying some of my knitting books -- many of which are now collector's items but are just collecting dust -- and my unused home-education resources.  I have some amazing books, supplies and resources I've collected over the years ... but if we're not using them, what's the point?  Someone will get a great deal and we'll get a bit of cash ....

I'm also trying to do a better job of submitting knitting designs to publishers ... I won't ever make a fortune with my knitting but it's a way I can bring in a little bit of income, using the gifts God has given me.

So what am I missing?  I don't do coupon cutting -- too often the products are those packaged, name-brand products we don't use anyway.  Is there a great budget-saving tip you want to share ... please post in the comments and I'll do a follow-up with all the great ideas.

Hugs and prayers for all of us that are feeling the pinch of the economy ... may it make me a better steward of our resources!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh when the Saints ....

come marchin' in ....

This just posted by Evann:
Hurricane Advisory:  Outlook for the Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico . . .

Hurricane Whodat is predicted to make landfall on the Florida coast in the vicinity of Miami on 7 Feb 2010 at approximately 2200Z (5:00 PM EST). This extremely powerful hurricane is expected to produce damaging Shockey waves and Category 5 Brees. Reports from shipping indicate that this unstoppable storm has blown a huge flock of Cardinals all the way to Arizona, and that it has sunk a replica Viking longboat, The Brettigfă╗vren. Livestock, in particular young horses, will be in severe danger of being decimated. Predictive damage estimates are unavailable at this time, but they are expected to be significant.

All interests in and near the Miami area are advised to prepare for a storm surge of catastrophic proportions as Hurricane Whodat begins to arrive in approximately 10 days.

Next advisory 07 Feb 2010 at 0300Z (10:00 PM EST).

Geaux Saints!  We'll be rooting for ya!

Feast Day: St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, LegoManiac's patron saint, is a doctor of the Church and was (from all reports) an amazingly intelligent but humble man.  The prayer above is titled, "A Student's Prayer", and we will be reciting this prayer every morning for the rest of the school year.  Isn't it beautiful?  (There is a different prayer-card at the end of this post with another prayer of St. Thomas).

St. Thomas Aquinas, probably best known for his Summa Theologica (or for those of us not quite as intellectual, I like this version by Peter Kreeft), was born into a noble Italian family. He joined the Dominicans and was a student of St. Albert the Great.  He later became a philosophy and theology teacher at the University of Paris and spent much of his life working on the Summa.  He was known as a gentle teacher who believed faith and reason when used wisely together would enable all humanity to know and love God as the angels. He believed that reason itself wouldn't allow us to know God intimately.
After experiencing a divine revelation he abandoned the Summa, saying that it was nothing compared to the true Glory of God. He died a few months later. St. Thomas Aqunias was proclaimed a Doctor of the Catholic Church, receiving the nickname "Angelic Doctor".

A wonderful retelling of his life is the Louis deWohl novel, The Quiet Light

St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of all students, please pray for us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feast Day: St. Angela Merici

St. Angela Merici (1474-1540) probably best known as the founder of the Ursulines, opened two schools for the education of girls and was a third-order Franciscan.  Orphaned at the age of ten, St. Angela saw that the girls of that age were not being educated.  In 1535, she brought together a group of women (under the name, Company of St. Ursula) who remedied this iliteracy by creating schools, although St. Angela preferred to send her associates to teach girls in their own families since one of her favorite sayings was,
Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.
It was by educating children in theplace where they lived that she tried to effect an improvement in social conditions. St. Angela created a new way of teaching but change was handled gently as shown by this quote:  Beware of trying to accomplish anything by force, for God has given every single person free will and desires to constrain none; he merely shows them the way, invites them and counsels them.

St. Angela Merici, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feast Day: St. Timothy and St. Titus

St. Timothy (1st century)
Timothy was an early Christian, and the recipient of two letters now found in the New Testament. The son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, he was a companion of St. Paul. He was first bishop of Ephesus, where he was martyred for opposing the worship of Dionysius.

St. Titus (1st century)
A disciple and companion of St. Paul to whom the great saint addressed one of his letters. Titus was later left on the island of Crete to help organize the Church, although he soon went to Dalmatia, Croatia. According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical History, he served as the first bishop of Crete. He was buried in Cortyna (Gortyna), Crete; his head was later translated to Venice during the invasion of Crete by the Saracens in 832 and was enshrined in St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy.

St. Timothy and St. Titus, companions of St. Paul, pray for us!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feast Day: Conversion of St. Paul

Conversion of St. Paul by Peter Paul Rubens (1601/1602)

'nough said ....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life Week: January 18-23, 2010

As the week set aside for celebrating LIFE comes to a close, here's a quote that we need to carry us through ... to celebrating LIFE every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year:

A mother is: 
The most important person on earth.
She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral.
She need not.
She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral
-- a dwelling of an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Feast Day: St. Vincent Pallotti

Born into an Italian noble family, Vincent was the founder of the Pious Society of Missions (Pallottines). He devoted his life to the poor and penitents, and started the special observance at Rome of the Octave of the Epiphany.  His mission continues to this day throughout the world through communities of Pallottine priests and brothers, Pallottine sisters, Pallottine Missionary Sisters, and various lay groups.

St. Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choose Life .... National March for Life, Friday, January 22, 2010

Last year, living so close to the Nation's capitol we all went to the Life March.  Kotch and the three littles and I went up on a parish-sponsored bus from Woodbridge to DC.  We arrived around noon and left around 5:00p.m.  It was a long day ... filled with life and hope and faith that someday our country would turn this all around and stop killing the babies (and the lives of the women who abort their children). 

This year, unfortunately, only some of us are going. 

Kotch is on her way with other kids from Ave Maria University.  She got on a bus yesterday in Ave Maria, Florida at 5:00 pm and as of 1:30 pm, they'd gotten as far as Fredericksburg!  She'll spend the night at the National Shrine, bunked in with other college kids from across the nation (she's got two cousins that will be at the March -- one representing Franciscan and one from DeSales).  After a full day of praying and marching and praying and singing and praying some more .... they'll head back south on the bus, buoyed up knowing they've done a good thing.

Dh is heading up to the March tomorrow morning: he'll leave the house at 4:00 am, picking up students on the way to school, and then getting on chartered buses to head into D.C. for the Youth Rally/Mass at the Verizon Center.  He'll get back home sometime around 6:00 pm, tired but buoyed up knowing he's done a good thing.

The littles and I are participating vicariously. We will be up watching EWTN's coverage starting on Friday morning (7:30 EST) to try and spot our various family members. We'll then head to Mass at 9:00 am, staying for Benediction and wishing the bus riders from our parish God-speed.

In the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta when writing to the US Supreme Court, February 14, 1994 about a pending case:

It was a sad infidelity to America’s highest ideals when this Court said that it did not matter, or could not be determined, when the inalienable right to life began for a child in its mother’s womb.

America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships.

It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society.
It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered domination over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters.

And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.

The Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany recently ruled that “the unborn child is entitled to its rights to life independently of acceptance by its mother; this is an elementary and inalienable right that emanates from the dignity of the human being.” Americans may feel justly proud that Germany in 1993 was able to recognize the sanctity of human life.

You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.

I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world.

Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
Unfortunately, some 16 years later, we in America still have Roe v Wade and the deaths of millions of babies on our collective consciences.  Please join us at the National March -- either physically or spiritually -- as we all pray to overturn this heinous blot on the American escutcheon!

Feast Day: St. Agnes of Rome

St. Agnes of Rome (3rd century)

Agnes was twelve when she was dragged to a Roman Temple, tortured, and threatened with rape. When she refused to deny Christ, she was burned and beheaded. Her name is mentioned in the Eucharistic Prayers of Mass.  Agnes is traditionally linked with the image of a lamb (from the Latin: agnus meaning lamb) therefore here's what happened at the Vatican today:


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning, in keeping with the tradition for today's feast of St. Agnes, the Pope blessed a number of lambs in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The wool of the lambs is used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.  The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.

Cool, huh?

St. Agnes, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birthdays: Lego Maniac turns 11!

[Note:  this should have been posted last night ... but here it is ...]

Lego Maniac at 3 ... when the toys were kid-powered.

Lego Maniac at 4 ... when paper hats were the style.

Lego Maniac at 11 ... when "Wii, Wii, Wii ... all the way home" means something quite different now!

Happy 11th to our wonderful son ... you bring light and joy to our hearts every day!
God bless you!