Friday, October 29, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama and leave a link to your 'moment' for all to find and see.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Update on Mary Grace

Last week I mentioned a prayer request for Mary Grace, born premature. Here is a website her family has put together to keep people posted on her progress. The first entry gives the history of her situation so far, and I'll point you to that entry first since it often helps me to have some a specific idea of what I am praying for. We had a preemie too, and my heart just goes out to them:
More tests are ordered to figure out why she would have a clot so we know how to respond. Our doctor says that It appears from this MRI that the clot is getting bigger and the neurosurgeon has suggested starting her on an anti clotting drug. Her seizures have escalated and they also have to increase her anti seizure medication. This is such an unexpected blow….totally took the wind out of my sails. Dr Rodriguez had warned us that we are going to be doing a weird sort of dance for a while as we figure out the seizures….step back, back, back, jump way ahead, take two steps back….

What an exhausting trial for a mother's heart--for the whole family. I pray as much for them as for this dear baby. Fortunately, God seems to be working toward healing in her life--recent posts mark some improvements; and Elizabeth (Mary Grace's mom) told me how awesome it is to know so many people are praying. Could you keep them in your prayers?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quick Takes Friday


I loved Melissa Wiley's idea of "tidal homeschooling" as soon as I read about it. It sounded just like me, only I was accustomed to thinking of it as times when I was doing a good job and times when I was doing a bad job. I adjusted my attitude a little and suddenly both of these seasons were more fruitful.

Now I find that she has put together a master list of her tidal homeschooling posts! She should really write a book about it--but I can't wait for that. I'm printing them all and keeping them in a three-ring binder.


Our two-year-old is in the difficult stage of refusing to be disciplined and really needing it. This week has had its typically difficult moments--he had a late nap and vehemently protested waking up. He bumped his head and would not be consoled. He fought bathtime tooth and nail and would not even be bribed with popsicles in the shower. Mean Mommy and Daddy told him to lie down at bedtime, and oh, the humanity! But I have a secret weapon: his little sister. Cora is the magic baby. (Actually, I think all babies possess this power. Holding babies in general is therapeutic.) It does. not. matter. how violent the throes of his righteous anger or unjust suffering are. As soon as I hold her sweet, smiling face level with his, he puts his arms around her, screws up his teary eyes, and says in his high-pitched, babyspeak voice, "Hi Co-wah! Hi Co-wah!"


And she always smiles. She's not the first of my kids to act this way. When somebody's demonstrably unhappy, the baby smiles in their direction. I believe in my bones that babies learn empathy early.


Here's a funny from 2009 that I thought I had already posted somewhere else, but is showing up as a draft in my list of blog posts:

Four-year-old: Do you remember last night when I held your ice cream cone while you opened Jude's popsicle?

Me: Sort of...

Four-year-old: I don't.


Clothing storage is a constant struggle for me. I have storage bins designated for every size my kids have grown through, boy and girl. This does not mean that the clothes in a bin correspond with the size with which that bin is labeled. That would mean that I am doing it right, which I am not. I have bins that are half empty, bins that are almost completely empty, and full bins (of mixed sizes) with no label. I have baskets, in addition to bins, full of clothing (of mixed sizes) and dressers half full of outgrown clothes. So this week I looked at how long it would take to go shopping for several kids (with all of them in tow), how much it would cost to buy even one outfit per kid that actually fit, and how many bins were no doubt hiding full wardrobes' worth of current sizes for somebody.

And I did it. Not all of it, mind you. There are still lots of sorting and stacking and storing to be done. But I went through every one of those containers and I pulled out everything that was in season in someone's size. (And I quite easily pulled out enough good-condition surplus to fill a box for our diocese family ministries agency, and there's more where that came from.) I feel as if I just saved us $2000 on the clothing budget. Dressers, here I come.


This is so cute! I got it from The Anchoress and had to post it myself.


3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does what is good is of God; whoever does what is evil has never seen God.

What are your Quick Takes?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Successes

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph."

One of my constant temptations is to discouragement and inaction, so prayers of thanksgiving and serving others are successes I am consciously choosing to recognize today. This week, my successes will be to reflect on my many blessings and praise God for them. I've been cooking a little extra, and I'm going to use this space to ask for your prayers for those I'm cooking for:

1. The baby daughter of a family in our homeschool group is in NICU having seizures after being born premature. The situation has been called very grave. The baby's name is Mary Grace.

2. Some of our extended family who live nearby just lost their home in a fire.

3. Our own baby Cora, though happy and otherwise healthy, has a possible milk protein allergy. Not that I'm cooking for her, but since she's breastfed, I am eliminating all dairy from my diet while we sort it out. Trying to eat well without dairy is a constant reminder to be thankful for the bounty and good health God has blessed us with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ATC Swap For All the Saints!

I'm so excited!

Last spring we participated in the Marian ATC swap at Pondered in My Heart and loved it. I don't know which the kids and I liked more--making our cards or getting our swaps in the mail. I wasn't blogging then, so we didn't post the cards we made or received, but they were all beautiful.

Now it's time for an All Saints ATC swap! I was at least as enthusiastic about creating these as the kids were. And since a few more of us are making cards this time, I think it will be even more fun.

Check out the rules for participating here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


...from the heart of a mom of many.

Lord, help me stop expecting that being a mother of many will be easy or come naturally. Help me remember instead that I can do nothing in my own strength, that raising a large family is a particular cross that requires particular graces. Help me to seek those graces often in prayer.

Preserve me from any smug feeling of blessedness because of my openness to life, or bitterness because of the burden it brings. Help me to remember that these beautiful children you gave me are yours before they are mine, that one day they must return to you and it is my job to make them ready for that day, whenever it comes. Fill my soul with the wisdom and gratitude of a good steward and faithful servant.

I give you all I do or say today that is worth anything; all my joys and sufferings and frustrations; my children and my husband; all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Holy Mary, mother of the whole Church, pray for us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick (Quotation) Takes Friday

Some thought-provoking snippets from my recent reading:


"Heather didn't tell me that her dad took her to church a lot (although I knew that they did attend a local Methodist church regularly) or that he made her go to Bible study or a youth group. She watched him sit in his chair [and pray]. that was it. That was all she needed to see to be changed. And he did change her life. He was real and so was his faith. He was quiet, humble, and pursued God. That was all it took to stir something in Heather to want to do the same. Can you begin to see the power you fathers have in your daughters' lives?"

--Meg Meeker, M.D., Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (p. 192)


"Austin's situation suggests just how the limitations of the bubble in which teens live contribute to this crisis. We place kids like him in schools together with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of other kids typically from similar economic and cultural backgrounds. We group them all within a year or so of one another in age. We equip them with similar gadgets, expose them to the same TV shows, lessons, and sports. We ask them all to take almost the exact same courses and do the exact same work and be graded relative to one another. We give them only a handful of ways in which they can meaningfully demonstrate their competencies. And then we're surprised that they have some difficulty establishing a sense of their own individuality. "Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else," the bumper sticker proclaims, and its irony isn't lost on teens like Austin."

Joseph Allen, Ph.D. and Claudia Worrell Allen, Ph.D., Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old (p.51)


"He was willing to suffer the pain of them invisibly, but please, please take away these external marks which would make him stand out, be different from the rest. For once, it seemed this was a prayer his Lord would not grant."

Jim Gallagher, Padre Pio: The Pierced Priest (p.2)


Here is an illustration of why self-knowledge is so important for growth in virtue, as the saints often remind us. Without self-knowledge, our behavior may be merely reactive, simply following our natural inclination. But when we get in the habit of self-reflection, we may realize that our natural inclination may be neither prudent nor charitable. We need to consciously choose the good; virtue is not virtuous if we have no option to do otherwise.

Art and Laraine Bennett, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse (p. 118)


"Now a nasty suspicion began to grow in his mind--had the dwarves forgotten this important point too, or were they laughing in their sleeves at him all the time? That is the effect that dragon-talk has on the inexperienced. Bilbo of course ought to have been on his guard; but Smaug had rather an overwhelming personality."

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (p.236)


"Sometimes misunderstood, Charlotte Mason's practice of 'masterly inactivity' and her restrictions on 'teacher talk' did not mean that the students were to control the classroom. Masterly inactivity implies that there is a master--the teacher."

Bobby Scott, "Education is an Atmosphere," in When Children Love to Learn, ed. Elaine Cooper (p. 80)


"I found that women are evenly divided on this issue [of clutter]. Either they will defend their right to accumulate and store things or they will absolutely declare war on 'stuff.' Depending on my mood, I agreed with one side's philosophy as often as the other's. I was worried that the anticlutter attitude was too rigid and controlling. But when I began to evaluate my own feelings toward my house, I recognized that clutter bothered me even more than dirt."

Elizabeth Foss, Real Learning (p. 188)

What are your Quick Takes?

St. Teresa of Avila

"Remember that thou hast but one soul; that thou canst die but once; that thou hast but one life, which is short, and peculiar to thyself; that there is but one blessedness, and that for ever; and thou wilt despise many things."

(Image Credit)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Quick Takes Friday

I'm hosting a Mr. Linky thingy next month, and I would like the word to go out, so I'm using slot #1 to point to the November 1 Meet 'n' Greet with the Saints. Please check it out!

The tea olives are blooming outside my front door. They smell heavenly. I think we need another dozen of these.

Here's another one for the "Kids Say" file:

Four-year-old: Do you remember last night when I held your ice cream cone while you opened Jude's popsicle?
Me: Sort of...
Four-year-old: I don't.

Look at what we found last week on our nature walk! You can't tell from the picture but it's a good four inches long. The kids were fascinated.

At first we thought it was a luna moth caterpillar. We see about one luna moth a year around our house, and this guy looked similar to pictures we remembered of the caterpillar. They don't have the little spiky things though. Then we thought, maybe a hickory horned devil--we've got a lot of hickories around here--but no, that kind of caterpillar was a little too fierce-looking. Finally we saw some Google images that looked just like our guy. He's an imperial moth caterpillar, which is related to the luna moth. This caterpillar was right in the middle of our nature path, so stationary that we thought something was wrong with it, but it started to move around well enough when we tried to take pictures and draw it in our nature journals. Luke found him right after a hawk flew over us--I think it fell out of a tree in some sort of evasive behavior, which is ironic because it made him easy pickings for us. We put him next to a tree under a leaf and moved on.

I've been trying to use more of my bookmarked recipes, so I made a Cobb salad earlier this week for lunch. So easy. So good.

I have some questions about links. I'm pretty liberal with links when I post, because I love them when I'm reading blogs. Well, I stumbled on something that seemed to take for granted that when you link to something someone wrote, particularly a blog, the polite thing to do is give them a heads up that that's what you're doing. I could very well be wrong, but I don't think I've ever done that.

What's the ettiquette? When you link to another blog or website, is it considered courteous to let them know? Or is it unnecessary? If you sometimes do and sometimes don't, how do you determine whether or not to? How do you prefer to do it--a comment, an e-mail, a trackback?

On the other end, let's talk about comments. When you leave a comment, do you check back to see if anyone responds? I'm curious. I know that some websites and bigger blogs will get a whole discussion going just based on what's in the comment box. That's not what I'm talking about. I've seen some sites where people drop a comment and leave, and that seems to be it. In some instances, you might see one commenter respond to another, or the author respond to one comment in particular. I've seen a few blogs in which the blog author seems to take care to respond to as much commentary activity as she can. As a blogger and a commenter, what's your typical practice?

And what are your Quick Takes?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Speaking of Saints

I've been thinking increasingly about the communion of saints, but especially about some of those individuals recognized as saints by the Church. So, in honor of All Saints' Day next month, I'm hosting a little meet-n-greet. If you want to attend, I'll have a Mr. Linky widget up on November 1, and you can link to your post about your favorite saint, favorite saint story, or anything you have a fancy to write about our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us. Don't feel as if you have to choose between them--multiple posts are fine.

And spread the word on your own blog if you want to--the more, the merrier!

Small Successes


It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that at Faith and Family Live.

Here are mine:

1) I printed out and put into use a weekly lesson plan template that will enable the older kids to work more independently. Incidently, I used pages from this site, which are great if you want to print some blanks and fill them out by hand, too.

2) Despite having this gem pop up in my head several times while shopping, I decided on a dress to wear to a friend's wedding. Actually, it was already in my wardrobe. Hey, fashion designers? Three extra inches at the hem would make all the difference in the world.
(Gotta give a h/t to Jennifer Fulwiler and Simcha Fisher. Thanks for a laugh.)

3) I pared away the clutter from one corner of my desk area--the chair. Reclaiming the rest of the space--again--will be next week's project. No dump-and-store this time. It will be a real sorting affair.

What are your successes?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

100 Species Challenge--Hickory

HIckories abound around our house. Their leaves can turn the most spectacular yellow in the fall. It's still a little early for that here, though.

Hickories are deciduous, with edible nuts. I have cracked into a few and they taste a bit like walnuts. But it is haarrrd to crack into that shell and extract the meat intact (or at all, if you smash too hard). I have always wanted to try them in a recipe (the maple hickory apple crisp on this page sounds especially tantalizing) but I haven't yet figured out a way to get a sufficient amount of nut meat in a time-efficient manner. Perhaps next year I can enlist the help of the older ones. This year the squirrels and grubs have already got most of what's on the ground.

The tree grows very tall, accounting for a lot of our shade around here. It's an important hardwood--hickory is popular for furniture, tools, sports equipment, firewood, and curing meat. Based on some image comparisons of the leaves and bark among the different hickory species, I'd say this is a mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa). We also have catkins all over the ground in the spring which look like the flowers described for the mockernut. This is a handy chart for identifying features of leaves, by the way. Using this (and confirming with Google), I determined that the leaves are ovate or obovate in shape, pinnately compound in arrangement. Looks like they are slightly serrated--finely toothed, I think I read. They're also pretty big, up to about 6-8 inches long.

1. Dogwood (Cornus florida)
2. mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa)

Wisdom from the Saints

I noticed that I've started accumulating sources for bite-sized quotations from various saints. They are perfect food for thought in the frenetic world of education/ childcare/homemaking/small business support/large family logistics/vocation to holiness that I live in. So I thought that I'd share every now and then some of these nourishing nuggets, with a little reflection or passing comment--my version of a quick cup of tea or a chat on the fence. Maybe if you have a favorite quotation (or an online source for them) you can share it in the comments. We're all saints in progress, right?

These maxims by St. Teresa of Avila are the first of my little collection--in fact, I already linked to it here. They've been a favorite for a long time.

The Daily Quotation from St. Francis de Sales is fairly new to me. I don't remember where I first saw it, but I liked it so much I added it to my sidebar. I have begun to check it regularly, and more often than not it leaves me feeling that someone (Someone) is directing the quotes to address whatever is going on in my life.

This one I just found today, via Karen Edmisten, and I plan on checking back often--I can even customize the layout so the "Reflection from the Saints" is at the top right under the daily reading.

Patrick Madrid linked to these sayings from St. Philip Neri in January of this year; the full year's arrangement is found here. I love how it starts out: "WELL! when shall we have a mind to begin to do good?"

Feel free to share anytime!

(Image credit: Hanka Lehmannova)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

100 Species Challenge--Dogwood

One of my favorite trees. We have several pink and white dogwoods around our house (I can't seem to find any of my pictures of the white in flower). It's an understory tree that is native to the South/Southeast US, with four petals (actually bracts, according to Wikipedia) of white, pink, or even red. This is something I just learned; its flowers are not actually those four "petals" but rather the little cluster of yellowish buds that bloom in the middle of the flowerhead.

It blooms in the early spring, right around Easter time, with fruit reaching maturity around September or October (now!)

It grows to about 15-30 feet tall and is deciduous; the leaves, which are a pointed oval shape, turn red in the fall before they drop. Its fruit is a cluster of bright red, oblong berries (birds love them), each a little bit smaller than your pinkie fingernail. I grew up with these under my window. The red berries were so cheery, and I love the dogwood legend.

1. Dogwood (Cornus florida)


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