Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thanks Mamaw!

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We LOVE our new Buzz Lightyear pajamas!
We love all of the pajamas you make us.
If only they made us sleep in longer.... that would be Mommy's dream come true!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beautiful Christmas Book

Before I return it to the library, I just have to recommend a lovely read-aloud we've enjoyed this holiday season. It's called Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey. It is written and illustrated by Robert Byrd and published by Dutton Children's Books.

In the story a miserable donkey bemoans the facts that he has to work so hard and that everyone makes fun of the way he sounds. Saint Francis explains to the donkey why those things came to happen to donkeys AND he explains what a special role a donkey had in the story of Jesus' birth.

It is a beautiful story, but it's the illustrations that make this book outstanding. Each page is a work of art. The art is gentle and engaging and very beautiful. All of us enjoyed it very much. I'm sure we'll be buying it in the future.

So, head to the library and check out this great book. My copy should be back on the shelf by tomorrow!

I hope you're continuing to celebrate and enjoy this holy Season of Christmas.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Michigan Christmas Celebration

Jon's family is from Midland, Michigan. His mom still lives there and that's where the whole family - our family as well as Jon's five sisters and their families - gathers. We got together there the second weekend in December to celebrate Christmas as well as winter birthdays. We had such a wonderful time and I wanted to blog about it, but we've been so busy since then. So, better late than never.... here are some highlights from that trip.

It was a snowy, icy, cold weekend! The boys loved playing in Grandma's yard and pitching in to clear the driveway. They made a snowman with help from their cousin Addie. Jon's sister Nancy told us about an awesome free event at Dow Gardens. We bundled up and walked through the candlelit path, stopping to listen to choirs and even watch a puppet show. It was a fun and festive evening.

We attended a party with Jon's cousins and aunts and uncles. It was wonderful to see these people! The party was held in a big hall and Ray and Jon had a blast playing floor hockey. We all had fun creating at the arts and crafts table. Adam enjoyed playing with his cousin Kelly. Santa Claus even made a special visit!

We celebrated Christmas and birthdays with Jon's immediate family. His sister Nancy hosted a wonderful party. (Thanks so much!) There was great food and tons of presents. We all had a really fun time. The boys came home with tons and tons and tons of toys and other goodies, including a pin ball machine and a huge bin of Lego's from their older cousins. (Thanks a million you kind Aunts and Uncles and Cousins.... and GRANDMA!)

We also enjoyed swimming at the hotel pool and playing with cousins. On our last day in Midland, we had special time visiting with Grandma. We also visited an absolutely enchanting Santa House. It was filled with fun things to see, including toy trains, mechanical elves, and a Rudolph display. It even snowed inside! We visited Santa again and signed our names in the log book there.
We are so blessed to have a wonderful family in Michigan. We thoroughly enjoy our visits with them. It's fun to see the boys grow closer to their cousins and aunts and uncles each time we visit. We're already looking forward to a summer vacation in Northern Michigan for Addie's graduation!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blessed Feast of the Holy Family

Family Prayer To The Holy Family

O Heavenly Father, our loving God,

you have given us the Holy Family

as our patron to bless and guide our families

that the fruit of the Holy Spirit -

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, humility, and self-control -

shall reign in our homes.

As husbands and wives, teach us to love our spouses more than ever.

As parents, give us wisdom and knowledge in rearing our offsprings

to be responsible and successful Christians forever.

As brothers and sisters, may we learn to care and support for one another

and be of inspiration to each other.

As children, teach us to be obedient

just as Jesus showed obedience and respect to Mary and Joseph.

As Christians, melt us, mold us, fill us, and use us,

in spreading the good news in our community

that they may see Christ in us.

When trials come, help us to face them with trusting faith

and confidently hope that all things work for good for those who love God.

May we have a happy holy family forever

through Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

our miraculous patron, the adorable Holy Family.


(Submitted to Catholic Payers by Romeo (boyeT) T. Santianoon February 19, 2000

How great it is that immediately after the celebration of Christmas Day we are now celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family. Jesus wasn't "plopped down to Earth" on a solo mission. He was born into a human family. He too experienced the joys and challenges of living and learning and loving as part of a family. His family is a model for us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph inspire us and also intercede for us in our daily family life.

The hoopla and expectations of Christmas celebrations can bring out the best and worst family dynamics. We love to be with our immediate and extended families, but so much togetherness can also bring out tensions of all sorts. But today --- as we clean up wrapping paper and exhale from the hustle and bustle of preparations and celebrations ---- we enter more deeply into the Season of Christmas.

For our little family this has been a day of playing and relaxing together. We cleaned up a bit, played with new toys, watched a movie, went to Mass, went out to dinner. We were able to be together in a less hurried way. We really enjoyed one another.

As I reflected on today's Feast and on the readings from Mass, I thanked God for the gift of the family in which I was raised and for the family which I am now raising. It is with these people that I am journeying to heaven. We are very far from perfect. It's really hard sometimes. It's really great a lot of times. I love these people with a love that is fierce and deep and true. They are my best friends and they make me a better person by loving me and challenging me.

It's funny. After college I entered the convent. I thought I was going to spend my life living with a bunch of old ladies and being very holy. But God had other plans. Now I live with three boys. I pray more and am challenged to love more than I probably ever would have been in the convent. The path of holiness is different for each of us, but it is never a solo mission.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We are having a wonderful celebration so far. Last night we had my mom and sister and nephew here for dinner and then we went to Mass. This morning we've enjoyed opening presents and playing with new toys. We've talked to far-away family members on the phone and we're getting ready to go celebrate with our in-town relatives.

Most importantly, we are rejoicing in the miracle of our Lord's birth and inviting him into our hearts in a new way. May you know Christ's presence and love today and all the days of your life. Christmas blessings!

Wow! Santa brought big-boy toys.... Toy Story bike and scooter!

For my dad.... We're saving all this for you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hearts Full of Grace

Earlier this week our parish had Exposition and the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas. At dinner that night Jon and I explained to the boys that we'd be going to church for a little bit. We had taken them for brief visits to the Blessed Sacrament before, but this was the first time we talked with them about Confession.

After hearing a bit about it, Ray very matter-of-factly said, "I'm doing it too." No questions. No fear. He said, "I want to have my sins forgiven too." I asked him what sins he had to confess and, without skipping a beat, he said, "Well you know I don't always obey right away... and sometimes I'm not nice to my brother."

I tried to tell him that he's not old enough for the Sacrament yet and that he could just pray quietly in church. But he was insistent. I agreed that he could ask Father for a blessing, but I figured he'd chicken out when we got to church.

I was wrong. When we got to church, Adam very quietly drew pictures in a notebook. Ray was fascinated by the whole experience. He watched people in line for Confession. He watched Daddy go up and return and then he took me by the hand and practically dragged me to the line.

We went to our Associate Pastor and he was absolutely wonderful with Ray. I explained that Ray wasn't old enough yet, but that he wanted a blessing from Father. Ray said, "I want you to forgive my sins." Father extended his hands and gave Ray a blessing and Ray beamed with happiness and made the Sign of the Cross. It was a beautiful moment! (Ray was prepared to tell Father his sins, but he didn't seem to mind that Father never asked.)

Then Ray returned to the pew with Daddy and Adam and I went to Confession. When I got back to the pew, Ray was still beaming. I knelt down to say my Penance and Ray's curiosity continued. He asked what I was doing and why he didn't get a Penance. He knelt down and said three Our Fathers right along with me.

When we got to the vestibule and were putting on our coats, Adam informed me that he heard an angel tell him that the gates of heaven are open for him. I was beginning to get a bit freaked out about the supreme holiness of my children. Then I asked Adam what the angel meant and he said, "It means Santa is coming soon. Santa lives right next door to the angel." Ok... back to reality.

So, Ray essentially made his First Confession. It was a beautiful evening.... my favorite Advent moment. I was thrilled to know that they are truly "getting it." They have relationships with God --- outside of my coaching or control. They long for holiness. I learn as much from them as they do from me. We are on a journey toward heaven together.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Final Preparations

We are flipping with excitement here as Christmas is finally drawing near! Sing a carol, give a cheer... Christmas day is almost here!The tree is up.
The stockings are hung.
We've prayed all of the O Antiphons.
We've sent some cards and received lots more.This cheerful guy sits outside our door.
We've shopped and baked and crafted and wrapped...
...and played in the snow until our faces were chapped.We've been around town to sites full of lights.
Busy fun days and wonder-filled nights.
Stories and specials and treats and trains...
...have lifted our spirits and filled our brains.
We can hardly wait any longer to say,
"Rejoice, rejoice... it's Christmas Day!"

I hope you like this peek at what we've been up to for the past few weeks! We've finished up gymnastics, art, co-op, Good Shepherd, and our homeschool studies. We've been learning about Christmas Around the World. We've been praying the Jesse Tree, Advent Wreath, and O Antiphons. We've been singing tons of Christmas songs.

There are so many wonderful things to see and do around Columbus at this time of year. We've seen beautiful train displays at our library and COSI. We've visited the life-size Nativity display downtown. Tonight we're headed to the spectacular light display at the zoo.

A note about the boys' stockings -- Every year we add another decoration which symbolizes something special from that year. This year we added mementos from our trip to Disney.

Thanks Aunt Kay for the awesome penguin inflatable. He looks so cute on our porch!

I hope you're all enjoying these holy holidays. More soon....

Friday, December 17, 2010


Advent is supposed to be a time of "waiting in joyful hope." So, maybe that's why there haven't been any blog posts here for more than a week. Perhaps I am trying to help you perfect the virtue of patience. Or maybe create some anticipation and wonder during this holy season. Perhaps I've spent all of my free time in quiet reflection and prayer.

Or perhaps I've been to Michigan for five days, am trying to get our Christmas tree up and decorated (finally), still need to do most of the shopping for the boys, am trying to keep schooling and cooking and cleaning, need to get cards addressed, .have been enjoying visits from faraway friends..... Yikes! We've been doing tons of neat things that I'd like to blog about, but there just hasn't been time. Hopefully soon!

Is this part of getting old? There seems to be no time to "wait." Life seems to be in fast motion. Time seemed to crawl by at a snail's pace when I was a child waiting for Santa Claus to come. Now the challenge is to carve out time to make myself wait. It just doesn't seem right. I am trying to keep my heart and spirit from becoming engulfed in "Christmas hoopla." I am not feeling stressed, just so very busy. I am repeatedly reminding myself that the celebration of Jesus' birth doesn't have to be polished/perfect with matching wrapping paper and made-from-scratch meals and a perfectly clean house. It's probably better without all that anyway. I am praying for openness to receive Jesus into my heart and into our family life in a new way. I'm sure it won't look or feel the way I plan. It didn't happen the way people planned it 2000 years ago either.

Come, Lord Jesus. Find our hearts ready. Fill us anew with your love and your grace. We offer to you all of our preparations and busy-ness as well as our prayers and devotions. We long to give you and our loved ones "perfect gifts" and adore you in the most meaningful and beautiful ways. Help us remember that it's our hearts that you and our loved ones want. May the story of your birth in a simple, humble stable inspire us to give you and others genuine gifts of presence and love. May the joy that you continue to bring to the world be the focus of all of our celebrations and the true joy of our lives. Amen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stop and Reflect

I have spent this week very, very busily preparing for several Christmas celebrations. I have been working off a monster to-do list. The children and I have shuttled from event to event. This morning I read a beautiful post by Kimbery at Catholic Family Vignettes. It really reminded me to stop the craziness and embrace the season in the way it's meant to be celebrated. So, grab a warm drink, take a deep breath, and check it out here: . Thanks so much Kimberly! Advent Blessings.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Hello, Jesus?"

Adam loves to come in and snuggle in bed with me in the mornings. I am usually very out of it and sleepy, not wanting to get up. Here's how I woke up this morning:

Adam: "Mommy, can we really hear Jesus talk to us?"

Me: "Yes."

Adam: "Do you think he could tell me where I lost my Chap Stick?"

So funny! I won't go into the heavy Theology that I managed to muster up and give him. Somehow, he was appeased. A few minutes later he was patting me on the forehead and saying, "Oh my sweetheart, I just love you so much."

It doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Weekend of Parties!

It's Tuesday night and I'm still recovering from a whirlwind weekend of parties. (Wow... it occurs to me that "partying" is much different now than it was before children. It's a different kind of recovery entirely!)

On Friday Ray had a very nice birthday, including a Lego/pizza party with family and friends.

He had a wonderful time decorating the house and preparing prize boxes for all of the children. Here he is waiting for the party to begin!I decided to turn the main wall of our school room into a "Wall of Ray" with pictures of him from birth through age six.After dinner we had some Lego-building time and also some relays and other Lego games. We played our family's famous "marching game." (Basically, we tape down pictures related to the party theme and then we play music and march around the circle. When the music stops, we randomly select one of the pictures and whoever is standing on that picture wins a prize.) I should have taken pictures of the Lego pictures Jon and I hand-drew the night before. They were pretty silly. The children loved marching and winning prizes. Then I made the adults march too. They all got lottery tickets, but I don't think anyone won anything!Uncle Mike and Christian were the winners of the "Guess How Many Legos Are In The Box" game.A lady from our parish made this delicious - and very green - Lego cake.After most of the guests left I realized that I totally forgot to have them do the craft I planned. Ava, Carter, the boys, and Mamaw had fun filling hollow ornament bulbs with Legos and other craft items. Here's Ray opening his presents. He got several cool Lego kits that should help keep him busy this winter. A special gift from Mamaw:
A cool gift from some friends - A LEGO Rosary!
Daddy and Ray trying to figure out a neat robotic erector set from Pappy -
On Saturday the fun continued with a new tradition, a "cousin party" at my sister's house. We decided to get together for an afternoon of fun, food, games, and crafts instead of buying presents for one another this year. A great time was had by all!

More marching....Christmas Bingo...

A table full of prizes...Craft time.... The coolest craft: We made small holes in the bottoms of ping pong balls, placed them on top of battery-operated tea lights, and then decorated them with markers. They really glow and look like snow globes.
And last, but certainly not least, we took part in a wonderful circus-themed party to celebrate the first birthday of my Goddaughter. More games and prizes and presents and cake and fun! She was so adorable and I can't believe she's already a year old!
And so, we're into another school week now... but there's a table in my living room that is overflowing with party paraphanalia of all types: hats, treat bags and boxes, crafts, treats, prizes. Thank you, God, for so many wonderful reasons to celebrate. Thank you for the gift of life, for family and friends, for days filled with laughter and fun.