Saturday, September 30, 2006

Infant Massage Communication: Part 2

One basic point to remember is that massage strokes going away from the heart are relaxing (in the Indian tradition) and strokes going toward the heart are stimulating (in the Swedish tradition); both have their proper place and time with babies. There are seven other "P" points to remember:

Are you comfortable? You can be standing, sitting or propped on the floor with your baby, whatever works best. For the baby, is he/she supported in a way that promotes physical security and joint flexion? Tiny infants will need soft, nesting pillows to swaddle in while older babies can be experimented with to find what works best... on their tummies, backs, sides, even while crawling or nursing!

Let the baby always have a clear and predictable routine before you start massage. Be very attentive to their cues. Are they making eye contact? Or is the baby refusing to "give permission" by turning his head away, thrashing about, or fussing? Respect these cues.

Parent should be calm, and focused... do some breathing exercises prior to beginning just to put yourself in the right frame of mind

Massage communication should be like a rhythmic, repetitious and predictable dance... flowing and adapting to the cues and physical positioning needs as they come up.

Always maintain a secure, sometimes firm, but always GENTLE touch. Be responsive to baby's cues.

The more consistency you develop in an infant massage routine the easier it will be for baby to receive touch and give cues... as you give touch and receive cues.

Don't get caught up in proper technique! (Except ALWAYS go clockwise on a baby's tummy... the way of digestion) Simply enjoy being with your baby.

Find a time of day where baby is in a quiet alert state. Don't attempt to massage when the baby is sleeping or fussy. Many people add infant massage to their night-time routine. Others like to go outside on a sunny day and sit in the shade to do it. Whatever works best for you. Try to avoid the baby oils or heavily perfumed creams. The best thing, (and cheapest too) is to simply use a natural, edible oil that is safe for the baby's skin to absorb. I like sunflower seed oil because it's light and pretty odorless. Others use olive oil, apricot oil... pretty much anything but nut oils (avoid those in case of allergies). Also, infant massage isn't just for infants! There are ways to adapt it to older children so lifelong communication skills can be established. Of course these ways respect the child's privacy and aren't as intense as massage for babies.

Regarding sources for more info:

Hands down the BEST book out of many on this topic is "Infant Massage: a Handbook for Loving Parents" by Vimala Schneider McClure. Some websites to consider are: *a good site if you want organic oils *a great article on massage benefits *includes an overview as well as specific strokes.

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 10:17 AM :: 0 Comments

St. Jerome

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Jerome. He is a Doctor of the Church and patron of Librarians. I wish I had more to say on his life, writings and all, but unfortuanately I have not the knowledge, inspiration, nor time... But nevertheless, happy feast day!

Prayer to St. Jerome
For Insight:

Through your anger and confrontations you remind us that we all have a duty to confront others from time to time. You also remind us that we have a duty to examine ourselves and confront our own weaknesses and harmful behaviours. Your life teaches that I must accept others for who they are. You taught of the danger of self-righteousness; of the importance of reflecting upon one of Jesus' most insightful teachings: "Let the man who has no sin on his conscience throw the first stone." In the light of your teachings, Saint Jerome, help me to see my own self clearly. Help me to confront my own biases and to act to change others only out of love. If I see that I have the duty to confront another, I ask you to be with me during those necessary but unpleasant moments of confrontation. Help me to remember that love alone can make changes for the good. Amen.


one of us :: 12:30 AM :: 0 Comments


Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Coffeehouse: Dose me up please!


Ellie here, my first post since Dominic was born (the others were made before his birth and saved to be put up by Sia). Sia is up here with me this week... generous with her time and energy to help me out when I really needed it.

Helping women out after the birth of a child is such an important thing! Other cultures have us so far beat in this regard... in Nigeria for example a woman has someone with her for 6 weeks post-partum! Imagine! But our culture is such one that expects women to be able to do everything and be everything to everyone. Couple that with the fact that many families don't live close to their relatives anymore and you have conditions for one isolated-feeling mama!

I've been struggling a bit with the "Baby Blues" with this little man, plus I came down with a terrible infection that had me completely out of commission for a couple days. This with the sleepless nights and physical post-partum pains has been of course challenging for me. And most of all... I miss my mother like never before. She lives 5 hours away and has a hard time making it up here with how busy her life is.

And so having Sia around has been tremendously helpful. I say this because I am such a firm believer in offering new mothers as much support as possible. I know you Santa Paulers out there have a great dinner chain for the mamas in your area... I wish everyone would do this. And just taking the kids for a walk or offering to hold the baby while mom eats... what a treat!

With three kids, I have a lot of general thoughts on motherhood now but mostly I just wanted to put a plug in for all of us to give a little bit more of ourselves to new mothers. Even moms you don't know well!! Whenever I see a newborn in my parish, I try to introduce myself to the mom if I don't know her and offer to bring a meal... which as manners dictate, she tries to politely refuse. But you have to be persistant with those of us who like to pretend we can handle everything!! INSIST! Just ask what day works best... and if their are any allergies to worry about. Make it impossible to say "No."

This is our little way of imitating the Blessed Mother who gave so generously of her time and energy (while pregnant herself!) to her cousin Elizabeth.

So, in order to lamely tie this into a Friday Coffeehouse post, I'll say "Pour me another cup," because the days are long and trying right now. And God is generous in the graces He allows to flow through such days.

-Ellie, Oak Harbor: WA


one of us :: 12:12 PM :: 3 Comments

Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. "Angel" literally translates to "messenger" from the Koine Greek; an "arch" angel is a "primary" or "chief" messenger. (~from Catholic Encyclopedia) has some great ideas on how to celebrate this feast with children:
"... This is a good feast to learn more about the angels. Children especially are fascinated by these celestial beings...
~Find the passages in the Bible about angels, in particular the passages about Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
~Memorize the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. (encouraged by Pope John Paul II)
~In honor of St. Gabriel, Learn the Angelus and recite it daily.
~Read the Book of Tobit for the story of St. Raphael helping Tobit and Tobias.
~Make some recipes related to Michaelmas. Of special mention is the St. Michael Bannock from Scotland, roast goose and stuffing from Britain, waffles from France, and roast duck from Germany or France, gnocchi from Italy. Blackberries, apples and carrots also play a large role on this feast in various countries. Other ideas: make an angel food cake, devil's food cake or angel hair pasta. Decorate with white, symbolizing the angels, or use other symbolic colors (see above). Non-dessert items: deviled eggs, deviled meats, etc.
~Try to find the Michaelmas daisy, a purple aster, to use for decoration. The official name is Aster novi-belgii, but is also known as New York aster.
~Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamp and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. A Traditional Irish proverb says: On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.
If you have access to blackberries, make this the last picking and eating. Perhaps make a blackberry pie? See Michaelmas Pie for a great recipe.

Michael the archangel : Michael ( meaning: who is like unto God?) is given four offices:
1)to fight against Satan
2)to rescue faithful souls from the power of the enemy
3)to be the champion of God's people...he is the patron of the Church.
4)to call away from earth & bring men's souls to judgement.

Gabriel the Archangel: Gabriel (meaning: God is my strength) is of course the well-known archangel who comes to Mary in the mystery of the Annunciation.

Raphael the Archangel : Raphael (meaning: God has healed) is commonly the archangel of maidens; the archangel whom many of us prayed to for good husbands, for good spouses. He is also known as the protector of virgins.

God our Father, in a wonderful way you guide the work of angels and men. May those who serve you constantly in heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


one of us :: 12:06 PM :: 2 Comments


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Step-by-Step: Called to More

So much changes when a child reaches that wonderful, yet hard, stage of knowing right from wrong! My son lately has been so delightful, as always, but so trying on my nerves!!

~He has a new scream-or shall I call it a screech!- that is so high-pitched and awful that I have to cover my ears.

~A long time ago he started to do the rolling-thing when I would go to change his diaper. He'd roll over and crawl away, giggling. I'd tease him and play with him, finally getting him to play with a toy as I quickly changed his diaper. I actually looked forward to this time with him. It was fun and it was satisfying: we had a good laugh and then got him "all clean and dry!" (our little happy family phrase for post-diaper changing time.) NOW I dread changing his diaper. First of all, his hand goes down there the minute I open up a poopy diaper. He too often gets his hands dirty. Second, he dislikes being in one place. He rolls and twists with more strength than I have to keep him down. He is stronger now than my one free hand can handle. Diaper-changing time is usually disasterous and exhausting, and has to end up in a quick plunge in the bath. Rarely is it sweet and fun as it was only a month or two ago.

~He has also started that "I'm mad you won't let me touch that!" face and even crawls AWAY from me in a temper. It's funny but heartbreaking at the same time.

~Sometimes when he touches something he knows he's not supposed to touch, he looks my way... "No, Aidan- nono. don't touch" I say sweetly, giving him the eye. In response, he's really sweet at times, smiling and moving on to something else. Yet there are times when he gets a look on his face, and goes at it, seeing what he can get away with. I get sterner: "Aidan, NO." -The eye gets sterner. He does it again. Then comes the face-to-face: I take his little face in my hands and look into his big beautiful eyes: "look at mama. NO." There are times when this works and times when this doesn't. Then there's the firm fist-hold, the VERY stern NO, and the taking-away/distraction with other toys and activities. The latter way I deal with such situations is the way which I always strive for. However, I too often lose my patience and grab him away, rather than taking the time to TEACH him right from wrong and obedience.

I mention all the above events because I'm partly looking for imput on how you all deal with these times in your own lives, but also because I feel so WEAK lately. It is vital that we respond to every child's actions and words with total love! Temper runs in my family. I don't mind sharing with you all that in my first year of marriage my husband and I had a few pretty violent fights leaving bookshelves emptied and my pottery broken. This year (our second year) of marriage we really grew a lot and matured more in these areas. We have both let go of a lot of pride, too, that's for sure. And we also have both grown in our prayer life, I think, which is probably the most effective means of grace for these times. We haven't lost our tempers like that with eachother in a year, I don't think. Anyhow, I have to pray hard that my temper never gets the better of me. Temper is sometimes a more powerful force than I realize, and can suddenly surge up and result in a bad mistake.

My point? I feel that at this stage of being a mother, I am called to a whole new level: I need to pray all the harder for grace to sustain me through every moment of motherhood. The peaches-and-cream sweet innocent magical time of a new baby is behind me in certain ways. All these little scenes with my son which I've mentioned are tests of my patience, calls to further virtue, calls to a deepening in holiness which is so vital for becoming a good parent. I suppose this is just the beginning of countless challenging stages in my life as a mother. I am grateful, in a way, to be humbled by my own weaknesses, and for these opportunities for conversion and growth. I just hope that I will be strong enough to really pray through these times, responding to the call to further grace and virtue, and not just be beaten down by them.

May our Lady teach us her gentle ways throughout our daily lives. May we imitate her in all we do, treating every child with dignity, love and reverence as we would Christ.

~ Sia, up on Whidbey Island with Ellie this week


one of us :: 1:48 PM :: 8 Comments


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

St Vincent de Paul

Today is the feast of St Vincent de Paul. He was born at Pouy, Gascony, France, around 1580 and ordained in 1600.

I think we're all pretty familiar with the organizations we see all over!
~He founded the first conference of charity for the assistance of the poor... he went on to establish/found numerous charity organizations, including the Hospice of the Name of Jesus, where forty old people of both sexes found a shelter and work suited to their condition, and the Daughters of Charity.
~"Several learned Paris priests, won by his example, joined him. Nearly everywhere after each of these missions, a conference of charity was founded for the relief of the poor..."

There have been many organizations founded based on St. Vincent de Paul's works in his time, including the
Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I don't know about you, but it seems that so often I desre to help the poor and needy but hardly ever take action! Growing up I had a love for the poor and the desire to really put it to action, but haven't really. There is of course the power of prayer, but I think that it'd be good if I could at least donate to the huge "Vincent St. Paul" bin which lives in our parish hall... I see it all the time and yet pass it by. Mea Culpa...

Prayers for the feast:

Dear Saint, the mere mention of your name suggests a litany of your virtues: humility, zeal, mercy, self-sacrifice. It also recalls your many foundations: Works of Mercy, Congregations, Societies. And the Church gratefully remembers your promotion of the priesthood. Inspire all Charitable Workers, especially those who minister to the poor - both the spiritually and the materially poor. Amen.

God our Father, you gave Vincent de Paul the courage and holiness of an apostle for the well-being of the poor and the formation of the clergy. Help us to be zealous in continuing his work. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


one of us :: 9:34 AM :: 0 Comments

Question of the Week

We all know the stage: baby squirms while you change the diaper... they twist and turn, they roll and whine. Some are just playing... I don't know about you all, but it drives me crazy!!

What are your tactics for handling this common game which most babies play??


one of us :: 9:33 AM :: 2 Comments


Monday, September 25, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: Alternative Gifts

We've all been to a young child's birthday party haven't we? You know, the kind where piles and piles of gifts are dutifully placed in front of the young receiver... who usually opens them up and rushes to the next gift without doing much appreciation of each gift given. First of all, I think that most of us can agree that kids don't NEED a lot of gifts. The more they have, the harder it is to appreciate WHAT they have. Simplicity begets gratitude in a way that hoards of toys can not.

That said, we all want to acknowledge the child in SOME way right?! I mean, clothes are nice, but somewhat disappointing to kids if that's all they see on their birhtdays. It's fun to see the smiles on their faces and their eyes light up when they unwrap something... in fact pretty much ANYTHING novel. So here are some ideas for gift giving that help cut down on the standard "twaddle" in a typical child's room and still offer a bit of fun. So you no longer need to feel obliged to go out to Toys R Us anymore when you receive a birthday invitation. Please add your own ideas if you have them as well!

  • The cardboard box. Kids delight in boxes. One of the best gifts I've ever seen given is a giant refrigerator box. The child was totally overwhelmed with excitement and immediately forgot the other gifts waiting for him. He saw it brought in and his eyes got huge and he immediately crawled inside it to explore while all the other kiddies at the party began their imaginings with it too. You can cut out windows or "sun-roofs" and color it like a rocket ship... anything your want. Or you can just give it plain and let the child do with it what he wills. Once it gets old and beaten up and loses its novelty, parents won't feel guilty about throwing it away (errr... recycling it).
  • The garden kit. Buy a cheap packet of cucumber seeds or some other simple, quick growing plant. A tiny planter pail and a little shovel. Joy and education all in one.
  • The coupon book. Make up a fun, decorative coupon and give it to the child for something exclusive to them alone. A special trip to the ice cream parlor. Or any meal they want for free. A trip to the movies, etc. These are best for kids over the age of 4, who tend to need something immediately gratifying for a gift.
  • Books. I know, it should go without saying. But books are a treasure that can be opened all the time and parents are often reluctant to buy new books because they can be spendy. But beautifully illustrated books are something that no one usually can complain about.
  • Slippers. It sounds silly, but there is something about slippers and kids. Not only are they practical, but they are just fun to wear if you manage to find silly ones (best found around Christmastime).
  • Customizable anything. You can buy a plain white t-shirt and some paints, or socks and little buttons, sequins or yarns. Kids can have a blast decorating their own clothing and it encourages creativity too! Another cheap thing to do would be to find some smooth river rocks and wrap those up with some paints... so the child can paint their own garden rocks.
  • A big box of anything. Kids are impressed with quantities. I witnessed it today. Give a child an old keychain and it's not too cool... but give them a huge bag full of random keychains (you know, the freebie kinds you get at vendor booths all over the place) and they are delighted. This is especially true if they can clip some together. Other boxes full of neat things could include buttons, cookie cutters, colorful paper or wallpaper samples, paper kiddy cups (the kind designed to be near bathroom sinks), pretty much anything that allows for creative imagining or activity.
  • Stilts. Best for at least 4 years of age and up. You can make them out of big coffee cans and some light rope... or you can go all out and craft some simple wooden stilts. Either way, it's a sometimes forgotten activity that kids always love.

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 11:20 PM :: 0 Comments


Saturday, September 23, 2006

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Another one of my favorite saints. St. Pio is important to me because he is such a new saint. Since he only died in 1968, it's so easy to look at him as a REAL person. Oftentimes we fall into the thinking of saints being myths or just nice stories rather than living, breathing human beings who struggled with the same day to day struggles every other person did.

The life of Padre Pio is a fascinating one; I won't bother to try articulating his finer points here. But one of the best books I ever read was his biography. And the best biography written about him happens to be "Padre Pio: the True Story" by Bernard C. Ruffin. I can't recommend it enough.

On a side note, when I was pregnant with my firstborn and my husband was overseas, I used to do a middle of the night Adoration hour in a nearby town. And it seemed to me whenever I drove there or back on a certain part of the highway, I could smell such a heavenly fragrance, unlike any flower I knew. I always attributed it to Saint Pio (who was known... and IS known to be associated with a divine 'aroma') and have counted him among my favorite intercessors since then...

Here is a nice prayer from him for after Communion, it's worth the whole read:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much and alway be in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close and life passes, death, judgment and eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows.
O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You. Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.


one of us :: 9:57 AM :: 1 Comments


Friday, September 22, 2006

Dominic Vianney

We would like to announce the newest arrival in Ellie's family! She has given birth to their 3rd son. We are grateful that all went well and for another fresh life! Thanks to all who have kept Ellie's family in their prayers!

Dominic Vianney was born early on September 19th... a full 9 lbs and 1 oz. 21 inches long.


one of us :: 2:33 PM :: 5 Comments

Friday Coffeehouse: Poetry

To accompany a hot cup of coffee/tea/cocoa on a chilly autumn afternoon, we've already mentioned the delight we find in reading aloud to our children or playing nice music... having a generally wholesome, quiet time. I wanted to also put a word in for what seems to be a dying practice: reading poetry. I know that it can seem dull and old fashioned to pick up a poetry book and read it to your children when there are so many great stories available with wonderful pictures that you'd much rather go to instead.

But there is something more than aesthetics or nostalgia to children's verses... it can be hugely beneficial from an intellectual standpoint. Kids begin to absorb rhyme and meter and cadence when they hear poetry. Also, they are exposed to alternate ways to construct sentences. Finally, what is especially true in older poetry books, their vocabulary is challenged when they greet new words and thus, patterns of thought in how to see the world. There imaginations begin to soar and they can easily see through metaphors and similes. (I loved when Xavier described the white-plastic covered hay rolls in the fields as "giant marshmallows floating on the grass.")

My four year old loves reading poetry with me. I don't think he understands every word or phrase that comes out of it, but he enjoys the sing-song rythms we discover and can be found repeating refrains to himself when he plays alone sometimes.

There are undoubtedly dozens upon dozens of great children's poetry books available out there, both old and new. But to really get the rich vocabulary, I recommend going back to the older books or at least compilations that include older poems. Things weren't "dumbed down" for kids so much back then as I find they sometimes are today. Keep your eye out for them at thrift stores or garage sales, etc. I recently bought a BEAUTIFULLY illustrated version of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses at a local booksale. What a delight! Another highly recommended poetry book is Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris Tibbets as well as Sing Song by Christina Rosetti. This one is actually more basic nursery rhyming than longer poems. All of these compilations include wonderful illustrations which really make the verses come alive.

A few of my favorite quotes on poetry:

The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim. It is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.
~W. Somerset Maugham

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. ~Christopher Fry

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

~Dead Poet's Society

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 2:24 PM :: 2 Comments


Thursday, September 21, 2006

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel.

One day Jesus was walking and saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at a tax collection post, and said to him, "Follow me." And Matthew stood up and followed Him, and became one of His twelve apostles. M 9:9-13

How simple that was for Matthew! I really wish that I had that sort of courage and love for our Lord day-to-day. We have so many wonderful saints to pray to for this.

He is the patron of accountants, bankers, stock brokers, and other such lines of work. I love the name Matthew! It's origin is Hebrew and it means Gift of God. There are many forms of Matthew which we could use for our children, such as: Mateo, Mattias, Matyas... the list goes on.

O Glorious Saint Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new Lawgiver who founded a Church of the New Covenant. Obtain for us the grace to see Jesus living in his Church and to follow his teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven. Amen.


one of us :: 10:31 AM :: 0 Comments

A Refreshing Read

We just checked out Brother Juniper by Diane Gibfried at our local library. This is a pretty new book and that's why I wanted to offer a little review if you're looking for a new little something for your kiddy bookshelf. I think it's always good to have as little distinction as possible between our Faith and the day-to-day realities of childhood and that is why it's important to offer your kids solid literature that isn't afraid to tell the story of a saint for example. (Tomie DePaola has many great books to this effect.)

Anyway, Brother Juniper is the story about a generous little friar who gives away everything he can to the less fortunate. The book is even politically incorrect enough to include a couple of tastefully done nude illustrations of the brother after he gave the robe off his back!! All in all, it's a great book to add to your collection... nice and light too since some "kid's books" about saints can be very long reads. (If you see my review on ignore the statement about age levels... I must've misread the description.)

-Ellie Peck: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 10:28 AM :: 4 Comments


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Question of the Week

One of our very early posts addressed the issue which all non-contracepting mothers have to face: that of unsolicited comments about your family size or the spacing of your children etc. It can be awkward to think of a response when someone has the audacity to impose their opinions on your lifestyle choices.

I'm curious about the reverse situation we all face too. Women these days are eager to tell even strangers "Well, I'm done having kids so..." or "My husband is getting 'fixed' so we don't have to worry about that anymore." ...Things along this line.

How do you act when you encounter such abrubt statements? Do you say something to convict them? Politely nod and smile? How do you handle these experiences?


one of us :: 7:00 AM :: 8 Comments


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Angelus

Noontime almost always passes by without me even noticing. I often look at the clock throughout the day, and if I happen to look at it within the hour of 12, I think, "darnit, missed it again!" and simply say the prayer a bit late. The hours of 6 and 12 are traditionally the hours when the Angelus is said, except during Paschal time, when the Regina Coeli is recited instead.The Angelus is an ancient prayer which reminds us of the Incarnation. In religious communities often the bell is rung and all stop whatever they are doing to say this prayer. It is a wonderful way to center your day around the miracle of our faith: when Christ became man through His handmaid, Mary of Nazareth. Although our homes are not religious communities, they are indeed similar to monasteries in the sense that they are little places of light, order, routines and schedules: a place where each individual is learning to become holy within the communal atmosphere, and serving Christ through every little act. I think it is so beautiful to imagine many people, throughout the entire world, stopping at the same time, in the middle of work, to say this little, strong prayer. -Farmers in the fields, children at their studies, a mother at her sudsy sink, a carpenter on the roof, an office person at the desk: all stop to remember this sacred event in our Faith.

Growing up one of us always had our alarm set for the noon hour. When it went off, we would all rise for the Angelus and assemble in the kitchen: pencils in hand, mom with flour and bread dough all over her hands, another with the knitting project in her hands... We'd face the painting or icon of Mary, in whatever room we were in, and say this prayer. I hope to someday do the same in my own family, but for now I need to come up with a way of remembering to do so. If I had an alarm on my hand it just might go off while I was happening to be putting the baby to sleep... Perhaps a kitchen timer would work. Either way, it's an important prayer worth trying to say daily with the family. (Another prayer which many families say daily at a certain hour is the Divine Mercy Chaplet, at the hour of 3 O'Clock, which is the hour Christ died on the cross. )

In case you do not remember or know it the Angelus, it is below. The V signifies the leader of the prayer and the R the response of the crowd or other person. After each phrase a Hail Mary is said by all.

The Angelus:
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.Hail Mary, etc.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.R. And dwelt among us.Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

~Sia in Vancouver, WA


one of us :: 9:18 PM :: 0 Comments


Monday, September 18, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: teething tips

These are afew things which helped my son get through cutting his eight teeth and which still helping as he now cuts his molars...

1. Frozen bananas on a stick: cut bananas in half width-wise, stick a popsicle stick (or two, depending on your baby's ability to hold things) in it, and freeze in a plastic ziplock bag. Have these little half-popsicles handy in the freezer at all times for those fussy times. Depending on the age of your child you can either feed it to them or hand it to them.

2. Hyland's teething tablets. These are around $8.00 for a little plastic bottle of them. 3 tablets every few hours usually eases their symptoms temporarily. Or, if you are an owner of a Washington Homeopathic kit, use a few pellets of Calcium Phosphate (calc. p)every 3 hours or as needed. (I am no physician; therefore please take note that this is simply what Ido.

3. Fruit Juice Popsicles: Try to make your own, as most popsicles in the stores are full of corn syrup and extra sugar. You can buy popsicle sticks and put them into tiny plastic cups of juice, then freeze. A simpler way is to invest in those cheap little plastic popsicle-making mold and use those. Fill them with a pure fruit juice, cuch as O.J. or natural strawberry, etc. Or, what I have been doing this year, as I've been sort of "on the road", you can simply buy popsicles. Edy's Whole Fruit popsicles were Aidan's favorite, as they're mostly all strawberries. Pnce again, depending on the age, you may find yourself snuggling down and feeding the popsicle to your child or giving it to them in their high chair.

4. A wet rag, frozen or unfrozen. My little one loves to suck all the water out of a clean fresh washcloth. Fill it with water, wring it out partially so it doesn't drip, and hand it to your child to suck on, chew on, etc. If you put it in the freezer, it makes a good COLD cloth to help numb their gums... and it's a good for keeping them hydrated, too!

5.Any flattish-rubber toy: they can chew, chew, chew, to their heart's delight.

6.Any cloth toy with knots in it. It would be easy to make using an old clean sock, by cutting it up into a sort of star shape and tying knots at the ends for them to gnaw on. Magic Cabin makes an excellent teething toys called terry teethers. They're around $10 each and are made of washcloth material. These are great wet, too.

7. Finally, if you are losing sleep at night from a very restless, screaming child, you may want to give them a tiny dose of baby tylenol. I try to only use this when it's really taking away their sleep and our sleep. Otherwise, during the day, I try to use the above aids and to rock and hold him.

All the best-- and please, please please comment with any tips you have found helpful, as well. I think we all love to hear new ideas, as teething can be such a hard time on the child and on us.



one of us :: 12:19 PM :: 3 Comments


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Infant Massage Communication: Part 1

When I lived in California, I had the opportunity to go through a training series to become an Instructor of Infant Massage. I am certified, but have yet to do any classes for money for two reasons: 1- I've been too busy with my own life. And 2- I have mixed feelings on charging money for this information I give to parents. The information families receive when they go through the series of classes is priceless... such a gift. I'd recommend it to anyone if you can afford it. Anyway, in this post and the next I want to only highlight some of the benefits of Infant Massage and direct parents to a couple resources where they can look at it further on their own. It is far too complex to teach via the blog format. Even reading it in a book isn't ideal since there are so many subtleties that are best learned in person. However, there is something to be benefitted from getting a basic into, and you don't need to know the specific strokes and techniques right away since the ultimate goal is simply touch communication: a lot of it will come naturally to you. Other cultures have been doing infant massage for generations (especially in India) and we could stand to learn a lot from them!

So, the next post will discuss ways to enhance the quality of the massage communication while this one will simply address the benefits of it:

Benefits for Parents
-IM offers the ideal expression of our first language - touch. Massaging your baby develops bridges of communication that last a lifetime.
-It's relaxing for parents
-It does a lot to increase your confidence as a parent since you become so in touch with your babies cues and will know how to respond to them.
-IM is an opportunity to connect and share quality time with your baby that is undisturbed by other distractions.
-It teaches parents how to respond to baby in nurturing ways.

Benefits for all Babies
-Promotes bonding and attachment
-Improves circulation, digestion and mental organization
-Reduces fussiness
-Helps baby learn to relax
-Improves sleep
-Reduces symptoms of colic, gas and GI tract distress

Benefits for Babies with Special Needs
-Helps relax tight muscles
-Helps stimulate muscle tone for low-tone babies
-Helps babies learn to accept positive touch (especially for those who've been hospitalized)
-Increases weight gain
-Improves eye contact and socialization
-Decreased fisting and shoulder reaction
-General reduction of stress

So there's that, are you convinced it's a good thing yet? Babies who receive consistent massage interaction are generally "lower maintenance" than those who don't. The power of touch is incredible. So stay tuned for some tips to develop a good massage communication routine with your child!

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 10:14 AM :: 0 Comments


Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Coffeehouse: Banana Bread with Coffee

Mollie Katzen has some wonderful recipes out there, including my so-far
favorite banana bread recipe, which calls for black coffee. Because coffee is one of the ingredients, this recipe makes a great banana bread to eat alongside your cup of coffee.

Mollie Katzen was originally a part of the Moosewood Collective in Ithaca, NY, which is a group which founded the Moosewood Restaurant, an alternative/vegetarian restaurant that was founded in 1973. She wrote the Moosewood Cookbok when she was a part of that whole scene, but left to go on to write her own cookbooks, illustrating and hand-writing them all out, giving them a very beautuiful, creative touch which is always a joy to see when you open one of the originals. I am not a vegetarian... I love meat! -But when it comes to not having meat around, this cookbook is a great one to have around for creative vegetarian ideas that are always delicious.

Anyway, to the recipe!:
Banana Bread--

OVEN: 350 degrees F; makes 2 loaves; bake 40-50 minutes, or until a thin knife, inserted into the middle, comes out clean. Prepare loaf pans by buttering or oiling with canola oil, and (optional) sprinkling with sesame seeds.

2 sticks softened butter
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 1/2 cups pureed banana mixed with 2/3 cup black coffee

To make this, you do the same you would for any old banana bread recipe:
-Have the pureed banana and coffee ready on the side to be added to the batter.
-Mix the dry ingredients first, in a bowl of their own.
-In a seperate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth... add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Then add the vanilla. Slowly add the banana/coffee mixture and mix.

Have the pans prepared (buttered or oiled) and the oven preheated. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake.

Serve hot or cold with cheddar cheese and coffee. (This is how I like to eat it!)

~Sia in Vancouver, WA


one of us :: 8:48 AM :: 3 Comments

Our Lady of Sorrows

What a fitting feast for we mothers to meditate on. The sorrows of Our Lady are so immense compared to our petty sorrows. We do not know, of course, the sorrows our Lord has in store for us. We may be called to suffer through the devestations of death, sickness, pain... of persecution, of hardships and so on. No mater what crosses lie in store for us or on out table at this moment, what better example do we have than that of Mary, who watched her own Son suffer the death of a crucifixion and more? Let's meditate on hers and pray for the grace to accept every sorrow of our own life of motherhood.

I have put up this image of our Lady, as it is one of hope, courage, kindness and compassion. It is the face from the statue of
Our Lady of Combermere. There are many sorrowful depictions of Mary out there which we are familiar with, but this is one which hopefully can give all of us courage as mothers, aspiring for total love of God through everything.

To read more about this feast, click here.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary:
~Prophecy of Simeon
~Flight into Egypt
~Three-day Separation from Jesus in Jerusalem
~Meeting Christ on the Road to Calvary
~Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ
~Our Lord is Taken Down from the Cross (Pieta)
~Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Buried in the Tomb

The ancient Latin prayer known as the Stabat Mater is a fitting meditation/hymn to sing or pray on theis feast:

At the cross her station keeping, Mary stood in sorrow weeping When her Son was crucified.
While she waited in her anguish, Seeing Christ in torment languish, Bitter sorrow pierced her heart.
With what pain and desolation, With what noble resignation, Mary watched her dying Son.
Ever-patient in her yearning Though her tear-filled eyes were burning, Mary gazed upon her Son.
Who, that sorrow contemplating, On that passion meditating, Would not share the Virgin's grief?
Christ she saw, for our salvation, Scourged with cruel acclamation, Bruised and beaten by the rod.
Christ she saw with life-blood failing, All her anguish unavailing, Saw him breathe his very last.
Mary, fount of love's devotion, Let me share with true emotion All the sorrow you endured.
Virgin, ever interceding, Hear me in my fervent pleading: Fire me with your love of Christ.
Mother, may this prayer be granted:That Christ's love may be implantedIn the depths of my poor soul.
At the cross, your sorrow sharing, All your grief and torment bearing, Let me stand and mourn with you.
Fairest maid of all creation, Queen of hope and consolation, Let me feel your grief sublime.
Virgin, in your love befriend me, At the Judgment Day defend me. Help me by your constant prayer.
Savior, when my life shall leave me,Through your mother's prayersreceive meWith the fruits of victory.
Virgin of all virgins blest! Listen to my fond request: Let me share your grief divine
Let me, to my latest breath, In my body bear the death Of your dying Son divine.
Wounded with His every wound, Steep my soul till it has swooned In His very Blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh, Lest in flames I burn and die, In His awe-full judgment day.
Savior, when my life shall leave me,Through your mother's prayersreceive meWith the fruits of victory.
While my body here decays May my soul your goodness praise, Safe in heaven eternally. Amen Alleluia.


one of us :: 8:43 AM :: 1 Comments


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Exultation of the Holy Cross

I thought it fitting to post some simple prayers before a crucifix for today's feast:
O good and dearest Jesus, I kneel before your face. With all my heart I ask you to place in my heart more faith, hope and charity. Give me a true sorrow for my sins and a strong will to do better With great sorrow and grief I look upon your five wounds and think about them. Before my eyes are the words that the prophet David said of you, O good Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and feet They have numbered all my bones." ~Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975

Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

This feast also marks the end of the Maronite liturgical year.


one of us :: 5:34 AM :: 0 Comments

A Reflection on Mass

If you are like me, you get easily distracted at Mass... the kid behind you smells like last week's diaper pail, the man in front of you has a very noticeable hairpiece that keeps slipping, the teenager next to you is wearing clothes you'd see at a beach, your own child keeps tugging on you and whining, the priest's eyelids keep drooping during the readings... etc. There's a lot going on it seems and it can be really hard to place yourself in the mindset that we are at a Heavenly Banquet, about to encounter the Master of the Universe in the most intimate way possible. What can be done? Well, you can't control your external circumstances very much so it's important to try to get to Mass a bit early so you get a chance to pray and prepare yourself for the Sacred Mysteries about to take place. Apart from this, the only consolation we really get is the knowledge (but not necessarily the feeling) that we are receiving immense graces just by being there and receiving our Lord.

Anyway, in a recent talk I heard, Dr. Scott Hahn was referring to all this and how it shouldn't surprise us. Christ is hidden in such an ordinary little wafer. If His glory was revealed for all to see, we first of all wouldn't be able to handle it... secondly, the whole world would be Catholic because there would be no room for faith to have its home.

All the distractions at Mass are part of the ordinary human experience. It is this EXACT SAME ordinary human experience that was present when Jesus Christ walked the earth! People didn't look at Him and think "Wow, He looks like He might be God." He walked the noisy, distracted streets of Jerusalem and ate with the ordinary people with babies crying in the background to be sure. God is the fullness of human experience.

This is why it's so wonderful to be Catholic! We don't have to rely on our "feelings" in order to receive sanctifying (or sacramental) grace. It's there whether we recognize it or not. The angels in Heaven are worshipping the Eucharistic Lord there in Mass even if the priest's sermon was boring and the music off-key. What consolation!!! That we experience our God in the same way people 2000 years ago experienced Him when He was right in front of their faces... in the context of our fallen, distracted, noisy humanity.

Well, it helped me to hear this anyway!

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 5:25 AM :: 1 Comments


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Question of the Week

Well, last's weeks question was rather a dud, so here is one that is more directed towards being a mother, not just something I was wondering....

How do you work into your days your shower/bath? Do you do it when your husband is home and can watch the children? Do you hop in quickly when the children are napping, risking that they may wake up while you're in? Do you just take them into the shower or bathroom with you?....


one of us :: 8:01 AM :: 5 Comments

St. John Chrysostom

"The Golden Mouthed" saint was well known for his homilies that caused many people, even bishops, to try to silence him. He critisized the rich who didn't share their wealth and argued for fidelity in marriages. The following quote of St. John's, should lead well into a thought I've written about the Holy Mass... to be posted soon.

When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that here are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.


one of us :: 7:59 AM :: 0 Comments


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Suffering and Childbirth

I have a pride issue.

I suspect a lot of women do regarding childbirth so I wanted to share a little thought a wise friend of mine told me this weekend. I gave birth without any pain medication the last two times. It was just something I wanted to do and felt strongly about. I don't hold any other women in the world to this standard: my mom is one of the holiest women I know and she had epidurals for some of her 9 kids. I feel terrified of the pain I know I have to face this time around. And the idea of taking something to ease that pain makes me feel guilty. I give myself a hard time because I think that I should be willing to endure the pain... my little Calvary. I feel like so many graces can be had if I just go through this suffering. So opting to take painkillers makes me think that I'm throwing out the opportunity to suffer for certain intentions (I always think of the babies who don't get a chance to be born, and offer up my pain for them and their mothers). So of course, guilt has been eating away at me and I've been facing this unnecessary dread about labor and delivery thinking that I have no pain control options, else I'm somehow "less of a woman." (I'm also not working with midwives this time-- who tend to be good at easing the pain in non-medicinal ways--and am with doctors I don't trust or feel good about so that insulates my trepidation even more.)

My fear is unwarranted. My friend told me this and I think it's important to remember: even Jesus needed help carrying His cross.

That thought blew me away! It's not as if any painkillers actually make labor and delivery feel "good"... you're still going to suffer some no matter what you do. And I don't think God will frown on me for getting a little help bringing our new child into this world if I think I need it at the time. So I feel a little less apprehensive about this upcoming experience... graces can be had in many ways and to many degrees.

Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 7:29 AM :: 8 Comments


Monday, September 11, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: save those vitamins!

I steam lots of vegetables during my week. I steam carrots and green beans, purple cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, beets and more. I save them and keep them in the fridge to add to veggie stir-fry. I eat some of these for lunch, cooled, with my salad dressing mixed in... add some roasted sunflower seeds and cottage cheese and this makes an excellent nutrient-rich cold salad along with the protein. Fresh bread on the side goes well, too. The steamed carrots and green beans are perfect soft foods for my 1-year-old to eat by himself, as they are too tough for him to manage yet in their raw form.

There is also an art to steaming which is esssential if you want to keep as many of the vitamins as possible. Whenever you cook a vegetable, you are decreasing the vitamin and nutrient value of the food. So don't oversteam them! Steam them JUST long enough to get them on the soft side. -Usually this is when you can insert a fork into the vegetable easily but when the color is MOST vibrant and bright. If you catch it too late, you have over-soft veggies and a not-so nice color left in the lovely veggie. They lose their bright color and greens start to look more brown... no wonder kids don't want to eat their steamed veggies! They look totally unappetizing! So catch them when their colors are still beautiful and you may find that your child is more drawn to them because of their brightness. Also, then your family is getting more vitamins out of the veggies.

Also, save any peels that you can. I try not to peel any vegetables unless they are heavily sprayed. -And when you prepare the veggies for cooking or eating fresh, don't chop off a whole inch of the "end" where it met the stem or root or whatever! Most of the vitamins are in the skins and the ends. Instead of chopping off and peeling the best parts, cut away a minimal amount and scrub the vegetables well with a vegetable scrubber or a sponge.

Here's the real reason I was going to write about steaming vegetables today: DON'T DUMP THAT STEAM-WATER DOWN THE DRAIN! Instead of emptying your pot of that colored steam-water when you're done steaming your vegetables, set it aside and pour it into a jar when it is not as hot. Label the jar "Steam Juice" and keep it in the fridge. Or, pour it into a plastic sealed container, label it, and keep it in the freezer. Why? You can add all that precious vitamin-rich steam water to your soups. -No need to make or buy "stock" or "broth"... Just add these flavorful colorful juices from all your summer steaming to your winter soups.

*My mother saves all of her chicken-stock, too. After boiling the chickens in a large pot of water, she removes the cooked chickens and simmers the "chicken water" for hours, adding peppercorns, all her vegetable peels, carrot ends, and anything else she has on the side left over from preparation.. She then strains the flavorful broth into a jar or large container and saves it for the same purpose.

~Sia in Vancouver, WA

It does also comes to mind at this moment that it is September 11th, which marks the day of the tragic event in NY 5 years ago. Please say a little prayer for all the families who have lost loved oned or who were involved. We can only imagine the pain of the mothers of all the people who died!


one of us :: 7:46 AM :: 0 Comments


Saturday, September 09, 2006

St. Peter Claver, priest

St. Peter Claver was the son of a farmer. He was a Jesuit and priest, and a missionary in America, primarily to slaves. He organized charities among the Spanish in America similar to those organized in Europe by St. Vincent de Paul. He was born in 1581 in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, and died 8th of September 1654 in Colombia...

Prayer to St. Peter Claver:Dear Saint of our modern times, you were permeated with compassion for the oppressed, for human beings sold as slaves and treated as expendable beasts. While alleviating their natural ills, you also took away their spiritual ills, and taught them the surpassing knowledge of Christ. Inspire many of our contemporaries to become self-sacrificing missionaries like you. Amen.


one of us :: 7:14 AM :: 0 Comments

Saturday Funnies

This is sort of a continuation of last week's funnies... So get a cup of coffee and enjoy while your children play in the yard. Some of them are pretty silly but bear with them... And, once again, I don't know where this comes from or who wrote it, so I can't attribute it to anyone. These narratives are pretty funny, though.

These are some actual label instructions on consumer goods:

On a Sears Hairdryer: ..."Do not use while sleeping." (and that's the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos: ..."You could be a winner! No purchase neccesary. Details inside." (Shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial Soap: "Directions: Use like regular soap." (And that would be how???...)

On some Swanson Frozen dinners: "Serving Suggestions: Defrost." (but, it's "just" a suggestion.)

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom): "Do not turn upside down." (Well, a bit late...)

On Mark's & Spencer Bread Pudding: "Product will be hot after heating" (and you thought...)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron: "Do not iron clothes on body." (but wouldn't this save me more time?)

On Boot's Children Cough Medicine: "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication" (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.)

On Nytol Sleeep Aid: "Warning: May cause drowsiness." (And...I'm taking this because...?)

On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only" (As opposed to... what?)

On a Japanese food processor: "Not to be used for the >other use." (now, somebody out there, help me on this. I'm a bit curious.)

On Sunsbury's Peanuts: "Warning: Contains nuts." (Talk about a news flash.)

On an American Airlines packet of nuts: "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts." (Step 3: maybe, Delta?")

On a child's Superman costume: "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly."

I don't blame the company. I blame the poarents for this one: "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals" (was there a lot of this happening somewhere??)

Obviously these labels are there as a sueing precaution, but it really does demonstrate just how far one has to go these days! Did a boy's parents really go to court with the fact that their son did not fly when he put on a Superman costume?? Did someone really try ironing their clothes while they were wearing them?? Really, it makes you wonder .
~Sia, Vancouver, WA

one of us :: 7:10 AM :: 1 Comments


Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Coffeehouse: Filters 101

Here are some tips about coffee filters. I don't think it's any secret now that I'm a big fan of Heloise, so I must give credit to her where many of these ideas came from! Others were just collected here and there from the web.

First think outside the coffeemaker and use filters for the following:

  • Cover a bowl or dish in the microwave
  • Clean windows and mirrors without any streaks!
  • Place filters between nice serving dishes or plates in order to prevent scratches and chips. This is also a good idea when you stack non-stick cookware
  • When serving tacos to children, put the taco in the filter before handing it to the child for less mess. This works well for sandwiches and burgers too... especially if your children eat on the go.
  • Use as a potpouri sachet by tying it with string or use tape. (So the ends stick up like an onion. Or fill with baking soda, tape it closed and toss it in your laundry (or diaper) bin to help keep it odor free. Just replace the sachet every few weeks or as needed.
  • You can use a coffee filter to diffuse the flash of your camera when taking pictures.
  • Coffee filters can help protect your cast iron skillet if you place one in there to prevent rust!
  • Strain wine from a bottle with a broken cork.
  • Use as any kind of disposable bowl. They are great sizes for kid-servings of popcorn/crackers etc.
  • Filters are light so they make good little containers when you need to weigh household foods.
  • Use as a makeshift tea-bag if you use loose leaves. Simply tie with a string.
  • If you don't want the soil to crumble out of your small house plants, just place a filter at the bottom before repotting!
  • Slide filters over a popsicle stick to help keep stickiness in check!
  • You can use filters when mixing dry baking ingredients or cinnamon/sugar to cut down on your dish load and save other bowls being used.
  • Drain bacon or frying grease through a filter to remove food particles if you want to save the grease.
  • If you have a potty chair cup, you can line it with a filter for easy clean-up.

Do you ever buy the special one-cup cone filters? You can save money by purchasing the regular filters: simply fold it in half twice and open one side... you have a cone!

If you want to simplify your coffee-making process you can make your own filter packs instead of buying them. Place your filter in a large margarine tub or tupperware, measure out your coffee, add another filter and continue the "layers" until the container is full. Seal tightly and enjoy fresh, easy coffee each whenever you need it! This is especially helpful if you grind your own beans but dislike that noise in the morning...

If you have problems separating filters, just turn each layer inside out!

There you have it, congratulations on graduating from Coffee Filtering 101!

Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 7:42 AM :: 1 Comments

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Magnify, O my soul, glorious nativity of the Mother of God -(MATINS)

Your birth, O virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to the universe, for from you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He took away the curse, He imparted the blessing and, by abolishing death, He gave us everlasting life.

"The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy."

HAPPY FEAST DAY! This is also a big feast day in the Byzantine rite. For those of us who are not Byzantine, we may find the following interesting:

"The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on Septermber 8, belongs on the list of the Twelve Major Feasts of the Byzantine rite liturgical year (cf. Gospel of Sinai, 715 A.D.) We usually do not celebrate the birthday of the Saints, but rather their "birthday to heaven," that is, the anniversary of their death, considered as the beginning of their blessed life with God. Nevertheless, there are two exceptions, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, since we commemorate not only their birthday to heaven, but also their nativity, their coming to this earth."

To read more about this feast from Catholic Encyclopedia, click here.

Bake a cake! This is, universally, a big feast. Hopefully all of our children will joyfully remember the feast days of the Church, when a cake or some special dessert was made, and a special prayer or poem or hymn was recited in honor of their Mother in Heaven!


one of us :: 7:30 AM :: 0 Comments


Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Scrapbooking Alternative

If you are anything like me, you have the best of intentions with scrapbooking... but no follow-through. With my first son, I started to fill one in, kept track of important milestones and photos and all that. But I knew deep inside it wouldn't last. I figured that with each child I would lose motivation/time/energy to scrapbook and it just wouldn't happen. Then I felt bad thinking I'd have a book of memories with one son but nothing for the rest of present (and God-willing future) children. So I came up with a new plan.

I write in journals for my boys. I started with Xavier before I even knew his sex in the womb... just writing about my feelings toward him, etc. I've continued this with Leo and just wrote my first entry to the new babe last night. I don't have a set time frame of when I'm "supposed" to write... anything reeking of organization or commitment must keep far from me! I simply write when I feel like it, about what the child is learning or our current life events, always how much I love them and pray for them... This usually ends up being every few months or so. I've put little photos in their journals every now and again, but they're not attached, just hanging out loosely. I included a letter my husband wrote to our son when he was deployed. But mostly it's just words on a page.

I plan on giving the kids their journals sometime around their 18th birthday or so... I would have LOVED to have my own little book of my mother's thoughts toward me as I was growing up. I think it'll be something they can really treasure some day. And best of all, it requires minimal organization and time from a busy mom like me!

Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 12:46 PM :: 1 Comments


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Blessing of Being With Child

Pregnancy is a time when we are very physically alert: we must pay attention to what we eat, how often we eat. We must be sure to drink plenty of hydrating fluids, especially water. We perhaps cry left and right about the slightest sad or sweet thing. Some of us completely lose our brain cells and can't formulate our sentences anymore or we forget the most basic of words... the list goes on. Sometimes I even feel like I'm a slave to the fridge!! I feel at times like I can't get "anything" done because I am always starving and having to eat... as soon as I clean up the kitchen from feeding myself and my 1-year-old, I am hungry again! -I also can't leave the house for the afternoon without packing lots of food. Otherwise I would have to spend at least $15 on protein bars, water, burgers, etc. -Meanwhile I haven't gained more than 5-10 lbs... I am just getting into my 2nd trimester and find myself worrying if I have gained enough, if the baby is growing enough... Our cares and worries are ongoing and constant! Our bellies grow and our hips expand... our wardrobes change and we have to think about clothes that fit our changing body. We have to go through that awkward stage of swimming in maternity clothes and busting out of our normal non-pregnancy clothes. Pregnancy is a very PHYSICAL time of neediness and changes. It is a very EMOTIONAL time of neediness and changes. Needless to say, it can be a thoroughly exhausting time!

In general I'm pretty confident, happy and energetic when I'm pregnant. (Of course I'm only on #2... I hope this lasts!) I don't find it to be a terrible time or anything. In fact I love being pregnant...I feel most radiant and beautiful in this state and most "in bloom". However, I DO of course have to "deal" with the inevitable aspects of it which I've listed above. Often the physical aspect of this time is so dominant that I forget to focus on the holy, beautiful blessing and miracle that it really is!! Do I take this pregnancy for granted? -No. Not a day passes when I don't give thanks for this blessing of a new child. However, I think it's vitally important that we take time out throughout our day to breathe, relax, rub or place a hand on our belly and thank God for the blessing of this new and miraculous life within us. -To perhaps take a bath in candlelight and pray for the well-being of our child, of ourself, and to speak in our hearts to the little one on his/her way into this world. -To remember that this is a time when we are in BLOOM... when our body is doing what it was meant to do! We have wombs, which are designed FOR someone else.... How beautiful!
Pregnancy is a SACRED time and goes by so quickly... let's enjoy it and marvel in it's many wonders while we can!

I'd like to quote from an article called Mothering and Justice by Juli Loesch Wiley, which was in the Fall 1996 issue of the Caelum et Terra journal. It was so beautifully written I could cry. Reading this the other day is partially what "woke me up" to the miracle of being with child . She writes:

Pregnancy is depicted in Psalm 139 as a season of divine activity, as the Creator knits a child in his mother's womb. What does a child need at this point? Only his mother, his Paradise. Mary is often called the New Eve, but she is also the New Eden. Her body is her child's garden of delights, and her love radiates to her little one every time she sings, or prays, or breathes it's name.

...Every mother in the world needs good fod and pure water. She needs reassurance and cherishing love from those around her. She needs to be protected from anxieties and stresses so that she can experience pregnancy with calmness and confidence.

She goes on to write about about breastfeeding, "The Abundance of Her Glory" :

According to the research brought together in Fr. William Virtue's Mother and Infant, breastfeeding teaches the tiniest infant some immensely important lessons: (1) that the Universe is good, (2) that he has personal power: the power to elicit a response, and (3) that his deepest needs and appetites can be satisfied in a committed relationship with one loving person.
Did I say "the Universe"? From the infant's point of view, yes, indeed!
Research has shown that the newborn's sight, generally hazy and undefined, is designed to come to a focus at one specific distance: 8 to 12 inches, not much more and not less. Why 8 - 12 inches? Because that's the distance from a nursling's eyes to his mother's face while he is being cradled at her breast. Increasingly, within weeks of birth, he's not looking at her breast. He's looking at her eyes.
She fills his whole range of vision: she satisfies his hunger and thirst, succors him with warmth and comfort; the timbre of her voice (the higher female tone) is precisely the range of frequencies his ears are fine-tuned to hear. She is his Universe: to the nursling, she is the Immensity.

~Sia in Vancouver, WA


one of us :: 3:15 PM :: 5 Comments

Question of the Week

Recently I was talking to my sister about a certain prayer which many of us have been taught: "May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace." We were both admitting to eachother that when we, in passing a cemetery, pray it on our own, we slightly revise the prayer to: "may the souls of all the departed..." Shouldn't we be praying for ALL the departed souls, not just the FAITHFUL ones? Hence my question:

Why does this prayer have the word "faithful" before departed? Was this simply the language and tone of the church at the time the prayer was introduced/written, or is this an intentional part of the prayer which I just don't understand?


one of us :: 12:05 AM :: 1 Comments


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mother Teresa

Today is the feast day of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. We all know how incredible this woman was... working tirelessly among the poor, living with them and sharing in their sorrow. There are so many beautiful thoughts she has left us with, I'm not even sure where to start. Her Missionaries of Charity started out with only 12 nuns, and now has over 4,000 people serving "all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." In our Holy Father's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Mother Teresa is mentioned three times and he had this to say of her:

"In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service."

Here are some of her own beautiful words:

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.

The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.


one of us :: 10:22 AM :: 0 Comments


Monday, September 04, 2006

Be advised

Some time ago, most of us found out that many vaccine strains were made from aborted fetus cells. While we are so far removed from the actual sin of abortion, it may still place our conscience ill at ease and that's something we can not ignore. It's true that some immunizations STILL come from aborted fetal cells. And some of these do not have alternatives available in the U.S. Here is a chart that spells it out for us and gives the name of some alternatives. In a nutshell, I think the most pertinent information for the standard vaccine-getter is to know about the Chickenpox, Hep A, Polio and MMR shots. I 'm not intending for this post to discuss feelings on immunizations in general. That is a heated topic and frankly I myself, have always been on the fence about it, and don't want to get overloaded with emotional sentiments on either end.

But I do believe in being an informed consumer. And this information is very important to me. A lot can be read on the topic at So peruse that on your own. I will say that without knowing the abortion link on the Varicella, I opted out of it with my second son because I'd rather him get it naturally... and I also opted out of Hep A because I didn't see it as necessary with our lifestyle.

Another thing to realize is that Catholics in most states can apply for religious exemptions from state-mandated vaccines in order to send their kids to schools that typically require them. More information on that can be found on the above website as well as links to Pro-Life doctors.



one of us :: 12:59 PM :: 1 Comments

Making Do on Mondays: dealing with raw meats

Raw chicken and pork are some of those health hazards which shouldn't be taken lightly. I'm usually pretty good about not touching anything after dealing with these raw meats and immediately washing the utensils used. However, even though I always scrub them down with really hot water and soap, I still worry about every trace of it being eliminated and especially about what's left on the sponge.

Many of you have probably already figured out your own ways of dealing with certain raw meats, but here are a few things which I have lately been doing and feel satisfied with. Please comment and share any other practices you yourself do when doing this step of cooking in your own home.

First of all, don't use those beautiful wooden cutting boards for cutting up these raw meats. No matter how well-varnished, the wood will still, over time, collect tiny bits of the food you put onto it in their knife-marks. Instead, choose a good solid PLASTIC cutting board which you ONLY use for these particular meats. Designate 1 cutting bard for this purpose.

Make or buy a diluted bleach spray (some bleach with water) and have it handy right near the sink. After cutting the meat, throw away all contaminated wrappings, etc while your hands are still coated with the raw juices, and put the prepared meat into a bowl. Put all the utensils, cutting board, containers etc. into the sink. Promptly wash your hands and spray everything down before washing. This helps kill everything first.

To wash these items, use a rag instead of the sponge, which is what you use to clean all your other dishes. If you use a rag to wash all your dishes, use a different rag to wash the raw meat dishes, then promptly wash it. Just wash the dishes normally with hot water and lots of soap, and rinse well.

Happy meat-preparing!

~Sia in Vancouver, WA


one of us :: 7:38 AM :: 2 Comments


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Funnies

I thought I'd share the following silliness which got me laughing when I first read it. It was off the internet originally, given to me years back... Perhaps some of your children of a certain age can enjoy the ironies with you.

...why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
...why womencan't put on mascara with their eyes closed?
...why you don't ever see the headline, "Psychic Wins Lottery"?
...why "abbreviated" is such a long word?
...why doctors call what they do a "practice"?
...why the man who invests all yopur money is called a "broker"?
...who tastes dog food when it has a "new and improved flavor"?
...why sheep don't shrink when it rains?
...why they are called apartments when they are all stuck together?
...if con is the opposite of pro, in Congress the opposite of progress?
...why they call the airport the "terminal" if flying is so safe?

Face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger. Neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England nor French Fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat!

We take English for granted. But if we explore it's paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. -And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of both beeth?

1 goose, 2 geese. So 1 moose, 2 meese? 1 index, 2 indices? Is cheese the plural of choose? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat??

In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out... and alarm clock goes off by going on! When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?

Now I know why I flunked my English. It's not my fault the silly language doesn't know whether it's coming or going.

~I'm sure that I've really encouraged you dedicated homeschooling mothers out there who have just begun to teach grammar and all... ;) At least this can be the humorous side of teaching!



one of us :: 11:12 AM :: 2 Comments