Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bring on Winter

I love the fog. It rolls in so quietly and unexpectedly around here... blanketing the ground and water with its eerie sort of gloom. How can I love it, you wonder? Well, for one thing, I'm still recovering from our duty station in Ventura County, California... where there aren't really distinguishable seasons. So anything green and rainy and tagged with autumnal zest is welcome to me. But I love inclement weather for another reason: the sky is silent when it's foggy (we live near an air base). Why is the sky silent? Because the pilots can't see... they can't fly. And why is this a good thing, you're still wondering? Hold on there, I'm getting to the point! I love the fact that our human plans must change according to the weather. I love being reminded that we aren't in control. I love knowing that no matter how much of a hand we think we have in our destiny or even our day to day actions... something... someONE is bigger than all this. Rain, fog, sleet and snow... they are all beautiful reminders that we are just finite creations, at the total mercy of our Beloved Creator.


-Ellie

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one of us :: 12:02 AM :: 1 Comments

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All Hallow's Eve

Happy Halloween, all--

I wrote a post on All Hallow's Eve about a week ago, on the 24th... feel free to read that if you haven't already. Just scroll down to that date's post, or click HERE to read it. I'm interested to hear how you all end up celebrating Halloween with your own families!

~sia

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one of us :: 12:00 AM :: 0 Comments

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: Roadtrip in Peace

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Time to face the fear of long hours in the car with your children as you travel to Grandma's house or other relatives if you so choose. What are some ways to make your time on the road as peaceful as possible? Tell me please; I'm asking for suggestions as well as posting my own! We'll be trekking the 5 hours to our families on a couple of occasions during these next few months.

  • Hope is the one who gave me the single greatest tip so far: have a car bag of toys. These toys are ONLY brought out for road trips... so they retain their novelty. I put the ugly little toys I didn't want in my house in the car bag, while also picking up a couple $1 bag of miscellaneous junker toys from garage sales or thrift stores. Novelty is key here. Let the kids play with the toys in the bag but don't let them have them all at once. And save a couple of the more enticing toys hidden until you feel the emergency "I'm about to throw myself out on the road" moments. Good little toys are often found in those machines in front of stores and such. An added treat for kids is if you wrap some of these toys.
  • I also have a couple of books that only come out in the car.
  • Kid music. I'm sorry, but sometimes you'll have to sacrifice your favorite CDs to hear Peter, Paul and Mommy for the upteenth time. Invest in some enjoyable kid music. Sia gave some good recommendations here.
  • Consider renting some stories on tape or CD from your library... you might just catch your little ones in a state of being willing to listen!
  • Bring fun little snacks that last a long time in your car. I like fruit leathers and also trail mix because it takes the kids longer to eat (they spend several quiet minutes searching for and prying out the M & Ms before settling for the nuts/raisins).
  • Swallow your pride and go to McDonalds. I personally loathe the place and their food but on a stormy day, it's perfect to find the golden arches from the freeway and order a chicken nugget so the kids can burn some energy on the indoor play structure. A couple bucks for sanity? Sure, I'll take it.
  • On the same note are shopping malls. Most malls these days have a kids' play area that'll help settle the munchkins down. While it's free, the tradeoff is the convenience that McD's has.

That's about all I have for now though I'm always looking for more ideas...

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 12:08 AM :: 0 Comments

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Feast of Simon and Jude, apostles

An interesting note about Saint Jude is the reason WHY he is the patron of lost causes or desperate cases: "His patronage of lost or impossible causes traditionally derives from confusion by many early Christians between Jude and Judas; not understanding the difference between the names, they never prayed for Jude's help, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause."

Here is a nice prayer to Saint Simon:

O Glorious Saint Simon, you were a cousin of Jesus and a devoted follower as well. You were called "the Zealot," indicating that you were willing to give your life for your religion and your freedom as a human person. Obtain for us the grace to be willing to give our lives for Christ and to labor for the freedom and peace that only God can give. Help us to spend ourselves for God on earth and be received by him in eternal bliss in heaven. Amen.

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one of us :: 10:12 AM :: 0 Comments

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Coffeehouse: Movies

Movies that are actually worth watching are quite hard to come by these days. Other than the musicals, well-known family classics such as It's a Wonderful Life or An Affair to Remember and such, I am going to throw out there a few which I personally love and hold dear: most of which I think to be edifying films which inspire in a wholesome way or that are simply works of art in themselves. Please note that these are films that appeal to my own tastes, therefore discretion should be used in viewing some of these with families.

Cinderella Man: This movie was such a refreshing surprise! Starring Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti (an excellent, more obscure actor) it tells a true story of a father and husband during the Great Depression who is a boxer. He "raised the nation's spirit" and was driven by love for his family to win. To me it was a film which beautifully showed that commitment and love can make it through anything, and that, through grace, anything is possible. It celebrated marriage and family and was emotionally charging and real. The acting was also superb. If you can handle watching boxing, I highly recommend renting this one.

Life Is Beautiful: A Hands-down beautiful film. I wouldn't reccomend watching it if you're sensitive to sad dramas... after I had Aidan I watched it for a second time and found that it was almost unbearable, too heart-wrenching.

Captain's Courageous: "One of cinema's greatest classic adventure stories is director Victor Fleming's Captains Courageous (1937). It is an adaptation of English novelist Rudyard Kipling's 1897 work of the same name, and advertised: "As Great as Mutiny on the Bounty" with exciting action sequences, and a heart-felt story of the emerging relationship between an over-privileged and bratty young boy and a humble, common fisherman." ~from Filmsite.org
If you haven't read the book or seen this, it is a heartbreakingly good story of conversion.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: (This is sort of a classic which most of you know.)

The Third Man: a classic mystery.

The Hunt for Red October: I am a big fan of Sean Connery's... AND of films that take place at sea. -I think the latter passion comes from all the time I spent in Maine along the Atlantic coast as a child. This film is based on the novel.

Coffee And Cigarettes: I know, you're thinking "what a gross title"... However, if you've ever been a smoker or an avid coffee drinker, I think you know where the passion/logic/humor can be behind this title. But the movie, although set around table after table of people smoking and drinking coffeee, is really about conversation. It's pretty high on my favorites, possibly one of the best I've seen aside from Cinderella Man since Life is Beautiful. It is a film by Jim Jarmusch. Click on the link I've provided for the actual movie site and check out the cast. Cate Blanchett does an excellent one-act for her scene.
One reviewer wrote: "C & C is, at bottom, a brilliant exploration of the dynamics of human relationships. They're all in there: insecurity, power plays, dominance, control, superiority, kindness, compassion, success, failure, condescension, envy..." ~ from: http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=293162

Wuthering Heights: This is a movie adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel. Filmed in 1939, it is a haunting, strange movie...a tragic love story starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.

Pride and Prejudice: (Based on Jane Austen's novel.)Although the newer version of this wonderful story is quite a work of art in itself (especially the exquisite filming), it left out much of the script in order to keep it short. The British version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. from 1995 is still dear to me. There is also Emma, Sense and Sensibility and others.

The Secret of Roan Inish: The film is based on the Celtic myth of the selkie - a creature who is half woman/half seal. They were thought to occupy the sea around the Orkney and Shetland Isles. (to read m0re go to the source:http://www.filmeducation.org/primary/RoanInish.html)
Filmed on the West coast of Ireland, it also has an excellent traditional Irish soundtrack. Another great film with fabulous music set in Ireland is...

Waking Ned Divine, a comedy about an old man who wins the lottery. I love the comic, sort of overdone love sub-plot between these two lovely, beautiful Irish actors. Susan Lynch stars in this film as well as in The Secret of Roan Inish.

Babette's Feast: "Last but not least" (or further down the page, rather), this may perhaps be one of the greatest film ever made!! "Babette's Feast" is about edible art -- Art with a capital A -- a tour de force for the taste buds laid down before neither gourmets nor gourmands, but a sect of gruel-eating puritans. In this piquant Danish drama, an exiled artist confronts the uneducated palate, awakening interest if not applause..." (~from a review by By Rita Kempley.) Another review worth reading is here.

Tender Mercies: This 1983 film starrs Robert Duvall.. it's a mellow, very quiet film: the kind in which the director was comfortable to have the viewer listen to crickets and a truck passing by, a man playing guitar and such. It's a beautiful story of a troubled man struggling with alchoholism really come alive and "into the light"...

Coal Miner's Daughter: This movie tells the story of country singer Loretta Lynn, who was born into a loving, poor family in the heart of Appalachia. Her father (the Coal Miner) is played by Levon Helm who is also the singer/drummer for The Band. Sissy Spacek plays Loretta and sings the whole part which is impressive. It also starrs (very young) Tommy Lee Jones. Loretta Lynn had a very fast-moving, tough time but most of the time remained very faithful to her family. It's a moving story, one of my favorites. (Perhaps that's because a lot of my heart is still back there in the Appalachian mountains where she was from.)

Enough for now... I know that I'll think of more, but those I'll save for another week's Friday Coffeehouse!

Happy movie-watching...

~Sia, Vancouver, WA


one of us :: 5:55 PM :: 8 Comments

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Hope Chest

"...A Hope Chest was originally used as a dowry. It was property that a woman owned and brought into her marriage. Some women could not find a suitable husband, for various factors; therefore, the dowry was used as a way of enticing a man into marriage...
The idea of a Hope Chest symbolizes so many hopes and dreams... building a family legacy—a heritage.
A Hope Chest is really nothing more than a wooden chest, a closet, a storage unit, or a large box full of items that have been collected over time. But inside that object, is something much more special—it's a place where one places all her treasures and dreams, as she waits for life to unfold..."
~Alyice Edrich, from the parent site.

I love the idea of a hope chest. Although in our time we ladies do not need dowries, many of us love the idea of collecting things for our own house someday: things which someday we will be able to use in our own kitchens, our own dining rooms... our own beautiful little things to hang on the walls or drape over a chair. We like to collect things from our travels, thinking to ourselves "some day I'll put this in my own bathroom, " or "someday I'll use this basket for my baby socks"... It is a joy to collect all these miscellaneous items for the future.

I never really had a "home" between the time I was living with my family and then married. I was always living in rough conditions, i.e. camping, living in cabins, or sharing an apartment with someone for a few months. But when I got married and my husband and I had our own apartment, it was monumental for me to be able to FINALLY, unpack the old stuff I'd been collecting in old cardboard boxes. I filled my home with treasures... I may not have been collecting furniture, but I had many other, more important treasures, which were such a joy to finally use and see day-to-day. One thing I always wished I'd had over all those years, though, was a beautiful wooden chest of my own to hold these many items.

Traditionally, though, a hope chest was used by the MOTHER to collect things over the years for her daughter, preparing her for marriage. She would place the neccesities into the chest: table linens, bed linens, candleholders, etc. I think that this is equally special!

Now, as I start of my life as a mother of God-knows-how-many children, I am faced with the question: Do I provide my children with a hope chest which I give to them at a younger age, or do I surprise them with their own which I assemble for them over the years, giving it to them when they're 18?

I've decided to do both, sort of. I took so much joy in collecting all my own treasures over the years that I want to, and will, encourage my children to do the same. But My husband and I have many fun ideas for making up our own chest for each child. My husband is going to make a chest for each one, and over the years we hope to fill the chests with items which we want them to be able to cherish later: such as a few useful kitchen items or tools, keepsake items such as their first drawings, their first paintings, their first stories...I also hope to occasionally do a tracing or handprinting of their hands in clay and fire it for them. That could go in there, too. There are also little peices of HOME which we hope to include, but we don't know what this will be yet.

All this being said, I will sign off for now. These are just some little thoughts on this dear tradition.

~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 5:27 PM :: 0 Comments

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"G Diapers": the new thing

Well, well... having babies must be really popular these days because the diaper crowds are always coming up with something new!! A friend a while back alerted me to a new thing called gdiapers and I have finally checked it out so I could share the news with you all. (Thanks, Greg!)

Click on the below links to check out the new GDiaper: the flushable diaper that doesn't go to landfills... it is a flushable fitted, curved liner that inserts into a waterproof cover. -It has the good-looking aesthetic side of the fun diaper covers combined with being earth friendly, but with the easy throw-away mentality that a disposable diaper has. However, it's not as cheap as using all cloth as the cloth can be re-used over and over.

I suppose that if you're already buying regular disposables and spending that $ anyway, that you may as well buy the flushable gdiapers so that you can do the earth a favor. I think that they're around the same price as regular diapers, perhaps a wee bit more.... I haven't done ANY research on this until this moment during my coffeebreak... I look forward to hearing if any of you have tried or heard of this new thing. The first link includes a fun little video too, complete with a banjo to accompany the gdiaper demo... ;)

GDiapers101
how they work
getting started
homepage of gdiapers

~Sia, vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 12:24 AM :: 8 Comments

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Question of the Week: Discipline

Aside from giving your kids a "Time Out" or a swat on the seat of their pants... do you have any other, more "creative" discipline methods?

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one of us :: 12:22 AM :: 6 Comments

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You're kidding?!?! Television can be DECEPTIVE?!

Call me disgusted and send me to bed with some aspirin:

Dr. Phil dumps on homeschoolers.


(Reading the comments after the article are pretty interesting too...)

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one of us :: 12:08 AM :: 1 Comments

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Halloween: All Hallows' Eve

All Hallows' Eve, otherwise called "Halloween", is the eve of the feast of All Saints Day. It is hard to believe that such a secularized holiday that is now associated with black cats, haunted houses, and such is actually, in it's roots, a Christian celebration. "Halloween" is "All-Hallows'-Eve."

In her book, The Year and our Children, Mary Reed Newland writes about Halloween, providing historical information as well as delighful ideas on how to celebrate. You can read her section on All Hallows Eve here. The whole book is worth picking up... I couldn't put it down. (Now it's in a box somewhere, and I'm frustrated that I don't have it on-hand with all the holidays coming up.) I'm going to quote quite a bit from this book, as it's so interesting and informative. She reminds us that All-Hallow's Eve happens* to fall during the same time of year in which numerous cultures celebrated the end of the harvest season:
~"A celebration much like our Halloween, with bonfires and feasting on apples and nuts and harvest fruits, was part of pagan worship for centuries. The Britons celebrated in honor of their sun-god with bonfires, a tribute to the light that brought them abundant harvest..." She goes on to say this:
~*"Whether the Church 'baptized' these customs or chose this season for her feasts of the dead independent of them, their coincidence shows again how alike men are when they seek God and His ways, give praise, use the language of symbols to express the inexpressible." (I thought that this was quite a good point.)
~"It was in the eighth century that the Church appointed a special date for the feast of All Saints, followed by a day in honor of her soon-to-be saints, the feast of All Souls. She chose this time of year, it is supposed, because in her part of the world it was the time of barrenness on the earth. The harvest was in, the summer done, the world brown and drab and mindful of death. Snow had not yet descended to comfort and hide the bony trees or blackened fields; so with little effort man could look about and see a meditation on death and life hereafter."
~"It was in Ireland and Scotland and England that All Hallows' Eve became a combination of prayer and merriment. "

So where does Trick-Or-Treating come from? So many people think that trick-or-treating is not appropriate and a purely secular aspect of this eve. As I loved the merry aspects of trick-or-treating a child (not the horrifying ones, of course!) I was thrilled to hear the following:
"Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a 'soul cake' in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. " !!! ("Soul, soul, an apple or two,If you haven't an apple, a pear will do,One for Peter, two for Paul,Three for the Man Who made us all...")

"The familiar harvest fruits, cornstalks, and pumpkins were seasonal"... But what about the Jack-o-lanterns?

"These were ages when death was a serious and acceptable meditation. Christian art shows skulls and bones as a commonplace of interior decoration, at least in the cells of the convents and monasteries. Vigils were kept by the graves, and lights and bread left for the dead, all for the twofold purpose of recalling those dead and remembering that one day you would be dead. Surely it was some bright boy, stumbling over a pile of pumpkins by his father's barn, who hit on the notion of carving a grinning death's-head to carry, lighted by a candle, under his arm. If you know small boys, this is the most reasonable of all explanations..."

We learn from all this that most of the basic parts of Halloween are in fact part of Christian traditions on the eve of the Feast of All Saints Day. We celebrate and remember the reality of life and death, rejoicing in the summer's harvest, and such.

"Our family's Halloween parties are now planned around the custom of begging for soul cakes...Frying doughnuts is a big undertaking, but this one time of the year we have a doughnut session — the day before Halloween. Soul cakes need not be doughnuts..."

I don't know about you, but all of this makes me so excited about starting my own traditions for this eve. At a certain time in my life I really couldn't stand Halloween and stayed away from it all like the plague. I stil do stay away from the parts of this holiday that are obviously bad for your mental and spiritual health, such as terrifying haunted houses and so on. But the merry aspects of Halloween are now more full of light to me, such as dressing up and trick-or-treating. These can be wholesome activities made very meaningful to our children if it is all in keeping with what the holiday (feast day) is really all about.

I hope to have an annual All Hallows' Eve party some day, celebrating the harvest and the Saints. Decorations could be jack-o-lanterns, dried corn stalks, etc. Perhaps our children and the children who come over can all dress up as Saints and we can have a parade and a guessing game time where the adults all guess, by the child's dress/costume, which saint each child is. We could do activities such as apple-bobbing and have a night of fun and music-making around a bonfire. Foods would include: pumpkin pie, apple cider and such. A special prayer could be said invoking the prayers of the saints... The ideas are endless! These are only a few. (This is also one of the many many reasons we really, really want land!) Mary Reed Newland has numerous ways/traditions for Halloween which sound incredibly ambitious, but wonderful. It's worth going to that page I linked to above. Catholic Culture has a recipe for an autumn tea which could be made for this night.

~Sia, in Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 12:02 AM :: 8 Comments

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Monday, October 23, 2006

in the middle of the night...

Sometimes I wake up without explanation in the middle of the night. Usually, I just roll over and try to get back to sleep and don't think much of it. Lately though, it's come to mind that I may be waking for a reason. Well, I tell myself this so I don't get so annoyed at wasting sleep anyway. What if someone, somewhere is in need of prayer at that exact moment? I may never know who it was or what they needed, but I try to say at least a single Hail Mary for this unknown cause. I tell myself that I've saved people's marriages, drowning incidents, or suicide attempts... etc. Who knows? It's a useful way to use sleepless moments anyway. And no prayer ever goes to waste.


-Ellie

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one of us :: 4:06 PM :: 3 Comments

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Making Do on Mondays: Recipes for the Season

It's that time of year when I think we all appreciate being in the kitchen a little more than in the summer... I have been doing a lot of proccessing of my summer harvest from our garden, including tomatoes, butternut squash and more. When I get a chance I'll share with you some ideas of my own. For now, here are some basic recipes we all like to have around.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: (When you're carving pumpkins, don't throw away the seeds!)
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds: (all recipes below from AllRecipes.com)
~Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.)
~Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
~Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
~Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Pumpkin Pie:
ingredients:
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups pumpkin puree


directions:
~Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
~In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg yolk, white sugar and brown sugar.

~Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
~Gradually stir in milk and cream; Stir in pumpkin.
~Pour filling into pie shell.
Bake for ten minutes in preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is set.



Hot Apple Cider (5 min. to make; 10 min. to cook; ready in 15 min. serves 6):
ingredients:
6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips


Directions:
~Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.
~Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.
~Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.
~Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
ingredients:
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup maple syrup


directions:
~Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. With an electric mixer on low, blend potatoes, slowly adding milk, about 1/2 a cup at a time. Use more or less to achieve desired texture. Add butter and maple syrup, to taste. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.

I have just made Pumpkin Cheesecake for my mother-in-law's birthday. It was wonderful, though I was expecting it to be disastrous as I'd only made cheesecake once in my life before. I was pleasantly surprised. Ellie also loves this dish and has a great marbled pumpkin cheesecake recipe which we'll put here. What I love about cheesecake is that with all the cream cheeses and sour cream in it, it ends up being more of a high-protein dessert; not just a bunch of sugar and flour.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake:
ingredients:
3/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
3/4 cup graham cracker or Nilla Wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


directions:
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture. Refrigerate while you do the next steps
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies and crumbs, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.
Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.


~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 8:54 AM :: 2 Comments

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ego-Boosters

When I had my first son at age 20, I was pleasantly shocked at just how much my baby LIKED me. I know that sounds silly now, but maybe I was just too young to really understand concepts like bonding and attachment. Now, on my third child, I am still overcome with pleasant feelings when I pick up my fussing baby and he immediately calms down.

Babies don't care if your breath smells bad in the morning or if you didn't have time for a shower that day... they love you all the same. I am even amazed at my older children in the way they forgive you instantly. After a few sharp words and 5 minutes in the corner, my son still wants to hug and cuddle me. He holds no grudges... oh to be childlike!

God designed this ego-boosting aspect of parenthood in such a beautiful way. First-time moms especially need to feel encouraged and competant in what they are doing as mothers. -And nothing anyone can say or do can compare to the smile and reaching arms that a baby gives his mother.

Yes, I know it can be overwhelming, especially when your child is in a separation-anxiety stage and never wants to be put down. But what an underlying little joy it is huh? To think that your baby would like for nothing better than to be with YOU! That on one of your big hips is his favorite place in the world to find comfort and peace. Despite the irritation of wanting to be alone sometimes, I thank God for this unconditional love my children give to me. They raise my self-esteem like no one else in the world can! I think it was Archbishop Fulton Sheen who once said something to the effect that he could never understand why women would want to be one thing to everyone (via the workforce) when they could be EVERYTHING to one person... via motherhood.

-Ellie

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one of us :: 9:23 AM :: 5 Comments

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Coffeehouse: Fireside Reading

Recently I've been reading a lot more. I think it's the cold weather coming in. To me, the Autumn and Winter are definitely more conducive to reading than the summer. (This is true at least in Washington, especially, as it rains a lot during these months and one tends to spend a lot of time indoors.) I love good solid literature, but sometimes I really enjoy reading the more fly-through books over cups of tea/coffee or in bed at night: books which I can read when I'm really, really tired or while Aidan is playing. I just can't seem these days to pick up books like War and Peace and such!

Some easy-read books I've been enjoying lately:

P.G. Wodehouse is a British author who has written many delightful, comical novels, including Life With Jeeves and Summer Moonshine. He will either have you laughing non-stop or not. You either like him or you don't.
~"A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of someone who had searched for the leak in life's gas pipe with a lighted candle"
~"'Have you ever tasted such filthy coffee?' 'Never' said Joe, though he had lived in French hotels"
~"'There is a fog sir. If you will recollect, we are now in Autumn - season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'"

Agatha Christie: She also is a British author. She is a crime-fiction writer, particularly featuring the detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot Her novels are well-written mysteries which have you turning the pages...If you can't sleep after reading mysteries, don't read these. "...the magic of her storytelling continues to reach a contemporary audience...she continues to be recognised as the undisputed 'Queen of Crime.'"

Anton Checkov: He is a Russian Dramatist, short story writer, and novelist; an author who writes very simple, wholesome, edifying short stories, rich and delightful. Most famous is his short story The Kiss.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: American...he was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1896. He is famous for his novels, such as The Great Gatsby (1925). Ellie loves his short stories.

C.S. Lewis , one of the finest writers of the 20th century (known for the Chronicles of Narnia) tends to have a very simple tone to his books which keep me turning the pages. My favorites just might be the Narnia series. I especially enjoyed re-reading them after becoming a mother. The Screwtape Letters are also fun... in a "make-you-think" sort of way.

Ellis Peters. I never got into him, but, in my sister's words, "his mysteries are good and give you a fun lively picture of the Medieval world." His Brother Cadfael series are great for moms because they are short, easy read books.

Betty Smith, an early 20th century writer has a few lovely novels out there, her most well-known being A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. There's also Joy in the Morning which is a fun read about the lives of newlyweds and a couple other books of hers which I'm sure are easy pick-ups too.

Can't think of any more at the moment. There are many more out there, though. If any of you have any light-readers which stay within the realm of well-written/wholesome reading, go ahead and share them in the comments.... We all love hearing of new authors/stories.

~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 12:01 AM :: 9 Comments

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Quick Pick

In one of our older posts, I went through some good poetry books for kids, but I left out what I've determined is my absolute favorite. After a long vacation in the netherworlds of beneath a bed, we found our book "The Glorious Mother Goose" again. I had forgotten how great it was. Mother Goose books are a dime a dozen, but this one is truly a treat. The illustrations are absolutely incredible. Cooper Edens has selected two different pieces of art for each corresponding rhyme... and they couldn't be better choices. I also appreciate how this book includes some of what are now considered "politically incorrect" rhymes too. I don't think I'll pick up another Mother Goose book as long as I live... this one is glorious indeed.


-Ellie

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one of us :: 4:30 PM :: 0 Comments

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Reflections on my "garden of three"


One month after Dominic's birth, I feel equipped enough to breathe and reflect:

Three kids now... I know to the older more experienced moms, I'm still a young pup in learning about "real motherhood." But for me, it seems overwhelming! We're in it for real now... (as if before we were just playing house?) No longer are we the tidy "family of four" that is included in all the sweepstakes winnings... no longer can each of our children have his own bedroom (which was never a goal to begin with, mind you). No longer can we count ourselves among the politically correct parents who aren't outnumbered by children. We are the "My, you have your hands full" crew you see in the grocery store. Though, at this point, I feel like I can never go out in public again... the must-do errands as a family (like church) give me a fear akin to what the soldiers must've felt as they stormed Normandy. There's no turning back.

God blessed us this time around with a particularly content baby however. My two and four year olds are in stages of very high maintenance on the discipline level and so they are consuming all our attentive energy. Praise God for the simplicity of breastfeeding a newborn and throwing him in a sling so I can battle daily life with older kids!

I won't lie, it's been murdersome at times... I know it's the ages we are in right now. I've felt overwhelmed and sad many times... and not particularly inclined to offer up my pain as much as I'm inclined to complain about it and throw myself a pity party. So pray for me... and all mothers.

But it is true... the very real joy that a new life gives back to you. When I carry him around in his front pouch, he'll often push his arms against my chest and so prop his neck back to stare at me... to figure out this crazy mother of his. And it is to him that I feel accountable! He is the one to whom I want to provide a beautiful introduction into life! And so I try to yell a little LESS loudly at the the older boys, and I try to smile more, and speak softly, and bite my tongue when I'm about to complain about the person who left an empty carton of milk in the fridge. I want to show him love and forgiveness and joy. I know, I know, this'll probably wear off soon and he'll get tossed into the bustle of life with the other boys eventually... but for now, it's a nice, purgatory-like, wakeup call to the beauty of being a co-creator with God.

And it makes me realize how people are missing out who wilfully want to limit their family size to just one or two! With two kids, we were just parents with two kids who played together. Now, we feel like a community. These two boys have a new dynamic to experience in their relationship with each other. Together they are interested in this new little brother and together they are exploring the way our family is changing. I'm eager, from a sociological point of view, to watch how these dynamics grow and change with our family size.

My how love multiplies! My little flowers return to me a kind of joy that is a million times more potent than the daily frustrations that often bog me down. It's a matter of taking the time to reflect on that in order to keep myself sane. Just a 5 minutes of silence before the wakeup rush begins in order to consecrate my day. Or one long held back sigh of relief at the end of the night when all are asleep (sleeping children are the ones who inspire the most holy thoughts in parents I've decided).

We have to constantly, constantly remind ourselves of the Eternal as mothers. Our days can get so frantic and busy, it's easy to get lost in the mentality that children are economic and mental burdens. Our poor depraved society... if they only found a moment of silence and took time to think! Our children are the only things that keep us straight on our paths to heaven!

God help us all find those moments of reflection more often.... Xavier just made Leo cry, I have to go investigate now.


-Ellie

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one of us :: 12:00 AM :: 5 Comments

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John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, and Comp. Martyrs


Today is the memorial of Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and companions. They were French Jesuit priests who, amidst their missionary work in Canada and North America, were martyred in the year 1649 by the The Iroquois tribe in North America.

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. ~Saint Isaac Jogues


Brebeuf's Instructions to the Missionaries: In 1637, Father Brebeuf drew up a list of instructions for Jesuit missionaries destined to work among the Huron. They reflect his own experience, and a genuine sensitivity toward the native people.

You must love these Hurons, ransomed by the blood of the Son of God, as brothers.
You must never keep the Indians waiting at the time of embarking.
Carry a tinder-box or a piece of burning-glass, or both, to make fire for them during the day for smoking, and in the evening when it is necessary to camp; these little services win their hearts.
Try to eat the little food they offer you, and eat all you can, for you may not eat again for hours.
Eat as soon as day breaks, for Indians when on the road, eat only at the rising and the setting of the sun.
Be prompt in embarking and disembarking and do not carry any water or sand into the canoe.
Be the least troublesome to the Indians.
Do not ask many questions; silence is golden.
Bear with their imperfections, and you must try always to appear cheerful.
Carry with you a half-gross of
awls, two or three dozen little folding knives, and some plain and fancy beads with which to buy fish or other commodities from the nations you meet, in order to feast your Indian companions, and be sure to tell them from the outset that here is something with which to buy fish.
Always carry something during the portages.
Do not be ceremonious with the Indians.
Do not begin to paddle unless you intend always to paddle.
The Indians will keep later that opinion of you which they have formed during the trip.
Always show any other Indians you meet on the way a cheerful face and show that you readily accept the fatigues of the journey.

More words from Brebeuf:

For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.... I vow to you, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.... On receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit.... My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not known, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it.

When I was around 10-13 years old, I was privileged to sing in a wonderful choir in Berkeley, California. Around Christmas time we sang a beautiful Indian carol. It was of course politically incorreect for our choir director to talk to we Berkeley locals about God and religion. Had it been a Christian choir, I know for a fact that our wonderful director would have joyfully told us of the roots of this carol which I loved so much! She herself was Russian Orthodox, and looking back I now realize that most of the material we sang (in many languages: Spanish, Greek, Italian, French, Russian, Latin and more) was indeed very rooted in sacred music and hymns. I have just joyfully discovered today in my research on these martyrs the root of this carol, which I found on the Catholic Culture site:

~A carol which deserves to be more widely known among Catholics is the lovely Indian Christmas Carol written by St. John de Brebeuf, S.J., a French Jesuit missioner among the Huron Indian tribes. Father de Brebeuf translated the Christmas story into Indian imagery for the Indians at whose hands he later suffered martyrdom.

Twas in the moon of wintertimeWhen all the birds had fled,That mighty GitchiManitouSent angel choirs instead;Before their light the stars grew dim,And wond'ring hunters heard the hymn:(Refrain)
Refrain:Jesus, your King is born,Jesus is born,In excelsis gloria
2. Within a lodge of broken barkThe tender Babe was found,A ragged robe of rabbit skinEnwrapp'd Hid beauty 'round.But as the hunter braves drew night,The angel song rang loud and high:(Refrain)
3. The earliest moon of wintertimeIs not so round and fairAs was the ring of glory onThe helpless infant there.The chiefs from far before Him kneltWith gifts of fox and beaver pelt.(Refrain)
4. O children of the forest free, O sonsO sons of Manitou,The Holy Child of earth and heav'nIs born today for you.Come kneel before the radiant boy,Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.(Refrain)


If you live in the East and have never been to the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, I highly reccomend going. My parents took us there when we were passing through during one summer and I have never forgotten it.

Prayer:

Father, you consecrated the first beginnings of the faith in North America by the preaching and martyrdom of Saints John and Isaac and their companions. By the help of their prayers may the Christian faith continue to grow throughout the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen .

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one of us :: 12:00 AM :: 0 Comments

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Question of the Week: Boycotting

I don't think anyone who reads this would directly give money to an organization like Planned Parenthood, but to what degree are you cautious of the companies you support or boycott because of their stance on issues like abortion or homosexual 'rights'?

I don't give money to United Way because of some of the charities it supports. But I admit that I have Johnson & Johnson baby wash and have enjoyed Ben & Jerry's ice cream on occasion. In some ways it seems like almost ALL companies eventually have ties to other companies with questionable morals. So it can be tedious to keep up a solid boycott...

Where is our responsibility? Where do you draw the line on what you will support and what you won't?

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one of us :: 9:18 AM :: 10 Comments

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St. Luke, Evangelist

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Luke, Evangelist. One of the four writers of the Gospel, he is the one who had an emphasis on the human love of Christ, on His compassion for sinners and for suffering and unhappy persons, for outcasts such as the Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers, shepherds (not a respected profession), and for the poor. The role of women in Christ's ministry is more emphasized in Luke than in the other Gospel writings. (source: http://satucket.com/lectionary/Luke.htm)

I just read about some interesting aspects of his life here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/STLUKE.htm. It's worth clicking on and reading a bit of.

He was a physician but is also known for having been a painter... He evangelized Greece and Rome with St. Paul and was present during the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome.

He is the patron of Physicians and Surgeons, and is often depicted with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice. Symbols for/depictions of St. Luke include: Winged ox; winged calf; ox; picture of the Virgin; palette and brushes; phials of medicine; physician's robes; easel; book and pen; hatchet; wooden horse; books of his Gospel and of the Acts; bishop; painting an icon of our Lady.

Catholic Culture.org suggests some ways to celebrate this feast on their page. Here are some reccomendations for foods:
Foods this day to honor St. Luke would include some beef dish, as he is the patron of butchers. So perhaps a nice cut of steak would be in order? For dessert, bake some raisin Banbury Tarts to evoke the festivals of England on this day, or a cake in the shape of a book with decorations of a calf or ox for this evangelist.
Today is also known as "Sour Cakes Day" in Scotland, because baked cakes were eaten with sour cream in Rutherglen.


Happy Feast Day!

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one of us :: 9:17 AM :: 0 Comments

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Making Your Own Wall Cards

Alphabet and counting wall cards are a common decoration we often see in each others' homes. They are colorful and fun to have up, and are helpful to have around for children to see as they learn their numbers and letters. For those of you who enjoy doing art projects with your children, this may be a fun project to start working on, using simple card stock as the base. You could have them do a wall card every day until you have a whole set of numbers or letters, with a corresponding picture of a subject with a title or quantity. Magic Cabin sells these and theirs are very colorful and inspiring. I may start working on making some for our home, or simply wait until Aidan can draw/color. There was one family I knew back in Ohio who had made a whole alphabet banner for their homeschooling room. Their oldest daughter (age 7 at the time) illustrated each letter with certain objects such as fruits, flowers, animals, etc. and the younger children helped to make the actual letters, which they colored in with crayons.

~Just a fleeting, fun thought! You are all going to get around to these fun art projects before I do if I keep sharing my ideas and muses ...!

~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 6:35 AM :: 0 Comments

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St. Ignatius of Antioch


St. Ignatius of Antioch , Apostolic Father and martyr, was the Bishop of Antioch, Syria. He lived during the time of Christ, succeeding Peter. Legend has it that he was the infant that Jesus took into his arms in Mark chapter 9. On his way to his martyrdom he wrote many leters to the churches under his care. He died a glorious death, exclaiming, "May I become agreeable bread to the Lord."

Some of his readings are as follows:

"...I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. " (~From a letter to the Romans from Saint Ignatius of Antioch, found on Catholic-Forum.com.)

Happy Feast Day!

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one of us :: 6:32 AM :: 0 Comments

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: A Holy Kind of Place

Before I get into this, I want to add the disclaimer that my own home does NOT have a family altar or prayer place. I could cite some reasons like lack of space, etc., but I don't have any really good excuses why not. However, something we aspire to is what I'm discussing today; I hope many of you can make it your goal as well.

Each home would do well to have a special place set aside for prayer. This can take on many levels of complexity from just having an end table with a candle and Bible on it, all the way to including a kneeler and statues or custom icons in one whole room of the home. Regardless of the form it takes, imagine the good that could come in cultivating our family's spiritual life if we designated certain areas as sort of refuges from the prosaic world. No toys or food or goofing around would be allowed in this mini-sanctuary. It serves one purpose only- to inspire us into a deeper, prayerful communication with our Lord. It is an area that could be used to teach children the value of holy places... a place where they can practice reverence before entering the real House of God.

On a similar note, it is a goal of mine to have an outdoor sanctuary as well... a "Mary garden" like some say. I don't need a full blown pond that has automatic fountains coordinating a show to the tune of Ave Maria or anything... just a simple area in one corner of our yard that is set aside. I imagine a large statue of Mary set in a little cove bordered by river rocks and gardens of unruly wildflowers surrounding a little wooden bench my husband will have made. Yes, I'm an idyllic thinker... but why not make it happen?! Our homes are our castles and our yards are our tiny slice of paradise... for better or worse the circumstances we live in. We can beautify and sanctify even a tiny back patio on our apartment building if that's all we have. Sure, most of us imagine having sprawling acreage for our children to explore God's beautiful earth, but even in a little suburban backyard, a simple statue and artfully arranged flower gardens can bring a piece of the Divine into our living areas...

The website "Mary's Gardens" is a great place to go for info on how to honor the Blessed Mother in our gardens including prayers. "flower theology," and practical placement tips. John Stokes Jr. had this to say regarding a Mary Garden... and this was in 1955. How even more true are his statements in today's world!!!

Surrounded by the manufactured products, paved streets, stone and steel buildings of our city culture, we have lost our sense for the potency of plant life. For nature has provided a providential means for instructing children in virtue and in knowledge and love of God and of Our Lady. One means of restoring this sense is to undertake the cultivation of a Mary Garden . . . a garden - large or small -comprised of plants and blooms which were named for Our Lady in the old popular religious traditions of pre-Reformation Catholic England. Such a garden affords souls a nourishment which has been distilled from centuries of popular devotion, and contains a richness and vigor not to be found in books and classrooms.

There have been many times I wished I had a place to retreat to with a rosary in hand and a mind full of troubled thoughts... I don't see myself being able to pay to go on any weekend prayer retreats anytime soon so why not try to bring a little bit of serenity into our own lives?


-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 12:17 AM :: 1 Comments

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Posting

Given that we have some new readers now, we thought we'd share with you our thoughts on Sundays regarding this site.

Although writing, maintaining and such for this site is never a chore or work for us, (on the contrary, it's a joy) it is indeed something that is a regular part of our days/week which we feel we need to take a break from on Sundays. This assists us in our efforts to keep Sunday as sacred as possible. Being on the internet can be a very good, edifying time if one uses it wisely. However, looking at a computer screen does not contribute to that quiet mindset, that building up of fertile ground which is neccesary for our growth in holiness, for the sharpening of our minds....

This being said (if it made any sense), I wish you all fruitful, happy, peace-filled Sundays.

~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 10:49 AM :: 2 Comments

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

I spent HOW many thousands of dollars for this?!

I recently earned my diploma from Washington State University... graduated with a BA in Social Sciences last May. I pulled it out of the big envelope and admired it for a while. Maybe someday down the road I'll need it. Or when the kids grow up I hope to get a post graduate degree and do some higher-education teaching. I get the feeling from some people however, that they think I'm "wasting" my degree because I'm not jumping into a career. In their eyes, all the money I put into that education needs to be justified by becoming a practical, productive member of working society (as if mothering isn't valuable at all).

I think otherwise.

For now, I have a perfect place for my diploma... in my office like all other professionals. No education ever goes to waste! My friend gave me this idea when she proudly announced that she was hanging her Biology diploma above her changing table. She'll use all her knowledge of biology for those blow-out diapers I'm sure!!!

So... I'm going to frame the thing and hang it in my diapering area too... an ode to my profession of choice!


-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 10:04 AM :: 6 Comments

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Friday, October 13, 2006

"You've Got to Ac_cent_tchu_ate the Positive..."

(ten points for who wrote that song... God will know if you google!!! ;o)

There is one major misconception I want to clear up... and I think I speak for a lot of people who choose to educate their children at home. It's not always for negative reasons! That is to say, I'm not going to be homeschooling because I want to shelter my kids from the dangers to their Faith found in government schools. I'm not doing it because it's a last resort option. I'm not going to homeschool because I fear or hate public schools. (Though, I do have serious misgivings you can read about here.)

I am homeschooling because I believe I can provide a superior education for my kids! Yes, there are some ugly things I want to avoid in public schools, but this is secondary! Even if those things weren't in place... I'd still educate from the home.

A few people have commented to me lately that I am "running away" from the problem... not so! I am taking the best course of action by preparing my children for the "problem!" (That being the real world.) Who sends soldiers out to battle without any training?!

So without justifying all my reasons for homeschooling at this time, I want to make it clear that I'm doing it with a pro-active mindset regarding the beauty of learning I want to give to my kids.... not reactively to the bad things found in public schools. I'm not sure why this is so hard for people to understand...


-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 4:44 PM :: 9 Comments

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Friday Coffeehouse: Family Games

Playing games is such a wonderful family/friend activity which I think is quite a bit more edifying than movies, which is such a common form of entertainment these days. Playing games allows/sets the tone of social interaction with others, which helps each person get to know the other much better. It can bring out the best and the worst of people, the competitiveness we are all prone to and of course many laughs. I used to be known for really losing it when I'd play Pictionary... )I'm sure many of us are familiar with that game!) I'd get so worked up that I'd bang on the table. People got to know a whole new side of me! I particularly love games that challenge your wit, mind, self-control and such. Strategic games are great, too, but I'm not particularly gifted at such games so I really don't know many beyond Risk and Chess...

If you have older children, it may be fun to start introducing the children to fun games they can play together or with friends. Make a pot of tea, cocoa and sweets or popcorn and enjoy a night of games.

I think we all know the basic card games (too many to list) and board games: Clue, Scrabble, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Checkers and such... These are all fun games fitting for the family. But there are more less-known ones out there, as well, a few of which I'll list below. I've had loads of fun with these and highly reccomend trying them out.

The Name Game: Each player gets a "name" attached to their heads. (A peice of paper small enough to fit on their foreheads, attached with a peice of scotch tape. (*don't attach it to their hair!!) They cannot know what the name is. Players pick names for eachother. The "name" must be a name which everyone must be familiar with. It should ideally be a character or a famous person... For example: Tintin, Snow White, Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) John F. Kennedy, Colin Firth (from Pride and Prejudice) orJudy Garland...
The goal is for each person to guess who they are. (To guess the name on their own heads.)Each person gets a turn to ask a yes or no question, to which the rest answer truthfully. The turns continue around in order until everyone, by the questions they ask, figures out who they are. This game is funny because sometimes a person just doesn't ask the right questions and get stuck forever while the rest of the crowd is staring at a completely obvious name, such as "George Bush". Good questions would include: "Am I famous? Am I female? Am I alive? Am I fictional? Am I in a movie? Am I an entertainer? Am I an artist? Am I an animal? Am I a politician?... Do I KNOW this person? Have I MET this person?..." etc. A good name would be that of someone sitting at the table... ie, if I were playing with Hope, the name on my head could be "Hope". This can be, sometimes, surprisingly hard to guess.

Dictionary: All that is needed for this game is creativity, paper and pencils and a dictionary. This game is basically a simpler version of Balderdash, just without the board and in the category of Definition alone. One person chooses a word from the dictionary (preferrably one which most players won't have heard of). This person tells everyone the word itself, but not the definition. Everyone must make up their own definitions of this word, with the goal of getting the rest of the players to think that theirs is the correct definition. While evryone is writing their definitions, the word-chooser writes the real definition on a peice of paper. After everyone is done with their definitions, The word-chooser collects everyone's slips of paper, scrambles them up (the real definition included) and reads them aloud. This is the fun part of the game, as usually it results in good laughs. (If the word chooser was skilled enough in this game, he/she will have chosen a word with such an unbelievable definition that most people will not guess the real definition.) The person who gets the most votes for the best definition "wins", and if no one guesses the real definition, the word-chooser "wins". You can sort of make up your own way of ending the game, doing tournament style or taking it game-to-game, just for fun.

Non Sequitur: A thought that does not logically follow what has just been said: "We had been discussing plumbing, so her remark about astrology was a real non sequitur." Non sequitur is Latin for "It does not follow." (~definition from Bartleby. com)

This "game" sort of came about naturally a long time ago at a dinner table conversation. One person said something that was a complete non sequitur and then we all decided to keep it going. It's harder than you think to keep every single comment unrelated to the last one, as it goes against all common conversational skills, which in general are flowing. For instance, if a person is wise, they will say a statement which will make the next person at the table want to answer or respond. For example, "Hasn't it been a cold day?" (The person will want to respond, "yes!" before their statement." Am even better one would be "You have something in your hair!!" (say this in an alarmed way). To this one will want to respond, "I do?"
The "conversation" goes clockwise around the room ar table, each person saying their own non-sequitur. If a person responds, ie fails to say a statement that is a non-sequitur, they are out. The game continues until 1 person is left (the winner.)

"This is a very sad and serious occassion." This is pretty much a test of self-control. Each player, in turn, says to the person on their left (going clockwise around the table) this phrase. They must keep a straight face and not smile in the least. Even a tiny smilrk and you lose (yYou step out of the game). Last person left wins. The pressure of the silence and everyone watching you say this serious phrase is what makes it challenging.

Smiling Contest. The name says it all. Two people face eachother, looking into eachothers' eyes, and must remain still and straight-faces. The first person who budges any muscle of a smile loses. You can also play "laughing contest" or "blinking contest". I'm incapable of the blinking contest. I don't know how anyone does it!

That's it for now, folks. I'm tired. Happy game-nights, and please, friends and family, if I am missing anything, post it in the comments, will you?

~Sia in Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 12:15 AM :: 5 Comments

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

from the mouth of babes

Papa, in disciplining our four-year-old tells him "I'm going to put the fear of God in your heart, son."

Xavier comes whimpering to me: "I don't want the beer of God in my heart!"


-Ellie

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one of us :: 11:07 PM :: 13 Comments

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On Vanity

How do we instill in our children a proper sense of self? I've noticed two extremes that exist among some parents. One (the less common) teaches their children that their bodies are hateful things and they shouldn't accept compliments on their bodies or looks at all. The other (more common) doles out comment after comment to their children about how cute they are or how everyone had better "lock their daughters up", etc.

I think the problem lies mostly with young girls. As babies and toddlers they are told endlessly by parents and strangers how cute or lovely or beautiful they are... what a cute outfit they have on... how great their pigtails look etc. In essence these things don't matter and they teach young girls to focus on materialistic concerns at such a young age! I do it too, I admit... sometimes it seems so irresistable to see a lovely little dressed up cherub that I just have to compliment her. But what I should be doing is directing the praise to God who gave her these gifts.

In general, I don't do a lot of complimenting to my female friends on things that are vanity related. Sure I'll slip out, "That's a great skirt" or "I love your hair done that way," but I try to keep it minimal. I'm not the type that thinks all things related to looks or our bodies are bad. I simply just try to downplay its significance as much as possible, especially to women or little girls who ARE exceedingly pretty. They almost have their own special cross to bear! To disattach oneself from the importance of looks isn't easy in our world. We all want to look nice. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. However, I think it gets unhealthy when we place an inordinate amount of attention on things we can't control about our looks/bodies... be it negative attention or positive.

When I see little darling kids, I often resist from complimenting their beauty. But what I do try to compliment is when I notice them displaying virtuous behavior or making a selfless decision. Those are the kinds of attributes I'd want my girls (if I had any) to focus on.

So how should we teach kids to accept compliments on their looks? If at all possible, in a gracious way that reflects the glory of their Creator. I don't think teaching them to deny their beauty is helpful. They should simply accept it in its proper place and move on. My oldest sister constantly gets compliments about her stunning blue eyes... and she replies with a smile: "Those were just a little gift from God." I think that's a perfect way to be gracious while still deflecting the glory from herself to where it belongs.

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 8:48 AM :: 9 Comments

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

puke, pee, and too much me.

This is one of those days when I realize how much ours is a vocation of selflessness... or at least is supposed to be. My oldest son has been puking since the very early morning. He has a slow reaction time and isn't quite making it to the bowl I gave him... so it's been all over his bed, our bed and the floor and rug.

The middle son woke up in a bed of pee... I guess it was just one of those nights where he drank too much or something because he leaked all over his crib. And he has a raspy voice and a phlegm-filled cough today.

The youngest son appears fine... a respite for me. The boys are camped in front of cartoons with sippy cups filled with Gatorade right now.

I realize that sometimes it take a big hit for me to realize my blessings. When I have one or two little annoyances throughout my day, I am shamefully just that... annoyed. But when something comes that totally takes over all my mind, energy and resources... I have no choice but to surrender. I am nothing without Him. My dishes need to be done and my freshly soiled laundry pile is mountainous. Grocery shopping NEEDS to happen as well as a couple other errands.

But it will all have to wait. And I can't be thinking about "me" and my needs much longer than this post is already causing on a day like today. When the day hits rock bottom, it is then that I open myself to graces received in suffering. It is then that I fully realize how meaningful my morning consecration is and it is then that I am able to see outside of myself into the path my Savior has laid out for me. A big part of me is thankful for terrible days...


-Ellie

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one of us :: 9:12 AM :: 3 Comments

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Question of the Week: Natural Family Planning

O.k folks, Ellie, Hope and I have finally decided to throw this one out there. There are a lot of different views on this issue.

Just now I was searching oline for a word-for-word bit on the Church's teaching on Natural Family Planning. Below are some useful sites which I came across and would like to have up for your reference.

~This is a really convenient online reference site for the Catechism of the Catholic Church which has been useful when I don't have the book on hand.

~The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written on NFP here.

"For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthod." ~from the USCCB.

There are two key phrases here: "just" and "responsible parenthood."
What, in your mind, constitutes a "just" reason for putting NFP into practice? What, in your mind, is "responsible parenthood"?

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one of us :: 9:00 AM :: 75 Comments

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

THE MINISTRY OF THIS SITE

I hope that so far our site is in keeping with what we originally set out and intended to do. Our vision remains the same, and I think we are still trying to put into practice everything we had hoped for regarding the ministry of this site, including reminding our readers of the DIGNITY and SACREDNESS of our vocation, and so on. Looking back on a lot of our posting, I am seeing a LOT of practical imput. I'm seeeing a LOT of ideas on fun activities, useful tips, practical how-to this and how-to that sharing. A lot of this comes through in Making Do On Mondays. -This is good, because our vocation indeed is a very practical one. It is very hands-on, very physical. So these tips and such (we hope) are very useful and appropriate. I'd like to continue this. We also have added fun things which may interest our readers, such as Friday Coffeehouse, (books, music, tea, coffee art and culture...) We have introduced a Question of the Week (an outlet for discussion and sharing.)

However, I'd like to remind our readers of some aspects of motherhood which are very important and which perhaps wehaven't been focusing on as much lately. We hope to impart through this site the following:

  • Liberation and freedom found in suffering: (The joy we find in being mothers. The liberation and freedom we find through the sacrifices motherhood brings. Many folks see motherhood and marriage as captivity and LOSS of self. We see it as a DEEPER understanding of self and true freedom and liberation, full of joy!)
  • A Call to MORE; call to holiness; deeper prayer, deeper wisdom, deeper faith, increase and growth in all virtues
  • Inspiration and encouragement
  • Giving/showing a spectrum of different personalities as mothers, (our own 3 as well as our reader's)
  • Practical applications and help
  • Ministry to what the Church's call is for we mothers
  • Education and sharing in the joy and feasts of our Church, for the sake of all of our growing families in this generation.

We hope that we will all continue to be as active as we have been to keep this site updated and moving, but we also hope to really keep each post GOOD and wholesome. We welcome any suggestions or ideas from our readers in comments or email. We also urge any readers who would like to post something they themselves would like to share, within the outlines of the goals above, to contact us by email (Click on "Contact Us"). Also, if any of our readers have ANY ideas on our weeekly post titled "Question of the week", please share them with us! Although we love to throw questions out there, it is hard sometimes to think of a new question every week which we hope will trigger inspiration and discussion. So share your own ideas with us or simply tell us what you'd like to take part in or see discussed. (Once again, please email us at coffeeanddiapers@gmail.com.) We all learn from each other and we especially welcome any mother's inspirations at this time.

God bless you all and, as we've been saying, Happy Mothering! I will leave you with some quotes:

"Motherhood must be treated in work policy and economy as a great end and a great task in itself. For with it is connected the mother's work in giving birth, feeding and rearing, and no one can take her place. Nothing can take the place of the heart of a mother always present and always waiting in the home. True respect for work brings with it due esteem for motherhood. It cannot be otherwise. The moral health of the whole of society depends on that."
~Pope John Paul II, Homily, June 7th, 1979


~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...

I quoted this a while ago in my September 6th post titled "The Blessing of Being With Child", but I feel that it's fitting to put it into this post as well to again remind us of the beauties and sacredness of motherhood:


~"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...
~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."
~from Mothering and Justice by Juli Loesch Wiley


~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 12:00 AM :: 0 Comments

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Bigger families gain in popularity?

Is it true? I don't know... maybe it's anecdotal or just regional because I'm not seeing many bigger families in these parts (outside the solid Catholic crowd anyway).

"Bigger Families" article

I did like this quote from the article:

"Most people who have a lot of kids don't have the time or energy to care what others think."


-Ellie

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one of us :: 11:30 AM :: 0 Comments

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Making Do on Mondays: Using Different Mediums for Art Projects

Sometimes it's fun to do more with art projects than using the conventional colored pencils, markers, crayons and paints. These are some more adventerous ideas which children love and become really motivated by. I've done most of these projects with children and they don't ever want to stop.

~Start off with a regular peice of cardstock and then have the child (or you, depending on their age) draw a person... a figure of some sort, ie princess, cowboy, fireman, farmer, etc. It should fill the page, so that you will have room to decorate the different parts of this figure.

~Rather than them just coloring it in, have them do that in addition to adding texture with other materials:
~Yarn for hair.
~peices of construction paper, foil, and colorful/patterned material for the clothing and parts of body.
~ Pasta, glitter, wood chips and anything else you can think of for the backgrounds or the floor.

Rather than a character your child may decide to do an animal, in which case you could use all types of mediums for the habitat around the animal, such as green yarn or felt stuffing for a tree, blue construction paper for water, real wood bark for a tree, and so on.

Elmers glue works well but there are many types of good all-purpose glues which you can find in art supplies stores which are more efficient for all these mediums.

Elisa Kleven, a collage artist and author of children's books, has been the most inspiring artist to me for these types of projects. You may want to try to find a few of her books in your local library and look at it for ideas. Some of our favorites include: The Lion and the Little Red Bird, The Paper Princess, and B is for Bethlehem. She has some pictures which will give you a lot of great ideas.


~Sia, Vancouver, WA

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one of us :: 10:01 AM :: 1 Comments

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

"Pope Benedict XVI invites all families to pray the rosary for the intentions of the Pope, the mission of the Church and peace. 'It is as if every year Our Lady invited us to rediscover the beauty of this prayer, so simple and profound.' The rosary, a 'contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of sacred Scripture,' is 'the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary,' said the Pontiff." ~from CatholicCulture.org

"...Pope Saint Pius V called upon Catholics worldwide to pray the Rosary for the success of the combined Christian forces against the infidel Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. As important as the Battle of Lepanto was, however, there is a far more important battle which each one of us fights every day: the battle against the forces of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Our Lady is as indispensable in our battle against those forces..." from ChristorChaos.com


The Church today celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary. -This feast was "instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto on this day in the year 1570..." (Catholic Culture.org)

To celebrate this feast, Catholic Culture.org suggests making a cake in the shape of a ship to honor the victory in the battle of Lepanto, and to make rosaries. For more information and ideas, go to their site, which I've linked to up top and just now.

Happy Feast Day!

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one of us :: 7:39 PM :: 0 Comments

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