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Clementine Candle

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Supplies:  One clementine,  paring knife, olive oil, lighter/matches

Remove the *cutie* sticker and adhere to the real cutie!

Use your paring knife to carefully score the peel around the middle.  (It’s really not as difficult as my expression would indicate!)

Next remove the peel in two pieces,  the upper half and lower half.  (Again, this is easier than I make it look!)

You now have a shell of a clementine.  The little piece of pith in the bottom half will be your wick.  The more of this piece you are able to keep in tact, the longer your ‘candle’ will burn.

Pass the innards around the table and call it a snack!

Cut a hole in the top half of the clementine shell.   You can do a neat design such as a star, heart, or flower.  We chose a heart! ♥

Fill the bottom half with olive oil.   Don’t cover the wick with oil,  just fill it nearly to the tip.

Next,  light the wick.  It is best to use a lighter because it will take a few minutes to dry the wick enough for it to light.

Put the top on your ‘candle’ and enjoy!

 

Where Does He Go To School?

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  I received this timely Wall Street Journal opinion column this morning in my email. I consider it very timely for many reasons. I have been hearing this terribly annoying commercial on afternoon talk radio lately. I wish I could place it online but I’ve had no luck. The closing statement is along the lines of “The future of America is as good as it’s schools.” I cringe each time I hear this. I pray ‘Lord have Mercy’ and pray for the intercession of John Paul II. He knew that the condition of the education system, while quite important, pales in comparison to the condition of the family. His words, “Humanity passes by way of the family” run though my head each time I hear this commercial. Sure, a good education can contribute to good future, but a good family assures one.

  The movement toward universal preschool is perplexing to me. Children are encouraged to be away from their families earlier and earlier. Do the benefits truly outweigh the family time lost? The time for a little boy to  run around the house and yard to just be a little boy, where he can run to his mother anytime he needs connection and security? When is there time left to climb on Daddy’s lap for a good book? When is there time for siblings to just talk, play, share stories and dreams together?   Will early childhood now become a time of strict schedules and pigeon holes for reading time, play time, painting time and eating? 

  I had our three year old in the emergency room yesterday afternoon. (The stinker is fine by the way, just two staples to the back of the head after a tumble in the bathroom.) The triage nurse was asking the typical questions of birthdate, weight, allergies, immunizations, (which is never a fun question for me since we do not vaccinate our children and they can never leave it at a simple “No”.) etc.. Then she asked me a question that took me completely off guard, “Where does he go to school?’. I kind of paused for a moment and replied in astonishment, “He’s only three!”. The nurse pushed her chair away from her desk and in a very curt manner said, “Plenty of three year olds go to school dear.” Then with a deep sigh she said, “I suppose he’s homeschooled.” I tried to explain to her that he’s not ‘schooled’ at all, that he is a jolly three year old boy that spends his day playing in the backyard with his brother, finding bugs, riding trikes, and building forts. He asks me a million and one questions per day.  He holds my leg while I make dinner, asks for a story in the afternoon and tries to keep up with his older brothers on the chin-up bar in the basement. He is a kid.

  But, she clicked the little “Homeschool” button on the screen. It was my turn to sigh. My three year old is homeschooled, I had no idea.   I wonder how this conversation would have went down if I had my one or two year old in there? I would expect it with my older kids, but it was my three year old, and I’ve never even considered his current “schooling”.

  Then came the Wall Street Journal piece in my inbox, and what I’ve known all along in my Mother Heart was confirmed and edified. He is right where he is supposed to be, home, with me, being a kid.

You Know You Have a Large Family When…

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…the Amish lady at the store asks you if they are all yours!

Springtime Randomness

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This little boy digs worms!

Morning Randomness

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  I thought I would tie my Randomness Photo Journal in with the “A Typical Day” discussion at Michele’s lovely new board.  I carried my camera around in my apron pocket this morning and snapped photos of the chaos around me!

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Littles playing a game.

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Boring bookwork.

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Pure Sweetness!

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WHA HUH???!!!!

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Leaving for the office.

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Oldest and Youngest! 🙂

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Baby Nursing – Mom Blogging 😉

Organizing Our Hearts by Sactifying the Moment

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   I presented a short, reflective talk at our Mothers Retreat the first weekend of February.  The theme of the day was “Organizing Our Homes,  Organizing Our Hearts”.    Judy Lubowicki from Clutter Free Organizing  gave a very energetic and inspiring pep talk on clutter free home organization for the Organizing Our Homes aspect of the retreat.    Her hand outs are worth their weight in gold!   I presented the following for the Organizing Our Hearts aspect.  We enjoyed mass,  wonderful fellowship,  food,  and many laughs with others “in the trenches”.    Following is the talk I gave,  I edited here to better fit the medium. 

Organizing Our Hearts by Sanctifying the Moment

  Now that we have ideas for keeping our homes in order, let’s turn to organizing our hearts. Let’s face it, even with the best laid dinner plans, filing systems, curriculum, and laundry organizers – life as a homeschooling mother, often with many children, is unpredictable. The temporal demands of managing a household can sometimes become so pressing and necessary that we are tempted to push spiritual matters off to the back burner – if we can even find the back burner under the stack of dirty dishes!

  We have in the sacraments a firm backbone of an organized spiritual life – namely Holy Communion and Confession. We also have in our rich Catholic faith, the rhythm of the liturgical year to guide our devotions and meditations. We have many sacramentals and heavenly intercessors to aid us on our journey toward holiness. Then we have what the late Bishop Fulton Sheen called The University of the Moment, or simply The Now. This, I believe, is the key to organizing our hearts.

  Let me share with you the “perfect” spiritual day in my family. It would be begin with me – mom – rising early to pray a morning offering and study a scripture passage. I would sit with my coffee and listen to Our Lord whisper to me in the cozy silence of the morning. The children would begin to wake and we would all gather around the table for a gospel reflection and morning prayers with Dad. The children and I would dress and head to St. Josephs for daily mass. We would stop our studies at noon to greet Mother Mary in the Angelus. We would learn about the saint of the day and observe their feast day with tea and a craft to illustrate a virtue. We would observe the hour of Mercy with the chaplet at three o’clock. We would end our day with the Rosary, family litany, and night prayers. I would thoroughly examine my conscience before climbing into bed. I would fall asleep reading the biography of a great saint while the children would drift off with visions of Joyful Mysteries in their heads. Oh how holy we would be!

  Then there is reality – beautiful reality! As mothers we often hit the ground running each morning. My morning offering may be nothing more than a glance at the crucifix on my way out of the bedroom door. The baby needs nursing, the toddlers want oatmeal. There are clothes to iron, diapers to change, dishes to wash. Husbands rush out the door for early meetings; adolescents grudgingly drag themselves out of bed just about the time Father would be reading the gospel at mass. Some days, when we do make it to mass, I often think I should probably make a stop the confessional beforehand to confess the behavior I stooped to in order to get us all there in the first place!
  Now don’t get me wrong, we should always aim high when it comes to prayer time and devotions. My vision of a ‘perfect’ spiritual day does actually happen from time to time, and usually at least few of those items are accomplished every day. But even in that ‘perfect’ scenario, there is a lot of time left in the day. As terribly romantic as it may seem to be able to spend our days deep in prayer, it’s simply not in our job description as mothers. In a nutshell, our job description is to serve
  We are each created in the image and likeness of God. Christ lives in the soul of each baptized person around us. As mothers, we have the privilege of intimately knowing many faces of God right in our own homes. We have the opportunity to see, reflected in the faces of each of our children, another unique image of our own Creator. Through the adolescent boy with fuzz beginning to grow above his lip, Christ asks, “Listen to Me” Through the toddler with peanut butter smeared in her hair, Christ asks, “Tenderly wash me” Through the baby with a gaping smile and milk dripping off his chin, Christ asks, “Hold me.” It is in this reality, this present moment that we are given the opportunity to truly grow in holiness.
  But what do we do when the requests seem to us more like nagging demands, or they are fired at us one after the other, or even all at the same time? We can sigh in exasperation “Calgon take me away”, but that only works in commercials. (Ask me how I know!) We can fulfill each request with the slamming of doors we feel they deserve, or we can do the ever so tempting: shut it all out and retreat to a book, television, or computer. In doing any (or all!) of the above, we are giving up moment after moment of sanctification. We are ‘skipping classes’ in the University of the Moment.

  What exactly is “The University of the Moment”? While contemplating this phrase, I thought of how much sense it makes to us as mothers concerned with our children’s education. The University of the Moment is the unique curriculum tailored to each individual by God’s perfect Love. As mothers, we pray, research, discuss, and sometimes even agonize over education choices for our children. We take each child and examine their strengths, weaknesses, learning abilities, temperaments, and interests. We may decide to homeschool from a boxed curriculum, we may choose a parochial school, public school, or an eclectic homeschool. (, or Montessori, boarding school, classical curriculum, the choices alone are enough to exhaust us!) And there is no doubt that whatever choice we make, it is done out of our love for that child. -An imperfect love. As much time as we may spend with our children, as intimately as we may known them, our love for them is imperfect. Only God Loves with a Perfect Love. In His perfect Love, he tailors a unique curriculum to each and every one of us and that curriculum is the present moment – the Now. This curriculum is laid out before us only moment by moment, in each trial, setback, and obstacle we face. This is what Bishop Sheen said about our ‘unique curriculum’ designed by God:
 

 “Every moment brings us more treasures than we can gather. The great value of the Now, spiritually viewed, is that it carries a message God has directed personally to us. Books, sermons, and broadcasts on a religious theme have the appearance of being circular letters, meant for everyone. Sometimes, when such general appeals do appear to have a personal application, the soul gets angry and writes vicious letters to allay its uneasy conscience. Excuses can always be found for ignoring the divine law. But though moral and spiritual appeals carry God’s identical message message to all who listen, this is not true of the Now-moment; no one else but I am in exactly these circumstances; no one else has to carry the same burden, whether it be sickness, the death of a loved one , or some other adversity. Nothing is more individually tailored to our spiritual needs than the Now-moment; for that reason it is an occasion of knowledge that can come to no one else. This moment is my school, my textbook, my lesson.”

  When it comes to managing a household and raising children, discerning the “Now” takes some serious on the spot prioritizing. What exactly is my ‘NOW” when many things are being asked of me at once? The nitty-gritty of this is, of course, up to each of us to individually discern. I personally look to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a guideline. Just the other day when my oldest son was studying his catechism, he remarked to me how many of these works of mercy I accomplish each and every day! A few of these are obvious such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and admonishing the sinner. As I was reading through these again while preparing for this talk, instructing the ignorant really jumped out at me. Now, before you think I am calling my children ignorant, bear with me, this can be applied in a very practical way while discerning exactly how to meet everyones needs justly and with charity. An example of this may be when your four year old is just begging you to color with him and you are nursing the baby. Dinner still needs to be made, and then it will be bath time, prayer time, and bed time. It is quite obvious to you that coloring is simply not a possibility, it would be very easy and tempting to say No, and don’t ask me again! Instead you could look at this “Now” moment, as an opportunity to practice a spiritual work of mercy. You could say something along the lines of “Sam, I would really like to color with you, but Markie needs to nurse right now, then Daddy will be home and we will all be hungry for dinner, so we need to make dinner, maybe we can color tomorrow.” In this case, the four year old was ignorant to the needs of the rest of the family, and you instructed him. Both of you have learned a lesson from the University of the Moment! Of course this is a very simplified example and we will often be faced with many bigger, constant, and not so clear demands. But if we practice these things in small matters, they will come easy and natural in big matters. Like Our Lord said in Luke (Lk 16:10) “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much.

  We have to keep in mind that sanctifying the moment goes beyond the practical. It is a lot more than just plopping oatmeal into bowls, wiping bottoms, and teaching multiplication tables. We need to be truly present in the moment. When we serve Christ by serving our family members, do they, in turn see Christ in us? Do they see someone who is welcoming the opportunity to serve them, with warmth, love, and a genuine interest for their well-being?

  It never ceases to amaze me, when I am kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, in a chapel full of people that God is there, present to me. He is concerned with nothing more than what is best for me, and at the same time, He is concerned with nothing more than what is best for the person beside me – all at the same time! This is only possible because God is outside of time and we live very much under time constraints, but there is still a lesson for us in this. We can imitate Him by being fully present to our individual children in even the most fleeting moments throughout the day. We need to learn to truly stop what we are doing, turn off the background noise in our heads, and focus on the person we are serving. This elevates our service from obligation to Love. It is certainly not our first inclination, and in reality is it not possible 100% of the time. (There is that pesky little “T” word again!) It is tempting though, to go on auto-pilot for the sake of efficiency. But when it comes to relationships, we should be aiming much higher than mere efficiency, the goal should be sanctity! And sanctity is possible, moment by moment…

  I would like to wrap this up with the following beautiful thoughts from my dear friend Holly at Seeking Faithfulness:

What will they see?
Infant of mine,
What will you see,
As I wash your skin and change your clothes?
Eyes that are focused on the next task or eyes filled with the wonder of you?

Toddler of mine,
What will you see,
As my head bends over yours and we brush your teeth?
Will you see a mouth turned down, a brow furrowed with thought,
Or a quick smile, just for you?

Little boys of mine,
What will you hear?
Words that seep with tiredness and frustration,
Or encouragement that you really can be the good boys
You want to be?

Daughters of mine,
What will you learn?
That mothering is a chore, a burden, a list,
Or a fulfilling, joyful job, worthy of your life’s attention?

Strapping sons of mine,
What will you observe?
A woman eager to control, to keep you under her thumb,
Or a mentor eager to disciple by example, a helping hand?

Husband of mine,
What will you find?
A spirit that is hard to please, a distant soul,
Or warm arms to welcome you as you walk in the door?

It is humbling, frightening of sorts, to realize that I create the majority of the memories that my family will carry with them regarding home. How have I framed that memory for each individual? Will their childhood have been filled with one of love and warmth, or of mommy simply “doing her job?” Will their adolescent years be full of good times, or will they be years of bad recollections? Will they grow up to desire a family for themselves, or will they believe that the cost of a child is much too high in terms of time, work, and finances? And my husband, if I were to be called home tomorrow, what would his memories of me be?
Have I, through the help of the Holy Spirit, given my best for these I love?
Isn’t it good to know that we do not walk this path alone?
His mercies are new every morning!

A Bit of This and a Little of That

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I found this fun little meme at Elizabeth’s  lovely blog.  I thought it would be fun,  and I would really like to tag Hallie for this one! 🙂

 1.  WERE  YOU NAMED FOR ANYONE?  Kind of.  My father’s cousin’s wife is Helen Kaye.  My middle name is Kaye, after her.  She is a dear.

2.  WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?  Yesterday when I made lunch.   I was listeng to this song.

3.  DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Print yes, cursive not so much.

4.  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT?  Thin sliced corned beef on a thick rueben!

5.  DO YOU HAVE KIDS?  Infested with ’em.

6.  WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?  I’d like to think so.

7.  DO YOU USE SARCASM ALOT?  Unfortunetly yes.  I need to work on that. 

8.  DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?  No

9.  WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?  No

10.  WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?  Golden Grahms are comfort food.  I don’t have them very often but when I do it’s not for breakfast.

11.  DO YOU UNTIE OUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?  I can’t remember the last time I wore shoes that tied.

12.  DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?  I have my strengths and weaknesses.

13.  WHAT IS OUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?  Haagen Das Pineapple Coconut.  YUM.

14.  WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU  NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?  Their eyes.

15.  RED OR PINK?  Red.  But not a true red.  More of a deep brick red like this font color. 

16.  WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF?  My indecisiveness.  For example, after I answered #15,  I thought to myself, “Yanno,  I really like pink too.

17.  WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?  My friend Jennifer and her dear family. 

18.  WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?  Brown pajama bottoms.

19 WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?  A bagel.

20.  WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?  The teakettle begining to boil and MB sucking his fingers.

21.  IF YOU WERE A CRAYON WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?  I can’t decide.

22.  FAVORITE SMELLS?  Chrism Oil!

23.  WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?  My favorite friend Nikki.

 24.  FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?  I am currently enjoying watching my 7 and 8 year old sons show me their new moves after wrestling practice.

25.  HAIR COLOR?  Dark Blonde.

26.  EYE COLOR?  Brown.

27.  DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?  No.

28.  FAVORITE FOOD?  I like all different kinds.  (Or, see #16)

29.  SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?  Happy Endings

30.  LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?  How to Eat Fried Worms.  (I have alot of little boys,  what can I say?)

31.  WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?  Yellow

32.  SUMMER OR WINTER?  Absolutely without a doubt SUMMER!

33.  HUGS OR KISSES?  Depends,  nothing beats a baby kiss.  Kisses from my husband are awful nice too.  But there is a whole lotta huggin’ going on in this house.

34.  FAVORITE DESSERT?  My friend Regina’s husband,  Keith,  makes a Creme Brulee that tops my list!

35.  WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?  Sadly,  I am not currently reading anything.

36.  WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?  The cover of last years Catholic Woman’s Daily Planner.  Michele does a wonderful job choosing cover art for these.

37.  WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT?  Super Nanny

38.  FAVORITE SOUNDS?  Baby belly laughs. 

39.  BEATLES OR ROLLING STONES?  Beatles.

40.  WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?  Europe

41.  DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?  Yes

42.  WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  Toledo,  OH