Friday, May 30, 2014

A Good Book

Last night my husband and I got very little sleep.  This was not the fault of our children, nor was it the fault of ...well maybe the coke ice cream floats had something to do with it, but it just happened that both of us happened to be reading very good books and we just could not put. them. down.

I was in the last couple of chapters of With God in Russia by Father Walter Ciszek.  The book is an autobiographical account of an American Jesuit priest who went into Russia for missionary work in 1939 and was very soon arrested as "a Vatican spy".  He spent four (or five?) years in basically solitary confinment in prison before being sent to work for 15 years in the prison camps of Siberia, plus a few years of undefined status in a couple of towns in Siberia.  The story is amazing and last night at about midnight my husband asked what I was still doing up.  I told him there was no way I was going to bed until I found out if he makes it out of Russia.  And then when I was done with the book, I did just a little research and found this website dedicated to Father Ciszek's cause for cannonization.

I could have asked my husband what he was doing up as well, but his answer would have been the same thing.  He has started reading Quo Vadis and cannot put it down.  He read 100 pages last night and said he understands why it is one of the best-selling books of all time.

There is nothing like a good book to make you lose sleep.  It's like spending the evening chatting away with a good friend.  Read anything good lately?  There are lots of good books out there right now.  My next read is Something Other Than God, which, if the reviews are true, just may make me lose more sleep.

I like to keep several books going at once.  Yesterday I also finished reading the Charlotte Mason Companion, which was filled with great ideas I hope to implement in our school next year (and some this summer too) and I'm also reading The Little Oratory which will now take most of my daytime reading since I finished CM.

I once had a dream of being a librarian.  My house certainly isn't as quiet as a library, but I like to pretend.  I've even taken a step to realizing my dream...instead of referring to our front room as (wait for it) the front room, I've taken to calling it "the library".  My children look at me funny, but they'll catch on someday.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Little Oratory - A Review

I have long since been a fan of Auntie Leila and her blog Like Mother, Like Daughter.  I think that is probably apparent since it seems I only blog during her link up anymore.  As a convert and an only child, I often find lost navigating the waters of largish (by today's standards, but really smallish) family life and trying to "build the culture" as Auntie Leila calls it.  So often I feel as if I am reinventing the wheel.  And that's where Like Mother, Like Daughter comes in.  I have found encouragement AND practical help there.  Where else can you read about Taking a Shower, Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping, Laundry 101 (and 202), Homeschooling, Child Discipline, Thrifting, and Crafting all in one place?  In a way that is approachable and doesn't make you feel as if you could never, ever do any of that in a million years?  I know of only one place.
So imagine how thrilled I was when I heard that Auntie Leila had written a book?  On prayer?  In the home?  Of course I pre-ordered it as soon as I could and the day I received it in the mail turned out to be a pretty awesome day:
I had gotten a pedicure that morning.  Yes sir, that was a special day!
 Just as I suspected the book is just like having Leila here to chat with.  Now I don't have to stalk her blog waiting for a new post!  I can just open the book!  (That doesn't mean I'm not still stalking the blog, or going back and reading the archives, I totally am).  I'm not even all the way through the book, but I have read enough to know that this book is a treasure.  The Little Oratory is centered around making a prayer corner in the home and then practical ways to pray with the family, especially the Liturgy of the Hours.  But, true to Auntie Leila's style, it is really so much more.  There is a little section about stain removal (for the cloth for the prayer table of course) that I am going to copy and hang in my laundry room for reference.  There are pearls of wisdom throughout the book and I could go on and on.  Including what to do with spent matches!  How clever!

The Little Oratory was co-written by David Clayton and it includes icons he created that you can pull out and frame for your prayer table.  They are beautiful and as soon as I could go to the store and pick up some frames (I found a few 3-packs of 5x7's at Target for $5) I got to work.  I hung two of the icons at the foot of our bed (we already had the little shelf and crucifix up), and I love how finished they seem to make this spot.

Here's out a little so you can see it in context.  Window to the right and my dresser to the left.

Zoomed in a little.  These walls are white.  The lighting in here is just weird.
We already had a little "altar" of sorts set up in our front room, I posted about it once here, but after reading all the possibilities and ideas, I realized that I really could do better than that.  With just a little thought, I moved a few tables around (this one I stole from our front door area) and voila:
 This little prayer spot is so functional and (to me) beautiful.  Going from the top down let's look at it a little closer:
Three more icons from the book.  My husband really loves these ones.
 I'm not sold on the cloth, but it's what I had on hand for now.  I wrote down in my little idea book that I want to find a decent cloth and possibly do some embroidery, but for now this works.  I'll switch out the color cloth for appropriate colors during the liturgical year.  The cross was a gift from one of my grandmothers.  The statue on the left is of St. Joseph and as you can see from the little prayer card, he's a pretty special saint for our family.  The box on the left holds our rosaries.  The little box in the center of the table holds matches with the striker plate glued on the inside lid (again from Leila's idea on her blog, but she also writes about it in her book).  The little clay pot holds spent matches (this is a temporary thing, I have my eye out for something more permanent at thrift stores).
 This picture is grainy but you get the idea.  The bottom shelf of this table holds my little prayer basket which has small prayer books, a journal, some pens, ect.  We have our Breviary, Dan and my personal Bibles plus the family Bible, a Catechism, and other little devotional type books.
And there you have it.  If you haven't picked up your own copy of The Little Oratory, maybe because...well, I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't have it!  But if you don't have one, I can only tell you that this book is one that should be on every Catholic family's book shelf.
*I am linking this post up (even if my pictures happen to be a little grainy) with Leila's Little Oratory Link-up.  Do go see what other people are being inspired to create in their own homes!  It's very encouraging!  When the button is ready I will post that at the top.*

Thursday, May 8, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Catching Up (We Had Birthdays!)

First some business.  Thank you for your prayers and well wishes for my grandmother who visited us about a month ago.  She recently passed away and I am headed out on Friday for her funeral.  Which is actually sort of crazy timing because my husband is out of town this week on business and will not be home until Friday night.  Thankfully a few good friends are stepping in to help out with our children until dad can get home.  Prayers are appreciated for safe travel for myself and Joseph back to Wyoming, for my husband's work to go well so he can be home in a safe and timely manner, and for our other children (who will be in a different state from Dan and I.  Crazy!).

round button chicken

When my dearest, sweetest husband got home from his last trip two weeks ago, he came in the door with these beauties.  They brightened up my little reading spot famously.

Do you know what else is sitting in my reading spot?  Loveliness.  Seriously this book is not only awesome in the reading aspect, it is so pretty.  The drawings throughout, the pictures in the back (that you can remove and frame!), everything about it is...pretty.  When I finish reading it I am planning on doing a fuller review, but until then...just order it yourself.  You'll know what I'm trying to say when you do. Oh, and notice the toes at the bottom.  I had a pedicure and they are still looking pretty.  I know.  Toes and this amazing book don't really go together.  Blame the photographer. ;)

 Ladybug had an end of the year tea party with her Little Flowers group.  The girls dressed up in their fancy dresses and hats and whatever else and drank real tea!  I'm so glad she has gotten to be a part of this group.

And Fritter started baseball, which has been a lot of fun.  This one is in the {handsome} category.  My heart melts to see a little boy in a baseball uniform.  So. Stinking. Cute.


In other news we celebrated two birthdays recently (and I've become such a bad blogger that I'm just now getting to post about them).  My little Sunflower turned three the end of March.  I had big plans to make her a lovely chocolate cake, but then we all got attacked with a stomach flu and all my plans flew out the window.  (har-har).  So my dear husband came to the rescue and bought an ice cream cake and talked the store into drawing a monkey on our little monkey's cake.

Notice the monkey shirt she's wearing?  This girl loves monkeys.

The big kids are as thrilled with her gift as she is.

My Sunflower girl.  "These flowers are for Dad for when he gets home."
 And today is Froggy's birthday!  We celebrated on Sunday with his godparents and a homemade cake (yum!) since Daddy had to leave Monday for his trip.   Can he really be one already?!  Where has the past year gone?!  Today the kids and I marked the occasion with a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

 My little Froggy is almost always happy.  Even when he is stuck on top of Daddy's weights.

And really?  I can't get enough of chewing on his little cheeks.  Happy boy.


I mentioned Froggy's cake was homemade.  Our favorite chocolate cake recipe is the one on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa can, and you cannot celebrate a first birthday without chocolate cake, right?  I had big plans to decorate his cake with a giraffe since that is the stuffed animal that he sleeps with.  I googled a picture and found one I thought was cute.  But after drawing it on with cookie icing (because that's what I had), my husband asked me why I drew a hyena on Froggy's cake.

He's right.  It looks like a hyena.  But it tasted like Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Let's pretend the name says Froggy.  I'm too tired to fix it.

It's been real around here, that's for sure.  Case in point:

Rocks.  In the dryer.  Guess I should check pockets more often.

Laundry.  So. Much. Laundry.  It seriously does not stop.
 In other realness, we decided on a whim last Saturday to drive to the next big town south of us for a folk festival.  We thought there would be games and crafts and music and children.  No. No. Yes, and one of the stages a cross dresser was doing the "singing".  And another big fat no.  Nope, this place was full of old hippies and no children.  Our four were seriously the only ones there.  I'm still amazed by that fact.  It's a sad world that we live in when there are not enough children (or at least they are maybe not welcome, or their parents are smarter than we are and knew to stay away) to have fun at a folk festival.  How can you have a folk festival without the folks?

Anyway, so because we had driven all this way we had to find something to do.  My husband and the big kids did this:

In the far back boat is Dan and Sunflower.  Ladybug is in the middle boat, and Fritter is in the boat up front.
 ...while I stayed in the shade with Froggy and did this:
Must. Finish.  Book.

 And I leave you with one last smidgeon of real life here in crazytown.  It's 11pm (actually it's midnight, but it was 11 when I took the picture), I'm still awake, but my floors are clean (and now I've actually blogged).  Hurray for me!

Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for other contentment.