Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Caterpillar Update

The day after I posted about our caterpillar, we left the house for just a little while and when we came home we found our little guy transformed.  We were disappointed we had to miss it happen, but everyone is still thrilled he (or she?) made it this far!

Do you see him hanging by the zipper?

Yesterday we went with our homeschool group on a field trip to the Butterfly Wonderland.  I guess you could say we're doing an impromptu unit study on butterflies.  I went in a little apprehensive about the thought of butterflies landing on me.  And they did!  Land on me, I mean.  Once on my head (that was my biggest fear actually), another time on my back.  And each child received about the same treatment.  Sunflower is the only one who has inherited my fear of anything resembling a bug or spider, and she was found many times running and screaming away from the butterflies.  She may be scarred for life.  :)

Do you see what's on Froggy's head?  What about on the butterfly bench behind us?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

{phfr} - Goings On and a Happy Birthday

I mentioned before that we had found a caterpillar.  This morning I went to look for him in his little habitat (borrowed from a good friend) and finally found him on the roof.  He has strung himself up and it looks like he may be ready to build his chrysalis.  He's pretty in an ugly sort of way.  :)

Normally this time of year I already have plenty of pureed pumpkin in the freezer from those very cheap Halloween pumpkins.  Alas, this year I was running behind (as I seem to do in most everything nowadays) and by the time I got around to buying pumpkins all I could find were the more expensive pie pumpkins.  I bought four pumpkins anyway, and yesterday cooked them all and pureed them.  Considering each pumpkin was $1.99, and I bought four of them for a total of $7.96, I managed to get the equivalent of seven cans of pureed pumpkin.  A can of pumpkin is around $3.  That's a savings of over $13!  Economical indeed.  Plus, it's also kind of pretty.

We celebrated another birthday around here.  Fritter turned 8 on Saturday.  What else does an eight year old boy want than a real pair of cowboy boots?  We've been hearing an awful lot about rounding up cattle and lassoing things around here lately.

He asked for a volcano cake.  This is the best I could do.  If my kids didn't enjoy my cakes so much I would have turn in my cake making license.
This is more funny in the not so funny way (whatever that means).  Pumpkin seeds.  Sitting on the counter in a colander until I can get around to roasting them.  Ha ha.  Funny.

What's real is that we wouldn't get very far without prayer, now would we?  Without grace we have nothing.
Go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Little Life of Jesus Review

My oldest child's reaction (he is seven) upon seeing this board book for the first time was, "Why does Jesus look like a little baby?"  (He was talking about the pictures of adult Jesus).  And his second reaction was, “Why does the angel have blue hair?”  I didn’t have an answer to either question.  And indeed the pictures in The Little Life of Jesus are cutesy.  They are not ugly, just…cutesy.  My initial reaction to anything that seems to talk down to children is to get rid of it. 
That being said, for a board book meant for small children, this book has meat to it.  It tells the story of the life of Jesus (every major event) in an accessible way to the children, without pandering (that is, the book itself doesn’t pander, the pictures do).  This has become one that my smallest children request to bring with them to Mass, (it’s in our Mass bag now), and my three year old repeatedly asks me to read it to her.  “Where’s my Little Life of Jesus?” she’ll ask me again and again. 
This book would have gotten lost long ago if the illustrations were all that carried the book.  But The Little Life of Jesus has continued to hang around because I don't mind reading it aloud.  And unlike most other children's books that tell the story of Jesus, but completely leave out the Eucharistic Feast, this one does include Jesus’ last supper.  “He gives thanks, blesses it, and says: ‘This is my body, which is given for you.’"
I also appreciate how honestly but simply it tells of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. “At the top of a hill, soldiers nail Jesus to the cross. Jesus dies, giving up his life for all mankind.” 
With better illustrations this book would have been a must have!  As it stands, I might still have purchased it to fill an Easter basket (or Christmas stocking).  There are not many books geared for small children that tell the story of Jesus in such a wonderful way.

**I wrote this review of Little Life of Jesus for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tattered Hats

This motherhood gig.  It's tough sometimes isn't it?  It's tough not to compare ourselves and our efforts with those of our friends, or those of the internet.  Just this morning I was having a discussion over coffee with my husband before he left for work.  Among other things, we talked about whether we are doing "enough".  Actually, I talked more about if we are doing "enough".  He listened.

I spoke about my feelings of inadequacy.  About how we do not celebrate feast days enough.  How we don't pray enough as a family.  How we don't frequent the sacraments enough.  How hard we are on our children.  Whether I am doing enough to teach my children in school.  How their character flaws are totally our fault.  How slowly we are to correct our own character flaws.  And on and on.  In short, my anxiety about life was busting through and taking me (us) on a roller coaster ride.

And finally, my dear husband could listen no more.  "You work hard for us.  You love us.  You try every day to bring richness and goodness into our lives.  Stop this."

At that point (well to be honest, not right at that point, but soon after :), I realized that I had been letting my own doubts (and someone's lies) trickle in my mind and block out all the goodness and rightness we have here in our home. 

I am far from a perfect mother.  I am far from a perfect housekeeper and cook and teacher.  The hats I wear are many.  And some of them need quite a bit of mending.  Others are just slightly tattered, but still useful.  And some of them are down right nice.  It's hard to admit that.  The doubts keep coming in and if I let them, they can easily take over.

I can only guess and speculate about how my children will turn out.  I can only guess and speculate on what our life will look like ten years from now.  I know what I hope it looks like.  But guessing and speculating (and worry and anxiety) take me away from the here and now.  They take me away from the, "Mom!  There's a crane out front!  Can we go look at it!" and the, "Mom!  Our swallowtail caterpillar has gotten out of his jar!"  (True stories.  Both of those happened in the past ten minutes.)  Those are the minutes I don't want to lose.

Now, it's true that there are some adjustments and improvements our family should make.  Very true.  BUT...That doesn't mean that all the goodness doesn't exist.  The trick is to find the balance between improvement while focusing on what's good and true.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phillippians 4:6-8)

Our caterpillar.  Can you see him?  We're hoping we can watch him turn into a butterfly.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Week of Feasts

First up was the celebration of my hubby's birthday.  When I asked him what he wanted for dinner, he said spaghetti.  Not because he has any special love for spaghetti, but because he knows our children love it.  That's my wonderful husband for you.  So to make the spaghetti a little more festive, I made meatballs, using a mix of Emeril's and Rachel Ray's recipe (how's that for a mix!).  They may not be the prettiest meatballs on the block, but they were tasty.
 I also hadn't made bread for quite some time and have been wanting to get back in the habit.  I use Jennie C's recipe (I couldn't find the recipe there, but it is wonderful), and followed some of the techniques posted on Leila's blog.  The bread turned out lovely.

Cleaning up.
Having tea.

He's older than three.  How about times ten.  Plus....I'm not telling.  :)
 And then of course we had our annual pumpkin carving.  This year we opted for just one pumpkin (it's the adults doing all the carving anyway!), but it was a big one.  Fritter designed one side, and Ladybug the other.  They did the scooping, we did the carving.

Fritter's side, Dad carved.

Ladybug's side, Mom carved.
 This year, we opted to go to our homeschool groups All Saints party.  Normally we trick or treat around the neighborhood, but all of our friends were at the party.  Peer pressure!  Unfortunately, all this week we've been battling colds.  So in the end my dear husband stayed home sick with Froggy.  :(
Froggy-no-costume, St. Cecelia, St. Anthony the Abbot, St. Helena.
 And of course this past week all culminates in today's feast of All Souls' Day.
Eternal rest grant unto them, and may perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.