Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Books Clubs, Anniversary, First Communion, NFP class, and Babysitting

We've had a busy last few days. Nothing new for our family! As the title for this post suggests, there is a long list of activities that have kept us hopping the past few days.

The first activity was a children's book club for our home schooling group. The younger kids read the book The Weight of a Mass and then discussed the Mass and the Eucharist. It was a really great book, great for First Communicants and younger kids. It is a fairytale style story that has a really great message. The kids made monstrances as a craft to reinforce the importance of adoring and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. They had lots of fun and they turned out very well.

On Friday, dear hubby and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. We went out for dinner and then over to some friends' home to have an evening of adult conversation. After taking the babysitter home, we watched a movie before going to bed. It was a lovely evening.
On Saturday evening, dear hubby's God-daughter made her First Holy Communion. I had never been to an evening Mass for the reception of First Holy Communion, so I didn't know what to expect. I should have expected that the baby (I mean toddler) would be very cranky. But, cranky isn't severe enough a word! She was horrible and the Mass lasted 2 hours! I was either covering her mouth to keep her quiet, wrestling her into submission, or outside the church while she screamed nearly the whole Mass. However, at least the other kids behaved and dear hubby was able to be there to witness such a blessed occasion. Afterward we had dinner and the kids were able to play with their cousin and aunt.

On Sunday, we had our last NFP class for the series we've been teaching and also had Dear Hubby's grandparents (Ma and Pa) over. Ma and Pa came to till up our garden and then stayed for dinner. Dear Hubby's mom and sister also came over and enjoyed a nice roast with us. I was so exhausted by Sunday night I could barely handle writing up the kids lesson plans for the upcoming week, but I got through it and finally went to bed exhausted.

Monday morning I got a bit of a surprise phone call from our neighbors asking if we could babysit their four little blessings while they went to the hospital to deliver their newest bundle of joy. I was happy to help out and the day went rather smoothly until dinner time, when all chaos started to break out because the kids were exhausted from playing outside most of the day and not having their normal nap time. Thank goodness dear hubby came home about that time and was able to referee while I fixed dinner. All eleven of us were able to sit down to a nice dinner and in plenty of time for him to get out the door to his two meetings. After dinner, I realized how dirty the kids had gotten from playing outside and decided to give some quick baths. When that was all done, I finally got all the kids settled down and to sleep. Some took longer than others.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ultrasound Pictures of Baby #6

This morning we went for my first ultrasound to make sure the baby is healthy. We were very relieved to see that the baby is growing right on schedule and is very healthy. We also were able to determine the sex of the baby.

Our son was VERY happy and we are already thanking St. Padre Pio for his unfailing intercession. Even if things would have turned out differently, I know he would have been very accepting of God's Will. While we were driving into town for the ultrasound this morning, our son said, "If it isn't a boy, I won't cry this time." Then he very solemnly asked, "God knows what is best for us, right, Mommy?" A very wise little boy who is rather happy today to know he has a little brother on the way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Update on Easter week and Divine Mercy Sunday

It's been over a week since I posted anything and for good reasons. We've been crazy busy with school work, celebrating Easter week, bed shopping, doctor visits, the Divine Mercy novena, a women's conference, a visit from Aunt Susan, and a First Communion Mass. What a busy week. Overall, a very blessed week, with a few worst moments of all time thrown in there.
Since Aunt Susan was coming for a visit, we crammed nearly a whole week's worth of school work into two days, but it was worth it so that the kids could spend more time with their aunt. We celebrated Easter week by attending Mass nearly everyday. (The only Mass celebrated on Mondays around here is at noon and about a 30 minute drive away. We were so wiped out from the weekend excitement that it became apparent that Mass was not an option that late in the day.)
While Aunt Susan was in town she watched the kids quite a bit for me. What a blessing that was! I was able to get the oil changed in the van, go grocery shopping ALONE, and shop for a new bed with dear hubby! We found an incredible deal on our bed because we were willing to take the floor model that had only been there about 5 months. It was TemperPedic and we saved over $1,000! All we had to do was wash the cover! Well worth the savings. Aunt Susan also watched the kids while I had my O.B. appointment. The ultrasound is set for Wednesday and the kids are so excited to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. Of course, they are all hoping for a boy, but mostly for a healthy baby.
Saturday, I attended a Women's Conference with some 500 other women. It was refreshing to here some really holy priests and lay women speak. I was encouraged and challenged at the same time. It was a very long day, but well worth it.
I was able to finish the Divine Mercy novena again this year and feel so grace filled and at peace now that it is over. On Divine Mercy Sunday, I was not able to go to a Divine Mercy service because my Faith Formation class made their First Holy Communion that afternoon. What a privilege to know that I had some small part in helping to form their understanding of our Lord in the Eucharist! The kids were very well behaved and did a great job with all the Mass readings and songs.
Unrelated to the First Communion kids, I had some really bad moments when I exchanged words with our priest and the pastoral associate about some liturgical "enhancements" (as they called them) for the Mass. Enough about that, though. But prayer on the subject would be appreciated. Thanks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter at Ma and Pa's House

Dear Hubby's grandparents are nick-named Ma and Pa. We went to their house for Easter lunch and to visit with the family. The kids had another Easter egg hunt with their Aunt Olivia and some of their Daddy's cousins. Everyone had a very good time, ate lots of candy, and slept very well that night after so much excitement.

Easter Sunday Formal Pictures

These are our Easter Sunday pictures of us all dressed up for Mass. We traditionally take a family picture in front of the alter after Mass. This year I decided to also get an individual picture of each of the kids. I think I am going to be really glad I did this. It will be really neat to look back and see how much they change from one Easter to the next.

If you are wondering, my mom (Grammy) made the Easter dresses for the girls. She actually made them for the girls last year, but I told her to make them big enough for them to wear for two years. Thank goodness the girls cooperated and didn't grow too much. The baby's dress was a little snug and short, but seemed to look fine once I got it on her. Now what am I going to do next year? I guess we'd better start looking for fabric.

This last picture is of the kids with another NFP family that has five girls. So, the statistics are: two families, 10 kids, 9 of them girls, 1 boy. Needless to say, everyone is rooting for this next baby to be a boy. (Which, by the way, we should be having an ultrasound within the next two weeks to make sure the baby is doing fine, and of course, to determine the sex of the baby.)

Holy Saturday Egg Hunt

A wonderful family from church hosted an Easter egg hunt on Saturday. The kids really enjoyed themselves. It turned out to be a very nice, and rather warm day. They were able to search for eggs, frost some sugar cookies, go for a pony ride, climb on the playground, and ride on the lawn tractor. In all, I think there were about 25 kids total. It was a wonderful sight and a blessed day!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Thursday and Good Friday

On Thursday we died Easter eggs, made unleavened bread, and attended Holy Thursday Mass. I don't usually die Easter eggs so early. I've traditionally done them on Holy Saturday. However the last two years it has really bothered me to see the kids all dressed up for Easter and then have multi-colored fingers to go with their nice clothes. So, I decided to do them early. It went rather well, and surprisingly they didn't get nearly as messy this year. Making the unleavened bread meant even more to me this year because I was able to attend a Passover Haggadah (seder meal) on Wednesday night. That was really insightful for me. I especially found the last psalm read at the meal very moving. It was Psalm 118. I kept thinking about all the symbolic and prophet language in it and wondered if the apostles would have been having an "aaahh-hah" moment while hearing those words. I was able to share some of those insights with the kids while making the unleavened bread and it meant so much to them.

Holy Thursday went really well until Mass, when the kids didn't behave. I know it is due to the very late Mass. We normally attend Mass at 8 am. The Holy Thursday Mass we attended was at 8 pm! What a difference 12 hours make! The baby and the three-year-old were horrible. I felt so bad for the people behind us that I even apologized to them during the sign of peace. The young lady (who appeared to be single) was very understanding. She simply smiled and said, "It gives me some practice in focusing! Don't worry about it. They are fine." I am glad she felt that way, because on the inside all I could do was offer my anger and frustration up to Jesus. I was constantly thinking of how little they were doing my will and about their outright disobedience toward me and my husband. It made me think of my own sinfulness and how frequently we ignore God's Will and just do our own thing. At one point dear hubby even took the three year old out for a spanking! That is when I made the connection to God's loving, but firm punishments that He sometimes delivers upon us all. Everything happens for a reason and we just have to accept that. It doesn't mean we don't try to change things for the better, but we have to accept that in God's Permissive Will it was allowed to happen. No matter what I did to try to make the kids behave, all my normal tricks, distractions, and even threats, didn't work for a reason. I think I was supposed to feel that deep hurt that comes from being betrayed, dishonored, and disrespected by someone we love. I am sure that is how God must feel when I commit any sin, no matter how small or big. Lesson learned, God, now help my kids behave better next time!
My prayers seemed to be answered on Good Friday, because the kids behaved so much better. I think it has a lot to do with the time of day. Our baby (or should I say toddler now) was even very calm. She even surprised me by kissing Jesus while venerating the cross. It was such a blessing to see her little lips lovingly kiss Jesus' feet. Then, in sign language she motioned the words, "thank you". I almost cried I was so proud of her.
I posted some pictures of the unusual happenings on Good Friday. Right at the hour of noon, there came a hail storm that lasted about three minutes. The kids were amazed and my oldest made the connection that it was the hour of Jesus being crucified. Later in the day, as we were about to leave to go to Good Friday services at 3pm, it suddenly got very dark and started to down pour. Again the kids made the connection that it was almost the hour of Christ's death on the cross. I told them that sometimes God used nature to remind us of His presence and awesome power. I don't think that is a lesson they will be forgetting anytime soon. I know I won't.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Pretzel Recipe Over at Catholic Cuisine

Along with a different recipe, they also offer a little explanation on how pretzels got their name and why we traditionally eat them during Lent. Check it out, it is pretty neat!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cooking and Chores with the Kids

It was a pretty good Monday. The kids did their school work today without complaint and very efficiently. We were done shortly before lunch and had some time to do chores before eating. The little girls helped me to sort clothes and put the "white" load into a bin to be taken to the washer. They misunderstood me and decided to get into the bin and then put the clothes in on top of them. It was rather funny when I came around the corner and saw them doing this.

My son helped sweep the floor under the table while my oldest went upstairs to clean the bathroom.

When lunch time rolled around, the two middle girls decided they wanted to learn how to make sandwich eggs. They were so excited to put on some old aprons that my sister and I used to wear when we were kids. Overall the eggs turned out pretty well with a little help from Mommy and their big sister.

Later in the day we tried our hand at making soft pretzels. I knew the kids were going to love this activity. They were amazed at how small the yeast was and yet how big it made the dough get. A great science lesson as well as a religious one. We talked about the parable of the yeast, how monasteries used to make pretzels, and even why they shaped them that way. It was really fun. My sister-in-law told me about this link to a pretty good recipe.

My only adjustment was to turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees and soak the pretzels a little while in the baking soda water mixture. Overall, a very good recipe that nearly anyone can do. They were a huge hit with my kids! I am glad I made a double batch, otherwise, there would be none left for Daddy to try when he gets home from work tonight!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Braided" Palms from Palm Sunday

Here are a few pictures of the "braided" blessed palms. I am not sure where this tradition originated, but our family seems to enjoy carrying it on. After I am finished "braiding" them, I like to snip off the extra ends and make them into the shape of a cross. Just another reminder of Christ and His ultimate sacrifice for our salvation.

It is hard to see, but just before going to bed, my oldest daughter saw a rainbow in the sky after we had just finished praying the rosary. It was a nice little reminder that God keeps His promises. What a great way to start Holy Week. I hope everyone has a very blessed week.