Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 6th Day of Christmas -- journaling...

It is the 6th Day of Christmas and everyone is rising in a leisurely manner. I am absolutely loving awakening to a quiet home, and it staying that way for a good, long while. It was 35 degrees here, when I let the dogs out around 7am. I puffed out the smoky-looking air and perused the woods behind us -- beautiful and quiet and dimly lit. We are heading downtown to IKEA today, later. Looking back to the 5th Day of Christmas: Yesterday my friend Lisa picked up Little Man to go for a playdate with her daughter and new puppies. The girls and I left Dad alone with his woodchip pile to go to the Mall (...I am thinking of writing, at some point, about "Mallschooling" -- catchy, no?). It was clear and a bit brisk, perfect for shoveling and Dad did shovel and spread lots of mulch over our muddy backyard. The Mall Foodcourt was crowded with happy moms and tweens and teens -- very nice to see others enjoying what I get to enjoy often. Maybe I am a starry-eyed optimist, but I see so much goodness around me. We live in a very safe and, for lack of a better way to put it, a well-educated area of American Suburbia. As a southerner, I feel the South here in Georgia, even though North Atlanta is mostly transplants from everywhere. It is so much cheaper to live here than any other metro area in the U.S., or the planet, for that matter, that it is very amenable to family life. You can enjoy big city perks and still afford a nice house with a good-sized yard...well, anyway: the girls talked me in to a new outfit, at a rock bottom price...then, we picked up Little Man, saw our friends' new puppies, chatted with their family, Mom (yours truly) sipped a half glass of good red wine, and then back home to change clothes, drink tea, leave the boys at home and then off to AMC Cinemas to use Dad's gift card from work to see Twilight. M read all four books since T-giving and I read about a quarter of the first book last nite. I like it. I like it alot. More on that, later. So many hunger and thirst for the truths of the Old Faith which is also known as Catholicism...more later, very important topic and do not want to botch it...Adios for now, dear Christmas journal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Faith's great adventure -- Becket!

Today is the 5th Day of Christmas and a most interesting saint's feast day. Here is a quote from Catholic Culture about Becket: "Given the tempo of the liturgical season with its feasts it is easy to overlook that one saint who for many centuries was, after Mary and Joseph, the most venerated person in European Christendom." Read the rest here. I want to see this film about the venerated man. Looking back to the 4th Day of Christmas: Yesterday was one of my favorite feasts of the whole year, the Feast of the Holy Family. For years now, I have dedicated the most intimate part of my life to the Holy Family. I love them and everything for which they stand. So, Mass yesterday was particularly moving for me. We went for our regular Sunday drive up to Cumming to snap some pics of the house. We ate at Cici's Pizza and looked at leather couches, came home, had some hot tea and watched loads of t.v. M made us pasta with red sauce for dinner. We talk alot while we watch t.v. Much playing with our grateful pets. Our evening family prayer was almost midnight. We are really staying up late and sleeping late.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday house-building pics

More Christmas 2008 diary...

JMJ, pray for us! Yesterday was the 3rd Day of Christmas and I finally cooked up a feast (...as an aside, I plan to boil a fresh turkey today or tomorrow, since I tend to rubberize roasted poultry...). I made pork tenderloin in the Crockpot with creamy wine mushroom sauce, egg noodles, simmered apples (yum!), green peas and a delicious baked sweet potato casserole. We placed our Nativity on the breakfast room table and Dad and I sang our best "Away in a Manger," which was weak, but a good start. Earlier in the day, Dad and I watched a replay of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Dad took the girls to the pet store and Little Man played with his new toys. I did alot of de-cluttering and got our learning room almost ready. Began St. Therese Novena again, as I stopped at day 4 or 5 when we came back from BGKY. Did laundry. Talked with girls. Stared at all the stuff I need to either pack up or get rid of soon. Read ultra-inspiring article in the Dec./Jan. American Spectator by Michael Novak recounting the death of his brother, a priest, Fr. Richard Novak, in 1964, in Pakistan. Enjoyed husband being off work. Day-dreamed of painting. Plans: Going to see Tale of Despereaux up in Dawsonville with another hschooling family, toasting in 2009 with friends, continuing house/yard cleaning while we have help from Dad, hoping to have some lunch and/or coffee date with my mom friends (sans kiddos) and gearing up for Winter academic quarter.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2nd Day of Christmas

2nd Day of Christmas: I am really trying to savor every moment. We are so glad to have Dad home for two weeks with no work! He took us to his favorite lunch spot, where he usually goes with all his fellow software engineers. Then, we joined the swarm at Target, and, believe it or not, THE MALL! Oh, my goodness, it was waves and waves of people. The general feeling was very happy and laid back with lots of extended families walking in groups. This area is so new that lots of folks must have grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc...in town to stay. It reminded me of when I lived in Madrid, which, when I lived there, was such a laid back city full of families strolling and shopping and eating. I learned to love strong coffee in Madrid's cafes. (...okay, the cheap, good red table wine was good too...) Well, back to yesterday. M and Dad walked the whole Mall and J, JB and I made a small circle, bought frosty Orange Juluii and plopped right on the floor in front of Waldenbooks and had such a good time watching people and looking at JB's half price calendars (...she has a calendar collection...). I am writing and delivering a few Christmas cards every day, hopefully to have them all out by Epiphany. The girls are helping with delivery of local cards/gifts and helping cook and clean. Little Man does dishes, sweeping and family room pick up. Some seasonal greeting cards are going through email this year. The girls and I went to Publix, and we all settled in to watch a very strange and funny movie called The Bee Movie. Earlier in the day, we recorded a bunch of the show Myth Busters, which we've heard alot about but never seen, and watched a few of those episodes here and there. The dogs and cats were in heaven having us all piled in the family room so much. Dad was playing lots of guitar. Looking ahead: We want to try some new recipes: sausage balls and a chocolate cake and more. And, I'm trying to talk Dad into roasting a fresh turkey, while they are available. M and I are looking at studying the works of George MacDonald this coming quarter. I am getting the planning itch and want to go solo to the library next week while Dad holds down the fort.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Story of St. Wenceslaus

Go here to read about good King Wenceslaus. This is one of my favorite Christmas carols. Enjoy the carol here. Wow! I just found a picture book jackpot. Go here for a blog post chock full of books and info on this inspiring saint. Yesterday, the 1st Day of Christmas: While it was a good thing to get up to Kentucky from last Saturday to Tuesday, we were all a bit sluggish yesterday. The 10:30 Christmas Day Mass was so quiet and lovely. We went for a little drive, ate a late lunch at one of the few places open in the metro area, had some hot cider and visited with friends and came home to settle in to watch movies and eat frozen lasagna from COSTCO, which I did heat in the oven! Oops; rewind to Christmas morn -- we always make a home movie of the children coming down the stairs to see what ole St. Nick brought (his presents are unwrapped or in the stockings) and then they tore into a few wrapped gifts, most of which the girls bought for their little brother. The tree is beautifully lit as I write this on a cloudy, and not so cold -- around 53 degrees -- morning. I love winter and have loved it all my life. The short days take the pressure off my extroverted temperament. I get outside, but the quiet and low light soothes my easily agitated self. Growing up in Kentucky, I never remember the ice or snow keeping me inside too much. As a younger person, I spent hours taking long walks. I love being able to see the shape and contours of the land. Now I see it largely from my van, yet, the views here in our North Georgia suburban neighborhoods are breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by winter's spartan landscape. Instead of 5 mile hikes, now I putter around my little plot of the American pie like a good rheumatic. Part of the reason I keep this little diary is to remind myself of things I want to do, places and books to explore...well, again, I'll write that I want very much to get back to taking pictures and learn how to put them on this blog. So far, I am dependent on my hubby and my firstborn to help me with the photos. While I'm at it, I want to learn to paint. Our new house has a room on the terrace level to use as a playroom/art studio. Art and architecture have become quite the passion around here, for years, as all the children love to color, draw, paint and build. Being a stay-at-home mom has been for me the greatest ongoing Christmas gift a woman could ever hope to have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

play, peace and a poem

We're back. And, it was not an easy drive. Thanks be to God, everything else was remarkably easy. The photo was taken night before last in KY. My hope tonight is for my family, at least for a few moments, to go to that stable "...when peaceful stillness compassed everything..." (Wisdom 18:14). Here is a poem from Richard Wilbur from my Magnificat. It is called "A Christmas Hymn":

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master rebuke thy disciples.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

St. Luke 19:39-40

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky:
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.
This child through David's city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave his kingdom come.
Yet he shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God's blood upon the spearhead,
God's love refused again.
But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Update on house

Travelling to Kentucky today...

I am doing some last minute packing up and cleaning up before loading the van up for a drive from Georgia to Kentucky. Here is part of day 5 of the Christmas Novena that we are praying: O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel: you open and no one shuts; you shut and no one opens. Come and lead forth from his prison the captive sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady of Guadelupe, pray for us!

It is hard for me to settle down and write because there is so much to do! So, I ask our Lady's intercession to bring me down a few notches to pause and reflect. After a very relaxing, long weekend in Kentucky, with Dad's brother and mother and father over the Thanksgiving holiday, we came back to Georgia ready to prepare for Christmas and for our move to Cumming in January. While we were in Kentucky, our Mimi and I decided to work together to make a Polish meal, when we return back to their home in Kentucky, as part of our Christmas 2008 celebration. A couple of days ago, the children and I checked out a bunch of books on Poland at one of our local libraries. This morning we read this inspiring picture book, Escaping to America: A True Story, by Rosalyn Schanzer. This is such an appropriate story, given the season. Speaking of Advent, we are getting very enthusiastic about Gaudete Sunday. Having never roasted a turkey, I hope to talk my husband into giving it a try this Sunday. I have stuffing mix from Trader Joe's and apples and sweet potatoes to bowl or stew in the slow cooker. I just need to buy some green beans and the turkey. I hope to post more on our Polish studies as there is more to it than what I have here. Also, we are so grateful for our son's performance in The Small One night before last. We also have been blessed to be able to serve, outside the home, more than usual; and, I notice, with the children a year older, that this Advent 2008 has seen many more quiet-working-together moments...nothing spectacular, just the pleasant calm of cleaning and organizing together.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

John James Audubon's beautiful paintings and violence in America and Great Britain...

We read this book this fall and loved it. I am from Kentucky and want my children to learn about the independence, bravery and creativity of the people of the Kentucky wilderness. When I was in RCIA, back in 1999-2000, a dear man, who is now a Deacon, gave me Kentucky Spring, the biography of Catherine Spalding. I want to research Daniel Boone and other frontiersmen and women. (Here is a good link to learn more about Catherine Spalding.)The 1800's was, in Europe, often a complex and spoiled time. Meanwhile, in this country, there was much simplicity and purity. We had no blue bloods; we also had no landed gentry, but soon, settlers would create good farms and estates in a very short period of time. In the early colonial period, there was misunderstanding and violence on this continent as well, as this book, about St. Isaac Jogues, which we also read this fall, attests. It was during our studies this fall that I realized the close parallel of tyranny and repression among the Jesuit fathers in Great Britain and the pioneering Jesuits who came to bring Christ to the New World. The pioneer spirit is captivating. St. Edmund Campion and St. John Fisher were every bit the brave pioneers, as was Isaac Jogues. I think many of the pilgrim fathers and mothers sensed the corruption that the Church of England had brought to those trying to live a life in accordance with the Gospels. One day the Church will be united. I believe this. What is needed is for more individuals to really peruse the history books. We cannot be satisfied with televised histories. As much as I like film, especially documentary film, as a means to educate, I think we need more scholarship. Scholars dig and read and write and speak about that which they are reading and writing. Some of the best scholarship has and will go on outside of formal institutions. Good scholarship stimulates the mind and enflames the heart for truth. A film can provoke, that is true. I worry, at times, that we are overly visual, which can lead to intellectual and spiritual laziness. Well, I hope for peace. I yearn for Charity. I think we are not loving when we let lies parade as truth. Whether physical or metaphysical, violence is a distortion of the truth. The power of the Holy Spirit is -- beyond words -- more powerful than any physical or spiritual violence. To keep this country from repeating history and turning to tyranny, we must ask the Holy Spirit to intervene. Come, Holy Spirit, come! Fill the hearts of the faithful...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Architecture for Kids

No surprise that I would find -- while reading Willa's inspiring blog -- this blog with all kinds of great resources for studying art and architecture. I ordered Cathedral (we have City) as a Christmas present for Little Man, but the truth is, all three love to draw. Everyone is playing these Sims games...well, I'm dreaming and planning some projects for Winter 2009. Here is a link to the tumultuous history of Canterbury Cathedral, pictured above. I just found this link to the work of David Macaulay; and, after glancing at it realize that I just missed what was probably such a good exhibit in nearby Memphis, TN!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Photo essay -- Thanksgiving 2008

Michael Davies and the gift of the Mass

My in-laws have quite alot of books. There are some shelves I have perused for years, and, as if they were just placed there (which they had not), were two tomes of the work of Michael Davies, British convert to Catholicism and such a lover of Christ and His Church. Well, speaking of converts, Alan Hunt, a once Presbyterian pastor, is speaking at St. Peter Chanel next week here in Roswell, and I'd like to go hear him.

When I have time, I'm going to try to download these MP3 talks of Davies.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What makes a house a home...

Here is my girl, very excited about her new digs. She is standing right under what will be her new room. She and Dad went up this afternoon, while I stayed here with our little man, who is the last to fall with our flu/bad cold. M is up in KY working in her grandfather's office (he is an eye doctor) and enjoying gabbing and cooking with her Mimi. Jb, J and I watched alot of home movies today -- so many good times and beautiful memories. May the next 15 years of my marriage be so blessed! Little man made a blanket tent and drank gobs of Sprite. I feel grateful for being part of a home. It is so often said that home is where the heart is. I believe that home is largely an interior concept. Being at home in our flesh is a real challenge and one that I do not think truly possible without communion with the Blessed Trinity -- and, even then, we struggle and fall (thank goodness the Prince of Peace gave us the Sacraments to lift us up!). Well, I am rambling here. On a lighter note, I feel so blessed to have so many close friends in my life. I hope that when I move houses, I will ask God for the grace necessary to keep both old and new friends close to my heart. His grace truly is sufficient. He is full of love and mercy; it is I that tend to hold Him back...rambling again! What a mess! The idea of the "messy apostolate" keeps passing through my mind.

Smile. Be happy. Play.

Since we have a DVR now, I was able to record three saint movies on All Saint's Day; and, I watched two during November. The movie about Don Bosco was just great. He was so grateful to be alive, to serve, to love, to shoot that winning smile at everyone, even if he were tired or not feeling well. I just love him and what he did. As the first weekday of the Advent season, I choose him to inspire our homeschool for the upcoming weeks. We had such fun with all the dogs (5!) at Mimi and Grandaddy's house over the Thanksgiving weekend. We got out for a nature walk everyday. How many grandparents would let you shoot basketball for hours -- inside! That is it! St. John Bosco, pray for us!