Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Icons of Our Lady

I was inspired by this post on Katherine's Orientale Lumen blog to show you my icon of Mary. (If you are at all interested in Eastern Christianity, then don't miss this blog! Katherine is a Byzantine Catholic who is posting a series of wonderful, lucid explanations of Orthodox spirituality and practice.)

I bought this nearly twenty years ago in a small studio/shop in Rethymnon, Crete. You could wander in from the street and watch the iconographer at work, and he was happy to explain (in good English!) what he was doing. My icon is only tiny - it measures about 5 inches by 3 inches - but was the only one I could afford. It is in the unique Cretan style of iconography, which the artist was trying to keep alive. I can't remember much of his explanation of the distinction between Cretan icons and others, except that the brown base for the skin tones is specifically Cretan. The picture of Mary does not seem to fit into any of the main types of icons of the Mother of God that Katherine lists, and I know nothing about its specific spiritual significance - though as all icons are a kind of painted prayer I'm sure it has some. It lives on a little strip of wall in the living room between the kitchen door and the open plan staircase. Unfortunately our late, lamented cat, Mister Mac, thought it was put there specially as a toy to bat at from the stairs and it has a few scratches in the top corner as a result. The colours are clearer and brighter than they appear in this photo. It may only be little, but I love it.

We are going to Crete for a family holiday in May and will be staying only a few miles from Rethymnon. I wonder if the iconographer is still there?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Housekeeping meme

I can never resist a meme. Hat tip to Michele.

Aprons – Y/N?

– Favorite thing to bake:
Victoria sponge cake

– Y/N?

– Have you ever made them?
No. Hot oil scares me!

Every day
– One homemaking thing you do every day:

– Do you have a separate deep freeze?
Yes, a small chest freezer in the garage

Garbage Disposal
– Y/N?

– What is your favorite homemaking resource?
1000 Freezer Recipes

– Love it or hate it?
Love it. Well, maybe not love it exactly, but I do like ironing. It is one of my favourite housekeeping tasks.

Junk drawer
– Y/N? Where is it?
No. Or not intentionally, at least!

: Design & Decorating?
White cupboards, grey work surface, off-white walls (now considerably more off-white than they were intended to be. Falling apart and in need of a major overhaul.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Appreciative noises when dinner is served. The Jewish mother in me likes to feed people!

Mop - Y/N?
No. Not really. Apart from our (small) kitchen floor, the rest of the house is carpeted.

Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
Washing machine. Though I very rarely wear them.

Oven - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?
The door.

Pizza - What do you put on yours?
Chicken tikka pieces. If I'm not at home, then pepperoni. Lots of it.

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
What I am doing now ... computer. Read blogs and 4 Real Learning boards. Blog.

Recipe card box - Y/N?
No, but one of my Christmas presents was a special notebook for writing recipes in.

Style of house -
1970s terraced

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?
Yes to tablecloths (table underneath has seen better days). Napkins occasionally.

Under the kitchen sink - Organized or toxic wasteland?
No longer easily accessible due to broken door.

Vacuum - How many times per week?
Once unless particularly messy.

Wash - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?
One every day.

X’s - Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?
No, but I'm sure if I did I would forget less ... if only I could remember to write things on the list.

Yard - Who does what?
Tevye mows and occasionally pulls out plants. (Hedoesn't discriminate between weeds and flowers; he just spots a messy patch and clears it. Totally.) I plant flowers in tubs every spring, and occasionally attempt a flower bed. Anything that survives my lack of care and attention longer than July is very lucky indeed. Last year Star took over watering the tubs and they thrived, so this year she is getting the job of chief flower grower.

Zzz’s - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Put away my clothes tidily. This is a recent improvement on dumping them in a heap on top of the laundry basket.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Carnival of Meal Planning

What a great idea! Meredith at Sweetness and Light is hosting a Carnival of Meal Planning, with lots of links to menu plans and recipes.

I have posted this week's menu over at my cookbook.

Let there be light!

And behold, there is light! In our kitchen. After several weeks of making do with a table lamp. The light fitting went phut! back in December ... or was it November? Things that go phut! are always a problem here as Tevye would be the first to admit he is severely technically challenged (as in can't tell the difference between a boiler and a hot water cylinder challenged). First we tried replacing the tube, then on our neighbour's advice the starter motor (I think that is what it is called) ... still no light. Finally our kind neighbour replaced the entire light fitting for us, and we are now basking in its glow. Joy! I will now be able to see what I am cooking.

On a less cheerful note, we have had to admit that our ancient, obsolete gas boiler has reached the end of its useful life. It has been living on borrowed time for several years. The final straw came last week when our downstairs radiators stopped working. The repair man blamed gunk in the system, and said he would normally recommend having it flushed out ... "but in your case the sludge is probably holding the boiler together, so better not". He has turned the pump up to maximum to try to drive the sludge round the system more effectively, but there is really nowhere else to go but a new boiler. And a hefty bill.

An I the only person who fantasises about living in a house where everything always works.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus, whose work on classification made him the "father of modern biology", was born 300 years ago today. I enjoyed listening to a discussion of Linnaeus and his work on Radio 4's Material World programme this afternoon. If you are interested you can find it here and listen online.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saint Paul's Day

"If St.Paul's Day be fair and clear,
Then it betides a happy year."

If that little piece of weather lore is correct, then this year should be a good one. This morning dawned crisp and frosty, with a clear blue sky that lasted all day.


We woke up this morning to our first snow of the year ... all one inch of it. To the girls' diasppointment we rarely get snow - we are sheltered behind the Chiltern hills, so often miss out even when surrounding areas have two or three inches. Schoolwork went on hold. They wrapped up warm and managed to scrape up enough snow to build a snowman. By lunchtime the snow was well on the way to melting, and by mid-afternoon it was almost completely gone, so it was as well they didn't miss that small window of opportunity. It looked so pretty while it lasted, though!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bookworm's Diary

I thought about starting a home education diary blog last year - in fact I even set one up and wrote on it for a few days before changing my mind - but inspired by this thread on the 4Real boards about "learning notes" blogs and my successful day last week after writing my goals on this blog, I've decided to try running with it. I'm intending to post my plans for the week there, and then follow up with diary notes. It's that word again ... accountability! So if you want to follow along with our educational progress, both formal and informal, visit Bookworm's Diary.

Monday, January 22, 2007

We finished it!

After a weekend of hard work, Star's room now looks much brighter and fresher.

The star duvet cover came with a second one free, which has the same star pattern on one side and a very bright giant star pattern on the other. On the bed are Barry (large, rainbow coloured snake), Harry (small giraffe) and Garry (hideous bright pink cushion), a large koala bear beanie baby, and a much loved guinea pig beanie baby. There are two calendars on the wall, one acquired free from a Chinese restaurant and the other with pictures of kittens. Star always tends towards the eclectic.

As the matching star curtains were too small Star opted for plain white. (Good idea about the border, Dorothy, if only I could sew!) We managed to make space for musical instruments in the corner. The blue carpet is old and past its best, but will have to survive for a while yet. I'd like to find a rug to brighten it up.

The toy box - underneath the bear mountain - used to belong to me when I was a child, though it was recovered when Angel was little. Star (pulling silly face!) is sitting on a beanbag with a cover described in the catalogue as "Mongolian fur", which looks very much as though someone has skinned a yak. Star loves it. In the corner (just out of the picture) are two of these storage units from Ikea. Ours have a mix of deep and shallow boxes, and are my best ever storage buy - any toys or craft items with lots of bits and pieces go into them.

I'm Anne with an "e"

Which classical heroine am I?

Anne Shirley
The loveable redhead of "Anne of Green Gables." Anne lives on Prince Edward Island, and never ceases to astonish it's inhabitants. She's a writer, matchmaker, and can generally be found getting into some scrape or the other. Gilbert Blythe, one of her dearest friends, is in love with her, but she refuses to see it for many years.
I love it when quizzes give the right answer. I can just see myself as Anne with an "e". And I have a kindred spirit :)

Which classical heroine are you?

Hat tip: Nissa

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Impulsive redecoration

We are impulsively redecorating Star's bedroom this weekend. Things have been shuffled round for the last few weeks to accommodate Grandma [Prayer request update: she went home today - more mobile and in much less pain than she was before the surgery, though still a bit battered and bruised. Thank you all!] We now need to shuffle back, and that got us thinking about bedroom logistics. There was some talk of Star and Little Cherub switching rooms - Star loved the little bedroom we have used as a nursery for all three, and misses it - but in the end we decided she would be happier in her new, larger room if we made it more her own. When she moved in last year she inherited Angel's old colour scheme - deep blues and a dolphin border. She has decided on light green walls and a white duvet cover with large bright-coloured stars (how appropriate is that!). Unfortunately the matching curtains only come in a size marginally too small for her window, so we are having to rethink that one.

We are also decluttering her room, which has a tendency to spiral into chaos. Tevye reorganised the garage and moved a shelving unit that we use to store board games and plastic boxes full of assorted stuff. In Star's room it looked untidy and the contents of boxes were always ending up on the floor. I also managed to filter out some clutter as it travelled down to the garage. That alone should make the room easier to keep tidy.

I love newly repainted, decluttered rooms! I'll post pictures when it is done.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Comparing Creeds

Today we did a short and simple activity comparing the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. The Apostles' Creed is the shorter one often said as part of private prayers, at the beginning of the Rosary and so on; the Nicene Creed is the longer one included in the Mass. The Apostles' Creed is the older of the two, and the Nicene Creed includes additions agreed at the Councils of Nicaea in the fourth century. Last week Angel and Star had used the Apostles' Creed as copywork, which is what made me think of this.

I printed out copies of the Nicene Creed, read aloud the Apostles' Creed and got them to highlight the parts of the Nicene Creed that were the same (or almost the same) as the earlier, shorter Creed. Once they had finished it was easy to see that the bulk of the additions focused on two main themes:

(1) The Divine nature and origin of Jesus ... "true God from true God, begotten not made"
(2) The Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity

I found the two creeds set out side by side here. I haven't looked into the history behind the development of the creed, but I'm sure it would be easy to do with a quick Google search.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Plan vs. Reality

A good day! Definitely the best this week, which has been rather chaotic due to a combination of my disorganisation, children having meltdowns, and neighbour kids having to be rescued from school due to various ailments (I had a car and my neighbour didn't). We managed to get through almost everything on the list ... though I have to admit that if I hadn't posted it here, I would not have got through as much.


  • Both
    • Religion - read Saints for Young Readers for Every Day
    • Geography - read one chapter of 52 Days by Camel
    • History - read two chapters of Number the Stars; watch second half of 1940s House video
All done!
Also all done. Angel was determined to beat her score on the African countries game, so repeated it a couple of extra times.
  • Star
    • Geography - notebook page about Morocco
    • Maths - do next exercise in My Pals Are Here 3A Practice Book
    • Latin - copy out 2nd declension noun and begin to learn. Revise cases.
    • Narration - section on young King Alfred in The Nursery History of England
Star wanted to do the African countries game too, so she did that instead of the notebook page. She also did some research on supermarket websites to see what Fair Trade products they sell for a questionnaire she brought home from Brownies (her pack are doing a World Issues badge this term). Her maths got left until the afternoon, then didn't get done. I was only going to give her half an exercise, so she can do the whole of it tomorrow instead.

  • Be up, showered and dressed by 8.00am
Does 8.10 count? I have to admit that if I hadn't put 8.00 in writing, it would definitely have been later.
  • Do ironing
  • Update accounts on MS Money
  • Take Star to opticians for eye test
All done, though I didn't start the ironing until 9.15pm ... and if I hadn't listed it here I would not have done it tonight. Star has been complaining of headaches so I got her eyes checked. Turns out she is a little long sighted. Hopefully this is the cause of the headaches and glasses for reading and closework will sort out the problem.
  • Play a game with Star
I promised to play her favourite board game (not my favourite!) and she started to set it up ... then A-next-door appeared and she decided playing with A was preferable. At least I tried!
  • (If time) Go to Hobbycraft to buy scrapbooking supplies with Christmas gift money
I scrapped that idea. Not due to lack of time - we zoomed through all the schoolwork this morning, then watched the history video at lunchtime - but because of the weather. The whole country has been hit by gales, and I decided there was no sense in making an unnecessary journey. Instead I caught up with my financial records and some blog reading, Angel went upstairs for a rest then played for a while on the Playstation before heading out to a dance class, Star baked biscuits (cookies) - which she can now do more or less independently - and Little Cherub slept and played. This evening I typed up progress reports on both girls to send to our Local Education Authority inspector, who is due to visit us next week. He is a nice man and enthusiastic about home education, so we enjoy his visits.

All in all a good, productive day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Plan for Tomorrow

I'm taking a leaf out of Dawn's book (or should that be blog?) at By Sun and Candlelight and posting a list of what I hope to achieve tomorrow. Today, for various reasons, was one of those just-about-holding-it-together days, and I'm feeling the need for a checklist and some accountability.


  • Both
    • Religion - read Saints for Young Readers for Every Day
    • Geography - read one chapter of 52 Days by Camel
    • History - read two chapters of Number the Stars; watch second half of 1940s House video
  • Star
    • Geography - notebook page about Morocco
    • Maths - do next exercise in My Pals Are Here 3A Practice Book
    • Latin - copy out 2nd declension noun and begin to learn. Revise cases.
    • Narration - section on young King Alfred in The Nursery History of England
  • Be up, showered and dressed by 8.00am
  • Do ironing
  • Update accounts on MS Money
  • Play a game with Star
  • Take Star to opticians for eye test
  • (If time) Go to Hobbycraft to buy scrapbooking supplies with Christmas gift money

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dorset Apple Cake


You can find the recipe over at my Cookbook.

Gluttony! (or Little Cherub's second sandwich)

That sandwich is all MINE!!!! Hmm ... one hand full ... two hands full ... mouth full ... now, how do I pick up that last bit?

(Yes, this is a baby who definitely likes turkey sandwiches. And, I promise, no more sandwich pictures ... but I couldn't resist adding this one!)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Our Patron Saints

This year I want to make more of an effort to celebrate our own patron saints and their feast days. I also decided to copy Amy of Among Women and pick patrons for the year. (OK, so I was nearly two weeks late, but better late than never!). I used the tables of contents of various saint story books to make up a list of 160 saints, chopped them up (the paper, not the saints!) and we each picked one out of a hat.

Name saint: St. Catherine Labouré
2007 patron: St. Elizabeth the Peacemaker

Name saint: St. Helen
2007 patron: St. John Bosco

Name saint: St. Anne
2007 patron: St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Little Cherub
Name saint: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
2007 patron: St. Francis of Assisi

We usually add a short litany at the end of morning prayers, so will include our patrons as well as name saints in that. I plan to mark their feast days and read anything we can find on each saint. Beyond that, as yet I have no ideas whatsoever!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pilates? Or maybe not!

After a successful first week of my New Year's Resolution diet - I lost three pounds, for which a combination of a hungry Little Cherub and the end of seasonal feasting must take all the credit - I decided I needed to start exercising. Time for the gym is just out of the question at the moment, and the weather (see side bar: seemingly endless cloud and rain) does not make walking appealing, so I hunted at the library for an exercise DVD or video, something I haven't tried before. I found a choice of two ... Pilates, or kickboxing. Pilates looked easier so I settled on that.

This afternoon, joined by Angel and J-next-door looking very professional in dance leotards and jazz pants, I attempted the DVD. The warm up was OK, if a little muddling (cries of "this is just like our jazz warm up ... but easier!" from Angel). Then on to the aerobic section. Two minutes in Angel and J were still looking like pros, but I was confused and stopped the DVD to rewind. Star and A-next-door appeared, joined in for a while, then decided watching was more entertaining. After some effort finding the beginning again ... I'm not exactly a whizz with the remote ... we decided it might be better just to pause and get Angel and J to walk me through it. Several pauses later I was still confuzzled (to quote Angel and J) ...

"Plié, point, in, march, march, march ... opposite arms ..."
(Huh? You expect me to manage arms as well as feet?)

"Now double speed ..."
(Double huh??)

Grandma, Tevye and Little Cherub joined the audience. We skipped the weights bit ... no weights (it didn't mention weights on the cover! how was I to know?). Then the stretchy, yoga-ish bit. Audience highly entertained. Discovery made that I am unable to feel my stomach muscles. Presumably this is because I no longer have stomach muscles.

Gave up. Ordered Chinese take away.

Maybe I would do better with kickboxing?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Little Cherub's first sandwich

Aaah!!! Tastes good!

Where did it go?

Aha! Found it!

Hmm ... tastes even better from the floor!

Can I have another one, please?

(And yes, that hair is definitely getting redder!)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The School of Manners

A friend included in our local homeschool group newslestter some quotes from "The School of Manners or Rules for Children's Behaviour", published in 1701. I can't resist sharing a few ...

  • Ask not for any thing (at the meal table), but tarry till it be offered thee.
  • Spit not, cough not, nor blow thy nose at table if it may be avoided, but if there be necessity, do it aside and without much noise.
  • Stuff not thy mouth so as to fill thy cheeks, be content with smaller mouthfuls.
  • Throw not anything under the table.
  • In company, spit not in the room, but in a corner, and rub it out with thy foot, or rather go out and do it abroad.
  • Laugh not in or at thine own story, wit or jest.
  • If thy superior speak anything wherein thou knowest he is mistaken, correct not, nor contradict him, nor grin at the hearing of it, but pass over the error without notice or interruption.
  • If thy superior be relating a story, say not, "I have heard it before", but attend as if it were to thee altogether new; if he tell it not right, snigger not.
I should have known better than to read these to Star. She was later found being "good mannered" in the kitchen ... spitting in the corner and rubbing it out with her foot.

Adam and Eve - the concise version

Angel (asked to recall the story of Adam and Eve): "They ate apples and got told off."

I guess that sort of covers it. What I was really hoping for was something about original sin ...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ten things I love that begin with N

After an enthusuastic response to her letter meme post, Dawn has been allocating letters ... I'm way behind on reading blogs, but I am finally catching up, and Dawn has given me the letter N. So here goes. Ten things I love that begin with N (in no particular order):

1. Naomi - seven months old, cute as a button, dark eyes, curly hair, smiley, giggly, gorgeous Little Cherub.

2. Narnia - since I went through the wardrobe for the first time as a child, a part of me has never quite left.

3. Nativity - I am one of those people who loves Christmas and everything about it.

4. Neighbours - having great neighbours makes our lives both easier and happier.

5. Numbers - love 'em. Big numbers, small numbers; square numbers, triangular numbers; real numbers, imaginary numbers. I once reached the point in mathematics where I could appreciate a truly elegant equation. Sadly I've forgotten most of what I once knew, but I'd love to relearn it someday.

6. Notes - the musical kind. To play and to listen to.

7. Notebooks - with nice clean pages ready to write in and endless possibilites ... nature notebooks, commonplace books, reading logs, plans and schedules.

8. North Yorkshire - think James Herriot, The Secret Garden, the Brontes. My mother is from North Yorkshire, so the pull is genetic.

9. Normandy - my favourite part of France. Wide sandy beaches, friendly people, good food and historical sites round every corner.

10. Non-fiction - which I now prefer to fiction. Lifelong learning? Let me at it!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hot chocolate and holiness

Every once in a while I read a blog post that has me jumping up and down shouting "yes! YES!". Alice at Cottage Blessings just posted one in which she talks about sowing the seed of faith by building happy memories. Don't miss it!

One of the things I am happiest about this academic year is my new routine of taking one of the older girls to Mass on Tuesday mornings, followed by a treat. This morning was Angel's turn ... Mass, a couple of errands in town and then on to the coffee bar for a caramel latte (me) and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows (her). It is an extravagance, but it is also money well spent. I'm convinced that building a strong mother-daughter relationship is a top priority as she reaches adolescence - and time to chat while sharing a treat is a great way to do that. It also means that both girls' response to being reminded that it is their turn for Mass in the morning is "great!" ... which is just the response I want! Alice's post reinforced my feeling that taking one morning a week to do this is more important than any academics that get missed as a consequence, and also made me resolve to be more alert to spotting other ways to build the connection between faith and happy memories.

Thoughts on Ordinary Time ...

... from Karen and Michele. Christmas may be over, but the liturgical year marches on.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The leap of faith

I have just started reading The Language of God by Francis Collins (this post on the Unity of Truth blog piqued my interest) and found this verse from a poem by Sheldon Vanauken ...
Between the probable and proved there yawns
A gap. Afraid to jump, we stand absurd,
Then see
behind us sink the ground and, worse,
Our very standpoint crumbling. Desperate dawns
Our only hope: to leap into the Word
That opens up the shuttered universe.
Been there, done that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The best laid plans

... so often don't get implemented in this house. Our three kings have only just made it to the Nativity set (at 5.45pm), our special Epiphany prayers are unsaid, no king cake got made, no poem got read, I forgot to bring Holy Water home after Mass, and I have lost the chalk for the Epiphany blessing. We did sing We Three Kings at Mass this morning.

At least I have everything printed out and on file for next year. And I don't suppose it will matter if we do the house blessing a little late. I hope.

Prayer request updates

Mum is home with us and doing well. She is already more mobile than before her operation and in less pain, though her poor leg is still very sore and bruised from the surgery. All being well, it is now just a matter of time and exercise. We are planning to keep her here for another ten days or so, by which time she should be fit enough to manage at home on her own without it being a struggle.

My brother is well! It turned out that he was initially misdiagnosed, and was actually suffering from a severe infection. The doctors couldn't pin down the cause of the infection, but whatever it was it responded to a lengthy course of heavy duty antibiotics. He had a final scan last week and has been signed off as fit. The antibiotics left him tired and ill, but now he is no longer taking them he has bounced back and will be able to start work again next week.

Baby Jonathan still wasn't gaining weight and is now being tube fed. He put on nine ounces last week, so hopefully he will soon be big enough and fit enough for his heart surgery. Prayers still needed!

Thank you all!

Friday, January 05, 2007

I confess ...

I broke my New Year's resolution not to yell. I sent Star upstairs to run a bath for herself and Cherub. Sounds of running water. Five minutes later I went to check the temperature and depth. Depth? Zero. She had forgotten to put in the plug.

Living the Liturgical Year: January (Part 2)

January 6th - Epiphany (falls on January 7th this year)

My plans for Epiphany ...

We have these books for Epiphany on our shelves. I'm not sure we will get round to reading any this year, but if we do it will be The Greatest Gift.

The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola
The Last Straw by Frederic Thury
The Greatest Gift: the Story of the Other Wise Man by Susan Summers
The Stone by Dianne Hofmeyr

January 8th - The Baptism of the Lord
Ideas on my list ...
  • Use this renewal of Baptismal promises
  • Read and narrate the story of Jesus' Baptism
  • Say the First Mystery of Light (Rosary)
  • Catechism - focus on the sacrament of Baptism
  • Copywork - Baptismal promises from the Easter Vigil
  • Do a notebook page on Baptism - include pictures of items used in Baptism (candle, white garment, oil, water) and the words of Baptism
  • Look at Baptisteries (Florence and Pisa, for example) and fonts - add pictures to liturgical year notebook.
  • Display children's baptismal candles next to our liturgical candle. Other things to add to display ... holy water, baptismal certificates, picture of Baptism of the Lord, photos from children's baptisms.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Living the Liturgical Year: January (Part 1)

A bit behind the event here, but I'm posting what I have in my folder so far for the first three days of January. It may come in useful next year!

January 1st - Mary, Mother of God (Solemnity)
(Not a Holy Day of Obligation here, though I think it is in the US?)

I had never seen this picture - Kissing the Face of God, by Morgan Weistling - until Rebecca of A Gypsy Caravan put it into this post. I think it is beautiful. Rebecca is kindly sending me a copy and I plan to make it the centrepiece of a display for both this feast (next year!) and other Marian occasions. Aren't blogging friends nice :).

I collected some prayers together and made our own simple family prayer books for the Advent and Christmas seasons (only one sheet of folded printer paper for each). This is the prayer I included for this feast. I can't remember where I found it. Possibly Catholic Culture?

Father, source of light in every age,
the virgin conceived and bore Your Son
Who is called Wonderful God,
Prince of Peace.
May her prayer,
the gift of a mother's love,
be Your people's joy through all ages.
May her response,
born of a humble heart,
draw Your Spirit to rest on Your people.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

January 2nd: St.Basil
Katherine at A Living Education posted about St.Basil and Vasilopita (St.Basil's bread) here, and also gives a recipe for Vasilopita. I am a Grecophile, so I like the idea of adding an edible tradition with a Greek flavour to our New Year.

January 3rd: The Holy Name of Jesus
As the month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name I plan to have the girls focus on this later in the month. A few activity ideas:
  • make IHS monograms
  • make posters decorated with the different names of Jesus (I noted down Lord, Saviour, Emmanuel, King of Kings, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Son of God)
  • read the story of St.Bernardine in Saints for Young Readers for Every Day (May 20th), or 57 Stories of Saints by Anne Heffernan
  • copywork - first verse of hymn 'At the name of Jesus'
  • catechism - focus on the second commandment "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" (CCC 2142-2167)
Today we said the Litany of the Holy Name as our morning prayer. (Angel and Star are less fond of litanies than I am. At the end they said rather plaintively, "we don't have to say that every day, do we?")

As the year goes on I hope to build up a collection of items to display with our liturgical candle. This year it will be very much a work in progress, but hopefully next year we will be pretty much set after this year's efforts. As well as the picture of Our Lady I want to add an icon of St.Basil and the monograms and Holy Name posters to my stash.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Living the Liturgical Year

Not a resolution exactly, but one of the things I hope to do this year is to begin to live the liturgical year more fully. I say begin, because I think this year will be as much about collecting and preparing as doing. I usually do quite well when it comes to the "big" seasons - Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter - but want to develop the habit of marking more saints' days and other feasts.

I was pondering this when I saw a thread on the 4 Real Forums about planning and organising for the liturgical year, which has inspired me to get organised. I have begun by starting a file for January where I am collecting ideas, prayers, pictures and miscellanous other stuff. I know my chances of success are best if I am not too ambitious, so I plan to be selective, using just a few ideas and keeping things simple.

I am planning to post some specific ideas and resources over the next few days.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a happy, healthy and blessed 2007


(Photo of London Eye by Vijaya Phanindra: from BBC News website)

New Year's Resolutions (this year)

For 2007 I am keeping it simple ... though I can never restrict myself to just one. The scattergun approach gives me a better chance of something hitting the mark.

Three resolutions this year:

1. Say the Rosary daily. I've made this resolution before and failed. Can I succeed this time?

2. Speak pleasantly at all times - no yelling, no sharp tones, no grumbling, no criticising. I'll fall down on this one daily, but I'm going aim for a real, noticeable improvement. (Hopefully success with resolution number one will help.)

3. Lose weight. Time to get rid of the remaining baby fat, plus the pre-baby fat that had crept on over the previous couple of years. I'm aiming for 20 lbs, though 25-30 lbs would be ideal.

I'll post updates so you can all cheer me on. Trust me, I'll need it!

New Year's Resolutions (last year)

At the beginning of 2006 I posted my resolutions for the year, hoping to keep myself accountable. Most fell apart under the pressure of pregnancy, new baby, and general lack of self-discipline. Here is the final reckoning ...

Commit to saying morning and evening prayer from the Divine Office daily. I used to do this, but over the last few years it has slipped from regular, to spasmodic, to almost never.
Morning prayer was almost a total washout. Evening prayer I said more or less regularly for a while, but for most of the year it has been sporadic ... though I never gave up totally!
Fit regular one-on-one time with both girls into our normal routine - time to read aloud at their own level and just to chat. Make a monthly night out with Tevye a priority (we can do this, but are lazy about making the effort to arrange it).
I did succeed in making more one-on-one time for the older two girls. Taking them to Mass and out for a hot chocolate or other edible treat on alternate weeks is working out beautifully. Time out with Tevye fell by the wayside, inevitably I suppose. Maybe next year!
Aim for an aqua-aerobics class and two trips to the gym each week. Getting into a regular fitness routine was one of the resolutions (the only resolution?) I stuck to last year, and I'm determined to get back to it now my energy levels are improving.
I have decided that this year I'm going to improve my scientific knowledge, so I'll commit to reading at least one "living" science book each month. And for faith formation I'll add one piece of spiritual reading monthly. And I'll post reviews here.
I kept up quite well with science reading - though not as much as a book a month - but not with the spiritual reading. I think this was largely because the spiritual books I want to read are rarely available from the library, whereas scientific books are.
Set aside some time each week for scrapbooking, even if it is only an hour. If I get much further behind I'll never manage to fit in a new baby scrapbook!
I wish! I did get quite a lot of scrapbooking done when I spent some weekends at my Mum's resting towards the end of my pregnancy. I've realised, though, that I need longer chunks of time to get into scrapping - a whole afternoon or evening, or better still, a whole weekend when I can leave all my stuff out to pick up at intervals.

Devotions Meme

Considering myself tagged by Karen and Faith ...

1. Favourite devotion or prayer to Jesus
The Anima Christi and the Jesus Prayer.

2. Favourite Marian devotion or prayer
The Rosary

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
No. I used to wear a small gold crucifix I was given when I first entered the Catholic Church and a St.Benedict medal, but got out of the habit. The crucifix is on a fine gold chain, which is definitely not baby-proof, so it will be a while before I wear it again. I do have a St.Benedict medal on my keyring.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?
Used to, but lost that habit too. I'm trying to remember to get some so that we can do a house blessing on Epiphany, but forgot last Sunday.

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings?

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?
Rarely. Our parish only has adoration for 30 minutes on a Saturday morning, which is difficult for me to get to.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or a Sunday morning Mass person?
Sunday morning, almost always.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
Yes - grace before meals. Sometimes the Angelus at lunchtime (usually if morning prayers got missed!)

10. Favourite saints
St.Benedict, St.Francis, St.Peter, St.Thomas More, St.Thomas of Canterbury, St.Thomas Aquinas, St.Teresa of Avila, St.Edmund Campion, St.Helena, St.Hilda, St.Cuthbert, St.Nicholas Postgate

11. Can you recite the Apostles' Creed by heart?

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
No, though I wish I could remember to do so!

13. Bonus question: When you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for those involved?

14. Helen's bonus question: If you could visit any of Our Lady's apparition sites, which one would you choose?
Lourdes - as a pilgrim, not as a tourist. I once passed through with Tevye while we were travelling in France, and it was very strange to be there 'on the outside' and observing partly through his Jewish eyes. I want to go back and pray there.