Wednesday, December 23, 2009



We are growing Christmas trees this Advent and Christmas. I am amazed at how quickly the grew up out of the soil into something new and lovely!
I'm hoping they'll be big enough by next year to use as our Jesse tree.

May we all grow into a new creation this Christmas, becoming more like our Blessed Mother Mary...bearers of Christ.

We're BACK!

Internet has been down since last Thursday. FINALLY it is back! Last night my husband was able to get it back online. Phew. I was hoping to give up some computer time during the Christmas Season but God had other plans and my gift for Jesus came a little early this year! I'll have to think of another gift to give Him now!! :)
I had the kids wrap up their "gifts" for Jesus which we wrote down and promised to keep during Christmas. E has decided she wants to help mommy with the laundry and cleaning up. I gave her a few suggestions and she clung to these two. A is a little young for this at 2 but he also wants to help clean he said in agreement with his sister. We wrapped them together and placed them in an adorable gift bag we received last year that has a "Happy Birthday Jesus" tag on it. I would have put it under the tree but A likes to open gifts with complete and utter abandonment and no idea that he shouldn't yet...soooo they are hanging on the tree until Christmas Eve when all the gifts get put under the tree.
We've taken down all of our Advent decorations and Advent boxes in preparation for Christmas Eve. The kids helped move the Jesse tree ornaments to a smaller tree (which I thought was too small to be our Jesse tree but is holding up just fine with the Jesse tree ornaments and the O' Antiphon ornaments). They really enjoyed matching the lids to the right numbered box. I think this was a great unplanned math activity! A actually got a few numbers matched correctly too! I was so proud!
I can't believe today is our last Jesse Tree ornament! Time has just flown by this Advent!

Here's a picture of all of us with the tree before we took down the Advent boxes/Jesse tree ornaments:

REJOICE Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel! Tomorrow He will come!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Decorating the Gluten Free Cookies

We finally decorated the cookies today!
What precious memories! I loved decorating cookies with my mom during Advent and Christmas and although this is a simpler method it works great for my toddlers and cuts down on the mess.
I roll out marshmallow fondant (homemade...made from marshmallows, water, and powdered sugar) and have the kids paint their cookies with a drop of corn syrup to attach it. Then they paint the fondant covered cookie with a bit more corn syrup to glue their sprinkles to the fondant. They LOVED dropping sprinkles on their cookies!
Some of the cookies are nativity shapes so they look a little odd, but E really enjoyed decorating her "donkey"! :)
I will, however, be picking sprinkles off of my feet until I sweep the kitchen!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gluten: The Invisible Enemy

My girl's had a rough few weeks and we couldn't pinpoint the issue. UNTIL...
We figured out that Mike's hair gel had wheat starch in it and my deodorant had wheat in it too...Sheesh. Anyhow this is my poem-vent.


Fear. Invisible enemies seem to invade our once sanctuary now danger home.
Where. Invisible. Invisible particles impossible to clean...lurking unknown.

Attack. These attack with hives, red, raised, bumpy, screaming from her skin.




Stress. Coming in waves until all that is left is angst. Protecting her from the invisible.
How to protect from this alien, invisible enemy of food prints.

Gloves. Cream. Medicine. Tears. Blood. My Hands cracking from paranoid washing...washing thrice just in case. In case enemy foodprints hide under already washed fingernails. Washing through the day. Days feeling washed bare.
Barren pain.

Her hands scarred by sleepy scratching. Scratching through dreams. Dreams scratched and sheets dotted with scratch-blood.

Bleeding. Bloody. Flashbacks to new baby blood rushing from IV onto hospital gowns. Mother pain...daughter scars. It was nothing yet everything. She's fine. She's fine but there's blood. Blood on my heart. Helplessness abounds.

Remembering. A heart re-remembers prayers of new mother pain and hope for hers to not be in vain. Still pray-praying that prayer. Not for naught. Let it be eternally fruitful.

Advent of red. How red. I wish-wonder did Mary dream of red blood and wounded son. Did she gaze into her son's baby eyes and see the cross. I gaze at my daughter's hands and try to see. To see beyond the skin to the new life ahead without pain. Remembering. Re-remembering the love pains of my Lord. Treasuring these things because they are gift. Gift of pain.

This cross. Heavy yet not. Heavy but only because of a small soul trying to carry it alone. Here Lord. Here. Please help me remember the light and easy way.

Trust. Trusting that this cross leads us through a mini-calvary and then home to you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rejoice!! Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Recipe!

Gaudete Sunday! Soon He will come! Prepare the way!

I've been promising my 3 year old all week that we'd make cookies this Sunday and make them we did!!

I will post photos once we decorate them but for now here's a recipe. I've been working and working on this recipe to make it taste just right and I think I've finally perfected it. My hubby is pretty picky about tasting things that are allergen free and generally if it isn't chock full of butter and all the things my daughter is allergic to...he won't touch them.

BUT VICTORY TODAY! He tasted one and said that it was great!!! GREAT! That's amazing!

So here's the long awaited recipe!

These are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, coconut, rye, barley, and oats.

Allergen-Free Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
4 tbsp honey
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp Wilton butter flavor
1 1/2 cups Bobs Redmill Gluten Free flour or another flour blend of choice
1 1/2 cups White Rice Flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4-6 tbsp water (as needed)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine shortening, honey, sugar, vanilla, butter flavoring. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl then add to sugar mixture. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is pulling from the sides and forming a dough. You may refrigerate it before rolling OR roll immediately between two sheets of wax paper (I prefer this method even after refrigerating). Roll to 1/4 inch thick (the thicker the dough the softer the cookie after baking...thinner ones will be crispier). Cut out cookies with cutters and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they begin to turn slightly brown at the edges.

For icing:

Use marshmallow fondant cut with the same cutter used for the cookie(attach with cornsyrup or a small amount of icing) OR Wilton's recipe for icing but substitute all shortening, butter flavoring and soymilk/ricemilk. I add a tbsp of corn syrup to the all shortening icing to make it easier to spread/pipe when decorating.

Happy Gaudete Sunday and happy baking!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

St. Nicholas' Feast

Happy 2nd Week of Advent!

We celebrated St. Nicholas Day yesterday and I just had to share the adorable puppet we made for the occasion!


Isn't he cute!

I came up with a way for me to make puppets of the saints without going crazy...HOT GLUE!!!!! I just cut out the pieces and managed to glue gun them together. I took time to stop and stuff as needed. I put an old sock in the inside of the center of his vestments and then glued it down to one side of the red felt. Then I finished stuffing around the sock (not in it) and glued it closed.


Really easy and NO SEWING! Which is better for someone like me without a sewing machine or any skill at such complex fabric or felt construction.

We also made this little ornament to hang on our "Advent Tree". She enjoyed helping glue it with Elmers (which I then reinforced with hot glue).


Hope you had a great 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Advent Blessings!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fun with Advent Calendars

Well...I have to confess. Last year we did not have an Advent Calendar. SHOCK. I mean, I grew up with one that was an integral part of my Advent experience so I'm quite ashamed to admit that there was not a calendar here. Usually I would buy one at the Catholic book store and open the windows on the picture of the nativity scene, but last year we didn't even have that (of course...we were in the midst of unpacking from moving).

I decided that this year I would make one. My dear hubby and I went back and forth with a few of my ideas I'd gotten from other fellow bloggers online and finally we settled on something that is a variation on different ideas. We are doing boxes...but not in a stationary box (as we have no shelving space/table space for said box) but as ornaments on our barren tree (we decorate it Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed). So here's what we did and how to do it...only a few pics as I've been frantically trying to finish this and didn't take time for many pictures. Most of the ones I took were after the fact!

What you need:
Itty bitty boxes from a craft store (we used stars for 1st, 2nd and 4th weeks and circles for 3rd week)
Acrylic paints (I didn't seal they'll only be out briefly once a year, but you could buy a modge podge or other finish to make it glossy)
String/thin twine or thin elastic to make the ornament loop (Hubby suggested just using ornament hooks but I was concerned about the little guy getting the hooks)
Black marker
an old paper window Advent Calendar for Scripture quotes (or type/copy/print your own)
a nail to poke a hole in the box
Box fillers (stickers/candy)

1) Paint all the boxes/lids and let them dry (I'm laughing b/c I didn't do it this way...but it's the way you SHOULD do We used purple for most of it and pink for Gaudete Sunday through the third week of Advent. You could use any color you like.


2)Poke a single hole in the box where you want the loop to go through. Thread the string through and make a knot to hold it there. You should have a knot inside the box and the string coming out the top in a straight line. Wrap the string around itself and knot it at the top of the box to make a loop. The knot should be close to the box. I accidentally learned how to make a slip knot doing this...a slip knot works well too.

3) Cut out and glue your scripture into the lid of the box for the appropriate day (this can vary...I just used the days as marked on my old calendar)

4) Write (using your marker) the number on the front of the lid AND inside the box.
(Once the box is opened you can leave the lids in a pile and watch the stack grow! Also the unopened boxes stand out counting the days to Christmas!)

5) Fill your box with goodies (we used marshmallows/swedish fish/stickers and the last week we used nativity stickers plus goodies...we'll use the nativity stickers to make a mini nativity that will hang in their room)


6) Hang them on your tree! We started near the bottom...not at the bottom since we're hanging Jesse Tree ornaments on the tree too...but starting with 1 at the bottom moving all the way up to the top is the ideal (following the star!). This Advent there are 26 days and then Christmas Day. So we made 26 boxes numbered 1-26...I also made extras numbered 27 and 28 in case there are more days another Advent. I'm trying to avoid doing this all over again! Can you tell? My hubby mentioned I probably will only ever need 27, but it's good to be prepared. :)


7) You can have a "Christmas Box" which is what we are going to do. I will refill the Christmas box every day of Christmas. Either with a mini present or a goodie/treat. On Epiphany I'll try to do something special related to the Wise Men. If you are patient (unlike me) you could wait and have them stick the Wise Men stickers on the nativity scene on the feast of Epiphany.

I had fun coming up with this! I'm glad that it is easily modified from year to year. Perhaps one year we'll put Jesse Tree symbols IN the boxes or have a mini nativity with the little pieces in each box...the possibilities are endless!

Advent Blessings!

Advent Decorating and Crafting

Advent is in full swing here in our home! It's so much fun and so very exciting to say the least! I love watching my daughter's eyes light up whenever I tell her it's time to do Advent do school...hang her Jesse Tree ornament...or to open the box for the next day of Advent! She's so full of joy and life at this age! I however have been a grumpy gus and have started asking her to remind me to not be! It is working! She tells me :) I am trying hard this Advent to sacrifice here and there through some small deeds. This practice does help me find joy in the midst of the craziness that is caring for my two children on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Hopefully all of these Advent practices are blessing my children and my home (that is the reason I do them). I share them with you in case they inspire or bless you too! :) AND perhaps I'm teensy bit over-the-moon about ADVENT!!!!

Here's our First Week of Advent Felt board for homeschooling. I decided to focus on one word instead of three. I do mention the other two key words and discuss them briefly, but given all the other things we are doing I'm trying to keep it simple.


This is our Advent Wreath I made to match all of our other decorations. I try to decorate using liturgical colors so pretty much there's a lot of purple ribbon, evergreen-green, and pinecones.


Here's my Advent Angel from Foundations by Karen Hahn. It has a different symbol for every day of December. I love this angel! It says "In your light shall we see light".

I usually don't pull out these Foundations pieces until Christmas but they are so lovely I hate to only have them out for so short a time so I decided it would be okay to have them out with the Advent and then the Christmas decor. They are too beautiful to not have out for both seasons. I draped the purple ribbon across the Christmas angel to signify the season. I will remove it for Christmas and place gold ribbon around the mini christmas tree (not shown) that is next to her.


Here are some other pictures of our decorations:

The ornaments are our Jesse Tree ornaments I'm making out of felt. I decided to do felt since then we can reuse them each year and not have to worry about the littlest one tearing them apart if he takes them off of the tree. It's a little more involved and sometimes I have to GASP sew...but it's working well!

More on Advent Calendars next...

Advent Blessings!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

L is for leaves

We did letters J, K, L, and M recently and here are my pictures from letter L week...L is for leaves and ladybugs.


We went for a nature walk (ha ha...suburban America nature walk...) and picked up leaves we found. We took them home and painted them. She wanted them to be blue. I love that she wanted them to be blue!

My little man wanted to paint leaves too and he did surprisingly well sitting still and not trying to paint himself!


We read a wonderful book about leaves changing colors and falling to the ground. It was a beautifully illustrated book and very well written.


She enjoyed singing London Bridge is Falling Down and playing being "locked up" as the song states. We also tried locking up little man but he did not enjoy it one bit!! Very cute! :)

All in all it was a fun week! I know we did some other things too, but I can't remember! I need to post the week of the lesson or I forget! Tomorrow her Advent lessons begin!

More about that soon...

Advent blessings!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Advent Planning 2009

I did it!!!!!

I've figured it out.

At first I was troubled and worried...anxious for no reason. So many things, so much to fit into one teeny, tiny season. So many things to buy with so little money to buy them along with poor library resources. Oh what a Martha am I! Soooo I've simplified. Of course this is still alot! BUT you should have seen what I was thinking before I simplified!!!

We are doing:

A)Holy Hereoes Advent Adventures/Jesse tree
B)"B is for Bethlehem" (using this book for all of Advent as a review for our letter of the week curriculum but using Advent based themes using only the letters we've learned.) I'll also use other books I have (Will You Bless Me?, What is Christmas, Christmas in the Manger) and check some out if available (Donkey's Dream, Merry Christmas Strega Nona, and others as available). We will read appropriate bible stories for the Joyful mysteries---1 per week.

Week 1:
Monday-A is for Advent, Angel, Annunciation
Wednesday-B is for Baby Jesus, Birth, Bells
Friday-C is for Christmas tree, candles
Saints: St. Nicholas, Immaculate Conception

Week 2:
Monday-D is for donkey, House of David, Juan Diego (Around his feast)
Wednesday-E is for eternal, excitement, Emmanuel
Friday-F is for flocks of sheep, Fiat, flowers (Our Lady's feast is near this)
Saints: St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy

Week 3:
Monday-G is for Glory, Gifts/giving, gingerbread
Wednesday-H is for Heavenly host, Hail Mary, Holy Night
Friday-I is for Inn

Week 4:
Monday (21st)-J is for Jesus, jingle, joy
Tuesday (22nd)-K is for King, kneel, kindness
Wednesday (23rd)-L is of love, lambs
Thursday (24th)-M is for manger, Mother Mary, Messiah born to us
Friday (25th)-N is for nativity

C) Joyful mysteries lap book. I will use the coloring pages from Holy Heroes to make a simple lapbook with pictures she's colored and quotes from the Joyful Mysteries scriptures for her to have for prayers during Advent and beyond.

D) Evening prayers will include lighting Advent candles, singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel (changing the verses for the last days during the 7 "O's of Advent")and opening boxes marked for each day that we will hang on our Christmas tree. These will start with #1 at the bottom leading to the top where the star is placed. Journeying to the star just like the shepherds and wise men!

On Christmas morning we will place baby Jesus in the manger and sing "Rejoice Emmanuel is born to you..." and then turn on our Christmas tree for the first time! :)

So exciting to prepare for my favorite liturgical season!!!! More posts to come!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Long overdue update!

We are doing well! My grandma was recently hospitalized and has recovered quickly in spite of her fragile condition. She is my last grandparent (not including my hubby's grandparents who I also consider grandparents!) on my side of the family and it was so important to be there with her in the hospital so we made a last minute trip to Melbourne.

Here are some pics!

She's roaring in that case you didn't!
And here's one of me and my cousin Ken who visited from Kansas:

We are having some car issues but hopefully they'll be resolved by tomorrow. I'm sad there are no pics of Mike in here! Perhaps he's avoiding the camera???

Blessings and love to all!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Independence Day

Well I know it was yesterday but I wanted to share some adorable pics of the kids from these past few days. E has been in full blown celebration mode and decked out in red white and blue. A was just excited to watch things blow up! :)

She was acting like a drill team girl for these pics! So funny!
Yesterday was so much fun for her and she was so excited for all the baking, crafting, and books about our Independence.


I do think A's biggest joy was riding out to Target with Daddy and watching the fireworks. We had a GREAT view of some from his room in the front of the house. So we pulled up some carpet and watched them from the comfort of air conditioning and avoided the bugs completely! I'm so glad we decided not to brave the crowds...this was oh so much better!


It was sort of sad to be away from all our loved ones, but it was also awe-inspiring to be together as a family unit and start new traditions. This is the first year we've been all together on the 4th since E could walk. Such a blessed celebration.

So today I'm praising God for my children. For my husband. For our life together. And always remembering that our time on this earth is miniscule compared to our time together for all eternity. May our great country always look to its Creator and King as without Him we are nothing.

In Jesus,

Friday, July 03, 2009

Summer Family update

We are doing well! Here are some tidbits from our summer so far.

These first two are from the weekend of Mike's birthday. E was so defeated that she couldn't blow the birthday horns from the double celebration of daddy and Nana Kay's birthday, but later on that weekend she figured it out! We've NEVER seen her so proud of herself! It was a wonderful lesson in try and try again! :)



These next ones are from the week before PreCana. The kids were having fun together doing puzzles (A is so interested in putting pieces in and out of the box...not really in putting puzzles together). Also the kids colored a sign for our communication talk to congratulate all of the engaged couples.

Here's A being super silly!

These last ones are from today. The kids were having fun attacking daddy in bed.



E is forming more complex sentences and enjoying "reading" books to us. She loves pigtails, puzzles, dressing up and playing kitchen. She'll often put on a fashion show throughout the day wearing at least 6 different items!

A is talking so much and forming two word phrases...hold you, milk please, push button...etc. He is trying so very hard to jump and we think he'll be jumping before E! He has started to love coloring and has recently taken to coloring alongside E. They are playing together so much and this has helped me get my chores accomplished more easily.

Daddy was out of town for a conference in Minnesota and while he enjoyed seeing St. Paul and the Mall of America...we are oh so glad to have him home!!!! A week apart was WAY too long!

I'm keeping busy with homeschool preparations, housekeeping and cake decorating...and am beginning to make lists of supplies and books I'll need for our preschool adventures starting in August.

We want to congratulate Dave and Melissa on the pregnancy!!!!!!!!!! We are also SOOOO excited to be Aunt and Uncle to their new little one!

We love and miss all of our family! Here's hoping this update finds you well.

In His Love