I have decided to move this blog to blogspot. I find it easier to use than wordpress. I slowly will be moving all my posts here to my new A Time to Keep blog on blogspot. I already have a new post ready for you to view.
Hope to see you there, and I apologize again for the inconvenience.
Yesterday, just like last year on this beloved feast of St George, the little boys busied themselves drawing pictures on one of their favorite theme; knights and dragons!
Lydia and Laurence made some shortbread dragon cookies with the cookie cutter Sara gave us for Christmas.
What fun it was to decorate them!
But also to eat them at teatime with some Harrods English tea.
Since it was also Shakespeare’s birthday we watched part two of In Search of Shakespeare a very well done PBS documentary. Was Shakespeare Catholic? Michael Wood gives good evidence that he was.
You might have notice Laurence’s dirty fingernails as he is sipping his tea. Well, the weather was so gorgeous, it just beckoned us to go outside and explore the wonders of springtime.
Look who was out in the pasture basking itself in the sun along with the cows and goats.
Just then Dominique spotted a hawk in the sky. As Laurence turned to see, I snapped this picture. It almost looks like he is trying to imitate the turtle.
We followed the box turtle into the woods where Dominique had a chance to see it face to face.
How amazing that sweet Mother Dove stood still to let me take this closeup picture. I was less than a foot away!
A look inside one of our bluebird birdhouse revealed these roundish little ones.
Matthias found these abandoned wren’s eggs near where the chicken lay their eggs. I guess the chicken scared Mother Wren away.
Poor wrens, they seem to have a habit of choosing precarious places to nest. Last year they build a nest in Sebastien’s shorts hanging on the clothesline. I tried not to disturb the little mother, but one weekend we kept our son’s dog and sadly he had other ideas. I’m sorry to say that he more than unsettled the little nest.
The first sunflowers in the sunflower maze are sprouting.
Of course spring and kids simply go together like bread and butter. Here are Matthias and Mattimeo.
Thankfully I wasn’t hanging clothes when this happened.
When Michel came home that night he got ready to cut the fallen tree into logs. But then he realized that he was out of oil for his chainsaw. So with the help of Laurence (the other boys were gone to their scout meeting) he picked up the small pieces and added them to our huge bonfire heap. The children were glad he hadn’t touch the trunk, because they had planned to use it for the garden. They like to border the beds with logs to keep them tidy.
Everyone is so enthusiast about the garden. While I was out of town Saturday, they worked all day mulching, . They are brimming with ideas gathered from the books Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and Sunflower Houses. Starting our Beatrice Potter unit was a big motivator.
But a fallen tree wasn’t the only unexpected event yesterday. We certainly had made no plan to plucked geese on such a blustering day, but we had to. Our neighbor Ken, ran over two of our geese while driving down our dirt path. I didn’t have the heart to take pictures, because although geese do not have the best disposition they are truly beautiful. While butchering them Lydia suggested that we play The Swan Lake, it would have match our mood perfectly. We had an improvised goose anatomy lesson (Mother Goose was particularly interesting), and manage to save enough down (what didn’t blow away with the wind) for a pillow.
Today, Sebastien helped us to bring Cleopatra the cow to a friend’s farm to be bred (I wonder if he has a bull named Julius Ceasar!). Poor Sebastien has been kept quite busy since the beginning of his spring break. At the beginning of the week he butchered two pigs with the help of his older brother Xavier, then helped process all the meat, and for the rest of the week he has been working for a fellow parishoner remolding a spare room (trading work for a car), in adition to working evening shift at Western Sizzling.
It took a lot of enticements to get Cleopatra in the trailer. One of the kids suggested that we roll her up in a carpet (we’ve been reading Cleopatra by Diane Stanley).
While Sebastien and the two younger boys were gone, Isabel decided to have her babies.
Felix, tenderly overlooking the birth of the kids, suggested that we name them (both males) Basil and Mattimeo. He is a big fan of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series.
These two will be called Eric the Red and Leif. Although Dominique said the the white faced one reminds him of the Phantom of the Opera. Our last three cows were Alexander, Charlemagne and Napoleon, and the last three pigs Plato, Aristotle, and Socrate, I am sure you can see the pattern.
The little boys faces, when they saw the kids, were so precious that I can’t help but indulge you with a few more pictures.
Yesterday was Dominique’s eighth birthday!
Keeping with our family tradition of having presents all set up on the table for the birthday child to discover upon awaking, Sunday morning was no exception. To Dominique’s delight the table was laden with shimmering packages. Having a birthday in February I was able to take advantage of some substantial savings (75% off isn’t bad) from after Christmas clearance sales.
The birthday child always chooses the menu of the day. He decided on Fruit-loops for breakfast (a special treat around here), pigs in a blanket and butterscotch brownies for lunch and homemade pizza for dinner. At his request, Lydia made a delicious Mud Pie.
All the little boys were delighted with their brother’s presents. When you have so many brothers it’s almost like having several birthdays a year!
Today, the children were so happy to have their big brother Gabriel, who is home for spring break from Michigan, to share the joy of blasting Dominique’s new rockets. Thanks to his generous godparents, Dominique and his brothers and sister, in addition to a few unusual spectators, had a blast this afternoon shooting these amazing air rockets.
Today we celebrated St Valentine’s Day with a small tea party. The little boys were excited to send valentines to their stuffed animals inviting them to tea. You can see a few pictures if you click on the tab “A Time to Keep” above. Earlier this week they sent homemade valentines to their brothers, sister, and godparents. I would have loved to read from the beautiful mosaic book, St Valentine today, but the library copies were all checked out.
Sweet Lydia prepared a delicious dinner; baked garlic chicken with potatoes and carrots, asparagus, rosemary focaccia, and a delectable heart shaped pound cake.
What a feast!
Let me quote Alice for menu explanations.
Pure tea for the ritual of purification.
Sugar Cubes for Our Lady and Milk for St. Joseph.
We call Our Blessed Mother “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” As we sweeten our tea, we are reminded of Our Lady’s sweetness, the spotless whiteness of the refined sugar symbolizing her purity and innocence. The cubes dissolve in the hot liquid, just as Our Lady conformed herself completely to the Divine Will. Stirring the cubes into our tea, we repeat Mary’s Fiat as proclaimed in the Angelus saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.”
Water is associated with purity. I used holy water in a glass bowl, with a floating candle for Candlemass.
Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to declare to Our Lady, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2: 34-35.
A simple cube of mild cheese, topped with a grape tomato and pierced with a toothpick. (Raphael patiently made the swords out of toothpicks and foil for us.)
A pair of turtledoves
Edible Tapers (for candlemas)
Pieces of shoestring licorice–dip several times in melted white chocolate leaving a bit of licorice exposed as a wick for tiny and adorable edible dipped tapers.
Holy Simeon’s Arms
Holy Simeon held the Christ Child in his arms saying, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Luke 2: 29-30. To remember the loving arms of Simeon, twisted pretzels (first invented in the middle ages to represent arms folded in prayer) will be a readily obtained and simple symbol.
As you are serving them, remind the children that Christ would later preach, “You are the salt of the earth . . . . You are the light of the world.” (Mt. 5: 13-14.)
Anna the Prophetess
Because Anna was a widow, something black might represent her well. I can think of many possibilities, but our family will pick up a box of Mallomars. They are perfect for Anna. The black outer shell shows that she is a widow, but inside you will see the purity and goodness of her devout heart represented in the white center. Note that the marshmallow stands on top of a graham cracker, and remind the children that this good woman never left the floor of the Temple day or night.
Strawberries dipped into melted white chocolate to represent Our Lady’s pure and innocent heart.
As Alice suggested, after grace we recited the Purification Novena Prayer:
“O Blessed Mother of God, who went up to the Temple according to the law with your offering of little white doves, pray for me that I too may keep the law and be pure in heart like you.
Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation.”
I read The Presentation of the Child Jesus from the beautiful book “A Holy Card Prayer Book”, that seems to be sadly out of print.
During Tea I recited the gospel canticle from compline (night prayer) .
- Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
- your word has been fulfilled.
- My own eyes have seen the salvation
- which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
- A light to reveal you to the nations
- and the glory of your people Israel.
- Luke 2:29-32
Here are Dominique’s and Matthias’ pages.
After some unsuccessful attempts to make a St Brigid Cross out of tall grasses (soaked for three hours), we settled for a pipe cleaner one. Here it is laying on Laurence’s cloak.
In March 2006, the children and I each spiritually adopted an unborn baby. We named our babies, and committed ourselves to say this prayer daily.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”
– Prayer of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
In December, we bought a little gift for each of our babies and gave them to our local pregnancy center through our church. Then, I saw Alice’s idea for a tea party in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe (patroness of the unborn), and realized how perfect this would be to celebrate their faithfulness to their commitment.