Sunday, December 27, 2009

NFP- Say it loudly, say it proudly!

The Holy Family

Today on the Feast Day of the Holy Family, I decided to do a blog directly related to family. Since you get enough about my pictures and happenings of my family, I'm writing about a very important, yet very misunderstood, and even less talked about topic. NFP--it stands for Natural Family Planning. Well, here I am, saying it loudly, and saying it proudly- NFP is beautiful and if you are married, you don't want to miss out on the best tool God has given you to strengthen your marriage.

Until recently, my husband and I had little knowledge of the beauty of NFP (because of the aforementioned reasons). Although we practiced it, we were unaware of the virtues one can grow in when using it, and unaware of how it enables God to strengthen your marriage by leaps and bounds with grace filled intimacy and genuine romance.
And for your reading enjoyment, here is a list taken directly from Dr. Popcak's Holy Sex showing just how great NFP is:
  • NFP is the shared responsibility of a husband and wife (unlike contraception)
  • facilitates communication between them about each others' bodies
  • requires a husband and wife to continually talk and pray about their priorities and keeps in play discussions about becoming or being parents
  • is completely natural with no side effects
  • has been found again and again (particularly in the Creighton Model) to be over 99 percent effective)
  • keeps lovemaking fresh and exciting by building in little breaks for the couple to work on their overall marriage
  • requires the couple to focus on relationship and romance rather than just habitual sex
  • can even be an extraordinary useful tool for helping couples to intentionally conceive (in fact, ob/gyns use modified forms of NFP as a first-line treatment of fertility)
To learn more about how NFP can transform your marriage, read, Love and Responsibility by John Paul II, (Karol Wojtyla). Or, a less intimidating book, Holy Sex by Dr. Gregory Popcak.

NFP is not contraception (artificial or otherwise). If someone says they practice NFP, yet in the same sentence says, "We are not having any more children- two or three or however many is our 'perfect' family. This couple/individual is probably using NFP as contraception. Rather, NFP is always life giving. Besides being open to life each and every month by prayerfully discerning God's will for your family on whether or not to have any more children, NFP enables a couple to meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of each of the family members. Even couples who have passed the time of having more children can use NFP to be life giving in generous service to others.

Contraception, on the other hand, is not life giving. Aside from the fact that certain kinds of contraception being abortifacts, it also kills the love between a couple. Love is not love until it is (fully and completely) given away. A couple practicing contraception can not give of themselves because their holding back one of their most precious gifts- his/her fertility. For more information on the Church's stance on contraception and NFP: Read Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae:

A couple who practices NFP recognizes that the Sacrament of Marriage is a holy gift given by God and it is only God who can decide the will of the Family because only God knows best. So, the next time I get asked for the millionth time how many children I want, my response is still the same, "As many as God wills." (if you think this means I'm going to willy nilly be a baby producing machine, reread above paragraph on "meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of current children")

For more information on how to use NFP, here are a couple links to two different kinds of NFP- the Creighton Model:
and the Sympto-Thermal (couple to couple league):

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Blessing

As I write this Christmas, I am filled with the gratitude that only God can supply. Not only am was I blessed this Christmas with the gift of a wonderful husband, children, and all other family and friends, but I am blessed this Christmas with the gift of Jesus' love and mercy.

I am embarrassed to say that I have been trying to get to confession for the past 9 months unsuccessfully. I like to go much more frequently, but with the only confession time of Saturday afternoon in my old church during which my husband was still sleeping since he worked nights, it made it very difficult to organize a trip for Mommy to get out the house without the kids. Believe me, I planned a trip to confession on those Saturday afternoons probably a dozen times, but every time something happened where so and so was not able to watch the kids because of this or that, or something came up where we could not go even if my husband woke up early. Sure, I should have been more diligent about it, and I guess my flaw in this all was that I was not making confession my number one priority. When we moved to our new home, our new church had 4 different times during the week where they offered confession. It was top on my mind when we moved, but I put it off until the house was in somewhat working condition. I made three attempts to go to confession during these new "convenient" times. First time: confession cancelled. came back home disappointed, but hey, more time to prepare my conscience. Second time: Confession cut short because of some event in the Church. Came back again disappointed. Third time: sat in line for an hour and a half. Was the third from the front of the line, when I had to go because my husband had to go to work. This time I was sure there were other forces at work keeping me from confession. I thought, maybe I should schedule a time with a priest. But then in this busy Christmas season, I was sure they'd all be too busy. I decided to try once more. The LAST day of confessions before Christmas was on Wednesday night. I got there early this time and there was still about 25 people in front of me (and about 50 behind me). One of the priests made a comment that everyone had waited until the last minute, and I tried to humbly agree as I hoped I wouldn't get that priest for my confession. Two doors open at the same time- the annoyed priest, and one whom I had met before. I chose the latter. He was very kind and understanding, and gave good advice--a true model of Jesus' loving mercy. I left with the proverbial "veil lifted from my eyes" The clouds of sin were cleared and I could once again see clearly. I did my penance, thanked God and left renewed. My prayers seem that much more grace filled, and my thoughts more lifted to God now that he gave me the most precious gift of a good confession. I believe that was my Christmas gift from Him this Christmas, and I hope I never take it for granted again. He knew what I needed- as always.

Merry Christmas to you and your families. May God Bless you richly- in only the ways that He knows how :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowed In- Day 4

Yes, today is the fourth day I have not left my house. I'm not one of those people who go crazy if they're stuck inside all day, so I'm actually fine with it. I've gotten a lot done, including my new website (it's close to being finished!) Don't worry, it will have the same web address.
Here's the summary of our life at home:
  • Snowed In- day 4 (if I don't get out tomorrow, I'll go crazy)
  • Boxed Meals- day 2 (one too many...)
  • Snow Plows on our road- 3 today (not one did any good- see next point)
  • People who have gotten stuck on our road- too many to count (even after the snow plows today) Liam was enthrawled with the first snow plow.
The snow was very wet and melty today, so Liam and I tried to make a snowman.

We didn't get too far because I couldn't lift these heavy balls! Maybe tomorrow my husband can get them stacked.

Here's my little snow princess out for the first time in the snow. She cried after sitting here for more than a minute while I was trying to get a good picture. Definitely not a Minnesotan! And those snow plow drivers- definitely not Minnesotan! I guess there are some things I miss about MN... besides my family :)

Daddy's Girl

I am happy to say that my daughter is a Daddy's Girl. After all, my son is so much a Mommy's boy, it's embarrassing at times ;) Analee lights up whenever she sees Eric, loves to cuddle with him, or will just crawl over to him just to be near him. She often sits by the bathroom door when Eric takes a shower- just waiting for him to open the door- or trying to open it if he hasn't shut it all the way. Here she is waiting like a little love sick puppy.

Finally, she says, Daddy's back!

It's so stinkin' cute, I had to share it with you :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Day- fun, but NOT for everyone!

Record breaking snow fall hit Virginia the last couple days and what fun it was- also what a pain it was (for my husband who still had to go and work!).

Liam really enjoyed the snow as you can tell by the pictures. He couldn't wait to get out and play in it! Then came back in twice for hot chocolate :)
Since my husband works weekends, we usually go to Mass on Saturday night. We shoveled our way out of our driveway, (as much as we could), then tried backing our Volkswagen Pasat out onto the street. I no more than got, "boy, we should receive special graces for going to Mass in weather like this," out of my mouth when we got stuck. Thankfully some kind people driving past our house in a big pickup truck helped push us out. We made it to Mass and were about one in ten families there. This was very unusual since there are usually hundreds there!

My husband left early for work that night, and got stuck in traffic 10 miles from our house for 6 hours!!! Poor guy! A tractor trailer tipped and blocked the whole road. It took him 8 hours to get to work last night.

Since the road by our house is not a major one (even though a crazy amount of cars fly by all day and night to avoid a long wait at the signal...) our road was not cleared even today. Eric again got stuck trying to come onto the road on his way back from work. I'm pretty sure he received some special graces for his patience in his hardships yesterday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fourth Week of Advent

It's almost the fourth week of Advent, so I have to get an Advent theme blog in before it's over! I love Advent. It's my favorite litergical season, yet I find it the most challenging. At least during lent, there's required fasting, but Advent always seems to fly by without too much spiritual progress. However, it's still my favorite. I love to light the Advent Candles at dinner time, I love to tell my son about the Nativity Story, I love to stare at our Nativity Set beneath the Christmas tree, and I love the idea of "slowing down and remembering what's really important", but I find it so hard to do! One thing I have tried to keep in mind this Advent is the thought that Baby Jesus needs a place to stay- not just 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, but he needs a place to stay in my heart. My job is to cut out all the clutter in order to make more room for Him.

My prayer has been this: Jesus, show me what is not of you in my life and give me the grace and courage to get rid of it. I want to make more room in my heart for you. Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nativity Bead

Every so often, I have to remake a bead when I run out of my current supply. I'll try to post pics of my remakes so you can see how a bead is made. The last few days, I've been remaking the Nativity bead. People often ask me how I how I make this one especially. I guess it looks more complicated than the rest. It really isn't compared to the Mary bead!

So, here's my play-by-play:I first make the figures our of white clay. Then I wrap black clay around each figure.
I fill in the spaces with more black clay to make it into a rectangular shape
I added a star, white border, then filled it in with more black clay.

After rolling and stretching the bead, I sliced the canes into mini nativities.
Of course, I couldn't have done it without help...
I'm just taking a cue from Santa and enlisting the help of a little elf in my workshop.
Ok, two elves.
Analee woke up early from her nap so I tried to keep her occupied while I worked by letting her play with one of her Christmas toys (pretty sure I'm going to be put on the naughty list for that one!) . As you can see, she finds much more joy in playing with Mommy's toys.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Get your popcorn ready. Here's a little treat for you on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I haven't seen this film, but I found this on Youtube. I just might have to check it out...

"Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)

NEW Product!

I am so excited to announce my new line of necklaces! In honor of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I made four different versions of Guadalupe Necklaces. The necklaces are made of the same Guadalupe bead that I make for my rosaries, but I made it bigger. I wire-wrapped the pendant and made a funky couple of swirls on the bottom of Our Lady's Dress. Our Lady of Guadalupe is so colorful that I had many choices for complimenting strands of beads. My favorite is the multicolored strand with the extra string of turquoise beads. It's so cool looking, I definitely have to make one for myself when I get some more beads. I had so much fun making these necklaces, I feel guilty for selling them!

The only thing is that I only have the four available right now. I used more glass bead than I thought I would, and ran out! When I get more in stock, after Christmas, I will have them available again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feast Day of St. Juan Diego

Today is the Feast Day of St. Juan Diego (and also my mother's birthday). I wanted to include in my blog something about this saint who is so closely related to my work- especially my recent Mary bead. I appologize for not having a post for yesterday- The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception- twas a busy day!
This is taken from the Vatican website:

When he was 50 years old he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was winter time, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus.

Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbour. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City.

The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World, and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.

I especially like the last paragraph about the black girdle and Christ being "born" again. Very good meditation- epecially for this advent season we are in.

St. Juan Diego, Pray for Us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Music

Frequent Christmas music is a must for the Christmas/Advent season. And who better to get me into the Christmas spirit than Jewel! She's by no means a Christian music artist, but she's been one of my favorites since her first album debuted when I was in high school. When her Christmas album came out a number of years ago, I had to get it. I was so surprised to hear her sing almost all Christian songs- and even a Catholic one (Ave Maria)! Now every year at the start of the Christmas season, I bust out my Jewel and she sings- as only she can sing- my favorite renditions of Christmas classics over and over again. Here is my favorite song on the album:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:

1) My Catholic Faith- where would I be without God? I am thankful He has shown me the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church.
2) My husband- he supports, loves, and challenges me to be a better person. He is a true soul mate and I am thankful for his companionship on this journey we take together to our final home in heaven.
3) My children- Liam and Analee. They show me everyday what true love is: hard work and sacrifice. They bring unspeakable joy to my life. I love them so much, it hurts sometimes!
4)All the friends and family who support me along the way. My mom- who is my number one fan (and I'm pretty sure it's mutual!) and my sister, Julie, is especially supportive. My friends- old and new.
5) The ability to stay at home with my children
6)My rosary business- and all the wonderful customers I have gotten to know along the way.
7) This country and our freedoms
8) Our new home
and the list goes on and on...

Thank you, Jesus, for all the many blessings you give me every day!

Our Lady of Guadelupe Bead

Here she is. As with any cane design, the ending result is a bit distorted from the original. That is the nature of the beast! But the image is recognizable and I am happy that she came out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The final touches

After a final shipment of clay I got in today (I don't even want to count how many times I had to order more for this bead!), I was able to finish up the last of Mary's rays. Now I just need to add some more clay around the edges to make it round for rolling. Then the fun begins....and many, many more prayers that thing turns out. I vow never to make a bead this big again- ever!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Big Momma is back and bigger than ever

I'm back on the blog- from a very busy break! My family moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia- only a two and a half hour move, but by far, the hardest one I've ever made. With two very young kids, everything takes forever! A month later, we have everything in it's place, and it's time to resume my work on Big Momma (my new Mary Bead that won't stop growing!).

Here is a pictures of the rays I am putting on Mary. They are coming along nicely, but she is just getting so big, it's making me really worry how this is all going to work out. I've never reduced a cane this big and I've never used this Kato clay before, so I am praying-really, I'm praying hard that this is going to work.

Anyway, here is a pic of my new work space in my new house. Quaint. But let's face it, I make rosaries , not money ;) The picture on the right is a poster I had back in high school that I got from a Marian Conference where I traded a rosary for it. It is a drawing of Mary in three pinnacle parts of her life- the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Crucifixion.

Also on the wall, I had to put the picture my Grandma made for me when I was born- I blogged this on an earlier post (Grandma Leukam).

Lastly, here are a couple picks of my family on Halloween. Analee was Mother Theresa, and Liam was Thomas the Train (he is obsessed with trains!). I made the Mother Theresa costume out of dishtowels and paint. What fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time to start packing

Unfortunately, I must put my Mary bead away for a couple weeks until we are settled in our new home. I am very tempted to continue work on her, but I really need to pack!! We are moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia. It will be much closer to my husband's work than where we are up here in Bel Air, Maryland.

This also means I cannot accept any rosary orders at this time. If you would like to order a rosary, please check back soon. I will get my website up and running as soon as I can! Thank you for your patience and God Bless!

Big Momma

Here she is before put the rays on her. She is really getting big- she weighs more than my baby!! I have never done a bead this big- I'm praying this works...

Monday, September 21, 2009

National Shrine Bascilica in Washington, DC

This was on the side of the walls- the roses lead the way to the Virgin. All mosaic art!
Our Lady of Guadalupe was in the middle of the mini shrine. Sooo beautiful!
While visiting my brother, Tom, in Washington, DC on Sunday, we toured the National Shrine. He said it is the fourth largest church in the world. I had been there once before, but visiting it again, I was more amazed than the first time. My favorite thing about the church were the mosaics-- which were everywhere- on the ceilings, floors, walls- basically, everywhere! The amount of work and skill that must have gone into making all those must have been massive. There were so many little shrines around the church, all with a different theme- mostly Mary themes. I found the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of course, had to blog it! Unfortunately, my battery when dead after taking those pictures, so I wasn't able to take any more of our fun day. But it was a great day and I was so thankful to get to spend it with my brother.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day whatever for Mary Bead

Analee after her nap- happily bouncing while Mommy works- she generously gave me about 10 minutes of work time after nap- this is actually pretty good for her! ( you see why this is taking so long!!)
The stars for Our Lady of Guadalupe Bead. Aren't they pretty? They were so fun to make!

I've lost count on days for Mary bead-most of the time I work on it, it is rather uneventful- mixing clay colors, making clay more pliable, etc. Today I decided to take a couple pictures of my progress. The star were fun. I'm sure you can guess what they are going to be for- if not, you'll just have to wait :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A "God" moment

Yesterday, Eric, I and the kids drove 2 1/2 hours down to the new house we are soon going to own. The house is a little bit of a fixer-upper, so we've been working hard to get everything ready we need to do before we can move in. One of the things we needed to do yesterday was to take some measurements for new windows. Once we got down to the vacant house, Eric started to measure the windows, but he was having a hard time since the frames were different than what he was expecting. Unsure of his measurements, he headed downstairs to measure the basement windows. On his way down, he said a little prayer that he was measuring them correctly. Once we order them, there's no way to return them. The basement windows were even more troublesome than the ones upstairs. He wasn't sure if he could even replace them. Then, out of the blue, we heard a knocking on the door. Who could be knocking on this vacant house?? Eric went upstairs to answer the door. It was a window guy sent by the bank (who own the house) to fix the broken windows downstairs. We had no idea this was even in the contract! The man was able to help Eric with his measurements, and he was going to fix the downstairs windows, so Eric didn't have to worry about them at all! Coincidence? Perfect Timing? I don't think so! I am wondering whether this was a man or an angel! When I saw him, he waved and smiled at me like he knew me. Strange.

That was my "God" moment. There is no doubt in my mind, that God speedily answered Eric's prayer and showed up at the door with an answer. Thank you, God for answered prayers and small miracles!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 8 of Guadelupe Bead and fun with kids

I love to take pictures of Analee showing off her crystal blue eyes.

Liam just learned how to make this face. He's trying so hard, he's squinting!
He likes to try to catch the butterflies on the butterfly tree. There are so many of them right now.
Day 8 of Guadelupe bead. I also mixed some blueish green clay together for her robe.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Film about Our Lady of Guadelupe

Check this out- can't wait to see the film!

Infamous Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, 64, known for such sordid films as Basic Instinct and Showgirls, has undergone a conversion and now will be writing a new film on Our Lady of Guadalupe.
follow this link to read the article:

Vulnerability- Vice or Virtue?

In the past couple months, the Lord has put an interesting concept on my heart-- the virtue of vulnerability. For most of my adult life, I have learned from society and my environment in general, that putting on a hard shell of invulnerability is a good thing. Showing how strong and invincible you are is a true virtue- or so I thought. Isn't that what our society teaches us? Strong women are women who don't wear their emotions on their sleeve. Strong women take a blow and give it right back- with attitude. Strong women are independent of any outside help- they can do everything themselves- better! Strong women don't have weaknesses- or at least if they do, they do a very good job of covering them up.

But God has gently shown me that this is not a virtue. This way of thinking is damaging to our souls and to the souls of those around us. I have learned how damaging this mentality is especially in a marriage relationship after reading Holy Sex! by Dr. Gregory Popcak. When you don't share your entire self- body, soul, mind, and spirit, with your spouse, you are not truly loving. Dr. Popcak explains how our first parents- Adam and Eve did not know how not to be vulnerable until after the Fall. They shared everything with each other and God and did not experience any shame. They knew true freedom and love.

Yesterday, our priest, Fr. Mark also drove this concept of vulnerability home with his homily. Here is an excerpt from his homily on his blog:
"Being vulnerable is probably not on the top of our to-do list. It is risky, adventurous, spontaneous, free flowing and nerve racking. There is a rush of excitement and expectation, but as we journey through life we also learn that it can be painful, humiliating, and heart wrenching as well. Like the soft shell crab, we hide ourselves away from potential danger and lurk in the shadows and murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay of life. There is just one problem, if we don’t shed our shells, then we can’t grow, we can’t change, we can’t mature, and we can’t become more and more the person that God has created us to be. If we dwell only in the shadows and murky waters we might be alive, but we will never truly live. It is time that we start to see past the end of our own shell and take the risk to live again and allow the world in."

The ways we "hide under our shell", "put up walls", harden our hearts, or however you want to say it- are as numerous as they are varied. We hide behind our tv's or computers or video games or ipods to avoid any real conversation with those around us. We only converse in small talk with our relatives, children, spouses, friends, to avoid sharing anything real about who we are. And these are just a few ways we hide from intimacy from those around us. Think of the ways we hide from intimacy with God. Having constant noise and busyness around us, not truly acknowledging our failures, or even asking for His loving mercy takes a plunge into vulnerability.

Of course, being vulnerable means risking hurt, but with this hurt comes healing, as Fr. Mark said. Jesus knew this best of all. He was willing to be a vulnerable baby, a vulnerable friend to his disciples, a vulnerable minister to the hurt, and finally a victim of greatest vulnerability- of being physically and emotionally abused to the point of dying naked on the cross. We often don't think of the vulnerability there because Jesus always has a little piece of cloth on the crucifixes we look at, but he really gave his entire self up for us to the Father. He showed that true love means withholding nothing. He gives his entire self to us again and again through the Eucharist. He knows how much it hurts to be vulnerable this way, but he doesn't care because wants to love us with his entire self. Again and again.

I have so much room for growth in this "new" virtue. With God's help each day, I'll try to challenge myself more and more to be a little more vulnerable in order to be more loving and lovable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 8 and 9

On day 8, I mixed the red clay to a more subtle coral color to match the original Guadelupe. After I was done conditioning the clay and mixing the colors, I made a little swirly design to mimic the floral pattern on Mary's dress. However, I'm not sure this will be visible after the bead is all done. No big deal if it isn't. I just thought it would be neat :)

On Day 9, I used the red clay to fill in the top part of her dress and sleeve (see picture)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Days 6 and 7

Here's a couple pics of Liam at the park- the reason why I haven't gotten very far on the bead!
Oh well, it's worth every minute of it to see his happiness!

Well, I haven't had much time to work on the bead. Analee's sleep schedule is nonexistent when we are out and about in the a.m. Then when it's time to lay Liam down for his nap, Analee is wide awake. There goes my time to get anything and everything done! This week, I will set aside some more time to work on the bead.

What I did get finished are Our Lady's praying hands. I made it big enough to use the extra on a different bead that I plan to make- the praying hands of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. I will add three drops of blood to that bead to symbolize his agony and the real blood he sweat at that time.

More to come soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 5 Guadelupe Bead

I put Mary's face together. It is very tricky to get her to appear to be looking downward and to her right. In hindsight, I should have positioned her pupils differently, but when the whole bead is put together, you probably won't be able to tell the difference. I did take my time on her face, though. The rest of the bead should go faster.

Day 4 of Guadelupe Bead

Here is the pic of Day 4. I didn't have time for anything but the nose and eyebrows :o) But I did have a great time at the Harkins' party!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 3 of Guadelupe Bead

Below is the before photo and above is the after. Sorry, they downloaded the right way- I guess next time I will download them the wrong way and it will come out right!

Today I worked on the face of Mary for the second day. Yesterday (day 2 of Guadelupe bead), I tried a new technique for canes. I included the video clip in case you are interested. Anyway, this new technique interested me, so I made the curved blades that the video showed, made the transparency, and set to work. First of all, I should have noted that at the end of that video clip, the face is distorted at one end- and that design wasn't even all that difficult for the face to be that distorted. I think that the whole slicing off pieces of a picture with the curved blade is very inaccurate. I tried it yesterday and the part that I got done looked pretty bad. Luckily, I only used a small amount of clay, so I just started over today.

I included some pictures of my progress so far. I finished the lips and eyes. I know it doesn't look like much, but I had to mix a bunch of different clays for different coloring on the face.

Good news: my 6 month old is finally taking longer naps, so I can work for more than 30 minutes at a time! I might get this bead done quicker than I thought!

Oh, and I wanted to say another reason why I trashed the first attempt- the transparency I was using of Mary's face didn't show her eyes- so I didn't make her eyes. I only made an eyelid with a bigger shadow. But then I remembered what my husband told me about the actual Lady of Guadalupe. He said that scientists studied it, and couldn't find any paint, or any medium at all. It's just there. Also, that they looked with microscopes into her eyes and found- very clearly- three (he might have said four) men in the reflection of her pupil. The people were even positioned the same as if the had looked in a real pupil. It was so clear that they could even see a tear coming from one man's eye! Ok, that's a little hard to believe even for myself, but it true! If you don't know the story behind Our Lady of Guadalupe, this won't make sense. The men who are in the pupil are the ones who Juan Diego showed his apron to. They were shocked to see that Our Lady had really appeared to Juan Diego and even more shocked to see her image on his apron when all the roses fell out.

I am deeply sorry for my sad rendition of the story. Here is a link to a much better one: It doesn't go into detail about the eyes, but it's good to read the whole story.

Anyway, I wanted her eyes on the bead after I remembered what significance they have. So far, everything is turning out well. I'm hoping for some time tomorrow morning to do some more work on it.

Polymer Clay Face Cane - For more funny movies, click here

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guadalupe Bead- Day 1

Today is day one of making the Guadelupe Bead (the center Madonna Bead on my rosaryies). And I can't say I got too far, but I guess the day is completely over and I could still get more done. This new Kato clay is very hard, and takes more than a bit of effort to make it pliable (soft enough me to work with). So today I:
  1. Found a brick that I could use to pound the heck out of the 12.5 oz. of clay block
  2. Worked up a sweat pounding clay
  3. Went to the pasta machine to roll out the clay to soften it some more
  4. Worked up even more of a sweat rolling out clay, piecing it together, and rolling it out again for a good 30 minutes
  5. Broke my cheap pasta machine from rolling out the clay so hard
  6. Got a blister on my thumb from rolling out so much clay (might have happened at the same time as #5)
  7. Ordered a new pasta machine and more clay from the internet
And you thought making rosaries was for sissies! lol!
I will try to keep working (as time allows) on the bead until my new pasta machine comes. I am working on Mary's face first, so the two clays that I softened today were the skin tone and brown. I'll take a pic of it when I'm finished.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The New Guadalupe Bead

The time has come to remake the center Madonna bead of my rosaries. I am running out of my current beads, and soon I will be all out! This is a huge project and will take many days- hopefully not more than a couple weeks to complete. It's also nerve wrecking because any mistakes I make, I cannot go back and fix once the bead is complete.

I ordered some new clay- a new brand of polymer clay that I have never used before. It's called Kato Clay and it promises to be the best for millefiori designs such as mine. Here is a picture of the new clay. Even though it is supposed to be better in many ways, it is harder to work with. I will have to really work at softening this clay before it can be used. It takes a lot of muscle work and I often recruit my strong husband for this task!

I'm recreating Our Lady of Guadalupe. Maybe in the future, I will do a different Mary, but for right now, this one's my favorite :)

Keep posted for new developments on this huge project.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Handmaid of the Lord Song

This is probably my all time favorite Christian song. It's kind of hard to hear the words (maybe it's just my computer), so here are the words so you can follow along.

Mother’s Song – Kelly Pease

"I will hold and I will love Him, until He’s big enough to walk
And even then I’ll pick Him up, and I will teach Him how to talk
To say the words that will save, all the people of every nation
I will feed the flesh, that will bring about salvation

And when He kisses me goodnight, I’ll be living my reward
Be it done as you said, I am the handmaid of the Lord.

I will walk these roads behind Him, and I will follow where He leads
I will be with His good works, and I will love the mouths He feeds
I'll be a mother to my Son, and a mother for the world
If You can set them free through Moses, then You can do it through this girl

And when He brings the dead to life, I’ll be living my reward
Be it done as you said, I am the handmaid of the Lord

But is this what You've called me to? To watch Him lose His life?
I am bending, will I break, how can I just stand back?
__________, He’s my only Son
Help me pray that I carry Him, Father Lord Thy will be done!

And when He walks that lonely road, my heart will go with Him
And when He falls my spirit dies, and when He bleeds I hate this sin
And when He utters those last words, and when He finally hangs His head
I'll be planted in the ground, my whole life my soul is dead

But I will stay here at this cross, where He brought You Your reward
Be it done as you said I am the handmaid of the Lord
Be it done as you said I am the handmaid of the Lord."

At Franciscan University in Steubenville, instead of fraternities and sororeties, they had "households". My household was call "Handmaids of the Lord." and yup, we sang the Magnificat song every Saturday at our "Lord's Day Celebration". So, when I heard this song, I immediately fell in love. It's such a fresh take on the Magnificat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Analee is 6 months old today

Yes, it's her half year birthday today. She's the big .5! Here's a list of her milestones and near milestones:
  1. She's sitting up all by herself
  2. She can stand- with support
  3. She is making strides toward crawling
  4. She rolls over very well
  5. She almost has a tooth- I can see it under the skin!
  6. She knows how to get what she wants (and that's all that really matters!)
She is such a good baby. We all love her so much!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Best Birthday Gift EVER!

Today is my 28th Birthday and I received many wonderful birthday gifts, but the best one was from my Lord- he gave me the gift of his precious body and blood at Mass today. I couldn't think of a better birthday gift! He loves me so much that died on the cross and rose again so that I could be with him in heaven. Today he again poured his never ending love into me through the Eucharist. He knows my every need, and he knew that today, I would need Him most of all. It was actually quite by accident (or divine intervention) that we were at Mass today. Because of my husband's work schedule, we usually go to Mass on Saturday evenings. But because of a birthday party yesterday afternoon, we had to go to Mass today. And I couldn't be more thankful!