Monday, October 31, 2011

Pondering in My Heart Mondays: Psalm 51

Psalm 51 spoke to me yesterday as something I had been struggling with since school began. I seem to either glory in things I've accomplished, or wallow in self pity when the day hands me thorns instead of roses.  Either way, making myself a martyr for my own cause or glorying in the accomplishment of a clean floor (for the first time in three days) is all vain.

A pure heart create for me, Oh God,
put a steadfast spirit within me....

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn

The only thing God wants is my heart. Whether it's a good moment or not. The circumstances of the day don't matter. Whether my house is clean or dirty, the kids are crabby or good, I feel happy or not, I get the history lesson finished or not, someone was nice to me or not- in the end- it's what I've done with the good or the bad that matters.   It's what I give or don't give to God from the depths of my heart.

Visit Heidi for her Pondering in the Heart- she has a beautiful post today as always!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Love!

hard at work painting the house with hired help

At only 28, he's managed to be the best husband and father ever. What a blessing he is! Happy Birthday Eric!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Kept Secret in Fredericksburg

When I moved just around the corner from Gari Melchers Museum at Belmont in Virginia, I had no intention of ever visiting the museum until my children were at least 10 years old.  What I didn't know until over a year later, is that this estate isn't just a place for your toddler and preschool aged kids to experience instant boredom and troublesome behavior inside a museum full of irreplaceable art; it's also home to 27 acres of what I call, an enchanted garden.

This place hordes some of the best views of the Rappahannock as well as many little streams and springs.  Since we only live a half a mile from this place, we've been coming to explore these trails at least once a week since our home school year began. This week alone, we've been here three times.   It's the best recess I can provide for my little students.  Here's some pictures of our trip on one of their trails.
Eating an apple in back of the house where famous artist, Gari Melchers lived.

Beyond the gazebo, where we sometimes enjoy a packed lunch, lies a sweet little path that winds down across a pretty stream and eventually to the rocky river's edge.

Analee loves to 'read' all the signs as she goes.  Each time she says: Do not sit here eva' eva' 'gain.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the first time were here and I pretended to read those words from the sign after she tried sitting on one and nearly breaking it.  Now she doesn't believe me when I try to tell her what the sign really says (bad parenting 101).

a wild hydrangea turned bright red.  there's my little girl reading another sign...sigh.

Here's the pretty little stream.  I don't know what the stone wall was for- maybe an old damn?  I should ask next time we visit...
Better than any jungle gym!

Finally, we make our way down to where "the Native American Algonquian speakers of the eastern coastal plains and the Siouan speakers from the western Piedmont met." (taken from here)  I love that this place is so full of history! Later on, this part of the Rappahannock also "brought European settlers to the area; they used the water to power mills and ship their goods to Europe from the bustling harbor in Falmouth," (also taken from here).  Some time after that, thousands of slaves from the south used this part of the river to cross over to a safe house called the Conway House, which is just below our own house.

I could watch the river all day on this rock.  So peaceful.

Except that after 5 minutes, I can't take any more of my kids running around on this rock that touches potentially deadly river. 

So we move to a safer location to throw rocks in the water.

Or play in our own private 'beach'.
Analee pretending to eat the fish she caught with her stick.
Or even 'go fishing'!

My kids could spend all afternoon here, but lunch and nap times soon beckon us back home.  Maybe someday I'll have the courage to attempt a real museum visit, but for now, we enjoy the freebies and nature.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What To Do About Night Time Fears?

The minute the light turns out, my two year has suddenly started being terrified by anything and everything.  It started with a need for a night light (which we got her), but now she's still afraid of the dark plus her "scary bed", the "bug that wants to eat her", the "dinosaur that bites her", and the "other side of the room that has a monster in it".  I've tried 'Monster Spray' (to spray at those monsters so they'll disappear), stuffed guardian angel doll, stuffed Mary doll to cuddle, plus all her other comfort pillows, blankets, toys, books and water.   There's hardly room in that bed for her!

I've always thought if you just let your child know that their guardian angel is there to protect them and that God is always with them, that's enough to give them a good night's sleep in their own bed.  Not this girl.  She won't be convinced by any of that.  I've told her so many times that God is bigger than anything bad, but she still screams the minute I turn to leave her room at night. 

It's escalated so bad in the past week that if she can't sleep in my bed, she'll scream bloody murder until her voice gives out.  She will not give up!  I don't mind her sleeping in my bed, but my husband does.   He says he is a magnet for little feet.  If the kids sleep in our bed, they always end up kicking him all night.  Poor guy.   Plus, I don't want this to become a habit.

Anyone got any advice on things to try? Should I just let sleep in my bed until she grows out of it?  I'm sure there are plenty of people who have been through this...right??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Little Girl Says to Me...

"Mommy, I love cutting!"

As she sits on top a chair with paper scraps covering the floor around her.  The joy of learning a new skill! Just so she keeps that scissors away from hair...her brother already took a chunk out of her head of hair a couple months ago and it still hasn't starting looking normal.  You can see it on the left side of her head.

The Best Decision is Often the Hardest One

I heard a friend say this recently and right now, I know this is true for me.  I would love to pick up my clay and make a beautiful Madonna, a new St. Andrew bead, some new symbols and string a dozen more rosaries.  But what I really need to do is reply to another email to say, "No, I can't fulfill your request. Here's a link to a friend or another person who makes rosaries."  *sigh*

How to say no to a person handing you money to do something you love to do:
Quickly say the words as fast you can while simultaneously running in the opposite direction before you change your mind.

So now I go back to what I have been doing and what I need to continue doing (which is also very enjoyable and fun, just in a different way!)

Homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, taking care of kids, a baby and loving a husband too.  I do love doing these things and I need to focus on them right now.

Thank you for your understanding!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pondering in my Heart Mondays

I'm joining my friend, Heidi, again this week for Pondering in My Heart Heart Monday

This week I was struck by Sunday's Gospel. I just love these "Kingdom of Heaven" Gospels. The more I learn about what is meant by them, the more I can appreciate the message Jesus is trying to send through them.  I used to think this one was about not putting on the right clothes for Mass!

Father explained this week's Gospel, Mathew 22: 1-14 as a call for gratitude.  The one thing he said that really struck me was that ingratitude is the hinge for many more sins.  So often we get focused on the gift that we forget the Giver.  How true is that in our world and especially in my own life!  For me to be thankful, sometimes I have to imagine what life would be like without that gift. For instance, what would life be like if I didn't have food every day to eat or decent clothes to wear, or children or a wonderful husband or even the love of God.  We don't know what life would be like without the love of God because God's love is everywhere.  Even people who don't believe in God or who are terrible sinners don't know what it's like to be truly without God's love. They won't know until they die and then it's too late. That's what Hell is.  The complete absence of God's love.  The very thought makes me grateful for His love and mercy.

In my Magnificat this week, they also laid out what each line of the Gospel meant.  It was very enriching. Here's what I got from it- The guests of the wedding refuse to come to the banquet.  All that is asked of us, his guests, is that we be with him. How many times have I refused to be with God just by refusing to give my presence to Him in prayer and through my those I am called to give my presence to.   Also, it makes me think of how just the simple act of accepting God's love is sometimes the hardest to do.   Just stopping and allowing myself to be loved should be the easiest thing since I'm not really doing anything.  But I guess receiving a gift especially the gift of love is doing something- it's being humble.  Humble enough to acknowledge need for it and be truly thankful. 

Lastly, the refusal to put on the wedding garment is a refusal of the accepting the grace of God in my life.  I also see it as a refusal to put on Christ. How many times have I refused to put on Christ, and followed the wide path of the world instead by not practicing patience, humility, and charity. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scrapped Plans

Don't you love those days when you get nothing you had planned done, yet it turned out to be so much better than you could have planned? Today was one of those.

So thankful for a delightful days of family and friends.  Open minds and caring hearts.  Laughter and joy coming from hearts full of love.  Today I am reminded that we are all one family and caring for my neighbor is the same as caring for my sister or brother.  There are no strangers in God's family.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Foto Friday

We've been super busy around here still trying to figure out our homeschool day, painting the house and trying to keep people healthy, but I have to post these pictures of my son who has a new found love of shooting his bow and arrow.

The happy dance for hitting the target.  Finally, a sport that this boy enjoys!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Cake for the Fall Season

I made this cake for Liam's 5th birthday this past week and it was so delicious. It was only the second time I had made my own cake from scratch. The first was a total flop.  The recipe used so much heavy cream, butter and sugar that it gave us all a stomach ache.   This one turned out beautifully moist and rich with chocolate and no stomach ache!  The frosting and chocolate glaze made this one restaurant quality in my book. Sooooo much better than a box or store bought!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

chocolate pumpkin cake

by Charles Schiller
Serves: 14 (or about 5 chocolate lovers)
Total Time: 55 min
Oven Temp: 375

  • 1 1/2 cup(s) flour
  • 2/3 cup(s) cocoa
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder (I used Ghirardelli only because I thought if I'm going to go through all this work to bake a cake, it better be good.)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 cup(s) buttermilk (I accidentally added more, but I think it was a good accident)
  • 1 cup(s) canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup(s) butter, softened
  • 1 cup(s) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1  egg yolk

  1. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in thirds.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean--about 35 minutes. Cool layers completely before icing.
  4. Step 1: Frost Beat 6 ounces softened cream cheese using a mixer set on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 1/4 teaspoons cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined. In a separate bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and a scant 1/4 teaspoon orange food coloring on medium-high to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined. Spread 1 cup frosting between the two layers and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the cake. Chill 30 minutes and proceed to step 2. Makes 3 cups.
  5. Step 2: Glaze Place 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate (again, I used the Ghirardelli bitter sweet chocolate bar), 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, and 3 tablespoons corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil, pour it over the chocolate, and let sit for 3 minutes. Gently stir, using a whisk, until smooth. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, until the glaze thickens slightly. (It took a couple of times in the microwave before this would melt for me). Pour the glaze onto the center of the frosted cake and smooth out to the edges to allow the glaze to drop over the sides. Makes 1 cup.

Pondering in my Heart Mondays

Heidi is hosting a new link up called "Pondering in my Heart Mondays" over at her blog, Sacramental Moments.  Here's the premise:
Join us as we pause to focus on what is truly important, living our life to achieve the eternal reward.  Let us treasure the words of the Bible and those passed on to us by holy men and women which inspire us along our journey of faith and feed our souls. 

So today I took a much needed jog/walk through the woods near our house and the thing that came to my mind was: Put your strength in the Lord.  Now I know this idea is throughout the Bible, but I cannot find a verse that specifically says it, so I'm not following the rules very well. 

I guess I needed to work on this since I've been feeling overwhelmed by homeschooling, and hosting my in laws last weekend, and my friends this past weekend which always requires super human strength for cleaning, taking care of kids, cooking, and entertaining guests.   It's drained me through and I really needed to remember that my strength doesn't come from within, but from above.   Suddenly everything doesn't look so bad when I can rely on God, my strength.

Now it's your turn to write and link!