Saturday, November 19, 2016

Keep Calm... Advent is Coming

Happy Saturday.
Happy Feast Day of Saint Agnes of Assisi! Pray for us, sister in Christ!

This weekend is the weekend we will start prepping our home for Advent. In the Catholic Church, we spend Advent preparing our hearts and our Domestic Churches (Homes) for the coming of Christ.  Though most of us are kind to one-another throughout the year, there is a strong and purposeful introspective renewing of virtues that engages our souls and literally pulls the body of Christ together in anticipation of the Infant Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI said,
"Advent watchfulness means living in God's presence and according to his criteria in order to prepare a worthy dwelling-place for the promised Saviour."
You can find the rest of his words here - Advent, Awaiting God's Justice.

We are all busy mamas. We must resist the temptation to be an over-achiever during Advent.

In years past, I have basically killed myself (ok, I'm alive and that was dramatic, but you get my meaning) to flit back and forth from blog to blog doing all the super cool crafts and baked goods and this, that and the other. It was fun mostly. But sometimes it got daunting.  I would feel like a huge failure when I didn't get things done. My perception was, "All the other cool blogger moms with way more children than me were getting it all done." or "All my homeschool mama friends are getting it all done, what is wrong with me?" And I don't like that feeling.

Because this is the first Thanksgiving and Advent/Christmas without my father, we have decided to keep calm and keep it simple. Most years, I am completely psyched for it, and this year, I am working on it (sigh).  Let me make clear - I am by no means telling you that you can not do whatever you put your mind to, I'm saying you don't have to overdo in order to please God. Do what you can... just don't beat yourselves up for not doing EVERYTHING.

Now that we only have one child at home, who is far too grown for some of the things we did when he was little (insert eyes rolling), for the first time, I was kind of stumped - in terms of a meaningful Advent for our little family.

What we will continue to do:
  • The Jesse Tree readings/hanging of ornaments.
2014
  • Advent Candle Readings on Sundays.
  • Something kind or fun daily using the Advent Cards I created or just random ideas.  
  • Read an Advent Book Daily. We love this.
    Some of our Books (2014)
Last but not least, we will still have a birthday cake for Jesus. We have since my then 3-year old boy said, "mom where's the cake?" And I said, "what cake?" And he said, "Jesus' birthday cake." HUMBLING MOMENT!

This Advent Season, we will bake cookies, decorate our home, go to Christmas Parties, buy presents, eat great food and a plethora of other things. And crazy me is directing both the Christmas Pageant and the Live Nativity at the Cathedral here in Fort Worth. And EVERY DAY we will be purposing to concentrate on the Coming of Our Lord Jesus, in everyday events.

What we will do differently:
  • Weekly Adoration & Confession - this is our add. Pray for us.
  • We will keep calm and concentrate on the true reason for the season.
Check out +Allison Gingras  and the ladies at the CWBN Blog Hop ~ Keeping Advent....well, Advent. If you want to flit back and forth between fantastical Advent Posts, this is the place to go.

I don't have any great advice for your perfect Advent, except - please do yourself and your family a favor and keep it calm and simple. You can't do everything. Pick and choose wisely. Above all, make it meaningful.

If you live local, and you want to borrow a book. If I can help you with coloring sheets or anything ... please let me know. I will do my best to help you out.

Happy Adventing Ya'll! It's one week from Tomorrow. Yes, Advent starts November 27th and lasts until December 25th, when we celebrate the Birth of Our Lord. Join me in keeping Advent WHOLY Advent!

Hugs, Blessings and MUCH LOVE!

Em

Friday, November 18, 2016

Davis Academy Weekly Wrap Up ~ Finally a Wrap Up!

Happy Friday All!

What a WhirlWind this year has been.

Every week, I think, "I need to do a weekly wrap up". Well - guess what, I haven't. And so... I will catch you up...

Today I am linking up with Kris & the ladies at the Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap Up. I don't link up much, because I never seem to wrap up... but - I'm working on it. HA


We joined a co-op this year, and Christopher is taking Science. He was taking English and Art too. Well, really he has Art for a couple more weeks, but won't the 2nd semester.

The English teacher did what I wanted her to do, which was prove to myself and Christopher that he could write and it was an awesome class. The problem is, we are registered with Seton Homeschool and the work was overwhelming. In fact, DUPLICATE on reading/writing, etc.  We got a little behind in Seton, but are catching up.  But he did read some great short stories and weird poems (some poets are ODD people). And he read Tom Sawyer. In fact, I need to re-read it.  He even read Rikki Tikki Tavi. Remember that?  The class is called Lightening Literature and Composition. It's a decent program for sure. Check it out, if you are a homeschooler. The link is to the 7th grade program.

Art has been interesting. On one hand, he's learned some things and different mediums. But, the person teaching art is not an art teacher, and I feel I could do just as good here.  If I ask a question because I don't understand a concept, because my child was out of class for two weeks, you don't tell me to google it. That doesn't work for me. LOL That left a bad taste in my mouth. In the end, it was a lack of instruction and my student tuned out. So - we will hang in for this Semester and will be dropping. We are super happy about the decision.  Here are a couple samples of assignments:



Science is FANTASTIC! Truly. She is having them to Labs and keep a pretty detailed lab book. It's a lot of work. But the reasons we left him in this class are 1) She dissects and does cool labs and I don't. 2) It is the same class he is taking with Seton, so I have to add things she doesn't do, like she skipped a chapter and Seton didn't, so we will read and study it.  But mostly - it fits right in.

Here is an example of a lab and the lab book. If you want the rules for setting up a lab book, I am happy to send to you. It's easy peasy.

This particular experiment/lab is called Floating Egg




I love the social aspect for him. They go to Mass & Lunch too. So that is awesome. We continue to work in all the other subjects. I will share those soon on another wrap up. I'm just proud to be "Wrapping UP" and don't want to overwhelm ya.

Miscelleneous:

We missed two weeks of co-op because #1, we went to Washington State to visit Becky and her family for a wedding. We love it there.  We took work for co-op, but nothing got done (what was I thinking even taking books).

Christopher did get to sit on this tractor for a picture or two. This was at the farm where the wedding took place. So pretty there. WOW!


Here is a picture of some of the grounds. The little house is where the bridal party changed, and the green space is where the tent was that they got married under. How beautiful is that?


All in all, the school year is going well. I am yelling less, and we are getting along better. <3  Additionally my student has done the following:

Broken his toe and had to sit out the rest of the baseball season, as well as Karate. BOO.
At the Hospital.

6 Week Out Comparison. Original pic is on the right,
just a small chip left to heal in the left pic.
Made Straight A's (as usual, frankly).
Turned 13.

And that basically catches you up. More soon.
Love & Hugs,
Em

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Small Success Thursday...

Happy Thursday Ya'll!

Happy Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary! Daughter of a Hungarian King, served the ultimate KING! She absolutely rocks. Look her up!

Today is one week from Thanksgiving. You're welcome. HAHA


More than most weeks, I need Small Success Thursday, if for nothing else, then to distract me from wading in the list of "TO DO's".  You all know the link up is one of my favorites, so check out all the posts HERE!

I keep apologizing for neglecting my blog. I'm done doing that. I pray to be here more often, writing meaningful and fun posts.  Like today. Small Success Thursday is such a great posts for all moms (or anyone really) because it reminds us to concentrate on the good.

As moms we do for so many people, don't we?  I have one child at home, but three grandsons, and three older children. Sure, I inherited the older three, but I love them just the same.  I hate the term STEP. It's so negative to me. They're my children. But I digress... It's a lot of work to DO for all of them AND the Church AND the.... you know? I have a personality that makes sure everyone else is ok. I make excuses for others bad behaviors and forget to protect myself. I'm busy... we all make mistakes, but I miss clues and have a habit of expending energy and time where I should not be.

After my father passed, I started down that path. And then with the negativity of the Presidential election, I felt like there was a perpetual black cloud. But I was quickly reminded that I needed to get back on track and concentrate on me. Not in an egotistical way, but in a practical, "need to survive this" way. You know? And so, I am...

And by Concentrating on me, I mean praying more... deeper in the word, purposely counting my blessings... and getting out of the house. It sounds random, but the last one - for this introvert - is oh, so important.

Doing for Me.  Today I am going to card group for the first time in months. I am so excited. These ladies welcome me and chat/create... it's a great two hours. My teen will go with me today and do some schoolwork there.   Additionally I am volunteering more at our parish? First, I love helping out, but I tell you - volunteering is about me too. It's so nice to hear "thank you", and "we appreciate you", from folks that are outside your family. We have truly found our Parish home and fell so blessed.

Alone Time. Well, not for me... Volunteering when Marque is gone means leaving my newly teenage child alone.  Thank God for modern technology. My husband and I were able to keep in touch with the boy and it worked out pretty well. Of course, he did not do as much school as I'd have liked, but he did pretty well. So I can't complain. I feel confident now that my child can stay alone for several hours and be fine. It's freeing in so many ways.

Diet Changes. Since I gave birth, I've been very heavy. And since I started talking about losing weight, I've gained 75. Sigh. But with all the doctors visits of late, I have a list of things I have to cut out.  Caffeine. Sugar. White Flour.  I'm not gluten free but I do understand it's easier on digestion all around and doesn't give the "I'm too full" effect. Just FYI! I'm also considering WL Surgery. I know I know - no one like to talk about it. But I am. I have been praying about it for so long. My cardiologist (who also has a degree in Internal Med (serious over achiever) and the bariatric surgeon know one-another. Things are happening really quickly psych evals, nutrition appointments, sleep apnea testing (it's because I'm heavy). It's all falling into place. I mean it, I prayed about it and then BAM. I'm being cautious. I promise.  And I know that people think "why can't she just lose weight?" I was the same way. But WL Surgery is a tool, I still have to work hard and adjust my lifestyle - a ton. And it won't be easy. I will do a big blog post about it... I am considering a WL Blog.

The most important successes are the spiritual ones.  I need to get to adoration. I need to read a zillion books. But I'm taking one day at a time and trying not to overwhelm myself with my "long to do lists", and "list of lists"- personality.

Sigh.

Folks,  I love reading your Small Successes. Would love to see some more of you link up. The bloggers who do are so inspiring.  Don't forget to check the posts out at Catholicmom.com's Small Success Thursday!

Because Laughter is the best medicine AND family can be chaotic:


Ya'll have a great rest of your day.
I'm off to shower and get ready for card group.
Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Em

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Advent Activity Pack - A Review


Happy Wednesday!
Happy Feast Day of Saint Margaret of Scotland and Saint Gertrude! Pray for us!

A couple months ago, Aleesa McCarthy asked a few bloggers/moms to review her fantastic Advent Activity Pack.

I love her art, ya'll, she is so talented. I have a few of her pieces,

a Rosary Hanger

A beautiful Crucifix

a backpack pull
So of course, I jumped at the chance to review this.

Well, I'm finally getting to it. Here is the front of the Advent Activity Pack.
 

The Link to the Pack is HERE!

Now, I've chosen to show you a few ways I would use it. I say "would" because I feel like this is geared to 5th grade and under. Definitely something middle-schoolers could help their children with, but my 13-year old thinks it is too "little kid" for him.   As for me, I love Catholic Coloring Books, and there are lots of things to color for this pack.

This is the Advent Calendar. I slipped it into a stand I have. The outside is plastic and you can add to it with dry-erase marker.


There is one page that has a BEAUTIFUL Advent Candle Set on it. And I thought it would be so fun for children to make their own. I cut out flames and the foliage, as well as the Chi-Rho Monogram. You can also see that I numbered the candles by week and the colors are purple and pink (and of course, white for the center).


Here is what the foliage looked like:


And here is what the first candle looked like:


By the end of Advent, you would have them all colored, all the flames on and decorated and it would be lots of fun for the littles.

If you don't know Aleesa's shop - Check out SaonJai on Etsy.
And please, tell her I sent you so she will know I finally did the review. LOL

Hugs & Blessings,

Em

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Try a New Recipe Tuesday ~ Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Stew

Happy Tuesday!
Happy Feast Day of Saint Albert the Great. Look him up, he's cool. Saint Albert - Pray for us!

We love new recipes. And in the world of lowering carbs and such, I thought this recipe sounded interesting.  Spicy Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew.

Taken from All Recipes. All Rights reserved.
This was a spur of the moment choice. I wanted to make soup, but money is tight (sigh - always), so I thought, I'm going to use what I have. I'm famous for needing two things and spending $200 at the grocery store, you know "it was on sale!" SOOOO I avoid it when things are tight. And so - I googled chicken and sweet potatoes.  This quote by the person who posted the recipe was enticing:
"With flavors reminiscent of Morocco and Mexico, this easy yet richly-flavored stew contains loads of chicken, vegetables and some surprising spices. If desired, pass lime wedges to squeeze over individual servings." ~ RC Kim
The whole day, my husband kept saying "I don't know if I will eat it because I only like sweet potatoes one way!" Of course, being the supportive wife I am, I said, "you're eating it because if you don't, the child won't AND it's what's for dinner!" HA! You're welcome!

Anywhoooo ~ I did not have the frozen corn, but I had a can of corn. I also had a bag of mixed frozen veggies (cauliflower and broccoli) that I used. Shockingly I was out of cocoa too...which really is shocking, but between birthdays and bake sales, I was tapped out! I used chocolate syrup - just a dash. My point? It's a forgiving recipe. So, use what you have and spice it to your liking. SO GOOD! I will add a little more water next time. Mine was kinda thick!

Oh - and I did not cook mine on the stove, I tossed it all in a crock pot. I did make it a little spicier than the recipe calls for too.  And guess what, they ate it and loved it. Christopher had some for lunch the next day and a couple days later.

Here is our dinner that night.



What new recipes have you tried lately? 
Hope all is well out there in the blogosphere.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Em