Friday, March 23, 2018

Walk Through Holy Week with Jesus

Holy Week is a busy time in the Church, it is also the best time to live the faith and experience

the catechism first hand.  The eight days of Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter are 

packed with opportunities to follow Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem, Passion, and 

miraculous resurrection.  

This is my favorite week of the year. It can also be exhausting with so many trips to church
 to participate in the liturgy.  However, I have found that the experience of walking WITH Jesus
 through Holy Week, is exhilarating and makes the miracle of Easter that much sweeter.

Each day, walk through the gospels and grow in your relationship with Our LORD, the Christ.

[Linking up with Kelly!]

Palm Sunday--Welcome Jesus to Jerusalem and, with the crowds, celebrate our amazing 
Savior.  Take an active role in the reading of the Passion. Try to imagine what it was like 
amid the crowds of bystanders waving palms and shouting “Hosanna.” When you get home
 from Mass, place your palms in a special vase for decoration for Holy Week and have a 
special meal as a family.  This is a joyous day because the prophecies have been fulfilled, 
the new king of Israel has come to Jerusalem.

Holy Monday-- The day after Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to the sound of crowds cheering Him,
He went up to the temple. However, He did not go to teach and pray.  He came to overturn the
 money changers tables and sweep clean those who offended God.

On Monday,clear out your temple. Our diocese has Reconciliation Monday this day and every
 church is open from 4pm to 8pm for confession.  This is a great blessing for sure.

Not everyone will have that opportunity, but if you can, go to confession. Even if you can’t get
to confession, there is cleaning that can be done.  Get your home in order for the great season
of Easter.

Purge the clutter. Do away with useless distractions.  Find ways to come into Easter cleaner,
lighter, and more open so you can be filled with the grace of His Resurrection.

Holy Tuesday-- Before Jesus cleaned the Temple, he cursed the fig tree.  On Tuesday, while
 heading back into the city, Peter saw how the tree had died and marveled at the authority and
 power of Christ.  Through mere words, He could give and take life.

Jesus replies, “Have faith in God. Amen I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Arise, and hurl thyself into the sea.’ and does not waiver in his heart, but believes that
whatever he says will be done, it shall be done for him.”

Today, read Mark 11:12-14, 20-26 with your children.  Eat dried figs as a snack, too.

What are the mountains in your life?   Set aside a time for intense prayer for what seems
impossible. For nothing is impossible with God!  If you have the opportunity, attend the
Chrism Mass with your family and thank God for our priests and the sacraments.

Holy Wednesday-- Halfway through Holy Week! This is called a day of silence because there
 is nothing in scripture about what Jesus did this day.  We do know that He went to Bethany to
spend time with Mary and Martha.  The night before, Mary anointed Him with perfumed oil.  

This is a perfect day to read all the parables that Jesus preached on His last visit to the
Temple.  (You can find them in Mark 12). Then take some time to write out Easter cards for
family and friends. Or send out those emails to loved ones that you keep meaning to write.
Invite over a friend or relative for tea and a chat. Take the time to remember those important
to you in prayerful love.

Holy Thursday-- My beautiful friend, Jessica, who writes at Shower of Roses, introduced me
 to liturgical teas.  So, for several years, on Holy Thursday my children and I have read
through Mark 14. Then, we eat special foods that connect with the story. 
Below is a list of what we usually have on the table for our tea:

  • Palms on the road-- In years past, I have made heart of Palm salad, and eaten the
     whole thing myself. In an effort to economize and simplify, I now just put the palms
     from Palm Sunday in a pretty vase as a centerpiece.
  • Costly Oil--I fill a shallow bowl with olive oil and flavor it with Italian seasoning, garlic,
     and a little onion powder. As a child, this is what we put on bread, never butter,
     of course that was only if there was no tomato sauce left to sop up.
  • Unleavened bread blessed and broken-- We are use broken pieces of Matzo crackers,
     but have also used pitas cut into wedges.
  • The Blessing Cup--I make a special wine spritzer that is mostly grape juice and water
     with a very little bit of red wine. The wine and water represent the blood and water
     that flowed from Christ's side.
  • Mount of Olives--A pile of olives. Any kind will do.
  • Garden of Gethsemane-- Dried figs
  • Sleepy Apostles--Sleepytime ©  tea
  • Thirty Pieces of Silver-- A bowl with thirty dimes that will then be donated to
      Mary's Meals. We have also used rice crackers, slices of carrots, and slices of string
  • Judas' kiss--Strawberries
  • The Cock Crowed Twice--We have used rotisserie chicken, chicken salad,
     and mini chicken pot pies.
  • Peter's Tears--Salted sunflower seeds.  
  • Cloud of Heaven--Garlic mashed potatoes, and yes, I use instant potatoes.
     I simply sauteed some garlic in oil and mix it in. The key is simplicity.

Holy Thursday Mass is a beautiful celebration of the creation of not only the Mass but the
priesthood.  If you are able, attend Mass. Even better, volunteer to have your feet washed.
Then stay after Mass to pray in silence as Jesus prayed in the garden.

Good Friday-- This is the day that Jesus suffered and died.  The earth quaked and the veil of
 the Temple was torn in two.  Take the time to walk the Stations of the Cross at your parish or
 an outdoor station garden.  Physically walking from station to station changes the experience
 and takes you on the journey that redeemed the world.

This is a day of fasting and prayer.  Keep meals simple and try to avoid unnecessary activity.  Spend time before the empty tabernacle. The emptiness and extinguished flame is striking.  Stop and contemplate what would have happened if that were the end. What would life be like without Our Risen LORD? It is easy to take the Eucharist for granted, today is the day to remember that it is a great gift.

Holy Saturday--This is a day of waiting, expectancy, and ordinary life continuing. Just as the
 apostles kept the Sabbath as they did every Saturday, we continue with our lives.  There are
 preparations to be done, but today is not Easter. Keep Easter decorations away until AFTER
 vigil Mass.

You could also make Resurrection Rolls or Easter Story Cookies, but don’t eat them until
 Easter!  Resurrection Rolls are a favorite Easter brunch treat in my house.

Easter Sunday--Alleluia! He is Risen! Sing and rejoice.  Belt out the Alleluia at Mass or sing it
 together as a family if you assisted at Vigil Mass. Remember to  thank God for our Risen 
Savior. Amid the egg hunts and jelly beans, remember to tell everyone the Good News. He is
 risen! He is risen, indeed!

Oh, and don’t forget, Easter lasts 50 days!  While the rest of the world is packing away all
 the pink bunnies, we are just getting started celebrating.

Do you have any Holy Week traditions to share?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Day in the Life: Homeschooling with a 13, 9, 4, and 1 year old

I have been following these posts and enjoying a glimpse into what it really means to homeschool. It's relieving that most don't look like the polished books and pamphlets but more life real life. When an opportunity came up to share my own, I decided to jump at the chance.

It may not be #7QT but I am linking up with Kelly anyway because I know she's cool with that!

Here is a day in our life, of course it is not according to plan but, it works anyway!

It's 4AM, Lovie Lu is up to nurse yet again. At 14 months old, her night time nursing has only decreased slightly since we was an infant. I enjoy the snuggles but I am tired and this new love for waking up to nurse at 4 AM is wearing me out. I know that by the time I get her settled again and start to drift back to sleep, my alarm will go off. Still I try to cherish the moments because she is growing so quickly and try not to think about the long day ahead.

As predicted, I am barely asleep and the 5:15 alarm goes off. I attempt to stretch a bit to wake my fuzzy head and sleepy body but this starts to disturb the little miss, so I continue on with my morning routine.

I say a decade of the rosary, almost silently, but know that God can hear. It's my little time to focus. I take a deep breath and reach over for my tablet that I stash next to my bed. I had been actually getting up at 5:15 and working in our classroom, but Lovie Lu soon caught onto me and has devised ways to keep me from getting up. If I don't start working by 6 AM, there is no hope it getting the rest of the day done, so my tablet with her cuddled in the crook of one arm is how I get the first part of my work done.

I am making progress despite only having one hand to type and copy links for my social media work, when she demands more of my attention. In a classic Lovie Lu move, she drapes herself fully across my chest and falls to sleep as I pat her back with one hand and scour the Feedly feed for more articles to share. Its about 6:20AM and the light is filtering through the windows as I hear the high school bus roll by.

I make a mental note that both World Book Day and Read Across America day are this week, have to plan something special for my preschoolers at co-op on Wednesday!

7:06 AM and I am still trapped but almost done with what I can do on my tablet. Little Man starts crying and Hubby gets up to see what the problem is. He gets him settled back down then gets himself up for the day. At 7:20, the nursing begins again. She has woken up crying, realizing that she is no long fully attached to me. I nurse her down and finally can slip out.

I quickly get dressed, fill out the kids work notebooks with today's assignments, get together a plan for breakfast and grab a handful of sunflower seeds. I pour a shot of apple cider vinegar into my water glass and top with some cayenne, ginger, and turmeric. It's my drink to get me going. Everyone is up now except for the baby. I entrust Cowgirl to making up the breakfast cookies and head downstairs to finish working.

On my way down, I start a load of cloth diapers in the washing machine. I get down to the classroom/playroom, which of course is a mess although the kids "cleaned" it last night. I sigh and move on, I can't do it all. I'll have a talk with them later.

Two minutes later, Little Man arrives to hang out. I love him but want to get my stuff done, thankfully he goes back up with Hubby who brings me some tea. I can finally work with two hands. Better getting moving before the next interruption--it's 8:15. Yikes, I still have a lot to do!

It's 8:49 and Little Man is back telling me endless stories. I don't want to miss them but have to get my work done, especially since I have 3 deadlines to meet today and I am still wrapping up social media. It's a constant balancing act.

At 8:53, I finally log out of social media and try out Little Man's "night vision goggles" (broken sunglasses). I head onto deadline number 1. There is a flurry of activity in the kitchen above me then I hear everyone walking to their various work stations for independent work--I hope.

Today is Hubby's day "off." Since we both work our own businesses that term is very relative. We had a meeting of the minds and calendars last night. He has been out of the house working his business for the past 5 days. He promised me the morning to let me catch up on my own work. I have until lunch at noon.

I keep working. Cowgirl shows up at 9:06 looking for one of her textbooks. She offers to bring me a breakfast cookie--I eagerly say yes and remember that I haven't really eaten yet. At least I know the kids are working.

It's 9:27, Buddy joins me downstairs. He tells me that Lovie Lu is up. My time is ticking--let the games begin! Little Man is not far behind. Buddy gets him set up on "school work." Buddy had taken up the challenge of being Little Man's tutor. He's doing a pretty good job. I need to make sure that Buddy doesn't get lost in teaching and forget about his own work though. I hear Lovie Lu singing in the kitchen.

By 9:52, Buddy has brought a crying Lovie Lu downstairs. She happily plays with her dollhouse and the boys keep up their school work. This may be a very good day!

I finish up my work for the morning, and then do a quick math lesson with Buddy. I leave him to do his homework and pick up the baby. Little Man is building a marble run as I leave to go upstairs to change Lovie Lu's diaper and get her dressed for the day.

I suddenly realize I have no wipes and a very poopy diaper. I can overhear Little Man having a very animated discussion with himself in the living room. I call to him to bring me a new pack of wipes, his response, "How do you know I am here?"

Cowgirl overhears my plea for help and gets me the wipes. I get the baby all dressed and then touch base with Cowgirl. Her one book is still missing (I do have systems for books and school supplies but they only work when the kids actually use them.) I head off on a frantic mission to find the lost book. I can't find it and realize that it is getting later.

Today I have the very rare treat of sneaking out for a little bit to get some work done. I've been juggling working/homeschooling/caring for the kids simultaneously for weeks. I have a deadline I have to meet and Hubby is available so I gather my laptop, notes, and jacket to head out the door.

On my way through the kitchen, I straighten up the counters and clear off the table. Hubby takes the little ones downstairs to get them interested in a few toys before he begins morning read alouds at 11. He first goes over Algebra with Cowgirl. It's 10:35, I have to be back by noon for lunch. If I don't leave soon, it just won't happen and the last time I had any time without kids was in October when I volunteered at the book sale.

I work amidst the hum of a local diner. I could have gone to the the library but the prospect of an egg over easy and gluten free toast is too appealing....until my laptop battery dies and there is no outlet to use. (Better be more prepared next time!)

I take out my trusty notebook and pen to write up my article for today's deadline.  It's almost noon, so soon, but the break has done me good and I got a lot done. When I arrive back home, the two youngest are playing in the living room while the older kids are busy working at their desks. I nurse the baby then take her for a diaper change.

We sit down for a quick lunch of leftover rice, collard greens, beans, and ham. I catch up with the kids and then get up to wash the dishes from the morning and the lunch dishes as they trickle in. At 1PM, we all get on our shoes and jackets to head up to adoration. Hubby sits down and starts his work.

Our parish has added extra hours for Lent and it is a tradition of ours to spend some time each week at adoration for Lent. I wish I could do it more often but I tell myself at least we get there a handful of times each year.

It's a 20 minute drive to church. The kids bring along a bit of their unfinished work, I also have them each narrate what they each read for the day. Little Man plays on the flash pad to keep from falling asleep and Lovie Lu takes her first nap of the day. We spend as much time as we can in church praying and the little ones are as quiet as an be expected. We get back to the car a little before 2PM.  On the way home, we drop Cowgirl for her weekly sewing lesson.

On the way back, the carschooling is over and the boys chatter in the back seat. As we wind through the wildlife refuge near our house to get home, they are entranced by the vernal ponds, waterfalls, and streams. It's a February thaw and I am trying hard not to get my heart set on spring being here because I know there is still plenty of winter to get through. We get home at 2:30.

The boys want to play basketball and I can't blame them after being cooped up so much the past few months. Buddy will go out in any weather, but my summer baby, Little Man, just can't handle the cold and it has been a cold winter. I tell them they can play for awhile but Buddy still has some work to complete. I sit down to check emails and address a few work related items. I consider calling them back in, but it really is just too nice out. I grab my bowl and scissors instead and head to the garden with Lovie Lu. I had set up low tunnels in the Fall and am dying to know what survived and if there are any fresh veggies I can use for dinner.

As Lovie Lu gets her first taste of "running' around the back yard, I discover that there is a nice stand of rainbow chard (one of my favorite vegetables). I cut a bowlful and snip off some lemon thyme, too. I'm pleased that despite the super cold winter, a few small head of lettuce survived, along with four Brussels sprout plants. My garlic is coming up...I again remind myself that it isn't spring yet!

After heading inside with my bounty, I check in with Hubby who is still working. I open the back door and keep an eye on the kids, Buddy is carrying Lovie Lu around to show her all the amazing "creature adventures" our big yard holds. I get a bit of typing done on the article I hand wrote. It's now almost 4PM, the boys show up with the mail and I tell them it is time to come in.

Little Man heads downstairs for his requisite daily dose of Wild Kratts and I put Lovie Lu in her seat for a snack. Buddy and I begin researching the Kratt brothers, ironically, for his 4H presentation. He has never done this big of a research project (a 5-7 minute presentation) and it is slow going teaching him how. We research and he writes up notes. About a half hour later, Little Man appears to practice his knife skills on a rice cake and have a snack. Lovie Lu wants down and toddles into the living room to continue playing with her Green Toys bouquet set. Buddy and I wrap up a note taking session around 5 PM.

I scour the pantry for dinner ideas, chiding myself that I didn't complete the weekly meal plan yet. I sit down to get a bit more work done and then head out the door at 5:30 to pick up Cowgirl from her sewing. She is working on a 19th century dress for her little sister for an upcoming living history day. I can't wait to see how it turns out. She finished her own dress last week and it is beautiful.

At 5:56, I pull up the drive to my friend's house who is a retired seamstress and now gives lessons. The dress is mostly done, I can't wait to see Lovie Lu in it. We chat a couple minutes then head back home. At 6:30, I walk through the door and start pulling dinner together. Cowgirl has swapped her regular chores for cooking dinner. Once I have her set on what we are making, I start to straighten up but Lovie Lu is losing it and wants to nurse for the sixth time today. I sit on the sofa and continue to talk Cowgirl through cooking. Buddy finishes his chores and gets his basketball uniform ready.

Little Man starts to melt down and Hubby picks him up. Lovie Lu is falling asleep. The quick nurse has turned into a deep nap after a day of hard playing and fresh air. Little Man collapses asleep on Hubby's shoulder. Buddy is practicing guitar in his room. We are now both sitting in the living room with sleeping little ones, it's the first time either of us has stopped all day. I tell Cowgirl she is going to have to make the chard as well, and start giving her directions.

At 7:26, dinner is finally ready. Hubby puts Little Man in his bed snoring. Cowgirl and Buddy set the table. We say Grace (with me praying from the living room) and they sit down to eat. It's only 9 minutes until the guys need to leave for basketball practice and Lovie Lu is nursing again.

She is finally done, as I get to the table, the guys leave. The girls and I continue with dinner. After dinner, the girls go to play in the living room, I put on congee in the slow cooker. I start washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, but Lovie Lu is getting restless and I know my time is short. I decide to focus on putting away the food and leave the last couple of dishes for the morning, along with the soaking fry pan.

I get myself changed for bed, pick out clothes for tomorrow, change the baby into pajamas and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth, toddler on my hip. Hubby already had his wardrobe laid out in there and I add mine. It's nearly 9PM and Little Man wakes up and has a meltdown because he is all out of sorts. I am trying to figure out what his problem is but he is just whining and not really saying anything. Lovie Lu, who was settling down and nursing is now fully awake. As I cradle a writhing preschooler, she goes to play with her flowers, again.

I finally convince him to lie down in my bed until Hubby gets back--I will not miss these late night practices. Lovie Lu is not interested in bed now thanks to a very late nap and too much excitement. I remember the article I have to finish and wish I had charged my laptop so I didn't have to write it up twice. I decide to knock it out while everyone is distracted. That lasts about 2.5 seconds. Little Man realized that he didn't eat dinner and is looking for a snack. He asks for a carrot which I wash and give to him. He cuts it into bite sized pieces and starts snacking.

A few minutes later, Hubby comes home with Buddy from practice. We begin the task of getting everyone ready for bed and in their rooms. Soon, it is 9:45 and Hubby begins making the rounds to pray with each child and tuck them in. Lovie Lu is fighting between wanting to sleep and wanting to be by the other kids, she squirms and flips all over my bed.

Hubby shows up in our room about 10PM, we read through the daily readings and do our prayers together. Lovie Lu still isn't settled down and I am out of steam. We decide to watch a quick episode of a favorite show on my tablet. I set the alarm and fall asleep around 11 PM, before the show is over.

Thanks for stopping by and reading through this. It was so much fun to actually chronicle a typical, but unusual at the same time, day in our homeschool journey.

What is a day like at your homeschool?

Friday, January 19, 2018

How the Homeschool Year is Going So Far! #SQT

It's Friday, a cold day with snow everywhere. My two oldest are on their way down to DC for the March for Life. They left at 5AM from Cowgirl's godmother's home (a hour south of us where they spent the night to be there first thing in the morning) and will arrive back there after midnight.  My two littles are still asleep.

So, I thought I would offer a little update on how the school year is going. I'll try for 7 Quick Takes, it might only be 4, but here we go...

#1 Free Video Classes are Amazing! If Virtual Homeschool Group offered affilitate programs, I could be their biggest endorser.  I tell everyone about it.  I am here to tell you, after using it for half our school year it really is wonderful. I highly recommend using their classes and if you have the time, why not teach one, too!

#2 Geography Coloring Book is Working! I really, really like geography. I would spend hours just looking through my atlas and spinning my globe, then returning to my atlas to learn more about my globe discovery.  I have had a hard time getting my kids that excited about it, though.

I was determined that this would be the year we made significant strides in geography.  Now, they all have very good map skills and can name a few dozen animals that live on every continent. However, putting those two together was fuzzy at best.

I spent months researching THE BEST geography curriculum. I didn't like what I found or was overwhelmed by the price. Then my friend, Emily, suggested we just draw and color maps.  Why didn't I think of that?  Since she was schooled in Europe for a number of years, I went with her advice. 

I purchased a second hand book of blank geo-political maps.  We have been very slowly working through first coloring each of the continents, labeling them, and discussing boundaries. Now we are getting down to color coding individual countries on the continents.  I hope to do a map for each country, too, but don't think we will make it there this year at this pace. I am just so happy they are learning and have gotten very interested in maps and globes!! 

#3 We Have Not Tamed the Pen and Pencil Eating Monster!  I don't know about your house, but our writing implements are ALWAYS missing!!  We switched to only pen, as suggested by Andrew Pudewa. I thought that might solve it, nope, I am still asked at least 54,863,925 times a week, "Do you know where my pen is?"

If you have advice, please share it! I have tried every system known to man, short of tying them down like in the bank! 

#4 Latin is So Much Fun!!  Who knew!  My boys long to do Latin and are enjoying it so much. They walk through the house chanting conjugations and quotes by famous philosophers.  

#5 I Should Have Been Using Saxon All Along!  I fought the tide of every recommendation to use Saxon Math. We tried all the rest.  I wanted color and depth. I wanted fancy with drills and fancy workbooks. Then I wanted simple and easy. Then I wanted manipulatives upon manipulatives. Then I switched back to easy.  In the end, all I really wanted was for them to learn math.

Math always my least favorite subject. I thought I needed to make it something spectacular for my kids to overcome that. As it happens, they just need a solid textbook and a bit of guidance. We are now a Saxon family! 

#6 Having a School Calendar Makes Me Happy!  Our old way of running the school was start after Labor Day and finish at Memorial Day. We took no breaks other than minimal time for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  Typically we logged over 200 days even though we finished "a month early."

I am getting older and I realized that this amount of work load was not doing anyone good.  So we are now on a trimester plan. We have 11 weeks on and then a "reading week."  We also took off a week for Thanksgiving (kind of a reading week--I think), one for Christmas, and we will have off time for Easter.  In February is our next reading week.  Then we will finish by June 1st.

Having a plan, makes everything run smoother. I divided our workload by three semesters and now we can see exactly what needs to get done when. No more realizing in April we have miles to go before we sleep!

#7 School Doesn't Need a Room!  I was bound and determined to make our school more efficient and official by having it in the "school room" every day with everyone working around our big table and a clock to govern our time. It worked for the first 6 weeks, mostly.

However, Cowgirl needs her peace and solitude to work well. Even with everyone else working/playing and engaged, she was too distracted.  In the end having her work in her room worked for everyone.

Having the boys downstairs and out of the kitchen, though, has led to far fewer snack breaks.  I get much more accomplished for my job, life, etc. when I take whatever I need to get done and bring it down as well. 

The little ones play instead of climbing on me and whining for my attention every 30 seconds and Buddy works on his school work.  We have fallen a bit off this wagon with the allure of the living room fire on the cold winter days.  I need to just push Buddy to light a fire downstairs and that would solve it.  I just haven't wanted to have to keep two fires burning while I work.

Perhaps, February will change my mind. February is the hardest homeschool month. We need a little prodding to keep going. Fire and tea just might be it!

I made it through all seven!!  

How is your homeschool year going? Have any tips or tricks to share?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In Celebration of Perfection and Lovie Lu's Birthday

Time is flying, isn't it?  September quickly becomes February. October melts into April. Blink and a whole year has passed!

I have been wanting to post about Advent and Christmas preparations, but the time has just slipped through my fingers.  Speaking of time--can you believe my new baby girl turned 1???  I can't either. How could a whole year have passed?

Party Planning
Although I tried so hard to make this day not show up, to keep her little and let the months stretch out forever, time has a way of marching on and babies have a way of growing.  Even though I didn't want to think about her birthday, I couldn't help planning her party.

Before she was born, I had picked up a child sized tea cup for Lovie Lu.  It is a precious little thing of white china with pink roses and a gold rim.  From that little trinket, I planned a whole party--a very first, very frilly tea party!

There were nights that I lay awake planning which tea cups would go on which table, how the tables would be arranged, which linens and laces I could use.  I rifled through my draws of tableclothes and runners. Gently leafed through the linens that I had taken from my grandmother's home and the doilies my great grandmother made.  I searched through my china cabinet and the cedar chest that hold my mother and grandmother's china set for my girls.

With all these little treasures, I planned a party fit for a very special princess.   I didn't have much to spend in the way of money, but I made up for that with hard work and creativity--and a little crystal, too!

Lovie Lu had a tea party shower complete with china and silver, why not do the same for her birthday?  In my humble opinion, it was magical, it was beautiful, it was perfect!

Except that perfection doesn't exist this side of heaven.  A sweet little baby all wrapped in hope and heavenly scents is about as close as we come, but even there, perfection aludes us.

In my desire to have the perfect party, I could not wait to share the beauty of the day. I longed to pour over the photos as my little girl poured over her cards, examining each one and squealing with delight. I dreamt of my magazine worthy prints, my fabulous post, my awe inspiring Facebook share.

I could see in my mind how all would look. How everyone would ooh and aah over my special celebration. My baby girl is priceless, her party and photos would show the world just that!

I lost the forest for the trees!

More Than That and So Much More  
Just as each of my children are more than a number, more than just moments or victories or social media likes--the true celebration of my daughter's birth was more than a collection of photos to rival the pages of Martha Stewart's magazine.

The celebration was a treasury of memories. An opportunity to thank God for all we had been blessed to have, all those prayers and wishes come true...all those moments that linger in my heart! 

You see...those perfect pictures, the ones I saw in my mind as drool worthy...that was all pride! And God made sure I didn't get puffed up!

Every photo came blurry. Vignettes that I worked hard to create were missed by my resident, family photographer.  I felt such disappointment...such melancoly.  

I gave up on the custom outfit.  I gave up on the perfect cake and the Pinterest decorations.  We used e-vites instead of engraved invitations.  There were so many little touches and treats that I sacrificed for the good of the family, for our meager budget's sake---now even the photos were offered up!

Sharing the Good News, Not the Perfect
How could I share these?  How could I scrapbook them and have my grandchildren enjoy this little fruit of my labor from long ago? Why could something just not be perfect after so much planning?

Because, my child, this world is broken!
Only I AM perfect, only with Me are things whole!

You see I was chasing an allusion!  I wanted the support of man to cover the multitude of sins that are my life. Facebook likes and blog shares don't equal perfection.  This blog is not about making people think I am better--or at least that was never it's intent--it is my little apostolate to spread His good news, not mine!

The photos weren't out of focus--I was!

JOY, JOY, JOY....and St Philip Neri
When I became pregnant with Lovie Lu, I had a strong pull to St Philip Neri. In prayer, his name was laid on my heart several times. Little coincidences--or God-incences--put his story before me, when I had never even thought of this good saint before.

I began to believe that we must be having a boy who was meant to be named Philip....but baby was a girl!  I dug into St Philip's story, wondering why he was the one God kept pointing out to me.  You know what one of St Philip Neri's patronages is?  JOY!  Yes, joy!

Those of you who know me in real life, know how joy filled Lovie Lu is. She is the most lighted filled child I have ever known. Everywhere we go, people comment on how happy she is, how her smiles lights up the room. Everyone she meets is touched by her love.

These photos would never capture who she really is or the wonder of her year with us.  They could never really show how her face beamed and lip quivered when everyone sang to her.  How she was overcome with emotion at seeing all her loved ones gathered just for her. A photograph would never tell the story of how she took each card and "read" it, sliding her finger under the words, pointing out each design and print or how she hugged those cards to her heart and smiled at each family member who had given it to her.  That, my dear readers, is pure joy!

And She Pondered All These in Her Heart
I don't have the words for how amazing of an experience this little party was, and it isn't because of anything that I could have captured in a perfect photoshoot. My Lovie Lu has lived up to her nickname, and patron, she was love and joy!

The heirloom china, the perfectly pink tablecloth, the miniature cakes and artfully set tables...those were nice, but it would have been just a grim gathering had it not been for the gift of my sweet child.

I don't know what God has planned for her, but I believe it is something great!  In my heart there are memories that will warm me all my matter how imperfect the party and pictures were.

We aren't called to be perfect, we are called to love. That I learned from a little child...the Christ child, Our Savior whose birthday is just days away, who came not into a picture perfect palace but a humble, lowly stable. That Christ child is my LORD and I will never be able to thank Him enough for that precious gift, but it took another child, my precious girl, to remind me just what life and Christmas are all about!

Thanks for stopping by!