Family activities for Advent Sunday, Nov 30 2008 

On the First Sunday of Advent, we light our Advent Wreath candles and pray the Advent Wreath prayers before we say grace. We will keep the candles lit until dinner is over. The kids take turns each night blowing out the candles.


We put our Advent Tree with our Advent books underneath it to read to the kids every day. We will not put lights on the tree until December 21st, the 5th day of the O Antiphons. I bought plastic purple ornaments to put on the tree whenever the kids do a Corporal work of Mercy.

We will also set up an empty stable. We gradually add the figures throughout the 4 weeks of Advent. On the First Sunday of Advent, we set up the stable. Then on the Second Sunday of Advent, we add the animals. On the Third Sunday of Advent, we set up the sheperds to watch over their flocks. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we set up the empty manger. On the morning of the 24th, we put Mary and Joseph in the stable. On Christmas morning, we place Baby Jesus in the manger. Finally, on Christmas Day we start moving the three wise men towards the stable. Each day they get closer, arriving on the feast of the Epiphany.


Another fun great way to get the kids involved in praparing for Christmas is to set up an empty manger. The idea is that when acts of service, sacrife, or kindness are done in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday present, the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. Here are some suggestions for the straw:

Acts of sacrifice, prayers for the poor souls, the Rosary and other Marian prayers, doing extra chores without being asked, going to Mass.


The Jesse Tree is another wonderful way to celebrate Advent. A Jesse Tree is a small. leafless tree decorated with symbols portraying Jesus' spiritual heritage. It is a kind of family tree, which suggested by Isaiah's prophesy, " There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots."


Lastly, you can make an "O Antiphon House". December 17 marks the beginning of the "O" Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer.  The "O" Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The first letter of the Messianic titles: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—spell out Latin words ERO CRAS, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come."

The antiphons are part of the evening prayer of the Divine Office, the antiphon before and after the Magnificat. They are also the alleluia verse before the Gospel at Mass.




Saint Andrew Christmas Novena Sunday, Nov 30 2008 

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

This prayer is often called the "Christmas Novena" because it is prayed from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal). This novena is posted on the left side of my sidebar.

Novena to the Immaculate Conception Saturday, Nov 29 2008 

It is customary to pray a Novena to the Immaculate Conception starting on November 29 and ending on December 7, the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Novena to the Immaculate Conception
Say once a day for nine days, starting on November 29 and ending on December 7

Immaculate Virgin! Mary, conceived without sin! Remember, thou wert miraculously preserved from even the shadow of sin, because thou wert destined to become not only the Mother of God, but also the mother, the refuge, and the advocate of man; penetrated therefore, with the most lively confidence in thy never-failing intercession, we most humbly implore thee to look with favor upon the intentions of this novena, and to obtain for us the graces and the favors we request. Thou knowest, O Mary, how often our hearts are the sanctuaries of God, Who abhors iniquity. Obtain for us, then, than angelic purity which was thy favorite virtue, that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, and that purity of intention which will consecrate every thought, word, and action to His greater glory. Obtain also for us a constant spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we many recover by penance that innocence which we have lost by sin, and at length attain safety to that blessed abode of the saints, where nothing defiled can enter.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

V. Thou are all fair, O Mary.
R. Thou art all fair, O Mary.
V. And the original stain is not in thee.
R. And the original stain is not in thee.
V. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem.
R. Thou art the joy of Israel
V. Thou art the honor of our people.
R. Thou art the advocate of sinners.
V. O Mary.
R. O Mary.
V. Virgin, most prudent.
R. Mother, most tender.
V. Pray for us.
R. Intercede for us with Jesus our Lord.
V. In thy conception, Holy Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father Whose Son thou didst bring forth.
V. O Lady! aid my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray

Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and mistress of the world, who forsakest no one, and despisest no one, look upon me, O Lady! with an eye of pity, and entreat for me of thy beloved Son the forgiveness of all my sins; that, as I now celebrate, with devout affection, thy holy and immaculate conception, so, hereafter I may receive the prize of eternal blessedness, by the grace of Him whom thou, in virginity, didst bring forth, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, in perfect Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.

Fish Eaters

Finished! Saturday, Nov 29 2008 


After many hours of shopping online using my wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful daughter's laptop which I stole while she was at work  ;-)  I am finally finished with our Christmas shopping. My goal is always to finish Christmas shopping before Advent begins. This always takes me such a long time to do, because not only do I shop for our kids from us, I also pick out presents for the kids from my parents and my in-laws. It's great that they let us choose what to get for the kids. My mom and my mother-in-law always give us money to buy gifts for the kids, which is great because I get to pick out what the kids get, but I have a hard time picking things that are going to last and be educational. We give each of our kids 2 gifts, and then I choose 1 more present per child from each set of grandparents. Times that by 4 gifts X 7 children and that's a lot of stuff to choose from. Thank goodness for the internet. I don't like shopping at all. I love to see the big brown truck pulling up on our driveway. We truly are so very blessed!

Wishing our family and friends… Thursday, Nov 27 2008 


Wordless Wednesday Wednesday, Nov 26 2008 


Organizing/ decluttering the kitchen- part 2 Tuesday, Nov 25 2008 

Saturday afternoon I continued organizing the kitchen cabinets. The only ones left to organize are the cabinets with our dishes, the coffee and tea cabinet and the bills cabinet right above the computer desk. That one is going to take me a few hours to do, so I'm leaving that for another time. It's very overwhelming right now. I need to get a few folders and label them before I start with 3 years worth of paperwork. Here is what I did this weekend.

This is where I keep the cookbooks. I only kept 2 La Leche League cookbooks, a Rachel Ray cookbook which my kids gave me 2 years ago for my birthday and an Emeril cookbook which Bernie gave me for Christmas. I'm going to donate the 2 cookbooks on the right to our local thrift store. I couldn't bear to throw those away.


This is our spices cabinet. I don't have enough items to put on the top shelf. It's a good thing, since I'm so short.


There's not much left to stoe above the microwave oven- just a lonely little serving bowl.

Spices microwave

This is our medicine cabinet. This is where I really threw a lot of stuff away. We had way too many old vitamin bottles. This was probably the biggest improvement in the kitchen.


Oh, I still have not organized the cabinet where I keep the glasses and plates and also under the kitchen sink, which is where I keep all my stone baking sheets and serving platters. I also store the kitchen linens under there. I hope to finish this weekend.

Countdown to Christmas with picture books Tuesday, Nov 25 2008 

This year I'm using Cheryl's idea to count down the Advent days until Christmas. There are 25 days in Advent this year, so instead of purchasing an Advent calendar, I'm the girls are wrapping up 25 Christmas books in purple wrap to read to the kids every day. I have been collecting a lot of these books through the years and this year I got a few from our library, most of which, Cay Gibson has in her Christmas Mosaic, An Illustrated Book Study for Advent and Christmas. The kids will take turns picking out a book and unwrapping it and as the pile of books goes down, Christmas will get closer. I have marked a few books to be read on appropriate days, otherwise, the kids will randomly pick the book of the day. Here is a list of the 25 books we will be reading starting on the first Sunday of Advent:

The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale  - December 6th, feast of St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas – December 6th, feast of St. Nicholas

The Lady of Guadalupe  - December 12th, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Legend of the Poinsettia  December 19th, the 3rd O Antiphon "Radix Jesse"

The Night of Las Posadas  - December 24th, Christmas Eve

These books are featured in Christmas Mosaic:

Week 1

Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel  

The cobweb curtain : a Christmas story

Week 2

A Small Miracle  

The Christmas Candle  

Week 3

An Orange for Frankie  

Night Tree  

Week 4

Father and Son: A Nativity Story 

The Christmas Donkey  

Mortimer's Christmas Manger  

And here are more wonderful books to be enjoyed this Advent.

Country Angel Christmas   

Danny and the Kings 

The Gift of the Magi 

Country Angel Christmas  

The Clown of God  

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey 

The Donkey's Dream  

The Legend of the Christmas Rose  

The Legend of the Candy Cane 

All for the Newborn Baby   

Who Is Coming to Our House?


St. Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr Tuesday, Nov 25 2008 

Catherine alexandria 

Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Title: St Catherine of Alexandria

Today is a very special feast day in our family. St Catherine of Alexandria, one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers," is the patron saint of many things, most importantly educators, schoolchildren, students, teachers and apologists. We have been formally homeschooling for 12 years, although we as parents start educating our children from birth. I will be invoking the help of this most powerful saint, especially during the most difficult days of homeschooling.

Prayer to St. Catherine of Alexandria:

Glorious St. Catherine, virgin and martyr, help me to imitate your love of purity.  Give me strength and courage in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.  Help me to love God with my whole heart and serve Him faithfully.

O St. Catherine, through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ, help me to be loyal to my faith and my God as long as I live.  Amen

Here is a great idea for dinner tonight. 


Mini Wheels Pasta Salad.

1 (16-ounce) box Barilla Piccolini Mini Wheels

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use

2 cups frozen green peas

1 pound chicken breast, diced (optional)

5 to 6 slices (about 1 cup) of bacon, cut into strips

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed (may substitute shredded)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt to taste
  1. Cook pasta for 6 minutes; drain and drizzle with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet to cool.
  2. Boil green peas in salted water for five minutes, drain and cool.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat; cook chicken in remaining olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes or until cooked through, season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
  4. Cook bacon until crispy, drain fat.
  5. Combine all ingredients, let sit 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe provided courtesy of Barilla.


The Simple Woman’s Daybook- November 23rd Monday, Nov 24 2008 

Simple_womans_daybook Stop by Peggy's to see today's Simple Woman's Daybook posts.

Outside my window…beautiful blue skies, but very cold this morning.

I am thinking…I need some new socks. My toes are sticking out and it's cold

I am thankful for….our beautiful children. We are so blessed to have a baby in the house again.

From the kitchen…braided egg bread. I was going to make cornbread for dinner last night, but Marygrace saw a recipe for the egg bread and wanted me to make that instead. I'm very glad we did!

I am creatinga more organized home.

I am going…to Lowe's to get more suplies for the basement. Not much longer until the drywall goes up.

I am wearing…flannel Eyore pajamas. I usually get dressed around 6:30 in the morning, but I decided to stay in my pajamas until after breakfast.

I am readingIt's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

I am hoping…to finish organizing the kitchen today. All I have to do today is the spice cabinet and under the kitchen sink.

I am hearingmy boys doing a play with my Southern Living at Home set of Three Wisemen. They are so funny. They like to take my digital camera and record themselves doing crazy things.

Around the house…a very pretty little girl walking around the house. She's getting so big and she's very fast.

One of my favorite things…taking a nap with the baby. She's down to one nap a day and I am hoping to take advantage of it. Cuddling a baby is the best thing in the world.

A few plans for the rest of the week…school, laundry and shopping for a Thanksgiving meal

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you… Cecilia was confirmed last Sunday. My husband took the picture and Adrianna was outside when it was our turn for pictures.


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