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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Catholic Family Vignettes is now at Wordpress!

I hope you've been able to check out the blog at Wordpress. Looks like this is permanent.

I will keep this one up for a bit, for the sake of nostalgia, but hope you will join me at my new location:

Catholic Family Vignettes

**To all of my dear friends who have been so kind to link me in sidebars, etc...would you please update your sidebar? Traffic is already steadily increasing.

Thanks! Read more!

Friday, February 22, 2008

New blog address...

I've had it with Internet Explorer!! And Blogger!!!

I'm so frustrated...I simply can't resolve the problem with this blog. Many of my readers are still (gasp!) using IE7. Despite numerous efforts, I simply can't make this blog look the way it should with IE7. I should have been viewing the blog in multiple browsers when making customizations...mea culpa! Since everything looked okay with Firefox, I never checked with IE7. Here are some of the problems for IE7 readers: Only one post is visible...for some readers only the sidebar. Some readers can't access the comment feature. desperation I have transferred the entire blog to Wordpress. Everything is the same. Well...almost everything, the account is, instead of There's a lot of tweaking that I will have to take care of...after Lent.

Could you stop by and take a look? Let me know if this format is little more "friendly". I'm very interested in your opinion. Suggestions are most welcome!

Here's the new CFV:

Catholic Family Vignettes Read more!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Once upon a time...

Here is an amazing political twist on the Emperor's New Clothes from Red Cardigan at And Sometimes Tea:

The Candidate's New Cloak (A Barack Obama Fairy Tale)

Once upon a time, in a land not nearly far enough away, there was a Contest to see which of several candidates would win a four-years' stay in a certain House of White. The Contest was lengthy and protracted, and many valiant knights fell by the wayside during its fierce and daring battles. Some yet remember the names of the illustrious fallen: Rudy of the Burning City, who failed to ignite his followers into any passion; Romney the Unflappable, who famously tried to seem a Man of the People, and failed miserably; Edwards the Miller's Son; William the Large; Fred the Sleepy-Eyed; and Duncan the Hunter were but a few of those who tried, but could not contend, and lost their way in the earliest of some verbal Jousts, which were called Debates, and which consisted of the candidates' attempts to agree with each other in the sneakiest and most tricky of ways, so that agreement seemed like profound discord. ('Tis true, though strange; such ways are not the ways of common men.)

As the time of the Contest, called an Election (owing, it is suspected, to the People's profound indifference to the whole matter and their election to remain at home while the partisans of the Contest braved bad weather and dimly-lit polling stations to register their choices) drew nearer, lo, there were but a handful of candidates remaining who had not yet withdrawn their names from the ring, and who were prepared to contend mightily with each other to the final hour, or at least to their Party's conventions. These few were McCain the Warrior, Huckabee of the South, Paul the Scholar on the one side; and Lady Hillary the Strident and Obama the Enigmatic on the other. Though it might appear that the sides were uneven, it was generally agreed that Huckabee and Paul, could they but have been combined, would make one good candidate instead of two indifferent ones; and thus the matter was accepted by both Parties.

And it came to pass that more Debates were planned, and more such minor battles, when someone whose name was not recorded, and who is therefore not important, had an idea to help the People to distinguish which among these candidates should advance to the final round of the Contest, called the General Election, though no generals were involved, and would not be elected in any case...

Read the rest of this incredible tale here.
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Bread, glorious bread...

Bread bakers: check out the video at Fast Food.

I've baked four loaves of this delicious is comparable to the delightful rustic bread one would purchase in an authentic Parisian boulangerie. Read more!

Lunar Eclipse...

Six inches of snow and a total white-out today...crystal clear and three degrees at 11:00 p.m. Time to grab the camera to catch the last total lunar eclipse until 2010.

The pics were not terrific. My little point n' shoot Canon is just not quite as fabulous as Clementine's extremely sophisticated number...not to mention that fact that I just don't have her skill. Or a really good tri-pod...

Maybe I should leave the photography to the experts.

Ah, well. It was nice standing in the snow with Arthur and my dear husband, observing the eclipse and at least trying to capture a bit of it. My boy loves the night sky nearly as much as his mom and dad.

Good heavens, it was cold! Read more!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Aren't they lovely?

Just had to show them off a bit:

My lovely granddaughters...

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Inspiration for the day...

"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly."

Albert Einstein
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Babette's Feast...

"She can turn a meal into a love story..." --Babette's Feast

What an incredible film! If you've not yet had the privilege, and I do mean privilege of viewing this incredible piece of cinematic art, then let me help you out.

This movie, which is in every way a feast for the eyes, is a family favorite (my children actually prefer it with the subtitles) and one that I've not owned until recently. In a fit of, shall I say, "absentmindedness" I managed to purchase two copies last week. I thought for sure I had ordered a copy of Miss Potter...oh well...

My inattention is your gain! Simply translate the following menu from French to English, and you'll have your very own copy! The DVD is in new condition (I only purchase pre-viewed titles!) and I will be happy to mail it to the winner.

Here's the menu:

§ Potage a’la Tortue

§ Blini Demidoff au Caviar

§ Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine

§ La Salade

§ Les Fromages

§ Baba au Rhum avec les Figues

Bonne chance!

***the first correct translation wins!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Our prayer board...

A few friends have asked that I post about our "prayer board"...

On Ash Wednesday each family member submitted five names for our prayer jar. These names are written on red hearts and placed in the jar. Each night the family gathers to pray the rosary. One of the children draws a heart from the jar. Blessed candles are lit, the statue of the Blessed Virgin is placed on a low table and the heart containing the name of the person or family we are praying for is placed at the feet of Our Lady. We pray the rosary for that person or family and try to email or call to let them know that we are praying for them. The names are then tacked onto our prayer board and surround the image of Our Lord upon the Cross. We continue to add hearts to the jar, as the need arises and on some days we draw more than one heart.

The children enjoy this devotion greatly and the families and individuals that have received the gift of prayer are so very touched.

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The week in pictures...

Here's a peek at our week:

Monday: the most amazing sunrise I've ever seen. A beam of pure, pink light shooting straight to the heavens

Tuesday: Charlotte has titled this picture Jesus is appropriate!

Wednesday: A breath of spring! My seeds are here!

Thursday: We had a brief post on our Valentine's's Clementine and Charlotte spreading a little love:

Friday: Ahhh...No Knead should give it a try!

That's the week in pictures!

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Digging out of a rut...

The winter "blahs"...

Apparently, I'm not the only one suffering from them! So many of my homeschooling friends seem to be "stuck". Lacking inspiration. Struggling with feelings of inadequacy.

I've been there, sisters...many times. I've been digging out my rut for the past week.

The unfortunate tendency of mine during these "down times" is to scale back... to do less. We call it "core"; a nice way of saying "just the essentials, please!" In my experience, it only seems to exacerbate the problem. Feelings of guilt over not doing enough, frustration over merely "doing" school and not "living" it, abound. And boredom, boredom, boredom!

It seems that the moment that I'm most ready to throw in the towel, it becomes increasingly obvious that I'm being called to take up the cross and persevere.

So...I'm in evaluation mode. As a classical home educator, I'm constantly searching for the best "Multum non multa" (much not many) approach. I've used packaged curricula, but none have ever seemed to fit well for my large family and teaching style. Our current program consists of whatever product best suits the subject being taught with Latin and Religion forming the base upon which the entire "house" is built. I'm constantly seeking the best of the best, questioning others on the efficacy of a particular text book and listening to both experienced and novice home educators. Believe it or not, in spite of the fact that our homeschool boasts three graduates (two from our homeschool and one who went to public school her senior year) and all three have made it to college, I agonize as much as any novice over whether or not I'm up to the challenge of home education.

I prefer "flying by the seat of my pants", adhering to (as much as this home educator is capable) the principles set forth by Dorothy Sayers' excellent essay The Lost Tools of Learning. The following quote aptly summarizes the desire of most of the home educators with whom I am acquainted:

What use is it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labor, if at the close the chief object is left unattained? It is not the fault of the teachers--they work only too hard already. The combined folly of a civilization that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.

What a terrific reminder!

So...having decided to persevere in the face of the "blahs", I've happened upon a real I've been meaning to read for sometime. The Latin Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell has truly helped this classical home educator get back on track. Too many distractions, too many diversions from our primary goal has dimmed the original vision, indeed the mission of this homeschool. Time to get back on track...

My point: whether you're a classical home educator, Thomistic/scholastic, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unschooler--whatever--if you're in a rut, dig out! Find inspiration. Remember why you're doing this. And don't just "do school". Live it.

Nothing succeeds like success!

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Happy Birthday, Gareth!

Today Gareth is eight years old!

Happy Birthday, my dear young man! What a blessing he has been to his family.

So many fears during the months before his birth...a mom on bed rest for three months, a possible brain anomaly, steroid injections to prepare for early delivery, born five weeks early.

Gareth is so very full of life in every way! An absolute clown and performer, hot tempered and full of fun.

We love you, buddy! May God grant us many more years with you! Read more!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Feast Of St. Valentine!

Just a quick note to wish you all a most joyous St. Valentine's Day!

We celebrated this morning with our own little "love feast":

St. Valentine is waiting for the guests to arrive...

The table is set for the feast

Goodness! The world's smallest Valentine...for mom!

You could say my plate is lovely!

Happy St. Valentine's Day from all of us!

Thoughts of perfectly expressed by Mr. William Shakespeare:

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

(1564 - 1616)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Well...I've had an afternoon of "feasting"...visiting a few "friends", dropping a line here and there (especially here!) I'm taking the rest of the week off, and will post again next Sunday, God willing and the flu doesn't catch me!

This year's Lenten devotions include a daily reading of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What heart-rending images these writings invoke. I'd like to share a passage that has particularly touched me, though I'd certainly recommend reading the entire chapter for the purpose of context. Only in eternity will I ever grasp fully the level of suffering our dear Lord so willingly undertook to redeem humanity, and more specifically, me.

You can find the entire work here. And the chapter that this paragraph is taken from here.

Have a blessed week!

When God had created the first Adam, he cast a deep sleep upon him, opened his side, and took one of his ribs, of which he made Eve, his wife and the mother of all the living. Then he brought her to Adam, who exclaimed: 'This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. . . . Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.' That was the marriage of which it is written: 'This is a great Sacrament, I speak in Christ and in the Church.' Jesus Christ, the second Adam, was pleased also to let sleep come upon him--the sleep of death on the cross, and he was also pleased to let his side be opened, in order that the second Eve, his virgin Spouse, the Church, the mother of all the living, might be formed from it, It was his will

p. 108

to give her the blood of redemption, the water of purification, and his spirit--the three which render testimony on earth--and to bestow upon her also the holy Sacraments, in order that she might be pure, holy, and undefiled; he was to be her head, and we were to be her members, under submission to the head, the bone of his bones, and the flesh of his flesh. In taking human nature, that he might suffer death for us, he had also left his Eternal Father, to cleave to his Spouse, the Church, and he became one flesh with her, by feeding her with the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar, in which he unites himself unceasingly with us. He has been pleased to remain on earth with his Church, until we shall all be united together by him within her fold, and he has said: 'The gates of hell shall never prevail against her.' To satisfy his unspeakable love for sinners, our Lord had become man and a brother of these same sinners, that so he might take upon himself the punishment due to all their crimes. He had contemplated with deep sorrow the greatness of this debt and the unspeakable sufferings by which it was to be acquitted. Yet he had most joyfully given himself up to the will of his Heavenly Father as a victim of expiation.
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Arthur has discovered a new hobby...the cord rosary! Right after he assembled his first one, he immediately presented it to his big sister, Clementine. She was delighted to receive it, and has promised to keep it in her car.

We've place an order with FNT for additional cord...the color selection is absolutely astounding! The website also contains detailed instructions for completing your very own cord rosary.

Still not convinced? How about a free rosary kit? Divine Twine is giving away a free cord rosary kit. Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope (three stamps) and you'll receive all the twine you need to complete a five decade rosary.

Arthur is hoping to make a few rosaries to give to his brothers and friends. He's also considered selling them as a fundraiser to attend a Catholic boy's camp this summer...what a lovely new hobby! Read more!