"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy will." ~ Luke 1:38

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent 2014: Week One

Sharing Family Traditions, reflections, activities & crafts over at 

~ + ~ THE LORD IS COMING ~ + ~


+ Books on Saints for Elementary Grades +
Traditionally we have read books from the Lives of Saints whose Feasts days land during the Advent season.  We have tons of books to choose from, so, I will fill our baskets with those that pertain to the month of December.

+ Books for High School +
These are books that I am considering:
Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections  (Franciscan Media)
Advent with the Saints:  Daily Reflections (St. Anthony Messenger Press)

+ Books for the Mama! +
A Mary Christmas (Franciscan Media) 
Advent Meditations with Fulton J. Sheen - 28 reflections (Liguori Publications)


+ St. Nicholas +
Last year, at our First Friday Mass we had several activities after Mass and Devotions.  However, at home, we celebrate with Hot Chocolate and Gold Coins.


St. Nicholas Feast Day is December 6th

+ Jesse Tree +
I have been very happy with our (now retired) Jesse Tree ornaments, which I originally created using the Paper Dali templates.  After my children colored the ornaments, we laminated them and added a purple ribbon.  I guess they are now, priceless. 

+ Advent Calendar +
We have 2 Advent calendars that we enjoy...here is a favorite of ours:

+ Advent Candles +
Both a family and church tradition...

+ Nativity Scene +
Our nativity scenes make their appearance, but we cover Baby Jesus until Christmas Eve.


+ St. Nicholas +
Last year, after our monthly First Friday Mass, I organized several St. Nicholas Games & Activities such as:
St. Nicholas Coin Toss
Chocolate St. Nicholas Craft
Nutter Butter St. Nicholas Cookie Decorating
St. Nicholas Guessing Game (adapted from Catholic Inspired)
Apple St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Roll-Up
Coloring Table of St. Nicholas, St. Lucia & Our Lady of Guadalupe
St. Nicholas Story Time

The next First Friday gathering for our home-school group is coming up quickly...I'd better get to work!

+ ADVENTures +
Last year we participated in the fun Adventures hosted by Jennifer...I recommend this activity for your family, too!  Week One, post Two, post Three, post Four


+ Cookie Exchange & Rosary Night +
Week Two...

+ Parish Advent Retreat +
Week Two...can't wait!


You can find more Family Traditions, reflections, activities & crafts over at 

Friday, November 28, 2014

D.C. & A.M.D.G

Washington Monument

A couple weeks ago, we were in Washington, D.C. enjoying an educational trip at our country's capital.  We had dreams of taking our children on this very trip, to see some of our country's most historical places...It was everything we had hoped.

Picture Perfect

We were so blessed for the opportunity to experience all that we did:
Lincoln's Memorial, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the National Mall, the Smithsonian Castle & Museums - especially the National Air and Space Museum, and the White House were several of the many points of interest that we visited.  Additionally, and more excitedly, we attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  An extra special blessing was having my son serve at the Mass.
Serving at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Conductor (middle server) - looking sharp!

Lincoln's Memorial & National Air & Space Museum

St. John Paul II National Shrine:  Where we were able to venerate a First Class Relic of Saint John Paul II. The Knights of Columbus were entrusted with the relic which was presented by His Eminence Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, back in 2011.
St. John Paul II National Shrine

While in town, we attended a reception for the Archdiocese for The Military Services, USA, hosted at the St. John Paul II National Shrine.  We learned more about the work of this "global archdiocese" and those that serve...the motto is:  Serving those who Serve.  This Archdiocese was created, in 1985, by Pope John Paul II.  

We received a pin with the Coat of Arms.  The pin is colored red, white, and blue to recall the colors of the U.S. Flag.  It also has a Miter (indicating a Catholic Diocese), the Bald eagle with an olive branch (Americans bearing peace), a Silver cross in front of the earth (proclaiming Christ throughout the world) and the Gold and Silver crossed Keys of Saint Peter (the Church's mission to offer healing through the forgiveness of sins).  It was a very special evening which my children and hubby & I will never forget.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was so amazing!  I knew that it was going to be beautiful...it exceeded my expectations.  The various places of religious artifacts, the chapels and the art on display were breathtaking.  I definitely want to return...

The National Mall & Memorials

We were blessed with perfect weather and there were still some beautiful autumn foliage on the trees.  Being from California, I welcomed the coldness and was happy to finally make use of my coat, gloves and scarves.  I LOVE the Autumn!  I loved D.C.!


This is me, on our last day in D.C., after enjoying a very nice lunch.
When the picture is fuzzy and in black & white, I can tolerate viewing a pic of myself.  lol.  

We found some really tasty and fun places to dine.  This Pizza Pi place was such a great find!  The Occidental Grill was another gem of a place.  The Hamilton was a favorite and was worth a return visit...classic American with a great menu and great tasting food and most importantly, very family friendly.

great pi & beer served here

Visiting the campus of The Catholic University of America was another major item on the "To Do" list.  Nice.  Very, very nice.

The Catholic University of America

We visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as several other museums.  While on one of our walks, we found this church which was "erected about 1792".  
St. Patrick's Church 

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Well, these are just a few highlights from our amazing D.C. trip...we covered a lot of ground, saw a lot of points of interest, visited many museums, and indulged in several delicious food establishments...everyone had a great experience - definitely a successful trip!

I believe my favorite highlights included the evening reception for the Archdiocese of Military Services at the impressive St. John Paul II National Shrine and Sunday Mass at the wondrous Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  
+ Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam +

Sharing my Family Journey over at Catholic Bloggers Network

~ + ~ 
Prayer of the Archdiocese for the Military Services

Won't you join me...

Almighty God and Father, look with love upon our men and women in uniform and protect them in their time of need.  Give them health and stability and allow them to return to their loved ones whole and unshaken.  Be with their families and sustain them in these uncertain times.

Grant strength and peace of mind to the Veterans who have given their best for the country they love.  Support them in infirmity and in the fragility of old age.  Teach us to remember their sacrifices and to express our gratitude.

Manifest your tender care to those in the Military Academies who prepare for future service and to those who serve our Nation for from home.  Teach us to remember the sacrifices of those whose efforts contribute to ensuring our way of life.

Bless and multiply the priests who minister to the faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.  Reward their generosity and keep them faithful.

Hear us as we present our prayers to You through Christ our Lord.
~ Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Thursday, November 6, 2014

~ Good Habit, Bad habit ~

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for some pretty, happy, funny, and real family fun!


Rite of Imposition of the Habit

We were blessed to attend the Rite of Imposition of the Habit and Mass at the Carmel.  My son has served a 'Rite of Imposition' at the Carmel once before.  It is an absolutely beautiful ceremony.  The nuns' angelic voices, in chant, can be heard behind the grate.  I wish I could share more photos, but the contemplative Sisters are situated behind the grate...in cloister.

Soon the Sisters will be moving to another location, a traditional monastery, that is in dire need of repair.  You can read a short history about them here, with links for additional information.  We are SO blessed to have them in our diocese.

Perhaps you would like to help the Sisters with the construction work at the Carmel?  View the progress and plans on Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph blogTo the right of the article, you can find out how to donate to the Carmelites if you feel so called.

It was such a joyous occasion, as one of the Sisters received her Holy Habit.

"Hearken, O Lord, Almighty God, unto our prayers and deign to bless this your handmaiden, whom we have clothed in the habit of our Holy Order in Thy Holy Name; and grant that by Thy generosity she may remain faithful in the Church and may merit eternal life.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum.  Amen."


Because you can never have too much chocolate & strawberries

Little Lamb turned a happy ELEVEN.  She asked for this chocolate cake with fresh strawberries and our delectable ganache icing.  We adjusted the cake recipe, yet again, substituting the unsweetened cocoa powder with some (melted) bittersweet chocolate chips.  I didn't have any cocoa powder on hand, lucky us.
And I thought this cake could not get any better.  

This year, instead of our traditional treasure hunt for birthday gifts, we decided to go on a mom & daughter clothes shopping spree...my girl is growing and so she needed a new (simple) wardrobe.  We had a really fun time and (thankfully) found some really cute and modest pieces of clothing.  

I love you, my Little Lammy, you are so smart and wonderful.  You are growing into such a lovely young lady - mommy and daddy are SO very proud of YOU!  XOXO!!!


Who knew?!?
This is not what Little Lamb chose, but I just had to take a pic...it reminded me of the pope's mozzetta.  


Am I the only one that has this problem?  

I can neither find the right color, nor part with the wrong.  (Do I think that one day they will somehow 'work'?)  I look at this and see...a waste (of money).  However, I cannot seem to throw them out, because, that would be...a waste (of money).  I am in a quandary.  I think I'll put them back into my makeup drawer and forget about them...until I stumble across them, again.  My bad habit.

Go to Like Mother, Like Daughter to find more contentment...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

All Souls Day

"The Lord is my Shepherd.  There is nothing I shall want."

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Requiem ~ Music of the Requiem by Gabriel Faure.  Beautiful.

In Paradisum

In paradisum deducant te Angeli;
May angels lead you into paradise;

in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you,

et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.

Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
May the ranks of angels receive you,

et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
and with Lazarus, once a poor man

aeternam habeas requiem.
may you have eternal rest.

~ Gabriel Faure

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Hallow's Eve...

Daddy saved the day when he came home on All Hallow's Eve with this pumpkin.  Earlier we had gone out searching for a pumpkin, without much success.

Not only did Little Lamb enjoy carving her pumpkin, but she discovered several seedlings growing inside.  She plans to plant them in her garden...Hopefully, next year, we will not have to experience another pumpkin shortage....To Be Continued...