Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nice Try

        Just so you know, my family has decided that the skulls on "Golgotha" were not just creepy, they were totally weird...As Meg said " We're not pagans, you know." Oh well.I'll take them off and throw them back into the yard. Apparently, I'm no artiste..I guess it all comes from living too large on the Internet!!!!!Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Pieta at Golgotha

I would like to share the story of my Mary Garden. This statue of Our Sorrowful Mother was a gift to me on Mother's Day from my husband. We wanted to set it up in our yard and so we put it in a wheelbarrow to try it out in different locations.When we came to the spot in the above picture, we noticed the three trees growing near to each other.When we tried the statue here, it immediately reminded us of the three Crosses at Calvary, the center one for Jesus with the thieves on either side.The tree on the right has a large natural open area that reminded me of the tomb, with the rock that sealed the entrance until the Resurrection.The Pieta depicts the moment when the body of our Lord was taken down from the Cross and placed in the arms of His Sorrowful Mother.On Good Friday, I add a red drapery to symbolize the Blood that was shed for my sins.The bulbs coming up are red tulips.
This year,  I am inspired by the Biblical reference to Jesus' walk to Calvary, which is also called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.We happened to have many small skulls in the yard,one from a vole and four from deer, two mature and two young. I added these to this Crucifixion scene mainly to further grab the imaginations of the children who will view it. Smells and bells and bringing all our senses into the Faith is what we are attempting to do here.This is an experiment (the skulls) and perhaps it is a little creepy, but it relates to the Passion. I am not sure if folks will like it, but hopefully it will help us to remember the Supreme Sacrifice made by Our Lord for each one of us on Calvary.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross

On Holy Saturday morning, we will host our Homeschool group and other friends of the family to our fourth annual Outdoor Stations of the Cross.5 years ago, I bought a set of ceramic tiles ( 5x8) that were beautiful reproductions of the paintings of the Stations.They sat in a box in the bottom of my closet until the following Holy Week.

Larry then created wooden display frames for each one of them. We had a local printing shop engrave metal plaques stating  the number and title of the station. He stained each one 3 times to protect it from the weather.When we bought this house, there was already a wooded walking trail around the edge of the property. When we installed each station, we were able to find large trees equidistant and all on the left hand side of the trail. The second year that they were up, we installed small wooden crosses under the stations because we found out that although the picture is optional, the cross is necessary.
We realized that it would be wonderful to invite other families to join us for the Stations of the Cross and we decided to do this on Holy Saturday morning instead of on Good Friday. This was so that the Dads could join us and so that we could attend the Living Stations at church, which the kids usually participate in.
Each year, Larry goes around the trail restaining and refreshing the stations. We pick up twigs and neaten the path for foot traffic.We have had as many as 70 people for this event. Last year it was POURING down rain, and so we prayed and sang inside.We are hoping and praying for great weather for this coming Saturday!
The children especially enjoy this outdoor event.We go around as a large group and someone will read the meditation.The group responds " We adore you , O Christ, and we praise you; because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world." The appropriate verse of the Stabat Mater is sung on the way to the next station.
After the last station, we stop at our Mary garden which is a representation of the Pieta, to pray for the Pope's intentions.It is a very sweet thing to pray with others, especially whole families, to remember Our Lord's Passion.This keeps the focus on the real meaning of these last few days before Easter.We then enjoy donuts and coffee and some fellowship before each family leaves to prepare for the feastday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pulled Pork BBQ

   We received a 13 pound boneless pork shoulder from Tim and Kristy. I defrosted it on the counter overnight and put it in a roasting pan at 300 degrees for 5 hours before we went  to church. We  picked up some fresh rolls on the way home. By 2 p.m. it was fully cooked and very tender. I removed the small amount of fat from the meat and pulled it apart with my hands.

I sauteed some green peppers and onion. I now do these separately after being told by a good cook that it makes a difference. A full bottle of Sweet Baby Rays was poured over the meat and veggies and the BBQ was put in the oven at 350 for 1/2 hour to heat up.
Of course I had to make fresh cole slaw. This is the third recipe on this blog that has featured cole slaw in it! I processed my cabbage this time to make it better for sandwiches.
  This picture does not do justice to how delicious this meal was. We could all smell the pork cooking all day and the sandwiches did not disappoint. The 13 pound roast had less than a pound of waste on it, so we now have about 12 pounds of BBQ to eat over the next few days. I picked up 48 rolls so that should be enough. The amount of meat was so plentiful that I could not help but be grateful to God for this abundant food. I was aware that some mothers will be spending their Holy Week with much less food to feed their families.
Dear Father in Heaven,Thank you so much for the gift of food. Please provide for the needs of all your children throughout the world. In the name of Jesus, the Lord, Amen.

Male Bonding

We all had to laugh when I took this picture because Jeff is rarely a passenger! After a beautiful Palm Sunday Mass, the guys got outside for some afternoon adventure. There was a tree down across the trail and this was a great excuse to try out the new winch.

It worked well and the new ATV was able to pull the tree off the path.
Meanwhile, the other guys were throwing together some paintball bunkers with fallen limbs.A slightly used Christmas tree came in handy for this purpose.

The little guy enjoyed time outside with his Daddy.
He tried to help out by adding sticks.
       The afternoon finished with a game of Canasta before Jeff had to leave for his apartment two hours away.It was a very nice Sunday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We've Got a Reader!

Giving all the credit to God (and one determined little girl), it is with great excitement that we announce that Miss J. read herself a 174 page book in 24 hours! She picked up a first grade reader, which does have a picture on every other page, and read the entire thing out loud to herself. We could hear it.
She started in the afternoon and read all evening, even while in bed. The next morning she came out to the living room early and asked, " Do you mind if I watch the sun come up?" She laid down on the couch and read some more. By the end of that evening, her book was finished!We made such a big deal out of it and she enjoyed it so much that she read another first grade reader the next day! Her comprehension is right on.
This is a dream come true for this Mom.I can't wait to get into The Little House On the Prairie series with her!

Missalette Swap

         After the morning Mass, our Homeschool group had the opportunity to assist the parish by swapping out the missalettes.This is a task that needs to be done 3 or 4 times per year. Our group approached the pastor to volunteer our services the last time it needed to be done.What had previously taken the Senior citizens (maybe just a few of them) a week to do, was accomplished in an hour and a half by countless kids and their organized Moms! Fr. was so impressed that he now considers this to be our job. It was an honor and a pleasure to help.

This was our family's first time helping but we will definitely do it again.There was a system to it.All of the kids could help. It is a wonderful thing to be able to do a service project together as a family and to help out our own church. I recently read that the Parish is really an important part of Catholicism.Our religion is practiced not only as individuals, but also in a community. I am keeping this in mind. One feels so much more invested by getting involved "behind the scenes". My goal is to pass the faith onto my children. I am hoping that these kinds of activities, service work that matters, will help them to own it for themselves. Besides all that, it was fun!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transportation Engineer

Speaking about noticing themes in the pictures I have taken, it seems that Sam spends a lot of his time helping people move from one place to another.

He set up this Hay Wagon of sorts for his little sister and nephew complete with car seats and took them for a ride in the driveway.
I guess this must be why men like to do the driving. This must be part of the manly role, like Joseph leading Mary into Bethlehem and then leading the Holy Family into Egypt. I never realized before what a natural part of being a guy it is to help folks get from one place to another!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Boy's Imagination

Since I received my camera and started this blog on Christmas Day, it has been interesting to notice the patterns and relationships between the things that we have always done but that I  hadn't appreciated as much for lack of recording them.One of the things that stood out to me was how many pictures I have taken of John playing with little figures. John has a fantastic imagination.
When he has some free time, he sets up any kind of small game pieces that are handy and arranges them into formations. He creates battles with lots of sound effects.He especially likes to use game boards but uses them with different pieces and plays with them in his own way. We are all very proud of his ability to play and hope that it continues for a long time.
Consequently, John rarely gets bored. He always has something he would like to be playing. This helps him to get his schoolwork done  promptly so that he can play. This is something that I have to remember to respect and not ask him to get up and go do a job that could wait. A child's work is to play. It doesn't last forever.
He also has to plan his game so that his nephew, the 15 month old King, doesn't make short work of all his careful arrangements! That's why he is usually at the dinner table.G-money must have been at the park on this day!
It is a real gift to know how to play and to be happy in one's own company.When a child is playing well, he is not underfoot being annoying. I am thrilled that John has this gift from God (I have nothing to do with it) and hope that it serves him well for years to come.