Advent · Christmas · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week Two.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, last week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

The weather has been cooler this week and I have been busy so far.  Getting things ready for Back to school(ing) and getting ready for the end of summer cabin trip has taken up a bit of time.  This week is Question Week, one of my favorite aspects of planning.   

Week One follow up: The children and I did a good scrub-a-dub on the porch and Kyle helped with re organising the area.  I have a list of outdoor maintenance items that need attended to next month and my lists have been created. 

Week Two: Cleaning:  This week we come indoors.  Here is where my cleaning list departs from the Official Grand Plan list.  And really, that is ok.  My house is laid out differently than the person who made the list.  I don’t have a guest room, master bath or family room.  I do have a home office and if I tried to fit both children’s rooms into one week I would go more than a little batty.  So we switch it up a bit.  This week I am actually NOT doing a room.  Basically because I am going to be gone most of the week.  If you are doing this along with me you might want to take a look at the cleaning schedule that the grand plan uses and think through how to make it work for you home.  We all have different houses and no one list is going to work for everyone.

Preparing for the Holidays:  Taking stock.  Every year I go out after the Holiday’s and snag a few rolls of paper, a bag or two of ribbons and maybe some cute tags and gift bags.  I also try to hit the art supply store and catch their clearance racks in late November and then again after Christmas.  But all of that won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take the time to figure out what I have and where it is.  So my big thing for preparing for the holidays this week is checking out what I’ve already got on hand for Christmas and Advent.

Planning:  Last week I made up my basic lists this week I am fleshing them out and adding to them.  We also have some questions to think about.

Gifts:  What are we buying and how much are we spending and how important is the whole “gift thing” anyhow?   (insert anti-consumerism rant here).  What gifts am I making? 
Cards: How many cards do I need?  Which cards am I cross stitching?
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  Is there anything we want to do differently?
Menus: What can I do ahead?  What are the menus for the feast days? If there are any new recipes I want to try for the big Holiday meals I want to make them at least once before hand.
Decorating: Do I know where my decorating stuff from last year is?  Do I need to replace anything?  Is there anything new I would like?
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished.  What gifts am I baking?
Devotionals: What worked in years past?  What didn’t? How can we focus more fully on Christ during the Advent season?  When I get home I am goingto be looking around online for some new ideas.  Are there any books I want to look through?
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?

The goal for this week is to get the “theme” of Christmas set.  Note, this isn’t some marathon planning session where I decide in nitty gritty detail what each moment of each day will be.  Nor is the idea to blow Christmas into the focus of the next 12 weeks.  The goal is to set aside a small amount of time for Christmas/Advent planning early enough that I am not stressed and rushing around during Advent.  The other thing I like about the “Grand Plan” is that I will be able to hit each area of my home for a deep clean/organization session.   In theory I would do this anyway, but in practice it doesn’t get done unless I plan for it.

Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha

The Simple Woman’s Daybook – August 25, 2008

he Simple Woman’s Daybook
is hosted by Peggy at the Simple Woman.
Thank you Peggy.

FOR TODAY : August 25, 2008
A bit of rain, a little cooler, summer seems to be giving up on us.  

Outside My Window… There are gray clouds outside.  The apple tree is still heavy with fruit.  The recent rains have watered the lawn and it is starting to green up a bit.  My rosemary has hit a growing streak and I can see the tips of new growth over my window sill.
I am thinking…  This week I am working on so many things it is hard to keep everything straight.
I am thankful for…  My dad and brother getting back from their race car thing safely.
From the kitchen… I have my coffee this morning.  Tonight we are having homemade mac and cheese which will make the children wildly happy. 
I am wearing…  a pink sweater and brown capris.  
I am creating…  This isn’t a creating week, this week is a week to gather all my loose ends and then head out for the cabin.
I am going…  To the Cabin this weekend with the children. 
I am reading…  In Defense of Food. 
I am hoping…  That I get those things I need to get done taken care of.
I am hearing…  A bit of early morning traffic, one lone song bird.   
Around the house…  I need to get the packing done for the cabin.  I am working on week two of my Holiday Grand Plan thing.  
One of my favorite things…  The rich smokey smell when the neighbor is curring salmon.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Lots of cleaning and packing, getting ready for our Cabin trip.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

Autism · Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · My world

Fun with user’s questions.

Every so often I like to go through the searches that bring people to my little corner of the web and see just what people were looking for when the stumble in here.  Which inevitably yields a fine selection of “Questions people weren’t afraid to ask but probably didn’t find an answer for.”  at least not here.  So, being me, I will attempt to fill in the gaps.

How do you teach autistic children about the Sacrament of Communion?   I think a lot depends on the level of the child.  Some autistic individuals are more capable of abstract thinking than others.  But that can be said about normal children at that age as well.  Here is the real kicker, I honestly don’t think the Eucharist as it is, that being the blood and flesh of God, can actually be explained to anyone.  It is something that the Holy Spirit testifies to, it is a matter of miraculousfaith, it isn’t something teachable by human means.

So, I would say if you are trying to teach the truthfulness of the Sacrament, don’t,  just pray for the Spirit of God to teach that thing that defies all human understanding.  Your example of faithful life probably teaches best.  When you attend mass be sure that you are focusing on the sacrament, receive reverently, pray afterward in thanksgiving, talk about how much it means to you personally.  You can use picture stories or social stories, you can use picture books, you can use words and lessons depending on the mental and verbal understanding of the communicant but for the them to understand the miracle that is the Eucharist is going to take and act of God (but it does for all of us, so trust Him in this).

If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on autism and the sacrament of communion you can read them here.  There I have some more nitty-gritty, how to make it actually work, sorts of advice.

Where do you find (inexpensive) white dishes?  I really like white dishes.  My new favorite place to shop is Ikea.  They have white dishes in their catalogue.  I think these are beautiful and plan on giving them a try very soon. 

When does Advent 2008 start?   This year the first Sunday of Advent is November 30.   I am hopeful that I will have most of my Holiday preparations done before the beginning of Advent this year so that I can focus more clearly on the family, spiritual and faith aspects of the Advent and Christmas season without the clutter of culture, consumerism and materialism clogging up my life.

What is Catholic Homemaking?  Homemaking when a Catholic chick is the one doing it?   Ok, for another not quite so tonguein check answer: There are some things that  mark Catholic homes.  No, I am not talking about plastic statues of Mary or St Francis in the yard, though that can be part of it.  What marks all that Catholic homes I am blessed to be surrounded with is a sense of the flow of the liturgical year.  There is also a sense of being just a tad counter cultural.   I know when I am looking to see if I am in the right place for an activity with my homeschool group all I need to lookfor is the club vans with the pro-life stickers on the bumpers.  We are a group of mostly big families, five or six being average.  It is the sort of group where, when the woman with seven kids announces that number eight is on the way everyone is honestly happy and no one makes snide comments or asks “how will the older kids feel about ANOTHER one?” because the older kids are all bragging about having another one to their friends.  We tend to be somewhat kids centric, rather eccentric and just a touch touched in the head compared to the rest of the world. 

Who is Carol Race?  Carol is a mom in Bertha, Minn.  Her son Adam is autistic and the parish of St Joeseph took a restraining order out to keep the family from bringing Adam to mass.  In response to that Carol started a website called Project: Adam’s Pew.  I like Carol.  I have spoken to her several times and she is really a delightful person to talk to.   I don’t completely agree with everything she has said or done in this situation, but I do like her and I understand that she is trying to be the best mom and advocate for her son that she can be.  This is one of those cases where what is read in the media is just a tiny slice of the whole story.  The Oregonian ran a piece on this on August 14th and the comments that the paper ran a few days later displayed the predicatable gross bigotry to the Catholic Church that these kinds of stories bring out.  Bad, bad evil priest, poor innocent little boy being kicked out, WWJD and not so vague hopes that the priest rot in hell.    If you want to read my previous thoughts on this story you can check them out on the sidebar under autism

What are the lyrics to “Things you don’t say to your wife”?  A lot of people seem to be looking for the lyrics to this funny song so I went ahead and transcribed them:

 Hey honey have you gained some weight in your rear end?
The dress you wear reminds me of my old girl friend
And where’d you get those shoes I think they’re pretty lame?
Would you stop talking ’cause I’m trying to watch the game?

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday;
I didn’t ask you but I knew it’d be ok.
Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show.
I taped it over our old wedding video.

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

Your cooking is ok but not like mother makes.
The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake.
Your eyes look puffy, dear, are you feeling ill?
Happy anniversary I bought you a treadmill.

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

If you’re a man who doesn’t want
to get killed with a knife
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

So, that is it for this round of answering those pressing questions that readers ask on their way to Simply Catholic.

Catholic homemaking · Catholic Homeschooling · Christmas · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week One.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

Week One
It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner.  It is also a busy time for moms.  School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat. 

Cleaning:  The front porch is the space on the agenda this week.    While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance.  The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start. 

Planning:  I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner.  This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists.  I have the following that I am making:

Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.

The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.

I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already.   Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.


The Simple Woman’s Daybook – August 18, 2008

he Simple Woman’s Daybook
is hosted by Peggy at the Simple Woman.
Thank you Peggy.

FOR TODAY : August 18, 2008
Thunder and lightening and a whole bunch of running around today.  

Outside My Window… A light shower, thunder and lightening.  A wonderful break from the oppressive heat we have been experiencing.
I am thinking…  Today I am starting the Holiday Grand Plan, tweaked for those of us who do Advent.  I will be posting on this later today.
I am thankful for…  My 16 year old who has been a really big help this summer.
From the kitchen… I have my coffee this morning.  If the weather stays cooler I will bake some break this afternoon. 
I am wearing… My PJs.  
I am creating…  A new website.
I am going…  To take my mother to have cataract surgery this morning.
I am reading…  A Mother’s Rule of Life. 
I am hoping…  That everything goes well with mom, that the weather stays cool and that the next few days go quickly.
I am hearing… Not the stupid crow.  It must not like thunder.   
Around the house…  I planted two new hanging baskets this weekend.  I am working on the front porch this week.  I miss my husband, he is traveling on business. 
One of my favorite things…  The smell of rain on hot dry ground.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Lots of cleaning and planting and getting ready for the end of summer.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

Blogs I Know · Catholic stuff · My world

The love that lasts

Years ago I sat in my grandparent’s kitchen, my grandmother was washing dishes when my grandfather came into the room.  He walked up behind her and gave her a hug “My little bride” he said lovingly, with a big grin on his face.  I knew then and there that was what I wanted – a love that would last. 

My grandparents didn’t have a perfect life, they had sickness and health, good times and very, very bad times.  They had seen war, grief, betrayal, hope, love and everything in between.  But they had each other for better or worse and they made it through.  For over 50 years they lived together.  It wouldn’t be more than a year after that little scene in the kitchen that my grandfather would pass away and my own marriage imploded and ended in divorce.  That was almost 15 years ago.  Today  I am happily married to a great guy who loves me and who I love very much.  We have been married for almost eight years.  I can’t help but wish that my grandfather had lived to see it.

There was more to my grandparent’s relationship than just a warm romance.  There was a deep commitment.  The summer before my grandfather died he and I sat in his truck while he messed with the something while listening to the radio.  There were a good number of people visiting and my grandmother has never been known as one who manages stress very well.  “You are hiding” I accused him when I managed to slip away from the house to go find some place quiet. 

“Yeah, but you know, that woman has given me a lot of fine years.”  Grandpa and my conversations were most commonly like that.  One of us would say almost nothing and the other would comment as though a whole paragraph had been spoken.   Yes, he was hiding because grandma would start picking up little things to be upset over and she would find a laundry list of things that he had to do right away if she could see what he wasn’t doing.  And it bothered him, and he hated to see it and it had been getting worse with time.  Dementia  was slowly setting in and brought out most fervently during stress.  And he was worried about her and he was a man with a great deal of honor and deep sense of duty.  He had made a vow for better or worse, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t escape to the truck for a little while now and again. 

Love like that isn’t the fruit of some chemical attraction.  It isn’t based on the other person being “the one” or “right for me” or “making me happy.”  Love that lasts that long even through bad times is something that requires commitment and work and at many times a sense of selflessness.  I was reading earlier today this homily From Deacon Greg over at the Anchoress.

I appreciate the take they both have about the importance of love, perseverance and constancy.  Our devotion to love.  I have read a good deal this year on life being looked at from a “utilitarian” view and how dehumanising and therefore dangerous it is.

There was a time in my life where I viewed life’s value as having a great deal to do with one’s intellectual capabilities.  This changed as I aged and most profoundly changed as I came to terms with my own daughter’s disability.  It becomes almost a cautionary tale.  Any of us at any moment could fall victim to an accident or illness and be the one without the ability to contribute to society in a utilitarian sense.