Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monthly Wrap Up :: January



Oh my goodness! It's been an ever moving month. Is it really already 1/12 of a way through 2013!?! I am just now remembering to write 2013 every time I write down the date. We started off New Years in VA, traveled again to DC for the March for Life, contracted one illness, braved some bitter cold to be found in Northern NY, celebrated two birthdays (LegenDaddy + Blaise), added several Feast Days to our annual calendar of observations, and all around started 2013 off with a bang.


From Our Bookshelf




Railroad Hank by Lisa Moser and illustrated by Benji Davies


I think this is probably our most frequently read book from January. A silly tale of a very confused railroad driver, who is trying to cheer up Grandma Bett, but who doesn't really understand that you don't have to take the whole kit and caboodle. Instead of bringing milk along to make Grandma happier, he instead loads up the cows onto his train. A fun story encouraging kindness and looking out for others.





The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and illustrated by Joe Bluhm

I'd seen this book several times at the library before I decided to go ahead and check it out. The art is what truly fascinated me, and from the title, I assumed (rightly so) for it to be a somewhat fantastical book. The story tells of Morris Lessmore, of course, and of his journey in writing his life tale. He becomes friends with books, and when it is time for his story to end, the new story that he has written with his life reaches out to a little girl in order to guide her through the magical world of books. Dom was thoroughly entertained by this one, and I was impressed with the new-ness of the story. It's much different than most children's stories, and it encourages more reading, which is never a bad thing. 






The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

This one is a rediscovered classic for us. I found a used giant board book copy and purchased it for B for his birthday. It's been so fun to have him learn to follow the raised spider web throughout each page as well as to point out the spider and fly that reoccur. A perfect toddler book to introduce animal sounds with Eric Carle's ever lovable art.





My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell

My husband purchased this book for me as a birthday present after hearing the author speak on EWTN, and the idea of Catholic feminism combined with a spiritual relationship of the saints who have gone before us reminded him of things I'd said over this past year. He was perfectly right, and it was a brilliant personal memoir of Colleen's life as she journeyed through life's ups and downs: shaking herself from the meaninglessness of a shallow college lifestyle, meeting her husband, standing alongside her father as he battled illness, and struggling herself with infertility. While learning Colleen's story, you also are introduced to her "sisters," 6 woman saints who helped her through stages in her life. These saints include: Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Faustina of Poland, Edith Stein of Germany, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Mary of Nazareth. Brilliantly written, this book definitely shares a part of Colleen's soul. I felt I was a part of her life and the added bonus of learning more about these strong women re-cemented in my mind and heart the importance of true womanly traits and the beauty of a courageous call to true feminism. 







In January, the Top Read Post of the Month was How to Help Comfort a Teething Baby, a post from July 2012








The Top New Read Post of the Month was Liquid Laundry Soap :: DIY.





I'd love to hear what you are interested in reading about... more Green Living? More DIY/How to? More Reading and books? More Mama stuff? Let me know! I am revamping several things on TwoOsPlusMore, so look for changes in the month to come. My goal is to have a completely new look by March. 



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This post Monthly Wrap Up :: January first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 31 January 2013

Little HolyDays :: Candlemas + St. Blaise's Day

Both Candlemas and St. Blaise's Feast Day are to be celebrated this weekend! The former I'd never heard of until recently, so this is our first time celebrating it. As our B-boy is named for the latter, we will also be honoring that day as well. Candlemas is the 2nd, but as we will better be able to celebrate both days on Sunday afternoon, I am rolling it all into one grand luncheon celebration on Sunday after mass.


Image source: Wikipedia

Candlemas marks 40 days after Christmas, signifying the purification of the Blessed Mother, and the Presentation of Christ in the temple. Also, not to be forgotten, Anna, the widow, who had spent years praying in the temple, and Simeon, who only wished to see His Messiah before he died, are to be honored on this day. Simeon's reference to Jesus as "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" is where the importance of candles and light plays into this Feast. You can read more of the details of the story (as we shall while enjoying our mini lunch feast on Sunday) in Luke 2:22-40.

Image source: Illegiterati blog

St. Blaise, both a physician and a Bishop of Sebastea, was born in Armenia and lived in the 3rd and 4th century. He is most well known for his association with diseases of the throat. On St. Blaise's day, throughout the world, many come to the Church for a blessing of their throat. This connection came about from a story that happened as Blaise was being led to prison for his Christian beliefs. A mother sent her son, who was choking on a fish bone, to Blaise, and as soon as the boy came near Blaise, he miraculously was healed. St. Blaise died a martyr's death in 316, and has been honored as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints for whose intercession is pleaded in cases of specific diseases.


Our Luncheon/Tea to honor both these days will include:

Tea
Water :: to signify the Purification of the Virgin Mary
Candlemas Crepes (recipe from Catholic Cuisine) - we'll see if I'm feeling adventurous!
Pretzels :: representing arms crossed in prayer for Simeon
Olives stuffed with cream cheese :: black for Anna's status as a widow, and white for the purity of her soul
St. Blaises Cookies :: a variations of this recipe
Dove shaped sandwiches :: not sure what filling I'll use, but I will cut out said sandwiches with whatever bird shaped cookie cutter I can find in our collection
Fruit :: to round out the meal


Also, I hope to make this creative candle craft found over at JOYfilled Family either on Sunday, or if I'm running behind, maybe Monday with Dom.




I'd like to thank Cottage Blessings and Shower of Roses for their lovely inspiration behind this post. Please check out these links to see how they celebrate Candlemas!


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little HolyDays :: Feast of St. Brigid

February 1st is the day set aside to honor St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland. Anything and everything Irish holds a special place in my heart, so this was one of the saints' feast days I really wanted to celebrate this year.



St. Brigid, who was the daughter of an Irish chieftain and a slave within his court, was devout from a young age. Turning away offers of marriage, she instead took the veil at a young age and became one of the early evangelizers of Ireland alongside St. Patrick.

Brigid was known from a young age as being generous, and many stories are told of miracles performed by her. One tale says that she gave away all her mother's store of butter, only to find it replenished the next morning in an answer to her prayers. During her lifetime she founded several monasteries of nuns as well as schools. Although many of the stories of Brigid are somewhat fantastical, she was most definitely a holy woman devoted to God and the Church.


To celebrate St. Brigid's feast day on the 1st, we will be:

  • Preparing a dinner feast of a vegetarian (it is 1st Friday, after all) stew, with potatoes, of course, and maybe some Guinness thrown in for good luck; Irish soda bread; and beer for the grown-ups
  • Making some butter in glass jars with heavy cream, marbles, and a whole lotta shaking in honor of the miracle of Brigid's butter that was replaced
  • Coloring in this lovely sheet offered by Tired Twang
  • Wrangling a copy of Brigid's Cloak by Bryce Milligan + illustrated by Helen Cann from our local library
  • Possibly attempting to create a St. Brigid's Cross (I feel I'll be doing most of the work for the viewing of the boys, but this is a great activity for older kiddos)


Prayer to Saint Brigid
Image source: Wikipedia
Saint Brigid
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Amen

Special Blessings on your St. Brigid's Day! How will you be celebrating? 



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This post Little HolyDays :: Feast of St. Brigid first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 30 January 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Healthy Blueberry Smoothie



Smoothies are the perfect way to "hide" healthy things while providing a treat for little ones. Everybody in my house enjoys smoothies, and taking a total of maybe 5 minutes to assemble and blend, they make a fantastic snack or after meal treat.

Here's our most recent favorite combo!

In a cup, place:
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 TB ground flax seed
1/2 medium banana
a handful of frozen blueberries (12-20 berries)
a drop of honey or agave (optional)

Using a stick blender, blend well!

*If you're using a regular blender, I suggest putting the ingredients into the blender in the opposite order, so the blueberries are closer to the blade.

Makes approximately 4 servings - 1/2 each

Other additions to try: sliced almonds, coconut or almond milk in place of half the milk, strawberries or other berries

What are your favorite additions to smoothies?





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This post Super Healthy Blueberry Smoothie first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 29 January 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Little HolyDays :: Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas



This coming Monday, January 28th, we will celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, an philosopher and theologian with a great influence on not only the Church, but the greater secular world as well. He was a Dominican priest and is one of the 35 Doctors of the church. For our family, he holds great significance because, not only is he one of my husband's favorite saints, but he also is the Name Saint for Blaise, whose middle name is Aquinas.

In the celebration of each of the Saints for whom we were named as part of our spiritual disciplines this year, St. Thomas Aquinas will be the first in this calendar year to be honored in this way. I had to search around for some ideas of ways to celebrate such a learned man. I think our kiddos are still quite a bit young to be listening (or rather understanding) readings of the Summa Theologica though that may become part of our traditions in years to come. Who knows?

For now, we will be celebrating in a simple way by making cutout cookies. I found this suggestion over at Catholic Cuisine (which by the way is a fantastic site if ever you are lost in how to celebrate a feast day!). One of St. Thomas' symbols is the star, which we happen to have 3 different sizes of in our cookie cutter collection. We might even get fancy and attempt yellow frosting. There is also a lovely prayer included with the cookie suggestion via the link above, which I highly suggest you pray even if you do nothing else.

We'll also be reading aloud about St. Thomas Aquinas' life from our Loyola Kids Book of Saints. This book has been a wonderfully (and dare I say, easy?) way to introduce my boys to the lives of the Saints. We can easily read of a Saint's life over breakfast, with each story being 3-4 pages long. For older kids, there are virtues to be drawn from the stories and questions to bring about further discussion. We're not quite at that point yet, but I do have Dom asking already if "maybe we could read about another of those saints" while he sits and eats. Definitely a great investment!

In closing, here is one of my favorite prayers and a favorite quote from this powerful and brilliant man of God:

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.”
                                                                              ― St. Thomas Aquinas

“Obedience unites us so closely to God that it in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His.
If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.”
                                                                              ― St. Thomas Aquinas


For a more comical approach to this day, here's the Top 10 ways to celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas' feast day I found at another blog. I thought it humorous and figured I'd share.

(Image from Wikipedia)


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This post Little HolyDays :: Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 23 January 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekly Capture XXXVII

At Lollypop Farm on B's birthday


Hmmm, I think these Roman Numerals are going beyond me now. When I started these Weekly Captures nearly a year ago, I honestly did not think my posting of randomness on my blog would actually become habitual. Perhaps it is these mini recaps that I attempt to write weekly that have led to me being a more consistent, faithful writer. Who knows? If it works, though, by all means I shall continue to attempt to discipline myself in this way.

This week was busy for us. Is it ever not? We all had bouts of feeling under the weather, with none of us being truly sick. Instead it was a mix of teething, back spasms, and asthma that caught up with most of us. Blaise's 1st birthday was the highlight of the week for sure. Our little one has been such a joy and it was great being to celebrate our first year of having him be a part of our lives.

As I'm never quite sure how to celebrate so small a person's day, we decided to visit a local farm that takes in abandoned and abused animals. B is a huge fan of all farm animals, from what we can tell thanks to many books, toys, magnets, and such. The weather was chilly, so the ground had once again frozen over, but there was no snow on the ground (yet), so it seemed the perfect opportunity. And it was.

In other news, we're cuddling up for another dumping of snow. It's supposed to snow the majority of the days in the next week. David's over halfway through another grad class (only one more class to go at this point!). We're gearing up for lots of pro-life events and prayer vigils culminating in the March for Life in DC next week. Still trying to get all in order for that, but I'm excited to be teaching my children what it means to stand up for what they believe in.


A mama + Dom date last weekend at a local coffeeshop.

Dom-isms
Me: "Dom, it's not the end of the world."
Dom (singing): "It's the end of the world as we know it..."

Overheard
"The bartender gave me this candy."
Um, ok, son.


Happy boy decimates his birthday cupcake.

Updates on the Blaise-meister
Just got back from his 1 year check up and he's well ahead of most of the curves, not surprisingly. He's about the same weight now that his brother was at 6 months. Mama's back says 'thank you, son' for not growing as quickly. We're up to 5 teeth - they seem to be coming in at a faster rate now. And "no" is now his top word next to Mama/Dada. With Dom we held off him learning "no" for so much longer. I guess when you're child #2 (and so forth down the line), it's harder to keep that word unlearned. I'm waiting on walking to be any week now. It's a delight to see him going through each step of learning and growing even though I've already seen it once before.

Watching
Downton Abbey, Season 3, of course! I've finagled the husband to join me for weekly Monday viewings as we're not hip and have no TV channels to speak of, so we must wait for it to be loaded online 1 day after everyone else sees it. Actually there's not too much finagling since he enjoys it, too, though probably not as much as I.

Reading
Just finished up Last Lessons of Summer last night. A good read if you're into mysteries. G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy arrived on my doorstep this week, so hopefully I'll delve into that one soon. It's one of my To Read's on this year's list.

Links I've enjoyed
How My Kids Didn't Ruin Mass :: Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas Haley always has such great insight into parenting moments, and this one is probably my favorite article on those moments that we sometimes wish we could avoid. What a refreshing view on how children aren't an inconvenience by gifts of grace.
Praying as a Couple :: by Simcha Fischer for NC Register A lovely article focussing on the importance of prayer in a marriage as well as some ideas for when and how to pray.
Morning Sickness: A Case for Protein :: Modern Alternative Pregnancy I'm putting this one in the archives for my next pregnancy. I've had such horrible morning sickness with both my babies that I'm prepared to try pretty much everything next round!


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This post Weekly Capture XXXVII first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 18 January 2013



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to My Little B!

O little B man. How quickly this first year of your life has gone! It seems like much more than a year ago, yet somehow not quite that we were in the midst of this craziness (i.e. your birth story). Your brother's 1st year went fast, but I already feel like time is moving quicker, and yours was somehow quicker. How did you go from this tiny sweetness:






To this confident little bugger?




You took your sweet time getting into this world (Mr. 11 days late!), and ever since life has gone at a steady pace for you. You are such a calm, peaceful soul, and as long as you can cuddle with me, you are assured that all is well. Little man, whom your brother has termed "B," your curiosity and love for detail is already apparent as your chubby little hands attempt to feel out where each screw indents in every toy in our house. Or as you sit reading book after book after book. You already are poring over the page - how excited I am to share many storybook adventures with you as you grow!

God knew I needed a restful little person after the first two years of parenting. You definitely are a sweet and quiet rest after the joyful noise that is your brother. You have gleefully glided through each stage this year. The smiles and giggles that come out of you make our whole house excited. We love your dancing bounciness that always appears when you hear music and sometimes even when the only song must be in your head.

Through your quiet spirit, there is also a quiet bit of determination that shows itself more and more. Already, even in these early months, you've shown your will of iron at times. Be careful, little one, that is a blessing in disguise. You will have to learn to use it for good rather than evil, and when it is submitted to Our Lord, it can be used for amazing things. Remember that. 

This mama has loved getting to know you outside the womb. I love watching the sweet peeks that only I am privy to of your middle of the night stretches with your arms folded behind your head or the excitement you show in your whole little body when we go in together to wake up your brother from his naps. It's a beautiful thing to watch you love on each of us and to be on the receiving end of your love, my son. From the head bonks to the kisses that sometimes end up as "chew on my face" sessions to the hugs you're ever so ready to share, complete with a pat on the back. You are one loving little person.

I look forward to every moment and adventure we will have with you in the years to come. And I am ever thankful for each moment you have graced my life thus far. You are a miracle and a blessing to this family, my little one. May you grow up to be a Saint!


Love you,

Your mama



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This post Happy Birthday to My Little B! first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 January 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Books Read in '12 + Book List for '13

*Eeeks! Totally just deleted about two hours worth of thought out comments and reviews of each book. you'll have to forgive me as I rapidly attempt to recreate the post I'd originally put all that heart into. To warn you - this one will probably lack in some of the earlier awesome and much of the earlier length.*

Inspired by Haley's list of her Books Read in 2012 (she and I have quite a few in common as you'll notice), I have spent this past week thinking out my game plan for this next year. Rather late, I admit, but better late than never! I did read a fair amount in 2012, but several books I'd hoped to start, I completely overlooked. In attempts to actually get them off the shelf and into my hands, I figured I'd write up a list. Because, as we know, I love writing lists. I do love checking them off as well, but I definitely love writing them. You could say I'm a compulsive list maker.




I would like to thank Haley, not only for her inspiration to begin yet another list, but more especially for several of these books that she had recommended on her site. What wonderful finds they were!

So, first off, here are some of the books I read in 2012. I shall not bore you with everything I read, rather just those I enjoyed. You'll also notice I read quite a few series, trilogies, and such because that's how I roll. I also read many a mystery (not listed here) in attempts to find one that had some likeness to Ms. Christie, but alas, that was not to be.


Harry Potter (Books 1-7) by J. K. Rowling - A HP nerd I have become. Despite my thinking for the past decade or so that these books might be evil, I completely fell in love with the story of Harry as he makes his way through his school years at Hogswart. If like me you have never read these books and are aways behind the times, I thoroughly encourage you to pick them up and give them I try. Loyalty, perseverance, friendship, and selfless love show themselves again and again as the characters prevail to triumph over the darkness. Due to the dark magic throughout, I wouldn't say I could recommend them for anyone not of high school age yet.

Kristin Lavransdatter: The WreathThe Wife, and The Cross 
- A new favorite that now just has to be added to my ever growing library as these are books I am sure will be re-read at least once in the years to come. Family and Faith are intertwined as important strands in the cord of Kristin's life. Her strong will and fierce protector spirit causes her to make some choices that prove to be more difficult than she bargained for. The books tell of her entire life from childhood, through until her death, from her relationship in submission under her father, to her passionate courtship and marriage to an equally obstinate man, to her mothering of many sons. Set in fourteenth century Norway, the difficult social and political scenes intertwine with the personal story of Kristin and her family. If you've never read this one (or never heard of it, as I hadn't until I read about it on Haley's blog), I highly recommend this be very near the top of your list for this year.

Stealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery by Carson Morton - Rarely do I recommend a mystery just because often I think they are too similar to others I've read, but this one stood out as different since instead of a murder or a theft, it tells of a detailed con job that has surprising twists for the reader throughout. Set in Paris in the early 20th century, it is based off the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre that happened in 1911. An enjoyable read if you enjoy a good mystery.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James - Another noteworthy mystery read was this one that combined one of my favorite mystery authors with the scene and characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Frightfully well done in that the writing style imitated that of Ms. Austen's well, and in that the story was believable on the whole for those of us who know the personalities of the original book's characters. I can't say I loved it, but entertaining, it was.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boyon Gardam Street, and at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall - Another favorite that is to be added to my "Cannot wait to read to my kiddos" list (told you I was a compulsive list-writer). Four motherless sisters set out on all kinds of adventures. They are not afraid of a little dirt and are much closer to how I hope my daughters (if I, God willing, ever have any) will turn out to be. Their life ambitions book on their talents and their minds rather than their looks. A very fun book series that I encourage you to check out for yourself.


The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Another entertaining one for those times when you find yourself stuck nursing often or waiting in the car to pick up a child from something or other. I read a review that compared it to To Kill a Mockingbird, and I think that review was ridiculous. The book, set in the 1960s in the South, tells of one woman's plan to give the African American help their own voice in a society where they were boxed inside of a set of rules and boundaries. Not a classic, but it was fun,  informative, and entertaining.




And thus far, the books on 2013's 'To Read' list are:

1. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton


2. The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion by Peter Kreeft


3. Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Scott Hahn


4. New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

5. Lilith by George MacDonald




What books do you plan to read in 2013? Did you read any in 2012 that I should add to my list? I am always on the lookout for new titles to discover, so please share!



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This post Books Read in 2012 + Book List for 2013 first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 14 January 2013
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