Monday, December 29, 2014

{Postcards} Scenes from Christmas Morning


Christmas day has come and gone.  I definitely failed in the "take lots of pictures" category (we haven't even take a picture, the three of us, together yet), but sometimes it's nice to step away from the lens and just be present in the gifts and the baking and excitement without worrying about getting the perfect shot to share here.

It was a lovely day.  It's been a lovely couple of days even though I went back to work on Saturday and Sunday.  That's one thing I do like about having a "Christmas Season" - I have four weeks to get everything in order and a week and a half to sit back and enjoy without worrying about getting things cleared up and put away.

We're stilling figure out how to extend our Christmas Season in a way that feels natural to us.  Better to let those things develop naturally.  We have gingerbread (ninja ones) men and birdfeeders to make.  Decorations to put up and Epiphany to celebrate, which we'll do slowly and in our own time.

I hope your Christmas Season (whenever it was) was a happy one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sitting with Each Other

Earlier this month I shared on the MMD Facebook page that I was starting out the Advent season a bit melancholy.  Most days are fine, but then others I feel the weight of our losses and fertility struggles a bit to keenly.

My friend Laura, from Mothering Spirit, wrote these words on the post:

"Maybe that is much of why we need Advent: to sit with each other in this darkest season of the year."

Within days of that post so many things happened: more losses, more bad news.  Yet, I couldn't help but think of Laura's words.  I have spent many of my Advent days away from here; sitting and waiting for others.

Sitting with Kathleen and Felix.

Sitting with Mary and Courtney.

Sitting with Jennifer and Cecilia.

Sitting with other friends and families whose stories and a struggles are more private.

Please friends know that we're sitting with you through your darkest season.

Monday, December 22, 2014

{Postcards} Advent 4

No postcards last week; way too busy at work.  But this week?  I'm off from Saturday until Friday!  And there's so much to do.

But, most importantly my Christmas present arrived!  My grandmother's piano is here and I've already been filling the house with sounds of it's out of tune glory (the tuning will be my birthday present in a month or two).

Almost as important, our firewood delivery came on Thursday!  What you see is about a quarter of it.  We've had a fire going most of the day for the last five days and barely made a dent in it.

Now to have some preschoolers over to decorate sugar cookies, a few last errands to run and the baking and cleaning!

Blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Favorites: Musical Tastes {Advent}

For most of my 30+ years on this planet I had no idea there was "Advent Music" that was separate from "Christmas Music".  Sad, but true.  Over the last few years I've been trying to find more music to play at home to get me in the Advent Spirit, as I already have my favorite Christmas tunes.  This year my options exploded with the discovery of religious music on Spotify (Not an affiliate with them, like it, use it, done.).  I'm also a religious music noob.  Anything that wasn't part of the Christian pop trend of the earlier 00's I'm woefully ignorant of.

To prove my point, I've messaged numerous friends over the last couple of weeks asking if I was going to get in some sort of trouble for listening to Gregorian chants or sung Advent Masses when I was doing laundry or the dishes.  "Is this kosher?!" was repeated more than once.

I still don't know too much, I don't know what's considered good or hokey in the grand scheme of things, but these are a few of the cd's I've been enjoying this year.

1. Veni Emmanuel

 2. Gregorian Christmas

 3. Sacrum Mysterium

 4. Carols from the Old and New Worlds

 5. Advent at Ephesus

Linking up with Call Her Happy

*pictures are Amazon Links, but you can listen to these on Spotify with some commercial interruptions in their entirety. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

{Postcards} St. Lucy

Sometimes on a Feast Day you have to be at work by 6:30.  So special breakfast treats happen at 4:30 in the afternoon right before the church clothes battle.  Still counts.

Kept it simple this year - cinnamon rolls from a tube braided into a crown and swirls.

If you have a point click over to this post for a little some extra you can do to make another families Christmas shine brights.

Be Strong and Take Heart

For those of you who follow me in person or via the blog on Twitter or Facebook you've probably seen me share about my friend Kathleen and her family this week.

For those who don't know, my dear blog friend Kathleen's new baby boy Felix was diagnosed with Severe Combine Immunodefiency.  It's a very serious disease which was caught early by screening.  Immediately upon receiving this news Felix was hospitalized, two hours away from his home to keep his very fragile immune system safe as he awaits the results (and hopefully a transplant) of their bone marrow scans.  A successful bone marrow transplant would essentially cure him.

Kathleen and her husband do not have to worry about the costs of the stay, but because she is a SAHM and her husband runs his own business they will essentially be without income for at least three months, but most likely six.  You can read more of her ups and down here on her blog.

There is a fundraiser that as of Friday night is already 70% funded.  It is my personal goal that this is funded 100% by Christmas Day so that they can spend Christmas free of at least one of their worries.

If you cannot currently donate financial the family welcomes any and all prayers.  Kathleen's faith has already been amazing so far, but there is a long road to go.

For my Catholic friends, family and readers I've felt specifically called to ask the Intercession of Our Lady of La Leche.  I would love it if you would join me in this prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Your tender Mother, Our Lady of La Leche, who bore You close to her heart during those long months before Your birth, I place Felix and the Quiring Family entirely in Your Hands. Free them, I beseech You, from useless and consuming worry. Accept the sacrifice of my aches and pains, which I unite to Your sufferings on the Cross. Above all, most merciful and loving Jesus, protect this child You have given to them from all harm, bestowing the health and vigor every baby needs. Implant in my heart and on my lips the words and prayers of Your Mother and mine, our Lovely Lady of La Leche. All this I ask that Felix may live to praise forever Your Holy Name. Amen.

For all of us I offer Psalm 31:24

Please share this post using the share buttons below - twitter, google plus, facebook, email.  Any financial help is greatly appreciated, but we also have complete faith that Faith and Prayer can move mountains.  At the moment our biggest prayer is to keep Felix safe from infections until a Bone Marrow match is made, ideally this will come from his immediate family.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Messy Grace.

"Grace is surprising by definition.  We do not earn it, we cannot control it, we will not tame it."

"Sacraments have their own rhythms that beckon us back.  Take and eat. Repent and forgive.  Bless and heal."

"And yet I do not believe this road ends anywhere else but the alter of unexpected suffering.  We lose control of our lives once a baby is placed in our arms, and we do not let go of love even when the pain is too great for us to bear."

"They sorrowed with me: it wasn't supposed to be like this.  They turned over my palms and smoothed a blessing into the creases of worry.  They lifted up my head from the ground of grief and spoke grace into my red-rimmed eyes.  Their words were oil and their hands were holy."

"When I remember that this calling is about sacrifice, then I unclench my frustration and soften into open palms.  When I remember that this sacrament teaches us to bend low in love and rise up together, then I turn back toward the spouse I've promised to honor.  When I remember that this marriage was never just about us, that we were never sent off alone to make this life a reality, then I welcome back the God who was here all along and ask for the help we need to love each other well."

"Yet without fail, the maddening days are also the ones when a tiny gem of a moment - a baby who smiles for the first time in the middle of bedtime bedlam, a toddler who blesses my door-slammed finger with a sloppy kiss, or a boy who throws his arms around his brother's neck in an unprompted hug - peels back the scales from my eyes.  I catch my breath in wonder at how good this parenting work can be, how full of astonishing beauty and joy.  My own cliches scramble to capture the truth already fleeting before my eyes - 
that God is here, that this is holy, that all is grace."

These quote were all taken from my friend Laura Kelly Fanucci's new book "Everyday Sacrament:  The Messy Grace of Parenting".  I knew this was going to be a special book when the item I fished out of my very messy purse for a bookmark was a St. Gerard "Prayer for Motherhood" prayer card lost deep in my purse.  Every section of her story rang true to some part of my life.  The love, the loss, the messy grace that is it all.  I think you would find just as much truth in this lovely collection.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

{Postcards} Advent 2

St. Nicholas came.  Cupcakes were made for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  A new friend courtesy of our holiday Thieves Market.  Camping out on the couch.  Finally found a decent pan to make beeswax ormaments in and relishing in Christmas lights and scents.  Turns out smell is a big thing to me - a berry spice and nordic pine candle burning at the same time make me so happy.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Saint-a Claus

We're gearing up for our third Saint Nicholas celebration on Saturday.  This is a new tradition for me and I've put way too much thought into the other Santa/Saint Nicholas idea over the past few years and of course I'm still not a pro and can't say with certainty how it will all play out.

Found at
How we handle Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas in our house is probably best described as a happy medium.  A little bit of this and that.  This is what we've been doing so far

  1. Place the Emphasis Always Back on Jesus - In our house, whether you get a gift from mom, grandpa, Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus it is explained that those gifts are because it's Jesus' Birthday and that we're celebrating our love for him and his love for us.  
  2. Saint Nicholas Comes to Remind Us of Jesus - Saint Nicholas brings his traditional gold chocolate coins and a Christmas book (and maybe a few Christmas activity books).  Ideally this Christmas book helps remind us of Number One on the list.
  3. Santa Claus Comes to Remind Us of Jesus - Starting last year Santa Claus brought a few treats and a little toy and set up our Nativity Scene in front of our stockings.  Ideally this also helps remind us of Number One on the list.
  4. No Denial, No Encouragement - Henry currently believes in Santa Claus.  He's watched a few movies with Santa Claus in them and seen a few books with Santa Claus as a character.  He's come to his own conclusion that he believes that he exists.  We don't rain on his imaginative parade, but neither do we actively encourage it.  I've asked him if he believes Santa is real, he says yes and I basically drop the subject.  I believe it's healthy to believe in things that aren't real as a young child.  I honestly believe it helps to stretch the mind for some of the bigger truths we need to accept later in life.  If, in a few years, he believes he might be able to find a passage to Narnia in the back of a closet or find a hobbit hole out in a field I'll treat it the same way.  I cherish the days where the possibility of Narnia or Middle Earth existing was real and I hope my children experience that same type of wonder even if it relates to Santa Claus (I think Mr. Chesterton sums up things nicely for me but I tried to hash things out a little while ago with Santa, Sherlock and the Scientific Method)
  5. Ideally - We're doing all of this with the goal that eventually (in a few more years) he'll figure things out for himself.  Both my husband and I had Santa figured out by around age 6 or 7 if memory serves.  Some kids do get really invested in this idea of Santa and if we get the feeling the "truth" will be hard for him we might break the news earlier rather than later - it's all about knowing your kid in the end.  But for now I'm hoping that when he figures things out for himself we can lean back on our traditions and teachings of Saint Nicholas and still enjoy the spirit of giving that Santa came from.  I hope we can encourage him to be "Santa" or "Saint Nicholas" to his parents, family, friends and strangers and how that it all comes back to Number One in the end.

A lot of what we do is what my friend Bonnie does, except for the whole Santa on Christmas Eve thing.  Honestly, we do this because it's what I grew up with and it feels strange not to do it and sometimes I think that you've got to go with those gut feelings as to what feels right.  I wanted to have something that was more close related to the faith side of things so we streamlined gift giving from the start and added Saint Nicholas Day while keeping some of the traditions that were still familiar to us from our childhoods.

In the end we're feeling pretty confident that if all we do during Christmas whether Saint Nick fills our shoes on the 6th or Santa sneaks down the chimney on the 24th that as long as it all relates back to Jesus we're on the right path.  I'm excited to see where our traditions lead.  This year in Santa will be bring something handmade (but not by me) and I'd love to see that continue even once Santa is known to be us - maybe we'll be Santa to each other and that special item that appears in our stocking Christmas morning will be something we made with our own hands (or found someone to make for us) - I'm feeling that would be a natural progression that I could get behind.  Who knows where it will go in the end, but I feel like we've laid a good groundwork for our family so far.*

*p.s. this is what works for my family.  Your family is it's own unique group of people - what works for us may not work for you and that's okay.

*p.p.s For us, a book and chocolate coins come from "Saint Nicholas", a gift or two and a few snacks come from "Santa", but any other gifts (the under the tree sort) come from Mom and Dad.  I hope that in the future we can bridge Santa Claus to Saint Nicholas by explaining that, like Saint Nicholas Mom and Dad don't need the credit for every nice thing we do and that we enjoyed "playing Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas" without getting the credit just like we do when we buy gifts and things for charity (which we already do with our son). with no recognition afterwards.
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