Family Centered Home

Inside there are rainbows

It seems that this will be the winter to measure all other winters by.  We had about three feet of snow on the ground last night before we tucked up in bed.  By the time my eyes opened this morning, there was already another 2 inches of fresh snow.  The forecast is for up to 20 inches of snow over the course of the next couple of days.  We may also get a layer of ice over that.  That should make for some beautiful photographs once the sun shows its face again.

While winter blankets all things outdoors, we’re snugged up in the house.  Inside there are rainbows.

You can make your own using the instructions in Feltcraft and some beautifully coloured wool felt.

Family Centered Friday

Something new for our family.  I have loved participating in Amanda’s {this moment}, so much so that I found I wanted to share more.  I will continue to participate in Amanda’s weekly offering of special memories.  In addition to sharing a special moment (or moments) from the previous week, I’d like to also share our plans for the weekend, or the coming week. It’s evolving.  Once I’ve got it all worked out, maybe you’ll want to share your Family Centered Friday thoughts with us and our readers, too.  For now, here are a couple of pictures from our week::


Josie gets a smooch from big brother Louis.

This weekend Brian and I will be attending the NOFA Mass Winter Conference for a little inspiration as we wait for the State to issue their final approval on the farm.  And there is sure to be LOTS of time spent in the newly fallen snow in the yard – snowfamilies, forts, and who-knows-what other creations.  And playing in the snow always means hot cocoa on the stove.  Here’s our recipe::

  • 1 c. good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 c. organic sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 c. boiling water
  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • Combine cocoa powder, sugar and salt and pour into a very large heavy-bottomed pot.  Add boiling water and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time.  Heat through, add vanilla.  Serve in special mugs and pass the marshmallows!

**you can substitute orange or mint extracts, or drop in a cinnamon stick for a change of flavour.  Or add a little peppermint schnapps or coffee liqueur for a grown-up treat!**

Have a beautiful weekend with your precious family!

We’re Christmas-ing

… We can dream, and in our dreams, we’re Christmasing with you

It’s December 23rd. Our house is all of a-flutter with activity.  The living room is being sorted and packed away to our storage facility to make room for our Christmas tree.  Once it is chosen and brought home, it will be duly named, as has been our tradition for many, many years.  Corn will be popped for strings, paper cut for chains.  Tomorrow the tree will be strung with lights and garlands, and hung with handmade ornaments.  Around the base, we will place the beautiful hand-quilted skirt made lovingly by Brian’s mom.

Today, each of us is busy putting last minute touches to handmade gifts and planning our cooking schedule for tomorrow.  It will be – as always – a very busy day.  We’ll be making recipes ahead, baking cherry crisp and egg nog cake (invented by my dear sweet friend, Jennifer).  I’ll go and collect Catherine from her job in the afternoon and we’ll make our annual trip to the local NICU to drop off hand-made (and blessed by our priest) hats and blankets for the babies there.  We’ll stop for our traditional supper at Burger King (I know, I know but it’s only once a year).

After more decorating and naps all around, we’ll bathe small children and clothe their sweet little selves in their Christmas finery.  At the hour they would normally be toddling off to bed, we’ll pile into the van and drive the 10 minutes to church.  What a treat it is for the children to be up so late!  We are all anticipating the magic of the sanctuary filled with beautiful light, the creche awaiting the Christ child, the choral prelude to Mass, and the sweet Holy Family Tableau.  But more than that, we will look forward to singing Happy Birthday to Our Lord and visiting friends after Mass in what is truly our family’s home.

We will miss the physical presence of friends who have gone home to Heaven.  We know that they will be celebrating with us at that Great Moment in the Mass when the veil between Heaven and earth is drawn back and we are all together, giving thanks and praise.  We will also be missing those of our friends who are not well enough to be in attendance.  One of the special charms of visiting after the Mass is seeing the delight on the face of our senior priest as he greets his spiritual children, young and old.  Despite the late hour, and perhaps also his own fatigue, he is ever the cheerful and enthusiastic patriarch, shaking hands, receiving hugs, and commenting with loving care on how lovely the children all look.  His recovery from a recently broken hip is not likely to sink his spirits, but may prevent him from presiding over his family after the Mass this year.

Especially in our hearts are those who are ill, unemployed, underemployed, and the families of troops deployed overseas.

So while we’re bustling away, know, dear readers, that our family will be whispering a prayer that your family is abundantly blessed with peace, joy, and love in the coming year.

{this moment}

Tea time for James

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ at SouleMama for all to find and see.

St. Lucia Day

Saffron buns and hot coffee before dawn. Every 13th of December.  Except this one.  Our family has found itself busier than ever this year.  Our adult daughter is working, we have a new baby, three preschoolers, three “schoolers”, and Brian and I working, planning, and studying.  I nearly forgot altogether until Brian’s cell phone rang at the book store.  It was our oldest daughter Cat, asking to speak to me.


“Yeeees?” I replied while not-so-deftly transferring a huge pile of books to a convenient shelf.

“Did you want me to make the Lucy buns tonight?”

Panic shot through my body like a jolt of electricity. How on earth did I manage to forget?  I mean, this is our *big deal* Advent celebration.  Sheesh!  I hadn’t made the wreath for Cat to wear (probably her last year as Lucy), I hadn’t made more star boy hats for the boys.  A million self-abusive thoughts ran through my mind in a nanosecond.  What a terrible mother!  I’m supposed to be making memories for my children, upholding traditions…  I wonder now what my face looked like.

Then suddenly a moment of inspiration and calm came over me (Sweet Guardian Angel, my thanks).

“No,” I told Cat. “We’ll do them tomorrow and have them for snack instead”

“OK” she replied.  And after a few more pleasantries, she rang off.

I had come, mercifully, to the conclusion that it didn’t matter what time of day we had our Lucy buns; that adhering slavishly to tradition was pointless if it meant putting undue strain on myself, my husband, my children.  And it occurred to me that making the buns together with the little children would change things up a bit, and make a lasting memory for all of us.

You might say a light dawned on me.  Thank you God for using St. Lucia’s feast day to illumen my heart and mind to the real reason we create and keep traditions, and directing my focus to the true Light.

If  you are interested in reading more about St. Lucia’s Day, please accept my gift of this article to you.

It includes a recipe for Lussekatter (Lucy buns) for you to try.  And don’t worry if you can’t make them today, make them anytime and enjoy them with your precious ones.

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