Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Traditions 2014

Christmas is just around the corner. Love love love it!

A few years ago I had one profound realization.
I was totally missing the whole point of Christmas!?!
It wasn't something I was consciously doing. 
It was just how things were.

Christmas is a time of caring and sharing.
Christmas is about family and friends.
Christmas is a time of merry making and good cheer.
Christmas is when I take a well deserved break.
Christmas is about Santa and the gifts on the sleigh.
Christmas is about the elf on the shelf.
And the list goes on and on

Don't get me wrong. Christmas is a season of celebration.
And, enjoy it we should!
Decorate your home
Cook up a feast 
Dress up for fun
Meet up with family and friends
Donate to others
But let's remember first and foremost,
Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ.

The 30th of November marks the 1st week of Advent.
Advent is a period of four weeks leading up to Christmas.
It's four weeks of preparing one's heart for the coming 
of the Lord.

I was hoping to have a nice and pretty Jesse Tree this year.
But let's not kid ourselves, I do not have time for extra prep work.
And to top it off our trusty printer seems to have conked out. Ugh!
I found a strip of craft paper and a broken toy part in the printer.
Hurray! Our printer still works!

Here are some simple Advent and Christmas activities for the family:

1. Scripture Reading
Sometime this year, the playgroup gave us a copy of the Jesus Storybook
Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible reads more like a book than a bible.
Our goal is to read one chapter a day starting on the 1st of December
and ending on Christmas day.
Jesus Storybook Bible Reading Plan
Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Calendar

2. The Christmas Novena
Sarah and Elizabeth are all excited for this Christmas novena.
I wanted to do something that will require me to pause daily.
At midnight.. In piercing cold are words that truly tug at my heart.
It chokes me up to think of any of my children being born
in such cruel and harsh conditions.
Poor baby Jesus. And heartbreaking for Mother Mary and St. Joseph.
Tug tug tug!
So yeah, maybe this will be a good novena for me to pray this year.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
* Pray 15x daily from the 30th of Nov until Christmas Day*

3. The O Antiphons
The O Antiphons are a seven day countdown to Christmas.
It celebrates seven Messianic titles of Jesus.
We pray it to remind ourselves and to invite the Lord to "Come"

4. Luke 2:1-20
Misty's home has this Advent tradition of reading Luke 2 daily.
Twice a day, the kids read Luke 2 with the intention of
memorizing the verses. In a few years, the kids will have
known the Birth of Jesus verses by heart. Sounds promising!

5. Christmas books and carols
So yeah, we've been reading Christmas themed books as
early as end October. I envy those moms who have enough
books for a proper Christmas book basket. Almost all our
Christmas books are borrowed from the library. We started
early as there is no way of knowing what will be available
in December.

Just about the same time, we started singing Christ-centered
Christmas Carols for bedtime.
M: Mama what does faithful mean?
Me: Why do you ask?
(All the while wondering why he was asking)
M: Because -- O come all ye faithful
Me: Oh, that means people who believe in God
(Whew, relieved that it did not involve anything "age appropriate")

6. Give up and Give more
Give up and Give more is an annual tradition in The Feast
that we attend. In a nutshell, sacrifice on a few simple
pleasures and donate the money to a worth cause.

At the barest level, give up some of your ME time and
pray more for/with someone who really needs it.

7. Go to Confession and Attend Mass
Attending mass is a basic thing for hubby and I. It's as basic as
eating and sleeping. It isn't something that I originally thought
of putting here. But maybe this is here for someone else???
Confession is something we try to do once a quarter.
I pray that availing of the sacraments is ingrained in the kids.
Something that is part and parcel of their lifelong relationship
with Christ. All with God's grace.

Some moms have wisely said that all you need are 1-3
Christmas traditions. Anything more is extra.

What traditions do you have in your family? What are your plans
for Christmas 2014? Til next time, stay blessed!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Novena of Surrender

The original text of the Novena of Surrender was taken from: 
Jesus, You take over! It is the prayer of Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo (servant 
of God) - written as though Jesus Himself is speaking to the reader. 

Beautiful words.

I chanced upon the Novena of Surrender by accident. Admittedly, 
there have been times when I've had need of prayers like these. 
Times when I've been tired, angry or frustrated. In such times
I try to say thank you to God for the challenges. They serve as good
reminders of who really is the Lord of my life. TRY is the word 
because it is oh so hard to do at the heat of the moment.

By His grace, life is all calm right now. I am at the moment recharging
the batteries. Our life will be very busy soon. The Novena of Surrender
is a gentle reminder that He takes care of everything.


Novena of Surrender

Day 1
Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care
of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you 
in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to me 
produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult 

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 2
Surrender to me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or 
to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to me a worried prayer 
asking me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. 
It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, 
to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences 
of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when 
they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try 
to take care of those needs for themselves so that their 
childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means 
to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts 
of tribulation and to put yourself in my care, so that only I act. 
Saying “You take care of it.”

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 3
How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and 
material need turns to me, looks at me and says to me; 
“You take care of it,” then close its eyes and rests. In pain 
you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. 
You do not turn to me, instead, you want me to adapt to your ideas. 
You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, 
but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to. 
So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the Our Father: 
“Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in my need. 
“Thy kingdom come”, that is, let all that is in us and in the world 
be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth 
as it is in Heaven”, that is, in our need, decide as you see fit 
for our temporal and eternal life.If you say to me truly: “Thy will 
be done”. Which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”. 
I will intervene with all my omnipotence, and I will resolve 
the most difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 4
You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry, 
Close your eyes and say to me with faith: “Thy will be done, 
You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, and that 
I will intervene as does a doctor and I will accomplish miracles 
when they are needed. Do you see that the sick person is 
getting worse? Do not be upset, but close your eyes and say 
“You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, 
and that there is no medicine more powerful than my 
loving intervention. By my love, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 5
And when I must lead you on a path different from the one 
you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will 
let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep 
in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. 
What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, 
your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal 
with what afflicts you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 6
You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, 
direct everything and see to everything and you surrender 
to human strength, or worse- to men themselves, trusting in 
their intervention,- this is what hinders my words and my views. 
Oh how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you 
and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries 
to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you 
from my protection and to throw you into the jaws of 
human initiative. So, trust only in me, rest in me, 
surrender to me in everything.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 7
I perform miracles in proportion to your full surrender to me 
and to your not thinking of yourselves. I sow treasure troves 
of graces when you are in the deepest poverty. No person 
of reason, no thinker, has ever performed miracles, not even 
among the saints. He does divine works whosoever surrenders 
to God. So don’t think about it any more, because you mind 
is acute and for you it is very hard to see evil and to trust in me 
and to not think of yourself. Do this for all your needs, do this 
all of you and you will see great continual silent miracles. 
I will take care of things, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 8
Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing 
current of my grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, 
turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would 
from temptation. Repose in me, believing in my goodness, and 
I promise you by my love that if you say “You take care of it.” 
I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and 
guide you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 9
Pray always in readiness to surrender, and you will receive 
from it great peace and great rewards, even when I confer 
on you the grace of immolation, of repentance and of love. 
Then what does suffering matter? It seems impossible to you? 
Close your eyes and say with all your soul, “Jesus, you take care 
of it.” Do not be afraid, I will take care of things and you will 
bless my name by humbling yourself. A thousand prayers 
cannot equal one single act of surrender, remember this well. 
There is no novena more effective than this:“O Jesus, I surrender 
myself to you, take care of everything!”

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)


Original text:
Jesus, You take over!
+ Vincenzo Pelvi 
Auxiliary Bishop of Naples,Italy 
July 25, 2006 

Joining the fun at: 

Image Credit:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bits and Pieces (June 2014)

Thanking God for
Coffee and Hot Chocolate. Nowadays I need a cuppa to get me 
through the cold winter mornings. And afternoons. And then some.

I sometimes miss my old career. But I know that life would be
different if I had a "proper career". Thank you Lord that we've
managed to work things out so that I can be a stay at home mom.

Pondering on
Instrumentum Laboris - The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in
the Context of Evangelization. (Click HERE)
I've challenged myself to read it in its entirety. Go go go!

Praying for
I've mostly been praying for the family. Just realized that there's
more that need my prayers.

Learning about
M and I were able to do a Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus colouring 
activityWe had a short and brief "discussion" about the feast. Just 
planting seeds which I hope will bear good fruit.

In our home
What to do with over ripe bananas? Bake banana bread!

Train Ride to Oslo
Memories to treasure
"Mom, can I go to Oslo?" - M at 4.5yo
It seems THIS boring inflight movie has a fan.

Eeeck, a month has passed. I have to return The Well Trained Mind to 
the library. I will definitely have to borrow it again.

I've been scanning Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron. Looks like an 
interesting read!

Went through a few other books this month. Meh.

Listening to / Watching
Read Aloud Revival Podcasts by Amongst Lovely Things. Click HERE.
- Loving Episode #5 with Jim Weiss. There's a great reminder there on 
why we parents should stop trying to make things perfect.

Working on
Oh my, still trying to get past posting once a month.

Trying this out 
Yahoo, I have managed to keep folding the laundry under control!
Next on the agenda, improving our evening routine.

Planning for the days ahead
Looking forward to attending an LOJ Marriage Enrichment Retreat.
Blessed to have the opportunity to share my faith experience at a CFC 
Christian Life Program. 

Image Credits:
Cristina Alexanderson

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bits and Pieces (May 2014)

Thanking God for:
Nice Weather.
The sunny days that we've been enjoying.
Any respite from the autumn gray is highly appreciated.

Pondering on:
"Look at everything with the eyes of faith, do nothing but in view of God,
and attribute all things to Him." - St. John Baptist De La Salle

Praying for:
Friends with sick family members, missing people, the lost who're trying
to find their way.

Learning about:
Still reading, counting, writing (at least attempting to do so) and playing.

In our home:
Mom asked if I had cooked anything new lately. Hmmm, maybe it's
about time I tried something new!

Memories to treasure:
So yeah, we're late in the game... BUT we're now in a season of Frozen.
Letting go, for the first time in forever, do you want to build a snowman...
You get the picture.

The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise is such a great read! It can be
a bit overwhelming but do remember that it's meant to be a guide.

Listening to / Watching:
I had a blast watching Jason W. Womack talk about how to Think Bigger
Make More of one's life. Many thanks to for the rebroadcast.

Working on:
Trying to get back into blogging... Because I want to... Because I have to...

Trying this out:
Trying to start the day "at my best", trying to conquer Mount Foldmore and
trying to get the family out of the house in record speed time.
Trying to squeeze in a little me time.

Planning for the days ahead:
Hmmm, how does one get their groove back?

I decided that it's about time I started reading again. Something to look forward
to this June (many thanks to the Public Library):
Tribes by Seth Godin, $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, Grace for the Good Girl
by Emily P. Freeman

Clicking Around:
Preschool Revisited by Everyday Snapshots. Click HERE.
- Yes, this pretty much sums up our Early Years Homeschool experience.
You don't need a curriculum. Read, do activities and have fun. And before
you know it, the kids will learn what they need to learn.

Mastery Learning Audio by Andrew Pudewa. Click HERE for the link.
- This is a good listen for those who're a fan of early learning. Pudewa also
talks about how the Suzuki Method is not just for music and how it can be
used in learning other disciplines.

The Ultimate Guide to Memory Work by Everyday Snapshots. Click HERE.
- Loads of info on the Whats, Whys and Hows of Memory Work

10 Things to do with Your Child before Ten by Trivium Pursuit. Click HERE.
- I don't really agree with everything on this list. But it does provide some
food for thought on what topics I can cover with the kids.

Preschool Skills Checklist and The Ultimate List of Preschool Themes
by Homeschool with Love. Click HERE and HERE.
- 2 great guides for moms with Preschoolers.

Image Credits:
Guilio Mola

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quiet Time and Schedules

I talked about GRACE the last time. Little did I know that I was going to need
a huge dose of it.

The kids got the "Tummy Bug". 3 days of diarrhea plus vomiting but no fever.
That was the tricky part, bringing them to the doctor was useless as there was
no fever to treat. Then we found out that it was something that you just flush
out of your system. Hydrate hydrate hydrate.

Poor kids for being sick! Poor mom and dad for the clean up that had to be done!

Claiming claiming claiming that we have nothing but healthy days ahead of us.

I have recently been trying to cultivate healthy rhythms and routines. One area
that I've been trying to work on is my own Quiet Time. As a full time mom to
two kids below five, I can tell you that it a simple-but-not-easy thing to do.

(2) Diving Office
I know some bloggers who love praying with the Divine Office and decided
to give it a try. Hmmm, not for me at this point in time. Blocking off time for 
any one task isn't just doable now. I'm looking for something that will work
well on just a few chunks of time throughout the day.   

(3) Daily Examen
The Catholic Church has so many beautiful traditions. It's nice to know that
fellow Christians have discovered that they can practice these traditions too. 
Thank you to Katherine for inspiring me to give the Daily Examen a try.

There are many ways of going about this prayer method used by St. Ignatius.
I will try to keep things simple by "praying backward through the day" and
possibly using this guide.

Click HERE if you're feeling adventurous and would like to explore more
about the The Examen.

(4) Do You REALLY Need Quiet Time?
I don't think I have the words for this yet. So here's a good read as to WHY 
you and I need Quiet Time.

(5) Thank you Lord for the reminder:
"You're more than your hands do.
You're more than your hands have.
You're more than how other hands measure you.
You are what is written on God's Hands:
Safe. Held. His. Beloved."

Another area that I've been working on is our Family Daily Schedule.

(6) The Daily Schedule of Mother Teresa
This other post by Jennifer really made me pause and think more about 
what's been keeping me busy. And how our schedules have been as a

Daily Schedule for the Missionaries of Charity
4:30 – 5:00: Rise and get cleaned up
5:00 – 6:30: Prayers and Mass
6:30 – 8:00: Breakfast and cleanup
8:00 – 12:30: Work for the poor
12:30 – 2:30: Lunch and rest
2:30 – 3:00: Spiritual reading and meditation
3:00 – 3:15: Tea break
3:15 – 4:30: Adoration Prayer
4:30 – 7:30: Work for the poor
7:30 – 9:00: Dinner and clean up
9:00 – 9:45: Night prayers
9:45: Bedtime
- The primary work of the Order, serving the poor, only takes place between   
8:00 – 12:30 and 4:30 – 7:30.
- There’s buffer! Notice that time for meal cleanup and getting dressed is built   
in to the schedule.
- They say that their lives are centered on God, and this schedule reflects it.   
There is time dedicated to prayer each day.
- They have a set (and early) bedtime, making time for sleep even if they feel   
like more work could be done.
- Look at how focused this schedule is! They only attempt to do two things:   
pray and work for the poor.

Just reading through the schedule made me ache for that kind of peaceful 
rhythm in my life."

Who would have known that such a simple schedule could produce such great
works of charity? I feel challenged to simplify and find something that will produce
better fruits for our family.

Some good eats...

(7) Chicken Piccata
We've had Giada's Chicken Piccata twice this week. We rarely have the
same dinner twice in a week so that says a lot. Proportions for our piccata 
sauce were just estimates and it was served on the side. I highly recommend
serving the sauce on the side if you have little ones. Without the sauce, it's 
just fried chicken.

Joining the fun at:

Friday, March 14, 2014


(1) Starting over. Again.

I had gone through a period of blah. Then it was a period of busy. Vacations
are a tricky thing. Loved loved loved the time spent with family and friends.
Then there was the tons of errands to attend to as well. Arrived back home
tired. Then sick. The antibiotics were a great help. Glad to have that behind

(2) Grace for 2014

"Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us..." 
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 1996

I look forward to celebrating the rest of the year with more of His GRACE:
- that I may have a greater appreciation of His blessings
- that I may have more patience and strength for the challenges ahead
- that He may use me to bless others

(3) Inspiration for the journey

The God of all grace, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
- 1 Peter 5:10

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency 
in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 
- 2 Corinthians 9:8

(4) Of hopes, dreams and aspirations

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reviewing and praying lately.
It's about time I came up with My Life List 2.0.
Or something to that effect.

(5) More inspiration

Can't stop reading Notes on Lent. Yep, I've read it a few times. I feel blessed
with the new insights gained each time I read it. I'm sure there are a few
nuggets there still waiting to be discovered. 

"Have you ever met someone like that? Someone truly united, truly remaining 
in God? It's an amazing thing to behold. She walks in grace. She blesses 
with her smile, with her gestures, with her words. She lives the life for which 
she is created because she is the genuine image of God He intended her to be." 
- Elizabeth Foss

(6) Lent with Little Ones

We've started praying the Stations of the Cross as a family. I didn't realize
that it would be a bit of a challenge explaining it all to a 4 year old. I just
remind myself, this race is not a sprint but a marathon. We'll get there.

(7) 13th of March 2014 

It's Pope Francis' first year. Here's something beautiful to look back on:

Joining the fun at:

Photo Credit to Emily Ley