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Filtering by Tag: Domestic Church

Knit Leper Bandages

alec vanderboom

If you can knit or crochet here is a good project for post-Christmas empty hands.
Lepers in the Vietnam and the Philippines need our prayers. The government of these two countries refuse to let in the medicine to treat leprosy in there countries. As a result, their citizens suffer from a completely treatable disease in modern times.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta

alec vanderboom

Build Me a Church Ice-Box Cake invented by the lovely Alice of Cottage Blessings. Made by my friend Susan.

Heavenly Rose Punch

Alex's favorite part of religious celebrations. Playing with his friends' toys!

Simple Craft Idea

My kids couldn't grasp the idea of the image of Our Lady appearing on St. Juan Diego's tilma. I created this super easy craft for them. I made a plain tilma out of paper and rolled up paper roses. Then I switched to the "imprinted" one when I got to the part in the story where the Bishop receives his roses.

Christmas Party for Jon's Office

alec vanderboom

Many thanks for your prayers on Thursday. We recently hosted our first "work related" party for Jon's office.

We put on our fun party clothes

We decorated our Christmas trees

We polished my grandmother's silver anniversary punch bowl which last saw daylight in 1965. It made the perfect place for Jon's homemade, super strong Egg Nog. I made my first ever bunt cake and prayed hard to St. Martha as I flipped the cake over on the plate. It worked!

We chatted and ate cookies.

Jon made a touching toast to his Boss to thank her for hiring him three years ago. I teared up when I thought about missing the lovely home we've made for ourselves in Maryland if had rigidly kept to our plan of moving into New York City. We held Mimi up as yet another blessing and joked "she probably won't have been born if the Benjamins were stuffed in a studio apartment on Long Island."

We traded hats with our guests

We hugged when it was over.

Hannah decided that the kids bathroom, which is unusually "company clean," deserved its own photo the next day!

The line of the night which made me giggle the most was Jon saying "Everyone from the office will feel at home here. I don't think our place looks too Catholic!" Not only do we have giant Blessed Mother Photos, Crucifixes, and Pictures of our Holy Father on every wall. My dear husband made this statement right next to this Marian alter!

This party honestly was the third event we've hosted in three years, all in the past few weeks. We did Alex's birthday in October, Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and then a cocktail party for Jon's office. I'm so happy that getting formed in Christ means practicing Christian hospitality. I pray for the people in his office, almost every day. It made it easier to bare the extra work of party prep knowing that I'm begging Jesus to invite most of these people back into the Catholic Church. I figured the least I could do was offer up the physical act of shampooing my carpet for their souls as well.

I don't think I realized the magnitude of this hospitality gesture until Jon explained after the party that his office has only gathered TWICE outside of the office in the three years he's worked there. I just made a connection that all the frazzled feelings in the office weren't helped by not getting to see each other as "people" outside the office environment. I hope we'll be able to host quarterly events for his office staff in the future.

St. Lucy Day

alec vanderboom

This year the Holy Spirit inspired me to make Hannah a St. Lucy Day Dress. (Thankfully the same spirit inspired my friend, Maria S. to end up sewing me the entire dress after I realized that even a simple medieval pattern was over my skill level.) Here is the final dress, front and back.

On our big day, Hannah dressed in this costume passed out donuts to the family for dessert.

If you don't sew you can try a white dress, a white nightgown or even a white sheet in a toga. (St. Lucy lived in Roman times after all!). Get a thick red ribbon to stand for "the blood" as my kids like to say on Martyr Feast days. On her head, I made a simple wreath out of a paper plate, some green construction paper leaves and those nifty battery operated candles at Target.

If you have boys, they can either be the Swedish "star boys" or Roman soldiers. (I made the mistake of leaving Alex out of this feast day celebration. Next year I'll have to figure out a role for him.)

My homeschool group did a lovely St. Lucy's party, but unfortunately I didn't capture any pictures. We played a game where St. Lucy got to "wake up" the sleeping children. My friend Maria B. came up with a lovely candle craft based on an old English tradition. We used an orange as the base for a white candle. The orange symbolized "the earth" and the candle was Christ. We pinned a red ribbon around the middle to symbolize Christ dying for the whole world. Then we poked marshmallows and gummy treats on four toothpicks on the top to symbolize all the blessings on the earth.

These simple costumes and feast day treats are so worth a little extra hassle on my part. During Saturday's Mass, Hannah and I kept poking each other whenever St. Lucy's name was mentioned. It's so inspiring for me to see the the communion of saints come alive for my children.

These things work for big people too! The other day, I find myself praying to St. Elizabeth of Hungary in the spaghetti aisle at Safeway in order to fix more Food Pantry donations into my weekly grocery budget. I was so shocked. I barely knew St. Elizabeth existed before my daughter chose to dress up as her for Halloween. Now she is a dear family friend.

Super Easy Our Lady of Guadalupe Snack

alec vanderboom

For Juan Diego's Saints Day on Tuesday, the kids and I made "Tilma of Roses" sandwiches. Take a white tortilla. Cut it into the shape of a shirt with a knife. Add a smear of mustard for Our Lady's image. Place some cherry tomatoes and some curled ham slices for the "roses."

I read Nican Mopohua's "The Story of Juan Diego" which I got from my dear friend Jennifer F. at lunch. The kids payed extra attention to the story because they were eating unusual sandwich. I don't know why, but "special snacks" play a big part in our home catechism class. Thank you Alice!

Read Cottage Blessings for whole Our Lady of Guadalupe Tea menu.


alec vanderboom

If you are a novice to Candlemass, this is a lovely Catholic feast day to add to your week. There is something about this celebration that helps mark the transition of the "little Jesus" of Christmas to the "grown up Jesus" on the cross for Lent.

Here is a fantastic Candlemass Tea idea from the accomplished Mrs. Alice Gunther. Tonight, I picked up prezels for Simon, Marlomars for Anna, and candy hearts with some toothpicks for "the sorrowful news that pieced our Blessed Mother's Heart."

Alice's blog at "Cottage Blessings" has been a source of inspiration over the past year. I can't recommend enough how "living the Liturgical year" has help my family grow in our Catholic faith. Here is a piece of fan mail that I sent to Alice this past Advent.

"I had never heard of Candlemass before your post. I was a little nervous asking our parish priest to bless our
candles, but he did it with such joy that I figured I must be on to something great. We had a sweet little
tea with the maramells for Anna and pierced candy hearts for the sorrow of Mary. My husband was so happy
to be a part of this scene after a hetic day of work. He really urged me to do more celebrations like this.

This year has been such a delight-learning how to live the liturgical year in our own domestic church. I've
been inspire to get over my natural shyness and the shyness that comes from being a convert, and so in
unfamilar territory, and made friendships with Catholic mothers in my area. This week I'm hosting my
first St. Nicholas craft party, also inspired by your blog!

The most exciting thing is that this is the first December (I'm 32) that I've felt completely ready for the Advent season. "What is so different this year?" I've asked my husband. I finally realized, we are already "living the church calendar".

After all the happy Sundays of ordinary time, I'm ready for a little change. The things we are doing for Advent aren't foriegn things added into my family life. Acts of charity, Adoration, frequent confession, family prayer, special feast days, these are things we are already doing. This year Advent is a mere rededication of my domestic church, not inventing things from whole-cloth or uncovering duties covered by neglect and dust.

I really have your simple Candlemass idea to thank for our "clean hearts." I'm so grateful that you take time out of your busy, busy days to blog."

Okay, now that I've shared Candlemass with you, it's your turn to share your comments below. What are you doing to prepare for Lent?

Christmas 2007

alec vanderboom

This year we tried out a number of new Christmas Traditions. Here's a list of things I'd do again:

-We burned the last of our advent candles down while saying a family rosary on Christmas Eve. In the morning I traded the purple & pink candles for fresh white candles.

-The kids & I made cupcakes for Jesus' birthday and blew up balloons.

-I sang at Midnight Mass. Jon stayed home with the kids and watched Mass with our beloved Pope.

-In the morning we opened only the stockings. Then we got dressed for church.

-We attended Christmas Morning Mass, instead of Christmas Eve. What a happy difference.

-We opened presents after we got home for church.

-I got the large shrimp tray. Thank goodness because I ended skipping cooking the main meal. (Or duck a'la orange is happily frozen for New Years Day.)

Things I didn't get done, but wish I did:

-Family Picture Christmas Cards

-Baking Christmas Cookies

-Finished Maria's needlepoint stocking before she learns how to read (this year she had to use her Dad's stocking)

-Praying the Antiphons all seven nights, not just for five.

Things I never want to do again:

-Go to five stores looking for the right size of rechargable batteries

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

alec vanderboom

We had a double party for our beloved Saints' feast day today. Maria from Ordinary Time came for a visit with Paul & Lucy. Lucy, at 13 months, was so adorable wiggling in that precious bottom-scooch of hers, waving her jingle bell necklace and finding dropped candy canes to munch. The quote of the day comes from Maria's description of her daughter talent for finding the sweet spots in life. (I'm paraphrasing badly) "She can find happiness the way an experienced traveler finds the best seat on a train."

We made a Jesus craft suggested by Alice from Cottage Blessings. (I love raiding this blog for feast day teas and craft ideas). We made a simple baby Jesus in "swaddling clothes". The goal is that everytime one of the kids does something good from now until Christmas they get to add a piece of straw to the manger scene "to make baby Jesus more comfortable."

What I didn't expect was our manager project would be such a hit with Paul's imaginary horse, Mike. "Mike going to eat this!" he giggled happily as he left our house loaded down with straw, manager, candy canes, jingle bell necklace and of course, Baby Jesus. The pleasure was all ours Paul!

This afternoon we invited all the neighborhood kids in our apartment building to a Christmas tea. I hope this becomes an annual tradition. I so much prefer to host kids parties then to send wilted cheese balls to all of our neighbors this time of year.

In Praise of Fathers

alec vanderboom

I came of age in polite, liberal circles where the term “two parent households” replaced the vernacular “nuclear family.” My sociology professor at Smith carefully footnoted each study which praised children raised with both a mother and a father in the house by stating between sips from her Clearly Canadian water bottle, “this also applies to gay and lesbian families. What matters is there are two people concerned about the children, not their gender.” When I got to law school, these studies were pushed away even farther due to the many single moms in my class with happy, sweet-faced kids.

I had a great shock to find, when I started my own family, that Fathers are so very, very important. My husband isn’t just another pair of arms to hold a fussy baby or another pair of eyes to watch for a toddler who likes to escape out the patio door. His contribution to family life is more than earning money for our daily bread or running trips to the grocery store when Mom is laid up with pregnancy pains.

My husband’s gender has a powerful effect on his parenting style. Fathers are just different. That is a good thing, a necessary thing. A newborn's screams will send her nursing mother into a panic. Her cries don't have the same effect on her father. This difference insures that a baby will be fed promptly and yet will also transition into a crib at some point in her life.

In my family, Dad handles the tough jobs, bath time for wiggly infants, first-aid for bloody cuts, dog walks in the sleet. He’s also the one who actively encourages “dangerous” activities such as crossing the monkey bars at age 18 months and using real golf clubs at age 3. Dad is the one who says go ahead and or leap into leaf piles with your church clothes on or jump into mud puddles higher than your rain boots.

Some how kids seem to come out better with a “be careful” voice of motherhood and the “go for it” adventurousness of fatherhood. I was still counting a “mom and a dad” as a plus, instead of a necessity as insisted by the Catholic Church.

Lately, I've run into the subtle scars with children in our neighborhood who are growing up in divorced families. “You can’t move! It’s dangerous on the first floor” the three playmates of my daughter solemnly stated when Hannah said she was moving from apartment number 304 to 103.

Jon and I puzzled over that statement. The girls live in the same apartment building on the fourth floor with their mother. “Why would the girls and think the first floor is dangerous? They must have heard that from their mom.” We live on one of the safest streets imaginable. “It must be because she feels more vulnerable as a single-mom,” was my husband’s final conclusion.

I had this sense of how lucky I was, to have a 6-foot man in my house and his ferocious looking, but gentle lamb of a Samoyed, Sara. My children and I sleep in deep security, even in a large metropolitan city.

That feeling of blessedness came again while I watched “Pride.” In the movie, the swim coach goes head to head with a gang leader to save some of his swim team from heading down a dangerous path. “It was important for the guys that their coach was a man,” I said. “They sort-of have a fatherly feeling towards him. I’m not sure a female coach would have gotten the same results.”

“It would have been even more powerful, if it one of the boy’s actual fathers confronted the gang leader. That coach just says that he’d take a bullet for his swim team. I would actually take a bullet for Lex.” His tone is extremely firm. I take a look at his normally gentle eyes; they are flashing a steely blue. He’s serious, I think.

It’s wonderful having a father. He gives cuddles and reads “Black Beauty” and brings home leftover chocolate cake from work. He also has a quiet strength that protects our family.

This advent season I have some many people to pray for. I’m adding prayers for all those white, African-American, and Latino children who are growing up without fathers in their houses. Their childhood monsters are real, not imaginary ones that hide under the bed. Even though these sons have a greater need, they are less likely to have a noble man risk a bullet to pull them out of harm’s way.

St. Joseph pray for us. Protect our children from the modern day King Herrods and inspire more men to follow your holy example