Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Day 5 (FINAL)


Photo 1: This was such a great photo of Cheurb 1, we had to include it. He is so happy these days.

Photo 2: A mother goose "setting" a nest on the island. We used the camera to ZOOM rather than get too close because she was NOT pleased.

Photo 3: A little turtle that was near the lakehouse - we are not sure wht kind of turtle it is yet, but we will certainly look it up.

Photo 4: Did you know they make icecream-type treats for dogs ?? They are called FROSTY PAWS, and Dumma bought a box for Daisy. This is a photo of Daisy licking her bowl clean ... she loved her Frosty Paws treats !!

Photo 5: This is Miller. She belongs to lake-side neighbors of my parents. She is soooooo sweet and loving. She enjoyed playing with our children, and even hung out with Daisy a bit too. Isn't she sweet !??!

Memorial Day 4

This is us playing with toys at the Lake. We rode the jet ski's, pulled one another in tubes along the water, and the children took turns on boatrides (driven only by Cherub1 or Cherub2) with the little peddle-boat. All in all, we had a wonderful weekend filled with family, grandparents, good food, water, sun, and fun .... and just a few grumpy moments.

Memorial Day 3

We did a lot of swimming by the pier near the Lake House.

Memorial Day 2

SAND CASTLE CREATIONS (the last photo is a SAND SCULPTURE of a dog rather than a castle.)

Memorial Day Weekend 1

An evening boatride to The Island to swim. The chidlren had a grand time swimming, romping in the waves, and playing in the sand.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Daisy's Memorial Day Weekend

Daisy went with Dumma, GranMickey, DadToCherubs, MomToCherubs, and all of the 6 cherubs on a boatride to The Island. She got in the water and swam. Daisy played ball quite a bit. She romped a little in the sand with the children and "helped" pat down their sand castles.

And after a while, she found a shady spot to rest. She "guarded" her ball from the children and adults and even the other dogs .... she did not want anyone to throw it because then she could have to go retrieve it.

Her boat trip to The Island was on Tuesday afternoon. She has done little else other than napping ever since. She is a pooped pooch, but she is still smiling.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


There was a fire on the farm today.

One of the hay barns caught fire - apparently the cause was either hay being put up too green, or perhaps the bales were packed too tightly (according to the farm manager). Anyway, we had all sorts of fire trucks, farm vehicles, and lots of other cars ... and who knows how many people helping and just watching. There were two tractors with bale spears working furiously to pull out hay bales from the barn to get to the "heart" of the fire, while firefighters sprayed water from the tanker trucks to keep the flames down. The tractors were pulling out the burning hay bales and spreading them through the field (thankfully freshly bush-hogged) to burn themselves out. One tractor apparently came down from a neighboring dairy to help - his tractor skills were quite amazing, as he whipped the machine here and there with flaming haybales up on the bale spear. Isn't it nice how farmers all pull together in a crisis ??

With things being so dry (we are minus almost 9" of rain for the year so far, with none forcasted any time soon), the big risk was the fire spreading.

In the end, it looks as if atleast some of the bales were saved and are still useable. And the barn does not have an noticible damage. But the field is covered with who-knows-how-many smoldering hay bales. Thankfully the breeze is blowing the smoke away from our house - the smell of burning hay is even worse than the smell of rotten hay. And thank goodness that NONE of the cows were ever in danger, and that no one was hurt. Praise God !!

It was an exciting day here on the farm ... and for our family, we have seen enough fire to last a lifetime.
Photo 1: Site of the fire - a hay barn.
Photo 2: Smoldering bales in the field after the fire.
Photo 3: More smoldering bales.

"Small Things With Great Love"

SIDENOTE: I have admired Mother Teresa for many years (and St. Therese The Little Flower as well), reading about her and learning more about the order she founded and the lives she touched. The "Little Ways" have always been my own personal aim; to minister to others in Little Ways with Love. It was through learning about Mother Teresa as a pre-teen that I first heard of this, and she has been a role model of mine in this manner ever since. Her life brought glory to God. In her words, "it is not about me, but it is about Him." Below is an article about her that I received today - and I wanted to share.
Seventy years ago today, on May 24, 1937, Blessed Mother Teresa made her final profession as a Loretto sister. Like most suburban housewives, I have never been to India. I never witnessed Mother Teresa as she ministered to the world's "poorest of the poor." Like many others, however, I devoured books and articles about this dynamic and simple nun who pulled the dying off Calcutta's streets, and gave dignity to those suffering. She literally helped change the world.
At first glance, an American mother's life seems so unlike the life Blessed Mother Teresa had. She lived amidst poverty. We live in a country full of wealth. She wore a simple sari. Most of us have a closet full of clothes. She chose a consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience as a sister. We have vocations as wives and mothers. Our lives seem worlds apart, yet Blessed Mother Teresa's spirituality can be instrumental in teaching us to know how to live our vocation and raise our children well.

Here's how.

Mother Teresa teaches us to accept what we get from the hand of God. Biographers tell us that Mother Teresa, whose given name was Agnes, admired St. Therese the Little Flower and her "Little Way" very much, so much that she wanted to take the name 'Therese' upon professing as a sister. However, another postulant also wanted that name and spelling. Quietly, without a fuss, Agnes took the Spanish spelling of the name ('Teresa'), relinquishing the spelling she desired more. In this simple action and attitude, Mother Teresa teaches us to accept what life deals us with calm resolution that God Himself guides all happenings, large or small.

Mother Teresa teaches us there is holiness in doing small things with great love. With a smile on her face she quietly and tenderly cleaned the maggot-filled sores of a dying man, ignoring the stench and fighting the human urge to turn away. She did this again and again and again each day — small things with great love. When I tie my child's shoe patiently or wipe his nose gently, I am doing a small thing with great love. When I serve my husband who has had a difficult day his favorite meal with a smile (even though my own day has been filled with uncooperative children and minor emergencies), I am doing a small thing with great love. When I lead my sick child to the bathroom to throw up for the third time during the night and I clean him and the floor with calm resignation, I am doing a small thing with great love. Life is full of these opportunities. Mother teaches that is the path to holiness.

Mother Teresa teaches us not to fret about the tasks before us. When she was alive she did not wake up in the morning anxious and stressed about the day. She didn't say, "Oh my goodness! I have so much to do! There are so many poor and I can't handle this ...." She simply looked at the task before her, tackled it, and then moved on. We should follow this example in our daily living.

Mother Teresa teaches us it is good to rest. Biographers tell us Mother Teresa took naps. Does this surprise you? There was a point in time when I thought it was a sign of weakness if I laid down to rest during the day or went to bed early. I now see how silly that is. If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, then taking care of those bodies is a serious responsibility. Besides, refreshed, we can accomplish more.

Mother Teresa teaches us that every person has worth and dignity. The annoying soccer coach, the impatient clerk at the store, the grumpy mailman who bypasses my house because he thinks my van is parked too close to the mailbox — these people were made in the image and likeness of God just as much as the friendly parish priest or sweet, elderly grandmother. Sometimes it would be easier to love a beggar dying in the street than the neighbor who growls at my children if a stray ball rolls in their yard. Mother's actions showed we are to respect everyone.

Mother Teresa started her day with prayer, and arranged her day in an orderly way. She had a schedule. When we do this, we prioritize our lives toward God and keep focused.
God's plans for me are different from what they were for Mother Teresa. Mostly likely I will never tend to wounds of people ravaged by disease or scarred emotionally by severe rejection. But as a mother I will daily tend little wounds many times — a scraped knee after a trip to the playground, my child's hurt feelings over rejection from a playmate, the fatigue of my spouse over the daily troubles of work and family living. By remembering Mother Teresa's example and living the spirituality she demonstrated, I can be an instrument of God, bringing peace and healing in my little part of the world.

For more information on Blessed Mother Teresa, visit her website.

Theresa A. Thomas, wife of David, is a homeschooling mother of nine children, a freelance writer and newspaper columnist for Today's Catholic. Look for her contribution in Amazing Grace: Stories for Fathers due from Ascension Press later this year. This article originally appeared in Today's Catholic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What To Do On A Hot Day ?

After gardening all morning, one should go to Mayfield's for an icecream cone, of course.

Beginning Our Rose Garden

We have plenty of full sun here, so we intend to begin another Rose Garden. Above are photos of the first two Roses we selected for planting. Eventually there will be a type of border around our Rose Garden, however these things take time. In the mean while, we will begin planting.
Our girls picked the first two roses to plant - so of course we have one pink and one purple (lavendar actually).

Photo 1: High Society Rose (bright pink - climber)

Photo 2: Melody Parfume Rose (lavendar - bush)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Summer Agenda

Things are finally beginning to slow down around here. Soccer is over. VIP Soccer is finished for the season as well. Sunday School is over until the Fall. CCD has ended until the Fall. There are a few Youth Ministry activites planned this summer, but the bulk of it has finished. And First Holy Communion was yesterday, so we are finished preparing for that as well. And we are pretty-well settled in the new house; it is even beginning to feel a bit like "home".

Normally we are almost finished with school for the year too at the end of springtime, but this year we are going to work through the summer to finish some things. We also have a few smaller studies that we are planning to do this summer.

So - what are we going to do now ?? First, we have some gardening to do. We have been planting flowers and bushes, and have a herb garden planned. And if we get a chance (and if we get it tilled again) we are going to put in a small vegetable garden. We still have horseback riding weekly. In the coming weeks we are going to try to spend some quality time together instead of running here and there - maybe play together, do some fun little day trips, and maybe visit the Tennessee River. And we are going to try to regain / reteach some character-training lessons that we seem to have lost through the chaos these past few months. We are headed to the Lake soon for a 4-day weekend which is something we are all looking forward to - we love to swim, boat, jetski, and spend time with our family. Cherub 1 will go away to camp in June for a few days - he is excited about that. We are hoping to do many of the neat activities that are to be part of the library's Summer Reading Program. We have some family coming in early June, which is when we will do Cherub 6's Christening. Then we have more family coming in to visit at the end of June just to visit and sight-see. July is going to be lots of fun - DadToCherubs actually took an almost 2-week vacation and we are going to the lake for all of it. YAHOOO !! (He NEVER takes vacation - so this is rare !). August will be calm with maybe just a trip to the lake and maybe another short getaway weekend somewhere. And September will begin soccer again, and our new school year.

One big thing coming this Fall is that we are hoping to make a trip to New England - to sightsee and to visit family in Maryland and Connecticut. So hopefully we can get things coordinated over the summer. We have been (and will continue) studying American History so there are a lot of neat sites to see along the way. And we have not been to Connecticut for approximately 10 years so it is high-time for a visit. We were in Maryland just a year or two ago, and we are looking forward to visiting again PLUS we missed our trip to the Smithsonian last time due to weather.

Hopefully our summer will be a CALM-busy, if there is such a thing. HA !! Why can't summer last longer ?? Or perhaps we can just make Fall start later ? Hummmm ....... in September we will begin CCD and Sunday school, Youth Ministry activities, soccer (Cherub 6 gets to play this fall for the first time - he is SO excited !!), VIP Soccer, full-schedule school lessons (for all 6 children starting this fall - yikes !) ......

I have to admit - it makes me tired just looking at it all in print. And it is only May ......

More Photos From First Communion Mass May 19th

Photos From First Communion Mass May 19th

Friday, May 18, 2007

Preparing For First Confession and First Communion

After having left the Catholic Church for several years, and now having returned, our older children have begun to process of "catching up". They have worked hard through materials and readings this year to prepare themselves. They have also done a great amount of soul searching and and preparation within their own hearts. They have prayed that God prepare their hearts, minds, and souls for these days. And God has answered - granting them understanding that is, at times, well beyond their years.

Last weekend they each went to Confession for the first time. Our priest was very helpful with both instruction and with encouragement. Each of the children understood well the Sacrament itself, and understand now how it is vital to the daily Walk With Christ. They were each a tiny-bit nervous to begin with, but afterwards agreed that Confession "felt" quite natural and not at all a struggle. They have all spoken since about the impressions on their hearts, and about the "stirrings" within their minds.

Cherub 1, Cherub 2, and Cherub 3 will have their First Holy Communion Mass this weekend. They are prepared and understand the importance of this sacrament. Last evening was the rehearsal (who walks where and when). Today we will go to the church to turn in their projects - each child made a Candle Wrap with grapes and wheat representing the Body (Host) and the Blood (Wine). They also each made a First Communion Banner (each child makes one). These banners traditionally are attached together and are displayed in the church during the First Communion Mass. After the Mass is over, the banners are returned to the individual children to take home. We have decided to frame them and put them in each of their bedrooms - as a reminder of this very special time. The banners themselves are quite lovely, but the planning and dialogue of making them was truly incredible. As a parent, it is so precious to be able to know the "deeper" thoughts of one's children pertaining to their faith and their level of understanding. Traditionally, First Communion is part of 2nd Grade studies. But with our children being a bit older now, I actually am most impressed with the seriousness and deep consideration that they have experienced these past few monthes.

Please pray for our 3 older cherubs tomorrow on this very special day.

Photos above of the Banners and Candle Wraps the children made. (We will post photos from their First Communion Mass in a few days.)