Friday, December 28, 2012

Thank You Grammy Ann!

The Zoomlians have been opening your presents!

Real thank you notes to follow, but I thought you'd like to see the pictures now.

Mxyl got a cool black fedora.

Klenda is wearing her new chic cloche hat.

Zorg is wearing his mohawk wig.

Leena is showing off her pretty boots.
Choclo got a penguin pirate balancing game, and Oob got a game which involved an alligator knocking monkeys off a bridge (which I spent a chunk of the afternoon playing with him, until he decided he wanted to play it by himself!).

All in all, a very successful round of presents!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Boar's Head

After years and years of singing The Boar's Head Carol, we finally decided that serving a boar's head "bedecked with bays and rosemary" for Christmas was the way to go.

The careful observer may note that the boar's head in the picture is not actually the head of a boar (as the actual preparation of the actual head of an actual boar seemed too actually icky for Christmas).

It is, however, from a boar, if not from the front half of the boar...  OK, I guess we don't know for sure if it was a boar or a sow, but you can't very well walk into the dining room singing, "The sow's haunch, in hand bear I.."

It is, however, artfully decorated to look like a boar's head, and we did all sing as the Emperor bore it in!

If you have no idea what we are talking about and think, perhaps, we are making it up, you can find a fair rendition of the Boar's Head Carol with lyrics here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Choclo's First Communion

 Choclo made his First Communion on Christmas!

Mumpy and Pa were visiting for Christmas, so they got to be there, too. 

It was so beautiful!  You can't get a better Christmas present than Jesus!!

Choclo told me afterwards, "It feels like getting a big hug from Jesus!"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sculpey

 A Sculpey, Christmas, anyway!

I can not tell a lie, it's all cheap imitation Sculpey, but my kids don't know, so don't tell them, okay?

Sculpey is an oil based clay that doesn't harden unless you bake it.  It holds a much finer detail than play-doh, and is much harder to get off your good shoes.

The thing I like about it, is that it lasts forever and encourages creativity for all ages.

Hmm.  That being said, I think Klenda actually made all of these.

But it was Choclo who was so excited he made me take pictures!

He's holding a penguin, and, yes, over the wreath, that is Jabba the Hutt in a Santa hat.

Speaking of odd things, I just noticed the crutches in the background!  I'd actually forgotten, but part of our craziness for the past few weeks was that Klenda  sprained her ankle en route (with the Emperor and the rest of the Youth Group) to a Toby Mac concert.  She's totally fine now!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Catching Up

 I really haven't blogged much lately: St. Nicholas Day was way back on the sixth!

The kids put out shoes on the stairs...

and woke to find them filled with goodies.

More on our Santa/St. Nicholas thoughts here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bazillionaire's Disease

Do you suffer from Bazillionaire's Disease?

Do you, when you find a sudden windfall of time, plan to get a bazillion things done, actually get a bazillion things done, and then realize: you had TWO bazillion things to do?

Thank You!

If you prayed at all for Choclo's super important meeting on Friday, thank you so much!  The meeting was a great sucess, and that means...

Choclo will be receiving his First Communion on Christmas morning!!!

He is so excited!  Before he knew, he told me he would rather get to receive Jesus than get Pikmin2 and Pikmin3 for Christmas! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

O Antiphon House

 Most years we make O Antiphon posters, but this year has been super crazy.  I didn't want to miss the O Antiphons, though, so I decided to make a house instead.

It took about ten minutes to make!

I took a sheet of construction paper and folded it in quarters.

I printed O Antiphon images (scroll down the page) and cut them out with a paper cutter.

I made a template a little smaller than the image (on an index card) , and marked out 8 doors going around the house.  For my actual house, I marked the doors with pencil, and just put the dates with silver marker.

I cut out the doors with a razor, and taped the images behind them.

Then I folded the house around, taped the seam, and made a roof.

We put a jack o lantern light inside to glow through the windows, but it's not really necessary.

We open a door and read the O antiphon from a list.  This one is taken from here at Catholic
O Sapientia (December 17) O Wisdom (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30), and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).
O Adonai (December 18) O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2), and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us (Jer 32: 21).
O Radix Jesse (December 19) O Root of Jesse, you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).
O Clavis David (December 20) O Key of David (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).
O Oriens (December 21) O Rising Dawn (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20); Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness & the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).
O Rex Gentium (December 22) O King of the Gentiles (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).
O Emmanuel (December 23) O Emmanuel (Isa 7: 14; 8: 8), our King and Lawgiver (Gen 49:10; cf. Ezek 21: 32), the Expected of the nations and their Savior (Isa 33: 22): Come, and save us, O Lord our God.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Crazy Busy!

I finally made a list of all the things that HAD to be done RIGHT NOW!  It was ridiculous. 

But, the fact is, I need to get the packages mailed by Saturday, which means I need to finish the things that go into the packages... now.

And I need to order everything that needs to get here before Christmas.

And I need to get wrapping so that I can move the presents out of my office before my folks arrive!

The Emperor is camping with Mxyl and Zorg this weekend, while I host a slumber party.

And Choclo has a super important meeting on Friday, and prayers would really be appreciated!

Long story short: we should be able to blog regularly again next week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Star Wars Christmas

Did you ever see the Star Wars Christmas special they did around 1980?  It was terrible!  After all the hype, it was a tremendous disappointment.

Someone put out "The Star Wars Christmas Special Everyone Wanted" and... it is! For some reason it won't embed, but it's some of the funniest (Christmassy) 6 minutes on You Tube:

I guess I should say, "If you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back to the Botannical Gradens

 We made our annual visit to the holiday trains at the Botannical Gardens.  This is always such a fun trip!

They run the trains through a magical landscape of plants and fairy houses made from plant materials.

This year, there was no "theme" to the houses, but we really enjoyed this tableau of the Billy Goats Gruff.

 Most of the rest were curious trolls and fairies with occasional castles.Combined with 5 or 6 train sets going at once (some of them going over our heads!), it was enchanting.
 My favorite was this Japanese castle with a dragon perched on top.  You can spy the little bug train passing in front, but what is harder to see is that it is nestled between two ten foot waterfalls in a perfectly scaled bonsai forest!

On the right, at the foot of one of the falls, is a mermaid.

All very fun, and a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Did You Know

That if you add blue food coloring to a batch of hard candy, the carmelizing sugar will turn the candy green?  Not a vivid Christmas green, mind you, more of a pretty sea glass green.

Furthermore, if you carefully cut off the messy bits from the finished candy, they will look quite shockingly like broken glass.

In addition, if you leave them on the counter, two things will happen: the tiny pieces will gradually disappear as the children pass through the kitchen, and, you can give your late arriving spouse apoplexy when he finds the kids eating "broken glass."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

It's true!  You usually only hear the St. Nicholas story about how he saved the three girls from slavery by putting money (secretly) into their stockings (which had been hung up to dry near the fireplace), but he also punched the lights out of Arius (the father of the devastating Arian heresy) at the Council of Nicaea.

Yes, the council where they came up with the Nicene Creed! 

Evidently, Arius went on and on trying to convince the Council that Jesus wasn't really God, and Nicholas finally had enough and decked him.

Mxyl: Does this mean I get to punch people who say Jesus isn't God?

NO!  Not everything every saint does is intended to be imitated.

You may, however, put all your money in my sock.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All Set Up

 Despite my extra week, I just squeaked by with getting things ready for Advent.  The last poster was finished on Sunday.

Part of that was getting a ton of Christmas shopping done last week.  We didn't do everything, but we did enough so that what is left will be fun and reasonably stress free.  One year I finished everything before Advent, then found I kept wanting to buy things!

 My biggest surprise delay was the discovery (the day before Advent started!) that Target didn't have the candles.  Oops!  Fortunately the grocery store had them.

The "wreath" is a pie plate with sprigs stuck in a circular pattern.  We used some things from the yard, and some from a hike in the woods near our house.  Choclo and Oob found pine cones and chestnut burrs to decorate the wreath.

Mxyl loaded up the Advent house for us, and that's been popular.  We upgraded the stable from the cardboard Playmobil one to this wooden one from the ceramic set (the pieces to which have all been broken over the years).

The newest thing is that I finally tried a fabulous idea that I've read many times on the internet.  I wrapped up 25 of our Advent and Christmas books.  The kid who gets to blow out the Advent candles also gets to pick a wrapped book.

This is working very well.  It's making sure that all the favorite books actually get read instead of buried in the big Bin O' Books.

You may notice that there are also unwrapped books.  That's because, as I discovered, we actually have about fifty Advent and Christmas books!  Did this stop us from getting more out of the library this week?  What do you think?

Monday, December 3, 2012


Having that extra week to plan and organize was great!  I feel more prepared for Advent than I have since...  The last time I had an extra week between Thanksgiving and Advent!  It was only today that I fully realized that the extra week there means a week less here.  It's actually a short Advent, so maybe I'm not as ahead as I think I am.

 No matter.  I have a theme.  That always makes me feel more organized.   And, this year, I got the kids to paint posters of our theme to hang in the dining room.

The theme is: Christ came in history, Christ comes in mystery, Christ will come in majesty.

Leena painted the "Christ came in history" poster.  It actually says that on the frame, but I think I need to make the lettering more prominent. She has a quirky, eclectic style that is half Byzantine icon, half Manga. 

 I find the more I look at it, the more I like it.  Maybe because it isn't the conventional arrangement, I think more about the actual Nativity, and less about the standard image of the Nativity, if you know what I mean.

 I painted the "Christ comes in mystery" one.  The mystery being Jesus' abiding presence in the Eucharist.

This has been a key focus this year because Choclo is preparing to receive his First Communion, possibly at Christmas.

Klenda and Mxyl collaborated on the "Christ will come in majesty" poster.  Actually, it started out as our Christ the King poster!

They had trouble melding their two styles, so Klenda ended up doing most of the face, with Mxyl designing the crown and details.

Jesus is holding the New Earth in his right hand (for the sheep) and a sword in his left (for the goats).

It's a good reminder that Advent is about waiting for more than just presents!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Ready for Advent

I love these years where Advent starts more than a week after Thanksgiving!  Having the week to get ready makes everything feel less stressful.  Although I do realize I am getting ready for getting ready for Christmas, which does seem silly...

Actually, I love Advent, but now I find it's nice to ease into it. I've found I need to do 6 Advent things a day so that everyone can do something each day.  Plus stepping up the prayer (daily Mass), fasting (I'll be skipping sweets and minimizing desserts until Christmas proper), and alms giving (Heifer donation Jar, and probably Angel Tree).  Plus doing good deeds to put hay in the manger.  Plus we need to make an Advent wreath.  Plus, to start out, I need to strip all the walls... I love it all, but it's tough to do from a standing start.

Anyway, our 6 daily activities this year are:

1. The Advent House, full of Playmobil nativity figures and candy (6 pieces plus a figure behind each door).  This year I'll have the older kids set it up.

2. The paper Advent calendar.

3. The Jesse Tree.  This is doubling as our Bible time since each day goes through a part of salvation history in both the Old and New Testaments. I need to go through and replace the missing ornaments.

4. The ornament: a new Christmas decoration picked out each day!

5. Lighting (or just blowing out ) the Advent wreath candles.

6.  A kid gets to pick one thing we all can do as a gift to God that day.

Also, we may do the old velcro nativity scene Advent calendar (if we can find enough pieces!), so that may get combined with number 6.

You can see pictures of everything Advent here.

I also love online Advent calendars!  My favorite religious one is on Busted Halo, my favorite secular one is Boola and Kwala.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Beautiful Candle Gifts

Fortunately, none of these are going out to people who read this blog, so I think it's safe to post it!

Basically, they are ordinary pillar candles with beads, sequins, and jewelry supplies pinned to them.

Klenda, Leena and I did these on Girls' Night in an hour or so.

Most of the beads and so forth we had on hand, but we did buy the chains in the jewelry section of a craft store (on sale!).
We picked up the candles on sale at a craft store, but dollar stores are also a good source.

Helpful tips: 
1. We used sequin pins from the craft store because they are short and easy to push in, but any pins work.
2. Sketch out your design first with a pin.
3. Use a thimble!
4. Longer, pearl headed pins also work, and look like beads, but they are harder to put in.  
5. We really liked the combination of sequins topped with seed beads.
6.  Keep the designs a little way down from the top so the candles can be lit without interfering with the design.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Secret Life of Gilwell

 Gilwell is the (stuffed) tiger cub mascot for Choclo's Tiger Cub Scout den.  Each session (they meet every two weeks), a different cub takes Gilwell home to have adventures which are then recorded in Gilwell's journal.

Here are Gilwell's adventures on Zoom:

Alligator wrestling!

A trip to the National Gallery where he saw what Choclo described as "The Biggest Fountain in the World!"  If you've been there, it's the one under the central dome.

We started with the oldest Medieval paintings and made it up through the Italian Renaissance and the museum's Da Vinci portrait before Oob had enough.

We took a picture of Gilwell with the Da Vinci, but it didn't come out well (I wasn't sure if it was ok to use the flash).

 We took Gilwell to Oxon Hill Farm where he went for a ride on one of their horses!

These were not ordinary riding horses, but the big draft animals.  To give you a sense of scale, that's the Emperor whose hands are in the picture.  The top of the fence was about the height of his shoulder.
And, of course, Gilwell had a Thanksgiving adventure in which he tried to eat one of the seven pies.

We made three pumpkin, two chocolate, one sweet potato, and a lemon meringue.  You would think it would be fine for Gilwell to have one, but no, the Emperor saved the pies for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Which I Shoot a Turkey

 We had missed Choclo's Tiger Cub visit to Oxon Hill Farm last Sunday, so we decided to go today (the day before Thanksgiving).

The farm has cows, horses, pigs, geese, rabbits, chickens, a cat, and a donkey.  It also plays host to a flock of wild turkeys who like to mooch off the feeding bins!

Yes, I shot my very own turkey with my very own camera on the day before Thanksgiving!  It was thrilling.  For me.

More thrilling for the Zoomlians, they each got to try their hand at milking a (very patient) cow named Minnie.

We took along the Tiger Cubs' mascot, a stuffed tiger named Gilwell.  Each kid gets a turn to take Gilwell home and write his adventures in Gilwell's journal.

We had the whole farm to ourselves, and had a great time poking around in all the outbuildings!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I have been enjoying Catholic Memes for a while now, and I finally came up with one myself!

I've often had to explain to my kids why we can't have a dog: I would be utterly unable to resist naming it this!( that and the dog allergies)

"Anathema sit" is the term used to formally denounce a heresy, and literally means, "Let him be anathema."  It's always proceeded by an "if," as in, "If he says Jesus Christ was not truly God, let him be anathema!"

Unfortunately, the "sit" is pronounced with a long e instead of a short i, but I wouldn't let that stop me!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just Turkeys

Sometime when Mxyl and Klenda were very small, I had the idea of having them do the same craft every year to see how they changed and how their creativity evolved.  That craft was to make a construction paper turkey with feathers (real or paper) and  googly eyes.

This has sort of taken on a life of it's own.

Here are this year's turkeys.

Leena did a Classic Turkey of the type I always have in mind when I drag out the paper.

Zorg has the Conquering Alien Turkey... of Doom!

 Klenda did The Flirty Turkey.

Mxyl did Turkey.

Highlight the empty space after this text if you can't figure it out.
It's the country.
Oob snuck in under the radar and, unbeknownst to me, made a Baby Turkey snuggled up to our big Thankful Turkey.

Choclo, also on his own, made this Video Game Turkey.  He explained, "When he pushes the square button on his chest, he spits out twenty video games!"