Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Year Has (almost) Passed

I apologize for not blogging during the last few weeks. Christmas is always spent with the family and there is not much time to post. We had a lovely Christmas in the quietness of our humble dwelling. The days after Christmas are always spent playing with new toys and chatting to our families far and near. Yesterday the phone was occupied most of the day. Everyone important to me called to wish me a Happy Birthday. Now I am 31. My wonderful and multi-talented husband baked me a delicious gluten-free cake with gluten-free frosting. He raided the drawers for decorating utensils and the picture above is the result of his hard work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gluten Free Brownies

My last post got so long, but I didn't want anyone to miss out on this delicious brownie recipe. My husband who isn't celiac thinks these are the best brownies I have ever made. This recipe is originally in German and can be found here.


125g Butter or your favorite butter substitute
125g cane sugar
125g baker's chocolate (70% cocoa)
3 eggs
50g light GF Flour Mix
30g cocoa
1 tsp. GF Baking powder
150g chopped nuts (almonds, haselnuts or cashews)

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate in a double broiler over hot water. Let the mixture cool. Mix together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and add to the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the three beaten eggs and mix. Now fold in the chopped nuts.

Pour into a baking form (I used an 8x8 pan) lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Please adjust your oven temperature and baking times according to your oven. The times on the original recipe seemed a little long. I didn't set a timer and am just guessing at the baking time and took mine out when I thought it was done.

Living Gluten Free

We have been living gluten free for about a week now. Before that we were trying to go wheat free, but that just wasn't enough. My oldest boy and I have had no stomach aches, pains, discomfort or any other nasty side effects. We have been feeling great. Noah, who is so skinny has actually gained some weight. I have been trying to lose baby weight for over three years now and have already lost a dress size. Most of all, I am thankful for the energy, the sleep at nights and for my brain recovery. That might sound strange, but I have been suffering from short term memory loss and it is slowly coming back. I can remember what I was going without asking myself "What am I doing here?" and I can remember items on the shopping list, without taking a list. Truly, I have never been so thankful for anything in my life, than my new found energy and my memory.

I was very intimidated to go gluten free. I think I made that evident in my last blog post on Food Allergies and Intollerances. I was most intimidated by the cost of alternatives. We are not rich folks and basically get from one month to the next with the resources my husband provides. I was also afraid that the alternatives wouldn't taste any good and that we would be wasting our money and time. I'll put it this way, we normally spend about $150/wk on groceries including toiletries and laundry detergent, dogfood, etc. This may sound like a lot and it is. We buy mostly organic, green products and very few processed foods. You can understand my guilt when I went to the local organic store and spent over $100 on gluten free products and then needed to go back two days later to buy more. I didn't run out of everything, just a few types of flour that are used in almost every recipe for gluten free baking. Nonetheless, I was quite uneasy and extremely guilty.

I am quite confident now that I am getting better at living gluten free and hope to do so on a budget. I am learning what flours are best for what, where I can make substitutions and which flours are actually worth the extra $$$. So far my pantry holds...

brown rice flour
white rice flour (cheaper than brown rice flour)
millet flour
garfava flour (great in pizza dough!)
tapioca flour
sweet rice flour
sorghum flour
buckwheat flour
chickpea flour
teff flour
arrowroot starch
corn starch
GF baking powder
GF Vanilla extract
xanthum gum
guar gum
GF/WF Mighty Tasty Cereal (Bob's Red Mill)
Organic Chicken Bouillon cubes (GF)
Organic Vegetable Bouillon cubes (GF)
Hemp Milk (great thicker type milk for thickening soups)
Rice Milk

This is the list of alternatives. My pantry is well stocked for now. Here are pictures of my cupboards before gluten free and after. I am using up the gluten containing flours for bread for my dh and then I will clean the containers and fill with GF goods.



Now no post on gluten free living can go without a few recipes that are worth sharing. I have been testing and recipes for over a week now and I have to share with you our favourites.

Gluten Free French Bread - absolutely delicious
Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes - we use hempmilk and a tbsp of vinegar instead of buttermilk
Gluten Free Pizza Crust - delicious
Taco Seasoning Mix, Gluten Free
Banana-Nut Waffles (Gluten-Free and Vegan)
Savoury Chickpea Onion Biscuits
Gluten Free Dairy Free Muffins Mix
Rice Flour Pancakes
Gluten Free Tortillas

Christmas Novena

This Novena is recited from December 16-24, and helps us prepare a special place in our hearts for the new born King.

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(mention request here).

Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.

Day One

God's Love Revealed In His Becoming Man.

Because our first parent Adam had rebelled against God, he was driven out of paradise and brought on himself and all his descendants the punishment of eternal death. But the son of God, seeing man thus lost and wishing to save him from death, offered to take upon Himself our human nature and to suffer death Himself, condemned as a criminal on a cross. "But, My Son," we may imagine the eternal Father saying to Him, "think of what a life of humiliations and sufferings Thou wilt have to lead on earth. Thou wilt have to be born in a cold stable and laid in a manger, the feeding trough of beasts.
While still an infant, Thou wilt have to flee into Egypt, to escape the hands of Herod. After Thy return from Egypt, Thou wilt have to live and work in a shop as a lowly servant, poor and despised. And finally, worn out with sufferings, Thou wilt have to give up Thy life on a cross, put to shame and abandoned by everyone." "Father," replies the Son, "all this matters not. I will gladly bear it all, if only I can save man."

What should we say if a prince, out of compassion for a dead worm, were to choose to become a worm himself and give his own life blood in order to restore the worm to life? But the eternal Word has done infinitely more than this for us. Though He is the sovereign Lord of the world, He chose to become like us, who are immeasurably more beneath Him than a worm is beneath a prince, and He was willing to die for us, in order to win back for us the life of divine grace that we had lost by sin.
When He saw that all the other gifts which He had bestowed on us were not sufficient to induce us to pray His love with love, He became man Himself and gave Himself all to us. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us;" "He loved us anddelivered Himself up for us."

O Great Son of God, Thou hast become man in order to make Thyself loved by men. But where is the love that men give Thee in return?
Thou hast given Thy life blood to save our souls. Why then are we so unappreciative that, instead of repaying Thee with love, we spurn Thee with ingratitude? And I, Lord, I myself more than others have thus ill treated Thee.
But Thy Passion is my hope. For the sake of that love which led Thee to take upon Thyself human nature and to die for me on the cross, forgive me all the offenses I have committed against Thee.

I love Thee, O Word Incarnate; I love Thee, O infinite goodness. Out of love for Thee, that I could die of grief for these offenses. Give me, O Jesus, Thy love. Let me no longer live in ungrateful forgetfulness of the love Thou bearest me. I
wish to love Thee always. Grant that I may always preserve in this holy desire.

O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray for me that thy Son may give me the grace to love Him always, unto death.

Second Day

God's Love Revealed In His Being Born An Infant.

When the Son of God became man for our sake, He could have come on earth as an adult man from the first moment of of His human existence, as Adam did when he was created. But since the sight of little children draws us with an especial attraction to love them, Jesus chose to make His first appearance on earth as a little infant, and indeed as the poorest and most pitiful infant that was ever born. "God wished to be born as a little babe," wrote Saint Peter Chrysologus, "in order that He might teach us to love and not to fear Him." The prophet Isaias had long before foretold that the Son of God was to be born as an infant and thus give Himself to us on account of the love He bore us: "A child is born to us, a son is given to us."

My Jesus, supreme and true God! What has drawn Thee from heaven to be born in a cold stable, if not the love which Thou bearest us men? What has allured Thee from the bosom of Thy Father, to place Thee in a hard manger? What has brought Thee from Thy throne above the stars, to lay Thee down on a little straw? What has led Thee from the midst of the nine choirs of angels, to set Thee between two animals? Thou, who inflamest the seraphim with holy fire, art now shivering with cold in this stable! Thou, who settest the stars in the sky in motion, canst not now move unless others carry Thee in their arms! Thou, who givest men and beasts their food, has need now a little milk to sustain Thy life! Thou, who art the joy of heaven, dost now whimper and cry in suffering! Tell me, who has reduced Thee to such misery? "Love has done it," says Saint Bernard. The love which Thou bearest us men has brought all this on Thee.

O Dearest Infant! Tell me, what hast Thou come on earth to do? Tell me, whom art Thou seeking? Yes, I already know. Thou has come to die for me, in order to save me from hell. Thou hast come to seek me, the lost sheep, so that, instead of fleeing from Thee any more, I may rest in Thy loving arms.
Ah my Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love and my all! Whom will I love, if not Thee? Where can I find a father, a friend, a spouse more loving and lovable than Thou art?

I love Thee, my dear God; I love Thee, my only good. I regret the many years when I have not loved Thee, but rather spurned and offended Thee. Forgive me, O my beloved Redeemer; for I am sorry that I have thus treated Thee, and I regret it with all my heart. Pardon me, and give me the grace never more to withdraw from Thee, but constantly to love Thee in all the years that still lie before me in this life. My love, I give myself entirely to Thee; accept me, and do not reject me as I deserve.
O Mary, thou art my advocate. By thy prayers thou dost obtain whatever thou wilt from thy Son. Pray Him then to forgive me, and to grant me holy perseverance until death. Amen.

Third Day

The Life Of Poverty Which Jesus Led From His Birth.

God so ordained that, at the time when His Son was to be born on this earth, the Roman emperor should issue a decree ordering everyone to go to the place of his origin and there be registered in the census. Thus it came about that, in obedience to this decree, Joseph went to Bethlehem together with his virgin wife when she was soon to have her Child.
Finding no lodging either in the poor inn or in the other houses of the town, they were forced to spend the night in a cave that was used as a stable for animals, and it was here that Mary gave birth to the King of heaven. If Jesus had been born in Nazareth, He would also, it is true, have been born in poverty; but there He would at least have had a dry room, a little fire, warm clothes and a more comfortable cradle. Yet He chose to be born in this cold, damp cave, and to have a manger for a cradle, with prickly straw for a mattress, in order that He might suffer for us.

Let us enter in spirit into this cave of Bethlehem, but let us enter in a spirit of lively faith. If we go there without faith, we shall see nothing but a poor infant, and the sight of this lovely child shivering and crying on his rough bed of straw may indeed move us to pity. But if we enter with faith and consider that this Babe is the very Son, God, who for love of us has come down on earth and suffers so much to pay the penalty for our sins, how can we help thanking and loving Him in return?

O Dear Infant Jesus, how could I be so ungrateful and offend Thee so often, if I realized how much Thou hast suffered for me? But these tears which Thou sheddest, this poverty which Thou embracest for love of me, make me hope for the pardon of all the offenses I have committed against Thee.

My Jesus, I am sorry for having so often turned my back on Thee. But now I love Thee above all else. "My God and my all!"
From now on Thou, O my God, shalt be my only treasure and my only good. With Saint Ignatius of Loyola I will say to Thee, "Give me the grace to love Thee; that is enough for me." I long for nothing else; I want nothing else. Thou alone art enough for me, my Jesus, my life, my love.

O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me the grace that I may always love Jesus and always be loved by Him. Amen.

Fourth Day

The Life Of Humiliation Which Jesus Led From His Birth.

The Sign which the angel gave the shepherds to help them find the newborn Savior, points to His lowliness: "This shall be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." No other newborn baby who was wrapped in poor swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, could be found anywhere else but in a stable. Thus in lowliness the King of heaven, the Son of God, chose to be born, because He came to destroy the pride that had been the cause of man's ruin.

The prophets had already foretold that our Redeemer was to be treated as the vilest of men on earth and that He was to be overwhelmed with insults. How much contempt had not Jesus indeed to suffer from men! He was called a drunkard, a trickster, a blasphemer and a heretic. What ignominies He endured in His Passion! His own disciples abandoned Him; one of them sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, and another denied having ever known Him. He was led in bonds through the streets like a criminal; He was scourged like a slave, ridiculed as a fool, crowned with thorns as a mock king, buffeted and spit upon, and finally left to die, hanging on a cross between two thieves, as the worst criminal in the world. "The noblest of all," says Saint Bernard, "is treated as the vilest of all." But the Saint adds, "The viler Thou are treated, the dearer Thou art to me." The more I see Thee, my Jesus, despised and put to shame, the more dear and worthy of my love dost Thou become to me.

O Dearest Savior, Thou hast embraced so many outrages for love of me, yet I have not been able to bear one word of insult without at once being filled with resentful thought, I who have so often deserved to be trodden under foot by the demons in hell! I am ashamed to appear before Thee, sinful and proud as I am. Yet do not drive me from Thy presence, O Lord, even though that is what I deserve. Thou hast said that Thou wilt not spurn a contrite and humbled heart. I am sorry for the offenses I have committed against Thee. Forgive me, O Jesus. I will not offend Thee again.

For love of me Thou hast borne so many injuries; for love of Thee I will bear all the injuries that are done to me. I love Thee, Jesus, who was despised for love of me. I love Thee above every other good. Give me the grace to love Thee always and to bear every insult for love of Thee.

O Mary, recommend me to Thy Son; pray to Jesus for me.

Fifth Day

The Life Of Sorrow Which Jesus Led From His Birth.

Jesus Christ could have saved mankind without suffering and dying. Yet, in order to prove to us how much He loved us, He chose for Himself a life full of tribulations. Therefore the prophet Isaias called Him "a man of sorrows," His whole life was filled with suffering. His Passion began, not merely a few hours before His death, but from the the first moment of His birth. He was born in a stable where everything served to torment Him. His sense of sight was hurt by seeing nothing but the rough, black walls of the cave; His sense of smell was hurt by the stench of the dung from the beasts in the stable; His sense of touch was hurt by the prickling straw on which He lay. Shortly after His birth He was forced to flee into Egypt, where He spent several years of His childhood in poverty and misery. His boyhood and early manhood in Nazareth were passed in hard work and obscurity. And finally, in Jerusalem, He died on a cross, exhausted with pain and anguish.

Thus, then, was the life of Jesus but one unbroken series of sufferings, which were doubly painful because He had ever before His eyes all the sufferings He would have to endure till His death. Yet, since our Lord had voluntarily chosen to bear these tribulations for our sake, they did not afflict Him as much as did the sight of our sins, by which we have so ungratefully repaid Him for His love towards us. When the confessor of Saint Margaret of Cortona saw that she never seemed satisfied with all the tears she had already shed for her past sins, he said to her, "Margaret, stop crying and cease your lamenting, for God has surely forgiven you your offenses against Him." But she replied, "Father, how can I cease to weep, since I know that my sins kept my Lord Jesus in pain and suffering during all His life?"

O Jesus, my sweet Love! I too have kept Thee suffering through all Thy life. Tell me, then, what I must do in order to win Thy forgiveness. I am ready to do all Thou askest of me. I am sorry, O sovereign Good, for all the offenses I have committed against Thee. I love Thee more than myself, or a least I feel a great desire to love Thee. Since it is Thou who hast given me this desire, do Thou also give me the strength to love Thee exceedingly.

It is only right that I, who have offended Thee so much, should love Thee very much. Always remind me of the love Thou hast borne me, in order that my soul may ever burn with love of Thee and long to please Thee alone. O God of love, I, who was once a slave of hell, now give myself all to Thee.
Graciously accept me and bind me to Thee with the bonds of Thy love. My Jesus, from this day and forever in loving Thee will I live, and in loving Thee will I die.

O Mary, my Mother and my hope, help me to love Thy dear God and mine. This is the only favor I ask of thee, and through thee I hope to receive it. Amen.

Sixth Day

God's Mercy Revealed In His Coming Down From Heaven To Save Us.

Saint Paul says, "The goodness and kindness of God, our Savior, has appeared." When the Son of God made Man appear on earth, then was it seen how great is God's goodness towards us. Saint Bernard says that first God's power was manifested in the creation of the world and His wisdom in its conservation, but His merciful goodness was especially manifested later in His taking human nature on Himself, in order to save fallen mankind by His sufferings and death. For what greater proof of His kindness towards us could the Son of God show us than in taking on Himself the punishment we had deserved?

See Him as a weak, newborn infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Unable to move or feed Himself, He has need of Mary to give Him a little milk to sustain His life.
Or see Him again in Pilate's courtyard, tied with fast bonds to a column and there scourged from head to foot. Behold Him on the way to Calvary, falling down from weakness under weight of the cross that He must carry. Finally behold Him nailed to this tree of shame, on which He breathes His last amid pain and anguish. Because Jesus Christ wished that His love for us should win all the love of our hearts for Himself, He would not send an angel to redeem us, but chose to come Himself, to save us by His Passion and death. Had an angel been our redeemer, men would have had to divide their hearts in loving God as their Creator and an angel as their redeemer; but God, who desires men's whole hearts, as He was already their Creator, wished also to be their Redeemer.

O my Dear Redeemer! Where should I be now, if Thou hadst not borne with me so patiently, but hadst called me from life while I was in the state of sin? Since Thou hast waited for me till now, forgive me quickly, O my Jesus, before death finds me still guilty of so many offenses that I have committed against Thee. I am so sorry for having vilely despised Thee, my sovereign Good, that I could die of grief. But Thou canst not abandon a soul that seeks Thee.

If hitherto I have forsaken Thee, I now seek Thee and love Thee. Yes, my God, I love Thee above all else; I love Thee more than myself. Help me, Lord, to love Thee always during the rest of my life. Nothing else do I seek of Thee. But this I beg of Thee, this I hope to receive from Thee.

Mary, my hope, do thou pray for me. If thou prayest for me, I am sure of grace. Amen.

Seventh Day

Flight Of The Child Jesus Into Egypt.

Although the Son of God came from heaven to save men, scarcely was He born when men began to persecute Him to death. Herod, fearing that this Child would deprive Him of his kingdom, seeks to destroy His life. But St. Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream to take the Infant and His Mother and flee into Egypt. Joseph obeys at once, and tells Mary about it.
He takes the few tools of his trade, that he may use them to gain a livelihood in Egypt for himself and his poor family. Mary wraps up a small bundle of clothes for the use of her little Son, and then, going to the crib, she says with tears in her eyes to her sleeping Child, "O my Son and my God! Thou hast come from heaven to save men; but hardly art Thou born when they seek to take Thy life." Lifting Him meanwhile in her arms and continuing to weep, she sets out that same night with Joseph on the road to Egypt.

Let us consider how much these holy wanderers must have suffered in making so long a journey, deprived of every comfort. The divine Child was not yet able to walk, and so Mary and Joseph had to take turns in carrying Him in their arms. During their journey through the desert towards Egypt they had to spend several nights in the open air, with the bare ground for their bed. The cold makes the Infant cry, and Mary and Joseph weep in pity for Him. And who would not weep at thus seeing the Son of God poor and persecuted, a fugitive on earth, that he might not be killed by His enemies!

Dear Infant Jesus, crying so bitterly! Well hast Thou reason to weep in seeing Thyself persecuted by men whom Thou lovest so much. I, too, O God, have once persecuted Thee by my sins. But Thou knowest that now I love Thee more than myself, and that nothing pains me more than the thought that I have so often spurned Thee, my sovereign Good.

Forgive me, O Jesus, and let me bear Thee with me in my heart n all the rest of the journey that I have still to make through life, so that together with Thee I may enter into eternity. So often have I driven Thee from my soul by my sins. But now I love Thee above all things, and I regret above other misfortunes that I have offended Thee. I wish to leave Thee no more, my beloved Lord. But do Thou give me the strength to resist temptations. Never permit me to be separated from Thee again. Let me rather die than ever again lose Thy good grace.

O Mary, my hope, make me always live in God's love and then die in loving Him. Amen.

Eighth Day

The Life Of The Child Jesus In Egypt And In Nazareth.

Our Blessed Redeemer spent the first part of His childhood in Egypt, leading there for several years a life of poverty and humiliation. In that land Joseph and Mary were foreigners and strangers, having there neither relatives nor friends. Only with difficulty could they earn their daily bread by the labor of their hands. Their home was poor, their bed was poor, their food was poor. Here Mary weaned Jesus; dipping a piece of bread in water, she would put it in the sacred mouth of her Son. Here she made His first little garments and clothed Him with them. Here the Child Jesus took His first steps, stumbling and falling as other children first do. Here too He spoke His first words, but stammeringly. O wonder of wonders! To what has not God lowered Himself for love of us! A God stumbling and falling as He walks! A God stammering in His speech!

Not unlike this was the poor and humble life that Jesus led in Nazareth after His return from Egypt. There, until He was thirty years old, He lived as a simple servant or workman in a carpenter shop, taking orders form Joseph and Mary. "And He was subject to them." Jesus went to fetch the water; He opened and closed the shop; He swept the house, gathered the fragments of wood for the fire, and toiled all day long, helping Joseph in his work. Yet who is this? God Himself, serving as a apprentice! The omnipotent God, who with less than a flick of His finger created the whole universe, here sweating at the task of planing a piece of work! Should not the mere thought of this move us to love Him?

O Jesus, my Savior! When I consider how, for love of me, Thou didst spend thirty years of Thy life hidden and unknown in a poor workshop, how can I desire the pleasures and honors and riches of the world? Gladly do I renounce all these things, since I wish to be Thy companion on this earth, poor as Thou wast, mortified and humble as Thou wast, so that I may hope to be able one day to enjoy Thy companionship in heaven. What are all the treasures and kingdoms of this world? Thou, O Jesus, art my only treasure, my only Good!

I keenly regret the many times in the past when I spurned Thy friendship in order to satisfy my foolish whims. I am sorry for them with all my heart. For the future I would rather lose my life a thousand times than lose Thy grace by sin. I wish never to offend Thee again, but always to love Thee. Help me to remain faithful to Thee until death.

O Mary, thou art the refuge of sinners, thou art my hope. Amen.

Ninth Day

The Birth Of Jesus In The Stable Of Bethlehem.

When the edict was issued by the emperor of Rome that everyone should go to his own city to be enrolled, Joseph and Mary went to be enrolled in Bethlehem. How much the Holy Virgin must have suffered on this journey of four days, over mountainous road and in the wintertime, with its cold rain and wind! When they arrived in Bethlehem, the time of Mary's delivery was near. Joseph, therefore, sought some lodging where she might give birth to her Child. But because they were so poor, they were driven away from the houses and even from the public inn, where other poor people had found shelter.
So in that night they went a short way out of the town and there found a cave that was used as a stable, and here Mary entered. But Joseph said to his virgin wife, "Mary, how can you spend the night in this cold, damp cave and here give birth to your Child?" Mary however replied, "Dear Joseph, this cave is the royal palace in which the King of kings, the Son of God, wishes to be born."

When the hour of her delivery had arrived, the holy Virgin, as she knelt in prayer, all at once saw the cave illumined with a dazzling light. She lowered her eyes to the ground and there saw before her the Son of God now born on earth, a poor little Babe, crying and shivering in the cold. Adoring Him as her God, she took Him to her breast and fondled Him. Then she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lad Him on the straw of the manger that stood in the cave. Thus did the Son of God choose to be born among us to prove His infinite love for us.

O Adorable Infant Jesus! I should not have the boldness to cast myself at Thy feet, if I did not know that Thou Thyself invitest me to draw near Thee. It is I who by my sins have made Thee shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But since Thou hast come on earth to pardon repentant sinners, forgive me also, now that I am heartily sorry for having spurned Thee, my Savior and my God, who art so good and who hast loved me so much.

In this night, in which Thou bestowest great graces on so many souls, grant Thy heavenly consolation to this poor soul of mine also. All that I ask of Thee is the grace to love Thee always, from this day forward, with all my heart. Set me all on fire with Thy holy love. I love Thee, O my God, who hast become a Babe for love of me. Never let me cease from loving Thee ever more.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, thou canst obtain everything from thy Son by thy prayers. This is the only favor I ask of Thee.
Do thou pray to Jesus for me. Amen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Doggy Before and After

I started this blog for my mom. My mom lives three provinces away and doesn't get to see her wonderful grandkids all that often. This blog is meant to keep her up to date with pictures and school and all that is on our minds. What you might not know, is that my mom gave us her dog when she came to visit in September of 2007. We promised to take good care of him. We have for the most part, but after a month of everyone being sick, poor doggy looked like this...

Our dog clipper broke, so his last two haircuts were with people clippers. Needless to say, the people clipper busted. Sascha didn't want the mess, so he asked me kindly to make Billy a hair appointment. His appointment finally came and this is what he looks like now.

Mom this is your movie star!

Christmas Quiz

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? A combination of both
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial
3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever my husband bugs me about it
4. When do you take the tree down? After Epiphany
5. Do you like eggnog? YES!!!, but can't drink it anymore.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A doll from my birth mother.
7. Hardest person to buy for? everyone but the kids
8. Easiest person to buy for? my kids
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No...we have several!
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There's no such thing! It's the thought that counts!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Little Women - ok, it is not a Christmas movie, but it is celebrated three times in the movie (I think)
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever I feel like it, sometime after June
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? turkey stuffing
16. Lights on the tree? LOTS!
17. Favorite Christmas song(s)? Hark the Herald Angels Sing
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Stay at home
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? did Santa really have reindeer?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both! That way Christmas lasts longer
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Getting sick-it happens every year
23. What theme or color are you using? We don't do themes. We decorate with what we have on hand
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Grandma's
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Not to get sick.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Frosty came to our house

Yes, we have snow. Lots of it. Yesterday afternoon the kids built a frosty, dug tunnels and played in the snow. They had hours of fun. They are especially proud of their frosty. Grandma, I hope you are proud of these little European wanna-be Canadians. Noah didn't freeze for once. It must be because of the hat he is wearing. I made it. It was supposed to be for Christmas, but he couldn't find any other hat. I didn't want him to freeze. Billy (our poodle) also got a chance to jump in the snow and eat his fair share of it. I had to let him in because he kept jumping on the kids he was so excited. They got annoyed by his excitement. Well, here are the pictures of our fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

Anyone who knows me really well, knows that I love to get busy in the kitchen. I especially love to bake. Nothing beats homemade bread, muffins, cookies, you name it! I love to spoil the family with home made stuff. We have our tried and tested favourite recipes for all the different times of the year. Some of the recipes are passed down from generation to generation and some are from Germany. My husband and kids especially love my pumpkin pie, chocolate chip muffins, tea biscuits, Mutzen, Broetchen, Brezel and family size brownies. Do I have you thinking about your favourite desserts and homemade wonders from your kitchen? That is all I think about. I am dying to eat something like that right now, but I can't. Christmas is coming and I usually have a good portion of baking already under my belt. This year, everything is different.

I am reacting to almost everything I eat and have been for months or maybe even years. At first, I thought nothing of it. Everyone gets gas or feels bloated once in a while. Now it is to the point, where I can't eat hardly anything without pain or worse (you know what I mean). With the help of digestive enzymes, I am able to eat without symptoms as long as I avoid what seems like a long list of normal foods. I have suspected a lactose intollerance for almost two years and thought that avoiding milk and its counterparts would be enough. WRONG! Now it looks like I am reacting to wheat. I am not 100% sure, but I have a hunch about it. I have been avoiding bread for about three months now. On the weekend, my husband was eating some homemade bread (the wife of a work buddy made it) and asked me to give it a try. It was delicious. I took a little bite and boom! not five minutes later, I was in misery. It seems so unfair.

Now, I don't want to complain or anyone to feel sorry for me. There are a lot of people out there who have severe allergies and I know that I don't have it that bad. I have been doing some reading up on celiac disease which is a gluten intolerance. I even started looking for gluten free recipes. The only problem is, most of them include milk. I also bought a book called "Nourishing Traditions". It is a huge book of information on food and has a lot of recipes in it. It explains how foods should be prepared in order to be easily digested and for the maximum of nutrient absorbtion. It is somewhat intimidating at first, but in many ways has opened my eyes. Primarily, I want to cook healthy food for my family that tastes good and fills everyone up. That sounds easy, doesn't it? My only problem is, what do I cook? I have tried a few gluten free recipes that are great and a few recipes from the above mentioned cookbook and still am pouting. I reacted really badly to something I ate that was recommended from the cookbook. What do I do?

I am finally going to make a doctor's appointment and find out what is going on inside me. I am sick and tired of trial and error. We are being invited out for various functions and I turn everything down. I am terrified of having a reaction out in public. There is a little catch. We don't have a doctor. This is nothing unheard of here. I am going to have to go to a walk-in clinic and see what happens. I have no idea where I am going to be sent or how longs tests are going to take. I have put it off for so long, but know that I can't wait much longer. I feel like I am going crazy and sometimes wonder if it is all in my head. I know it isn't, but that is how I feel. I hate cooking now. I loathe baking. There must be a reason for the way I am feeling physically and emotionally.

Millions of people live with worse diseases, problems and worries than I do. I can be thankful that it isn't something worse. I debated on making this public or not, but I want those who know me and those who love me to know that I am here. I have been dodging folks for a while now. I am not some stuck up snob or a hermit. I am just frustrated and terrified.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Feast of St. Nicholas

We celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas yesterday. The two oldest went to German school for the morning. They were preparing for their Christmas Concert next Saturday. In the meantime, I made gingerbread and starting on some of my Christmas sewing projects.

Before the kids left for German school, they took a peek in the Nicholas shoe's they made (courtesy the Inside were a few little treats from Oma and us. Even though they know that we are playing Nicholas, they love the tradtion. Each child got a Loonie ($1 coin) to represent the gold coins that Nicholas gave to the poor children. They also got a chocolate Nicholas in remembrance of St. Nicholas and a candy cane to represent his staff. Each child also received a little car to represent the toys that St. Nicholas gave the children. You may ask why there weren't any oranges or nuts present. Well, first of all they were too big and second of all, I don't like putting food that we are going to eat in their boots. In the story of the true St. Nicholas, the shoes were outside and got air. Our boots stay inside. Here are a few pictures from the kids on the Feast of St. Nicholas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Feast of St. Nicholas

I know today is not the feast of St. Nicholas, but I want to remind you. We lived in Germany until recently and we always celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas. Here is a little reminder to go and visit the St. Nicholas Centre online for projects and crafts.

Here is the traditional song "Lasst uns froh und munter sein" sung by the Offenbacher Children's Choir. It is all about the feast of St. Nicholas and how it is celebrated in Germany. I am sorry that I don't have a translation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homemade Christmas

I believe that I have already mentioned that we plan on celebrating this Christmas with homemade Christmas presents. It is interesting to watch little ones doing their work. I just couldn't resist posting these adorable pictures from our Christmas workshop. The kids have been busy working on Christmas cards and we started an Advent workbook based on the Advent Faithfolder.

I have also been busy making Rosaries as Christmas presents. Here are a few that I have made so far.

Weekend Renos

This past weekend, we decided to give part of the main floor an overhaul. The whole house was beige, except the school room. Trims and all. We were sick of the same old blaaaaaa, that we were brave and bought some bold paint.

Although Sascha was fighting a bit of a cold, he couldn't wait to give the main floor a dash of colour. He should have rested, but we were too excited to see change. Sascha's health turned for worse and was really sick on Monday morning. He is still home today. I have never seen a cold or flu literally knock him off his feet like this. He is on the mend, but still has to take it easy or he gets really dizzy.

I am not going to say that it was worth it to paint the kitchen and bath despite how he is feeling, because that just isn't true. It would have gotten painted sooner or later, but the results are phenomenal (to me at least!). The kids picked the kitchen colour and we picked the guest bath colour. Kids like bright colours and I must admit that their request for orange a.k.a. pumpkin coloured walls made me uneasy. I really do like it. The kids love it. The guest bath is in contrast, extremely calming. We like it. What do you think?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Would You Make a Great 1930's Wife?

This is the last quiz for today. I always new that I was a little old fashioned, but this goes way beyond what I thought. I must say that I am not ashamed of the results. I like being old fashioned and so do my husband and kids. I guess I should go and make breakfast soon... pancakes!

You Would Make a Great 1930's Wife

You've got a few retro ways, and you would make the ideal 1930's wife.

At least, that's how it looks on paper. You may just be an easygoing, pleasant person.

With a personality like yours, you'd be a great wife in any era!

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

You Are a Snowman

Friendly and fun, you enjoy bringing holiday cheer to everyone you know!

What Part of Thanksgiving Are You?

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Ordinary, comforting, and more than a little predictable

You're the glue that holds everyone together.

What Type of Mother Hen Are You?

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Educational Resource

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Taking a Break

This is one of those weeks where everyone is getting over colds and needs a little break. Last week, our home school facilitator made her first visit. Before she came we were busy finishing up some unfinished projects and getting caught up in a few things that got a little off track. All in all, I think she was pleased with what the kids have been doing. I know that I am. They worked hard so far this year and deserve a little break.

This has also given me a chance to get going on Christmas gift making. We are trying to do a home made Christmas this year. Other than a few music Cd's and small toys for the stockings, everything will be home made (I hope). So far, I have made one scarf, one pair of mittens, one hat and four rosaries. I have been working on a few small quilt projects. I need to finish the star wallhanging that will hang behind the Christmas stable. It just needs to be sandwiched and quilted. I made a pillow to match for the couch. I have pj's for all the kids left to make and I promised to make the boys and dad matching vests. Mia and I will have matching dresses or skirts (not sure if I have enough material). I am also trying to make gifts for family members living further away. I can't say what, because these people read this blog (I think). I am excited and very busy. I don't know how much I will be blogging in the next few weeks.

I have also been busy looking for advent and Christmas activities for school. Next week we will be schooling again and there is so much to do. Here are a few links of some things that I am planning to do with the kids during advent:

* learn some advent songs and Christmas carols
* make an advent wreath
* make an advent lapbook. Advent Faithfolder Link
* a unit study on Tomie de Paola
* Saint Nicholas activities from
* Advent Adventure activites
* make Christmas gifts and cards for each other and cards for everyone they know
* make a Jesse tree and maybe even host a Jesse Tea
* bake cookies and listen to music
* most of all, prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

17 Days Left Until Advent

I was reading one blog after another this morning. One blog just led to another. I don't often take the time to follow links from one blog to another, but the kids are still sleeping, so I took advantage of my pc. The reason I am blogging now is to send you a link to something I found really interesting and hopefully fun.

How do you spend the busiest time of year ~ Advent??? We do a Jesse Tree and try to go to daily Mass and say more prayers than usual, but that is about it. Well, this year we will be doing an Advent Adventure with Holy Heroes. There are short videos, short audio selections, coloring pictures to download, word searches and games, quizzes to take to see what you’ve learned, and more. They will email you each day of advent with activities for the day. That sure helps me out. No planning involved! Click here to sign up. It's Free. I am in no way affiliated with Holy Heroes, I just think it would be fun to participate.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Apple Lapbooks at Last!

We have been working very hard this week to get caught up on a few things that we were getting behind in. We finished our October "Apple" study and here are some pictures of the hard work the kids put in. What you can't see, is that these lapbooks are actually "Lap-Notebooks". This is something that is stumbled upon while looking for pretty notebooking pages. The term "Lap-Notebook" is a combination of a lapbook and a notebook. You can't see is very well on the pictures, but there is a duotang taped to the back of the lapbook. The kids put a book log, apple related activity sheets, graphic organizers, and apple poetry in this folder and used the lapbook for mainly facts. This combination works out great and everything stays together in one spot. I always like to post links to our resources, so that you can try out your own apple lapbook. The links are posted at the end of this post.

Both children wrote apple poetry that you can not see. I wanted to include them anyway.

APPLE by Maria

Lots to

An Apple Haiku by Noah

a juicy apple
honey bees are the mothers
the apples grow stout

My Own Apple Haiku

my yummy apple
is a house with five bed rooms
too small for a mouse

Here are the pictures of the lapbooks...



Here are the links we used:

Our Apple Lapbook by Albright Homeschool ~ This link has a lot of great printouts that we used in our lapbooks.

Apple Tree through the Seasons - from Enchanted Learning
Apple Graphic Organizer - from Enchanted Learning
more printouts and activities from Enchanted Learning with an apple theme We used a few, but you can definitely gear your activities towards the age of your child.

Here is our reading list for our apple unit:

Alosha's Apple A Tale of Old Russia by Alvin Alexsi Currier
Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson
Applesauce by Shirley Kurtz
Brother Bartholomew and the Apple Grove by Jan Cheripko
How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro
How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world by Marjorie Priceman
The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum
The Life and Times of the APPLE by Charles Micucci

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

St. Martin of Tours Lapbook

We had a wonderful All Saints Day celebration at our home parish this past Friday. I didn't get a chance to post Noah's lapbook that he used to make his short presentation. He got cold feet and didn't say too much. He dressed up as St. Martin of Tours. Here are the pictures of his lapbook.

Monday, November 3, 2008

October Apple Unit Study

In the next few days, I will be uploading pictures from our October Science Unit Study about Apples. Take a look at some of the books below. These are the books we used and can't wait to show you what we've learned. Stay tuned. Widgets

Thursday, October 30, 2008

St. Thérèse Lapbook

Saturday is all Saints day. We are in the middle of our preparations for our annual homeschool All Saints Day celebration. Local home schoolers get together and celebrate the saints. This year we are celebrating on Halloween, since All Saints is on a Saturday. Each child (of school age) dresses up as a saint and makes a presentation about his or her saint. The prescooler can dress up, too. This year Mia chose to be St. Thérèse and to do a lapbook presentation. Here are some pictures of her lapbook.

Evening Sky

I like to take picture of beautiful things. Most times I am taking picture of my loved ones and their accomplishments. The other night though, I just had to take pictures of the sky. I stood in awe at God's amazing creation. Here are some picture of what I saw.

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