Monday, December 31, 2007


Paula Kathleen
born at home December 31, 2007 1:21 AM
8 lbs, 0 oz

born hand first (!), reaching out to explore the world already, and with a full head of black hair, a first for us.

As usual with newborn pictures, the photo does not do her cuteness justice.

Mother and baby are doing well.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

An Explanation of the Names:
Paula after St. Paula, friend of St. Jerome and collaborator with him on the Vulgate Translation.
Also in honor of the upcoming Year of St. Paul (2008-2009) to be proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI.

"Polly" after Lady Polly Plummer of Narnia :)

Kathleen after her paternal grandmother.

Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Nativity 2007

Blessed Christmas!

I keep hoping that my next post will be a baby post, but I am now two days overdue, and the baby is not yet coming, so I might as well make a Christmas post during the Twelve Days while I wait and quilt and wait...

One cherished treasure from my growing-up years was a little porcelain Napcoware Nativity scene which I received for my confirmation. Alas, when my car was broken into during the time I lived in New York City, it was among the things that were stolen. Unlike most of the things from my trunk, though, I really missed this Nativity scene. Then several years ago, I was able to replace the set, thanks to Ebay. So every year I particularly enjoy setting it up on my dresser with different background pieces, and occaisonally showing off a new acquisition (there are approximately eight other figures that could be part of the set which I still don't have - ah, the thrill of the hunt).

This year during my pregnancy I was fortunate to receive a "blessing party" from my friends in Classical Conversations, hosted by my friend Doran whose ministry, Blessing God's Way, ministers to women with special ceremonies during the onset of maidenhood, pregnancy, and menopause. As part of my "shower", Doran presented me with a tray of sand set with candles, one for each friend who attended the blessing. During the ceremony, each woman lit a candle, set it in the tray, and shared a prayer, story, poem, or gift from the heart about pregnancy. It was truly a wonderful time, and if you've never heard of this ministry, feel free to check it out.

Well, the tray made a perfect and fitting backdrop for this year's little Nativity. When labor starts, I'll light the candles again and remember the prayers.

I forget which friend gave me the "Pax Et Bonum" tile (one of my Franciscan friends, I believe) but it's become a welcome holiday background, along with some pretty Christmas cards, books (Trianon, by Elena Maria Vidal), and two elves with candles on a striped box. (Someday I shall hunt down the angels holding candles who really go with the set, maybe next year!)

And since I myself was born on the eve of the Feast of the Ephiphany, I have a special place in my heart for the three kings, who are journeying here towards Bethlehem atop a cinnamon bark box from my mother. The vintage cover of one of my favorite C.S. Lewis books, The Pilgrim's Regress, ripped, so I added it to the display. You can't see the postcard of Galahad seeing the Holy Grail (our Christmas theme this year was "Knights") and the memory book from the shower that Doran made me, but they're also there, adding to the festivity.

Ah, I am rambling. But indulge me as I enjoy these Christmas days and sit back, waiting for my Christmas baby to come.

Peace and good,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

St. Lucy's Breakfast

"This is the shortest Advent ever!" one of my girls exclaimed yesterday. I am inclined to agree: due to upheavals in moving rooms around, we couldn't find our Advent calendar or Advent wreath until last week. And while the Advent Calendar is at last in its familiar place, there's no room for our hanging Advent wreath, due to new light fixtures. So we are wreath-less in the fourth week of Advent, a telling sign as to how behind we are.

For instance, I meant to post this photo of our St. Lucy's morning breakfast by the fire last week, but only got to it now... I actually had a few other Advent posts I never got to. I will mention how glad I was that I did manage to find our little Lucy doll. We purchased her from Magic Cabin Dolls last year, and she oversaw the holiday table with the help of an overturned pot and some plasti-tak. Our main course was Monkey Bread (eaten too fast to be photographed), which my husband and oldest daughter delight in making. Since my oldest daughter is a budding cook but not an actress, she refuses to wear the white dress and lighted crown while serving us. So little St. Lucy stands for her instead. :)

So Advent marches on. Though I do have gifts all wrapped and am making preparations for the upcoming labor and delivery, of course not everything else is done. The rest just must fall where it will. Please pray for a safe birth for our new little one, and if this is the last you hear from me before Christmas, so be it. So many things that happen to us as mothers are out of our control: labor and the time of birth being only the most prominent. Christmas, like the Parousia, will come whether or not we are prepared. All we can do is do our best to be ready.

Peace to your final preparations,


Monday, December 17, 2007

A Book With Santa as Saint

While pondering a few years ago why my children have never seemed to have difficulty understanding that Santa Claus was actually St. Nicholas, I came across this book in our bookshelf, which I had purchased for my oldest son his first Christmas: Country Angel Christmas by Tomie De Paola. Then I realized that perhaps this oversized thin picture book is part of the reason.

De Paola is a great storyteller whose greatness does not lie in his consistency. Some of his books, like The Clown of God or Our Lady of Guadalupe, are masterpieces. Others are forgettable fluff. This book, as a story, is somewhat in between, though I think the illustrations are among his best, particularly if you are fond of country-style-simplicity. This lightweight, pleasant story is set in Heaven among the "Country Angels," a homier and humbler brand of angelic being, whose friend is St. Nicholas.

Although he is only part of the background, serving as a friendly mentor to the young trio of angelic heroes, St. Nicholas is clearly at home in Heaven, where he dresses like a lumberjack and drives a horse-drawn cart. But on Christmas Eve he dons his familiar suit and sets out to visit the children on earth. In this book, Heaven has Santa's snow and reindeer, but is much nicer than the North Pole. And at the end of the story, De Paola gives a nod to the iconic kneeling Santa as the angels join St. Nicholas in the stable to kneel before an unseen but radiant Christ Child.

De Paola smoothly links American folk tradition with Catholic tradition as he sets his Santa in Christ's Kingdom with a subtlety that escapes super-piety by its very naturalness. What better way to subtly form your child's imagination. This book is out of print, but can be found on Amazon and other sites.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

St. Nicholas Day preparations

Tonight is the night when your children may exhibiting extra-good behavior combined with a sudden rare desire to locate both of their shoes, for tonight is the Eve of St. Nicholas. We found that once you surprise your children with candy in their shoes for the first time, the yearly ritual quickly establishes itself. So, if your family celebrates St. Nicholas day, you as a parent will probably be readying some shoe-sized treats for stealthy delivery late tonight.

My typical tradition is to give books, usually from the annual library sale. Here is a picture of last year's toddler shoes. I was lucky with my candy finds: the church bazaar sold candy canes decorated with marshmallow Christmas figures and chocolate cake-lollipops. Also in the shoes was a frosted gingerbread cookie and a jingle-bell bracelet, respectively made by my two oldest girls.

This year I'm packing the shoes with discounted lunchboxes from a fall school sale. I just hope I have enough gingerbread cookies!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Small Gift for a Small Girl

Last Christmas, I decided to buy my older girls "heirloom quality" dolls, as they were both reaching the age where they can take better care of their playthings. Plus, (deep sigh) I know that my oldest girl's time with dolls is limited as she will pass the age of ten this coming year. I chose Nova Natural's Peruvian-made dolls as their present. The dolls were an investment, but they are still gorgeous, have held up well after a year's worth of playing, and the girls still refer to them affectionately.

The problem was that my youngest daughter, age 2, loves the dolls as well, but I wasn't so willing to buy her a 14" doll. First of all, there was the cost: secondly, from a beauty-lover's point of view, a larger doll just doesn't look right being hauled around by a toddler. So I went hunting for a smaller doll.

And once again, Nova Natural solved my problem by choosing to introduce the Kusi doll this year. I snuck my doll out of its Christmas wrapping paper to give you all a sneak peek.

This sweet little wool-stuffed doll is made by the same cooperative of Peruvian moms as the larger dolls, and has the same fine quality. The hair is braidable and tightly sewn to the head: she's fully jointed, something that I know, as a dollmaker, is tricky to pull off! Plus she comes with a removable jumper, shirt, underpants, as well hand-knitted socks. And she's petite: a mere 9 1/4" tall.

A word on the price: while I know the price is still high, the doll is comparable in price to the German-made Kathe Kruse dolls, plus the money goes into the pockets of hardworking moms in Peru instead of into the coffers of an international toy conglomerate.

Anyhow, I honestly can't wait to see my daughter open up her box on Christmas morning and see this little one. God bless your Christmas shopping!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Preparing for the Baby...

You would think that after having six kids, babies would become "old hat." But the paradox is that each sucessive baby becomes more precious. Is it because you recognize how short a time babyhood actually is? I feel as though I spent all my time with my first baby anxiously awaiting milestones: lifting the head, rolling over, crawling, walking... But now, I'm more delighted in the baby just being an infant, small, helpless, utterly adorable.

And with every new baby, I try to gather a few things that are special and new just for them. As I prepare for my December 27 due date, here are a few things I'm setting aside: a silk-and-wool infant cap from Nova Natural. It's dreamily soft and finely made. A thrift-store find of a never-used cotton velour sweater in soft green. Also from Nova Natural: a spiral crystal rainbow maker. Hang one of these in the bedroom window and your baby will have rainbows to play with! (I actually was so enchanted with this one that I gave it as a present to my godbaby, Chelsea Anne, this past weekend.) And lastly, I'm working on making a baby quilt out of small squares of Liberty of London fabric I found on ebay. Unusual for me, I'm sewing this by hand, since these days I find myself with more waiting-around time than sewing machine time. I think the peacefulness of the handwork is just what I need right now...