Sunday, March 31, 2013

St Joseph Altar 2013

So, even though Jason made a public pledge at our wedding to take care of the children as St. Joseph took care of Mary and the baby Jesus.....and our son is named "Joseph*" we have never completed a St. Joseph altar.  This year was our first annual one-we will definitely complete another one!  (*I will note that when we were picking out baby names I was looking for Biblical names and there are several Joseph's that he could pick out as a role model.  After my first husband, Chris, and I decided on Joseph we finally realized how much of a "family" name it was: we both had a great grandfather Joseph; Chris' grandfather Pappap, Uncle Bob and Chris' brother James also have "Joseph" as a middle name.  It was just meant to be!  For those new to my blog, my first husband died almost eleven years ago.)

Instead of doing a small one on the 19th, we postponed our altar until Palm Sunday so we could have a large dinner and feed our "starving" friends.  We did start our novena prayers on March 10th though, but we kept praying them through Sunday the 24th.  It worked well, since we got palms and cattails at church that we could put on the altar.

This is my favorite statue of St. Joseph-I just love the tenderness that he holds Mama Mary and sweet baby Jesus.

Here's a close up.  I managed to buy this statue on ebay for a very reasonable price that included shipping.  It's a "small" version of the statue at just about 8 inches high:

So, here is our St. Joseph Altar all loaded up with food and the candles actually lit.  (The spaghetti is under the red towel and the baked salmon is under the tin foil.)

 (Don't you just love the kneeler?  I managed to "score it" at sidewalk days in my hometown of Fort Atkinson, WI this past summer for just $30.  I haven't had time to add padding to it, so we used a kneeler pillow that Jason's mom made for us several years ago.)

 Here is the altar with the food uncovered, before we were about to bless the food/altar.  We took the picture, covered the food back up for saying prayers and then Jason realized we hadn't lit the candles-oops!

So, a traditional St. Joseph Altar Meal has the following items: spaghetti, baked fish, minestrone soup (that's what is in the white soup tureen on the left hand side), fava beans (that is what is in the green and white bowl on the left hand side in front of the cake and pasta), and fried bread crumbs instead of cheese to put on the spaghetti and sauce to remind us of St. Joseph's wood shavings from his carpentry. The fried bread crumbs are in the blue dish on the right next to the tulips that one of our friends brought to put on the altar and/or hostess gift.  We have our spaghetti sauce in the pink covered bowl since I have several children that prefer their pasta without red sauce.

We have two different types of bread: the first one that is oval shaped is a traditional Italian Easter bread.  The one behind it was "Sicilian bread."  It is a tradition to also make the bread into the shapes of Joseph's tools or a staff from when he fled with the holy family into Egypt.  We ran out of time due to work and illnesses so ours is just store bought.  We also have several bottles of Italian wine and next to the bread is a St Joseph candle and oregano in a vase.  (It seemed fitting for the day plus it smelled heavenly.)  We had fruit next to that (just oranges and apples) and a red velvet cake that we added decorations to.  The two vases in front hold white lilies (a St. Joseph symbol) and cattails since as Byzantines we receive cattails with our palms on Palm Sunday.  (Since the church we go to is a Slovakian Byzantine Church they used cattails on Palm Sunday when they were unable to get fresh Palms.  Now that we can usually get both from a florist they tie them together with a white bow.)

We have a wonderful local Italian grocery store that I managed to buy pizzelles, macaroons, biscotti and other traditional Italian cookies at.  (Sorry-once again, nothing was handmade that way this year.)  Instead of having cream puffs, I went with Easter peeps for the kids.  They were a huge hit.  I also managed to buy two hyacinth pots for fresh flowers that I will be able to plant besides the tulips!  They are my favorite color-purple of course!  (And actually the tulips are my second favorite color of "coral orange!"  I'm not sure if my friend knew that or not, but it totally works for me!)

We used our piano to the left of the altar to hold our napkins, plates and silverware.  I also put out the two books that helped me learn about how to host a St. Joseph Altar.  The one on the far right is
St. Joseph Altars by Kerri McCaffety.  Amazing book!!!!  The pictures are so beautiful!!!  I was so inspired by this book about the St. Joseph Altars in New Orleans, LA that I now want to make a pilgrimage to New Orleans to see them someday!  The second book is the white one on the left.  It is Viva San Giuseppe.  This book was sited in the book by Kerri McCaffety.  It is now out of print, but you can receive a digital format of it when you make a donation to this St. Joseph Altar website.  The book was nice because it has several easy to make recipes and short prayers in it.  That above website also gives some history if you want to know more about this tradition.  The website helped inspire me to just "go big" for our first altar.  We ended up only having two families that were able to come, but that still meant that we fed fifteen people plus our seven and Jason's feeding 23 people isn't bad for our first altar meal.

I did print off the 3-D St. Joseph Altar coloring sheets from the above website and we handed them out to our Tuesday co-op on March 19th-the feast of St. Joseph!  They were a big hit with the kids.  My children also acted out the Holy Family play that is traditionally done where the Holy Family searches for a place to stay and then I used the worksheets to explain to the co-op kids what types of food normally go on a St. Joseph altar.

We had some serious prayer intentions for St. Joseph's intercession this year and I do have to admit that we received a phone call regarding one of them just three short days after we held our St. Joseph Altar meal!  Wow-that was fast work!:)

Since I am posting this blog post (finally) on Easter Sunday I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Easter!!!

May we all feel the love of Jesus who loved us so much that he conquered death for us!

Jason was blessed to be a confirmation sponsor for a friend's son this year, so we went to a Roman Catholic Vigil Easter Mass and will head to our Byzantine Divine Liturgy in just a few short hours.

Here's an updated picture of our cute kids!

From left to right: Jessie, Libby, Katie, Joey and Anna

These were our "blue and white themed" flower dresses this year.
Debbie crocheted that teal hat and sweater for Jessie this past Christmas.
Pink themed dresses will be donned in just a few short hours.  Hee Hee.

I actually love this picture more because Joey is looking away in the picture at a friend.  My first husband Chris was famous for always having his eyes shut in pictures....Joey is reminding me of Chris here, especially the way he is holding his mouth.

May you know the sweetness of Jesus' love this Easter Season and hold him in your heart the sweet way that Joseph held both Mary and Jesus in his,


I will be linking to the following blogs:

My Romantic Home

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wild Dogs and Truck Rides

It has been a long three months.  Basically someone in the family has been sick since New Year's.  I'm so ready for spring to come and good health to return.

On top of that we finally had an amazing assistant manager hired-almost had her completely trained-and she just had to resign due to unexpected circumstances.  We thankfully can promote within the store and have already hired a promising new applicant to fill in the regular spot, but it has meant long hours-add to it that Easter is early this year-so God is providing abundance during a normal scarce time of year monetarily-and you have a recipe for high stress even without family sickness.

Finally, last week we had a pack of dogs kill our steer and goat.  They were starting to attack Toronto, the miniature horse, when my mother-in-law managed to scare them off.  Things have been reported to the sheriff and the dog warden-but he supposedly couldn't even find the next two houses down the road to tell those families that we will shoot their dogs on sight if we see them on our property.  Jason finally goes to talk to the neighbors after five days and they claim that it wasn't their dogs, but a pack of wild now we wait-the children are stuck in the house until further notice.  Jason is hoping that he will be able to bait and trap the dogs, whether they are wild or our neighbors, by setting traps on our property.  Basically something the county dog warden should do, but isn't.  Hopefully this situation will be resolved fast, because I really don't want to be walking around my property with a gun all summer to protect my kids playing outside or while we are working in the garden....but I will be a modern version of a pioneer woman if I have to be.  I will not live in fear.

So, this past Tuesday did not start out well.  A certain child was being resistant at doing their school work correctly AND refused to pack a lunch for homeschool co-op.  Seriously?  Needless to say, I kind of lost my mind on the would be one thing if we didn't have food in the house...but we had plenty of options.....Then later I was beginning to feel like the world's worst mother for my response-because I should have just let the child have the real world lesson of feeling hunger for their stubbornness and bad grades for not doing their work.....but to be honest, I was more worried about what other moms would think of me.....sending my child without a lunch...child not doing their school work......later that day I realized that I was coming down with a cold and a uti, because I guess with all the stress I had been forgetting to drink water.  I am more prone to uti's since the bladder collapse last year.  That made me feel guiltier as the world's worst mother-"oh, I took my illness out on my child", blah, blah.

Thankfully my Tuesday night plans changed, so Jason came back to work after teaching his co-op class and I picked up the kids-and we "left Dodge."  We drove to Pittsburgh to go Easter clothes shopping at a consignment store.  You should have seen the joy on all 5 kids faces when I said we were going to eat at Chick-fil-et in Pittsburgh before we left town.  We ate, they played in the playground and then with God's sense of wonderful timing, the restaurant had their family night activities that day: so we got two crafts, balloon animals and free ice cream for the kids-all for the low price of $35-the cost of our meals.  (Libby doesn't really like ice cream yet-so yeah, mommy got some too!)  Then it was off to the consignment store where we managed to score 8 dresses, 8 pairs of shoes, and 4 cardigan sweaters for the same price of what 5 Easter dresses on sale this week at Target would have cost us.  We ended the trip at a craft store-where there is a bathroom-and got a few more things we needed.

The 1 hour and 15 minute drive home was pure bliss.  We prayed our family rosary and all five kids fell asleep.  For a half hour there was just me in the truck in the dark in silence counting my blessings.  I love to drive.  My favorite memories as a teenager are the weekends my mom would drive us down to Iowa to see her family and we would sing with our boom box blasting music all the way down.  I loved the travel of military life: driving across country-singing to the radio-seeing new places-how beautiful our country is.  Driving usually soothes my soul and Tuesday night was the best medicine I could get.  I had to stop for gas so the older child that I had the conflict with earlier in the day woke up.  Radio was kept "off" and in the silence and dark the child talked for the last twenty minutes home....non-stop....and I didn't understand most of what was said about video games, but we were communicating again and Wednesday would be a new day.

Wishing all of you the sweetness of the healing and light of a blessed Holy Week and Easter,