Sunday, January 31, 2010

St. Joseph

My mom sent me a link today for a fun craft project to do with Emma for the feast of St. Joseph, which falls on March 19th. Many show devotion to St. Joseph by celebrating his 7 Sorrows and 7 joys seven Sundays before the feast - which means today! Even though we're not Catholic per se, we still love & cherish Joseph and all he did for his family so long ago, which our own fathers and husbands continue to do in his light still today.
So HERE is the link to the craft - a St. Joseph Altar - which looks really fun (and with all the snow outside - we can all use a little more indoor activities here at the Castro Academy!).
If you happen to enjoy this craft, send a photo of your completed altar to Evann and she'll post it on the St. Joseph Altar Blog! (And send it to us, too! We'd love to see it!)
So now, without further ado, here is the 1st of the 7 sorrows & joys of St. Joseph...

 St. JOSEPH, Chaste Spouse of the Holy Mother of God, by the SORROW with which thy heart was pierced at the thought of a cruel separation from Mary, and by the deep JOY that thou didst feel when the angel revealed to thee the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, obtain for us from Jesus and Mary, the grace of surmounting all anxiety. Win for us from the Adorable Heart of Jesus the unspeakable peace of which He is the Eternal Source.

May you all have had a wonderful first month of 2010, and we'll see you tomorrow for FEBRUARY!!
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More than a momento

The new 2010 collection of Susan Lordi's WIllow Tree Figurines has come out & I am in love!
A few of my friends think I'm crazy for loving these figures. After all, they don't have the sweet teardrop eyes of a Precious Moments doll nor the warmth of a Cherished Teddies smile. They, if fact, have no face at all. They aren't colored in bright, fun, shades. They even look somewhat unfinished and forgotten.
It's true.
In a way.
But I guess I had never really thought about why I love these little figures so much until today, as I looked over my collection, dusting and rearranging them all.
To me, they are so much more than just a decoration for a shelf. I got my first figure while I was pregnant with Eli. She spoke to me from her glass display case in that store. True, she was faceless, but I could see the glow on her face as she lovingly looked down upon her ever-growing belly. The smile that you see on women's faces only when they are pregnant - filled with dreams and hopes of the future. She was beautiful.
The second Willow Tree I got was after Eli had already passed on. It was an angel holding a little boy, and once again, I fell in love. When I see it now - my favorite piece - it takes me back to that day. The saddness, the fear, and the hope & peace that followed. An angel had come and carried my little boy home, and someone had captured all that emotion in a small, faceless, almost unfinished piece of art.
Following that, I recieved many more figurines. On the anniversary of Eli passing, the angel was present again, this time helping a tiny boy walk.

Eli would have been walking now.
Thank goodness there are angels there, holding his hands and teaching him to walk in my absence.

Every. Single. One. has a memory. A great memory. A story that cannot be forgotten. A life.
So, my collection is not a mere collection. It's a memory bank, a photo book, a time machine, and a life story.
It's a death, a birth, a moment between a father and daughter. It's happiness and welcomes, and a new home.
It's a best friend's love, a birthday wish, and new experiences.

It's everything.

They have faces of those I love and remember forever. They may look forgotten or unfinished, but so is my life.
They are cracked - some several times over- but it just reminds me that in my life I had children that were small enough to pull down tables and plants and run into rickety shelves.
And no, I won't move them. I won't keep them put away until the children are grown. They are memories and reminders that I like to keep - even on rickety shelves and tables and counters -  so that no matter where I look, I have a smile there, waiting.
So even when my "Welcome Home" angel comes crashing down...again...and breaks into 5 pieces...again...I will still pick it up, glue it back, and place it right back on that entry table for the next big fall. Because that's where she lives.
And that's where you'll find her each & every time you come visit. Maybe I'll pour you a cup of tea and tell you all about it...
:D

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Snowmen!

Yesterday was the day of snowmen making! John was working on a big one...
While Em & I built a little one.
After we finished, she helped Daddy with his ever-growing snowball!
Isn't there always one of these "big-faced" Evan pics? :) So cute!
Some friends of ours needed help digging out of their driveway, so we ventured up the hill to their house with sleds & shovels. The sky looked a little ominous...
But we made it safely there, as you can see from my cheesy photo by John:
First, we all sledded down the steep driveway while the ice was still there, then we cleared it off. Okay, well, John cleared it off.
After the kids all came in, it was time to warm up! They all got in their swimsuits and headed to the whirlpool tub, with extra, extra bubbles!
I'm beginning to love the snow break from full schedules. What can I say? I love quality time with my family! :)
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Front Page News...

See Harley on the Stillwater News Press front Page!
(And click on "YOUR WEATHER PHOTOS" to see the other two Castro Kiddos!)
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Countdown to Groundhog Day...

Just thought you might enjoy these facts about the groundhog...

•The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. (Emma was as long [22 inches] and almost as heavy [9 lbs] as a groundhog at birth!! I birthed a full-grown groundhog!)


•Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick. Their jaws are exceptionally strong.

•A groundhog's diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.

•A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting. (Hmmm...I think John must be part groundhog...)

•Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness. (Oh happy day!! I have found my new favorite animal!! A germiphob like me!!!)

•Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops. (How I wish I could really hibernate in the winter!!)

•Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.  (What?!? No, no. There will be no leaving of the kit or cubs in this family!....right?....kids?.....Hello???....)
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Snowed In!....Again!

This morning, we awoke, once again, to a blanket of thick snow on the ground. UNfortunately, it has caused a busy Saturday to become dormant. Emma's semi-finals swim meet was cancelled, a birthday party for a friend was rescheduled, and we won't be able to get to the city for Cameron & Lindsey's wedding (Boo!), but FORtunately, we never lost power, each other, or our ability to have fun in the snow even with cold so bitter it stings your face!
Check out this cute little snowbear :)
Isn't our house absolutely gorgeous with the snow?!?
Our little peanut is out on the sled again, this time a seasoned sledder ;)
A self-portrait - wrinkles and all! Quick! Somebody PLEASE help me learn photoshop magic!! Ha!
Another self-portrait of sorts...
The sled was too close to the blowing snow for a tired little Peanut, so sis pulled him in the wagon. Thank goodness Uncle Joey sprung for the all-terrain tires ;)
But, alas, naptime came. Right on time.
Thank you for the gift of sight! There are many things too beautiful and wonderous to describe in words in this life, and I cannot take them for granted. Especially in times like these, where they are in such awesome true form!

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Friday, January 29, 2010

SNOW DAY!!!

There was no school today for the kiddos due to the big ice storm that came in yesterday. This morning we awoke to snow softly falling on top of the ice. It was beautiful, and a great snow day since there was little to no wind! In a totally unrelated note - Evan wore his Uncle Brock's shirt to bed the other night, and it was SO cute!
This morning started off with yummy, warm, berry muffins for breakfast and a little Thomas the Train while Mommy got the snow clothes back out. :) Daddy ventured off to work today :(
The ice wasn't as thick as in the city, but it sure was pretty with the sun shining on it this morning :)
Emma decided to "collect" some snow.
Even Evan wasn't sure why, but we both watched her fill the bucket!
She then decided that it was time to blow bubbles! Amazingly, they held up really well in the cold! (And if you look closely, you can see bubbles in the photos)
My sweet little rosy-cheeked baby!
Look at these two! God has blessed us in so many ways :)
You didn't forget about my furbaby, Harley, did you?!?!
Then it was inside for some warm hot cocoa for the gals and a morning nap for both little boys (furry and not).

Please direct all comments to the comment link on our website (http://heidicastro.blogspot.com), so we can preserve them for generations to come! :)
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Countdown to...

The Year of Tiger!
Chinese is one of very few races that my children were born into, but our goddaughter, Taleisha and her family, who are very very special to us, are Chinese, and so it was very important to Emma especially, that we celebrate Chinese New Year every year. And we have. :)

The year of the Tiger is this year's animal, and many of you may be born in a "Tiger year" along with my baby brother, Erich.
The official start date of the new year is February 4th, 2010. Just around the corner!
Are you a "tiger"? Find out more about yourself, according to Chinese lore...
---------------------------------------
Birth Years:

1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Characteristics:
•Short-tempered
•Suspicious
•Adventurous
•Sensitive
•Emotional
•Risk-taking

Compatible With:
Horses (ME!), Dogs (My sister, Gretchen!)

Avoid:
Monkeys

Good Career Choices:
•Boss
•Explorer (Dora??)
•Race-car driver

Famous Tigers:
Sun Yat Sen, Queen Elizabeth II, Emily Dickinson, Isadora Duncan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, Marco Polo, Beatrix Potter, Karl Marx, Ludwig van Beethoven
I also found this tidbit of Chinese New Year Information that I found particularly funny. It gives "Picture the whole audience in their underware" a whole new picture...

If you’ve been inside a department store in China from December to February, you might be wondering what the strange winter fashion surrounding red underwear is. Most prominent in the men’s section, red underwear is one of the most popular gifts for sweethearts to exchange around Chinese New Year.
So, this winter’s fashion it is not. Every winter, red underwear decorated with gold embroidery usually illustrating the pertinent zodiac animal go on sale in China’s stores.
For those turning 12, 24, 36 etc. (the Chinese Zodiac uses a cycle of 12), termed benming nian, or the meeting of one’s zodiac year, traditional Chinese belief is that it can be an unlucky year. To ward off any dangers that might befall you in your benming nian, it helps to wear red. Red is one of the luckiest colors in Chinese traditions, standing for loyalty, success and happiness.
If you’re really traditional, you should wear red every day, all year long. If you’re not a big fan of the color red in your outer wardrobe, red underwear is an easy way to protect yourself against the hazards of benming nian. Better ask your sweetheart for more than one pair!
Hmm. Perhaps I'd better find my brother a pair of fancy red & gold undies...




Please direct all comments to the comment link on our website (http://heidicastro.blogspot.com), so we can preserve them for generations to come! :)

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Monday, January 25, 2010

A Taste of Spring

Only in Oklahoma can it get warm enough to play outside one day, and have icy rain forcasted for a few days later. HOWEVER, we love the occasional warm Springish days that pop in during the cold winter because they let us get out and get some exercise, sun, and fun! (And let us realize how thankful we are for the warmer days coming ahead!). Friday was one of these days, and Evan and I knew we belonged that day in the sun. We played tag, discovered a birdbath of cold winter water, and discovered new finds in the grass.



"Here, Mommy! Let me put that lens cap on for you!"


I *LOVE* this look :)


When sister got home from school, John let them play with his boxing gloves. It's funny how they try to hit each other's glove instead of their bodies - and I am fine to let them do it that way!





The weather had even tricked my tulips into thinking Spring was coming! I found them in my garage, starting to peek up out of the soil! Good thing I happened to see them so I could bring them in for some sunshine!


Have a good week!

Please direct all comments to the comment link on our website (http://heidicastro.blogspot.com), so we can preserve them for generations to come! :)
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