Friday, February 26, 2010

Healthy, Yummy Chocolate Mousse made with Avocados

These recipes are gluten and casein free and are made with fresh raw foods so they have the greatest most available nutrients for your body. The recipes are from a book by Jennifer Cornbleet. The pics are from the first time I gave it to them. They were a little unsure of it at first.

This mousse my kids prefer frozen into fudge popsicles or eaten in scoops as if it were ice cream. Branden likes it in the shortbread crust recipe below and frozen. It is a great way to get avocados in your children and mine love it for dessert. Branden does not like avocados at all! He didn't believe me when I told him it was made with avocados. I use organic cocoa powder rather than carob. I did use pure vanilla extract in ours. To make fudge popsicles use wooden popsicle sticks and popsicle molders that can be bought at walmart you can make all kinds of cheap healthy treats in those. I have some more recipes I have tried lately that I will post later.
Chocolate Mousse
Yield: 2 cups, 4-6 servings

No one will know that avocado replaces butter, cream, and eggs in this silky mousse.

1/2 cup pitted medjool dates, soaked (I buy my dates in a big bag from Cosco without the sulfur dioxide, they are not mejool dates)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar (I use organic Agave from Cosco if you use syrup try to use Grade B maple syrup-it has more nutrients than grade A and make sure it is pure maple syrup. I use grade A for pancakes and waffles because it tastes better than grade B)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups mashed avocado (3 avocados)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
1/2 cup water

Place the dates, maple syrup, and optional vanilla in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until smooth. Add the avocado and cocoa powder and process until creamy. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the water and process briefly. Stored in a sealed container, Chocolate Mousse will keep for three days in the refrigerator or two weeks in the freezer. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Short Bread Crust
Yield: 2 1/2 cups (enough for one 9-inch pie or tart)

1 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 pitted medjool dates

Place the coconut, walnuts, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until finely ground. Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Don’t overprocess.

Stored in a sealed container, Shortbread Crust will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. The crust doesn’t need to be thawed before using.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Domestic Monastery

Written by: Ron Rolheiser OMI January 7, 2001

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half-century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara desert. Alone, with only the Blessed Sacrament for company milking a goat for his food, and translating the bible into the local Bedouin language, he prayed for long hours by himself. Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization: His mother, who for more than thirty years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.

Carretto, though, was careful to draw the right lesson from this. What this taught was not that there was anything wrong with what he had been doing in living as a hermit. The lesson was rather that there was something wonderfully right about what his mother had been doing all these years as she lived the interrupted life amidst the noise and incessant demands of small children. He had been in a monastery, but so had she.

What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's.

Our home and our duties can, just like a monastery, teach us those things. John of the Cross once described the inner essence of monasticism in these words: "But they, O my God and my life, will see and experience your mild touch, who withdraw from the world and become mild, bringing the mild into harmony with the mild, thus enabling themselves to experience and enjoy you." What John suggests here is that two elements make for a monastery: withdrawal from the world and bringing oneself into harmony with the mild.

Although he was speaking about the vocation of monastic monks and nuns, who physically withdraw from the world, the principle is equally valid for those of us who cannot go off to monasteries and become monks and nuns. Certain vocations offer the same kind of opportunity for contemplation. They too provide a desert for reflection.

For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of power and social importance. And she feels it. Moreover her sustained contact with young children (the mildest of the mild) gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild, that is, to attune herself to the powerlessness rather than to the powerful.

Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time for that task and time isn't your time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.

Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while raising children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time. The rest of us experience the monastic bell each morning when our alarm clock rings and we get out of bed and ready ourselves for the day, not because we want to, but because it's time.

The principles of monasticism are time-tested, saint-sanctioned, and altogether-trustworthy. But there are different kinds of monasteries, different ways of putting ourselves into harmony with the mild, and different kinds of monastic bells. Response to duty can monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tristan and Basketball

Tristan is well into his first season of basketball and having a lot of fun.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tree of Grace a yearly tradition

Tree of Grace: This was the greatest success this past Advent. Yes we did get a late start and yes this is a late post, but it turned out so beautiful and will be a yearly tradition thanks to the idea from the Czarka family. On Christmas Eve we all gathered around and we explained to the kids this tree is to give away and all the sacrifices and prayers on this tree are to go to someone who needs some love so without hesitation Tristan said this tree needs to go to Ms. Sue because she doesn't have a mommy, a daddy, a brother, a sister, a son or a daughter. She doesn't have anybody she must be sad and need some love. So without hesitation we said you are so right Tristan that is who this Tree of Grace is for. Ms. Sue is a housebound lady that lives three doors down. We have adopted her and make her special treats and visit her. We have only known her for a few months, but the kids bring such delight and happiness to her. So here is the letter below and we are doing something similar for Lent that I will explain in another post later. This was awesome! When we took the tree to her on Christmas day late in the evening at 6pm. She came to the door with a big smile on her face just at the sight of the kids and then as she read the letter she was so moved and said she will have the tree as long as she lives and have it up all year. How cool a little reminder of Gods great love for her always to motivate her in her solitude. This is the letter we gave her.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Ms. Sue this tree is for you! It is filled with lots of love and grace too! We have spent the past four weeks of Advent decorating this tree with ornaments. This tree is very special because it is not decorated in just one day, but over time. We only put an ornament on when we have said a prayer or made a sacrifice (listening to mom and dad, not hitting brothers and sisters, sharing etc…). When we do these little acts of love we get to put one ornament on the tree and the tree then becomes one big prayer filled with grace that we give to you. There is only one recipient each year for the tree of grace and we prayed about it and Tristan (our five year old boy) said he thinks this tree should go to Ms. Sue. He thought it would make you happy and we hope that it does, but know that this tree is more than what meets the eye because it is more than just a tree and ornaments it is a tree of grace filled with grace for you! This is our gift to you. The tree will eventually some day be thrown away, but the grace and the prayer that we give to you in this tree will never pass! God Bless You and We Hope that you have a Merry Christmas! We also made homemade cinnamon rolls. We started at 5:30am this morning making the dough! They are yummy yummy!

The O’Neils
Branden, Lauri, Tristan, Annaliese, Gavin, Finnian

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Invisible Woman

This is so great for us moms! My sister Lindsey sent me a card that said ....Because God Sees and there is a cathedral pictured on the front and you open it up and it says "With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees" Nicole Johnson. Watch the u-tube video it is a wonderful reminder for me. It is a quote that is going to be posted on our bathroom mirror.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Visit with Lindsey

So looking back because I never posted these pictures and I know when Lindsey looks on here she would love to see them. Aunt Lindsey is so loved by the kids. Tristan thinks Lindsey lives on an airplane and has her own airplane because that is where we always pick her up and drop her off. It is so cute. A plane will pass through the sky and he will say is that Lindsey's airplane. They love love love Lindsey even though we don't see her often because she is away doing what God has called her to do. It is amazing how praying for someone like Lindsey being away brings such a closeness to the heart and I definitely think this is a reason the kids love Lindsey so because they pray for her. Lindsey is so creative in the things she will gift the kids with because of her poverty she doesn't have anything but she always finds things and they are always perfect because they are simple! Although this past trip she really out did herself. Someone gave her money with the specific intention of buying gifts on her trip to Jerusalem and whenever money is given it is to be used in the manner in which the donor requests with the permission of her directors. So she was given $100 and she bought gifts for all of the kids and for us. She gave Annaliese a lamb from Jerusalem that she loves, it is one her "snuggle bugs". Tristan got a wooden plaque with the stations of the cross on it! He LOVES the stations of the cross and has since he was two. He always wants to pray them and can lead you in them. He has a great love for the stations. We love Lindsey so much and miss her lots, but are proud of her and her fidelity to her Consecrated life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't Want to Miss a Moment

Okay so I think officially I am going to home school and the cherry that topped it off was, I don't want to miss a moment. Everyone you meet that has grown children says it flies by and wishes they could go back to this day that I am presently in so I want to live it up and not miss a moment. A lady saw us walking into the Y a couple of weeks ago and she pulled me aside and told me to look at my kids every day for a few minutes each not thinking about if they have brushed their teeth or made their bed or if they have talked back. It was just what the Holy Spirit Ordered! I thought this was such simple advice, but really wonderful and I took it and use it daily. It makes you really appreciate these little souls and in the chaos of the days not letting it slip by and taking a moment to realize the gift God has given you. It is a gift that can be unwrapped every day so take those few moments and unwrap the gift because every day it is wrapped beautifully again waiting for you to unwrap it again and again and again. How beautiful life is and how wonderful our vocation as moms.

As I am typing I realize why I don't normally blog when the kids are awake. I just got frustrated at my children as I am writing a blog about spending time with contrary is that. I am split right now btwn what I am supposed to be doing and what i am not supposed to be doing. I totally want to be at the computer right now because it is definitely more appealing to me at the moment. More appealing than being pulled out of my selfishness at every moment in raising my children, but the obvious answer is get up and leave the computer behind leave the soulless useless thing that will not come with me to heaven behind and take up my vocation of motherhood. Got to go my cross is calling and if I stay to long my will power will get weaker.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow Days

Okay so it is a big deal to get snow that sticks and that is thick enough to be able to go sledding. We had so much fun! We borrowed a big tube because supposedly that's the way you do it in TN. It was fun! Tristan had his little sled as well that he got for Christmas from my mom and dad. I wanted to go again and again and again. I think I had just as much fun as the kids. I think the older I get (28) the more fun it is to have fun and act like a kid again. I love it! The Ehrhardts came with us and we all had so much fun! We came home from sledding and had our Sunday night game night with the kiddos. This is Tristans favorite night of the week. If you are wondering where Finnian is he was in a stroller behind us being the sweetest little pumpkin ever. I would wear him on my back when I wasn't going down the hill.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baby Katie is in Heaven

This is an email I received today.

Dear Friends,
> From Fr. Ryan: "Thank you for all of your prayers. Unfortunately,
> I'm sending you the sad news that Hannah did have the abortion. She
> is not doing well. Please pray for Hannah and all involved, they are
> all hurting very much. Thanks, Fr. Ryan."
> I'm so sorry to have to pass this news on to all of you. There is no
> way I can express in an e-mail the sadness in my heart for Hannah and
> her family, or for Fr. Ryan who has been such a faithful and
> courageous priest in the face of terrible spiritual warfare. His
> trust in God's mercy has been incredible, and he is a witness to all
> of us of the power of spiritual, priestly fatherhood that loves to the
> extreme. Please continue to pray for him, as he will continue to
> minister to Hannah in the coming months and years.
> At a time like this it would be easy to think that God has not
> answered our prayers or to ask where the Lord was in all of this. To
> attempt an explanation for the dichotomy of good and evil is beyond my
> ability, but I feel that we have all been part of an extraordinary
> movement of grace in the last few days.
> On Thursday morning, Fr. Ryan called me asking for prayers for
> Hannah, along with the request to pass the prayer intention along. I
> passed the request on...and you responded with your own prayer and by
> asking those you knew to pray as well. All told, religious sisters in
> about 15 convents in several states and two countries, seminarians in
> 3 seminaries, consecrated women in the US, Italy, and England,
> priests, and over 1000 lay people have been lifting Hannah up in
> prayer. WE ARE CATHOLIC!!! In His mercy, God has united us from our
> different vocations and locations to pray for one of His children in
> her hour of need.
> Within one hour of the first e-mail being sent, four people wrote to
> me offering to adopt the child. It was not long before others echoed
> that offer. A woman offered her home as a safehaven for Hannah,
> should she need a place to stay. Others sent me information on
> counseling services and adoption agencies. Women who have had
> abortions offered to speak to Hannah, as did women who had seriously
> contemplated abortion during their pregnancies. All without knowing
> Hannah or anything about her. In a time of trial and crisis, God
> called for generosity and from your hearts you gave, from your hearts
> you responded in ways that could never be expected.
> Most of all, the grace of your prayers has been felt and God has used
> this as a moment to teach us all. A friend wrote to me: "Through
> praying for her I can say honestly that I love her, without knowing
> anything about her other than the painful situation she has found
> herself in. I hate the idea of her aborting this baby and then
> suffering for it the rest of her life. I want nothing more than to
> spare her that grief." In the face of hatred and death, God has
> called us to love. Abortion is hatred and it is hatred that leads to
> death. In spite of this, love has grown through the grace of prayer.
> The prayer has been constant and has come from all sorts. I received
> an e-mail that said simply "I have been praying since I opened my eyes
> this morning". From a 5 year-old in Nashville, Hannah's baby received
> a name. Knowing only Hannah's name was not enough for him, he wanted
> to know what the baby was called. Since no one had a name, he called
> her Katie. So Baby Katie became not a theory, but a real person in
> his eyes. On Monday afternoon, I began asking the children in
> religious ed here at St. Pius to pray for Hannah. A third grader who
> comes for class on Tuesday told me that her friend, who comes for
> class on Mondays, had sent her an e-mail after coming home on Monday
> telling her to pray for Hannah. THIRD GRADE!!!!!! A first grader
> asked why we were praying for Hannah, to which her classmate
> responded: "It doesn't matter why we're praying. God knows, and He'll
> take care of Hannah."
> I hope that this experience of prayer continues to bear fruit. More
> than that, this experience of prayer must not end here. Young Hannah
> still needs prayer and healing. There are thousands of Hannahs in our
> country and in our world, children living in fear and hopelessness.
> No one, at 15, should have to experience what Hannah is now enduring.
> This should convince us more than ever that abortion is the worst
> option available and that women deserve better. This should be a call
> to us to respond with generosity to those who find themselves in
> crisis, to those who find themselves alone. Jesus calls us to be
> instruments of His mercy and to bring the light of His love to the
> darkness and hopelessness of the culture of death. Today is a sad day
> because one life is ended, and another wounded, scarred and mourning.
> Today is a sad day because we all share in this loss and in this
> wound. In prayer, we have come to love Hannah and we are helpless as
> our sister, our daughter, suffers. But God is still at work and His
> project is not yet complete. He has called us together in prayer and
> He has called out of us a generosity that goes beyond our own desires
> and seeks the good of another for the glory of God. We can take great
> comfort in the promise God has given, that love always triumphs, that
> life is always victorious over death, that the light continues to
> shine in the darkness.
> Please pray for Hannah's healing. Let her broken heart be restored,
> Lord! Pray for her parents, for Tom and his parents...they suffer,
> too! Pray for Fr. Ryan, who is their father, friend, shepherd and
> priest. May he receive the grace he needs to protect them and bring
> them healing. May God work in his heart and words so that they see in
> him, not Fr. Ryan, but the face of Christ turning his merciful gaze on
> them.
> Peace,
> Fr. Sam

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What makes me unique to my hubby

I was in Mass a couple weeks ago when I began thinking about Father Bala and his vocation as a priest and how he can persevere in his vocation and during consecration it occurred to me that the mass makes him unique in his vocation. The reason that most Priests within Religious Orders have to celebrate mass every day is for their perseverance so they can experience that uniqueness that makes them set apart from other men and makes their vocation special. This is what makes him different from another man and what makes him unique to the Church, his bride. It then lead me to thinking about Branden and what makes us so unique as spouses and that is the intimacy we share with the gift of sex. The thing that makes us so unique in marriage is being intimate with our spouse and that is the very thing that is attacked the most with in marriages. This is a great means for perseverance when united with God for union and pro-creation. I now try to think about it daily so I can overcome the many distractions and temptations to avoid the intimacy with my husband. Yes I used the word avoid because so often I would try to avoid, most of the time because I am just so darn tired by the end of the day. So I now try to not avoid and take advantage of that special part of our marriage that makes me unique to Branden!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pray for baby Katie

So we have been getting prayer requests for a young woman and young man in high school that conceived a precious little baby. The abortion is scheduled for tomorrow morning. I told Tristan (5yrs) what was going to be happening tomorrow and of course at 5 he is a soldier. He has an amazing concept of spiritual battle and loves it. He will go around "shooting fires out of his heart" to get the demons by praying or making a sacrifice. So as I tell him this and tears well up in my eyes as I tell him about this little baby and how we need to pray to protect this little baby he asked well what is her name. I thought he was talking about the mom so I told him it is Hannah and he said no the baby. I said well the baby does not have a name yet and he said the baby needs a name. I said we don't know if it is a boy or girl. Well he wanted to name the baby so he said her name is baby katie. We will pray for baby katie. So please please please pray for baby Katie that her life be saved and that her mothers decision to have an abortion will be changed.

Another little note on abortion that I will try and find a picture of is back when we were participating in the 40 days for life we would go to the abortion clinic and pray every Sunday with the kids. One week when we were there to pray the lady who runs the pregnancy center down the street that fights to save babies lives was there praying and had some flags. She explained to the kids the different meanings of the flags and they loved it. Tristan, Annaliese and Gavin marched up and down with their flags and then yes of course these flags became swords because that is way of boys. While we were there Finnian needed to eat so I crossed the street and sat on some steps to feed Finnian and watched Branden and the kids waving their flags along with three other ladies praying and then I began to hear them all singing Yes Jesus Loves Me Yes Jesus Loves Me Yes Jesus Loves for the bible tells me so over and over. My eyes welled up with tears and then I just began to cry. It was such a beautiful image to behold I just know the angels were singing with them.