Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas and Holy Nights

I had said I would give a story for each of the Holy Nights, but I changhed my mind, instead I would give a list of virtues for each one of the nights in order to inspire all of us to create either a story or a memory from childhood that we can tell our children before going to sleep.

24th December-Devotion becomes the force of renunciation.

25th December-Equanimity becomes progress.

26th December-Persistence becomes inner happiness.

27th December-True generosity becomes purification.

28th December-Compassion becomes freedom.

29th December-Clarity of thought, courtesy becomes sensitivity.

30th December-Inner contentment becomes serenity.

1st January-Patience becomes knowledge.

2nd January-Mastery of the thought and speech becomes truth.

3rd January-Courage becomes redemption.

4th January-Silence becomes prayer.

5th January- Magnamity becomes Love.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fourth Sunday

The Purple Angel

The last Sunday before Christmas an angel with a soft and warm lavender cape appears in the sky and flies over the earth, bringing in his hands a big lyre. He plays with this lyre a sweet music and sings in harmony and clear voice.. But to be able to hear this music the hearts have to be very silent and attentive.

His music is the great song of Peace, the song of the Baby Jesus and the Kingdom of God that comes to the earth. Many angels go with him, singing as well, and they rejoice in the sky.

Then all the seeds that are sleeping on the earth awaken, and the earth itself listens to it and shivers: The song of the angels is saying that God does not forget the earth, and that someday it will be a Paradise again.

Soline and Pierre Lienhard

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday

On the third Sunday, and angel completely in white light descends to the Earth. He has in his right hand a ray of sun which has a wonderful power.

He goes to all humans in whose heart the red angel has found true love, and he touches them with his ray of light. Then this light penetrates in the hearts of those humans and warms them from inside.

Is like the sun itself would ilumine through their eyes and descend through hands, feet and all the body. Even the poorest of man, the most humble ones, are transformed and start to ressemble the angels, if they embrace some love in their hearts.

But not everybody sees this white angel. Only the rest of the angels and those men who have been ilumined with his light. This light is the same that on Christmas day makes possible to see the child in the manger.

Soline and Pierre Lienhard

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Second Sunday

The Red Angel

In a day like today, a second angel descends from the heavens; He is dressed with a big red cape and brings a big golden basket in his left arm. The basket is empty and the angel longs to fill it and then bring it back to the Throne of God, but what is it that would be inside?

The basket is very delicate and fine, because is made out of sun rays; so it should not be filled with heavy or hard things.

The Angel visits all the Earth, and very discreetly looks in all the homes. What is he looking for? He looks into the hearts of all men to see if he finds in their hearts a little bit of truly pure love. And this love he keeps under his cape, and brings it into the heavens. There, the inhabitants of heaven. the angels and the souls of the departed, take that love and from it they make light for the stars.

Soline and Pierre Lienhard

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Sunday of Advent

In order to reflect the change of rhythm in this Advent season, the posts will be shorter and on Saturday, each week describing the story of an angel annunciating Christmas.

The following week, concerning the twelve Holy Nights, I will post each day a story, which I will tell my children at night before going to bed.

The Blue Angel:

How do we know that Christmas is approaching? we cannot perceive it with our eyes, because the days and nights go on as usual, and men live and take care of their business as usual; we cannot perceive it with our ears, because the sounds resounding are the same as always, the cars passing by, the planes landing, the children screaming, and so on.

But nonetheless, four weeks before Christmas something very special happens: a great angel comes down from heaven to invite the inhabitants of the earth to prepare for Christmas; this angel has a blue cape, weaved with silence and peace. Most of the people do not perceive him, beause they are busy with many other things, but the angel sings with a deep voice, and only those who have an attentive heart can listen.

His song goes like this: "The heaven is coming to earth, God comes to inhabit the hearts of Men, Pay attention! Thrust the door wide open!

So it is, that in a day like today, the angel passes by, and talks to all mankind, and those who listen take care in preparing Christmas, singing some songs and lighting candles....

Soline and Pierre Lehnard

Thursday, November 17, 2011


These excerpts are from a book on Festivals:

"The movement of the sun and the stars in relation to the earth determine the course of the Christian year, but each of its festivals reveals part of the content of Christianity. the year begins just before the natural turning point of midwinter. It starts quietly with a season of preparation, of waiting, of listening for what is to come. It begins, like the day, with a quiet period of twilight in which the sky grows brighter and the early light gradually seeps through the grey of night, until the dusk is at last filled within the mighty glow of the sun's rising. Advent is the twilight which comes before the sunrise of Christmas. the mood of this time is quiet contemplation. the great truth of Christ's coming will be the theme of Christmas. it can be taken up in thought and pondered in the heart during the four weeks of preparation. The sense of expectancy increases as the thought deepen. the mood of anticipation gives the season its special character...."

One of the things that help in this is the actual house preparation, with more time indoors, we are having laundry better folded, the tidiness shows glowing in the living areas and the bedrooms are finally at peace. Also the starting of decorations, with lights around, pictures of the Mother and Child, the advent wreath, the tree without yet ornaments, the laying of the scenery for the manger scene, everything beautiful to hint at  Christmas. The Advent spiral is also a traditional custom that exemplifies this silent, quiet, reverent walk to the center that lies ahead.

The Light of the Spirit in the House of the Body

"This season is one of struggle and its tranquility will often have to be won in face of disturbance. All the hindrances arise that could make hard and difficult the coming of Christmas as a spiritual event. Foremost among them is the commercial Christmas of the present day, drawing the interest of people to outer things, filling the quiet with material distractions.....This is not however the only kind of hindrance. Struggles between people, disturbances in destiny, often occur just in these weeks, which are rarely uneventful in ordinary life. the forces against quiet and peace of mind are out to shatter the true mood of Advnent. Strength of will is needed to renew tranquility again and again, from within, against discouragement. Advent is not to be experienced without effort."

Every year, at this time, conflicts start to abound in my life, outer and inner conflicts, and I like to remind myself that this shall too pass, and that I need to show endurance in the face of upheavals, a willful yet soft endurance, like the whisper of a humming sound under a storm.

During our months of Spanish rhymes and verses I have been  using the material from Tamara Chubarovsky, a speech therapist from Spain, now though I start to use my own, and for this season we will include K , P, N, sounds for the working of dwarfs beneath the soil:

Click, clock, click, clock,
los enanitos van picando.
Click, clock, click, clock,
piedras preciosas bajo el manto.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saint Martin

Following this trend of relationships and the true bride, we have stumbled upon the story "East of the Sun and West of the Moon".

It is for me such an analogy of the relationship with our spouse, and how when falling in love we "see" the real person, their higher self, their true being, yet this vision fades away with time and it is a struggle to both recapture it and mantain it, just like the true Princess struggle through the journey. We start then complaining about our spouse, seeing the weaknesses instead of their virtues and pretty soon we are tearing the whole building down. Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

It is through this vision of the higher self that also our own redemption is linked, as long as we still see the best of our spouse, there will be the impulse for them to become like that and the same for us. But many times we are paralized to do the change that is necessary in us in order to "see" again. Fear and pride stand in our way, we may feel that we are right and the spouse is wrong, or that we do not have the courage to change what is an habit. It is here that Christ again brings the possibility for us to leap with faith, and embrace that first vision with a strong grasp.

Around Martinmas times also the darkness is stronger, and for the same reason the light in us is prompted to shine brighter, this is the story of the young Martin, who then became Saint Martin:

How Saint Martin got his name: ( Catalan version)

Martin's father was a brave soldier from Hungary, under the commandment of the Roman Emperor, he traveled a lot and when his wife was pregnant and ready to give birth, she called him to come back home. The baby was born and everone was very happy, it was boy. The father, who was pagan brought him to the Altar of Mars and with the sword he made three movements around the baby, saying Martin, Martin, Martin, which mean little Mars.

The father was sent to Italy and the wife begged him to come along, -How come your son will learn to be a good soldier if he is not around you?. The father acquiesced and all the family moved to Italy where Martin grew up to be a good boy, he inherited the courage from his father and the good heart from his mother, he would usually defend animals and small children from unjustice.

Once Martin saw three boys who were torturing frogs in the bank river, they were tyeing with rope the legs and then left them in the water to see them struggling, Martin cryed: -What are you doing? the boys were ready to put the ropes on him too, and as the biggest boy got closer with the ropes Martin stampeded againt him and threw him in the water; while the remaining boys were helping their friend out of the river, Martin got the ropes of the frogs loose and softly, tenderly put them in the water again.

At 12 years old, tha father one day told the family about a new religion that was sprouting in the area, they were called Christians, they had the sign of a fish to mark their doorposts and some of them were refusing to be soldiers, they said that they were called to be all brothers. Martin went to the house in the village which the Christians use as meeting place and he listened to the songs. One day an older man and a youth came to the door and saw Martin, the youth invited him in and that is how Marin got to know the Christians for the first time. They told them the story about their master, how he had died on the cross and how he had resurrected, and that now it was possible for all to see him, and that they were all called to brotherly love.

Martin could not talk about these things at home, but he listened to the Christians speaking and his heart grew warm for their people.

At 15 yearslold Saint Martin was appointed to a teacher, to learn the art of soldiers, bow and arrow, jabaline, horse-riding, etc... and he was sent to the borders, to fight against the Germans. He served diligently the army for some years but eventhough he had lost contact with the Christians, his heart was empty with this job and longed for something.

One year Martin was at the border between France and Germany, it was the time to receive new clothes for the army especially those in good ranks. Martin got a new big coat, all lined with sheepskin and it was so long that it covered part of his horse as well. By November, one of the coldest nights he was travelling to Amiens, the icy winds were swirling any leaves that were left, it was so cold that even the ravens did not dare to fly, when all of a sudden, in front of him, Martin saw a man half naked, behind a rock that scarcely protected him from the winds. Saint Martin got closer, he took his sword and cut his coat in two, giving half of it to the beggar.

That night, when in deep sleeping  Martin had a dream, and he heard someone calling his voice, Martin, Martin! he saw two angels clothed with light bringing the half of the coat that he had given the beggar, and behind them the figure of the beggar, shining with light and with a radiant look in his eyes, he was saying: -Martin, you have clothed me while my body was naked, you have done this to me, as the least of your brothers, come and receive my peace.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cambric shirt

We are getting ready for this afternoon gardenining work, we will stir cow manure that has been composted in humus, in rain water for one hour, sing songs and then go around town spraying in the yards and gardens for nourishment in the winter planting.

One of the songs that we will sing is a famous one from England, Scarborough Fair, and it reminds me of the continuous work that we do in life, in relationships, to see the best in every person. I am reading a book on The Meaning of Love by Soloviev and there are many quotes from the texts that are describing this striving:

"I can only acknowledge the absolute significance of a given person, or believe in him (without which true love is impossible), by affirmation of oneself in th sphere of the absolute, by affirming him in God, and consequently by belief in God himself, and in myself, as possessing in God the center and root of my own existence. This triune faith is already a certain internal act, and by this act is laid the first basis of a true union of the man with his other and the restoration in it (or in them) of the image of God......
But in order for the faith to be a living faith, it must set itself steadfastly against that existing society where meaningless chance builds its dominion upon the play of animal passions and, still worse, human passions. Against these hostile powers, believing faith has only one defensive weapon-endurance to the end. Te earn its bliss, it must take up its cross. In our materialistic society it is impossible to preserve true love, unless we understand and accept it as a moral achievement. Not without reason does the Orthodox Church in her  marriage ceremony make mention of holy martyrs and compare their crowns to the bridal crowns.
Religious faith and moral achievement safeguard an individual human and his love from being engulfed by materialistic society dyring this lifetime, but they do not give a triumph over death....An individual can really be saved, i.e, can regenerate and immortalize his individual life in true love, only conjointly or together with others."

This ties also with the lecture of the Gospel for this week, Reveltaions 3, 1-6, where John talks to the Church of Sardis, as they are asleep, yet some of them are worthy and will be clothed with the white garment. As we ponder on these thoughts and carry the work for the Earth, we bring this verse:

Let us but rightly, oh Spirit of Worlds,
Be penetrated
By spirit-grasping aspiration,
that we won't miss
That, what can be done for the good of the Earth
And for the progress of the Earth.
to wrest from Pride and Fear,
in the right sense.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

La Castanyera (The Chestnut Lady)

In my country of origin we do not have Halloween, but we have la Castanyada, a festival with roasted chestnuts, baked sweet potatoes and panellets. It is also very special time of the year as the colors are still in the tress but fading on the ground, and the winter peeks its nose through the clouds. The day after is All Saints, and the families gather together, to remember the love ones that have passed away.

This is a story of that time of the year, situated in Barcelona, around 1960:

The Chestnut Lady(La Castanyera)

Once upon a time there was a boy that lived with his family in the older part of town, where old castles and turrets where seen through the more recent buildings, and where alleys and crooked streets made the walking every day a small adventure. Each Saturday morning him and his father went together to get the newspaper from the newstand, a dozen of blocks away from home, and they spent that time talking about the past week, and the week ahead.

It came to pass that the fall season was coming once again, (it was the ninth one for the boy), and the streets got darker in the morning, with leaves from the maples trees whirling all around and making deep carpets to walk through. At that time of the year, the Chestnut Lady (Castanyera) also made her appearance, she was an old lady with hooded cape and cloaks that would stand in the corner of Santa Maria Street and the Pi Square, with her small fire burning in front of her, with an iron low pot, roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes for the passers-by. Here and there a person would come and she would prepare a little cone with old newspaper and rake some chestnuts from the grill on top of the pot, and slide them carefully inside the newspaper cone, then she would fold the upper part and hand the nice warm bundle of chesnuts to the client.

The boy and father had to pass her on their way to the newstand, and the boy, asked his father What is the name of the Chestnut Lady? I do not know, said his father, and they went along. The next Saturday, again in passing the Chestnut Lady, the boy asked his father: Where does she live? I do not know, answered his father. On the third Sunday approaching the end of October, again the boy asked: Does she have family? I do not know, said his father.

One block further, the father stopped to talk with an acquaintance of him for a few minutes, they were talking about some business and the weather for the week. After bidding farewell to each other, the father suddenly realized that the boy was not by his side. He looked and called around and around, turning to every corner, and looking into every spot where the boy may be lost. It lasted for one hour, and the father, in despair, turned his steps back home to look for help. But, when passing by the Chestnut Lady, he suddenly stopped, and for some reason, instead of asking about his lost boy, he asked about her name, the name of the Chestnut lady, which was Esperansa, and he still spared some time asking where did she live, even he inquired about her family and relatives in town. Immediately after that last question was answered, the face of the boy appeared through the corner of the Pi Square, and father run to embrace him and held him in his arms.

 After that day, they always stopped at the corner of Santa Maria street and Pi square, to talk with the Chestnut Lady and have some time with her.

(Soon we will do some drawings for the story, edit it and make a small book for children.)

Below there is a recipe for the "panellets". We usually put way less sugar in the mix, or substitute with honey, and we use almond flour instead of grinding the almonds ourselves. Also we do mix the same amount of coconut into the dough for the coconut type.

Prep Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 49 minutes


  • 1 lb. ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 -1 cup water
  • 1 small potato
  • gtrated peel of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 drops lemon juice
  • Toppings:
  • pine nuts
  • sweetened cocoa powder
  • candied fruit
  • Flavorings:
  • instant coffee powder
  • coconut flakes


Makes approximately 32 cookies.
Blanch almonds, then grind in food processor until almonds are a fine dust.
Peel the potato and cut into quarters. Boil potato in a saucepan until cooked. Drain water and mash with a fork.
Place sugar in a medium saucepan. Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan and stir to dissolve sugar. Add more water to completely dissolve sugar if necessary. Place on medium heat on stovetop and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add 3-4 drops of lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is a thick syrup.
Remove saucepan from heat. Using a large wooden spoon, gradually stir in ground almonds, potato and grated lemon peel. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 380F degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Spoon out dough with a teaspoon. Roll dough into small balls in your palms. Then roll the balls in powdered cocoa or pine nuts. If using pine nuts, brush each with a bit of egg white. Place on greased cookie sheet.
If you want to flavor the cookies, separate a portion of the dough and with your hands, work in a bit of instant coffee flakes, candied fruit or cinnamon. Then make individual balls.

Bake cookies just long enough to brown the pine nuts - about 4 minutes. Remove immediately using a spatula before cookies cool.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I have been reading "What Men Live By" by Leo Toltsoy, during this week, and even though the portraying of Saint Michael in this story is not the usual one seen in these days, with sword and ready to fight the dragon, it is nonetheless very adequate for us. We could even for a moment pretend we are in his role, and learn the 3 truths that God has commanded him to search for:

-"Learn what dwells in man"
-"What is not given to man"
-"What men live by"

Both Simon the Shoemaker and Matryona his wife, start the encounter with Saint Michael with lower human traits, with selfishness, greed, fear, etc...but in the course of the story, these traits are overcomed by love. Matryona changes her foul thought into a loving gaze and Simon changes his mind and retraces back his steps to help him.

I have talked in the past about communities, how people striving to form a community may find it so difficult to sustain the effort, and it is because we are so separated from the spiritual world, that the differences amongst us are made unsurmountable. Some people may look for community for wrong reasons, egotistic intentions, or plainly self-interest. yet how can we humans strive for something better than that?

We find it in the first community, marriage, where two have to become one, and where the natural binding is again, plainly not enough, nowadays we have more independency from each other because we have more independency from the spiritual, but until we gain again the truths about reality, about the spiritual origin of all, and we consciously make the work to align super-naturally with these truths, all will fail, marriage, and  communities at large.

The quotes at the beginning of Leo Tolstoy's story are worth thinking:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, beacsue we love the brethren. He that love not abideth in death. I Epistle St John iii.14

Whoso hath the world's goods, and beholded his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us no love in word, neither with tongue; but in deed and truth. iii 17-18

Love is God;and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. iv 7-8

No man had beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abideth in us. 1v 12

God is love;and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. iv 16

If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he had not seen? iv 20

One of my teachers, the director of a school in Spain, told me once about her youthful longings to work in a community. As time went by, she confessed that just striving to hold a school smoothly in a way that everybody was heard and honored, was enough community for the time-being.

I have also the same longing, just striving to hold the family in loving relationships, to strive to "see" every person that I encounter and thus give them my attention, to be part of groups striving to do the same, to overcome our selfishness, and connect again with God so we can truly love one another, that maybe is enough community for the time-being.

May Michael protect us in that walk.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I have a quote of Mother Teresa in my kitchen blackboard and has stayed there for over two years now. Every time I would look at it I would think is time to change it, initially it was designed as a board that would have different quotes and mottos changing periodically; yet it did not happen. This quote seemed more adequate to any other thoughts, comments or sayings that have passed my way during all that time, that is until last week.

For me it is rather special because it stresses the importance of doing things out of love, and I may be caught here and there doing things fast and efficient, yet with no love, and I know this is the cause of much unhappiness around me. What is the point if the house is in order, the curriculum followed, the lessons done, the meals nutritious, the phone calls and conversations dealed with, if there is no love? Sometimes I need to catch myself reading the quote and remembering that is better to dine on onions and smiles that on roast beef and tears.

This also can be followed up to our mind, what are the thoughts behind every action, what is the real intention after every duty? When slowing down the true thoughts can come to light, and then we can deal with them, either accept our selfishness or ignorance, or change them for the better.

I have been asking for some time about love, how to love better, how to love beyond human love. And this is the quote that will replace the old one in my kitchen blackboard:

"Atentiveness is love"

I know there are many other higher wisdom writings to put, (God is love...) yet this one in its simpleness captures one pathway to love, atentiveness. To be attentive to the carrots when I am cutting them, to pay attention to the child when asks a question, to really listen to the husband when he says something, to be attentive with my whole heart to any situation.

I know some teachings of the east like yoga or alike train the mind through breath exercises and they do good out of these, because the mind is centered, yet the path that I am choosing goes searching for good in the opposite direction, in training the mind, the thought process, which in turn changes the breath via the heart. This is western, modern (compared to old eastern wisdom) and thus separated from the new age movement, it is the path of coming back to God through the earth, through Christ.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sympathy vs antipathy

We have been on vacation for a while, visting old friends and making new ones. It has been a delight yet we are also glad to be back and starting our homeschool year. Today was our first day and we accomplished much. We have set the forms of the homeschool day, the verses and songs for opening and closing, the fuctions of the space and also details like the weather chart, etc...

There is something special about starts and something special about friendships too, I think that sometimes we may be carried by the sweet beginnings of a relationship, and yet forget that in the older relationships new things can arise too if we are open to it.

I have found examples of this in this last trip where older friends had been moving in different paths of life and thus have less things in common between them, but as I listen closer, it does seems that a lot can be united where distance abides.

The same holds true for antipathy and sympathy, we may seem attracted to some kind of personalities, and get to befriend the same type of people, perhaps if we are of one temperament we feel inclined to like the opposite one, and vice-versa, but is is in overcoming this law of sympathy that we can exercise our full human freedom, in choosing to be friends to those that we might not feel inclined to, usually the ones that hold some likeness to us, that some truth about ourselves is discovered and yielded to the service of the highest. ( That is one of the benefit in having children that have the same temperament working together for a while, their temperaments soften up with each other's company)

I have been observing sunflowers for a while now, following the indications of observation exercises to get to know the essence of the plants, and I discovered that after a while, a relationship with the sunflowers arose, somehow the thoughts of sunflowers got intermingled with my daily life and at some point the picture came of the whole plantation, where the spaces in between them got brighter and intense, whereas the sunflowers themselves difused in the background.

 It is this kind of exercise that also helps us see through our human nature, and focus on the spirit that resides in us, thus vanishing anger, jealousy, hatred and other such like thoughts from our life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There is a group of homeschooling families in town that help participate in the Gleaning Project of the VSN (Valley Stewardship Network).

We come together once a month, in the harvest season, and gather the left produce in the fields as the old gleaners did. The following day, we go to an elder residency house, and distribute the goods among the residents

As we go along, we sing the songs that are growing dear to our heart:

It is in the spirit of serving that we really enjoy this group, and we hope in the future more things can be thought of to help the senior citizens, in what they really need.
It is something that is also resounding from many conversations, that one's actions are as needed as one's thoughts, and that the direction of the improvement comes from directing our thinking, passing through the feeling center and flowing out to the will. It is there that we can thus say: To Know, To Love, To Serve.

In regards of this, I will be working this fall in the book The Imitation of Christ, by Kempis, and will look for opportunities to engage as as a family in this Opus, Obra, for lack of a better english word, Action in the world around us, through opening our heart to what the head is listening.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The autumns days are peeking through. It has been already 5 weeks that we have noticed a change in the weather, plants and gardens were bursting with fullness and they started to yield fruit as the days grew shorter. We still are in the middle of August but nonetheless,  we also have been getting ready for school days and the fall.

Warmth is a very special chapter to consider for children, as they grow it is very important to provide layers of fabric as well as love, that will hold the body in its working of providing warmth, and other aspects of growing up. It is also important for us parents and care-givers, to protect our own sources of warmth and enkindle them inwardly as the days grow cold outiside.

It is for this resaon that every summer we work on knitting hats for the children, we do a simple pattern which allows the ears to be protected and bring a beautiful rounded face, we call them "romantic bonnets", and they are done with wool, and cotton, the wool ones are layered with a silk underneath.

We also pay special atention at those feet, which have been free and running wild in the hot weather, but need to be clothed indoors already, and outdoors soon. We are very fond of "Hannah Anderson" version of slippers, and for lack of industriousness in that regard, we have been using theirs.

All in all, three layers are recommended for the upper part of the body, and two layers for the below the navel part. I found that the more these things are taken care of, with patience and ample time to do the dressing and undressing of children, the better the love flows through us.

Another important aspect is nutritionally, how to change gradually from the salads and raw food diet of summer, to soups and slow cooked meals of the winter. This also belongs to the warmth availability, as the digestion processes change according to the seasons too and have a helping hand in our conscious undertaking of the kitchen duties.

Finally, to wrap ourselves with beauty and reverence for the unfolding of this change, may open windows of inspirations for each child under our care, what they really need this year? How we can really help?

Excerpt of "Practical Home Care Medecine" in warmth:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Homeschooling

This is a question many times forgotten, and we all have probably different reasons or motives for homeschooling our children.

I just have been reading a book that exemplifies in the firsts chapters one of my main answers to the question in the title. I will just quote from the book itself: "Peddlar's Progress"  by Odell Shepard.

"...Then and there they may have decided what they afterwards firmly knew and taught, that a formal schooling, even when good, is not the only means of securing an education. Against the American worship of the school, so stupid in itself and so stultifying in its effects upon real intellectual life, one would be glad to think that they set their young faces, even then, like flint. To Bronson in particular there may have come some vague premonition of his future knowledge that the school, at its best, is only a substitute for the family and the home, that it is a miscrocosmos of society, a place in which one learns by doing, and as Thomas Carlyle was to say: "a collection of books".

.....The family, the home, one's mother-there was the best school of all...Was not his mother a far wiser, kinder, gentler, and in every way better person than the schoolmistress? And what could that mean, unless there are more important things in the world than reading, writing, and exact knowledge of the length of the Zambezi river? His mother knew things too, although one never found them set down in books, and even she seldom tried to say them in words. She said them in the way she acted, in the touch of her hand, in the smile of her eyes; and often she seemed to be saying them when sitting quietly beside him, paring apples or mending a hole in his homespun coat"

All these special figures that surround the life of children when they grow up are of utmost importance. The Mother role is central in the first three years of life, and then slowly it passes the torch to the world by the hand of the Father figure. You could observe that many times discipline problems or quarreling among siblings stems from the lack of loving co-operation between spouses: The more the wife submits her own selfish wishes to the wealth of the family, which is guided by the father's natural authority, the better the children learn. In like manner, the more the husband loves his family by turning down his own selfish desires and yielding to the overall wealth and family's needs, the better the children respond.

It is strange though that in this post about why homeschooling I am announcing an experiment that will start this year: to homeschool out of the home:

Now that my younger child is 4 years and a half, we decided to rent a room near our home, and to make it a place for the main schooling hours of the morning.

Besides the homeschooling hours Monday through Thursday, there is:
- a program for familes and children on Fridays,
-probably some after school care hours for the children that go to school,
-Wednesdays study group
-and a puppetry group.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

War and Politics

There is a story in my early youth that made a deep impression in me. I was in first grade and that day our teacher was absent, so we had a substitute. She had to go out of the room for some minutes and left us, some 25 children, alone with some work to do. At that point I remember getting up from my seat, many of us were out of the seat anyway, and started telling every girl about how unjust were the boys treating us, and that we ought to take some action, some revenge. Thus in a couple of minutes a war ensued, and we had half the class throwing tinfoil made balls and pieces of chalk to the other half of the class. There was indeed just on girl that was not convinced by my arguments, and did not participate, but all the rest joined in the uproar.

Th substituter teacher came in in the midts of it, and took as responsible ones the usual boys that always got into mischief ...I did not come forward to assume my fault or to speak about the truth.

This incident haunted me for all my life, not just for my feeling of cowardice, but also for the working of politics. I knew politics at that time, at least these kind of politics. It was clear to me that my motives for bringing this war were very selfish, I had accumulated a resentment towards my three years younger brother, and that spilled over to all the boys of the class.

It is no different many times, in our lifes, when the motives for even some acts that we may consider just and wholesome are based on lower human nature. I am just starting to read a book discussing the underlying truths about the  First World War, and it does relate very much to a question of power.

Many times, the quest for power is reigning around us, hidden under our best motives. I have seen the movement of terrorist groups in my country, where they have started with high ideals and a well-intentioned agenda of taking care of the defenseless against the big powers, and yet, little by little, the leadership of these groups turn to the same quest of power they are trying to obliterate, and violent leaders take the reins, thus transforming good into evil.

Just last Tuesday we were discussing the calling of the Spirit to take action. Sometimes we are lead by the Spirit, and we have resistance to it, just like Moses did not want to take part of the plan God had laid for him, or Jonah had fled away from the commands of the Lord. But these times are in my eyes a good sign, because if we do not want so readily to obey there are good chances that there is nothing for us to gain in it, in terms of our low human nature, no praises, no self-satisfaction, no power gained, and thus our heart would be more pure in this action that we resist to do than in others that we may feel called and are very willingly entering to. Meanwhile we can work in purifying our hearts, so our own intentions gain clarity with truth and can be cleaned of selfishness.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ironing and the Will

My great aunt Carme was like a mother to me, we grew up with her, she was our caregiver during the week and so we loved her very much. She used to work when she was very young at the ironing house, near the Plaza del Pi, and she told us stories about how hot it was in the summer, to iron, and how many shirts, towels, linen, would be awaiting in the pile each day.

Our closets were very well organized, every dress, sock and underwear neatly ironed and properly folded away, and I remember admiring the beauty of that sight.

Now that I carry my own household, I long for those closets. My house is more or less well organized, but ah! if you look inside the closets you would see the mess there is...and I think this is because of the will.

Now, do not get me wrong, I do not think that extreme neatness is beneficial, on the contrary, there is a balance to the health in the soul, mind and spirit, but in my case I see perfectly well that an exercise of ironing would strenghten my will. It is the penetration of the will in matter that is to be accomplished and through ironing even the most menial clothing, I am hoping to exert my will through material resistance.

Here are some quotes about the will in the book that I mentioned last week that illustrate this weakness of will prevalent in our times:

"We do not know how to use the will, or rather we will into a vague and fugitive manner..............Now this is our great fault with resolutions: they are not specific enough.......your resolutions must take to be practical, and on this condition only will they be efficacious"

"Will with perseverance! Never abandon your resolutions because you were unsuccesful.......A person who is truly humble, instead of feeding on grief, rises at once and relying more on the mercy and goodness of God than on her own strength, takes up the march again. To learn to profit by our falls is one of the secrets of perfection, and an essential requisite of spiritual progress."

Now there are also different intensities of the longing: starting with a desire, then a wish, then a mission or goal, an aspiration, and when finally its gets to be a resolution, our strenght is totally engaged in the object, and help comes along.

In the ironing chapter I wanted to commit myself to iron one day a week this summer, on Tuesdays. When the success comes with this simple task, I know other areas will improve as well.

Saint John is a very special celebration in my country, we used to make bonfire on the eve of Saint John, eat the Coca de San Joan, and bring old furniture to burn, representing the burning of the old, and making space for the new, allowing all our mistakes and wrong deeds of the year to be in front of us and make resolutions of improvement.

I will copy the recipe below if you want to try it, wishing resolutions and blessings to come your way.

Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Yield: 1 coca serves 4-6
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 envelopes (1/4 oz each) dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • rind or zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg white
  • several types of candied fruit – oranges, cherries, etc.( we found papaya and pineapple)
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, optional
Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk in a glass measuring cup. Melt butter.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour. Add eggs, sugar, yeast-milk mixture, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon to the center of the flour. Stir slightly.
Add canola oil and melted butter to the bowl. Mix thoroughly, while adding water a bit at a time until a soft dough is formed. (The amount of water needed will depend on temperature and weather conditions.) Form a ball in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it in a warm place, out of drafts. Allow to rise until dough has doubled in size.
Heat oven to 350F degrees.
Turn the dough onto the greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle flour on the dough. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to the form of a long oval, about 1/2-inch thick.
Lightly beat the egg white. Brush top of coca. Decorate with the candied fruit and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Place the baking sheet in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until coca turns a golden brown.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Knowledge precedes Love

We are really liking the reading of Counsel of Perfection for Christian Mothers. It has many things to ponder about.

One of the sentences that I am thinking is the one that says that Knowledge precedes Love, and it then follows some time later describing the two kinds of knowledge:

"There are two kinds of knowledge. The one resides in the worth little or nothing. If it does not stimulate the heart and direct the conduct, it will be a source of condemnation.

The second kind of knowledge is that which is acquired by meditation, that is to say by fixing the mind on the things of God and contemplating them seriously and profoundly; but above all, it consists in loving them."

I have been long striving for the knowledge to stir my heart, I can see in my practical life how I can be lead astray by the first kind of knowledge, to the point that it serves not my first-hand intentions, rather hinders and blocks them.

With the children for example, how can we love them better? If we take the route of knowledge, besides some general ideas on child development and so on, we should strive to know in a deeper level our child. Once an art teacher told me this great idea: "Take some newsprint paper at night, when the child is sleeping, and with a white chalk, go into the child's room, sit down and draw the face of your sleeping child, slowly, following the contours of the face, etc..."

This gives you a very delicate moment of holding your child in your thoughts, and perhaps in the following days some insight or revelation about the child's needs, or character will come into your mind.

Very recently I read an article by someone actually denying the benefits of observation of children, and I have to say that they are right in the way they understand observation to be done, which is in a cold manner, without the heart, and ending with a set of labels for the child. We should aim to be away from this kind of observation, which is the first kind of knowledge described above and renders the subject of observation with lack of freedom and the observant with negative debris.

On the other hand, I think observation that is done through the heart renders many benefits and it is of utmost importance for the children and all things of life. It is indeed very remarked in one book of education that it is by observing itself, that already the healthy effects of observation are accomplished, it is in the act itself of observation that love is increased through knowledge.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dressing and veils

There is a meeting today to talk about the book Dressing with Dignity from Colleen Hammond.

In the book the authour speaks lenghtily about the effect our vestments have on the minds of others and also our own; she discusses mainly the impact of the dress in our eye sight, and how the unconscious receives the images and moves on to thoughts that can be then more pious or sinful depending on the image beholded. Advertisement experts know about these effects for long ago, and have implemented its laws in comercials and media, leaving and ever increasing powerful set of images that help in the tendency of leading a sinful life, at least in the unconscious life of the mind if God's graces can stop it at that.

Nevertheless, besides the media then, many of the population follows the trends in fashion and design, and mostly by peer pressure we end up having an amount of habitants that are led by the spirit of the world. Every aspect of the dress is relevant, the size, the form, the texture, the colors ( we all know how the priests vestments change according to the liturgical year, and these are not casual colors, but chosen especifically)...if we wear something with a pattern is very different than something plain, which is more soothing to the eye, if we wear an apron we put ourselves in the mindset of work, and if we dress ourselves in our best clothes, we frame our mind in reverence and magnificence. That is why is so important with little children to take care of our attire, we are sending them powerful messages about our function and role, how we conscioulsy decide to be at work or in prayer with all our soul, body and  mind.

What I wanted to add today is the sense of smell. It is clear that the sense of sight is our predominant sense, in that we can relate all the senses to it like Saint Augustine points out, nevertheless, the sense of smell is also very important, and one that has primordial effects in our unconscious mind, even more stronger than the sight sense. We all remember things in our childhood that are impressed by scents, those muffins baked in the oven, the lilac perfume of grandmother, the smell of the hay in the barn,etc.. even our preferences in food taste can be related to our sense of smell in our youngest years. So it would be obvious that dignity and modesty should adress too the protection of our sense of smell.

In the old times, just like many Amish today, they did not use for everyday many baths, soaps or perfumes for bodily care, yet they covered their skin and especially their heads. The hair can be compared to the flower, when bringing the scent to the air, and so, by covering the hair you are sending the message of sacredness, of rendering the delicate chemistry balance of our bodies only to our spouse. Hence the idea of familiarity when a woman is uncovered and has her hair down, without any arrangement.

In society nowadays, where perfumes, colognes and scented cosmetic products inundate the market, the natural language of the smells is superseded by this artificial language, and you can cross a street and be invaded by many different messages coming from each one of the persons you encounter. All this happens unconsciously, of course, but nonetheless, by paying attention we can train our minds to recognize them and to stop the indesirable effects of these communications at once. Moreover, we can help others by trying not to send these messages, by being humbly dressed and "veiled".

We had a test for confirmands today, and the last question of the test referred to the balm that the Bishop uses for the Sacrament, it is said to be of a sweet smell, and simbolizes the pleasant aroma to God of a soul that is not corrupted by sin. May God have mercy on me, let Him be my guide and my veiling.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We have a recital today with the families at the church. Starts with Mass at 6pm and then the recital. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity, it will be the first recital for us, and we are looking forward to it. Not that we have a lot to show, but to share with fellow homeschoolers, homeschoolers that have the main beliefs of our family, is such a blessing, specially nowadays.

It is also a good time for me to review the homeschooling year, and the children, what they really need? what would be good to refresh during summer or keep working from a different angle?

Maria my oldest is so fast in doing things, in a classroom, she would probably pass unnoticed, have good marks and skip along the grades, but none would notice the huge weakness in her character if they would not ave time for individual teaching. She needs someone that pushes her to work hard, because things are easy for her, she does not do any effort, and tires soon of any assignment. That is one reason  for which we need to keep our music lessons, violin, she resists them but are tecahing her the value of persistence and work. On the other hand math is also a challenge with her, so we will be doing a lot of movement these coming months with math problems and arithmetic: jumping rope with the times tables, hopscotch with time tables, and mental math for mazes and games.

For my middle one, Rebecca, we will need to work on reading. She is somehow behind because I left her be in that dreamy child stage, that is so good for many things. Also because I focused on the first child and carried the second along, I see that some things were never taught directly to her. I am also confused about methods of teaching: the first semester we were doing a very living approach to learning and I was involved in designing the material, the second part of the semester was more of a guided curriculum set of assignments, and I found that even though the children do the lessons, there is a withdrawal from the actual learning, just as I did withdraw from the actual designing of the class. I am now wondering if I should pick up first grade this summer with this child, in the more living way.

For my boy, I do not think too much, just to keep working in boundaries and feeding him well, because with a little sugar or too much carbohydrates he skyrockets to tantrum and misbehavior land!!!!!

For me, I am thinking also to buy a big blackboard, and start drawing and printing the lessons in it, just as in the one room school they had the lessons written ever day for each grade, I would do so, before going to sleep for the next day. This will bring an added discipline effort to my life, which needs it so much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I have been working with the children's book, quite a roller coaster...for one thing ideas were flowing last week very fast and the laying down of the stories was done. There are 12 families and a priest in the congregation, and all the names of the people of the village are assigned, so far 70 habitants! the story line of the first four books is also established:

Spring starts with Easter and focusing on the rythm for the days of the week, introducing four families.
Summer with the festivities in the community, introducing three more families.
Autumn with the harvest and the larder preparations, three more families introduced.
Winter with the rythm of one single day ending with Christmas, two last families are introduced.

The First story is already written but the problem is coming now, though, with the illustrations. I thought I would like lovely drawings, the ones that make books worth buying, but alas! I am not so good as I thought!!!!and the disappointment is clear when the result of my drawing does not match what I had in mind...there are feelings of abandoning of the project that creep to my mind every night.

But yet, I am reminded too by Saint Augustine, that beauty can also be a great temptation, if the thing we seek is beauty itself for the pleasure of the eyes. So I am humbly trying to do my best, acknowledging that these may not be the illustrations that I had envisioned for the books, but nonetheless they are telling a story, and perhaps the story and what God will do about it is more important than my artist pride.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Since our yard is limited in species we have to collect some things at our friends farms or in the forest. Nonetheless, some things we have right here in town, and the children delight in working with the plants.

For now we are collecting dandelion flowers, picking them at their young stage of flowering, preferably early in the morning, and letting them dry on a net in the storage shed. Dandelion tea would be good for the soil, sprayed in little doses, the dandelion substances will bring a proper balance between potassium and silica. The leaves of dandelion, crushed with water, are good to use for wounds.

Dandelion wine, considered a tonic for stomach and energy, is also interesting for children to do:
Gather 1 gallon Dandelion blooms, without stems, boil them with rind and juice of 4 oranges and 4 lemons in 2 gallons water for 1/2 hour. Let set 24 hours and then strain adding 8 cups sugar and 1 package of yeast. Leave in a covered crock for 2 weeks and then strain again and bottle.

We have also abundance of burdock, which we collect the seeds for a tea to alleviate rheumatism and purifying blood. We are also prepared to look for the yarrow flowers this summer, by the roadsides, which will also hang up to dry for detoxifying the soil. Its tea works for "female trouble" times and for the nerves.

The horsetail has been soaking for all winter and is ready for spraying to places where fungus are growing too much. We have also a big linden tree, which leaves we will collect for tea for colds and coughing, and the flowers for linden tea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Leaven and "The Village Children"

The bread making this week was not successful, we tried a recipe from Nourishing Traditions, a sourdough one, and the dough did not rise neither taste good...This week we are trying again, probably with kamut flour, which we know taste delicious when a proper sourdough is achieved: my friend bakes splendid loaves with it, she must have a beautiful starter and knowledge from her ancestry Croatian roots.

Here is a link to one video that we like for encouraging the bread making:

The slow process of fermentation with the sourdough makes the bread-making more like an art, and the product is better for digestion. This happens in many things in life, where slow paced processes take precedence in quality offering: the broth making for 24 hours, the homemade mayonnaise, the soil tilling with horses for three days instead of three hours of motor tilling, the compost making from slow decomposition of cow manure during the winter, etc....if we all knew the advantages of these versus their cousins products, delivered in a fast paced industry world, we would feel cheated and will turn our eyes to the older times, at least in referring to the use of time itself!

Now that the novel is published we found an idea to make a special children's book, it would describe the life of a village, in the light of the ideas of faith and stewardship, where the children of one household will be inviting us to get to know the characters of all the people living in this farm village.

The first four books will be geared toward toddlers until 5 years old, following the seasons and having a simple line of the story; the next series will be written for the older children, where the line story gets a little more adventurous and will go in depth to know the different villagers: the neighboring family farms and their trades in this ideal landscape.

We will take ideas from the Bilbo Baggins homeland, from the Amish culture, from distributism and the Catholic faith among others.The children and families in the book will follow some ideals like homeschooling, homebirthing, etc... Let us know if you have any ideas or would like to be a part of this task. We ask for prayers and for God to guide us in this, because without Him we are nothing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


There is the novel of Don Quijote de la Mancha that we are reading to make a musical and some short stories for the children, as the two protagonists lead their adventures. Don Quijote and Sancho Panza are a very interesting couple, one almost opposite to the other in qualities, and together they form a wonderful duet for the development of the stories.

Don Quijote, extreme idealist, figure thin and tall consummed by the ideals of pure love and chavalry; Sancho Panza, rather generous in figure as his name indicates ( Panza means belly in Spanish), and character thrown over the natural senses of the world. Both are extremes in themselves that we might carry at some point, the overindulgence of Sancho Panza brings a level of lullness and stupidity, whereas the idealist in extreme leads to madness and disconnection from the world. But both put together may bring a good deal of goodness, as the common sense balances the idealism and vice-versa.

We find the same also out of ourselves, when we find among friends and relationships, a natural coincidence in personalitites. I have seen in my life the friends that I have become closer to, they ressemble each other. because I have lived in different places, new friends have entered my life, but oddly enough, they would always have some similaritty to the first friends. So in this way we could say we always find our Sancho Panza or our Don Quijote, wherever we go.

Now when we marry, we are bound to our spouse, and this relationship comes to be a priority. Together with God they form a sacred triade not to be shaken. When a friendship other than our spouse has come too close to the triade, the dangers are many. I have seen this in my life too, as our nature tends to look for scapegoats and third persons to alleviate the hardships of life, I have always said that a friend by your side is a blessing, it makes suffering cut in half. But, it is important that this relationship with friends allows the increase for veneration of your husband, otherwise is a blessing in disguise and brings havoc.

St. Teresa of Avila warned us of this occurrence too, she said that a relationship with a fellow nun or novitiate should be increasing your own fervor of God, when that relationship increases the feelings of kindred  to each other but not of God, then it would be safe to stop. How more this could apply then to our spouses! the more a friendhip helps us kindle the love for our spouse, the better.

In this I observe too the problems of discipline among children. When my disposition is closely bounded to my husband, and my obedience prompt and loving, the children obey in a meekly way, but when I step out of this blissful marriage relationship, and start thinking like the world, in terms of myself and of my rights, then I am lost in battles with the children, disobedience and stubbornness. Sometimes the shift is rather subtle too, and the effects catch me by surprise!

Last Sunday at the Bible study a friend commented about the Amish:" Maybe the wifes are willingly submitting themselves to the bondage of the husbands for this very reason, for the example to their own children, to know how a society functions under the authority of God."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discipline and rythm

It has been quite a transition this spring time; because of the change in rythm, and temperatures, we have been having some discipline problems, especially on Mondays when everything has to settle down again for workdays.....One of my challenges when the house is overwhelmingly untidy and the children unwilling to cooperate, is to hold my temper and not be angry. Over the years I have used many things to overcome that, but mainly two systems have defeated time: first to dissipate my anger by singing one song, if it is a daughter I sing the first one, if it is my son, I sing the second one. This allows me to calm down and redirect the bad behavior in a more objective way....

Once there was a girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Georgey Porgey, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry, when the boys came out to play, Georgey Porgey ran away.

The second thing I use nowadays is to go for a walk, take all the children out to the field or park nearby and think about the way to improve the situation for the next time.

When I do not do one of these, my discontentment escalates and I become an angry mother for the next hour, until everything is tidy and the children are obeying again. This leads me with uncomfortable remorse, because I know I should be doing it in a different way....Next time a Monday comes, I am going to call to Mary, to ask her to be by my side and help me with the chaos, and besides that I am looking into reordering my Sundays as to not loose so much of the reins over the weekend.

This is our plan for the summer weekly rythm:

Monday: Laundry day
Tuesday: Ironing day
Wednesday: Cleaning day/playdate
Thursday: Baking day/community works
Friday: Theatre camp at the park
Saturday: Farmer's market/cleaning day-cooking day
Sunday: Church/potluck/study

Another factor that increases lack of discipline is also my involvement with things other than the home, as much as I enjoy being part of groups and doings things, once I step away from homemaking duties, it seems like the children start to wander off too.

Lately we have been working in the charcoal drawing for the community meal, and even though it is great to see the little ones imitating me in something different from our routine, it is also dissipating our calm atmosphere at home. I wonder how to accomplish a balance, where there is some input from the outside but we can keep the strength of the walls of our home. Perhaps the above weekly rythm is already too loose, and it will need to be changed!

But one thing is sure for us, the better the order and rythm, the fewer discipline problems, and the less times we have to recourse to punishments or other ways for correcting behavior. I think this is also true in plain living, where the days follow like rain in a field, drop by drop in a uniform rythm.