Monday, December 20, 2010

A Good Ole Fashioned Cochon de Lait!

One of the perks of living out in the country and having lots of land is that you get to share it with family and friends without being crowded.  And, you can get away with doing things like roasting a whole pig in your backyard without your neighbors looking at you like you're weird...especially if you invite them over for dinner =)  So, a couple of weeks ago, we invited over a handful of Philip's cousins and their families, our neighbors, and had a good ole fashioned cochon de lait!


  Just so you know, according to the official Cochon de Lait Festival website (didn't you know there is a festival EVERY weekend some where in the great state of Louisiana?!), a cochon de lait is a  "suckling pig (or sucking pig ) is a young pig that has only fed on its mother's milk. The piglet is killed between the ages of two to six weeks, and traditionally it is roasted. The dish is usually reserved for special occasions."  


 The annual Cochon de Lait Festival is in Mansura, LA, the cochon de lait capital of the world!!  You should come down, chere, and pass a good time!  Everyone brought a dish, and we supplied the pig roasting equipment, an ice chest of beer (and lemonade and tea for the children and pregnant women), and coleslaw.  It was fantastic!  We had homemade macaroni, chips and dip, baked beans, breads, and desserts. 

the roasting apparatus

 Phil's Dad is from a family of twelve, and all of those twelve are married with children, so there are lots of cousins to go around!  It was really cool to see a very small handful of the 3rd generation of the LeBlanc clan playing together.  I'd try and give out numbers of grand-kids and great-grand-kids, but I'm sure I won't get the numbers straight....I do know that one of Phil's brothers is the 44th grand-child, because his Mom just told me yesterday when they came to celebrate an early Christmas, the birth of Luke, and that same brother's graduation from college.  So...that should give you some idea of how many great-grands there are...LOTS, and I'm sure there are many more to come!

gotta have the Cajun injector!  (this makes a pretty fabulous smoked chicken, too =)




getting the pig ready for roasting
around 5 hours later, we had roast pig
the 3 year old crowd =)
the 1 1/2 year old crowd =)
the big kids
oh how I LOVE this picture!
taking it off the fire
all cooked!
movie time!!
....and, done.

Little Thoughts

I haven't done a Little Thoughts post in awhile, and I have a bunch saved up to post, but this one was WAY too good to pass up...

~~~~~
 At the dinner table:
Natalie:  "wait...Mom, your water broke at the hospital?"
Me:  "uh...yes"
Natalie:  "but, I thought water bottles were plastic...how did it break?"
 ~~~~~

Friday, December 17, 2010

Welcome to the World, Luke!

Our new baby has finally arrived!  We had a beautiful, healthy baby boy on Tuesday, December 14, at 9:52 p.m.  We named him Luke Anthony LeBlanc, he was 6 lbs. 14 oz, and 19.5 inches long (**I originally put that he was 16 lbs...SO not correct!  sorry...I just had a baby, please forgive the typo =).  And, he is just perfect!  I think we are all in love =)  The labor and delivery went very well, and VERY quickly!  It's always interesting to me how if you get around a group of mother's, especially if there is a pregnant one, the conversation inevitably turns to birth stories.  Mothers love a good birth story!  And, of course, I have a good one for each of mine.  Luke's went very well, and VERY quickly.  I had a doctor's appointment the morning he was born, and I was at 2 cm.  I left there thinking that I would have a baby by the weekend, but sure that it wouldn't be that night...little did I know!

Our first family photo with the new addition!

  I had a few contractions throughout the day, but nothing consistent and nothing I couldn't walk or talk through.  I spent the day doing what I normally do, and even worked on a few sewing projects.  I fixed dinner, but then told Phil I was boycotting the cleaning part.  I was feeling pretty tired and sore, so I went to lay down.  After that, I had a few contractions in a row, so at 7:51 I started timing them.  By 8:30, they were still there and were between 3-5 minutes apart, lasting between 30 seconds to a minute.  I told Phil it was time to go.  We called the neighbors to come sit with the kids, called my Mom to let her know, and started our 45 minute drive to the hospital at 8:45.  Phil managed to make it to the hospital in about 35 minutes, and I labored pretty well in the van.  Thank you, Lord, for the Rosary!  I don't think I've made it around a Rosary that quickly in a while...I'm sure I got at least 2 or so of them in.  It really helped keep me focused...it was very comforting, too.  I highly recommend the Rosary during childbirth.  Even if you just hold it.  Anyway, once we got to the hospital, my contractions kicked up a notch and all I could manage of the prayers was "Hail Mary"...so, I turned the Rosary over to Phil and just focused on the task at hand.  

just after delivery
 Now, I don't know how your hospital works, but you can do something called 'pre-registering' at ours.  Supposedly it allows for you to go right up to the New Family Center and get in without having to do all kinds of paperwork.  I think I will never waste my time pre-registering again, because we had to fill out information at the Emergency entrance AND at the New Family Center.  This is NOT a fun task when you are about to deliver a baby.  Then, the nurse at the emergency room desk has the nerve to call the delivery ward and tell them "there's a woman here who *thinks* she's in labor"....oh man!


Finally, I just tell her my water broke and we just go up to where we need to be.  The fun really began when we actually got to the lobby of the New Family Center, because my water actually did break...in the lobby...which means I had very little time before the baby was ready to be born.  But, of course, they go through all the requests for information and papers need to be signed by me...I try to tell them to call my doctor and fast, but they didn't listen.  I guess they just had to make sure I really was in labor before they called him.  In the end, the nurse and I did a good bit of yelling at each other...we each had our own idea of how things should proceed.  You know that saying about how "a drunk man's words are a sober man's thought"?  Well, I firmly believe that the same principle strongly applies to a woman in labor.  While I normally try to avoid confrontation as much as possible (almost to a fault), the same is not true when I am in labor.  I make my wants and needs known and no one is going to tell me otherwise.  And, what I wanted and needed was not in accordance with hospital protocol, so the nurse was not very cooperative with me.  By the end, she was literally yelling at me...who does that?!  Aren't we paying them for their services?!?  Sorry..it's one of my soap boxes.  Luckily I had Phil on my side...he just kept holding my hand, and telling me what a great job I was doing, which makes him the perfect husband/labor coach ever in my book =).


  I should note here that if you are having a baby without any medical intervention, you pretty much have to do what your body is telling you to do, and most of these nurses are used to having ladies who are under an epidural, which means they don't have to follow their body's cues quite as immediately.  


They wanted me to wait for my doctor to catch the baby, but I was having none of that.  Needless to say, my doctor was about 10 minutes too late, and from the time I started timing contractions to delivering Luke, it was exactly 2 hours and one minute. 

Luke and his Daddy =)
 So, despite the stress of dealing with hospital protocol and a nurse who was inconsiderate of my wishes, everything worked out in the end.  The baby and I did just great, and within 48 hours we were home and adjusting to life with 4 children =)  The kids are doing really well with him.  

she LOVES him!
 Natalie wants to hold him ALL.THE.TIME.!  Luckily, I'm the only one who can feed him; otherwise, I'd never get to hold my little guy!  But, I think Natalie will come in very handy for when I need to get a shower in ;).  Rachel was a bit skeptical at first, but after I finally got her to hold him for the first time, she didn't want to put him down either.  There is now a battle in the house among the females over who gets to hold the baby.

this was about as close as she would get at first
then she warmed up to him and realized how much fun it is to hold a new born =)
 Andrew really likes him, too, but it's obvious he doesn't have that same built in desire to hold him like the girls do.  It's interesting how that works, isn't it?  He looked over Luke for about 10 minutes, max, and then had better things to do...like play punching bag with the gift balloons we got from Phil's office...

Granny helping them check out Luke
checking out the fingers and toes
moving on to better things =)
Well, I think there is a baby that needs to be fed somewhere around here.  Life with four is definitely more interesting and hectic than life with three, but I wouldn't change anything for the world!

the note Natalie wrote for us while we were in the hospital =)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have You Had Your Holy Water today?

Did you know that "According to the Apostolic Constitutions, a document dating back well over 15 centuries, the use of Holy Water is attributed to a recommendation issued by St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist."*?  I once saw a friend of mine dip her hand into the Holy Water font at Mass, and then cross herself twice.  I asked her later why she did that, and she said it was because a drop of Holy Water had the power to release a soul from Purgatory into Heaven.  She said that the first time she crosses herself, it is to great Our Lord with the Sign of the Cross prayer, and the second time, she sends up a quick prayer like "Lord, release a soul to Heaven" while making the Sign of the Cross again.  Ever since then, I have taken up the same practice.  "Only in Purgatory can one understand ardently the poor souls longing for Holy Water.  If we desire to make a host of intercessors for ourselves,  let us try to realize now some of their yearnings, and never forget them at the Holy Water font.*"  That little bit of catechesis from my friend has given me a deeper love for and desire for the use of this particular sacramental.  How awesome is it that we have the capability, through God's grace, to help the souls in Purgatory with just a *single* drop of Holy Water!  If only my generosity could be greater for those souls!  So, when we made little Holy Water fonts at Natalie's December Little Flowers meeting last weekend, I was beyond excited!  I wanted to share what we did, because I thought it was such a precious little craft.  Basically, each girl received a small sponge square, a little glass votive holder, and some glitter stickers and jewels to decorate the votive holder with.  Once they were done decorating, the Moms were allowed to fill a small container with Holy Water, and then when we got home, we wet the sponge with Holy Water and put it in the votive holder.  Natalie and I decided to put hers on my teacher's desk, so that we could use it before school each day.  I really think these little fonts would make fantastic gifts for kids to make for their Catholic friends, Grandparents, Godparents, Dads to take to the office, etc.  Or, you could even make a few for around the house:  in bathrooms, night stands, mantels, laundry room...the possibilities are endless!  I especially like the sponge idea, because if you've ever used Holy Water in the home, you'll notice that it evaporates VERY quickly if you just pour some into a Holy Water font.  I have one that I inherited from my Grandmother when she passed away, and I have to say, I kind of gave up on keeping it filled, because I felt like I was wasting Holy Water it evaporated so quickly.  Now that I know this sponge thing works so well, I'm going to put one in my Grandmother's font for by the front door =).  

Here is what we did at our Little Flowers meeting.  I had Andrew with me this time, and he wanted to participate in the craft, so I let him decorate our Holy Water container =):

And, here is my font from my Grandmother...I just love this one!:


*quotes come from http://www.pwhs-mfi.org/read_me/holy_water.htm, and you can find other fun facts about Holy Water there, as well.

“I have found by experience that there is nothing from which the devils fly more quickly than from Holy Water.  They also fly from the Cross, but they return almost immediately.  Certainly, the power of Holy Water must be great; for my part, my soul feels particular comfort in taking it, and very generally a refreshment and interior delight which I cannot express.” ~St. Teresa of Avila.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

(complete with fun quotes from Divine Intimacy!)



Advent and Christmas are probably by far my favorite Liturgical Season in the Church calendar.  I LOVE the music we sing at Mass, the beautiful decorations, teaching the kids the importance of waiting and preparing for the birth of Our Lord, and doing the Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath with the kids.  It always brings me back to a more consistent prayer life, and it just really warms my soul.  The only thing that ruins it is the immense stress that the commercialization of Christmas puts on this time of year.  While spiritually speaking, Advent and Christmas are the most joyful for me, all the outside stuff just raises my anxiety to levels that I hate.  So, every year I try to keep focus and not let the stress overwhelm me, but it's just so hard! 

"Sin made an insurmountable abyss between Man and God, and man groaned in the depths of the abyss, utterly incapable of rising from it."

As Advent always has a way of doing, it totally snuck (sneaked??) up on me this year!  You would think I would learn from years past, but of course I don't.  The first Sunday of Advent came, and I found myself sending Phil up into the attic at dinner time to pull out the Advent Wreath, candles, and Jesse Tree supplies.  "All I found was this", he says as he comes down from the attic holding nothing but a metal ring with holes.  Great...no candles, no Jesse Tree garland, and no Jesse Tree ornaments.  "What happened to all those cool ornaments you made with the kids last year?", he asks.  (Why does he ask me these things?!  I know he knows me better than that.)  "I have no idea." is my reply.  Ok...fine...we'll skip the Advent candles tonight, and I have until December 1st to figure out the Jesse Tree ensemble...right on par with my procrastinating nature.

"To do what man could not do, to destroy sin and restore divine sonship to the human race, a Savior was promised."

So, it's the Monday after the First Sunday of Advent, and the kids and I are off to Dollar General to gather supplies (after we finish school, of course ;).  We pick out some cute garland to go around the wreath, a few new ornaments for the Christmas Tree (no, we have not gotten one just yet...Advent is about waiting, after all ;), and then we head over to the candle aisle.  All they have are white candles.  No problem!  I have a plan for just this incident.  I found it over at the Catholic Icing blog!!  I'm actually kind of excited, because painting with melted crayons sounds really fun!  So, we head home with our supplies, and get to work.
"God wants us 'all to be saved'; for this reason He gave us His Son, and with Him and through Him, all the means necessary for our salvation.  Therefore, if a soul is not saved, it alone will be responsible."

First, find a handful of purple and pink crayons, and peel them...6 year old little girls are amazing for this task =):

Different shades of purple are just fine.  I used a metal measuring cup to melt them in:

Melt the wax on the stove.  I wouldn't recommend swirling the cup around to mix the wax...it will probably spill onto the burner...just saying:
This next step is EXTREMELY crucial.  Have a toddler break one of your candles:

Now onto the fun part!  Put some wax paper down, and get ready to paint:

The nice thing about this project was that the crayon wax dried IMMEDIATELY, so it was not as messy as I expected it to be.  And, it made it easier to paint the entire candle in one sitting, without getting wax everywhere:

 All done with the purple candles!:

Repeat for the pink candle, and you're all set:

I realize these are not the most gorgeous and smooth candles you've ever seen, but it was perfect for the kids.  Sometimes, it's better for them to be able to be a part of things than to have things done perfectly.  

Here is our completed wreath, with the garland Natalie picked out.  I had trouble getting the lighting just right for a good picture, but you get the idea.  I also used a bit of play dough in the holes for the candles, because they were just a tad small for the hole...the dough helps keep the candles from wobbling too much:

 The candles are working out beautifully!  I may let them do this every year, just because it was fun and they really enjoyed it.  Tonight, we'll start on our Jesse Tree and Advent chain.  Post on that to come later.  Happy Advent everyone!!  

"'Christ has called the whole human race to the lofty heights of sanctity....  There are some who say that sanctity is not everyone's vocation; on the contrary, it is everyone's vocation, and all are called to it....  Jesus Christ has given Himself as an example for all to imitate.'"

 
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