Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lego Mania: Kids' Choice

This week the kids had free reign and came up with a wide variety of creations. I was surprised that no one attempted a tornado after hearing about it all week! Next week we look forward to making a group project.

A (age 10): vampire teeth and he spelled out "vampire teeth."

J (age 4): dinosaur that transforms into stairs.

N (age 6): boat/helicopter

Critter (age 4): robots

T (age 4): spaceship

Skipper (age 6): house

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seriously, will this ever go away?

Another phone call. Right in the middle of dinner. It was the nurse of Skipper's GI doctor letting us know that his bone density scan (done over a month ago, mind you!) came back low. So now we are to see yet another specialist and figure out how to go about correcting this.

More tests, more doctors, more fear on Skipper's part. I'm so done with this. I know I should be thankful that celiac disease is such a "simple" disease and "simple" to correct but it can be so frustrating and so worrisome. I have already been a bit on edge in recent months as something has seemed off (just a little mother's intuition) and after talking with his pediatrician, I have a long wait to see if type 1 diabetes is in the making or not.

Oh Lord, help me to carry this burden and to lay it at Your feet. Your will be done now and always. Amen.

Summer with the Saints: St. Peter the Apostle

Tomorrow (June 29th) marks the Feast of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. Last week our Summer with the Saints gathering focused on St. Peter the Apostle.

O Glorious Saint Peter, because of your vibrant and generous faith, sincere humility and flaming love our Lord honored you with singular privileges and especially leadership of the whole Church. Obtain for us the grace of a living faith, a sincere loyalty to the Church, acceptance of all her teaching, and obedience to all her precepts. Let us thus enjoy an undisturbed peace on earth and everlasting happiness in heaven. Amen.

St. Peter the Apostle was one of Jesus' first apostles. Before he knew Jesus, St. Peter was called Simon and was a simple fisherman. One day, after catching no fish, Jesus came to him and his brother on their boat, telling them to cast the nets again. They obeyed and brought up a net full of fish. From that day forward, the brothers left to follow Jesus. Despite St. Peter's flaws, he follows with great love and faith and incredible zeal. He is quickly singled out among the other apostles when Jesus told him that He would build His church on him (the "rock"). After Jesus' death, St. Peter continued sharing Jesus' missionary work with those around him. He was eventually arrested and crucified. He chose to be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way as his Savior.

Amazingly, I could find very little done on St. Peter on the Internet. I used a picture and made it into a coloring page. As usual, the kids made a holy card using the above prayer, various pictures I found online, and some stickers. I think this is the favorite activity (other than playing on the playground!). The kids were hungry so they had some cheesy fish crackers. I was planning on attempting to make these fish for Skipper and Critter but ran out of time so they had "fish" squares and circles instead. Our last activity was making paper doll priests.

St. Peter, pray for us!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Women of Grace: Lesson 3

Making the Most of Mentors

Ah, mentors... Look around you. Does this society not shove "role models" down our throats? Everywhere I look I see the child my kids are supposed to be, the woman I am to be. But do I want to be her? Do I want to be an extremely successful, beautiful career woman? Do I want to always be looking to the next dollar and acquiring more?

Honestly, I would not mind being more statuesque and lean of body. ;) I would love to be successful - no matter what I do and whether my success is recognized or not here on earth (ok, a little recognition would be nice once in awhile!). I would love to remain comfortable in our income and use it to benefit others.

But ultimately, all these things are superficial, of this earth. Who do I really want to be and who should I look to for example? God has given us such an example in His son, Jesus Christ. He came to serve and love and likewise we should do the same. Sometimes, however, in my little world, I often feel like I cannot live up to His perfection (and indeed I cannot, sinner that I am). Besides, He was a man and sometimes us women need not a man to look to, but a woman. And this is where God's love for us is very apparent as He gave us our number one earthly mentor: the Blessed Mother.

We can all look to Mary as an example: her humility in accepting God's plan for her life, being pure and gracious, loving all people as her Son did and continuing to love us from Heaven. We can look around us and see Mary in others we may know. Look for women who love others, who give themselves to others, who revere God and are faithful to Him, who are not idlers or gossipers. Come to know these women and perhaps you will find beautiful mentors of your own, right in your neighborhood. And this is not to say we should only look for Catholic women or even Christian women but women of all backgrounds. Who knows? You could be her mentor and help to lead her home to the Church.

Also, as you come to know the Lord in a deeper relationship, be ever mindful of how you portray yourself so that you too can act as a mentor to those around you. What do you want? To be remembered for your career, your success, your money? Or do you want to be remembered for the love you showed, the sacrifices you made, your faith to God's will for you life?

Mother of God, pray for us!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lord Jesus Christ,
we worship You living among us
in the Sacrament of Your Body and Blood.
May we offer to our Father in heaven
a solemn pledge of undivided love.
May we offer to our brothers and sisters
a life poured out in loving service of that kingdom
where You live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Morning Reflections

From the Simple Woman's Daybook. Join in the fun at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Outside my window... I'm in the basement of my in-laws but I see the early morning light stealing in the closed windows.

I am thinking... that Toft's peanut butter cup ice-cream sure sounds good for breakfast. (I can have that for breakfast, right?)

I am thankful for... my little baby growing just fine so far. We heard its heartbeat last week at our 12 week appointment! The kids loved hearing it (and so did DH and I!).

From the schoolroom... I am organizing the school supplies and resources on shelves in the basement along with a little work area for me! I am so excited to have it so organized. I'm still awaiting the little work space but it is looking so nice and neat.

From the kitchen... things are starting to look up. Hopefully soon I'll be eating vegetables again and making more dinners (ok, more substantial, nutritional dinners!).

I am wearing... pjs. It's still morning!

I am creating... working on next week's Summer with the Saints project - a map of the California missions for the Feast of Blessed Junipero Serra.

I am going... to spend the day on the island of Put in Bay with family. It will be a pirate adventure!

I am reading... Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I really do not remember this being so long but I am loving it. I find it amazing how much more I get out of this book as an adult. There are so many quotes and life lessons.

"Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault."

I am hoping... that we have a fun and safe day today and that my family is excited to learn of our new addition.

I am praying... that DH has a safe trip this week and that my children continue to stay healthy.

I am hearing... the boys watch Special Agent Oso on Disney Jr. Aren't they lucky when they go to grandma's?

Around the house... that my downstairs at least is clean and nice to hang out in. Looking to paint Miss Bear's room this week.

One of my favorite things... that Critter is such a snuggly fellow.

A few plans for the rest of the week... relaxing from the busy weekend, Lego Mania on Tuesday, painting Miss Bear's room, Summer with the Saints on Friday, readying ourselves for the 4th of July.

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:
garlic flowers from my garden

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Official!

We are heading up to the hometown for a weekend visit. While there, we plan on finally sharing our news. At 12 weeks I already look 4-5 months pregnant so it should not take them too long to figure it out. Just in case though, DH and I came up with a cute t-shirt for me to wear. With the little one coming so close to the holidays (due date is January 4th), we thought it would be fun to treat it like a movie advertisment. You know how they always say, "coming this Christmas!" or "coming to a theater near you this holiday!"

Our initial attempt at making the shirt was awful. Apparently there is a backing you are to remove before ironing. However, the instructions only state that under the heat press section and not the hand iron one (which of course is what I was using). So I melted the paper and burnt the shirt. Oh, you should probably know I generally hate ironing; DH is the one who does it as needed.

When I figured out what I had done wrong, DH still wanted me to do a shirt. So off to the store I went again. I would have much preferred a colored t-shirt but I chose white because of the white background transferring from the iron on paper. This time we had difficulty printing the design but DH, computer guru that he is, saved the day. Finally, I did everything according to the directions + peeling the backing off and it worked. Except... the white part turned brown as apparently 20 seconds (directions again) was too long to keep the iron on. But we worked it out by spreading the brown as evenly as possible and now it looks somewhat like it was meant to be that way. Take a look yourself. It's not the prettiest but it will do.

The front. Aren't the birds cute?

The back.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Paper Doll Priests

For our Summer with the Saints meeting this week we will be celebrating Saint Peter the Apostle (feast day is June 29th). I was having trouble deciding what to do for the activity part. At first I thought maybe something to do with fish, one of St. Peter's symbols, such as this simple, yet fun chalk drawing. But, I like a challenge and I wanted our craft projects to be useful if at all possible. So I thought, why not priest paper dolls with different colored vestments to match the liturgical year? (Most of the older kids are girls and St. Peter was the first pope.) Yeah, well, apparently there is not much of an outcry for paper doll priests. I did find some here to buy but if I could do it for free, why not? So yes, I came up with my own.

Simply print off the design on cardstock. Color as desired. Vestment colors: green, purple, rose, white, red, etc. Here is a great site that explains each of the vestment colors and when each are used. Little ones may just want to do one vestment color. Once colored, cut everything out, being sure to cut closely by the shoulders so the vestment fits properly. Bend base backwards on both sides and tape to create a tube-like effect so the doll stands up on its own. For even more support (and no tape), glue doll to a thin piece of cardboard (recycle a cereal box) and fold as directed. You may also wish to cut off the bottom tags of the vestment as I have done.

As an alternative, especially with little ones, simply cut around the body and glue on a popsicle stick to make a priest puppet instead of a doll. **When we made this craft, one girl made the suggestion of using a toilet paper tube to use to stand up the doll. Great idea!

This craft would also be good for the Feast of St. John Vianney (August 8th), the patron saint of priests.

Lego Mania: Robots

I tell ya, the kids are loving this Lego Mania. Slap on a fancy name and give it an official day/time and they are revved up like it's a party. And even more amazing is that between last week and this, the kids have been coming up to me telling me how they were going to make their robots this week and coming up with new ideas to try and build. I think they are really looking forward to kid's choice next week! Here are their creations for this week's "robot" theme:

Skipper's transformer. He's a robot and now...

He's a boat!

Skipper added more vehicles and boats.

J (age 5)

A (age 3)

Miss Bear's creation.

N (age 6)

Critter's transformer. It's a tank and now...

It's a robot.

A (age 10)

T (age 4) - he really liked last week's theme!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Song from the Suds

by Josephine March (from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam rises high,
And sturdily wash and rinse and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry.
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they.

Along the path of a useful life,
Will heartsease ever bloom
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow or care or gloom.
And anxious thoughts may be swept away,
As we bravely wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given,
To labor at day by day,
For it brings me health and strength and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say,
“Head, you may think,
Heart, you may feel,
But, Hand, you shall work always!”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Women of Grace: Lesson 2

(From the book, Women of Grace: A Bible Study for Married Women by Michaelann Martin. These are my thoughts after reading the lesson.)

First Things First

Last week we realized that, ultimately, to live out our vocation of wife and mother (or whatever God calls us to do), we need to make God our first priority and we need to open ourselves up to Him, so that we may know His will for our life. But how exactly can we do that?

How often do I get caught up in my every day life? What's for dinner? Don't forget to put that on the shopping list. Ooh, that book looks so good; I wish I could buy it! And so on. And that is ok. That is part of being human. But to be a part of God, we need to stretch beyond ourselves and look to Him, and not just what this world can offer us. Live for eternity.

What does the Bible tell us to do? To imitate Christ and strive for heaven. What did Christ do? He served others, just as Mary served others and still serves us from heaven. So to imitate Christ, we must first serve others before serving ourselves. Wow, what a thing to say in today's society, isn't it? Does that mean us wives and mothers go around, dressed haphazardly and looking rundown. Of course not. Part of serving others is to serve yourself. And the best way you can serve yourself is to make time for prayer - every single day.

Yes, prayer can work wonders. Not just big wonders as I know you can think of something you heard only recently that attests to this, but in little things as well. Waking up and praying soothes my soul, prepares me for the day. Little prayers throughout the day enable me to make it through the day, to calm my temper, to give a little quiet time to an otherwise chaotic day. And prayer at night closes the day and fills me with peace as I lay it all down at our Lord's feet. Of course, this is an ideal day. I'm still far from perfect and am still trying to cement my prayer life so that I am praying constantly. But I certainly know that prayer has the power to change my day!

If you already take time out to pray, great! Perhaps God is calling you to a more deeper relationship with Him through service, Bible study, adding a daily Rosary to your prayer life, etc. Pray and seek Him always. If you wish to start, say a prayer right now. It does not have to be long, or fancy. Open up your heart to Him, confess your sins and say a prayer of adoration and thanksgiving.

"Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on you." ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Have a Blessed Trinity Sunday

Father, You sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy. Through them we come to know the mystery of your life. Help us to worship you, one God in three persons, You reveal yourself in the depths of our being, by proclaiming and living our faith in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Morning Reflections

From the Simple Woman's Daybook. Join in the fun at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Outside my window... the sky is slowly pinking up with the rising of the new day, birds are calling, and all is wet from the heavy rainstorm we had last everything (and still looking green!).

I am thinking... how quickly these last two years have gone by and yet Miss Bear's dramatic birth seems so long ago.

I am thankful for... my sweet Miss Bear turning 2 today and in such good health.

From the schoolroom... we had a successful day of Lego Mania and are looking forward to next week's robot theme. Our first Summer with the Saints went so well too and we are excited to celebrate the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle.

From the kitchen... I will soon be baking up a yummy vanilla cake for Miss Bear's birthday!

I am wearing... lovely pajamas once again (comfy shorts and DH's t-shirt).

I am creating... nothing at the moment as I finished the priest doll and have yet to start on another project.

I am going... to prepare for Miss Bear's birthday and to head out for some furniture shopping! (computer desk and some storage shelves)

I am reading... Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was browsing free Kindle books and this childhood favorite caught my eye. It's been so long since I read it and I love it!

I am hoping... that my kids get over their whininess lately (something in the air or what?).

I am praying... that all is well at my 12-week check-up this week as well as praying for first time parents who are 24 weeks pregnant and found out they have no amniotic fluid, with no apparent reason as to why. Her doctor is telling her to abort because survival is slim.

I am hearing... a whining child and birds chirping.

Around the house... I am so happy that all my flowers are finally planted and that I have just a little bit of yardwork left to do. It looks so pretty!

One of my favorite things... Miss Bear's smile when I open her door in the morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week... This is a very busy week with Miss Bear's check-up, Lego Mania, my 12-week check-up, Summer with the Saints gathering, and preparing to visit family for the weekend.

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:

Mine and some neighbor kids blowing a "mighty wind" on Pentecost Sunday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer with the Saints: St. Germaine

Today another homeschooling family joined mine for our first Summer with the Saints gathering as we learned and celebrated the life of St. Germaine. Her feast day was actually this past Wednesday (June 15th) but we still had fun with it!

Dear St. Germaine, you are now at the throne of God and you are known to help people who ask you for your prayers. Please ask God to protect me from my fears and to help me to lead a holy life the way you did. Help me to be patient and forgiving as you were. Amen.

St. Germaine lived in the late 1500's in France. She lost her mother as a young child, was very sick, and was also deformed. Her family neglected and abused her. At 9 years old, she was put to work as the family's shepherdess. Despite her hardships and the cruelty she faced by others, St. Germaine never missed a day of Mass in her life, prayed as she went about her work, even making a rosary for herself out of string, and loved God with all of her heart. She shared her love, as well as what little food she had, with the children she met in the fields, even though they mocked her at first. Then, miracles began to occur. Once, despite swollen river waters, she went to Mass and the water seemed to part from her as she walked across, finally arriving dry on the other side. Another time, her stepmother accused her of stealing and hiding bread in her apron. When her apron was opened, out fell beautiful flowers - and it was the middle of winter! Eventually those around her saw God's love pouring from her and they repented. St. Germaine died at the age of 22.

St. Germaine's story reminds us to not fear loneliness or mistreatment because God's love is enough for us. Seek God's love always and pass it along to others.

Here is a nice story written up about St. Germaine.

To celebrate the life of St. Germaine, the kids created a holy card to take home with them while listening to a very short story found in A Little Book of Saints, volume 6 as well as some other stories I found elsewhere. Then it was on to our craft activity: flower lanterns. The flowers were inspired by the apron of flowers from St. Germaine's life (the flowers were of unknown origin so your imagination is the limit!) and now come the middle of winter, the kids will have their own "light of Christ" to brighten a dark day.

Miss Bear's:



So pretty lit up!

We wrapped up our time together with a "flower" snack and play time on the playground. So much fun and looking forward to next week, for the Feast of St. Peter!

Optionally, you could color in this picture of St. Germaine. Or making a string rosary with knots like St. Germaine did would be a great activity for older kids.

St. Germaine, pray for us!

Flower Lantern

I originally was going to place this within the Summer with the Saints: St. Germaine post but then I felt it deserved a post of its own. The ideas to make a flower lantern are endless. Supplies needed:
  • glass container (use old glasses, recycled jars, etc.) - make sure the opening is large enough to place a tealight candle inside.
  • Mod Podge
  • brushes (I love sponge brushes for this)
  • tissue paper, assorted colors
  • scissors
Either cut out your flower shapes now or do your first layer of tissue paper. If you are working with kids, I would recommend cutting out shapes first to avoid the glue mess. Have a sample on hand or some good ideas. For young kids, have some pre-cut shapes ready to go. Some ideas: do a meadow scene with grass, flowers, blue sky and a sun; big flower shapes; shape flowers (like triangles, rectangles, etc.); big patches of color for a flower mosaic (very simple to do and worked great with Miss Bear); ball up tissue paper and glue on.

Once your shapes are pre-cut and ready to go, put a thin layer of mod podge on the outside of your jar, spreading it all over. Then cover jar with tissue paper color of choice. Gently rip off the excess paper and apply another thin layer of mod podge. Now you can stick up your flower design. Use more mod podge to cover the flowers and seal the entire surface of the jar. Let dry (mine dried best upside down). Add a candle once it dries.

This is a messy project so be prepared with newspaper under each project, avoiding windy locations, and have a sink nearby!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ABC Scavenger Hunt

To start off Critter's school year this fall, he will be doing a week of ABC introduction where he will play some fun games and do some exciting activities. One of games he will play (no doubt with Skipper's "help"), is an ABC scavenger hunt around the house. I created ABC cards of items around the house for him to use and would like to share them with you if you desire a hunt at home. Have fun!

View the printable file here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lego Mania: Vehicles

Our very first day of Lego Mania went well. I had neighbor kids running to our door this morning, asking what time it was starting (not until 1:30) and telling me, "this is the best day ever!" That feels good. When 1:30 finally rolled around, the kids were nearly crazy with anticipation and excitement. Since it was such a beautiful day outside we spread the Legos outside on the deck and the kids went to town. Check out their creations: