Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer with the Saints: St. Anne

Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

It has been a few weeks since we have been able to do a Summer with the Saint get-together. Skipper was sick one week and the next we were out of town. This week, however, we are back with it and so glad to be. Another mom took over the activities for the week so I just sat back and enjoyed myself.

St. Anne and St. Joachim were the parents of Mary, mother of God. For years, they wished for a child but were left wanting. In their later years, God answered their prayers and Mary was born. Her parents offered her up in service to God and, as we all know, Mary later said yes to God when the angel Gabriel came to her, telling her she would conceive a son. Her feast day is on July 26th.

Holy Card

Door Hanger (a door is one of St. Anne's symbols)

Critter and Miss Bear picked me a few flowers - so sweet.

Snack time: strawberries (red and green are considered St. Anne's colors).

Park play after. Miss Bear's face says it all.

St. Anne, pray for us!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lego Mania: Kids' Choice

This week was kids' choice. We had a small group and somehow I only have two pictures (forgive me, I was in the midst of a migraine attack and forgot little details). But to be fair, one little girl took apart Critter's before I could even get a picture! He was not a happy camper. Here are the two I did get:

A (age 10): maze with plane

Skipper (age 6): Pyramid with a tunnel

Monday, July 25, 2011

Creation Felt Story

For Critter's Pre-K year, I plan on using some of Lacy's ideas over at Catholic Icing in regards to his faith formation. However, I wanted to add some themes so that we have a monthly theme rather than a quarterly theme. For our first month, we are starting from the beginning - God is the one true God and He is the one who created all (and still creates all). I debated what hands-on type activiy to do when I decided that creating a felt board would be perfect. If you do not want to make your own, there are some available on the web like this one and this one. I had the felt lying around so it was a "no-spender" project for me.

Since I did not have a felt board, I first had to make one. Thankfully, we had a perfect piece of thick styrofoam that works perfectly and if I ever want to hang it up, it will be light-weight and easy to do. I made a big board since we used to own a small felt board that I felt you could not do much with. With a large piece of brown felt (all I had in the size) and a glue gun, my board was born. Then I created each scene. Watch if unfold (based on Genesis 1-2:3):

In the beginning there was darkness.

God separated the dark from the light.

God separated the sky from the waters below.

God gathered the waters together into oceans and such and dry land appeared. He created trees, flowers, and all kinds of flowering plants to inhabit the land.

God set the sun in the sky to rule the day and the moon and the stars to rule the night.

Fish and other creatures of the ocean were made as well as birds for the sky.

Animals roamed the earth and man and woman were made in God's image.

The kids - all of them - loved this and were so excited to see it ready for them on the counter in the morning. I kept the story simple because I wanted to convey the idea that God is creator of all and that He was there from the beginning, is here now, and will always be here. We wrapped it up with singing Jesus Loves Me and He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.

If you want to make one of your own, a few board ideas are a piece of wood, thick cardboard, styrofoam or a large plastic lid (from a plastic storage bin). Or if you like the creation theme but do not have the materials, create a Creation booklet like this one or print out pictures of your own for your child to glue and color. Or how about printing out pictures on cardstock and putting them in order as a game (or making a memory game out of it)? My main goal was to have the kids be hands-on with a little Montessori-type action going on but there really are a ton of ideas out there for the story of Creation.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Planner Give-Away

I just had to share this planner give-away. The planner looks amazing. I can't wait to see who wins. Go on over to Elisa's blog and check it out!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nagging worry

I despise the nagging feeling I have had since late winter. I try to block it out, to put it off to an overreacting momma. But yesterday's routine check-up with the boys' GI doctor brought out the demons again, the worry, the waiting, the what-ifs. Both boys have celiac disease. Skipper was diagnosed first in the fall of '09 at 4 1/2 years old. Shortly after, Critter was diagnosed. We rolled with the flow and felt very lucky that this was all we were dealing with as the year prior had brought fear and uncertainty where Skipper was concerned. We had even had a moment where we thought he might have cancer (an entirely different story but one that brought out his then-unknown celiac symptoms more). Plus, at the time of his diagnosis, I had already cut out soy and dairy from my diet because of Miss Bear's reactions to my breastmilk. So taking out gluten was not too big a deal (in some ways, yes, but overall, not so tragic as some have felt). The boys' responded very quickly to the diet and finally, finally, my boys' were coming back to me, were growing, and were healthy. All seemed well.

Until sometime this past winter. I cannot pinpoint exactly when I felt the first nibble of worry. We had passed through most of the winter without getting sick (unbelievable!) though the boys were looking a little peakish - no doubt from lack of sun! Then, we were hit with the flu. And nasty it was - well, for Skipper and I anyway. Of the kids, Skipper was hit the hardest and he seemed to take the longest to recover. I would check him at night and grew a bit concerned that he was sweating bucket loads. Not the "he's hot" sweat but nasty, drenching sweat that is not typical of him at all. I brushed it off to his immune system getting over the flu. He was also more tired and "lazy." Again, recovering from the flu. But then, he started peeing out of his pull-up (yes, he's 6 but pees a bunch at night still though he had been starting to "dry" up some). That sent off a big trigger of worry. It only happened a few times before I had Skipper in to his doctor for his six-year check-up. I brought it up to him and he definitely thinks something is going on with Skipper's immune system, based not just on vague symptoms but on his health history of weirdness. He also brought up type 1 diabetes. Said he may or may not be developing it but I should know the signs as it can get serious fast.

Well, imagine my relief once the sweats were gone, he started peeing less and perked up more. I could have danced a jig. I no longer had to worry. It was just a fluke. Until he caught a cold in May. And the same thing happened. The worry bubble grew a bit. I did not call his pediatrician. Truthfully, I wanted it to all go away. I want Skipper to be healthy; I do not want him dealing with anything more than he already has. Nice. Denial. Wonderful place to be in. But again the symptoms went away, and much more quickly this time around. Whew.

Guess what? Skipper ran a fever last week - low-grade, just for a day. And now he has a cough. He looks peakish, not as much energy, is very moody, and has leaked out at least once that I know of (this is not always easy to tell how often he does this). When I had him and Critter in to their 6-month GI check-up yesterday, I told the doctor what had been going on since I believe all his doctors should know, regardless if it directly relates to what they see us for or not. Know what he said? Could be the start of type 1 diabetes (it can take years for the body to attack the pancreas enough to shut down insulin production) and that he's symptomatic when sick. Now, the next time Skipper is sick I am to take him into his pediatrician to have his urine checked for glucose. And, now the worry bubble is that much larger.

I do not want this for my son. I do not want this for me. Who does? But as I told his doctor (regarding celiac), it could be so much worse. For that, I am thankful.

**Edit: Skipper will be seeing an endocrinologist in August but for a totally different reason. A routine bone scan showed some abnormalities and so we go to the endo to see how to fix that. I had thought it was due to undiagnosed celiac but now his GI doc is telling me he's not convinced it is a result of undiagnosed celiac. The reason? Of the small handful of his celiac patients who have an abnormal scan, all of them have growth issues. Not so with my son who has always been at the top of the charts (if not off) in height. So what gives? What else would cause low bone density? I guess we will find out.

Women of Grace: Lesson 5

Open to Life, Open to Blessings

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

Here is a controversial issue - inside and outside the Church - and I am far from finding answers for myself. The author puts to us how children are blessings from God, that He is in charge of our lives, and that we need to be open to His will. This is all fine and nice and pretty glossy. But over the whole of it, I could not help but think about my own situation that I now find myself. So here goes, I'm going to be quite open, something that is not always easy for me.

The Bible itself states that children are a blessing from God (Psalm 128:3-4 among other verses). Do I truly believe that? Yes, though at times I forget (you know, those moments where it would feel so nice if you could just have the house to yourself to work on a project). Do I believe God gives us what is best for us? Yes, or at least, I try to because sometimes when life is rough, it is tough to believe that something good can come of it. Ok, two for two. Now, do I trust God enough to know what is right for my family, in this case, how many children is the perfect number? In theory, yes. In reality, this is tough for me to do. I want to believe. I want to be open. But part of me is fearful. What if I cannot do it? Some days I feel my sanity leaking away and I cannot imagine bringing another baby into the house. And, I am always afraid of driving my husband away.

This is a difficult situation in our household. During our engagement, my husband and I attended a local NFP presentation. We both knew right away that it was something we wanted to do. I do not know how it has turned into what it is today. In retrospect, I can definitely see God's hand in "planning" our family, especially with this latest pregnancy, where on paper, I should not have become pregnant. But here I am, another blessing to be added this winter. All of this, and I still have trouble trusting. Even worse, it appears that my husband does not believe that God is in charge of our family size; that he does not believe that God knows what is best for our family. At least he believes that children are blessings but it seems to me, they also are a burden to him. He was done with having more children after our third. Now that he is over the shock of our fourth, he is ok but wanting to close himself off to having more. I am not sure what to do. I pray; I hope. I will be taking another intro class to the Creighton model of NFP that hopefully will help. My husband scoffs a bit at that. I hate that he is taking away his support of NFP but I love him. What do I do?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lego Mania: Creepy Crawlies

Last week's Lego Mania was technically a bust. Only if the kids were required to follow the week's theme of food that is. I was pretty inspired by these kids but apparently my small group was not so inclined and it ended up a kid's choice. Though Skipper did attempt and made a multi-colored hotdog.

My mac-n-cheese and peas.

Hot dog by Skipper

This week's theme of creepy crawlies was more of a hit. Skipper did a great job coming up with his huge "fly" (which could double as a musk ox) and I loved the emotional spider. Critter just had to copy with his own, almost identical version. Here are the kids' creations:

J (age 5): a bug house

Miss Bear (age 2) - did she really do this?!

A (age 10): happy spider

A (age 10): sad spider

Skipper (age 6): fly

Critter (age 4): sad spider (that also turned happy)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

No Power

What do you do on a lazy Sunday afternoon with the thermometer hitting 95 and the heat index close to I don't care because it's too hot out to move? And then... the electric goes out?

Playing in the water of course!

And eating ice-cream cones (yay for gluten-free cones!).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succor me in this my necessity. There are none that can withstand your power. O show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our celebration was very simple with the kids making holy cards (they really love this!) and having a little "Mount Carmel" sundae with sprinkles of "grace."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Odds & Ends

I realized that I only have a month and a half until school starts and I still have too much to do. Agh! This last week has disappeared. And yesterday Skipper started in with a headache and fever.

A surprise activity - a cardboard house to color and build.

Coloring the happy animals.

Enough of the coloring - they wanted to build it!

Does anyone else have this problem? Miss Bear got into the diaper rash cream.

She thought it was lotion.

Ah, nice and clean (and happy) again!

Late breakfast on a comfy bean bag - who could want more?

Sirius wanted to join in on breakfast as well.

God bless and have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jesus Loves Me Pilgrimage

When coming up with activities to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Sweden, I created a Jesus Loves Me Pilgrimage. We have a nice little trail at our meeting place so I plan on placing these cards along the trail for the kids to find and stop at on their pilgrimage. Along the way, the kids will learn why Jesus loves them as well as collect a shell as a sign of their pilgrimage (which they will then turn into a simple necklace). Most of our kids are younger than Communion age so I kept the message simple. But for older kids, you could certainly use different images or more prayers.

We will start the pilgrimage quoting Psalm 38:13:

"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were."
Along the way, we will find the stations below, read each aloud and perhaps ask a question or two. At each station will be one shell (add more if you have more than 10 kids - just split them up evenly over the trail). For my images, I used sheets found in Little Saints - A Catholic Preschool Program and used water colors since that was faster. Because I cannot reproduce the images for you I provided a link to a possible similar picture. You can add the text (or not). I glued my sheets to posterboard to make it more durable and to be able to hang a picture up throughout the school year.

Station 1: Jesus loves me because He was born for me.