Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September Liturgical Plans

Monthly Dedication: Our Lady of Sorrows
  • Create monthly "art" for our altar table
  • Create votive candles for the 7 sorrows of Mary to share with the kids, saying 7 Hail Mary's while meditating on each sorrow. Here is a great link explaining 7 graces given if this is said daily.
Mother Theresa (September 5)
  • Since this is also Labor Day, it will be very laid-back (no plans to go anywhere!).
  • Movie Night: Mother Theresa (2006) starring Olivia Hussey
Feast of the Birth of Mary (September 8)
  • Simple altar decoration of white roses with a baby wrapped in a blanket.
Triumph of the Holy Cross (September 14)
  • Bring out our St. Helena wooden doll for the altar and remind the kids of her finding the cross (we celebrated her feast day in August so this should still be fresh - I hope!).
  • Watch The Legend of the Three Trees
Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15)
  • Tears of Our Lady "taste" activity (using Sweet and Sour Patch Kids candies)
  • Decorate altar with red roses (perhaps one for each sorrow)
  • Say 7 Hail Mary's while meditating on her sorrows and lighting the votive candles
First Day of Fall (September 23)
  • Yes, not a liturgical date but one I want to make note of with my young kids.
  • Go apple picking if the weather allows.
  • Use the apples to make something in the kitchen and do some apple printing.
Feast of the Archangels (September 29)
  • Make wooden saint dolls for the three Archangels (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael)
  • Talk about the different types of angels, particularly the role of Archangels.
  • Read about St. Michael
  • Give boys a copy of St. Michael's prayer to put on their bulletin boards in their room.
  • Special dinner: apple cider, roasted chicken with apple stuffing, deviled eggs, baby carrots, angel hair pasta, devil's food cupcakes (or one big cake) with swords to "stab" the cake and cast out the devil out of the cake.

Monday, August 29, 2011

ABC's of Pre-K: Letter B

Ah, the letter B. Such a harmless thing, don't you think? But apparently, for Critter, it was something to be wary of, to reject. I truly love his independent spirit but when it comes to schooling, it is not always an easy thing! The letter B took us two weeks to complete and once done, I changed up his schooling plans and I think it worked well with letter C (to come shortly - I am a bit behind. Starting to feel this baby wear me down a little!). So for letter B, here we go!

Faith Formation
  • acted out the creation story using the felt board I made as well as going with the flow with whatever questions that brought about.
  • Continuing to memorize "Angel of God" prayer.
  • Catholic ABC's (from Catholic Icing): B is for Bible bookmark, Saint of the Week: St. Bernadette (holy card, prayer)
    Letter Formation & Other Fun Things
    • do-a-dot page using do-a-dot markers (the kids love these markers!)
    • "B" letter hunt page - we read a cute little story and then Critter highlighted all the A's and a's he could find. The one I used is no longer available for free but is part of a K4 curriculum package.
    • Read a variety of books, including our Letter B Moncure book (love these, so glad I found some on ebay a long time ago) and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (after which we put up "B" and "b" on our coconut tree in celebration of learning the letter).
    • B puzzle along with what sound it makes using the Leap Frog song (if you have the magnets, you know what I'm talking about: "The a says ahh. The a says ahh. Every letter makes a sound the a says ahh. And sometimes A."
    • Bb sorting page
    • Butterfly clip cards (math)
    • Catholic Heritage Curricula I Can Find Letter Sounds (Letter B) and I Can Find Numbers and Shapes (square).
    • Made banana pops thanks to daddy (chocolate covered frozen bananas)
    • Butterfly dice game (math)
    • ABC craft: letter B (Skipper did the little letters and Critter the big) and all are now hanging along their bedroom wall as a top border.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Summer with the Saints: St. Monica

    Great St. Monica, patroness of fathers and mothers, please take our children, especially those who have turned from the ways of God and His Church, under your protection. Let them always remain faithful to their baptismal vows. Give them strength to walk always in the ways of the Lord, despite the temptations and false values they find in the world today. Grant that they may share with you in the joys of eternal life in God. Amen.
    St. Monica was born and raised in northern Africa in the days of the early Church (300s). Her family was Christian in a land where few were. As a young woman, her parents married her to a pagan, Patricius, and she had three living children with him. She had a difficult marriage as her husband was not the best of husbands. Her oldest son also took after his father, in his un-Christianlike ways and caused St. Monica great worry. She could have let her life circumstances mold her into becoming a bitter woman. She could have nagged and become un-Christianlike herself, but she did not. She choose to follow the Lord and she prayed all the time for the souls of her husband and her children. Her husband finally did repent and receive Baptism. He died a mere one year later. Her eldest son also eventually abandoned his sinful ways and we know now him as St. Augustine. St. Monica is the patroness of troubled parents, married women, and widows. We celebrate her feast day on August 27th.
    On a personal note, I found great inspiration from learning and reading about St. Monica's life, who I did not know until this moment. She shall certainly be on my radar as both a role model and someone to pray to when I feel like giving up on my husband, feel that he will never return to his Catholic roots. And certainly, should the need ever arise (though I pray fervently that it does not!), I can look to her model as a parent of a troubled child.
    These thoughts were way too deep for the young group we had but I think they had a blast with what we did plan. For the first time, we all went to morning Mass before heading to the park where we first played, ate, and then did our activities. The kids made holy cards as usual, learned a bit about St. Monica, and all did a family prayer journal craft. I forgot my camera, which I am so bummed about, since the journals turned out beautifully. The other moms and I collectively came up with this craft idea since prayer was such a powerful force in St. Monica's life (in some ways, it seems to be the only tool she used other than her example) and also because of her closeness with her eldest son, St. Augustine, in her later years. To do the craft, each family had one 3-ring binder and choose what to decorate it with as a family. The journal then will be used in the home as desired. For us, it will be a family prayer journal and we will place our prayer intentions on notebook paper inside. To decorate, we had various items to use along with glue and mod podge to create a collage: holy cards, print-outs of Catholic art, ribbon, jewels, glitter glue, cardstock, etc. Ours ended up like this:

    My sample journal (I'll probably use it as a personal thank you journal or perhaps a new recipe folder).

    The kids' folder, front and back.

    Front cover, with a picture of the Holy Family.

    Back cover - the kids chose prayer cards to add and I wrote in little prayers.
    The best news is that we all were sad to see Summer with the Saints end with the passing of summer so we plan on doing something on the First Fridays throughout the school year: attending Mass and doing something inspired by that particular month. Plus, we plan on trying to rope in any other homeschooling families in our parish (if we find any!).
    St. Monica, pray for us!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    The Immaculate Heart of Mary

    This month's dedication is to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I thought I would share a few things with you that we have done this month. There is still some time to fit in a little something before the end of the month!

    The "altar table" (this is the top our our piano at my house):

    I created our own "masterpiece" since we do not have much in the way of Catholic art and it is expensive!

    Using Mod Podge, a pillar candle, and printed images of various Marian feast days, I created a Mary candle to use year-round. I love Mod Podge!

    Immaculate Heart Craft

    This seemed like such a good idea in my head. The reality, not so much, but Skipper seemed to enjoy it enjoy it anyway. Critter, well, he says, "I do it the way I want to." The hearts have been taped to our windows all month.

    Yummy Food

    We used up some summer blueberries in making this Blueberry Boy Bait coffee-type cake (recipe found in Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook - worth every penny even if you are just gluten-free!). I loved it, the kids loved it, especially Miss Bear with her helping hands - I mean, tongue.

    The kids made this mandela craft for the Assumption of Mary, but really, you could make this craft for anything and adapt it with whatever material you have.

    And remember, all of this was not done in one day! That's the beauty of a monthly dedication. Enjoy these last few days of August!

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Summer with the Saints: St. Rose of Lima

    "Help me to remember what is really important: that I am Your child. You are my Father. You love me for who I am and how I live; not what I look like or what I own. Let me praise You Who sees into my heart, Who is always with me, and Who eases my suffering." ~~prayer of St. Rose

    St. Rose of Lima was born in Peru and lived there her entire life during the late 1500s and early 1600s (she died when she was 31). As a young child of five, she made a vow of virginity and longed to enter a cloistered monastery. Despite her wishes, her parents kept her at home, and eventually wanted her to marry, which she refused. St. Rose was a beautiful child which she detested but her mother took pride in. St. Rose did multiple things to not bring attention to her beauty or to have it be a cause of pride for her: cut off her hair, stuck pins in a crown of roses her mother put on her head, rubbed the juice from chilis on her face. St. Rose was the first canonized saint of the Americas.

    Today is the feast day of St. Rose and last week we celebrated with a very simple gathering. Another mom took charge and the kids made holy cards along with a paper rose to put on their holy cards. After the kids enjoyed a lot of play time at the park since it was such a beautiful day!

    Today, on her feast day, I tied in Critter's "C is for Crucifix" craft (from CatholicIcing) with St. Rose by writing her very words along the side of the crucifix: "Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get into heaven."

    St. Rose, pray for us!

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Rooted in Love

    This past Friday and Saturday I was so blessed to have taken part in Rooted in Love: a Retreat for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers. The event was located at Saint Therese Retreat Center, a beautiful little patch of ground in central Ohio.

    You could feel the peace surrounding the chapel and buildings as we pulled into the drive. My friends and I excitedly grabbed our overnight bags and snacks before heading to check in, passing a precious grotto of Mary along the way. Once we checked in, it was time to pick out our rooms for the night. It was a small, quaint room, and naturally close to the bathroom for me.

    The evening was filled with Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a wonderful talk by Fr. Stash Dailey on the dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Confession, Benediction, a short overview of Saturday's plans and small group meetings, and spa night!

    Saturday was full as well with Rosary in the morning, followed by breakfast, morning prayer and talks from two veteran homeschooling moms, more small group talks, Mass, lunch, afternoon talks based on where you are in your homeschooling journey, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Litany of the Saints, and a final farewell.

    It truly was a beautiful 24 hours. There was so much information and words to ponder that I cannot even begin to convey them to you. But the one thing that most spoke to my heart during this time was the importance of the family unit and that is where Satan tries to tear us down. I wish I could use the words the others used, first introduced by Fr. Stash, and then brought up time and again from other speakers (how amazingly our Lord works!). This is something that I have struggled with over the last few months in particular. I can feel Satan trying to undo my family, using my fears and my doubts over my abilities as mother, teacher, wife, follower of Christ. Doubled onto my feelings of inadequacy as the leader of our domestic church and not wanting to be (wanting my husband to fulfill that role) which leads to an entirely different set of doubts. All I can say is that Father's talk hit me hard and made me realize what has been going on these past few months. And all I can say to that is, praise God!

    I will most certainly be attending next year, baby on hip and all. It was a perfect kick to start off another year of homeschooling. (I think we need one in February too!)

    A statue of Mary outside my bedroom window.

    Statue of St. Therese (there were also relics of hers but I was not able to grab a picture).

    Painted pictures similar to this adorned the chapel's walls.

    The chapel - and my camera did not give this picture justice!

    "Loving God and knowing our faith is the core curriculum; all the rest is supplemental." ~~paraphrasing a wise homeschooling mom

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Monstrance T-shirts

    I don't know about yours, but my kids love to make their own t-shirts. They wear them over and over and over. So we try to make at least one a year. And, I find a shirt not too much bigger so that it fits nice, knowing we'll make more in the near future. Now of course I need to have a plan for what to do with all these shirts in the future. I was thinking of having them made into quilts (maybe a baby quilt for a floor throw?).

    This time around I knew I wanted to make a shirt during one of our Summer with the Saints gathering but was not sure if that was possible - until we came to our St. Clare of Assisi week. One of her well-known symbols, the monstrance, seemed the perfect thing to do something with. But what? If I can, I like to have crafts that are useable in some way. Paper crafts are ok at times but if I can turn it into something that will not be thrown out or lost in a pile of papers, why not? And that is where the t-shirt idea meshed with the monstrance craft idea. Best of all, the kids loved it (though some did want to turn the host green and the monstrance purple!).

    To make the shirt, print off the stencil template two times (this worked perfectly for approximately size 8 on down to 2T). Cut out the monstrance shape from one page. From the other, cut out the host.

    For a few shirts, cardboard will work (recycle a cereal box). For more shirts, use something hardier like the scrap foam I used. Trace the monstrance shape on the foam. Cut out the square surrounding the monstrance and then cut out the monstrance shape itself. From that scrap, trace and cut out the circle. On another piece of foam, trace the circle. Cut out the square surrounding the circle before cutting out the circle shape.

    Gather up some paint. We used gold fabric paint - a glittery texture kind as well as flat kind of gold - plus assorted fabric paint colors for the letters, jewels, etc. Of course simple acrylic paints will work just as well if you have that on hand. Now you are ready to paint!

    Place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to protect the back of the shirt from leaking paint. Place the square circle on the shirt and paint in the host in white by squeezing paint directly on the shirt and spreading with a brush. Do this even if you have a white shirt - you can tell the difference! Take off the stencil and center the monstrance stencil around the host. Cover the painted circle with the cut-out circle. Paint in the monstrance just as you did the host. Add details (moms had to help with this): cross on the host (or letters IHS); "I believe!"; jewels; rays; etc. Leave out to dry. It took around 40 minutes for me to supervise 11 shirts. Make more stencils if needed for larger groups and make sure to have enough brushes to go with it!

    This would make a fun shirt to adapt for older kids, especially girls, using all the fancy beads, jewels, sparkles, etc. you can find now. Have fun!

    Using the sparkly gold paint.

    Using the flat gold paint and dots for jewels.

    Turned a mistake into rays!

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    The Assumption of Mary

    Father in Heaven,
    all creation rightly gives You praise,
    for all life and all holiness come from You.
    In the plan of Your wisdom
    she who bore the Christ in her womb
    was raised body and soul in glory to be with Him in Heaven.
    May we follow her example in reflecting Your holiness
    and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

    What a beautiful day! We had a light school day along with some fun celebrating the Feast of the Assumption. The kids created an Assumption mandela and we had a "special" dinner to cap off the day.



    Miss Bear's

    Roast chicken and sweet carrots

    Assumpta Salad (sans cheese)

    Gluten-Free Beer Bread (one of our favorites!)

    Sky-blue jello with Soyatoo Rice Whip (apparently my kids think jello is not meant for human consumption but they sure appreciated the cool whip!)

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Summer with the Saints: St. Clare of Assisi

    Prayer of St. Clare

    "Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."

    Most high,
    glorious God,
    enlighten the darkness
    of my heart, and give me, Lord
    a correct faith,
    a certain hope,
    a perfect charity,
    sense and knowledge,
    so that I may carry out
    Your holy and true command.

    Saint Clare is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies and wrote their Rule of Life. After her death, the order was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare (or commonly called, the Poor Clares). Her feast day is celebrated on August 11th.

    As a young woman, Saint Clare's parents were determined that she marry a wealthy, young man. St. Clare, however, had other aspirations and leaving her home, sought refuge with St. Francis. Her sister soon joined her. She and her sisters lived in enclosure, and whose lives consisted of hard manual labor, prayer, and strict poverty.

    One well-known story of St. Clare is when an army of plundering troops set against the Pope planned to attack Assisi, beginning with the convent first. While the troops attempted to climb the walls, St. Clare, then ill and bed-ridden, had herself carried out to the wall where she placed a monstrance containing the Blessed Host in sight of the enemy. She then prostrated herself before it, praying to God for protection for those inside the convent's walls as well as the city itself. At this, a sudden terror filled the troops and they ran away.

    To help celebrate St. Clare, the kids listened to a story about St. Clare, made holy cards and painted a t-shirt. Of course they had a yummy snack as well (similar to what St. Clare would have eaten for dinner): fruit, cheese, gluten-free crackers (for the bread). And all on a beautiful morning at a fun park!


    Miss Bear's


    St. Clare, pray for us!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Feeling of Relief

    Why do we let ourselves worry away the days until we see a doctor to see what is going on and what to do next? I certainly do, especially when it comes to my children. Today Skipper saw the endocrinologist for the first time. He was a nice man and did not seem too concerned about the possibility of developing diabetes at this point. I will definitely still be attuned to that and see how Skipper rides out his next illness, but for now, I can breathe a little easier. And, for now, the doctor is treating the low bone density as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease. He did order up some tests to rule out other common causes (like thyroid). And, Skipper will have the "x-ray" (it has a fancy name that I cannot remember) test done in one year for comparison. Meanwhile, I am to up his vitamin d intake to 1600 IU and he said to give that to all the kids, not just Skipper. So take note! Most kids are vitamin d deficient and that can lead to all sorts of problems. Anyway... Skipper is also to start taking calcium supplements as well - up to 1,000mg/day. Hopefully that will heal his bones and he will be well underway to take on adolescence when it hits. I feel so much better for this appointment! Thank You, God!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    St. Helena

    St. Helena (or St. Helen) was the mother of the Emperor Constantine. She was sent by her son on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where she discovered the True Cross that Jesus was crucified on. The site that she found the cross is where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands today. St. Helena is known for her piety and her fervent love of Christ during the days of the very early Church. Her feast day is celebrated on August 8th.

    (I meant to have this up yesterday but well, the day got away from us, and the evening was spent with the final details of a new van purchase - yay!)

    The kids and I had a little celebration yesterday by making up simple holy cards to display and add to their holy card collection as well as cutting some basil out of the "garden" to place in a vase. It is said that the smell of the basil plant is what guided St. Helena to where the True Cross was hidden.
    O Jesus! Through Thy burning love for us, Thou didst will to be nailed to the Cross and to shed Thy Precious Blood for the salvation of souls. In Thy divine plan, St. Helena found Thy triumphant Holy Cross and gave to the Church a priceless treasure. By her prayers, may we obtain the grace of eternal life won for us on Calvary through Thy life-giving Holy Cross. Amen.
    St. Helena, pray for us!