Thursday, July 31, 2014

Our Catholic Faith for Littles: God Made the World

This school year, for my youngest two (ages 2.5 and 5), I decided to create a simple lesson plan of activities for them to further discover our Catholic faith. Of course, as a family, we attend Mass regularly, go to Confession, talk about God, and live the Liturgical year at home. However, I specifically wanted to focus on certain topics with my five year old and naturally, the toddler wants to join in.

I originally thought of using Who Am I? pre/k books, which I really do love, but I had just spent quite a bit for other subjects with the boys, that I thought, why not do my own, with what I already had? And so I did. And so I share it with you.

July's Theme: God Made the World

God Creating the Animals of the World -- Izaack Van Oosten

Prayer work

Continue at each child's level in teaching prayers.

Coloring Pages 

*Change up the medium -- crayons, colored pencils, markers, water colors!*

  • Psalm 104 and 107. (Resource)
  • Angel coloring pages: Sacred Heart of Jesus angel, fishing angel. (Resource)


Read Catholic Treasure Box #1 and #2 -- use as inspiration for activities if child shows interest.

Read Bible Stories (from the Catholic Book of Bible Stories):
  • God's Wonderful Creation
  • Adam and Eve Disobey God
  • Noah's Faithful Journey
  • God's Promise to Abraham

Bonus Activity Ideas

  • Take lots of nature walks (or only one walk or just sit on the deck and point things out like I did).
  • Take care of God's creation -- use your pets, visit a pet store, a nature preserve, feed the birds.
  • Draw or paint a picture of God's creation.
  • Make an apple and snake out of play-doh. If you're really artsy, create an entire Garden of Eden on your kitchen table. (We love Aroma Dough as a gluten-free option!!! It is expensive but I love, love, love it and only need to buy once a year, maybe twice a year -- the girls are really enjoying it.)
  • List or talk about the rules in our family. What are God's rules for us?
  • Do a rainbow craft to go along with the story of Noah. (Pinterest is your friend here.)
  • Have a snack of animal crackers while reading Noah. One year, with the boys, I printed a big picture of an ark and they had fun *playing* with their food while eating.
  • Stay up late to star gaze. Count the stars.
  • Make a night scene with black paper and sticker stars. Count the stars. Connect with a white crayon to make constellations.
  • Play charades. Have pictures of things to act out (a tree, an animal) and you try to guess what each other is. Tie this into faith: we know the child is not a dog, but we still know what he is pretending to be. Just like God - we can't see Him, but know He is there. This is having faith.

Ok, admittedly, this was my plan for July. We do one coloring page a week, one Bible story a week, prayer practice (nearly) every day, and the Catholic Treasure Box books all at once or a bit here and there depending on the focus of my daughter. My plan was to do an extra activity once a week, but that has not happened. At all. That is just how it is sometimes. And that is O.K.

Miss L is also moving along the Alphabet Path from Elizabeth Foss, and so is encountering different saints as she listens to the story of Michael, Mrs. Applebee, and all the fairies. She is also painting pages of manners using Writing the ABCs on Little Hearts from Pondered in My Heart.

Hope this inspires someone!

God bless.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Motherhood: Expectations vs. Reality

Go Forth and Mother

Expectations vs. Reality

Thanks to Jamie @ Lord, Make Me a Saint for the first glimpse into this little 365-day "project" - The Happy Wife Project (from Go Forth and Mother). It seems a simple thing to do, and something I certainly could use a boost in!

For July... expectations of motherhood versus the reality of motherhood...

You know, as a child, and even as a teen, my friends chirped very strongly for (or against) marriage and having babies. (It was always babies, never kids or teenagers or children, just babies). Some dreamed of big white weddings and twin babies by the car load. Others adamantly refused to have children, instead dreaming of their big escape into an unknown world.

As for me, well, I was never for or against babies. I certainly had no experience with them, having only one brother, eighteen months my junior. I most definitely wanted more siblings, but that never happened. When I looked to the future, I had no idea what to expect. I expected very little actually. I looked into the future and saw absolutely nothing. It was a blank canvas. When I was very young, but still within memory's reach, I always thought that meant I would die before I reached adulthood. Isn't it crazy how a child thinks? Obviously, here I am -- and with children to boot.

Becoming a mother never occurred to me until I met my future husband and our lives began to unfold into a relationship and eventually into marriage. I saw in this man (really, still a boy at that time, looking back!) a good father, a lover of children. I saw him in action with all the young ones we knew and met. Once we were married it seemed only natural to begin our family right away, God-willing. And He was willing.

Some ten years later, and four children ages nine on down later, my version of motherhood has changed over the years and with each child.

The reality is... full of opposites: exhausting and exhilarating, love and anger, frustration and peacefulness, tense and carefree, knowing everything and knowing nothing at all, tears and laughter, pride and humility, fear and bravery.

It is a total emptying of oneself.

You give, and give, and give some more. You worry. You wonder. You rush around in a crazy whirlwind of activity and then pause to savor the warmth and smell of a toddler's rosy cheek.

You check each child as they sleep before you close your own eyes. You bless them as you tuck them in. You give into "just one more story." Your "no" stays firm when your child needs structure.

You are a guide, a nurturer, a constant cook, a captain, a judge, a kisser of boo-boos, when only a mom can comfort.

You learn that you need so much less than you thought you did. You learn that you know nothing at all. You see time flying so fast that you already ache for the children that will leave you one day. You ache for the pains you know your children will feel as they grow up and out. You learn that you need strength beyond human capacity. 

You learn that you need Him.

What do I expect now?

I expect to beaten down, to give until I feel as if I can give no more, to love without being loved always, to continually pray, to feel pain for my children and because of my children. 

I also expect to love as much as I have ever loved, to fight for the good in my children, to continually pray, to learn and learn more to raise them as God wills it, and to do that each and every day that dawns from now until eternity.

God bless.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thankful Thursday: June Thankfuls

I know I have been quiet on here. I'm enjoying summer with the family, having lazy days, and gearing up for our next school year (review of 2013-14 and upcoming plans to come soon I think).

There is so much to be thankful for. I've felt so appreciative of the little things lately. It must be the easy days of summer. :)

I am THANKFUL for this man, the father of my children and my best friend and love.

I am THANKFUL for a brand-new 5 year old!

And the sweetness that is slowly emerging in her personality.

I am THANKFUL for bubbles and family time.

I am THANKFUL for big smiles.

And baby toes. :)

I am THANKFUL for sisterly love.

And for these cutie pies with new haircuts (via Mom's Salon).

I am THANKFUL for the few veggies out of our not-so-bountiful spring garden. The kids loved the peas. Let's hope the summer one produces better.

I am THANKFUL for burgeoning scientists and summer reading programs.

And for science experiments. (This one is an experiment to see what might stop ants from finding food. Chalk surprisingly works pretty well!)

I am THANKFUL for this delicious, simple gluten-free pizza. Yum! I could even eat it cold, one breakfast I miss from my gluten days.

I am THANKFUL for furniture in the basement. It sure beats sitting on the floor or in lawn chairs. A previous owner was a big racing fan. Boy, will I be thankful to change out the colors in here.

I am THANKFUL for a certain 9 year old still wanting to cuddle.

And for gluten-free pizza! I am on a pizza kick, huh? Seriously, this place is awesome and it is so nice to be able to eat out now and again safely.

I am THANKFUL for a summer night out on the town feeling like a mini night on vacation and for time by the lake.

I am THANKFUL this mess stayed contained and did not start a house fire. I am also THANKFUL I now have electricity back in the kitchen.

I am THANKFUL for kids and their pets.

Mr. A: Tan is a lot like me. He's eats a lot, is growing and is going to be big.

Very true. I call the cat Harry. Tan O'Harry as Mr. A likes to compromise. He's a stray that is not quite a stray any more. I didn't have to feed him much today. His belly was swollen with a chipmunk. Now that was science in action to watch.

I am THANKFUL for rain -- for the plants and for the kids dancing in it, having a blast.

I am THANKFUL for sleeping in, pool time, easy chores and long days, late nights and family movies, reading books, summer camps, the garden, cool mornings, lots of sun, singing birds, nighttime prayers and song, cuddling, sleeping babies, and feel-good days.

God bless and see you soon!