Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lent 2012

Just before Lent...
Time and Clocks with Blocks...
Hockey for the little guy...he's loving it!!!! We are so glad he learned to skate first. It's been much easier for him to do the learn to play class.

Now we are in the midst of Lent. I saw a few ideas from some other moms and just merged them into this setup over our liturgical table. The kids traced their hands and we put what we are giving up on the heart and put them by the Lenten Cross.

Sacrifice Jar for the kids "beans"...the little beans turn to jellybeans on Easter. The kids are getting them for kind things they do, good behavior, and for listening at daily mass.


We have some new candle holders that I thought would work well for the Season of Lent:


And this is my table centerpiece with some simple ribbon and sand. No crown of thorns craft this year. Decided to simplify! :)


Lenten Adventures per usual and we are doing Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 3pm. The kids enjoy the Children's Stations book we have and we sing the Stabat Mater. My big thing this year is making sure we have a large amount saved up for the Rice Bowl. Alms Giving is difficult for us and this year I'm committed to being consistent with giving. The kids are still allowed treats but we are only doing one per day and no baking treats except on Sunday. I've explained we will give the money we save by slimming our treat expenses to the poor. I'm hopeful the lesson will stick!

Lenten Blessings!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving and ADVENT!!!!!!

This year Thanksgiving really felt like an event. I actually prepped, prepared and shopped for everything on my own. PHEW. It was fun! I must admit though, I NEVER have enough of time to make everything. I think if we ever have a huge gathering I'll be prepping ALL WEEK! Of course the fact that I have been sick for 2 weeks on and off and had 6K I was running Thanksgiving morning during my usual pie-making time...well that didn't help. :)

This year I did something new for my allergic child and it was a delicious success! I made her a gingerbread ice cream pie. I used Vanilla Soy Ice cream and made homemade allergen free gingerbread cookies which I turned into a gingerbread crust.
I sprinkled some of them on the top of it and added some red/green sprinkles to make it festive.
The cookie dough I used for the crust I spread into an 8 inch pan and cooked until it was a bit crisper and then crumbled it up with 2 tablespoons of melted Smart Balance. I pressed the soggy cookie crumbles into a pie pan and then used paper towels to absorb the grease from some of the smart balance. I baked it again until it browned and let it cool. Then I took the softened (but not melted) ice cream and scooped it into the pie crust, spread it out evenly and topped it with crumbled cookie bits and a bit of extra cinnamon. I sprinkled the sprinkles, put it into the freezer for a few hours...and Ta da! Allergen-free ice cream pie with a bit of seasonal flair!

Of course my favorite time of year is also now HERE! Advent! I was affectionately named "Advent Girl" by a friend of mine today...I must say it does fit me well. I do love Advent! I've included more pics than normal so be patient with this "Advent Girl". :)
Here are some of the changes I made to our Advent decor and routine:
We have a lovely purple ribbon and purple tree skirt that we found at SEARS. I couldn't believe it! My MIL and I looked at this stuff thinking...SEARS...neither one of believed that they would have this perfect colored ribbon and skirt. But they did! We have been looking for a while for a good purple one for Advent.

I'm using a ribbon we found there too...the one on my Advent wreath from the past was always leftover from Lent so it was nice to find something a bit more appropriate given the season. This one is velvety with gold trim. I like the way it seems almost regal!


I used this same ribbon for my door wreath and just kept it simple this year. I might try and do different ornaments on the front door with the 4 Advent themes next year (Hope, Peace, Joy, Love).
And (drumroll please) last but not least...
This is the new fun thing for the kiddos! Advent placemats! They are awesome! I love how my 4-year-old is learning about it while he eats. :)

We are doing Advent Adventures again this year through and loving it! They've added a video about the new mass parts and it's nice to have that included with all the other great stuff! I'm a bit sad we don't have to make our Jesse Tree Ornaments anymore...but I love the idea of making them again one year and having more than one so both the kids can hang them instead of taking turns.

We are still doing our hay in Baby Jesus' bed activity so whenever the kids do something kind or extraordinary for the family or one another they get to soften the bed for Jesus. I have started promising them a piece for behaving at Daily Mass. It has helped...or at least it helps me be specific about what I expect from them! :)

I pray your Advent is BLESSED and filled with EXPECTANT LOVE!!!! Jesus is coming! How GOD LOVES US to send us His only Son!

Advent Blessings!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Adventures in Allergy Land

We got our allergy test results back and the doc who was reading the list said, you might need to grab a pen. I just held back a laugh...I know the list. I have it memorized. I've been scanning packages for years for main ingredients and hidden ones too, I'm sort of a pro at that now.


We still have all the allergies. AND we now know they are ALL considered SEVERE and that she is having anaphlyactic reactions and that her reactions could and might get worse each time and that it is POSSIBLE one of these times they could be life threatening. So I am now the proud owner of the Epipenjr. and am carrying it and Benadryl in my purse at all times. No exceptions.

He was kind (this wasn't our allergist, but another doc at the same office), and I am grateful we know and thankful that there is nothing new food-wise (we found out about a cat and dog allergy) but I must admit I fell to the ground after I hung up from talking to him. I thought the best route was to just be thankful. It was a painful, gut-wrenching, why this, kind of thankful. I am sort of numb in the midst of it. I think of it as a not great thing that is in our life, but that is for our betterment spiritually and so it is something God has given me to be thankful for today. I often think of Job. How little I have to complain about...and how even though he suffered and hated every minute of it, yet he loved His God and was thankful for God's Will.

As we move toward Thanksgiving this month I pray I can deepen my thankfulness for the "not-so-pretty" things in my life. Food allergies are definitely on that list. I'm not so lovely as I panic when my son takes off running after lunch or I'm even ugly when I see a strange child run at my daughter and grab her arm with the possibility of a terrible rash or a night of wheezing looming in my daughter's future. I think these not so wonderful moments are when I most experience God's love. I know He loves me in the dirty, dusty, grimy and even ugly parts of my day and I'm assured that it is in these darker moments that He is giving me more grace than I may even realize. I'm certain it is His love and grace that keeps me from spontaneously combusting after being out in public or anywhere that people eat, or go after eating; which is mostly anywhere.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seven Sorrows

For today's feast of Our Lady of Sorrows we did a prayer meditation and a craft. Normally I'd be gung-ho to make a treat, but we just did that for The Nativity of Mary, and I did not want more sweets around this week! PLUS it's a SORROWFUL day, not a YUMMY kind of day. So we rejoice in our suffering but rather than rejoicing through a physical feast...we did a spiritual feast. The feast of eating of the fruit of suffering as Our Lady did throughout her life which was entwined with her Son's.

I searched for Seven Sorrows of Mary and found a lovely one with children's meditations.
I slightly adapted some of the wording to suit our family's needs. The kids are not all of the wording is at their level. However it was easily adapted.

For our craft we made the Immaculate Heart and poked it seven times with seven toothpicks as each sorrow was read. The kids did this and hearing myself say "now poke Mary's heart" was quite a vivid moment for me as I heard the tearing of the paper and thought of the agony of a mother crying out as her son's flesh is torn. It was a wonderful exercise for us.

Here is what you need:
The paper is scrapbooking paper with roses printed on it, but you could make tissue paper roses or use rose petals. OR stickers. I punched out holes in the top to string our yarn through. I use a 3 hole punch but you could also simply cut slits in the corners.
Also a bit of yarn if you'd like to hang it on your statue or from a candle. I used some yarn from an wooden cross I had and thought it was very symbolic. The piece of an old cross tied to the sorrowful heart of Our Lady...her heart is heavy with the pain of her Son.


May your Feast be blessed. Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Lady's Birthday Week

What a glorious week for us! Homeschooling was a joy as always, but we had some extra special fun with Our Lady's Nativity and the impromptu science activity!
My Kindergartener asked about the wax melting after prayer time (watching candles is a favorite activity). I explained about how heat changes the wax into a liquid and when it cools off it is a solid. We talked about this and she decided to put a cup of water in the freezer (without asking). So this spun us into a learning day of freezing and thawing water. The kids really enjoyed this activity and putting the cup in the middle of the hot backyard was so fun for them.
Photobucket Photobucket
We also enjoyed a little lizard watching this week and the kids were especially enthralled with watching this lizard that decided to take his nap on our statue of the Blessed Mother. I captured a few fun pictures so the kids could remember this day. We also did some more wasp watching and I managed to get one on camera...don't know if you can see him well but he's there! Where's the wasp??? :)

My girl also decided to "teach" her stuffed animals math.
She pulled out these old fish beads and used them for a counting activity to teach her stuffed lamb how to count, add, and subtract. It was quite an adorable thing to watch. I'm certain all kindergarteners truly enjoy a day of pretending and acting out roles. My girl enjoyed her time as teacher!

Here they are hiding from daddy as he arrived home from work after our outdoor time. The kids love yelling surprise and running to hug him when he arrives!

It was a lovely week and I thoroughly enjoyed the impromptu fun we had together! The best part of homeschooling is the learning activities that the student takes the initiative on...I am amazed at how readily she finds her own learning activities!
Happy Birthday to Our Lady as well! We had donut cupcakes with buttercream icing. The large cupcake represents Our Lady with the moon under feet and the 12 icing stars represent her crown of 12 stars. Each cupcake has the Marian symbol and her color, blue. We sang the Hail Holy Queen after our school song and read a short bit about her birth and dedication during our Religion time.

I hope everyone had a blessed feast and a reflective Sept. 11th! May God abundantly bless you each day!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Ladder to Heaven

For our Religion Lesson this week in the Who Am I? curriculm we learned about the 10 commandments. The kids had a blast with this craft and they love the stories about Moses! My dear Kindergartener is quite fascinated with the Baby in a basket beginnings of this great man of God. Soooo in the scripture story about him climbing the mountain to talk with God they were both in awe of him attached to the side of this massive rock.
I love this story. I used to have so many frustrated concerns about the commandments and how to live them out, but now I feel like a child relearning these lessons. These commandments really are like a parent's guide to keep their child safe. Each one is a kiss of love from my Father God in Heaven. A way to keep his beloved children from getting run over by sin and the pain that comes immediately after such a crash. What an amazing God to give us this "Ladder to Heaven". I took this craft directly from the text in the teacher's guide...soooo no credit to me...other than we made it really BIG!
We hung these in their rooms...don't you love Mr. Incredible right next to our 10 commandments? So funny. My Bug-A-Boo loves hanging pictures on his walls and so does she! I am treasuring the crazy taped up walls. I know this will not last forever and once we will be long gone. So for now I adore and rejoice in the unprofessional crafty look we are sporting!
AND the crayon-drawn walls...also somewhat endearing...but mostly a bad memory. LOL! I tried toothpaste but we have these gritty walls and all that did was take the paint off too. Le sigh. Eventually...we will paint.
I took about 93 pictures this week soooo I know there are a lot could have much more extensive! I decided to split this week into two posts. So much fun in our homeschooling world this week! I am in love with this new lifestyle and God is touching my life in the midst of it. I feel abundantly blessed to be here with my children holding them, learning with them. Just a bucket full of grace. This life, His gift to gift back to Him.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Reflections and STRIPES!

I am bursting! I have rarely worn stripes...or if I did I felt like a giant sign was hanging around my neck saying, "LOOK, look how big this girl is and look at these stripes making her bigger." The funny thing is that I probably felt this way even when I was close to this size in college, but SOMETHING in me has changed. More than just my size.

Now after losing 54 (yes I lost one more last week) pounds I finally feel comfortable ( just seems sooo strange typing this) in stripes. CUTE even. I had no idea I could look at a striped shirt and say..."Hello, I think you might be my new favorite!"

There are so many things I want to write down and reflect on here and there. I want to write about it in my journal but that is mostly for prayers and spirituality, and now this which is wound so tightly to my spiritual life has really revealed what I had lost somewhere in there. Not just an understanding of myself but a realization of what I am made for in this world and the next. We are made for God of course, but also made to move toward that which think we cannot be...toward perfection. I of myself will never be perfection, but Christ in me...acting within can perfect me in places I didn't even know I had to dig up and place at the foot of the cross. AND there staring up at Him pouring His life over me I realize how much I miss and how much I need. Christ my life giving me life again and again and making up for all I lack.
I've always been a perfectionist, and perhaps that's where this calling speaks so strongly to my heart. It feels right to me. It is right to seek what is true, what is perfect, what is holy. Oh dear brothers and sisters in Christ let us strive after it until all that we are and do and say reflects HIM who is perfect.
And somehow this weightloss process has stripped away, not just pounds, but misconceptions about WHO I am and WHAT has kept me from seeking HIS PERFECT LIFE. For some reason the eating and laziness were the things that tore me from HIS ARMS and left me empty inside and out. And now, the less I eat, the more I exercise and care for myself and my family in a healthy and active way...the more I see clearly Christ's plan for my life. And, dear friends, for that...I am a; fall on my knees and cry, kind of grateful.