Thursday, February 28, 2013

21st Anniversary

21 years ago today, marks the anniversary of my mom's death. 
 I still cannot believe she's gone.
She didn't see me graduate from college.
She's never met my husband or son.
She's been gone for almost half of my life.
Just amazing.  And I still think of her every day!

Almost 6 months ago, my dad joined her in Heaven.
Even though I'm a grown up and have been for many years,
it's an odd abandoned-like feeling.
I'm not an orphan but in a way, it feels that way.

I love you mom.
I love you dad.
Pray for us!

May God bless my siblings and I as we remember this day.
May Our Blessed Mother hold us tightly as we remember.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lenten Symbol Box

I've been working on teaching my class about the different sacred vessels, vestments and sacramentals that are found inside the Catholic Church. 
 I had reviewed Monica's Catholic Lingo Bingo in a home setting HERE 
and have used it in my classroom.  
Her Lingo Bingo game is ideal for teaching these items that they see each week!
In fact, I encouraged them to challenge their family members to assess their knowledge of the sacred vessels, vestments and sacramentals!

It comes in a downloadable format to be printed at home.  
Then it's time to break out the colored pencils! 
Go check out her website Arma Dei Shoppe for this great resource and more!

While I was searching around looking for a new idea to use in my classroom, I came across this Lenten Symbol Box from Glitter Queen.  She was kind enough to leave the pattern to download for those who'd like to use it.  Thank you Glitter Queen for your idea, pattern and explanation!

The crown of thorns reminds us that Jesus was taken before Pilate who scourged him. Then the soldiers made a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head. They then dressed him in purple robes and pretended to worship him while they struck him and spit upon him.

The silver coins remind us that Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus to the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver. Then he approached Jesus and gave him a kiss which led to his arrest.

The palm branches remind us that when Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast, people ran to meet him, with cut branches of palm trees, shouting, 
“Hosanna; Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.”

The silver coins remind us that Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus to the chief priests 
for 30 pieces of silver. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

I also included on our prayer table the "coins Judas took to betray Jesus" as a reminder to my students that we betray Jesus when we sin, even if we are not given a reward, it's still betrayal.

I printed out the Lenten Symbol box on cardstock and their little fingers struggled a bit 
with the assembly of them :)

I helped them tighten them up before they left for the day.

Our prayer table looked like this:

Yesterday I went to a Parish Leadership Workshop and was given these buttons, pray cards and
bookmarks to give to my class.  

In fact, a priest gave me a huge stack of these bookmarks and I gave them to my DRE to distribute to
all the students.

This was a prayer card for vocations. 

And this button is a plea for non-violence.

With the recent announcement from Pope Benedict XVI and The Feast of the Chair of Peter, 
I thought it would be a good idea to talk to my students about it.
Thanks to Lena from Joyfilled Family who pointed me in the direction of learning more about Pope Benedict
HERE.  It's dated, but there is a nice coloring page and other activities.

It was a good class!  Thank you to Monica for giving me the opportunity to be one of your reviewers and to Glitter Queen for sharing your creativity!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten Books for Young Children

I've been looking around the internet for faith focused Easter books to use in my class and here is what I've come up with so far:

The Very First Easter by Paul Maier
Jesus by Gennadii Spirin
Love One Another by Lauren Thompson
The Bird's Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story by Eric Kimmel
Family Easter Treasury by Michael Hague
Easter Eggs for Anya by Virgina Kroll
He Is Risen by Elizabeth Winthrop
Easter by Fiona French
Petook: An Easter Story by Caryll Houselander
Jesus by Demi
The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith
Through the Eyes of John by Chad Daybell
The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
The Way of the Cross by Inos Biffi

If you know of any additional titles that would be appropriate for first graders, please let me know!

My doggie is included in the picture collage because as I am trying to work on my pc, he is interrupting to go outside, in the 16 degree weather, to show off his bone to our neighbor's dog.  He's a goofball!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rosarymom Keep Love in Lent


"I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by Erika of Raising Little Saints, Tina of Truly Rich Mom and Monica of Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”


I was excited when I heard about this Link Up for a couple of reasons.
This Cross I Embrace: Keep LOVE in Lent
  1. I could be inspired by what others are doing within their families to focus on the ultimate   sacrificial gift of love.  God sacrificing His only Son for us... for me.  Truly a humbling moment that I want to imprint on my son's heart.
  2. I could learn what other churches are doing to instill Love during Lent in their congregations.
  3. Lastly, I could gather ideas for how to teach my first graders in a meaningful way that they will remember when they're outside of church, to Keep Love in Lent!
Now what I would like to share is what I am doing to Keep Love in Lent.  I'd like to say that I thought and prayed about what I'm doing but to be honest, my parish priest asked me to be part of a core group of members in a newly formed ministry.  Once I said yes, it took on a life of it's own.  I'm part of my church's Peace and Justice Ministry and our first goal is to encourage our fellow parishioners to participate in Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Campaign

We've been participating in this program for years, but this year, we'd like it to impact our parishioners as individuals and also collectively, as a church.  
We want it to be less of a perfunctory act and more of a meaningful act. 
We want to show how fortunate we are as Americans and how less fortunate some Americans are and especially the third world countries.
The CRS website is asking for participants to register their rice bowls and they offer a calendar of ideas of how to connect the poor with Peace and Justice.

I am also working on compiling a list of Charitable Works within our surrounding area to either volunteer, pray or donate.  Once I started looking, I learned of other denominations who have weekly dinners for the poor, the many opportunities to pray at an abortion clinic, to volunteer and rock babies at a home for mommy's and their babies, to donate your shoes to Soles4Souls, volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, and bring baby items to a women's center...etc.  There are many charitable activities to get involved in!

It's tougher to find Social Justice issues to get involved in.  The overall idea is to remove root causes to improve structures in affordable housing, improving the education system, legal protection for the unborn, participating in a living wage campaign, promoting peace of advocating for international assistance.

What activities have you found in your community to focus on Peace and Justice 
within our borders and beyond?  
I would especially love to hear about what you're doing for Social Justice.

"The conscience is called by this social teaching to recognize and fulfill the obligations for justice and charity in society."  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.  Luke 13:48

Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!  I can't wait to meet new ones too!

Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Love in Lent
Call Her Happy 40 Lenten Activities For Kids
Lenten Love: Little Acts of Love
Building Rocks 
Grow the Roses: Keeping Love in Lent
Family at the Foot of the Cross: Loving Service
Catholic Homeschooling Joy: Lenten Activity
Joy: Keep the Love in Lent
Twenty Tuesday Afternoons: Tuesday #11: Pancake Tuesday/Keeping Love in Lent
Campfires and Cleats: Why a Failing Lent Really Isn't
Harrington Harmonies: Make a Lenten Holy Hour
A Mommy of Three: Good Deeds for Lent
Loving the Semi Country Life: Lent: special time to reflect and keep the love in lent
Written By the Finger of God: A 7 Step Lenten Plan
Mommy Bares All: Giving Up and Making Space for Love this Lent
The Irish Lassie Shop: Seek God Everywhere
Hand-Maid with Love: Living Lent Loving, Lent 
Words on Heaven: IN THE DESERT FOR 40 DAYS
On The Way Home: Keeping LOVE in Lent
Homeschooling with Joy: Keep Love in Lent
Mountain Grace: Keep Love in Lent
Eyes On Heaven: I am Choosing to Live
Life of Fortunate Chances: Love is Fun: Keeping Love in Lent
Fifth of Five: Keeping the LOVE in Lent
I Blog Jesus: for Praying our Loud!
Overflow: Loving Lent with Little Ones
Sole Searching Mama: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent
Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification
Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent
Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent
Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous
Rosarymom Keep Love in Lent
Love Letters 7.10: Teacups (Keeping the Love in Lent)
Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent
Blessed with Full Hands:Keeping Love in Lent-Praise Him
Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey
These Little Blessings: Giving Love This Lent
The Cajun Catholic: The our Father; a lenten reflection
Truly Rich Mom: Keeping Love in Lent...Even When It Is Difficult
Salsa Pang Sulyap - Fullness of His Love
Liturgical Time: Keeping Love in Lent - Finding Balance
Grace Loves Iggy: love in lent
Sacred Oysters: Empty (Keeping LOVE in LENT)
Tercets: Make Heart Rosary Decades to Pray for Others
The Diary of a Sower: Our Lenten Prayer Tree
A Living Garden -- Giving for Others with Love: Keeping LOVE in LENT
Homegrown Catholics: Motivated by my childrens' activities (Lent)
My Broken Fiat: Keeping LOVE in LENT...Barely
Journey to Wisdom: Keeping Love in Lent: Bands of Love
Softening My Heart: An Anniversary Lesson duringLent
Joy Alive In Our Hearts: "God's Love at Work"


Unexpected Love Book Review

My most recent book review was for Booksneeze and it was an interesting and thought provoking book about the conversations Jesus had with nine different women during His time on earth.  The book is called Unexpected Love: God's Heart Revealed in Jesus' Conversations with Women by Julie Zine Coleman.  There are nine chapters that delve into Jesus' conversations with nine different women; and the author attempts to apply these encounters to today's woman.  Each chapter begins with the scripture reference and then Ms. Coleman tried to envision what might have been the moods, the thoughts and conversations that happened around this conversation.  For example, the first chapter is about Jesus and Mary at the Wedding at Cana and her directive to her son about the shortage of wine.  Ms. Coleman does a good job at placing the reader in the scene, setting the mood well and making the reader think more deeply of these interactions.  The next section in the chapter is called "Digging Deeper" and questions are raised which she attempts to answer to the best of her ability.  The third section in each chapter is called "For Today's Woman" where Ms. Coleman attempts to make connections between the women who Jesus spoke with and to us today.  The last two sections are called "Food for Thought" and "Journaling".  Both are intended for the reader to reflect and gain a deeper understanding of Jesus and His amazing love for us.
The reader must take what she says with a grain of salt.  She's using all the information available to her, to paint a picture of that time and putting the pieces together.  I think she does a good job at that but, I'm no theologian.  I found myself enjoying this book and pondering each interaction Jesus had with the women: "His Mother Mary", "the Hemorrhaging Woman", the "Sinful Woman", the "Syrophoenician Woman", the "Adulterous Woman", Martha, the "Samaritan Woman", Salome, and Mary Magdalene. Each encounter Jesus had with these women is explored in the chapters.

Ms. Coleman concludes that even though each of these women had differences in background, community status, Jew or non-Jew, come from money or were destitute; that they shared a common need.  They needed Jesus Christ whether they knew it or not.  Each were profoundly changed by this encounter in the most amazing way. Jesus loved the women of His time and He loves us too.  I enjoyed reading her book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who may be interested in exploring the relationships Jesus had with the women mentioned in the bible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free of charge from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book reviewer  program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Monday, February 18, 2013

Graffiti and the Lord's Message of Love

I woke up early this morning to attend our morning Liturgy of the Hours before Mass at my church.  I walked outside to see this on my neighbor's garage:

On closer inspection, I saw this:

And this:

This wasn't only on one neighbor's garage but ALL DOWN THE ALLEY ON BOTH SIDES.  For some unexplainable reason, they skipped our garage and one other neighbor's.  Everyone else was tagged with similar markings.  The police said that our alley was not the only one hit last night.  So some group of teens, assuming they are teens, were very busy last night.

On a side note:  I told my parish priest and one of the deacons of this incident and the deacon said "perhaps your house/garage is covered in the Blood of the Lamb and that's why they passed it over!"  If that's the case, it's urging me to pray more for my neighbors!

Now, I have this big guy as our family pet and he didn't make a peep last night.  So, they were quiet.

Many of the neighbors whose garages were graffiti-ted last night, have dogs and none of them gave any sign of alertness either to something happening in the alley.

It didn't happen to my garage but when I look out my kitchen window, I see this:

Needless to say, I went to church unsettled and angry.  Praying it's only "wanna be gang members" according to the police's assessment of what happened.  But I was angry and scared.  I don't understand this kind of vandalism.  The perpetrators have no clue or care that it costs money, time and effort to clean this garbage off our garages.  Arghhhh!

Today's reading spoke directly to me when the Lord told Moses:
"You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.  Though you may have to reprove him, do not incur sin because of him.  Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen   You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:11-18.

Ok Lord, I will stop fueling my frustrated and angry thoughts.  I will let it go and hand it over to you. Please forgive my sin of hanging on to my anger.  May You work good and blessings out of this nuisance.  May You reach their hearts so they come to know they're wrong in vandalizing property. May they hear Your word and be convicted to change their ways.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lenten Lesson Plan

During today's class, we focused on how "our sins are like thorns being added to Jesus' crown of thorns" during his suffering on Good Friday.  

As an example of how "sin stains our souls", I used two bowls and two eggs.  
In one bowl, I cracked one egg and mixed it up.  
The second bowl had clean fresh water in it.  

I held up the clean unbroken egg and told them "this clean egg represented our souls that were wiped clean from Original Sin at our baptism". 

 As we grow up, we commit sins and if we do not repent and ask God's forgiveness, 
our soul looks like:

It didn't come out clear in the picture but it was yellow and slimy. Their reaction, "eewww!" 
Perhaps next time, I will add a food dye to make it more of a visual impact.

After we repent from our sins and ask for God's forgiveness, 

He wipes our souls clean in His divine mercy.

(I was unable to take pictures during our demonstration in class, 
so I reenacted the steps with my son.)

We spent a good portion of class talking about sins, the difference between a mistake and a purposeful sin and then, we brainstormed activities we could do 
to get our focus off of ourselves and onto others.

Next, I gave each child a small grapevine wreath and brown painted toothpicks to make their own crown of thorns to use during Lent.  After our brainstorming activity, I told them that when they performed an act of charity, a good deed, a sacrifice or offered up a prayer; 
they were to remove one thorn from Jesus' crown.

In an attempt to teach these words to my students, I had created Lenten words on a handwriting worksheet from ESL Writing Wizard and had my students practice writing out the words 
as we talked about them.

I next showed them an excerpt from Greatest Heroes Legends, The Miracles of Jesus DVD 
when Jesus healed people and forgave them their sins.

Greatest Heroes And Legends: The Miracles Of Jesus - DVD

Through Jennifer's Lenten Link up over at Catholic Inspired, I "met"
Regina from A Living Garden and she has some great ideas to celebrate Lent.
I especially liked her Ash Wednesday bookmarks that she offers to her readers.
 I downloaded it and printed it on purple cardstock for my students.

Lastly, we ended our class with story time.  I read to my class The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt.  They were really engaged to learn what happened to the three trees.  It's a great story of how God can use you in special ways, even if you are a tree!
The Tale of Three Trees

It was a good class and I feel their understanding of how their own actions affect Jesus.
I told them our goal is to shower others with kindness because
Jesus' crown will be "lightened", and He will be smiling brightly with love at us.

I've linked this post up over at Jennifer's Catholic Inspired Lenten Link Up.  


Sunday Snippetts~A Catholic Carnival

I'm joining in this day again with RAnn'sSunday Snippetts~A Catholic Carnival where Catholic bloggers join each Sunday to share their favorite or most interesting posts of the week.  I've had a light week but here's what I'm sharing:

Burying the Alleluia/St. Valentine
Pope Benedict XVI

Please hop over to this link up and see what the others are sharing!  Thank you RAnn for hosting all of us each week!

May your Lenten Journey be filled with God's love and be fruitful!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI

Today was a confusing day with Pope Benedict's announcement.  
I didn't see it coming even though I've heard commentators on EWTN say
 "it's shocking but not a surprise."  
That he'd alluded to it over the past few months.  
I believe he is a holy man, a holy Pope who has discerned this is the path 
the Holy Spirit is leading him on. 

 I pray that his remaining years ahead are healthy to live out his life in prayer.

I pray that his successor will Shepherd the Catholic people as God calls him to do.


"On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." 

 Matthew 16:18

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Burying the Alleluia, St. Valentine

Today was a busy day in my first grade class.  We first changed our prayer table cloth to purple in preparation of Lent and added our crown of thorns.

We then put up our Alleluia sign to then take it down after our prayer.

I downloaded the free printable St. Valentine bookmarks from Sanctus Simplicitus.  
Thank you CeAnne!

She has two different types of bookmarks as well as holy cards of St. Valentine.

 Our craft for the day was the St. Valentine Love Banner which includes scripture verses of God's love for us and our call to love others.  

Here are some close ups of the St. Valentine Love Banner.

As you can tell, I did a lot of prep work since our class time is limited.
I printed out the verses and then traced a heart shape around them on 
pretty red, pink and purple paper.
I cut them all out before class.

I googled a picture of St. Valentine that I liked and used the same step as above. 

It looked pretty on our prayer table.

I had my students punch holes and then thread the yarn through their hearts.
They also decorated around their scripture verses with more sticker hearts.

I read this book to my class that I checked out of my local library:

Saint Valentine  -     
        By: Robert Sabuda

Here are a few treats I made for my students to take home:

I found these delightful Hershey Kiss stickers for Valentine's day at Amanda's Parties To Go.
She offers them as a free printable with many other options for various holidays.
Thank you Amanda!  Her blog is a feast for the eyes!
She also has an Etsy shop HERE with so many wonderful party printables.

I had noticed that she had treat toppers and I tried contacting her asking if it's possible to insert
a picture of St. Valentine onto the printable.  I didn't hear back so it spurred me on to try and
find a way to make one myself.
I came across a tutorial on how to make Hershey candy wrappers HERE and 
I stumbled through it and below is my result.  
I couldn't figure out how to remove the blue background but that's ok for my first attempt!

I love this mosaic picture of St. Valentine!

Here are the other library books I had for our quiet time reading for those
who finished their work.

I didn't put the candy on our table until close to the end of class.  
It would have been a definite distraction for sure!

I also downloaded the free Lenten Calendar printable from Catholic Icing.
Thank you Lacy!

Catholic Icing

Since we ran out of time, I sent home a coloring page of St. Valentine from Waltzing Matilda.  
Thank you Charlotte!
It was a busy and fun day for my class!  Thank you CeAnne from Sanctus SimplicitusAmanda from Amanda's Parties To GoLacy from Catholic Icing and Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda for your generosity in sharing your talents with your followers!  My students are blessed by your gifts.  Thank you!

St. Valentine, pray for us!
St. Scholastica, pray for us!

Linking up with Jennifer over at Catholic Inspired.