Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Friday, April 30, 2010

Our Lady's Bug

Our Lady's Bug Brownies
We are kicking off Our Lady's Month of May with a science unit on Ladybugs.  Actually it ended up covering Science, Language Arts, History, Faith, Math, Baking, and Art!  How's that for covering all the bases?  We started with reading about Our Lady's Bug, named after Our Lady, followed by baking (using our math, of course) some Ladybug Brownies...yum!  We have discovered how tough this little ladybug truly is with stomping out aphids. (Not surprising if she's named after Our Lady!)  The ladybug has saved countless food supplies over the course of history, including many California orange groves.   So we mail-ordered some to raise and place in our Mary Garden as well as the rest of our yard...The aphids always try to destroy our lovely roses each year! Ladybugs are supposed to be a natural pesticide so we're giving her a whirl!
Humility is an admirable virtue of Our Lady so we also learned a valuable faith and virtue lesson about this in reading and discussing Eric Carle's book, The Grouchy Lady Bug.  Here are a few photos of our fun!
We also did some rock painting for our Mary Garden...Ladybugs seemed like the perfect fit and design.  This was my favorite part of the week!  It has become our family tradition to replant our Mary Garden on Mother's Day so we are getting ready for next weekend!  We painted 1 ladybug rock for each member of our family surrounded by the Marian symbol for Our Lady, Queen of Heaven.
The week ended with another art project, a ladybug wooden craft, courtesy of the Dollar Tree!  Can you guess which one is Queen of the Ladybugs?  And today our ladybug habitat arrived so we can start our science project with raising our own Mary Garden Ladybugs!  Do you think Our Lady had a hand in their arrival today?  We sure think so!
Wishing you all a very blessed Mary Month of  May!
Enchanted Learning (Ladybug Lifecycle)
Insect Lore (Ladybug Habitat)
This is a photo of the egg pan that I used for the Ladybug Brownies: ~ Catholic Crafts and more!

Many Faces of Mary for the Month of May

Here are some photos of our Home Altar/Prayer Table to celebrate Mary's Month!  We decided to display the many faces of Mary.  We may have to move it to a higher place if our sweet 2-year old angel baby decides to be curious!?
 "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did." ~St. Maximilian Kolbe~

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Louis Marie De Montfort & St. Gianna Molla

"Mary is the wonderful echo of God.  When we say "Mary", she re-echoes, "God."
~St. Louis de Montfort~
Today is a special feast day as we remember two great saints, St. Louis De Montfort and St. Gianna Molla.  Our family has a special connection to St. Louis De Montfort after making this consecration 4 years ago, according to his book True Devotion to Mary, one of the greatest treasures of our faith.  The graces have been abundant ever since!  As Catholics we may have many conversions in our lives.  This book was one of those conversions for me, deepening my faith and strengthening my soul for the journey.   It tapped a deep place within me that was laying shallow, empty, and waiting.  I will be forever gratetful to St. Louis De Montfort and I pray for his frequent intercession.  See the total package at this site
We didn't renew our consecration on The Annunciation this year so we will stop and remind ourselves of  our consecration practices today through the Confraternity.  If I could shout to the world, I'd tell everyone about this gem of a book...It's a real live discovery of truth!  Totus Tuus.

St. Gianna Molla
St. Gianna Molla is also a favorite of ours because she was a recent woman of our times.  She was a Dr., wife, and mother.  Her family life could have been much like ours...  The kids are fascinated by a recent saint, after reading so many stories of old.  They enjoy her story (and I cry through it).  We give thanks for the coloring pages from Waltzing Matilda so we can reflect upon her sacrificial love.

"We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son."
-Saint Louis Marie de Montfort-

"All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for his mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father."
~Saint Louis Marie de Montfort~

"Totus tuus" (I am all thine)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Good Shepherd Alive In Our Midst

First Reconciliation
“Let us run to her, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.”
-Saint Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church-
The Good Shepherd continues to be with us through this week...For this we are especially grateful.  Our daughter Princess received her 1st Reconciliation today.  We were reading together yesterday and
preparing for the day and the first line we read was this: 
"Jesus the Good Shepherd is waiting to meet you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  He longs to hold you close and forgive you.  He wants to help you set things right again."

Princess exclaimed:  "Hey, Mom, this is what we've been talking about and hearing about in our bible readings... and in church!"  Oh what joy when God reveals himself to us through our children.

We have also been blessed to have a pilgrim statue of St. John Vianney this week.  Last night we were reading the mediations and prayers.  In the prayer for vocations, the first line of the prayer read:
"O God our Father, You promised "I will appoint shepherds for My sheep who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble: and none shall be missing." (Jer. 23-4-5)  Hear the prayers of your flock.  Through the intercession of Your beloved priest, Saint John Vianney, we beg You to call to the sacramental priesthood generous men who will desire nothing more than to serve You in imitation of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest.
As we read the words of the prayer, our family's eyes met with a knowing look that this was yet another God-incidence with the discussion of the Good Shepherd and his sheepfold.  We talked afterwards how this pilgrim piece of St. John Vianney was definitely meant to visit our family during the week of the Good Shepherd.  Though we don't know why, we are still grateful.  Princess responded with "God knows what he is doing!"  Yes, He sure does.
Many blessings from our sheepfold to yours!
"Let us live as the Blessed Virgin lived: loving God only, desiring God only, trying to please God only in all that we do."
~St. John Mary Vianney~

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday

Fourth Week Of Easter
Happy Good Shepherd's Sunday!
Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" 
~John 10:27-28~
We are half way through the Easter Season already!  Continuing our 8 week Easter Gospel Study, we are moving into the second half and the 4th week of Easter.  (The post for Part 1 of our study is here.)  Our kick-off was a Friday Family Dinner to celebrate our Good Shepherd, Christ the Lord!  I give thanks to Showers of Roses and Waltzing Matilda for our menu inspiration which included Shepherd's Pie and Shepherd's staff bread sticks.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Preparing for Mary's Month of May

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
~ Saint Maximilian Kolbe~

At our house we are joyfully preparing to celebrate the Mary Month of May, in honor of our Blessed Mother.
As my children are doing their book work on this rainy morning, I am dreaming of a Sunny Spring May Day!  I decided to make a list of the things I wanted to do during the month of May to honor our Blessed Mother.  It always seems like May creeps up so quickly and I feel unprepared.  Maybe in sharing this list, it might help others out there in their own domestic church preparations.  If you are reading this, please share your own inspirations as well!

Things I'd like to do to Celebrate the Mary Month of May:
1.  Do a May Crowning, both at home and at our parish outdoor shrine.  Especially since we are unable to participate in our Little Flowers May Crowning this year:(

Yesterday I picked up these 2 things (Blue silk flowers & straw wreath) at our local Dollar Tree.  While making dinner, I quickly made 2 outdoor crowns for our 2 Marian crownings, via hot glue.  The good Lord knows I am a handicapped crafter:)  Oh, and I added a bit of curly ribbon for the back.


Small wreath for home garden crowning

2.  Make a few May Baskets to deliver to a local Senior Care Home for needy or lonely residents.  As I mentioned earlier, I am not a very crafty person, nor am I rich in time or money!  So once again, I picked up a few things from the Dollar Tree to put together 6 Care Home baskets and possibly a few simple baskets (made from doilies) for neighbors and friends.  I have a few ideas brewing so we'll see how things go.  These are a few of the items I picked up, if you have a Dollar Tree near you!  I have also heard about people saving their mini toiletries from travel, hotels, etc.  These are great items for donating.  Our local homeless shelter said they LOVE when people donate those!  
Aren't these cute shabby chic tags to let someone know you are praying for them?  This was a good Dollar Tree treasure find!

These are the doilies that I found at the Dollar Tree to make a simple cone basket for a few friends and neighbors.  Just a simple note, holy card and chocolate, maybe?  I am SO excited to share these beautiful Our Lady of Grace Free Holy Cards.  I downloaded a few on colored card stock paper.  They are just lovely, just like Our Lady!  The second photo (below)doesn't do their beauty enough justice.....

*Disclaimer: Please forgive me if I sound like an advertisement for the Dollar Tree.  This is not my intention.  It just so happens that I stumbled across some good things that I just had to share!*

3.  Renew our Montfort Consecration to Mary.
4.  Replant our Mary Garden that is currently bare from the winter.  Since our first Mary garden, it has become an annual tradition to do this on Mother's Day!  See our previous post from our very first year.
5.  Stay consistent with our nightly Rosary prayers, learn a new prayer, & Study the May Magnificat Poem (Words listed in it's own post).  I'd also like to gather all of our Marian story books in one place to maximize our reading pleasure this month!
Mary Garden Explanation
Creating your Mary Garden
Dollar Tree has this wooden lady bug to paint!  Isn't it cute?
Craft Ideas:
Rock painting: Marian symbols or Lady Bugs
Lady Bug Wooden Wall hanging (see above from Dollar Tree)

These are just a few things that I was thinking about.  I look forward to discovering any new ideas as well....Please share!

"All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for his mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father."
~Saint Louis Marie de Montfort~

Thursday, April 22, 2010

St. Mark's Lion Pizza

"ROAR"-ing The Way Of The Lord!
The Evangelist Mark is often represented as a lion because he begins his Gospel in the wilderness, "The voice of one crying in the desert: Make ready the way of the Lord."  He also presents the Lord as the unconquered King.  (Catholic Culture)
In honor of St. Mark we made a lion pizza to "roar" the way of the Lord!
We just used a take and bake cheese pizza as the base!
Add sausage to make the face and then add more shredded cheddar cheese to fill in for the mane.
Pepperoni, olives, and mushroom garnished this guy's face:)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

St. George of Merry England~The Red Cross Knight~

A Delightful Dramatic Arts Lesson with the Red Cross Knight...
Red Cross Crispies
Happy St. George's Day!

O.K.  So we celebrated a little early!  And I have to say that this was one of the best impromptu celebration/dramatic art lessons that we've ever had.  Honestly, I had nothing "planned" for St. George's day so I think God was trying to teach me a little lesson about living the moment a little more often!  The "planner" in me was thrown through a loop, needless to say!  Since we have a busy day planned on the actual St. George's day on Friday, we decided to start our day, Monday, reading this favorite story of Saint George And The Dragon.  We have this book and just love the illustrations...But I also found an audio story link that seemed pretty good!  We didn't listen to it but you can check it out here.

After reading the story, there was a sudden impromptu dress-up party and reenactment of the story that burst out in our house.   Thank goodness we keep all of our old costumes and dress-up clothes in plastic bins for moments like these...We even had a dragon costume on hand!  The dragon costume was perfect for Angel Baby.  Here are a few action moments from the story, "slightly retold."  Gotta love it when chivalry is alive again!
  We began our own story with a dragon....Doesn't she look ferocious?
The rest of the cast....The King, Princess Una, The Red Cross Knight and the Dragon
Here we have The Red Cross Knight resting until the sun rises...
The Red Cross Knight fought the dragon and saved the kingdom! But lo and behold, The Red Cross Knight and The Dragon became friends.

And Princess Una danced with the Dragon since she was so kind and gentle!

The King was very proud of The Red Cross Knight!
....And so was Princess Una!

Then, the dragon turned into a princess and they all lived happily ever after.  The End.

After a tough morning of battle in the kingdom, we ALL enjoyed Red Cross Crispies, made out of Rice Krispy Treats!  This was the easiest "unplanned" snack I've ever made.  I happened to have Rice Krispies on hand so I made them while the kids were doing their dramatic arts lesson.  I just cut them into triangles with a touch of red icing to be the shield of the Red Cross Knight.  I think it took a whole 15 minutes...Yay for simple!
Big Brother did not participate but he enjoyed the snack!

Thank you, God, for providing this delightful day in Your Kingdom... and another little cup of grace.  I'm drinking it up and praising You for Your glory!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Free!...Downloadable Grace!

Ah- ha!  Did I get your attention?  I know that it got MY attention this morning!  I went out for a walk bright and early, looking for a little quiet time after a long and busy week of mothering.  As I walked a long, I was struck by God's glory all around me.  At the same time, I was ashamed of myself for not being more thankful, more often, for the beautiful gifts He gives us.  I was reminded that He pours us gallons of grace every day and sometimes I don't even drink a cup!    I  am often consumed by my daily mothering and life duties that I fail to receive God's grace, His free love, "downloadable" in an instant.  Today I was blessed to be able to download 3 free cups of grace!  I am also linking this as part of "Hearts for Home."
Cup of Grace #1:
As I walked a long this morning, I was listening to a Christian song on my ipod about new life in Christ.  Suddenly I rounded a corner and came upon this glorious pink Dogwood tree.  (Photo above) My heart was prompted to pray for all those who have recently received new life in Christ, especially during this Easter Season.   I couldn't help but take a picture (with my phone) of this beautiful tree that appeared like new life, nestled in among the other green trees.  And don't they appear like the Trinity?  God's love was shining forth in this marvelous scene...It was a reminder that we are all new life in HIM... Cup of Grace #1.

Cup of Grace #2:
Farther into the walk, I received the second cup of grace.  Our family is blessed that we are able to walk to our church from home.  We are doubly (is that a word?) blessed to have one of the most beautiful Marian shrines in the area.  This morning, the shrine was particularly glorious.  There were fresh flowers, newly planted, and the sunlight was streaming through the back drop of the olive trees.  This is a beautiful place for reflection and prayer, honoring the Mother of God and Our Mother.  Yep, Cup of Grace #2!
Cup of Grace #3:
The third cup of grace came at the end of my walk.  This is a Veteran Memorial at a neighborhood park. At the moment I was walking by the memorial, the song, Amazing Grace, began playing on my ipod.  How's that for immediate download?  The kicker is that the benches and garden were created by my brother as his Eagle project, 15 years ago.  They were done in memory of my late husband, also dearly loved by my brother. (Plaque photo below is at the foot of the benches.)  Today, as I payed my respects at the memorial, there were newly planted flowers there too.  God's masterpieces were abundantly on display and the flag of our freedom was brilliantly waving.  My heart was overflowing with thanksgiving for this place of honor, beauty, and memory. Oh yes, it was definitely Cup of Grace #3!

God's grace is abundant for a reason.  He loves us so that we can better love others.  I am renewed in spirit this morning on this walk full of grace.  Once again, like the song, he has "saved a wretch like me.."  I am ready to walk back into my home a bit rejuvinated.  It might be crazy sometimes but it is full of bustling love.   And I know God's Grace will sustain me.  I am renewed in spirit and ready to "download" my next cup of grace!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Holy Father!

Today we are celebrating the birth of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  I just found out how to say Happy Birthday in Italian!  It's "Buon Compleanno caro Papa Benedict XVI!

We are praying for him in honor of his birthday and also in light of all of the current attacks against him.  We are also singing him a little birthday song (See below)

This is a link to some Holy Cards that I found, free to down load from the Knight's of Columbus.  Here is a photo!  Hubby and our oldest son are traveling to World Youth Day next summer so we plan on giving these Holy Cards to all the pilgrims tonight at our Parish Fundraiser!  I also just read on the Faith and Family website that you can also e-mail the Pope a greeting.  Here's his address:

An Additional Prayer......

Prayer for Our Holy Father
Lord Jesus Christ,
We ask Your abundant blessings on our spiritual leader, Pope Benedict XVI.
Send your Holy Spirit upon him that he may be a brother to all of his faithful and a true servant to Almighty God.
Strengthen him daily to complete the immense duties of the Church with grace and compassion.
Allow him to be a humble leader who strives to work for peace, justice and truth in our world.
Above all, bestow upon our Holy Father Your gifts of faith, hope and love so that he unceasingly proclaims Your Name.
Mother Mary and all the holy angels and saints of God, we ask you to guide Pope Benedict XVI this day and always.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of St. Bernadette as the day she died in 1879, at the age of thirty-six.  Even after her death, her incorrupt body can be found in a perfect state of preservation at the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, France.  From our Favorite Novenas to Mary, we ask her intercession to teach us how to imitate her wonderful devotion to God and Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception.

We are having "Blue"berry scones (color of Mary) for breakfast in honor of the Holy Father and Our Lady!
St Bernadette, Please pray for us!

(Sung to tune of "Happy Birthday")
May the good Lord Bless you,
May the good Lord Bless you,
May the good Lord bless Holy Father, 
May the Good Lord Bless you!

"My God, I desire to do and to endure everything today for love of thee."
~St. Bernadette Soubirous~

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