Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 21: Feast Day of Saint Matthew

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On September 21, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Matthew.  Saint Matthew was a tax collector who was not liked by many and his fellow Jews were shocked to see Jesus calling Saint Matthew to follow Him.

Compared to other feast day celebrations that we have enjoyed, St. Matthew's feast day was very simple, but I hope meaningful and memorable for my children.

In the morning during our Couch Catechism time before we started our homeschool day, I read about St. Matthew from the Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 2: July-December.

I LOVE this book so much and have learned so much about the Saints lives along with my children!  Seriously, it is the best kid-friendly Saint book that I have found so far and we have been reading from Vol. One or Vol. Two daily for several years now.

We also read about St. Matthew from the book Saints and Angels: Popular Stories of Familiar Saints.

While I was reading from the Saints and Angels book, my children had some chocolate coins that I bought at the party store 15 for $1.  I also placed the Saint Matthew peg doll on the table that I received at the Saint peg doll exchange that I participated in November 2015.

Easy, fun and frugal feast day celebration!

St. Matthew, pray for us!
Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15: Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

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Today, September 15, is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  What is the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady?

I'll let explain about this memorial:

"This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.
As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:"
  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
There is so much to ponder when thinking about the grief and sorrow our Blessed Mother endured while being a mother to Jesus. We can look to Mary to show us how to endure suffering with great faith, hope and love. I enjoyed reading the Blessed Is She devotion for today's Mass readings.

For the first time last year, we did the Seven Sorrows of Mary Activity for Children from Catholic All Year.  We did this same activity today and it was a blessing to spend time with my children reading about the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

We first read from the book, Mary: The Mother of Jesus, (that is opened in above photo).  There was a page about Mary's sorrow.

Then using the Catholic All Year printable (that I laminated last year), we read each of the Seven Sorrows and the scripture that went with each one. After each one, my children ate one lemon candy that was sour-ish.  (Note to self: next year I think I'll use sour Skittles because my children said they are more sour than Lemonheads.)

I really like the ideas that Martianne had for the Seven Sorrows of Mary explained on her Plans to Honor Our Lady of Sorrows through Art, Music, and a Poet-Tea.  I enjoyed telling my children from her post that "the Sorrows of Mary have inspired many poems and songs through the years, perhaps the most famous of which the Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping), a 13th century hymn, which has been revised a number of times and which the children may be most familiar from the Lenten season.  One version of the hymn was composed by someone we've already studied a bit about - a Baroque composer who the children might remember as a red-haired priest.  Vivaldi!"

We listened to a few minutes of  Antonio Vivaldi "Stabat mater, RV 621" 

I also enjoyed reading Fr. Steve Grunow reflection on the Seven Sorrows of Mary as he explains how it dramatically displays the Incarnation in Why Our Lady of Sorrows? 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Simple Paint Project

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This morning during our Couch Catechism time before we started our homeschool day, we read about today's feast day, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the finding of the Cross on which Jesus died.  We read from my favorite daily Saint book for children (and adults), Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 2 (July-December).  During the months of January through June, we read from Saints for Younger Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1.

Today I read the post, 10 Quotes to Help You Meditate on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, with my children.  There are beautiful quotes from Sacred Scripture and holy Saints.

I wanted to do a quick activity to celebrate this feast day and I was happy to see Jen's post Exaltation of the Holy Cross that had a brief explanation about this feast day and directions for a simple, yet beautiful paint project!  So I thought I would give it a try with my crew!  My 3 year old spent the most time on her project and she was very focused and happy about her creation.

I used the following supplies:
* White cardstock paper
* Washable paints (I used Crayola Washable Paints)
* Foam brushes
* Blue painter's tape

Here are some photos of the project which are in order of the steps...

1) After you gather your supplies, make a cross with the blue tape on the white cardstock paper.
2) Then use foam brushes to paint over the tape and white space. 

3) Let paint dry, then peel off the cross carefully.  (Some of the tape tore small sections of the paper, but they still turned out nicely, I think)

4) Happy (and one serious) artists with their crosses...

"We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 8: Happy Birthday to Mary, our Blessed Mother!

Last week on September 8, our family and homeschool group celebrated the Nativity of our Blessed Mother, or Mary's birthday!  We don't actually know the exact date of Mary's birthday, but September 8 was chosen by the Church as her birthday because 9 months prior on December 8, the Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Mary was conceived without Original Sin.

As we have done for several years now, we celebrate Mary's birthday with a doughnut rosary which is eaten after we say a decade of the rosary and sing "Happy Birthday to Mary".  A friend also brought some blue cupcakes to represent the "Our Father" prayers on top of the doughnuts.  Several families met at a local park this year for the celebration after we attended daily Mass.

In years' past our homeschool group made our edible rosaries for this celebration out of small and large cupcakes as in 2009:


It was in 2011 that our homeschool group started using doughnuts for Mary's birthday celebration and we have been keeping this tradition going because it's so simple, fun, meaningful and memorable! 


This was our 2012 doughnut rosary:

 In 2013 our homeschool group moms got fancy and had birthday cakes for Mary too! 


Here are a few Marian posts I found that I thought were helpful and insightful and were worth sharing: 

And I love this list of the 26 Names of Mary with explanations that are used in the Litany of Mary, a powerful prayer written in the Middle Ages. 

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Has Passed? Remembering 9.11.01 with Memories, Photos, Books and BOATLIFT

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I've posted my memories of 9.11.01 about what I was doing on that shocking, sad, overwhelming and tragic day in our history.  It's hard to believe it has been 15 years since 9.11.01.

I plan to read again the book, The Little Chapel That Stood, to my 5 children.  It has become our annual tradition to remember 9.11.  It is a beautifully written and illustrated book that I highly recommend for anyone with young children.  Here is the product description from Amazon:

Product Description

St. Paul's Chapel, dwarfed by the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center right across the street, stood strong after the "giants around it had come to a fall" in 9-11. Not a pane of glass had been broken. On 9-11 St.Pauls became a service dept immediately. Firemen hung their shoes on the old iron fence as they "pulled on their boots and raced to the Towers, climbing melting steel to flaming showers. Oh, what gallant men did we lose who never came back to get their shoes."
This historic chapel was built in 1766. When George Washington was inaugurated the first president in New York City, he walked down Broadway to St. Paul's to offer his prayers for the new nation. Alexander Hamilton lies buried in the churchyard nearby.

Inside the book cover I have these two pictures taped that were taken when my boyfriend, now husband, went to New York to visit my grandparents in August 1993.   My grandparents lived in Bronx, NY, but Anthony and I went into the city and made it up to the top of the Twin Towers.

Who knew that 8 years later on 9.11.01 these pictures would give me such a strange and sad feeling??  And that 23 years later I would be showing my children these photos with such a heavy heart? 

Here are a few more books that I haven't purchased (yet), but they look like they would be good to read to my family.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right  by Masterson Elementary Students

The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story by Cheryl Somers Aubin

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell (Actual Times) by Don Brown 

You might have seen this "BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience" video on the internet or social media already, but these 12 minutes are worth watching for the first time or again.

We remember and pray today for all the lives that were lost on 9/11 in the air and on the ground in NY, PA, and at the Pentagon.  We especially remember and pray for the victim's families and friends whose lives have been directly affected and have never been the same.  I can't imagine how so many must feel....

I  found this "Where was My God on 911? on the The Drew Mariani Show Facebook page that K.S. submitted in the comments. Thanks for sharing this K.S.! I've never seen it before now and it says so much! 

Where was My God on 911?...........
How many of us have heard that question "Where was your GOD when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was attacked?" Well I know where my GOD was the morning of September 11, 2001, and He was very busy!
He was trying to discourage anyone from taking these flights. Those four flights together held over 1000 passengers and there were only 266 aboard.
He was on 4 commercial flights giving terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the family members who were called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes said that passengers were screaming in the background. On one of the flights he was giving strength to passengers to try to overtake the hijackers.
He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World Trade Center. After all, only around 20,000 were at the towers when the first jet hit. Since the buildings held over 50,000 workers, this was a Miracle in itself. How many of the people who were employed at the World Trade Center told the media that they were late for work or they had traffic delays.
He was holding up 2-110 story buildings so that 2/3 of the workers could get out. I was so amazed that the top of the towers didn't topple when the jets impacted. And when they did fall, they fell inward. GOD didn't allow them to topple over, as many more lives would have been lost.
And when the buildings went down, my GOD picked up almost 6,000 of his children and carried them home with him. Reassuring his frighten children that the worst was over and the best was yet to come.
He sat down and cried that 19 of His "misguided" children [terrorists] could have some much hate in their hearts. That they didn't choose Him, but another god that doesn't exist, and now they are lost forever.
He sent his children that are best trained for this disaster and had them save the few that were still alive, but unable to help themselves. And then sent many others to help in anyway they were needed.
He still isn't finished though, he held the love ones that were left behind in his arms. He comforts them daily. His other children are given the strength to reach out to them and help them in any way they can.
And I believe he will continue to help us in what is to come. He will give the people in charge of this great nation the strength and the wisdom to do the right thing. He would never leave us in our time of need.
So when anyone asks, "Where was your GOD on September 11", you can say "everywhere"! And yes, although this is without a doubt the worst thing I have seen in my life, I see God's miracles in every bit of it. I keep praying for those who don't believe in GOD, every chance I have. I can't imagine going through such a difficult time and not believing in GOD...
Life would be hopeless.
[Author Unknown]

Saturday, September 3, 2016

How Our Family Celebrated the Canonization of Mother Teresa!

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Sunday, September 4, 2016 Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized a Saint! It's such an exciting and memorable day in our Church's history!  It's so exciting that I wanted to celebrate with a small family party to have my children remember not only the big day, but also to learn more about Mother Teresa and her saintly, beautiful ways she honored God. For our party, I used several of the 10 Simple Ways to Celebrate the Canonization of Mother Teresa with Your Family that I posted earlier this week.

We had our party yesterday, the Friday before the canonization, because it was such a rainy, cozy day with Tropical Storm Hermine dumping rain on us and we have a busy Labor Day weekend so Friday was the best day to get the party started!  Plus, celebrating early will hopefully make the Sunday canonization Mass more exciting for my family when we watch it on EWTN.

So how did we celebrate? Read on...

I had very simple decorations.  On Thursday evening after my children went to bed I blew up some blue balloons, tied them with white curling ribbon to our dining room chandelier and then took two of my white candles and wrapped them each with blue paint tape. (I'll never look at blue paint tape the same again. :) )   Since Blessed Mother Teresa is known for wearing her three stripped blue and white sari as a Sister of the Missionaries of Charities, I went with the blue/white color theme.   While writing this post I learned about the Significance of Mother Teresa's Three Stripped Sari

I also added the Blessed Mother Teresa Tiny Saints charm to the white ribbons...

I wanted my children to add to the table decorations so they made marigolds out of orange and yellow tissue paper and pipe cleaners/chenille stems.  I found this craft idea at Crafty Chica through Elizabeth's blog at Coppertop Kitchen. Marigolds are used for celebrations in India, where Blessed Mother Teresa spent so much of her time and work to serve the poor.

For food, we made homemade chocolate "canonization cupcakes" (I use the recipe on the back of the Hershey's unsweetened Cocoa can) with cream cheese icing that is a family favorite of ours for birthdays and special liturgical feast days!   For the cupcake decorations,  I downsized the Shining Light Dolls coloring page of St. Teresa of Calcutta that I saw on the Coppertop Kitchen post. I put 6 smaller images in a Word Document and my daughters and I colored them with coloring pencils.  I color copied the images to make multiple copies.  I then laminated the images with my favorite laminator, cut them out and taped a toothpick to each one. Finally, I sprinkled the cupcakes with blue Wilton sugar sprinkles.

We made Organic India Tulsi Sweet Rose tea to remember how Mother Teresa did her missionary work in Calcutta in India.

I combined our celebration with our "Tea Time" we (try to) have on Thursday or Friday afternoons.  Tea Time is when we rarely have tea (this party was an exception with our Indian tea because my children prefer to drink milk/water), eat a sweet treat and read through and discuss the upcoming Sunday Mass readings.  Sometimes I print out the Gospel coloring pages for the upcoming Sunday Mass while we read through the scriptures.  But, this time I read out of the Sept. 4 MagnifiKid while my children colored Mother Teresa Quote Coloring Pages. It was great to see that the back cover had information about Blessed Mother Teresa in anticipation of her canonization so I read the information to my children.

After reading scripture, we listened to Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta Glory Stories CD from Holy Heroes.

On the CD about Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta's life, it explains how Mother Teresa was taught as a young girl from her mother about remembering the Gospel on just 5 fingers. Then when Mother Teresa was a nun she taught her fellow Sisters the Gospel on 5 fingers.  The Gospel on 5 fingers is a tool used to remind you that when you love those around you and serve them, then you can be assured that you did it for God or "you did it for Me." 

So while we listened to the CD, I had my children trace one of their hands and then write the Gospel on 5 fingers that Mother Teresa learned and taught others. 

We also watched the video about  how the Catholic Church declares official Saints and a short short video on her life from my post 10 Simple Ways to Celebrate the Canonization of Mother Teresa with Your Family.  

I then read The Miracles Approved By the Church for the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  

The canonization of another Saint is worth celebrating for sure! I want my children to be excited about this historic day like the day that 2 Popes were canonized (Saint John XXII and Saint John Paul II) on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2014! One way we celebrated the canonization of the 2 Popes was by making a lapbook.  So this past week I prepared materials and information to have my children make a lapbook about Mother Teresa.

We all gathered at the dining room table again to make "The Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta" lapbook that I designed by gathering information from several sources on Facebook and the internet. I saved the images and pasted them into a Word Document then printed the document out, one for each child.  Lapbooks can be as simple or as detailed as you want and the possibilities are endless! My goal was to create a lapbook that was simple and would be a great keepsake to remember this historic occasion.

I used one blue file folder and one tan file folder and stapled them together with each of their sides "back to back" to make a bigger lapbook.

When stapled together and folded, the front looks like this. 

We spent alot of time on these lapbooks because there was a lot of cutting and pasting involved. (I think I got carried away finding so many great images/quotes to use in the lapbook and Mother Teresa has said so many beautiful, inspiring and profound words! 

(For a wonderful list of graphics with quotes by Mother Teresa, be sure to read Seven Quick Takes No. 123: Celebrating Mother Teresa's Canonization from Emily M. DeArdo and Mother Teresa Quotes from Homeschool with Love. )  

Here are the finished lapbooks!
And here is what was included in them.  (Besides the cover and one image on the blue folder on the inside, my children were free to glue down the other images anywhere they liked.) 

Cover: I typed out "The Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta" on my computer and on the left side, my daughter glued 2 of the Mother Teresa Quote Coloring Pages.  The image of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was found HERE

Inside blue folder:  More Mother Teresa Quote Coloring Pages on the sides and in the center I found this timeline graphic on Roaming Catholics page.  So I shared it on my blog Facebook wall and copied and pasted it into a Word Document, then printed it.

Here is a close up of the graphic in the middle:

Inside tan folder: Love Like Mother Teresa coloring page, Prayer of Mother Teresa, the beautiful images came from Emily's blog post Seven Quick Takes No. 123: Celebrating Mother Teresa's Canonization, and then I copied the details of the 2 miracles that allowed Mother Teresa to be declared a Saint.  I found the miracles information at The Miracles Approved By the Church for the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Outside flap: The image of Mother Teresa jump roping with an orphan (I love this one by the way!) was found on my Facebook news feed that was shared by several friends of mine.  The image below that I found on Seven Quick Takes No. 123: Celebrating Mother Teresa's Canonization and states:

"We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other." Mother Teresa 

Back of lapbook:  The handprint showing Mother Teresa's Gospel in 5 Fingers, "You did it to Me" and an image found on Word on Fire Facebook page:

Some of my children also pasted this image onto their lapbook which is so beautiful also: 

Just after we finished making our lapbooks and wrapping things up, we received the St. Teresa of Calcutta Shining Light Doll in the mail that I ordered at the beginning of the week! We love these dolls and are happy to add St. Teresa of Calcutta to the Shining Light Dolls we already own:  St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Fatima.
We had a great afternoon and though it was a long celebration (according to my children), they admitted it was a fun time. :)   We can't wait for the actual canonization Mass on Sunday, September 4, 2016 on EWTN to make our celebration weekend even better! 

For more ideas on how to celebrate the canonization of Mother Teresa on Sept. 4, 2016 and her feast day on Sept. 5, visit Jessica's post Commemorating the Canonization of Mother Teresa {and "Works of Love Are Works of Peace" Giveaway!}

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

*Linked this post to #WorthRevisit at Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb


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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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