Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Wolf Lodge Trip and Farewell to Pope Benedict XVI

I'll never forget February 11, 2013, not only because it was on that Monday that our family was on a 2 day family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, NC, but because Pope Benedict XVI  made the announcement of his resignation and it of course hit the media airwaves and social networking sites.  I found out through a friend's Facebook status about this historic day and like most of the world, was shocked.  Here are some pictures from our fun trip and then I am posting some great papal resources that I have collected from various sites and bloggers:

 Here's our family sporting the GWL bracelets we wore during our 2 day stay

GWL was a cozy, fun, family-friendly vacation spot.  It had indoor water slides, pools, and various water activities.  Our family enjoyed playing a competitive game of water basketball in one of the pools as we tried to shoot the rubber basketballs in the hoops that were set up.  I didn't get many pictures of the kids playing because I was too busy having fun with all the water play myself! :) 

Here are my 3 older children (don't know the little girl on the far right) as they get a lot of water dumped on them!  

Here's a video my husband took of the water coming down on our oldest 3! I was in the Kiddie Pool with our 5 year old! They loved all the water fun!  :)

So not only was our GWL trip memorable because of the fun memories we made as a family during our short stay there, but like I mentioned above during our last day at the indoor water park, news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was announced to the world.  This is one of the posts I wrote on my Facebook page on Feb. 11: "According to The Drew Mariani Show Facebook page: The last time a Pope resigned was in 1415....598 years ago! The Holy Spirit didn't fail us then as our Church continues to thrive the good times and bad and we have faith that the Holy Spirit will not let us down now! Continue to have faith in this Year of Faith!"

It was a blessing today to watch history in the making with my children and I'm so glad to share this historic day with them as a homeschooling family.  Today we watched Live coverage on our computer on EWTN (Global Catholic Network) of Pope Benedict speaking to the Cardinals and unfortunately we missed him leaving the Vatican, but we did see his helicopter flying out to Castel Gandolfo, where he will live for two months as the Vatican finishes work on his permanent residence at a monastery within the Vatican. Here are a few pictures I took with my phone as we heard and witnessed Pope Benedict's final blessing in his papacy.  

For the past 2 weeks I have been gathering papal resources on my "Catholic Kid Stuff" Pinterest board HERE. Now there is no telling if I'll actually get to any of the activities, although there are some I would like to do with my cupcakes!  I wanted to highlight a few Papal resource links below for my own reference and for any readers who may want to see just how wonderfully creative some bloggers are when it comes to celebrating this historic time in our Church.

First, I recommend praying for our Cardinals who will be voting on our new Pope. Our family just "adopted" a Cardinal to pray for so that through the power of our prayers the Holy Spirit may guide, protect and enlighten our Cardinals when they determine the next successor of St. Peter.  We were given Jean-Louis Tauran, from France, born 5.4.1943.
He's been a Cardinal since 21.10.2003 and his function is: Protodeacon, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Papal Resources from Chris @ Campfires and Cleats

The Primacy of Peter: Papal Lapbook from Jessica @ Shower of Roses

Lacy @ Catholic Icing has a comprehensive list of papal resources and activities HERE
Learning about the Election of a New Pope (Reading Comprehension and a Craft) from Jennifer @ Catholic Inspired  (Yay! I actually did this one! See photo below)

Here's a picture of my children with their completed smokestacks from Jennifer's activity and craft from Catholic Inspired.  My daughter kept saying over and over again, "White smoke we have a new Pope!"   Thanks Jennifer for the fun and learning! :) 

I'll close this rather long (but hopefully helpful) post with these videos that explain more about the process of becoming a Pope that I have shared with my own children.  We all learned alot from them!

Thanks Chris @ Campfire and Cleats for sharing this one: 

Learning About the Election of a New Pope {Reading comprehension & a craft} - See more at:

Learning About the Election of a New Pope {Reading comprehension & a craft} - See more at:

My kids and I also enjoyed this video:

Learning About the Election of a New Pope {Reading comprehension & a craft} - See more at:

I also love this 62 page e-book from the Vatican paying homage to Pope Benedict XVI. Check it out! 

And a post about saying goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI wouldn't be complete without this beautiful thanksgiving video of the life and ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. 

Pope Benedict said his good-byes today when he tweeted: "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the center of your lives". Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saint Valentine's Day 2013

Not only are some people unaware that Valentine's Day originated from a great saint, Saint Valentine, but I think more people do not know that today is the feast day of two other saints who were brothers in Greece in the 800s.  Their names are Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius.  You can ready more about these saints' fascinating and inspiring lives HERE.

Now onto Saint Valentine...He was another great saint whose name and contributions have sadly been forgotten in our commercialized world filled with cards, candy, chocolates, and flowers.  My cupcakes do get excited about this day and they enjoy exchanging Valentine cards and candy with their homeschool friends, but I'm glad we also talk about the person behind this fun day.  Here's a little about Saint Valentine from Happy Saints:

St. Valentine (3rd Century AD) was a holy priest and bishop who lived during a time when Christians were not welcomed in the Roman Empire. He helped many who were imprisoned or were hiding from Roman soldiers. In the end, St. Valentine himself was captured and killed for his faith. He died on February 14, which became known as St. Valentine's Day.

St. Valentine's Day became a lovers' holiday because it was said that St. Valentine was killed for marrying Christian couples. Another tale had him writing letters of encouragement to the jailer's daughter when he was in prison.

What is important is that St. Valentine loved as Jesus loves. Jesus loves us so much He sacrificed His Life to save us. Likewise, St. Valentine risked and lost his life while helping others through selfless love. Let us love each other as Jesus loves us!

Download a free St. Valentine Printable Card here:

Today our Catholic Homeschool group gathered for our annual Saint Valentine's Day party.  Each child brought in store-bought/homemade Valentines to share with their friends after they decorated a white lunch bag for themselves.  Each child also decorated a white bag to be donated to a child at a local outreach ministry and cards and candy were put in the donated bags from the children.  So in the spirit of Saint Valentine our children shared their friendship and love to another child through the donated bags.  After we all said a prayer together it was time to start the festivities.  Here are some pictures from our fun day: 

Decorating bags with heart cut outs, crayons, stickers.  

 Here are two bags one of our students made, one to be donated and one for her Valentine treats.

The bags on the left were lined up and were the ones the children made to be donated, while the picture on the right shows all the children's decorated bags from our homeschool group.  

Then it was time for everyone to line up and drop their Valentines into their friends bags and goodies were put into the donated bags as well.  

Besides the bag decorating and Valentine deliveries, the kids were also excited about the snack items all the families brought.  I brought these "berry" sweet, easy, and healthy strawberry hearts that were devoured, especially by my son!  Clean, pull stem, cut in half, use paring knife to cut a small "v" at top = berry sweet treat!  

Here is a collage of some other sweet treats: 

My daughter on the left and her friend M.H. had big smiles as they check out their goodies.  I think it was a fun time for all and a special way to remember Saint Valentine's Day!

Here are some ways we have celebrated Saint Valentine's Day in years past.  Just click on title to take you to the post:

We {Heart} Jesus and Valentine Crafts (2010)

Happy Saint Valentine's Day! (2011)

Happy Saint Valentine's Day! (2012)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday and Lent 2013

It's been awhile since I last posted.  I'm thankful I don't have the all-day nausea/getting sick like I used to, but now at 15.5 weeks pregnant I am still feeling blah and I never know if what I eat will agree or not with my babe and me.  I'm not a picky eater (unless I'm trying to avoid foods that I think will make me sick).

At this very moment I'm feeling OK and thought I would blog a little, especially since today, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of the Lenten season.  I'm thankful to have my blog because when I forget all the fun and creative ideas I have done with my family during Lent or any other time of the year, I can quickly access previous posts here on my blog as a way to remind myself of activities we have done in the past.  For example,  I went to a Lenten post in 2011 and I'm copying and pasting the post here to share some of our Lenten family traditions we do each year. 

It's hard to believe that Lent is here with the first day of Lent being so early in February this year!  What is the significance of putting ashes on one's forehead to start the Lenten season?  Below is a quote from an article on 
A Day of Repentance:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

In this article, Ash Wednesday Our Shifting Understanding of Lent, it states the following:
When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth ("Remember that you are dust"). We remember that we are mortal beings ("and to dust you will return"). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion ("Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Here is a great 2 minute video about Ash Wednesday:

Our family attended an Ash Wednesday Mass this morning to help us remember that, like the Advent season, Lent is also a time of preparation and a call to conversion.  It's funny to have people tell me that I have "dirt" on my forehead after we attend Ash Wednesday Mass.  When this is said to me, it gives me a great opportunity to share my faith.  Here is an Ash Wednesday coloring page from Lisa at CatholicMom .

Here are some other Lenten traditions that we do as a family:

Salt Dough Crown of Thorns
One day soon we will make our annual crown of thorns out of salt dough and you can find the link at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).   Click HERE to find recipe and other Lenten resources from CUF.

Here is a picture I took in 2011 while my kid's hands mixed the salt dough ingredients:

Each time our children and my husband and I make little or big sacrifices during Lent, we will pull out a toothpick to remove Jesus' thorns from his crown. 

So many opportunities to think beyond ourselves, hence the many, many, many "thorns" !

Then just before Easter, our children will paint the thorn-less crown gold and glue jewels on the crown to represent that Jesus our King has risen!  The decorated crown looks lovely on the Easter table.  Here is a picture of a crown we did a few years ago:

Bean Jar
Speaking of sacrifices, another Lenten tradition our family does is the "bean jar".  We have a bowl filled with dried kidney beans, then when a family member makes a sacrifice, they put a bean in the jar.  Then on Easter morning the children will find that the beans that have accumulated in the jar during Lent will be changed into colorful and yummy jelly beans!
I told the kids that on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent they could get a "2 for 1" deal on their sacrifices, meaning if they do something on Fridays they can pull a toothpick and put a bean in the jar vs. choosing one or the other like on the other Lenten days.  

Holy Heroes

I got the bean jar idea from Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure last year and we decided to try it in our home during Lent.  Our family loves Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure (and Advent Adventure) and you can register your email for free to receive weekly links all about Lent.  I have learned so much along with my children!

Speaking of Holy Heroes, I recently met a Holy Heroes "celebrity" at a Catholic conference called Ignited By Truth.  I met the oldest daughter, Virginia, at the Holy Heroes/Belmont Abbey College vendor table and I just had to snap a picture of her to show my kids.  It was great to chat with her and her father at the conference.  What an amazing family!  My kids said "Cool!" when I showed them this picture:

Family Devotional Book
Throughout Lent our family will be reading once again, A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent by Angela M. Burrin published by The Word Among Us.  We really enjoy this book as it is written to promote family prayer and the characters in each story for each day of Lent are children and families that live in Jesus' time.  Then after each story that is based on scripture there is a "Jesus, Speak to Me" section where it is written as if Jesus is speaking to us.  This is a wonderful book that has been great to read as a family each day during Lent!

Stations of the Cross
Many years ago, when my older two children were little I had them color printable stations of the cross.  I then glued them onto construction paper and each Lent we tape them up in order on our dining room wall.  Each Friday as a family we pray through the stations of the cross with these. 
I can't remember where I got these particular coloring pages, but here are some other printable stations of the cross that children can color.

Several years ago, I found a simple presentation of the Stations of the Cross for kids 10 and under and this is what we use to say the stations during Lent.  It was in The Word Among Us Lenten Family Edition, Lent 2006 and HERE is a link to part of the article if you would like to review it.  Only subscribers to The Word Among Us can view this kid's version of Stations of the Cross in its entirety, however.

Last, but not least, I printed out this great printable Lent calendar for my children, which was drawn by Lacy at Catholic Icing.  Lacy has so many craft ideas and links for Lent and the entire liturgical year!  Be sure to check out her posts!

Have a blessed Lenten season!


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