Saturday, February 28, 2015

New Additions to Our March Book Basket

It is time to start filling our book basket with books for March. As always, I love choosing one or two books to add to our family's ever growing collection each month. 

I'm actually saving this first book for one of the boys' Easter baskets, but with the feast of St. Benedict coming up on March 21st (as well as July 11th on the traditional calendar) I thought I would share it with you now. This brand new release from Ignatius Press on The Life of St. Benedict was written by Br. John McKenzie, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk from The Monks of Norcia in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict. He made his solemn profession in 2009 and is currently studying theology in Rome. Br. John explains why he decided to write a children’s story about his order’s founder, saying, “The life of St. Benedict is filled with great imagery and authentic monastic wisdom. The Benedictine Monastic Life expands over 1,500 years of lived tradition and it has a home on all continents of the world! This book was simply put together so that families, most especially kids, can get a chance to understand the greatness and uniqueness of my holy founder, not to mention his twin sister St. Scholastic who also plays a central role in this book. In short, I wanted to show just how cool St. Benedict really is.” It looks like it is going to be a great addition to our collection!

The Life of St. Benedict 
(Also available directly from Ignatius Press.)
Children and parents alike will be delighted by these stories and illustrations about the famous Saint Benedict. Based on his biography by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and told by a Benedictine monk living today in Italy at the birthplace of Benedict, these stories and pictures are rich with interesting details. The holiness of Benedict, his wisdom, his great impact on the world, and his miracles will intrigue and inspire everyone in the family. Also included are stories involving his twin sister, Saint Scholastica.

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After I finished reading aloud Their Hearts Are His Garden, I decided to move on to Jesus of Nazareth: The Story of His Life Written for Children by Mother Mary Loyola. We started reading this book on Ash Wednesday and, with just over 40 chapters, my plan is to read at least a chapter each day (or rather five chapters each week depending on our daily schedule) and finish it by Holy Saturday. I read chapters 6-10 to the children yesterday and everyone is really enjoying this beautiful story of the life of Our Lord!

(Also available directly from St. Augustine Academy Press.)

James Cardinal Gibbons was Archbishop of Baltimore when he asked Mother Loyola to write this story of the Life of our Lord. As a revered author himself, and considering the number of such stories available even then, we can only imagine the admiration he must have held for Mother Loyola's rare talent for narrative. She does not disappoint in this story, for as always, she brings to life the most vivid images of our Lord, such that the children who read it will feel almost as if they were following the dusty paths our Saviour trod. Now enhanced with an abundance of contemporary engravings and lithographs, this newly typeset edition is an invaluable means of impressing upon the minds of young children the reality of our God become Man.

Who is Mother Mary Loyola? My first introduction to her was through her wonderful allegorical work, The King of the Golden City. You can read more about her at St. Augustine Academy Press and help spread her story by sharing their GoFundMe page here. St. Augustine Academy Press is currently offering rewards for various levels of donations. Please consider helping if you can!

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After skimming through Fiona's Lace earlier this week at a local book store, I've been considering purchasing it to add to our collection of Irish themed picture books for March.  If not, I'll at least check it out from our local library.

Fiona's Lace 
An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona’s talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story from the New York Times bestselling creator of The Keeping Quilt.
Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a fine, glorious lace. Then when the family is separated, it is the lace that Fiona’s parents follow to find her and her sister and bring the family back together. And it is the lace that will always provide Fiona with memories of Ireland and of her mother’s words: “In your heart your true home resides, and it will always be with you as long as you remember those you love.”

Speaking of Irish themes for the month of March, I was so excited to see that Catholic Folk Toys is back in business (!!!!!) and has a collection of Irish saints available for purchase including St. Patrick, St. Kilian, St. Brigid, and St. Abigail (St. Gobnait). Tammy's dolls were the very first hand-painted saint dolls available (at least that I knew of at the time) and were the ones that inspired me to paint my own set to use Along the Alphabet Path back in 2008.  We have a lovely collection of saints from Catholic Folk Toys (including St. Patrick!) and I just ordered St. Brigid to add to a certain someone's Easter basket, now that I know she is one of our daughter's favorite saints

I'll be back sometime in the next couple days with the list of books I choose for this year's Easter Baskets, in addition to another basket of books I have to give away! In the meantime, you can find our complete list of books for the month of March here:

Friday, February 27, 2015

February Daybook

Outside my window
We always seem to have at least one gorgeous week in February, so we made sure to soak up the sunshine before the rain clouds came back.

"Come on, Mom! SLIDE!!!"

I am thinking...
It hasn't all been fun and sunshine this week... I've also been spending lots of time at doctors offices. Tuesday afternoon I had yet another appointment with my doctor (for more blood work and a biopsy - ouch!) and on Wednesday (in addition to barely being able to use my left arm) I took our seven year old to see the pediatrician since he's had a lingering cough for the past four weeks. Thankfully it hasn't dropped into his chest, but he does have an ear infection. Poor little guy! It was actually the first time I've had to take any of the kids to see our wonderful pediatrician in over a year and he kindly handed me the box of Kleenex as I gave him a little update on our family which included my last pregnancy and miscarriage. 

continued from Instagram… "Then, as we pulled back in the driveway, the van died... At least we made it back home before that happened. I'll be calling the mechanic in the morning and trying to figure out how to get the girls to piano. sigh... I'm trying to offer up these extra little crosses without complaining but failing miserably. Lent has barely started and I'm so ready for Easter!"

I am thankful... 
We've been blessed with such an excellent pediatrician. He reminded me that it's been nearly 15 years since he arrived in our area and our oldest son became one of his first patients! We'll be seeing him a lot the next couple months since all the children are (over)due for well-child checkups.

I am also thankful that we have a great mechanic and it only cost $29.90 to fix the van, not $2990 like my sister thought when she looked at the receipt! Even though he needed the van all day, and no one else was available to take the girls to piano for me, my mom and sister dropped off my parents Jeep for us to use and it all ended up working out in the end. Whew!

Learning all the time
I'm so excited about the brand new Life Is Precious Culture of Life Unit Study for Elementary Students from American Life League! I was sent a review copy, along with a set that I'll be giving away here at Shower of Roses, but you can currently purchase this Unit Study at an awesome discount for a limited time!

The program, which will help parents and teachers instill a solid pro-life foundation in their students, uses some of our favorite picture books (including Angel in the Waters and Horton Hears A Who!) to explore age-appropraite culture of life themes such as life as a preborn child, being uniquely created by God, the need to protect the innocent, and defending firmly held beliefs in the face of adversity." I'll be starting Lesson 1 with my children soon!

Celebrating the liturgical year...
The children brought home Rice Bowls from our parish on Ash Wednesday and have been adding coins each day.

Bud loves to count the items for each day and place the corresponding number of pennies in his Rice Bowl! (Update: After reading the recent reports on CRS, we will be sending our "pennies" to a different charity this year.)

From the kitchen... 
Grilled Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches for lunch and Fish Tacos for dinner.

I am working on... 
finding ways to improve my health and making time to exercise at least a few days each week.

I am creating...
plans for Easter, along with two huge giveaways for all my dear online friends and visitors here at Shower of Roses.

I am going...
to my friend Ann-Marie's baby shower tomorrow! Have you seen the new additions to her saint doll collection yet? She just added St. Joseph! He's definitely going on my "wish list" for my little boys along with St. Gerard. Rose received St. Therese from her Christkindl for Christmas and she is so soft and sweet!

I am hoping...
to have a chance to reply to emails sometime this weekend. Once again I am so behind!

I am praying...
for many special intentions and for all those who have asked for prayers.

I am reading…
Jesus of Nazareth: The Story of His Life Written for Children by Mother Mary Loyola.

Chiquita loves to draw while I read-aloud. This week she was inspired by the front cover of our book!  

Pondering these words…
from Matthew Kelly's The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose which my sister JoAnn shared on Facebook last week:

"Our spiritual needs have a tendency to change as the seasons of our lives change. Each of us has a unique spiritual journey. In different stages of the journey, we have different needs. And yet, there are some needs that are unchanging and necessary in all seasons of our lives- silence, solitude, and simplicity."

I am listening…
Eric Carle: Around the Farm Play-A-Sound. Bud's Godparents sent him this for his Barnyard Birthday last December and it is still one of his favorites. He has all the sounds memorized and loves flipping through the pages and testing himself. I'm pretty sure everyone else has in this house has all the sounds memorized too! ;)

Around the house...
I had to take a picture when I walked out to the family room and found Captain organizing Student Writing Intensive Writing Assignments!

Oh! That reminds me… IEW just released their new 2015 edition of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style. If you purchased a new copy of the 2000 edition sometime within the past 15 years they are offering an upgrade for only $30. I sent in the upgrade for mine this past week! 

One of my favorite things...  
I love watching Bud play with his older brother's Perplexus Ball… He's so good! I'm going to have to try and upload a video sometime to share. I also love that it keeps him entertained for hours! ;)

This weekend's plans
Hockey Games, Baby Shower, and a Latin Mass... We were able to find a priest to travel and offer Mass this Sunday night, on a one-time trial basis!

A little peek at my day...
I know we really need the rain, but it'd sure be nice if it'd stay outside.  Yep, another leak.
When it rains it pours. :)

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Easter at Ephesus :: Another Brand New Release from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles {and a "Win It Before You Can Buy It" Giveaway!}

    "Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live” (John 11:25)

    The Benedictines of Mary share with us a glimpse of their community life for one of their most joyous occasions: Easter. The cheer and delight of the Resurrection of Our Lord is woven in the hymns and polyphonic chants in Easter at Ephesus. This jewel of sacred music provides peace and comfort as the angelic harmonies of Easter transport the listener to the delight of the Resurrection: “For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with him.” (1 Thess. 4:14). Get your copy today and recall the liturgical joy awaiting those who hope in the world to come.

    Today I have the privilege of being able to offer my visitors here at Shower of Roses a chance to WIN a copy of Easter at Ephesus before you can buy it! The giveaway is only open through Friday and the winner will be announced in this post and contacted by email on Saturday, February 28th. 

    Please help spread the word about this inspiring new album and enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Easter at Ephesus is available from Amazon and you can also order it directly from the sisters here

    Easter at Ephesus will be released on March 3rd but we can help support the sisters by pre-ordering a copy today!

    Sunday, February 22, 2015

    {pretty, happy, funny, real} :: Ash Wednesday, Physics, and a Piano Recital

    ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter. ~


    After Mass earlier today. #ashtag #catholic #lent #ashwednesday

    Rose is wearing her pretty pink Girl's Kerchief Tie Veil from Modesty Veils... I have a few in white too which our older girls wore for years before they discovered new veils in their Easter baskets a couple years ago. I actually have some new veils from Robin Nest Lane for this year's Easter baskets. One is a little girl's pink veil with tie backs and three darling swirled lace rosettes on one side. It is SO pretty! I actually meant to put it in Rose's Christmas stocking but completely forgot… It will be perfect for Easter!


    We made it through Mass but the three year old wasn't too happy when we headed to the car instead of the playground! #ashtag #catholic #lent #ashwednesday

    I always feel a little funny posting pictures on Ash Wednesday but I did anyway. I also enjoyed reading the thoughts on the popular #ashtag shared by Phil Lawler and Jennifer Gregory Miller


    During the children's Physics Lab on Thursday afternoon I overheard the tutor ask: "What do you think would happen if you threw this ball as hard as you could?"

    Ummm…. If you throw that ball in the house, you will have all sorts of forces coming down on you. Not just gravity! ;) 


    The girls had their very first piano recital this afternoon! I completely forgot to take a picture until afterwards, but I was able to take a "screen shot" of the video. They did a lovely job playing their individual pieces and playing together! 

    Afterwards we headed to Mass and then out for dinner. 

    It was the "Grand Opening" weekend for the first (and only!) fast food restaurant in our little town. I actually haven't eaten at a Subway since I was a teen and ended up with food poisoning… I'm still not much of a Subway fan but it wasn't as bad as I remembered. We enjoyed visiting with my parents and even my sister happened to see us and stop by to visit. It was a really nice way to end the weekend!

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    A Lenten Calendar for Catholic Children {revised}

    Yesterday afternoon I had a little free time, while the older children were working with their math tutor and the three little ones were all napping (a rare occurrence these days!), to make this year's Lenten Calendar.  I used the same documents I created last year, but this year I assembled it a little differently (similar to how I first assembled it back before I was blogging) so that each week could begin with Sunday.

    Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday: We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead. (CCC 2174)

    I love how it turned out this year! With this year's revision our Lent Calendar now ends with Holy Saturday, the final day of the forty days of Lent. I am hoping to create an Easter Calendar on the opposite side of the poster board beginning with Easter Sunday! 

    If you are looking for a small printable calendar be sure to visit Pondered In My Heart or Waltzing Matilda. They both offer beautiful calendars which I always print for our older children. JOY{filled}family also offers a printable calendar based on the Traditional Calendar here.


    • 1 - 22"x28" White Posterboard
    • Purple Marker
    • Yard Stick and/or Ruler
    • Printed Images and Text (Free Download Here)
    • Scissors and Glue Stick
    • Purple Card Stock or Construction Paper


    Create seven rows of 3 1/8" x 3 1/8" squares for the 40 days of Lent plus all of the Sundays, with an 1/8" border on each side of the poster board.

    Label the Days of the week Sunday through Saturday.

    Each day of the week has a special prayer intention for which we pray and fast:
    • Sunday - In Thanksgiving for God's Blessings
    • Monday - For an End to Abortion
    • Tuesday - For Conversions to the True Faith
    • Wednesday - For our Holy Father and all Priests
    • Thursday - For our Family, Godparents & Godchildren
    • Friday - For Forgiveness of Sins in our World
    • Saturday - For our Deceased Relatives

    Add a Fish Symbol to each Friday representing the days of abstinence.

    Title the top of the calendar with LENT: Pray, Fast, Give Alms.

    Through prayer, fasting and alms giving, we bring Jesus into our lives, and commit ourselves to being united with him in His suffering, death and resurrection. Through this we also love and serve Him as we love and serve our neighbor.

    With this year's revision I had a little extra room at the top of the calendar. I considered adding an image for Shrove Tuesday, but decided on a little pocket made out of card stock to hold the crosses to cover each square.

    Cut out, place, and glue all the images for Ash Wednesday, the various feast days, all the Sundays of Lent, and Holy Week.

    Our calendar has a square for each day, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Special Feasts and Holy days during that period are decorated to represent that day. For example, we have a picture of St. Patrick on March 17th and St. Joseph on March 19th. These special feasts help break up the long Lenten Season.

    Hang somewhere it can easily be seen (and reached) by the children. 

    I probably could have gotten a better picture of the calendar hanging in the kitchen, but I got distracted by my two little cuties who looked all cozy on the couch behind the island... 

    It looks like they discovered the basket of books for Lent

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    • Each Morning for the Special Intention of the Day
    • Daily Family Rosary
    • Stations of the Cross on Friday
    • Adoration Hour
    • Daily Mass

    When the older children were little I made or purchased stickers of rosaries, stations of the cross, churches, etc for them to add to each day we prayed the rosary, stations, or attended Mass.

    • Take one item from the pantry each day for the poor
    • Simple Meatless Meals on Fridays
    • Personal Sacrifices I'm Offering Up for Lent 

    Toddlers don't always understand the concept of giving something up for Lent. Instead of having our youngest children give something up we have them focus on giving away. I stock the bottom shelves of the pantry with appropriate food items that can be donated, and everyday the little ones choose something to place in a box to be donated to a needy person or organization. I fit this extra food into our grocery budget by serving simple meals throughout lent, especially on Fridays.

    We are also choosing some things to offer up individually and as a family. I've left it generic on our calendar as "Personal Sacrifices I'm Offering Up for Lent."

    • Count the items listed for each Day 
    • Put corresponding Number of Pennies in the Rice Bowl

    In Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler (affiliate link) the author says: "Playing with pennies is fun, and so is putting them in a piggy bank. So try combining the two... Almost every church has Rice Bowls for lent... Think of items in your home that you can count. Select something different for every day of lent and put this on your calendar. For example, after deciding to count all the doors in your house, take the child and count all the doors. For each item counted, give him a penny to put in the Rice Bowl. There can be forty or forty-five pennies each day. It can add up, especially if you have more than one child! After Easter, bring the Rice Bowl to your church and have your child give it to your priest. Explain that this money will be used to buy food and clothes for people who do not have enough money to buy their own."

    Some examples of things that could be counted include: shoes, beds, windows, chairs, tables, pictures on the walls, trees in the yard, rooms, light fixtures, books on the shelf, silverware, stairs, toys, dolls, etc... You can be creative! This is a great opportunity to teach the children to be grateful for all they own. It is also a perfect time to work on filling those 40 bags with items to pass along to someone in need.

    Update: Now that we have older children I pick up a few rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels , in addition to the rolls of pennies for the little ones, that can be earned to donate to the poor by doing extra chores during Lent. 

    In the past I would usually write down something for the younger children to count in each square at the beginning of Lent (see Give Alms above). However, I've found it easiest to just assign them each morning (or the night before), that way I can easily incorporate specific areas that I want to work on decluttering.

    Once again I created squares with a cross on one side (printed on purple card stock) to cover each calendar square, instead of the cut out crosses we've used in the past. My plan for this year is to write on the back of each square the assignments for the day - what/where we will be praying, a reminder to fast/take an item from the pantry for the poor, something to count for the younger children's "Give Alms" and perhaps the extra chore options for the older children.
    At the end of each day - after we complete our prayers, fasting, and alms giving for the day - we will place the purple cross over the square of that particular date on the calendar as we count down the days until Easter Sunday!

    You can read more about how our family has observed Lent in the past here:

    Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Shrove Tuesday

    Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) and Pancake Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, in addition to abstaining from meat, the faithful were required to abstain from fats, eggs, and butter as well for the duration of Lent. Even though today’s Lenten fast does not require total abstinence from all animal products, recalling the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, along with bacon, ham, or sausage, serves to unite ourselves with the heritage of our past while enjoying a feast before the upcoming days of fast and abstinence.

    I've already made this year's Mardi Gras Beignets… I just need to finish frying the bacon and pancakes and dinner will be ready!

    Mardi Gras Prayer
    from Creighton University's Praying Lent

    Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for it is from your goodness that we have this day to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent. Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat. Today we feast. 

    We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us. We thank you especially for one another. As we give you thanks, we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do. As we share these wonderful gifts together, we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those who need our support. 

    Prepare us for tomorrow. Tasting the fullness of what we have today, let us experience some hunger tomorrow. May our fasting make us more alert and may it heighten our consciousness so that we might be ready to hear your Word and respond to your call. 

    As our feasting fills us with gratitude so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us a place for deeper desires and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor. May our self-denial turn our hearts to you and give us a new freedom for generous service to others. 

    We ask you these graces with our hearts full of delight and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead. We ask them with confidence in the name of Jesus the Lord.

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    Strawberry Hearts {A Sweet & Simple Treat}

    It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially. ~ St. Francis de Sales

    Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4–7

    Celebrating St. Valentine's Day

    This past Friday we were invited to attend a St. Valentine's Day party at the home of some friends. After the birthday last weekend, the World Marriage Sunday Potluck at Church, a full school week, extra curricular activities, and Snuggles tooth extraction (poor little guy!!!) on Thursday afternoon after piano and before hockey, we didn't have much time to prepare this year.  

    Thankfully, with a little help from some free online printables, we were able to pull together (over 150!!!) Valentine cards by midnight. Whew! Captain and Bud (our little popcorn bandit) gave out bags of popcorn, Ranger handed out Heart Breaker Valentines, Twinkle Toes handed out Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, Chiquita choose to create these Hershey Kiss Lighthouses, Snuggles handed out Melted Snowmen, and Rose ended up using some store bought Hello Kitty Valentines (which she loved even though they were purchased years ago!) after my printer ran out of ink...

    It was so great to get out of the house and spend the day (and all evening - we didn't get home until 9!) visiting with friends.  Saturday morning the children were up early digging through their boxes of Valentine cards. They only have a couple days to finish up their treats… Lent is almost here!

    I'm off to make this year's Lenten Calendar, print individual calendars, and see what else I need to prepare for Wednesday... I hope your week is off to a great start!