Sunday, April 26, 2015

Good Shepherd Sunday

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." ~ John 10:11

The gifts the children received for Easter this year, in our family Easter basket, included a Little Lambs Cupcake Kit and a Good Shepherd Blessing Block. After Mass we decided to bake and decorate the Little Lambs today to continue celebrating Good Shepherd Sunday!

Rose's completed cupcake. She says you can see the lamb's smile right below it's eyes. :) 

"I didn't mean to make him cross-eyed!" says the 14 year old...

The kit only included enough mini marshmallows for 5 cupcakes (?) so we improvised by cutting up some large marshmallows that happened to be in the cupboard. 

Here is a short excerpt from Fr. Eric Andersen's beautiful and inspiring Sermon for Sunday, April 26, 2015:

"Many wolves seek to lure Catholics away from the one true faith by preaching an easy faith: a feel-good faith. But the best feeling comes from obeying God, being in a state of grace, and having true communion with Him in His Church. We must pray for our shepherds that they remain courageous in holding fast to the truth whatever wolves might try to threaten or bully them. The saints laid down their lives to follow Christ. St. Peter followed Him to martyrdom. Let us pray for the shepherds of our souls that they may remain continent and chaste, steadfast and courageous, and not flee at the coming of the wolf." 

As St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests and confessors, once said “After God, the priest is everything.” Priests are the primary ministers of the sacraments, acting in persona Christi.  They give us sacramental life in Christ, feeding us the spiritual nourishment for our souls in Confession and Holy Communion, the Bread of Life.  They must work, sacrifice, pray, and cooperate with God's grace to guide the Faithful.  Without a holy priest the sheep will scatter.  Please take a moment to join me in offering a Prayer for Priests:

Most gracious Heavenly Father, We thank you for our faithful priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the faith of Your people.

May our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Saints Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all Your people throughout the world. May the light of Your Truth shine through their lives and their good works.

Assist all spiritual fathers, that through Your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of Your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us also remember to pray every day for vocations to the priesthood, especially in our own families and parishes. There are many young Catholic men discerning vocations to the priesthood including this young man who is asking for prayers and support.

Happy Good Shepherd Sunday! 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Kit! :: Chocolate Roll Cake

"You are so lucky, Kit," sighed Ruthie. "This is a wonderful party." The sun had set. The yard was lit with lanterns Aunt Millie had saved from a trash pile and repaired. The lanterns had candles inside them, and they swayed in the soft evening breeze so that their light danced across the grass. Kit, Ruthie, and Sterling were sitting together eating the chocolate roll cake Aunt Millie had made…" Happy Birthday, Kit!

Chiquita turned ten years old last Monday! Of course, that meant we would have to have another American Girl themed birthday party... After all, all the historical doll book series found on my girls' bookshelves include stories about the various girls turning ten!  In the past we've celebrated birthdays with Kirsten, Josefina, and Caroline. This year, after receiving Ruthie for Christmas, Chiquita asked for a Kit Kittredge birthday! 

I didn't have much time to plan or prepare for this birthday, but it all came together! Instead of the traditional Chocolate Roll Cake mentioned in Happy Birthday, Kit! and included in Kit's Birthday Set, I opted to create a "cake" using Little Debbie Swiss Rolls, chocolate pudding and whip cream. Everyone LOVED the cake! (I'm still on the AIP diet - today is day 53!! - so I had to just take their word for it…) My husband said it is right up there at the top of the list of favorites with my (extremely time consuming!) Tiramisu. I'll definitely be making it again. It only took about 20 minutes to assemble and was able to chill in the fridge while I finished preparing the rest of the party games and decorations! 

Kit Kittredge's Chocolate Roll Cake
(adapted from Taste of Home's Chocolate Swirl Delight


  • 1-1/2 boxes (12 cakes per box) Swiss Rolls, unwrapped
  • 2-3/4 cups Milk, cold
  • 2 packages (3.9 ounces each) Instant Chocolate Fudge Pudding Mix
  • 2 cups Cool Whip (I used one 8 ounce container)
  • Fresh Strawberries, optional


Cut each cake roll into six slices; set aside any chocolate coating that separates from rolls for garnish.

Line a 9-in. springform pan with cake slices, completely covering the bottom and sides.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes (mixture will be thick).

Pour over cake.

Spread with spatula.

Top pudding with Cool Whip, or other whipped topping.

Sprinkle with any reserved chocolate coating.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before removing from the springform pan and serving.

Garnish or serve with strawberries, if desired.

I'll be back with pictures from the rest of the party sometime soon. In the meantime you can find additional cake recipes at the bottom of this page. You can also check out some of our past American Girl Unit Studies and Birthday Parties here:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saint George and the Dragon

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. 
~ G. K. Chesterton

Happy Feast of St. George! In the past our children loved slaying Dragon Cakes or decorating 3D Cookie Sugar Story Quilts (here and here) to celebrate St. George's Day, but last year, since we have a birthday to celebrate each year on the 20th, I decided to try and find a healthy (yet still fun!) alternative and ended up creating a Saint George and the Dragon Veggie Platter. They loved it! It is so quick and easy to put together that I had no trouble making another one this year, despite our incredibly full week of required state testing Monday-Thursday, a birthday to celebrate, braces removed and retainer fitting, and all of our usual commitments and appointments ending with three well-child checkups this evening… Whew!! I'm so glad it's finally Thursday night and our schedule is completely open tomorrow (and the next day!) for the first time in over a week!

Saint George and the Dragon by Jim Forest

While devouring this year's Saint George and the Dragon Veggie Platter, my husband read the following short and inspiring story from Saints for Young People for Every Day of the Year (1963 Edition):

April 23

St. George

Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to rescue a beautiful lady. The dragon stands for wickedness. The lady stands for God's holy truth. St. George was a brave martyr who was victorious over the devil.

He was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and he was one of the Emperor's favorite solders. Now Diocletian was a pagan and a bitter enemy of the Christians. He put to death every Christian he could find. George was a brave Christian, a real soldier of Christ. Without fear, he went to the Emperor and sternly scolded him for being so cruel. Then he gave up his position in the Roman army. For this he was tortured in many terrible ways and finally beheaded.

So boldly daring and so cheerful was St. George in declaring his Faith and in dying for it that Christians felt courage when they heard about it. Many songs and poems were written about this martyr. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him.

We all have some "dragon" we have to conquer. It might be pride or anger or laziness or greediness or something else. Let us make sure we fight against these "dragons," with God's help. Then we can call ourselves real soldiers of Christ. 

Comparing the images of St. George found in some of our books. You can find a list with links here.

So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!
 ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting Ready for National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week

American Life League's National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week is coming up next week (April 28 - May 4, 2015) and they are getting ready with 5-Days of Giveaways! Our four oldest children had so much fun completing a couple of the tasks this afternoon starting with getting soaked by a hose!

Chiquita (who just turned 10 on Monday and had her braces taken off yesterday!!) wasn't about to let her older siblings spray her with the hose, but she sure looked cute wearing a pro-life t-shirt (that is way too big on her!) while riding a tire swing.

There are still opportunities to win t-shirts during the 5-Days of Give-A-Ways over on the National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week Facebook Page and you can register for the Photo Contest on their website.

If you don't have any luck winning a t-shirt during the 5-Days of Give-A-Ways, you can also order official 2015 National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week T-shirts from American Life League.

If you have any favorite pro-life t-shirts, or favorite stores for purchasing pro-life t-shirts, I'd love to hear about them in the comment box! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celebrating the Saints :: St. Magnus of Orkney

"St Magnus, Earl of Orkney, was a man of extraordinary distinction, tall, with a fine, intelligent look about him. He was a man of strict virtue, successful in war, wise, eloquent, generous and magnanimous, open-handed with money, sound with advice and altogether the most popular of men."
The Orkneyinga Saga

April 16th is the feast of St. Magnus, Earl of Orkney. He has been one of our oldest son's favorite saints ever since he first listened to The Last Viking (The Story of St. Magnus) audio story when he was seven years old. The story of St. Magnus is a pretty intense and one that we probably should have saved until the boys were teens before sharing it with them... Nevertheless, the heroic life of St. Magnus made a strong impression. You can see him dressed up as St. Magnus in 2007 here!

It's hard to find books and statues of St. Magnus, but in addition to the inspiring audio story, Captain was also given a signed copy of author Susan Peek's St. Magnus, The Last Viking for his 14th birthday which he couldn't put down. Last December St. Nicholas left a beautifully painted St. Magnus in his slippers from Catholic Folk Toys

Our Thursdays are extra full days this school year, which doesn't leave much time for additional crafts, but I did manage to come up with a special afternoon snack with a few ingredients I found in the cupboard!  You can find the directions for these Viking Shield Cookies over at Catholic Cuisine.

Prayer to St Magnus

Sancti Magni Martyris tui, Domine, merita pretiosa nos tueantur, in quibus Majestatis tuae opera praedicantes, et praesens capiamus adjutorium pariter et futurum.

May the precious merits of Thy martyr St Magnus protect us, O Lord, by which, preaching the works of Thy Majesty, may we receive Thine aid both now and forever.

Saint Magnus, Ora Pro Nobis! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Easter Story {LEGO Edition}

Ever since 2009 when our oldest two boys were just seven and eight years old (they are now thirteen and fourteen!) they have put together a Playmobil Way of the Cross during Holy Week. Last year, instead of pulling out the Playmobil, the boys created LEGO scenes for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. This year they expanded their original creations and came up with additional scenes for Palm Sunday and the rest of Holy Week as well. I took lots of pictures to share! Everything is made with LEGO from their collection, including the "purple robe" (from this minifigure) and the "INRI" letters on the cross!

.: Palm Sunday :. 

The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!"
John 12:12-13

.: Spy Wednesday :. 

.: Holy Thursday :. 

.: Good Friday :. 

Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck Him with their hands.
John 19:1-3

When Judas, His betrayer, saw that He was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.
Matthew 27:3-5 

So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgatha.
John 19:17

There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
John 19:18-19

When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.  
 John 19:26-27

When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, "It is finished"; and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. 
John 19:30

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. 
John 19:41-42

.: Holy Saturday :. 

.: Easter Sunday:. 

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!

You can find additional LEGO creations in the archives including: