Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bargain Priced Books :: Saint Valentine

A Time To KeepLOVE Is...Saint ValentineCranberry Valentine

I'm starting to pull together the books for our February Book Basket and wanted to give you all a quick heads up that Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda is currently 34% off (only $5.26!) over at Amazon right now.  {Note: Links to Amazon are affiliate links.}  A corresponding study guide is available in Catholic Mosaic

We've owned a copy of this lovely book for many years, but I'm considering ordering another copy or two to give as gifts, or perhaps have them shipped directly (free with Amazon Prime!) to a couple of our Godchildren as a little St. Valentine's Day surprise.

You can find a list with the rest of our books for St. Valentine's Day in the archives: 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ladybug Warriors :: Praying for the Unborn

While many from around the country participated in the March for Life, I spent the afternoon at home teaching my children about the culture of life and praying for the unborn.

The Culture of Life Studies Program recently shared an awesome and FREE "Ladybug Warriors" mini-lesson for elementary students.  This unit study can be easily completed in an afternoon and teaches children about ladybugs, how the ladybug is named after our Blessed Mother, and how we can be warriors for Our Lady and pray for the protection of all preborn babies! 

.: Picture Book :. 

Last night I stopped at Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of The Grouchy Ladybug... 

Of course, after discovering the book on the table this morning and recognizing the artist, my little guy insisted on wearing his Brown Bear t-shirt and pulling out the rest of his Eric Carle collection including: Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Around the Farm (a favorite birthday gift from his Big Red Barn Birthday)! 

.: Craft :.

After reading the story and discussing the book and the meaning of the name ladybug, we moved on to the suggested craft: Ladybug Prayer for Preborn Babies Prayer Cards

Craft Supplies:
  • Red, Black, and Green Construction Paper (we used card stock)
  • Ladybug Template & Hail Mary Prayer Card (download here)
  • Hole Punch (for punching black spots out of paper/card stock to use as spots)
  • Black Crayon
  • Glue
  • Googly Eyes (2 per child) 

This beautiful lesson also includes explanations for each of the Joyful Mysteries to share with the children while praying for the unborn. We also discussed spiritual adoption as suggested:

"As Ladybug Warriors, we can spiritually adopt a preborn baby and his parents as they wait for the baby to be born. Spiritual adoption means that you pray for protection for the baby every day so that he will be born happy, healthy, and holy. You can pray the Hail Mary prayer on your ladybug’s leaf as well as the rosary for the baby you are spiritually adopting."

.: Coloring Pages :. 

In addition to the Pregnant Mom Coloring Sheet (provided in the lesson packet) I also printed out a a couple copies of the Immaculate Conception Coloring Sheet from Catholic Icing

They all said they colored me as the "pregnant mom" (pregnant with them) and, apparently, they all interpret my hair color and highlights differently. lol I'm not quite sure what to think of that huge blond streak in the middle picture! I actually haven't had my hair cut or highlighted since last June.... It's time to make an appointment! 

.: Ladybug Snacks :. 

The lesson packet included a few snack suggestions including Red Punch or Strawberry Lemonade, Strawberry Slices with Chocolate Chips inserted into them to look like spots, and Ladybug Cupcakes.

Most of our kids are fighting colds at the moment so I opted for healthy snacks today, starting with some "Ladybug Appetizers" we made using cucumber slices, baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, and black olives. We probably should have cut the tomatoes and olives in half to make them a little more stable, but they were quickly eaten so it didn't really matter. We loved how they turned out! 

I wanted to make the strawberry ladybugs, but organic strawberries were way too expensive last night at the store so I opted for raspberries instead. We used my favorite Enjoy Life Mini Chips (melting some to create the faces and adhere the spots) and even I was able to enjoy this treat! 

I definitely prefer these snacks to the Ladybug Cake and Ladybug Apples we have made in the past. 

.: Prayer :. 

We ended the lesson with some words from our Archbishop and a prayer for life. ♥

"Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court, or kill you." ~ Pope Francis

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Under Construction :: A LEGO Cathedral, Phase 2

Last week I shared Phase 1 of the LEGO Cathedral that Ranger is building. This week I have some additional pictures to share with you which were taken last July and August, after stocking up on some more LEGO from eBay and a local store. 

It wasn't nearly enough to finish the project, but he did make some more progress, and some modifications to the original design, before putting the building on hold again until after Christmas. 

One of the first modifications was to increase the height of the bell towers. 

Next he moved the large clear windows up higher and added smaller stained glass windows below. 

Inside the cathedral, you can see the beginnings of the Stations of the Cross, seven on each side.

He then added pillars, making sure you could see each station in between the actual pillars.

They look so pretty, especially at certain times of the day when the sun is shining. 

He is hoping to add a large stained glass window to each side, if he is able to get enough 1x1 and 1x2 transparent LEGO. Since Christmas he has been able to make more progress on the walls, and begin construction on the roof.

Just around the corner from the cathedral Captain set up the Palace CinemaPet ShopParisian Restaurant, and a family of tourists in the Camper Van checking out all the sites! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

38th Birthday Daybook

Outside my window
Rain, rain, rain... lots of rain this weekend! In fact we currently have a flood warning. Our children keep hoping it will turn to snow, especially after seeing all the snow on the way to the boys' out-of-town hockey game last weekend, but it's too warm here in the valley.  We've had more snow than usual this winter, but it never sticks around for long. It was the snowiest December on record up in the mountains around us!

I am thankful... 
Even though Sean and our oldest two were out of town Friday-Saturday for the boys' high school robotics tournament, I still had such a fun birthday with family and friends. We headed to the rink at 9:30 yesterday morning, for a game and practice. My brother and his family showed up to visit for awhile and then ended up having my five youngest over for the afternoon while I met up with a friend for lunch. After that we headed to my parents home for dinner. It was such a nice day!

Learning all the time
It's hockey season! Each week our eight year old is the first player suited up on the bench waiting for his game to start. He looks forward to his hockey game all week long!

Do you remember last year's End-of-School Interviews?  Well, our oldest daughter is getting her wish! The girls were so excited to start the Learn-to-Play Hockey Program last week. We are at the rink so much already, what's one more hour a week, right? ;)

Celebrating the liturgical year...
I ordered extra candles from the Cloister Shoppe last October to save for Candlemas, but will probably order a few more beeswax tapers to have blessed this year as well.  You can find and scroll through all our past Candlemas posts, including our Candlemas Cookies, in the archives here.

From the kitchen... 
My mom asked if there was anything special I wanted for my birthday this year.... Yes, as a matter of fact, there is a special cake I had wanted to make for Thanksgiving or Christmas and never had the extra time or energy. I told her that was the only thing I wanted and I even had most of the special ingredients, including the arrowroot starch and unflavored beef gelatin. If anyone could pull it off it would be my mom! She is amazing in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cooking or baking healthy and healing foods.

Not only did she pull off the cake, she made a delicious dinner for all of us, and even had my dad pick up balloons. He wouldn't agree to the "38 balloons!" that she requested (hahaha! I can not picture my dad picking up any balloons at the store, let alone thirty-eight...) but he did bring home eight!

I am working... 
My birthday gift to myself this year?  Hitting "Weight Maintenance Mode" for the first time in at least thirteen years! I only "maintained" my weight loss for about a day last time, finding out I was pregnant the next day with our oldest daughter, so really it's the first time since I got married. It's been a long, hard road, but I'm so grateful that I discovered the Autoimmune Protocol last March and have been able to start regaining my health, and losing all the extra weight as an added benefit!

Here is a little update from the various charts in my TargetWeight app this morning:

I am going...
to start going through all the clothes in my closet again soon. I have very few pieces of clothing that fit! Since last March I have dropped from a large to a small (or loose fitting medium) in tops, and from a size 12 or 14 to a 2 or 4 (depending on the brand) in pants/skirts... Crazy!

I am hoping...
I wouldn't mind losing up to five more pounds, toning, and working on building muscle, but I really don't want to lose any more than that and need to figure out how to get enough calories in my limited diet to maintain my weight... I'm also hoping that I will start having some success adding additional foods back into my diet. So far I haven't been very successful and it's been incredibly frustrating to say the least.

I am praying...
for so many intentions, including my mom. At this point she has decided to "wait and watch" to see if her tumor grows before scheduling surgery. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for her, and for my husband's parents. We are continuing to pray that my mom's tumor starts to shrink (she has been trying a number of alternatives) or that at least it doesn't grow any more...

Pondering these words…
from a homily given by St. John Paul II back in 1979:

"In order that Christian marriage may favor the total good and development of the married couple, it must be inspired by the Gospel, and thus be open to new life—new life to be given and accepted generously. The couple is also called to create a family atmosphere in which children can be happy, and lead full and worthy human and Christian lives.

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others and share their burdens (cf. Gal 6:2; Phil 2 :2). Each one must show concern, not only for his or her own life, but also for the lives of the other members of the family: their needs, their hopes, their ideals. Decisions about the number of children and the sacrifices to be made for them must not be taken only with a view to adding to comfort and preserving a peaceful existence. Reflecting upon this matter before God, with the graces drawn from the Sacrament, and guided by the teaching of the Church, parents will remind themselves that it is certainly less serious to deny their children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters, who could help them to grow in humanity and to realize the beauty of life at all its ages and in all its variety.

If parents fully realized the demands and the opportunities that this great sacrament brings, they could not fail to join in Mary's hymn to the author of life—to God—who has made them his chosen fellow-workers."

I am listening…
I haven't had much time to read to the kids this past week, but my dad has been reading to his grandchildren! He stopped by one afternoon, when he had a little break in his work day, with a book he has had since he was in kindergarten. Last night, as soon as we arrived to their house, he started reading from Winnie the Pooh. I loved it when he read to my siblings and I when we were growing up, and I love hearing him read to my own children even more!

Around the house...
Sean and the boys beat us home last night, and we ended up coming home to a warm fire, clean kitchen (I had left a mess and a sink full of dishes), homemade cards and pretty flowers on the island.

My birthday gift this year was a new purse and a new wallet, courtesy of our home owner's insurance following the theft last month... My husband decided to just let me pick them out myself this time and I ended up choosing a classic (not too deep! don't want to be tempted to keep too much in it ever again!) black leather satchel, but the wallet I choose is so pretty and colorful! 

At first I wasn't finding anything I loved and almost decided on the Fossil Emory Clutch, but then I asked the sweet sales lady if she had a favorite wallet.  She said she did, and that it was a Patricia Nash wallet over in the designer section, but that it would be on clearance if they had any left. She had to do a little searching but found one last wallet in "Antique Rose" and it was nearly 50% off. Perfect!!! 

One of my favorite things...  
I sure love my large immediate and extended family and all my dear friends, including all my friends here at Shower of Roses. I'm so blessed to have you all in my life! I didn't have time to respond to everyone, at least not yet, but it was so much fun to read through all the emails, texts, and messages thoughout the day. Here is one from my sister Jenny that put a huge smile on my face late last night:

"I want to wish my big sis Jessica a happy birthday! She's one year and two months older than me so we had lots of adventures together as little girls. I bought my first car from her and she helped teach me to drive. She helped train me for my first real job when I was 16 and she was 17. We've worked in business together at various times and I've always learned a lot from her. She's so smart and successful with whatever she puts her mind to. But most of all she's the most incredible mother and teacher to her seven children that she home schools, as well as a wonderful wife to her husband. Thanks Jessy for inspiring me and loving me. Happy birthday!!!! xoxoxoxoxo"

Such great memories... even teaching her how to drive, including (at least looking back now... I was pretty mad at the time!) that night I let her drive my little 300Z and she almost crashed into the front of a house (use the BRAKE, Jen, NOT the gas pedal! lol) but was stopped by their row of bushes! I later refused to teach her how to drive stick, a whole other terrifying experience, until after she paid me for the Acura Integra I was selling her! Unfortunately that job/sales training I gave her wasn't enough to keep her from getting fired by Trump. ;)  

This week's plans
Mass, homeschooling, additional classes, tutors, work, hockey... pretty much the same as usual. 

A little peek at my day...
I had a little help blowing out the candles while Dad played his guitar and everyone sang "Happy Birthday!"

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday so incredibly special. I love you all!