"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm."
"Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey."
~ Papa Benedict XVI

Thursday, March 31

A Little Known Gem

Our family has enjoyed for the past 3 or so years, a newsletter published by a young, catholic homeschooler. 


Saint Cecelia and All Martyrs Press is published monthly and is very reasonably priced.  A subscription is a $1 per month payable as $5 for 5 months or $11 annually. 

Its printed simply, in black and white. 

There are stories of saints, both well known and little known.  There are recipes as well as reader submitted poems and drawings.  There is usually a coloring page and an activity as well. 

You'll find something pertaining to the month's holiday(s) and/or Holy Days or an article about a catholic hometown treasure (shrine, parish, etc.)...and so much more!

Every issue is a bit different and full of wonderful information.

We have really enjoyed having these newsletters arrive for the kids (who doesn't like mail???) And its always a pleasure to come across an older copy in a pile of papers... its like seeing an old friend - you take the time to sit down and read it all again!

Our family highly recommends the Saint Cecelia and All Martyrs Press newsletter as a wonderful addition to your children's faith formation.

Please support this truly catholic, little gem.

If you're interested in a subscription, please email me at dunphy1996 (at) gmail (dot) com and i will get you in touch with the publisher.

And, one last thing....we so enjoy this newsletter we have decided to give away a year subscription

Leave a comment on our give away page and we'll throw you in the hat!

Blog about the give away, and then comment on our give away page  that you did (with a link), and we'll give you another entry!

Email a copy of this post to someone and comment that you did (i'm trusting you on this one!) and you'll have another entry!

Good Luck ....and please, check out the newsletter!

Wednesday, March 30

A Two Year Old's Perspective

Are there more dolls in the box?  .... Any more?....How bout a bear?

As we pack up our belongings Cat has decided she needs to save the dollies!  She was packed up first, ready to go.  We had to tell her "another week...but soon." 

She had her Dora backpack filled with her books and tea set (which today i finally made her wrap up each piece of in tissue because every time she walked around with it i could hear the pieces hitting and envisioned them chipping until there was nothing left but dust in the bottom of the bag.)

Today she came into the room asking for her Winnie-the-Pooh doll which was in a box of doll clothes.  Once she found out he was not alone she began returning time and again to check .... and finally stayed until i showed her she was holding all the animals, the box was now just clothes.  Phew!  now they're safe.  If you know where they are, all is good... but can you imagine being in a moving box for a week?  When you're taken out and you're in a whole new place, how would that feel?  She was apparently worried.

Now they all reside back in the once again over flowing crate of stuffed animals and baby dolls.  I'm sure she'll be willing to walk behind and pick up any escapees as we leave the house.

Sunday, March 27

Stations of the Cross

On Friday we joined some homeschoolers to celebrate the end of their 8 week co-op session, by celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation.  We had a wonderful time!  One of the moms talked to the children about the Annunciation (usually they would read a story.)  Then the children did a craft.  They made a grotto that held a picture of the Annunciation in a popsicle stick frame, decorated with stones...all on a piece of cardboard.  (You can buy a ready-to-make craft like this from Illuminated Ink and Catholic retailers who carry their products.) After the craft the children were split up into two groups.  The 6 and unders went to Adoration.  Now that may sound crazy but after a quick reminder of what Adoration is and that they need to be very quiet, they were wonderful for the 3 or 4 minutes they were in there.  I was only able to stay a moment due to Miss Cat, but truly, it was a beautiful site.

While the younger ones went to Adoration the older ones started Stations of the Cross in the church, then headed over to Adoration after.  The little ones headed into the church for Stations not long after the older ones. 

Usually during Lent many people go at least once, if possible, to Stations of the Cross.  With children sometimes its hard to do that due to the hour the Stations are done.  This was a nice, child friendly time where if someone did act up they could be taken out without the looks and stares normally found among those who don't have children with them. 

The other thing about this morning was that it reinforced a beautiful tradition of the church as well as the facts behind it. 

Many times we forget...forget to say thank you, forget to remember, forget to be in awe of the love showered upon us and the graces that are freely given to us. Many times we forget about God.  We forget about how Christ gave His life for every one of us, how God gave His son, how the Holy Spirit continually fills us with grace.

The passion and death of Jesus is an ineffable mystery of love in which the three divine Persons are involved. The Father takes the free and absolute initiative: it is he who loves first and, in delivering the Son into our murderous hands, exposes his dearest possession. As St. Paul says, he "did not spare his own Son", that is, he did not keep him for himself as a jealously held treasure, but "gave him up for us all" (Rom 8:32).

The Son fully shares the Father's love and his plan of salvation: He gave himself for our sins ... according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal 1:4).

And the Holy Spirit? As in the intimacy of Trinitarian life, so too in this exchange of love which takes place between the Father and the Son in the mystery of Golgotha, the Holy Spirit is the Person-Love in whom the love of the Father and the Son converge. (Spirit Is Present in the Paschal Mystery, Pope John Paul II, General Audience, June 10, 1998)

Stations of the Cross should be done weekly, throughout the entire year.  We should be reminded to remember, aways. 

Sometimes, especially with the younger ones, that is not so easy.  Yesterday over at Catholic Icing Lacy posted about a Stations of the Cross File Folder activity she created.  (i have tried to post a picture but it just does not want to cooperate! anyway...)  What a beautiful way to teach and reinforce the Paschal Mystery!

I plan to make one for our kids as after Friday they have been reading the Stations to themselves before bed (mainly the younger ones.)  I found at the local catholic bookstore a very nice copy that is simple enough to do quickly yet well - if that makes sense.  They each have a copy and they sit on Ladybug's bed and go through them.  It does a mother's heart good. 

So as i said, i plan to make a set for our children ...and a set to give away.  It will not be identical to Lacy's but it will be similar in style.  Its an activity that can be used year round - Thank you Lacy, for such a wonderful idea!

Wednesday, March 23

Wow! I am so very much behind these days, even with the blogging.  Pictures, pictures ...please bear with me! 

We ventured up north again recently and since we have returned life has been just one thing after another.  School has been touch and go these past two weeks - see, we are all human! 

I am so far behind in grading Big Ben's work that the school may have honestly forgotten we exist! Yikes!  I need to get moving! 

Planning a move, homeschooling, being a mommy and wife, while living in someone else's home is ...well...definitely an adventure.  We are almost there though!  I am so looking forward to having space for everyone to work together, including having the little ones in the same room as the schooling ones.  I'm looking forward to putting pictures, stations, and crucifixes on the walls.  I can't wait to have a kitchen to cook and clean again (call me crazy!) and i am so looking forward to getting us back on a good schedule that includes not just school and outside activities but also cleaning, and grocery shopping, and visiting, etc.   We are almost there.

Switching gears ... i have received a few fabric scraps from a few people... thank you!  I am on my way! : )   I still need to make those 2 dresses.  One is cut and ready to sew, the other still needs the fabric bought!  Do i sew? - honestly, no.  I am trying though...please say a little prayer for me and my endeavor that is being done purely out of love.  These dresses may just be the end of me!

Well i better run - lots of papers to grade!  I just wanted to touch base with you all and say 'Hey!'

Have a beautiful, blessed day!

Saturday, March 19

St. Joseph's Feast Day


"St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies;...he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things-it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic."
Pope John Paul II



May St. Joseph obtain for the Church and for the world, as well as for each of us, the blessing of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, March 17

St. Patrick's Feast Day

May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world

May Christ be with us!
                                             May Christ be before us!
                                             May Christ be in us,
                                             Christ be over all!
                                             May Thy Salvation, Lord,
                                             Always be ours,
                                             This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16

Free Holy Heros Coloring Book...and more!


Holy Heroes has a free 17 page St. Joseph Coloring book just for you!


Right on time for St. Joseph's Feast Day (March 19th) you can now get your little ones (and not so little ones) started on the right foot.  Color the pages over the course of a week, or have everyone color one or two different ones.  Either way they not only teach us about St. Joseph but also about the life of Our Lord.

As we prepare for this Feast Day i would also like to mention that Jennifer over at Homespun Love  blogged about A Virtual St. Joseph's Altar a couple of days ago. If you check out their craft pages you'll find a 3D altar your family can make as well as a chocolate crown of thorns. 

In years past we have done the salt dough crown but have never had much success.  This little gem looks more realistic and could have many uses in the weeks to come.

Our Lady of Sorrows

"At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed."
(Stabat Mater)




I have been very saddened by the earthquakes and tsunami that have occurred in Japan.  My heart goes out to all those souls who have died.  To all those families who have lost all they had, who have lost family and friends. 

And while you need not weep for the faithful departed, as they now or soon will look upon the face of God, a great sorrow should be present for those who died without returning to Our Lord.  One can only imagine the horrors they now face. 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Catholic Handmade site ("like" Etsy to give a vague idea)

Below is a note from Jessica.  We are members of several of the same yahoo groups.  I have checked out the site and find it to be a very interesting idea. I am very much looking forward to seeing how it all pans out...both as a buyer and possibly a seller (eventually...one can hope right?)  So please take a few minutes to check it out....maybe take a couple of thier surveys...become a follower....it appears a worthwhile endeavor to support. And please pass the information on!
~allison

--------------------------------------
Everyone,
There is a new Catholic site starting soon - to buy and sell handmade items, artwork, etc. It is designed to be a truly safe place for Catholics to shop online for quality items, without any chance of "funny business" showing up. You can see more about it here:

http://catholichandmade.net  (which redirects to the blog until the site is ready http://shopcatholicartists.blogspot.com )

Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Catholic-Handmade-Artists/125038687569045?ref=ts

The projected start date is September 1, but they are looking for some input from the type of people who might buy from this sort of site --- buyers-only (not potentially selling) to take two *short* surveys. You do NOT have to experience purchasing on Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet, Ebay, etc - in fact, a mix of experiences is sought (little, lots, or none at all!).

Following are the two links to the two surveys:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FTVFF5X

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FTDLBQR

Please forward the above links to anyone you think might be interested.

Now, if you think you might be interested in joining as a seller, the blog has information on that too.

Thank you all so much and God bless!
~Jessica

Monday, March 14

Catching up.....

Hello! First i just want to take a moment to welcome our newest followers, Jenny and Allison.
Welcome to our blog! I hope you will stop in regularly and walk away with even the smallest bit of new information or at least a smile. This blog has a mind of its own, for sure. I write about more than i had planned to and on everything from homeschooling to parenting, feast days to our family life in general.


Please feel free to comment, but also to ask questions.
Welcome!
-----------------------------
Well, its been a bit since i have been on here - about a week or so.  Sometimes there is just no good way to write things, other times so many thoughts flood my brain that i end up so overwhelmed with ideas i just don't know how to write.  But i'm here now.
 
The youngest three and I traveled up north last week to pack up some things still at my parents home.  After being out of any place of our own for almost 2 years, we are/were hoping to move in the next couple of months; this trip got the process started i guess.  
 
We have been looking at rental homes and found out yesterday that a place we put an application in for, we got!!!!! Oh my gosh!  I am beside myself with excitement! (can't you tell? : ) ) ....So, now we move. Woohoo! : P
 
We have been so very blessed these past 2+ years as we have gone from being laid-off to losing our home (a rental), from constant job searching with no replies to a part -time job, and now starting this past January, a career job.  (My husband now has 2 jobs! - God bless him!)
 
We have had so many ups and downs....i can't even begin to tell you here.
 
We have found family and friends to be so supportive and caring on this journey, we have also found companies who have no business being companies when they treat their members (of about 30 years!) as badly as they do during a crisis.  We have learned a lot. 
 
But today, well today i am just overjoyed at the idea of a place all our own again.  A place to spread out and just be us.

Sunday, March 6

Preparing for Lent - Part 2

So where were we?

What is Lent? 
Why i even tried to tackle this question is beyond me ... i have spent some time researching about Lent being more than just 'preparing for Easter.'

Diving in i found that Lent is to prepare ourselves for the sacraments of Christian initiation. 
Here is where my search led me....

Catholic Online states 'Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season.'  (this was the first thing i found)

So how do we incorporate that into the whole season?  Many families focus on Baptism during Holy Week, but to spend the entire season learning about and preparing for THE Baptism is a mighty tall order. 
I have never really looked at Lent that way before...but it makes perfect sense.

#1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.(Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12)

The baptized have "put on Christ."Gal (3:27) Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.(CE 1Cor 6:11; 12:13)

But then we remember that Baptism is the first sacrament of Christian initiation

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundation of every Christian life.  'The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life.  The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life.  By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1212)

So i read further through the Catechism. If  you do so you see that Lent is actually about preparing for all three sacraments

The Eucharist:
#1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:

[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit. (Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740; cf. 1 Cor 11:23; Heb 7:24, 27)

Confirmation:
#1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. (Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2) On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, (Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8) a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. (Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14) Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim "the mighty works of God," and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. (Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18) Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn. (Cf. Acts 2:38)

Phew!  Through prayer, fasting and alms giving we prepare our hearts and souls to receive these sacraments in light of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, as well as Pentecost.

Do you teach your children about this every year?  What resources are out there to help us do so?

Recently i found a great free resource at That Resource Site. Its called A Little Lesson on Via Dolorosa - The Road to Sorrows.

It begins all the way back with Adam and Eve.  From there it moves to Mary's yes, and then on through the life of our Lord.

There is beautiful art work, and pages appropriately placed for both journaling and lapbooking.  There are no directions on how to use these extra pages but they are placed where in the reading you would use them. (that is my only issue with this beautiful tool - some of us have enough going on to want to be told 'this is how you do it')

For those of you more interested in a complete lapbook, Faith Folders for Catholics has several for sale that would be appropriate for the Lenten season.