Saturday, October 31, 2009

Feast of All Souls

On November 2nd, the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls. On this day we celebrate and pray for all the souls of the faithful who have departed from this world, including the souls in Purgatory who are in the process of being purified for heaven. To celebrate this feast day, here are some ideas: Attend mass and pray for and remember those loved ones who have passed Read Father Phillip Tells a Ghost Story, by Susan Brindle Bring out family albums and heirlooms and tell stories about deceased family members Make or buy doughnuts as they are linked to this feast day as "soul cakes." To read more about soul cakes, visit Catholic Cuisine. Here is an easy and delicious way to make doughnuts at home:

Homemade Doughnuts
biscuit dough - ready to use or from scratch small circle cookie cutter or circle of any kind (like a medicine cup) 1/4 - 1/2 cup cooking oil - vegetable or canola tongspaper towels cinnamon and sugar mix and/or powdered sugar frosting (optional)
Open the biscuit can and spread all the rolls out. Then using your cutter, press out a donut hole right in the middle. Then get your pan on medium heat with 1/4 - 1/2 cup oil. Depending on how many you make, you will need more oil. You want enough oil to cover half of the donut when cooking. Place 3-4 doughy donuts into the pan and leave until the bottom is golden brown (2-3 minutes). Don't do anything else but watch these, as they cook fast and don't want them to burn. Then turn them over and cook another minute or so. Using tongs, place the cooked donut on paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Then get your pan on medium heat with 1/4 - 1/2 cup oil. Depending on how many you make, you will need more oil. You want enough oil to cover half of the donut when cooking. Now place the donuts on a plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or powdered sugar or cover with frosting.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
from Thomas the Train and a Tulip Flower Fairy!!!
Hope you all have a fun and safe time trick-or-treating.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Solemnity of All Saints

On November 1st the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints honoring all Saints. It is a Holy Day of Obligation, so the prinicpal activity to celebrate the day is to attend mass.

Other ideas to celebrate are:
Read I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
I saw this idea on a blog, but can't remember where, but they took their pumpkins and cut off the front to make a big opening where they affixed an image of a saint ironed between two sheets of wax paper. Then they lit the pumpkin like a jack-o-lantern, but it illuminated the image of the saint in the front.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Apple Puff Pancake

This is the Apple Puff Pancake I made twice last week. I saw the recipe on Jessica's blog and couldn't wait to try it. I finished up using all my leftover apples. It is easy, sweet and delicious. Here's the recipe.

Apple Puff Pancake 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick) 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 5 large eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup all purpose flour Dash of salt Maple syrup or confectioner's sugar for serving
Heat the oven to 425 F. Place the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a 9-inch pie pan. Heat in the oven until the butter is melted and bubbly - 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir well and mix in the apple slices. Return to the oven and bake for 2 minutes.Meanwhile, combine the eggs, milk, flour and salt in a blender or food processor and process until frothy - 1 minute. Pour over the apple mixture. Bake until the cake is puffed and the center is set - 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with maple syrup or sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Along Came a Spider...

This weeks Little Saints theme was Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. Mostly we read these books and just sang and acted out the nursery rhymes. I didn't really love any of the arts and crafts projects in the Little Saints books so we created our own activities this week. One of the nursery rhymes I focused on was Little Miss Muffet and the spider that "frightened Miss Muffet away." Last week in all our Fall studies we saw lots of spiders in the books and pictures, and we have been seeing our fair share outside too. Spider crafts and treats were easy to find this time of year because of Halloween too, so it was seasonally appropriate and fun too.
Books
We have this wonderful book of mini-books of various nursery rhymes that someone gave to Pumpkin a couple years ago. The kids love these books and it was perfect to bring them out to read this week.
Songs and Rhymes
We sang along to many of the nursery rhymes on the Wee Sing cds.
Yummy Treats
We made this yummy spider web cake to go along with the Little Miss Muffet story and our spider below. I just made two circle cakes and stacked them, iced them with chocolate frosting. Then i piped white frosting onto the cake in concentric circles, then with a toothpick I dragged out a line from the center to the cake's edge dragging the white icing along (sometimes I needed an extra little glob at the center as I went out). Repeat this all around the cake for the spider web design.
They obviously loved the cake.
Arts & Crafts
We made a spider out of an egg carton, pipe cleaners and googly eyes. Pumpkin insisted that the spider have hair so we glued this purple string onto it's head and it became a fuzzy spider.
Colored and put stickers on Mother Goose coloring pages I found online here.

In case you didn't notice, I forgot music appreciation this week. We were so busy singing silly songs and rhymes that I forgot to introduce a classical piece.

10 Minute Halloween Dress

I meant to make this dress a couple weeks ago to have it posted more than a week before Halloween, but I didn't get around to doing it until today. I was inspired by this dress and got a set of Halloween dish towels from the Target dollar section and some Halloween ribbon and 10 minutes later had a toddler fasion statement. For directions of how to make this simple dress out of bandannas, towels or whatever fabric, go here. It's so easy and will be so cute for some Halloween festivities this week. I am not a huge fan of the scary and ghoulish aspects of Halloween, but I think it is a fun holiday for the kids. Everyone loves an excuse to dress up and eat candy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In My Own Words

I am always inspired and renewed going to the annual fundraising dinner for Room at the Inn, to hear the wonderful speakers, but mostly to be surrounded by friends and strangers (over a thousand) who are there like me to do what they can to support the Pro-Life mission. I am having a rough day (for other reasons), so the poem that was forming in my head last night, as I watched the video of mothers who chose life for their babies because they had the support from Room at the Inn, just isn't coalescing as I had hoped. So I wanted to share a poem I wrote this time last year. I can not call myself even an amateur poet, so please don't judge my trivial and unrefined writings.

A Child's Farewell
Your soft and steady heartbeat is all I know,
the sonata to which in this womb I grow.
Before you knew of me, I looked upon you from heaven,
but I'm already forgetting so I can befriend you again.
I am growing and awaiting the day we will meet
when you'll hold me and realize your life is complete.
Now your pulse is wild, your heart is beating so fast,
Sweet mother don't be frightened, this worry will not last.
I promise with time you will be happy I am here
that my life will give you life, never a regretful tear.
But something is happening, I see my angel of light,
She tells me not to fear the dawn of the night.
It's suddenly so cold and the scalpel is coming near
We were two now we're one, Goodbye mother dear
I never saw your face but your beauty I know
and His forgiveness will rediscover it underneath your sorrow
If you think of me someday know I will love you forever,
for regardless of your Choice, you are evermore my mother.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Room at the Inn

Before snuggling into Snoogle or my "nest" as Pumpkin calls it tonight, I am going to the annual fundraiser dinner for Room at the Inn. I am excited to hear the featured speaker David Bereit, who is one of the founders of the "40 Days for Life" prayer vigil. If you feel so inclined, please make a donation to Room at the Inn to help further their mission:
"Respecting and affirming life from the moment of conception, Room At The Inn is a safe haven and source of hope for pregnant mothers and their children. Invoking a Christ-centered approach inspired by the examples of Mary and Joseph, Room At The Inn helps young families move toward a new life of hopeful, independent, and healthy living and educates the broader community on the importance of fostering a culture of life."

Snoogle Sleep

My heart goes out to any pregnant woman who does not have a Snoogle, because I can not imagine sleeping without mine. I just wanted to share how much I love it. It is expensive, but worth every penny. I am not receiving any kickbacks for raving about this pillow, just the joy of spreading blissful pregnancy sleep, especially for those pregnant women responding, "What is that?"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fire Pit Fun

We had a great time roasting marshmallows and making smores at our fire pit this weekend. A perfect treat on a chilly fall evening. Here are a few pictures of the sticky, sweet fun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

All the Leaves Are Falling Down

I forgot to write in my Fall is Here post that I made up a song for the leaves falling in Autumn. We sang it on our nature walk. It is to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.

All the Leaves Are Falling Down
All the leaves are falling down
falling down, falling down
All the leaves are falling down
now it's Autumn.
Leaves on the trees are turning colors
red and yellow, orange and brown
Leaves on the trees are turning colors
now it's Autumn.
It's kind of silly I know, but they loved it. Happy Autumn!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall is Here

The season of Fall was our weekly theme with Little Saints this past week. I feel after a couple months of doing this preschool program at home that I am at the point I can share some of the things we do. I will try share every week.
Books
We actually read more, but these are some of the Autumn-themed ones)

Music & Art Appreciation

Listened to Vivaldi's Autumn with a beautiful slideshow of Autumn inspired artwork and photographs on youtube.com.

Food & Treats

We baked Pumpkin Pie and drank apple cider. We also made an apple pie and are still eating the apples we picked a few weeks ago. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of these.)

Tissue Paper Autumn Leaves

Nature Walks & Nature Color Scavenger Hunt

(We actually did this last year for the Feast of St. Francis and many times since. we didn't get to that this year for his feast day, but it fit perfectly in with this week's theme.) Pumpkin loves this activity. It's an egg carton that I colored each slot different colors of crayons, and he has to find things in nature that color. Some seasons, certain colors are harder than others. Although this time, he found a rock that was very blue.

Leaf Rubbings

I had to help with this one, but they loved watching the leaves we collected on our nature walk "appear" on the paper. Apple Tree Song & Apple Counting

Way up high in an apple tree, ten little apples smiled down at me I shook that tree as hard as I could, down came the apples M-m-m-m they were good.

This is a felt board with felt apples and tree cut-outs.

Watching squirrels collect nuts and acorns and then shelling peanuts to eat for snack

Since not enough leaves have fallen from our trees to play in, we looked at pictures of our family playing in the leaves last Fall.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If a Two Year Old Can Befriend Elmo...

Many friends who read my blog ask if I do all the things listed on a particular feast day with my children. The answer is of course no. As the leader of my parish's Mom's Club, I list many of the activities on my blog as ideas for children of many ages. My list is skewed to things that younger preschoolers would enjoy, but some things I know are much too young for my children. I gather my lists of ideas and activities from various books on celebrating the liturgical year and from the blogs of some incredibly creative mothers. Despite my limited creativity, I am also able to come up with a few of the ideas on my own.
The reason for this post though is the second question that comes after whether we do all the ideas suggested for a particular feast day or holiday. Some people wonder why I go to so much effort for children three and under. I can understand why. There are days where something I had planned does not go over well at all, that they are either not interested or just not capable yet of doing the activity. I sometimes get frustrated, but I am doing better lately at relaxing. I am realizing that we can try that activity next year and probably with a lot more meaning.
The reason I do these activities for such young children comes down to laying a foundation (in baby steps) of living the liturgical year at home. I have always believed that if a child can become attached to TV characters like Elmo or Dora that they can get to know Jesus and Mary and the Saints in the same way. The challenge is for us mothers to present the Catholic faith in a way that is at their level but at the same time memorable and hopefully even fun.
Ultimately I hope to use these early years as a wonderful opportunity to establish family traditions and develop a library of ideas. So please never feel that I am doing all that I post or that you are doing so little. Every child is different and each mom knows what their child will enjoy and connect with the most. As with any day at home with children, whether it is the tenth day of Advent, the Feast of St. Francis or just a regular day in Ordinary Time, some days are good and some are not as good. My goal is to do the best I can to help my children know and love God.

Feast of St. Gerard

Friday, October 16th is the Feast of St. Gerard Majella, who is a patron saint of pregnant mothers, women trying to concieve and families and children. Besides myself and my younger sister, I have so many close friends and even blog friends who are pregnant. So I thought it would be nice to post a prayer to St. Gerard on his feast day for pregnant mothers.
Prayer to St. Gerard For Mother With Child
O almighty and everlasting God, through the Holy Spirit, you prepared the body and soul of the glorious virgin Mary to be a worthy dwelling place of your divine Son. Through the same Holy Spirit, you sanctified St. John the Baptist, while still in his mother's womb. Hear the prayers of your humble servant who implores you, through the intercession of St. Gerard, to protect me amid the dangers of childbearing and to watch over the child with which you blessed me. May this child be cleansed by the saving water of baptism and, after a Christian life on earth, may we, both mother and child, attain everlasting bliss in heaven. Amen.
For additional prayers to St. Gerard including for those trying to concieve, click here.
St. Gerard, Pray for Us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Wednesday, October 7th was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, but we didn't get to our activity until Friday. Inspired by Jessica and Jamie, we did a candy rosary. The Our Fathers are big marshmallows, the Hail Marys are Smarties and the cross is made from those candy dots on paper. Can you tell I forgot to stock up on candy for this and was just using whatever I had in the house! When praying the rosary, we use a spiral book I had made at Kinkos with large pictures of each mystery of the Rosary which I explain and then the children can look at while we pray the decade. Since there was a big pile of candy in front of them and they were being so patient, we only prayed one decade together. I had hoped we would get to color Charlotte's Rosary coloring page, but we had to get ready to go to a neighborhood event. Maybe this weekend. Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for Us.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Creating Colors

With Little Saints this week, we learned all about colors. My kids loved this little project of making colors with a few drops of food coloring in water of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Then using an infant medicine dropper Pumpkin mixed a few drops of two colors each to make green, orange and purple. Then they painted paper towels and watercolor paper and the front porch itself with the colors. It was a breezy fall morning and we did this on the front porch, all of us still in our pajamas. I'm sure we were a sight, but they loved it and I didn't really care if they got food coloring on their pajamas or if the cups spilled all over the front porch. What a fun toddler/preschool activity to do anytime.
Let’s mix them up, Red, yellow, blue.
Let’s mix them up, Make colors new. Let’s mix them up, Red, yellow, blue.
Primary colors Are so cool!
Take a little red And some yellow too,
Mix them altogether And there’s orange for you. Mix a little yellow With a bit of blue,
And soon you’ll be seeing Green, it’s true.
Let’s mix them up, Red, yellow, blue.
Let’s mix them up, Make colors new. Take a little red And some blue too,
Mix them altogether And there’s purple for you.
Primary colors Are the key
Simply amazing As they can be. Let’s mix them up, Red, yellow, blue.
Let’s mix them up, Make colors new.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peaches & Pumpkin's Room - Finished

So after months of determining how I was going to decorate a bedroom for a little boy and girl to share and more months of actually finishing each little project, Pumpkin & Peaches' bedroom is finally finished. Peaches is still sleeping in the nursery and all her clothes are still there too. I will probably wait until the last minute before the new baby is born to move them in together so that sleeping remains as peaceful as possible for as long as possible.
So here's a little tour. Please pardon all the paint-brushed pictures. There are a lot of monogrammed things in the room, so I just wanted to blur out their real names. The white crib we have had, but all the other furniture is new. I love it and the bunk beds can be changed into two twin beds. The basic theme is green gingham with pale blue accents for Pumpkin and pale pink accents for Peaches. I got almost all the Pottery Barn Kids green gingham pieces from ebay (both used and new) and saved a bundle. I sewed the standard sham on the lower bunk from a fitted queen sheet I got on ebay (I haven't finished the top bunk sham yet). For some strange reason Pottery Barn Kids doesn't carry a standard sham in this pattern only a standard pillowcase, so that's why I had to sew it myself.
The only pieces I bought at the store are the panel curtains, which were marked down significantly because they didn't have the blackout liner. To save money I bought the blackout liner at the fabric store and sewed it onto the curtains myself. It is wonderful because the room can be made very dim at nap time even with the southern exposure through the windows.
The decorative pillows on their beds have their names and the date of their baptism on them.
I love these growth charts.
On the wall above the crib, there are 8 inch whimsical wall letters (that I also got from ebay)spelling out each of their names in the pale blue and pale pink. Underneath their names are frames I got from the hospital photographer of their newborn photo and birth date, weight, height and their newborn footprints.
Sitting on the end table are two of my favorite recent pictures of the two of them in black and white, sorry for the flash reflection.
On the tall dresser are Tiffany piggy banks (blue elephant and pink piggy) that my husband's boss bought each of them as a newborn gift. Also are pictures of each of them at about 6-7 months of age in their little winter buntings, blue and pink. I love these pictures because they are so similar and show their beautiful blue eyes. Also is the guardian angel statue I recently got for them, which I love because it has a little boy and a little girl nestled in the wings of the angel. Above the dresser is my favorite part of the room, these precious silhouettes of little children at play. I got these on ebay for about $1-3 each. I got the pale green matting and white frames on sale at Michael's.

So that is the tour. Thank you for letting me indulge. I just love how calm and peaceful the room is and all the light in it. Oh, I forgot to say we recently repainted it as it was a dark green making the room seem very small. Also the wall behind the bunk beds has that great wallpaper map of the world. I wish it could have been left open but there was no other way to arrange the furniture without the bunk beds covering the map. My next project will be changing the nursery just a little bit for the new baby, so I'll share pictures of that room later.

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