Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter!

Wishing you and yours a most blessed Easter!

A moment in Holy Week…


A moment in Holy Week...

It got awfully quiet in the house, and I found them “saying Mass.”

St. Joan of Arc Academy: Holy Week Sequence Cards


Yesterday, while trying to think of ideas for the kids to do during Holy Week, I came up with the idea of making some “sequence cards.”

I wrote down a list of the events that took place from Palm Sunday all the way to Ascension, and then I looked for paintings that matched those events.

The result?  Twenty-two paintings and events.  (I’m kicking myself for not ending with Pentecost–it’s on my to do list.)



How it works:  the kids look through the cards, starting with Palm Sunday, and they have to put the events in the order that they happened.


I even labeled the backs of the painting cards so the kids could sneak a peek if they were stuck.  I also laminated the cards to protect them for the next few years from tiny hands.


The end result?  One huge visual timeline that takes the kids through Holy Week up until Ascension.



I even got the chance to incorporate my favorite artist in the set of cards:  William-Adolphe Bouguereau.



The verdict?  The boys loved this activity.  They both eagerly put the cards into the visual timeline.  My 3 year-old loved looking through the cards and talking to me about each one, what she liked about it, what was happening, etc.


I hope you all have a wonderful Holy Week!

Palm Sunday Activities for Kids!

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This entire week, I’ve focused on nothing but Palm Sunday.  Since it is coming up this Sunday, I want the kids to fully understand what is going on, why we celebrate it, etc.

Starting on Monday, I read the Palm Sunday story from the Bible while the kids colored a coloring page.

Tuesday, I read the Palm Sunday story from their Catholic Children’s Bible while they colored two coloring pages:  this one, and then this one.

On Wednesday, we found some various clips of Palm Sunday scenes from different religious movies on Youtube (including the scene from “Jesus of Nazareth”), and the kids loved seeing the story “come to life” on the screen.

Today, the kids are coloring another coloring page of Palm Sunday (here) while we discuss some vocabulary words we keep hearing over and over each time we read the story of Palm Sunday.  I put together a Palm Sunday vocabulary sheet so my 7 year-old could start working with a dictionary, but also so the other two kids could get a good grasp on these words they keep hearing.

Palm Sunday Vocabulary

Tomorrow, we will finish out our week with (you guessed it) another coloring page while talking about Palm Sunday.  P will also work on the wordsearch because he’s pretty big into those at the moment.

We have also read all about Palm Sunday, the history of Palm Sunday celebrations, and what happens during the Mass out of Abbot Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year.”  We bought these for my husband a couple years ago for Father’s Day or something like that, and I have never cracked them open because I figured they would be too intimidating or–sorry–boring.  After e-mailing back and forth with CeAnne from Sanctus Simplicitus about the Liturgical year, she inspired me to break one open and give it a shot.


And my apologies to my husband who, for the last few years, has said things like, “Why don’t you just use ‘The Liturgical Year’ when talking to the kids about that?”




You can find the readings for free here.


Another book we have used is “The Life of Our Lord for Children” by Marigold Hunt.  I have to say, I love this book.  The title says it all–it goes through the life of our Lord, but the way in which the author tells the story is just great.




Another book we pulled out was “The Donkey That No One Could Ride” by Anthony DeStefano.

download (12)

So, our dining room is filled with all of their coloring sheets, and they have been very excited to talk about Palm Sunday each day.  E likes to tell me how a colt is a “BABY DONKEY!” and she can tell you the basic story of what happened on Palm Sunday, so something must be clicking.

Happy Thursday!




A Gardening Experiment–that worked!!


This year’s garden is in the beginning stages.

Since it snowed last year on May 1st, I have no idea when you’re supposed to plant anything anymore, so yes, we’re winging it.

I had saved empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls for a month or so to plant our little seeds.  I had read you can just sit those right in the ground, cover with dirt, and you’re good to go.

The kids and I planted the seeds one afternoon.

P is in charge of watermelon.  (His stomach can’t handle tomatoes right now, so I’m praying we get at least ONE watermelon out of the whole deal so he can say he grew something.  St. Fiacre–pray for us!)

D is in charge of orange tomatoes.   Why orange?  I don’t know, but he is SUPER excited about his orange tomatoes that he’s growing.

E is in charge of flowers.  Guess whose plants sprouted first?  Yes, she’s excited.

To add to the mix, we have planted:

  • cilantro (which never ever grows for me, so I don’t know why I continue to try)
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • cucumbers
  • pink tomatoes
  • yellow tomatoes
  • striped tomatoes

We planted the seeds in the little toilet paper rolls and have been patiently waiting while we baby them indoors and take them out during long stretches of sunshine.

BEFORE we started this whole gardening thing, however, we borrowed a Botany book put out by Apologia.  I made up some “plant notebooking sheets”, and I placed three pinto beans on wet paper towels in separate sandwich baggies and taped them to the kitchen window.  Within a few days, they were sprouting, and the kids drew and labeled the process to help understand what exactly is going on underneath the soil of our plants.

A couple days later,  I was staring at the toilet paper rolls, thinking, “What if they never sprout?  I would be so upset–I mean, the KIDS will be so upset.  Yes, the kids.  That’s what this is about.”

So, perhaps it’s because the husband and I have been binge watching episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” but suddenly I decided to try an experiment.

Those that know me might know that I don’t do random experiments.

Why?  Because I don’t like to waste materials if it doesn’t work.

And because I kind of don’t like being frustrated or failing.

But I was feeling brave this particular day.  If the beans sprouted in the window baggies, would any OTHER type of seeds sprout?

We had just read in this Botany book by Apologia that seeds actually need sun and water at first–not even soil.


An hour later, this was what my kitchen window looked like:

ImageI’m not sayin’ it’s pretty.

But I’m sayn’ it’s…effective!

The experiment worked!

Let’s take a peek over one of the baggies at some yellow tomato plants, shall we?




And here’s a look at some of the lettuce we’re growing:


How is our lone cucumber sprout coming along in the toilet paper rolls?



What about the cucumber seeds I had in the window baggies?



Forget this growing them in soil thing–next year, I’m hitting up more windows in this house to start the process and then transplant them when they start growing.  And I could start this process so much EARLIER in the year.

The kids are so excited to check the bags every couple of days, and I can’t WAIT to get these in the ground and get this garden going.

Next month, my awesome husband will be building me some raised garden boxes and a cucumber trellis.  We’re looking at 8 cucumber plants–so far.  If the others sprout, we’re going to be in the cucumber farming business, folks.  As for tomatoes, we currently have about ten that have sprouted through the use of baggies.  My hope was to get some going, and if we had an abundance of plants that “took,” we could give some to friends and family because I forget that ten tomato plants will have us choking on tomatoes by the end of the season.

The next few days are supposed to be a LOVELY 70+ degrees with nothing but sunshine, so here’s hoping this is what our toilet paper roll seeds are needing.


Interview with the Children


Me:  What is your favorite color?

P:  Green.
D:  Blue.
E:  Purple.


Me:  What is your favorite thing to play?

P:  My Lord of the Rings Wii game.
D:  Playing Mario on the Wii.
E:  Wrestling.


Me:  What is your favorite food?

P:  Eggplant Parmesan that I can’t eat.
D:  Pasta
E:  Mac and cheese.


Me:  What is your favorite song?

P:  The nuns singing.
D:  Mary had a little lamb.
E:  No.  Ask me what my favorite pillow is.
Me:  Okay.  What is your favorite pillow?
E:  Green.
Me:  Right.  What is your favorite song?
E:  I Love Lucy.


Me:  Who is your favorite saint?

P:  St. Patrick
D:  St. Paul
E:  Mary.


Me:  What’s your favorite thing about Mom?

P:  Ohhhh!  My favorite thing about Mom is that she makes my breakfast.
D:  That she takes care of us all the time.
E:  Hugging her.


Me:  What’s your favorite thing about Dad?

P:  My favorite thing about Dad is that he watches us ride our bikes.
D:  That he goes to work and gets money for us so we can buy food.
E:  Giving him kisses.


Me:  What is your favorite drink?

P:  Soda.
D:  Sprite.
E:  Wine.


What is your favorite thing to wear?

P:  My altar boy cassock.
D:  My hoodie.
E:  Cloaks.


Me:  What do you want to be when you grow up?

P:  I want to be a monk.
D:  I want to be a dad.
E:  A grown-up.
Me:  Yes, but what do you want to do when you’re a grown-up?
E:  The dishes.



Me:  What is your favorite movie?

P:  Oh, no–so many choices.  “The War of the Vendee.”
D:  My favorite movie is “The Hobbit.”
E:  “Super Why.”


Me:  What are your favorite shoes to wear?

P:  Mass shoes.
D:  My fast shoes.
E:  Cowgirl boots.


Me:  What is your favorite thing about fishing with Dad?

P:  Um…um…that I get to fish.
D:  That I catch a lot of fish.
E:  Um….fishing?


Me:  What do you think the new baby is going to be like?

P:  He’s going to be noisy.
D:  He’s going to be funny.
E:  I think he’s going to scribble on paper.


Me:  What is your favorite holiday?

P:  My favorite holiday?  Christmas.
D:  My favorite holiday is Christmas.
E:  Being in the night.


Me:  What is your favorite book?

P:  Lord of the Rings.
D:  My favorite book is…the duck book.  “THAT’S NOT MY BROTHER!”
E:  The SuperWhy one.
Me:  We don’t have a SuperWhy book.
E:  Yes.  Yes, we do.


Me:  What is your favorite fruit?

P:  Oranges.
D:  Apples.
E:  Strawberries.


Me:  What is your favorite dessert?

P:  Chocolate cake.
D:  Vanilla cake.
E:  Strawberries.


Me:  What is your favorite vegetable?

P:  Corn.
D:  Brussel sprouts.
E:  Broccoli.


Me:  What is your favorite toy?

P:  My lego eagle thing.
D:  Legos.
E:  A fireman.


Me:  Do you like riding your bike?

P:  Yes.
D:  I like it.
E:  Yeah…I guess.  Sometimes.


Me:  What’s your favorite chore?

P:  Doing laundry.
D:  Picking up.
E:  I like to see those shows.


Me:  What is your favorite day of the week?

P:  Sunday.
D:  Monday.
E:  Sunday.


Me:  What is your favorite animal?

P:  The lionfish.
D:  An eel.
E:  Rhino.


Me:  What is your favorite thing to draw?

P:  Feet.
D:  Books.
E:  Nothing.


Me:  What is your favorite thing to do in school?

P:  To color.
D:  Nothing.
E:  Nuffing.


Me:  What is your favorite bug?

P:  I don’t like bugs.
D:  Every single bug.


Me:  What is your favorite thing about going to Mimi and Papa’s house?

P:  To wrestle with Papa.
D:  To ride on Papa’s back like a horse.
E:  Playing with the toys.


Me:  What is your favorite thing about going to Googie and Papi’s house?

P:  I get to see Gus the dog.
D:  Eating dinner.
E:  To play with Gus.


Me:  What is something that makes you mad?

P:  When someone messes up my drawings.
D:  Hitting.

Me:  Do you like to talk to strangers?

P:  NO!
D:  Yes.  Sometimes.
E:  [shakes head "no"]


Me:  What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

P:  Raisin Bran.
D:  Cheerios.
E:  Cheerios.


Me:  If you were stranded on a desert island like Giligan, what would you bring with you?

P:  Rope.
D:  An ax.
E:  A pillow.


Me:  If you could say one thing to the President of the United States, what would you say?

P:  Stop saying bad things.
D:  Do holy things.
E:  Silly things.


Me:  If you could say one thing to the Pope, what would you say to him?

P:  If he was living in France, I’d tell him to go back to Rome.
D:  You are a good priest.
E:  I have a rope.


Me:  What is your favorite painting that we have studied this year?

P:  The Last Supper
D:  The horses by Degas.
E:  The people.


Me:  Who is your best friend?

P:  Clara.
D:  Hayden.
E:  Um, Hayden?
Me:  Do you even know who that is?
E:  Nope.


What is your favorite board game to play?

P:  Agricola.
D:  Ora et Labora.


Me:  What do you want to name the baby?

P:  Whitey Clare.
D:  Whitey France.
E:  Jo-fis.



All answers were written verbatim.

Ages of the kids:  P (7), D (5), and E (3).




My Mary Suitcase…


Growing up, I went to several different churches with different friends:  non-denominational, Baptist (several), Methodist, Catholic, etc.

I noticed very quickly there was a difference between the Catholic church and all of the other churches that really stood out immediately:  lack of devotion/respect for Mary.

In fact, it was almost as if teaching us that Mary was NOT special and stressing that we should NOT have a devotion to her (because remember–Catholics “worshiped” her, and we don’t want to be like that, now do we?) was a big part of the teaching around Christmas time.

I never understood this.

When I was in the process of becoming Catholic, I felt I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

THIS was the place where, apart from SO MANY OTHER ASPECTS of the religion, Mary was given honor.  And devotion.

Worship?  No–that’s set aside for God alone.

But honor, respect, and devotion?  It only seemed right since, you know, she did bear the Son of God.

She was immaculately conceived?  It only made sense.

She was assumed into Heaven?  How could she NOT be?

Ahhhhhhh.  This was the life.

Shortly after becoming Catholic, I was reading a book on devotion to Mary, and it stressed going to her in all your needs.  She IS the mother of Christ–and, as He showed as at the Wedding of Cana, He will do what she asks of Him.

Nice!  It was like a wonderful new world had just been opened up–until I tried this.

As I started to ask Mary to help me with (name a problem), I felt a dark cloud push through and hover over my brain.

“Are you…PRAYING…to Mary?!”

“If you’re PRAYING to her, isn’t that kind of WORSHIPING her?!”

“Have fun in hell, sucka!”

Um, yes–I brought with me some non-Catholic baggage.  Twenty-two years of baggage.

I tried to fight through these feelings, but they wouldn’t go away.

I came to a resolution:  Fine.  I’ll just ask her to pray FOR me.  That’s totally different and could never be confused with worshiping her because I ask all the saints to pray for me all the time, and I’ve never felt funny about THAT.



Eat that.

There we go–I could sleep at night.

I have now been Catholic for 9 years.  It has taken me the entire 9 years to slowly shed that baggage I brought with me, and I’m still pulling suitcases out of the trunk.  (Just ask my husband–I don’t pack light.)

In the past month, however, it was my 3 year-old daughter who completely opened my eyes to just how beautiful having a devotion to Mary can be.

After Mass, my husband had started a tradition of taking the kids up to the Communion rail and just saying a few prayers.  Throughout the years, they now don’t need to be prompted–they LOVE going.

E especially loves heading over to the side altar with the statue of Mary on it.  The past month or so, we kept hearing her say something about, “Mary,” and “ABC’s.”  We finally realized one day that she was asking Mary to help her learn her ABC’s.

[Pause here while my eyes fill up with tears at the pure innocence seeping out of my little girl.]

Aaaaaaaannndddd  I’m back.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I mentioned to E that I couldn’t order her any new school books for next year if she didn’t learn to identify her ABC’s.

Within a few days (and prayers said nightly by her to Mary about learning her ABC’s), the girl nailed every single flash card.

When she got done, and I was busy praising her, she said, “SEE?!  MARY HELPED ME!”

[Pause here.  I've got to grab the Kleenex.]


Okay.  Where were we?

So, that night and the next few nights, I made sure to remind her to THANK Mary for helping her with her ABC’s–which she did.

Her next request?  Please help her to learn to WRITE her ABC’s.

This is the girl who only a short time ago, would make an E with a stem and about forty prongs coming off of it, and she could make an “O.”  Other than that?  Nada.

So, every time after Mass, she heads to the side altar and asks Mary to help her write her ABC’s.

This last week, the child has sat at the dining room table while the boys were busy with school and practiced writing her ABC’s.  The determination, the concentration–it’s been an absolute joy to watch this unfold.

Then the other day, she wrote every one of her ABC’s.  Every…single…one.  I only wish I had a picture of the paper because it got lost in the shuffle of all the paper that gets thrown away every day.

But every…single…letter.

Once again, she reminded me that Mary helped her.

Then today she walked into the kitchen where I was doing a mad freezer cooking sesh, and she said, “LOOK!  I WROTE MY NAME!”


Now, her name is surely not “Elo,” but if anyone knows her actual name, she’s off to a pretty good start–which is interesting since we haven’t talked about any letter in her name except for the “E.”

“Mary helped me again!”

Yes.  Yes, she did.

And you asked for her help without ANY reservations.  Without ANY baggage.  With pure innocence and a wide open and trusting heart.

It has only been while watching my daughter’s faith unfold that I have felt myself zipping up that suitcase–the one that said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING–ARE YOU WORSHIPING HER?!”–and kicking it out to the curb.

Mary was the chosen mother.

God knew she was going to be the mother of Christ since…forever.

At the Wedding of Cana, she told her Son to fix the situation:  the couple had run out of wine, which could have been incredibly embarrassing for the couple.

Christ could have said no.  He could have asked her if she was out of her mind.

But He didn’t.

He changes large basins of water into wine–because she told Him to.

And while He suffered and died on the Cross, she stood underneath Him, her heart being pierced with a sword.  While struggling to breathe, He tells St. John, “Behold Thy Mother.”

Not because St. John and Jesus were brothers, but because one of the very last gifts He chose to give us was His mother.

Out of all the gifts we’ve received from anyone in our entire life, shouldn’t this be the one we treasure?  The one we cherish?  Christ, suffering on the Cross, gives us His own mother.

Who are we to say, “Nah.  I’m good.  Wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m worshiping her or liking her a little too much.  Thanks, though.  Nice thought.”

My daughter, who is only 3, has accepted this gift without even knowing it.

And I have been incredibly inspired by her to accept that gift as well.


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