Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

It's the home stretch! Easter is one week away! Quick! Cram in everything we slacked on doing halfway through Lent!
Actually... We're not. I have crafts and activities for Holy Week, but I'm taking a relaxed approach. We'll do them if we want to. 

We did go to Soup and Stations at church on Friday... Well, just the soup part, because starting Stations of the Cross at 7pm with our crew would not make for a very holy experience. But we did walk around the rosary garden outside the church before going home... And the Stations of the Cross are conveniently nailed to the trees around the garden, so we did our own little version... Complete with pauses to look at lady bugs and spontaneous 3-year-old prayer. 

We did manage a Palm Sunday craft this weekend... Jesus riding into Jerusalem on his trusty steed. We even got palms from outside to wave and sing Hosanna!
Anthony was the only one who wanted to do it at first, and he enjoyed one-on-one craft time with me. 
Eventually, Ellie and Katie made theirs too. 

It's also fun to make crosses out of the palms from Mass. I got crafty with mine and wove them to make this. 
Paul made some traditional ones for the kids. 

I'm hoping to make it to Good Friday Mass with Ellie this week. I miss going to all of the Triduum. It'll be easier when the kids are older. As St. Frances of Rome said, “It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping." 

Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week!

Monday, March 16, 2015


Another way we prepare ourselves for Easter is by performing some of the acts of mercy, and the corporal acts of mercy are more tangible to the kids, so we have focused on those, specifically:
  • To feed the hungry
  • To give drink to the thirsty
  • To clothe the naked
Which means we are back to handing out bags of useful items for the homeless people we see on our drive home from school. Ellie made some cards that she placed in each bag, and we hope that she helps brighten their days.

I always feel sad when I see these people on the street corners. Sad and helpless because I really don't know what else I can do to help them. 

We also went through our toys and clothes, and I was overwhelmed by our surplus. Everything is still in good shape, yet we don't need so much, so I hope these things can bless other people who need them more than we do. Plus it was so cathartic to declutter!

Truthfully, we should be doing works of mercy throughout the year and not just during Lent, especially since my kids go through stages of ungratefulness several times in a year. Lately I've been struggling with managing the ennui of the privileged that my kids have been displaying (maybe more on that later if I am up for baring my soul), and I am frustrated with the fact that life can feel so difficult despite the fact that we have our every need met and then some. 

As for me, I need a little more of the Spiritual Works of Mercy in practice in my life. I totally lost my cool with my kids several times today. They haven't been perfect, but neither have I, and I have a hard time recovering from the all-too-frequent moments when they cause me to lose my temper. I'm normally not this on edge, so something's gotta give. I need to remember that it is an act of mercy
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
We made beaded crosses today, and the initial intent was to make sacrifice beads too, like St. Therese of Lisieux, but the girls just wanted to string beads for necklaces. 

I, however, did make some sacrifice beads because I think I need them to help me adjust my attitude this Spring Break. It didn't start out very well, and if I'm going to stay mad at these kids, it'll be a really long week. I'd much rather enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Stations of the Cross

Lent is at about the halfway point. Our zeal for the season and eagerness to sacrifice has lost some of its intensity, but we continue to prepare ourselves for Easter in little ways, like listening to Holy Heroes in the car on the way to school and making crafts to remind us of Jesus' sacrifice. One project that we recently finished was our Stations of the Cross "stained glass windows." 
There was a moderate amount of prepwork that went into these, but I just love them. 
First, I drew the silhouettes of each station (and frames) and cut them out on black cardstock. Then, I stuck the cutouts on contact paper, and the kids put tissue paper squares on the leftover sticky parts. 
I made sure to just do one at a time because I didn't want the kids to get tired of making their craft and then end up with sticky contact paper lying around. It took us a few days to do them all. 
Once they had covered all the gaps, I put another piece of contact paper on the opposite side, and voilá! Our very own stained glass window!

Here are all the stations, in order:
1. Jesus is condemned to die. 

2. Jesus takes up his cross. 

3. Jesus falls the first time.

4. Jesus meets his mother. 

5. Simon helps Jesus carry his cross. 

6. Veronica wipes Jesus' face. 

7. Jesus falls the second time. 

8. Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem. 

9. Jesus falls the third time. 

10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes. 

11. Jesus is nailed on the cross. 

12. Jesus dies on the cross. 

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross. 

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb. 

Now they are all hanging in my kitchen windows. May they remind us of Jesus' great love for us. 

Next up: Corporal Acts of Mercy

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A New Creation

Today, the Littles and I made a Lenten craft. They might not grasp all the symbolism behind it, but that won't stop me from talking about Jesus with them and hopefully planting the seeds of faith in their hearts. 

We started with a black bumpy lump (that kinda looks like a sheep!) It's dark, like sin. Black and not so nice to look at (don't mind the bits of paint at the top; I took this picture a little too late). Let's see what Jesus, the Good Shepherd does for His sheep! 
Jesus died for us and washed away our sins (with His blood), so we used red pompoms to sponge white paint over the black lumpy sheep. I actually didn't go into much detail with them since they are only 2 and 3. We just talked about Jesus making the darkness go away and replacing it with His bright light. 
After the paint dried, we added eyes and legs and ears, and our sheep was a new creation in Christ! Here's Katie's*
This was a simple activity that my usually craft-resistant Littles actually liked doing (probably because they love painting and always end up painting their hands once they're done with paper!). 

*Take another look at Katie's sheep. It's an aerial view of a sheep. When I cut out the shapes, I had intended the sheep to be looking to the side, only needing one eye, one ear on the front and the other poking up from the back, and all legs on the bottom, but my Katie sees things in her own way, and she put together her sheep as if she was looking down to it. Or maybe as God looks down from Heaven. I am in awe at the way God uses Katie to challenge my perspective. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

La-la la-la!

Whenever I make character cakes, I have the habit of humming or singing or whistling the theme song to the show of the character I'm working on. So "Elmo's World" and the "Sesame Street" theme could be heard in my kitchen as I made this cake. 

Italian meringue buttercream on a chocolate chip cake (same as the pink petal cake) and fondant to decorate and cover. 

The sign was the most labor-intensive part. I even took the time to make a paper template to make it perfect, and my exacto knife was my best friend. I think it looks great. 

Once the cake was covered, Elmo's nose needed some support as it dried onto the cake. 

I initially attached the eyes with some space between them, but it just didn't look right, and after browsing some images on Google, I realized that Elmo's eyes are together... Ta-da!

One of my goals this year was to sell 3 cakes. One down, two more to go!

It's cloudy outside today, but I hope Vivienne has a wonderful birthday celebration, and may her Two-Year-old year be filled with "Sunny Days, sweepin' the clouds away!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pink petals

A dear friend's youngest daughter (whom we sometimes refer to as Anthony's girlfriend) just turned two, and unfortunately she wasn't able to have a big birthday celebration due to the passing of her godfather. My heart is heavy for my friend and her family, but there isn't much I can do beyond pray and listen. 
I suppose I could also make a cake for birthday girl. So I did. Just a tiny uncomplicated cake. 
I hope it is a little bright spot during these sad times. 

It's a chocolate chip cake with Italian meringue buttercream (I had never made it before... I like it!), and I had always wanted to try the petals-with-a-spoon technique. It's not perfect, but I think it turned out nice. 
Fun fact: I tried to match the colors to a hat I knitted for birthday girl back when she was a baby. In fact, I liked it so much, I made a hat just like it for my Katie. 

If you can, please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Aaron, and may the Lord comfort his wife and sons as they grieve.