Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Link Up for Our Lady of Guadalupe

As part of the ongoing Liturgical Calendar Link up Party I’ve been participating in, Silvia at Homeschooling Católico is hosting a link up for the upcoming feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe.  She is opening the link up on December 1; everyone is invited to join the fun, so if you blog about Nuestra Señora, go attach your link.  Click on the button on the left sidebar, or at the end of this post for more information.  Silvia blogs in Spanish, but includes the Google Translator on her page for those who don’t read Spanish.  My post will be in English, as will others, so be sure to go and check out the links.

I recently added The Google Translator to the left sidebar of my blog; you should also see a bar at the top of the page if your language is not listed as English for the computer you are using.  If you use the translator, please tell me how well it works for you.  And, welcome!  My participation in the Liturgical Calendar Link ups has brought many Spanish language readers to this blog.  I also have readers from Russia, Germany, Italy, France, and many other countries.  I hope the translation feature makes this blog more enjoyable for all my international readers.

If you don’t already know, Our Lady of Guadalupe is an incarnation of Mary, also known as the Patroness of the Americas.  She appeared to an Aztec Indian, now known as Saint Juan Diego, asking him to deliver a message to the local bishop to build a shrine in her honor on the holy site for the native goddess Tonantzin, on the summit of Tepayec.  The miracles she performed to convince the bishop to comply with her wishes were also instrumental in convincing many native Mexicans to embrace Catholicism while maintaining their native identity.  Her image, given to us as one of her miracles, is so revered that it is duplicated in many ways: as photographs, as murals, on shirts, as figurines, on banners, and even as tattoos, car dashboard ornaments and night lights.

My blog post for this feast will explain how to make a plaque as a family from items you already have at home.  This is a great way to teach children about the importance of Nuestra Señora as well as provide a(nother) visible reminder about Mary’s holiness in your home.  You can read it here.

You can see more information about this and the other link ups for the Liturgical Calendar, or volunteer to host one yourself, by clicking on the buttons below.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Faith Activities for Advent and Books

You can read the first part of this post here.

In addition to more daily activities for advent, I’m starting with a couple of things you can do with your children throughout the season.  If you are looking for calendars your children can color or mark with stickers day by day, or even week by week, you can find them all over the blogosphere.  We are going to use some in Spanish courtesy of Juan Carlos García Caballero at Educar con Jesús.  Scroll down to see the Advent word game sheets and links to on-line Advent puzzles (my girls think the puzzles are so much fun).

A more involved activity that will take you through the advent season is to make ornaments for a Jesse tree, along with reading the bible scriptures associated with each.  Together, the scriptures and the associated symbols show how many events in the bible lead up to the story of Jesus and his birth through the centuries.  Vee has drawn and posted at Paper Dali a set of ornaments for coloring with the associated scripture readings, which makes this project much easier.  You can download them here.  My children will be coloring these ornaments this year, and they have decided to hang them on the decorative ribbons we place on the Christmas tree each year.  Traditionally, these are displayed on their own “tree.”  I may use ribbon to hang them in a tree shape instead.  Look for an update, and share your ideas.

Here are more activity ideas for your Advent Calendar.  I start with an activity we did for Thanksgiving last year, but I think it works for Advent also.  I have forgotten where I first saw the idea for the tree pictured below, but I know I’ve seen it on several blogs.  We just cut a tree and leaves out of construction paper, wrote our thankful messages, and glued everything together.  The falling leaves say “Tree of Thankfulness” in Spanish.

Give thanks to God for your family and other parts of your life./ Dar gracias a Dios por su familia y otras partes de su vida.

Go to confession and repent.  Wait for Christmas with a pure heart./ Ir a confesarse y arrepentirse. Esperar a Navidad con un corazón puro.

Look for Christmas books at the library./ Busque libros de Navidad en la biblioteca.

Participate in or visit a live nativity./ Participar en o visitar un nacimiento vivo.

Listen to the story of Saint Nicolas and look for things to give to others./ Escucha la historia de San Nicolás y buscar cosas para dar a otros.

Think about the angels that deliver God’s messages and make an angel craft or two./ Piense en los ángeles que envían mensajes de Dios y hacer una arte ángel o dos.

Think about how Jesus is the light of the world./Piensa acerca de cómo Jesús es la luz del mundo.
Color the paper doll images for las posadas./Pinta las muñecas de papel para las posadas. (You can find Vee’s paper dolls for las posadas for sale here.)

Sing Christmas songs./ Cantar canciones de Navidad.

Decorate the Christmas tree and pray a blessing for it./ Decora el árbol de Navidad y orar una bendición para él.

A list of Advent events for the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston inspired some of these activities.  See the list here.

Also, as promised, here is a list of our favorite books for the season.  Hay varios que son bilingües o en español.

The Gift of the Poinsettia by Pat Mora/bilingüe
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola /Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe por Tomie dePaola
A Piñata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora/bilingüe
Saint Nicolas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer

If you decide to purchase any of these books, please use the Amazon links provided in the left sidebar, where you can click and see pricing information.  Any purchase you make through Amazon by linking from this site will earn me a commission.  I am more than willing to provide all this information free of charge, but selling through Amazon is a way of compensating me for the time I spend researching and writing this blog.  Your consideration is appreciated, especially if you intend to purchase from Amazon anyway.  More information here.

Here is a list of books we are going to try out this season.  Let me know if you have read any of these and how you liked them!  Si me pueden recomendar libros de Navidad en español, por favor dime los que te gustan.

Christmas Remembered by Tomie dePaola
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola /La Leyenda de la flor de Nochebuena por Tomie dePaola
N is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya/bilingüe
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola

If you need an idea for an advent wreath, go here. 

In 2012 I am linking with:

In 2011, I linked with:

The Advent Link Up hosted by Xhonané at Familia Católica. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Writing News

Here’s a list of my news.  Announcements about writing competitions follow.

  • My poem “Bat Bridge” is scheduled for publication in the anthology Improbable Worlds from Mutabilis Press.  The launch party for the book is December 2.
  • My chapbook, scheduled for publication later this month, is going through the editing process.
  • I have recently updated nearly all of my Pages (blue tabs above), and I’ve included two new pages.  See “My Publications” for more information about the two bullets above.  See “Upcoming Events” for details about my reading in Chicago next February.  I hope you will check back later for updated information about these publications and my event.
  • The new “Audio” page contains the links for two radio programs I recorded this year.  Go listen.
  • The new “Previous Events” page contains a record of the poetry readings I have participated in recently: who, when, and where.  Each event contains links to the sponsoring organizations, all of which are worth reading about.
  • A new poem that I have mentioned in previous blog entries, “My Hurricane Ike Story,” was very well received at my most recent reading.  This poem is not quite finished, and I am considering a change to the title.  Look for more details in a later post.
  • My recent decision to participate in religious link ups has brought me lots of new readers, including many whose primary language is Spanish.  ¡Bienvenidos!  Welcome, new readers.  November may be the month with the most hits ever.  Thank you for your interest and support.  Keep those comments coming.
  • I will continue to post about healthy eating and living, especially over the semester break, so if this is your main interest, keep reading.  And, let me know what you are interested in seeing.


You will notice a common theme below that I find particularly inspiring: art influenced by other art.  I often use other writing, art, music ,or dance to jump start my creative process.  If you have never tried this, here is  your chance.

  • The Rice Gallery is sponsoring an ekphrastic writing event titled “Words & Art.”  Ekphrastic writings are inspired by a work of art.  The Rice Gallery invites you to visit their current exhibit (no charge), write something inspired by the art, and read at their event on November 30.  More information here (scroll down), and on the Words & Art Facebook page.  If you miss the deadline to be a featured reader, you can still perform at the open mic.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Public Poetry are sponsoring ARTlines, an Ekphrastic Poetry Competition open to Texas residents.  View the participating artworks online and submit your poem by December 30.  Winners will be featured during a program in April and in print and recorded exhibits at the museum.  Details here.
  • Submit to the Texas Poetry Calendar 2013.  Deadline February 21.  Details here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Faith Activities for an Advent Calendar

The month before Christmas is the perfect time to emphasize lessons about faith as a way to decrease the influence of commercialism on your family.  Children tend to look forward to the toys and other gifts they will receive, but participating in faithful activities as a family can remind them that we celebrate the many gifts God has given us when we commemorate the birth of Jesus.

A few years ago, I started making a list of daily activities for my children to do during Advent as a way to help them count the days until Christmas and learn more about our faith.  I have relied on a number of sources for help with these activity lists, including some at Hubbard's Cupboard that were researched by my friend Jen.  I wish I could say I remember the sources of everything I will share with you here, but I do not.  If you recognize something that needs a credit to the original creator of that idea, please let me know. 

A fun way to organize your list of activities that resembles a traditional Advent calendar is to write or type them out on strips of paper and place each one inside a pocket of some kind.  I use the calendar below that we bought on clearance after Christmas a few years ago.  My children also enjoy creating and recreating the Nativity scene on top; each piece attaches with Velcro and can be moved around.

We just happened to find this calendar, but if you don’t have one, you can make your own string of “pockets” by purchasing baby socks with Christmas designs or colors and clip them onto a pretty ribbon with small laundry pins.  Then, hang your calendar within reach of your children and fill each sock with an activity slip.  If you hang Christmas stockings on the mantle, this type of calendar will complement them nicely.  My friend Jen hangs hers on a bookshelf.

Here is a list of some of the activities I have included the last few years.  I will list them in English and Spanish, since I type them in Spanish for my children each year.

Make the Advent wreath and light one candle./Haz la corona de Adviento y prende una vela. 

Listen to the story of the candy cane and think about what its shape represents./Escucha la historia de la caña de azúcar y pensa en lo que se forma representa.

Make cookies in the shape of angels, stars, and crosses./Haz galletas en forma de ángeles, estrellas, cañas de azúcar y cruces.

Listen to the story of Mary, Jesus’s mother./Escucha la historia de Maria, la madre de Dios.  

Listen to the story of Saint Juan Diego and make a paper doll image of him./Escucha la historia de San Juan Diego & haz una imagen de muñeca de papel de él.

Pray the rosary to Our Lady of Guadalupe./Ora el rosario a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Give thanks to God for Christmas trees and for eternal life./Dile gracias a Dios para los árboles de Navidad y la vida eterna. 

Listen to the Gospel of Luke 2: 1-20 and draw the nativity./Escucha el Evangelio de Lucas 2:1-20 y dibujar la natividad.

Listen to the story of the Little Drummer Boy and think about the gifts we can give to Jesus./Escucha la historia del Tamborilero y pensa en los regalos que podemos dar a Jesús.

I have listed just a few ideas; if you have others, I hope you will share them.  Even though my calendar pictured above starts on December 1, Advent begins on November 27, just over two weeks away.  (For 2012, Advent begins on December 2.)  Until then, I’ll be busy thinking up new activities that I will post here, hopefully before then, along with a list of some of our favorite books for the Advent and Christmas seasons.  See the second part of this post here.

If you need an idea for an advent wreath, go here.

In 2011, I linked with:

Advent Link Up hosted by Xhonané at Familia Católica
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