Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dramatize the Visitation and Answer Where Babies Come from

This Thursday, May 31, the Church commemorates the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.  Following the Annunciation, Mary discovers that Elizabeth is indeed expecting her first child after many years without a pregnancy.  Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth’s son, John the Baptist, leaps for joy in her womb, filling Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit.  She calls Mary “blessed among all women,” recognizing her as the Mother of God.  You can find this story in the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 39 - 45.

We will dramatize the Visitation using our Mary Spoon Puppets.  

They are very easy to make; you just need some wooden spoons, pieces of cloth, painter’s tape, and yarn.  Click on the link above or photo below to go to my post for directions.  

To convert one of our puppets into Elizabeth, we placed a toy ball under her dress and tied it in place with yarn.

For our dramatization, we will read the story from Luke and use our puppets to demonstrate.  The book Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wangerin, Jr. also contains a version of this story; the book begins with The Annunciation and covers the events through the Holy Family’s return to Nazareth from Egypt.  You can learn more about this book by clicking on the image of Mary and the infant Jesus in the Children’s Book Carousel in the left sidebar.  FYI: when you click on the book image, you will open a window to the Amazon website.

Read about how we used our spoon puppets to dramatize the Annuciation here.

The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah is also a good way to teach children about the role of prayer in family life.  Luke 1:13 reveals that God answered the prayers of Elizabeth and Zechariah that they may have a child after many years without children.

This chapter of Luke also contains a very good answer to the question “where do babies come from?”  For very young children, the answer, “God,” is often the best because it is truthful and uncomplicated.  I am anticipating that my three year old will ask some version of this question and many others because we are expecting an addition to our extended family, a cousin for my two daughters.  My answer, when she asks, will be that her aunt and uncle prayed to God for a baby and He answered their prayers.

I’m linking this post with Equipping Catholic Families.  Monica hosts a Saints Cele-linky organized by month.

This post is also linked to the Catholic Bloggers Network Round up.  Remember to go visit the other links there and vote with your mouse for this month’s Big Clicks Award.

I have attached this post to the Tea with Saint Anne Link up hosted by Jennifer at Crafolic.  This link up is for posts that help to grow the Domestic Church and encourage a faith centered home.

Holly at A Life-Size Catholic Blog hosts a monthly Pay It Forward Link Up, so I am connecting there in June also.  Her link up is a great forum for sharing the ideas you have found on other blogs; click on my links above to find the original inspirations for the spoon puppets and the angel puppet.  I hope you will go see what others are paying forward this month at the link below.

And, I am connecting with the First Friday Link up for June hosted by Lacy at Catholic Icing.   

Martianne, whose own post inspired my Mary spoon puppets, has graciously invited me to join her weekly link up about Faith Formation in Young Children, so you will find me linked to her post about Mealtime Prayers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This blog is one year old today.  What a year it has been!  I started with a couple of introductory posts and then dove right into a topic that I have been researching for several years, the cancer preventative diet.  I spent the summer blogging about healthy eating, healthy living, growing and preserving food, how my children spend their time, my poetry and the writing process, and advocating for some of my favorite causes.  In October, I agreed to participate in a series of Catholic Liturgical Calendar Link ups and then wrote about the faith more often.  A year later, I am still blogging about all these topics, and I’m hosting a link up that is part of the Liturgical series mentioned above.

Thank you for reading, especially if you have been with me since the beginning.  Welcome to my newer readers.  I hope all of you will continue to enjoy this blog in the year to come!  I plan to soon write about many of the topics mentioned above, particularly healthy eating, healthy living, and Catholicism.  That is the mothering and teaching part of Tercets (see my blog title and description above).

As for the writing part of Tercets, I will continue to update you my writing projects and news.  Click on the picture of my book in the right sidebar or the My Publications tab above for more about my writing.   On that note, if you go to the BorderSenses website, you will see three pictures of me in their rotating slideshow.  These pictures were taken during the AWP Conference at the BorderSenses table; my fellow panelists and I were conferring about our presentation, signing books, and meeting people.  Also, my friend and our panel moderator Katie Hoerth is the featured author on their page right now.  You can read about her new book in the box on the lower left of the BorderSenses website.

I have mentioned before how refreshing it is to have readers, which can be an elusive and fickle thing for a poet.  While I am aware that many blogs are read more often than mine, I am thrilled to see in my stats that I get about thirty hits a day, sometimes many more.  This equates to about 1200 page reads a month, more per month than I received the entire first three months of blogging.  Many of these visits occur because I have linked to another blog or another blog has linked to me.  You can therefore expect me to link up as much as I can over the summer, and to join networks of other bloggers with the hope of bringing new readers to the blog.

If you are one of those readers who has found me through the link ups, I hope you will follow this blog (left sidebar) or subscribe via e-mail (right sidebar) if you have not done so already.  Also, please share this blog with friends who may be interested in any of the topics I write about (see the label cloud on the right for more information about my subject matter).  You can easily share this post or the whole blog by using the social media or e-mail icons at the end of every post, in the right sidebar, and at the very bottom of the blog.

If you have suggestions or comments about the topics I write about or you think I should write about, I look forward to reading them.  If you also blog, consider participating in a blog roll exchange with me.  I’ll list your blog in my blog roll if you list mine in yours (see the left sidebar).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catholic Book Review: El Año Litúrgico en Familia

Last December, I bought a book written by my friend Xhonané Olivas and her husband Miguel, The Liturgical Year in the Family (my translation), as a resource for teaching my children about Catholicism.  Xhonané blogs at Familia Católica about this very topic, and the book builds upon the blog by including even more information.  

This book is in Spanish, which works for us because we speak Spanish at home.  If you don’t speak Spanish, maybe you know a family or catechist that does?

The book begins with an explanation of The Liturgical Calendar, its seasons, colors, and celebrations, including the significance of and differences between Feast Days, Memorials, and Solemnities.  You read about how the Olivas Family integrates the Liturgical Calendar and the teachings of the Church into their daily life and into their homeschool education.

Each season of the Liturgical Calendar is fully addressed in its own chapter, complete with explanations, pictures, educational activities, crafts, coloring pages, and links to additional activities on the blog.  Each chapter is organized the same way, making the entire book easy to navigate when you are looking for something in particular.  All of the coloring and writing pages are together in the Appendix.

Here are a few of the pages my children colored for Lent.  This is a partially filled out list of Lenten Goals in the categories of fasting and self denial, prayer and reflection, and donations to charity.

And this is a fill in calendar for Lent that helps children count the days to Easter.

You can find many similar activities for each Liturgical Season in the book.  One section in each chapter also demonstrates with photos how the Olivas Family decorates their home and displays their faith for each season with the altars, banners, drawings, crafts, and prayer aids the children make as they learn the faith.

Even though I continue to use Xhonané’s blog as a resource to teach my children, I feel that the book provides valuable information that is not available on the blog and the book can help me find something on the blog by enabling me to click directly to specific blog pages.  I highly recommend the book to any Spanish speaking family or catechist.

Honestly, I don’t have any negative impressions of the book; it is very well organized, includes clear explanations, and is distinctive enough from the blog to make it worth owning.  My only suggestion would be to include a section of suggested books or websites for further reading on various topics that would enable readers to enhance their knowledge of the faith; these could be listed for adults and children. 

If you do not speak or read Spanish, perhaps you know a family or catechist that does; it would make a wonderful gift to a couple just starting their family or a new catechist.  Also, Xhonané’s blog, Familia Católica, is a great resource for anyone looking for information and activities to teach the faith; the Google Translator Gadget is available on the blog for numerous languages.  In fact, if your computer is set to a language other than Spanish, the Google Translator will appear at the top of the blog offering to translate the page for you. 

You can see a preview of the book for free or purchase El Año Litúrgico en Familia as a PDF for $19.99 here.  For copies sold this final week of the Easter season, the Olivas family is donating 75% of the price to the Catholic news agency Zenit.  They are also donating copies to priests and religious brothers and sisters.  You can read about these donations here.  You can read more about Zenit here.  This is another way to add to Sunday’s second collection for the Catholic Communications Campaign by benefitting a very dedicated Catholic news service with your purchase.

Disclaimer: I purchased my copy of El Año Litúrgico en Familia for personal use at a discounted price in return for participating in several raffles of the book hosted by the authors.  As a condition of participating in the raffles, I promoted the book on social media.  I have chosen to review this book because I have personally found it useful and worthy of sharing with others and I published the review at this time because I support the authors’ wish to donate proceeds.  The authors did not ask me to review the book, nor did they expect a review when they offered me a discounted price.  You can read more about my Review Policies here.

This post is linked to the Catholic Bloggers Network Round up.  Remember to go visit the other links there and vote with your mouse for this month’s Big Clicks Award.

I have also linked this post to the Tea with Saint Anne Link up hosted by Jennifer at Crafolic.  This link up is for posts that help to grow the Domestic Church and encourage a faith centered home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Most Holy Trinity: My First Link Up

As the Easter season comes to an end, the Church celebrates a number of special days the Sundays that follow.  The last Sunday of the Easter season commemorates Pentecost, the visitation of the Holy Spirit to Mary and the Apostles.  The next Sunday, which returns us to Ordinary Time on June 3rd, is dedicated to The Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of our One God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

I have the honor of hosting the Link up for this feast as part of Familia Católica’s Liturgical Calendar Link up PartyHere is the button to promote this event, my first button!  In the past few days, I have learned how to take an image from the web and turn it into a button, which is not so hard, but not so easy either.  Please hang the Link up button in your sidebar with a link to this post to help me promote this linky party.

You will find the icons to attach your post to the link up and the links that are already participating at the end of this post. 

The Trinity is one of the deepest mysteries of our faith; God is each of the three persons, but still one God.  Also, each of the three persons is not the other; they are distinct expressions of God.  I found a diagram that illustrates this and helps me grasp the concept visually.

Courtesy of the Boston Catholic Journal

Of course, a trefoil or shamrock is the most popular symbol of the Trinity and an easy way to teach this concept; however it lacks a visual representation of the difference between the three.  In any case, my children enjoy decorating shamrocks with the names of the Trinity.  Click on the picture below or the one in the link up to learn how to make these shamrocks.

My daughters and I have also been making other Trinity projects the last few weeks.  We used a coloring page from the Eucharistic Youth Movement to make a lapbook of the Trinity.  The coloring page is actually for the creation, but includes symbols representing each of God’s three persons.  You can find the coloring page here (in the Miscellanea category).  This is a close up of the lapbook’s cover.

My seven year old daughter drew pictures and symbols for God and each of His three persons inside the lapbook and wrote a paragraph about each.  By the way, you can make a lapbook using a file folder refolded to make a triptych, but we used a 9 x 12 envelope instead.  We just removed the brad, carefully separated the glued seams and cut off the sealing flap.  Whichever form you use, if you paste a full size picture on the front, you can cut it after gluing to have an even seam on the front that still shows your picture.

My three year old and I used part of the same coloring page, along with a dove image found in the same gallery (linked above), and some hand drawn symbols to make Trinity popsicle stick puppets.

I’m still thinking about other projects, so I may post more ideas later.  I’m wondering if I can write a poem about the Trinity, using tercets (three line stanzas), of course.  Maybe my seven year old will help me.  I have also been thinking about making a Trinity mobil.

I am very excited to see what you will post and link below.  Please use the button to link back here at the end of your post so your readers can see everyone’s ideas.  

This post will also be linked to the Catholic Bloggers Network Round up.  Remember to go visit the other links there and vote with your mouse for this month’s Big Clicks Award.

I have also listed this post in the Catho-link Library hosted by Monica at Equipping Catholic Families.  She has collected links ups for many different events, so her page is a great resource for the entire liturgical year.  Monica is also hosting an Extraordinary Ideas for Ordinary Time Link up.  Go see other great ideas for forming your children’s faith during Ordinary Time.

And, I am connecting with the First Friday Link up for June hosted by Lacy at Catholic Icing.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grow Green Onions on Your Windowsill

Yes, you can grow green onions on your windowsill in a jar!  No dirt or special pot needed.  Use a mason jar or jelly jar, or even a drinking glass.  Check out what is on our windowsill right now.

This is the easiest growing project ever, even if you can’t grow or take care of plants.  Kids love it, and they even like to perform the minimal care required.  Just change out the water every four or five days, and your green onion roots will grow new stems in a couple of weeks.

My children enjoy checking the windowsill each morning to see how much the onions have grown, especially when we start a new batch; they grow quickly at the beginning.

I learned how to do this from foodie blogger Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious.  As soon as I saw her pictures, I knew I had to try it myself.  Go see her post for the simple directions and you can get started on your own windowsill garden.  By the way, according to some of Dorothy’s readers who wrote in the post comments, you can do this with lemongrass too.

Here are the photos of our windowsill garden.  In the photo above, the glass on the far right is growing a second crop from the same onion cuttings.  In the photo below, you see the first stems growing.

Next, you will see the first crop right before harvest with another group started in a smaller jar.  You know they are ready for harvest when some of the tips are pointy instead of the blunt cut leftover from the beginning.

Below are the two sets a little further along in growth.  Keep in mind that the set on the right is growing a second crop from the same roots.  It has been slower the second time around, so I may put these roots in the ground after this harvest.

If you need ideas for what to do with your new crop, try making Grilled Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers.  And, look for future posts of recipes featuring green onions, so you will have plenty of dishes to make with your new crop!  I’ll be posting soon about South Texas Savory Bread Pudding (Capirotada), and Fire and Ice Watermelon Salad (part of the MyPlate recipe reviews).  

In the meantime, enjoy your green onions on baked potatoes, salads, soups, and anywhere a milder onion is needed.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pentecost: the Gift of the Holy Spirit and a Link up

When Pentecost arrives on May 27th, we will celebrate the end of the Easter season by commemorating the gift of the Holy Spirit given to Mary and the Apostles.  This event marked the start of the Church, as the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the knowledge to consecrate bread and wine as priests and bishops, as well as the conviction to preach the gospel and teach converts.  It is important to remember that the Resurrection gives meaning to Pentecost; the Apostles were anointed so that they could teach Christianity to the world.

When Catholics receive the sacrament of Confirmation, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit by the bishop, affirming our role as God’s children.  Those who are raised Catholic typically study for and receive Confirmation as teenagers, and are thus educated and fortified to meet the challenges they will face as they discern their vocations and make their way in the world.  We are also given the task of teaching the faith through example, with the Holy Spirit working through us.

As a parent, I am tasked with teaching the faith directly to my children, in addition to serving as an example in behavior and action.  Last year, I taught my daughters about the Holy Spirit a couple of times, as we prepared to witness the Confirmation of their cousin, and again at Pentecost.  Part of my niece’s preparation for Confirmation included a weekend retreat, during which she read letters written by family members encouraging her in her religious study and her vocational search.  My husband and I each wrote letters, and my daughters made pictures using dove cutouts with the gifts of the Holy Spirit written on them.

I don’t have a picture of the “letters” my daughters created, but here is one my youngest made with some of the leftover doves.  FYI: the dove looks fuzzy because we reused paper and she glued it with the writing side up; I “erased” the writing so I could post the picture here.

I found the dove template through a link at Catholic Icing.  You can visit the template directly here.  I also found a list of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit through a link at Familia Católica.  Visit the link directly at Busy with Blessings.  Lori’s Busy with Blessings post also lists the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which I will focus our lesson on this year.  We might make a chain of doves with the fruits written or drawn on them.

Whether you are preparing your children to witness a Confirmation, or teaching them about Pentecost, the dove craft is a fun way to teach children how the Holy Spirit works in our lives.

You will find many great ideas for celebrating Pentecost at all three of the blogs linked above.  The Familia Católica post also includes links to coloring pages and more images of doves.  At Pentecost last year, we used a couple of the coloring pages, including this one.

You can find more links to coloring pages at this Familia Católica post, which also lead me to another blog with an idea I plan to try this year.  See how to finger paint the flames of the descending Holy Spirit and other ideas for Pentecost at Family at the Foot of the Cross.  

I will post about our dove chains and finger paints soon.

In the meantime, this post is attached to the Pentecost Link up hosted by Mento at Ahora quedamos en el blog, the most recent event in the Liturgical Calendar Link up Party organized by Xhonané at FamiliaCatólica.

I am also attaching this post to a link up hosted by Monica at Equipping Catholic Families titled Cele-Linky thru the Sacraments.  There you will find many wonderful ideas for teaching the sacraments to your children.

Did you see my last post about my award from the Catholic Bloggers Network?  With the hope that I may receive another Big Clicks Award this month for the most clicks on my link, I have also added this post to the Catholic Bloggers Round Up.  Go visit the other links there and vote with your mouse for this month’s award.

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