Monday, April 29, 2013

Prayer for Catholic Families

Easter Season Prayer

Alleluia! Jesus has risen!
We pray in thanks for . . .
Jesus and His Holy Cross, 
the Apostles that built His Church, 
and Mary, the New Eve.
We pray for purity and generosity 
during the Easter Season.

Morning Prayer

Simple Morning Offering 
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for our day,
Help us in all that we think, do and say.
Young Adult Morning Offering   
My God, I offer you my prayers, works,    
joys and sufferings of this day, 
in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. 
I offer them for all the intentions                     
of your Son's Sacred Heart, for the salvation of souls,  
reparation for sin, and the reunion of Christians. 

 Minnesota Catholic Schools image
Intentions and Gratitude
Following an intention,or gratitude,
we say, "We pray to the Lord."
Then, "Lord, Hear our Prayer" or "Thanks be to God."

Saint Intercession
Read an excerpt from a Saint Biography (Lives of the Saints, Saints for Young Readers).  Reflect.  We are not worshipping saints.  We are using their example to help us be better Christians.  This can be as simple as, "Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us to learn in school today."


Afternoon Prayer


This prayer is often said at 12 noon: 

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:

And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of

our death. Amen. 
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 
Hail Mary . . . 
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 
Hail Mary . . . 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: 
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Evening Prayer

Before Bedtime:  

Angel of God:  Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Hail Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.                                                     
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

The following prayer is a combination of acronyms people have used to remember good prayer.  I'm certain others use the same letters to help them.  Although unoriginal, my children love praying this way before they go to sleep:  

'P' stands for Praise.  We say, "I adore you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world."  Or, "I love you Father, Son, Holy Spirit."

'R' stands for Repent.  We say, "Jesus, I am sorry for my sins."   Or, "Have Mercy on me a sinner."   Our family is able to list many.  We also discuss confession with our children who receive this sacrament.

'A' stands for Ask.  We ask God to bless those who need His love, guidance and protection.

'Y' stands for You are thanked.  We say, "Thank you God for . . ."


Catholic Prayers

Grace Before Meals: Bless us Oh Lord and these our gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ Oh Lord. Amen.

 The Johnny Appleseed Blessing:
Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.

RosaryAs a family, we say the rosary once a week.  The little ones color or look at picture books, and do not always finish praying with us.  Our older children participate.  We often assign leaders by gender (Dad/Sons, Mom/Daughters).  The following link is for children to explore and recite The Rosary:

Memorare: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,  I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Cradle Catholic?  This link will still be helpful: Beginning Catholics, has a wealth of Catholic Prayers 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

We can't put Peanut Butter on It

Today, Father Mark Dosh, our priest at St. John's, told a story about a little boy who had little to say about the Eucharist.  His mother was embarrassed as her little guy sat quietly while their priest asked the children preparing for Communion to share something about the Body of Christ.  The longer her son said nothing, the more humiliated she became.  However, her humiliation increased when her son finally shared something he knew.

The boy informed the priest that the Bread they would receive was "different than other bread because, we can't put peanut butter on it."

As the mother's cheeks warmed to a rosy glow, the priest asked the boy, "And why is that?"

The boy responded sincerely, "We would never do that to Jesus."

Father Dosh explained that although the boy's reasoning was not an eloquent theological statement, he had in fact, gotten it right.  The Eucharist is Jesus and we are called to respect and love Him.

It is difficult to explain the awesomeness of receiving one's first Communion to those who are not Catholic.  Awesome is an overused word, but it defines this sacrament for children, Godparents and parents perfectly.  Because we believe the Eucharist to be Jesus, not just a symbol, it is exciting to be  close to Jesus after preparing for so long.  Blessings to those receiving Him today.  What a wonderful day First Communion Day is.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Children's Bibles Update

Faith Formation ~  Our family learns our faith through several mediums and by frequenting Mass and sacraments often..  The three types of  books that we read often, include various Children's Bibles, The Baltimore Catechism and Ignatius Press faith formation.  

The Catholic Children's Bible by Regina Press is read most often by middle school children, as the readings are similar in length and translation to adult versions.  The illustrations are rich and attractive and content is approved by the Church.  The Action Bible by Sergio Cariello is a fun, interactive Bible that makes Bible characters superheroes!  The content is thorough and this Bible is stunning with its rich, bold colors.  Your children will be captured by the Marvel-like pictures from God's creations to Jesus' rising.  Finally, if your children are sensitive to the bold images of Action BibleThe Picture Bible contains gentle, mild  illustrations using the same theme.  We are blessed to own these three Bibles and I recommend them all:


The Bible images above are linked to  The Apostle Book Store in Minnetonka, MN also sells these Bibles.  Please order them at (952)931-0004 to support Christian Retailers.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finding Homeschool Happiness

Our family's primary purpose of home education is to grow closer to God so that someday we might meet Him in heaven. Although this mission involves sacrifice, it doesn't have to be drudgery. Sacrifice means giving yourself to the Lord. In that giving, we find joy.

As the school calendar draws closer to summer, and we are a little tired of one another and a lot tired of books, we must reflect on how we can continue our family's journey happily.

Pray. When our sixth child was born I panicked because her siblings were not learning for several weeks.  A veteran home educator suggested I pray that God would hold my older children's hands until life calmed down. I told her I would, and raced to finish baby's laundry, forgetting to get on my knees.  Life did not settle down and I didn't relax until I finally surrendered to prayer. When families pray, we praise God for His gifts and ask for what we need.  God gives us strength and guidance in the home.

Keep it fun. Playing and pretending is how preschoolers learn. Allow time to review math with games. Read literature instead of textbooks whenever possible.  Picture Bibles are wonderful additions to faith formation.  And there are entertaining educational videos that are waiting to be checked out at the library.  Don't  forget the world outside your classroom brings delight.  Waiting to be discovered are nature, baseball diamonds, ski hills and field trips. 

Stay organized and follow a routine. Spring arrives and we are tempted to toss our books everywhere, let the clutter pile up, and call it quits for the day.  The telephone, talk radio, or a good book are calling Mom's name too. But it's important to stick to the daily routine of school when your family isn't out and about. Finish the goals set in September.  Keeping school supplies and houses tidy will keep us joyful, too.  A break from school to clean and freshen up your home will do wonders for your mood.

Be social.  Family and friend get-togethers, church activities, sports and after school friends and activities are social avenues for teaching children how to work and play with others.  We invite friends over often and accept invitations gratefully so we can enjoy people outside our home school. 

Remind one another why we chose home school. Displaying prayers, crosses, Holy images and religious books reminds us about how much we love God and how we are His flock. Let God remind us that we chose home education to know and love Him.  

Our children provide reminders about home school happiness too:  My twins remind one another that they like home school because they would be in different classes at "regular school." Legos, his action Bible and chapter are my third grade son's favorite parts of school at home.  My older two would miss being able to talk about God, and my preschooler said the magic words, "I'd miss you Mommy."

My youngest's revelation is true for me too.  I'd miss my children if they were at school all day.  Happiness, for me, is home schooling and praising God together.  "Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you (Psalms 5:11-12).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Our family began enjoying math when we chose Math-U-See for our curriculum provider.
Check out my review at 
to find out why you'll want to add it as your math program next year.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Memorare for those in Boston ~

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who
fled to your protection, implored your help,
or sought your intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly before you, O Virgins of Virgins, my Mother. To thee do I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh Mother of the word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me.

Our family's Petitions are for the those in Boston and for their families:
We pray that those who lost their lives in this tragedy are with our Father in Heaven.
We pray that those suffering physical and emotional pain from this tragedy are comforted by the Holy Spirit.
We pray for families who felt the impact of Boston's tragedy, that Jesus will guide and strengthen them.
We pray for our nation. May God protect us and keep us in His hands.

Here are thoughts about helping children after tragedy strikes.  First, pray.

Secondly, if children have not reached the age of reason (age 7 for most) it will be difficult for them to understand why sad, scary events occur.  During these times, adults even ask themselves "Why?" Each family has their own boundaries, but I believe it is best for little ones to be protected from knowing too much about tragedies.

Finally, I cannot take credit for this nugget of wisdom to share with your children.  A wise tweeter, tweeted Mr. Rogers, "When I was a boy and I would see something scary in the news, my mother would always say, "Look for the helpers.  You will always see someone helping."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Monday When It Rained Lesson

Background: On Monday When It Rained  written by Cheryl Kachenmeister, with photographs by Tom Berthiaume, is a unique book about children's feelings.  With a straightforward approach to feelings, the author does not patronize readers.  Children explore a little boy's week and turn the page to find out how he felt about each day's event.   Mr. Berthiaume's photographs are treasures!

Objective: By reading On Monday When It Rained, and creating their own book, children explore feelings, practice journal writing and review the days of the week.

Materials: Picture book, On Monday when it Rained, 12 pieces of construction paper tied or stapled together to form an empty book for each child, crayons, pencils, markers.  Book pages should have two lines at the bottom, an inch apart, for sentence construction.  Classroom teachers or home school moms may want to recruit an older child to help with this project.


Procedure: On Monday, introduce On Monday When It Rained  by asking the children how they feel when it's sunny and they go to the beach with friends.  Or maybe they live someplace where it snows a lot and one day they can't go outside because they have a cold.  How do they feel when they see their friends playing outside without them? Read On Monday When It Rained.          

The children will recognize a pattern - one page is about the boy's day; the next is about how he felt afterward (excited, sad, embarrassed).  As the book draws to a close, encourage the children to guess how the boy will feel before you turn the page.

After reading this delightful book discuss the different emotions the boy felt.  Ask the children if they feel any of the same feelings.  Allow students to infer why, on Saturday, the boy wondered about something.  What do the children think he might have been wondering about?

Well before the end of each school day, young authors will tell the teacher or a classroom helper about their day or an event. Their sentence(s) should begin with "On (weekday) when . . .  " Decide before the lesson how little or how much each child should write on their own, if they are older than preschool age.  If they can print a few words, give children time to write.  Help them add their thoughts, and do not place emphasis on spelling.  If time permits, children can draw a simple symbol  or picture to represent the event, but remember that the next picture is more important to this assignment.

On the next page, students draw a picture of their face showing the expression they felt after their day. If teacher's have extra help, a photo of the child pretending an emotion is a fun twist to add to some days.  On Friday, an adult or classroom helper should help each child write about Mom or Dad tucking them in on Friday evening and talking about their week.  On the last page, students should copy these words, "Hmmmm . . . I wonder."  

I was . . . disappointed.

Evaluation: Following the writing of their books, children publish their books by sharing with peers.  Did their peers understand the emotion they felt  on each day?  Were they able to guess what the face of the author would look like on a certain day?  Did the child take their time illustrating  and printing parts of their sentences?  

Teacher's Notes:  If your schedule lacks time for a book project, a simple follow up for a one day lesson includes one page about their day and their feelings, instead.  Print out the page connected with this one day lesson at Scribd.  The boy in the book wonders, out loud, on Saturday.  For lesson purposes I suggested that students end their books on Friday.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Games and Literature for the Whole Family

 April and May Rainy Day 
Games & Literature

The games our family recommends are rarely stored away in our "game trunk," because they are played often.  We play games at least once a week during home school hours, and I chose these for my classroom when I taught school.  If we happen to have a game that sits at the bottom of the pile, never pulled out to be played, you won't hear about it.   Then, it's not a favorite.  How's that for a satisfaction and fun guarantee from children who love to play 

  Want to improve your spatial skills?  Remember the video Tetris?  If you answered yes to one of these questions you will love Blokus as much as we do.  My husband and I  play this game with company, but the kids as young as five pick up on the shapes too. We often play this game as a math extra.  My children can't wait to set their worksheets aside.  Objective?  Fill the board with as many of your varying shapes as possible, but the corners of your pieces have to touch.  You can also block your opponent(s) so they can't lay anymoree of their pieces.

Older children in my family pridefully suggest this game for their little sister who is four; as she can play Guess Who? with help.  But Guess Who also plays this guessing game?  The older children.  Mom doesn't mind a quick game of this "yes and no question game" either.  Children choose a character.  Opponents ask one another yes and no questions to decide who their classmate, sibling or friend chose.  'Simple, but thought provoking for the young.

It's hard for moms and teachers to walk away from Lakeshore Learning games.  Their directions are easy, but objects of the games are to learn special skills while having fun.  The Allowance Game encourages children to save a certain amount of money, but along the way, they have to spend and figure out how to earn a buck or two.  Counting and saving are two special skills  8 - 12 year olds find enjoyable during this game.

Do you remember this classic from when you were young.  It is still reasonably priced, easy to play, efficient at teaching counting and taking turns, and liked by little ones.  That is why Hi-Ho Cherry-O is considered a classic.  Period.

 If you've been counting, we recommend three counting games.  Here is our last treasure for wee ones.  I confess, it is my favorite little ones' game.  Everyone loves Lilly and the pieces are adorable; the box durable.  Match the the numbers with pictures of objects in Henkes's books and everyone wins at Lilly's Counting Game.

    My children love it when I tell them to put their grammar books away so we can play Apples to Apples Jr.. Apples to Apples players choose the best nouns or phrases to go with adjectives.  A "judge" draws a card that reads "Lazy."  You have "bike riding," "doorbell," "eating pizza" and "Minnie Mouse" in your hand.  Which one will you choose to be described as lazy?"  Next, explain why your choice compares nicely with the describing word, so the judge chooses your word.  Go ahead, try to explain a reason that you think Minnie Mouse is lazy.   This mom likes the junior version because there are a few phrases I am not crazy about in the adult version.  My teenagers aren't complaining.

   Speaking of Apples to Apples, our family recommends the Bible Edition.  My third grader covets this First Communion gift from last year, and his siblings are glad to play it with him.  Anyone under eight will need guidance.  In this adjective and noun game, Bible stories, characters and phrases are compared with one another and with terms.  "David" may be compared with a Bible verse or as "strong."  Quite a reinforcement for Bible study.

 When my children have had enough of Geography at the map, we pull this game out for trivia facts about people and places.  This is tricky and not recommended for children under twelve, unless your children have always loved Social Studies and map studies.  Sometimes we'll play Jeopardy style and say the answers for opponents to ask the correct questions.

Our final recommendation is our new Major League Baseball Game that Mom and the boys created.  We bought a jumbo USA floor puzzle and labeled it state baseball teams.  With the aid of CHC Geography Bee books and Baseball Trivia books we are having a blast as we practice our state facts and locations. Check out this link for more information:

Children's Literature:

Time for Teens
Maintream's ideas for appropriate young adult literature versus Christian parents' ideas are vastly different.  It took time, but my daughter and I discovered a few excellent books on her shelf, that she recommends to readers, ages 13 - 16.  We also researched a few she'd like to read.  Here they are ~ 

Let's talk Father Brown.  This delightful little detective is a "Columbo-type" mystery solver, who appears modest, but is an expert crime solver.  G.K. Chesterton's bright novels are adapted by Nancy Carpenter Brown.  Father Brown Reader II is ideal for ages beyond twelve since these are murder mysteries.  This collection can be found at

Mary Chilton is an immigrant on the Mayflower who meets real life characters traveling with her.  Almost Home is one of several Daughter's of Faith books, by Wendy Lawton, that contain excitement and adventure for teen girls, with an immense amount of history.

Anne of Green Gables is a classic that my daughter read when she was thirteen, but as Anne matures so does the complexity and content of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables Novels.  We recommend beginning with Anne of Green Gables when Anne moves to Avonlea as a scrappy orphan.  Her stoic, but loving guardians are not the only ones who are won over by Anne's spunk and warm heart.  Continue the series as Anne becomes a school teacher, a young woman and grows in character.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is recommended for ages ten  and up.  My husband read it three years in  a row after he turned twelve.    Now, my twelve year old has read it twice.  He recommends this  book for teenagers of both genders.  This heartwarming tale of Billy, who buys two hunting dogs for fifty dollars a piece, is about dogs and their devotion to their owner.  More importantly the resposibilty and love developed by owning a dog is brought to the minds of every reader. Your teens will love this charming story with a surprise ending.


No Place Like Holmes series, by Jason Lethcoe, are books for the mystery lover in your home.  These are smart books for young adult readers.

Let's face it, most adolescent girls yearn for a little innocent romance on their  reading lists.  While I try not to rush my daughter to adulthood, I understand her desire to learn more about courting and marriage.  So, this school year we  enjoyed the flawless Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  This  novel is perfection.  Austen's poetic writing, deeply developed characters, lovable family and beautiful story create a masterpiece I could read again and again.  My fourteen year old loved Austen's timeless book too, but preferred reading Pride and Prejudice aloud with me.  The vocabulary, literary elements and genius of the novel made reading it aloud even better.

We will be posting a brief  Pride and Prejudice book report, later this spring.  Until then, Pride and Prejudice's plot may be summarized as a story about a young woman name Elizabeth Bennet who resides with her lively, joyful family in nineteenth century England.  Her comical, yet endearing mother has the responsibility of marrying off Lizzy and her sisters.  What ensues through this adventure, along with the temperamental relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy becomes the stunningly written story by Jane Austen.

Picture Books

Olivia books by Ian Falcnor  

Our favorite little girl pig, who loves to accessorize and embelish is Olivia.  She's full of spunk, has a flare for drama and kids love her.  Meet Olivia in her self-titled picture book.  Hear about Olivia's fabulous summer in Olivia Saves the Circus and find out what happens when somebody loses Olivia's favorite toy in Olivia and the Missing Toy.  
Enjoy these Olivia books and everything in between . . . 



Lilly and her Friends for Boys and Girls
Kevin Henkes Picture Books define and appreciate differences in little ones.  Lilly is all spunk and Julius is the Baby of the World.  Chester and Wilson are two peas in a pod that thrive on routine.  Chrysantemum is sweet.  Here are a few of Kevin Henkes's friends in his delightful picture books.


The following recommendations will motivate 6 - 8 year old boys to sit still long enough to read the entire book. 

Series books for boys who are beginning to read on their own, 
but will gladly share a book with Mom and Dad.  Ballpark Series by David A. Kelly and Nate the Great by Marjorie Sharmat are two series that our family reads.

David A. Kelly

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

These picture book classics by Viriginia Lee Burton are sure to be hits with your boys.  
Dad will remember them too.


Skyscrapers and Bridges:  The Little Red Lighthouse was featured on Reading Rainbow and is a restored classic.  How did they build that Skyscraper sits on our cabin's bookshelf.  
As soon as we arrive the boys race to read it with Dad.


One cannot go wrong with little boys and car books. 
The last two titles in this list are excellent choices for beginning readers.


Don't forget about Tomie dePaola picture books.