In appreciation for the outpouring of love you fine folks offered for Michael's 1st Communion, his mom sent us some awesome photos of him decked out for his special day!
Our Lady of Guadalupe approves!
This one is my favorite. Definitely. Ha!
She also had this to say about how each of you worked together to create a beautiful spiritual hug for her and her family:
I absolutely can not put words to how I felt when I received your package on the DAY of Michael's First Communion... I called James over, handed him the envelope, and promptly started bawling my eyes out.
(Tears, in my mind, are a triumphant sign of victory. We did good, people. We did good.)
Generally speaking, I'm fairly stoic in matters of the heart. You and I have discussed various times about how the best way to avoid heartache of any kind is to be stony-hearted in all things. Well, the "trouble" with our Faith is that we must allow God to take our hearts of stone and replace them with living hearts; which are totally unable to remain stoic when faced with the onslaught of love and joy that was delivered last Saturday :-)
Michael was THRILLED to look at all of the photos of well-wishers...we were all incredibly touched. [I realize] this is a paltry and insignificant means of saying "THANK YOU!!" [but wow]... It's a wonderful thing to be a member of The Body. Countless, countless thanks!
And then she attached this sweet photo of Michael sending out a big thank-you to everyone in cyber-space. :)
Just as an add-on, I love that she said "It's a wonderful thing to be a member of the Body." It really is. This special project pulled together folks from all over the country (and several from overseas!). We came together as one to rally and support one of our own. I dunno about the rest of you, but I certainly felt the Spirit. <3 Bless you all again!
To everyone who participated in the Super Secret Surprise of two weeks ago - THANK YOU!!!
What FUN I had collecting the photos, notes and cards from those of you who were trusting enough to take the bait and spread some smiles to a young boy and his family.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, you missed a bit of a party! To recap, a wonderful friend of mine, Catherine, moved out of state and was a little sad that the celebration of her son, Michael's, 1st Holy Communion wouldn't be the big family affair she'd always envisioned. In order to wrap her, her son and her family in prayers, love and joy, I solicited you wonderful folks to send out your well-wishes and novenas for the cause.
In the end, the outpouring of joy, warmth and love absolutely astounded me, touched Catherine, and brought incredible delight to Michael. I really felt a part of the Church each time I received another piece of the collage.
Here are some photos of what you wonderful folks sent in. I've even got some updated photos to include the 3rd batch that mailed out on Friday. In total, I think we sent something like 50 messages and photos down their way. Kudos, everyone. May you all be blessed immensely for your spiritual generosity. Thank you so much for being a part of suh a special outpouring of love and support. <3
Really, folks, THANK YOU. Thank you for going above and beyond. Thank you for showing a little love to a stranger when you could easily have done any other number of things. You're all getting remembered in a very special way not only by me, but I'm certain by Catherine and her family, too. <3
Vince has been very sick the last few days. He's been cuddled against Mommy with a 103 degree fever, total sinus congestion, and all sorts of little aches since Saturday afternoon. My poor baby!
He's starting to feel a bit more like himself, thank God.
Before he came down with this nasty little bug, I had taken him to The Franklin Institute for the first time! Since John was off meeting one of his childhood idols that day, I got to spend a whole day with my little munch - something we haven't really done in a while.
So I packed him up and took him into Philly to explore the Institute.
For those of you who have never been, it's a great place for kids to get hands on experience with science in action. They've got rooms set up to tackle topics like global weather patterns, static electricity, the circulatory system and aviation. My favorite part of the Institute has always been the planetarium. Vince enjoyed looking at the planets and seeing a brief video about black holes, but he was more interested in the train room. In the train room, there are real locomotives that you can climb aboard and look at. Vince must've climbed aboard at least a dozen times! He even got to try his hand at turning one of the giant wheels!
He also got a big kick out of the circulatory room. This room is probably the most famous one the Institute has simply based on the "maze" they have that follows the path blood takes through the human heart. It's a massive exhibit that allows you to walk through a model heart... tracing your way through arteries, the lungs and eventually veins and back through the heart again. Vince was scared of the heart, but he adored the exercise equipment that showed you how you could "get your heart racing" in order to promote good health!
If only I could reach the pedals!!!
He wasn't too fond of the aviation room. At first he was a little afraid of all the wind tunnels and noises of jet engines, but once I plopped him into the pilot seat of the old plane they've got hanging from the ceiling, he changed his tune a bit. :)
Once we finished in the aviation room, we stopped to get a quick bite to eat in the atrium. This served to fuel the little munch for his romp in the Sports Center! I let him take the marble steps instead of the elevator so I could show him the huge pendulum swinging down through three flights of spiraling stairs. The pendulum swings due to the motion of the earth. Every morning, dominoes are set up in a perfect circle around the pendulum. As the day progresses, the tilt of the earth causes the pendulum to switch direction almost imperceptibly. The tiles get knocked down little by little as the pendulum shifts to account for the spin of the earth. Vince got a kick out of seeing it!
However, he enjoyed running up the stairs a lot more. Maybe he felt like Rocky Balboa!
The sports room is probably where he had the most fun. I got several fun shots of him playing around in there! All over are jerseys of sports celebrities, footprints of basketball players and various statistics of some of Philadelphia's best loved athletes. Vince didn't much care about any of that. He just wanted to play on all the cool stuff!
However, even having all that fun in the sports room, he still wanted to head back to the trains. So, we headed back to the trains to have some more fun on the old locomotives!
So yeah - as you can see God was very good to give us this fun little adventure before his little body got caught up in this whole being sick business. I keep telling him that when he gets better, we'll go back and see the trains again. Without fail he forgets he's sick and smiles so big! He really loves those trains!
If any of you are ever in the area, the Franklin Institute is a great place to stop by (even if you don't have kids!). A few weeks ago, some friends and I attended one of their traveling exhibits - the Titanic. Last year it was the Dead Sea Scrolls. This spring I'm taking John to see one about Spies and all the different spy gadgets governments have created over the years.
It's really such a great place and I can't wait to take Vince again when he's feeling better!
Since I've still got plenty of beads and yarn to work with, I tried to figure out a fun Lenten craft that would use them up!
I lucked upon some cheap foam sheets at Walmart and put the two together. Fun was the result!
Since Ash Wednesday falls on the day before Valentine's Day this year, I decided to combine my Lent and Valentine's Day crafts. To prep my students for the upcoming craft, I spent Tuesday night's lesson explaining to them the purpose of Lent and why we prepare through prayer and sacrifice. We spent a good portion of the class going through the Triduum and why that is considering the most sacred time of year for Catholics. Since Jesus was willing to sacrifice so much for us, it's only fitting that we return His love by showing our love for Him by loving others.
So this coming week, we're going to be doing Valentine's to Jesus, but instead of simple "I love you Jesus" messages, we're going to be offering LENTEN Valentines. I'm having the kids mark down things they'd like to both give up as a sacrifice and do for others as a sign of love. They'll put their ideas onto the foam sheets and frame them out with decorations and symbols of their faith.
To further prepare, I mocked up these samples:
The first one is a combination of Love Letter and Sacrifice Beading. I took 40 purple beads to signify the 40 days of Lent and strung them along four strings of yarn. For each time the child resists temptation, a bead can be moved down the line. This is a good way to help children see the progress they're making and give them a sense of accomplishment. The beads along the bottom are red, white and blue. They weren't chosen because I was feeling patriotic. Instead, I chose them to provide special meaning for "gifts of love" done by the child.
Red is to remind us of the pain that sometimes comes along with sacrifice. Jesus gave us the gift of Eternal Life, but it came at the cost of His Blood. Thus, when we sacrifice things during Lent, we should aim to sacrifice things that might be a little difficult (like video games, candy, fast food or shoe shopping!).
White is to remind us of the purity of God's gift. The Father did not force the Son to sacrifice Himself for us. Jesus was not guilty of anything. Instead, Jesus's motive for coming to earth to die was pure. His Sacrifice was driven purely by love. Our sacrifices duing Lent should also be driven by love.
Blue is to remind us of the Blessed Mother. She, too, consented to take part in these Sorrowful Mysteries because she knew it was necessary for God's children to return to Heaven. When I explained this to the kids last week, I likened Our Lady to a firefighter's mother.
If a firefighter knows a baby is at the top of a burning building, what does he do? He runs up to the top of the building to save that baby! It's his job! It's what he chose to do with his life because he cares about others and wants to spend his life helping them!
Would his mother object to him trying to save the baby? Would she have jumped in front of him and sacrifice the life of the baby? No. Why? Because she understands he has to save the baby. She knows the baby would die without her hero son, and so she suffers the fear and pain of losing her son because being a fireman is who he is.
Just like that fireman was born to save lives, Jesus was born to save humanity. Thus, Our Lady consented to the fear and pain that went along with seeing Her Beloved Son die so that we could all gain eternal life. In my Lenten meditations, I always tend to stick with my sacrifices better when comparing them to hers. If she could do that, I can give up fries and junk food, ya know?
So I put the blue ones in there in case the kids want to do something similar.
Put a magnet on the back and you can hang it up on your fridge so you can keep track in an easy-to-reach spot!
The next one is a horizontal frame that includes three "give up X" and three "do X for others" items. I alternated them and to denote which was which, I placed either a heart (for loving others) or a cross (for sacrifice) above or below the corresponding picture.
I'm a terrible artist, so forgive me. I used Sharpie markers for this one. I chose three typical sacrifices to showcase as ideas: Fast food, chocolate and mean / angry language. For the "love others" items, I chose organization, prayer and monetary donations. Obviously these pictures can vary based on the child's choices. I liked putting the "Lead me to Your Cross, dear Jesus!" at the bottom, though. It just seemed to fit. Sacrifice undoubtedly leads us to Christ, and loving others through things like prayer and help are about as Christ-like as you can get!
I chose to make slits in the frame to give the smaller foam piece a place to anchor into. No glue necessary! Just make the slits with a knife or pair of scissors.
Finally, I made the more "traditional" Valentine card. It's very simple and made mostly with the little foam stickers I found in my travels. I did end up hot gluing the red piece onto the white background for this one.
Fish on Fridays, remembering to make my bed in the morning, and making a concentrated effort to pray with faith - no empty words here!!!
So those are just a few of the fun little projects you can do with your kids / classes. It will give the children a chance to really think about and express their love for Jesus while preparing for the Lenten / Easter season.
Thanks to Anabelle for the reminder to link this up! All you other fine bloggers out there, don't forget to link your crafty posts to places like Catholic Bloggers Network and Raising Little Saints! Other folks out there are looking for ideas JUST LIKE YOURS, so help them out by linking up!
Vince has been hiding under blankets a lot. He'll just drape one over his head while he's playing a game and then beg for Mommy or Daddy to "get in here" with him.
So when I saw the above hideaway thing on sale, I figured "He'll love this."
I excitedly took it out of the box and set it up for him. Sure enough, he loved it. He was so excited to see Buzz Lightyear and the other Toy Story characters that he couldn't stop repeating "TOY STORY, TOY STORY, SO COOL!" over and over again.
Unfortunately, the tent was too small for he and I to share together - which is what he wanted. The best we could do was put the tent over my head and then I'd slink down to the floor. He'd then crawl in over top of my lap, and we'd laugh about being squished in such a tiny space.
Since my back and knees grew weary of that game within minutes, I came up with a better solution. The tent.
See those little feet? Those are happy little feet that think they're hidden from Mommy.
I brought out one of our queen-sized blankets and draped one end over our cat tree (sorry, girls) and then tucked the other end over and around the couch. There was more than enough room in there for Vince and I to snuggle together with pillows and a book. As soon as that blanket went up, he forgot about the Toy Story tent. All he wanted to do was sit in his fort playing on his iPad or giggling with Mommy.
Should've just saved myself the $6 and built this in the first place. I remember doing the same thing as a child, and it made me smile knowing that Vince got the same enjoyment I did out of secret hiding spots like this.
Yup. Me and my little Spiderman had a whole lotta fun this weekend. :)
So I finally buckled down and took those two sewing classes I've been eyeing for the last several months. While I'm certainly no seamstress guru, I'm not terrified of sewing my fingers together anymore.
The first class I took was back in October. Me and another woman learned how to sew a pillowcase. I still have no clue what basting means, but I was able to figure out where things needed to be placed in order to look "right" when the seams were finally stitched. Good thing, too. Our teacher was so busy working the front desk that the other woman and I were left to our own devices. Ah well. At least she taught us how to thread the machine! I feel like that's half the battle right there!
Anyway, after the class I purchased extra fabric as "homework" for myself. I wanted to make a matching pillowcase at a later date just to refresh me on how the machine works.
My machine, fabrics and tools. I'm gonna make me a pillow case!
Unfortunately, I ended up neglecting to touch my sewing machine until December when I took the 2nd class with my friend, Faith. Lucky for me I hadn't forgotten everything and was able to set my machine up out of the box again (woo hoo!).
For our second class, we were instructed to make pajama bottoms. These were a lot trickier than the basic pillowcase. These things had patterns and everything. Talk about intimidating! In order to cancel out the intimidation factor, I chose the most ridiculous pattern I could get my hands on.
I was glad to also have Faith there to keep things entertaining. Neither one of us really had a clue, so we sorta winged it as the teacher - again - flitted back and forth between us and the front desk.
It's okay, though. Considering how condescending she was to Faith, myself and the other two women taking the class, I was happy to have her attention focused elsewhere. We were able to manage well enough on our own, and she was there if our thread tangled, something wasn't working, or the directions didn't make sense.
But boy oh boy. It took us almost FOUR HOURS to make those gosh darn pants! All of you wonderful women out there who know how to sew - GOD BLESS YOU! I'm envious of your natural skill set.
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Oh yeah - those are puzzle pieces. Thousands of multi-colored puzzle pieces. Oddly enough, the pants didn't come out nearly as horrific as I thought they would. Plus, now I can wear any color shirt I want (or any of John's that I can get my hands on) and they'll match!
But yeah, aside from style, these things sport an elastic waistband and zig-zag hems courtesy of my lack of finishing skills. Even though the teacher 'tsked' me, I say these were a success.
I'm happy to report, however, that I did practice this weekend since it's been about a month since that December class. I was able to successfully make a matching pillowcase with the fabric I purchased in November. Even more exciting, I was able to fix one of my veils that had ripped last summer. But the best part? I figured out my machine. I had been taught to incorrectly thread the bottom bobbin and it took several messed up attempts to finally figure out the problem.
I had run into the same problem repeatedly at the sewing shop, but each time I was met with the same "solution." I knew it was wrong (because my machine kept angrily spitting out thread), but I couldn't figure out why it was wrong.
So I spent a good fifteen minutes taking apart the bottom workings of my machine and tinkering around until I realized my thread was getting caught because I was loading it improperly. Once I worked that out, it was smooth sailing. I was so proud of myself!
That's one item slowly being marked off my "things I'm going to learn someday" list. I've wanted to learn sewing for a long time now. It took me about 3 years, but I feel like I'm finally on my way towards learning a skill that I can really utilize for myself and my family. Torn toys, here I come!
The finished pillow case.
1st three projects!
I've been trying really hard to expand my skill set recently. I've decided to get serious about trying my hand at sewing, and I finally buckled down and agreed to give jewelry making a go.
Tonight was my first attempt at jewelry making and it was so much fun!!! I went with two friends I don't get to see much of - Faith and Sam. Double happy!
Jewerly making, itself, was definitely a lot harder than I thought it'd be, but once you get the hang of it, you can't stop!
Anyway, our first "project" was simply a string of beads we had to wire together. It was to teach us how to use the various tools to make the loopy things that connect the beads together. A series of seven beads (5 large, 2 super tiny) took us about 20 minutes to complete, but once we did, we were ready for the earrings!
The earrings were a bit more complicated because of the center piece (something called a briolette?). Once we figured that out, though, the rest was cake. I made the purple earrings for my first attempt (since I'd been wanting purple earrings for about a year and hadn't found any I liked enough to buy). I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out. On the way out, I picked up the two rose beads and the four "leaf" beads you see in the picture above.
After I put Vince to bed, I found an old pair of earrings and dismantled them in order to get two spare beads to recycle into the rose earrings that became my third attempt (the first without any help!). I'm so happy with how they turned out. In fact, I'm wearing them as I write this!
Anyway, it was so much fun learning a new skill. I absolutely cannot wait to go back and learn some more!!! And what a great excuse to get out with friends. I've missed that sort of camaraderie. What a blessed night!
Sam, myself and Faith showing off the fruits of our labor!
First of all, his reaction is priceless. Ha ha. Well deserved.
Secondly, WOW. Way to go! I'm amazed that someone so young was able to discover such a necessary and useful tool to help detect cancer. His award is well-deserved and I wish him all the success in the universe. What a blessing he is!
Finally, those people commenting on his sexuality should bite their tongues. Who cares what this person's sexuality is? Sexuality does NOTHING to detract from the contribution he has made to the medical / science community. They should be ashamed of themselves for picking apart this young man. I, for one, applaud him.
A man giving his shoes to a girl in Rio de Janeiro
Click the picture above to find over 2 dozen more pictures exemplifying humanity at its finest. (Just be aware that the first deals with homosexuality and some may find it offensive.)
Sometimes we need reminders like this. We need to remember that although we're capable of the evil we see in the news, we're also capable of true, genuine beauty. Can you imagine what the world would be if we'd all remember that and act accordingly?
This is God's Will... that we love one another. In doing so, we really do help bring about Heaven on earth. Start your random acts of kindness today!
Stumbled upon this today and wanted to share it. This wonderful little video brought back a lot of sweet memories. Plus, the beat isn't half bad! Ha ha!