Lovable, Capable, Valuable Plate

A special plate I made when our family was just beginning.

A friend shared the idea that although you could buy a “special” plate for birthdays this could be about more.

And so it marks life’s celebrations and even life’s disappointments with the reminder that in good times and in bad when this plate appears at your place in our family table….

You are loved….You are valued…You are capable.


Allison blogs at Totus Tuus & Catholic Homeschool


Our Lady of Lourdes ~ A Few Crafts and Activities

Our Lady of Lourdes Felt Doll/Statue ~ Craft
Here is another felt doll/statue! It’s Our Lady of Lourdes and she’s perfect to make and/or display on her feast day- Feb 11th. This doll/statue is a project that will require some assistance from older crafters who can use a hot glue gun to add the gold trim to Mary’s veil.  Or if you sew, you could sew it on, too!
For the instructions click here.
Our Lady of Lourdes Chocolate Grotto
I made this for my kids so we could celebrate
 Our Lady of Lourdes feast day (Feb 11).
It’s made with a paper picture of Our Lady of Lourdes

Free Family Tree for Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time is a great time to launch some family traditions with
family culture-building crafts!
Here’s a simple way to get started making a family tree…and it’s a free printable!

It’s a new mini-Craft Kit, extracted from our Faith Journal
Hand in Hand with Jesus

There are two templates included with instructions. 

“My Roots” offers an opportunity for more info about each family member,
while “The Family Tree” offers a bigger picture of where all the relatives fit!

Download it at Equipping Catholic Families for free!

Host a Card Shower for a Priest!

Our parish priests put forth so much effort for us! They have a life of sacrifice, stress, and heartache with very little appreciation from we parishioners. We need to show these devout men that we are thankful for their sacrifice and living witness. 
How?
Host a Card Shower!

For those who don’t know what a card shower is….It’s when a large group of people join together to send cards to someone. Each individual should take a few minutes to send a store bought card or a hand-made card to the your parish rectory. Normally, the time frame for this would be over the course of a week or month. 
As the host you simply need to get the word out!!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
This is a perfect activity to do during February for Valentines day!!!
After all they don’t get a card from a wife!
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

To learn more or for free printable fliers Click here

Teaching Reading: What are Sight Words?

I havea little secret, something I haven’t written much about but want to start focusing on more.  I love to teach reading and it really comes as second nature to me.  I learned this around 1998-1999 when I was helping a neighborhood kids in the 5th grade.  Tony was reading at a 2nd grade reading level and his teacher and school was threatening to retain him.  Smart boy but had never been properly taught to read as a small child, unfortunately he is one of those quiet good kids that get left behind by teachers when they have too many students to tend to (this was his specific case).  I took him to help him how to read and write better and learned that Tony was VERY proficient in Phonics but not in sight word recognition.  So I started with that with him and viola!  he was reading away real quick!  This led to me going back to school to get a Masters in Reading K-12…it was so much fun!  I actually miss being in college learning about the art of teaching reading! 😉

This past week I’ve had a lot of on the road time traveling to see family and I realized that I haven’t writtern about that which I love so much!  So I will be posting things about teaching reading in hopes that I can help someone out there that is having trouble or just starting out and could benefit from these posts.

If you are teaching reading to your little one or have a child who is having trouble reading, then it is vital that they become proficient in sight words. Why? Well because sight words are about 87% of all the words that children read in their trade books. Words like “the” “in”, “a”, “it”, and “is” are all part of this very important list.  These words are phonetically irregular words, meaning you cannot use phonics to decode them so they must be learned by sight.  Knowing sight words is one of the basic building blocks when learning how to read and one that should not be ignored.

What happens if the Reading or Phonics program you selected does not include the teaching of sight words?  I suggest that you do it on your own and it is quit simple.  Am I saying that you shouldn’t teach Phonics? NO!  Never!  Phonics is important or just as important as teaching sight words.  Many programs fail to intergrate both of these in their reading programs, which is unfortunate but important for homeschooling moms to know.  For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on sight words.

There are two lists but most of the words overlap.  Dolch Sight Words and Fry Sight Words are the two lists you can work from.  In the 1940s, Dr. Edward William Dolch created the  list by using 220 phonetically irregular words and 95 common nouns to create his Dolch Sight Word List.  He chose words that were most often used in children’s reading books during the 1920s and 30s.  In the 1990s, Dr. Edward Fry took the Dolch researched list and created 1,000 most frequently used words and he put them in order of frequency.  Children should be repeatedly exposed to these words so that they learn them quickly.  This bolsters their reading self-esteem, which in turn makes them want to read more.  You would be so surprised how your little Joseph or little Mary is going to want to start reading and selecting books at the library!

Each list is arranged by levels of difficulty advancing in it and the levels of infrequency, well at least the Fry list is.  Dr. Dolch created his lists to be mastered by the third grade while Dr. Fry’s list is separated by grade levels and goes up to the fifth or sixth grade.  Each list is separated by 100 words so the first 100 words are called pre-premer words and should be learned by kindergarten the next words are learned in increments of 100 but I suggest should only be taught 5-10 at a time until mastered.  Once those 10 are mastered you teach another 5-10 but always exposing them to the previous ones either by games or flash cards and with exposing them to easy reader texts.

Here are the list of words for your use in PDF format:

First Hundred
Second Hundred
Third Hundred
Fourth Hundred
Fifth Hundred

Depending on your child’s ability is when you should start.  For example, my six year old son is brilliant in Math but not in reading whereas my five year old daughter is the opposite so she is in kinder and he is in first and this is what we are doing this year:

Trimester 1:  Words 1-150
Trimester 2: Words 151-300
Trimester 3: Words 301-500

Now this is the plan and yes I do have high expectations for them but its because of how they learn and what they can do.  So far so good.  There are several ways to teach sight words.  Here are some examples:

1.  flash cards
2. memory games
3.  practice tracing the words
4.  use tactile things like playdough mats or any multi-sensory way to create the words
5.  create a power point of the words
6.  use the words to create sentences (include vocabulary from either your Science or History lessons).
7.  teach the shape of the word
8.  Sight word games

Repetition is important in learning these words by sight but it can be boring so it is vital that you make this as fun of an experience as possible!  🙂

Blessings,
Erika

Welcome! Part II

Welcome to the Contibutor Pages!

 If you would like to be a regular contributor to these pages, please respond with comments on this post mentioning your Catholic blog address and your email address.

For the time being, we have decided not to create a schedule for posting. 
To give everyone a chance to post, here are a few guidelines:

1. Be brief!  We are happy to help you increase traffic on your site!  Please post only 1-2 photos and a brief summary of your post,  with a link to your complete blog post. 
You can include the following: “Read the entire story at {hyperlinked blogname}” 
(The hyperlink should be the address of the full post on your blog, not the general blog address that links to your home page.)
With shorter entries, readers can skim through many more posts on the one Contributor page and will refer to individual blogs for more information…increasing traffic to your site!
2. Please post only ONCE a week in your category* to give others a chance! We plan to have special link-ups on specific Feastdays, so that everyone can share their Feastday posts, particularly on the  Homeschooling, Crafts, Traditions and the Liturgical Calendar contributor page. 
*If your category is Catechism/Apologetics or Scripture, Sunday Readings and Homilies, you can probably link more often, as there are fewer contributors in these categories.
3.  Please have at least one clearly visible Catholic Bloggers Network button on the home page of your blog.  If you’d like to include a link at the end of the post on your blog, we’d appreciate that too!
4. Try to include a signature biography with a photo (or blog button). 
Until we figure out how to make a template for these, this is mine. 
I’m Monica and I am a wife, a Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter and I think it’s cool to be Catholic!  My husband and I founded a Catholic apostolate called Arma Dei (Armor of God; Ephesians 6:13-17) creating solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith. I like to post about these family-building and Faith-centred crafts on EquippingCatholicFamilies.com ! 

Feeding the Hungry

Wow! What a week it has been!  It was a blessing to go to the March for Life last week (has it already been a week since the March in D.C.?), but it’s always a challenge to get home from a short/long trip and get back into the routine.  I felt like last week I was playing “catch up” after I got home, especially since life never stands still when you go away for a bit!

This afternoon our homeschool group volunteered again with a local inner city homeless ministry.  Our homeschool group provides food and serves the food whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month.  There are volunteers every Sunday at a well-known spot downtown and our homeschool group was blessed to be a part of the food preparation and serving today.  We had adults and children ranging from age 7 to teens helping out, including my three oldest “cupcakes” and myself.    After the preacher talked with the men, women, and children during an informal church service under an open-air pavilion, they were invited to eat a warm, home-made meal provided by many families and volunteers.

Today we made and served Southwest Chicken and here is the recipe (sorry I forgot to take pictures of this yummy and easy dish)

Southwest Chicken:

  4 chicken breasts
  1-2 jars of salsa
  2 -3 cups cooked rice
  grated cheddar cheese for topping (1-2 cups)

  The chicken can be cooked the day before in a crock pot or that morning on the stove.

Place chicken breasts in a crock pot and add 1-2 jars of salsa, enough to cover the meat and provide a bit extra. Cook on low for eight hours, until the chicken is done, then shred the the meat with two forks (very easy to do when the chicken has been cooking all day).
  Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked rice. Place in disposal serving pan, top liberally with cheese.
  Heat through, until cheese is melted.
This recipe is very forgiving. It was originally intended to be burrito filling. You can add in corn or beans, more rice or salsa… whatever you want; it all tastes good. You can also use any precooked chicken that you have- just chop it into small pieces first.

Some families also made Baked Apples which was also a hit! 

I am always impressed by how friendly and gracious the people are as we feed them.  Many of them thank us over and over again for our service.  As the volunteers, we are blessed in many ways also by serving in this ministry. 
Here are more photos from our afternoon of helping those who always look forward to a warm, home-made meal, a helping hand, and a friendly smile.

Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome
lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”
Then the upright will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?
When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?”
And the King will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

No Ordinary Blog Hop

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Capturing March for Life 2012 in My Own Words/Photos/Videos

A few days before leaving for the 39th annual March for Life 2012, I thought of this phrase…. 

Why do we March for L.I.F.E.?  
 Life Is For Everyone!

Last year my family and I attended our first March for Life and I blogged about this incredible experience HERE.  This year, my daughter, friends, and I joined a parish in Rocky Mount, NC and traveled to our second march on buses.  There were three large buses filled with 150 people from Rocky Mount and surrounding areas.

We left early Monday morning, January 23, 2012 at 6:00 AM from Rocky Mount, NC to our nation’s Capitol for the annual March for Life rally to protest the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion. Our first stop when we arrived was the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

As soon as we got off the bus, I had a friend snap this picture of my daughter and me standing with Fr. Tim Meares, priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount.  Fr. Meares has been on many marches and we were all blessed with this holy priest’s presence during our trip.

Here is most of our group with all the bright yellow scarves:

Each year there is a Holy Mass for Life for all the N.C. pro-lifers present at the march.  It is just so beautiful to see the many priests and seminarians and our two bishops from the Raleigh and Charlotte Diocese celebrate Mass with the packed church. 

Although I missed celebrating this march with my husband and other three children, it was very special to have my daughter with me to share such a powerful event.  It’s never too early to teach our children that life, no matter how small, is precious and sacred.

Down in the Crypt Church of the Basilica, I found Cameron Smith’s artwork (No relation to me). Cameron and his family are in our homeschool group and are dear friends.   He has incredible God- given talent and he did a painting on marble of Saint Maron and and Our Lady of Lebanon for the Maronite chapel and these beautiful masterpieces are located in one of the many side altars.  You can visit Cameron’s website HERE to see his other beautiful prints to view/purchase.

The weatherman called for 90% chance of rain in the afternoon and after we left the Basilica it was drizzling, but then it stopped during the march.  The sky was gray and gloomy, but the spirits were high which made the day much brighter for sure.

After our group gathered at the Navy Memorial, we marched with an estimated 300,000-500,000 pro-lifers. It’s hard to know the exact number, but based on previous year’s estimations, I’m guessing this many people might have attended this year’s march.   There were men, women, and children from all ages, races, religions, and walks of life joining together to stand for life one step and prayer at a time.  It was breathtaking, exhilarating, and powerful to walk among the masses.  There was a sea of love, as one friend put it.  There was no anger, fear, or hate in the crowds.  Rather, there was a feeling of security, hope, peace, joy, and love and all the young people present gave me hope for our future.
Here is a video clip I took while walking in the march.  The young people are shouting, “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how ’bout you!”
Here is the video.

Speaking of our young generation, here are a few beautiful teens that I know from my homeschool group.  They and about 13 others came to the march and are part of our local Teens for Life group. Not only are they shining witnesses for life, but they also love spreading the message of life with bright smiles and duct tape!  Awesome!    

Like last year, I love all the signs that float through the massive crowds  Here is a slideshow of some signs that I saw:

View slide show Here.

At one point while we were walking we noticed two businessmen watching from high above the crowds from their office windows.  We were waving at them to get their attention and they waved back. I wanted to be up there to witness from their vantage point the hundreds of thousands marching.   I was wondering what they were thinking?  Were they encouraged as pro-lifers themselves?  Maybe they were in awe of the crowd, despite being pro-choice?  Maybe they were wondering how the news media could continue to miss this BIG story about March for Life each year?  Maybe they were amazed that so many people could come together peacefully?  Whatever they were thinking or feeling, we as pro-lifers might have planted seeds in their hearts to always defend life!   

Here are photos of the crowds.  Like last year’s march, I never saw the beginning or the end of the march and I hear the numbers who attend gets higher and higher!

One of my friends from our group had this to say about the march. “We joined in the march at 2:00 PM. It was shuffle, shuffle, stop. Repeat. On the hill itself, it was so crowded that we had to make full stops about 7 times. From the bottom of the hill to the top where the route turns on First Street to the Supreme Court, it was packed. I didn’t see any gaps. We were like sardines. If you had claustrophobia, you would’ve felt it at the National Archives. The official end of the March came at about 4 PM with the fife and drum and bagpipe corps of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, who run the America Needs Fatima campaign, marching behind Our Lady of Fatima statue. They always bring up the rear.”

We stopped at the Congressional Building for a small reception and to listen to our NC Senator, Richard Burr, speak.  We also listened to Congresswoman Renee Ellmers.  Both gave the audience words of encouragement to keep marching on to defend life.

After we left the Senate building, we headed toward the Supreme Court where we listened to women tell their stories about how they had an abortion and how much they have suffered physically, mentally, physcologically, emotionally, and spiritually from their decision.  It was heartbreaking to hear their stories, but they share their stories to help others through a project called Silent No More Awareness Campaign

A few feet from where the women were speaking there were different signs that were being held up.  It didn’t even register in my mind that these signs were not like the ones I was blessed to see all day during the march.  No, seeing these signs made me sad…because these women’s stories were filled with pain, grief, sadness, confusion and even hope, but only a few feet away pro-abortion signs were being held up proudly.   I snapped a picture of signs that read “Keep Abortion Legal” and the pro-life signs that read “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “Face It….Abortion Kills a Person”.  My 11 year old daughter didn’t understand why anyone would want to keep abortion legalized.  She kept asking me “why?”  I told her I don’t understand it myself, but we need to keep standing up for life and praying for conversions so that all people will see that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God and each life, no matter how small, no matter the circumstance, is sacred and valuable. 

I conclude this year’s March for Life with this video and quotes by Mother Teresa:
 

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters”
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. ”
“Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents, and have grown up so full of love and joy!”
February 1997 – National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by the President and the First Lady. “What is taking place in America,” she said, “is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another.”
“Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”
“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” 

Why do we March for L.I.F.E.?  
 because Life Is For Everyone! 

No Ordinary Blog Hop

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