I could not let this day pass without acknowledging the feast of St. Louis de Montfort and St. Gianna Molla, always a beautiful harbinger of Our Lady's month of May.
St. Louis de Montfort, apostle of Mary, pray for us!
St. Gianna Molla, wife and mother, pray for us!
With Our Lady's month of May just around the corner, this seemed a perfect time to revisit a project that has been a hit with our local group for almost ten years: holy water fonts. We have made them many different ways, but this method was the first and favorite. Plain wooden plaques from the craft store in a variety of appealing shapes, sturdy plastic shot glasses from the party store, beads, snow white crucifixes, and holy cards make up these simple crafts, perfect for a crowd of all ages. Paints would add a great deal to the look of the project, but I decided to spare the children's clothes in an effort to maintain my friendship with the local moms.
When preparing a craft for a large group of children, it helps to do a bit of prep work. I hot-glued the shot glasses to the plaques in advance:
Patrick wants you to know that this is the one he glued on for Mommy. (Thank you, Pat!)
Thanks to this beautiful group of crafters (not to mention another table full) . . .
. . . those plain plaques were transformed into something glorious and well worth cherishing:
The best projects for a crowd are the ones that all look unique in the end!
Another way to use these would be by putting fresh flowers in the cups with a bit of water.
"Queen of Cute" Kelli B. shows her creation:
An afternoon of crafting works up a thirst, as you can see. Maureen's "crocs" come in handy as she goes full toe to reach the water fountain.
And a good time was had by all!
Holy water fonts, cost per project: under $2 (99 cents for plaques, plus decorations and cups; shot glasses come in packages of 50 for about $3.50, but consider improvising with film canisters, deep bottle caps, or plastic Easter egg halves)
What a joy it was to watch our Holy Father on television today, particularly (for me) the Yankee Stadium coverage. The day began threateningly cloudy and some were afraid it might rain, but, once again, the sun came out for the pope! Just as it did twenty-nine years ago.
I watched the coverage from a particularly memorable venue--the local emergency room. Eileen had a gash to the forehead from a run in with a coffee table, and the two of us spent almost three hours waiting for her stitches. The time flew quickly with our pope's smiling face on the screen and the strains of Ode to Joy ringing in our ears. The anchor people on local news 9 spent a long time marveling at the unexpected sunshine, and I felt like an eleven year old girl again.
God is good!
Habemus Papam! We have a pope on our shore! What a joyous time for celebration!
Last week, we met a large group of friends to get ready. The children loved listening to the story of Pope Benedict's life as told by his cat, Chico: Joseph and Chico by Jeanne Perego (Ignatius). The nice thing about this biography for children is that it was approved by the Vatican and beautifully illustrated. After storytime, we made birthday cards for the Holy Father and discussed plans to celebrate his 81st together tomorrow. I shared a few memories of Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979 and told the story of the impromptu celebration we had the day Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope.
Here are ideas for making this Papal visit a memorable one, whether or not you managed to get tickets to any of the planned events:
* Visit Pflaum's website for reproducible activities called "Celebrate the Visit."
* Host a birthday party for Pope Benedict XVI on April 16th. Hang welcome signs, bake a Black Forest cake, make cards--anything to bring joy to the children on that special day. If you do not have eighty-one candles, use sixteen!
* Treat the children to dinner at local German restaurant or prepare an authentic German meal to mark the visit.
* Pray for the pope's safety and success at bedtime every night. Pray for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II.
* Yellow ribbon hung outside the home is a symbol of waiting and welcome--adapt this tradition for our Holy Father with yellow and white ribbon, the colors of the Papal flag.
* Create "Papal Visit" notebooks adapted from the Pope John Paul II Memorial notebooks we made three years ago when our beloved JPII passed away. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings would make a meaningful keepsake for the children to show their own little ones some day.
* Talk to the children about vocations, reminding them to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire their choices, remembering to listen for God's call.
* Did you know that our pope collects figurines of cats? Have the children make sculptures of cats from Sculpey or Model Magic. Even felt might be used for this simple project.
* Make "Ratzinger Salad."
The day Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, we were on our way to a friend's house for a playdate and did not hear the news right away. My friend Elizabeth greeted us in the driveway looking elated, "We have a Pope! It's Ratzinger!!!" Still in mourning for Pope John Paul II, it was such a joyful moment to learn that his dear friend would be our new "Papa." Three or four other families were with us and the playdate turned into a party and celebration of a new beginning. My children still love the dish we christened "Ratzinger Salad" on that day, simply because Elizabeth happened to serve it. Here is the recipe:
Mix cold cooked shells or rotelli pasta, tuna, mayonnaise, chopped red and yellow bell pepper, and chopped tomato in a large serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
This salad is delicious and easily multiplied for a crowd.
May you and your children have a memorable visit with the Holy Father! His faithful presence is exactly what our country needs right now.
A week or so ago, our family discovered the most wonderful website ever: Storynory.
We are all enjoying listening to classic stories beautifully narrated and unmodernized, and there are dozens of them, so it will be a great while before we have heard them all.
When Spring returns, I am always particularly eager for the children to be "unplugged," avoiding computer activities in favor of time spent outdoors. This is one site I will always encourage, particularly if I can sit right by their side and hear the tales myself!
[Please note: We have not come close to listening to all the stories. Based on what we have heard so far, I am assuming there are not problematic elements in any of them.]
If you have a moment, please take a look at my most recent column for The Long Island Catholic. It is a remembrance of Pope John Paul II's visit to New York when I was an eleven year old girl and all he meant to people our age--the "John Paul II generation."
On this third anniversary of his death, we pray for the repose of the soul of our beloved "Papa" and ask him to help us as we raise a new generation of young Catholics ready to uphold and embrace our blessed faith.
Before long, Pope Benedict XVI will be in the United States to bless us with his presence. If you are interested in preparing your children for his historic visit, take a look at Pflaum's website for a wonderful array of activities. It seems only yesterday that Pflaum's materials formed a portion of the Pope John Paul II Memorial notebook project my children and I began working on only a week after our Holy Father's death. The plans and helpful discussion surrounding them may still be found at the 4Real Message Board.
Rest in peace, dearest Papa. We love you.
Pope John Paul II walks the field at Shea Stadium (you will note the sunshine on his head--a reminder of how completely the rain stopped for his entrance). This image was taken from The Queens Tribune.
Michele Quigley has started a beautiful new message board called Family-Centered Living. What a wonderful spot for sharing and learning!
It will also be the perfect place to discuss the upcoming Family-Centered Learning Conference. I am so hoping to meet many of you there!
Earlybird registration remains open until May 10th.