Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saints, simplified

With All Saints Day coming up the kids are excited and talking on a regular basis of who they are going to "be".  I have to admit, I find this all rather stressful.  I think it has to do with the costumes.  Or actually, making the costumes. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not crafty and sewing is something I've never found relaxing.  Social Butterfly, on the other hand, must be blessed with some genes from her Mom Mom!  But, this post isn't about sewing, it's about the saints.

We love to read about the saints here.  Each day that there is a feast, my kids want to hear the story of that particular saint. But sometimes, like All Saints Day costumes, it can get to be "too much".  Doing a search on line for a particular saint will bring up all sorts of recipes and crafts to do.  It's easy to get caught up in it all and think, in order to remember a particular saint, this that and the other thing need to be done.  I recently read a blog post here that addresses this very thing.  My kids love the crafts and the special foods, and sometimes we do add those things to our day, but, as the blogger above says, it's really about the story.

So that's what I've concentrated on this year.  We have done absolutely no crafts for any of the saints we have studied and, true confession time, I haven't even prepared a special food for any of the saint's feast days.  I'm not saying it's best, I'm just saying it's what is happening here.  Instead we just read the story, talk about how we can imitate that saint and move on.  If I have a picture or statue, we put it on our window sill to remind us of the day.  It's working out fine.  I just finally came to the realization that for us, remembering a saint on this more ... "normal" level means we are more likely to get to it.  When I keep things simple, we actually do read about each and every saint and talk about them.  When I think I need to make a special cake or buy ingredients for a special craft in order to honor a saint, it often just doesn't get done.  When I know  that during prayer time today we are simply going to read about that saint it happens every time.

I thought I would mention a few resources that I use on a regular basis for reading about the saints.  There are many, many books and web sites about saints and if I wanted to list all that I know about it would take pages and pages.  But these are my "go to" resources, the ones we use all the time. 

Catholic Mosaic - I love this book.  The author, Cay Gibson, is a homeschool mom who compiled a list of beloved saints and found picture books for each.  I have slowly collected most of these picture books and my children enjoy hearing them read each year on the saint's particular feast day.  She also gives suggestions for crafts, copywork, and much more.  As I said above though, this year we are just concentrating on the story and it's working great.
Fenestrae Fidei - This is the companion coloring book for Catholic Mosaic.  It's easy for me to include the coloring pages because I will let the kids color while I read.  This is a great activity for fidgety kids.  Another resource for coloring pages is the Waltzing Matilda Blog where the talented author has many saints coloring pages available.

Picture Book of Saints  We use this book on a regular basis.  It is part of our morning prayer routine.  Whenever it is a feast day, we look here first to find the story of the saint.  It is written for children, with short paragraphs but it gives great information.  Actually, my kids will read through this book at random times during the year.  It's always with our morning prayer resources so they know where to go to get it.  For my older children it will often inspire them to learn more about the saints.  This time of year it is particularly useful, because of the pictures, for putting together costumes for All Saints Day celebrations.

Catholic Culture Liturgical Year If I can't find information about a particular saint in the resources above, or when the kids want to learn more about a saint, we go to this great web site.  In years past, when I had more energy for crafts and recipes, this site was used often for ideas. 

Along with remembering the saints on their feast days, my children are also reading about a particular saint on a regular basis.  This is part of their school work.  For this purpose, the younger kids (K - 2nd grade) use one of these books:
Once Upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints  The stories are relatively short and I read them to the children.  Afterwards, the kids do a narration of what they have learned and usually draw a picture.  The neat thing about these books is that many of the saints in them aren't commonly known.  Did you know there was a Saint Kentigern, or a Saint Pharaildis?

Vision Books of the saints  These are the books the older kids use.  They read them to learn more about the entire life of the saint.  I will occasionally read one of these biographies to the kids as part of our Tea Time reading.

So now I'm off to find the makings for our various costumes this year.  Builder wants to be St. Sebastian, arrows and all. 

This is going to be tricky!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Builder's Birthday

We were blessed with a beautiful day for Builder's birthday celebration.

It started with a trip to Builder's favorite "hiking place".  Hiking is something all of us enjoy so when Builder requested that on his birthday everyone was quite happy to oblige.

While Builder enjoys hiking, there is more to this place that he finds interesting. It is a rather short trail, I think just a little over a mile, which makes it perfect for Beany at this age. But all along the trail, at different stopping points, there are little forts or playhouses set up. These were donated by various companies in the community. The kids really enjoy coming upon them and exploring them before we move on to the next.

The "Look Out Tower" is another big hit. The kids enjoy climbing the many steps to the top so they can see the whole area from above.

Then there is the "grand finale". The last stop on the trail includes what looks like a mess! It is actually a "Build Your Own Fort" area. Builder loves this! All the kids enjoy it really, but Builder is always the last to want to leave. Even Dad enjoyed the break to check his favorite team's score!

After the hike we moved on to the second thing Builder requested for his birthday: a Happy Meal! I usually let the kids choose what they would like for their birthday dinner. The older kids always seem to want to go to the expensive steakhouse or to have some elaborate meal that takes half the day to prepare. I admit, while Happy Meals aren't my idea of a healthy dinner, I was relieved that his request was so simple!

Then it was home for birthday cake and icecream and presents! It was a great day.
Note: You may have noticed someone else in a couple of these pictures!  I do not have a daughter that is older than Social Butterfly.  Night Owl's "friend" joined us for the day!