Holy Ducklings

Thursday, November 29, 2012

10 Ways To Make Advent Special For Your Little Ducklings :)

Hello everyone! I thought I'd compile a list of activities that can make Advent a really special time for you and your family. It's easy to get sucked into the commercialism of it all...so here is a compilation of things to keep it simple and to keep Christ in Christmas...God Bless & Have Fun :)

1. Buy/Make an Advent wreath for your home. 
On the first day of Advent, light the first purple candle on your wreath. Our family sings various traditional Christmas hymns around the wreath such as Veni, Emmanuel and Adeste Fideles. Continue lighting the candles each week for the coming of the Christ Child. The last week, light the purple candle in celebration of the arrival of Jesus.The website Catholic Icing has a super cute advent wreath craft to make with your children :)

2. Read a Verse from Luke 2 Every Night. 
Break it up so that you read a little each night until Christmas. Explain to your Little Ducklings what each verse means and give examples for their understanding. This is very important to help little ones familiarize themselves with the story of Christ's birth. 

3. Print/Hang a Scripture Chain. 
This has more meaning instead of the plain red/green paper ones that signify nothing. The website The Things I Love Most has a wonderful ready-to-print chain. Now, the countdown to Christmas will have meaning :)

4. Emphasize Charitable Acts. 
This should be done year round, but there are so many opportunities this time of year to really GIVE GIVE GIVE. One fun way is to anonymously surprise a neighbor by leaving cookies, a gift, or a card on their doorstep. I know someone that collects change all year long and leaves the jar on a stranger's doorstep.....SO NEAT :) Donating toys or money to charities also teaches young ducklings the beauty of giving.

5. Attend Midnight Mass On Christmas Eve.
If your church offers this, in my opinion, it's got to be one of the most beautiful visions I have ever laid eyes upon; the dark interior church lit by masses of bright candles, the light's reflection of the nativity and life-size crucifix....all surrounded by beautiful pre-lit Christmas trees. Not to mention, the glorious Latin mass sung with Traditional hymns. 

6. Celebrate the Feast of St.Nicholas & St. Lucia
These feasts are quite fun for the little ones during advent....and very important. St.Nicholas's feast lands on December 6th. St. Nicholas, who we now call Santa Clause lived in the third century. It is said that he tossed money into the window of the home of 3 poor sisters who were destitute of dowries. The money landed in their shoes....or stockings they say. To celebrate his feast day each year, we put our own shoes out on December 5th night to awaken the next morning to them full of treats :) 

St. Lucia's feast day is December 13th. She was a martyr born in Sicily. It was said that she brought food to Christians who practiced their faith in dark tunnels to avoid persecution. In order to see in the dark tunnels, she wore a wreath of candles on her head. On her feast day, we celebrate by dressing in white (with a red sash around the waist), wearing a wreath on our head, and making a feast of bread. My site has a tutorial on how to make a Saint Lucia wreath

7. Set Up a Nativity Set & Attend a Live Nativity
What a beautiful way to get ready for the birth of Christ! I encourage you to only set up the animals and the manger right now because Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and the Three Wise Men haven't arrived yet. Set Mary and Joseph far away from the manger as they are making their long journey to the stable right now. Each day, move them a little closer. On Christmas Day, what a surprise it will be when your young ones wake up and find baby Jesus in the manger. It's up to you, but we also have the Three Wise Men come later and slowly make their journey to the Baby Jesus after Christmas is over. Another way to emphasize the beauty of Christ's birth is to go to a live nativity....this can be one of the most memorable gifts of the season. 

8. Pray the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena Every Night as a Family. 
Beautiful novena that keeps Christ's intention for the season close to your heart. Get the beautiful printable novena card from here http://joyfilledfamily.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-novena.html

9. Make your presents.
Making your presents can have more meaning.....they aren't bought from a cold Target shelf that has little thought into. I'm not saying buying your presents is all bad, but maybe make a few with your children to teach them about putting their hearts and time into something for somebody. 

10. Have a Birthday Party For Jesus
This is a great way to emphasize to your young ones that this is the day that Christ was born. What better way than a birthday party. Bake a cake and blow up the balloons. Adorn the cake with "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS." Have the kids make a present for him and wrap it under the tree. Last year, we did all of this and boy was it special. 
                         One of our many Christmas Decorations :)
God Bless, 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Time Capsule Santa Letters :)

A Time Capsule Santa Letter is one of the neatest heirlooms that we have implemented in our household. Every Christmas, the kids write or attempt  to write their letter to Santa after meandering through the current Fleet Farm catalog for endless hours. We try not to focus too much on the material part of Christmas, but we still do the whole Santa/Saint Nicholas thing secondary to the "true meaning" of Christmas.

After we have written our letters, we sign and seal them, and the kids race to the mailbox and stuff their letters in. Then, when they are sleeping that night, I sneak outside in the chilly air, open the mailbox, and snag their letters. The kids think the letters are on their long journey to the North Pole, but really, I have taken them and stuck them inside a special envelope locked up and sealed. Not because I'm the Grinch. but because when they are older, I plan to hand them their letters in a binder (and hopefully they can treasure them forever....without their own kids asking why Santa doesn't have the letters :) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Top 10 Nativity Picture Books

1. The Very First Christmas by Paul Maier

     One of my very favorites of the nativity....absolutely the most beautiful illustrations that portray Jesus's birth. The Very First Christmas

2. Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

The nativity from the perspective of a bunch of farm animals. Very cute :) Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers :)

3. The Christmas Story by Ruth Morehead

These cute kids put on a Christmas pageant of the nativity...perfect for toddlers and preschoolers :)

4. The Christmas Story by Kay Chorao

Beautiful Renaissance illustrations. 

5. The First Christmas by Carol Heyer 

Stunning, beautiful, and bold illustrations. Perfect for your preschooler to understand what Christmas is all about.

6. The Christmas Story by Jane Watson 

Another perfect book on the nativity for toddlers and preschoolers. Engaging and beautiful words and illustrations. 

7. Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer

The nativity from a camel's point of view. We also learn a lesson of giving/sacrificing for others...he ends up giving his blanket to the Christ child 

8. Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck

This is a touch-and-feel  Nativity book. Feel the Donkey's fur and peek at the wise man's jewels. Another great nativity book for toddlers and preschoolers.

9. The Animals Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

Rhyming story of the nativity from a group of animals point of view.

10. This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten

Yet another great one :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Letter of the Week Craft; B is for Bible

Our letter of the week craft is here; B is for Bible. After our bible lesson, we made this super cute personalized mini bible. 

Here is what you need:

*5 sheets of construction paper (any color)
*Cross sticker (optional)
*Ribbon or thick string
*Paper punch
*Bible (to choose bible verses of your liking)

First, take your sheets of paper and fold them each in half so that the width is 8 1/2 inches and the height is 6 inches. Then fold each of them again so that the width is 4 1/2 inches and the height is still 6 inches.

 Now, you should have 6 halves....now, intertwine them all to make a booklet (see picture below). Next, use the paper punch to make a hole on the top and the bottom of your mini Bible. Take your ribbon and weave it through the holes to tie the pages together. Make a tight knot or bow-tie. 

Next, write your child's name on top of the bible and personalize the cover. Then, search the bible for your child's favorite bible verses. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So why do you commemorate the saints?

"So why do you commemorate the saints?" is a tried and true statement that I receive from many that believe it's a form of idolatry. How do you respond to such a curious question? First, I pray for God's grace to answer with knowledge and wisdom so that I may guide others to the Catholic faith. And then, I tell them that we, as mere "human beings" on earth can never reach God's infinite perfection. 

We can strive to be like Christ, but we will never reach that perfection. A saint is more of a realistic expectation for us as "mere" human beings on earth to replicate. They are role models for my children instead of a "famous baseball player" or a "modern singer." They help my children reach their main goal in life; to be with God in heaven...not to achieve earthly desires. We will never stop praying to God first because he is our main focus and number 1, but we will also pray to the saints afterwards...because they are our earthly role models. Their stories of their life and faith give my children hope in a world of evil and selfishness. They help my children remember that our time here on earth is but a short flick of an eyelid and to keep God true to their hearts. 

May God Bless you all this election day 2012 :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Saint's Day Party 2012

This year's All Saints Day party was a blast! We started the day  with some finishing touches on our costumes and making some delicious soul cakes :) We also prepared for our Saint presentation for that night (each child dressed as a particular saint and presented a short speech about their lives). The winner in each age category was judged on best costume and presentation...winners received prizes such as holy candles, statues, etc. After the presentations, the kids ate soul cakes, prayed for poor souls, and played games. 

Our Soul Cakes :)

   Soul Cake toppers were made with popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners 

                                            Saint Vincent & Saint Lucia :)

Balloon pop Game :)

                                                                  Bean Bag Toss :)

                                                                     Group Photo :)

                                        Smile :) Another wonderful pic

                         My husband's beautiful carving; Jesus & Child