Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loyal Little Flowers

These ideas were developed by me for my local group and are not a part of the official Little Flowers Girls Club ® created by Rachel Watkins. To purchase the excellent materials and begin your own local group, please visit

This post is mostly for the benefit of all the girls who had to miss Friday's meeting (and received their materials in the mail), so no photos or file uploads (yet).

We had another great meeting! The parish where we normally meet was using all their meeting rooms, so we met at the home of one of the girls. Thanks for your generosity! It worked out really well, and the girls were thrilled to get to run around outside before and after the meeting and during snacktime!

Once I pulled them away from the great outdoors, we began in prayer. Instead of speaking right away to the girls about Loyalty, I decided to read them the story about St. Lucy in Sixty Saints for Girls, because I just love those stories SO much! We did talk about the many ways St. Lucy was loyal to her mother and to God.

We talked about to whom we can/should be loyal: friends, family, parents, siblings, schools, pets, religious communities, sports teams, stores, brand names, political candidates, Church, and most importantly God. We discussed what loyalty looks like, and I shared several examples of being loyal or disloyal. I shared how we have to choose carefully to whom or to what to be loyal, as we should not be loyal to those who do not deserve it. And, I tried to explain that being loyal does not mean we do not ever tell on another person. The girls seemed to understand that it is really important to tell an adult in certain circumstances, even if they were told not to do so by a friend or family member.

Then, I had the three rose groups go off to practice and then act out several stories from Bill Bennett's Book of Virtues and Moral Compass anthologies. A mom read the stories out loud for the youngest two groups as they performed, and the oldest group chose narrators to read their own. All groups chose to change the main character to girls instead of boys. :) The stories I chose were: "Hans the Shepherd Boy" (MC), "The Cap That Mother Made" (BoV), and "The Most Precious Thing" (MC). The oldest group had the last story, and they modified it to be two friends living together instead of husband and wife; it worked well!

I explained that our flower is the poppy and read the poem "In Flander's Field," and we talked about the loyalty of soldiers (more info here). This was in preparation for our craft, which we started after snack time. The girls made two poppies from Oriental Trading Company, which are very pretty when finished. On one flower, they put a note or drawing for a veteran to thank him/her for his/her service. I am going to mail these flowers to the VA hospital in town. (those of you who did the craft at home might want to pass along your extra poppies to a soldier or veteran in the family)

When the girls finished their craft, they immediately made their virtue pages (this was because during snack we moved tables into the main room for crafts). Then, we closed our meeting by singing the Scripture song, saying closing prayers, and distributing patches.

We only have one more meeting and then our end of wreath party! I cannot believe it has gone by so quickly! (but I'm pretty glad, as I have less and less energy these days!)

Good Shepherd Garden Parties

I keep meaning to post about how some of my Catholic homeschooling mama friends and I are celebrating the Garden of the Good Shepherd with our children! When we heard that Jessica and Charlotte were doing once-a-week parties instead of every day activities, we were elated at the prospect of simplification!

If you have no idea of what I write, you can visit Shower of Roses or Waltzing Matilda to learn more! The calendar is available for purchase hereand here, but you can print your own stickers and follow the directions to make your own poster here, too.

What We're Doing

We took the ideas from these two blogs from previous years and this year's recipes and are rotating homes hosting our very own Good Shepherd Garden Parties every Monday afternoon (the day that worked best for everyone because our children all take gymnastics together that day). Each party includes snacks, stories, crafts, etc... corresponding to the symbols for the coming week's stickers. Each mom only has to plan and host one party, because there are seven families participating (how cool is that?)!

We have the LTP poster, but the stickers are beginning to tear after two years of use, so I printed our own for this year. Each day with my children, I am still putting the symbol stickers on the poster, reading the reflection that comes with the store-bought calendar, and reading the Scripture. Inspired by Charlotte's idea to put the reflection and stickers in plastic eggs, each morning I hide an egg in our schoolroom for the children to find (or two or three, since we sometimes get behind like after the weekend). They take turns coloring the stickers while I read the reflection and Scripture and put it on our homemade poster. This has been very popular! And, I just don't have a good place to hang the eggs like she did, although it looks beautiful!

Week One

I hosted our first garden party. First, I welcomed everyone and wished the children a Merry Christmas (it was the day after Easter Sunday), confusing them even more by pulling out and reading The Legend of the Candy Cane. We talked about the candy cane representing a shepherd's crook, which led nicely into that day's symbol. I shared a little bit more about Jesus as the Good Shepherd and how the calendar works. Before the meeting, I had made prayer cards with a picture of our archbishop for the families to take home and remember our bishops are our shepherds, too.

Then, we popped some popcorn with our air popper and used the same discussion Jessica had last year about keeping the sheep (us) in the sheepfold (the bowl) and how the ones that fly across the kitchen (many of the children had never seen an air popper do this, so it was quite entertaining) are like when we wander away and sin. We used the Jerusalem's Gate craft from Little Saints (basically the children decorated a coloring page of heaven's gate with crayons, glitter, and cotton) and this quilling activity of a Sheep Notecard holder as our crafts. Each child chose one to complete, eating popcorn as they worked. Some took their quilling home to finish.

Next, I gathered the children for the story of Saint Francis and the Wolf and talked about keeping the sheep safe. Since it was common knowledge that wolves eat sheep, we closed by passing out lamb cupcakes for the children to devour like hungry wolves!

Everything was kept very simple and worked very well. It was easy to plan and easy to do!

Week Two

This week, another mom hosted. I am pretty sure she won't mind if I post what she did. She started out by showing the children her completed sticker poster focusing on the Lord's Table. She talked about how to demonstrate hospitality by setting the table and sharing a meal with guests. She had a handout of a place setting to give the children to take home and practice setting the table. She also read the adorable poem "Hey Diddle, Diddle! The Plate's in the Middle!" from Everyday Graces: A Child's Book Of Good Manners.

After demonstrating good hospitality by offering the children each a chair, she served yummy biscuits with butter and honey. She took croissant rolls and biscuits and split them in two, putting in honey and butter before baking. While the children ate, she read It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw which is a favorite, demonstrated by the accompanying recitation she had (and appears to be out of print :( so check your library).

Next, the children used purple paint to make fingerprint bunches of grapes. She gave them a Scripture verse to glue on the page when they were done. This was great! After a little break, she pulled out huge trays of fruit for the children to enjoy and wowed them with the old presliced banana trick! While they devoured the fruit, she asked them questions from a fruit quiz she had found on Enchanted Learning. Very fun!

Not Too Late!

As you can see, we are keeping it easy like Jessica and Charlotte, but we modified their idea to include more than just food but still only one thing for each symbol. I'll try to post photos if any of my cohorts have some. As you may have figured out by now, one of my blogging faults is forgetting to use my camera to capture such fun moments!

It's not too late to join the fun! We've only just begun the second week of Easter, and there are seven whole weeks. Check out the links and see what will work for your children! This is such a fun way to remember all 50 days of Easter!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moments for Moms --- Begin Again

The joy of Easter is still with us, but reality sinks in. The children are cranky from too much sugary treats and lack of routine over the last two weeks. Mom is realizing just why she always schools almost full-time through the summer (except this year) as the calendar reveals how little time we have to get done so much. It's raining, and all the children keep begging to do is play outside. Sigh!

Anyone feeling overwhelmed on this Monday? Me, too.

I could try to encourage you to keep plugging away (but I'm tired). I could tell you that it will be better tomorrow (but it might be worse). I could remind you that each of us was put in this place at this time by God, and that He has a reason for the character-building days you face.

Instead, I'll share some inspiration from other blogging mamas who have much more wisdom and experience in these trying times than I do. Although, I have written on this topic before.

1. The path is narrow. Allison posted about this list last month, and I SO appreciated her positive spin on it. If we are truly working towards our sanctification, it is going to be hard work.

2. Of course,
Ann never ceases to amaze me with her simple, poetic honesty. All we must do is the very next thing...for Him.

Elizabeth's thoughts are truly priceless both on her blog and in her book. Namely, "The soul is healed by being with children," wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Stay away from that which discourages and surround yourself with encouragement.

Karen reminds me to choose one or two things that will ensure a smoother day tomorrow. I am soon off to make a very short list!

5. Finding balance requires sacrifice and hard stops. Only prayer can make this possible. Thanks for reminding me, Jennifer!

And so, I will begin again, immediately, to serve God in this vocation He has most definitely chosen for me! His mercies may be new each morning, but I'm claiming them right now!