Friday, December 9, 2011

Smiley Boxes

You do know that the smile on the end of these boxes is intended to remind parents to let their children play with them?! Hours of happy fun with an empty box and packing paper! Great for all ages! We even had a Juan Diego tilma! You can't beat the simple toys! This one is number 2 on the 5 Best Toys of All Time!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary's Stories

I am trying to keep Advent simpler this year. We are narrating the stories of Christmas, and the children truly do capture the simplicity of the story. Here are two to honor Our Lady on this Feast Day:

The Annunciation
by 6 yo ds

There’s Mary. A angel goes to her and tells her that she’s going to have a baby and she should call him Jesus. The end.

The Visitation
by 9 yo dd

Once Mary heard the news, she went to Elizabeth’s house and when John the Baptist, who was in Elizabeth’s tummy, heard that Mary was going to have a baby called Jesus, he jumped for joy. The end.

May your Advent be filled with the simple truth and beauty of the stories of Christmas!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mom Achievement Award --- TG

Recently, my husband received an award at work. I was so proud of him that I immediately emailed my very best friend, because I knew she would understand. And, I was pretty sure my husband wasn't going to tell anyone at all, since he is far from the bragging type.

In response, she wrote this:

Consider this email your "[Antonina] achievement award." Your friends know how fabulous you are because you stick by us and love us unconditionally. Your family knows how amazing you are for being so loving and committed. We just hope YOU know how great you are. God loves you and so do we!!!

Her words made me grin from ear to ear. We are mothers. We do not seek recognition for changing diapers, washing laundry, or mopping floors. Our achievements, such as getting dinner on the table and settling a dispute between irate siblings, are significant only to our immediate family. But, they are still significant.

Yes, God has called us to this vocation. It is impossible to have children without His hand, and He has sent us the perfect number, ages, genders, and personalities to bring out the best in ourselves. Of course, that means many, many character building days, as He chisels away our undesirable attributes and leads us to holiness. The only reward we truly seek is our eternal reward.

So, my dear friend, as publicly as I can, I want to recognize you (and hopefully others in the future) for your achievements as a mother. For even if no one else sees your hard work and dedication, God sees, and I know from being your friend, that He is pleased.

TG, I hereby declare that your admirable determination to bless your children with profound faith in God and noble spirit of service to others has been noticed. You consistently maintain the priorities of prayer and selflessness in your family, and that is to be applauded. And, of course, your unconditional love for your children, demonstrated by the continual personal sacrifices you make on their behalf, is officially recognized in this declaration. May our Lord bless your family and your vocation as a mother!

Who deserves a Mom Achievement Award from you today?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


We all know the story of the talents in the Gospel. God blesses each of us with various talents, and we are called to multiply those talents to glorify Him. (Matthew 25: 14-30)

God has given me the people and responsibilities AND talents that will enable me to best glorify Him everyday. I am a wife, a mother, and a homeschooler. I have three remarkable children and a devoted husband. Each of these personalities and relationships are specially designed by the Lord to lead me to Him.

What is my greatest talent? What unique attribute has God chosen for me to give back to Him in service? What does He want to multiply in me to profound effect in my life and the lives of those around me?

I have often been the subject of jokes praise about my gift of organization. At my wedding, to begin the homily, our pastor shared with everyone that the morning of my wedding, when most brides are hurrying and scurrying about with last-minute preparations, I took the time to change my old hotmail email address from my maiden name to my married name. (I really didn’t have anything else to do!)

In college, I held numerous leadership positions where organizing a large number of people (i.e. 300+) and/or organizations (50+) was crucial. After college, I continued to take on leadership roles that required complex organizational skills with scheduling, personnel, and activity coordination. Even after having children, I continue to take on volunteer roles, intending to use this God-given talent of organization.

I enjoy organizing things, actually. It comes naturally, and I take pleasure in seeing beautifully mapped out schedules and orderly systems. Lists and charts are my friends, and I create them constantly.

This is my fifth official year of homeschooling, and I realized this summer that I have not utilized my talent of organization to its potential to allow the Lord to work as mightily as He could. I recognize that I was stopping short of giving my very best. I was doing a good job but wanted to challenge myself to do more.

Part of my fallen nature must block the part of my brain that says it makes sense to give my all to those closest to me. We do this all of the time, speaking more kindly to strangers than to our family, saying yes to those outside of our home while too many things inside are undone.

So, I have this talent, and if I use it as God intends in my family, it follows that we should be even more blessed than we already are! What gift is God asking you to use more effectively in your daily life?


Monday, December 5, 2011

May the Force Be With You

Just a quick fun post for a cold Monday! I was at a friend's house this morning watching her little ones while our big kids went on a field trip. Her four-year-old remembered from visiting my house once last year that we have pool noodle light sabers!

These have been one of the most fabulous toys ever! Our home is not opposed to toy weapons, per se, but we definitely want them to look like toys and not injure anyone. Enter my daughter's request for a Star Wars birthday party one year and a quick Google search finding these instructions! Pool noodles and black duct tape? Even this non-crafty mom can do that!

Yes, I have been corrected for making a yellow light saber. According to Wiki, they are only in certain video games. And, I was also chastised for not finding a purple or red noodle (the only ones that were close to red were pink). The party was in September, so I really was lucky to find any pool noodles left at WalMart!

If you have any pool noodles left from the summer and any Star Wars fans, this is a great way to burn off some energy indoors on these cold winter days. Even my 18 month old participates in light saber fights here and often will bring me a light saber, holding one himself, to request a battle!