The “Hail Mary” in Art

Here’s a little Mother’s Day gift for you! For the month of May, I’m teaching Junior to pray the “Hail Mary”. Since he’s such a visual learner, I made these cards for him: an art masterpiece for each line of the “Hail Mary”. I hope they’ll help him to understand the meaning of each line in the prayer as he memorizes it. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Looking at beautiful sacred art is truly a path to prayer. If you have little ones who are just learning to pray, I hope this will help:

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Just Released! A Novel About St. Dominic Savio, the Teenage Saint

Dominic Savio is the kind of saint anyone could be best friends with.

Full of laughter and entirely down to earth, he was a normal teenage kid who easily won his classmates’ hearts and was voted second place in a popularity contest at school – not at all the stiff-necked and unapproachable person some may think him to be. Yet beyond the joy spilling out of his character lay an intensely strong ardor and uncompromisingly high set of ideals which continuously pushed him closer and closer toward his first and greatest Friend – God. He never flaunted his virtue but it shone through him everywhere he was.

The kids on the nearby, questionable streets of Turin cut short their profanity when they saw him coming. Bullies and troublemakers turned around almost unfailingly when their teacher strategically seated them near Savio. Even Saint Don Bosco himself often asked his pupil for advice and never regretted taking it. In Dominic Savio, the boys of the Oratory found an example of holiness whom they respected rather than disdained. They wanted to be like him.

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A Super Easy St. Patrick’s Day Craft

Hello! St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share this Holy Trinity Shamrock craft with you. I wanted a good visual that would help my kids understand why St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity.

Here’s what I came up with:

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Free Advent and Christmas Art Cards for Little Ones

Preparing for Advent, I’ve been thinking about how to make this time meaningful for my little guy, Junior. Since he loves pictures, I made him a collection of art cards that depict the Christmas Story. And since he loves nursery rhymes, I added short little poems to go with each picture. The verses are very simple and repetitive, so he can understand and repeat the words. My hope is that by looking at the pictures and saying the verses, Junior will see the beauty of the Christmas story. Sacred art really has the power to draw us into contemplation.

Come take a peek:

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Advent and Christmas Activities for Preschoolers with (and without) Down Syndrome

With many schools being closed yet again, I thought I’d share our Advent traditions and what Junior and I are doing for the month of December.

Here goes….

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Even the Saints Could be Difficult Children

Sanctity. For many of us, this is what we want above all for our children. We want them to grow up to be devout, holy Catholics filled with grace and virtue. 

But sometimes that seems impossible. When our kids are obstinate, quarrelsome, selfish, or hot-tempered, it seems there is no way they will overcome their faults and grow up to be mature, generous adults… let alone saints!

So for this Feast of All Saints, I did some dirt digging.  Saints are not born, but made, though the mercy and grace of God.  When we feel discouraged about our kids, it helps to hear about saints who were normal as children — usually very good but sometimes really challenging.

Here are three children who were difficult at times and still grew up to be saints:

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Reading Comprehension with 20 Saints

Here’s a project I recently completed for my third and fifth grader: I made a reading comprehension workbook for 20 saints stories from Anne Heffernan’s 57 Stories of Saints. When possible, I like to combine subjects. This workbook will allow my kids to learn about the inspiring lives of twenty saints while sharpening their reading comprehension skills. Take a look:

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Painting Kitchen Cabinets, Conscience, and Confession in the Rain

Recently, the kids and I undertook a huge project: we painted the kitchen cabinets. That is, we scrubbed the cabinets, dismantled them, sanded them, primed them, painted them, and painted them again and again. We also boiled, scrubbed, and spray painted the old hinges so we could reuse them.

Truth be told, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we started.

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What Prayer Might Look Like if You’re a Saintly Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms! I hope your children spoil you with lots of love and appreciation! Here’s my little bit of encouragement for all you moms who are seeking holiness in the midst of children, chores, and distractions.

St. Frances of Rome. Have you heard of her? She was a 15th c. wife, mother, and mystic. (I never thought it possible for mom and mystic to go together, but there you have it.) At the age of twelve she earnestly desired to become a nun. (She probably noticed that nuns tend to look serene, whereas mothers tend to look harried.) However, her father had already arranged her marriage. When she went weeping to her spiritual director about about it, he told her to stop seeking her own will and to start accepting God’s.

Reluctantly she married the wealthy nobleman her father had chosen for her. It turned out to be a long and happy marriage; she and Lorenzo loved eachother dearly. Between raising three children and managing a large, bustling household (castle, actually), Frances was very busy. But she never lost her desire for a deep contemplative prayer life.

For those of you who struggle to find time alone for prayer, I thought you’d appreciate this wonderful description of what St. France’s prayer life was like when her children were young:

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Children’s Consecration to Mary

A happy and blessed Easter to you all!

With May just around the corner, it’s time to think about May devotions and how we can draw our families closer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For us, that means a pilgrimage to a shrine of Our Lady (if one will be open!), praying the rosary with more love and devotion, and renewing our consecration to Mary.

Consecrating ourselves and our children to the Mother of God is one of the most beautiful devotions a family can do. So I am excited to tell you we have something special to help your family with this wonderful devotion:

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