Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ideas for August Feast Days

Here are some of our favorite traditions for the month of August. This is by no means an exhaustive list, rather it's my way of creating a resource that I plan to revisit each year for myself! I hope you can find it beneficial as well!

Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Other Ideas
August 6th: Transfiguration
Jesus was transfigured on a mountain top. Take a hike up a mountain today!
Take a hike: Feast of the Transfiguration (2013

Other Ideas

August 11th: St. Clare

Feast of St. Clare (2011)

St. Clare Chicken Pot Pie. I formed the crust to look like a monstrance.
The Feast of St. Clare (2013)

Other Ideas
August 14th: St. Maximilian Kolbe

Other Ideas
August 15th: Assumption

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (2011)

Solemnity of the Assumption (2013)

Other Ideas
August 22th: Queenship of Mary

Other Ideas
August 23th: St. Rose of Lima

Other Ideas
August 27th: St. Monica

Other Ideas
August 28th: St. Augustine

Other Ideas
Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mission Monday: July 21st, 2014

It's Mission Monday time! Okay, it's been time for a Mission Monday post for a few months, but I slacked. Here's what's going on in our FOCUS world.

At the end of each year FOCUS puts together some official numbers on the results of our missionary efforts. While it's not about numbers, they do help us know if we are on the right track, and judging by the numbers I say we are!
  • Campuses: 99
  • States 34 + District of Columbia
  • Total Missionaries: 434
  • New Hires: 208
  • Religious Vocations to Date: 495 (95 in the last year alone!)
  • Regular Bible Study Attendees: 12,000+
Some of our 2014-2015 missionaries.

Kevin News
Kevin headed to Ave Maria, FL twice this summer to teach our over 200 new staff members how to lead a bible study and do apologetics. While he didn't take any pictures for the blog, he did send some cool glides of gigantic mutant bugs from Ave for the kids... but I don't think you'd find those as interesting as the kids did. His job is expanding once again this year and he is getting ready to welcome several new hires to his team! Over the next few months I plan on doing a "Meet the Team" series which will introduce the 9 people who will be under Kevin this year, so more on them and their great work is to come.

Lisa News
My exciting FOCUS news is that I will be transitioning out of my Family Liaison role over the next few months to free up more time for speaking and blogging for FOCUS... I have a fancy new speaker page at to prove it!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Journey Across America: Illinois

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post.

The Books:
We began by reading L is for Lincoln and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

I read the kids Country Crossing, for our Illinois picture book. While the setting of the book is in Illinois, the book is about trains and not the state... my 5 year old son did not complain. American Girl Molly is an Illinoisan, so Bean also read some of her books as well.

We also taught the kids about Illinois using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food:
We enjoyed some deep dish pizza straight from Old Chicago for our Illinois food. I think we studied Illinois about the time that meals from our friends were running out after the birth of Baby Peanut.

The Craft:
Good ole Abe Lincoln spent the majority of his life living in Illinois and rests there in Springfield, IL. Because of his many ties to the state we spent an afternoon playing with Lincoln Logs, which were named after Abraham, who was born in a one room log cabin.

We are moving on to Alabama next!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Edition 34

- 1 -

The Edel Gathering, it's one week away, and I just found out that I'm going! My sweet husband put me on the wait list without my knowledge and a spot opened up, so I'm going! In a few days I was able to book a free flight using points and find a roomie... well, actually up to 8. There was an extra spot in the Omni Penthouse, and oddly enough that was cheaper than getting a room by myself at LaQuinta. I can't wait to meet my BFFs for the weekend, it's going to be a huge slumber party.

- 2 -

I bought my shoes for the Edel crazy shoe party at the thrift store last night. (They were 50% off, yeeeees.) And ordered these as my starting point for spicing them up. Humm, where to go from here?

- 3 -

My trip to be a guest on EWTN's Life on the Rock has come and gone. You can read the recap here and watch the show on August 1st! (It was originally scheduled for the 8th, but it got bumped up.)

- 4 - 

Speaking of EWTN, my dear friend Sarah Swafford and I missed each other at the EWTN campus by just a few days! You can watch her on EWTN Live now, and catch her miniseries, At the Heart of Relationship, in the future.

- 5 -

Before heading to EWTN we celebrated an 8th birthday and hosted a party for Independence Day. This means that our family filled their monthly sugar quota within the first week of July.

- 6 -

This week is Oregon week during our Journey Across America, so naturally I thought of the Oregon Trail. No, not the historical trail, the game that is based upon the historical trail. The good news is that you can play it online for free. Thus far, nobody had died of dysentery, yet "mom" still hasn't made it to Oregon.

- 7 -

Our saint doll cathedral has been under attack. The kids are working on possible solutions. Peanut has an unpainted doll in her mouth. They've been throwing her placebos.

Linking up at Conversion Diary!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

18 Timeline Games and Activities for Classically Catholic Memory or Classical Conversations

For all 18 weeks of CCM last year I came up with a different timeline game or activity for the kids to complete. I've compiled them here for your convenience.

(And I made my first Canva design to go with it. Um, yes, I have some learning to do, just ignore the blue stuff on the bottom.)

Catch Phrase

Play Catch Phrase with your timeline cards. For the phrases, have the players pick up a card from a pile in the middle of the circle when the disc comes their way. You can play with teams or work together to guess all 8 cards before the timer runs out. This is a great review game if you put multiples weeks in the pile!

Disappearing Timeline

Write down the entire timeline on a white board and have your students read it out loud. Then have them close their eyes while you erase one or two words. When they open their eyes have them read the timeline again, stating the missing word from memory. Do this over and over until the board is blank and the students have to recite all eight cards from memory.

Word Search

Give your students a word search with no word bank. Tell them clues for the words they need to find, such as "Leif _______ and the ______" (Erickson, Vikings). You can put together a word search for free at A to Z Teacher Stuff.

Bean Bag Toss

Tape the timeline cards to the floor and label eight bean bags (or bean animals) from 1-8. Have the students toss the bag labeled "1" to the first timeline card. When they successfully get the bag to land touching the first card then have them move on to the second bag and the second card and so on.

Missing Card

Lay the cards out in order on a table. Have one student close their eyes while another student removes one card from the sequence and squeezes the cards together so that the missing card is not apparent. The first student opens their eyes and determines where the missing card belongs and identifies the name of the card. In this case "The Alamo, the Republic of Texas, and the Mexican War" is missing.

Scrabble Challenge

Beginning with the first card of the week, have the students pick one word from the card and built it with scrabble tiles. Then have them pick one word from the next card and attach it to the first card's word. Continue in this fashion until one word from all eight cards have been added to the board. Finally, have them recite the timeline using the tiles for clues.

Tube Towers

Write the eight timeline cards on eight toilet paper tubes and have the students build a tower out of them in the correct order. While building, the tower will fall down several times, which gives them more practice in committing the order to memory. Brilliant, I know. This makes for a fun co-op game if you make two sets and have the kids race to see who can complete the tower, in the correct order, without it falling over, first.

Charades Meets Blind Man's Bluff

Have a student draw a timeline card and hold it up to their forehead so that everyone can see the card but them. Those who can see the card then act out the card until the student with the card on their forehead accurately guesses the card.


Inspiration for this game comes from round two in Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Cover the backs of each of the cards with a 3x5 card and then place them all face down. Have the students take turns trying to flip over the cards in the correct sequence. If they turn over a card that is not the next card in the sequence, then their turn is over. Once someone can complete the full sequence without missing a card, they win.


This game is like hangman, but instead of each letter getting a blank, each word gets a blank. Only letters that begin a word are written down. Below you see "Charlemagne Becomes Holy Roman Emperor". This game is best for cards that don't involve dates.

Card Hop

Place the cards around the room and have the students hop on them, in order, over and over again.

It's in the Bag

Place each card in a paper bag and then have the students alternate turns trying to find the first card in the sequence. Once the card has been found, removed the bag from the line and start looking for the next card. Do not tell the students which card they are looking for, rather once they find the card that they think is correct, have them check the back of the card to see if they are correct. If they are wrong, have them put the card back and try again.

$10,000 Pyramid

This game is a modified version of The $10,000 Pyramid. Begin by placing six of the cards facedown in a pyramid formation. Have one student turn the bottom left card over and describe the card to another student (who cannot see the cards) using only one word descriptors. (The real game uses phrases, but that's too much like the Catch Phrase game.) When the other student guesses the card correctly the first player moves to the next card. The team has 60 seconds to get all 6 cards. This is a great way to review old cards!

Crossword Puzzle

You can create a crossword puzzle using the timeline phrases at Worksheet Works.

Hide and Seek

Hide the cards around your house or backyard. Once all of the cards have been found have the kids put them in order. Younger kids love it when you hid things... it's like Easter.

Gone Fishing

Give a student a fishing pole made from a piece of string, stick, and magnet ring. Attach a large paperclip to each timeline card and spread them out in a "pond". Have the student catch the cards in order. If they catch a card out of sequence, throw it back in the pond.


Use the timeline cards to play Pictionary! I really don't think I need to explain this one.

Word Scramble

Create a timeline word scramble using the word scramble maker at Worksheet Works.

What games do you play with your timeline cards?

Be saints, it's worth it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Adventures in EWTN Land: Filming for Life on the Rock

Yesterday I returned home from Birmingham, AL where I was at the EWTN campus to be the guest on Life on the Rock. 

Hanging out at the Rock House before filming.
Thanks to our work in FOCUS, and God's unexpected plans, my life has somehow come to include fun adventures which allow me to share on the topic of dating and emotions. I never expected that when I gave a talk at a FOCUS conference in 2010 (you can listen to it for free at the link!) that it would snowball into this! But I'm grateful. Grateful to have a platform in which to share some things that God has put on my heart over the years and things that I have seen countless men and women benefit from hearing.

EWTN is an unbelievable little operation. Seriously, it's little... really little. I can't believe how much they pull off with what little they have. The studio that we filmed in holds two big sets that are constantly being changed out. There might have been another studio, but possibly not. While I was there the Life on the Rock set was up, as well as Johnette Benkovich's set for her Women of Grace show. (Johnette was staying in the same guesthouse as me (the guesthouses are literally purchased houses that backup to the campus... I don't know why, but I was expecting a dorm type building), and let me tell you, she is such a joy! We discussed how she asked for the set to match the color pallet of Our Lady of Guadalupe, what a woman. :) Other than that they have a little chapel, a little dining room for guests (with delicious home cooked meals by Rosie), a gift shop (bigger than the dining room ;), some storage space, a control room, and a place for the friars. That's about it. It's amazing how they can create 24 hours a day TV and radio programing for multiple countries and languages with so little!

The Rock House. You can see the Women of Grace set in the back right corner.. its' the stained glass thing. 
The storage room. Everything is on wheels and they roll out the sets in sections as needed.
The rundown of the trip went like this. I arrived at 11:00 pm the night before the taping, which was necessary because it took 9 hours to get from my driveway to the guesthouse driveway. This allowed me to spend the day on a mini-retreat. I went to mass, confession, and adoration, prayed the rosary with the friars, and shopped at the gift shop... maybe that last part wasn't too retreat-ish. Around 4:00 I headed backstage to prep for the show.

The above photo is awesome in so many ways. Perhaps it's the friar putting Clinique makeup on another male, perhaps it's the holy water font by the door. Or perhaps it's the fact that we were in "Mother's" room, which is her old office. BTW, mother is doing well for 91. The friars told me that she is only awake for about 3 hours a day, but she is still a great source of strength for EWTN.

Fr. Mark Mary and Doug rotate who takes lead on hosting the show, and Doug took lead for mine. While I had met Father at lunch, I didn't get to meet Doug until about 15 minutes before the taping. I had prepped a few questions to go over and hopefully use during the taping, but Doug's approach is to not know much about a guest, so we quickly talked about my life story and what I do and then the camera started rolling. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I wasn't nervous at all and I had a great time! The taping seemed to fly by and I can't really remember what I said, so I'm excited to see the show when it airs on August 8th.

After the show we went out to dinner and I did a quick post-show audio interview for Fr. Mark Mary's blog. I left campus early the next morning and was home by lunchtime!

With this unexpected opportunity, and the discernment help of my spiritual director, we decided that now was a great time to make my speaking more available. You can check out my new official speaking page at to make a request for me to come to an event and learn more about what I do when I'm not homeschooling and living out the liturgical year in my home!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Journey Across America: Mississippi

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post.

The Books:
We began by reading M is for Magnolia and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

For Mississippi picture books we read Freedom Summer and Growing Seasons

We also taught the kids about Mississippi using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food:
Was there really any contest for our Mississippi food? Of course we made Mississippi Mud Pie! We used an easy recipe from and made it even easier by using a pre-made graham cracker crust.

The Craft:
In honor of The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, we made a hot air balloon mobile using instructions from Sew Homegrown. We didn't paint them like she did... I know the cuteness factor just went down, but this mobile is still hanging in Bean's room, so it's okay.

Our Journey takes us to Illinois next!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bean is 8!

My first born is now 8! Where did the time go... I can't believe I have an 8 year old... she's so grown up... and other things moms say when their children have birthdays.

Chef dad started the day off with pancakes in bed, but not just regular pancakes because those wouldn't do. Instead, he made fancy initial pancakes with the birthday girl's age and a horse... because she likes horses.

After breakfast we headed to our first of 10 summer swimming lessons. Bean mentioned wanting to go swimming for her birthday, so that worked out well!

My bookworm's next request was to go to the library to get her final prize for the summer reading program and to pick up some new books.

She had a few options for her prize and ended up picking another ice cream cone certificate so that we would have three, which meant I could get a birthday ice cream cone too. Just like a hobbit, giving others presents on their birthday.

That evening my sister's family came over for pizza and Cloud Cuckoo cake.

Using their own initiate they played musical chairs to Everything is Awesome and then had fun being together as cousins. (We only do "real" birthday parties every 3rd year and this year was a non-party year, but I don't think Bean felt neglected today!)

Finally, Bean opened up her presents, which included some Lego Movie sets to go with the mini-theme. She was pleased.

We love you Bean, you are a wonderful girl and we couldn't be prouder of you!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July: 2014

Cool post title, right? We hosted a party for 50 last night and all of my creative energy went into that. For the first time since getting married we were home for the 4th of July, so we didn't know what you do when you are home on the 4th of July... thus the party. Even without fireworks it was a blast. See, there's my creativity coming back... perhaps I still have a ways to go.

I love hosting parties. I know the cute themed food isn't necessary, but I love doing it. We had our guests bring their own meat to grill and drinks, then we provided the desserts and sides. This allowed me to put together cute themed food and our guests to bring the meat and beverages that they preferred. I think this will be our new party hosting style.

On to the dessert... thank you pinterest.

First off, fruit kabobs were my attempt to bring in something healthy. Three blueberries, two mini marshmallows, and 1 chunk of strawberry, repeat. The kids were able to assemble these, however they lost interest after about 10. They were a big hit and I should have made more!

I purchased some store bought brownie bites and then Bean made toppers with toothpicks and foam stickers that I bought in the dollar section at JoAnn's. These certainly passed the cute test.

Of course the classic fruit pizza flag made the cut.

And I had the kids sort out red and blue M and Ms to add to white popcorn. I offered them three M and Ms for sorting, they said yes.

I also bought some red, white, and blue M and M cookies at the store because I was afraid we wouldn't have enough desserts. We didn't need them, but we ate them anyway.

Finally, we made s'mores towards the end of the night.

It was harder to come up with themed sides, so most of it was just standard fare, baked beans, pasta salad, cheese and crackers, type stuff.

I did put together a themed chip tray with blue chips, hummus and roasted red peppers...

and we punched out little stars from cucumbers for the hummus as well.

Decorations included a God Bless America banner that I made in a word document. One day I WILL set up a document sharing account and post it so you can print your own, but that day is not today. It's really easy to do however, put letters inside of circles and print.

Rosettes from two sided scrapbook paper were hung over the buffet line. Here's how to make them. I use only 2 sheets for the big rosettes and it works. I also use glue and not staples.

Outside the kids put stars all over the front lawn with a flower sifter and poster board stencil.

Sadly it poured for about a half hour when the party stated so they all washed away.

And finally, I bought this stuff (um, I don't know what it is, so this is really helpful... it's like a plastic burplap) to put over the porch. It was $10.00 total for both the red and blue (70% off), plus I had a gift card!

Per usual, I didn't get any pictures of the party in action. I always think I will, but then I get to chatting with friends and forget. People ate food and played lawn games, the kids wore glow sticks and threw snaps. Now you know.

I hope your Independence Day was blessed!

Be saints, it's worth it!