Sunday, August 18, 2019

Plan a Queenship of Mary Feast Day Party

If you enjoy living the liturgical year like we do, you might want to remember that August 22 is the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary - a wonderful day for celebrating faith through food, fellowship, and fun!

{Some links which follow may be affiliate links.}

Right now, I am putting together plans to do just that with our local Catholic homeschool network, so I thought I would share some of what we have planned in case you'd like to plan your own relatively last-minute Queenship of Mary feast day party.

No Fuss Food Ideas

Marian feast days are so easy to plan! 

Any blue, red, and white foods can be symbolic of Mary, since blue is a traditional color of royalty and also symbolic of heaven and the sky; red symbolizes Mary's love passion, devotion, and sacrifice; and white symbolizes Mama Mary's purity. So, since, it is summer time, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and/or raspberries with whipped cream, yogurt, nice cream, or ice cream, are a wonderful idea! Cherry tomatoes - also in season - can be an easy addition to your feast table, too.

(You can read more about Marian colors at the University of Dayton Mary Pages, Artsy, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.)

Then, you've got the queen theme - which opens up so many more easy eats ideas:

Just about any food can be made into a crown as was proven when our family had an impromptu Mary Queen of Heaven liturgical tea years ago.

Catholic Cuisine is filled with such ideas - from cheese and watermelon, cookie crowns, peach parfaits, sandwiches, crown jewel berries, and cakes.

They also share an idea for "little queen" pasta.

Golden juices and ice teas can also work well.

Since I like to encourage plant-based eating, I plan to bring watermelon crowns, blueberry and strawberry crown jewels, and ice cream to our gathering and to be happily surprised with what others bring to the liturgical table, which will, of course, be covered in a blue or white table cloth, with a Marian blue candle, a statue of Mary, and whatever else people choose to add.

Then, as we usually do before eating, I will ask the children present if they can guess why we have any of the foods we do out on the table and add to any of the ideas and insights they come up with.

When doing so, I also plan to to place a bunch of red "crown jewel" grapes out and to show this short video clip reminding the children that as members of Christ's body we, along with Mary, share in Christ's dignity, before suggesting that the grapes - as a connected bunch - remind us how we are connected to Christ.

I also plan, of course, to pray grace with the children, and to encourage us to pray a The Coronation with the Complete Illustrated Rosary (previously reviewed here) and the Prayer in Honor of the Queenship of Mary.

Leave Fellowship to the Holy Spirit

If there is one thing I have come to realize when planning feast day meet ups for Catholic homeschool friends, it is to trust that the Holy Spirit will ensure that just the right group of people shows up.  So, I simply plan to facilitate the party and ask a friend to host (which ensures at least two families in attendance), and then, put up a Facebook invitation, leaving the rest to the Holy Spirit, who always seems to prompt just the right mix of people to show up at any given feast day.

Enjoy Some Themed Fun

For the little in our group I will print out a free coloring page of the Cornonation and lead them in a fun little Marian Queenship song and game to the tune of Ring Around the Rosary from a cute little book called Joyful Noises.

The older children will get to enjoy having a water balloon fight with the Marian color Bunch O Balloons I have been saving since the Queenship of Mary is also my daughter's baptism anniversary and since it is summer, so water balloon fights are fun.

We may also a version of Queenie, Queenie, Whose Got the Ball, but with an adapted rhyme:

Queenie, Queenie, who has the ball?
Someone big or someone small?
We know Jesus loves us all.

We will also probably play chain tag, remembering we all seek to a share in the glory of Heaven one day as Mary does.  (See how to play below.)

Additional Resources to Read Yourself or to Share

There are some wonderful resources online that dive into the reasoning and meaning of the Queenship of Meaning, including:

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Make Blueberry Mint Nice Cream for the Assumption {Snacking with the Saints}

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated annually on August 15 and is a Holy Day of Obligation.

Typically, besides participating in Mass, our family enjoys Assumption waffles...

 3 Ways to Celebrate the Assumption of Mary
3 Ways to Celebrate the Assumption of Mary

... and faith through food, fun, and fellowship.

Our Annual Celebration

This year, however, some other commitments will keep us from gathering at our friend's house. So, I have been trying to think of another fun and meaningful way to celebrate the feast day.

Today,when I stepped inside after a hot afternoon in order to make a cooling snack, an idea hit me: Nice Cream could be a perfect, refreshing, healthy, and meaningful treat on the Solemnity of the Assumption!

Why Blueberry Mint Nice Cream?

Blessing Fruits and Herbs is traditional on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so why not bless our gardens (as we have sometimes done with our friends in the past) and, then, make nice cream with blue and white fruit and fresh mint from our garden?

Blessing the Fruits and Herbs in Years Past

The blue and white fruits will remind us of Mary since they are her traditional colors. The mint will reminds us of the traditional Blessing of the Fruits and Herbs. And, the healthy no-sugar, plant-based, whole-foods recipe supports an idea which was well put on Teaching Catholic Kids, "the Assumption ...affirms the dignity of our earthly bodies. ...meant to be used for good, not abused..."

Blueberry Mint Nice Cream in Simple to Make

As soon as the idea of making Blueberry Mint Nice Cream on the Assumption hit me, I whipped up a test batch and decided my simple recipe is a keeper.

Marian Blueberry Mint Nice Cream has plenty of symbolism and is sugar-free and made with whole foods, which is wonderful for our bodies and for our remembrance of Mama Mary.

If you'd like to 
enjoy the recipe on the Solemnity of the Assumption, all you need are three ingredients and a food processor.

Marian Blueberry Mint Nice Cream

1 cup of sliced, frozen bananas
1 cup of frozen blueberries
a few leaves of fresh mint, plus extra mint from garnish

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy, pausing to scrape down sides of food processor as needed.
2. Scoop into serving dishes or cones and garnish with fresh mint if you like a soft serve consistency. If you like your nice cream a bit firmer, pop into the freezer for a bit before serving.

Or, if you have a child who dislikes bananas (like one of my children), you may prefer to try a second recipe I tested, which replaces the bananas with mango pieces (gold for Mary's crown in Heaven). The Crowned Mary Blueberry Mint Nice Cream was tasty and refreshing, too.

Crowned Mary Blueberry Mint Nice Cream

1 cup of sliced, frozen mango pieces
1 cup of frozen blueberries
a few leaves of fresh mint, plus extra mint from garnish

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy, pausing to scrape down sides of food processor as needed.
2. Scoop into serving dishes or cones and garnish with fresh mint if you like a soft serve consistency. If you like your nice cream a bit firmer, pop into the freezer for a bit before serving.
I look forward to this Snacking with the Saints treat on the Assumption and hope that however you celebrate the Solemnity, you have a beautiful and blessed feast day.

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Get Homeschool Books at Wholesale Prices {A Library and Educational Services LLC REview}

Books and audiodramas.  If you love them like we love them, Library and Educational Services LLC is a service you need to know about! 

We recently has a chance to order Hiding in Plain Sight (a Lifehouse Theater On-the-Air audiodrama), Who Was Alexander the Great (from the Who Was series), and some beautiful Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books from the History's Greatest Warriors series and the That's Me in History series, all of which came in speedily and have been being enjoyed by our family.

Oodles of Resources at Discount Prices!

Before I tell you more about the specific materials my family ordered from 
Library and Educational Services LLC, I want to explain a bit about the company.

Library and Educational Services LLC is a family-owned company based in Michigan that has been around for 40 years.  The company sells materials at 30%-70% off to libraries, schools, resellers, specialty stores, churches, missionaries, daycare centers, ministry leaders, and - how awesome is this - homeschoolers!  

They ship all over the world, including to military bases, have oodles and oodles of choices in their catalog, and are known for their knowledgeable, courteous, and outstanding service, with real, live people who answer questions and help you with your orders if you call.

Gotta love a wide selection of wonderful quality materials at low prices with real live people to help!

Something for Everyone

For our review, we were given a gift certificate of about $70 to spend on materials directly ordered from 
Library and Educational Services LLC.

After browsing the amazing amount of materials the company offers, I ended up picking the aud
odrama myself - a dramatization
based on truth called Hiding in Plain Sight - and, then, had each of my children pick one other book or series that they thought looked interesting.

This took some time since the company offers so many resources - paperbacks, CD's, DVD's, hardcovers, devotionals, Bibles... history, science, geography, nature, sports, fiction, children's books... and all vetted with the promise that:

"The CDs, DVDs, and books we choose to distribute are carefully selected to ensure they are not contradictory to Biblical standards and values.”

Finally, my youngest asked for
Who Was Alexander the Great, my middle child picked a 4-volume That's Me in History Series, and my oldest picking a 5-volume History's Greatest Warriors series.

Pleased with Our Selections and the Service

Once we ordered our materials, they came in super quickly, so we dove right into them.

My youngest immediately picked up one of his big brother's books and began reading it.

Then, since we had to head out that day, we popped Hiding in Plain Sight into our minivan CD-player and began listening to it.

My children had this to say about the audiodrama:

"I liked it. It was about a slave couple that escaped from Georgia in 1848." 
"I really like it! It was an audiodrama with many people doing voices and with sound effects. 
I also liked that they touched based on how slaves were punished, but had characters go away before it got too bad, so you heard about it, but not so graphically. It was realistic, but not overly gruesome. 
In the audiodrama, one slave had a white parent, so she looked white and, one day someone said, 'If I didn't know better, I would think she was white.' That sparked an idea. She and her husband decided that they would run away with her dressed up as a white man with a bad arm so she wouldn't have to write and a stinky poultice for at terrible toothache so people could not see she had no facial hair. Along the way, there were close calls, but they made it to freedom."
"It was about two slaves who escaped and pretended to be a white man and his slave. They went on trains and stuff and made it the north, but, then, had to go to England to escape slave catchers and laws. I liked it. It had action and character voices."

I found the story engaging and well told myself  - with enough realism not to gloss over true history, but enough sensitivity to keep it family friendly. I also liked the clear faith in Christ the main characters had!

(There is also a Ninja book, but, after it traveled through the hands of all three of my children, "wasn't me" misplaced it before I could get a picture of it. We think it is at a friend's house, since one of my children brought it to a friend's to show them some cool parts.) 

As for the other selections we picked, my oldest had this to say:

"I picked the History's Greatest Warriors Series because I liked the picture of the guy with the battle ax, and it looked like it might information for the fantasy novel I am in the midst of writing. 
When the books came in, I read every single one of them and found new facts in most of them. The Samurai and Ninja ones were the most informative for me, because I have not studied Asian warriors as much, but I liked the Gladiators one the best. It had the best images and was well written. 

Some interesting facts that were in the books were:

  • Ninjas could dislocate their jaws.
  • Gladiators were sometimes hired by emperors and politicians as bodyguards.
  • Samurai were mostly archers.
  • European doctors during the knights era knew little about medicine so many knights died from battle wounds.
  • The god Odin had nine daughters that flew over battle fields on winged horses and decided which vikings would live or die."

My youngest said:

"I picked Who Was Alexander the Great, because I like him. 
I learned that he killed his best friend in anger, because his best friend was saying that Alexander should not act like he was a god. Then, he lived in his tent with no food or drink for three days for penance. 

I also learned that there was a city on an island that no one could get to. Alexander wanted to conquer it, so he has his men dump rocks in the water and cover them with dirt and stuff to make a bridge to conquer it. 
I liked that there were larger font words and pictures. 

I also read my brother's books about Ninja, Samurai,Vikings, Gladiators, and Knights. I liked how they were written, and I liked the topics. I have already read them twice! 
I also read some of the Egypt and the Inquisition books my sister got. They are interesting."

My middle child has this to say:

"I picked the That's Me in History Series, because they looked easier to read than some books but did not look boring. 
I was right. I read parts of all of the books and they had stories and history. 
I liked the cover art and how they start out with a story, so it's like someone talking to you instead of just dry history. 

I also like that almost every page has some sort of illustration or picture to go with what they are saying.  
I also read my little brother's book Who Was Alexander the Great. I enjoyed it, because the Who Was series focuses on one person but includes little bits from the time period and how the person's life changed parts of the time period. 
When Alexander the Great's temper flared up, you did want to be the person he was angry at. He killed two people - once when he was drunk and once in a fit of rage. He did good stuff, too, but this is what stood out to me. 
I liked that the chapters were not that long and that there was a lot of white space on each page. The That's Me in History book had a smaller font and not as much white space. 
I also read parts of my older brother's Ninja book. It was neat the way they started off with the last ninja, but it was pretty disgusting that Ninja's dislocated their arms and jaws. 
The quality of all these books are good.  They are informative."

Without question, I am glad we did this review and am well-pleased with the quality of the materials we received and with the speedy service 
Library and Educational Services LLC offered. 

The fact that the company sells at wholesale prices to homeschoolers thrills me and I definitely recommend checking them out as you plan for your fall needs as well as for gift giving times.

Learn More

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Saint Rocco with Kids {Snacking with the Saints}

{Disclosure: Some links which follow are affiliate ones.}

If you'd like a super simple snack to celebrate a saint day with, just
buy some spring water, a loaf of bread, and set these out on your table or picnic blanket on August 16 with an image or figurine of a dog and a picture of St. Rocco nearby.

That's what we'll be doing on St. Rocco's feast day.

We may enjoy some more fun and learning, too.


Recently, when I was paging through our copy of Amazing Saints & their Awesome Animals, I noticed that one of the saints that the book it features - St. Rocco - has a feast day coming up. Then, not knowing much about the saint, I got curious and started researching...

Inspiration for a Simple St. Rocco's Feast Day Snack

Source: Wikimedia

As I began my research, I recalled a simple snack for St. Benedict's day that I'd seen on Catholic Cuisine, and thought, "Switch the bird for a dog and that's an easy peasy snack idea for St. Rocco's day that my children will love." (We don't eat a lot of bread here anymore, so bread is actually a treat for my children.)

Then, even though water may not seem very celebratory, I decided spring water would go perfectly, since, it is said spring water kept thirst at bay when St. Rocco was convalescing in the woods after contracting sickness while healing others with the plague.

My "Snacking with the Saints" was set.

A Prayer Before Snacking


Then, as I began researching more about St. Rocco. I found myself on the 
St. Rocco Society of Potenza page, where I found A Prayer to Saint Rocco which will be perfect between grace and enjoying our bread:

O Great St. Rocco, deliver us, we beseech you, from contagious diseases, and the contagion of sin. Obtain, for us, a purity of heart which will assist us to make good use of health, and to bear sufferings with patience. Teach us to follow your example in the practice of penance and charity, so that we may, one day enjoy the happiness of being with Christ, Our Savior, in Heaven. Amen.

We will also read the biography and reflection at Franciscan Media:

It is obvious that being well known or even recognizable are not necessary for sainthood. But service to the community through care for those in need–through miracles at his intercession–seem to suffice.

Additional Ideas for Celebrating St. Rocco's Feast Day

File:Åšw. ROCH..jpg
Source: Wikimedia

Other ideas popped into my head as I researched the saint, too. Perhaps one will inspire a feast day celebration for you and your children.

  • Remember that St. Rocco went out to care for the sick and visit or send a note to a sick friend. Alternately, go to a nursing home or hospital and offer to pray or visit with people.
  • Focus on the Sign of the Cross - and how St. Rocco cured people using it - by doing some free copywork or coloring of the prayer as found on Crusaders for Christ.
  • It is said that St. Rocco fasted twice a week as a pious practice when he was a child. Discuss the virtue of temperance and how we might choose to practice it.
  • Some say St. Rocco was born to wealthy parents who died by the time he was 20 years old, at which time St. Rocco distributed the fortune he inherited to the poor and devoted his life to serving people in need. Following his example, offer some of your own"riches" to others in need.
  • It is said that St. Rocco was born with an unusual, deep red mark on his chest in the shape of a cross as a sign that the Blessed Virgin Mary had heard and answered his mother's prayers for her barrenness to be healed. It is also said that it was the unique mark that helped identify St. Rocco at his death. Remembering this, pray for Mama Mary's intercession with a difficult issue and chat about physical and spiritual "marks" in our own lives that identify us
  • Go on a virtual tour to Venice, looking at some pictures and reading about St. Rocco, festivities for his feast day on DreamDiscoverItalia
  • Make dog treats as found on Saints, Feast, Family (and look at the beautiful prayers and images in the related post.
  • Go to a natural spring to draw water, go on a tour of a spring water place, or simply enjoy some fresh spring water, remembering how, when St. Rocco"was expelled from the town; and withdrew into the forest, where he made himself a hut of boughs and leaves, which was miraculously supplied with water by a spring that arose in the place; he would have perished had not a dog belonging to a nobleman named Gothard Palastrelli supplied him with bread and licked his wounds, healing them. Count Gothard, following his hunting dog that carried the bread, discovered Saint Roch and became his acolyte."
  • Some say that St. Rocco took refuge in a cave when he was banished. Enjoy a hike somewhere where there are cave-like structures.
  • Some say he slept on leaves. Practice survival skills making leaf beds and other wilderness beds.
  • Some say he took refuge in a remote hut, while others say he built a hut out of sticks and leaves. Design and build your own forest hut.
  • Remembering the dog that cared for St. Rocco, donate something to a dog shelter or give your own dog a special treat.

May learning more about St. Rocco bless you and yours and encourage you to come closer to Christ.

I would love to hear about your favorite traditions, resources, and ideas related to St. Rocco as well as any other Snacking with the Saint inspirations you might offer.

Saint Rocco, pray for us.

Friday, August 2, 2019

1,200+ Figures from History at Your Fingertips {A Timeline Collection Review}

Timelines, a Book of Centuries, matching games, hands on history projects, notebooking, copywork, history games, trivia, and more.  All of these can be made easier with the helpful Timeline Collection:  A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures by Homeschool In The Woods!

We received this fantastic, flexible collection for review recently, and I am so excited! The quality of the material is superb and uses of them extend beyond just timelines  (You can download a free sampler and see for yourself!)

We Are Using It Already and Excited for Much More to Come - There's Just SO Many Ways to Use This!

Looking through our Timeline Collection:  A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures, I have already found images to use for a Bingo-like review of Composers...

... and a Two-Finger Touch game based on artists for when my children and I begin our AMP (Art-Music-Poetry) studies again this fall.

I also helped my son find indexes for one of his favorite time periods - the Middle Ages...

...and  have given my son free reign to print out and color some of his favorite history figures to put in his book of inspiration for novels he is writing and games he is designing.

Plus, I have been randomly reviewing figures from American history as we get set for a renewed focus on American History this year.

... and a Two-Finger Touch game based on artists for when my children and I begin our AMP (Art-Music-Poetry) studies again this fall.

I also helped my son find indexes for one of his favorite time periods - the Middle Ages...

...and  have given my son free reign to print out and color some of his favorite history figures to put in his book of inspiration for novels he is writing and games he is designing.

Plus, I have been randomly reviewing figures from American history as we get set for a renewed focus on American History this year.

And, with the start menu up, I am well-armed for our family's next impromptu history trivia night! No more fussing with flashcards, doing random google searches, nor flipping through books when we want to geek out remembering our friend who was on a popular trivia show on tv by having our own living room trivia game. Instead, I can have the kids pick a category and, then, click through to figures to come up with an easy question. Whoo hoo!

Finally, of course, armed with the Timeline Collection, I am confident that THIS will be the year my children and I finally make headway on our timeline notebooks. Yep! It's going to be a success with great thanks to Homeschool In The Woods!There is just so much you can do with the Timeline Collection! No matter your homeschool style, curriculum choices, etc. the resource can fit.  I just love it and highly recommend it.

Nuts and Bolts of Use

The Timeline Collection:  A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures comes as a digital download (and can also be ordered on CD). 

The collection comes in two parts.

Part 1 contains PDF pages in both wall and notebook size - for all of the figures in four History through the Ages Timeline sets: Creation to Christ, Resurrection to Revolution, Napoleon to Now, and America's History, making it perfect for those who like to do history in Classical Education or Charlotte Mason-like studies. It also contains 80 Bonus figures. '

Part 2 contains the same 1260+ timeline figures offered as a gallery of high-quality GIFs organized into 30 helpful categories including chronological, alphabetical, and by a number of helpful classifications. This collection allows you to easily do topical studies and to find individual images to enlarge or reduce for coloring pages, notebooking pages, games, projects, and more. 

Also included are "Timeline Helps" which offers suggestions for a variety of games and resources, ideas for wall and notebook timelines, and tips for coloring and gluing figures.

When you first download the Timeline Collection:  A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures, you'll find it is a zipped file and, so, you have to extract the files.

Then you can simply hit the "start" button in the files to bring up an easy to navigate website-like page which links to all the different printable images.

Alternately, you can go into each folder (saved to your computer) and find what you want there.

Figures can be printed in multiple sizes with or without text. This offers so much flexibility:

  • Young children can use images for coloring.
  • Older children can write their own summaries to go with images.
  • Those who like encapsulated summaries can print out images with text.
  • You can print out figure and figure-text matching sets for games.
  • Larger images and text can be used for wall timelines. 
  • Smaller images and text can be used for notebooking.
You can print select figures or pdf pages out as is or follow instructions for copying, pasting, and resizing them into self-created documents.

This gives you total flexibility so you can print just what you need for a specific lesson, for a week, a month, a given semester, a whole year, whatever suits you. (I tend to do just what I need for a specific lesson or day so I don't add to paper piles in my home and have things get lost.)

Learn More

We've enjoyed a host of other Home School in the Woods products before.  Read all our prior reviews.

You might also enjoy the blog at 
Homeschool In The Woods, where you can learn more about timelines, different learning styles, and more!

Read the reviews!

See how 70 Homeschool Review Crew families have been enjoying

Timeline Collection:  A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures for all ages...

...Time Travelers U.S. History Studies for grades 3 for 8, but adaptable for all...

...and Project Passport World History Studies - including the latest one on Ancient Rome - for grades 3 for 8, but adaptable for all... clicking through to read all the reviews!

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