Monday, December 31, 2012

Raw Foods First: My Happy New-to-Me Habit

Image Credit
With New Year’s Day less than 24 hours away, I am tempted to delineate goals for 2013.  However, history proves that I am not good at long-term goal setting anymore, and that even some of my shorter term goals fall by the wayside as life with kids, husband, home and work rolls along.  Thus, I have reigned myself in. 

Instead of setting myself up for defeat by writing out resolutions, I have decided to pick a Happy New-to-Me Habit to work on instead.

The first habit I am picking is one that supports our family food goalsI begin each day by eating something raw

Now, I cannot say that this is a completely new concept for me.  Many years ago, I tried living the Fit for Life diet and, even more recently, I modeled Fruit First in the morning for the kids.  However, these eating choices did not last.  I quickly slipped back into my carboholic ways, grabbing starches instead of produce as my first morning choices.  The habit of morning Produce Power never stuck.  I craved both the convenience and the satisfaction of other foods. 

That’s where raw foods come in.  “Raw” can include more than just fruits and vegetables.  Raw foods can even include an occasional treat.  And, better still, I have a feeling that once Raw Foods First becomes habitual for me, the habit might get picked up by my whole family.  The kids may model after my new eating habits.  Mike may.  And, then, who knows what additional habits will happen.  I may even be ready for a big step I envision – adding more living foods to my diet.

But one habit at a time.

For today, Raw Foods First is it. 

And, yes, I said today.  Why wait for the New Year to begin?  New healthy habits can begin any day.  I am eating raw as I post this.

What habits do you hope to form in 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Fourth Wise Man: A Picture Book Study

UPDATE:  Thank you, Cynthia for leaving a comment!  It seems The Fourth Wise Man has been republished as The Greatest Gift, which is still published, available on discount for Amazon, and ready to be added to a home collection. :)  (Cynthia, if I knew what your blog was, I would link to it here, but it did not show up in your Blogger profile.  Sorry!)

Nearly three weeks ago, while Luke, Nina and Jack played in the children’s area of a small library in a nearby town, I spied The Fourth Wise Man, a picture book based on a story by Henry Van Dyke, as retold by Susan Summers and illustrated by Jackie Morris.  Wowed by its breathtaking watercolor illustrations, I decided to check it out.  I figured it would make a beautiful addition to our picture book basket between Christmas Day and Epiphany.

Yesterday, I introduced The Fourth Wise Man to the children, and, today, I would like to share the book with you, along with a brainstorm of ideas I have created for loving and learning with this book for years to come.

Retold by Susan Summers
Illustrated by Jackie Morris

This book, published in 1998, is a beautifully illustrated story of one man’s lifelong search for virtue as he searches for the King of Kings, Jesus.  Told with heartwarming examples of love and service, and illustrated with stunning watercolors, the book is one I would love to have in my permanent home collection.

The Story

In this book, a wise king named Artaban and his three companions observe a new star which shines more brightly than any they have ever seen before.  They know it signifies the birth of a great teacher who is to be born among the Jews, so they decide to gather their supplies before meeting again to follow the star to the newborn child.

On Artaban’s way to rendezvous with his companions, he comes upon a very sick man.  Instead of driving on to his destination, Artaban decides to nurse the man back to health, and, thus, misses joining his companions in their journey to go pay homage to the newborn child.

Undeterred, Artaban decides to continue on alone.  However, his personal journey takes longer than he ever imagined it would.  In fact, it takes him decades.

Along Artaban’s way, he comes upon many who are sick, poor, or otherwise in need of help.  To them, he offers his time, love and help.  To some, he also gives the gifts he had originally intended to present the child born in Bethlehem.

By the end of Artaban’s journey, he finally finds his King.

Caution:  Some may not expect a “Christmastime” book to mention the crucifixion or to contain an image of the cross on the hill.  This one does, albeit with taste and without too many details.  At different points, the text also speaks of murder, death and sickness.  If you have young children, or older ones who are particularly sensitive to such topics, you may want to preview the book before reading it together.

The Illustrations

Jackie Morris used a warm, inviting palette of watercolors to illustrate The Fourth Wise Man.  The large, detailed illustrations include panoramic vistas as well as tender close ups of everyday life which transport readers back to the time of Jesus.  The inside covers of the book also include watercolor maps, painted to scale, of where Artaban (and, Jesus) lived.

Because the illustrations in The Fourth Wise Man are so captivating, even young children, can be captured by the book.  They certainly engaged my two year old as the length and language of the book, in addition to its illustrations, kept my older children and I turning its pages.

Faith Connections

The Fourth Wise Man is an inspired piece of fiction that carries readers from the days prior to Jesus’ birth right up through the Crucifixion, mentioning both of these fundamental points in faith history, while also exemplifying the idea that “When I was hungry, you gave me food.  When I was naked, you clothed me.  When I was in distress, you comforted me.  As often as you did these for the least of my children, you did them for me.”.

The book’s main character, Artaban, continually grows in virtue, doing deeds of love, as he searches for the King.  Thus, the book contains strong Biblical, Catechism and Character connections.

Curriculum and Activity Prompts

Academic and Early Learning Themes which can be connected to the book are:
  • Astronomy:  Can you see any stars that seem brighter than others?  What are the different constellations?
  • Geography and History: Who was Augustus Caesar? How big was the Roman Empire?   Where is Persia?  Where is Babylon? What was the Temple of the Seven Spheres like? What is the faith of Zoroaster?  Where is Bethelehem?  What is a plain?  What is a desert? How about dunes?  A ledge?
  • Dramatic Play:  What are your favorite parts of Artaban’s journey?  Act them out.  How might you look and feel if you were sick, scared, poor or otherwise like one of the people Artaban helped?  How would you feel after meeting Artaban? 
  • Field Trips:  Is there somewhere we could go to serve and love as Artaban did?   
  • Language Arts:  What might Artaban’s father might have said when he gave Artaban his blessing?  Narrate it or write id down.  Are there vocabulary words in the story that are new to you?  What do you think they mean?  What were the key events of the story?  In what order did they occur?Practical Life:  How might you offer gifts of time, talent and treasure to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick and otherwise do good?
  • Health and Wellness:  Artaban used healing herbs and water to help the sick man.  What traditional medicines are still used today?
  • Character Studies:  What virtues did Artaban display?
  • Art:  What type of art supplies do you think Jackie Morris use in creating the illustrations for the book?  Did he use a mostly warm palette or a mostly cool one?  How much detail did he include in each illustration?  Might you model a piece of artwork after some aspect of the artwork within the book?

Sensory Ideas
  • Proprioception:  As Artaban’s friends did for him, leave notes and clues for others by piling cairns of bricks or rocks.  Make a scavenger hunt of it. 
  • Tactile:  Artaban carried a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl to gift the newborn child in Bethlehem with.  Find pretend jewels like these in a sensory bin filled with other materials, such as dessert sand colored rice. 
  • Tactile/Visual:  The emproror of Persia was said to have lived in palace that “glittered above the city like a jewel”.  Using a variety of art supplies, could you create an illustration or model of what the palace might have looked like? 
  • Gustatory: Mix different edible herbs with water and taste the teas, imagining what the potion that Artaban gave to the sick man might have tasted like. 
  • Proprioception/Vestibular:  Play a verb game using some of the colorful action phrases from the story, such as “swung into the saddle”, “trotted”, “stood stock-still”, “leaned down”, “fetched water”, “raised his trembling hand”, “pressed on”, “bare feet shuffled”, “fled in terror”, and “bent over him”.

Other Times of Year the Story Could Be Shared
  • when talking about legends 
  • when discussing how fiction is inspired from fact
  • when doing comparative literature studies
  • when studying virtues
  • when discussing quests and journeys
  • at Easter time
  • when discussing charity

Note:  If you would like to see more brainstorms for picture book study ideas like this one on the blog, please be sure to leave a comment to let me know.  I have a number of them in mind, but they take quite a while for me to write out and share.  I am more than happy to do so if others benefit from them, but do not want to spend my time or yours unwisely if sharing such ideas is not helpful.

Also, of Note:  Based on the “new” price of The Fourth Wise Man at Amazon, I would say that it is out of print and, therefore, rare.  It should not be, in my opinion.  It’s such a heart-warming story, with such enchanting artwork, that I am sure it would sell, sell, sell if publishers decided to reprint it.  I wish they would!  (Or, I wish I had an extra $30 right now to scoop up one of the used copies at Amazon, because I would be so pleased to make this book a permanent part of our home collection.) If, like us, you cannot purchase the book right now, it’s definitely worth a library loan, as well as for keeping a keen eye out at second-hand sales.

What picture books have you and your children enjoyed lately?


(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Please note: Links to Amazon within this post and others are affiliate ones. Should you choose to click through one to make an Amazon purchase, we may receive a small percentage of the sale. This does not cost you anything, but is a choice we thank you for making. Anything we earn from Amazon goes straight back into training up our children and to much of what we share with you here. Thank you for supporting us in this way or through a PayPal donation if you feel so moved.  (See "Donation" button in the right column.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have a Blessed and Healthy Christmas

No fun pictures today.  No inspiring words.  In fact, I just popped in to put up the Training Happy Hearts Sunday Linky in case anyone wants to link up this week, as well as to share a little poem that I posted on my personal Facebook page the other day, which should explain why this blog has been quiet since Tuesday and why it is likely to remain so a bit longer.  I also wanted to wish one and all a very blessed Christmas Day and Season.  May His love shine through each of us, lighting up our lives, no matter what darkness may be about us.

Now, the poem:

Coughing, feverish children are nestled all snug in their beds,
while warmth fills my heart and gratitude my head. 
The past few days demanded a pace oh so slow:
holding my babes and letting so much else go. 
So, cards won't be sent, things may not get done,
and we've had to overlook some usual Advent fun. 
I'm okay with that. In fact, I feel richly blessed. 
My kids have needed me 
and, frankly, we all needed rest. 
This virus-born pause, then, has proven a gift in a way: 
a time to stop, be present and reflect before Christmas Day. 
It has meant snuggles and stories, drying tears, giving hugs, 
being together and, very practically, sharing love, 
reminding ourselves that today's challenges will pass, 
yet the bond of shared moments? Now, THAT will last!

Wishing all similar peace, including those directly affected by Sandy Hook and other tragedies around the world.

Although I have not directly spoken about these heartwrenching events here, like many, I have been praying daily, as well as moving through a gambit of emotions from shock to sadness to hope.  This past week's events have re-inspired to be the change and the love that I seek in this world -- to choose to focus on healing, help, hope and Him.  That is a choice I must re-make every minute, forgiving myself when I fail to any degree and moving forward to make the next moment a better model of positive, faith-driven action and reaction.

As I write this right now, I have a sick little  Jack on my lap, holding my arm, which holds him.  He crawled up to me and said, "Mum, hold me."  I am -- in body, in prayer and in thanks.  What a perfect image of how I have spent this week -- holding all that is good, both literally and figuratively.
No matter what may weigh you down at this moment, may you hold onto a perspective of thanks and praise.  Be lifted, knowing that as I reflect on this past week's world events, as well as on counting blessings borne of the virus in my household, I offer a prayer that YOUR days -- and your perspective about them -- shine with light and hope.  May you feel Peace as you continue preparing for Christmas today and tomorrow, and may Light and Love shine strongly in you and through you throughout the Christmas season and beyond.

(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 10 Book-Inspired Activities to Enjoy During Advent

We have not been keeping up with all of the Advent Alphabet ideas that I had hoped to around here.  On the plus side, there have been some unexpected, yet enjoyable engagements that have taken up our time instead.  On the down side, there has been sickness.  Ugh. 

Every day, though, we have been reading through an enormous pile of Advent picture books, and at least several days a week, we’ve enjoyed simple activities to go along with them.

To inspire you for the last week of Advent and into the Christmas season, let me share some of them:


One of the many ways the kids set up their nativity scene.

Inspired by many Nativity storybooks, such as The Christmas Story, The Story of Christmas, Bethlehem: With Words from the Authorized Version of the King James Bible, Christmas in the Manger Board Book and One Night in Bethlehem, the kids made their own nativity building set using blocks, tape, scissors and print outs of Nativity puppets from Twinkl.

Soap Carving

Nina began with intent, gentle carving off the edges.

Just like Jonathon carved nativity figurines in The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, we set to work carving ornamental soap figurines.

Dough Cookies

Jack decided to make the tin into an oven to bale the cookies.

After reading The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth, it was dough cookie making time.  We used homemade playdough scented with cinnamon-ginger spices.  Yum!

Bell Play

Miss Nina loves to ring and sing.

Along with The Christmas Bell, bell play was in order.

Donkey Visit

The donkey was the only animal we weren't allowed to feed, but we still had fun saying hello and looking for the cross on his back.

In honor of The Donkey's Dream, we visited a donkey and other animals at a local park.

Building Bethlehem

Nina and Jack joined together to build houses and, later, played with figurines in them, acting out the Christmas story.

Upon learning in the notes at the back of Bright Christmas : An Angel Remembers that olden day Bethlehem was built mostly with flat-roofed houses, we built Bethlehem with waffle blocks.

Lights of Love

Since it is not safe to take photos while driving, I am substituting a shot of some lights of love we saw inside, instead.  (Of course,  for the sake of those around us at the venue, we held ourselves back from shouting, "Lights of Love!".)

Since reading The Christmas Candle, we’ve been playing a game we made up almost every time we are in the car at night.  Whoever spots Christmas lights decorations on a house or business tries to be the first to shout, “Lights of Love!” – a way of reminding ourselves that Jesus is the light of the world who came for us.

Mosaic Cards
Simple fine motor skill practice was had through folding, cutting and gluing to design these cards.

Inspired by the art work in Saint Nicholas, we made mosaic-like cards to tuck into cookies that we will give our neighbors.

Giving Tree Gifts
All done stuffing a stocking for a Giving Tree child.

After reading The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood and taking a link off our Advent Chain that said “Give stuff to other people,”, we made a special shopping trip to purchase gifts for children whose ornaments we’d taken off our church Giving Tree.  The kids put the gifts together, and, then, we made a visit to the church to visit Jesus in the tabernacle and to drop the gifts off.

Candy Cane Making

After reading The Legend of the Candy Cane and The Candymaker's Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane, we enjoyed some Montessori-inspired candy cane making, which I described in full here.

Fine motor.   Gross Motor.  Sensory-based.  Field trip-inspiring.  Montessori-esque.  Artsy-craftsy.  With a rich array of Advent/Christmas picture books on hand, our Advent season has been filled with both intentional and spontaneous fun.
What fun and learning have picture books inspired in your home lately?

Please note: Links to Amazon within this post and others are affiliate ones. Should you choose to click through one to make an Amazon purchase, we may receive a small percentage of the sale. This does not cost you anything, but is a choice we thank you for making. Anything we  make here goes straight back into training up our children and to much of what we share with you here. Thank you!
This post is being shared at Many Little Blessing's Top Ten Tuesday.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Montessori Hat and Mitten Tree

Last week, on “K” day of our Advent Alphabet, our key word was “kindness”  Well, lo and behold, not long after the kids and I talked about how we might extend kindness to others, Grampy stopped by to extend some unexpected kindness to us.

He was on his way to an appointment in our area, so he took the time to drop off some hand-me-down clothes, toys and books, as well as a handy little gift that Grammy had picked up for us:

Jack concentrates on "mitten work" with our new gift.
A hat and mitten tree!  But, more than a hat and mitten tree, it was a possible solution to my yearly quandary at this time of year: what simple tool or system can we use to keep the kids’ mittens both accessible and dry, while also encouraging independence?  

Over the years, I have tried a number of things, but have not been satisfied with any of them.  Grammy may have hit the mark!

Luke had the tree figured out in no time at all.
Before I had a chance to help, Luke set to work putting the hat and mitten tree together.  (Independence!)

Nina enjoys putting things in their new home.
Then, without any prompting, Nina and Jack began practicing how to decorate the tree with their gloves and mittens.  (Structure, order and practical life skills!) 

The kids’ “mitten work” later made getting out the door to a homeschool skate day that much easier.  Their hats and mittens were right there waiting for them.

And when we got home?  They knew just what to do with their wet gear.

So, it seems that Grammy’s simple bargain-store find might just prove a perfect solution to our yearly winter gear question.  Our new hat and mitten tree is child-sized, encourages independence and – bonus – can be disassembled easily to be stored during warmer weather.

A Caveat:  Mom and Dad Have New Work, Too

Of course, since our home is anything but ideally Montessori, the reality of our new hat and mitten tree is not either.

You see, instead of leaving the tree in the living room when we first got it, Luke carried it into his room and, for some reason known only to him, put it on his bed.  Jack saw Luke do this, and, has since followed suit.  For days now, we have been finding the tree in different spots around our home – in the hallway, on the table, on a bench, on the couch, on an ottoman next to the Christmas tree...  

It appears that the hat and mitten tree is perfectly "Jack-sized" and that Jack is in some sort of sensitive period of home redecoration.  And, while Mike and I are all for Jack exploring his strength and creativity as he experiments with decorating skills, we do not relish him doing so with the hat and mitten tree.  That simply does not bode well for keeping dry mittens and hats together conveniently by the front door.

So it is that Jack is testing limits and Mike and I are practicing (and, admittedly, sometimes fail at) offering consistent, firm, yet peaceful responses every time we discover our youngest's chubby little hands around the trunk of our new hat and mitten tree.

"Mitten work" is fine – even encouraged by us.  Jack's current choice of "redecorating work" is not.  Thus, our “perfect” hat and mitten solution has also become an opportunity for Mike and me to confirm some “limits” within which Jack can enjoy his “freedom”.  Ah, the timeless dance of parenting, whether Montessori-inspired or not!

Oh, for the work to remain just intently hanging and removing mittens.
We are thankful to my folks for gifting us our new hat and mitten tree, and on "K for Kindness" day, no less.  We are also trying to remember kindness (as opposed to frustration) as we guide Jack in how best to use the tree.

What bargain-store finds have helped you improve the prepared environment of your home?  What unexpected lessons have they brought you and your children?

Please note: Links to Amazon within this post and others are affiliate ones. Should you choose to click through one to make an Amazon purchase, we may receive a small percentage of the sale. This does not cost you anything, but is a choice we thank you for making. Anything we make from links goes straight back into training up our children and to much of what we share with you here. Thank you!

Want to be inspired with others' Montessori ideas and work?  Click on over to Montessori Monday and enjoy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our GFCF Our Lady of Guadalupe Liturgical Tea

Ready for Our GFCF Our Lady of Guadalupe Tea
Last Wednesday, we enjoyed a liturgical tea honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Unlike last year, when we celebrated the feast day all throughout the entire day by enjoying sensory activities and a meager, but meaningful tea, this year, we saved most of our observances for the late afternoon and evening, which meant fewer activities, but more feasting.

That is not say we neglected the feast day until dusk.  Rather, we began the day by reading and discussing The Lady of Guadalupe.  Then, as we continued with our day's activities, we recalled parts of this story, as well as details from the Holy Heroes Saint Juan Diego Glory Story, which we had listened to this past Monday, and the Talking Eagle and the Lady of Roses book, which we had read on the Feast of St. Juan Diego, too.  We connected and applied ideas from these stories to our lives:  Patience.  Obedience.  Trust.  Faith.  Miracles.  Beauty.  They are all there.  And with them, so were some opportunities for prayer, connection and learning. 

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, the children colored pictures that I had printed out from the links on our Advent Alphabet plan.  Then, we decorated the table simply with a table cloth, the kids' coloring, a blue candle and two read alouds.

St. Juan Diego's Tilma: GFCF Tortiallas and Ham Roses
After that, Jack and Nina helped me roll nitrate/nitrite-free ham into roses with thanks to an idea shared by Alice at Cottage Blessing, I prepared the rest of the meal, we prayed and dug in.  On the menu were:

A Mushroom "Cloud" Radiating with Sweet Potato Fries "Light", in Honor of How The Lady Is Depicted as First Appearing to St. Juan Diego in The Lady of Guadalupe
A Chopped Avocado "Tepeyac Mountain" with a GFCF Mayo "Cloud" radiating with Egg Piece "Light"

A Spinach and Arugula Mt. Tepeyac with Dried Cranberry Roses

A Colored Image of Our Lady with Egg "Radiating Light" as the Image on St. Juan's Tilma

We also had bowls with the rest of the egg and tortilla bits.

The children loved the menu this year, admittedly as much for playing with as for eating.

Luke added stars to his tilma before eating it.

Nina made a dress for Our Lady.
And so it was, we enjoyed another Saints Day Liturgical Tea while honoring faith, family and our family food goals(Okay, maybe not the "economic" part of our food goals, since the nitrate/nitrate-free ham and the special GFCF tortillas are not the least expensive things one could eat!)  Not only that, but I now have another way to make stars...  Our Advent Alphabet "S" day and Feast of Epiphany Day could be filled with egg stars, summer squash stars, pineapple ring stars and, if I am feeling up to the mess, GFCF sugar cookie stars.

How do you combine faith, family and food to celebrate the Liturgical Year with your little ones?


(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Please note: Links to Amazon within this post and others are affiliate ones. Should you choose to click through one to make an Amazon purchase, we may receive a small percentage of the sale. This does not cost you anything, but is a choice we thank you for making. Anything we earn from Amazon goes straight back into training up our children and to much of what we share with you here. Thank you for supporting us in this way or through a PayPal donation if you feel so moved.  (See "Donation" button in the right column.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A GFCF, Plant-Strong Christ the King Liturgical Tea

Today, one of the words we will focus on in our Advent Alphabet is “Jesus”.

Our Baby with a Crown on to Show that Jesus Is the King of His Heart

I know Jack will be excited each time we read a story or do an activity about Jesus today.   At 2 ½, he definitely feels connected to the infant Jesus and calls out “Baby God” whenever he sees a depiction of the Christ Child.  It makes me melt!

Nina, Sharing Her Coloring of Christ the King
Nina and Luke will surely enjoy our “Jesus” focus today, too.  It will mean that they get to spend more time on a project that they began yesterday towards the tail end of our morning learning period and are eager to get back into -- constructing a nativity scene out of blocks and homemade figurines.  Plus, during read aloud time, will be able to catch up on a favorite Advent read, The Jesse Tree, diving further into faith history and the lineage of Jesus.  Moreover, we will discuss how Jesus is not just a historical figure, but one who remains present today in Heaven, in the Eucharist and in our hearts.

Luke added special detail to the circle jewel at the top of the crown.  He decided to make it look more like earth, to remind us that Jesus came to earth for us.

Speaking of Jesus in our hearts, I realized last that that although I shared last minute planning ideas for our Christ the King Liturgical tea, I never shared how it actually went.

So, here’s a picture recap:


Ready to Dig In

Unfortunately, I failed to get a good picture of our table decorations, but I can provide a verbal snapshot:  Since Jesus is king of Heaven and Earth, Nina decided we should use two tablecloths to symbolize each place.  So, we used a blue one for Heaven and a cream one for Earth.  At the end of the table, we placed a basket with some of our activities in it.  In front of the basket was a printed Christ the King image.  To one side, was a candle with a paper crown that Nina had made around it and, to the other side, was a candle with Mary on it, which Nina insisted we use since Mary is now alongside Jesus in Heaven as the Queen of Heaven. 

GFCF, Plant-Strong Tea Time Fare
We enjoyed drinking Royal Punch (purplish-red colored 100% juice that, as Nina pointed out, could remind us not only of the royal color purple, but of the blood of Jesus as shared during Mass) and chocolate almond milk (because the kids don’t like real tea, but LOVE this and, because, as one of the kid suggested, the color reminds us of Earth, where Jesus came as child and king.)

Apple slice hearts did not work so well, so we just made one crowned heart.

Apple Slices, including a heart shaped one with a Summer Squash Crown (to remind us that Jesus is King of our Hearts – and to harken back to faith history and the Garden of Eden)  We placed these between our “Heaven” and “Earth” tablecloths, to symbolize that Jesus’ love for us and ours for Him is our way from Earth to Heaven.

Okay, so the clouds could have been better shaped.

A Pineapple Crown at the center of a Blueberry “Sky” with Banana Slice “Clouds” (to remind us that Christ is the King of Heaven)  We placed these, of course, on the “Heaven” side of the table.

Of course, this plate was refilled more than once with our carb-and-spread-aholics.  Thankfully, the greens were, too.

Crackers spread with Hummus, Peanut Butter and Almond Butter, with a Summer Squash Crown at their center and Baby greens interspersed throughout (to remind us of the Earth, where Christ came to be a different kin of King – one who leads by serving)  We placed these on the “Earth” side of the table.

We also had Mango Sorbet, which I forgot to get a picture of, because Nina waned it and persuasively suggested that it is the color of a crown.

Not traditional prayer in this pic, but age-appropriate activity which focused the kids' eyes on Christ the King.

Since I don’t normally take pictures while we pray, you can simply imagine the kids itching to dig into all the food after saying their own impromptu prayer, while I insisted on reading them the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King as found at Catholic Culture:

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart. Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.
Prayer Source: Enchiridion of Indulgences , June 29, 1968

While eating, as planned, I mentioned Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks as shared at Catholic Culture that  Christ’s kingship is not based on “human power” but on loving and serving others and connected this thought to the homily our local priest had offered that morning about earthly kings often ruling with a scepter that can bonk one on the head while Jesus ruled through service, with a towel and a bowl washing other’s feet.  Then, we brainstormed ideas for how to love and serve others, which became the suggestions for our Advent chain this year.

We also led the kids in singing the Christ the King song found at

Luke was the first to dive into crown-designing, which he did completely free-style, as is his gift.

After eating everything served on the table, plus extra servings from the counter, the kids designed their own homemade crowns with heart shapes to remind us all that Christ is King of our Hearts.

Nina followed suit.

The children also enjoyed coloring images of Christ the King from Sanctus Simpliticus and Sermons4Kids.

Then, while coloring, she decided her crown should have more hearts.  So, she asked me to cut two more, which she added, before beaming about Christ, King of Heaven, Earth and our Hearts.

As the kids made their crowns and did their coloring, I did as I had planned to do, an borrowing from Amy at Splendor in the Ordinary, discussed the fact that although “we pay special attention to Christ's kingship this day, He is King throughout the year... and throughout all of history.

Jack, Just Beginning to Color

Luke's Completed Coloring and Narration
After the tea, the children narrated to me about Christ the King, and later, put their coloring pages in their faith binders.

The day after our tea, we continued our Christ the King focus by doing the word search from Sanctus Simpliticus and parts of Mama Erika’s Raising Little Saints Feast of Christ the King packet during lesson time

I know these photos won’t help others much right now – since Christ the King day has passed for this year.  However, they can be bookmarked or pinned for next year’s planning.  Some of the food ideas can also be used on Epiphany – for there’s nothing like whole food crowns, right?

Are you planning any meals connected to the Liturgical Year soon?

This post is being shared at the Saint Cele-Linky at Equipping Catholics, where you can find many other ideas for celebrating the Liturgical year.  It is also now being re-shared at Worth Revisiting Wednesday at Reconciled to You.


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