Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LENT Pray-Fast-Alms


As Christians, we are asked to humbly give of ourselves to God's will for us. To repent and start anew, accepting his Mercy and sharing His love. We can continue to renew this Christian journey each Lent! For 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday it is tradition to build virtue by Praying, Fasting and Almsgiving.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

Some of us may need more specific ideas, or ideas that we can do together as a family for motivation. Each thing we do is a Sacrifice, meaning it isn't meant to be easy. It may be simple, but it is an true offering of our time, talents and treasures. If you don't find it challenging, perhaps you need to go beyond the basic task and give more, read more, volunteer more often, or take a lead role helping others be mindful of these opportunities.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

I was inspired by a post on Team Whitaker blog. She gave a great starter idea for presenting these tasks on cards. Most know I am partial to ideas I can hang on Our Forever Tree, and this was right on! I came up with 36 ideas you can print, laminate and display as you'd like. More than enough to choose at least one a week of each category - Prayer, Fasting and Giving Alms. I added a blank page to add your own, and you could make enough to choose one a day for all 40 Days!

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards


Laminate your set to use year after year. You can cross off what you've completed, or have children write on the blank cards.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

Cut and pick them randomly from a jar. Punch holes in the tops to bind with a ring/string to flip through or to hang.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

We decided to hang them on Our Forever Tree in place of the Jesus Tree Cards. Our call to action this season includes scripture reading, but my kids need to get their hands dirty in the world. They need to interact with people in our community, our church and our extended family in new ways. I think this will be just the motivation they need.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

These are FREE for you to print for your family or classroom! I love great quality resources for parents and teachers, and I just want to share my talents with all of you, no charge. I'm making these for my kids and think they're special enough to share with my broader Catholic community! Please do not recreate, print or share this file to sell. Share below in the comments some of the ideas you wrote on your card set!


Have a Blessed Lenten Season!

Mikayla Anna Michalek

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Saint Patricks Day Activities

Homegrown Catholics - St Patricks Day Activities
I am having so much fun searching for ideas for our Saint Patrick's Day Celebration in March. I'm sure many of you have already thought of the typical dress in green, eat Lucky Charms and read a book, BUT take a minute and see if any of these ideas inspire you to make it a day of faith filled learning and fun like never before! These are my plans for our homeschool group's few hour session and for our family.

*NOTE: I will post my own photos instead of the Pinterest images after we've celebrated!

Consider having Celtic music in the background. A specific song you might have is "Christ Before Me" by Margaret Becker.

May the Strength of God guide us.    
May the Power of God preserve us.    
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.    
May the Hand of God protect us.    
May the Way of God direct us.    
May the Shield of God defend us.    
May the Angels of God guard us.    
- Against the snares of the evil one.    
May Christ be with us!    
May Christ be before us!    
May Christ be in us,    
Christ be over all!    
May Thy Grace, Lord,    
Always be ours,    
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

*Choose a Book about St. Patrick and/or Irish Saints from your collection or local library.
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola
The Story of St. Patrick by James A Janda
The Story of Saint Patrick's Day by Patricia A Pingry
The Life of St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildare by Jane G Meyer
Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan

Saint Patricks Day

Cleaning Treasure Hunt @ Home: Hide gold coins amongst the messes in your home. Ask your kids to find the coins by cleaning up, and trade in their coins for a special treat! We used plastic gold coins. Chocolate coin treat in snack suggestions would work for this!
Pin the Shamrock
Pin the Shamrock on St. Patrick - from Under Her Starry Mantle Blog
March Saints and Feast Days Word Search - from CatholicPrintablesOnline.com
Saint Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt - from My Very Educated Mother

Shamrock Magnet
Shamrock Magnet w  plastic canvas & yarn
Shamrock Pin w plastic canvas & yarn
Irish Cross w plastic canvas & yarn
Shamrock Coaster, crocheted
Catholic Icing - Shamrock Lacing
Shamrock Lacing for younger children
Felt Saint Patrick Doll
Holy Trinity Puzzle

Saint Patrick's Gold Coins - from Catholic Cuisine
Gold Coins
Irish Kisses (also a matching activity - from Studio DIY)
Irish Kisses
Gummy Snakes
Gummy Snakes
Rainbow Gelatin - from The Michalek Kitchen
Rainbow Ribbon Jell-O Salad
Shamrock Cucumber Sandwiches - from Will Cook for Smiles
Cucumber Tea Sandwiches - Shamrocks
Cucumber Slices -Shamrock Platter with dip - from Brit+Co
ALSO CONSIDER: Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef & Cabbage (on Rye), Irish (Lamb) Stew, Bangers and Mash, Shepherds Pie, Frozen Green Grapes, Avocado or Pistachio Pudding, Spinach & Artichoke Dip w chips veggies or bread, or a Green Smoothie!

*Irish Catholic Movies @ Catholic Video.com
St. Patrick the Irish Legend
Patrick - Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle
The Secret of the Kells
Veggie Tales: Story of Saint Patrick
The History of Saint Patrick - A Short Story

The Feast of St. Brigid is Feb 1st, but she is the Patroness of Ireland, my Confirmation saint and our homeschool saint, so I encourage you to learn more about her as well! [St. Brigid's Academy Blog = now Homegrown Catholics]
OLD POST: 2013 St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity
OLD POST: 2011 Happy St. Patrick's Day @ Homegrown Catholics

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Are You Prepared to be Repaired

Mikayla Anna Michalek

Lent, the season of preparing your soul to be renewed in Christ's unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness. It's the 40 days prior to Easter Sunday that encourage us to transform our lives in radical ways to seek God and a desire to honor him with our whole lives. These are some ideas so you can spend the next few weeks preparing activities, crafts, meal plans and places in your home that honor traditions and will help your family reflect on the lessons of Lent.



Mardi Gras or Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Carnival…. is the day before the beginning of Lent. It's "The Feast Before The Fast." It's traditions are easily found online. Our family celebrates with a big pancake meal and crafts including masks, necklaces and glitter!

Halloween 2012 Mardi Gras pancakes


We begin Lent with Ash Wednesday. While it is not a holy day of obligation, it is good practice to use this day and week to begin reflection on dying to ourselves. I recommend taking your whole family to Ash Wednesday service. Everyone is welcome, even non-Catholics. Many people take pride in wearing their ashes throughout the day at work and outings, just like someone might wear their "I Voted" sticker, but in a manner of reminding others that we must die to ourselves (our worldly desires) if we want to be like Christ.


Weeks prior to this day, remember to bring in your old blessed palms from last Palm Sunday. If you forgot, they can be buried, burned or cut apart to be disposed properly.



Shine so Others can see God

A sacrifice made during Lent requires giving up bad habits that keep us from leading holy lives. What sacrifice do you hope to make this season? Many Catholics are noted for giving up foods and basically going on a diet during lent. While that does teach self control, it seems out of context for this religious experience. Whatever you choose, it should be something that is keeping you from becoming a saint. Perhaps it may not be something you give up, rather something you need to start doing! Sacrifice develops a personal change that in turn people see God in you, rather than being boastful of our hardships.

Best Lent Ever

Dynamic Catholic is giving us free tools to have the "Best Lent Ever!" They are encouraging us to stop giving up chocolate and do something that is life-changing! >>Check it out here<<

Sacrifice Bin

For young children, their general innocence can make this hard to understand. This is where it is easiest to focus on giving up material things in our life. Might I suggest Making a Sacrifice Bin. This is a box or bin that everyone in the family adds at least one item that is their favorite, that they would like to offer up for Lent. For adults, this may be a credit card. For children, it may be a favorite toy or game that is often focused on. For this modern day, giving up Minecraft or the Wii system might be in order. But remember to replace the time spent with that item with prayer. If you give up 15 minutes of Minecraft each week, that could be spent saying the rosary. If you give up watching a late night show, you can read a spiritual book or the Bible.


Other families may choose to have a display for their sacrifices. You might have a 'Bean (being) Good Jar or Crown of Thorns. The concept is that you fill the jar with a bean each time to make a sacrifice. On Easter, those beans are replaced by Jelly Beans or a special treat. The Crown of Thorns is a wreath full of toothpicks that are removed for each sacrifice. On Easter, they can be replaced with flowers and be a wreath for your Easter Candle.


Many who are in love with St. Therese will enjoy making Sacrifice Beads. These are a string of beads with a holy medal and crucifix on each end. Beads are moved while praying a decade of the rosary or when making a sacrifice. You can also find a child-level story in your Catholic Children's Treasure Box books. [Craft directions][Kits at Oriental Trading]


Some things that are hard in life, we lovingly call "Our Crosses." These can be offerings to God in a penitential way. To show this to our children, we once had them carry a real wood cross. It got dirty and tattered, and it was never convenient or easy. This might be a daily thing, or on Sundays when we are more relaxed about the things we've given up for Lent. You can read about it at "The Crosses We Bear." On Easter we transformed the cross into a lovely Rosary Holder. It taught our children that God makes things new. That our crosses that may seem like burdens can make us the beautiful people we are meant to be.

"Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." Luke 9:23


Ash Wednesday and Good Friday during Lent are obligatory fasting days where you eat one larger modest meal and two smaller meals/snacks which do not include meat. All Fridays during Lent follow suit by allowing only fish (a symbol of Christ) to be eaten, no meat. Traditionally this is for ages 14-59, but it is a good practice for children to join in on. It teaches them a lesson in sacrifice and penance. It also makes the transition to adult faith practices easier.

*Catholic.com: Why do Catholics fast and abstain during Lent?

*USCCB: Fast & Abstinence Obligations

*About Religion: Should Children Fast? 

So what should we eat?

Well, it's certainly not an excuse to make a pit stop at a fast food restaurant for a fish sandwich, or a date night at Red Lobster. It's meant to be a mindful change in the week, focusing on your meal prayer and quiet reflection on personal sacrifices you've made during the week. But in an effort to teach young children, you can make that prayer and reflection a group sharing moment. In our family, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in impromptu/spontaneous prayer in addition to our traditional meal prayers. Our meals primarily consist of Fish and Veggies, Nut Butter sandwiches, or sometimes Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup. Other adults may reduce their two "snacks" to bread and water. This is a personal decision that you can make yourself based mostly on your family's dietary needs and grocery allowance.



It's also a time to drop your saved change in a Rice Bowl , volunteer at a local food bank, or food for the poor service such as Feed My Starving Children or Kids Against Hunger. You can make your own Offering Box from a simple milk carton or jar. There a many ways to give back to your church and community. This is the perfect time of year for Catholics/Christians to volunteer, as the rest of the world seems more mindful about doing this during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Lent Craft Time

Feed My Starving Children trip

Feed My Starving Children trip Feed My Starving Children trip



Confessional copy

God forgives us on so many levels with second chances and even twenty-fourth chances! As a Catholic, this is more complex than just being sorry and being born again in Christ. It is a constant movement within our hearts, asking for forgiveness and expressing it outwardly by attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is VERY important that as a family you discuss what the Church teaches regarding making a confession.

Consider using my First Reconciliation Activities to teach young children about being truly sorry. I include a fun sensory project called "A Taste of Confession," a lap book, and other activities.

Taste of Reconciliation

God wipes away all our sins. You can show this with a science experiment or a custom wipe off board!

Wipes away my sins board - fingerprints



1. CREATE A JESUS TREE to reflect on 40 daily scripture readings.

Jesus Tree copy

2. CREATE A PRAYER SPACE or HOME ALTAR for reflection.

Stations of the Cross

This may include a mini Stations of the Cross using this file I created. We simply cut and color the illustrations, then glued them to our popsicle stick crosses mounted in clay. You might add purple in several ways including cloths and ribbon. We often have a Crown of Thorns that is a vine wreath filled with toothpicks that are removed when good deeds are done or sacrifices are made.

Make a Portable Kneeler as guided by Catholic Icing! Make a Prayer Pail where you add written petitions. Have a collection of prayer books and cards, as well as rosaries.

Holy Household Labels[3]

I created some mini posters to hang around the house to inspire a Holy Household. Our favorite is the Soap=Repentence that is placed near our hand soap in the bathroom. Inspirational and Prayer Posters are easy to find on Pinterest and would be valuable whether you tape them up or give them a frame. These are a few of my favorites!

Make Me HolyPetitions Prayer

St Michael Defend UsBecause of Jesus Poster


Our children really like their hands on Montessori Stations of the Cross inspired by Catholic Icing.



Catholic Icing: Passion and Easter Children's Scene

Wee Believers: My Mass Kit

Holy Heroes: Lenten Adventure




For those who are weary, lay your burdens down at the foot of the Cross. God will bear your burdens and give you strength.

Serenity Prayer

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Large Family Small Entryway

  What to do when you have a large family and your entryway or foyer is severely lacking in space? This seems to be a big question among large families. That, along with managing socks, cupboards, beds, clothes, etc. There's certainly a lack of ideas on Pinterest, so here's my contribution!

  We have a 3ft wide, T-shaped entry. People wait outside for their turn to come in. The winter fun aftermath is all sorts of chaos. We have plenty of hangers and hooks for coats. What we lack is area for people to enter, sit, and store their shoes. I fixed the shoe part, but the rest requires a remodel. And we all know that ain't happening.


Section 1 is where the door swings and the stairs start. Kids pile on the stairway to tie shoes. It is what it is.

Entryway Organization

Section 2 is the garage entry door and closet. This area has toddler coat hooks, key/purse hooks, a memo blackboard/corkboard I made, and our main storage. In the winter, boots melt off here along the wall. Otherwise they go in the garage.

Entryway Organization

  The closet is about 5ft wide and 2 ft deep. We used 1x3s on the wall as support for laminated wood shelves spaced 7-8 in apart. Enough to fit a high heel shoe and see what's shoved a the back. The wood rod is up as far as it'll go to hook up the kids coats. We've got Dad & Mom with 4 boys and 3 girls, so we just split the closet half boy / half girl sides. Our adult coats are in the garage or on the hooks. Each child has a church coat, rain/lightweight coat and a winter coat.

Entryway Organization

Section 3 of the T is part hallway to the downstairs. So it's critical this stays a walkway. When you add coats and hats to the hooks, good luck! Here we have a 8-square Cubby that holds each of the kids snow pants, hats, scarves and mittens. We ran out of space, so Dad & Mom get the bins on top.

Entryway Organization

Section 4? Well, Dad & Mom have more coats than the kids. Especially with dress coats, work coats, hunting gear, etc. So all those go out in the garage. One long pole with shelves above for misc, and a shelf below for winter/rain/work boot storage. Another area has storage bins full of coats and shoes for growing kids.

I know some people with less space than ours. I simply can't imagine, since we have no spare room in our bedroom closets. Others throw shoes into baskets, which wouldn't work for us either because shoes would be ruined and we have limited floor space.


I hope that sparks some ideas for you and your gathering space! Please share your links and ideas in the comments.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Petitions to Saint Nicholas

Praying to St Nicholas

Each year we hang our stockings in hopes that Saint Nicholas will come fill them on the eve of his feast day, December 6th. This has been a new tradition for my family, as when I was a child the stockings were typically filled on Christmas Eve. It did not sit well with me as a new mother that my children should associate Christmas, the birthday of Christ Jesus, with a Santa Claus of society's creation nor a saintly one.

Visit with St. NicholasVisiting St Nick 2009

Before the season begins, we visit Saint Nicholas at a local church and the children are always encouraged by photographers and bystanders to tell him their Christmas wishes. This typically is known to be toys. My children are well aware that we cannot afford much, and I would never want their hopes to be set high that a Saint or stranger would miraculously give them what they desire - concocted all by parents in an effort to get the kids to be good. How awful! My children are well aware that graces are the gifts given by the Lord as merit for doing good every day. We always tell Saint Nicholas "We're so excited for you to come by! Merry Christmas!" and smile for the camera.

Visit with St Nicholas

This year I have older children, in fact we have 6 children and one on the way. I felt the need to further this discussion and reiterate it with action. We are writing our "Letters to Santa," but they will be "Petitions" that St. Nicholas will read and share with God. They will be about hopes, fears, pleasures, desires, commitments, and prayers for others.


After the children have finished their letters, they will put them in their stockings prior to December 5th. The night before Dec 6 when all are asleep… "St. Nicholas" will collect the letters and leave a special treat in its place. Typically something between $10-20 depending on finances. Sometimes a pair of new slippers. We like adding chocolate coins in his memory, and I will be using this print-out from Catholic Cuisine to glue to each one.

St. Nick Came


Please share in the comments your thoughts on this approach, if you will include it in your tradition, and other ideas you may have!


I have more posts about our Advent traditions here:

Happy Saint Nicholas Day - our traditions

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - activities

Advent Stocking Tree - Countdown/advent calendar

Preparing for Jesus' Birthday - more kid sized activities

Every year we donate shoebox gifts to Operation Christmas Child

The Joyful Mysteries for Homeschoolers



Regarding praying to the saints and praying for others, a good argument for it:



Related Posts with Thumbnails