Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas to all the Little Flowers

My posting has not been what I had hoped.  Another apology given, another forgiveness received.  This must be how God, the Father feels. We say we will do something - that first son of the vineyard - and then we don't.  Better if I were the second son who says I won't and then do??
No, best to be the child who only says what they can actually do and then do it.  

In that frame of mind, I offer you my family's best wishes for a holy and happy Christmas.  May the Baby Jesus send you and your family all you need to love Him better.  If that includes some new clothes and new toys, so be it, but if not don't fret because knowing and loving Him is truly the best gift of all, isn't it?


Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Year, New Club!

I've noticed a trend over the last few years of Little Flowers and Blue Knights clubs starting in January rather than September. This has some definite advantages. January is typically a slow month without a whole lot going on. Since it is the start of a new year, a new beginning for a club falls right in line with a new resolution to learn and teach virtues in our families. Since the clubs are flexible, you can start wherever and whenever you want. You can still do one virtue a month, work through the summer and finish by September. Or, you can really dive into the material and make the study last longer. Whatever works for you will be fine for the children involved, I'm sure. 

So if you've been hesitating in starting a club, now's the time to start! Just to give you a little more incentive, EHP will offer a 10% discount on all orders placed from now until December 31, 2008. Just type in the discount code: CLUB09  Orders must be placed online at the website: www.eccehomopress.com 
Have a Holy Advent!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Take time to be a family

Silly to even type it isn't it?  Aren't we always a family, in our family, with our family?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

The holidays are fast approaching - Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and more -  and I just want to remind us that in the midst of all the work of the holidays let us please take some time to be a family.  

Sit and talk, enjoy the time, share expectations and excitement.  Don't rush so quickly from one event to another that you don't enjoy the family you have been given.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's is the 1st Little Flower's Birthday

Today is Maggie's 21st birthday (Amelia was 19 on the 9th of this month).  Those two girls are the first of the Little Flowers.  I am in awe of what God has done in my family through their lives.  They are both serving Christ and His Church as Consecrated members of Regnum Christi (as is Joan's daughter Elizabeth).

In spite of our flaws as parents, our mistakes in raising them, God called them and they answered yes!   I miss them greatly but send my love via letters, phone calls, e-mails but more importantly through the doors of the Tabernacle and through the arms of our Blessed Mother Mary.

Your prayers for their vocations - and the vocations of all the LF throughout the world - are appreciated on this day.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Calling Virtue Virtue and Vice a Vice

Just encouraging you to remember that one of the easiest ways to 'teach' virtues is to make them part of your family life.  In other words, remember to compliment your child when they are industrious, tell them that sharing their toys is the charitable thing to do.  Being good at Mass is the best way to show love of God.

But also let them know that they can tend towards grumpiness and should try for joy!  Using the big words may seem intimidating but they are smarter than we give them credit for.  

Can't remember them (neither can I!), so print out the list of virtues from the wreaths so you have the right word for the right moment.

May God and the Little Flower bless you and all of your little flowers.
Be assured of my prayers - Rachel

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've got a piece on Catholic Exchange

If you have the time, please check out my piece on "The Shack" on Catholic Exchange today.  This subject - Catholic books vs. non-Catholic books is one I have pondered and thought about for a long time.  

If you read the piece you will certainly know how I feel about the subject.  I have grave concerns about handing anyone a 'Christian' book without making sure it is not heretical in any form.  And that is not always easy to determine - at least for me.

I think we must be especially careful when it comes to our kids.  I know friends who let their kids read the "Left Behind" series because it was 'Christian' not willing to admit that it taught a really, troublesome heresy (and was anti-Catholic in some places).  

In the comment section of the piece on CE, someone asked about C.S. Lewis.  I feel his writings would pass muster in that while he was not a Catholic, none of his writings said anything that went against Catholic teachings.  

Something to think about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NEW WEB ADDRESS

If you are trying to order Little Flowers items and have our old AOL address bookmarked, please change your bookmark to: www.eccehomopress.com

AOL has completely erased their member websites and there is no way to forward from the old website. Thanks! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Book I really like

I was asked to review "Olivia and the Little Way" by Nancy Carabio Belanger.  I will admit I was hesitant as I have been asked to read and review other Catholic materials that I found disappointing.

Not so with this book.  This book - recommended for 8 and up - is a really nice book, wonderfully Catholic.  It tells the story of Olivia and her new school, her introduction to St. Therese and the Little Way.  I honestly will say I really liked it being a 'modern' story w/ modern struggles and challenges.  Our daughters need to see their faith as it plays out in a life that might be their own and Olivia just might be that girl.

Both my 14 yr. old and 10 yr. old have read it and both enjoyed it very much.  While the 14 yr. old recognized that it was written for girls a bit younger than herself it was, as she said, "a really good book and I learned more about St. Therese and met her on a personal level than a paragraph in a saint's book."

My 10 yr. old says, "I loved it.  It really touched me and now I love St. Therese and I am inspired to try to do better and try to treat Mom and Dad a bit better."  (Boy, what parent doesn't want to hear that!!!!)  My 8 yr. old is next in line and I'm eager to see how she likes the book as I think she and St. Therese will get along very well.

I am not the type of person who says - Go out and buy this book now!  But with Christmas right around the corner this would make a great present!  You can go to www.littleflowerbook.com for more info.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Game Ideas

On the Leaders' loop I was asked for some game ideas.  I didn't have one immediately on hand but did offer some of my favorite book titles for game ideas.  It has been on my mind, for quite some time, to create a game book for LF but don't know if that is a real need.  What do you think?

Let us know and we could certainly start on it.  Here are a few of my favorite game books (should be available at your library):

Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato and Ha Ha Ha:  A Rulebook for Children's Games by Jack McGuire
Miss Mary Mack and Other Children's Street Rhymes by Joanna Cole
The Ultimate Playground and Recess Game Book by Guy Bailey

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Little Flowers Girls' Club Ideas

One of our very talented LFGC Leaders, Jessica, has some fantastic pictures and ideas that she's done with her Little Flowers club. Here's the link to her September site: http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2008/09/little-flowers-for-st-therese.html

Here's the link to the October club meeting: http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2008/10/little-flowers-girls-club-october.html  Thanks for sharing, Jessica!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Sash and a Prayer


Wow! I just want to let all you Little Flowers leaders and girls know that we've added nearly 2000 new Little Flowers this year! 

I have a lovely team of young ladies who help me make all those new sashes: my daughter Maggie cuts them out and Mary Beth, Emily and I sew them. We try to say a prayer for each one we make: a prayer that the little girl who wears the sash may grow in virtue and faith and become an authentic Catholic woman. 

Have you had your "sashing ceremony" yet? The new Little Flowers Girls' Club Ceremony and Prayer book has some great ideas for one. Don't forget to tell the girls that a prayer has been said for them by the makers of the sashes, too. We love all our Little Flowers!

To order prayer book: www.eccehomopress.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finally...health...I hope!

My little guy is finally feeling like himself.  He actually left my lap for almost a 1/2 hour to play with his big brothers and sisters.  It is good to hear his laugh and see his smile (he has my dimples!).

Thank you for the prayers.  I know I couldn't have survived the past few nights without them.  

Now, keep praying as we all are, for the upcoming election.  God's will be done.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Managing Illness

There is nothing that makes you realize God's love for you more than when a child is sick.  My littlest guy has an awful cold which has made his days and night awful.  As there are no OTC medicines available (where they really all that bad??  I remember when they were available at least I was able to get a few hours of sleep for them - and me).

So, here I am holding him almost 24/7.  He sleeps better upright against my chest.  I can gauge his fever as he presses his head against me, and if he falls deep into sleep I can sometimes slip into bed w/ him for a few hours of sleep.  He is pretty miserable and I am miserable for him but I do not stop in doing what I need to do for him.  I am a mom, it is what I must do.

And then there is God.  He holds us closely, never letting us sleep alone.  We are restless in His arms, squirming to get down and then climbing back up knowing it is only there that rest is possible.  He feels our foreheads w/ his lips and knows when we are sick.  Our sins create fevers in our body and soul but He provides the medicine of His own Son's body and blood.  He will bathe us in the grace of confession and we can be healed.  He will never stop doing what He needs to do for us.  He is a father and that is what He must do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mommy Melt-Down Moments

This a long post and hope it ends up being worth reading - thanks to my husband for giving me the extra time on this important subject - love you Matt!

We got a comment on how to reduce the "Mommy Meltdown Moments" or those moments when we become the wicked witch of the house.  Oh, this is both very hard to comment on and also a easy.  The hard part comes from not knowing what it is that sets you off so to make a specific comment isn't easy but there in lies the easy part.  

The first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your day and make a quick list of the when, where, and why.  Our first reply is often - every day, every moment!!  Anything can set us off and often does depending on so much.   Think about it - controlling your anger is a subject that many folks better than me have written huge numbers of books on.  Therapists base their entire practices on anger management.  So, here's some guidelines.  

IF - you find yourself getting angry all the time, over every little detail, offense or interruption then you may need professional help.

IF - your anger results in violence against your kids or spouse please seek professional help.  If you know me at all - and I know I am risking a great deal to put this out there - you know I am not a fan of spanking as a discipline technique.  I am not talking about the occassional swat on the bottom either as a result of losing one's temper or a child's acting up but I am not a fan of daily or weekly spankings.  I am not a fan of spanking as the first and preferred response to any situation.  So, if you find that this is you - again find some help.

BUT - if you are like me (and so many others) and your moments flare up and down depending on how much sleep you got, your child got, when you last ate, how busy the day is, how soon the mother-in-law is making a 'surprise' visit, your husband is late from work, the dog ate a diaper, your stubbed your foot on a toy, etc., etc.  Those are the moments for which I can offer some ideas as I am that Mom.  On most of my days I am 'a good' mom but on any given moment, on any given day I can melt down and become my worst self.  I am an admitted "recovering screamer" and just like a recovering alcoholic (all respect to those) I fight the temptation to resort to screaming almost every day.

How to reduce the moments??
1.  Think about a regular day and when you are most likely to lose it.  Make it a list.  Is it mealtimes?  Just before naptimes?  Just before your husband comes home?  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the times you are most vulnerable.
2.  Think about your kids.  Is there one child more than another who can get you going?  Are they like that all the time or is it new?  
3.  Think about yourself.  How are you feeling when you meltdown?  Very tired, overwhelmed, hungry, all three?  
4.  Take this information and place yourself in a prayerful moment.  Ask again for wisdom and grace to see yourself as God does.  Pretty hard to do.  We want to think that God sees us as perfect (and He does) but that won't come until heaven so be brave enough to see yourself as you are now.
5.  In conversation w/ God first ask for his forgiveness for losing your temper as often as you do.  It is not in His plan that our fatigue or lack of planning results in a meltdown.  It is our action, our responsibility and ours to fix.  Go to confession and take your anger w/ you.
6.  Now, take another look at your list and highlight the when/where that bothers you the most.  For example, I have/had the terrible habit of losing it during the school day.  They aren't learning fast enough, or paying attention, they aren't doing it the way I want them to, etc., etc. and I raise my voice.  SO, I had to come up with a solution - first, I realized certain subjects (math and teaching reading) caused it more than others so I now try to teach those first when I am rested and not sick of teaching for the day :-).  
So, you can target the worst offenders try to come up w/ a solution.  Mealtimes?? Maybe plan easier meals for awhile until the toddler can better stand being away from you.  Plan a video or reading time w/ an older child to keep the little one happy for that time.  
It is getting out the door?  Become a better planner and set out your stuff the night before when the kids are in bed, set out clothes, shoes, everything by the door.  Write yourself a list of what you need and - most importantly - start out the door 10 minutes earlier than you think.  It is better to sit w/ the kids in the car w/out the screaming waiting for the library to open than to scream at them because of a lack of planning.
7.  Tackle one moment at a time and you may find you gain patience for several others.  I have found that on a day when I don't scream I have more patience than I ever imagined I could and on days when I lose it once, I lose it more than once.  It is almost as if screaming once breaks the dam of my emotions and I end up flooding the house and mopping up the mess the rest of the day.  But if I can keep myself under control for one moment when I really, really want to lose it I gain fortitude and self-control that reinforces me for the rest of the day.
8.  Ask your kids to pray for you as you start to gain self-control.  Tell them you are sorry for screaming in the past (and ask for that same forgiveness each and every time you fall) and w/ their prayers and God's grace you'll be better.
9. Ask the Holy Spirit for an extra dose of self-control and the Blessed Mother for the wisdom to use it.  Remember we all have it as a part our confirmation but as with any other gift we can't use it if we haven't opened it.  Make a real act of opening your own self-control each and every morning.  Say it out loud, "Thank you Holy Spirit for the gift of self-control.  Help me to use it well.  Dear Mother, help me to be a mother as you are." 
10. Anticipate the backdraft.  Huh??  Know that once you have set something like anger back in God's hands Satan is not going to be happy.  The Enemy of our souls thrives when we act without love.   And when we work hard on being the saint  he will try to push back - either by temptation to return to paths of destruction.  Isn't it like that - we decide to say a rosary every day and once we decide to we can't seem to find five minutes to go the bathroom!  But, persevere and know that it takes 21 days to build a good habit.  So, keep trying and know that if God wants it - and you know that God wants this - He will make it happen as long as we are willing to let Him.

Hope this helps - if there is a specific situation that I can offer more specific help with let me know!  God BLess and may St. Therese watch over you and all of your little flowers.


What age works best for Little Flowers?

I thought I'd share this email with you all just in case some of you may have the same question:
Hi,
I was wondering if you could help me with a question. . . Upon looking at the Little Flowers manuals, one gets the impression that they are geared toward older girls, who are able to read and especially write.  However, the pictures on your website show mostly younger girls and the program is advertised as being for ages 5 and up.  Therefore, in our area, the girls start at 5 and are done with the program by age 8 or 9.  In my opinion, they end up missing out on most of the activities in the member's manuals because they are not ready for them yet.  Can you offer any insight? 

Yes, you can start the program at age 5 with the simple tasks...memorizing the Bible verse (the music helps) etc. The program, though, was initially created for a number of ages in the same group. Remember that it came from Catholic homeschooling families who get together and may have ten girls ages 5 and up so the program could be adjusted to meet all the ages. And, when the girls who were five years old have finished the three or four wreaths of study, the group would begin with Wreath I again. This way, the older girls who did get a lot of the study of the virtues help teach the younger ones and the ones that have yearning to begin Little Flowers since they were 2 or 3 years old can now begin.
 
So the paradigm has shifted a bit as the program has been adopted by Catholic schools and religious education classes. But because the program is run at the local level, it can be adjusted to fit the needs of the local group. Some schools use Wreath I in K-2; Wreath 2 in 3-4; Wreath 3 in 5-6 and Wreath 4 or the new Hospitality Program for the older girls. Anyway you want to implement the program is fine. If you only have younger girls and you want to spend three months on one virtue to make sure the children get it, that is fine, too. If you want to just give the younger girls merit certificates instead of badges that they may earn when they are older, that is fine, also. In short, there is no one way to implement the program. It can be adjusted to fit the your particular needs.
 
Hope this helps!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keep praying....It works

We can get weary, can't we?  Weary of the laundry, the meals, the cleaning, the life we are being asked to live.  Weary of prayer as well.

I know because I am very weary.  Our youngest (17 mos.)  is suffering from a mild cold which has resulted in his waking every night/morning around 2:30 a.m. with a cough.  He finds the most comfort in my arms or in our bed (he sleeps in a crib in our room).  I'm not against him being in either spot but he's a squirmer.  He ends up being the cross bar in an "H" he creates between Matt and I or resting up on our heads!!  Amazing isn't it, that these little bodies are most comfortable if we are miserable??  And how sharp can one small pair of elbows be??

So, my sleep has been less than stellar lately and I am tired.  That fatigue has rolled into everything - how I am schooling the kids, how I am cleaning the house and how I am praying.

But these days are actually when I need to pray more.  Pray for the patience that has evaporated along with a good night's sleep.  Pray for the grace to endure a long day w/ a husband gone for most of it.  Pray for the strength to endure.

When you find you don't want to pray is the time you need to pray the most.  One reason why I love the memorized prayer of the Catholic faith and the small powerful exhortations of "Jesus have pity on me a sinner."

Keep praying.  Keep praying.  Keep praying.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pink shirts

I just got a call from an upset customer who bought a child size pink shirt thinking it would be a polo shirt. I just want to clarify that the adult shirts are polo shirts and the children's shirts are 100% heavy duty cotton T-SHIRTS. The reason for this is that we couldn't find the children's sizes in azalea pink colored polo shirts in the wholesale market. If you know of any that are reasonably priced that we can buy in bulk, I'd love to hear from you (EcceHomoPr@aol.com). Thanks! Joan

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Prayers for John, Joan and Family

I don't know how many folks are actually reading this blog but I will send out a request that we all begin seeking a miracle through our patroness, St. Therese, for a healing for John, peace and strength for the entire family.  May she watch over this holy, remarkable family with Jesus' peace and healing.

Dear Joan - how I wish I was closer......

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Prayers !

I know that many of you had your Little Flowers praying for my son, John, last fall. John was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was causing a build-up of fluid in the brain and causing eye damage. He was fitted with a permanent shunt and his eye sight began to improve (thanks to your prayers through his name sake: John Paul the Great!)

We just found out last week that the tumor has grown by 40% over the last few months. We will either start chemo or radiation next week. It will be a rough few months for John and the rest of the family. 

Of course, these are little bumps in our family apostolate that we really need prayers and patience. Please allow extra time for your order to arrive. We've shipped 800 packages since August and we do our best to get them out in a timely fashion. But as in your house, the family comes first, so your patience is greatly appreciated.

God bless! Joan Stromberg Ecce Homo Press

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LF - religion class, scouting, what is it??

I received a message from Sherri who was asking about LF.  She was wondering if our girls like it and if it was more like religion class or scouting....

I thought answering here was best - hope she is reading :-)....

Sherri - the answer to all of your questions is YES!!  Yes, our daughters like it.  I could be quippy and say that is why there is so many of them but is more due to the commitment of the great moms whose own enthusiasm and talents make each group a success - in their own way.

And yes, it is a bit like a religion class in that the girls will learn about their faith but it is more like scouting (minus the camping which is not required but that is another story for another time).  

When LF first began I was seeking a place for my girls (now 20 and 18 y.o.) to be with other Catholic girls, have fun, make crafts, do skits, and much more that - I wanted them to be in place where their faith was celebrated and not ignored.  Where being Catholic was a cause for joy not embarrassment and not prejudice or condemnation.  

So, LF can be whatever you want it to be - more like a religion class if your girls need that or more like scouting if you would like that without cookies to sell :-)!

There are avenues to reach out to their families, church and community and a new program called Honor Badges (coming in 2009) will let them learn and earn about such things as running a household, impacting the world through the media.  It is an exciting program (I think) and while it is geared towards older girls (12 and up) your daughter's early years as a LF will get her ready to transform the world for Christ when she is older.





Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dear St. Therese

On this your feast day, I would like once again to offer you the work of the Little Flowers' here on earth.  Please, take it all as your own.  Watch over all of the Little Flower's around the world - the young ladies, their mothers and their families.  Watch over us as we strive to honor you and our faith.  May all of us bring light and joy to our world as we try to plant seeds of virtue that will grow into flowers of glory around the throne of God, Jesus and the Blessed Mother.

Watch over me, especially, please dear patron.  May I never do anything that would bring dishonor to your name or our beloved Church.  Continue to send down flowers of grace upon all we do as we try to bring your little way in our lives.

Please continue to pray for us.  In Jesus' name, Amen

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bogged down by blogging

Forgive my absence as I found myself bogged down by life so the blogging had to go.  Matt had to spend a week in San Diego and I do not do single parenting at all well.  Does anyone?  

I found myself praying hard for single parents who have to do it full-time.  I was only on for five days and I got to talk to Matt in the morning before he headed out to meetings and before I went to bed.

There are several saints who endured life alone while raising children.  Are any designated as patron saint of single parents??

I am back to 'normal' as Matt came home safely on Saturday.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who doesn't feel their age!!

Today is my birthday and Talk Like a Pirate Day!, I am not sure which gives me more delight :-).

While I am not embarrassed by my age, I have reached the point where it does become an issue.  Most women my age do not have children who are 17 mos. old (not to mention 10 others).  There is also the 'oh, you're that old look'.  

You may know what I am talking about.  You meet someone someone for the first time, who is younger than you.  They may think you are closer in age because you have children the same age or belong to the same book club or activity.  Once they discover how old I am, I can perceive a slight clouding of the eyes.  Our five, ten or more years of difference can make all the difference to them.  I am now perceived to be old.

But I am not old!  Despite my age, I feel much younger and my mother will still state as she did at my marriage (I married real young) that I've 'always been a bit immature'.  I guess I just can't get my head around this age thing.

For one, I look better (according to my husband) better than I ever have due to working hard on calories in/calories out.  I am more confident in myself and my life which gives me more energy.  

But more importantly, I can only imagine the women of my mother's life at my current age.  My best friend's mom, my mom, other mom's....they were my age when I was in high school and they seemed so old back then.  And, I AM NOT OLD.

Am I the only one who feels this way?   Is my mom right and I am immature?  Or as the saying goes - you may have to get older but acting old is a choice!

To make it even better - my family (older brothers and sisters - I have 8 of those) has added the word 'forty' to our list of f-words that can never be said.   As a result we have all remained thirty-something.

So, in case you were wondering - today I am thirty-sixteen.  A fine age to be I think!  1962 was a very good year!

May the Little Flower continue to bless all the Little Flowers

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How I love the woman of today's gospel!

Today's gospel from Luke which tells of the story of the woman wiping Jesus' feet w/ oil always gives me such encouragement.  How many times have I disappointed Christ, how many times "the woman in the city, who was a sinner".  How awful for her that her sins were so well-known.  We can hide ours (at least most of them in the dark of our homes and the corners of our souls), but she was known to all as a sinner.  Can you even imagine this type of life, this existence on the edge of society?  But this did not cause her enough embarrassment that she was going to let Jesus pass her by.

Don't let our sinners to cause us let Jesus pass us by.  He is waiting for us, every day in the tabernacle, awaiting our arrival to supper with Him at Mass.  Let us go, wash his feet with our hair, and let Him know of our deep love.  If possible, why not take yourself and your children to confession this weekend and show Him there your love.  How good it will feel to hear - Your sins are forgiven,  go in peace.
 

How do you eat an elephant??

One bite at a time!  

So should be our lives.  But we often forget that don't we?  Today, I had a day where I was taking more than a mouthful, barely chewing and swallowing well before I should have.  As a result, I am ending this evening w/ a bad case of spiritual indigestion.  Happily for us, God has provided His own brand of Pepto-Bismol.  Prayer.  

I shall go to bed with my children.  Wrap my rosary around my hand and hope I fall asleep before I finish.  I'll ask my guardian angel to finish it for me and help me awake tomorrow with a commitment to eat my elephant more carefully tomorrow.




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Enters the Fall

I will readily admit that fall is my favorite time of year.  My affection for the season comes not only from the fact that birthday is in September but from the reality of the cooler weather.  In my battle (small skirmishes for the most part) with MS, my health is decidely better when the humidity is low along with the temps.

I also truly love the 'new beginnings' a school year offers.  New notebooks, not yet filled with any writing offer us a chance to write new stories.  New planners, not yet filled with commitments allow us to new dreams of what we will do and what will happen.

But in reality - my planner is already filled as I have offered it - through my commitment to Christ and His path - to His commitments, His plans and His work.  As a result I try to discern if what I am writing down, if my commitments and plans are His and mine in tandem or all me, all the the time.

The same is true for my notebooks.  My writing, my work is also His.  I can only hope that what I write, what I do is all Him, all the time.

I readily laugh at the irony of "Fall" as I know I will 'fall down' in both of these resolutions time and again.  We all do, we all will.  But I will strive that as I fall I will remember that I can rise again, just as the tempuratures.  I just shouldn't wait weeks or months to rise but today.  Love the fight and not the fall.  I will continue to love the season of fall and all it brings but never will I love the fall of my resolve or my sins.

 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

By our fruit (flowers??) we are known...

Today's gospel - Luke 6:43-49 contains that stop you in your tracks verse - "For every tree is known by its own fruit."  One of many verses (too many to count verses!) in Scripture that make me pause.  How clearly could it be?  You will known by the fruit you produce.  I find it interesting that there is no number here - the verse is not 'known by how much fruit' - but just the its own fruit.  

I mention this because I was again confronted recently by the comment that I 'must' be holy because I am the mom of a large family.  None of my children were around when the comment was made which spared me their snorty laughs as they would beg to differ.  

Let us be clear - while we are called to be fruitful and multiply - but we all know that God's plan for each family is as unique as His plan for each fruitful plant in His beautiful creation.  A pineapple plant creates one amazing fruit while other plants such as apples and oranges produce a multitude.  But as we all know from eating fruit, there can be some real clunkers in a seemingly beautiful bowl.

The challenge then is for us to be sure to give care and regard for each fruit we are growing regardless of number.  Each one unique, requiring individual care and love.  

And while I am in no position to 'change' the Scriptures, I can't but smile and wonder about the flowers we produce as a result of our desire to all be Little Flowers.  How many seeds of faith can we sow today?   Can we leave behind some buds of love for neighbor today as we go out and about in our tasks?  Would God look down on the flowers we live and leave today and smile knowing these 'fruits' of our labors are as pleasing to Him as any fruit.

May the Little Flower bless and watch over all Little Flowers!   

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lonely Little Flowers

As strange as it may sounds, my own daughters here at home are without a Little Flower Chapter.  I thought I'd throw out the idea that perhaps we could form a virtual chapter somehow via this blog-site.  

If you are doing LF w/ your daughters and w/out the benefit of a chapter, let me know.  Perhaps we can work something out that would allow us to connect.

I'm not sure how it would all work out as I am not the most tech-savvy person out there but we could try it!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beginning a new school year - the life of virtue begins again

I know that our decision to homeschool was the beginning of our life as more committed Catholics.  Part and parcel of that life is a life committed to living with a commitment to the virtues.  With my children watching me almost 24/7 I have a requirement to be on my best behavior - a requirement that is often left unfulfilled.

This year, as in years past, I am once more committing myself to trying to a better reflection of Christ.  I have always tried to give myself a slogan, a campaign as it were, to inspire me as I go through the day.  A phrase or word that will keep me focused on my goals, my plan for the year. 

Much like the political atmosphere we are currently in, I am trying to come up what defines my year of homeschooling.  While we all need 'change', there is no inspiration here for me.  Rather, I am finding the help I need with "Do what you can, I will do the rest".  With "I" being Christ.  I am trying hard not to pretend I am perfect, that I can do it all, that I am more than I am.  I will just strive to give Christ, my children, my husband my best and allow Christ to do the rest.

May your year be blessed and may the Little Flower bless all the Little Flowers -
Rachel  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hello!

I feel a bit guilty at saying that I've not posted due to a busy summer as I wasn't the one having a baby!!  However, it has been a complicated summer here at the Watkins' house, in addition to computer issues.

Having resolved the computer issues (thanks, Matt!) and the calm of another homeschooling year :-) here, I hope to add some thoughts and ideas on Little Flowers.  Your input on what you'd like to see from me would be helpful.  I would prefer to write on things that you need or want rather what I think is important.

Much love from my house to yours and know you are all in my daily prayers...May the Little Flower keep  all Little Flowers in her prayers!

Friday, September 5, 2008

To copy or not to copy

Please remember that our small family owned business/apostolate depends on you to survive and grow. We strive to make the materials reasonably priced for large families on a tight budget. As a mom of ten who has seen tight times myself, I understand the need to squeeze as much as possible out of every penny.
Because of this, we ask you to respect the copyrights of our materials and not to photocopy pages from the books. This includes member's guides and the art and activity books. They are the heart of the program and each child deserves their own. At $4.50 for each member guide and $3.50 for each art and activity book, they are more than reasonably priced for each child. We have to have these made up by the thousands, so each time they are photocopied rather than purchased, it prevents us from developing more items for Little Flowers and Blue Knights and stifles the growth of all the clubs.
Thanks for your cooperation and God bless! --EHP

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Looking for a Little Flower Group?

Little Flowers Girls' Clubs are indepently operated at the local level. There is no national database or registration of groups. They are operated in homes, homeschool groups, parishes and schools. Check with your local Catholic homeschool group or Catholic parish for a group near you.

Check the "leader's support" section of the website: www.eccehomopress.com for a yahoogroup of 900+ leaders that may have information of a group near you.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hopping off the shelves!


Hi all,

This is the time of year that the approximately 500 clubs start their meetings. As a result, our home business/apostolate is run ragged trying to keep up with filling orders, answering the phone and email. This on top of a new (colicky) baby in the house makes life very interesting indeed!!

Although our family loves serving you and your Little Flowers needs, if you could please respect our business hours when calling by phone (9-5 EST; M-F) it would greatly be appreciated. Better yet, contact us online at: EcceHomoPr@aol.com. Online ordering is available 24 hours a day at the website: www.eccehomopress.com.

The Stromberg family thanks you!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ready to Start!?!?!


Everyone is getting into high gear to begin their new year of Little Flowers judging from my constantly ringing telephone and full email order box! I just wanted to offer a prayer to all the clubs beginning a new year. This is a nice little prayer included in the new "Prayer and Ceremony Handbook" located on the website.

Peace gives the young their joyous smile
Peace lightens woman's daily toil.
Peace gives old men longed for rest.
Peace, the happiness of the blessed.

God bless you all as you begin your new LFGC year!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beautiful New Shirts!




Show some club spirit and unity with these beautiful new embroidered polos and shirts for your girls! Order before August 15th and get 10% off the shirts when ordering online and using the coupon INTHEPINK. Go to www.eccehomopress.com and click on the Little Flowers Logo to the left of the page and go to the page labled: Badges/Sashes/Vests.

Updates and News!

Well, we did it! The Hospitality Program is online and ready to go. Go to: www.eccehomopress.com and click on the cover of the book to take you to the Little Women Hospitality Program home page. Everything is ready to go except the Student Companion book which will be delivered next week.

I also managed another delivery last week: Thomas Benedict Stomberg was delivered at 5:11 pm on July 17th with a picture perfect delivery and baby! Thanks for everyone's prayers for a safe and healthy delivery!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hospitality Program

Well, my goal was to have the program produced and ready for sale before I produce baby #10. Now it looks like they will be here simultaniously!! The Hospitality Program books should arrive around July 17th, the day after I'm scheduled to go in and birth the newest addition! So here's to a healthy delivery of books and babies!

Check the website: www.eccehomopress.com for availability and enjoy the summer!

PS: Prayers to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are especially appreciated for a healthy and safe delivery (of baby). Oh, and you can pray to St. Francis de Sales for the safe delivery of the books!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Parish Powerpoint

It's time to start thinking about next fall's Little Flowers Girls' Club! We've put together a new Parish Powerpoint that gives a good overview of all EHP's youth programs. This gives a synopsis of what the programs entails, sample pages from the books and information on ages, how to run a group and how to obtain materials. If you'd like a copy of the powerpoint in a pdf format (acrobat reader...it is too big as a powerpoint to send through email), please send your request to: EcceHomoPr@aol.com.

Monday, June 16, 2008

See you in Michigan!

Hi all,

Ecce Homo Press will be in Lansing, Michigan for the Catholic homeschool conference this weekend, June 20-21st. Stop by and say "hi" to my summer intern, Julia Fahy while you're there. I'm staying home with my feet up for the last few weeks before baby arrives.
Stop by and ask Julia about our new products, especially the Little Women Hospitality Program. She'll have samples of the manuals and charms, too.

Don't forget to get your supplies for the coming year. Buy them at the conference and not only will you save on shipping, you'll get an extra 15% off the retail price! It will be worth the trip...even with today's gas prices!

If you are planning on getting supplies for your Little Flowers Girls' Club for the coming year at the conference, if you could just drop me a line at EcceHomoPr@aol.com and let me know what you need, I'll be sure to pack it for the trip to Michigan. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hospitality Program



For those of you interested in the Hospitality Program, you can now click here and read the introducion to the program online. Again, this program will be available in July and is great for girls ages 10 and up who have finished the Little Flowers Girls' Club Wreaths 1-3.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

See you in Indy!

I'll be in Indianapolis for the Catholic Homeschool Conference June 7th. Stop by and see our new Hospitality Program, the beautiful charms, and just to say "HI!"

Also, get all your Little Flowers Girls' Club materials for the fall and save shipping AND an additional 15% off your entire order when buy it at the conference!

If you plan on doing that, shoot me a quick email (eccehomopr@aol.com) and I'll make sure I'll bring enough for your needs. Thanks! See you there!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Program for Catholic Girls!


Hi all,

This is an official announcement that Ecce Homo Press will have available this fall a new Catholic Program for girls! The Little Women Hospitality Program by Anne Milligan Callaghan will be available for girls ages 10 and up. The Hospitality Program will offer charms that the girls will earn as they practice different aspects of hospitality. Just like the old fashioned "finishing school," or, dare I say it, "charm school," these girls will learn the fine art of serving others through hospitality.
Using examples of scripture, Our Lady, literature and practical lessons, the girls will learn the basics of cleaning, cooking, setting and clearing a table, correspondence, table manners and conversation, preparing a room for a guest, planning a party, sewing and modesty, and hospitality to others.
This beautiful program is perfect for those of you who have finished the first three years of Little Flowers Girls' Club and aren't quite ready for Wreath IV (the Confirmation preparation year). Or perhaps you have older girls who have done the Wreaths and are looking for something new. This is a beautiful new program for you, too.
Like Little Flowers Girls' Club, this program is independently run and organized. You run it to the best needs of your situation and girls. It can be used in a home setting, homeschool setting and adapted for school or after-school use also.
The program will be ready by the end of July, so keep checking the website:www.eccehomopress.com for updates!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Crowning: How to plan and carry it out in your parish



Here is a great post from Peggy Bowes about her LFGC group at Laughlin AFB in Texas. Thanks for sharing, Peggy!
To help other leaders, I'm posting my "blueprint" in hopes that it
will save someone some work (perhaps too late for this year but it
may be helpful for next year's planning):

1. Contact your parish priest with plenty of advance notice. Keep
in mind that May is a busy month with the Easter season (most years),
First Communion, Mothers' Day, etc. I drafted the proposal below,
which I submitted to our parish priest, asking for a meeting to
discuss it further if he was interested. I think it's easier to get
a May Crowning done during Mass if Father doesn't view it as "his"
project, but do give him room for inputs:

LITTLE FLOWERS GIRLS' CLUB MAY CROWNING CEREMONY PROPOSAL,
May 18, 2008

1. The girls will process in at the beginning of Mass and join their
families in the reserved pews up front. (Reserved signs available
through the parish? Or, we can make our own.) They will all wear
Easter/First Communion dresses, Little Flowers sashes with patches,
white gloves, and crowns of flowers representing each of the nine
virtues they studied this year.

2. The actual crowning could be accomplished after the homily,
after Communion or at the end of Mass.

3. The Little Flowers Leader will read a short history of the May
Crowning ceremony (text attached) and four girls will each read a
short summary of what we've studied this year (text attached).

4. The girls will go to the back of the church and process up with
the crown and bouquets of fresh flowers. The youngest girl will
carry a pillow with the crown for Mary, also made from the flowers
representing each virtue studied. Fr. X will bless the crown (with
holy water?), and one of the girls will crown the statue of Mary.
(Ladder will be needed—we can provide one of the chapel doesn't have
one). Another option is to place a small statue of Mary in front of
the altar.

5. During the crowning, a Marian hymn will be played/sung by the
choir, preferably "Bring Flowers of the Rarest (Fairest)". Another
option: We have the May Crowning Song—"Bring Flowers of the Fairest"
on CD (Little Flowers Wreath I/Wreath II) if it can be played in the
church.

6. After Mass, the girls will process out, following the altar
servers.

7. After Mass, refreshments will be served, provided by the mothers
of the girls in the club. (Note: A "flower" theme is nice-- flower-
shaped sugar cookies or a flower-themed cake, etc.)

Attachments (Speaking parts):

Leader:
Good morning! I'm ___________, and I'm the leader of the
_____________ chapter of the Little Flowers Girls' Club. We are
honored today to perform a May Crowning ceremony.

The month of May is both named for and dedicated to Mary, and
Catholics have long honored the Blessed Mother by placing a crown on
her image. Crowing a statue of the Lord's Mother is symbolic of the
honor we give her as the one chosen by God to bear His Son, our
Salvation.

Mary is Queen of heaven and earth because she was the perfect
follower of Christ, who is the absolute "crown" of creation. She is
the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. She
remained steadfast in devotion to her Son, all the way to the foot of
the Cross. After the Ascension, she persevered in prayer with the
Church. She truly has won the "crown of righteousness", the "crown
of life", and the "crown of glory" promised to those who follow
Christ.

The tradition of crowing images was commonplace in the Eastern
Church. A blessed crown was frequently used to adorn icons in
churches to add additional splendor, much like a gilt frame.
In Rome during the late 16th century, Pope Clement VIII turned this
tradition of crowning images of Mary into a formal ceremony, which
was continued by successive popes.

In the United States, the tradition today is for school girls,
dressed in beautiful dresses, to crown a statue of Mary with a crown
of flowers during Mass.

We will begin the ceremony shortly, after the girls give a brief
summary of the virtues they've studied this year. We're always
excited to enroll new members, and the club will resume in the fall.
Check the bulletin for announcements.

1st girl:
We (number in club) girls are the Little Flowers Girls' Club. We
have spent the last nine months studying the virtues of Faith, Hope,
Love of God, Love of Neighbor, Obedience, Piety, Humility, Industry,
and Truthfulness. [Substitute virtues from Wreaths II, III, or IV if
appropriate.]

2nd girl:
Our role models are the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as our patroness,
St. Therese of Lisieux, and our own mothers. As examples of the
virtues we studied, we also learned about St. Catherine of Sienna,
St. Monica, St. Agnes, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Joan of Arc,
St. Cecilia, St. Catherine Laboure, and St. Bridget of Sweden.

3rd girl:
The flowers around our hats and on the crown for our Blessed Mother
represent the virtues we have studied. They are sunflowers, ivy,
peonies, roses, carnations, forget-me-nots, violets, daffodils and
narcissus.

4th girl:
Our sashes are blue to help us remember the example of Mary, and we
have earned our patches through prayer and works of love and
charity. Next year we will study nine new virtues and we hope to add
more girls to our group.

I also printed out the text from this site on May Crowning liturgy:
http://www.catholicliturgy.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/TextContents/Index
/4/SubIndex/67/TextIndex/6

Our pastor was delighted with the plan and made a few minor changes.

I also found this site helpful, which was the source for the leader's
speaking part:
http://www.wf-f.org/MayCrowning.html

This site was also helpful:
http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/crownmed.html

Here's what I did to prep:

I made crowns of flowers for each of the girls using silk flowers on
a green pipe cleaner "base" (twist several together to fit the girls'
heads). (Throughout the year, I bought the flowers associated with
each virtue, intending to make the crowns at the end of the year.) I
cut the flowers off the hard plastic stems and used florist wire and
florist tape to make it easier to affix to the base. I had
originally intended to make the flowers as a crown for the girls to
wear on their heads, but the large size of the flowers looked a
little off on our relatively young girls, so I decided to use the
crown around hats instead. Luckily, we had our tea party the week
before, so all the girls had hats. If you're really on the ball, you
can make the crowns/hat pieces as a craft for "Industry" and have
this done ahead of time (and not be making crowns late the night
before...)

Our statue of Mary was very small, so the flowers I used for the
girls would overwhelm the statue, so I ran out and bought miniature
versions of the flowers. I had to get a bit creative (an open white
mini rose subbed for a carnation), but it looked beautiful. I used
the same technique (pipe cleaner base and floral wire/tape) to make
the miniature crown. I made a small pillow (blue satin, edged with
lace) to place the crown on, which was carried by the youngest girl.

To elevate the small statue, I used a box draped in light blue satin
and placed it in front of the altar, ensuring that it wouldn't be
higher than the altar.

To mark the reserved pews for families, I used white silk rosebuds,
wrapped in floral wire/tape and added some blue tulle and affixed
them to clips to place on the end of the pews. Make sure you mark
both ends of the pews (main aisle and side aisle) so that people who
come up the side aisles don't sit there by mistake.

I bought small glass vases, and a dozen roses, divided among the
vases, so the girls had fresh flowers to carry up and place by the
statue.

I called our choir director to ask if he could play/sing "Bring
Flowers of the Rarest". He remembered the hymn but didn't have sheet
music. I found the lyrics and sheet music at this link:
http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//resources/mayhymns.htm
and the choir did a wonderful job of playing and singing the hymn.

I designated my husband as the official photographer so that a bunch
of parents taking photos wouldn't distract from the ceremony.
Aftewards, the parents can take photos at their leisure.

We all arrived about 45 minutes before Mass to practice, and the
ceremony went off without a hitch. The congregation enjoyed the
ceremony, and we received many compliments. Fr. X hopes this
visibility will add more girls to our group next year. One woman
approached me after Mass and asked how she can start a group at the
parish to which she's moving this summer.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to email me if you have any
questions. The photos at the link at the beginning of the email will
help explain some of my text.

Blessings,
Peggy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Great time in Dayton!

Thanks to all the Little Flowers and their moms who came to visit our table in Dayton. We had a great couple of days there, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones!

One of the moms who was starting up a new group, told the other moms in her group that we would be in Dayton, offering a discount on all our materials. Boy, did these moms get a great deal! They came by and got their materials and not only saved the 15% off that was the conference special, but they also saved shipping costs, too! So an economy member pack that costs $22 plus $5.55 shipping, was only $18.70!

So, don't forget that we'll be in Indianapolis on June 7th and Michigan on June 20-21st. Plan on getting next year's materials and really save! See you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Come see us!

Ecce Homo Press will be a vendor at the following midwest conferences:

Dayton, OH: May 16-17
Indianapolis, IN: June 7
Lansing, MI: June 20-21

Look for us and come by and say "HI!" We have some special conference surprises for attendees. 15% off your entire order and a preview of new and exciting products! This is a great time to get a jump start and SAVE on next fall's school year.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Medal Project Awards

Just a little history of the Medal Projects that are listed in the Member's Guides: these projects were added after the initial program was written. They were added because many of the girls had finished Wreaths 1-3 of the program but didn't want to give up Little Flowers, so they went back and redid Wreath 1. This has a couple of advantages. First, the girls are older and can better grasp the virtue and how to live it, secondly, they can discover new things about the virtue because, let's face it, we all need to discover ways to perfect our spiritual life.

In order to reward this extra effort and to challenge the girls to reach even higher, the Medal Projects were added. These were more involved than the ten item checklist for each virtue and were designed so that the girls work on several a year, rather than all nine of them. If some of the projects sound too intimidating for a five year old, that is the reason. They weren't designed for five year olds, but for the older girl who may also be working in the same group as the five year old and may be up to the challenge of a better understanding of the virtue.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Writers! Catholic Writers Conference Registartion Ends Friday


Thought the writer-moms and dads in the group would like to know:

Just a reminder that the Catholic Writers Conference Online registration ends FRIDAY! This is a free conference, with speakers from all areas of Catholic publishing--from the writer to the publisher--covering all areas of writing--from idea generation to query to contract and beyond. Sign up at http://conference.catholicwritersguild.org.

Here's a list of presenters and their presentations.

Ami McConnell: Trends In Fiction
Audrey Shaffer: Branding and Your Marketing Platform
Barry Michaels: Feature Article--Ideas and Queries
Bert Ghezzi: Ins and Outs of Publishing
Brian St Paul--Crisis & InsiderCatholic: Meet the Editors of InsiderCatholic
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: 10 Ways to Let Agents Know You are an Amateur
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: Marketing Basics (with Karina)
Colleen Drippe: Driving Writers Crazy--The Editor
Heidi Hess Saxton: The Good Writer
Heidi Hess Saxton: Meet the Editor of Canticle Magazine
Hope Clark: Shy Writer
Hope Clark: Funds for Writers
Karina Fabian: Worldbuilding
Karina Fabian: Marketing Basics (with Carolyn)
Karina Fabian: Virtual Book Tours
Karina, Michelle Buckman, Terry Burns: Contract Essentials
Lea Schizas: Writing the Short Story
Mark Shea: How Faith Connects to Everything
Maya Bohnhoff: Show Me, Don't Tell Me--Character and Dialog
Maya Bohnhoff: Plotting Through Writer's Block
Melenie Rigney: Ethics of Memoir Writing
Melenie Rigney: Book Modeling
Meredith Gould: Self-Publishing as a First Resort
Michelle Buckman: Writing For Teens
Michelle Buckman: The Right Details
Patrice MacArthur: Art of Blogging
Patricia Punt: Writing for the Inspirational Market
Patti Armstrong--Ascension Press: Hooking Your Reader
Pete Vere: Canon Law and the Catholic Writer
Sister Maria Grace-Pauline Books: Pitch Session--Pauline Books
Steve Saffel: Working With a Book Editor
Steve Saffel: Using E-Media to Promote
Sylvia Dohram: Character Development and Dialogue
Terry Burns--agent: Pitching and Working With Agents
Tim Drake: So You Want to Write a Book?
Tim Powers: SFF and Catholicism
Tom Grace: Crafting the Catholic Thriller
Vinita Wright: Making Friends With the Creative/Spiritual Process
Woodenee Koenig Bricker: Writing With Faith But Without Bias

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little Flowers Girls Club -- Texas Style!

From Beth Leary, Club Leader from North Austin, TX:

"I co-lead the Little Flowers Girls Club of North Austin in Austin, Texas. This is our 4th year to meet. We are repeating Wreath I. Every year, we have had an end of year pot-luck banquet and awards ceremony, which we are planning to have again this year. All of the families meet for a pot-luck dinner in our parish "dining room". After dinner, the girls sing a few pre-selected, rehearsed songs, and then individually speak for a minute or two about a saint, virtue, or activity that they especially enjoyed learning about during the year. After that, we call them up one at a time to receive the whole wreath of flowers that was earned during the year. "

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sew, don't glue

Just a quick reminder that the Little Flowers Girls' Patches are meant to be sewn on, not glued or ironed on. I've received numerous phone calls in the last few weeks complaining that that hot glue has destroyed badge and/or sash or that badges were ironed on and subsequently lost.

The best way to attach a patch is to sew it on with a machine using clear, monofiliment thread in the top and white thread in the bobbin. If you don't have a machine, perhaps your group has a mom who is willing to do this for the group instead of planning a craft, bringing a snack or leading a lesson. If there is no one in the group willing to sew on patches, a local alteration tailor or dry cleaner usually is willing to do it for a small fee. It will save you money and little girls' tears if you sew the patches on rather than chance it with other methods.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Safe Candles


Here's an idea especially good for younger girls who you may not want to carry lit candles. These are great for ceremonies, processions, prayer tables, etc. The ones I found are in several different styles, battery operated, safe and inexpensive. You could also probably find them at your local craft store. Click on the candle at left to take you to the Sunshine Discount Craft store.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Easy Box Birdfeeder



Spring is in the air! In Minot, North Dakota, that means that the temperature is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and folks are putting away the winter jackets and putting on the shorts.
It's also time for birds to return. Here's a nifty little bird feeder my son Alex (9) put together.

One thing I love about Alex is that if I leave him alone long enough, he'll grab some spare stuff, make up a project and put it together himself. He did this one to fulfill a boy scout requirement.

Get a thick cardboard box--Capri Sun boxes work very well.
Cut a door about 3 inches tall by 4 inches wide in the top for putting the food in. (Alex gave it a bend to make it easier to open.
Cut a slot about three inches from the bottom. Slot should be 2 inches tall by 3 inches wide.
Put two eyelets into the area below the slot, about half an inch in from the sides. Feed a dowel through the eyelets.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

May is just around the corner!

Time to get ready for your Clubs' May Crownings and Teas!

A May Crowning isn't complete without some beautiful traditional Marian Hymns. The Wreath 3 CD contains some of the prettiest and most popular Marian and Eucharistic hymns. We listen to it all year round in our house. Click on the CD cover for ordering information.

Another Marian favorite in our house is Behold Your Mother a two-CD pack from the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi (OK, I'm biased...my daughter's companions are the beautiful voices on the CD). Having been at their motherhouse for solemn rosary where they sing these songs between each decade, I can tell you the experience is a definite slice of heaven. Click here for more information.

What's your favorite Marian CD? Add it in the comment section!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eucharistic Visit Prayer Service

Does your Little Flowers Girls' Club make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament during your meetings? If you hold your regular meetings in a parish setting, consider teaching the girls how to "make a visit" with this five minute prayer service.
Ceremony for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament
All girls enter the church with silence and reverence. Genuflect and kneel. Make the sign of the cross.
All” May the Eucharisitic heart of Jesus be praised, adored and thanked at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.
Leader: Now we will have a few moments of silent prayer so we can tell Jesus how we plan to practice our virtue and ask for His help this month.
Allow the girls 3-5 minutes of silent prayer.
Spiritual Communion:
All: My Jesus, I believe that You are truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to possess You in my soul. Since I am unable now to receive you sacramentally come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as being there already and unite myself wholly to You. Never let me be separated from you.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Crafty Catholic Kids!


Here's a new book by EHP author Ann Ball that would be a great resource for Little Flowers Girls' Club Leaders looking for some supplemental crafts. Click on the book for ordering information from Our Sunday Visitor. For some great exerpts from the book, go to Ann Ball's website.
Ann wrote Jose Finds the King, a Blessed Miguel Pro Story which is part of the Glory of America Series. This is a great children's story about Ann's favorite saint. This is also a great First Communion story perfect for boys. Click here for ordering information.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

May Crowning from Germany!

This beautiful picture is from a May Crowning the Little Flowers Girls' Club in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Thanks so much, Leanne Seguin for this photo. Notice the beautiful wreaths of flowers the girls are wearing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Petal Ceremony



Here's another great idea from Rebecca from Yuma, Arizona. Visit their LFGC blog (link in the blog section below and to the right).

Petal Ceremony
The girls line up on one side youngest to oldest and the moms line up on the other side of the room.
As each girl is called up, their mom meets them in the middle
The older girls lead the rest in saying: St. _________________
All reply: Pray for us.
The mom presents a paper flower with the petal attached to the leaf with glue dots.
She says a short blessing: May God bless you and help you to grow in the virtue of….
The flower’s center has the saint’s name and virtue. We are saving these for our tea party center pieces.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Great Badge Ceremony Idea

From Sherry Howell from the LFGCLeader's Yahoogroup's archives.

I've taken to writing a badge ceremony booklet for each badge for our group.The different parts are assigned for the girls to read aloud before westart. Some parts are read by the leaders.
We start with the Prayer to St. ThereseWe then have three girls light three candles (one each) for the threetheological virtues (Act of Faith, Hope, and Love)
Next is the review of the badge work -- what the virtue is all about,everyone recites the memory verse, we talk about what activities we did toreinforce the badge, and one of the girls reads a short biography about thesaint for the badge.
To present the badges, we call each girl forward with her parent (or othersubstitute), and safety pin her badge on her sash. (They can be sewn on later.)
We close with a prayer and a song.
We then do refreshments/social time afterward.Our group only meets once a month, and we only do three badges a year, so it's not as burdensome as if we were doing all nine badges in single year.
We've been doing badge ceremonies this way for the last four badges, andthey have been very well received.SherryHowell, NJ

Friday, March 21, 2008

Badge Ceremony Idea


Here's an idea from Christine (http://www.saintjosephhomeschool.com/) on how to plan a badge ceremony. This is from the LittleFlowersGirlsClubLeaders yahoogroup archives.(LittleFlowersGirlsClubLeaders@yahoogroups.com)


We had our first Badge Ceremony on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony took place at the house of two of the Little Flowers. The girls' mother had decorated beautifully, setting up a special table with a statue of Mary and candles. The girls sat around card tables (4 to a table). We opened with the Hail Mary in honor of our Lady. My coleader then did a little lesson on the Immaculate Conception. After the lesson the girls processed to the front of the room with roses (the moms sang Immaculate Mary) and placed them in a vase next to a statue of Mary. A tea followed. After the tea, the girls were called up one at a time. My co-leader gave each girl a certificate and the badges they had earned. Then the girl came to me and I congratulated her, turning her sash from the flower side to the blue side. Then I gave the girl a flower to give to her mom (the girls thanked their moms for helping them to grow in the virtues of Faith and Hope, as they handed their mom a rose). A group photo was then taken of the girls. Finally, they sang the song to the Little Flower. It was a beautiful ceremony. Photos were taken throughout and the girls will receive copies to place in their binders.

Monday, March 17, 2008

For You Writers: Free Online Conference


Catholic Writers to Hold Online Conference

World Wide Web--Writers, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals from around the world are gearing up for the first annual Catholic Writers’ Conference Online, which will be held May 2-9, 2008, and is sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and Canticle magazine. The online conference is free of charge and open to writers of all levels for those who register by April 25.
Tim Drake, veteran journalist who will be presenting at the conference, says he thinks the conference is worthwhile for all faith-based writers. “I think writers of every stripe, from beginners to seasoned veterans, can always stand to learn something new. This conference provides an opportunity to learn a few tricks of the trade, without having to spend an arm and a leg to get there.”
Author and editor Carolyn Howard-Johnson, who with conference chair Karina Fabian will be conducting seminars designed to help authors put their “Best Book Forward,” concurs. “It's never too early to learn more about what we love…. When we put ourselves out there, the universe seems to bring us exactly what we need. When we close down on opportunity for whatever reason, we miss getting what we should.”
New seminar and chat topics are being added constantly, including seminars on character and dialogue development, virtual book tours, how to get grants and other money with your writing, trends in fiction, world building, and connecting with a secular audience. Presenters and chat hosts include Vinita Wright (Loyola Press), Maya Bohnhoff, Tim Powers, Mark Shea (Catholic Answers), Hope Clark (Funds for Writers), Sr. Madonna Radcliff (Pauline Books & Media), Bert Ghezzi (Word Among Us), and Brian Saint-Paul (Crisis/Inside Catholic).
“We’re very happy with the caliber of publishing professionals who have volunteered to participate in this first conference,” says event co-chair Heidi Hess Saxton, editor of Canticle magazine. “There is a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction as well as book and magazine publishing represented here. Something for everyone … and you can’t beat the price!” Although the conference is offered free of charge, donations are accepted; proceeds will go toward future conferences.
Hope Clark, author of “Funds for Writers” is also optimistic about the event’s success. “I see writers … unable to run from conference to conference, seated before a computer soaking up information, taking notes, excited about finding answers to questions they didn't even know they had. I see writers walking away from this conference excited again about being writers.”
Early registration is recommended, as some courses will have limited openings that will be filled on a first-come, first serve basis. To register or for more information, go to http://www.conference.catholicwritersguild.org.

First Communion Gifts going fast




These doll and doll outfits are going fast, order yours today!



Extra-Special First Communion Gifts!

Just in time for First Communion, we are offering these precious dolls and doll outfits for your Little Flower Girls! These are available for a Limited Time Only! We only have 10 of each of these outfits/dolls, so order early! Click here for order information.You can order the dolls with the outfits for $49.95/each. The dolls are 18" tall and come in three styles: Mary Rose doll has brown hair and brown eyes; Magdalen doll has blond hair and blue eyes and the Teesa doll has auburn hair and green eyes (shown).(if you can't access the links, copy and past this URL: http://members.aol.com/eccehomopr/specialdolls.htm

The outfits alone are $29.95/each. The First Communion outfit is satin and lace and comes with dress, stockings, shoes, veil, and necklace. The Carmelite habit comes with dress, scapular, headpiece, veil, rosary, shoes and stockings. Both outfits fit an 18" doll (American Girl sized doll).


BLOG READER SPECIAL! Enter coupon code: DOLLS08 at checkout and get 10% off your entire order!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No Joy til Easter


Sorry, we are out of Joy Medals until after Easter (pun intended). Seriously, we are making them up now and should have plenty in a week to a week and a half. The kids and I make these up ourselves, and they are very popular this time of year, so we'll try to keep them in stock. Thanks for your patience!

God bless, Joan Stromberg

www.eccehomopress.com

Monday, March 10, 2008

Intro: Karina Fabian



Hello! Joan was kind enough to invite me to join this blog. As most you of probably know, I wrote the Little Flowers and Blue Knights Craft books. I did this mainly as a fun project to share with my kids, and the illustrations you see in the books are done by them. (My seven-year-old likes to brag to his friends at school that he's a famous model on the cover of a book!)

What you may not know is that this was a an enjoyable sideline in my writing career. For many years, I wrote articles on parenting and pregnancy and in 2003, made the decision to devote my efforts to fiction. Currently, I have a Catholic anthology of science fiction out. Infinite Space, Infinite God won the 2007 EPPIE for best sci-fi and has garnered great reviews in magazines like St. Anthony Messenger and SFRevu. I've had many people comment on the thought-provoking nature of the stories and one homeschooling mom say that she thinks it’s a must for Catholic teens to read because of the issues presented. I'm working on a study guide for it now and should have it up in April. Check it out at www.isigsf.com.

Also on the SF-side, I have Leaps of Faith, an anthology of Christian sci-fi, and the contract for Infinite Space, Infinite God II. (Are you w writer? We're looking for stories. Find guidelines at www.isigsf.com/guidelines.) In addition, I'm working on novels and stories about my order of nuns who perform search and rescue operations in space. I have several Rescue Sisters stories in our anthologies and a novel in the works. (No contract yet, alas.)

On the fantasy side, I have a lot of fun with my noir-style dragon detective, Vern of DragonEye, PI. He's a down-and-out professional problem solver on the wrong side of the Interdimensiaonal Gap working off a geas by St. George by serving God and His creatures through the Faerie Catholic Church. With his partner, Sister Grace, he solves crimes, find missing objects, saves the world...whatever pays. Check out his website at www.dragoneyepi.net.

Finally, I'm involved in several writing groups, most especially the Catholic Writers Guild, where I am president. I also present workshops at online conferences. In fact, I'll blog next week about the Catholic Writers Conference Online. In the meantime, if you're interested, check out www.conference.catholicwritersguild.org.

I'm toying with the idea of a trivia game for Little Flowers. Right now, Joan and I are trying to figure out the art and the board. More as things develop!

If you'd like to know more about me or my work, or want to contact me, go to www.fabianspace.com.

Blessings,
Karina Fabian

Extra-Special First Communion Gifts!





Just in time for First Communion, we are offering these precious dolls and doll outfits for your Little Flower Girls! These are available for a Limited Time Only! We only have 10 of each of these outfits/dolls, so order early! Click here for order information.
You can order the dolls with the outfits for $49.95/each. The dolls are 18" tall and come in three styles: Mary Rose doll has brown hair and brown eyes; Magdalen doll has blond hair and blue eyes and the Teesa doll has auburn hair and green eyes (shown).


The outfits alone are $29.95/each. The First Communion outfit is satin and lace and comes with dress, stockings, shoes, veil, and necklace. The Carmelite habit comes with dress, scapular, headpiece, veil, rosary, shoes and stockings. Both outfits fit an 18" doll (American Girl sized doll).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Soldiers of Obedience


Here's a great craft by Laura Roche: making soldiers for the virtue of obedience, St. Joan of Arc. Laura made these with 14 girls ages five and up.


Laura says:

I used the directions from this site for making a clothespin doll (without the sleeves). http://www.ourcanadiangirl.com/fun/fun_marie.php We added the shield and banner (made from card stock and craft store match sticks)...and a carnation (craft store--couldn't find white) to complete the St. Joan of Arc. The clothespin bottom holders helped while assembling the ornaments--especially while gluing on the hair.I had the felt pieces (cut ahead of time), pipe cleaner, clothespins, etc. in a baggie and gave them to the girls to put together with tacky glue and fine-tipped markers.I've also seen an idea to make saint ornaments with craft spoons on this blog http://alice.typepad.com/cottage_blessings/2007/10/spoons-for-all-.htmlEach saint from the different wreaths could be made and secured to a wreath made at the beginning of the year. If you're making crafts of saints, these links are helpful to remind us of the saints' specific symbols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_symbology

Thanks, Laura!

Little Flowers in China!




They aren't quite the same as groups here, but I wanted to share the work of this graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville who started a home for dying Chinese orphans in 2007. The Loving Heart Home for Dying Orphans http://www.chinalittleflower.org/ relies totally on donations to continue its work.

Maybe your Little Flowers Girls' Club group would like to do a fundraiser for these orphans? The pictures of the orphans are on the website. Each girl could adopt one and raise funds for that girl. If you can't do a fundraiser for the China Little Flowers, perhaps your girls could send a spiritual bouquet to them?

One of the amazing results from this work is the transformation of Chinese women. In China, a child is valuable only if it is perfect. An imperfect child is cast aside to make room for a perfect child. The work with the orphans has shown the Chinese women who help out the value of each life and the beauty of every soul. Just goes to show you how one young woman, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, can change hearts.

God bless!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Eutrapelia


I know it sounds odd that I would start a discussion of virtues with this first virtue in Wreath 3, but I've noticed that a lot of clubs are beginning their year of virtues in January rather the traditional Fall months (for which I am very grateful!). On top of that, I get quite a few calls and emails a year wondering what in the world is "Eutrapalia?" Moms can't find it on line or in the dictionary or encyclopedia. Well, gues what? I did find it in a dictionary. My son brought home a Greek/English dictionary and there, under the E's is Eutrapelia. It is basically, "good wit," "gaiety" or "pleasantness." Rachel calls it, "Modest Relaxation" in the Wreath 3 Leader's Guide. (for a more thorough explanation, please see this manual).


It reminds me of a Marie Bellet song on her CD, Lighten Up that my children say is "my song." Mother, you are worried about very many things. Sometimes we, too, have to Lighten Up and make sure we see the joy in our world...in our families, our parishes and our Little Flowers groups, too! As with all the rest of the virtues, we, as the LFGC leaders, we need to lead by example and show the girls Eutrapelia even before we teach it. That way, when they see our example, they'll have a really good idea what the virtue is all about.


BTW, Eutrapelia is spelled wrong on the badges, which we'll fix the next go around. But, as my dad always said..."It's all Greek to me!"


God bless,

Ecce Homo Press

Friday, February 22, 2008

Featured Items


February Featured Items! New tote and bandana designs are on sale for the month of February. Enter code NEWHEARTS on checkout for 25% off!

100% cotton Embroidered Canvas Tote. Large 15x16
inch tote with 22 inch handles. Embroidered flowered heart wreath on front.
Perfect for keeping all your important Little Flower stuff in one place. (thread
colors may vary from shown.) $12.95




Embroidered Little Flower design. All fabric items
are made of machine washable gabardine. $8.95




Welcome!

Welcome to the new official Little Flowers Girls' Club (R) blog! We'll post the best ideas from LFGC leaders, tips from the creator of LFGC, sneak previews on upcoming NEW products and your thoughts and contributions as LFGC leaders and participants!

Come back often!