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:

Here's the link to the October club meeting:  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:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 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:
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 ( 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