In honor of Thanksgiving, here are our Turkey Hats.
Thanks to Nina for the inspiration!
Safe Travels and Happy Thanksgiving!
A King is about to be born! The stars in the heavens are competing to shine the brightest to celebrate his birth. But when they see the poor family, the donkey, the shabby stable, the stars all think, That can’t possibly be a king. We’ve been fooled.
All except one. The smallest, loneliest star in the sky, Little Star, is the only one to understand what the king is about to bring to the world. But what can Little Star do for him?
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by best-selling author Anthony DeStefano about reviewing his latest Children’s Book, Little Star. As I was humbled and honored by his request and, of course, I jumped at the chance.
Mr. DeStefano’s book has all of the elements of the traditional Christmas Story, told from the perspective of the stars in the heavens. The story of the Nativity is intertwined with themes of self-worth, perseverence and ultimately, self-sacrifice out of love for others. (hmm… sound familiar?)
For me, the mark of a “good” Children’s book is if it can make me cry and this one certainly does that (and for those of you who do not know me personally, I do not cry easily.) The illustrations by Mark Elliot are beautifully rendered and are works of art in of themselves. My eldest daughter, the three year old, loves this book and calls it her “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” book and right now, really wants it back. *smile*
If you are looking for a nice addition to your family Christmas traditions, please pick up a copy of Little Star. While the text is easily designed for children aged 3-8, children of all ages will love and appreciate this heartwarming tale.
Want a chance to win your very own, autographed by the author, copy of Little Star? Well… all you have to to is leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas tradition or Service Project. For an additional entry, Become a Fan of Caffeinated Catholic Mama on FaceBook!
Entries will be accepted until Monday, December 13 at 11:59p (CST) and the winner will be drawn by random number generator on Tuesday December 14th.
(I was provided a review copy of Little Star by the author, in exchange for my honest review.)
Ask this breastfeeding mother about the one thing that she loves to find more than anything else, it’s a children’s book that depicts breastfeeding as normal and natural. Too often in children’s books, babies are fed primarily through bottles and therefore kids tend to see bottles as the “normal” or “right” way to feed a baby. If you are a bottle-feeding household, there is no issue with this, but if your children are breastfed, it’s nice to have books that show that as well.
One of my favorites is Mama’s Milk by Michael Elshon Ross, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This sweet, simple book opens with a human mother nursing her baby in bed, while daddy snoozes near by and the pages that follow are filled with other mammals and their babies nursing. The text is poetic and usually one line per page, making it great for your youngest nursling. For older kids, at the back there are mammalian facts like “The biggest piglets nurse lowest on their mother’s belly” or “kangaroo milk is pink.” The watercolor illustrations by Ashley Wolff are so pretty and there is even a picture of a mama nursing in public. This book is now offered in a bilingual version but I really wish it came in board book style as this book can get a lot of love.
Another that we have is called Breastmilk makes my tummy yummy by Cecilia Moen. This is a board book and it’s simple poem is very easy to memorize. In fact, I have it running through my head even though I don’t have the book in front of me. The drawings are a little crude but, for me, it reinforces the comfort this book brings. There are quite a few illustrations of toddler nursing, a shot of tandem nursing and a picture of the family bed. I can’t say this is our favorite in general but it’s a cute one.
Sadly, I have to end my post there as those are the only breastfeeding-friendly children’s books that I personally own. I have a few that promote babywearing (A Ride on Mother’s Back by Bernhard is great) but there are not many breastfeeding specific or inclusive books out there. Hey, children’s book writers and illustrators, how ’bout it?
What breastfeeding-friendly children’s books have you found? What books are staples in your library and as a result end up as gifts to friends?
As this is WBW, my posts this week will reflect this. In addition, use my blogroll visit other blogs that celebrate breastfeeding and the joy that comes from it. Make sure you check them out! Also, the 8th Edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is out. This edition has been revised since 2004 and it. is. awesome. Seriously.
If you haven’t discovered Etsy.com yet, now’s the time! Etsy is a place to buy and sell all things homemade, handmade and vintage. It’s a great way to support artists, work-at-home parents and people who just like to create things!
I find myself heading to Etsy when looking for gifts, rather than other commercial sites because I like the thought that I am getting something one of a kind.
In the photo below, you can see some of the things that I have found on Etsy in the last year or so:
1. An applique and embroidered birthday shirt for The Bear (she turns 3 this Sunday) from Leah at SewCreativeSTL
2. Reusable Sandwich Bags, Diaper Covers and Baby Hanks from Tiffanie at Diaper Koozie
3. Breastfeeding Bracelet from Shannon at Organic Mama’s
4. Hand-dyed wool brown scapular from Jessamyn at Home Spun Ireland
5. Black Chapel Veil from Rhonda at Lady in Blue Shop
6. “Stellaberry” Cloche from You-Know-Who at The Bear and Dragonfly Hats
Next time you are looking for a gift or something for yourself, head over to Etsy! I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed!
The last Joyful Mystery is the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.  And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.  After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
We don’t know much about Jesus’s childhood except for this little exercpt. If you are a parent, you can just imagine the panic of discovering that you’ve lost your child and if that child is the Saviour of the World… well, I am thinking that Mary and Joseph were a little panicked. Upon finding Him, Jesus asks His parents why they were looking for him, after all why WOULDN’T He be in His Father’s house?
We all lose Christ from time to time. There are times when our souls are on fire for the Lord, and there are times when the embers are just smouldering. Even the Saints had periods of time when they didn’t feel as connected to Christ as before. For a while, I thought of myself as less of a Catholic because there were times when I just didn’t feel God working within me. I would see my evangelical brothers and sisters in Faith so overcome with Joy for Christ and I would be envious for that feeling, and there were times that I wondered if it was just my destiny as a Catholic to sometimes feel separated.
That changed when I read an article in Time magazine covering the lost writings of The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She writes: “Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul … How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, … What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.” Despite this, her Faith in God’s working through her never waivered, and she just pined for His closeness. Saint Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) called her Spiritual Drought “a night of nothingness.”
I was relieved to find out that I am not ever alone, even when I feel that Christ is farthest from me. On the Contrary… when you feel that Christ is furthest from you is when He is closest to you. The Evil One has a knack for making you believe things that are not true. “Christ has left you;” “You lost Him;” “He’ll never come back to you.” Lies, lies, lies.
And the best thing about losing Christ… the joyful moment you find Him again.
Sometimes things are given to us in manners that we least expect. Some call them “blessings in disguise,” (or if you watch Ugly Betty, “Blessings in the skies…”) but it reminds us that we should always be alert and on the look out for the unexpected.
22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[b]
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
After the Birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph, following the rules of the land, took their newborn baby to be presented to the Lord which on the surface is kind of weird considering that their child WAS the Lord but it almost foreshadows when Christ says in Matthew 22:21. Whatever their reasonings, Mary and Joseph followed the law.
At the temple, the young family encountered Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting, waiting, waiting for the coming of the Messiah and there He was! They recognized Him right away! Do you think that Simeon and Anna expected the Savior of the World to be an infant?? Most likely not, but they were ready for Him in whatever form He arrived.
St. Paul in his first Letter to the Corinthians says: “13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) Simeon and Anna were filled with hope for their Savior’s arrival, their faith lead them to recognize their Savior when He arrived in an unconventional form, and only a hard-hearted person could NOT Love a baby.
The Magi were men of Science and yet they came to adore the newborn King.
Who are your Elizabeths? Our Blessed Mother gives us the ideal example of female spiritual companionship in her relationship with her cousin Elizabeth. The second Joyful Mystery is The Visitation. As documented in the Gospel of Luke:
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
So let’s picture this… you’ve got Mary, about 14 years old who just found out that she was pregnant and carrying the Savior of the World hopping on the nearest donkey to go see her cousin. And not just any cousin, a cousin who is advanced in age and was told that she was barren and she, too, is pregnant! So Mary took off and traveled about 62 miles (100 km) through rocky terrain and hostile territory to go and help. Part of her motivation might have been confirmation of what happened to her. After all if, when she arrived at Elizabeth’s side, Mary found her to indeed be 6 months pregnant, then she too, really had an encounter with an angel.
What does Elizabeth do as soon as she sees Mary? Does she start complaining about sciatic nerve pain or swollen ankles or heartburn or having to pee every 3 minutes? Nope, she is filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary “blessed” and Mary, in turn, glorifies the Lord through her Magnificat (and this is one of the reasons I love my faith… we have such fun words… fiat, magnificat…)
46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
In a time where women are at constant odds with one another over silly competitions, here are a pair of women not concerned with how much better one is than the other but instead they are taking joy in each others fortunes. Instead of being enemies with one another we need to embrace one another, and not just over man bashing either.
So, who are your Elizabeths? Who are the women you can go to at any time and they will be happy to see you and happy to help? I am eternally grateful for my Elizabeths: Tamara, Paulette, Kim, Suz, Laura, Colleen, Jen, Shannon, Lisa, Valerie, Nina… the list could go on and on. One thing I need to do is to tell my Elizabeths how important they are to me, and I challenge you to do the same. In this age of email, FaceBook, Twitter and blogs, maybe a nice hand written card or letter is just what your Elizabeth needs.
We are all tasked to be Christ-bearers, much like Mary. Mary’s focus was not on herself but rather the child in her womb. When we turn our focus to Christ, He takes care of all the rest.
This past weekend, I was able to attend a Women’s Retreat at Camp Covecrest in Tiger, GA. For those of you who don’t know, Tiger is a little bit on the map of Georgia, a stone’s throw from each of the Carolinas. It’s nestled in the North Georgia mountains in the Chattahoochie National Forest. In short… beautiful. Even if you are a non-believer, the setting itself is enough to make you consider that there might be a God!
The camp is run by LifeTeen, a Catholic youth ministry program started 25 years ago and the theme for 2010 is “Behold the Mystery.” Life is wrought with mystery… things that we can’t explain with simple words and that we have to take at face value and believe. During the retreat, we contemplated the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the first of which is The Annunciation. As chronicled in The Gospel of Luke:
26Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!” 29But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. 36Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For everything spoken by God is possible.” 38Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word.” The angel departed from her.
Our entire salvation rests upon Our Blessed Mother’s fiat. “Fiat” is a latin word that means “let it be done.” Each of the Joyful Mysteries can be countered by a bit of fear. Mary, a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, said “yes” to a mysterious pregnancy that she would surely be questioned about and chastised for. Depending on the severity of the opinions around her… she could have been outcast or even killed. But faced with all of those possible outcomes, she confidently said “yes!” She trusted in the Lord with all of her heart and knew that He would not let any harm come to her as she was carrying out His will.
What has the Lord been asking of you? Have you heard his announcement or has the world kept His voice drowned out? Personally, I find that it’s really hard to hear God in the everyday world and I like to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to really, clearly and truly hear Him.
What’s been my annunciation? Not sure… I don’t know if I’ve received it yet or if I have, if I am stubbornly ignoring it. But I know that the Lord is patient and good and will keep asking until I say “yes.”