• "Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness - Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well."
  • - St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter Basket Filler Ideas for Toddlers

I'm putting together an Easter Basket for my son is year. And I plan to continue to do so until he asks me to stop. 

So it's my first time. I browsed the web for ideas on Easter basket fillers. There are so many!

Check out my Pinterest board for Easter. You'll find lots pf ideas here.

Here's what I put in his basket this year:

St. Matthew the Evangelist - We named our son after the two evangelists Matthew and Luke

St. Catherine of Siena - Her feast day is our son's birthday.


These are pre-loved books but we got them in very good condition. Most of the titles I want for Teo to read could not be found in bookstores nowadays. Thank God for these small businesses who make an effort to find these hard-to find-books. Check out their shops:


These are supermarket bought. I'm sure you can find these chocolates and candies in the supermarket. And although my son is not a fan of chocolates, I put them in anyway. 


I also put in a shirt from Hongkong Disneyland, a Mikey bowl and a towel which 'Lola' bought for Teo and stacking food containers from Tita Tracy who went to HK Disneyland with Lola and Lolo and Tito Bong. Plus cups and Mike's ears cup covers from the hotel where they stayed. It made the basket look so full! 

I hope you and your family will have a blessed and happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Road To Easter: Holy Week Activities for Little Ones

Our Lent activities consisted mainly on stories and re-telling them.

And so will our Holy Week activities. We will be continuing our family traditions, from both sides of our families and make new ones - our new nuclear family. But of course we will be doing some easy activities to show God we love him.

I have made a road map to guide us as we learn about Jesus' journey to the cross and until His resurrection. 

You can download it here.

And if you don't have a Jesus of Nazareth wooden doll YET, you can download and print one here. Cut, laminate and stick it to a toilet paper tube, and you're ready to go.

download here

Story: The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11)
Activity: Go to mass, wave your palms and have them blessed. Last year, we were late. Not for mass but late that there were no vacant seats left. I noticed that there are more people coming to mass during these 'Holy days'. So this year we'll be ridiculously early so we can choose our seat to get the 'best view'. I figured that when Teo sees what is going on at mass, he is more likely to refrain from wiggling too much.

We will be reading the story form the book 'The Life of Jesus' by Adarna House and Bayard Assumption Media Foundation.

I sometimes show where the passage is on my Bible and try to read a line or two. You can also show the picture and words on the printable road map to help your child understand further.

You can find similar stories here and here. I think it would be best to print out the text instead of reading from a tablet or laptop so your child can focus on the story.

Talk about the palms, the donkey or how the people were so happy while some did not like Jesus at all. 

Encourage your child to ask questions too.

Story: Cleansing The Temple (Matthew 21:12-17)
Activity: Build a temple using blocks. This will be a family activity. You can read about what the temple looked like during Jesus' time here. Of course it does not have to look like the temple. It is always best to have your child lead during play.

Story: The Withered Fig Tree (Matthew 21:18-22)
Activity: Make a tree craft. Teo has been interested in trees (and seeds) lately because the acacia tree in front of our house has been shedding leaves and dropping seed pods. We have already collected twigs and leaves. 
Go on a nature walk and try to collect leaves, twigs and other things you think might be used. You may do it on a weekend so you'll have all materials prepared on Tuesday.

You will need: some leaves and twigs, white glue and a tree template. Arrange the materials in a tray and invite your child to do the activity after the story. Glue the twigs on the branches of the tree template and then the leaves. 

You may also want to introduce new vocabulary while doing the activity. 

Withered - become dry and shriveled 
Thrive/flourish - to grow

Story: The Plan to Betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16)
Activity: Count 30 coins. Teo has learned to route count up to 10 already and was very surprised when he discovered that there were more numbers after 10. Now he counts until 20 but still mixes the 'teens' up. 

Prepare 30 coins (real or not) and put them in a pouch. Show the pouch as you tell the story. Count the coins with your child after.

Story: The Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-30)
Activity: This is one of my favorite moments in Jesus' life. I always imagine myself with Jesus and his apostles. Wash each others feet before dinner. We will be starting this tradition this year. I think it is a wonderful way to remind each other what Jesus commanded us "Love one another." (Read John 13:1-20)

You will need: a small wash basin, a pitcher and a towel.

Nanay will wash Tatay's feet. Tatay will wash Teo's feet and Teo will wash Nanay's feet. Your child may need assistance in pouring though. You may put just a little water in the pitcher if your little one will be doing the pouring.

After a family member washes the feet of the other, continue showing love and affection by hugging and kissing that family member then add 'I love you __'. 

If you can, go to mass in the evening and participate in your parish's activities. I'm sure there will be a reenactment of the washing of the feet at mass.

Story: Jesus Prays in the Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)
Activity: Go into a garden, any garden to pray. In our case, I would love to go to the gardens at the grounds of St. John Bosco parish in Santa Rosa and pray as a family. 

If you're going to do Visita Iglesia with your little ones, you might as well look for a church with a garden so that like Jesus, you may pray to God amidst nature.

We will just be reading the stories on the road map all throughout the day. But I will try to finish with the Crucifixion at 12 noon. 

We ill also be attending the Veneration of the cross in our parish. We have done this last year with Teo already. Afterwards, we will go to Cabuyao to watch the procession. This has been a family tradition eversince - way before I was born. 

Our family (mother's side) has a life sized Santo Entiero. It is brought out to be processioned and venerated during Good Friday. Last year, Teo was too little to join. And he sprained his ankle earlier that day so we just watched the procession pass by in from of my Lolo's (Grandfather's) house. We might join the procession this year. 

I encourage you to join the procession in your parish too. It would be a wonderful way to show your children your love and devotion to God. They can be pushed in their strollers anyway. 

Story: The Guard at the Tomb (Matthew 27:62-66)
Activity: After reading from the Bible, we would be looking though the pictures in the Stations of the Cross booklet. It would be such a blessing to listen to our little one's insights on all that has happened this week. 

This is a good way to help your tot or preschooler learn how to express himself or herself, or ask questions. 

I hope that this post will inspire you to observe the Holy Week with your family. 

Have a blessed Holy Week!

More resources on how to observe Holy Week with your family

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Celebrating The Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph. He is the patron of unborn children, fathers, social justice, travelers, workers, the universal church and a happy death. 

St. Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. Our family often seeks his intercession especially when there are major decisions to make as husband and wife. He truly interceded for us before and during our adoption process. 

So Noli and I came up with a few activities for us to do as a family. And to introduce Teo to this beloved saint.

Read Stories About St. Joseph

We will be reading the book The First Christmas again. We bought this book at The Learning Basket. The book tells about how Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem up until they fled to Egypt and settled in Nazareth. I like the wordings, Joseph says to Mary; 
" So now we will go to my home town in Bethlehem together. We will put our names on the list of taxpayers together. We will be husband and wife, together forever."     
And then of course, retell the story using our wooden dolls

Pretend Play

St. Joseph was a loving father to Jesus. An invitation to play using 'Teddy' and a box for a bed would most likely encourage Teo to play 'caring for baby'

Teo and I have been playing with 'Teddy' {Teo's bear} occasionally and he loves putting 'Teddy' to sleep. Its heart warming to watch him imitate his Tatay when he puts Teo to sleep. Sometimes, he imitates me. 

A make-shift bed using a small box would do as a bed for a doll. Use a stuffed toy if you don't have a doll. You may have to verbally invite and encourage your toddler to play with you at first. If your tot has already engaged in pretend play before, then it will be easy to introduce this. 

Be a Carpenter         

We have played with tools {real ones and toy ones} last time when we celebrated the feast of St. John Bosco. Since then, I have rotated these tools a couple of times already. This time we will try to drive small nails into soft wood this time. Check some of these links out for more ideas:

Montessori Inspired Woodworking Activities 

The Nuts and Bolts of Learning With Tools 

Hand and Eye Coordination with a Hammer & Tees

Woodworking with kids

Fine Motor Ice Picking in Preschool

And if Daddy, Papa or Tatay has a knack for building and fixing things, your little one could help out when he has to repair stuff. 

Pray to St. Joseph

We will say this prayer to St. Joseph during our night prayers. 

Cook and Eat Minestrone

While searching for activities to do on the feast of St. Joseph, I stumbled upon this website. And found out that minestrone is traditionally cooked on his feast day. Since our family loves minestrone {Teo included} we will be preparing and eating this meal together. 

My art journal entry @weenaswatercolors
Special Day for Tatay

Although we always thanks and honor Tatay, Teo and I will do a little honoring ceremony for Tatay for all that he does for us. We will be singing the Lava Song, with me on the ukulele, to Tatay probably after we finish dinner.

You may want to honor Daddy, Papa of Tatay on this day too by making a poster or card, singing a song (any song!) for Dad or just a kiss and a hug after saying 'Thank you, Tatay, for all that you do for our family'

hope you will have a blessed feast of St. Joseph. 


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lent Activities for Toddlers

Lent is just a few days away. I have rounded up a few activities for our family to do. 

I planned each week with a gospel account of Jesus' life or teaching and a couple of activities.

Ash Wednesday

Go to mass and have your foreheads marked with ash. This is another chance to bring the toddler to mass. Yeah, I know its hard, keeping them quiet and still (quite an impossible feat) while encouraging them to participate in the mass, mustering up every ounce of patience you have and gently reminding them for the nth time not to climb on the pews.

But still, bring them if you can!

Talk about Ash Wednesday. This activity from The Hogatt Homeschool will be a good way to begin talking about Ash Wednesday. I'm sure our tot would have asked 'What's that?' many times at church and I would have named everything he asked about before we do this activity. But he may want to have a go at marking a cross on a person's forehead, and the printable in this activity will be the best way to do it.

Work on those finger muscles. Use toothpicks or popsicle sticks to make crosses. 

Find more Ash Wednesday activities here

Week 1, March 1-4 

We will be using the book The Life of Jesus published by Adarna Books and Bayard Assumption Media Foundation for the stories each week. You can read directly from the Bible too. 

Story: Jesus Goes Into The Desert Matthew 4:1-11
Activity: Retell the story using blocks. I'm setting up a block center (its just a small corner where I will put all his blocks) this lent. Our Jesus Wooden Doll will be there too. This would be a great invitation to play (and have a story retelling too!)

Adventures in Mommydom has a free printable on the temptation of Jesus. It can be used to retell the story and/or for sequencing of events.

Click HERE to order your own Jesus wooden doll
More about block play during lent can be found here.

Week 2, March 5-11

Story: The Good News (Jesus Call His Disciples) Matthew 4: 18-22
Activity: We will be printing, coloring and laminating these wonderful apostles coloring page from Sara J Creations. We will not be doing the accordion book though. I plan to attach a wooden block at the base of each laminated picture so they can stand up. And again, another way to play at the 'block center'. We'll see how this turns out. I may introduce the apostles one at a time or we might retell the story on how Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John. And then introduce the rest of the apostles after. 

I'm coloring this printable from Sara J Creations

Week 3, March 12-18

Story: Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man Mark 2:1-12
Activity: You will need a large handkerchief and a small doll or stuffed toy for this activity. Retell the story with your tot. As you come to the part where the friends of the paralytic lowered him from the roof, place the doll or stuffed toy on the handkerchief and ask your tot to hold all four corners of the handkerchief. Jesus had healed the man because of his faith  and the faith of his four friends.

Jesus heals a paralyzed man doll play.

More ideas in my Pinterest board {Life, Teachings and Works of Jesus}

Week 4, March 19-25
Story: Bread For All John 6:1-15
Activity: You will need a non laminated paper plate (or two) and the fish and bread coloring page for this activity. You can download the coloring page here {Five Loaves and Two Fish Printable}

You may ask your toddler to color the loaves and fish or you can just print it out on brown paper for the loaves and blue or gray paper for the fish. Cut out the loaves and fish first before introducing the activity to your toddler. Present the materials as you ask how many loaves and fish the little boy in the story had.

Ask your tot to count how many fish and loaves there are; separate the loaves from the fish and count them or count them all in all. You may want to paste the fish and loaves on the paper plate for extra activity time. 

Another activity we will be doing is to eat tilapia [St. Peter's fish]. Teo will have one small tilapia for himself so he could learn to eat fish. 

*Instead of paper plates, you can use this basket made from a brown paper bag if you know your child will be careful enough not to tear it.

Week 5, March 26-April 1
Story: Stations of the Cross      

We will be doing the stations of the cross this week. I downloaded a pdf Stations of the Cross from loyolapress.com and we will be using that to pray the stations as a family.   

We will also use another free printable from Catholic inspired. This lift-flap notebook page will be ideal for us to re-tell Jesus' journey to the cross.
                                                                                                                                                   Activity: Pray the stations of the cross as a family at church. We will pray at St. John Bosco Parish in Laguna Technopark. They have a nice Stations of the Cross garden there.

But before we do that, we will have to go over all fourteen stations using the lift-flab notebook page.

The books that we are using this Lent 2017:

You can also find good-as-new pre-loved books at The Learning Basket

Monday, February 6, 2017

Celebrating The Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita

We celebrate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8. She is the patroness of Sudan and of victims of slavery and human trafficking.

My aunt who is a Canossian nun, introduced St. Bakhita to me. I remember her giving me a couple of medals (on different occasions) and prayer cards. But it was only last year when I really became interested in knowing her.

When we attended a gathering at Canossa in Calamba a huge tarpaulin of St. Bakhita's picture was there in front of the stage. Our son, Teo was with us and so I too the opportunity to introduce him to the saint. So I pointed to her picture and told Teo a little about her life.

It was then that my heart was stirred and I realized that I could seek her intercession for our second adoption. 

And so I look to her now whenever I experience a little discomfort or physical pain; if I am not given much importance or any little suffering. She endured all those physical pain and humiliation and yet she had hope and optimism. I need that. The rest of the world needs that. That, and of course, Jesus.

Here are a few activities to do with young children at home to celebrate the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.

1. Learn about her life story. Here are some resources:

2. Watch YouTube videos about her.

3. All while holding our newest member of wooden Saint dolls.

4. Pray for St. Josephine Bakhita's intercession. 

Novena to St. Josephine Bakhita - starts on January 31

Teo and I, and Tatay too, will be praying for those who do not know God. We will include this in our evening prayers. 

5. Open doors for everyone who comes in and out of the house. St. Josephine Bakhita worked as a door keeper at the convent of the Canossian Daughters of Charity. So we will welcome anybody who comes in and bless anybody who goes out of the door. And since we have our relatives from the US visiting, we will have a lot of people coming and going out the door! 

6. Coloring page. Teo is not much into coloring though. But we'll try doing this.

Download a PDF file here.
*for more coloring pages of the saints, click here.

Waltzing Matilda has a nice coloring page too.

You may want to try Catholic Playground's coloring page.

I hope you enjoy celebrating the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrating The Feast Of St. John Bosco

I have only come to know St. John Bosco more intimately just last year, after we adopted our son. He has become one of my favorite saints. He is the patron saint of schoolchildren, apprentices,editors and publishers, magicians,  and juvenile delinquents. It is my heart's desire for our son to grow in holiness and so I seek his intercession. I often call out to the beloved saint when Teo becomes extra rowdy or puts himself is dangerous situations. And remind myself of what Don Bosco said:

"Run, jump, have all the fun you want at the right time, but, for heaven’s sake, do not commit sin! (from St. Philip Neri)."

Born on August 16, 1815 in Becchi, Italy; he was given the name Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco. He was nine years old when he had his first dream. Several dreams after that would later influence his life.

Here are 6 activities you can do to celebrate the feast of St. John Bosco at home with your child.

1. Learn about the life of St. John Bosco - Read about his early years, how he was called to his mission, how he began the Oratory, the orphanage and the Trade school here. Or a shorter one here and here.

More reading resources:

Salesian Bulletin: Getting To Know Don Bosco

Don Bosco: A Sketch of His Life and Miracles, Charles D'Espiney

Life and Works of Venerable Don Bosco, M.S. Pine

For younger children like mine, its best to print a few pages and read. We will be reading a few pages from M.S.Pine's book because it has a few pictures.

2. Watch about his life.


Of course the tot will be watching the shorter one.

3. Pray to St. John Bosco - We will be praying A Child's Prayer Through The Intercession of St. John Bosco in addition to our bedtime prayers on his feast day. Here are more prayers online:

St. John Bosco Novena, Pray More Novenas

Prayer To St. John Bosco, Catholic Online

Prayer to Saint John Bosco, catholicity.com

Prayers and Devotions to St. John Bosco, http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/

Novena in Honor of St. John Bosco, EWTN

4. Retell the life story (of part) of St. John Bosco using a St. John Bosco peg doll - This is my new product! But I apologize for not having a photo. The supplier was not able to deliver on time and I still have to paint on them. I promise to write a post about it soon. It will also be in the SHOP

Update: I have a photo! My son and I had so much fun playing with it. He held on to it as we reread a part of the story of St. John Bosco's life then kissed it afterwards.

5. Do a little carpentry play - St. John Bosco taught the boys in The Oratory a little carpentry. He also put a little cobbler shop in a corner of his mother's kitchen. This were the beginnings of the Don Bosco Trade School. 

I'm bringing out his carpentry tools again.

We'll be matching colors and work on our fine motor skills as well on this one.

Since our little tinkerer loves tools, Tatay made him something to practice his hammering and screw driving skills. We used one of my boards to stretch watercolor paper. Tatay put holes on it so Teo can drive in a nail or a screw. 

Find more inspiration here:

6. Pretend to be a magician - Don Bosco learned the tricks of magicians who traveled to their place. With this skill he performed in front of an audience and they had to recite one decade of the rosary as admission.

Teo loves it when Tatay makes things 'disappear' and reappear. He tries to imitate him at times and Tatay and I are his audience.

So I prepared a cape (his blankie) a hat (his fishing hat) and his bunny rabbit in his discovery box. We will be watching a couple of (kid friendly) magic shows online before I bring out the box.

I hope you'll have fun learning about St. John Bosco! God bless you.

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