Author: Bley

Preparing for Advent: Jesus Tree Ornaments

If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Advent, here is one of our favorite first posts, with Bley’s beautiful Jesus Tree Ornaments. 2018 Edit: If you’d just like Scripture readings rather than using the full Jesus Tree devotional, here you go. For the past few years, we have been trying to keep a quiet Advent, and one way we do this is by using a Jesus Tree devotional.  A lovely friend recommended the Jesus Tree Devotional by Rachel Chaney, which is based on The Jesus Storybook Bible.  It has proven to be an easy and meaningful way for us to keep our focus on the spirit of Advent, and build up to the celebration of Christmas.  The devotional itself is straightforward and easy to use: there is a symbol with corresponding Bible text for days 1-25 of December, and then a script/story that you read aloud to your children.  A traditional hymn follows to sing, and there is an ornament that you can cut out and color with your children.  The thing I love about this …

Stories of the Saints, and Costumes!

We are slowly building a collection of picture and chapter books about important figures in church history.  It always amazes me how much children enjoy reading biographies!  Here are a few recommendations from our library: Saint Valentine – A beautifully illustrated story of a Roman Christian saint; on whom our traditions of Valentine’s Day are based.  The illustrations are done in cut paper mosaic and are very lovely. Saint Patrick – One of the many faith-based books from author and illustrator Tomie DePoala. Trial and Triumph – A great compilation of histories of people throughout church history.  Good for older kids.  Be aware there is some mildly anti-Catholic sentiments; but overall an informative and useful book, with stories from the early church through modern times. If you have a look on Amazon, you will find a larger selection of books, including these that look interesting: Brigid’s Cloak Roses in the Snow The Miracle of Saint Nicholas The Prayer of Saint Francis And….if you need some Halloween/Saints Day costumes, be sure to check out Kendra’s posts: 150 …

“Advent is for Making:” Sharing a Gift From Your Family Culture

One of the most meaningful gifts I or my family has ever received came last Christmas from some dear friends of ours.  Their family loves to read; they love a good story, fairy land and tales; and they love beautiful language and pictures. They spent time frequenting library book sales, and put together personalized stacks of books for gifting according to their friend’s and family’s interests.  It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received; but I mostly love it because in sharing a stack of great books, it was clear to me that they were gifting us a slice of their precious family culture. This Advent, why not consider assembling or creating gifts together with your children to give to family and friends?  If you are longing to simplify gift-giving, and avoid the commercialization of the holiday season, working with your children to craft gifts is one way to take the focus off of the things they are wanting, and transfer it to considering what they could create to delight others.  Plus, …

Dragon Bread for Michaelmas

The Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels on September 29 remains a somewhat mysterious feast day to me, perhaps rightly so, as it deals with otherworldly creatures, the “heavenly hosts.”  The collect for the day sheds some light on what we can teach our children about the importance of this feast: O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thine appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. The Epistle reading for the day, from Revelation 12:7-12, reminds us that, “There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon… and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil.” In our home, we have traditionally made a loaf of sweet bread, similar to challah, and shaped the dough into the shape of a dragon during the second rising.  Any dough recipe will do; I particularly …

Family Culture and Sunday Tea

Our eldest child is seven now, which doesn’t seem so old, but in today’s society means he will soon be noticing more about the culture, asking us possibly difficult questions, paying more attention to his peers, and seeing how our family is different from others.  The teen years are looming, in the not so distant future, and I have been thinking that now is the time to focus on building a “family culture” to provide a buffer between our family and society at large. What is a “family culture”?  No, it’s not a bad joke about the sharing of bacteria in your house.  A family culture is, simply, how your family differs from every other family.  I appreciate this post from Catholic All Year on this topic. A family culture mostly has to do with preferences: What does your family like?  And matters of discipline: What will you allow/not allow in your home?  And other fun stuff: How do you like to recreate together?  How do you find rest and relaxation together?  Your family is like …

Rogation Prayer Bunting

Amanda had the idea for a prayer bunting to hang in your home, or around your garden, as a way to celebrate the Rogation days in your family.  The first page has a few prayers already included on the flags, and the remaining two pages have room to write your own prayers, and for children of non-writing age to draw their prayers.  Just another visible reminder of our responsibility to pray always for our neighbors, communities, and society at large. Cut the flags and fold them and secure with tape over some kind of string.  Kabob skewers work well to hold the flags in the ground.  We would love to see some of your Rogation buntings as well!  Tag us on Instagram @thehomelyhours. RogationFlags

Prayer Beads for Kids

One of my goals this Lent is to spend more time in prayer.  My husband gifted me a beautiful set of Anglican prayer beads for Christmas, and the practice of using the beads and ages old prayers, in a rhythmic, defined manner, has made prayer more accessible to me.  And so I am much more inclined to spend time doing it! As I’ve been keeping them around on my desk areas for use, my charming and curious children have asked me what they are for, and so I decided to make them some of their own.  I was somewhat surprised that they were interested, but we ran with it, and came up with these simple circlets for their use. These can be made out of anything, and would be a fun Lenten family activity, or perhaps a surprise in their Easter basket?  Use what you have on hand; plastic pony beads in two colors on a piece of yarn would work just fine. The important thing is to place your beads in this form: For …

A Simple Easter Garden

Have you ever heard of the tradition of creating an Easter Garden?  This has become a well-loved custom in our home, that begins on Palm Sunday, and we observe through the difficult Holy Week, to its climax on Easter. It is a lovely and symbolic way to mark the events of Holy Week for children, and the adults quite enjoy it too! Here are some simple steps to create your own Easter Garden: Gather your materials: You will need a container to hold your garden; it is helpful if this container can drain so your garden does not get water-logged.  And of course, a tray to catch the draining water.  Use what you have on hand; ours is a large take-out container with holes poked in the bottom and its plastic lid to catch the drainage. a small terra-cotta pot for the tomb.  This should be relative in size to your container, ours is the smallest size pot you can buy. a large rock to cover your tomb.  Send your children outside to find one! …

Children in Worship, or The Mortification of the Parents

It seems fitting during this penitential season to talk a bit about taking our children to worship.  There are no greater instruments of joy and humility in my life than our five charming and curious children.  More often than not over our 7 years of child rearing and church going, have I sat in the pew, translating references in the liturgy to “the flesh,” to, “the mortification of the flesh.” Oh, the embarrassment! Oh, the travails! (You mean your family doesn’t look just like this in church?) Our parish has a beautiful statement on our website about this: “Children are lovingly invited to our services to participate in the rhythms of the liturgy. In practice, this means that the sounds of children – ranging from laughter to cries – are viewed not as distractions, but reminders that we as a church are all called to be as little children. We do not consider our children future members in training, but rather full members in the present: embraced, accepted, and joyfully welcomed into our corporate worship. …