Lenten fasting: Catholic diet hacks and social justice weight loss tips

Are you having trouble losing weight no matter what you try? It could be because you're missing a few basic ingredients to weight loss. I know from personal experience after losing 100 pounds. I call these my "Catholic diet hacks" for social justice weight loss because they are based on the church's teaching on Lent. Use them to gear up your Lenten fasting.   'My 600-lb Life' Weight Loss Tips: Essential diet hacks to nail New Year goals

Free printable Thanksgiving holiday activities, crafts, coloring pages, cards

Thanksgiving is the last holiday before Advent and busy Catholic families will be readying for the holy season. As a homeschooling mom, I well remember being swamped with lesson plans along with Thanksgiving prep. So I made Thanksgiving prep part of the lessons (you know how it is, if Mohammed can't go to the mountain, the mountain goes to Mohammed, lol!)

I used free printable Thanksgiving crafts to occupy children, keep them actively learning and out from under foot. Children will love coloring and making Thanksgiving party decorations, invitations, greeting cards, games, table decor, placemats and more with these printouts. Print 3D turkeys, Native American Indians crafts, pilgrims, pumpkins, harvest cornucopias--all the traditional holiday themes. These are perfect for preschool and elementary social studies crafts too.   Free printable Thanksgiving holiday activities, crafts, coloring pages, cards

Halloween alternative trick-or-treat activities for Catholic Christian kids: educational games, crafts, recipes, give-backs, party ideas

Halloween is a top-grossing holiday and consumer spending will hit record highs in 2014 predicts U.S News and World Report. Young and old alike eagerly anticipate trick-or-treat, spending an average of $80 per person on costumes, spook house venues, decorations and candy. Not everyone looks forward to Halloween, however. Some children are terrified by scary costumes. Parents don't want them to miss out on the fun, just avoid the creepier aspects. Is it possible to celebrate a haunt-less Halloween? Absolutely! Here are alternative trick-or-treat activities.
·         Truck-or-Treat/Trunk-or-Treat. Organize a group of friends to pass out candy from the trunks of their cars or truck beds. Choose a non-spooky theme, like Disney movies, and host a costume contest. Families can even decorate vehicles in keeping with theme.
·         Educational costumes. There's a whole world of non-scary costume ideas to choose from. Children can dress up as characters in books, children shows or nursery rhymes. They might dress as famous people, favorite animals or in occupational attire. Encourage kids to create costumes from recycled materials. This saves money too.
·         Safe houses. Ask around your neighborhood to find out who plans to decorate with a haunted theme. Map out a trick-or-treat route that bypasses those homes.
·         Candy hunt. Maybe you live far from town or in a rural area? That makes trick-or-treat challenging enough as it is. So skip door-to-door. Instead, hide candy in the yard and let children hunt for it. Let children dress in costume. If you have a large piece of property, this could be a great adventure!
·         LARP candy quest. Turn your backyard or house into a non-scary, live-action role play Halloween video game. Decide on a theme. Children invent a character and create costumes. Parents or older siblings might draw a treasure map, set tasks children must complete or write riddles to help little ones find candy.
·         Life-size Candyland. Create a living Candyland board game in the backyard. Invite neighbors to participate. Adults dress as characters and create stations based on the game. Here's a life-sized Candyland Pinterest board with loads of costume and prop tutorials.
·         Harvest gala Forego the Halloween theme altogether and focus on fall. Set up autumn crafts and game stations in your barn, backyard or garage. Make a hay maze. Hide candy in leaf piles. Carve or paint pumpkins. Bob for apples. Make popcorn balls. Serve cider and donuts.
·         Nursing home trick-or-treating. Here's a win-win idea: children get to trick-or-treat in safe, controlled environments and lonely elderly folks get to enjoy Halloween with the kids. Check senior homes in your area for trick-or-treat opportunities.
·         Pay it forward. Teach children that Hallween can be about giving as well as getting. Turn one of above-listed ideas into a fundraising event. Sell tickets and donate the proceeds. In lieu of a fee, collect canned goods for a food pantry. Gather animal care supplies for your local Humane Society.

Be sure to film the frolics share video copies with family far away. Halloween doesn't have to be scary to be fun. It just takes is a little ingenuity and resourcefulness for everyone to have a good time.

Free St. Francis Day activities, coloring pages lesson plans, printables

October 4 the celebrates the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Catholic Church
. Among other things under his patronage, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals. On his feast day, some Catholic churches and schools observe a charming little rite known as the blessing of pets. Folks bring their beloved pets to mass to be prayed over. It's an event that young and old enjoy. In the spirit of the good saint, here are free printable animals coloring pages and free printable St. Francis activities for children to celebrate! If you know of a Catholic church that blesses pets, why not bring your kids and animals--you'll all enjoy it!
Visit Real Life at Home for free printable St. Francis lesson plans in a packet. Print games, coloring pages, activities and worksheets of saints. Learn connections to Pope Francis, who is a Franciscan and has taken his name from Francis of Assisi. Print a liturgical calendar of Catholic saints, including Saint Francis, free from Catholic playground. For free printable animal coloring pages, visit Coloring Book Fun. National Geographic Kids has realistic animal coloring pages from A-Z to print. This link opens on the animals A-I page but click the link at the bottom for coloring pages of animals from J-Z.

For more detailed, educational animal coloring page printables, don't miss Edupics. There are over 1,600 animal coloring pages: some are even suitable for middle school and high school biology and science lessons! Hello Kids has hundreds of free printable animal coloring pages. Some are easier and geared for preschool or special needs students. Some are more challenging. Coloring.ws, from children's learning printables giant DL-TK has free printable coloring pages of animals from A-Z.Print every animal kingdom and phylum: insects, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Free printable saints coloring pages, activities to celebrate St Joseph, Catholic Labor Day

With Labor Day approaching, Catholic families should be focusing St. Joseph the Worker. He has several feast days but May Day (the worldwide Labor Day) is the one devoted to his cult as patron saint of workers. Use these free printable Catholic saints coloring pages, crafts and lesson plans to explore St. Joseph.

* Catholic Mom's All Saint's Day activities page has printable crafts and coloring pages, plus tips for celebrating a Christian Labor Day. Visit the Catholic Kids home page for free printable liturgical lesson plans with age-appropriate activities linked: free printable puzzles, word searches, study sheets, crafts, Bible verses, games and activities.

* Catholic Playground has free printable Catholic saints coloring pages. They're alphabetized and listed according to the Catholic liturgical calendar. Check out the free printable Stations of the Cross coloring pages.

* St. John the Baptist Religious Education has a plethora of free printable saints coloring pages. There are also printable Stations of the Cross coloring pages. There are coloring pages of Bible stories, Miracles of Jesus, parables and life of Christ.
* ABCatholic has a free printable Catholic alphabet coloring book with images of saints, Bible stories and sacraments.

* Waltzing Matilda features handmade free printable Catholic saints coloring pages. The blog moderator has nicely-drawn images for sacraments and liturgical use also.

* Paper Dali is another mom blog with homemade free printable saints coloring pages. Some are free and some must be purchased.free her Etsy shop. Scroll around for the freebies. All are very attractive and well worth the nominal fee.

* Catholic Icing offers handmade All Saints' Day printables and crafts. Read through the blog posts and sidebar menu for crafts, games and printables.

EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) Kids offers free mass readings, prayer activities, crafts and coloring pages for children. Users must create a free account with user name and password.

Use these coloring pages to plan a Catholic Christian Halloween that celebrates All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These can help create saints costumes for All Saints' Day parties too. Use for year-round CCD, religious education, VBS and Children's Liturgy of the Word activities.

Gay Christian mom blogger Glennon Doyle Melton weds lesbian lover Abby Wambach

Life has come full circle for Glennon Doyle Melton. After surviving drugs, alcohol, anorexia and adultery, the popular Christian mommy blogger preached on happy parenting and marriage after cheating, but now the "Love Warrior" author is singing a different tune of #lesbian love, divorce, and gay activism. What changed the evangelical Christian's mind? Doyle-Melton saw soccer star Abby Wambach, fell in love on sight and is now Mrs. Doyle-Wambach.   Gay Christian mom blogger Glennon Doyle Melton weds lesbian lover Abby Wambach

Free printable St Valentine activities, lesson plans, coloring pages for Valentines Day

The story of St. Valentine has nothing to do with flowers and candy or Valentine's Day as we celebrate it on Feb. 14. Except in one way (we'll get to that). It has nothing in common with romance as we know it. But Valentine's story is spiritually romantic. Valentinius was a Roman Christian priest. In those days, this was not popular. In fact, it was downright illegal.
Then-Emperor Claudius II decided he'd make marriage illegal too--so men would give up women go fight his battles. Not exactly an even quid pro quo. But Claudius wasn't the most savvy guy. Anyway, Valentine understood human nature better. He performed underground marriages so people could keep sanctified romances and holy love. Valentine was jailed for his pains.
So, being a helpful and proactive kind of guy, Valentine wrote notes of encouragement to his fellow incarcerated. He signed them "Your Valentine." There grew the card-sending tradition--the only part of the real meaning of Valentine's Day that is practiced today. Valentine was martyred on Feb. 14. It became a holy day--holiday--in the Catholic church.
Predictably, the spiritual bits of the story are ignored for the commercial. True, Valentine's story is based on legend, but most stories of antiquity are oral tradition. Anyway, it seems a more fitting expression of the holiday than just flowers and candy. If you do too, here are free printable Catholic St. Valentine activities and lessons.
Catholic Inspired has free printable St. Valentine activities. You can print St. Valentine worksheets, games and crafts from Catholic Icing. ABC Teach has printable lesson plans based on the Legend ofSt. Valentine. Busy Teacher has over 100 free printable Valentine's Day activities. Some are the secular hearts and candy valentine crafts. But there are some Catholic history-based printables too. Lastly, Catholic Greetings has free printable Christian valentines to share.

Children might be encouraged to print valentines and send to lonely old people and shut-ins. That would be very loving. Here's how the dear saint ended his "valentines" "Be of good cheer. Don't lose hope. Your Valentine (sign name)" (very loosely translated from the Latin). So how about you? Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Or is it just too gimmicky? Let us know in comments below.

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Ways to promote social justice in the world church

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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