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Advent Our Lady of Guadalupe Holy Day

On December 12, Catholics mark the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On this day in the liturgical calendar, we honor the Blessed Mother, Mary Mother of God. She appeared to Juan Diego (feast day Dec. 9) an Aztec farmer at Tepeyac Hill in Mexico in 1531.

Following her apparition, millions converted to Christianity. We honor the Virgen de Guadalupe as the Patroness of the Americas. Her story appeals to many. In times past, conversion has been thrust upon people by acts of imperialism (such irony). Tyranny, violence, holy wars (which should be called unholy wars) are anathema to the gospel. Here's more about Our Lady's quiet little way.Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Printable Christmas Questionnaire for Gift Exchanges

First I wrote how Christmas gift exchanges with coworkers, students or relatives who aren't close, don't work. Then I proceeded to write an article on how to host gift exchanges. Now I'm sharing a holiday gift exchange wish list I compiled. Gift exchanges are unavoidable. Some people look forward to them--senior citizens, developmentally disabled, employees in small businesses, work at home groups, home school cooperatives. My adult education students loved our annual holiday gift exchange. I enjoyed Secret Santa at the Montessori school where I taught. But it's hard to know what to get. Have participants fill out a preference profile. Here's one to print and distribute. I put gift hints.  Printable Christmas Wish List Questionnaire for Gift Exchanges (like the .gif? I got it free from Christmas Graphics Plus.com)

Thanksgiving, Christmas Diet Recipe Food Swaps

 The Turkey Day countdown is here. Dieters like me dread the Halloween Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's trifecta. Maybe you observe Hanukkah
, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Epiphany, Reveillon (the French and Acadian midnight feast after mass)-- they all involve feasting.

I've lost 93 pounds and write about +How-I-lost-weight . My Diet-tip-of-the-day is don't waste the hard work on holiday binges. My Diet-recipe-of-the-day posts from now through mid January will be on low calorie holiday food swaps. Today's food switches--turkey, ham, gravy.  Thanksgiving Diet Recipe Food Swaps Turkey and Trimmings

Free Printable Advent Calendar Crafts

Advent is a penitential season that starts four weeks before Christmas in +Catholic and +Orthodox-christian churches. As in lent (before Easter) we pray, fast and give alms to prepare our hearts for the "coming" (advent) of Christ (from the Latin "adveniat regnum"--coming of Christ's kingdom.) The first Sunday of Advent in 2013 is December 1. Here are printable advent calendars for kids. Free Printable Advent Calendar Crafts for Kids

Unsubscribe from Shopping Emails and Save Money

For most of our married life, we've lived debt-free. Then we hit hard times and rang up $22,000 in debt. We paid that all off a few years ago and have stayed solvent since. Not only has this helped our budget, it's helped our relationship. Money is the root of problems between couples. This holiday season, for peace on earth, in your home if not the world, cut spending. Do yourself a financial and emotional health favor. Read on Unsubscribe from Shopping Emails to Save Money

Hebrew Hammer is Holiday Neo-Classic

With Halloween kitsch out of the way, we can turn our attention to the real holidays--Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas and Kwaanza. Right? Well, maybe not. For all you who are a little over and way past the holiday schmaltz, have I got a show for you. First a little history. Schmaltz Aside, Hebrew Hammer is Holiday Neo-Classic

Printable Catholic Saints Paper Dolls

I enjoy looking for free printable cartoon coloring pages, but my real passion lies in finding homeschooling and religious education free printables. I remember my early teaching and homeschooling career, sans computer. I must have made thousands of lessons. Alas, I am woefully inept as an artist, so those that required drawing skills...lacked. But now, with the beauty of the Internet, we have access to free printable lesson plans, coloring pages, cut and paste crafts, games and activities. Here are printable Catholic paper dolls for Advent and Christmas. Free Printable Catholic Saints Paper Dolls and Coloring Page Activities

Budget Christmas Shopping Tips for Big Families

I shop for about 30 people at Christmas, including kids' giving tree gifts. I'm also a tightwad mom. As a Catholic Christian, I don't feel right buying lavish gifts I can't afford. Kind of spoils the real reason for the holiday. Here are penny pincher shopping tips to save money, keep costs low and buy meaningful gifts for everyone.  Tightwad Mama's Common Sense Christmas Shopping Tips

Chris VanAllsburg, Polar Express, Herpolsheimers' Grand Rapids Connections

I have a lot of hobbies and interests. One is incunabula, particularly collecting children's literature. I'm not au currant in modern adult fiction, but juvenilia I speak fluently. A favorite author/illustrator is Chris VanAllsburg--of Jumanji, The Polar Express (books, then movies) fame. When I was in college and a new teacher, VanAllsburg was writing and illustrating some of his best works. My favorite is a little-remembered volume of M.C. Escher-ish pictures with intriguing captions "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick." I used that extensively in creative writing with my Montessori students in the 80s. And I just discovered a neat connection. VanAllsburg is from my hometown Grand Rapids. I think the train he used for the Polar Express was modeled on Herpolsheimer's Santa Express--a little train that went around the top of the store, that all us kids rode years ago.  Oh, and here's a free printable Polar Express party kit perfect for children's Christmas festivities or birthday parties. Read more. Chris VanAllsburg is from My Hometown

Teach Kids an Attitude of Gratitude, Not Entitlement This Christmas

Picture Christmas morning--shiny-eyed children happily enjoying their presents. Very idyllic. Unfortunately, reality is often more like green-eyed, greedy ingrates crying over gifts. Not exactly the ideal holiday spirit. And who created these selfish monsters? Mom and Dad (and indulgent grandparents, family) Experts blame the "I want it now" generation on parents, said the Daily Mail in 2011. Here are parenting tips to curb Christmas gimmes, teach an attitude of gratitude and save money! Teach Kids Christmas Gratitude, Not Greed--And Save Money

Tightwad Mama's Common Sense Christmas Shopping Tips

Don't get me wrong--I love buying presents for people. Well, I should say I love gift giving. But I hate spending too much. I will not spend more than I can afford. I have a long shopping list of people to buy for at Christmas. Four kids and their three significant others, 15 extended family members, husband--and I buy several church giving tree gifts. I'm also a tightwad mama, by necessity and choice. Here are penny pincher shopping tips to save money, keep costs low and buy meaningful gifts for everyone.Tightwad Mama's Common Sense Christmas Shopping Tips

Free Printable Christmas Party Games for Holiday Parties

Picture this: Christmas opened, dinner nicely settling and just when adults start to relax, the kids want to play. Why not pull out a little holiday magic with free printable Christmas puzzles and word games! Before Christmas or any other holiday, gather an assortment of books, toys, prizes. Put them in a Santa Surprise bag. When kids get restless, haul it out and add a free printable Christmas activity books. For each puzzle or coloring page successfully completed the child gets to choose one prize from Santa's Surprise bag!  Woo-hoo, mom and dad can half-nap for a good hour or two! Here are your Free Printable Christmas Party Games

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