Friday, February 05, 2016

Kiss Those Chocolates Goodbye and Other Lent Ideas

Lent is closing in and the Hazard homestead is gearing up.  What’s in store for us this year can be broken down in seven well-laid plans:  (Joining  Kelly for seven quicktakes today)

Have you tried the kisses truffles?  You should, but do it after Lent.
1.  Fasting and Abstinence.  Lent is, of course, the season to give up unhealthy attachments and learn detachment.  On top of the required fasting and abstinence days, my family wrote a list of things we are giving up for Lent which include: desert, video games, non-saint movies and social media. 

 Each Lent, our pastor also makes an emphasis to challenge us to do more for our spiritual life during this season.  Our family to-do list is lengthy and varied in case we fail at some of our goals.  

2.   Jar of Sacraments.   For every Sacrament or devotion  (such as Eucharistic Adoration, Divine Mercy or Station of the Cross) the kids can secure a jewel in their jar.

Repurposed condiment jar with burlap and twine
 (Slits will be added at the last minute to prevent undue pre emptive jewel dropping) 
3. Work of Mercy. To drum up publicity for the year of mercy, we plan to visit doors of mercy more often and perform a work of mercy for the souls in purgatory.  The kids are also learning that the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.) can be performed for their (less fortunate) family members. 

4.   New prayers.  We’re ambitiously learning three prayers this year: Prayer before Crucifix, Memorare and Angelus.  The prayer before the crucifix is in our pieta book and the Catholic Prayers which we tote around during Lent so that we can earn a plenary indulgence. The Marian prayers, framed in the homeschool wall, will be prayed after the school day is over.   

These prayers and pictures are from the 2016 calendar of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion
You can frame the free printables from

5. Crown of Thorns Dough.  The children love this craft of baking salty dough into a crown of thorns, so we’ve been keeping it annually.  For every good deed they do, they get to take out a thorn from Jesus’ head.

6. Lenten Read –The BIS Lenten workbook was my big plan but since that sold out quicker than I could say “Mine!” I’ve conceded that maybe the Holy Spirit has other plans, so I clicked over to Kelly’s list of recommended reading, and our parish lending library, said a short prayer and picked two:


7.  Virtue.  A few Lenten seasons ago, during a parish mission, the fathers of mercy supplied us with a list of virtues juxtaposed to their corresponding vices.  Using that infographic, I'm trying to recall which capital sins I struggle with (those that come up in the confessional regularly) and practice a certain virtue for Lent.   Sloth is my shame and industry is my attempted virtue (more on that later).

I hope you have a blessed Lent!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Piano Donor, Near Death and Other Odds and Ends

Did the New year just arrive without a word from me?  My bad. But now that the Christmas decor has been boxed up and ordinary time has begun,  let me share what's been going on of note via 7QT and HPFR link up.  (Thank you for hosting Auntie Leila and Kelly.)

1. My beloved grandmother passed away on the Feast of the Baptism, so before the sun set, I made sure to cross the holy doors of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  The holy doors of mercy, in case you haven't heard from the Catholic sites which I'm sure you subscribe to, is a special privilege granted by Pope Francis in this year of mercy.  Normally reserved for four doors in the Vatican, Pope Francis gave authority to the dioceses around the world to designate a holy door for a plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions- read more here.)

{Happy to do this and the 9 day Mass novena for my grandma}

2.  Did I ever tell you the story of the piano donor?  Last year, while the older girls attended Little Flower class, my youngest and I went to Eucharistic Adoration.  This sweet elderly couple got to know my youngest and decided to donate their piano to her when they downsized.  I've long been wishing for one in our home though never said anything about it, so I'm firmly convinced when we adore Jesus, He hears those silent wishes of our heart, just as much as He hears all those fervent prayers.  Amiright?

3.  Since receiving the piano, it's been overplayed but the decor around it was neglected until a few days ago when I decided to put together a (kind of) gallery wall/piano mantel.  And on top of it is the fitting sign: Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 
(Pretty if I do say so myself) I call it the farmhouse meets coastal religious theme.

4.  On the homeschool front, I heard the 8 year old, "Mom, how do you spell amphibians?"  The kindergartener answered, "Here, I'll show you..."


5.  I found another near death experience worth reading.    Strong caution: it contains adult material, and the person was heavily involved in the occult and new age. But during her illumination of conscience, she hears Our Lady say, " Your life is mine." 

       ... At that moment I understood that the most Blessed Virgin Mary wanted me to consecrate my entire life to her and serve her. To have me fully at her service, she asked me to remain simple, to ignore myself and to be sober in all things. The Blessed Virgin loves humility. She also made me know that she would always be my intercessor near God. When we pray to her and serve her, the Virgin Mary is always grateful.

6.  I said I would write book reviews, so here's the first one I wrote for Catholic Stand.  

{Real} A book too distressingly real for me.

7.   I have more book reviews and author interviews lined up, I can hardly contain my excitement "meeting" all these Catholic writers!  So stay tuned, and if you're visiting from the link ups, I hope to see you again. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes Flies to the Tropics + Giveaway!

Welcome to the tropics, 7 Quick Takers!  I'm so honored you're here to join me for a mini winter break. When fabulous Kelly outsourced the most popular linkup in Catholic blogosphere, I offered to host 7QT as I travelled to my hometown of Cebu, Philippines and nearly passed out when she accepted. So mabuhay, buckle up, sip your welcome mango shake, and enjoy the ride:

1. Our epic journey of 1 mama, 3 girls, 1 baby, 4 airports, 3 countries, 20 flight hours, 4 layover hours was off to a shaky start. The baby had an ear infection;  there was a problem with the e-tickets; computer glitches fouled attempts to fix it, which had us non-marathon runners huffing and puffing, to the far end of the terminal as our names were called over the loudspeaker for the final boarding announcement.  It was, thankfully, downhill of drama from there and this harangued mama miraculously survived with zero sleep.  My travel tip should you be insane enough to be the sole outnumbered adult in a similar situation: Pray a novena to the Martin spouses and the souls in purgatory for a safe and pleasant trip beforehand.  Bring aboard two essential oils: lavender (calming) and peppermint (for motion sickness), and fly Korean Air because most flight attendants volunteer as babysitters (seriously!)

2.  So we landed in Cebu, an island south of Manila, the site for  January 2016’s International Eucharistic Conference, which Pope Francis is scheduled to attend. The deep roots of Catholicism are obvious from the Catholic Churches on every corner of the metropolis.  My favorites are still the historic ones, which have been around for ages and are popular pilgrimage places for certain favors.   Here are some of the spots where I prayed for you all: 
The altar of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino (Child Jesus), over two centuries old. It was built shortly after Magellan discovered the Philippines and Christianized the country.

A shot of the courtyard with Spanish style windows of the monastery adjacent to the Church.

The miraculous image of the Sto. Nino (Child Jesus) which Magellan presented to the Rajah (King), and which he eagerly accepted along with his baptism. 

The miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rule at her Shrine in Mactan island, Cebu, which has heard many mothers' prayers for a baby.  I was here 2 years ago to pray for one and our family returned to thank her for the favor.
The Church of 1,000 relics.  Wall to wall was covered in first and second class relics of saints like St. Rita, St. Pio, Bl. Georgio, St. Joseph Moscatti, St. Pius, St. Bernadette...  made me feel there was a communion of saints surrounding me with prayers. I prayed for you, Kelly!

The gorgeous centuries old Cebu Cathedral with the two 
recently canonized Filipino saints and martyrs, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod.

3.   My grandfather used to say travel is education and I couldn’t agree more.  No arms needed twisting to abandon our homeschool books to the dust and learn about foreign language and science first hand.

That's not a topaz and opal necklace. Its' a poisonous sea snake, which is always good to know, amiright?

Sea star not Star Fish. If you're familiar with Andrew Pudewa's IEW, you know why.

Some kind of fish swimming at the shore.
Foreign language lesson: if a Filipino asks you "Mahangin sa labas?" (Is it windy outside) they're not making small talk about the weather.  They're suggesting you need to brush your hair (see above beach hair selfie).
4.  We also closely “studied” international cuisine, sampling authentic Italian gelato, French macarons, Japanese shabu-shabu, Cebu’s famous roasted pig, and Chinese dimsum.

Ever heard of Wagyu beef?  It's a Japanese specialty.  No kidding, it melts in your mouth.

roasted pig locally called "lechon"

Gotta have a mango with a chocolate fountain. (May I just say I'm fully convinced Eve was up against a mango, not an apple.)
If you're a baby, I guess sandtasting is a must.
5.  You can’t travel without shopping right?  The third largest mall in Asia just opened, so I spent Black Friday browsing through local, Japanese, European, American chain stores at the mall, but mostly I enjoyed the picturesque view of the bay. 

The bay view from the Seaside mall. It was so huge, I didn't even make it to the other side with the mountain view.
That's the chapel next to the mall.  Its not unusual for malls to have chapels and Masses celebrated in Cebu. Certain department stores also pause for the 12:00 or 6:00 Angelus over the speakers. And don't be surprised if you find the statue of Sto. Nino at a shop or restaurant. Cebuanos wear our faith on our sleeves.

Anywhere from December to January in the malls, you will hear drumbeats and see the religious dance called the "Sinulog".  This is only a prequel to a day long parade festival honoring the Sto. Nino.  The entire island/province celebrates.

During the Christmas season, every Filipino home buys and displays a lighted star called the "parol".  It is a reminder of the Star of Behtlehem, that our hearts and homes seek and welcome Our Savior.

If you souvenir shop, these are my recommendations: handmade frames and ornaments made of capiz shells (windowpane oysters), a rosary made of coconut shells, (and not pictured coconut wine, fashion jewelry and local rum)

6.   Both tourists and locals will tell you the best part of a trip to Cebu are the sandy resorts that line our shores. For obvious reasons, the Shangrila's Mactan Island Resort is my piece of heaven.   

View from our ocean wing room: pool and the ocean. 

A kids only waterslide. Bummer.

On a cloudy day, massage beds under huts are an option
7.  There is so much to learn about a developing country, and as Pope Francis emphasized during his visit, "The Philippines best resource is its people."  Poverty would make anyone hopeless but in a Catholic country, people are always with faith, and faith brings with it hope I have never seen anywhere else.  During the season of Advent till Christmas,  I am continually amazed that Filipinos celebrate beyond compare, have something to give no matter how simple, and readily share their table in their humble homes. Perhaps this is why Jesus chose the shepherds to be his first guests, and the stable his place of birth. 

Random picture my husband shot. That is a real home. for several families.

A life size Nativity scene at a commercial complex featuring local abaca or hemp material. Abaca is used as a wall for humble huts. Again don't be surprised at nativity scenes in public and private places.

Thank you or daghang salamat for hanging out with me!  Because you are awesome, you can win the giveaway of a gorgeous coloring book here, and if you're up for more Philippine sights and sounds, you can find me on Instagram with a procrastinator's #lategram posts.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Prayer Book to the Rescue + Giveaway

            If you learned prayers oido style as a child, then you’ve probably thrown a few funky words in and caused a giggle or two, such as when my nephew used to pray: “Hail Mary full of grace…blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your melon…”

            A former roommate also believed the words to “Take and receive O Lord …Only thy grace thy love on me bestow, these make me rich, all else will I forego” were “Only thy grace, thy love on me bestow, please make me rich, all else will I forgo.

            And the hilarious Nancy once recited the Act of Contrition in the Confessional as, “Oh my God, I am partly sorry for having offended thee…”

            Mercifully, there’s a book to the rescue for the confused.  

            Dominic de Souza’s “Sense of the Sacred”, Illuminated Book of Catholic Prayers, is a gorgeous prayer book for children that contains all the essential prayers you want your children to know.  It also lists other prayers you didn't even know but want to learn by heart, like the Divine Praises, Invocation in Honor of the Holy Wounds, and Prayer Before a Crucifix.  (The latter prayer comes with a plenary indulgence in case you didn't know.  When we began learning it, my children scrambled over my Pieta Book after each Communion that it usually turned into a colossal fight over who got it first and I wound up with a ripped cover at the end of Lent. We never memorized it. Once again, prayer book to the rescue.)

            The book is beautifully illustrated on high quality stationary paper, even the font is pretty.  It makes for a meaningful Christmas present because isn't it great that generation after generation of Catholics have said the same prayers of the saints over and over?  The prayer book serves as a coloring guide for the companion coloring book, which features fine illustrations from the talented artist that is Mr. De Souza.  I am giving away the coloring book (not the carpet) to a lucky reader until December 16th.  Just comment below or email me your email address

            Both books and a lot of other quality Catholic selections are available at Peanut Butter and Grace.  You can guess my Christmas shopping will be over there.