Family Advent Challenge


The season of Advent brings many things such as cold winter weather, shopping, large receipts, and most importantly the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. What are you doing to prepare for the latter? For many Christmas can be a very difficult time with much added stress. This year we are challenging you to make it a little less stressful for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ by offering prayers and service to their needs. Odds are that we know someone first hand that has lost their job in recent months or we ourselves may be experiencing this loss. Unemployment is difficult on its own combine this with the added stress of Christmas and we have a recipe for devastation! Rather than sticking to our own Christmas lists, I would like to see each of us be MUCH more giving with our time to serve others. Give the gift of time to your children, volunteer in your children's classrooms, volunteer at your Church food drive, volunteer at your local homeless shelter.  Let us all pray unceasingly for each other that we not give into the commercialism of the season, but rather celebrate the reason for the season!  
Let's see what creative ways you can come up with to help each other and add joy to this time of preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Share your stories in the comments below and/or share pics using #TvAdventChallenge on your favorite social media sites.  


Discover more Advent activities, articles and challenges by visiting www.catholicbloggersnetwork.com

Something New Every Day

There are so many wonderful free tech tools these days. It is overwhelming at first to look at my list of fabulous resources. When asked what my favorite tool is, I guess my answer would depend on what I have used recently and what I have just discovered and is fresh on my mind.
I am blessed in my district to have computers in every classroom (5) as well as access to mobile carts with 25 on each cart. We have plenty of software on our laptops (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Comic Life, Pixie, Kidspiration, Google Earth, Activ Inspire, Garage Band, Audacity, just to name a few.) There are many web 2.0 sites that are blocked by our district filter like Wall Wisher, You Tube, and most blogs so when I find a web based application that I like and can use I get very excited.
Lately, my new favorite tool is ZimmerTwins for making movies. I made a school log in started experimenting with just a few students. They caught on so quickly and had creative ideas in less than a moment. I have even used this site whole group with exceptional education students who did equally well with making a movie. I like that there are characters with talking bubbles, actions, title/end pages etc. in the four different tabs at the top.
The second tool that has caught on with the students has been Wordle, and Tagxedo. Both are word cloud sites, but Tagxedo lets you save your work as a .jpg file, and Wordle does not. We have used these for vocabulary review, copied and pasted expository writing to find overused words, and just simply for fun.
I don’t want to overwhelm my teachers or students with new things constantly since they seem to be already frustrated with technology in many cases. I try to keep it simple, and give people what they ask for so that I don’t add to their feeling that they are always “behind”.
If teachers need to start small and not get overwhelmed, I highly recommend both of these on line tools.
by: Suzanne Whitlow
ITRT Henrico County Schools

What's your Tech style: Savvy or Junkie?

Are you tech savvy or a tech junkie? A tech junkie is uninformed and careless with their online persona and connections. Tech junkies have no regard for their online safety and the safety of others. On the other hand, one who is tech savvy utilizes technology with respect to themselves by protecting their information and taking precautionary measures to being safe while making connections. The road to being tech savvy starts here, whether you are new to technology or a tech junkie, we will get you there.
Technology has provided the world with an opportunity to connect with people at the speed of instant in a variety of ways on a variety of different levels. From social networking sites, to live video streaming to texting and video chatting, our world is more connected than it has ever been. There is tremendous responsibility that comes with this connectedness. Personal security of information is at the forefront and demands our attention. It is imperative that all tech users become familiar with safety features available on their tech devices of choice. Parents and teachers are partners in educating students both about how to manage privacy settings and internet safety.
Safety While Networking: Simple measures of protection are available on popular social networking sites allowing users to manage how much information is available for others to view. These settings can be found under the account information tab. Savvy Tip: Talk to family and friends about not posting specific details of meeting locations and times on publicly shared message boards. Facebook notes are not private. Opt for email or a phone conversation to set up the details of gatherings.
Safety While Texting: Cell phone companies do have a number of security features for families including usage allowance, time restrictions, and the ability to block certain numbers. This is a great tool for parents with concerns about excessive texting. Concerning cell phones with an internet connection, parents need to be aware that there are no securities limiting access to websites. Also, mobile versions of popular networking sites have the option to include location data with postings by utilizing the GPS feature of your mobile device. Savvy Tip: Demonstrate proper etiquette when texting by being respectful of friends and family members rules concerning texting. Always ask if it is okay to text someone before doing so.
Safety While Surfing: There are a number of web protection programs available to keep the whole family safe while they surf. One such program that is free to download is PureSight™. PureSight™ has various features allowing parents to monitor what sites their child is visiting, how much time they are spending on the computer and track instant messaging conversations just to name a few. Savvy Tip: Remember when engaging in online conversations to uphold a respectable persona. Online conversations are not private conversations.
It is imperative that all tech users become familiar with safety features available on their tech devices of choice. Parents and teachers are partners in educating students both about how to manage privacy settings and internet safety. I challenge every lover and user of technology to look into their own connections and see where they may need to employ or modify privacy settings and safety features. Be informed. Be responsible. Be tech savvy!

A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven

Mr. Pietro Molla, husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla died this Holy Saturday morning.  I was introduced to St. Gianna while on retreat years ago.  Her book titled "Love letters to my husband" challenged me to mature in my own ideas of loving wife. It was then that I made her my patron saint and strive to live by her example of a loving, life giving wife, mother, and person. Truly together this holy couple will save many marriages. She saved mine.

Below is a link to a beautiful write up by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.
A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven — Death of Mr. Pietro Molla, Husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla on Holy Saturday Morning in Mesero (Milano) Italy

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Catholics Unite! ... on Twitter?

TweetCatholic.com is a first class twitter app uniting Catholics!  @MatthewWarner, the creator of this app is the master mind behind http://www.flocknote.com/ and http://www.fallibleblogma.com/
There is so much unity here on the Internet amongst catholics.  Every catholic blog, website, tweet, or Facebook post I see in some way is promoting another Catholic site.  (Just like I am doing here...I suppose I should rethink my angle.)  It is great to see Catholics united in promoting and supporting each others efforts.  Now, if we could bring that same spirit into our parishes! Can you imagine picking up the Sunday bulletin instead of the phone book to choose your hair dresser or local contractor for your room addition.  Supporting those that support our parish bulletin is the best we can unite outside of the parish potluck without the awkward meet and greets at a mutual friends pool party. 
If your not yet a catholic tweeter I hope this inspires you to join in the catholic conversation happening now at Catholictweet.com


Passion Reflection

The strong words and role we play in this weekends gospel are agonizing.  On Palm Sunday we celebrate and welcome Jesus as the Christ only to turn against him.  Not only do we turn against him, but we humiliate him, torture him and ultimately kill him.  There is so much that can be said here, however just on the surface of this topic I am compelled to question my own convictions.  I can't help but wonder if I were living in the time of Jesus where would I have fit in. Would I have sold out Jesus like Judas? Would I have the courage to approach Jesus like Veronica? Would I have denied my relationship with Jesus like Peter? Would I have been just another face in the crowd? Would I have recognized Jesus as the savior?
God is so good.  He knows I am weak. Though I would have loved to have met Jesus while he walked the earth, God knows it was not in my best interest.  I am here, in this era, in this time, on this day to share my role in the resurrected life of Jesus.  God knows that my role is best served now.