Lent is nigh, you guys. It is NIGH. Hope you’re ready. If you’re not, I might be able to help . . . with some recommendations, and some free printables, and a contest.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

Because before Ash Wednesday, comes Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras). We are an Easter people, people, even in the face of Lent. And before this fast, we feast. So, be a good Catholic and go get your ashes, and observe the fast, and fire up your voluntary Lenten disciplines. But first, have some fun on Fat Tuesday! (Nice fun, I mean. I’ve never been to New Orleans or Rio for Mardi Gras, but I’m relatively certain they and I have rather different things in mind for what constitutes a fun Mardi Gras.)

For all the details on what we usually do at our house, check out this post. THIS year, I’m going to throw some canned cinnamon rolls in a bundt cake pan and make a super easy faux king cake. ‘Cause I’m just not in a baking from scratch place right now.

During naptime, the kids will get to make their masks. There are a ton of easy printable masks available online . . .

Traditional Mardi Gras masks:
found here
Animal masks:
found here
Superhero masks:
found here
All very fun for kids to wear, and pretty easy for moms to manage. Print, color, cut. You can attach some elastic, or glue a popsicle stick to the bottom, or just tape it to junior’s forehead. He’s not going to want to wear it for that long anyway, right?

For dinner, I’m going to make my shrimp etoufee recipe (you can find it in the comments of this post) because I have big kids I can make peel the shrimp, and after that it’s pretty easy.

Then we’ll eat up what we can of the treats, and toss the rest. And maybe a family dance party, and maybe a family movie. But it’s going to be fun.

YOU are fun too, I just know it. And I want to see it. So, take a picture of how you and/or your kids are celebrating Fat Tuesday. Share it to the Catholic All Year Facebook page or put it on Instagram and tag me @kendra_tierney. Use the hashtag #feastthenfast so we can all find each other. Or email it to me at CatholicAllYear @ gmail.com. Have your photos in to me by 10am Pacific on Ash Wednesday, and at noonish, I’ll announce the four winners, who will receive some very useful prizes (see below).

That taken care of, you’ll be able to move on into Lent knowing you are a fun and well-balanced person.

Hopefully you’ve already sorted out what you’re giving up or taking up for Lent (here are some ideas) and you’ve decided what to do about the whole Sunday thing (read more about that from me here and from Daniel Bearman Stewart here), but maybe now you’re looking for a way to engage with Lent daily in a meaningful and productive way.

I’ve got a couple of last-minute, easily downloadable Lent resources for you.

First, is the very popular Blessed is She 2015 Lent Journal. The hard copy version has sold out, but you can still order a download of the 62 paged journal of readings and reflections for Lent.

This journal is written and designed for
all of us. We are the Marys and Marthas. We love the lord, but we are
women with many tasks—in our homes, in our work & in our world. We
struggle to set our busy ways aside, even for the One we love.
Let his words remind us this Lent that there is need of only one thing.
To be like Mary sitting at his feet, listening to his word & waiting to be transformed by his love.

Download it, print it out at home, and use the pages to to have an intentional, prayerful Lent.

Two of you will in it in the #feastthenfast contest, or click over to Blessed is She and order one now.

A perfect compliment to the Blessed is She Journal, is the Lenten Magnificat Companion 2015 iOS App.

The Lenten Companion App is designed to help you live all the graces of Lent.
Presented in a day-by-day format, the Lenten Companion App contains:

LITURGY – daily Mass prayers and Scripture readings
PRAYER – a cycle of prayers for morning, evening, and night inspired by the Liturgy of the Hours
MEDITATION – spiritual reflections for each day of Lent
Other unique features include:
ESSAYS – to enlighten , inspire, and deepen your relationship with God
POETRY – capturing the spirit of the season
PENANCE SERVICE – to prepare well for your Lenten confession
DEVOTIONAL PRAYERS – for various occasions and growing in faith
CHANTS – for Lent and Easter… listen while you read and pray
This one-of-a-kind application has been developed with the needs of
your prayer life in mind. Use it to grow in love and knowledge of Christ
and the Church this Lenten season.

Two of you will win a download of the app in the #feastthenfast contest, or head over the the app store and get it for yourself now.

Finally, a couple of free printables from me to you . . . 

This is what our family Lent calendar looks like (when something weird is going on with my black ink in the color printer):

We’ve got our Family Lent Rules in the middle, surrounded by a bunch of Lent-ish clipart pictures the kids cut out and tape to the door. I started doing a Lent calendar with the kids so I would have somewhere to point when they start asking me if it’s almost Easter. (Which usually starts sometime Thursday afternoon.)

You can download all the pictures, plus our Family Lent Rules, in a pdf here.

There are more
pictures than you need, I just let the kids cut them out and put up the
ones they want. We put up the six square pastel Sunday ones (actually we’ll only use five this year since one of the feasts we usually celebrate falls on a Sunday this year). There are pictures for each of the feasts
that we celebrate as a family that (usually) fall during Lent: February 22 is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, March 17 is St Patrick’s Day, March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day, and March 25th is The Annunciation.  Then we put up enough of the other
pictures to add up to 46 pictures. I wish the pictures themselves were cooler, but they
were the best I could find in Microsoft word clipart.
It gets the job done, anyway!

And here’s a printable Lenten quote, to get you all fired up . . . 

You’re welcome to right click and save any of these images. You may
print them for your own personal use or as gifts. You can upload them to
photo labs, like Shutterfly or Costco or Target, and have them printed
there. They are sized at 8×10, but can be printed smaller or larger. You
are also welcome to use them on your blog, just please link back to my
blog. If you wish to download them to use in a product to sell, please
contact me. To request a custom printable, visit my Etsy shop here.

And that’s that. I wish you a super-fun Fat Tuesday, and a super-productive Lent.

For all my other Lent posts in one place, see here:

Lent Cometh: perhaps everything you’ll ever need to know to have the best Lent ever