Five Favorites – Etsy Shops for Kids

Have I ever mentioned that I love Etsy? Once or twice, yes?

(just for fun, type “Etsy” into the search bar on the side of my blog and see how many posts come up. . .)

Well, since Christmas is coming up, and I always love to get a few sweet handmade/non-mass-produced things for my girls, and because there is a new host of the Five Favorites link up so I want to give Jenna some love, here are my five favorite Etsy shops for kids’ stuff.

I adore Etsy so much, that I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite shops to just five overall, so these are just for kids. And maybe later I’ll share another post with my tops shops for grown up gifts and/or home decor. Then maybe another time I could share my five favorite party supply shops. Or five favorite shops for vintage stuff. Five favorite jewelry shops?

Yes, I love me some Etsy. So, without further ado, five favorite shops for kids’ stuff, in no particular order:

1. Huggie Saints - These soft saint dolls are so snuggly and very well-made. Sis has a Saint Brigid that she sleeps with every night.

DSC_0070 DSC_0071

Super Friend got a Saint Philomena for her youngest daughter, which is just as cute as can be too.

2. Nana’s Sewing Closet – These dresses. I just can’t even explain the cuteness. We have a Minnie Mouse dress, a Snow White dress, and a Cinderella dress (though ours is made of cotton and is quite different from the one linked to here). And I can’t even get over how sweet the work dresses, or “raggy” dresses as my girls would call them, of Cinderella and Belle are. We have cute, comfy dresses like these from another shop too, but I like Nana’s better because hers are less expensive and she has the biggest selection of different character dresses to choose from (plus the other shop closed!).

This is my favorite type of princess dress, because the girls can wear them any day, not just for dress up. They are comfortable and easy to wash.

DSC_0782 DSC_0826

I couldn’t find any good photos of our dresses. The girls wore them to Disney World, but it was so cold they were covered up with coats the whole time. Just trust me. They’re adorable.

3. and 4. Pray With the Saints and St. Luke’s Brush- These little saint peg dolls are so fun. We have dolls from both of these shops, and both are wonderful. Pray with the Saints dolls are less detailed, but also less expensive. St. Luke’s Brush dolls are amazing in their detail (check out his Blessed Mother Theresa!), and he has a larger selection. We have Saint Cecilia, Saint Therese, and Saint Brigid from St. Luke’s.


Maggie from Pray with the Saints was delightful when I requested a custom order doll for Miss’s birthday last year. Miss had been begging for a Saint Anne-pregnant-with-Mary doll, and I couldn’t find one anywhere (not surprisingly). She also wanted Saint Anne to be holding a rosary (not historically accurate, but she was only four when she was imagining this doll!). Maggie was so accommodating and asked lots of questions to get the doll just right. She even asked what color Miss’s eyes are to make the doll’s eyes match.


Perfect for St. Nicholas feast day presents!

5. Three Yellow Starfish – The reversible pinafores from this shop are darling. The fabric selections are gorgeous and the sewing is flawless.

Three Yellow Starfish pinafore

They’re reversible!

Poppy Final-1020

Though this isn’t really the time of year for little dresses like these, they look adorable over a long sleeve shirt with pants underneath too.

Any guesses which of my girls that is ^^?


Two more shops that I am very intrigued by, but have not personally purchased anything from (yet):

Whole Parenting Goods – I’ve been stalking this shop for a while. If I had a baby, I’d be all over this stuff. I almost want to snuggle my computer screen when I look at Nell’s blankets and scarves. She just added leggings to her list of items, so I might need to get some of those for Sis (they don’t come big enough for Lass or Miss). The bandit bibs are so sweet, and would have been much cuter than the ugly, stained bibs I had during Miss’s crazy drooling phase.



I also have to add that Nell is a blogging friend, and you can check her out here.

Catholic Inspired – I’m especially intrigued by these rosary mats. What a great idea. Finally a rosary that Sis can’t break (at least, I don’t think she could break it).

Now, you must tell me – what are your favorite Etsy shops?

And, check out others’ favorite things at the link up, now going on over at Call Her Happy.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Five Favorites, Other Great Blogs, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seven Quick Takes. Okay, Six. Five and a Half.

Hooray for Friday!


I was getting ready to put the boxes for my girls’ new shoes in the recycling the other day. I happened to notice the labels.


I’m just going to note that I’m so glad my four-year-old has “running” shoes available in her size. These will be super important when we start her marathon training. And I’m not exactly sure what “lightweight training” is specifically, but I’m relieved that my five-year-old will be prepared when she encounters it.


Speaking of being prepared, I have been really trying not to freak out about the cases of Ebola in the United States. I think the media is (as usual) really overblowing everything and trying to make everyone feel terrified and therefore be glued to their televisions. I also think, “What-in-the-world-is-wrong-with-you-CDC-people???” Beyond that, I’ve been really working on not panicking about this thing.

However, I have spent at least one night of restless, nightmare-plagued sleep over it, and I am considering just boarding up my house and eating freeze-dried food for however long it takes the people in charge to come up with a cure and a vaccine. At least I’ll still have the internet.


Monday was the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. We made a dancing sun craft and watched our DVD about the Marian apparitions and miracle at Fatima. Then, because Mary referred to herself during these apparitions as the “Lady of the Rosary” and requested that people pray the devotion daily, I had the girls pray a complete rosary with me for the first time.

I’m all about inspiring a love for the prayers, and chocolate makes everything fun.


Thanks to Kendra for the reminder to try this this month (though we didn’t manage it on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary).


I have been liberated. I am truly free.

My children are of the age where they can go outside and play by themselves. However, after a few stings last summer and this summer, and due to an intense fear of the noise of the train near our house, they have insisted that they are too afraid to go outside without me.

Now, normally I try to be nice and sensitive to my children’s fears. But there are times (lots of times) when they just need to get outside but I have other things to get done, and/or I am not jazzed about the idea of standing out there with them. Over the past weekend I had one of those times.

Miss wanted to go outside, but not all by herself. Sis wanted to go outside but only if I went too. Lass didn’t want to go out at all. Two of them were crying. Sis was saying, “I so sferred!” (she can’t make the K sound).

I kicked them all out. I literally pried Sis’s fingers from the door as I slid it shut and said, “Have fun!”

She wasn’t happy at first.


You may think me cruel, but I knew exactly what would happen. She and her sisters all pulled it together and had plenty of fun. Now they go outside without me, without complaint or tears, every day. Tough love.

DSC_0009 DSC_0006



I came across Jess Connell’s blog the other day when a friend linked to this post on Facebook. The post is about Jess’s answer to the question some people ask (and someone posted in her combox), “Why do people keep having more kids if they are already exhausted with the 1 or 2 they do have?” Jess has six-going-on-seven kids, and her response to the question is perfect.

Basically it is this, anything worthwhile is tiring. And it comes down to how you view children: as a blessing or a burden? a joy or a chore?

She hit the nail on the head.

When I was tired from studying or writing my dissertation in graduate school no one ever asked me, “Why would you do that, since it makes you so exhausted?” That would have been a bizarre thing to ask. Yet people ask it of parents about their children not infrequently, on social media in particular. Read Jess’s whole post here. I’d love to hear what you think about it.


I know there were more things I wanted to put into Quick Takes this week. I just can’t for the life of me remember what they are. Someday I’ll get the hang of writing down the things I plan to blog about instead of trying to remember them on the fly. For now I leave you with five and a half takes.

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out the link up at Conversion Diary, where other writers actually get to seven in their posts.


Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Other Great Blogs | 2 Comments

Diary of a Grammar Geek

I freely admit that I am a big nerd when it comes to my love of proper grammar. I can’t really help it. I just really like it. It makes me happy.

I don’t mean to say that I think I am always perfectly grammatically correct. I’m not, in either my writing or my speech. I tend to write this blog the way that I speak, so I know it doesn’t always make the A+ grade for grammar. Sometimes I use sentence fragments if it helps my flow. I often start a sentence with a conjunction, though I almost never end one with a preposition. And (see?) sometimes I say things like, “I’m good” in response to the question “How are you?” *gasp*

I think what makes me a grammar geek is that I actually care about things like the correct use of adverbs and adjectives. Even though I don’t always do it perfectly (see what I did there?), I am always trying to make my grammar correct. And I love learning new things about proper grammar. For example:

I bought a book recently called “It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences,” and it’s fascinating.

It was only just recently that I learned the rule about when to use “who” and when to use “whom.” I thought I knew it, but I had only understood part of it. I was so excited. Truly.

I kind of can’t wait until my kids are old enough for me to have them start diagramming sentences in our homeschool. It was one of my favorite things to do in English class.


There are some things that drive me kind of nuts, like improper use of apostrophes.

Or lack of apostrophes when they should be there.

I mean, one of the reasons Super Friend and I are such good friends is because she knows when to type “you’re” and when to type “your” in a text or email.

Just kidding (sort of).

BUT, though I freely admit to being a nerd, I don’t consider myself to be a “grammar Nazi.”

I don’t ever correct someone’s grammar, punctuation, or spelling unless they specifically ask me to. Except in my head. And when I do it in my head, it’s not malicious. I just can’t help myself.

My thinking as I scroll through Facebook posts:

“‘Should have’, not ‘should of’.”

“‘Too funny’, not ‘to funny’.”

“‘Couldn’t care less’, not ‘could care less’.”

“Quotation marks do not mean emphasis.”


What’s my point? I don’t have one. I just like thinking about and writing about grammar. I do wish people would pay more attention to using it correctly. But I’m a nerd. Here’s a take home message if you want one:


And even though some of this song is kind of mean spirited, I do enjoy this Weird Al Yankovic remake of “Blurred Lines.”

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

Grandparents (again), Field Trips (again), and Walls (finally)

Quick Takes Friday!


We had a lot of fun with my parents when they were here. We got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in my very favorite way. With gifts from the Dollar Tree, of course! I let the girls each pick two things as gifts for my Mom. The two older girls really tried to choose things they thought their Grandma would like. I just love watching how proud they are to see their gifts opened and appreciated.

DSC_0015 DSC_0011

Miss chose a fall-themed oven mitt and a water bottle (similar to the one my Mom uses for her coffee). Lass selected a six-pack of plastic hangers and a statue of a mother holding a baby, which she immediately thought to be Mary and Baby Jesus and decided my non-Catholic mother must have it.

Sis chose a snow globe with puppies in it and what she thought was a small “bouncy ball” that turned out to be a soccer-themed washcloth.


I never get tired of the dollar store presents.


The only time our little dolls and castle ever look like this:


With every. single. one. posed at “The Ball,” is when my Mom is here.


Grandparents are the best.

DSC_0003 DSC_0005


Two weeks ago, we read the book A Pair of Red Clogs (set in Japan). The Godmother brought me some real Japanese clogs and kimonos and an obi and other things from Japan, that her father had brought back after WWII. She told me to let my girls touch and feel and try on and play with these wonderful items!

DSC_0142 DSC_0143 DSC_0144

Somehow I only got really crummy photos, but the girls had such fun trying on the shoes and clothes and twirling and clomping around. I have such a thoughtful and generous Godmother.


I had wanted to take the girls to a hibachi restaurant for a meal/field trip, but didn’t get around to it during the week that we read the Red Clogs book. So we went with my parents on Wednesday night. The older girls loved it.


Sis didn’t want anything to do with it.



Speaking of field trips, this week we’re reading “A Glorious Flight” about how Louis Bleriot built an airplane and was the first person to fly a plane over the English Channel. We have an amazing aviation museum nearby, which was the perfect field trip this week.

DSC_0032 DSC_0063 DSC_0054 DSC_0080 DSC_0084 DSC_0088

In case you’re wondering, that’s at least seven field trips for us already this year!


Finally, I am very excited to show you this last photo:


Walls! We have walls finally going up. We have such a long, long way to go, I know. But this, seeing something coming up from the ground for real, has just made my weekend.

For more Quick Takes, check out the link up at Conversion Diary.


Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Grandparents, Homeschool | 2 Comments

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 7 – The Rosary

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and October is the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. When I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, who is in the process of reversion to the Catholic Faith, she mentioned that she is eager to learn about the rosary so that she can begin praying it herself. So I’m bringing back Baby Catholic Answers All the Things (sorry, it’s been a while!) with a post all about this beautiful devotion.


The rosary has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. You can read a history of the devotion here. It is made up of five decades of repeated prayers, Hail Marys separated by Our Fathers, used to meditate on sets of mysteries.

So, what does that actually mean? Using sets of prayers, called decades, to meditate on sets of mysteries? Wha?? Why the repetitive, memorized prayers? Why the devotion to Mary?

Let me break it down. First of all, you can read my Baby Catholic Answers post on Marian devotion here. In a nutshell: Catholics don’t’ worship Mary. The rosary is not a way to worship Mary. One of the people in my RCIA class from last year had been staunchly anti-Catholic before converting from Protestantism. She began praying the rosary during Lent and asked during class one week, “What is the deal with all these prayers to Mary? Why am I praying to Mary??” My answer to her was something like this, “The rosary is not so much about praying to Mary as it is about growing in our understanding of and faith in Jesus. The mysteries are almost all about Jesus, not Mary. Mary always leads us closer to her Son.”

Let me back up just a bit more here to explain how the rosary works and what a “mystery” is in this context. First, how the rosary works:

If you pick up a rosary, you will see a loop of beads with a tail coming out from it. At the end of the tail is a crucifix.


Above the crucifix, on the tail, there are five beads. First is an “Our Father bead.” Our Father beads are sometimes different from most of the beads on the rosary, and sometimes they’re just separated by more chain. The next three beads are  “Hail Mary beads.” Then there’s a space and another Our Father bead, followed by the joiner (I think that’s what it’s called). The joiner can differ from rosary to rosary. One of mine has a Holy Family medal, another has an Ave Maria thingy (see below).


^ This one is an example of a rosary where the beads are all the same but the Our Father beads are separated from the Hail Mary beads by more chain.

Looking more closely at the beads on the loop of the rosary, you can see that there are groups of ten Hail Mary beads, called “decades,” that are separated from each other by Our Father beads.


So to pray the rosary, you start on the crucifix and say the Apostles Creed. Then you move to the first Our Father bead and say. . . an Our Father. Then three Hail Marys on the Hail Mary beads. On the the chain between the last Hail Mary and the next Our Father bead, you say a Glory Be. Then on the final Our Father bead, announce the first mystery, then say the Our Father.


Then you move to the first set of ten Hail Mary beads and say ten Hail Marys. When you get to chain before the second Our Father bead, say the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (I’m not sure if some people maybe don’t do this last one?), then move to the next Our Father bead, announce the second mystery and say the Our Father, then pray the next decade of Hail Marys. And it goes the same way through all five mysteries and five decades until you get to the last Fatima Prayer. After the last Fatima Prayer, on the joiner, pray the Hail Holy Queen. Then to conclude there is another prayer, but I’m not sure what it’s called. Most sites I looked at included it at the end of the rosary, but I haven’t seen a name for it. It goes like this:

Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.

So that’s the sequence of praying the rosary. But you may be wondering what in the world are these mysteries I keep referring to, and why so many prayers repeated over and over?

The answer is meditation.

The rosary isn’t so much about the prayers, as it is about meditation. The prayers are repeated over and over because most Catholics can say Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Glory Bes without needing to think about them, freeing their minds to meditate on the mysteries. The rhythmic nature of the prayers actually facilitates the meditation. And what we meditate on are the 20 mysteries of faith.

For centuries, there were 15 mysteries included in the rosary, grouped into three sets of five.

The Joyful Mysteries (prayed on Mondays and Saturdays):

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity of Jesus
  • The presentation of Jesus
  • The finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Glorious Mysteries (prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays)

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption of Mary
  • The crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Sorrowful Mysteries (prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays)

  • The agony in the garden
  • The scourging at the pillar
  • The crowning with thorns
  • Jesus carries the cross
  • Jesus is crucified

In October 2002 Saint John Paul II (is he referred to as Saint John Paul the Great now?) added the Luminous Mysteries (prayed on Thursdays):

  • The baptism of Jesus
  • The wedding at Cana
  • The proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The transfiguration
  • The institution of the Eucharist

When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the days’ mysteries, each for the duration of a decade.


^ Someone else around here really likes my rosaries and chaplets.

To sum it all up, when I pray the rosary today, it will go like this:

  1. I will make the Sign of the Cross
  2. I’ll say a short prayer stating my intentions for the rosary (i.e. I offer the rosary for the intention of my children, my husband, my godson, a sick friend, etc.)
  3. The Apostles’ Creed
  4. The Our Father
  5. Three Hail Marys
  6. The Glory Be
  7. Since today is Tuesday, I will then say, “The first Sorrowful Mystery – The agony in the garden.”
  8. Then I will pray the Our Father
  9. Ten Hail Marys
  10. The Glory Be
  11. The Fatima Prayer
  12. I will do 8-11 all while focusing my thoughts on Jesus’s agony in the garden. This is the meditation part. I’ll try to think about how He felt, remember what He went through, imagine myself in that situation, etc. I’ll try really hard to stay focused, but sometimes (often!) my mind will wander. I will repeatedly bring my thoughts back to Jesus in the Garden.
  13. I’ll repeat these steps for each of the other four Sorrowful Mysteries.
  14. I’ll pray the Hail Holy Queen
  15. Closing prayer (above)
  16. Sign of the Cross

If you pray the rosary frequently, you are repeatedly meditating on all of Salvation history, all of the mysteries of our faith. It covers Jesus’s conception and birth, high points of His childhood and His adulthood as He spread the gospel and performed miracles, His Passion, death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven, and His sending down of the Holy Spirit.

I really love praying the rosary. It is so beautiful and such a fulfilling way to pray. I highly recommend it.

DSC_0132^ Only two of those are rosaries, the others are chaplets (Seven Sorrows, Stations of the Cross, and Hannah’s Tears)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Awesomeness. Plus Puppies, Leaves, and Grandparents

It’s Friday!


I chaperoned a field trip for Miss’s kindergarten class on Monday. We went to a Farm where they got to pick an apple and go on a hay ride and pick a pumpkin. I had three little girls in the group I was charged with. One of them is a girl I’ve heard Miss mention several times as her special school friend. I overheard that little girl say to Miss near the end of the trip, “Your mom is awesome.” And Miss just said, “Yeah.”



In a few weeks we’re going to have a couple of additions to our family.


Two of these little cuties will be coming home with us in early November. We have been looking for a Border Terrier puppy for months. They are very hard to find and most breeders have waiting lists. I happened to find the owner of these dogs on the AKC website. She bred her two dogs, and then decided she doesn’t really want to do the breeding thing, so this is her first and only litter of Border Terrier pups. Since she’s not a known breeder and doesn’t have a website or anything, she has no waiting list! We decided to get two puppies, one male and one female. We get our pick of the puppies in the picture. The hard part will be choosing the puppies from photo and video, since she lives seven hours away and we won’t be able to see them in person before picking them up.


My parents are coming to visit today. Yahoo!

Lass is very excited, because that means she gets to share her room with Miss.

I’m very excited, because that means I get to have an overnight date with my husband this weekend.

And everyone is excited, because Damma and Tuppa rock, of course.


Speaking of Lass and my parents, over the weekend we had beautiful weather, and my husband blew/raked all our leaves up into a magnificent jumping pile for the girls.

DSC_0045 DSC_0023 DSC_0132

At one point, the pile had gotten quite flattened and dispersed from all the throwing of and jumping into leaves.

DSC_0146 DSC_0149 DSC_0014 DSC_0015

I was raking it back together when Lass exclaimed, “Mama! You learned to rake the leaves for us!” (apparently, my husband usually does this?). I responded drily, “Yes Honey. Grandpa taught me to rake leaves a long time ago when I was a little girl.”

She said, “Oh, I just love my Grandpa. It’s so good that he taught you to do that Mama.” I’m not sure that my childhood and adolescent self would have agreed with that, but I’m sure glad she thinks so now.


While the girls were jumping in the leaves, I decided it was a good opportunity to experiment with shooting in manual mode. I got a few shots I really like.

DSC_0134 DSC_0151

And several that didn’t turn out so well.

DSC_0098 DSC_0152

I really, really want to learn to shoot in manual all the time, and though I have a general understanding of most of the basics (shutter speed, aperture; I’m still working on remembering ISO), at this point it’s all pretty much just trial and error. I just need to do it more, I think.


I was finally able to get my girls back into gymnastics starting this week. Trying to schedule it so they could all go was just not working out before, but they were missing it and asking to go back.


^^ Somersaults in the leaves.

I managed to get Sis into the tot class in the morning, and Miss and Lass are in a private lesson right after hers. It really isn’t much more expensive than regular classes for them, and it’s probably a wash when you consider that now we won’t be paying for the weeks they miss when we travel. They get so much more from it with the more focused attention of their teacher (last time I had them in a class there were nine children in Miss’s class!), and I get to not hate every minute of taking them to a class in the evenings (I’m not a fan of evening activities if I can avoid them). Win/win.


That’s all I’ve got. I’m off to put ham and bean soup in the crockpot, so it will be all ready and yummy when my parents arrive. Since we have company coming, we may be having a “Home Ec.” day in our homeschool today.

Have a great weekend! For more quick takes, visit Conversion Diary.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday | Leave a comment

My First Michaelmas

I first heard about Michaelmas through Haley’s blog, and have seen and read more and more about it over the past several months. It is a feast day with such rich tradition and interesting history, I knew I wanted to celebrate it in a fun way with the girls this year.

2014-09-29 19.50.57

I decided to go all in and invite the Super Friend Family over to make it even more fabulous.

I got pretty much all of my information and ideas from Haley’s post here and Kendra’s post here, and the St. Michael prayer card above is a printable from this post.

Traditionally on Michaelmas, folks have served goose and carrots and blackberries. I couldn’t find a goose (not for lack of trying)


so I made cornish game hens instead, with this recipe. I had never made this particular recipe before, and it’s been a few years since the last time I cooked a cornish hen, but this was easy and quite yummy (and made enough to feed four adults and seven children). I also made whisky glazed carrots from this recipe, which were amazing, and blackberry cobbler from this recipe. I literally decided to throw together the cobbler Sunday night at 9:00, and I’m glad I did. It was very easy and so good.


I love the story of why people eat blackberries on Michaelmas. The legend goes that, when St. Michael cast satan from heaven, he fell into a blackberry bush (satan, not St. Michael). He was angry, and he cursed and spat on the blackberries. So, tradition says to eat all the available blackberries on Michaelmas, because after that day they will taste bitter from satan cursing and spitting on them.

The food was good. The company was excellent. Before dinner the kids colored archangel pictures I copied from various coloring books I have. I happened to have a coloring page for each of the archangels, which I was quite excited about because St. Raphael tends to be the archangel that no one mentions much, and I wanted to be sure to have something to celebrate him, because he is the patron of our home parish.

The big fun, however, happened after dinner. I stole Kendra’s idea and got a piñata of the devil for the kids to beat up on. I found one to order on Etsy in this shop. I don’t see the original listing in the shop anyone, but it was for a DareDevil character piñata, which looked like it had a mask on and a slightly smiling face. I asked the artist to make it a bit more devil-like. She did a great job.

2014-09-29 18.42.28

I put some candy in the body of this guy and the kids went to town on it.

2014-09-29 18.44.51 2014-09-29 18.45.58

I thought for sure that the bigger kids would smash it open in no time.

2014-09-29 18.41.31 2014-09-29 18.44.19

But this piñata was actually made a bit too strong. They went around and around, taking turns banging on it, and it just wouldn’t open. Finally I suggested putting it on the ground to give them better aim and leverage on the thing.

2014-09-29 18.58.56

Even that didn’t really work. They made some holes in it, but not enough for the candy to spill out all over the floor. I think perhaps grown men with baseball bats could have smashed it open, but not children six and under with a segment of Swiffer Sweeper handle. The good news about that is that it is still intact enough that I will be able to salvage it and reuse it for next year.

I the end the dads ripped it open a bit where the kids had made the holes and dumped the candy on the floor. The kids didn’t seem to care. They got candy. They got to take many turns whacking the devil. They got to stay up past bedtime on a school night (seriously, it took forever to get that piñata open!). I think a good time was had by all.

At one point in the evening, I believe between dinner and dessert, I heard Lass in the next room, leading all the kids in a rousing cheer for St. Michael. “Three cheers for St. Michael!” she yelled. And all of them chimed in, “Hip-hip Hooray! Hip-hip Hooray! Hip-hip Hooray!”

I think we have a new yearly tradition.

Happy Michaelmas!

Posted in Friends, Liturgical living, Religion | 7 Comments

What I Learned From a Drawing of Poop

Sometimes I get kind of caught up in the stuff of a day. The endless repetitive tasks that moms do. The routine. You know.

Make breakfast. Clean up breakfast. Get everyone dressed. Make beds. Do school for a while. Serve snack. Clean up snack. Do more school. Clean something. Make lunch. Clean up lunch. Get little girls down for naps. Do more school with big girl. . . And so forth. Every. Day.

I can get caught in the routine and overly focused on getting the job done. Or overly focused on making sure that my girls use their manners or learn XYZ lesson. I want to raise my kids to be thoughtful, generous, kind, grateful, faithful, well-spoken women. There’s a bit of pressure there, so sometimes I just put my head down and plod forward, toward achieving the goal.

But when I do it that way, it’s not always very fun.

“Please chew with your mouth closed.”

“We don’t use potty talk!”

“Please use your strong words if there is something you need.”

Over and over and over.


Right before snapping the above photo, at the end of our field trip last Friday, I sounded like this while trying to wipe mud off the pumpkins so the girls could hold them to pose for a picture:

“Come here please. Stop dropping the pumpkins. Don’t climb in the wheelbarrow. Don’t touch that stem, I told you it has prickles on it. Get over here please. Okay, hold the pumpkins and look at me. Nevermind, that one’s too heavy. Just sit and face me. Turn this way. No. This way. Please. Just sit by your pumpkin and let me take your picture to show how. much. FUN. we’ve. had!!!”

We really did have a good time. Pony-riding, cow-milking, pig-petting. . .

Mulberry lane collage

Some of my favorite moments:

DSC_0079 DSC_0051 DSC_0124

And then there was the goose-chasing. Oh my goodness. The hilarity.

DSC_0099 DSC_0111 DSC_0093 DSC_0097

Miss wanted to try to sneak, but her sisters don’t have an ounce of stealth between them.



DSC_0109 DSC_0112

They screamed. They ran (the poor geese). We all laughed and laughed and laughed.

You know, when I remember to do it, that’s one of my favorite parts about being a mom. The laughing. My kids are really funny sometimes.

Last night was a good example of one of those moments when you just have to let the lesson pass you by, skip the moral of the story, and just laugh your head off with your kids.

Picture it. Last night. Bed time. We were all piled on Miss’s bed for prayers and stories. My husband picked up a “book” Miss had written and we caught a glimpse of the back cover of it, on which she had written, “Poop.”

Miss grabbed the book and slammed it down on the bed. She did not want us to see what it said. Neither my husband nor I were angry or scolding, but he asked her why she had written that randomly on the back of her book (which was not about poop). She stammered uncertainly for a second. Then my husband picked up the book again, and we got a good look at the back, writing, drawing, and all. I’m not one for bathroom humor, but I just lost it.


Any thought of having a little teaching moment about using potty words gratuitously or whatever went right out the window.

All five of us sat on Miss’s bed and howled with laughter at her word and her drawing. The silliness. The absurdity. The drawing!

Teaching moment missed. Hilarious family bonding moment embraced. I say that’s a win.

And I was the one who learned a lesson.

Posted in Mommy Moments, Motherhood, Outings | Leave a comment

Homeschooling is Going Quite Well, Thanks for Asking

Many people have asked me about how our first few weeks of homeschooling have been going. The answer is they have been going mostly very well. We’ve already taken several field trips, and Five in a Row has been the perfect curriculum for us to start with. We’ve covered “The Storm in the Night,” “The Story About Ping,” “Lentil,” and “Madeline” so far.

When we were reading “The Story About Ping” (which is about a duck in China) we took a field trip to a Chinese restaurant to try a new type of food and also to experiment with eating with chopsticks (yes, going out to lunch can be called a field trip when you homeschool).

Chopsticks collage

The next day we learned about how ducks keep their wings dry, doing an experiment with oil and water.

DSC_0003 DSC_0004

And then we took another field trip.

IMG_3631 IMG_3639 IMG_3654This time we shared our lunch with a mama duck and her babies. Field trips are my favorite.

When we read “Lentil” we learned about different tastes (in the story there is a character who makes everyone pucker by sucking loudly on a lemon).

DSC_0011Sweet brown sugar, bitter cocoa powder, salty uh, salt, and sour lemons.


Of course, then we made lemonade,


which also counted toward gym time, they were working so hard.


This week with Madeline we didn’t do much photo-worthy stuff. Other than ice-painting French flags.

DSC_0002 DSC_0004

We’re taking another field trip tomorrow to a local farm. It has nothing to do with our book this week, but it’s a place with pony-riding and cow-milking and chicken-chasing, and I want to go before the regular school kids start taking their field trips. And as much as I sometimes want it to, not every thing we do is always going to fit with our book or our theme of the week. I’m cool with that. And field trips are my favorite.

The girls are also (mostly) enjoying our reading curriculum, All About Reading. It’s a good fit for us, because we’re pretty much all about reading around here these days.

DSC_0042 DSC_0044

The jury is still out on our math curriculum, Math U See. It’s fine, but I don’t love it, and neither does Miss. I’ve been eyeing some Life of Fred books, but I’m not quite willing to bail on our current plan. Yet.

I have bailed out on some other things that I bought out of early excitement and over-eagerness to get all the things and start teaching my kids with Catholic Stuff! I bought a bunch of workbooks from Seton Home Study School, and they just aren’t a good fit for us. Other than the handwriting book, I’m not using any of them right now.

Art, science, and social studies are mostly rolled into our FIAR work. I’m winging it on religion, knowing that Miss is getting some back up teaching in her regular school time. Right now we’re memorizing the Ten Commandments (I don’t know them by heart myself), and we celebrate various feast days, read about saints, and talk about the Mass. There is also a Bible component of FIAR that we do, which includes verses and stories that are relevant to our book for the week. I think were doing pretty good there.

I try to have Miss do a little bit of computer time here and there using PBS Kids Play or ABC Mouse. She gets music class at her regular school and she takes piano lessons. Gym is not systematic at all at this point. It’s running around the couch and playing outside and going to soccer once a week. And foreign language has not made it into the line up at all yet. I have a Spanish program for them, but I haven’t used it.

We still have some tweaking to do, but I’m very happy with how our homeschool is coming together so far.

Next week we’re reading “A Pair of Red Clogs.” It’s set in Japan. I see a field trip to the hibachi restaurant in our very near future.

Posted in Adventure, Homeschool, Outings | Leave a comment

Okay, But How Do You KNOW God is Real?

Nearly two years ago, I began a journey toward faith. After almost a decade of not believing in God, I decided that I needed to explore my faith, or lack thereof. I started to think that maybe there really was a God, and so I had better take a deeper look and figure out what I believed and didn’t. I said to my husband, “Okay, so maybe there’s a God, but I don’t believe in all that Jesus stuff. That’s all just ridiculous.” He said something like, “You never know. . .”

Well. Now I am a confirmed and practicing Catholic. I pray daily, usually multiple times per day. I try to read the Bible. I do a daily devotional most days. I go to weekly Mass. I pray the rosary (not as often as I should!). I believe fully and absolutely in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

I’m not mentioning any of those things to suggest that I’m anything special or deserving of praise, but just to illustrate the transformation I’ve undergone in the past two years. I’m still amazed by the whole thing.

I’ve come a long way, and what I have discovered in all of my struggles and joys is simply this: God is here. God is here in every moment. How do I know? I could list the rational points that I believe confirm the presence of God. But lots of people have written plenty about those, better than I could do anyway (like say, C.S. Lewis, for example?).

So instead, I’m going to share a few of my own experiences to illustrate how I know that there is a God, beyond all the reading I did about the subject. How I know that Jesus is the Son of God, and wasn’t just a man who lived 2000 years ago and then got killed for saying He was the Son of God (that’s what I used to think).

So. Three examples from my life:

1. Adoration. I wrote once about a wonderful experience I had in the Adoration Chapel, which to my mind was, in itself, evidence of God’s grace. But I’ve never written about what it’s like just to go into the chapel. What it’s really like. I’ve mentioned that it’s beautiful and peaceful. But that isn’t even the half of it.

When I go into adoration and kneel before Jesus in the monstrance, I get this unusual, sort of surreal feeling. It’s kind of like a tightness in my chest and a lightness, at the same time. It becomes hard to breathe normally, but in not in a bad way (I know saying “hard to breathe. . . but not in a bad way” doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what it’s like!). I feel at peace (not just peaceful, but at peace) and experience a clarity of thought.

I can spend weeks stressing out about something, wondering what I should do, and then if I take that worry to Jesus in adoration, I immediately feel a sense of calm and understanding about the solution or answer to my question. It’s very hard to describe, and I’ve never felt this in any other type of situation (but see below for a similar one). In that place, with Jesus, I experience a real physical and emotional sense of His presence. I just know He is there.

2. When I went for my first pregnancy ultrasound in July, the doctor basically just said, “There is no baby. This is not a viable pregnancy. I’m sorry.” And he walked out of the room.

I had to call my husband and tell him this news, and then drive myself two hours home. I was sobbing, and trying to pray, but all I could put together was, “Help me. Help me. Jesus, please help me” or something like that.

After a while I managed to pull myself together enough that I thought I could drive home. On the way, I ran into a detour in the route I would usually have taken, which forced me to drive right past a big church. I remember coming closer to it, seeing that it looked kind of Catholic from outside, but then seeing that the sign out front said “________ Baptist.” I was pretty bummed until I got a little closer and made out what the first part of the sign said: “St. John the.” It might as well have been a billboard. I quickly pulled into the lot and went right inside.

The red candle was burning up front (indicating there were consecrated hosts, or Jesus, in the tabernacle). I knelt down and continued my barely coherent prayer from before. “Help me. What do I do now? I don’t know what to do. I can’t do this. Jesus, help me.” I repeated these same few things over and over as I wept. And then I got an answer. He told me, “Don’t give up.” I didn’t hear it with my ears, but with my heart, and I felt truly comforted. I was still devastated. I was still weeping. But I knew I was not alone. Right then and there, I felt His presence. He was going to help me carry my burden.

3. This last example is more about Mary, but it makes sense to share it. Because of course if there was no God, and Jesus wasn’t divine, then Mary was just a lady, and not Our Lady.

Not too far from my town there is a Marian shrine. It is the first (and only) approved Marian apparition site in the U.S. I went there in July. I only had my babysitter for a few hours, and I had two hours of just driving time, so I couldn’t stay there long. But I had been wanting to go for quite some time, and in the midst of my failed pregnancy and multiple ultrasounds, I went.


The shrine was just wonderful. I wanted to spend more time there. It was surreal to sit in the dark basement room, which stands at the actual site of the apparitions, and see the statue of Our Lady of Good Help.

The part that stays with me though, is the moment that I first stepped from my car. I was parked quite a distance from any of the buildings or statues of the site. There was nothing around me except asphalt and cars, and yet the first thing I noticed when I got out of my car was the strong scent of roses. It was powerful, and I immediately began looking around for the flowers. There weren’t any.


As I walked closer, this ^^ is the first area I came to where I saw any flowers, but none of them were roses. In fact, I didn’t see a single rose anywhere on the grounds, and yet the distinct fragrance of roses was the first thing to greet me upon my arrival. It let me know immediately – this is a holy place. I was in the presence of Mary.

God is real. Jesus really died for us. In addition to the three experiences I mentioned here, I notice it every day now. I experience God in my children, in my marriage, in the beauty of the world He created. I feel it. It’s not something that can be measured or tested. But it’s absolutely real.

So. That’s how I know.

Posted in Religion | 2 Comments