Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Perfect Catholic Children's Books for Shoes, Stockings, and Under the Tree

I love children's books on a good day. But I may have a full blown obsession with children's Advent and Christmas books! I love them!

I love that I store them away all year and that my collection keeps growing. I dream of the day when I'm a grey old grandma who has a whole bookcase devoted to Christmas children's books. They're amazing.

I know a lot of us are shopping for our own little ones, or nieces and nephews, and godchildren this Christmas and that good quality Catholic books are always a good option if you can find them, so I wanted to share these books with you because they're great options for a variety of kids in your life.

Thanks to Ignatius Press for sending them my way for review, I squealed with glee when I opened the package.

The Christmas Star by Maite Roche

I'm Maite Roche's biggest fangirl. I'm not sure if this is officially a new title this year, or if I've just never bought this particular board book, but I have all the other books in this series so I was happy to keep my streak going with this title. Along with Roche's stunning artwork, the story of the three wise men is told simply through this book that's perfect for toddlers. But every other kid will stop to read it because of how beautiful it is. A great gift idea for all those godchildren on your list.

My Little Catechism

I wasn't sure how approachable and how deep a child's catechism could be presented but I think this one hits the mark quite nicely. The illustrations themselves are well done and fit the topic that is being discussed, and the book goes through the aspects of the Creed just like the format of a regular Catechism which I really appreciate. Definitely not dumbed down which is fabulous, but simplified and straightforward for young readers. This is a perfect book to have lying around the house for your elementary age kids, or those preparing for their First Communions as it gives short answers to great questions of faith in an age appropriate way which is a hard thing to find in Catechetical resources it seems.

A Missal for Toddlers

A completely darling bubble board book for the toddlers in your life! It even has illustrations of kid's fighting in Mass - it doesn't get more realistic or accurate than that. The writing and prayers are sweet and the artwork bold and colourful. It grabbed my 4 and 3 year olds attentions right away and they seem to love it so far. A perfect godchild gift and also a perfect book to take to Mass for your little...fighters?

A Gospel Advent Calendar by Maite Roche

Maite Roche Advent Calendar?! Yes, yes, yes.
A beautiful, large, sturdy foldout calendar with sweet little windows to open everyday till Christmas, as well as extra boxes to open for the feast days after. It also comes with a great booklet that has a story from Scripture, and a little prayer for each day to read to your children that goes along with each window they open. I think it's a beautiful and simple way to journey through Advent with your kids.

Hope these help you check off your lists for St. Nicholas Day and Christmas!

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Little Traditions, Big Rewards: Living Liturgically to Grow Faith

I can hardly believe yesterday was the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar.

Maybe it's my kids getting older and wiser, or maybe it's me getting older and....tired-er?...but each passing year seems to fly by faster. And it's equally true for observing the liturgical calendar. I could swear we just made it through Lent, celebrated a joyous Easter, lived it up with the great feast of Pentecost, and now we're here just having celebrated the Feast of Christ the King.

Just the other day I completely missed the boat on Martinmas. Completely. Like, it was November 14 and the thought of St. Martin of Tours and lanterns just began to dawn in my mind. (The feast of St. Martin of Tours is November 11...3 days before I even contemplated it.) It is hard to keep up with all the major feast days.

I would love a personal liturgical assistant (I would also love for this mythical personal liturgical assistant to be Kendra) who would prep, shop, craft, cook, and decorate for me prior to the actual feast day. I would love to wake up and have a kid's craft completely prepared for the kid's to work on without me having to even click into Pinterest. Or a gourmet ethnic meal simmering on the stove while I leisurely sip tea and eat bonbons.

But I'm living in a world where my mornings are devoted to school with my kids, the afternoons fly by with everything else that needs to get done, and by dinner time I am booking it to get some food on the dinner table. I have very, very little margin in my regular old, real, everyday life to be planning anything or decorating anything. I just still feel very maxed out. I'm out of survival mode, and living fully in maxed out mode.

But that doesn't mean that making memories with my family and instilling a love of the Church through observing the liturgical year is not a really important goal and value in my life. I am so glad that the little things I have done have cemented their way into my kid's little brains.

And let me tell you if you're currently in survival mode and/or just enjoying your baby or toddler, start now with the little traditions you want your family to love! Set up those Advent candles, celebrate your family's baptismal days with store bought cupcakes, let your little boys dress up as knights on the feast of St. George, whatever it is you like doing that is tied to the liturgical year, do it and start small.

You will be shocked at how quickly kids notice things that happen every year and start asking for them themselves. And the best thing is that little kids are so easily impressed! Take advantage of this and aim low. My kids love the special St. Patrick's books we own and love being able to find them in March. They love special nights when we just light candles while we say evening prayers for their baptism day or name day. Roasting marshmallows on the feast of Pentecost or the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is low work on your part and high excitement reward for littles!

I have been blown away with how traditions grab little hearts. We think that we should constantly be trying new things, entertaining our kids with the new and exciting, but what little hearts crave is tradition. They long for stability, to know they can expect and trust in things in their lives. The little things we do to celebrate tradition, which is really what the liturgical calendar is all about, are what build the trust in the love of God that we are really trying to give to our children. 

So we might not be able to do it all. We might not be able to celebrate all the feast days we want to, the way we want to. But I am telling you that the little things add up to big things in the eyes and hearts of our kids. So start small and start today.

And hey, maybe one day I'll be able to make lanterns for St. Martin and an Indian meal for St. Teresa of Calcutta -- I can dream!

The best news I've got for you today is Jenna's new book. If you're looking for simple and straightforward ideas for the liturgical calendar The Lazy Liturgical has got you completely covered. Jenna goes through the entire year, emphasizing the important feasts of the Church and different saint days and gives simple ideas that don't involve complicated crafts or tons of sugar. It's a great way to not stress about the liturgical year yourself, but to start traditions with your kids now. Head over to her Etsy shop to pick up your copy today!

Today Jenna is generously giving one Fountains of Home reader a hard copy of her book, just enter away, you've got till Advent! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol 153

Hi Kelly! Head on over to say hi too!


Sooooo...November?? It really got sucked down the election toilet didn't it? I barely know what day it is between trying to figure out how I should be feeling about everything. Because everyone is telling me I should be feeling something terrible. I feel like I've had all these grieving feelings a long time ago, and have never regained positive hope for any political future. I'm basically over democracy, it's the conclusion I've come to just so that I don't harbour ill will for my fellow countrymen. (I'm Canadian, our crappy election was last year, I'm still working through it)


We've been busier than normal because we added swimming lessons for this month to the mix. It's twice a week but since it's an hour away it sucks up basically the entire afternoon and makes the morning really busy trying to get school done in time to leave. But the kids love it and are having a fun time, and it's doable because it's only a month long. I love shorter time period activities. But I keep thinking I have time when I don't which means I haven't blogged in forever and am struggling with some writing deadlines this week. I just need more time in the day - said everyone ever.


We've had such a wonderfully mild November that it's made up for the awful, snow-filled, dark and depressing October we had. We've been able to spend lots of time outside which makes me feel better, and the kids have had more space which has been wonderful. But now that things are getting colder it's a bit brown and bleak outside so it will be ok to have snow on the ground again. I think the kid's are ready for snow activities. And they want colder weather so they can skate on our pond, and go ice fishing again. And since I've been able to clean up my yard, planters, and summer furniture we'll maybe be ready for snow instead of when it snowed the first week of October!


I cruised through The Crown on Netflix and pretty much loved every minute of it! The acting was impeccable, the writing was great, the pacing of every episode felt pretty good, much faster paced than the last few seasons of Downton I thought and much more satisfying. I know that there were a few historical inaccuracies, and what I found the most unbelievable was idea that the Royal family et. al, would have no clue about the Royal Marriage Act. It's not as if it would ever effect them, why would they need to know?? I hardly believe that it was news to the Queen or Princess Margaret in the way it is portrayed on the show, but again, I will make allowances based on how great the melodrama was.

I'm trying to finish rematching Gilmore Girls for the....I won't admit how many times I've watched it...but I've got two full seasons to go before Thursday. My plan is to skip each and every episode with Luke's annoying daughter. Possibly some of the extra flakey Lorelei episodes, and definitely the first half of season six when Rory is a big old baby. Basically there's not a lot of good spots going for the last two seasons, hence the dire need for some goodness with this new mini-series! I'm excited!

I haven't finished Poldark yet's been such a boring season! And I've heard that bad things are a coming, and I'm so spent from raging at things in real life that I have barely left for television, but hopefully soon, I Insta-Story Poldark so if you want my opinions check your instagram!


I got crafty and painted another peg doll. This time for a nativity peg doll swap. I painted the little shepherd boy and I'm pretty sure I was the least talented person in the swap, which works out nicely for me, because all the other dolls were just gorgeous. People are so talented! I didn't mind painting mine, I find them pretty fun for the most part, especially when it's a good excuse to just keep watching The Crown, but I definitely don't have a great attention to detail which is need to be An Artist.


Completely unrelated cute photo of kids in costumes!

I am needing to get on the Christmas shopping bandwagon. I think I'm going to try and get the majority done next week, or as much as I can online next week. I really like having Christmas shopping mostly done before Advent. It really forces me to be more organized and intentional about what's happening so I don't just buy, buy, buy for the entire month of December. Of course I have no good shopping lists for you, but if you have some send them my way! 


I don't have any exciting plans for this weekend other than writing another letter to my MLA! I am so tired of writing, and calling, and dealing with the crappy government in my province. It feels like a hobby. And there are two more years to go! But it's my responsibility as a citizen in a sorta democratic country, even if this government won't really listen to what I say. I'm just going to offer it up, maybe even pray for them, and keep living my life, because at the end of the day that's what we've gotta do. There's been much worse times politically, and people still lived their lives as best they could, we can too. 

And bonus take! New podcast episode this week where we talk about all these Flannery O'Connor, come on over and have a listen! 

Happy Weekend everyone! 

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Seven Quick Takes vol. 152

Hi Kelly and the cool kids!


Friday! So thrilled to have made it through this busy week! With Halloween, birthdays, swimming lessons, school, and all the other extras, this week was pretty packed! And after almost a solid month of cloudy, grey, and cold weather the sun finally came out yesterday and I swear my mood improved approximately 150%. I was just so cranky and miserable Wednesday when it was foggy and damp, then yesterday the sun was shining and it felt great to be outside and the whole day was so much better. I'm officially diagnosing myself with seasonal affective disorder.


You know I'm kinda over Halloween, right? I don't share these feelings with my kids though, so they found Halloween to be the greatest and I still love seeing them enjoy these things so much. They just look forward to everything with such enthusiasm! It does make all the work and organization worth it, probably doesn't completely erase my need to whine about it, but it does make the work worth it. 


Halloween is, of course, Luke's birthday so that adds to the festivities around here. We try to make sure his birthday is celebrated with the complete equality of everyone else's birthday around here, just with lots of costumes and candy added on top! He requested his birthday pavlova once again, and was just the sweetest all day long. He's pretty much the sweetest the whole year long. We're so lucky to have him in our family and we love him so much - and I can't believe he's 7 since he was born yesterday.


See the tile?? If I was a good blogger I'd have before and after photos.

We've had some minor renovations done to our house, our doors were replaced, the bay window in my kitchen was also replaced and the window sill was tiled in these beautiful tiles that I love. I'm just so happy and grateful for these small changes, I'm almost surprised. Since we're currently renting we can't completely change this house to be the way we want it, nor would we want to invest in this particular house too much, but just having new tile in one little spot in my kitchen suddenly makes me love my kitchen a bit more! I can't imagine having a completely new kitchen! I could cry over this windowsill. Let alone an entire new kitchen. 
Sometimes when watching Fixer Upper what I'm shocked by most is when the couple walks through their entirely new dream home completely nonplussed. HOW CAN YOU NOT BE CRYING?!? You just got a beautiful new home, had to make none of the agonizing decisions or deal with the stress of overseeing a renovation and had it all done by famous people on tv, AND YOU'RE NOT CRYING?! Do you have hearts of stone?!?! 


I just finished The Good Wife last night in time for The Queen to come out today! I enjoyed watching The Good Wife even though I didn't really love any of the main characters. Actually, I did kind of love Eli, Cary, and Diane. But does anyone love Alicia? Did we expect anything but misery throughout the entire show? It ended in such a nihilistic way for women. It didn't even end in a way where Alicia somehow fulfilled her feminist dream. I think I'm mostly unhappy because it was such a badly written finale. Even if it ended in a way I philosophically disagreed with, if it was well written and more true to the characters of the show I would be more accepting. 

Wow. Way too many thoughts on this tv show...


We had a great new podcast come out this week all about the saints and creative work with Kristyn Brown, a photographer who has a new project of creating photographs of the saints. The project is so interesting and it's so cool to hear about the story behind it. I hope you get a chance to listen!


And I forgot to report that we got away for a few days kidless last week! It was sooo nice and relaxing to just get away from the real world and endless child-needs. The mountains are always beautiful and refreshing, and I think I could probably do with a getaway like that once a month - a girl can dream! The only thing I wish is that the effects of having such a lovely break lasted longer, already this week I found myself thinking, "That break was so awesome, we should do that again sometime, oh wait - that was a week ago!!!" 

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