Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our 2014 Advent Book Basket and Printable Labels

I finally gave up looking for purple wrapping paper and wrapped all the books for our Advent Book Basket in brown paper since I had plenty... It's the first year I haven't been able to find the purple paper locally and I couldn't bring myself to order it online... I ended up making little tags for each and am loving how they are turning out! Almost done, just in time for Advent.

If you'd like to use them too, you can download my Advent Book Basket Labels for 2014 here.

This year the books in our basket are a mix of some of the children's 35 Favorite Christmas Picture Books with a few new ones mixed in to surprise them… We'll unwrap and read one book each night following our family rosary. The rest of our Advent & Christmas book collection is in additional baskets for the children to read whenever they'd like.  The children will also each receive a new Christmas picture book on the feast of St. Nicholas. You can find this year's picks here

Here are the 25 picture books that ended up in our 2014 Advent Book Basket:

November 30 - 1st Sunday of Advent: Waiting for Christmas: A Story About the Advent Calendar*
December 1: The Christmas Cobwebs*
December 5: The Miracle of Saint Nicholas (study guide in Catholic Mosaic)
December 6 - St. Nicholas: St. Nicholas: The Legend of St. Nicholas (NEW) GREAT new book for the feast! 
December 7 - 2nd Sunday of Advent: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (NEW) details here
December 8 - Immaculate Conception: Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
December 9 - St. Juan Diego: The First Christmas Stocking*
December 10 - Our Lady of Loreto: A Small Miracle
December 11 - Our Lady Queen of the Angels: The Donkey's Dream
December 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe: Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13 - Santa Lucia Day: Nutcracker  (NEW) Purchased on clearance last January. I also hope to take the girls to see the performance on either the 13th or 14th. 
December 14 - 3rd Sunday of Advent/Gaudete Sunday: Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing
December 15 - Rose's Birthday: The Legend of the Christmas Rose 
December 16: Katie's London Christmas (NEW) Love all the Katie Books and look forward to reading this one too. They have been a great addition to our art course. 
December 17 - O Sapientia: Christmas at Stony Creek
December 18 - O Adonai: The Doll's Christmas
December 19 - O Radix Jesse - Bud's Birthday: Christmas in the Barn
December 20 - O Clavis David:  A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book (NEW) This will wrap up our December Christmas Carol Literature Unit Study and we'll be going to see the performance at a local theater. 
December 21 - O Oriens: One Christmas Dawn*
December 22 - O Rex Gentium: Christmas in the Trenches
December 23 - O Emmanual: Bethlehem 
December 24 - Vigil of Christmas: The Night Before Christmas (NEW) So excited to see this book back in print this year. It's the version I remember from my own childhood.

* = Study Guide Available in Christmas Mosaic

I also purchased A Tree for Peter (and pre-ordered The Chestry Oak for Snuggles' Easter Basket). I've had these book on my wish list for years and had been unable to find a reasonably priced secondhand copy. I'm so excited to see that it was re-released last week! It will end up in one of the children's Stacks of Books on Christmas Morning

I hope you all have a blessed First Sunday of Advent! 

Instagram Recap

It's time for another Instagram Recap in Seven Quick Takes. It was a very full week complete with special feast days, anniversaries, and Thanksgiving… My husband and five oldest are off watching the "Civil War" Football Game with friends and I'm home with the two little ones wrapping up some last minute Advent Preparations. Happy {Liturgical} New Year's Eve!

— 1 :: Thanksgiving —

November 26: We're enjoying a yummy turkey dinner (yay for leftovers!!) and movie night at home with just our children and looking forward to seeing many of my siblings at my parents tomorrow afternoon! I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

November 27: Happy Thanksgiving! ‪#‎cinnamonrollturkeysforbreakfast‬  #‎madewithturkeybaconofcourse‬ ‪#‎thekidsgobbledthemup‬ #inspiredbypillsbury

November 26: Almost ready!

November 29: Our five oldest had so much fun ice skating yesterday afternoon with their dad and some of their aunts and uncles! I'm so glad Sean sent me a picture!

— 2 :: Ora Pro Nobis Boxes —

One thing I've learned this month is that some of my kids have incredible self-control... I just peeked inside their "Ora Pro Nobis Candy Boxes" and was amazed that they (other than the two year old who is now down to five pieces) still have so much candy inside their boxes even though they have been saying their prayers for various souls each day! (The boxes originally contained one piece of candy for each day of the month. They could choose to take it out after praying for someone who has passed away or leave it there as an extra sacrifice for that person's soul.) My oldest son hasn't even taken one piece of candy out of his box. I'm impressed.

(As I type this post I hear the four year old helping the two year old say the St. Gertrude prayer, just because. LOVE.) 

— 3 :: St. Catherine of Alexandria —

November 25: Happy Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria!

Heart cake baked in this pan and The Story of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.  Right now you can purchase this book, and ALL other books published by TAN Books at 40% off or more with coupon code BLK2014.

— 4 :: Remembering —


November 24: My beautiful "Christmas Rose" - she was a special gift from God (due on Christmas Day 2009, after praying the Christmas Rose novena in December of 2008) shortly after I miscarried Gabriel. November 24th and 25th are special days for a couple of my little ones in heaven and we'll be visiting their graves at the cemetery either today or tomorrow. I know God has a plan but no matter how many years pass the tears always return on these two days... Could you please say a little prayer for our family?

November 25: One of my favorite moments yesterday was when this little guy asked if he could leave the stickers he was just given at Trader Joe's as a birthday gift for his little brother. After placing them on the headstone he stood up and said "God BLESS him!"

From the archives: Love's Delay  (I didn't realize until re-reading this post today that I miscarried Anthony this year on the anniversary of Gabriel's original due date. ♥) 

— 5 :: Orthanc Tower Isengard —

November 23: They started this 3-D puzzle of Orthanc last night and have been working on it all day, after getting home from Mass... They say that it's super hard but it looks like they are making some progress!

They completed it the next morning and I need to post a picture. It turned out great!

— 6 :: Christ the King —

November 23rd - Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Our family celebrated with a Persimmon Cake baked in a Crown Cake Pan

— 7 :: Cranberry Thanksgiving —

November 22: They asked if they could make Cranberry Bread again, since the last piece was eaten this morning. I told them to go ahead, even though I couldn't help at the moment and their big sister wasn't home yet... I was so impressed when I walked into the kitchen and snapped this picture. Then I realized that they had a tablespoon sitting next to the bowl instead of a teaspoon. Oops! I guess we'll be modifying the recipe and making a triple batch! #CranberryThanksgiving

Triple batch of "Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread" coming up... #CranberryThanksgiving
I need to pick up some more cranberries. I'm sure they will be asking to make Maggie's favorite cranberry cookies next! 

Bargain Priced Books :: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree & Little House 9-Book Box Set

One of the new additions to our Advent & Christmas book collection this year, after having it recommended many times in the past, is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.

I purchased a secondhand copy of the hardcover edition earlier this year, but right now you can purchase the paperback at 42% off!

Amazon is also currently offering an extra 30% Off Any Book (up to $10) with promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout.

My girls have been reading my old collection of Little House on the Prairie Books once again and they are literally falling apart. I used my code to save an additional $10 on a new Little House 9-Book Box Set (which is currently 44% off!) bringing the final cost down to just $2.84 per book!

Advent & Christmas Favorites from Catholic Child {plus Coupon Code & Infant Jesus Giveaway!}

Advent begins tomorrow and I've been pulling out all of our Advent decorations. As I set up our favorite Advent Calendar I was remembering back to those first few years of motherhood, with three babies age three and under. Back then I didn't have access to the internet and I relied on a few books and catalogs, including the beautiful Catholic Child catalog, to help me establish our family traditions for Advent and Christmas.

One of the very first things I purchased from Catholic Child was our Advent Calendar which is still a family favoriteCatholic Child no longer carries that particular Advent Calendar (you can find an almost identical one at Amazon) but today I'd like to share some other Advent and Christmas favorites available from Catholic Child. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post. I have one last giveaway for this year and it's one of my favorites!

.: Infant Jesus in Manger :. 

Our Baby Jesus was purchased from Catholic Child and has been a beautiful addition to our Advent traditions as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. Our children love creating a soft place for the Infant Jesus to arrive on Christmas morning by placing a piece of straw (or raffia) in the manger for each of their extra prayers, good works, and sacrifices.

I'm so happy to see the Infant Jesus in the Manger available once again! Our family has the 12" Infant Jesus but Catholic Child offers an 8" Infant Jesus as well. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the giveaway for a chance to win one for your family!

.: Books :. 

You all know that I love to give our children books as gifts! Catholic Child has a great selection to choose from including Bambinelli Sunday, St. Francis Celebrates Christmas, and the Saints and Me books.

.: Puzzles :. 

Our family enjoys spending time together during the Advent and Christmas season putting together jigsaw puzzles.  Catholic Child has a lovely selection to choose from including the beautiful and challenging Our Lady of Guadalupe puzzle. You can see our children working on the Our Lady of Guadalupe puzzle here.

.: Nativity Cookie Cutters:. 

Another favorite in our home is our set of Nativity Cookie Cutters. The last couple years our Cookie Cutters tell the Story of Christmas and I'm sure will be using them this upcoming Christmas Season too!

Cookie Cutters Tell the Story of Christmas

.: Stocking Stuffers :. 

Keep Catholic Child in mind when your looking for stocking stuffer ideas!  This little St. Nicholas and Angel Playmobil Set was one of our "Fun Finds" a few years back and would also make a great stocking stuffer.  Catholic Child also carries those awesome Prayer Pillowcases!

.: Infant Jesus in the Manger Giveaway :. 

Catholic Child is a great place to find gifts for all occasions!

Right now, through Tuesday, December 2, 2014 you can receive 1) FREE STANDARD SHIPPING (within contiguous U.S.) 2) $2 off Christmas DVDs and CDs and 3) FREE PERSONALIZATION on all Prayer Pillowcases with coupon code #199114!

Catholic Child has offered to send one of my visitors an 8" Infant Jesus in Manger! The giveaway will be open through December 7th, and the winner will be chosen, contacted by email, and announced here in this post on December 8, 2014, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary!

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below: 

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Gail Girón Design {Sponsored Giveaway}

I have another giveaway for you all today! In addition to creating beautiful rosaries, bracelets, and magnets, Gail Girón Design also creates gorgeous earrings. I have a few pairs from her shop, including these Ave Maria Crown Earrings, and love them all!  Some of Gail's creations are now available from The Catholic Company and Leaflet Missal Company! 

Gail is offering to give away the beautiful Ave Maria Crown Earrings, made with faceted clear aurora borealis Czech glass, pictured below! The giveaway will be open through December 7th, and the winner will be chosen, contacted by email, and announced here in this post on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary!

Every item in Gail's Etsy Shop is handmade and ready to ship. Custom orders are welcome. Enjoy FREE SHIPPING until December 24th on orders of $25+ with coupon code Joy14!

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter Box below:

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Saints 365 {Sponsored Giveaway}

Debbie Gaudino at Saints 365 is offering a Lighthouse Catholic Media Advent and Christmas bundle of CDs for a Shower of Roses reader. The bundle includes the following titles:

  • God Made Man by Father Shannon Collins
  • Prepare the Way of the King by Dr. Scott Hahn
  • The True Meaning of Christmas by Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
  • The Mystery of Christmas by Father Larry Richards

Lighthouse Catholic Media books, CD's and subscriptions make great, reasonably priced, faith-building Christmas gifts for friends and family. Visit the Lighthouse Catholic Media store today.

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter Box below: 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Prayer Pillowcases {Sponsored Giveaway}

I love giving our children at least one faith based gift on Christmas morning. Last Christmas Snuggles and Rose each received Prayer Pillowcases!

The Prayer Pillowcases have held up well and my little ones are still using them every night!

These would make great gifts for your children, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, and Godchildren! Prayer Pillowcases offers personalization for only $5 and all orders ship for FREE

Prayer Pillowcases has offered to send one of my visitors here at Shower of Roses a 4-pack of Prayer Pillowcases consisting of St. Michael, St. Joan, St. Kateri and St. Francis. The winner can have them personalized at no charge! (A retail value of $79.80!)

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below: 

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Lilla Rose Hair Accessories {and a Giveaway!}

Did you happen to notice that beautiful hair clip Twinkle Toes was wearing when I shared the pictures of her new glasses? It was a Lilla Rose sample that Christine sent us to try. I have seen Lilla Rose blogged about in the past and many of my online friends have hosted parties, but I had never placed an order and this was our first time seeing the Lilla Rose clips in person. I love them!  

Not only are the clips beautiful, they actually stay in place! I'd like to order a few more flexi clips to slip into the girls' Christmas stockings and this weekend is the perfect time to place an order!

In addition to all the great Black Friady sales, if you are a new Lilla Rose customer, when you buy 3 or more, you are eligible to get 1 free.

* Please do not add the free item to your cart. After you place your order, simply email Christine at prettynwrose at gmail dot com and let her know what you would like for your free item (up to $16 value). This offer is only good through the review link.

*The “buy 3 or more, get 1 free” offer is only available to customers in the USA and/or those with a U.S. military address (APO).

.: Giveaway :.

Christine has offered to send one of my visitors here at Shower of Roses a Lilla Rose Hair Accessory of their choice with a value up to $16.00. The giveaway is only open to U.S. residents over the age of 18.

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below:

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Logic 101 Course Now Available

This year I have started teaching our oldest two boys apologetics using Christ 101 by Dr. Scott Sullivan.

Dr. Sullivan, a homeschooling father of eight, has just released Logic 101 which looks like it will also be another great course for teens and adults.

The ability to reason properly, distinguish truth from error, make proper distinctions etc. is obviously a very important skill that is sadly missing from so many people today.

This is what the study of Logic does. It teaches us how to reason well and helps us arrive at conclusions with more facility and correctness.

You can check out the trailer here

For a limited time you can save $70 with coupon code LOGIC70

Full Disclosure: ClassicalTheist is a sponsor of Shower of Roses. Affiliate links included in this post. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Calico Critters

My girls all love playing with their Calico Critters. I've been looking for a couple new families to give to Rose for her birthday in a few weeks and I recently added the cute little Calico Critters Sea Otter Family to my Amazon Shopping Cart. I happened to log in a few minutes ago and noticed that the price had dropped significantly and they are now 41% off! I just placed my order and thought I'd share the link with you all. Now if only the Hazelnut Chipmunk Family would drop in price… They are so cute!

(Update: Rosie's Row Boat is also on sale at 48% off!)

Sunday, November 23, 2014



I mentioned the other day that we ordered glasses (including an extra pair at a discount) for our 11 year old daughter this past Wednesday. We were told that they would take about 7-10 days, but on Friday they called to say the glasses had already arrived. Sean took her to pick them up after Hockey yesterday morning. She is still getting used to wearing them but I think she looks adorable… and so grown up! 

Mama’s Notebooks {Sponsored Giveaway}

It's time for another giveaway from Mama’s Notebooks!

Mama's Notebooks brings you helpful notebooks to organize your family life. All of our notebooks are designed from the ground up by a Mom for other Moms, and feature simple and effective charts, lists, and ideas to help your family life run more smoothly!

Of all the notebooks created by Heather the original Mama’s Notebook is my favorite!

I love that it doesn't include pre-printed dates, so when I misplace it for a week (or three!) I can pick up right where I left off without wasting any pages.

I love using it to plan our menu for the week including any special occasions or feast days!

And I especially love all the space provided for my "Weekly Lists & Goals."

You can find additional information and pictures in my past reviews here and here.
You can also find Mama's Notebooks on Facebook and Pinterest!

All notebooks are currently 20% off and one of the coupon codes below can be used in addition to the sale. It's a perfect time to purchase notebooks for the upcoming year or to give as Christmas gifts!

  • FLASH30: 30% off until November 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM.
  • TRESACE: Buy three books and get one of equal or lesser value free (no end date listed).
  • FAST5: 5% off.

Mama's Notebooks has offered to give the winner of this giveaway one notebook of their choice! 

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below:

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Instagram Recap

I always hesitate before posting a picture to Instagram and wonder if I should "save" it for the blog… I love Instagram, but the blog has always been my favorite spot to record special moments and memories. I thought I'd share this week's Instagram recap in 7 Quick Takes.

— 1 —

I love it when he wakes up in such a great mood, especially on Monday morning! 

"Look!! There's the peacock!!!"

— 2 —

Over the weekend I had the children all choose "five favorite" ChristmasBooks to share! The list of all 35 favorites, along with a giveaway for an autographed copy of ChristmasMosaic by Cay Gibson can be found {here}.

There is still time to enter the giveaway

— 3 —

Lunch date with my husband! He says I look younger for some reason…

On Tuesday morning I had another appointment at the orthodontist, this time for braces on my top teeth. I had been stressing out over it for months and was fighting tears when they started making the impressions a couple weeks ago... If it wasn't necessary I wouldn't have even considered it (my five years in braces as a child was plenty, not to mention pretty traumatic!) but my top teeth are collapsing inwards and have been causing bite issues. My bottom teeth are fine, thanks to a permanent retainer, and I'll only be wearing them for about six months. 

Thankfully we have great dental insurance right now that, combined with the family discount, covered about 75% of the cost. Invisalign was an option, but it was so much more expensive and I couldn't justify the extra expense just for my pride and vanity… I actually joked about going into hibernation for the next six months, but decided to just "rip the bandaid off" and post a picture. So far they haven't been nearly as bad as I remember.  And I picked "lavender" so I'm all ready for Advent! ;) 

Oh! When we were at the grocery store the other night Sean had to run and get one last thing so I was at the checkout by myself. When the cashier got to the bottles of wine she looked up and said, "Ummm… I'm going to need to see your ID." I laughed and handed it to her. She looked at my driver's license, back up at me (standing there with my hair in a pony tail and braces on my teeth), and back at my driver's license before mumbling "I never would have guessed." I'm not sure if that should make me feel young or really old! ;) 

— 4 —

It's been such a full week, complete with new accessories for a couple of us girls... Apparently that trademark glare of hers is really just her squinting to focus and see! Glasses are on the way. So thankful that there was an easy explanation and fix for the headaches she has been getting lately during school and piano lessons.

— 5 —

I was reading the papers from this week and had to show this one to my husband-it had us both cracking up! It was a creative writing assignment for our 9 year old (who apparently has "many exciting activities") using her "brain inventory." Looks like she included all the required #iew dress-ups ("-ly" adverb, who/which clause, strong verb, quality adjective, because clause, and adverbial clause), the topic & clincher sentences repeat or reflect the same key words, and the title repeats key words from the final sentence. I'm going to have to show it to my brothers, her "uncles who came freely because they wanted to hang out near the motor home and sit by the fire." I love it!

Chiquita just completed the final lesson of Student Writing Intensive Level A. She started it the second half of last school year, in 3rd grade, and completed it the first part of this school year. (Our older children are using the SWI Continuation Course Level A and Level B, combined with the Fix It! Grammar. The new revised versions of Fix It! are so great!) We are taking next week off of (most) school work and then in December we're all focusing on a literature unit study and lap book. After our Christmas break she'll either begin the Continuation Course for Level A or one of the Level A themed-based writing programs for the rest of the school year.

— 6 —

Ack! What made me think I could dust around these minifigs?! They are like dominoes! Every time I try to fix one that I've knocked over, even more fall down. I'm just going to stop now or the boys are going to come home from hockey and discover that their whole army has been taken out!

Yeah... I think I need to make them do their own dusting!

The boys love their Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Lego sets! Lego just came out with a few new Hobbit sets (The Lonely Mountain, The Battle of the Five Armies, Attack on Lake-Town, and Witch-King Battle)  and I'm secretly hoping that will be the end of the series! ;)  You can see how the boys organize their mini figures (when there isn't a war in progress) here

— 7 —

He has been sitting there playing for the last couple hours and every time he picks up the doll his Godmother painted for him he smiles and says "St. Andrew!!!" So cute!

This Medieval Castle was one of his gifts last Christmas.  Our girls have had the Princess Castle for about 6-7 years and they still play with it all the time.  The castles are such great toys!