Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Celebrating the Saints :: Saint Andrew Cupcakes

Today is the feast of St. Andrew! We had a very full day today, between co-op classes for all the big kids and an afternoon at the office for the three little ones and I, but we had another nameday to celebrate! On the way home this evening we stopped at our local market for eggs, a can of Marshmallow frosting, and some Fudge Brownie Goldfish Grahams so we could decorate some cupcakes for this special feast. (We already had a box of cake mix and some Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks in the pantry.) I simply stuck two pretzels into each cupcake at an angle to create an X shaped cross and added a few fish grahams to the base. So simple to decorate and I loved how they turned out!

Our little guy loved his two nameday surprises: St. Andrew the Apostle from Naturally Catholic and his very own St. Andrew Chaplet from Mary Devotions.

Dearest Patron, St. Andrew the Apostle, in baptism I received thy name and was put under thy special care. Oh, teach me to be like thee! Help me to avoid sin and to practice virtue. Be always at my side to guide me and protect me, and bring me safe to Heaven, that I may be ever happy with thee in the presence of God. 

Saint Andrew the Apostle, Ora Pro Nobis! 

Saint Andrew Novena

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

It is piously believed that whoever recites the St. Andrew Christmas novena prayer fifteen times each day from the feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) until Christmas Eve will obtain the favor requested. Our family has a very special intention this year... Here is a picture of our littlest one taken on Monday at 10 weeks 2 days. A little too soon to get all the measurements they were looking for, so I'll get another peek next week! So far everything looks perfect and baby is due June 24, 2017! ♥

Thank you all so very much for all the love, encouragement and prayers! 

P.S. There is still time to enter the Christmas Giveaway: 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bargain Priced Toys :: Shining Light Dolls

Ooohhh! Looks like you can save 23% on all qualifying Shining Light Dolls today! That brings them down to $10 each, with Prime shipping. The discount shows up during checkout.  The Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) and St. Thérèse of Lisieux are two of Rose's favorites. She'll be receiving Our Lady of Mount Carmel for either her birthday or Christmas.

If you haven't already, you can also enter for a chance to win your choice of six Marian Shining Light Dolls along with a copy of The Virgin Mary Around the World! A Pilgrimage of Faith (Board Book) in this year's Christmas Giveaway.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Jesse Tree :: Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories

Happy First Sunday of Advent! I had hoped to have one last giveaway all ready to go for this weekend, but between hosting Thanksgiving dinner for twenty (thankfully I had help!) combined with the nausea I've been fighting (thank you all so very much for the prayers, love, and support!), I'm a little behind and haven't even started the post... I will do my best to get it up on the blog sometime this week. In the meantime, I thought I'd share our Jesse Tree plans for this Advent.

Advent varies in length from 22-28 days, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) and embracing four Sundays. The first day of Advent can fall as early as November 27th or as late as December 3rd. This year we, with Advent beginning on November 27th we get the longest Advent possible with four complete weeks! 

The Jesse Tree provides a meaningful way for us to count down the days until Christmas. Moreover, it increases our understanding of this portion of salvation history and is an effective way to prepare spiritually for Christmas.

In the past we have used a combination of the New Catholic Picture Bible and the Bible for our daily Jesse Tree readings. This year we will be reading through Amy Steedman's Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories (originally published between 1907 and 1922 as The nursery book of Bible stories, republished with minor editorial revisions in 2009 by Sophia Institute Press) and adding in some extra picture books as well! 

Optional: Additional Picture Books

"There shall come forth a shoot form the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." ~ Isaiah 11:1-2

Here is our plan for this year's twenty-eight days of Advent: 

1. Creation
Felt Symbol: The Earth
Wooden Symbol: The Earth
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Beautiful World, Pages 3-5
Picture Book: The Genesis of It All

2. Adam & Eve 
Felt Symbol:  The Apple
Wooden Symbol: The Apple

3. Noah
Felt Symbol: Ark
Wooden Symbol: The Ark
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Noah and the Rainbow of Hope, Pages 9-13
Picture Book: Noah's Ark and Noah's Ark (Board Book)

4. Abraham
Felt Symbol: Stars
Wooden Symbol: The Camel
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Story of Abraham, Pages 15-19
Picture Book: The Ballad of Matthew's Begats

5. Isaac
Felt Symbol:  Bundle of wood
Wooden Symbol: The Ram
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Isaac and Rebekah, Pages 23-28
Picture Book: Sarah Laugh's 

6. Jacob
Felt Symbol:  Ladder
Wooden Symbol: The Ladder
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Jacob and Esau, Pages 29-36
Picture Book: Old Testament Rhymes (Hardcover - Neumann Press) 

7. Joseph
Felt Symbol: Joseph's Coat of Many Colors
Wooden Symbol: The Coat
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Joseph the Dreamer, Pages 37-44
and Joseph, the Ruler, Pages 45-52
Picture Book: Joseph

8. Moses
Felt Symbol: Basket (need to make and add to our collection)
Wooden Symbol: The Basket
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Finding of Moses
Picture Book: Exodus

9. Moses
Felt Symbol: Ten Commandments/Stone Tablets
Wooden Symbol: The Tablets
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Moses, the Great Leader, Pages 59-64
Picture Book: Exodus (continued)

10. Joshua
Felt Symbol: Sword & Trumpet
Wooden Symbol: The Horn (Joshua)
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Story of the Spies, Pages 67-75
and Gideon, the Soldier, Pages 77-87

11. Ruth

Felt Symbol: Sheaths of Grain
Wooden Symbol: The Wheat
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Ruth, the Gleaner, Pages 89-95

12. Samuel
Felt Symbol: Oil Lamp
Wooden Symbol: The Oil Lamp
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Samuel, the Little Server, Pages 97-104
and Jonathan, the Soldier Prince, Pages 105-114

13. Jesse
Felt Symbol: Shepherd's staff
Wooden Symbol: The Tree
Read-Aloud Book of Bible StoriesDavid, the Shepherd Boy, Pages 115-122

14.  David
Felt Symbol: Harp
Wooden Symbol: The Harp
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: David, the Fighter, Pages 123-130

15. Solomon

Felt Symbol: Scales of Justice
Wooden Symbol: Use Isaiah's "Scroll" for Solomon
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Solomon, the Wise King, Pages 133-140

16. Elijah
Felt Symbol: Raven
Wooden Symbol: The Stones
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Elijah, the Hungry Prophet, Pages 141-148

17. Jonah

Felt Symbol: Whale and Teardrops (Hezekiah)
Symbol: The Big Fish (Jonah) 
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: (no specific story for Jonah)
and Elisha, the Man of God, pages 149-155
and Hezekiah, the Good King, pages 157-163
Picture Book: Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb and The Hard to Swallow Tale of Jonah and the Whale

18. Jeremiah
Felt Symbol: Stone
Wooden Symbol: The Clay Pot
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Jeremiah, the Prohet, Pages 165-172

19. Daniel
Felt Symbol: Lion 
Wooden Symbol: The Lion
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Story of Daniel, Pages 173-180

20. Esther
Felt Symbol: Queens Crown
Wooden Symbol: Use Solomon's "Crown" for Queen Esther
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Queen Esther, Pages 181-189
Picture Book: The Story of Queen Esther

21. Nehemiah
Felt Symbol: Walls of Jerusalem
Wooden Symbol: The Temple
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: Nehemiah, the Warrior Builder, Pages 191-198

22. Zachary and Elizabeth
Felt Symbol: Angel
Wooden Symbol: The Prayer Shawl
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Messenger of the King, Pages 199-204

23.  St. John the Baptist
Felt Symbol: Shell with water
Wooden Symbol: The Shell
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Messenger of the King, Pages 199-204

24. The Angel Gabriel
Felt Symbol: Angel with lily
Wooden Symbol: The Angel
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Coming of the King, Pages 205-207
Picture Book: The Angels' Alphabet

25.  St. Joseph
Felt Symbol: Carpenter's Saw
Wooden Symbol: The Hammer
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Coming of the King, Page 207-208
Picture Book: Father and Son: A Nativity StoryGood Saint Joseph and Story of St. Joseph

26. Blessed Virgin Mary
Felt Symbol: Lily
Wooden Symbol: The Lily
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Coming of the King, Pages 208-211
Picture Book: Mary's Song

27. Bethlehem
Felt Symbol: Bethlehem (need to make and add to our collection) 
Wooden Symbol: The Star and Town
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Coming of the King, Pages 208-211
Picture Book: B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet and Bethlehem (Catholic Edition)

28. Birth of Jesus
Felt Symbol: Infant Messiah
Wooden Symbol: The Manger
Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories: The Coming of the King, Pages 211-213
Picture Book: The Nativity

O God, You fill us with happiness each year as we wait for our celebration of Christmas. May we also joyfully look forward to the coming of Jesus as our final Judge. We ask this of You through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bargain Priced Books :: Coupon Codes for Christmas

The last few years we have really enjoyed giving our children stacks of books for Christmas and I am always looking for great deals and promotions to save on all the books we purchase.

Right now you can get $10 off any book purchase of $25 or more over at Amazon with coupon code: HOLIDAYBOOK

The promotion is valid for a limited time, on orders placed between November 24, 2016 at 12:01am EST and November 28, 2016 at 02:59am EST. Limit one promotional code per customer and account. You can read the complete details here.

I'm still searching for books for this year... 
Here are some books that our children will be receiving this Christmas: 

(her older brothers have an older box set and this excellent audiobook collection)

OR The Wind in the Willows (illustrated by Robert Ingpen - Help! I can't decide which one!)

Our oldest daughter will also be receiving a Kindle this year. They are all on sale right now!

I'll probably also incorporate some new books supplemental History books for this year: 

I'll most likely order these from Sacred Heart Books & Gifts:
FREE SHIPPING until Dec 10th with code: JMJFS

You can find additional books suggestions here: 

Scroll through all our past Stacks of Books for Christmas here

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christmas Gift Ideas & A Special Prayer Request {Plus Another Sleighful of Giveaways}

It's time for this year's list of "Christmas Gift Ideas" and another "Sleighful of Giveaways" from my amazing sponsors!  (You can find last year's list here, as well as even more Catholic gift ideas listed in my past Easter posts as well: 100+ Easter Basket Stuffers & Catholic Gift Ideas and Easter Symbols: Catholic Gift Ideas.) 

Before I get started, I have another little favor to ask this year... Could you please offer a prayer for the newest addition to our family? We had quite the surprise at the end of October! In fact, it wasn't until our oldest son asked, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant? This isn't your usual sick... this is how sick you get when you are pregnant!" that I finally took a test... He knows me well and has seen me pregnant a few times! ;) I truly thought I was just having another one of my long cycles, I was sick because my hormones have been so off for so long, and that our soon-to-be-five-year-old "baby" was going to be the last! (We even got rid of most of the baby stuff just last summer...) But, he was right! My husband and I were so excited to see our little baby's tiny heart beating during a dating ultrasound on the morning of the elections (we never did see heartbeats with our miscarried babies) and then I got another little peek at the baby during my first appointment with my new doctor last Monday afternoon. So far everything looks perfect! I wasn't going to say anything yet, but I have such a hard time keeping secrets... I'll be going in a week from Monday for some more blood tests and another ultrasound and would really appreciate prayers. Thank you!

When I started coordinating all the weekly giveaways leading up to Advent this year, I knew it might be overly ambitious, especially considering I'm homeschooling all seven on top of my work schedule this year, but I had no idea just how challenging it was going to be to get out of bed each day! pull off... It's all coming together though and has been a lot of fun! I plan to host one last giveaway for you all next weekend focusing on the O Antiphons.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to enter this GIVEAWAY for a chance to win one of 27 PRIZES with a combined value of over $1,500.00!

Note:  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Links to AmazonSt. Augustine Academy PressEtsyHoly HeroesChewsLife and SocksReligoius are affiliate links. 

.: Fun Finds for Advent & Christmas 2016 :.

  1. 100% Beeswax Advent Taper Candles (Our candles from  have sold out for this year. Other options include: Toadily Handmade Beeswax CandlesHoney Candles, or these from Big Dipper Wax Works.   I'll be using these pillar candles in pink and purple for our large wreath. If you are looking for less expensive candles, these might be a good option.)
  2. Lavender Pearl and Bronze St. Andrew Chaplet from Mary Devotions (A beautiful new addition to our collection of St. Andrew Chaplets.) 
  3. Christmastime in New Orleans (CD) and the Special Edition (DVD)
  4. A Gospel Advent Calendar (Also available from Catholic Child! I've added this to our 2016 Advent Book Basket. The kids also have a few toy Advent Calendars again this year, one in each bedroom: LEGO City for the older boys, LEGO Friends for the girls and NHL Playmobil for the little boys.) 
  5. Caroling at Ephesus is brand new from the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles
  6. Baby's First Christmas Ornament from Blessings from Heaven*
  7. Christmas Tree Creche Candle from The Cloister Shoppe
  8. DIY: Christmas Chocolate Coins (I originally shared these back in 2010, but finally moved the FREE printable document over to Dropbox for easy access. You'll also find printable documents for St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins, Jesse Tree Coins, and O Antiphon Coins!) 
  9. Three Kings Wise Men Puzzle Scene (This will be one of our O Antiphon gifts this year! I'm hoping to share more about the rest of our O Antiphon picks, along with one last giveaway, next weekend.)

*We'll be adding one of these to our Christmas Tree this year, I just haven't decided exactly how to word the custom text... It will be something along the lines of:

Baby's First Christmas 
♥ Due June 24, 2017 

Since I have been so incredibly sick this fall (I keep reminding myself it's a good thing!) I decided to ask our kids to help me with this year's "Christmas Gift Ideas" post.  I had them each list nine of their past favorite gifts for me to share with you all. Here are their answers: 

(Note: Our children usually unwrap three gifts on Christmas morning - something they need, something they want, and one other gift which is usually faith based - along with a stack of books which I'm considering saving for Epiphany this year.  The gifts listed below have been received over a number of different years/occasions.)

.: Captain's Picks - Age 16 :.

  1. Key Chain (Tiny Saints are his favorite. He also has this Captain America LEGO Keychain.) 
  2. Favorite Sports Team Clothing (In his case it's the NHL Penguins and Beavers for College Golf - go Uncle Kevin! Last year the boys each got these NHL Fleece Pullovers.) 
  3. FOOD (Beef Jerky, Trail Mix, Clif Bars, Coffee and Restaurant Gift Cards) 
  4. ENO Hammock with Suspension System (He has the 2016 National Park Service Centennial DoubleNest Hammock in Forest Green - I'm hoping to get hammocks for our other teens this Christmas or for their next birthdays.) 
  5. T-Shirts (He has some great Catholic T-shirts including St. Benedict Medal, The Lord Be With You T-Shirt, and St. Patrick.) 
  6. Super Hero Anything, except costumes... (T-Shirts, SlippersMovies, LEGO, Metal Earth, etc. He'd love these Marvel Golf Balls.) 
  7. Music CDs (Celtic Thunder, Michael Buble Christmas)
  8. Audiobooks or Audible Credits (The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings narrated by Rob Ingles, etc) 
  9. Strategic Board Games (Axis & Allies, Settlers of Catan, Stratego, Risk, Battleship)

.: Ranger's Picks - Age 14 :.

  1. Metal Earth Model Kits (Note: These are challenging to assemble.)
  2. Headphones (Particularly the Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. His older brother won a pair from the 2015 NPLTW Contest and he has been borrowing them for his online Latin class. He'd love a pair of his own! If you have a favorite/more affordable option I'd love to hear about them! He also loves the Bose Mini BlueTooth Speaker he won.) 
  3. Sports Gear (Hockey Sticks, Golf Clubs, etc - Last year he received a new Hockey stick and we were able to get an amazing deal on these Golf Clubs for our oldest son. This year we are watching for another great deal on golf clubs so they each have their own set. Last season we borrowed an extra set from the high school.) 
  4. Movies (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Avengers
  5. Weapons (Swiss Army Knives, Bow, BB gun, etc... He also loves making things using these books: Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare and Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2: Build a Secret Agent Arsenal. He recently raided his sisters sewing box for supplies to make the darts pictured above. On his wish list: Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 3: Build Siege Weapons of the Dark Ages and Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction Targets: 100+ Tear-Out Targets, Plus 5 New Mini Weapons
  6. LEGO (ArchitectureCreator, and Modular sets are his faves - the Lincoln Memorial provided some of the pieces for his recent Ancient History Mini City. I need to share pictures of the Mini Vatican he has been working on building!) 
  7. Swiss Army Backpack (His is similar to this one.)
  8. Clothing (American Eagle Flannel Shirts, Dress Shirts, Slim Straight Jeans, etc - Watch for sales and I always make sure to click over from Ebates first to earn cash back on purchases! I was able to get the boys AEO Extreme Flex Slim Straight Jeans for less than $20 a pair recently.)
  9. The Brotherband Chronicles and Ranger's Apprentice Books (He doesn't know about the brand new release of The Battle of Hackhan Heath (Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years) coming out this month... I have already pre-ordered a copy. Shhhh!) 

.: Twinkle Toes' Picks - Age 13 :.

  1. Baking Supplies & Cookbooks (She received this Apron, Sweethearts Pot Mitt and Heart Cakelet Baking Pan for her 13th Birthday, celebrated with a When Calls the Heart party!)
  2. iTouch Gold (Last Christmas we went back and forth between getting her a digital camera and the iTouch and ultimately picked the iTouch. She keeps it in a Pink Survivor case.) 
  3. Books (Some current favorites include The Paradise Project, A Single Bead, Anne of Green Gables. On her Wish List: This set of Jane Austen books and this Literary Mug. I also want to get her this Anne of Green Gables coloring book.) 
  4. Clothing (For her... or for her dolls! She especially loves the saint outfits from The Little Habit, before these were an option the girls loved making their own.) 
  5. Stationary & Gel Pens (similar to these, check Costco for fun and affordable sets in stands - You can see hers pictured with her gifts from her Molly Birthday) 
  6. Journals & Colored Pencils (She has been enjoying these Seasonal Planners lately.) 
  7. When Calls the Heart DVDs (She has the Collector's Editions of Season 1 and Season 2
    ... maybe she'll receive Season 3 for Christmas!)
  8. Klutz Tiny Stitches book and Other Sewing Supplies
  9. Beauty Supplies (Hair Brush, Curling Iron, Chi Straightener, Manicure Sets, Burt's Bees Lip Balm and Lip Shimmer, etc - some of these she has, a few she borrows from me.) 

.: Chiquita's Picks - Age 11 :.

  1. Sewing Basket & Supplies (Last Christmas one of her gifts was a darling sewing basket, picked up at Michaels using a 50% off coupon, filled with sewing supplies including: embroidery thread, scissors, a small purple embroidery hoop and this book.) 
  2. Dolls and Accessories (She loves all the Historic American Girl dolls and accessories that she has collected over the years. One favorite is Josefina's Holiday Gown, complete with her lace mantilla for Mass!) 
  3. Puffin In Bloom Collection (and so many other books!) 
  4. Paint-by-Number Kits (Her past sets include: Chickadees and Lilacs and Goldfinches.)
  5. Make Your Own Washi Tape Stickers 
  6. Bow and Arrows (She has this Genesis kit with this case.) 
  7. LEGO Christmas Creator Sets (The girls have this Winter Toy Shop and Santa's Workshop.)
  8. Chapel Veils from Robin Nest Lane
  9. Sketch Book & Art Supplies (Her favorite is the eeBoo Nature and Observations Notebook

.: Rose's Picks - Age 6 :.

  1. Calico Critters (Hopper Kangaroo Family is one of her favorites.) 
  2. Seri's Dollhouse (This was given to the older girls Christmas morning 2011 and it's still played with every week. They love using it for their Calico Critters.) 
  3. Play Silks in a Variety of Colors
  4. Dolls, Clothing & Accessories (Saint Habits and Accessories from The Little Habit are favorites! She'll be receiving this St. Therese Doll for either Christmas or her birthday next month! I posted a review here.) 
  5. Shining Light Dolls (Mother Teresa and St. Therese are two new favorites!) 
  6. "ALL of my St. Therese St. Dolls!" (includes this Saint Therese from Trendzilly and a Saints n' Stitches pattern available here)
  7. Grimm's Wooden Fairy Tale Village (and the rest of our stacking blocks... I blogged more about them here.) 
  8. Dress Up Clothes (I've found some great deals on Gymboree's clearance racks after Halloween in the past, including her Peacock dress up.) 
  9. Enchanted Forest and Frozen Surprise Slides are two of her favorite games. See more of our family's favorites in this post

.: Bud's Picks - Age 4 :.

  1. Games (Bug BingoAnimal Tracks Memory, etc) 
  2. Swen and "Little Swen" (These live on his bed along with all the Pillow Saints from his Godmother and a few other favorite toys.) 
  3. Barn and Schleich Animals (Our fabulous wooden barn is ridiculously expensive now, but this might be a nice alternative. Add a Blessed Sacrament and St. Anthony Blessing Block to reenact the story of St. Anthony of Padua and the Hungry Gray Mule.) 
  4. Wooden Mass Kit from Almond Rod Toys
  5. Saints on the Go! and Shining Light Dolls (St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, St. Patrick, St. FrancisSt. Martin, St. Pio
  6. Naturally Catholic toys and Hand Painted Wooden Saints from Catholic Folk Toys (You can see our Our Lady of Fatima set here. The 100th Anniversary of the apparitions is coming up in May! The Pope and Swiss Guard Set is another one of his favorites.) 
  7. Wooden Trains (Thomas)
  8. Melissa & Doug Car Carrier and Car Loader (He also loves the Log Truck, but it doesn't look like it's available.) 
  9. Mini Hockey Set

.: 2017 Catholic Calendars, Saints & Planners :.

  1. 2017 Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Liturgical Calendar (FSSP - Extraordinary Form)
  2. 2017 Catholic Calendar - Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima (Saints Galore) 
  3. Saints - A Year in Faith and Art (This one is a book, not a calendar, but it's one of our favorites to have out year round.) 
  4. 2017 Saints Calendar & 16 Month Planner (TAN)
  5. 2017 Catholic Daily Planner™ (Michele Quigley)
  6. Holy Heroes Spiritual Diary (for children) 
  7. Mary and the Saints 2017 Wall Calendar (TAN)
  8. The Life of Our Lord 2017 Wall Calendar (TAN) 
  9. The Angels 2017 Wall Calendar (TAN)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bargain Priced Toys :: LEGO Lakeside Lodge

Last summer our nine year old received the LEGO Creator Lakeside Lodge and the Van and Caravan for his birthday last summer. They are both great sets!

I've been working on compiling a list with some of the kids past favorite gifts and just noticed that both the Lakeside Lodge and the Van and Caravan are currently 36% OFF over at Amazon right now!
I've never seen them drop that low before and am not sure how long those prices will last... Order them while you can, they would make great gifts! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our 2016 Advent Book Basket and Printable Labels {Plus Christmas Mosaic & Picture Book Giveaway!}

Advent begins two weeks from today! This weekend I spent a little time sorting through our Christmas books to fill this year's Advent Book Basket. I love that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year and we will all be able to enjoy FOUR COMPLETE WEEKS of Advent this year, the longest Advent possible! 

Advent varies in length from 22-28 days, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) and embracing four Sundays. The first day of Advent can fall as early as November 27th or as late as December 3rd.

Years ago, when we didn't have enough Christmas themed picture books to wrap one for each day of Advent, I would check some Christmas books out from the library just before Advent began, using Christmas Mosaic as a guide. We have added many books to our home library since then, giving one Christmas themed book to each of our children on the feast of St. Nicholas, and our collection has definitely grown...  

In the past I have filled our basket with Christmas Mosaic titles and our children's 35 Favorite Christmas Picture Books.  Last year I pulled out twenty-six of my favorites to wrap up.  

This year I was having a really hard time choosing -- way too many options -- so I asked my husband and oldest daughter to help pick out twenty-eight books for this year.

A couple years ago I switched to brown paper, instead of the purple and pink wrapping paper, along with purple and pink ribbon (which I saved to re-use again this year) and homemade labels for each day. I love it! So simple and pretty.

If you'd like to use my little labels too, you can download my Advent Book Basket Labels for 2016 over at Dropbox.

As always, we'll unwrap and read one book each night during Advent, following our family rosary. The rest of the books will be placed in additional baskets for the kids to read whenever they'd like during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. 

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Here are the 28 picture books that I am wrapping up for our 2016 Advent Book Basket:

November 27 - 1st Sunday of Advent:  A Christmas Manger (Punch-Out-And-Play Books) (OOP)
November 30 - St. Andrew: Waiting for Christmas: A Story about the Advent Calendar * (Note: Even though most commercial Advent Calendars begin on December 1st, Advent varies in length from 22-28 days, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) and embracing four Sundays. The first day of Advent can fall as early as November 27th or as late as December 3rd.)
December 3: Cranberry Christmas

December 4 - 2nd Sunday of Advent: The Gift of the Christmas Cookie
December 5: The Legend of the Candy Cane (OOP - Newly Illustrated Edition available here.) 
December 6 - St. Nicholas: The Legend of St. Nicholas
December 8 - Immaculate Conception: The Legend of the Christmas Rose (OOP)

December 11 - 3rd Sunday of Advent/Gaudete Sunday: Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing
December 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe: Our Lady of Guadalupe (also love this awesome pop-up
December 13 - Santa Lucia Day: Lucy: A Light for Jesus (really love Lucia: Saint of Light
December 15 - Rose's Birthday: The Three Gifts of Christmas
December 16 - Las Posadas: Nine Days to Christmas (OOP)
December 17 - O Sapientia: The Stable Where Jesus Was Born (Note: The one star review over at Amazon does not correctly reflect the text printed in our book - ISBN 0-439-47019-6, 2000 Edition OOP.  Perhaps it is referring to a different edition... I'm not sure. Ours is such a sweet book.) 

December 18 - 4th Sunday of Advent / O Adonai: Manger
December 19 - O Radix Jesse - Bud's Birthday: Miracle of the Poinsettia
December 20 - O Clavis David: Confederate Night Before Christmas
December 22 - O Rex Gentium: Small Camel Follows the Star (OOP) 
December 23 - O Emmanuel: Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
December 24 - Vigil of Christmas: The Night Before Christmas

* = Study Guide Available in Christmas Mosaic 

For additional Christmas book suggestions you can find some of our lists in the archives: 

For More Details About Christmas Mosaic:
Christmas Mosaic :: A Review & Featured Book List

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

U.S. Elections Lap Book

This month we have been learning about U.S. Elections and we are working on the final details of our U.S. Elections Lap Books today as we wait for the polls to close this evening... 

Four years ago we completed these Presidential Election Lap Books and Unit Study and this year we used the excellent U.S. Elections Lap-Pak from Homeschool in the Woods, as I mentioned in our 2016-2017 Curriculum Plans last month.  We've all learned so much and have had a great time creating all the mini-books. 

In addition to the resources provided in the Lap-Pak, we've added in some books, videos, and this Pro-Life Citizenship Unit Study (for the teens) as well. 

We still have a few things to finish... The kids are each writing their personal policies (social, economic, and foreign) and working on coming up with their own campaign ads and slogans.


I loved hearing the kids quiz each other while they assembled their lap books! 


.: INSIDE VIEW #1 :.

Left Flap:
  • Suffrage
  • The Presidential Campaign: Stump Speaking
  • Election Day
  • The Electoral College
  • National Conventions
Right Flap:
  • Terms of Office
  • The Presidential Campaign: Platform

.: INSIDE VIEW #2 :.

  • The Presidential Campaign: Campaign Advertising — Spreading the Word!
  • The Presidential Campaign: Media — News Source
  • Inauguration Day

  • Definition of “Election”
  • The “Vocabinet”

.: INSIDE VIEW #3 :.

  • Raising Money
  • Different Forms of Government
  • A “Handful” of Political Parties
  • Statistics
  • Who Do We Vote For?

.: INSIDE VIEW #4 :.

  • The Electoral Race!
  • Caucuses & Primaries (Choosing the Candidate)

  • The Three Branches of Government
  • The American Experiment


See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House
Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts
Mary and the 50 States
Thanksgiving in the White House
Elections in the U.S.A. Activity Book

Other Resources: 
Electoral College for Kids from Waltzing Matilda
Pro-Life Citizenship Unit Study (teens) from Culture of Life Studies
Misc other resources and videos (I'm out of time to link to them all right now!)


Build the White House

(We'll be working on the the Capital Building tonight!) 

They also want to add the election prayer/novena we have been praying to the back of their Lap Books as well:

Most Holy Trinity: Our Father in Heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of you daughters; Holy Spirit, who chose Mary as your Spouse; God the Son, who chose Mary as your Mother, in union with Mary we adore your majesty and acknowledge your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country to you. Through her we wish to thank you for the great resources of this land and for the freedom which has been its heritage.

Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our president and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy, born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our Mother, have mercy on the sick, the tempted, sinners — on all who are in need.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin, our Mother, Patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give ourselves to you. Protect us from every harm. Pray for us that acting always according to your will and the will of your divine Son, we may live and die pleasing to God.


By His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke,

O Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Your Church You show us the Way, You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life. Grant, we humbly beg You, that, always and in all things, we may be faithful to You in Your Holy Church, and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis. Grant also, we beg You, that, in these times of decision, all who profess to be Catholic and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life, may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth, living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation. Amen. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, Pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.