Sunday, November 24, 2019

Three Months

I still haven't been able to go back and share her newborn and baptism pictures... Maybe someday! I took these pictures this morning before leaving for Mass and just had to share them with you all.

As of this last Tuesday (Nov 19th) she weighed 10 pounds even! She watches me everywhere I go, at least the occasional times she allows me to put her down... She has been rolling over for a few weeks now, from her back to her tummy, and has the sweetest coos and giggles for all of us. She's pretty cute!

Updated to add the links: Cuddle + Kind Swan and A Swan's Tale Swaddle 

Interlocking Wooden Blocks

Interlocking BlocksMelissa and Doug Car Carrier and Magnetic Car LoaderMisc Die Cast Cars 

I always love seeing what gets built with the blocks... This time it’s a parking garage! 🚘

And... another day but still building with his blocks! 

These are the interlocking blocks from Nova Natural (we have two "Sets of 92" and they'd still love more!) made by Camphill Village Store. Our kids play with them daily! So much fun. 

What are some of your kids' favorite toys?

On the Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year

"We must live in this world, as if our spirits were in Heaven and our bodies in the tomb. We must live a dying life and die a living and life-giving death, in the life of our King and sweetest Savior." - St. Francis de Sales

Cathedral/Crown Cake with Lemon Glaze • The Catechism in Pictures 

Christ, King of the Universe, have mercy on us!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Our 2019 Advent Book Basket and Printable Labels {Plus Lots of Christmas Books to Giveaway!}

Advent begins just one week from Sunday! 

The length of Advent always varies 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 Advent begins on December 1st.  I love it when that happens! 

Every Advent our family counts down the days until Christmas with picture books, Advent Calendars, and the Jesse Tree. 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.  (You can find this year's St. Nick books here!) 

In the past I have filled our Advent basket with Christmas Mosaic titles and our children's 35 Favorite Christmas Picture Books. One year I picked twenty-six of MY favorites (although I still find new favorites to add to my list each year!) and one year I left the choosing up to my husband and our oldest daughter. We've had great lists the last two years too: 2017 and 2018

I currently keep all of our Christmas picture books on the bottom two shelves of a corner bookshelf upstairs... The other night I went up there and pulled out a whole bunch of my favorites. I sorted through them all, removing the ones I wrapped and read to our children last Advent (with the exception of a few annual favorites including The Donkey's DreamThe Miracle of St. Nicholas and Bambinelli Sunday) and that's how I came up with this year's list! 

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

December 1 - 1st Sunday of Advent: Waiting for Christmas: A Story About the Advent Calendar - set up Advent Calendars and Jesse Tree
December 2: Christmas Farm
December 5: The Legend of St. Nicholas - write letters to Christ Child/Saint Nicholas, bake Speculaas or St. Nicholas Cookies, and decorate St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins to give to others
December 6 - St. Nicholas: St. Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins
December 7 - St. Ambrose: The Attic Saint - (New Release... Coming soon!) Bake a Honeycomb Cake, decorate Christmas Candles

December 8 - Immaculate Conception and 2nd Sunday of Advent: Apple Tree Christmas
December 10: The Bears' Christmas Surprise (Back in print!! Find this year's reprint here!) 
December 11: The Christmas Cobwebs
December 12 - Hanna's Christmas - prepare for tomorrow's feast day
December 13 - Santa Lucia Day: Lucia Saint of Light
December 14: Bambinelli Sunday (this year we'll read it on the eve of Bambinelli Sunday) 

December 15 - 3rd Sunday of Advent/Gaudete Sunday: The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher
December 17 - O Sapientia: The Miracle of St. Nicholas
December 18 - O Adonai: The Donkey's Dream *Catholic Mosaic - pray Litany of Mary from which the names of Mary used in this book were taken 
December 19 - O Radix Jesse: My Wonderful Christmas Tree
December 21 - O Oriens: Bethlehem (Catholic Edition) 

December 22 - 4th Sunday of Advent - O Rex Gentium: Small Camel Follows the Star
December 23 - O Emmanuel: The First Christmas (Brand new! O Antiphon gift for this year.) 
December 24 - Vigil of Christmas: There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve

About four or five years ago I switched to brown paper along with purple and pink ribbon, instead of the original purple and pink wrapping paper I would use years ago... This year I'm reusing brown paper bags along with the ribbons I reuse every year and our homemade labels!

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

If you'd like to use my little labels too, you can download my Advent Book Basket Labels for 2019 over at Dropbox.

(Note: I made two versions this year: Extraordinary Form or Novus Ordo...The difference is that the feast of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to the 9th on the New Calendar and remains on the 8th for Extraordinary Form. I included the Ember Days on both sets.)

I'm still waiting for The Attic Saint to arrive and I'm also saving the new brand new book I ordered for December 23rd to wrap along with this year's O Antiphon gifts for O Emmanuel. It's a really cute book with rhyming text, but not quite as cute as our brand new baby. We are all looking forward to having everyone home again for her First Christmas!


Congratulations, Emily! 
"Thank you for your wonderful ideas!"

sponsored by author Susan Peek (value $61.79)

Congratulations, Piper!"Thank you for your list. I reference it every year"

Prize #3: The Rosary for Little Ones 
and Divine Mercy for Little Ones
sponsored by author Kimberly Fries (value $25.98) 

Congratulations, Maria!
"I love your blog! So inspiring. Thank you for your gentle, loving example of motherhood."

Prize #4: Digital Copy of Awaiting the Messiah: A Family Advent Journey with Handel's Messiah sponsored by Barefoot Abbey (value $15.00) 

Congratulations, Gian!
"Look like lovely books. Thanks for sharing!"

Monday, November 18, 2019

Christmas Carols (Little Golden Book)

Back in print—a Little Golden Book full of classic Christmas carols to sing!

"This festive Little Golden Book from 1946 is back in print for the first time in 40 years! Beautiful vintage illustrations bring to life sheet music and lyrics for beloved carols and hymns that families have sung together for many generations: "Away in a Manger," "Joy to the World," "Deck the Halls," and more. Perfect for placing on the piano, or to give to a child or a collector of the classic Little Golden Books, this book will be cherished each holiday season."

Here are some pictures of this gorgeous little book:

One of our favorite ways to prepare for and then celebrate Christmas is with a basket filled with beautiful books! We started our book collection nearly 20 years ago when our eldest son was a baby and, even though we now have a pretty incredible collection, I still love adding to it each year! One of our new additions for this year will be the recently republished Christmas Carols and I’m excited to send a copy of this sweet book to one of you too!

Once again I’m teaming up with a group of ladies over on Instagram to give ONE FAMILY the opportunity to receive *OVER 30 BOOKS* for their very own Advent Book Basket!! With a title for every day of the season this Advent Book Basket makes a perfect literary Advent Calendar.

Friday, November 15, 2019

New Christmas Books for the Feast of St. Nicholas {and a St. Nicholas Giveaway!}

"The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God's giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves." - St. Nicholas of Myra

The feast of St. Nicholas is just three weeks from today! On December 6th our children always wake up to find that the letters they wrote to the Holy Child and/or St. Nicholas have been taken and their (sometimes new/replaced) slippers have been filled with little treats, oranges, chocolate gold coinscandy canes, and often times a note from St. Nicholas.

Our children (and teens!) have also always received a new Christmas book as well, which has helped us build an amazing collection over the last twenty years. It will be so great to pass each of their collections down to them when they eventually start families of their own.

The darling wooden St. Nicholas toys in the above pictures are from Marzipantz and Ostheimer Wooden Toys.  The kids haven't seen these yet, but they will be added to our collection this year.

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

Here is the list of books I picked out for our children this year:
(I didn't get books for our college boys, but 'm hoping to mail them a St. Nicholas care package too!) 

For Twinkle Toes: 

"First published in 1998, The Twelve Days of Christmas Cats is a beloved picture book with full color illustrations by Don Daily. The traditional twelve days of Christmas poem is creatively transformed, with each spread featuring one of the twelve cats with its resepective adorable artwork. Siamese, leopards, persians, calico cats and kittens playfully ring in Christmas cheer as they dance across the pages of this heartwarming classic."

For Chiquita:

"Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love."

I had such a hard time deciding which book to give to Chiquita and which one to give to Rose...
This one goes so well with Rose's little collection of wooden birds (the tooth fairy brings her a sweet little bird every time she loses a tooth!) but her older sister will love it too!

For Snuggles: 

"Once Upon a Silent Night is a beautifully illustrated book for children ages 4 to 8 about the creation of the famous song. After the mice in a small Austrian town destroy the church organ, the parish priest and the choir director compose a song to fill the silent church on Christmas Eve. The townspeople and the mice celebrate Christmas with a new tune that reflects the humble birth of the Savior and inspires joy in the hearts of his people."

For Rose: 

(Updated Edition with Paperdolls)

"Early one Christmas morning in Sweden, Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka opened their eyes. Soon they would have their Christmas gifts! For the first time in over thirty years, this classic holiday tale returns, in a deluxe hardcover edition. Longtime fans of the series will delight in revisiting the story, and new readers will find fun and excitement as the girls must save their friend Bertie after an ice-skating disaster."

For Bud: 

"As Christmas becomes more and more commercialized, it is easy to get lost in the shopping and decorating; the parties and the lights; the presents and the food. In this charming and beautifully illustrated story, Santa himself comes to town and reminds everyone of the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Show your children—and remind yourself—that without Jesus, there is not Christmas. Santa’s Priority is an instant Christmas classic, that your family will read together for years to come."

This seven, soon-to-be-eight year old, needs an extra reminder on what Christmas is all about! ;)

For Grace: 

"A small, crookled fir tree is left all alone after the others near it in the forest are chosen by families as Christmas to bring home. But when the forest animals gather around the lonely little tree to cheer it up and celebrate the season, it finds the warmth of the holidays in the heart of a cold, snowy forest."

For Lily: 

"Told from the perspective of a barn owl, Guess Who's in the Manger is a beautiful Christmas story sure to delight children four to seven years old--and their parents as well. Guess Who's in the Manger is perfect for reading aloud (what child doesn't enjoy the gentle "hoo" of an owl, reflected here in the sound of "who's in the manger?"). Written by Vicki Howie, author of Once Upon a Silent Night, this Christmas story is sure to delight."

Bonus Books for the Family: 

I also picked up these three new books this year too! They'll either be given to the children on the first day of Advent or in their Epiphany Book Stacks. 

(My girls are going to love this!) 

(I picked up my copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts! Keep this small Catholic family owned business in mind for Christmas book shopping - all their items are automatically 15% off!)