Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Few Things That Happened on Our Long Weekend

We are spending a lovely long weekend in San Diego at my parents' house, and it has been relaxing . . . yet productive. Mostly productive, I guess. I'm super bad at relaxing. But it was fun.

Here's a quick look at a few things that went down.

1. The New Liturgical Year starts today! So, Happy Catholic New Year to ya.

2. It was Thanksgiving. Turkey was had, Lord of the Rings was watched. We were thankful for things and wrote them on feathers.

3. The girls played dress up in the sequined recital outfits and faux fur capes of my youth, and Lulu admired Jack's old Hokey Pokey Elmo from a safe distance.

4. Speaking of Lulu, she also had a birthday! Lulu is two. She is just such a joy.

Since her birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year, we are having a little party for her next weekend. I asked her what kind of birthday party she wanted to have and she said, "Pied Pedjus" . . . which just goes to show how awesome she is. So, a Pride and Prejudice second birthday it shall be.

Those illustrations are slightly adapted from the Babylit Pride and Prejudice book, which is Lulu's favorite. I have every intention of having a small simple affair, but I have a history of getting carried away . . . so stay tuned.

5. We got together with Ashley of Between the Linens, and her sweet family. And a lovely time was had by all. But even though we are both bloggers, we have no photos to show for it. I guess we're livin' IRL-style, like this old lady . . .

6. The husband and I went on a date, just the three of us. We had sushi and saw the Hunger Games. The sushi was great, the baby was pretty good, the Hunger Games was kind of meh. I really liked the books when they came out, and enjoyed the first couple movies. But this one just missed the mark for me. The giant ocean of oil that appears from nowhere, stops just short of where it would be a danger to the characters, and then magically disappears? And it's not slippery and doesn't stick to shoes. That's not a thing.

And the Eventually Biting Monsters will bite you, but not right away.

I thought the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was presented in a very compelling way in the book. I liked that instead of choosing which man she liked better, it really came down to choosing between the two different people SHE was, when she was with them. I thought that was cool. But in the movie, she seems to just happen to end up with the guy she ends up with because of proximity. Which is less romantic.

7. Speaking of romance . . . Reign.

It's teenaged Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage and the Dauphin of France and his bastard brother. If you're looking to become very unproductive for a short time, go ahead and start it on Netflix.

Season one is really great (in a very soapy CW way, of course). The dresses are excellent, the romance is romantic and PG-13, and it's pretty darn historically accurate. You will then probably go ahead and watch season two afterwards. But when you do, remember that I tried to warn you that it was not romantic, and not in any way historically accurate. Also it seems to be alternately anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant, so, just anti-Christian? And, while it's still PG-13, there are some very tragic things that happen to Mary that are hard to watch.

It still has dresses.

I will probably watch season three whenever that happens.

And that's my honest opinion. But this is a sponsored post.

8. As I was already finished with Reign when I arrived in San Diego, I was able to complete a few projects I had had in the works, including a couple baby blankets that had been partially finished for weeks, and the plans for remodeling the new house (which we may or may not be able to do right away), and I put a few new things into the Cafepress shop at the request of you fine folks. You will now find Catholic quotes about coffee, and butterflies and Bible verses in there.

And there's an all new Toy Story version of the Guardian Angel prayer, in the Etsy shop only.

It's available in square or 8x10. I made it as a commission, see here to find out how to one made for you.

Have a beautiful Advent!


Friday, November 27, 2015

The Catholic All Year Quick Gift Guide for Catholics (and non-Catholics)

As someone somewhere in this blessed country is getting knocked unconscious over a discounted Keurig Machine, I plan to be observing Black Friday by continuing our family tradition of watching all of the Lord of the Rings movies (and none of the Hobbit movies) over Thanksgiving weekend and finishing up my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my iPad. So cozy.

In case you are also in a shopping mood, you might wish to check out . . .

Some books and toys we love:


Spoiler alter, one of those ten things is Kiwi Crate, which my kids use and love (not sponsored,we pay for it. we just like it). There's a Black Friday deal, this week only, for 60% off your first month of any of the lines: Koala Crate, Kiwi Crate, Doodle Crate, or Tinker Crate. We get ALL of them. There are also individual Christmas craft kits available for 50% off. No promo codes needed, and if you shop through my affiliate link, I get a small referral fee at no cost to you. So, thanks!

Our Advent favorites:
And 'cause I can't stop (and I won't stop) on the Printable Prayers Shop at Cafepress, there's a bunch of new stuff over there. Here are the sections so far:

Drinking with the Saints

Featuring quotes about drinking by saints and other Catholics on coasters, pint glasses, shot glasses, t-shirts, and more. (Hat tip to Sarah at Catholic Drinkie for the excellent quotes.) 

The Princess Bride

Featuring quotes from everyone's favorite movie (it IS everyone's favorite movie, right?) on prints, mugs, cups, bags, jewelry, pajamas, and more.


Featuring quotes about wine by Hilare Belloc and Pope St. John XXIII on coasters, trivets, clocks, aprons, wine charms, and more.


The Official Catholic Blessing for Beer from the Rituale Romanum, which is a real thing that exists because Catholics are cool.

Defend Us in Battle

The St. Michael prayer in regular plus, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Police Force versions, on shirts, mousepads, clipboards, water bottles, etc.. The Army version is awaiting the required approval from the official Cafepress Army fan page. :P Hopefully they should unfreeze all the Army stuff in the next couple of days.

Update: I am Official U.S. Army Fan Page Approved! See all the Army St. Michael stuff here.

Ye Olde JPII Shoppe

JPII. 'Nuff said.

Plan of Life

Stuff to help you pray through the day: Morning Offerings, Grace Before and After Meals, Night Prayer, etc.


Posters, cards, pillows, cups, etc, all for Advent.

Fairy Tale

The fairy tale guardian angel prayer on sippy cups, onsies, pillows, and pillowcases, amongst other things.

Unfortunately, I can't sell the superhero or Star Wars stuff on Cafepress. It is, however, all still available in the Printable Prayers Etsy shop, where you can purchase it and do with it as you please, print and pillow-wise.

I'm happy to put existing prints from the Etsy shop, or the Printable Prayers Pinterest page on any items available from Cafepress. Just ask.

I can also put any of the new images from Cafepress in the Etsy Shop. Just ask.

If you'd like any quotes or prayers that I have yet to create, please place a custom order over on Etsy using this link. You'll receive the downloadable image made just for you to print as many times as you please, plus I'm happy to put it on stuff for you at Cafepress.

And, if you're shopping, please check out my lovely sponsors this month:

Hatch Prints has all new hand-painted and hand-lettered art prints for Advent, Christmas, and everyday. See the upper right corner of the blog for a sample of what you'll find over there.

Lilla Rose offers beautiful and functional hair clips and bands that actually stay in!

Happy shopping, and happy Advent, and Happy CATHOLIC New Year . . . don't forget Catholic New Year's Eve on Saturday!

click here to check out kiwi crate 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When There Is So Much to Fear

Mailbag time: What to do when it all seems like too much . . . (and if you make it to the bottom there's news and shopping, yay!)

The Question: 
Hi Kendra, I found you blog a new months ago and have so enjoyed going through your old posts and soaking up all the good advice! My husband and I recently got married and had our first little one on our 9 month wedding anniversary, so our family is very young. I know you tend not to write about politics or opinion pieces about current events (there's plenty of that out there) but I feel like I could really use some guidance in light of what's happening in our world. How do you stay hopeful in this world? I find myself feeling so sad and scared everyday, and even guilty for bringing such a beautiful, innocent baby into such a messed up world. I don't even know how to be proactive and make it better. I feel like a sitting duck at home with my baby. How do you handle that? I don't want my daughter to grow up being afraid, but there is so much to fear! I pray about it, a lot, which does help. Is there a question somewhere in there? How do you get past the crippling fear that something bad will happen to your babies? Do you have a favorite prayer? Thank you so much. Been a rough week. Annie

The Answer:

Hey Annie, and thanks.

It's a fair question.

And first things first, depression, and postpartum depression especially, are real things that can't just be shrugged off or pushed through. If you feel like you have more than everyday anxiety, please seek help from a professional. Many women have gone through this before you, and getting help . . . helps. But if it's just worry, I have some thoughts about that.

I used to be a worrier. Not so much about big, important world events, but I was constantly worried about control of little stuff like traffic and slow checkout lines who was thinking what, and all the little minutia. What changed it for me was reading this book about/by Mother Angelica. It's not even really a biography, just a collection of quotes and insights. Reading it, I was floored by her faith and trust. How she really did trust God to take care of her and how that gave her an incredible boldness in all her endeavors. I wanted that freedom and confidence she had.

I realized, that if I was worried, what that really meant was that I didn't trust that God was really there, involved in the details of my life. So I started praying for the gift of faith and hope and trust.

It happened that we were going on a trip to Italy shortly thereafter and I got to put my new resolution to the test. We were supposed to board a train from Rome to Venice and wanted to squeeze in one last church visit to St. Paul Outside the Walls, and we cut it too close. My dad had stayed at the train station to watch the luggage and had loaded it all onto the train. My mom jumped on board, but Jim and I had the kids and they closed the doors right in front of us and the train pulled away. And there we were. I had the train tickets in hand, bought in the US, nonrefundable and nonchangeable, and that's it. Husband, thank God, and four little kids and a pregnant belly, but no suitcases, no passports, nothing.
And in that moment, I knew I would normally panic. But somehow, I didn't. Somehow I knew that however it went down, it would be okay.

And it was.

They didn't have to, but they put us on the next train, and they radioed the train we missed to tell them that my parents did in fact have tickets, and they bought us a pizza. It was lovely.

And now, I can really, honestly say, I am not worried about stuff.

It's not that I think bad things couldn't happen to me. I know that they could. We've just taken a risk on a crazy huge fixer upper house. It could be a dream or it could be a disaster. I understand that. But I also know that no matter what happens with money or houses, I am a child of God and I can be a Christian in any circumstance.

If I imagine the worst, the absolute worst scenarios . . . my husband dies and we become destitute, I get wrongfully arrested and my children are taken from me, I have to watch one of them suffer through a long illness, they ALL die in a car accident. Clearly, there's no human way I would be able to handle any of those things. But when I read the lives of the saints and I read how they faced terrible tragedy and kept their faith and got through it with God's help, I know the same would have to be true for me. I don't understand HOW, but I believe it would be true.

I know that as long as my priorities are right I can find joy and serve God no matter what happens to me, no matter what happens to the world.

So, how can I really be scared of anything in life? And, for a Catholic, death is nothing to fear at all. (As long as I get myself to confession on a regular basis.)

As for kids, I firmly believe that a troubled world is all the more reason to keep having babies. They bring our family so much joy.

We were sitting in the living room the night after the terrorist attacks in Paris, saying our family rosary. The big kids were being good and sitting in a seat as per our family rules, but we often let the two and four year olds just run around as long as they aren't too noisy. And the two of them came up with this game, rolling over each other on the carpet. It was just the cutest, most hilarious thing. And the rest of us are all trying to continue saying the rosary through our shoulder-shaking laughter. It was a really beautiful moment. And it made me so grateful to have this font of joy in my home, at a sad time in the world.

And it's my hope that each of these little people will grow up and go out into the world and make it a little better. A little less dark.

So, I guess my advice is, read the lives of the saints. Ask God to increase your faith. If you feel attacked by despair, say the St. Michael prayer. Remember St. Padre Pio's advice to Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry. Listen to Jesus and St. JPII who said again and again, "Be not afraid." And remember, when it seems like you can't do it yourself, that's because you can't. But God can.


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.

And now, from the more stuff I never thought I'd be doing file . . . Sarah wrote to ask me if I could resize the Blessing for Beer print so she could put it on a pint glass for her husband for Christmas, which is a really great idea. And I totally could have done that. But we are taking this week off of school. So I spent the day making a Printable Prayers Shop at Cafepress.

I made this stuff:

And much more, including posters, framed prints, and baby blankets in the most popular designs from the Etsy shop. And oh, yeah, pint glasses:

I can't believe I didn't think to do it before! Anyway, if there's a particular print of mine you'd like on something (pajamas, computer bag, dog shirt) just let me know. After all, 'tis the season for shutting the kids outside and trying to get some stuff done.

Update:  Argh. I licensed the little Star Wars guys from the artist who created them, and got permission in writing from PicMonkey that I was allowed to sell items with the superhero overlays. But CafePress flagged them as potentially in violation of copyright and all orders of that stuff is pending approval. I've pleaded my case via email. But we shall see. The stuff without little guys is all available. And you can still get the prayers themselves on Etsy. Sorry for the trouble and delay. Sir Topham Hatt would be so disappointed.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, America!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

So I Hear There's This Movie . . . Star Wars?

It's supposed to be a big deal. ;)

It's kind of all the small people in my house can talk about. Overshadowing even THE BIG MOVE . . . on team kid, at least.

They have watched the trailer only four hundred and sixty seven times.

Gus and Bobby have November and December birthdays just two weeks apart, and all the same interests, and all the same friends, so they've always shared a birthday party. 

We are a dedicated backyard birthday party family, but with the movie opening so close to their birthdays, they really, REALLY wanted to go to the movie with their friends. But those friends are spread out all over LA, so when we have parties, we invite whole families, which minimizes the driving burden. There was no way I was going to ask moms of many to drive one or two of their kids across town to drop them off at our house so we could take them to a movie, then have them turn around and come pick them up a couple hours later. I know I wouldn't be willing to do two hours of driving so my kids could go to a three hour long birthday party.

Then Bobby had THE BIG IDEA.

Bobby: Why can't we go around in the van and and pick everybody up?
Me: Because that would take the whole amount of time for a party.
Bobby: What if the party was IN THE VAN? Could we do that?
Me: Do people have parties in vans?
Jim: Yes, but they're called bachelor parties.

So, we're not having a bachelor party. But we are going to have the party in the van, I guess. It is a great van. I'll let you know in a few weeks if there's a reason people don't usually throw eighth and tenth birthday parties in their vans.

AND, since Star Wars is all my kids have been thinking about, I decided to make a whole batch of Star Wars printables for the shop, just in time for you to get your Christmas shopping done before Advent, if you're into that sort of thing.

It's possible I have gotten a little carried away.

Here's what's available . . . 

in square or 8x10

3. Tatooine Morning Offering and A Galaxy Far Far Away Act of Contrition

Appropriate for older kids, I'm told by my older kids, in 8x10s or squares

5. Yoda Quotes

6. Buddy Quote Set

square, but can easily be cropped to 8x10

These can be printed at home on your printer. Or you can visit tinyprints, mpix, or Shutterfly to get them made into prints, posters, throw pillows, mugs, candles, Christmas stockings, etc.

I actually made six of those square quotes, because the kids kept coming up with more quotes they wanted, but Etsy will only let you upload five files per listing. So, I figured I'd give you number six here on the blog, for free!

And since that's totally random, I also made this Little Morning Offering for you guys, also free, and not available in the shop.

(BB-8 is supposed to be an "O." It should be read O God, I offer you . . . )

Update: By popular demand, here it is as a square, excellent for throw pillows:

 As with all my printables, you are welcome to save the images to your computer for your own personal use. You may print the images and / or upload them and have prints made for your personal use or to give as gifts. First click on the image to bring it up in a new window, then right click on the image to save it to your computer. You may use my images on your blog, just please link back to my blog. If you would like to sell my images, please contact me first.

For LOTS MORE free printable prayers, check out my Pinterest board.

And for custom images, old favorites, and prayers, quotes, scripture, and catechism, available as high quality digital downloads, check out the shop!

You might also enjoy . . . 

The Force is Strong With These Guys (but you already knew that)

DIY Chewbacca Sleepsack Mod and a Homemade X-Wing Bomber

So that's that for now. Nothing to report, house-wise. Enjoy your Sunday!


Friday, November 20, 2015

Here We Go . . .

Winners of the Advent giveaway are at the bottom of the post . . . 

Well, I said I wasn't going to believe it was ours until I had the keys in hand.

But I'm still not sure I do believe it.

It's been quite a journey so far, and we're only just getting started. I'm going to try to not turn this blog into This Old House, but I can't make any promises.

Mostly, I'm thinking I should see if my wedding dress still fits, because I'm going to need it to properly Miss Havisham it up around my new tumbledown mansion.

Are you ready for ALL the (before) pictures?

There she is. Built in 1920.

Nine bedrooms, built for a family of . . . three. But now we're going to fill it up.

Is that a tennis court on the left? Yes, yes it is. I don't currently know how to play tennis. (But if I had ever learned I should have been a great proficient.) Is that a cabana behind the pool? *A* cabana? What are we, savages? That is two cabanas behind the pool.

Living room:

Dining room:

Butler's pantry with original hardware and warbly glass (butler not included):

 Original leaded glass windows:

And original light fixtures and fireplaces:

The kids will share the two biggest bedrooms. The husband and I will be moving into the servants' quarters, which seems appropriate somehow. We're going to turn it into a little suite, with a bedroom and an office, and . . . a chapel.

Because how could this room not be a chapel?

So, basically, the photos are too kind. It's a beautiful house, but it's in quite a state of disrepair. Fixing it up for us is going to be the work of months and years. I do like a project. We'll see if I still feel the same way this time next year.

It's a very, very big house. Nearly three times as big as our current house. It's bigger than we were looking for. And I worry I'll lose my children in it. But this was the only house we saw in months of looking that was in our price range and big enough to comfortably fit a family of ten. Twelve when my parents are with us.

I do love it. Dead rats and leaky roof and dingy kitchen and all.

And the fact that it's ours after all the false starts and setbacks and crazy banking regulations, really makes it feel meant to be.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers.

We're moving the first round of boxes this weekend, but we don't figure we'll be able to actually move in for a month or so, until after we do a few repairs.


And now, I owe you some winners. For all the details on these Advent resources, see the original Advent post here or click on the title to see them for yourself. If you won, please email me at and tell me what you won so you can get your prize before Advent begins! If I haven't heard back from you by Monday, I'll pick a new winner.

1. Light for the World: A Catholic Kid's Guide to Advent and Christmas 
 Mountain Mama

2. Waiting in the Word: a Mother's Advent Journey
 Susan Moser

3. Maple Leaf Liturgical Living Planner

4. Blessed is She Advent 2015 Journal **Digital Download**


5. The Nativity Characters in Cross Stitch
Debbie Affleck

6. Jesse Tree 3-D Printable Ornaments e-book
Use the coupon code catholicallyear to get 30% off anything in the shop through December 31st!

7. Nativity Advent Calendar to Print and Color

8. Our Family's Jesse Tree: 25 Jesse Tree Ornaments with Templates, Devotions, and Printable Activities

9. Couples Advent Devotional
 Lisa Burek

10. Printable Prayers Advent
 Jacqueline Meister
Kristen Rabideau