Saturday, April 28, 2018

Catholic Stuff Saturday: a LEGO Catechism Giveaway, and Odds and Ends from the Week

I'm trying out a new feature on the blog, which I've decided to call Catholic Stuff Saturday, and for which I have created this graphic:

which really makes whatever comes next worth it, right? πŸ˜€

Anyway, I get a lot of requests from Catholic authors and artists who want to share their products with me and with you readers. I've mostly declined, because I don't want you guys to feel like I'm always trying to sell you stuff. That's never been the point of this blog. But on the other hand, these are folks who have a talent, and have answered a call, and put themselves out there, and are making things you and I might appreciate having in our lives.

I'm not sure if I'm going to try to make this an every Saturday thing, or just a whenever the mood strikes me thing, but I'm hoping this will be a feature that will allow me to share my platform with other writers and makers, and to share good Catholic stuff with you readers. And giveaways! People like giveaways, right?

I've got a great one for you guys today, if you can make it to the bottom!

I'm also going to use it to catch you up on random kiddo odds and ends and stuff from our week, in case you're not on social media, or the algorithm gods weren't picking up what I was putting down this week.

So here goes nuthin' . . .

1. Last weekend was our school's big gala/auction/fundraiser. It was Gatsby-themed. I went and got my hair done, for the first time in FOREVER, like maybe since my wedding?  I can't remember.

Step one, the Beethoven:

Step two, the Miss Bates:

(Three dull things 😏)

Step three, the Lady Sybil: 

Dress and shoes are from Unique Vintage
Headpiece and gloves are from Amazon

Fur is borrowed from my 98 year old grandmother!

Aren't my parents the cutest?!

At the auction, I bid on and won this copy of my confession book, which someone else donated 😬. I was conflicted. But I really liked these little figurines! I like having little visual representations of the saints we celebrate, so that I can put them out on the table when we have our feast day dinners.

I looked them up and they're by Roman Inc. in a collection called Little Drops of Water They're made of resin and are very sturdy, but seem more decorative and not like toys to me.
I found them on Amazon: Our Lady of Fatima, St. Joseph with baby Jesus and lily, Sacred Heart Jesus, St. Patrick, St. Jude, Immaculate Heart Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, and there are lots of other choices.

2. Speaking of feast day dinners, here was our feast of St. George, with the nameday boy himself:

 I always make baby quilts for my babies before they're born, and I wanted to make one with St. George fabric, but I couldn't find any, so I designed some myself on Spoonflower. Check it out here (also available in wallpaper and wrapping paper, just in case). This was the fabric if baby had been a girl.

Mmmmm . . . bangers and mash.

Bobby's St. George Cross Apple Crisp!

3. My sister sent me this screen grab of my little prayer books at numbers one and three of all Children's Christian Books on Amazon! The Berenstain Bears are giving me a serious run for my money.

If you have a copy (and like it!) and have a moment to click on the appropriate link above and leave a quick Amazon review, I'd be really grateful!

4. I loved this status update from Fr. Kyle Doustou on Facebook.

He says:
A young father came to Mass today with his four children, two of whom were young toddlers. Needless to say, the chapel was joyfully noisy. I watched, though, how several people present became overtly annoyed and angry. I was afraid the poor man was going to get berated after Mass, so I made an announcement before the blessing thanking him for coming and said that his children are a loud and beautiful reminder that we have a future. I talked with him after Mass; they came from out-of-state because his wife had a medical appointment in Portland...he was thrilled to find a noontime Mass in the city and thanked us for being so accommodating.
If you are the type of person who gets annoyed to the point of anger because a small child makes noise during Mass, let me tell you in all charity to get over it. God’s House can’t be perfectly suited for your own needs all the is a family home and it is a hospital. It will get messy, stinky, loud, and distracting at times as the young, the old, the weary, and the sick make their way to Christ. If you get in their way, you’re going to have one upset priest on your hands.
Sir, thank you for bringing your children to Mass. Thank you for caring about the faith. Thank you for loving your children enough to expose yourself to embarrassment to bring them to Christ. Thank you for reminding us that we have a future. You, and anybody and everybody else, are always welcome.
So awesome! If you haven't had quite such a warm welcome for you and your kids at Mass, I've been there. It stings. But I stuck it out with my kiddos, even the hard ones, and it's worth it. We all deserve the Mass. Let's all pray for our priests!

5. And finally, remember that giveaway I mentioned? You guys are going to love this. It's the LEGO Catechism I mentioned is this post!

It's called Catechism of the Seven Sacraments, and the authors/photographers/masterminds behind the book are the O'Neills, a Catholic homeschooling family of nine! The book is a big, sturdy hardback book, packed full of meaningful, engaging theology and Bible history, illustrated with whimsical LEGO scenes. Mary O'Neill reached out to me and said I could give three copies away, one here on the blog, one on Facebook, and one on Instagram. You can enter each drawing. I'll announce the winner of the blog giveaway here next Saturday. The winner will have until Monday to email me, or I'll choose someone else.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me who in your life would benefit from this book! (If your name doesn't come up in your comment profile, please be sure to include your name in your comment.)

P.S. If you are a Catholic author or artist and you'd like to be featured in a future Catholic Stuff Saturday post, and do a giveaway, email me at I won't be able to accomodate everyone, but I'd be happy to take a look!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It's the Feast of St. Mark, or: Thank You For Participating, Here's Me Not Listening.

Thank you all so much for your responses to my reader survey! Almost 1500 of you took the time to fill it out. It's been really interesting to see the results, and to read all your kind feedback. Just ONE story of this blog being a part of a conversion or a deepening of someone's faith or a consolation in a season of crazy motherhood would make writing the blog worth it, but there were HUNDREDS! You guys better stop or you're going to make me rust.

You are welcome to participate in the survey still, and I'll see your answers, but I'm going to call it on the giveaway and award the set of

to lucky email number 381 (as selected by google's random number generator): Annie! Annie, I sent you an email!

  • As expected, my readers are 99% female. 
  • Half of you are 25-34, nearly all the rest are 35-55. 
  • 90% of you are American, but that other 10% is spread all over the globe, with every region represented. (And one write in for Texas! 😁) 
  • 90% are Catholic or working on it, 10% are not Catholic (and very welcome!)
  • 56% of you have 3 or more kids (true of only 38% of the rest of the mothers in this country)
  • The 60% of you who have school-aged kids are pretty evenly split between homeschooling, brick and mortar Catholic schools, and brick and mortar public schools.
  • 10% of you are new since George, 50% of you have been around since Mary Jane, and 40% of you have been around all the way since Lulu. 
  • 70% of you are on Facebook, which used to be SUCH a great way for me to reach you, and is now less great. Only a fraction of people who follow Catholic All Year on Facebook see my posts these days. There's always hand-wringing in the blogger community when algorithms change, but this is the first one that really noticeably affected my numbers. Still, I can't quit it. The immediate interaction is so convenient.
  • About 40% of you are getting the posts via email or a feed reader, which means YOU get ALL the posts. πŸ‘ You can sign up for emails in the sidebar right there πŸ‘‰
  • You definitely want me to write blog posts and you especially want notice ahead of time on upcoming feast days, and random kid stuff. You want parenting posts, you want to see Gramblewood, and you want book, TV, and movie recommendations. 
  • So many of you have the Confession book, and the wall calendar, which really makes me happy, because *I* also have and use them for my family.
  • And over 70% of you are planning to get the Catholic All Year Compendium when it comes out in the fall!
  • A liturgical year prayer book and a liturgical year recipe book were the big winners for favorite new project ideas, but almost 15% of you did not hate my leggings idea, for which I thank you. 😘
A full 75% of you want some notice on saints' days celebrations. Here's me ignoring that advice and telling you that TODAY is the Feast of St. Mark: scribe, evangelist, naked guy in the Bible.

Wait. What? 

It's true. St. Mark's gospel features the description of a young man who, after Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, ended up fleeing the scene in his altogether. He's known as "the naked fugitive" (don't google that) and is considered by Bible historians to be the evangelist himself. πŸ‘πŸ‘ˆπŸ™ˆ  (See Mk 14:48-52.) 

Unrelated to St. Mark, April 25th is also the Major Rogation Day, traditionally a day of abstinence from meat as a sacrifice offered for the intention of a successful harvest. See more on Rogation Days in this post:  


St. Mark's symbol is a winged lion, and he is the patron saint of Venice. I picked up two cheese pizzas from Aldi for dinner tonight, and red, yellow, and orange bell peppers to slice and arrange into a mane. Olive eyes, pineapple chunk nose, boom, it's a lion. A meat-free lion. (πŸ¦πŸ¦πŸ’Ž)

April 28th is the Feast of St. Gianna Molla. For us, it's also the anniversary of the day we spent in the hospital with Frankie last year after he was javelined in the head with a pvc pipe and ended up seizing and unresponsive with a fractured skull. His favorite part of that experience was the jello. So, I figure we'll have jello here to celebrate. And one can only assume that St. Gianna made a mean lasagna, so that's what I'm going to attempt. 

See you again soon!


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Help ME Help You with the 2018 Catholic All Year Reader Survey and Prayer Book Set Giveaway

Dear Readers,

My big takeaway from all the hubbub of the last week . . . is that I've really missed blogging! Somehow, just microblogging on Facebook and Instagram doesn't feel the same as being here on the blog and writing things that live on to be googled by new readers, or by me, when I need to verify the birthday of baby number seven by googling her birth story. #thankyoublogging

So, even though I've got a handful of major home decorating projects in the works, I've got a bee in my bonnet to be back in this space more often, and creating more content in general, and I'd like your help in figuring out how I can do that best for you.

Enter . . . my first ever reader survey!

It's a quick, 18 question survey in google drive. You stay anonymous, but I get a feel for the types of posts and projects you'd most like to see.

Click here to take the survey. πŸ‘‡

Catholic All Year 2018 Reader Survey

As a thank you, you can be entered into a drawing to win a set of my three new kids' prayer books! Just email me at after you complete the survey. 

Here's what you could win!

And thank you all so much for liking these little books as much as I do! The Superhero version is on Amazon's new release bestseller list! πŸ˜²πŸ˜€πŸŽ‰

Also, way to keep it super-Catholic on the also bought/viewed list, people.

Catechism? ✔
Devotionals? ✔
Saints? ✔
Jennifer Fulwiler? ✔
Homeschool? ✔
Fertility monitor paraphernalia? ✔

P.S. My A Little Book About Confession for Children has been out of stock on Amazon for ages, because of some warehousing issues with Ignatius. I'm told it will be back in stock any day now, but in the meantime, it's available directly from the publisher, and at many other Catholic retailers.

Happy weekend everyone!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Prayer Books Are Back, Baby! (With free printables!)

The three little prayer books are fixed, approved and currently available for next day shipping with prime!

New and improved, now with correct Sign of the Cross pages! They've got the Frankie stamp of approval.

Here's my very professional announcement video:

You're going to ask about the leggings. Here they are.

Here's the set! More details on each book are in this post:


All three are available and Amazon seems to be playing around with the prices a bit. Last I looked, the Superhero one was a dollar off! And the others were on sale, too! They'll ship anywhere in the world.

Here are the links to see them on Amazon. The "look inside" feature is showing the original sign of the cross page, but you will receive a book with the new version.

My Superhero Prayer Book

My Fairy-tale Prayer Book

My Woodland Prayer Book

Each book contains 23 Traditional Catholic prayers in the USCCB recommended wording, plus how to pray the Rosary.

Prayers included are: Sign of the Cross, Apostle's Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Our Lady's Fatima Prayer, Hail Holy Queen, Rosary Prayer, St. Michael Prayer, How to Pray the Rosary, The Mysteries of the Rosary, Grace Before Meals, Grace After Meals, Morning Offering, Prayer to One's Guardian Angel, Angelus, Regina Caeli, Memorare, Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory, Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love, Act of Spiritual Communion, and Act of Contrition.

The Superhero and Fairy-tale books feature boy and girl characters with different skin tones.

They're also available as printable PDFs in my Etsy shop.

Here's their official endorsement from some of my children. Very impartial:

Here's a blog post explanation of the mistake that was in the original version, and the fun that ensued when I tried to fix it.


Every time I escalated the issue to a higher level at Createspace (the Amazon self-publishing platform), I got a different explanation as to why the files had been rejected. Finally, my fifteen year old son suggested that I, in direct opposition to the instructions given to me in emails (not phone calls. NEVER phone calls. πŸ¦πŸ˜†) . . . just delete the files and upload the exact same files again. They were approved within hours.

So, here are the new sign of the cross pages, as images. You are welcome to have these images for your own personal use, or to share on social media or on your blog, whether you buy the books or not. Just click on an image to open it in a new window, then right click to save it to your computer.

And here is a link to them as PDFs. (Using the PDF files should ensure that they print at the correct size for the book). If you've got the book with the error, you can print these full-page images, or a smaller patch that's also available at the link.πŸ‘‡


I hope you enjoy them! And happy Easter and First Holy Communion season to all!


Monday, April 16, 2018

My Books are in Purgatory, or: a Journey in GIFs. Check Out THESE Books Instead?

Update: the books are back in stock on Amazon!


Well, that book launch didn't go exactly according to plan. I was going to wait to publish this post until I could tell you the books were available again on Amazon, but they're still not. They ARE currently available as PDFs in my Etsy shop. If you bought any of the books before I took them down from Amazon, I've got some possible solutions for you, down at the bottom. Plus four amazing books you can get NOW to read while we wait (and wait and wait and wait) . . .

Here's what happened in case you missed it

The tl:dw version is: I inadvertently made the sign of the cross illustration in all three books in the Eastern rite style, with the right shoulder before the left shoulder, rather than Roman rite style, which is left shoulder then right shoulder. This is that version:

It is customary in both rites to use the right hand, whether one is left or right handed. So, as it was, it didn't even work as a mirror image, since they'd have to be using their left hands. But that made me realize that it's probably easier for kids to learn by looking at a mirror image anyway, so I redid the pages as the characters looking into a mirror, with clearer instructions for grownup helpers. This is what they look like now:

So, overall, I'm happier with the concept, but I'm not loving the timeline upon which it all happened.

I showed proofs of the book (and the sign of the cross page in particular because it was my favorite πŸ˜•) to my husband and kids, to my Catholic blogging mastermind group, to my Catholic makers group of over two hundred Catholic artists, and to my IRL friends at our parkday. And none of us noticed it was backwards. But within a few minutes on Instagram . . . YOU guys noticed, Emily first.

So, my initial reaction is . . .

And I start typing up a reply about how you've got to hold the book up next to you. But then I'm like . . . 

it must be a mirror image. But it wasn't.

It was just wrong.

So I texted the husband.

It was.

I disabled the books on Amazon. I redid the images. (Sarah O'leary is the artist for all the books, but I did the design and built the sign of the cross pages myself out of her illustrations.) I recreated the PDFs and re-uploaded them to Createspace. It's supposed to take 24 hours for them to review the files for content and formatting. So I waited.

And waited.

And first thing the next morning, ahead of schedule, I got three emails from Createspace for the three books. One was approved. Two were rejected because the border design includes images that get trimmed off during the printing and binding process. Even though that was my intention and they are clearly patterns and all the books had been approved first try last time and the borders hadn't changed at all since then.

So I called and requested a review of the previous review. And they said up to two business days for that.

And I'm looking at my email like . . .

And today I heard from them and now they're saying the problem is that the books aren't formatted to the correct size. Even though they are. And they're saying that the number of pages has changed since I uploaded them the first time. Even though it hasn't.

So I call customer service and the gal's like, "Yeah. You're right, I can see here that none of that has changed. That's so weird."

Me: "So, can you approve them?" Her: "No. That's the approval department. They have to approve the files." Me: So, can I talk to them?" Her: "No. They don't have a phone."

So the books continue to languish in book purgatory, until they (or I) have become sufficiently detached from worldly entanglements, which I'm told is up to two business days.

So, anyway, if you bought the books already, the sign of the cross page will be backwards in your books. You can . . .

1. Become Byzantine. Problem solved.
2. Download these files and glue in a replacement page of the mirror image sign of the cross page, or a patch that corrects the image as is. Clink link here πŸ‘‡.

My Prayer Book: Sign of the Cross Pages + Patch

I've included the original/backwards/Eastern rite pages there as well, in case Eastern rite folks want to sub in that page once the new version is for sale.
3. Return the book to Amazon, and re-order when the new one becomes available. Amazon will destroy the returned books.
4. Mail your copies of the book to me (each weighs 2.8 oz and is 6x9 in). Once the new version is available, I will order a box of them and ship the new ones out to everyone. Then I will find an Eastern rite home for the returned books. If you prefer not to wait for that shipping timeline (it would be probably 2 weeks?), you can re-order for yourself on Amazon Prime and I will give you a $15 credit for anything in my Etsy shop. Email me at for more details and/or my address.

Looking for a book you can actually BUY? And ya know, read? Well, I've got some recommendations in that department.

1. Made for This: The Catholic Mom's Guide to Birth by Mary Haseltine

This is the book the Catholic world didn't know it needed. But it TOTALLY did. It's a comprehensive look at birth through a Catholic lens. And for as life-changing an event as giving birth, what a blessing that is!

This book is a whole person resource for the spiritual, physical, emotional, medical, and practical aspects of birth. It is for all types of birth. It supports all types of women who have had all types of experiences. It is a book for a first time mom or a great grand mulitpara. I'd even recommend it for women whose childbearing is ahead of or behind them. It's just a well-written, thoughtful, informational look at an important subject from an important perspective.

And I wrote a tiny bit of it.

You can get it here.

2. Catechism of the Seven Sacraments By Kevin and Mary O'Neill

I went to grab this book to take pictures of it for this post tonight, and it wasn't where I was sure I had left it, sitting on my desk. I started retracing my steps around the house, trying to figure out how I could have been carrying this very hefty, sturdy, hardcover book around with me and not remember doing it, when I had a thought of where it might be.

And I was right.

Gus (10) had snatched it from my desk and was reading it in bed.

This is an impressive book. It tackles Biblical history from creation to salvation, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s teachings on Covenant Theology in a fun, accessible, LEGO-based format. Strange but true.

Super cool.

Get it here.

3. The Literary Medicine Cabinet: A Guide to Self-Care Through Good Books by Haley Stewart

This is a charming concept and an excellent resource. Haley shares a list of truly excellent books, and exactly why and when we should read them. (I love the cover art too, by Katrina of Rose Harrington Art. So fun.) If you're wondering which book to pick up next, pick up THIS book, and then you'll know.

Haley has offered a discount code for us too, yay! $1 off for Catholic All Year readers by using the code ALLYEAR.

Find it here.

4. One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both by Jennifer Fulwiler

Okay, this one isn't quite available yet. But you can pre-order it.

And look how amazing the cover is! (Yes, I do have book covers on the brain right now.)

I haven't read it yet, but I wanted to share this now, so you can check out Jen's book trailer and BOOK TOUR and pre-order the book here. She's not coming to California. Boo. But maybe she's coming to you!

Okay, that's it for me for tonight.

I will leave you with this . . .


Thursday, April 12, 2018

It's my Book Launch Day! Not THAT Book, but still . . .

I have some fun news!

I have three little books out and published today!

Rosary by Chews Life
Dolls by Shining Light Dolls: Our Lady, and Pope St. JPII the Great
I have not forgotten about my *REAL* book! It now has an official name: <trumpet fanfare> The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life. 

I'm going through the copyedits on the almost four hundred page liturgical living in the home beastie this week, and I am really pleased with how it's turning out. It's been so long since I actually did the writing (I know, I KNOW) that I'm reading through it almost like a real reader and quite enjoying it. Does that sound terrible? πŸ˜†πŸ’But I AM! It's my truth. I can't wait for you guys to get to read it too!

The copyeditor is amazing, by the way. She has fact-checked every quote and saint story and wild speculation in the book. She has fixed my grammar while retaining my "voice." She has crossed-out approximately one thousand "actually"s and "particular"s. It's been a very long process, but I hope you'll think it's worth the wait.

And it actually (there I go again) won't be as long a wait as it was going to be. The book was originally slated for a spring 2019 release, but I talked the powers that be into moving it up to fall 2018. It's set to head to the presses in August.

The cover is currently being created by the very talented Tricia Dugat of Providential Co. She's an amazing Catholic artist I first encountered on Instagram (go follow her @providential_co !). I was thrilled when my editor at Ignatius agreed to let her do the cover. Here's a sneak peak at one of six panels she's working on for the book.

But back to the books that you can get NOW!

Here's the story . . .

I had a reader write to me through my Etsy shop and ask if I'd be willing to design seven prayers in a superhero theme for a boy with Down syndrome in her first grade religious ed class who would benefit from fun but easy-to-read versions of the prayers. I did NOT have time to do that. I had improperly formatted hundreds of citations in the liturgical living book manuscript and had to go back through and re-do all of them. <headdeskπŸ™‡> I was trying to get two bathrooms, a hallway, the guest room, the schoolroom, and the back staircase painted and decorated before our big St. Patrick's Day Hooley for 300 people. Also, I needed to plan a party for 300 people.

But I got this idea in my head of Superman demonstrating the sign of the cross, and I knew it just had to exist in the world. So I said I'd do it as soon as the party was over, and I did.

THEN I got to thinking about how Frankie was making his First Holy Communion this year too, and wouldn't it be nice if I did fun, superhero versions of ALL the prayers with which I'd like him to be familiar? And why not get them printed up for him in a little book and put it in his Easter basket?

*This is what it's like to be in my head, people. It's a whirlwind.*

And as long as I was making one for him, why not make them for Gus and Anita, too? Because aren't they also my students? Yes they are.

So, partially as an excuse to not start painting and decorating the last three rooms of the house that need it, but also as a loving mother . . . I increased the number of prayers to 23, added how to say the Rosary, made three versions, and researched the best way to get them printed. It turned out that far and away the most cost effective was Createspace . . . which is affiliated with Amazon. And with a few clicks, I could make them available to all! So I did that too. And here they are:

My Superhero Prayer Book

You can find it at Amazon here. (If you get one -- and like it -- will you leave a review?)
And as a printable pdf at my Etsy shop here. (You can see lots more interior images here.)

Here's the Superman sign of the cross!

My Fairy-tale Prayer Book

You can find it at Amazon here. (If you get one -- and like it -- will you leave a review?)
And as a printable pdf at my Etsy shop here. (You can see lots more interior images here.)

My Woodland Prayer Book

You can find it at Amazon here. (If you get one -- and like it -- will you leave a review?)
And as a printable pdf at my Etsy shop here. (You can see lots more interior images here.)

The illustrations are by Sarah O'leary. She's got an Etsy shop called Prettygrafikdesign that's super DUPER cute.

Here's a very impartial review by three of my progeny:

And now, I need to get back to work on finishing the copyediting review on the Compendium. Then it's off to finish paint/wallpaper/decoration in the laundry room, baby storage, and . . . the chapel. I have some BIG ideas for that. We'll have to see what I can actually manage. (Oh, by the way, if anyone has any leads on beautiful old Catholic art or furnishings that are languishing in storage somewhere, please let me know. We would love to rescue it!)

I also want to create expanded prayer books for young men and women (Jack will be confirmed this year!). I want to put together a family prayer book companion to the Compendium, of all the prayers I recommend in there. I want to put together a recipe book companion to the Compendium, of all the recipes we use. And I want to blog! I really do want to blog. I miss blogging. I'm around Facebook and Instagram on the regular, so comment here and come say hi there. And please let me know what you think of the prayer books and if there's anything else that you think I should put on my to do list. I live to serve. πŸ˜ƒ

P.S. There was an error in the original version of the books that went up on Amazon. It's corrected now, but if you have a book with a backwards sign of the cross page, please see this post for more details!