Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Un-Bookish Reader's Guide to Falling in Love with Fiction

It's always a pleasure to guest post over at my friend Haley's blog, Carrots for Michaelmas.  She describes herself as "bookish" and as much as I'd love to have that describe me, it just doesn't.  If it doesn't describe you either, then maybe my post today will inspire you to read anyway.  Here's a little excerpt:

"Imagine the quintessential “bookish woman.” In your image, is she sitting next to the fire or in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea in hand? Is she reading Austen? Shakespeare? Fitzgerald? 
I am not that woman. I’m ambivalent toward tea at best.  I love to read, but I’m much more likely to lose myself in war history than a classic. Not only do I struggle to enjoy literature, but I regard myself as a fairly lousy fiction reader.  I struggle to find underlying themes or analyze literary devices.  
We’re often told, “Follow your passions,” and “pursue your strengths.” But what about the things that we aren’t particularly passionate or skilled?  Is it worth the effort to find ways to enjoy and pursue endeavors to which we are not innately drawn? While I don’t get excited by exercising or eating healthy, I actively look for ways to make these them more enjoyable because I see their value.  I’ve also done the same about exercising and feeding my mind through literature. Literature is not something that is a natural passion of mine but because I see the value of incorporating literature into my life, I’ve found ways to enjoy it and to become a better literature reader...continue reading at Carrots for Michaelmas

If you're looking for a little non-fiction to break up your fiction reading, don't forget about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.  Save 95% off 80+ resources! And please, please, please save yourself some money by buying the PDF version and sending the files to your Kindle/Kindle app yourself.  You can see my how-to post here. 

As a little thank you for buying through my affiliate link, I'm giving away a Lilla Rose Flexi clip to one randomly chosen person who does.  After you make your purchase, email a copy of your receipt to to be entered.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Send Ebooks (or Other Docs) to Your Kindle/Kindle App

If you are at all involved with the blogging world, you've heard of ebooks.  Instead of purchasing print versions of books, you can often buy it as an ebook for a little cheaper.  Bloggers also offer ebooks as incentives to sign up for newsletters, as a bonus to those who pre-order their books, or to  share their expertise without having to go through the formal publication process.

I will admit that I've largely not seen the purpose of ebooks until just recently.  The main reason?  I've downloaded most of them as PDFs and then they've just sat there on my desktop.  I spend too many hours on the computer already that the idea of being chained to my computer to read is unappealing.  My first choice is still to read a physically real paper book, but I am perfectly happy reading an ebook on my Kindle Fire or, most often, the Kindle app on my husband's iPad - especially if the book is free, much cheaper, or only available in digital form.  

So, when I found out there was a way to email a PDF ebook to my Kindle app (and that the process took only seconds), all my problems were solved!  In case you would find this as useful as I do, here are the quick and easy steps for emailing a document to your Kindle reader.

The following directions will work with the following document types: Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX), HTML (.HTML, .HTM), RTF (.RTF), Text (.TXT), JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG), Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW), GIF (.GIF), PNG (.PNG), BMP (.BMP), and PDF (.PDF)

1. Go to Scroll to the bottom of the page. Under "Let Us Help You" at the right click on "Manage Your Kindle".  (You may have to log in at this point if you haven't already.)

2. From there, click on "Personal Document Settings" located in the options along the left under "Your Device and Settings".

Notice I have some ebooks that I sent to my library recently. The "author" comes up as the email address I sent it from.

3. Check that your email address is on the "Approved Document E-mail List".  Only emails on this list are able to send documents to your Kindle/the Kindle app on a device.  If yours in so there, you can add it by clicking on "Add a new approved e-mail address" at the bottom.

4. Now, take note of the email address* for your device.  If you have multiple devices (for example, I have a Kindle Fire and an iPad with the Kindle app), you may have a different e-mail address for each one.

5. Go to your email and send your ebook/document to the Kindle email address* associated with the device you want it on.  The subject line can either be left blank or you can type "convert" in the subject box if you would like to convert to document to Kindle format. Then just attach your document and press send.  You can have up to 25 attachments in one email so if you have many ebooks sitting on your computer, you can transfer them together in one email.  (You can also send to up to 15 separate emails to get them to all your various devices at once.)  

Once you know the email addresses for your devices, you can send documents anytime starting with the last step!  There are also several other ways to get documents onto your Kindle/Kindle app, including USB and an app on your computer that would allow you to right click on a document and choose "Send to Kindle".  For more information on your other options, see this info on or this helpful blog post

If you are looking for some books to fill up your Kindle, there is a HUGE Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that goes on sale today. (Affiliate links below.) My sweet friend Haley's ebook, Feast, is one of the ebooks in the sale and if it is any indication of the quality of books involved, it's well worth the $29.97 (for over 80 ebooks!).

Don't get caught up on the word "homemaking" - these books are not all about the best way to vacuum but about what truly makes a home - marriage, health, homeschooling, working from home, motherhood, food, finances, pregnancy, faith, and more.  Even if you were only interested in the books in a few of the categories, you'd be getting well over your $30 worth and filling up that Kindle with a library of books to reference in your future homemaking.

To see a list of the books included and to purchase your copy, click here or on the button below.  There is a Kindle option for a little bit more but now that you know how to send the PDFs yourself, save the difference and use it toward putting some of the ideas in these ebooks into action.  This sale is only six days, so be sure to purchase your copy by April 28th.

As a little thank you for buying through my affiliate link, I'm giving away a Lilla Rose Flexi clip to one randomly chosen person who does.  After you make your purchase, email a copy of your receipt to to be entered.

*IMPORTANT: Documents sent through the Kindle Personal Documents Service are delivered over Whispernet. Amazon charges a small fee ($0.15 per MB) for Whispernet delivery. To avoid this fee, change the address to instead of  This will ensure documents are delivered over Wi-Fi, which is free!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pregnancy Loss Resources: A book about the science behind miscarriage

Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth about Miscarriage by Jon Cohen

Coming to Term is a different type of miscarriage book - it's purpose is not to comfort women or share personal narratives and coping strategies; instead it explores the scientific research behind miscarriage which, in it's own way, can be a comfort to those who have experienced pregnancy loss.  The author, Jon Cohen, is a journalist who, after having gone through his wife's multiple losses, noticed that doctors seemed to have very few concrete facts about miscarriage and set out to discover the scientific truth behind miscarriage himself by piecing together the scant medical research on the topic.

I read Coming to Term after my first miscarriage and was a bit ambivalent about it; after having a second miscarriage soon after, I'm grateful to have read it.  Knowing some concrete facts about the causes of miscarriage and some of the potential treatments kept me from losing hope after my second loss.  I still often repeat to myself the statistic that Cohen shares: a woman who has a history of repeat miscarriages - three or more - still has a 70% chance of carrying a pregnancy to term without medical intervention.

Perhaps the biggest lessons to be learned from this book is that miscarriage is more common than it was once thought, is largely still a mystery, and most miscarriages cannot be prevented.  Those are some tough facts to face for women that want answers and treatments, but can also be a comfort to know the truth, especially for the many men and women who are told conflicting, outdated, and non-evidence-based information from various medical professionals.

In additional to the hopeful statistics for future pregnancies, the two additional pieces of information that I have felt most useful to me are: 1) Research shows that approximately 50% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, which couples have no control over.  These losses are, essentially, just "bad luck" and do not raise the risk for future miscarriages. 2) Blood clotting disorders cause a significant number of miscarriages and the use of heparin and aspirin during pregnancy has been shown to raise the chances of successfully carrying a baby to term.  Because I read this book, I was able to ask my doctor about testing for blood clotting disorders.

I would caution women from reading this book right after a miscarriage.  Give yourself a few months to heal and read some of the more compassionate experience-sharing books first.  (I recommend After Miscarriage and Angels in my Heart.)  I found Coming to Term at times to be very difficult to read because it approached miscarriage in a clinical way.  In addition, there is frequent reference to abortion (there are some very strong links between abortion and miscarriage research), fertility treatments that do not respect the dignity of life, and surrogacy, all of which bring up ethical/moral issues and may be difficult to handle soon after a loss.

A consumer-focused view of parenthood runs throughout the book, though it certainly isn't the author's focus or even his intention; he simply includes stories of real couples, many which unfortunately include elements of this.  It is worth reading this book for the valuable medical information it contains; however, make sure you have healed enough and are prepared to be confronted by these issues.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    I bought into the Frozen hype. Now I want a refund.

    I feel like I am the last person to see Frozen, however, if that person is actually you: Warning! Spoilers abound!

    I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but I bought into the Frozen hype.  David and I have been wanting to get our hands on a copy since it came out on DVD, but it's been all but impossible to find at a Redbox until this past weekend.  We were just as excited to watch it ourselves as we were to show it to Lucia.  

    Big mistake.  If I had watched it expecting a Disney movie, I probably would have enjoyed it tolerably well, but I was expecting the Disney movie of the year decade century and I was sorely, sorely disappointed.  So much so that as I stayed awake the last few nights with a sick toddler, I couldn't help wondering exactly what I found lacking in the movie. 

    1) The "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" storyline seemed contrived and a bit too obvious. I heard so many people saying, "Finally! A realistic Disney movie!" Realistic? Might I remind you of the anthropomorphic snowman? Or the character that controls wintery weather? Who watches a Disney movie for realism?  Isn't the whole point of fairy tales (and Disney movies are the fairy tales of modernity) to teach morals through the use of a fantastic story? They are supposed to get kids thinking and analyzing in order to find the moral.  But, apparently, it's much easier these days to just have the sister of the main character say the moral pointblank.  Unless the moral of the story is actually "your older sister knows best".  In addition to feeling like this "fairy tale rewrite" was a little forced in order to please the modern woman, it's also not a consistent message throughout the film (see #2 and #6).

    2) Hans must be evil because Kristoff is good. If we're talking about realism, let's talk about this love triangle.  In real life, it's not unusual that a woman might be interested in two men, but rarely is one all good and the other pure evil.  But I guess that's where people stop praising Frozen for being realistic.  As soon as I saw the love match-up between Anna and Kristoff, I knew that Hans would turn out to be the bad guy.  Not because anything in the movie suggested that, but because I knew Disney just wouldn't make a female character choose between two good guys. You can't marry a man you just met, but you still have to marry your one true love.  I was hoping that Anna would actually have to make a choice and that there would indeed be a new and exciting departure from the classic Disney princess model.  But apparently the only thing that has changed in princess relationships is a longer dating period.

    3) "She's my sister. She'd never hurt me." I saw a meme of this going around facebook a while back with friends tagging their sisters as a sign of the sisterly bond. Did they see the movie? Elsa does in fact hurt Anna, which would be somewhat understandable if it were done on accident (the ice in the heart was an accident after all) but she sent a snow monster after her. And then later Elsa was so upset to find out that Anna was dead. Well, it very well could have been that snow monster!  Anyway, this movie is touted as so new and unique because it's sisterly love and not true love's kiss that saved Anna, but that ending was pretty obvious from early on in the movie though, wasn't it?

    4) The bipolar snow queen was too much for me. One minute, Elsa is running away from her kingdom in tears because she revealed her powers, scared her subjects, and could have killed them. A moment later, she "let[s] it go" and changes herself from a modestly dressed princess to a sexy snow goddess complete with a slit up the leg.  She spends her childhood hiding from her kingdom and the sister she loves in order to protect them, then quickly changes into an angry, bitter witch.  Then at the end the movie, she is back in her kingdom frolicking with others - even though she was just enjoying herself living free in isolation.  The mood swings are a bit too drastic.  Even if I don't care that Disney movies are realistic, the emotions of the characters should still make sense for the fantastic situations they are in.

    5) The trolls seemed unnecessary. The role of comic relief was already taken by Olaf. And Kristoff. And Sven. And they seemed to undermine the whole "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" moral as "love experts" who wanted Kristoff and Anna to marry right away. I did agree with their advice that you can't change a person and that no one is perfect, but that was just another romantic love lesson that was being shoved into this movie that was primarily about sororal love. 

    6) We rented Turbo last week and it got more play in our house than Frozen. Lucia just didn't like it. She didn't ask to rewatch it once, whereas we kept Turbo for days because she was thrilled to watch it over and over.  They are different types of movies, but Lucia enjoys the traditional Disney princess movies - one of her current favorites is Sleeping Beauty - and some more story driven cartoon movies like The Prince of Egypt. Frozen just did not keep her interest. 

    That said, I appreciate that Disney has seemed to revive an interest in making music-filled movies based on classic fairy tales. I just think they would do a bit better if they kept closer to the original story lines like they did in the past. I couldn't see any resemblance of Frozen to it's supposed influence, Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen".  Other than the snow, of course.

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Please excuse me while I kiss the sky throw everything into one post.

    Is anyone else looking to Easter with great anticipation?  This Lent has left me exhausted and I'm somewhat nervous to find out what the intensification of Lent through Holy Week will bring.  So will you forgive my lack of blogging prowess and accept this meager recap of some Holy Week resources, favorite links, recent going-ons, answers to Kendra's questions, all set to some lovely photos of our Saturday at the park?  This post might be a bit too busy, just like me.

    Holy Week resources:

    Favorite Links:
    In Defense of Fanny Price: Why You Don't Like Mansfield Park as Much as You Should (Carrots for Michaelmas) - I read Mansfield Park as part of a book group both Haley and I are a part of and after reading this post, found myself liking Fanny (and MP).
    What to Say Instead of Praising (Aha! Parenting) - I made a chart out of the "instead of"/"try" phrases and it resides on our fridge. I am so ready to quit with the "Good job!" ad nauseum.
    Age-Appropriate Chores for Children (Flanders Family) - I'm quite tickled that "bake cookies" is listed as a chore and that Lucia is old enough to carry firewood.
    For when you're having an "I'm not enough" week (Lisa-Jo Baker) - Encouragement for moms in the trenches.
    The Bookish Mum: Reading to Feed Your Soul and Intellect (Fountains of Home) - The first post in an exciting new series by Christy. 
    Stop Saying God is Good (Miss Elainious) - God's goodness is not conditional. Period.
    A Man of Peace: Fr. Fans van der Lugt, SJ (The Jesuit Post) - Lessons from the life of a Jesuit killed while caring for the people of Homs, Syria.
    Why You Should Never, Ever, Ever Get a Tattoo (but Having a Baby is Fine) (the ugly volvo) - Your laugh for the week. You're welcome.  (In case your wondering, my formal stance is both pro-tattoo and pro-baby though resoundingly anti-baby tattoos.)

    Recent Going-Ons:
    Lucia threw a pair of panties into the pew in front of us at Mass yesterday.  So, that happened.  

    Lucia always says, "What's this guy?" when asking what anything is. A shoe on the floor: "What's this guy?" Daddy gets home: "What's this guy?" 

    She also calls inanimate objects "little guy".  As in, "Don't worry, little guy. I protect you." (said to a wooden spoon)

    She calls the one year old I watch twice a week, Mary Margaret, "Little Buddy", "Pal" and even says, "Mary Margaret is my sister. Come here, sister." 

    Her favorite new lovey is "sugar bear".  Nope, not a cute nickname, it's an actual clay brown sugar bear pilfered from my kitchen. The success of the enormous toy industry is amazing considering that children rarely play with actual toys.

    My parents will be here on Good Friday! They helped us move out here (the first time we moved here in July 2012) and my mom came out here for a week to help me after Lucia was born, so this is the first time they'll be here without being put to work.

    We started learning Creighton (a method of NFP) in an attempt to find and fix the causes of our miscarriages a few weeks ago.  It's gone pretty well so far.  I had my first follow-up this week and my instructor thought I seemed to know what I was doing.  There was a little part of me that was afraid of flunking out.  Not like that a possibility but I'm the queen of weird irrational phobias.

    1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass? 10:45 on Sunday morning. We get to sleep in late, David usually makes a big breakfast (early enough for us to still have an hour fast before Mass), and Lucia does much better than the Sunday evening Mass. (Panty toss was at the Sunday 5:30pm Mass.)  A fun bonus is that this seems to be the Mass where all the parishioners we know attend.

    2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold? I may be one of the only people who thinks living in Phoenix sounds like a good idea.  I love hot hot hot weather.  I HATE being cold.

    3. How many brothers and/or sister do you have? I have one brother five years younger than me.  Fun fact: I remember people always telling my parents how cute it was that we called each other "brother" and "sis".  We still do.

    4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into? Nancy Pelosi? I'm totally not saying that to get political; the pictures of her with her "crazy eyes" that make the rounds on the web give me nightmares.

    5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down? Big thumbs up! I had tons as a kid. I'm not opposed to Lucia playng with them if she wants, but the poor girl is going to have to get by hand-me-downs with the misshapen heads. (When  your brother pulls the head off and you try to put them back on, they never look the same. They're always a bit more smooshed and round.) To make up for the weird heads, I do have some neat clothes sewn by one of my grandmothers. She passed away when I was in high school, so she never got to meet Lucia and I think it will be neat to watch Lucia play with the Barbie clothes she made.

    6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say? Don't talk badly about your spouse to anyone. Just don't.

    a birthday party photo bombed us

    Finish out Lent strong, my friends. Don't get caught Lent-handed!

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Our Song

    Originally posted 3/20/12 as part of the link up at NFP and Me. Revived today to link up with Camp Patton's Wedding Song Dance Along (and because the blog's been pretty silent this week).  

    What's your song? Share a video if there is one.
    My husband and I have two songs.  Neither one is a traditional "love song" if you really listen to the words.  Early on in our dating relationship, our song was "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the movie "Once").  

    Our first dance song at our wedding reception, "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon, has since replaced it as "our song".  

    Did you always have a song or did you have to find one?
    "Falling Slowly" became our song naturally because we watched "Once" together early in our relationship when it was shown one Friday night as part of my university's independent/foreign film series.  Because the lyrics are more about a breakup than about enduring love (the song ends with "I paid the cost too late, Now you're gone"), we didn't feel it was appropriate for a first dance song.  So we had to find a new one. 

    Why did you pick this song?
    In short, because it was a little different and a song we both agreed on.  When I realized we needed to find a first dance song, I put together a short list of about five songs I was thinking of using.  Some of the songs I found online in lists of "good first dance songs", like "Fools Rush In".  Others were my personal favorites ("La Pared" acoustic version by Shakira).  "Use Somebody" was playing a lot on the radio at the time and I was very drawn to it every time I heard it.  David ruled some out right away (he didn't want to dance to a song in Spanish because most of our guests wouldn't understand it) and we were left with only a few.  In the end, we picked "Use Somebody" because it wasn't a typical first dance song but still had a beautiful meaning.

    What does it mean to you?
    It plays on the radio once in a while and it always melts my heart to hear it.  We took a few private dance lessons before the wedding and practiced over and over to that song, so it represents us learning to dance together which was really fun and exciting as we prepared for our big day. It reminds me of being held tight in my husband arms and having him learn to lead me.  Dancing is a really great metaphor for marriage, really. 

    How has the meaning changed since you first chose it? 
    I think we realize now more than when we first got married how much we need one another in our lives.  Especially now that we have a daughter, there are many moments when the lyrics "I could use somebody right now" rings true.  Somebody to share my life with.  Somebody to share in the happy moments, the difficult time, to split the household chores with.  And David is that perfect somebody for me.  Marriage isn't all about love and romance (although it's about that too), it's often about support and just having someone there next to you. 

    Won't you share a picture of you two dancing? (Doesn't have to be a wedding picture!)
    I tried to explain the song to our dance instructor before we met her, but she hadn't heard it before.  She seemed a little nervous when we brought it along and she first heard it since it was rather upbeat, but she was able to choreograph a little entrance to it and teach us some basic steps and turns to use.  We really shocked our friends and family that we were doing "fancy" dancing.  I love this picture because you can see the look on David's cousin's face in the background.  Explains it all!

    Monday, April 7, 2014

    And Jesus wept. (+ Answer Me This!)

    I've found a lot of comfort in yesterday's Gospel, the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45), especially the simple phrase, "And Jesus wept."  Christ's friend Lazarus died and He wept in mourning, even though He knew that He would soon raise Lazarus, even though there was an afterlife.  After all, death was never part of God's original plan for mankind, but a result of sin.  Like all things, God can still bring great good out of the consequence of sin, but there is still a sadness in it. 

    After my miscarriages, I often heard something along the lines of, "You shouldn't be sad that your children died. You should be happy because your child is in heaven." I've heard that other moms who have experienced pregnancy loss have been told the same.  I understand that those who say that are doing so out of love, but for those of us who are already struggling to find space to grieve in a society that generally doesn't acknowledge our loss, it's hard to be told that we shouldn't be in mourning.  I don't speak for all women who have had a loss and I'm sure there are women who take comfort in those words, I'm just not one of them.  Even if my children are in heaven, a thought that I do find comfort in, I still feel their absence profoundly.  Sadness and happiness are not mutually exclusive emotions.  If Jesus, who is God, wept at the death of a friend, surely I can weep at the death of my child without reproach.

    I've found much consolation from the Gospel readings this Lent. The previous Sunday's reading (John 91-41) was very powerful as well:
    As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."
    This part was so powerful that I cried!  During the Gospel and during the homily.  I cry often during movies but very, very rarely during Mass.  But this was exactly what my heart needed to hear.  Our losses are not punishment for something we had done.  I've never really believed that they were, but I guess, somewhere, deep down, I still had that doubt.  This Lent has truly been exactly what I've needed for healing.  It makes me wonder if Lent has the ability to become what I need every year and I just haven't paid enough attention to let it.


    While I'm here....Kendra started a new weekly link up called "Answer Me This". She started it last week without knowing it but it now has a name and and an image.  I'm answering last week's questions.  You can find this week's for the upcoming Sunday link up here.

    1. Where do you live? And why do you live there? I live in Raleigh, NC.  The short answer of why we live here is because my husband got a job here after a year-long job search. We probably would have moved anywhere just for him to have a job, but we lived here previously and loved it.  The more drawn out answer is that a blog reader saw me write a post on how David was possibly interested in teaching high school.  She previously worked at the school, is friends with the Dean and told him about David.  How cool is that?  A blog reader helped my husband get a job! 

    2. What are you currently watching and/or reading? Currently reading Mansfield Park, Story of a Soul, Prayer: Our Deepest Longing, Prayer: Does it Make any Difference, and Out of the Silent Planet.

    3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?)cradle

    4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)I don't know that there was a specific moment though I credit my strong faith to the Catholic school I attended K-3.  The point when I took my faith on as my own decision was sophomore year of high school when I pushed to be put in the Confirmation class with my peers even though I was starting a month late because my family didn't know about the classes since we weren't attending Mass regularly at the time. 

    5. How many pairs of shoes do you own? I'll have to count but probably around 20.

    6. Are you a good dancer? I'd say I'm decent.  I don't think I'm particularly embarrassing but also not super talented. 

    7. Who usually drives, you or your husband? Husband.  Always.  I can't remember the last time I drove when he was in the car.  It's happened maybe a handful of times in our almost four years of marriage.

    8. What's your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it? I've always loves St. Patrick's Day, probably because it's always been lumped in with my birthday (which is the day before).  I also loved that it is a holiday of obvious Catholic origin that is now a part of our American culture.  And I love corned beef and cabbage.  We don't do a ton to celebrate and are still figuring out how we'll celebrate it as a family, but corned beef and cabbage will always be a staple.

    9. Which is correct? Left or right? I'm not one who really cares about this debate, but I prefer left.

    10. Do you have any scars? Yes, I have a scar from chicken pox on my forehead that gets pointed out a lot.  It gets edited out by most professional photographers which annoys me because it's been part of what I look like since I was nine.  It doesn't bother me anymore.  I should just tell them not to edit it out, but I always forget because I don't even notice it now.

    old picture of me on my honeymoon rocking the scar
    I also have a faint scar on my cheek from a saber tooth tiger attack. (My dad climbed a tree with me on his back when I was a baby and a branch got me bad. So, logically, when my mom got home, my dad told her that it was the result of a saber tooth tiger attack and he saved me.  I has become a family legend.)  I probably have a ton of other small ones because I'm accident prone and find myself with bruises and scabs all the time with no idea where they came from.

    11. What's the most famous thing you've ever done? I was on the front page of the city newspaper when I was in ninth grade for winning a trophy at the state chess championship.  I was the top female player in the tournament and the trophy was appropriately very pretty.

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Seven Ways to Support Kate

    Kate Lawhon, blogger at Real Catholic Love and Sex, is raising funds for Creighton FertilityCare training.  Creighton is a method of fertility awareness/natural family planning that can be used to prevent and achieve pregnancy, as well as detect underlying causes of a woman's health issues, including infertility, miscarriage, ovarian cysts, and hormonal imbalances.   It's particularly close to my heart because David and I started working with a Creighton instructor just last week to try to find and treat the causes of my miscarriages.  Kate lives in the Portland/Vancouver area where there is a woeful lack of NFP instructors of any method.  By supporting Kate, you will in turn be providing women in her area with access to complete reproductive healthcare.  

    How can you help Kate?  I'm so glad you asked.  Aside from donating directly to Kate through her gofundme page, you can shop from any of the following direct sales/small businesses through April 10th and a portion of your purchase will go to Kate.  To sweeten the pot, you'll also have a chance to win a giveaway with prizes from most of these sponsors - you'll get one entry for each $10 you spend at any of these venders and one winner takes all.  If you'd like to learn more about Kate, Creighton, or any of the products below, join us for a live online party on Facebook tomorrow (Saturday) night at 9pm EST. 

    I don't want to harp on this because I talk about being a Lilla Rose independent consultant and the hair accessories often enough, but they truly are beautiful, comfortable, and very easy to use.  There are some really darling styles for girls if you need some more items for the Easter basket, First Communion or Confirmation gifts. 

    Shop through the party I've set up for Kate and 30% of all sales will benefit her. If you are a new Lilla Rose customer, you'll get a free item ($16 and under) if you buy any three items.  Purchase your three (or more) items, then email me at with your free item choice.  You do need to sign up as my customer (I'll send you details on how to do so) to get this deal.  I will also be giving one Flexi clip of the winner's choice ($16 and under) and a pair of bobby pins to the giveaway winner. Shop here:

    Usborne Book & More consultant Molly Walter will be donating all commission after the first $20. I recently did an Usborne party with her and nothing I say can do justice to the books they have.  Super, super high quality, huge selection, tons of activity books (sticker books, wipe-clean books, etc.).  This picture shows some of my favorites for a baby/toddler Easter basket, but there are tons of book for older kids too. She will be giving away a paperback copy of First Encyclopedia of the Human Body. Shop here:

    Mary Kay Beauty Consultant, Michaela Wagner, has skin care, body care, fragrances for men and women! Not to mention an amazing line of color cosmetics. 30% of all sales will be donated to Kate. She will also be giving away one Satin Hands Pampering Set. Shop here:

    There will be several styles of rosary bracelets offered by Allicia Faber of  Allicia is a sweet friend of mine and sent me the rosary bracelet above and I wear it every day.  It is beyond lovely.  $5 from each sale will go directly to Kate's fund.  You can see the items available (including the one I have - we can be twinnies!) on the event Facebook page here.

    Thirty-One Gifts Independent Consultant, Kristan, is donating 15% of the proceeds from this party to help Kate. Thirty-One has a little bit of everything - purses, thermals, home organization, and more! I'm especially loving the gym bags that are on special this month.  Yes, that above is a gym bag!  (Did I tell you we joined a gym?  No? Well, we did.)  Shop here:

    Pampered Chef consultant, Kim Valdez is donating 15% to Kate.  I can browse the Pampered Chef catalog for hours.  I especially love all the garlic tools.  Shop here:

    Rosaries by Allison will be donating 10% of all sales in the Etsy shop. Allison's rosary are wonderful - I custom ordered matching ones for David and me as a surprise and he loved it.  She's so great to work with too.  One lucky person will win a pocket rosary with 'Storm' Swarovski bicone crystal beads. Shop here:

     For more Quick Takes, visit Jen. Then order her book. It's totally worth it just for the free ebook for preorders. I'm reading it right now and really enjoying.

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    50 Easter Basket Ideas for Two Year Olds

    Last year, I wrote a post with 50 Easter basket ideas for one-year-olds.  Lucia is now two and while most of the ideas from last year would still work for her, I thought it would be fun to come up with 50 completely different ideas for her age group.  (And then I need to get shopping because I only have a few items so far!)  If these aren't enough for you, check out last year's post too!
    1. summer pajamas
    3. play food (felt, wooden, plastic)
    4. flashcards (numbers, letters, animals, etc.)
    5. dancing ribbon rings (DIY here)
    6. Little People (I love these superheroes) or other figurines
    8. toddler-sized apron
    9. cookie cutters, measuring cups, mixing bowls
    10. cookie/muffin/brownie mix to make with mom and dad
    11. summer pajamas
    12. rain boots or sandals
    13. underwear for the newly/soon-to-be potty trained
    14. beach towel
    15. sun hat
    16. swimsuit
    17. bug catching kit (dollar store has had these in the past)
    18. fun band-aids
    20. CD of kid's music (I'm loving Elizabeth Mitchell right now)
    21. large animal or dinosaur toys
    25. package of seeds
    26. small plant
    27. slide whistle or other musical instruments
    29. travel sized magna doodle/etch a sketch/white board
    30. lamb and chick Weebles
    31. felt story board set

    ideas for filling plastic eggs:
    32. buttons
    33. temporary tattoos
    35. large beads (put string in the Easter basket)
    36. nuts
    37. chocolate chips*
    38. small animals, dinosaurs or bugs
    39. bean bags/hacky sacks
    40. small bracelets/necklaces
     41. mini hair clip or bobby pins

    religious ideas: 
    43. Saint statue
    44. crucifix
    45. an Easter lily
    46. medals or cross necklace

    food ideas:
    47. granola/snack bars
    48. fruit snacks (recipe to make your own)
    49. popcorn
    50. chocolate coins*

    *Due to child slavery in the chocolate industry, please buy chocolate from ethical sources.  To learn more, visit Slave Free Chocolate.  You can find ethical options by clicking on the "SFC Directory".