Five Random Favorites & A Yarn Along Deja Vu


You know when you have several children and the baby's birthday or Christmas comes up and you can think of nothing that they truly need or want?  I'm not really a fan of buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift but I couldn't just let the Luke's birthday pass without giving him something!  That's the thing teenage angst and psychologist visits are made of, right?  I realized that our board book selection was looking really shabby.  Most of the covers gone, bindings broken, you know the drill.  I thought maybe the Luke-babe could use a few nicer books.  I found these on Amazon through their "Customers who bought this also bought this" feature (oh, they grab you in with that, don't they?) and they are awesome:

Fine art is one of the areas in which I am woefully deficient.  I know the barest of minimums of only the most noteworthy of artists.  I would really like my kids to have a leg up on me and appreciate and know much more than I do.  But the thing is I get incredibly intimidated by artist unit studies and art appreciation lesson plans so then I end up doing nothing.  The gamble on these books paid off big time.  I'm not one to wax poetic over board books but I had to share this find because not only is Luke enjoying them, but our whole family is enjoying them! The Mini Masters books use poetry and prose to go through a selection of a specific artist's work.  There are, I think, ten in the series and each page shows a work of the artist and the "story" fits the sequence of paintings selected.  The poetry is not cheesy and the visuals are great quality.  Luke loves them.  The bigger boys are also learning from them.  And here's my secret:  I'm learning from them, too!  I'm getting better at telling a Seurat from a Van Gogh from a Monet.  And now I know that pretty much whenever you see a ballerina it's Degas.  Which is more than I knew before.  And obviously this isn't going to substitute for an in-depth study as the boys get older but, well, it's more than I was doing before.

There is a box set that contains four and the rest have to be bought individually.  We had Grandma buy a few and I added a few for us to give as well.  There are still a couple that we don't have but I recommend them highly.  


With our big trip coming up we had to get brand new passports for most of us and renew mine.  Which is crazy expensive.  But I found a way to cut down on the cost a little bit! lets you upload a photo for free, crop it to the legal size for your country, and print it at the drugstore.  They'll even review your photo on their Facebook page and give you recommendations!  All for free!  Isn't that nice of them? You can pay to have it printed out as a special passport photo (still paying at least $11 each at least in our area) BUT I discovered that if you simply save the picture and upload it to the drugstore and print it out as a normal 4x6, it works exactly the same way.  The ladies at the post office were skeptical that the photos would pass because the background turned out a bit gray but they did!  Our applications were approved and we received the passports in the mail a few weeks ago which is beyond exciting.  So instead of spending upwards of $75 for all our photos if I had done them at the post office like I was planning on?  I spent 60¢.  60 cents.  

(The other bonus is that you can do this at your own leisure in your home rather than trying to wrangle all the kids and try to get a satisfactory photo on command at the store or post office.  Cuz you know how well that goes with toddlers...)

Now if only the rest of traveling was this inexpensive... 


I already mentioned that we've been playing this game a lot.  We got it as a Christmas gift and I love that you can play it with just two people or with a group and that the older kids can play and understand strategy.  We also got Enchanted Forest which is a children's game but of the rare variety that isn't torturous for adults to play, too.  


A Papal Blessing!

When my mom and her husband were in Rome last fall they received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis that was according to the pontiff himself for them and their families back home.  For Christmas they gave us an official remembrance of it:


I received this last month as a Love Good Music patron and I love it!  I'll just quote from their site, if you don't mind:

"After marrying in 2012, Greg & Lizzy naturally began writing and sharing songs from the heart of their relationship, offering healthy doses of humor and joy, along with fears, trials, and the ultimate triumph of authentic love. To the Dust is a collection of 13 original songs inspired by their own experiences of love, faith, and marriage. Expressed via sincere artistry and lyrical depth, which is never forced and often surprising, the entire album is infused with poetic insights born from Blessed John Paul II's teachings on authentic love."

They are really good and I think they make JPII smile.  I think know our hostess Hallie would adore them.  You can listen to some snippets here!

...And now for a Yarn Along...

I'm knitting the Holy Cowl.  Yes again.  And yes in the same exact yarn as before.  Because somehow this girl lost the last one I made.  How one loses something hanging around their neck I don't know but I succeeded.  So I had another hank of that super soft yarn and I'm doing it again.  I really love this pattern.  In fact, I made another one in blue last month but did it longer and thinner and have been wearing it a bunch and feeling fancy because I've never worn any sort of scarf or cowl before as part of an outfit, you know?  I feel like a big girl.

John Paul and I started Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott a few weeks ago.  We haven't had much reading time so it's going slowly but we both like it a lot.  I remember loving the books of hers I read as a girl.  I picked up a great hardcover set of her writings at a garage sale a few years back and I think I'll enjoy reading through them with the boys.

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along and Hallie for Five Favorites!


  1. Books, music, knitting - some of my favorites!

  2. Mini masters is now on my wish list! and 60c vs $75!! wow! impressive!! well done

  3. How funny, you feel like a big girl! I just recently started wearing soft scarves with clothes (as opposed to outerwear), and at age 51, I feel like a grown up, too. I think it has to do with the cold, though, because as soon as I get warm I feel like I'm choking. Such an eejit!

    I'm noting that pattern. And awesome work on the passports. What an awesome trip to look forward to.

  4. I'm checking into the mini-masters! The cowl is going to be beautiful!!!

  5. Oh, I do! I love them! I can't believe I've never heard of them. Consider me the newest Greg and Lizzy fangirl. ;)

    Thanks, sweet pea!


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