giveaway, mass box

Pneumonia Silence (and a super-fast Mass Box Giveaway for Advent)

* Update: The giveaway is now closed! The winner has been notified. Thanks for entering. If you didn’t win but still really want to get a Mass Box, you can use the affiliate discount code ABBEY10 to save 10% on your subscription. *

This post is about pneumonia and why I am subscribing to The Mass Box. You can enter to win a Mass Box at the end of the post or get a discount on ordering one. If you would rather not read about pneumonia or The Mass Box, I will see you again soon with a post about something else, okay? No hard feelings.)

What happens when you’re a mama and all your kids get sick?

You slow down a bit, cancel what you had planned, and tend to them until they are better.

What happens if you get sick, too, and fall into what feels like a bottomless pit of coughing and exhaustion?

You quit everything that isn’t essential and tell yourself you will deal with it later.

I’ve been thinking that if someone could create a business with a pool of Substitute Moms, she could make a lot of money. I really, really needed a sub several times in the last few weeks…someone to do a little light cleaning, put dinner in the oven and read to the kids in the afternoon for a bit so I could take a nap. 

We’ve been in survival mode for what feels like forever (though it’s really only been a few weeks). In the middle of that, I somehow managed to pack for and pull off a family trip to Niagara Falls for George to run the marathon. When we got home, I crashed harder than ever. In my very best Scarlett O’Hara manner, I put off anything I could deal with later and crawled around the house in my comfy pants with a mug of tea in my hand. 

Later has finally come for me. I am crawling out of the hole of pneumonia (apparently something not reserved exclusively for the elderly and chronically ill, who knew?) and trying to pick up the pieces. My calendar tells me that we’re on week 5 of our second six-week term of school. I think we are really only on week 2.

I have a lot of catching up to do on the laundry, my fridge should have been cleaned out week before last, my kids have been watching too much Disney Junior, and we’ve been eating way too much frozen pizza…but we’re alive.

The thing that startled me most upon emerging from the pneumonia pit is that Advent is only days away. Not even two weeks separate us from the season of preparation for the birth of Jesus, which always throws me into a liturgically inappropriate tizzy. I have to get all the things ready right now so that I can have time to get ready! It catches me off-guard every year, but this year, I think it’s worse than usual.

I know I’m behind in writing and that I owe you an update on the birthday party from last month and the big road trip we just took (which was epic). I promise to get to those things.

One thing I’ve been planning to share with you (that has suddenly become time sensitive in the middle of the pneumonia) is that The Mass Box is going to be launching for Advent.

Our family loved using the box during Lent, when we read the Sunday readings together from the Magnifikid magazine (included with the subscription) and then did the craft together. I was surprised to find that it is more than just a craft subscription box- it’s a way to get your entire family engaged with the Sunday readings each week. In addition to the Magnifikid, the box includes supplies and instructions for a craft or activity for every Sunday and any other holy days in the month, plus coloring pages for each week. The team recommends the box for ages 3-7, but we were easily able to expand things to pull in our oldest son (who is now 8) and our littlest boy (who is now 2) because we did the activities together as a family.

I’m really excited about the Advent box for two reasons. First, it includes making beeswax Advent candles as the first craft, which is something I have always wanted to do with my kids. Second, having this box show up on my porch means I will not need to find activities for my kids to do with the Gospel readings during Advent (something I really try to do during this season). The Mass Box people have it all planned out, with a craft activity and all the needed materials prepared for every week. There’s even an online video each week of Clare and her dad working on the craft together while they talk about the readings.

Even when I don’t have pneumonia, I always want to do more than I am actually able to do. I have good intentions, and if I had the time and energy to carry them out consistently, I could probably come up with great crafts to do for each week of Advent all by myself. To be honest, though, I would probably not manage to make it happen every week. The likelihood of being able to actually do it increases exponentially for me because of The Mass Box. Their team has put together a solid product that saves a lot of work for families who want to engage with the readings together but find themselves short of time to plan it all out.

Having The Mass Box delivered to me with all the materials included during Lent actually helped us to spend more time reflecting and talking together on the weekends about the Sunday readings. It made a difference in how my children listened and paid attention at church, because they were familiar with the stories ahead of time. To me, that’s worth the $20 cost, especially in a liturgical season like Advent where I really want to be sure this engagement is happening. (Side note: if you don’t already get Magnifikid, it’s a wonderful resource for kids to use both inside and outside of Mass. My oldest son has been using it for years to follow along with the Mass, and he even does the extra prayers and activities on his own most weeks. I’m not an affiliate for Magnifikid, but I love the magazine and think the included subscription to Magnifikid is a great benefit to receiving The Mass Box.)

If you’re interested in subscribing to The Mass Box, you can use my affiliate code ABBEY10 to save 10% on your subscription. The code is good through December 31, but you’ll want to order soon so your first box can arrive by the first week of Advent and you can be ready to jump right in. I have already subscribed for my family and am excited to get started. Knowing that at least this part of our Advent plan is covered helps me feel like I can breathe more deeply…even with pneumonia.

I have one Mass Box for Advent to give away to a lucky reader! If you want to win, leave me a comment below and tell me what you’re most excited about or most stressed about with Advent right around the corner. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can reach you if you win. This one has a quick turnaround- I need to choose the winner on Monday so you can order your box on Tuesday!- so the giveaway closes at midnight on Monday, November 14.

This concludes my brief but sincere plug for The Mass Box. I only ever write about products that I love using, and this one definitely falls in that category. I was not compensated for this review. If you purchase a Mass Box subscription using my affiliate code, I will receive a small commission…so thanks to any of you who do that!

Giveaway fine print: You must be 18 to enter the giveaway. You don’t have to be Catholic. Winner will be chosen at random and will receive a code to order one free Mass Box through the Mass box site. The giveaway code expires 11/15/16 and must be used by then. Entries without an e-mail address will be considered invalid…so be sure to leave your e-mail address. Thanks, and good luck!

7 quick takes, giveaway, homeschool

7 Quick Takes: Homeschool Week 1 Highlight Reel

Well, we did it! It’s past sundown on Friday, and the first week of our new school year is over. Everyone survived. There were moments of bliss. There are some little hurdles we’ll need to overcome and some bugs to work out…but mostly? It went great.

Here’s our week in brief, for our friends and loved ones (and those of you who are curious about what we did):

1. Pictures.

Yes, we do first day of school pictures, mostly so I have something to compare with at the end of the year when we do portfolios. I didn’t post them on facebook, but you can see them now! Look how big everyone is…especially the little brother with the photobomb skills.

2. Morning Time

Now that we’re in our second year of starting the day with Morning Time, it runs more smoothly. I felt like I spent much of last year trying to round everyone up and get everyone to sit down for even a few minutes together to start the day. This year, I’m not telling them it’s time to start. Instead, I’m just playing a song as a musical cue, and they have until the song is over to wander dreamily into the room (or come dashing in dramatically at the last minute).

Both of those things happen every single day, by the way.

What we do in Morning Time could probably be its own blog post someday, but in brief, we have a prayer, sing a song or two, go over our memory work, and do something beautiful (read a poem or story, do an art picture study, listen to a new piece of music, paint with watercolors, or work on our nature journals). We end with a short prayer and go on our way to do other work or to play. It takes about fifteen minutes, unless we get carried away with the beautiful part, which we sometimes do. Things have a way of leading to other things, you know. It’s a good life.

3. Reading. Lots of reading.

We read a lot around here. Usually, I do our main read-aloud at lunch time, but we read other books throughout the day (and upon request from Felix, who frequently comes up with a book in hand, declares it’s his “vewwy fave-rit!” and asks us to read it. We almost always say yes.)

Sam reads something on topic (usually science or history related) for about half an hour every morning, and he spends a couple of hours during the day reading whatever he’s reading for fun. Right now, it’s mostly the Redwall series, but he took a short break from those to devour The Trumpeter of Krakow this week.

4. History.

There’s no better way to kick off a new year than to start up a new co-op, right? This year, we’re meeting with friends to do weekly activities for our history study using Story of the World, Volume 2 (which covers the Middle Ages).

It was our turn to host, and our backyard was briefly the scene of a battle reenactment between the Romans and the Celts. (It turned out no one wanted to be Romans, and the battle kind of fell apart. Still, I think we made the neighbors curious- there’s no better way to look like a wild, unsocialized bunch of homeschoolers than to run like crazy all over the yard during school hours waving homemade cardboard battle axes covered in foil and screeching with your capes flying out behind you.)

I’m excited to see how the rest of the year goes.

5. Science

Sam is studying Chemistry this year using the book Adventures with Atoms and Molecules. I like it a lot so far- it’s really clear and easy to understand with simple experiments that mostly use things we have around the house. We’re aiming for two experiments a week, and right now, that seems realistic. I’ll keep you posted.

6. Math

We are sticking with Life of Fred for math, backed up with some extra practice using the Reflex software program (which I can’t say enough good things about- it’s amazing). Sam generally despises repetition, so lots of practice problems can ruin a whole day for him (even if he needs the practice). Using the computer for the practice part seems to make it less of an issue.

7. Kindergarten

Yes, we do it…although it is mostly just reviewing lowercase letters right now, doing some math-y stuff and playing a lot. This week, we’ve played grocery store, restaurant, princesses who own their own housecleaning business, and something the girls called “baby Viking warriors.” I didn’t get in on that last one.

Today the weather was perfect, so we went outside for a long time. Felix drove our fleet of Cozy Coupes (which he calls his “van-cars”) all over the driveway and the girls played hopscotch. It was pretty wonderful.

And really, that’s what I want to remember. It’s all pretty wonderful– to have the freedom and the opportunity to do school this way while it works for our family. Even when it’s hard. Even when I’m tired. Even when it’s late on Friday night and I am scrambling to finish a dessert and this blog post because of how busy our week has been.

It’s a lovely life, and I’m thankful for it…and I’m thankful for you for reading along and sharing the adventure with us.

Speaking of sharing, I was going to give away a book, wasn’t I?

Let’s see…Rebecca D, you’re our winner. Let me know how to get in touch with you, and I’ll mail you a copy. Congratulations! I wish I had one to give to everyone…it really is a lovely book.

I hope you all had a great week. Next week, I’ll be talking about books and book clubs (and my strategy for books I don’t really love but need to finish) over here, so please come back and weigh in.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.
book review, giveaway, parenting, sacraments

Why you MUST read Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting {giveaway}

There are two major difficulties in the vocation of parenting small children. The first is that it can be isolating. We weren’t meant to raise children in a solitary fashion, and so often, our modern lifestyle of separateness makes for long days without adult conversation. The second problem is the very long-range nature of our work. We do many of the same things day in and day out, totally absorbed in the minutiae of parenting and caring for our homes and families, unable to see over the crest of the hill we’re climbing to visualize the eventual product of all this work. In short, on a bad day, parenting can feel lonely and fruitless.

In Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting, Laura Kelly Fanucci offers a spiritual lifeline to the struggling, lonely parent…not by cheerleading from the sidelines or by offering peppy “you can do this” comments, but by imbuing the very basic physical acts of parenting with deep sacramental meaning. I wept more than once as I soaked up her words, feeling solidarity and a sense of community with her as a mother both in her most joyful and darkest moments. Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Laura shares glimpses of God’s presence in the midst of ordinary, everyday moments: birthing, bathing, eating, watching fireflies.

“Through the tangible things of this earth- water, oil, bread, and wine- God comes to us, giving us what we need when we open our hearts to receive…Because sacraments do not exist apart from the complexity and diversity of our daily life- they are part of it.”

– Laura Fanucci, Everyday Sacrament

It’s a rare person who has the insight and wisdom to see beyond a situation in which she herself is immersed. We might expect such perspective and wise counsel from a parent who has already survived this tough period of life in the trenches with little ones, but Laura has the gift of being able to see and describe the beauty of her life right in the middle of the mess. In bravely, honestly sharing that beauty with us, she blazes a trail through the chaos of young motherhood, even while she herself is still navigating it. 

Reading her stories helped me to see anew the fingerprints of God’s grace all over my own messy, sometimes mundane life. There is holiness here in the laundry and the spreading of peanut butter, the kissing of boo-boos and the wiping of noses. Those repeated rhythms remind us that God is constant and faithful and never absent from even the most ordinary moments in our lives.

“The creation story says the Spirit hovered over the chaos of the waters, close to the murky mess. And if I’m honest, even as I indulge in late-afternoon daydreams about escaping to the lake to meditate, this God-in-chaos is the God I meet more often.”

– Laura Fanucci, Everyday Sacrament

This is a book to be read and read again. It helped me extend grace to myself, my husband and my children and reminded me that God extends grace to each of us as we work at the holy task of raising our families and creating domestic churches. I need more time to let Laura’s words sink in deeply. They have already impacted how I parent and how I pray.

“Before I had kids, I never expected any of this- how God could be found so powerfully in the exasperating everyday, how home could feel as holy as church…but that’s how grace gets spilled: right before our eyes.

If we only stop to see it.”

– Laura Fanucci, Everyday Sacrament

You need this book– for yourself first, then for all the other parents you know. You can get it from the publisher here or from Amazon here (that’s an affiliate link, by the way).

I loved the book so much that I want to give one of you my review copy. To enter to win, just leave me a comment here with a memorable parenting moment from the past few weeks  (good or bad, your choice!). I’ll randomly draw a winner on Saturday.

The fine print: Giveaway open to US residents only. Entries accepted until 11:59 pm Eastern Standard time on Friday, Dec. 5.

#HolyLens, Advent, feasts and seasons, giveaway

3 ways to get ready for Advent (so you can get ready for Christmas)

Advent is coming. 

It is. It’s coming.

I always start out the Advent season feeling panicky, like I’m falling behind before I’ve even started.  Time to find the wreath and the prayer book. Time to make all the lists…gifts, cookies, cards, events. Time to start getting everything ready. I’m not even ready to think about getting ready. Part of me wants to run away down the street and not look back, squeezing my eyes tightly shut so I won’t see all the giant Christmas inflatables that are already popping up on my neighbors’ lawns.

Maybe it’s okay that I feel apprehensive. Jesus is going to be born. We’re not ready…how could we be? Having recently welcomed a baby who is not the Son of God, I’m more than aware that there’s a lot to do. We need time to make preparations, to quiet our souls, to sink into the knowledge that in the midst of all the chaos and confusion of our world, God is entering. God is going to sit down with us right in the middle of our mess, because that’s what God does.

Emmanuel. God with us. Ready, or not.

But that’s why we have Advent. We don’t have to be ready yet. This season exists to help us become ready, to bring us into a space where we can prepare.

We have a choice. We can spend the next four weeks running around and wringing our hands about the crazy that surrounds us, or we can take a deep breath, accept that it’s coming, and decide to prepare.

I’m going with the deep breath option.

If you are also starting out this Advent feeling a bit behind, these three things might help:


First, there’s the new Advent journal from Blessed Is She. This slim booklet is so lovely. It’s filled with scripture verses, prompting questions and space for your thoughts and reflections each day from the first day of Advent through Christmas. A lot of love and care went into creating it especially for you, the busy reader who wants to take time to ponder and reflect but doesn’t have a lot of time to spare. I am really looking forward to using my copy, and guess what? I have one to give away to one of you!

If you’d like to win, just leave a comment here on this post or on our facebook page with either a challenge you are facing this Advent or something you’re especially anticipating this season.

If you don’t want to wait, you can purchase a copy of the journal here or by clicking on the ad in the sidebar. Your purchase helps support the ministry of Blessed Is She (an entirely volunteer effort).

Second, I’m sharing my favorite Advent music in a playlist on Spotify. You can find the playlist here. (If you don’t have a free Spotify account, you’ll need to set one up and download the software, which is easy to do.) I love Christmas music, but in this season of preparation, I’m not ready to listen to it yet. I fill the gap by listening to Advent music (yes, that’s really a thing!) If you have favorites that would be good additions, drop me a line- I’d love to expand the list some more this year.

Finally, how about joining me in a photo challenge? I’m focusing on finding holy moments and treasuring them in my heart by doing #HolyLens again. #HolyLens started during Lent 2014 as a way to notice and share the sacred moments we find each day. I will be posting a list of daily photo prompts for you each week. Just take a picture related to the day’s prompt, post it on Instagram- don’t forget the hashtag- and share your everyday holy with our little photo-happy community. Your eyes and your photos create our shared experience, and we all get to reflect on the little bits of grace that surround us. You can follow me on Instagram here…I’m dere_abbey.

If you are not on Instagram, you can post your photos on our brand-new HolyLens Facebook page.

I need to prepare my heart and mind for the arrival of Christ. If you do, too, please join me in any or all of these things. Together, we’ll be a little community of works in progress, headed down the road to Bethlehem just as we are, getting more and more ready to receive Jesus all the time.

That’s what Advent is all about.

The fine print: The Blessed Is She journal giveaway closes at 11:59 pm on Wednesday night, 11/27/14 (so I can mail you your journal in time for the first Sunday of Advent). This giveaway is open to US residents only. 


Giveaway Winners!

I’m happy to announce the winners of our little giveaway. (There’s nothing like kicking off the liturgical year with some fun new resources, right?)

The winner of Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart is Mary Beth Warner.

The winner of The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi is Cori Cave.

I will be in touch with you both to coordinate getting your prizes to you. Congratulations on being randomly chosen.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Advent, giveaway, liturgical year

The mad rush of Advent…?

So, Advent’s the new Christmas, right? I keep feeling like we have to get started early- we need to get a jump on shopping and decorating and baking and crafting so we can hurry up and wait for Jesus to be born in as unhurried a way as possible.

“Thanksgiving was late this year,” everyone keeps saying, and I hear from other friends who keep the church calendar at home that Advent has snuck up on them. One lovely friend (who shall remain anonymous for her own protection) has even been calling it “the A-word” and forbidding people to use it in polite conversation.

Don’t talk about it yet- we aren’t ready!

The whole “get ready for Advent” thing comes from a good place. We are making a real effort to recapture a season of preparation. We are trying to make space in our lives, hearts and homes so that we can welcome the newborn Christ when He comes. It’s a good thing.
I’m not sure, though, that the mad rush is ever a good thing. 
The idea that there is a looming deadline (December 1st this year! That was yesterday! Heaven help us!) after which we must be prepared is not helping me. It makes my chest feel tight. It makes me feel like going for a really long run or adding something more festive than flavored creamer to my coffee.

I need to remember that I am the one responsible for the climate in my home. I would like to cultivate a sense of peace during this season, of quiet wonder, of prayerful expectation. If I’m running around like a madwoman trying to find my candle snuffer so we can light the wreath (or, rather, so we can put it out with due reverence after it has been lit) and barking at my kids to hurry up and finish their Advent chains so we can hang those suckers up and start counting down until Christmas, how can I possibly be creating a climate of prayerful anything? 

I think some deep breaths might help. And maybe I will go for that long run, too.
Where we are is just where we are. Thankfully, God knows where that is and is perfectly capable of finding us and meeting us there. Advent is a season of preparation…a whole season to get ready! It is nice to have some things in order beforehand, but scrambling around in a dither to make everything ready before Advent even starts isn’t really good for anyone. 
How about you? Are you feeling rushed this year? Are you overwhelmed with the preparations for the season of preparation? Or are you propped up with peace in your heart and all your Christmas cards ready to send out?

We located our Advent wreath last night and put it up, and we lit it last night (although we haven’t yet found our copy of O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath, our Advent devotional). We had to wing it. Sam took the first link off our Names of Jesus chain and read it along with the corresponding verse from the Bible. We read one of our favorite Advent/Christmas books (Who is Coming to Our House?) before bed. That was it.
Even though we aren’t ready for Christmas yet, we don’t need to be. I’m feeling some peace knowing that a simple, deliberate Advent will work for our family this year. Setting a gentle pace now means we will be able to sustain it. And by the time Christmas arrives, we will be ready.
And so will you…no matter how unprepared you feel today.

I’ll be rounding up some of my favorite Advent resources here and on Facebook in the coming days and weeks, so you can check back if you need inspiration for your own preparations. You’re warmly welcomed to join me in listening to our Advent playlist to help cultivate that sense of calm (and to avoid the Holly Jolly Sounds of Lite Ninety-Eight Point Whatever, if that kind of thing gets on your nerves).

Also, you have until midnight tonight to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Feast!, the new e-book by Haley and Daniel Stewart (which is bound to help you prepare for living along with the Church year in any season) or a copy of The Legend of Saint Nicholasby Demi (just in time for the feast of St. Nicholas this coming Friday!).

Don’t forget to leave a note about your favorite Advent tradition on the Surviving Our Blessings Facebook page to enter. We will announce the winners tomorrow here and on Facebook.

Blessings during this first week of Advent. May you find exactly what you need to help you prepare your heart and your home for the coming Light of Christ.

*This post contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you click on them and end up buying something, your purchase will help support Surviving Our Blessings. If you like that idea, there’s also an ad in the sidebar that you can click through when you purchase from Amazon. This blog will receive a tiny percentage of any purchases you make. Thanks for your support!*


Advent, giveaway, liturgical year

Good news for everyone (especially the liturgically-minded)

If you have been thinking about being more intentional about Advent this year…
…if you’re curious about the church calendar and how it works…
…if you might want to celebrate a feast day here and there…
…if you have a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to celebrate than just Christmas and Easter…

I have great news for you!

Part The First:

My friend Sarah over at Two O’s Plus More has put together a lovely post with some ideas about how to begin observing the church year in your home. If you have been thinking about starting to do this, Sarah can help. She has helpful suggestions about how to move gradually into following the church calendar.

Also, Sarah is giving away a copy of A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year, by Evelyn Birge Vitz. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links, fyi. You’ll know them because of the big old Amazon logos at the bottom, ok?)

This book is a good introduction to help you ease into celebrating bits and pieces of the church year without feeling like you are drowning in saints, martyrs and candle wax.

Part The Second: 

I’m doing a double book giveaway this week!

I have one copy of Feast! – a wonderful new e-book by my friend Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas– to give away. Haley and her husband, Daniel, have put together a collection of recipes and reflections for celebrating the liturgical year at home, complete with pictures, quotes, prayers and ideas. It doesn’t end there, though. They’ve written a thoughtful and non-threatening introduction to the church year, inspired partly by their first encounters with it at their Baptist college in East Texas when neither of them was Catholic. The book is practical, realistic for busy families with little kids (since Haley and Daniel have three kids under 5), and down to earth. As a bonus, all the recipes can be prepared gluten-free. It is amazing work, y’all. (And you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate it.)

The book is 40% off this week (until Thanksgiving)- you can get your own copy for $4.99. The price will go up after that (as it should- this is a really fantastic book!). The food pictures alone are worth the price. (They say they aren’t photographers, but the photos make my stomach growl.) Plus, there’s an adorable picture of their son with kohlrabi. What’s not to love?

Haley has generously offered a copy of her book for one of you, because she’s fantastic. Like her book.

My second giveaway book is for St. Nicholas Day, which is coming up next week (so soon, can you believe it?) on December 6. I have one copy of my very favorite St. Nicholas book, The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi to send to one of my lovely readers.


The art in this book is magnificent. Even if you don’t celebrate St. Nicholas Day separately from Christmas, this book is one you will want to add to your collection. (Also, you should consider celebrating St. Nicholas on his own day…it’s so much fun! At least, it is if you don’t do it like I did last year.)

To enter, please leave a comment on the Surviving Our Blessings Facebook page with your favorite Advent tradition (or one you’d like to start, if you haven’t done so yet). If you are not on Facebook and still would like to enter, leave your comment here and I’ll transfer it over for you. Two lucky winners will each receive one of the books. I wish I had enough copies for everyone.

Fine print: The winners will be randomly chosen on December 2 by one of my darling children from a basket of slips of paper. (We are fans of the old ways around here.) The e-book is a worldwide giveaway- anyone can win!- but the St. Nicholas book winner needs to be a US resident for postage reasons. 

I hope you win! 🙂

Look for more posts in the coming days on Advent and what we’re doing to get ready. In the meantime, tell me…how are you feeling about December’s quick approach? Are you charging ahead? Are you wishing you could put on the brakes? Are you somewhere in between?

giveaway, guest post, prayer, sweeping

Giveaway winner!!

Our little giveaway has come to an end (at midnight last night). Thanks to everyone who entered.

In a very high-tech, scientific process, I wrote everyone’s name on a slip of paper and had one of my children draw a name. (The child was not informed that cookies were involved, so there can be no questions about his or her ability to be impartial.)

The winner is…Rebecca of Life Beyond the Window! Please e-mail me your mailing address (abbey.dupuy(at)gmail(dot)com) so I can send your prize to you.

This was fun, don’t you think? We will do it again soon.

In other news, I have a guest post up today at CatholicMom about turning the chores we love to hate into opportunities for gratitude and mindfulness. One of the comments on the post suggested consecrating a chore we dislike (sweeping, in my case) for a specific prayer intention.

We have a young friend in our parish named Sam who is battling cancer. Although we pray for him as often as we think of him, I love the idea of offering up my much-despised sweeping chore on his behalf. I might even sweep more often in a day, just to have the extra chances to pray for Sam.

Think about this, won’t you? Do you have a chore like mine that you’d rather not do? Would it change if you made it an offering of prayer for someone else? And if you need an intention to tie to your most-hated chore, I know Sam and his family would love to have you pray for them, too.

birthday, giveaway

Birthdays and perpective

The nicest thing about getting older is having another birthday to add to the string of birthdays that have already come. Birthdays prompt reflection for me, and I can say honestly that so far, each one is better than the last.  When I think back on all the years that have already happened, there isn’t a single one I’d want to repeat instead of living the one that’s in front of me. There have been easier years, sure…but there have also been harder ones. I can’t help but be excited about what might lie around the next corner, and I want to keep moving forward so I can find out!

Thanks to each of you for sharing my journey this past year. I’ve been blessed to make some great new friends and to have some new writing opportunities through this little blog. I think this next year will bring even more good things…new challenges, new opportunities, and new blessings to be survived and cherished.

Because it’s my birthday, I want to give one of you a gift. I’m having my very first giveaway! The gift will be a batch of my not-exactly-famous-but-still-pretty-darn-good oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and this beautiful little print from my dear friend Linda at burlap + blue. She generously sent me the print to be given away when I celebrated my blog’s first anniversary back in January, but I haven’t managed to do it until now.

(No one said this has been an easy year, but I’m thinking late is better than never.)

I think this print sums things up perfectly. Today, I am thankful. Tomorrow’s another day, and I’ll be thankful then, too, no matter what it looks like. Things aren’t always easy, but there’s always a reason to celebrate. Finding the things worth celebrating can sometimes feel like a tough journey, but the trip is always, always worth it.

To enter to win the print and the cookies, just leave a comment here –  make sure I have your name and a way to get in touch with you if you win. We’ll do a random drawing and reveal the winner next Tuesday. Feel free to invite your friends to play…the more, the merrier!