Minted {Giveaway}

Friends I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to freshen up my home.

1147My style tends toward neutrals for the big things, like paint colors and furniture, with accessories thrown in for added punches of color.  I like my living space to be calm and soothing, but also happy and warm.  Because we’re a big crazy family, and it just seems right.

Plus I change my mind an awful lot, and it’s much easier to switch out a print or a throw pillow than to redo a room or replace a couch.  Ask me how I know.

Sometimes though it can be hard to find just the right accents, especially when you’re on a budget.  Ask me how I know.

But that’s where Minted comes in.

Have ya’ll seen this stuff?  Minted has a huge selection of home décor and artwork, designed by independent artists, in any style you can imagine.  It’s kind of like they went and found all the best in online art, and put it all in one place for you.  Doesn’t get much better than that!


MIN-003-PCK-001_A_PZI’ve always been a personal fan of milk glass, especially jadeite.  {Swoon}.  And as far as I’m concerned you can never, ever (EVER!) have too many cake plates.  How great is this?!  Perfect for your next birthday party, brunch, or even as a decorative piece to liven up your kitchen.

MIN-0AG-NNA-007_A_APZThe children’s custom art is seriously adorable.  We’re a bit of an international family, so obviously this Animal World Map print is a personal favorite of mine.

MIN-LOY-GNA-007_A_APZThe photography is pretty amazing too.  This Staredown print just makes me happy, probably because it reminds me of growing up in a small ranching town in California.  With lots of cows.  Basically I think I need to own it.


MIN-7ZC-BYA-001_A_PZAnd not only does Minted sell wall art and other cool stuff, they also make absolutely incredible stationery.  Like these totally customizable birth announcements.  Eek!


MIN-6SD-INV-001B_A_PZThe 2015 line of wedding invitations is uh-MAZ-ing!  If I were getting married again (don’t worry dear husband, I’m not even considering it!), I would so use Minted’s line.  Fun, whimsical, and personalized, and printed on high-quality paper.

And do you know what else, dear reader?  Minted is so super generous, they told me I get to give one of  YOU a $50 store credit!  You earn entries on the ol’ rafflecopter by “liking” my page on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and subscribing to my blog via reader or email.  Easy peasy.

The giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, April 4th.  Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  I have been compensated for my review.  All opinions are, however, my own. 

How Colorado Failed Michelle Wilkins

michellewilkinsBy now, most people have heard the tragic story of how a pregnant woman here in Colorado, responding to a CraigsList advertisement for baby clothes, was attacked, beaten, and stabbed. The precious seven-month-old baby in her womb was stolen, and died. Somehow the mother managed to survive, and has since been released from the hospital.

Today the perpetrator will appear in court.

Of course the original news wasn’t more than a few hours old before all of the, ahem,  political posturing began. Any person with half a brain can draw a parallel to abortion, and so a few pro-life people and organizations seized upon the opportunity to make this comparison.  Yet as pro-life as I consider myself to be, I found it all to be in horrible taste. Because this is a real woman and a real baby, for whom something really and truly terrible happened. It is a disgrace to use them to prove your own point so soon after the incident, as true or good a point it may be. Sometimes it is better to simply care, keep your mouth shut, and pray.

Which is what I did–until last night, when the Boulder DA announced they would not be pressing murder charges against the suspect. Now this isn’t really all that surprising, because Colorado doesn’t have fetal homicide laws on the books. We tried to enact the Personhood Amendment last year in the form of Proposition 67, but it didn’t pass for political reasons related to abortion. Too far-reaching, people said. But even though I saw it coming, I still left a comment on the Denver Post Facebook page registering my disgust with some of the laws in our state. A bunch of people agreed.

The general consensus around here seems to be that this lack of a murder charge is a horrible injustice to this woman and her child. There are all sorts of legal reasons why it’s better to go this route for now, but boy, it just feels wrong. It seems there is little legal protection for babies in utero here in Colorado. What a travesty.

As a woman I am particularly grieved by this situation. What does it say about our society when the laws are such that someone could forcibly remove a baby from somebody’s womb, and the classification of murder isn’t even on the table? It says the same thing people have been saying for awhile, which is that we live in a culture where women remain particularly vulnerable and oppressed. Language matters. I find it unsettling that our legal system is telling this mother that the life of her child is a side-issue, or mere collateral damage. It’s heartbreaking. Granted I’m sure the suspect will spend the rest of her life behind bars or in a mental institution, murder charges or not, but still. Voice should be given to the especially disturbing nature of the violence in this attack, directed towards not just a woman but also a defenseless child. Two distinct people were injured here. One lost their life, the other nearly did. Language matters.

So maybe Amendment 67 didn’t pass, but Colorado needs to do something else. This is just not okay. Nobody thinks it’s okay. The local community has rallied behind this woman and her family, which is so good to see, but I’d like to also think that our state legislators care about this too. Maybe if they weren’t so busy making a stupid political statement with their fancy IUD earrings, they could figure out a plan for ensuring that justice is available to small, innocent children. Like I said in the Facebook discussion last night, I am unabashedly pro-life. That’s my bias. That’s not going to change. My beliefs about the dignity and value of every human life, from conception until natural death, inform the way I see things. I won’t deny that. I won’t. But this is something that the average person, regardless his or her opinion on the politics of abortion, can surely agree upon. (Right?) We can come together in pursuing justice for children and women who fall victim to senseless and evil attacks of this sort. It’s not about taking rights away, it’s about extending legal protection to a class of human beings.

Of course I’m not a legal expert, and I’m not even very politically active beyond voting. I’m just a blogger and a mom. But as a woman I feel strongly about this, and it’s happening not far from where I live, and I think people in Colorado need to consider what happens when polarized political parties waste a bunch of time arguing, and ignore some pretty ugly loopholes in our laws. So, thanks for listening. Now I can go back to keeping my mouth shut, and praying.

Is It Okay to Have a Large Family?



In a Facebook group I belong to, a mom recently asked if people would share how many children they have.  She’d always wanted a large family, she said, and was just curious whether or not people actually did that.

So, being the mother to eight that I am, I chimed in.  And went on my merry way.

Of course I kept getting the notifications telling me when another person would post a comment.  And as I glanced over the responses, I was astounded to see that no small number of people had taken this as an opportunity to tell us big families that: it is impossible for our kids to be happy, our families are not “viable”, and there is no way for these kids to receive the attention and love that they need.

I suppose it wasn’t terribly surprising, considering the group, but it WAS kind of sad.

Since when did fertility and the love between husband and wife become so detestable?  I’m not saying everyone has to want a bunch of kids, and I’m not saying all open-to-life people will go on to have a bunch of kids, but these people were genuinely suspicious of families with more than two children.

Truth be told I often forget that we are not the norm–that having eight kids is not typical.  And I forget simply because this is my life, and I’m busy living it, and I’m not (usually) too worried about what other people think.  Of course I’m reminded of our relative uniqueness whenever folks with two or three understandably wonder how we do it, because they already feel maxed out.  But I suspect this tendency to question the capability of large families is based on the assumption that when you add to your family, the dynamic remains the same, while the workload increases a certain amount for each additional child.  When, in my experience, that is not actually the case.

Because families are comprised of people, they are ultimately a complex series of relationships.  I may have eight kids, but my oldest is eleven years old now–and this is much easier in many ways than when we had three kids ages two and under.  Or four kids three and under.  Oh, the good old days!  It’s true that I now have more laundry, more meal prep, and more to manage, but it’s just different.  Kids are more independent in certain ways, and able to pitch in.  Our family functions pretty well if I do say so myself, and things did not get infinitely more difficult with every baby.  Not that there aren’t trials and joys implicit in each parenting phase, because there are.  But you know what I mean.

So why have a big family?  I used to feel a little bit guilty about it, wondering if we were indeed short-changing our children by giving them so many siblings.  If we had fewer kids they could have their own rooms, we could eat out more often, and I’d have more spare time.  I probably wouldn’t yell as much.  But over time I’ve seen the wisdom and beauty in living out openness to life in our marriage, in giving our yes to the Lord and allowing Him to bless us with a tangible expression of our married love.  I won’t tell you that raising a large family is easy, but I will say that there is a lot of love, and so, therefore, it is good.

One of the things that came up in the Facebook group discussion was the issue of priorities.  Because you just can’t do it all.  And sometimes I think outsiders assume that in being open to life, we are trying to do it all.  But it is actually quite the opposite–having many children forces you to figure out what’s important, and drop the things that don’t matter.  Otherwise you’ll go positively crazy.  In my own experience, this has actually been a good thing, because who of us couldn’t stand to simplify?  Or to practice detachment a little bit more?  But this issue of priorities is probably the reason many couples opt not to have a big family, because changing an endless stream of diapers doesn’t really measure up to the alternatives (travelling, having a career outside of the home, not losing sleep over how you’ll pay for college.)  So they choose the latter.  Assuming we big families are the only ones making big sacrifices, even though in limiting their family size, they’re actually sacrificing something too.

I recently read somewhere that folks should not use the word “sacrifice” when talking about parenting their kids.  There is a sense in which I agree with this (because no child should have to feel that he or she is a burden), but in another?  I think it’s ridiculous.  Because parenting is the height of sacrifice!  We set aside our own comforts, dreams, and wants, for love of another.  We run the risk of losing ourselves.  We give until it hurts.  Moms to many do this several times over, but there’s a secret we’ve learned somewhere along the way, too.  It’s something other people don’t always understand, and it’s nearly impossible to quantify or explain.  And it is this: when you abandon yourself to the joys (and sorrows) of motherhood, you experience a depth of fulfillment that is unparalleled.  When marriages, intrinsically ordered towards children, bring forth new life, we are seeing the creative capacity of God and of man.  It is a thing of beauty, mystery, and renewal.  It is in keeping with natural and divine law.

And yet, we women are supposed to have evolved beyond having babies.  We have the pill, we have the IUD, we have the capacity to limit our family size in a way greater than any prior generation.  And not only that, but public opinion, and the mainstream medical community, are  now on the side of birth control–something our female predecessors did not enjoy.  We are living in what is arguably the golden age of contraception and family planning.  So the very idea of someone eschewing the cultural narrative, and of opening themselves up to the messiness, unknowns, and trials of large family life, is absurd.  And even a little obscene.  It confounds modern minds because it is most definitely anti-modern.

So we large families find ourselves and our beliefs vulnerable to speculation, interpretation, and occasionally attack.  It makes little sense in the world’s economy to welcome needy person after needy person into our homes and hearts.  When parenthood is seen primarily in the form of a pie chart–where there is a static, finite amount of love and attention available, to be divided up equally among members–it is a scandal that you would behave in such a way so as to produce smaller pieces of pie.  But this context for understanding the family does not take into account the love that flows between siblings, or the way that love grows exponentially with the addition of each new family member.  It doesn’t reflect what happens when a squishy baby arrives, and softens everybody’s rough edges.  It doesn’t tell the full story.

There was a time when I too would have questioned the judgment of a married couple throwing caution, good sense, and money to the wind in exchange for a fifteen-passenger-van and four sets of bunk beds.  But that was before I had the misfortune of actually using the pill to prevent pregnancy, and it was before I became a mother, and before I encountered the life-giving truth about the vocation of Holy Matrimony.  Now, I’m raising my eight kids, ya’ll!  Which is funny, because I never really anticipated having a big family, but here I am.  And I don’t worry too much about whether or not other people think that’s the best thing or a good thing or the right thing for kids, because I know, I know, that children are not only a precious gift but that they are also natural to, and good for, marriage.  And I now know too that children are a gift to one another.

Contrary to what people on Facebook were arguing, raising many children is not the same thing as being a teacher or running a daycare, neither of which ever appealed to me in the least.  And contrary to what most people think you don’t have to be a saint.  Kids (usually) come one at a time.  You learn as you go.  Sometimes you mess up.  There are happy moments and sad ones, too.  It’s life, and it’s full.

If you’re thinking about having a large family, you will no doubt encounter those who say that having more than a few kids is unnecessary at best, and selfish and irresponsible at worst.  Women today have recourse to contraception, good earning potential, and even just two children will keep you plenty busy.  But take heart, because well-meaning as these people may be?  They simply don’t see the whole picture.  You can have a happy, fulfilling marriage while also being open to life.  You can have joy-filled, funny, well-adjusted children who have many siblings.  It won’t always be easy, but like most good things, it’s worth it.  Dinners around a full table, lively road trips to the coast, the Christmases and birthdays and even the mundane moments, they are a gift of inestimable worth.

It really is okay to have a large family!

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7 Quick Takes Friday {3/20/2015}



1.)  Can we be done with cold season?  Pllleeeasssse?  We just keep getting hit with one thing right after another.  And it’s making me grouchy.  Spring Break starts today, and my poor kids are kicking it off by watching cartoons in their jammies and blowing their noses.  But they’re home and we’re together, and no matter what that makes me happy, because I do love having everyone home.  Even if they’re all sneezing.


0332.)  My littles and I took a walk this past week, and visited the neighbor’s alpacas.  Because that is a must when you are five and two.  Now nearly everyone on our street has alpacas, but I’d never gotten too close to them before.  They’re kind of like llamas, but different.  And apparently?  These animals have the most ridiculous-looking faces!  Like seriously super silly.  They’re also super friendly.  But definitely pretty weird.


3.)  Parent/teacher conferences were held this morning at our classical charter school, for four of my kids.  I admit that these conferences really kind of stress me out, because I want my kids to do well, and some of them struggle with academics.  And being a people pleaser, I WANT THE TEACHERS TO LIKE MY KIDS.  But can I just say that I am so darn proud of my kiddos, every last one?  They are all over the map in terms of their strengths and abilities, but every single one of them is, according to their respective teachers this morning, working hard.  Eager to learn.  Making good progress.  What more could a mama want?


0364.)  Kevin had his optometrist appointment this week.  And arrived home wearing these.  I just can’t even.


0185.)  Last Sunday the weather was positively glorious, and so we held assorted Heldt Family Competitions outside.  The kids raced, kicked soccer balls, and had an all around great time.  Family time is the best.


0296.)  So I am not a pet person.  I do not enjoy pets.  I am allergic to pets.  But we have an outdoor cat, Chesterton (may his brother Lewis rest in peace), who is just the sweetest thing, and he kills mice.  And Alice is, I think, his biggest fan.  She just loves him to pieces and, thankfully, he is super patient with her patting and shouting.  Which is good.  Because she does a lot of patting and shouting.


0417.)  Last night we had the joy and honor of witnessing our friend Adam make his perpetual promises with the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.  Denver’s Archbishop Aquila celebrated the Mass, and my sons Yosef and Biniam (walking behind the archbishop) were invited to serve.  They were so excited, and did a great job.  It was an incredibly beautiful, moving Mass, and I think I’ll write more about it, and share some more photos, soon.


Thanks to Kelly Mantoan for hosting!  And be sure to like my Facebook page and visit my blog’s sidebar to subscribe to my feed, so you don’t miss any posts!

That Catholic Girl Podcast {Episode 3: Special Needs and Large Families}

111Today I’m talking about our experience parenting our daughters with Down syndrome, within the context of our large family.  Enjoy!

Greeks Behaving Badly

animalhouse4This isn’t going to win me any popularity points, but I’m saying it anyway.

Most of us are aware by now that Sigma Alpha Epsilon members from OU made a video of themselves singing racist chants–set to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, and featuring references to lynching and the n-word.  The university has taken action and the local chapter has been closed, while the rest of us are left scratching our heads and wondering how this could possibly happen in the year 2015.  When I did a little looking into the history of the national SAE organization, however, I discovered that maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.  This wasn’t the first incident they’ve had with racial discrimination in recent times.  Yuck.

And so I want to know: why is nobody considering the possibility that problems like racism and sexism might actually be endemic to the Greek system, in general?

I never joined a sorority or fraternity when I was in college.  On the contrary, I was one of those people who found them both awkward and delightfully funny/ridiculous, all at the same time.  Rush week in my dorm at California Polytechnic State University, SLO seemed, frankly, more than a little skeevy to me.  Let’s be BFFs and wear matching t-shirts, even though we don’t really know each other.  Gah!

But there was the time mid-year when a sweet girlfriend begged me to go with her to a sorority informational event, and I went, because nothing else was happening that night and it sounded kind of entertaining.  And I was so overwhelmed by all of the scented candles and fakey-fakey and WE ARE THE BEST!!! EVER!!! that, once I was done rolling my eyes, I ran screaming into the night.

These girls very well may have been some of the nicest people at my university.  But I was a fish out of water.  I did not fit in.  Perhaps most of all, I did not want to fit in.

When they clasped their hands together and asked me “So do you think you’ll JOIN???!!”, I said, “Meh.”

Because when I’m at the sorority house I’m like:




Now I’m not saying that all fraternities and sororities are lame.  I know that they enhance the college experience for a lot of people, promote good networking and career opportunities, and provide a lot of booze to otherwise deprived, underage students.  I personally know a few people who rushed or pledged back in the day, and they’re great people.

But when you start to peel back the layers, and think about how nearly every other week now there’s a headline exposing problems lurking on fraternity row, well, you wonder if maybe something more is going on here–consider some of these stories from the small town of San Luis Obispo, where I attended Cal Poly all those years ago:

  • Like this one.  Which happened just this past week, when a roof collapsed during an all-night “St. Fratty’s Day” party because there were too many drunk people standing on the roof.
  • Or how about when, back in 2008, Cal Poly freshman Carson Starkey died of alcohol poisoning, during a hazing and surrounded by fraternity leaders?  He was just eighteen years old.
  • And then there’s the issue of university rape culture.  As evidenced by this.  And this.

All of that is just a sampling of some of what’s happened at my own alma mater in recent years.  It’s just one school.

If you want to see a few more examples, check out this compilation of stories from Rolling Stone.  Better yet, read this 2014 expose from The Atlantic.

I guess I just can’t help but wonder if some of it’s less the exception and more the rule with these organizations.  I’m not talking about the honor societies or groups based primarily around cultural or religious identity–those, on the whole, are really good, positive things.  But I AM talking about the rape and the hookup culture, the competitive drinking, and the racist/sexist us vs. them mentality that seems to be woven throughout much of the system.  Some of it subtle, some of it not.  But it’s there.  Parents need to know that when their kids are heading off to college, there may be campus organizations promoting and glorifying a culture of risky behavior, racism, and rape.

I’m glad OU cut ties with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and I believe expelling the students involved was the right thing for the college to do.  Because that’s not the kind of environment you should be cultivating at your university.  And though I know some people are pointing to the expulsions as a violation of free speech, well, there are limits.  It is not an *absolute* constitutional right to say whatever you please–and if you don’t believe me, you can ask the guy I had arrested for making terrorist threats once upon a time.  True story.  I also  support Jean Delance’s decision to play football somewhere else–if I were his mother, I wouldn’t want him going within fifty feet of that campus.

And speaking of which, I am a mother to two black sons.  And two black daughters.  And racism bites.  And I really kind of worry for the cultural climate my kids are growing up in.  It’s real.  What more is there to say?

Universities ought to exist for students to receive an education in a supportive, stimulating social environment.  Where they are trained to think, and to be good, productive citizens capable of contributing to the greater society.  And it is my opinion that, for too long now, administrators have chosen to look the other way while students are hazed, raped, and occasionally killed, right under their noses.  Young women, welcomed into weekend frat parties for free (gee, I wonder why), obviously bear the brunt of this injustice–but it is hurting young men too who, if not injured during a hazing or taunted with racial slurs, are being taught the precise opposite of what it means to be a man who respects women.

And the racial issues?  They’re not unique to OU.  Not by a longshot.

For the past  two months, Cal Poly’s Greek system has been on “social probation”–apparently they got into trouble for rape one too many times.  But I would ask how, exactly, the university is planning to actually CHANGE this pattern of behavior going forward, once the system returns to its characteristic luring-women-in-with-Jello-shots and throwing-pimp-and-ho-parties ways?  When objectivizing and marginalizing others has clearly become the expectation of pledging a fraternity?  A bunch of young kids away from home for the first time is a group easily influenced and exploited, and all for what–to fit in?  Be cool?  Hook up with as many anonymous people as possible?

Is having a group of particular friends or belonging to a certain national organization ever really worth putting your dignity or, sometimes, even your life at risk?

Well, no.  It’s not.  You know that, and I know that.  But kids, they want to belong.  And kids aren’t always thinking.  And these organizations are setting a terrible trap for impressionable students living away from home for the first time, who don’t have the natural inclination to roll their eyes and walk away from something bad for them.

The way I see it, universities may actually have to make a choice: protect the interests of women and minority groups, or maintain the status quo of the fraternity/sorority system.  I would love to see schools take a hard, honest look at the type of social environment presently being offered to their respective student populations–looking at the whole student population, NOT just heterosexual white males–and I would encourage them to follow OU’s lead and shut these Greek organizations down, if that’s what it takes to make campuses safe for one and all.

And, it might.

7 Quick Takes Friday {3/13/2015}



1.)  For the first time in about ten years, I had an eye exam yesterday.  I used to wear glasses for reading because I’m slightly far-sighted, but eventually my reading glasses became lost and unfashionable, so I don’t have them anymore.  And I’ve noticed that my eyes do get tired sometimes if I’m focusing on things up close–especially when I’m shopping.  THAT’S A BIG DEAL, PEOPLE.  So, I went in.  And it turns out that though my eyes are great and I still don’t *need* glasses, I am still a little farsighted, and reading glasses could help with fatigue.  So now begins the epic task of choosing glasses, which is easier said than done because hello, I want them to be cool.  I figure if I’m going to be wearing them, they should give me the “I am an author worthy of a good publishing advance” look.  I love, love, love these:eyeglasses

But where do I find a similar pair?  What is cool in eyewear right now, friends?


0152.)  We have had colds, fevers, and a stomach virus visit our house this week.  I kind of want to just pour bleach all over everything and everyone, because apparently we need it, but that’s probably toxic.  So instead I’ll just be grateful for hardwood floors that are easy to clean, and for the extra time with my kiddos who’ve had to stay home from school.  Which always feels like a treat.


0053.)  My sons are working on a project for school where they had to write a paragraph about where they’re from.  This stuff always makes me nervous (and a little sad) because it’s complicated for adopted children.  Anyway, on this particular night Yosef pulled out a globe for inspiration.  I don’t think I’ll ever cease being humbled by the stories my adopted children have lived, or by the gift of getting to be a part of it.  If you’re interested in learning more about our adoption journey, you can listen to my podcast here.


4.)  I have big plans to dig into Margaret Sanger’s autobiography today.  Which yes, I own.  I read two of her other books this past summer and, well, I admit to being fascinated by her work and influence in society.  I’m actually kind of giddy about starting the autobiography.  Maybe I need to get out more.


5.)  Did you know that you can shop online at Target, and have your order waiting for you, SAME DAY, at the customer service desk?  To be picked up? For free?  Groceries, jewelry, household goods, clothes, shoes, toys, you name it.  And, you’re welcome.


6.)  I’m admittedly a woman who doesn’t totally love cooking, but obviously I do it because EIGHT KIDS.  Anyway, a few nights ago I made this recipe from Emily Stimpson, and ohmygoodness it was SO delicious!  Like crazy, super good.  Definitely give it a try–I think you’ll love it!


7.)  Weird introvert problem alert: two of my kids ride the school bus to and from school each day.  Because they have Down syndrome, they get picked up and dropped off right outside of my house, as opposed to being at a bus stop with lots of other kids.  And our bus driver is SO sweet and good with the girls.  And just an all-around nice person.  But I find myself regularly anxious over making small talk with her twice a day.  Do I talk enough?  Am I friendly enough?  Should I be making more conversation?  Oops, did I talk too much?  ACK!  Please, please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with this category of social interaction.  Because truth be told I’d prefer either no interaction at all, or a heartfelt hour-long gab fest.  But the twice daily chit-chat sends me over the edge.  Because I’m an introvert.  With, clearly, some issues.


***Thanks to Kelly Mantoan for hosting!

That Catholic Girl Podcast {Episode 2: Our Adoption Journey}


Today on the podcast, I’m talking about adoption!

If you’d like more information about adoption in general, or about adopting children with medical needs, please feel free to get in touch with me.  I’d love to hear from you.

And, I would love to come and share with your church, conference, radio show audience, or retreat about the joys, and challenges, of adoption–and I can tailor my message to the needs of your particular group.  Speaking info here!


Birthday week

I shall dub this past week “BIRTHDAY WEEK.”

My little Alice turned two on Friday.  Two.  How did this happen?!

And then Kaitlyn turned eight on Saturday, and I’m not certain how that happened either.  Seems like it was just yesterday when my water broke while I was cleaning my house, and obviously she wasn’t my first baby, because I just kept on cleaning my house.  And made dinner for my three other kids.

Kid birthdays in our family are all pretty much clustered together–we have three in October, three in February/March, and two in May/June.  And now that my kids go to school, we’re not only looking at birthday celebrations with family and friends, but there are also Birthday Treats That Must Be Taken to School.

We’ve done different things over the years for our kids’ birthdays.  It’s pretty much the key to raising a large family in general, I think–being open to changing things up.  We’ve done huge parties where we invite all of our friends, and we’ve done drop-off celebrations where a few kids come over to play.  So far this year we’ve opted for quiet family dinners with grandparents, save for Alice who had an extra little party with her godparents.


Few things better than taking treats to school.  Which I never got to do, because my birthday is in the summer.  Boo.

Few things better than taking treats to school. Which I never got to do, because my birthday is in the summer. Boo.

Even though Kaitlyn’s actual birthday was on Saturday, she took treats to school on Friday.  She requested these Martha Stewart cupcakes–incidentally, I made the very same ones on her first birthday.



Our dear friends gifted Alice with a nun doll.  SO cute!

Our dear friends gifted Alice with a nun doll. SO cute!

Of course Friday is Alice’s actual birthday, and her godparents came over that evening for cheese pizza (hello Lent) and homemade cake and ice cream.


My baby.  Turning two.

My baby. Turning two.

I made the Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake recipe–so, so delicious!  This is the second time I’ve made it and it never, ever disappoints.  I served it with homemade vanilla ice cream, which is so simple to make but tastes oh so good.

We spent the day Saturday at our church’s Lent Retreat, but that evening my parents came over to celebrate both Kaitlyn and Alice’s birthdays.  We have a tradition where the birthday kid gets to choose their birthday dinner, and Kaitlyn wanted homemade chicken pot pie and fruit salad, so I obliged.  (Does anyone else detest pulling chicken meat off the chicken?  Pretty much the worst task ever, in my book.)


Turns out it doesn't work so well to put candles in a scoop of ice cream.  Sometimes the cup burns and melts.  Who knew?

Turns out it doesn’t work so well to put candles in ice cream and root beer. Sometimes the cup burns and melts. Who knew?

And for dessert she chose root beer floats.  Which earned three cheers from me, because I got to take a break from baking–though I DID have to yell at the WalMart deliveryman for giving half of my groceries away (including the root beer) to the customer before me, until he finally agreed to redeliver them to me later that afternoon.  But that’s another story.  And no I didn’t actually yell, but I did inform him about the importance of good business practices and making things right with your customers.  And I know, I know.  WalMart.


Meet Undie.

Meet Undie.

Then it was time for gift opening.  In addition to receiving the usual toys and such, my daughter Anna (eleven years old) had decided to make a doll for Alice.  Unbeknownst to me.  For the doll’s body, she used a soda bottle.  And for the clothes, she cut up her old (clean, thank goodness!) underwear.  I know.  It’s super weird.  But she was so proud of this thing, and named it “Undie”, and was so excited to give it to her sister.

Who was outright TERRIFIED of the doll.

Like screaming, and crying, and running away scared out of her mind at the very mention of Undie.

Which found the rest of us laughing uncontrollably because, well, who makes doll clothes out of old underwear?!  And what two-year-old is so afraid of a silly toy?

So, that’s how we roll with birthdays around here.  Simple, fun, occasionally weird, and the kids get to feel oh-so-special.

And now I’m wondering: how do YOU celebrate birthdays in your home?

P.S. Alice somehow miraculously made peace with Undie the next day–she even had Undie sit next to her at the table last night.  Go figure.


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That Catholic Girl Podcast {Episode 1}

Friends, I’ve just started podcasting.  Crazy excited about it.  No clue what I’m doing.  But I’m giving it a go.

So, welcome to my very first podcast episode!  So thrilled to have you listening along!  Today I talk a little about myself, my life, the blogosphere, and the reason I’m venturing into podcasting.  Basically just a lot of rambling.

Here are the notes for today’s show:






A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

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