Jack’s Tragedy

We’re winding down the school year, but I had my older boys eek out one more small essay for me.  Both Jack and Liam used the same source text, yet they both produced very different writings.  I loved them both, however Jack’s paper kinda made me tear up.  I thought I’d share

To give a little introduction, we were talking about CS Lewis’s character Diggory in the Magician’s Nephew.  Lewis drew inspiration from his own relationship with his mother to form Diggory’s relationship with his mother in the story.  For those who don’t know, CS Lewis was known as Jack amongst his circle of friends.

Jack’s Tragedy

by Jack (age 10)

Jack loved his mother, yet her life came to a tragic end.  Jack enjoyed when his mother spent time with him learning and having fun.  Her name was Flora Lewis, and she spent much of her time with Jack and his brother, Warnie, reading to them and teaching them how to draw.  Both Flora and the boys were exceptionally intelligent and imaginative.  In time, Warnie was sent to boarding school because he became of age, so Jack and his mother grew very close having fun and learning Latin.  Later, when Jack was still very young, Flora became ill and was confined to her bed.  Only six month later, Flora passed away, and Jack, who was heartbroken at the loss of his mother, became deeply depressed.  He would later find comfort in retreating to his attic and thinking of all the fun he had with his mother.  Later, in his days as a writer, he would reflect upon Flora, who had directed him to the world of literature and set him on his path to take part in it.

**For those homeschoolers who follow me, we use IEW.  This particular piece came from the theme writing book Following Narnia Vol. 1: The Lion’s Song. (affiliate link)**

Catholicism From a Cry Room Window

There I was again, watching daily Mass through the sound proof window that separated the very audible babies from the rest of the quiet congregation.  This particular Mass I had only my littlest 3 with me.  My older three kids were quietly sitting with their friends in the front pews while my friend, Jean, graciously asked my middle child to sit with her.  Slightly easier Mass, yes, but I was still spiraling down into a pity party as Henry was yanking my hair while I was nursing him, and Stella was crying because I wouldn’t let her sit in the window sill so she could realize her dreams of smudging tiny fingerprints all over the stained glass.  Each time Fr. Hough started to speak, Max asked me a question such as, “How high can Charlotte Bronte jump?”

I was just at my “Ugh, will I ever get to listen to another Mass again?!” moment when one of the cry room citizens (not one of mine) started screaming.  This kid was tired and done and letting everyone know about it.  At first, I thought nothing of this.  I didn’t dare turn my head to look at this poor child’s mother lest she think I was judging her by his behavior.  I’ve been that mom.  I knew what she was feeling.  Or at least I thought.  I finally did a sidelong glance, and what I saw filled me with such calm and just absolute love for my friend.  She was holding her screaming baby, yet with closed eyes, she was saying the prayers of the faithful with such sincerity one would have thought she was sitting alone quietly with only Jesus in the room.

Any pity I had on myself disappeared that second.  Of course she wasn’t just sitting alone with Jesus, she was holding Jesus, and he was screaming.  I was holding Jesus.  He was yanking my hair, crying about not touching stained glass, asking me about the Bronte sisters’ athletic skills.  I began immediately to offer it up, offer it all up.  I sat there and offered up the past 12 years of baby and toddler wrangling during Mass.  I offered up all the pacing done in the narthex, all the missed Easter Vigils because the kids just can’t sit that long that late at night, and all the potty breaks just as communion is beginning.

I know that eventually the babies will grow.  I’ll be able to sit through an entire Mass…and participate in all of it.  I’ll have different pains and hardships to offer up.  But for now I’ll be here,  looking on through the cry room window.  And that’s ok, because Jesus is in here with me too.

And the King will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Mt 25:40



Matilda’s First Communion


Saturday was her big day!  After preparing all year (all her life really), Matilda received Jesus for the first time.  She kept saying, “I can’t believe I can take the Eucharist now!”  Then she asked if we can go to daily Mass this week.


And of course we celebrated after with a party and lots of food!

“This is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist.” -St. Pope John Paul II


And I tried oh so hard to finish her Icon before her Saturday, but I’m kinda a busy lady and didn’t get it done.  One day soon though!

*For those asking about her dress, I didn’t get a lot of pictures because of the hustle and bustle of the day and the rain.  I’ll take more later.  I made the dress using an Oliver + S Pattern, the Fairy Tale Dress with tulip capped sleeves.  I would have liked to use a different pattern like Garden Party from Oliver + S or Olivine from Clever Charlotte, but I let Matilda pick everything.  She did a great job I think!  The silk sash really made the dress!


Humble Dwelling Rosaries

I like to make things…a lot.  Over the years I’ve taught myself how to knit (it’s the gateway craft), sew, quilt, and paint.  I’ve recently added a new skill to that list.  Rosary making!


Let me give a little backstory about how I started doing the very fulfilling craft.


It’s a tradition for us to get a special rosary for each kid as they make their First Communion.  We’ve done this with two children so far.  With Liam and Jack I searched far and wide and found these beautiful clay rosaries that they love.  I’ve written about them before.  Sadly, since these rosaries are no longer being made, I was at a loss.  Matilda’s First Communion is this year, and I couldn’t find a rosary that I thought would be perfect for her.


Matilda suggested that I make her one.  So we scoured bead websites, watched multiple videos, and I went for it.  I failed…a lot.  My first few rosaries were, well, ugly to say the least.  But I kept trying and kept getting better.  I learned where the good rosary parts are sold and what my style is.  I found that I really enjoyed the process.  And by enjoy, I mean I can’t stop.  Rosary making is such a relaxing process for me.  Selecting beads, finding really well made crucifixes, unrolling spools and spools of wire, I love it all!


I ended up with a large number of rosaries, so Humble Dwelling Handcrafted Rosaries was born!  All because of a suggestion by my 8 year old daughter.

I try to use the best rosary parts I can find.  Most of my beads are fair trade and eco friendly, meaning they are obtained using a process that respects people and the earth.  A fair price is paid to all of the craftspeople, vendors, and co-ops that these beads are purchased from.


There is an “heirloom” section in my shop as well.  These rosaries are made with crucifixes and centerpieces that are pure bronze.  Each bronze piece is hand cast using antique molds.  The chain is pure copper that has a patina to match the bronze parts.  These rosaries are made to be kept within families for generations.

So please stop by Humble Dwelling and have a look around!  I add new items every one or two weeks, so check back often!

St. Francis







One of the many blessings of being Catholic is liturgical living.  Sunday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. We had our dog, Annie, and our turtle, Hermione (Fr. Chuck’s first turtle to bless), blessed at our parish then went to a nearby bird sanctuary for a short hike. St. Francis, pray for us.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Our Clay Rosaries

IMG_6760A week before Stella was born, my 8 year old suggested that we say a rosary every day for an easy and safe birth.  So every afternoon we’d all grab our rosaries and snuggle up on the sofa.

IMG_6761We said our rosaries every day during that week, and I often had to remind Liam and Jack to move down a bead because they would be staring at a particular bead they liked on their clay rosaries.

IMG_6764These are the rosaries I gave them for their First Communions.  Liam and Jack adore them.  I first found out about the Clay Rosary Girl from the beautiful blog Small Things.

IMG_6762Our final rosary was said on July 27th and Stella was born the next day.  On the same day Stella was born, the beautiful woman who handmade these rosaries and her unborn child passed away.  When I told the boys, they said one rosary for Sarah Harkins and her baby Cecilia.

IMG_6763I was planning on giving these clay rosaries to each of my children for their First Communions, but now I can just be really thankful that we have these two.  We’ll share them and take turns running the beads through our fingers and thinking of the kind soul whose fingers made them.

If you would like to contribute anything you can spare to her four beautiful children, please do so. http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/support-fund-for-the-harkins-children/211371


Saint coins, chore charts and a family store

saint coins 005I’ve been asked by enough people about our family store reward system, that I figured it warranted a post.  I’ve tried many variations of chore charts, sticker charts, reward systems, etc, but this by far is the one that has worked best.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m more consistent or the kids just respond really well to it.

I just started with a simple laminated “task chart.”  I had 3 for each kid (morning, afternoon, evening) but it was too much.  I made it extra simple and this seems to work.  The circle is for when it’s her night to set the table and once or twice a week they each have one household chore like take out the trash, vacuum, clean windows, etc.

saint coins 001At the end of the day, my husband looks at their chart.  If they have done all that they should, they get 3 saint coins. (more on how I made them later)  He doles out the coins so he can talk with them about the day they had and what they accomplished and because I will forget every single night if it were up to me.  I give them extra coins throughout the day if I catch them doing a good deed or they were extra attentive in class.  One of my children was having trouble completing his work in a timely manner.  So I now set a timer and if he beats the timer, he gets an extra coin.  He’s starting to beat the timer most days. 🙂

saint coins 002To make the coins, I printed out badges from Happy Saints ebooks at 50% their size.  If you don’t have a Happy Saints ebook, get one!!  We use them for greeting cards, homeschool religion classes, service projects, just tons of stuff.  So I printed out the badges on label paper.  I was able to get about 20 on a page printing them at 50%.  I then cut them out and stuck them on little wooden discs you can get at the craft store.  I forgot the diameter of mine, but it was around 2 inches I think.  Then I sealed the coins with spray modge podge.

saint coins 003A friend asked me to make some for her, and this time I used printable shrinky dink paper.  I printed the badges at 100% size, but I set the color to the lowest intensity so they would be too dark after being cooked. (control p; main tab; under color/intensity, click manual; set intensity all the way to light).  The shrinky dink coin is smaller, but turned out great!  And it saved me a lot more time doing the shrinky dink way!  I was able to make 30 coins with one pack of shrinky dink paper.

saint coins 004Then the kids decorated little boxes for their coins!

saint coins 006Finally, every Friday night, they get to shop in the family store.  The 5 box has small candy, trips the the coffee shop with mom or dad or to a bookstore.  The 10 box has plastic bracelets, bigger candy, and the big hit…microwave popcorn for Friday night movie night.  The 15 box has slinkys, lego minifigures, fancy pencils, and various things found in the Target dollar section.  And extra coins the kids have, they can roll them over to the next week, but they usually spend them all. 🙂


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We make this Advent Wreath every year.

Wreath blessing (from USCCB):

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.