{SQT} A Godly Sort of Gift Guide

Welcome back to the last in my series of gift guides designed to aid the ambitious in completing their holiday shopping before the new liturgical  year kicks in this Sunday (a.k.a. Advent).

seven quick takes friday 2

Below are seven items for all the godparents and children in your life. First and foremost, gifts are not a requirement of becoming a godparent. You don’t need to lavish your godchildren with presents; and parents, your children’s godparents don’t need extra trinkets either. The role of godparent is to help the child grow in their faith alongside the example of their parents. Love, prayers and personal attention are the most important contributions you can make, and they’re all free. You also shouldn’t need a new ceramic mug every year to remind you of this responsibility. If the extent of your relationship with your godchildren or parents is the exchanging of presents on Christmas, you’re missing the point.

However, I know gift giving is a love language, and many godparents and godchildren enjoy giving and receiving gifts. In searching for godparent/child gifts, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of items and underwhelmed with the selection. How many plaques, frames and mugs does one person need?

Below are seven items I can mostly vouch for; we’ve either given them to our godchidren or our kids’ godparents, or received them ourselves. I’ll note the exceptions.

1. Sacramental Certificates – I’ve bought the one pictured for at least two of my godchildren because I prefer the designs from Trademark Stationary. It’s hard to find other designs though you could probably get one specially designed if you were so inclined. On these certificates, parents can make note of all sacramental milestones. If your godchild is older, Trademark also makes certificates for single sacraments (Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders).



2. Mass Cards, Perpetual Enrollment – My link will take to you Mass cards and Perpetual Enrollment offered by St. John Cantius in Chicago where we’ve purchased from in the past. A Google search will turn up other organizations offering the same. Don’t forget to check at your own parish. Have a Mass said for your godchild on their birthday or the anniversary of their baptism and send them a card to let them know. Send your godparents a Christmas Mass card to let them know they’ll be remembered at Mass throughout the Christmas season.


3. Books – I think books are the perfect gift for any occasion and recipient. As a godparents job is to help supplement the godchild’s religious upbringing, beautiful Catholic picture books are a wonderful addition to any library. As a child gets older saint books or teen catechisms would be the next step. Buying a book could become a tradition. A devotional guide or missal would be a great gift for a godparent.  Below I’ve shared three books from Amy Welborn that we’ve given through the year. Amy has a great selection of books for all ages so be sure to check out her whole Amazon page OR order right from her and she’ll even sign it for you. 

4. Godfather parody items – I have never given or received any of these items but I REALLY want to. I’m saddened I didn’t discover these items until I was researching for this post.

Jack Glass Studios


5. Christmas ornaments – Handmade, Hallmark, with a picture or without, Christmas ornaments are a nice keepsake item that don’t take up a ton of space or gather dust. Again, a yearly ornament would make a great tradition.

6. Gift Certificate –  …with one caveat; it needs to be used by godparents and godchildren together. This is a great way for older godchild to keep a close relationship with their godparents. Buy a gift card to say, Barnes and Noble and spend a couple of hours sipping hot cocoa and reading books. Younger kids might enjoy a trip to Chuck E Cheese or an arcade. And who wouldn’t like a trip to the movies? Sometimes distance makes it’s hard, but when possible, let your godchild know you’re a dependable person in their life by spending quality one on one time with them.

7. Icons – This only works if the godchild/parents enjoy iconography (though this might be a way to educate them!) and certainly not something you can buy every year. My husband and I love icons and in a funny twist, wound up buying one for the godparents of our youngest, not knowing they had just purchased an icon for Teddy, from the same vendor. I think it’s helpful for children to have an image of their patron saint and icons do this in a wonderful way through their unique otherworldly design.

What would you add? Let me know in the comments then be sure to link up below! Remember to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

The Night Before Thanksgiving

Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring….except for Mama who was staring at a partially thawed turkey, wondering what time her family would actually be able to eat tomorrow.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds because Papa had yelled at them to stay out of the kitchen. “I need to finish these pies tonight!!!” he shouted, graham cracker crumbs flying.

And Mama in her apron and Papa dotted with sweat, together opened the wine purchased for their guests. When suddenly from the boy’s room there arose such a clatter, Mama chugged her glass then sprang …okay, walked begrudgingly, to see what was the matter.

What to her wondering eyes did appear but two mischievous boys laughing and telling jokes with no regard for the fact that it was late and everyone needed to be asleep NOW. With a pointed reminder so stern and quick, everyone got quiet lickety split.

More rapid than coursers Mama and Papa worked, making pies, dicing vegetables, wondering if they had a proper substitute for buttermilk somewhere in the house.

And then in a twinkling Papa heard on the steps, the complaints of a child who wasn’t tired yet. As Papa drew in his head and was turning around, he emphatically growled he didn’t care, get to bed and DON’T MAKE A SOUND!!!!

A bundle of flour fell to the floor, and Mama wondered if she could make the dog lick it up. Another glass of wine she did pour.

Mama’s eyes, how they watered from the onions so strong, her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry… clearly, the wine was kicking in.

A wink of Papa’s eye and a nod of his head, meant soon all would be done and they could head upstairs to bed.

They spoke not a word, preferring to listen to Pandora’s alternative dance radio channel, and finished their work. Packed up the refrigerator and turned with a jerk.

And laying her finger beside her nose, Mama left a big smudge of pie crust that Papa had to laugh at.

They sprung into bed, feet aching, backs tired, hoping tomorrow the kids would at least try some of the food they just spent hours prepping.

But Mama exclaimed, as fresh shouts arose from the baby monitor, “Happy Thanksgiving indeed.If I have to go in there one more time…” And to the boys she yelled, ‘Good night!’ through a vent in the floor.

{SQT} Buy a Present, Help a Friend

seven quick takes friday 2

1.When I said I would compile a gift guide of items created by other bloggers, I wasn’t thinking of the approximately 3,452,039 bloggers who’ve got a side hustle. It hardly seems appropriate to limit my guide to seven bloggers, seven items, or even seven categories. In a stroke of genius (and slight desperation late on a Thursday night) I decided the best option would be to create and share some Pinterest boards. That way, I can add endless amounts of bloggers in various categories without revising this post a million times and topping out at 50,000+ words. If you want to shop handmade for Christmas, why not support your favorite blogger at the same time? You know your money is supporting the coffee / wine habit of a deserving lady.

2. The first board is titled “Catholic Bloggers Who Are Selling You Something Great”. Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll recognize many of the ladies who contributed to Link-toberfest as well as several new faces. It’s a little bit of everything and it’s all pretty awesome.


Follow Kelly’s board Catholic Bloggers Who Are Selling You Something Great on Pinterest.

  3. Next is the updated “Catholic Women and the Books the Write” board (originally featured in this post.) Am I missing your favorite blogger’s book? Let me know! Small Catholic publishing houses thank you!


    Follow Kelly’s board Catholic Women and the Books They Write on Pinterest.


4. Maybe your favorite blogger doesn’t do anything but post occasionally and take care of her family. (There’s a few left!) Check their sidebar!!! Many of us participate in the Amazon Affiliate program. that means any time you click-through to Amazon from our blog and purchase anything (not just what we may link to) we get a tiny percentage of that sale. I don’t know any blogger who is making a killing on affiliate sales, but I know for me that extra money helps purchase medical supplies, school books and everything else I can’t find at Target. So look for an Amazon ad or link to an Amazon product (I also have a sidebar ad that links to a shop I set up of recommended items) and click-through when you know you need to order something. It doesn’t cost you anything and it gives a little something back to your favorite blogger.

5. In general, the sidebars of your favorite bloggers are good places to shop. Is one of them selling essential oils, books or hair accessories through a well-known company you usually shop or have considered trying?  Send some business their way! Are there ads for companies you’d shop from anyway? Clickty click!! Chances are you’ll find some new handmade or small family businesses too!

6. Although I don’t have a comprehensive list, I know a few bloggers offer other professional services, such as photography, graphic design or interior decorating. Do you live local to such a blogger or have someone on your gift list who does? Check out options for gift certificates! And bloggers, don’t hesitate to mention your credentials online. You never know when an opportunity to use those skills may pop up from an online connection.

7. Lastly, my present to Anabelle Hazard from ‘Written by the Finger of God’, is that she won the opportunity to host Seven Quick Takes on a Friday of her choosing in December. Thank you to everyone who entered. I loved reading your entries and would happily turn over Quick Takes to any of y’all at some point down the road when I need a week off. (And Anabelle I’ll be emailing you later today….hopefully.)

If I forgot your business, know I already feel horrible about it. Shoot me an email or leave a link in the comments. I’ll add it lickety split to the appropriate board. Don’t forget to link up your Takes below! Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!!

Honest, Unsolicited Review of Reading Kingdom or How I Finally Stopped Worrying About Fulton’s Reading

Back in September I did a post detailing all my curriculum picks for the year. I promised a follow-up post.

This is not that post.

However, I did want to update on Fulton’s reading progress since I alluded to difficulties (a.k.a. I was the world’s worst homeschooling mom) at the time.

Fulton has been the absolute slowest of my children to learn to read. Although I try to be the cool, experienced homeschool mom who knows he’ll pick it up when he’s ready, I was sort of freaking out. My oldest read by 4 1/2, my second and third weren’t strong readers but by second grade, were reading their own school books and grade level stories. Now, they’re both reading chapter books with ease.

I had several resources I used with each child. If they got frustrated with one thing, we just switched up for a bit for some variety. We practiced regularly and always made slow and steady progress.

But despite my arsenal and experience and laid back attitude, I realized Fulton was in a league all his own. And as much as I wanted to stop worrying about it, I couldn’t. Fulton needs other people to do everything for him. I just finally wanted him to be able to do something for himself. Once he could read, it just seemed there’d be so many more things he could understand and do on his own.

Finally I read a book from my library “The Reading Remedy”. It mentioned several additional steps to reading that might be causing Fulton problems; missteps my other children had not made. Most notably, not reading words left to right. When presented with a word, he sounded it out starting with the letter he recognized first, regardless of where it was in the word. He also not only misread ‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘p’ but ‘m’ for ‘w’, and confused ‘u’, ‘h’, and ‘n’. Any similarities between letters led to confusion.

I thought many of the steps outlined in the book would benefit Fulton, however it recommended cutting out sections from the back to create booklets and tiles, something I couldn’t easily do with a library book. I assumed somebody had probably created some printables online I could use. Low and behold, a whole online program, Reading Kingdom, was created based on this book. Of course it cost money, but it had a 30 day free trial. I figured if I didn’t see improvements in 30 days, I’d be no worse off. I did have to give a credit card so I set a reminder on my calendar a couple of days prior to cancel if things weren’t working out.

Two months later, I can happily say that Fulton is reading. Does he like the program? Sort of. It’s hard. He spends about 20  to 30 minutes a day doing a new lesson and then either reviewing an old lesson online or reviewing his words with me using flashcards I made. However, he’s come to understand that reading is hard work, but hard work he’s capable of doing. We’re to the point where he can see (via the flashcards) all the words he’s learned. He can put them in sentences. He still does not like to be quizzed on his ability to read, but I have noticed an overall attitude improvement towards school time. He now states that he can learn and he wants to learn to be a scientist. A couple of months ago, he often mentioned he didn’t want to learn, and that he didn’t need to. Rather than admit he couldn’t, he often acted like he didn’t want to, or would simply rebel.

For the record, I asked Fulton this afternoon his opinion of Reading Kingdom. He actually said, “It’s the greatest thing in the world because it’s helped me learn lots of stuff.” And this is despite the fact that he asked to skip his reading lesson this morning.

We still sometimes butt heads during his lessons. I need to sit next to him to make sure he’s trying and not just hitting keys to move ahead. But only twice in two months has he lost some afternoon screen time because he refused to work on his reading lesson (purposely hitting the wrong letters, closing his eyes when I point to a letter he needs to type, etc.) Kids in wheelchairs find ways to act out too you know!

But overall, I’m happy and I believe Fulton is happier with this program than anything else I was trying. He does Reading Kingdom five days a week and I’d say 85 percent of the time, he gets right to work with no complaints or hesitation.

I wanted to share some pros and cons about the program with y’all on the off-chance anyone else has a struggling reader they’re convinced they can’t help. And FYI: I wasn’t asked to review Reading Kingdom and I’m not reimbursed, though I did get an affiliate code upon joining which I’ve used in this post. Rest assured if this program didn’t work for us, I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it at all.



Online program with some fun game like components  but not all flashy and noisy like an arcade. Not over stimulating. There’s point accumulation that unlocks different Passport levels but overall one gets  the impression your child is here to learn, not be entertained or bribed. This was a big deal to me because many apps I tried were too game-like and that distracted Fulton from actually working.

Teaches typing skills. This was another goal I had for Fulton and he’s gained a lot of keyboard proficiency since starting Reading Kingdom.

Tech support gets back to you ASAP. I had a couple of problems signing up, and then questions on review, and both times my emails were answered the same day.

Can adjust response times. Fulton can’t hit buttons quickly, so I liked that I could adjust the time he had to type in an answer before a clue was given or the game moved on.

Can review previous levels multiple times. Once you’re in Reading and Writing Part 2, you can review any word over and over.

Noticeable results quickly. I saw progress within a month but it’s been within the second month we could really see all his hard work pay off. From barely reading the words cat and dot to reading sentences like “Can the bird fly?” and “The girls will rest here.” within two months seems pretty awesome to me.


Can’t review Reading and Writing Part 1 once you’ve started Reading and Writing Part 2 without resetting the whole program. I would’ve like for Fulton to do more with the Seeing Sequences (under part 1) but didn’t want to lose our progress in Part 2 so we kept going forward. Ultimately not a big deal, but wish I understood that at the time so we could’ve reviewed more when we were in Part 1.

Took us awhile to find the right browser/ program combo. You can choose to run Reading Kingdom in Java or Adobe Flash. The default was Java and it struggled to load quickly using Chrome on our computer. I didn’t have much luck using Safari or Opera either. Eventually I realized I could change to Adobe and it runs much better now.

You can move through the program with guessing and wrong answers. If i didn’t sit next to Fulton, he could still make it through most of the levels just clicking and typing the wrong things and still get through. Now, the program would register that, and probably make him review more but parents need to keep a watchful eye to make sure their child is actually working. I don’t necessarily think this is a con, but it’s often stressed parents shouldn’t help their child (which is true) but they shouldn’t walk away and forget about their child entirely either.

Not the most expensive program, but not the cheapest either. Usually it’s $19,99 a month; or less if you pay for more months up front.  However, if it’s out of your budget, you could buy The Reading Remedy and follow the program that way with less money, though you’d lose the typing component.

One more note, I highly recommend reading The Reading Remedy, otherwise the whole approach of Reading Kingdom is going to throw you for a loop. There’s bigger sight words from the get go, no review of letter sounds or the alphabet and very few of the phonetically based simple sentences that you’re more than likely familiar with (ex: Mat sat on Sam.) But, for the child that can’t seem to grasp reading, The Reading Remedy and Reading Kingdom could be the missing pieces. I know it’s going to become my first recommendation for friends whose children are struggling to read; and not just homeschoolers either.

Let me know if you’ve ever given it a try or if you have any questions in the comments below.

{SQT} Handmade Gifts Anyone Would (Should?) Appreciate

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Apparently, there’s a lot of you people who want to finish all your Christmas shopping before Advent, i.e. within the next 15 days.

My Halloween decorations are still up.

But anyway, you need gifts, I provide gift guides. This month, I’ll be running a short series to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list before Advent starts. Today’s list is the most ambitious and I realize actually quite impossible so please don’t leave me a comment on how one year you bought someone something from this list and they died or what have you. This list is not meant to replace actual medical advice or common sense. Don’t buy the family member who’s allergic to paper a journal. (Click each picture to visit the item’s Etsy listing. Except for the awesome calendar artist, I am not in any way personally affiliated with any of these sellers. I just sincerely like what they’re selling.)

Next week’s guide will feature items for sale from your favorite bloggers (some of whom contributed their talents to Link-toberfest) so you can shop and support your friends, and my Black Friday guide will include gifts for all godchildren, godparents, Confirmation sponsors, CCD teachers, and anyone you might need to buy for that doesn’t want another plastic rosary in a genuine leatherette case.

1. Art Calendar – Everyone gets tons of free calendars every January; from your parish, your school, your local government, the funeral parlor down the street, etc. Sometimes you can use them, other times, they sit languishing in a junk drawer just in case you’re hankering a new ugly calendar sometime in July. Instead, gift someone a small calendar. It’s a great way to enjoy art without spending a ton of money on originals or prints and when the year is up, it’s easy trim off the calendar and frame the art if you so choose.


Totally love this calendar by Oh Me Oh My Oh.

2. Knitted hat, scarf, gloves or mittens – Even if people already have these things, they wear out. Plus, I much prefer a high-quality hand-knitted scarf or hat over anything I could pick up at Target. People might not seek out hand-crafted winter wear on their own, so it is often warmly received. (Obviously, if the gift recipient lives in Hawaii, these suggestions might not work. Perhaps crochet swimwear would be more appropriate?)

womans knit hat

My future bad hair days are already eyeing up this hat from Ebruk.



This is a ‘man scarf’ from northernly, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need an Adam’s apple to rock it.



Warm weather peeps, Seaside Motifs has you covered…sort of.

3. A personalized blank notebook or tablet – So long as people can get over the initial fear of putting a mark on the page, notebooks and tablets are way useful. Sure, your family can rely on printer paper scraps and free promotional items that will remind them of that company’s poor customer service, or you can give them something nice to write their grocery list, to-do list or doodle on that they probably would never splurge on themselves.


Always a good reminder from Thicket and Thatch



A handmade locking diary from Diary Shop; for the friend with a checkered past.

4. A personalized pocket knife or multi-tool – Yes, even for you ladies! I carry a small Swiss Army knife with me and it’s been insanely useful. I don’t have a multi-tool yet, but given the number of impromptu wheelchair repairs and tweaks I’ve made through years, it would be a great addition to my handbag. Think of all the toys, gadgets and weird things that need repair at the most inopportune times. A pocket knife and multi-tool, even kept in the car, make total sense. Your gift recipient may look at you strange when they open the package, but the first time they’re able to fish a Lego out of a car CD slot with their gift, you’ll hear about it.

pocket knife

Engraved wooden pocket knife from Sin City Engraving. How can this not be considered a traditional mom’s present when it comes with a wine cork???

5  Tote bags – Most people rely on plastic grocery bags, or those cheap canvas bags any time they need to haul extra books, food, or kid’s stuff out of the house. Everyone loves cute tote bags, but most people just make do with the ugly ones they have on hand. Tell them to trash the dirty three-year-old bag from Whole Foods and totes enjoy a trendy tote. (No, seriously, you have to use the word ‘totes’. Otherwise, half the charm is lost.)

tote bag

If you don’t find this tote bag from Murder She Tote awesome, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

6. Pajamas – Everybody sleeps. Even if your friends don’t wear pajamas, they need something to keep near the bed in case a fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night.


JaeJae Designs squirrel PJ pants; almost to cool to confine to the house.

7. A Mixtape – This is a handmade gift you’ll have to work on, but ohmyword is this not the coolest thing ever?!?!?? Put songs, pictures and videos on this mixtape USB drive.


If I could make a Quick Takes mixtape on this USB drive from The Wild Card Shop it would need to include ‘Fridays I’m in Love.’

What did I forget? You can see more of my suggestions on my Etsy board. Leave your favorite handmade gift suggestion in the comments below, then remember to link up your Quick Takes. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Seven Quick Takes!