Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Little Miracles

Have you ever heard of the Marian apparitions in Garabandal Spain? My mom had a devotion to Garabandal when I was growing up and passed that on to my siblings and I. When I was 20 I went to Spain on a pilgrimage and ended up staying there for a while discerning my vocation with a religious order that has a devotion to Garabandal and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

When the Blessed Mother appeared to the girls in Garabandal she made a point of expressing that God cares about everything in the girls and villagers lives- even their cows! That has always stood out in my mind as just how concerned God is with the details in our lives. As we read in Luke 12:7 (Douay-Rheims), "Yea, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows."

I am always amazed at how God answers the silly request I hold in my heart. He gives me find a parking spot when the entire lot is full and I'm too tired to walk, He blesses me with a call from a friend when I need to hear a loved one's voice and He gives me gifts I know I don't really deserve.

Since before I was pregnant I've looked at pictures online of maternity photo shoots and thought that someday it would be special to have beautiful pictures as a reminder of how amazing it is that God has allowed me to be blessed with the gift of carrying a child- a child I wasn't even sure I'd ever have!

Professional pictures are far from necessary, but I love photography and couldn't help but want to have some nice pictures. I have a brother-in-law, cousin and two uncles who are all photographers, but they all live so far away that it is impossible to have any of them take pictures for us. There was also no way we could afford to have pictures done by a local photographer. But, as I said, God knows the desires of our heart and, sometimes, He allows us to be a little spoiled.

One night I was having really bad heartburn, so I tried to distract myself by looking up baby things on craigslist (I recently freaked out realizing that I'm much less prepared for this baby's arrival than I thought I was!) and I noticed a posting for FREE maternity and newborn packages!!! A young, local photographer was trying to build her portfolio and was offering the first three people to respond to her posting a free maternity photo shoot and, once baby arrived, a free newborn shoot with discs and copyrights (to be able to print at Wal-Mart) of the pictures! My late night heartburn payed off because she emailed me the next day to tell me I had been one of the first to respond!

Last Saturday she drove out to camp and took pictures of Paul, Lil' Man and I around camp. Yesterday we received a package with two discs of pictures. I was so excited to see that the pictures had turned out even better than I had hoped they would.

 Here are a few of my favorites:

Isn't God good??? No request is ever too small for Him! I didn't even pray for the pictures, but like a loving spouse God already knew. 

Enjoy a blessed Sunday, friends!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anyone Want Some Free Money???

Last year I discovered that I could earn free amazon gift cards (and lots of other gift card brands) without spending a dime. Every time I get on amazon and get something awesome for free I get so excited! I hate to sound commercial, but this is just such a great thing that I have to share it with others.

Some of you may have already heard of Swagbucks, but for those of you who haven't I want to give you a very quick and brief explanation of what it is. Swagbucks is basically a search engine that gives you points- a.k.a. "swagbucks" for searches. I find that I usually earn swagbucks between 2 and 4 times a day by doing searches that I would normally use google for. It is free to join and this week they are celebrating their anniversary. If you sign up (please do it through my widget at the bottom of this page!) and use the code: BirthdayFun when you are signing up you'll earn extra swagbucks! When you get to 450 swagbucks you can cash them in for a $5 amazon gift card. $5 may not seem like much, but in just the past 2 months I've earned about $30 in amazon gift cards. I bought Christmas presents with the ones I earned last year and now I'm saving to possibly buy an Ergo baby carrier for free!!!

I have had heartburn a lot late at night recently, so after I say my prayers I hop on swagbucks go to the sidebar and click on games and then play Word Drop until I am ready for sleep. I earn 2 swagbucks for every 2 games I play!

You can print coupons through swagbuck to use at your local grocery store. For every coupon you print and redeem you get 10 swagbucks.

I get a point a day for just opening the page "Trusted Surveys" and for answering the Daily Poll. That's equal to 60 swagbucks a month in a 30 day month. It's really easy to earn swagbucks and earn some free money for your family.

There are lots of other ways to earn points and you can feel free to ask me. Or you can get on Swagbucks and search "Swagcodes", "How to earn swagbucks", "Swaggernaut", etc and see what tricks other bloggers have discovered while possibly earning yourself some points just for searching!

I know moms who save their swagbucks and use them to buy diapers and groceries on amazon. I saved up and bought several Christmas presents this year with my gift cards that I had earned from Swagbucks. I am trying to decide if I should use my gift cards that I have earned since the first of the year to buy a diaper sprayer or an Ergo baby carrier (because I think my hubby will be more likely to use an Ergo carrier than my awesome Moby wrap or Mei Tai carrier)- maybe I'll just get both. :-) Their are so many possibilities. See what I used the first gift card I ever earned from Swagbucks for: HERE Perfect for Easter, right?

Okay, so I know I sound like a commercial, but it is so much fun to get something for free with out having to worry about telemarketers and the like. Plus it can be a real blessing to your family to be able to purchase something that you might not have been able to otherwise.

I am not writing this for swagbucks, but rather to help other people get a little something that will be blessing to them and their families. Plus, if anyone does sign up through me, I will earn extra points because I will get the same amount of swagbucks as they do for their searches. Its win-win!

If you want to earn some free gift cards, just scroll to the bottom of my blog and click on the "Sign Up" part of my swagbucks widget. Don't forget to enter the code BirthdayFun (just as its written here) and earn yourself some extra swagbucks to start off right.

Just so this post isn't completely commercialized, I must share Lil' Man's newest cute saying. His favorite book is "Go, Dogs,Go!" and we have recently begun eating a lot of mangoes around here. What do these two things have in common, you ask? Lil' Man is calling a mango a"Goman" as in, "Go, Man, Go". Cute, right? :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snowy Sunday!

They are calling for 8 to 14'' of snow and freezing rain today. I'm actually kind of excited. We enjoyed a wonderful week of balmy 40 degree weather, but all of our snow was dissolving into mucky heaps that were far from lovely.

This morning we were blanketed in white again (with snowflakes the size of golf balls coming down!) and it reminded of St. Therese and how badly she had hoped it would snow on the day she took her vows- and it did!

She wrote this little poem:
The Flower

All the earth with snow is covered,
Everywhere the white frosts reign;
Winter and his gloomy courtiers
Hold their court on earth again.
But for you has bloomed the Flower
Of the fields, Who comes to earth
From the fatherland of heaven,
Where eternal spring has birth.
Near the Rose of Christmas, Sister!
In the lowly grasses hide,
And be like the humble flowerets, --
Of heaven’s King the lowly bride!
-St. Therese 

My Bradley class was canceled for today and, as much as I enjoy my class, I am enjoying a full day at home with Hubby and Lil' Man being absolutely lazy. 
We went to an early mass to make sure we could get through the snow and Lil' Man was so good. When we got home and had eaten breakfast we sat down to watch Don Bosco which we had gotten from Netflix. As wonderful as it was I passed out on the couch and slept a full two hours! When I woke up hubby had put Lil' Man down for a nap and made me chili and tea for a cozy winter lunch. Can I just say, I LOVE SUNDAYS!!!
As you can see from my ticker, I am 34 weeks today. My best friend had her baby yesterday and I'm becoming more anxious to meet my wiggly lil' monkey with each passing day!
Paul took this picture this morning after mass of my ever enlarging tummy.
Hope you have a peaceful and Christ-centered Sunday! God bless, friends! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

No, baby can't just wear anything!

I have been planning for baby's arrival since that pregnancy test showed up positive. I've thought about baby's birth. I've thought about baby's Baptism. It wasn't until about two weeks ago that it occurred to me that I hadn't thought about baby's baptismal gown!

I mentioned this to my dear husband  responded, "Do we really need one???" !!! ( Good man was just trying to be practical and thrifty. You can't blame a guy for not understand the importance of clothes.)

Does a bride need a wedding gown? No. But, this is a SACRAMENT people! Its an outward sign of an inward truth. It must be celebrated! We want people to recognize through the symbolism the powerful truth of what is taking place!!!

And, heck yeah, I want my baby to look cute!!!

My siblings and I were baptized in the same baptismal gown that my mom and her siblings were baptized in. A thin white gown that was cut from my Grandmother's wedding dress. Beautiful, huh??? I called my mom to ask about using it and she told me that it is so old and delicate that it really is no longer wearable.

I was heartbroken, but decided that we would just have to start a new tradition for our new little family. I wanted something lovely, so I did a quick google search to see what is out there. OH MY GOODNESS! Sweet and lovely is available, but it comes with a serious price tag (some 3x more costly than my wedding dress!)! There were a few less expensive options, but none that seemed right. And I really don't care for buying clothing online. I need to feel the fabric. That's just the way I am. Sadly, there aren't any shops around (that I could find) carrying what I needed. I was told that the closest religious gift shop that might have any was in Minnesota!!!

I was feeling desperate.

One of the moms in my mom's group at church has a children's consignment shop here in town. I messaged here asking if she had any baptismal gowns. She did not, but yesterday she told me she had gotten some in that were brand new and from Ireland! Paul and I love our Irish heritage and I just swoon over anything Irish (especially my husband!)!!!

I raced over this afternoon and found the perfect gown to start a new family tradition with. It is Irish linen, so it has that antique/family heirloom quality that I really wanted. It is beautiful, but is traditional enough that we can have both our boys and our girls wear it.

Isn't it lovely and old fashioned?
 The Collar


The Sleeve
 The Hem

And (drum roll, please) the beautiful Celtic cross on the skirt that is spotted with shamrocks!

Friends of mine have embroidered the initials and dates, on the inside hem, of each child in their family who has been baptized in their family gown. I think it is a wonderful idea and I hope to do the same.

I'm so happy that I found a gown I love, purchased it at a great price from a friend and have one more thing checked off of my list of things to do before baby arrives! I'm just so excited and happy that the new tradition of wearing this gown in our family will have special meaning because of its Irish beauty!

Did (or will) your children use a family gown? One you purchased? What do you love about it? Does your family have any special baptism traditions?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little Hands, Little Fingers

Last night I could not sleep, so I decided to take advantage of the peace and quiet.

I have been pregnant ever since we moved to camp and have moved through phases of morning sickness, indigestion, achiness, heartburn and dizzy spells. It's been well worth it, but I have yet to make our little apartment "homey". I keep wanting to paint and fix up Lil' Man's nursery, but I really can't with the cold weather and my current intolerance of paint. I decided I needed some wall art to brighten things up.

I went by the store and picked up 3 cheap canvases and three tubes of that cheap acrylic paint that almost every where seems to carry. I bought a bottle each of chocolate, aqua and pink.

Step 1: Paint a base coat on each canvas, allow to dry and then apply a second coat.

Note the beautiful roses my incredibly sweet husband gave me for St. Valentine's Day.
Ignore the Christmas tablecloth that I have yet to pack away with the Christmas tree that went back into storage LAST WEEK! Yes, I like Christmas to literally last the whole year 'round!

Step 2: After everything has dried completely, I took an assortment of cups and baby bottles and applied paint to the rims to use them as circular stamps.

Step 3: After the circles had dried, I painted my hand and stamped it on the middle of the canvas and repeated the process this morning with Paul and Lil' Man just after breakfast.

Aren't my boys adorable??? 

Step 4: Step back and enjoy getting something other than laundry done! :)

Our plan is to do one for each of our children and create a line of them in the nursery. Cute, huh?
 Have any cute and frugal ways of decorating a nursery/kids room that you could share? We'd love any inspirations. I'm also trying to come up with cute ideas for homemade baby stuff (I'll be posting a few projects that my family has helped me with). Any and all ideas are welcome and appreciated!

Playing Catch Up!

I'm back! I have been so busy chasing Lil' Man, being preggo and being exhausted ALL. THE. TIME that I just haven't had the time or energy to blog. I promised myself I wasn't going to bed to night (not that baby or heartburn would let me anyway!) until I posted something! ANYTHING!

So, what has happened since back in December???

1. We celebrated the feasts of St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego during Advent.

 Package from Grandma and Gramps for the feast of St. Nick!

Note the ziplock bag. It contains my husband's favorite warm beverage-
Russian Tea!
  • 1 cup instant tea powder
  • 2 cups orange-flavored drink mix (Tang)
  • 1 (3 ounce) package powdered lemonade mix
  •   1cup (we often use less) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. In a large bowl, combine instant tea powder, orange drink mix, lemonade powder, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Mix thoroughly. Store in a sealed jar or bag.
  2. To use, mix 3 to 4 tablespoons of mix with 1 cup hot water. 

Setting up the Creche.

Mary and Joseph really traveled to Bethlehem on a Tonka truck!

Sombrero cookies for the feasts of OL of Guadalupe and Juan Diego.
I stole the idea from Catholic Icing

2. Our dogs had puppies!

Lil' Man claimed the runt who we now call Zoe because she is a girl and hence could not be called Elmo!

3. We got our first real glimpse of our little angel!!!!

 Smiling, happy baby!

4. We visited one of my best friends who is due this week!

5. We had a wonderful Christmas with my family (and I ended up sick for the next 3 weeks-ugh!).

It was extra special because my brother-in-law drove up from Texas to Tennessee and he was there just in time to celebrate a white Christmas with us!

BIL and Lil' Man blowing out the candles on Baby Jesus' birthday cake!

My favorite 2010 Christmas memory: We told Lil' Man that Christmas was Jesus Birthday and that on that day we would be celebrating because He had been born for us. Since we were staying at my parents, Lil Man was sleeping in the pack n play by our bed. Early Christmas morning, while we were still half asleep, we heard Lil' Man stir. A moment later he popped straight up grasping the side of the pack n play and shouted at us, "JESUS BE BORN!!!!" It was the most excited, perfect and innocent way to announce the good news of the day! 

The innocents of children at Christmas truly makes Christmas. This was Paul and my first Christmas since we had gotten married where we hadn't spent Christmas in our truck making deliveries. It was perfect, but not because we were out of the truck, but because we had Lil' Man to share it with us!

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