Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Pledge

I Promise…

. To make my Christmas a holy day with Christ-----not a holiday without Him. 
2. To observe Christmas as the birthday of Christ-----not just to give and receive material gifts. 
3. To remember that the real symbols of Christmas are the Star, the Stable and the Crib-----not Santa Claus and his reindeer. 
4. To teach my children that "Santa Claus" is the nickname of St. Nicholas
-----who gave to the poor in honor of Christ. 
5. To help one poor family
-----in honor of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Bethlehem.
6. To send Christmas cards mindful of Him, the Infant Savior
-----not decorated only with candy canes, ribbons and wreaths. 
7. To make room in my home for Him
-----with a Christmas Crib to remind me that He was born in a stable. 
8. During the Christmas season, in a special way, to honor Mary, His mother
-----who kept the first Christmas vigil beside the manger. 
9. To begin Christmas by leading my family to His altar
-----to receive the Bread of Life. 
10. Today and every day, to give "Glory to God in the highest"
-----to work and pray for “peace on earth to men of good will”.

Nihil Obstat: Joseph A. M. Quigley, Censor Librorum 
Imprimatur, + John J Krol, D.D., J.C.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia, March, 1964

Thank you, Julie for this! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Post: Adventures in Christmas Gift Giving

Have you already missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Are you stressed about gift giving? Here is some suggestions on how to survive the season with sanity, from a seasoned mother of six: (color-coded your your reading pleasure)


Three Gifts, Christmas Date Night, Santa Doesn't Wrap, Religious Gift and Extra Gift Cards.


A great rule of thumb my parents used when we were young was Three Gifts each. Their reasoning was that the Christ Child received three gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, so three must be a good number. We don't always use the Three Gift rule with our kids, due to pricing of some big items, they may only get one or two. But use this rule of Three Gifts to curtail costs and keep it simple.


When all the kids were under 10, Bob and I would do all the Christmas shopping in one evening. It was our Christmas date night. We would have one of the grandmas watch the kids (sleepover is best) and we would have a nice dinner out and then go to a MAJOR toy store.


We always took this list with us when we went shopping in hopes of making each one's Christmas dreams come true and also to keep us from throwing in impulse items or getting more gifts for one child than another. To make a list, we used the ad flyers for major toy stores that come in the mail in early December. We always gave these to the kids and let them circle any and all the toys they wanted. We always told them that Santa needed ideas and that he could never bring all the items they wanted, but would bring some of them. This became our working list. 


Another list to have with you is a list of things the children already have. Home many times do you go to buy a new train for the Brio set and can't remember if you have Thomas and James or Thomas and Henry? If I don't write down Little Pet shop beauty shop, I can easily think she has Little Pet Shop hospital. Write down what you have so you don't duplicate.


As the children have grown up and no longer want kiddie toys, the gift giving gets trickier. One thing that is always great is a family gift, that everyone can enjoy. Some ideas could be foos-ball table, ping pong table/pool table, basket ball hoop, kayak/paddle board.


At our house, Santa doesn't wrap. 


This was always the tradition in Bob's family growing up. When our kids were little, all the gifts were from Santa. And Santa doesn't wrap, he displays the gifts. One child's gifts are on the sofa, another child's gifts are on the chair. Not wrapping saves so much time and money and waste. Also, a time or two, it allowed us to switch a gift from one child to another after everything was laid out the night before to make it all look pretty equal.


One thing we always try to do, not only for our own children but for gifts for our god-children too, is to give a religious gift. Depending on age, it could be a bible, a crucifix, a rosary, a prayer book or devotional book, a picture of a saint or holy hero or just a prayer card and a prayer. A Truth Be Told Download of the Month Club subscription is a great gift to inspire teens, click HERE to JOIN.


The last several years, we have bought the restaurant gift cards that give a discount or a bonus card for after the holidays. We usually buy extra of these, for people we might forget. I recommend getting some $5 and $10 cards and keeping them with you. Extra Gift Cards, come in really handy not only for someone you forgot, but also for someone that comes to mind spur of the moment: school personnel, hairdresser, postman, AND for Kris Kringle gifts that your kids remember as you are driving to school in the morning! And if you don't give them away at Christmas, they are great to give to a mom with a new baby so she does not have to cook a meal any time of year!


-Julie Musselman

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For the Record

Maternity pants, while oh, so comfortable, are the most un-flattering things before you put a shirt on. Still, I'm grateful to be wearing them.

Continually praying for those who miss or wish to be wearing them...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Would Your Favorite Food Pass or Fail?

I was grocery shopping on Sunday and I stopped in the baby food aisle, as usual. Liam is to the age where he will eat what we make for ourselves for dinner, but sometimes the food is not ready yet or too spicy and we give him frozen homemade food or head to the pantry. I don't love giving him the stuff from the jar, but I don't think I'm a horrible mother for spooning out the occasional pre-made food either.

But back to the baby food aisle... I scoped out a ravioli dinner by Gerber. Looked tasty. I flipped it over to read the ingredients and saw a paragraph and lots of words with "ite" and "ate" at the end. I'm definitely not a Whole Foods shopper and I know my child will inevitably consume some of these things, but I just couldn't put it in the cart. I decided to go to the frozen food aisle and buy big people ravioli instead. It probably isn't considered a health food, but at least is needs to be kept refrigerated. That's a step in the right direction, especially for a product that contains a ton of cheese.

I hunted the ravs down (they are by pierogies, by the way) threw a couple of bags in my cart and continued with my shopping, feeling like I'd made a good decision. I got to thinking a few hours later, "Are those big people ravioli any better for him than the Gerber package?" Sure the whole refrigerated thing, but I didn't even look at the ingredients. Even if I did, what would I really be able to discern?

Then a wonderful listener called yesterday and said, "This would be great for the Mom Squad Blog! It's an app that grades our packaged food." Her daughter has an allergy to certain dyes so she has to be very aware of ingredients. She found the free Fooducate app (for Apple & Android) that allows you to scan the bar code of the product and it pops out a grade. You can also search for foods or find out what foods in certain categories score the highest grade. There's much more to it, but you can read for yourself at

I think it's very difficult to find anything in a package today that doesn't contain SOMETHING that would bring a food's grade down. I wish I could say I will vow to not give my children packaged food, but why lie to myself and you? So I don't plan to get carried away and only feed Liam "A+" foods (a banana got an "A"), but if you find that a lunchbox staple gets a "D" or a "C-" you might consider stapling he box shut instead.

Hope this helps you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Mid-day Surprise!

I don't know about you, but I always LOVED getting notes in my lunchbox. Just a simple, "I love you" or "Have a good day" was special even to me as a kid.

Here's a Christmas take on the lunchbox notes from one of my favs, Some of them could easily be given to your husband too (The hot chocolate one!Yummy and romantic!). My husband doesn't take a lunchbox, but I'll put a note on his steering wheel every once in a while.

So print these puppies out! And if you can, do it in color. They are so cute! It's such a nice surprise in the middle of the day and I've found that God is often at work in me when I feel inspired to send my husband a text or I love you note. Usually he writes back with an, "I needed that today." Maybe your husband or kids need a boost.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And life will never be the same again...

I remember people told me that about having a child. "Once you become a parent, your life will never be the same." Ain't that the truth! It's so much better! There is a joy that comes from a place that wasn't even there before.

On that note and as we embark on this Advent season, a gift from me to you is this song from Faith Hill.  It has become one of my favorite Christmas songs, but I cannot get through it without crying!

I think of Mary and the amazing gift that her "YES" was to all of us.
I think of the fact that Jesus was her baby boy who she held and kissed.
I think of how my own baby boy has changed everything for me.
And of course, I think of the fact that our savior humbled himself to come in the form of an infant and from that night on, the world would never be the same.