Monday, March 31, 2014

Nativity Stones Jewelry - Product Review

** This is a sponsored post.  I have been compensated with product from this company in return for a full and honest review.  All opinions herein are my own.**

Recently, I was contacted by The Nativity Stones and asked if I'd like a free necklace in return for blogging about their products. I love jewelry, so I was intrigued, and I went to their website to read more about their products. They have such a fascinating story! Each necklace contains an actual stone excavated from the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem -- which Tradition says is the birthplace of Jesus -- in 1963. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Nativity Stones’ jewelry and gifts are donated to worthy charities each year.

The necklace arrived several days ago and it is beautiful. I received the Classic Nativity Stones Cross:

The cross measures 1-3/8"x 7/8", came with a 22" chain, and is layered in 18k gold. I love the sunburst detail around the stone, and I like how each of the cross edges have three joined arches, suggestive of the Trinity, or maybe the Holy Family (or both!). The stone inside, as the picture shows, is not merely a tiny chip but a sizable pebble.

The cross has a lovely design that is also unisex. It'd be an excellent ordination gift for a priest or deacon, or as a gift for a religious sister who is professing her final vows. These necklaces would also make very meaningful Christmas gifts, but they would be wonderful choices for any significant spiritual event in the life of a godchild - Confirmation or Baptism, for example. They would make a very special Mother's Day gift as well. 

The Nativity Stones has very generously offered my readers a discount on any of their necklaces as thanks for reading this review. Use the code STAR15 in their online store to receive 15% off! Be sure to like them on Facebook as well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - March 21, 2014

--- 1 ---

Yikes, it's been a while since I posted. Busy, busy!

We had parent-teacher conferences for Elanor & William this past week, and got positive reports for both of them. Elanor in particular has exceeded many of the goals on her IEP, and William's work is above average in all areas. We're so proud of them!

--- 2 ---

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day from my little leprechaun!

--- 3 ---

I had such a wonderful time at the Phoenix Catholic Women's Conference last Saturday! Peter had fun too; he was adored by all and babbled happily throughout. Here he is hanging with Luisa:

--- 4 ---

Plus, I met Teresa Tomeo and got her autograph (I purchased her book, "God's Bucket List"):

--- 5 ---

Afterwards, I went out for supper at Chili's with Luisa and two other friends. This is the delicious pineapple-blueberry margarita I enjoyed:

--- 6 ---

Collin goes to the Catholic Men's Conference tomorrow. I pray he has an uplifting day!

--- 7 ---

It's World Down Syndrome Day! I'm wearing my striped socks in honor if all the great people who rock that extra chromosome.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - March 7, 2014

--- 1 ---

Violet turned 4 years old on Wednesday! We celebrated with dinner out the night before, due to her birthday falling on Ash Wednesday. I remember that she was born during a Friday in Lent, and our priest joked that we named her after the liturgical color. :)

--- 2 ---

Peter is five months old today, and we have less than one week until he starts nighttime brace wear only!

--- 3 ---

I'm actually taking all of next week off of work since the older two kids are on spring break. It's cheaper to take the vacation days then to pay for full-time daycare for them. The younger three are still going to daycare, though, so I'm hoping I can use the toddler-and-infant-free time to catch up on the laundry, and get some other things crossed off my long-neglected to-do list. I do plan to spend some quality time with Elanor and William as well. I want to take them to The Lego Movie, for starters.

--- 4 ---

Funny story from Ash Wednesday Mass that my Catholic friends will appreciate. We sat next to a middle-aged couple, and after Mass the lady turned to me and said, "You have a beautiful family! By any chance, did you graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville?"

"No, I didn't," I replied.

"Oh!" she said, looking a little puzzled. "It's just that all of the women I know with big, beautiful Catholic families have graduated from there."

Then I told her Collin and I were both converts from Lutheranism and her jaw dropped.

I need to get a T-shirt that says, "People think I graduated from FUS."

--- 5 ---

In case you missed it, I wrote an article for, which was published here.

I also had a (sarcasm-laden) article published at Catholic Stand, here.

--- 6 ---

What a small world it is. I'm signed up for an online service that matches potential carpool partners based on their home and work locations as well as their work schedules. I received an e-mail from one such potential partner the other day, asking if I'd be interested, and she mentioned that she'd moved to Arizona from North Dakota about a year and a half ago.

I told her that I'd moved here from ND as well, and it turned out we're both from the Fargo area and have friends in common. How funny is that? We're going to meet next week and see if we can hammer out a carpooling schedule. I hope it works out; it'd be nice to have some help with the commute occasionally.

--- 7 ---

Hope your Lent has been fruitful so far! I'm going to try and make it to Confession this weekend.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our Hiking Day

Collin and I went hiking at the Spur Cross Conservation Area in Cave Creek, AZ today! The path was muddy due to the rain yesterday, and the creeks were impassable, but we had a good time nonetheless. Peter came along but the rest of the kids spent the day at their aunt & uncle's.

At the trailhead 

That's not an optical illusion - that sugaro cactus really is that huge. 

Mutant cactus

Loving our date day!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Little Ingrate

William requested carrot cake for his birthday cake. So, I found a recipe on Pinterest and baked one for him - from scratch. (The frosting was out of a can, though - I had some I wanted to use up.) His response?

"I like Golden Corral's carrot cake better."

I brought the rest of the cake to work on Wednesday. At least my coworkers enjoyed it. (Collin and I thought it was pretty good, too.) Next year I will just go the easy route and buy a cake, since he doesn't seem to appreciate my efforts to make one.

He did like The Avengers candles I put on it, at least.

Also, as an addendum to my last post, it turns out that the HD version of Frozen is available now, so Violet will get it for her birthday after all! Yay! And after Wednesday, birthday season will be over until October, when we will celebrate Peter's first birthday. Whew.

Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - February 28, 2014

--- 1 ---

Happy un-birthday to all the leap year babies out there! I think my aunt (who has been married for 20 years and has 3 kids) is turning 10 or so. :)

--- 2 ---

Violet turns 4 on Wednesday. Ack! Since her birthday falls on a penitential day of fasting and abstinence (poor kid - she was born on a Friday in Lent, too), we'll likely celebrate it the day before. I wish I could get her Frozen for her birthday but it doesn't come out for a few more weeks. (I could pre-order it, but she doesn't really understand the concept and would get upset that she couldn't watch it.) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out on Friday, but I don't think she'd really appreciate that one, either. :P

--- 3 ---

Our parish apparently has a chapter of the Junior Catholic Daughters! They're hosting a mother-daughter tea this weekend, so the girls and I are going (Peter is also tagging along).

--- 4 ---

Chris Zajdzinski is speaking at our parish tonight, so we're going to go see his talk and then have pizza in the social hall afterwards (it's sponsored by the Religious Ed program). I love conversion stories so I'm really looking forward to it (and I don't have to cook, woohoo!).

--- 5 ---

Collin and I have a "date day" planned on Sunday. We're going to go hiking and then out to eat. Peter is coming with but the other kids will be with my brother-in-law. I'm not sure where we'll hike yet -- usually we go to the White Tank Regional Park, but we were considering going farther afield and perhaps exploring Cave Creek or Estrella Mountain.

--- 6 ---

Grandma Violet & Peter
My grandma flies back to North Dakota today. We already miss her so much!!

--- 7 ---

Peter had a great orthopedist appointment last week. His doctor said that his feet look perfect and that we can transition to nighttime wear only starting on March 12! I'm counting down the days!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!