Revolution of Love

Revolution of Love

Do small things with great love.

Pinterest Party & Link-up (Vol 15): Advent & Christmas Edition

Welcome to the RoL Pinterest Party. Join me every 2nd Tuesday (yeah, I’m a little late 😉 ) as we link up and share how we made, cooked, baked, crafted, did, or created one of the pins on our Pinterest boards OR share something original that others can pin onto their boards.

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Happy feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Happy middle of the second week of Advent!

As usual, I am late in posting my yearly Advent round-up but thankfully, no matter how much you have been slacking in the Advent department, there is still plenty of time to make the most of the next couple of weeks. If you are feeling overwhelmed, just pick one simple thing to do that will help you and your family.

For the rest of you that are on the ball, please link up your Advent and Christmas posts for this month’s Pinterest Party! (For the time being I am going to make the party once a month. If my schedule clears in the future I’ll go back to twice a month.) I love to read your ideas and see your crafts and learn about your recipes. It can be for Advent OR the Christmas season and does not have to be “religious”. So please share!

Okay, for my contribution, this is my pin – “Keeping Christ in Christmas” Advent Ideas. 🙂


The Advent Wreath

Last year we finally needed to make a new Advent wreath since ours was falling apart. After Christmas, I went to Target and picked up a door wreath on clearance. I also replaced our pathetic candle holder that never kept our candles straight no matter what tricks I tried. I finally managed to find three thick purple candles and one pink. Toppling candle problem solved. (It also lessened the boys’ desire to pick them up and use them like swords.)

For daily prayers, we use Sarah Reinhard’s book  Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families. It only cost $1.99 at Amazon (and $0.99 on Kindle) but it has wonderful daily reflections that are simple enough for the kids to understand.

In a perfect world, each night we gather around the Advent wreath, light the candle(s), read the day’s reflection out of the book, and say our night prayers. However, it was hit and miss since evenings are hectic with homework, bathing, getting the boys to bed early, prep for the next morning, etc. Family evening prayer was just not happening. So Brian suggested we switch our prayer to before we say our dinner grace. It is the one time in the day when we are always all together at the same time. It has worked out a lot better! Some days we use the reflection book. Other days Brian says a short spontaneous prayer. The main thing is that we are praying something together.

The Advent Calendar

Last year I found this country house Advent calendar at Target and I loved it! I printed out the Children’s Advent Calendar from Loyola Press (they also have one for adults) then I simply cut up the calendar and put the little paper square into the corresponding day. So each day we had one sacrifice or act of kindness that everyone in the family would do.

Each night after our evening/dinner prayers we open the following day’s box and read what we’ll do that day. After we read the activity we then place the slip of paper in Jesus’ stocking. (See below.) At the end of Advent, Jesus has 25 little gifts that we offered for him.

During dinner, when everyone has to share one thing about their day, they can also share how their activity went. (For example, yesterday we had to be a peacemaker so instead of losing my temper and yelling at the kids, I first went into my room and screamed into my pillow, then came out of my bedroom and corrected the boys calmly. They got a kick out of that one.)

If you are looking for a nativity box, Amazon has a pretty  Wooden Nativity Advent Calendar with 24 Magnetic Figures. Or if you prefer a wall calendar there is the cute Little People Nativity Advent Calendar. But you certainly don’t need to spend money on these activities! You can make a simple Advent chain out of construction paper, such as the Advent Chain from


The Jesus’ Stocking/ Gift Box

Years back we bought a pretty gold stocking that would be for Jesus. During Advent we all have been making small sacrifices for the Child Jesus and placing those little sacrifices in his stocking. The day before Christmas the kids make and decorate birthday cards for Jesus and the adults use card stock in which they write down an act of love or sacrifice for Jesus. It can be anything from making an extra Holy hour to sharing a toy with a sibling. Some years we make a special wrapped gift with a slot cut out on top so we can slip our cards inside. Other years we simply placed our card in Jesus’ gold stocking. Anything will do as long as offering acts of love for Christ is the focus. (After Christmas I date and save the kids’ cards. The ones the adults made on card stock can be used as a book markers in our prayer books so we’ll remember what we promised Jesus. 😉


A Birthday Party for Jesus

It is a family tradition that on each child’s birthday the dining room table is decorated with a birthday sign and stuffed animals to “greet” them when they wake up. Being Jesus’ birthday, it is only natural that it is celebrated in a similar fashion. Since Christ is the guest of honor, not Santa, our St. Nick plush holds Jesus’ birthday sign. I also place on the table the birthday cake we made for Jesus’ party.

On Christmas morning we all gather around the table that holds the empty manger. We place a large white candle in the center of the advent wreathe and light it. Then Mom or Dad (or an honored sibling) places the child Jesus in his manger and we sing Happy Birthday. Then the festivities begin.

A Nativity Set for the Littles

Anyone with children knows that they are very hands on. They also know how their blood pressure rises every time their little one grabs the ceramic Mary of St. Joseph from the nativity set and starts running down the hallway with it. One of the best investments I ever made was purchasing the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set. They can be a bit pricey but it was worth it! A nativity scene that the kids can touch and move around makes life sooo much easier. Amazon has the Fisher Price deluxe models and the simple “To Go” Set.


The Spirit of Giving

The boys are packing stockings for soldiers in Afghanistan.

Nothing invokes greediness quite as quickly as a materialistic holiday season. To help conquer this, it is helpful to keep kids (and adults) focused on the spirit of giving, especially those less fortunate. If you have older kids this can be done through working at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or visiting the elderly. Most parishes have programs where you pick a name or number and by a gift for a specific child. Kids, including little ones, can do extra jobs and chores around the house to earn some extra money (or use their tithing money if they get an allowance) in order to buy small gifts for these needy children. Or they can help you buy canned good for the local food bank.

I also try to personalize the children to my kids. Instead of getting a gift for “Girl #96” or “Boy, age 5” I’ll give them a name. So when we go to shop we find the perfect gift for little Juan who just turned 5. Or we pick the kind of soup “Maria” and her Mama would like to have on a cold afternoon. It helps to put a face to the person in need. Remembering someone who is less fortunate through a simple gift or act of kindness, helps to instill generosity and thankfulness for our own blessing. Christmas is a good time to start this process but it can be carried on throughout the year, making giving of oneself not just a holiday thing, but a way of life.


Plan Ahead for Charitable Gifts

This year we had four pet projects.

  • Adopting military troops and sending care packages to them through (although we send packages year round).
  • Joining the kids’ school with making care packages for Operation Christmas Child.
  • Joining our parish’s Angel Tree to give gifts to local migrant workers.
  • Joining Brian’s work and Salvation Army with adopting a local family in need.

I’ll admit that the extra gift giving can add up to a lot of extra money! Luckily, I have been looking for bargains throughout the year. Once a month during one of my many Target visits, I’ll check out the dollar section for various care package items. You can pick up small toiletries, snacks and hand warmers to give to military troops or the homeless or you can find coloring books, games, craft projects, socks etc to fit into a child’s care package. During off-season sales or Pre-Thanksgiving sales or Black Friday sales I find generic gifts like baby dolls or skateboards for the Angel Tree children. To help the kids understand sacrificing for others, we’ll give away some of their older toys to St. Vincent de Paul and as a family we’ll give up one of our “Pizza Nights” and eat sandwiches or leftovers instead. The money we saved goes towards buying gifts and food for others.

With a little creativity, planning and sacrifice, you can make your charitable gift giving more affordable for your family. (NOTE – If you are anything like me, you may also want to download the free printable from the post Keeping Track of Your Hidden Gifts from I wish I had that last year because I have two Christmas presents that I know I bought but I can’t figure out where I stinkin hid them! LOL)

There are numerous other ways to keep Christ in Christmas but these are just a few suggestions that we practice. With a little imagination (and the prompting of the Holy Spirit) you can start your own family traditions of truly living Christmas!


The Advent Christmas Planner


If you need more ideas and feast day projects, I recommend you check out Catholic Icing’s e-book The Advent Christmas Planner.

(You can also read these suggestions from Catholic families that I posted last year.)


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Now it’s your turn.

1. Choose your creation, share about it and snap a photo if you can.

2. In your post, link back the original blogger/idea, rather than your Pinterest pin. That way credit goes to the proper person. 🙂 (But feel free to add your Pinterest profile link so we can follow you!)

3. Add a link back here so others can play along. Here is the html code:

<a href=”″><img title=”Revolution of Love Blog – Pinterest Party &amp; Link-up” src=”×240.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”240″ /></a>

4. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address.

The link up will be active until January 5, 2014.  Have fun!

Lastly, you can follow me on Pinterest here: 🙂

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads or Instagram. 😉

Pinterest Party & Link-up (Vol 10): Christmas in July/ One Annual Family Gift

Welcome to the RoL Pinterest Party. Join me every 2nd and 4th Tuesday as we link up and share how we made, cooked, baked, crafted, did, or created one of the pins on our Pinterest boards.

Not on Pinterest? No problem. Link-up your own creation to inspire us so we can pin it to our own boards. It can be a recipe, sewing project, Catholic craft, homeschool project, organizing/ homemaking tip, themed birthday party, whatever you’d like.

Don’t have a post ready? The link-up will be open for 10 days so there’s still time. Plus, feel free to link up a new post or an older post that hasn’t had much traffic lately.

Don’t have a blog? No problem. Post your photo and a description on the RoL Facebook page. 🙂

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I love gift giving! I get a thrill at seeing a person’s face light up when they open a present, especially when I worked hard to find something that is unique to them and their interests. If it were up to me I’d send presents to all my extended family – brothers and sisters (I’ve got 8 of them) and their spouses and my nieces and nephews but unfortunately our budget does not allow me that pleasure.

As we’ve gotten older and more of my siblings are getting married, we had to figure out a way to handle the birthdays, special occasions and holiday gift giving.

We decided that each family would give the other family one annual family gift. It could be store bought, handmade, food, whatever worked for the family’s budget. We also thought it would be fun to choose a month other than December to send the gifts, hence this year for my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, it was Christmas in July! (Okay, I was actually late in sending my gifts so it was Christmas in August. But my procrastination didn’t matter since there was no set time table.) 😉

After making my list and purchasing gifts, I was ready to turn on some Christmas music and wrap. One nice thing about doing this gift giving in summer is that I have plenty of time to wrap and put things together without the stress of getting things done by a certain holiday deadline.

I had such fun putting everything together and I hope my brother and his family like it. 🙂

I’ll wait another month of two and then I’ll get a package ready for my sister and her family. 🙂

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Now it’s your turn.

1. Choose your creation, share about it and snap a photo if you can.

2. In your post, link back the original blogger/idea, rather than your Pinterest pin. That way credit goes to the proper person. 🙂 (But feel free to add your Pinterest profile link so we can follow you!)

3. Add a link back here so others can play along. Here is the html code:

<a href=”″><img title=”Revolution of Love Blog – Pinterest Party &amp; Link-up” src=”×240.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”240″ /></a>

4. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address.

You have 10 days to post your link, so if you can’t get things done by Tuesday, no worries, put it up when you can. We’ll be here. Have fun!

Lastly, you can follow me on Pinterest here: 🙂

PS – You can follow RoL on Bloglovin, Feedly or another news feed. If you are a social media fan like me, we can stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads or Instagram. 😉

Saturday Evening 7 Quick Takes (12/22/12) & {pretty, happy, funny, real} Mash-Up

Hosted by Jen.


Hosted by Like Mother, Like Daughter

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I’ve been away from the blog all week. It has been crazy busy with Christmas and family things so I haven’t had time to post. I’m catching up a little today by posting a {pretty, happy, funny, real} and 7 Quick Takes Mash-Up. I only have half an hour, so I’ll set the timer…and start.

I just made a post entitled Ways to Help the Victims of Sandy Hook & Newton. There’s info on the Snowflakes for Sandy Hook, #26 Acts of Kindness and the letter from the sister of Fr. Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. Ten of the children killed were their parishioners. (Fr. Luke is the younger priest in the above photo.)

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I’m still shaken up by the Sandy Hook tragedy. The other day my mom called and when she started talking about it I couldn’t speak. The tears wouldn’t stop. I keep holding onto that feeling every time I start to complain about something. I just think of those grieving moms. They would give anything to have my “problems” as their only worry. Consequently, I’ve just been wanting to spend time with my kids and embrace our family life. Since I love snapping photos, Beth Anne’s #adventphotoaday has been a welcomed distraction to the news. Here are my favorite photos of the week.

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#adventphotoaday Day 15 – Something rose or pink. I saw this small pink rose on an almost bare bush at a local church.


#adventphotoaday Day 16 -Candle. From the Mission’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel.


#adventphotoaday Day 18 – Heart. This is my favorite icon in our home, the Sacred Heart/ Divine Mercy. We bought this on our honeymoon when we visited the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Redwood City. (It was New Year’s Eve of 1999. Everyone thought the world would end with Y2K. We figured if we were going to die, this was the place to be.) Now look, we survived Y2K and 12/21/12. God still has work for us to do. 😉


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On Wednesday we had two Christmas performances scheduled. Here are my three performers.


A class of 3 year olds singing is both sheer cuteness and unintentional comedy. I love this shot of John-Paul afterwards.


Andrew was my little angel. So precious.


My sweet Bella sang with her class and I am still astonished that she is growing up so quickly! Wasn’t it just a short time ago I was cradling her in my arms??

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I found Trader Joe’s at the end of the rainbow.


#adventphotoaday Day 20: Free Day. Matthew was dreaming of a White Christmas so he used the flour to make one. Ugh.

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#adventphotoaday Day 17 – Christmas tree. When I go to look for a tree I usually drive Brian crazy as I look for the “perfect” one. This year I rolled the dice and bought a tree that was wrapped up and didn’t open it until I got home. I got lucky. It was perfect.


#adventphotoaday Day 21- Christmas tradition/ decorations. Every year we add a new ornament to our tree. Here’s a few of my faves – 1. House – for the year we moved out of an apartment and into a real house. 2- Our 1st visit to Disneyland as parents with our own kids. 3 – Baby angel for the two babies we lost in miscarriage. 4 – A little stocking for the year I was surprisingly pregnant with Matthew.


For 2012, I added a set instead of one ornament. To represent this year of really embracing motherhood & homemaking, I have four knit animals to represent my four kids. (Thanks to Target, natch). There’s an owl for Bella, my oldest girl. An owl for Andrew, my oldest boy who is so fond of Bella. A bear for my John-Paul who can be cute & cuddly bear but also a grizzly when he’s mad. Lastly, a fox for my mischievous Matthew who can cause trouble but then give a cute smile and win you over.


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Okay, time is up and I’m 5 minutes over. Have a wonderful weekend and last few days before Christmas!

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent & Christmas Ideas – Part 2

Earlier this week I shared with you traditions that we follow in our own home to help us keep Christ in Christmas. Here are some other ideas that were passed along to me from various Catholic families.


The Advent Tree

In previous years I’ve waited until the last minute to decorate, cook, etc, but that puts a huge strain on the season in those final days of Advent. This year I wanted to keep Advent as a waiting period and a time of penance, but also try to avoid the last minute rush. This is what we’re doing this year.

Once “Pink week” comes this Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday) we will slowly begin to decorate (dragging it out for the next 2 weeks) since “pink week” invites us to recognize the hope and joy to come. But our biggest change is we have our tree up and decorated with wonderful PURPLE balls, silver garland, and PURPLE and PINK lights. I saw all these things at Target and now we have an “Advent tree!” This way our tree is up and ready to go and is getting the water it needs. Closer to Christmas we’ll take down the purple and put up the Christmas decorations. (From KF of CA)


Christmas Letters

An old Catholic custom is the writing of “Christmas Letters” by the children. These letters, addressed to the Child Jesus (NOT Santa Claus) are written or dictated by the little ones some time before Christmas. They contain their wishes concerning Christmas presents, petitions for various intentions, and a promise of sincere effort to please Our Lord in preparation for Christmas. When they go to bed, the children put their letters on the windowsill, from where “angels” take them during the night to bring them to the Child Jesus in heaven.

This charming custom helps the parents to impress on the minds of their little ones the importance of a sincere spiritual preparation and at the same time great confidence in God who is concerned with our temporal and spiritual needs. Parents who favor this custom will often be deeply touched when they discover that some of their children put more stress on spiritual graces than on material gifts even on an occasion like this. I t can also alert parents to the need for more guidance and direction toward this goal. (From LD of CA)  (Bobbi’s note – Love this idea! I’m doing it this year!)


The Baby Jesus Crib

Our family bought a small ceramic baby Jesus in a wooden crib. Baby Jesus is put away until Christmas Day but in order to prepare a comfy bed for Jesus we have “sacrificial hay”. I cut thin strips of brown construction paper and placed them in a box underneath the table that holds Jesus’ crib. Whenever any family member does a good deed, they get to put a piece of “hay” in the manger. At first the kids would announce proudly their placement of hay but after awhile I noticed them slipping away quietly to place a piece of hay for Jesus without recognition. I’m sure that made Baby Jesus very happy! (From JD of CA)


Taking the Stress Out of Advent and Christmas

As for Advent, we are doing things quite different this year. Every year we have always gotten out all the Christmas decorations and the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year we got out some decorations for the fireplace and the stockings for St Nick Day. (Dec. 6) Everything else, will be put out the 3rd week of Advent (pink week) as we show signs of Joy! Our tree will go up the third week also or we might wait for Christmas Eve.

We have several Advent calendars and our Advent wreath, which we gather around every evening as a family to light the candles and say our Advent prayers. We emptied our basket of reading books in the living room and filled it with religious, advent and Christmas books.

We have been celebrating the special feast and Holy days as a family. We celebrated St Nick with stockings in the morning filled with several religious gifts and a few small treats, then read books about him. We celebrated The Feast of the Immaculate Conception with Mass, prayers, and the SPECIAL book called Angel in the Waters. We will also try to celebrate other special days this month.

We have been talking everyday about the presents we are going to give Jesus, and have been trying to teach the kids that these are gifts we can give him all year long( being nice to brothers & sisters, helping Mom or Dad without being asked, saying extra prayers, playing a game with sibling, doing a chore for someone else, etc.) We are trying to steer them away from talking about what they want to get, and lead them toward talking about what they want to give (this is very challenging at times!)

In years past, I have been so overwhelmed during December that I never got to enjoy Advent, or teach the kids about it, just spend it as a time of prayerful waiting. I have always been so busy with activities, Christmas shopping, and general business, that I missed the whole season, and always said, “I’ll do it different next year.” This year, I’m actually trying to do it different. We streamlined our Christmas shopping and did it all in one day before December arrived. We got out our advent materials early, and had them ready, when the first Sunday rolled around. We are just simplifying, and really enjoying it so much more. I feel peaceful, and happy, and have time for spontaneous book reading and prayers with the kids. (From AM in CA)


Hold the Gifts

(Bobbi’s note  – This idea is from me. I have not used it with my own family since I am too much of a sucker for presents under the tree on Christmas morning but it may be a wonderful and grace-filled option for your family.)

Many years back, our holy parish priest, during one of his homilies, challenged us to not give gifts on Christmas. What?? He suggested we wait until the Epiphany, twelve days later. I thought he was a bit crazy at the time but I didn’t give it too much thought until we got home and mom and dad announced that we would give it a try that year. My heart broke at not having the traditional presents on Christmas morning – I was a gift-giving fanatic who put a lot of time into the “perfect” gift.

However, I must admit that the transition was not all that hard. Christmas became a celebration of Christ’s birthday and our gifts to Him. Emphasis was given to family togetherness and enjoying one another’s company. It also eliminated the anti-climatic day after Christmas. We finally realized that the Christmas season, in reality, is just beginning! The Christmas Octave took new meaning as we waited for the coming of Epiphany with new interest. We still have the fun of exchanging gifts with our loved ones but waiting until Epiphany (or “Kings”) helps keep things in proper perspective.

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There are numerous other ways to keep Christ in Advent and Christmas but these are just a few suggestions. With a little imagination (and the prompting of the Holy Spirit) you can start your own family traditions of truly living Christmas!

Feel free to comment and share your own traditions with us. I have a link up in Part 1 of this post to add your own blog post about your family’s Catholic traditions. Join in!