New Book for Sunday Read-Aloud – Jorge From Argentina {Book Review}

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to review it.   This post contains affiliate links; thank you for your support!


jorge from argentina elementary catholic book review

We are a family of readers. Even my 17 month old boy will grab a stack of books and plop himself into any available lap. Over the years, I have been blessed to find many wonderful children’s books to support our Catholic faith. Unfortunately, they are not usually the first choice of our offspring.

In order to read many of these books, I have instituted Sunday read-aloud time. Every Sunday, we read a book about God or an aspect of Catholicism. Sometimes they are drawing or working on a craft project, but many times we are all just snuggling on the couch.

jorge from argentina review inside

PaulineKids sent me a copy of Jorge from Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children forever ago and I decided to use that for our next Sunday read-aloud. This isn’t really a picture book, though there are a handful of illustrations. The age range for this is from about 7 to 10. It’s a straight up biography about 50 pages long.

And it’s fascinating for my people loving almost 7 year old. I totally did not expect to read the whole thing in two Sundays. She requested more after each chapter until I finally had to make dinner.

Jorge from Argentina made Pope Francis seem like a regular person. He lived a similar life to my kids (more or less). It was nice to see his desire to live God’s will even when it was hard. It also was a great source for finding out more about how one becomes a priest, a Jesuit, bishop, cardinal & pope.

It led to some great discussions! If you are looking for a good book for your older child, especially those who are people oriented, Jorge from Argentina would be a great pick! Not only would they learn that important people were once young, too, but that they usually made the choice to live joyfully, even when difficult. Plus, they may even remember the hierarchy and how Pope’s are chosen :). It would make an awesome first communion gift or even a birthday or baptism anniversary gift for elementary students.

Jen S.


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December Saint Picture Book Club Unveiled!

saint picture book club december st juan diego

On All Saints Day, I shared my plan to celebrate the Catholic liturgical year by reading a book each month. I’m so excited to share the first saint for the picture book club!

St. Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego’s feast day is December 9. I found two books that would be fabulous additions to your Catholic children’s library.

The first is one of those investment books–Talking Eagle and the Lady of Roses: The Story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  If you can swing it, it’s gorgeous and my 4 year old Ioves it. Bright illustrations and (seems to be) culturally appropriate also.

The second is smaller and simpler, but also good–Juan Diego: Mary’s Humble Messenger (Saints and Me!).  It’s not as much of a story as the first, but is another good picture book for children about St. Juan Diego.

Be sure to come back on December 8 to share your favorite books about St. Juan Diego! Subscribe to our RSS feed so you don’t miss a post.

And if you are in need of an Advent devotion, check out the 2014 Advent Companion app giveaway from Magnificat!


See you in a few weeks!

Jen S.


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3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude for Busy Families

3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude for Busy Families


Science has suggested that people who are grateful are happier, according to Gretchen Rubin. Author of The Happiness Project & Happier at Home, Gretchen scheduled a gratitude project and it changed her outlook.

Here are three easy ways to cultivate gratitude for YOUR busy family.

quick and easy gratitude journals

A Gratitude Journal

A simple gratitude journal is an easy way to list your blessings. It can be as simple as a plain notebook or you could use one of the many beautiful journal collecting dust on your shelf. Or maybe that’s just my house.gratitude-prompts-preview

Here are two gratitude prompt printables I made; one with quotes & one with Bible verses.

For more ideas, check out my post at Successful Homemakers (FKA Homemakers Challenge) — Quick & Easy Gratitude Journals.


DIY Family Gratitude Wreath

If you need some help as a family, but are looking for a smaller project than the Thankfulness Tree I shared a few years back, try this Thanksgiving Wreath.



  • A circle cut from a paper plate or cardboard
  • Leaves, handprints, or other shapes (we bought a foam craft kit from JoAnn’s a few weeks ago)
  • Sharpie or other dark marker
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Hole Punch


  • Cut a wreath shape from your plate or cardboard. Make sure it’s big enough to glue stuff to, but not so big you can see it around your shapes.
  • Cut or punch a hole at the top and thread the ribbon through. Tie a knot to make a loop to hang the wreath from.
  • Lay out your shapes around the wreath, spread out enough to write on them. When you are happy with how they look, glue them on. Save the bottom center for last.
  • On the bottom center shape, write “I am thankful for…”
  • Write what your family members are thankful for on each shape until you have filled the wreath.
  • Hang & enjoy!



Gratitude on the Go

If you are always on the go, I found an awesome app to help cultivate gratitude — Gratitude365. This inexpensive app allows you to track things you are grateful for by text AND photo. You can view the list, the day or the calendar with pictures.

My full review of the Gratitude365, with screenshots, can be found at

So what about your house? Do you try to be intentional about gratitude? What tools or practices do you have?

Jen S.


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Kid-Friendly Washi Tape Advent Wreath {with Magnificat Advent 2014 app Giveaway!}

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!


kid friendly diy washi tape advent wreath

A few years ago, I shared my easy, long-lasting ribbon wrapped advent candles. With a monkey man, I mean 1-1/2 year old BOY, I was looking for a better solution. Inspiration struck in the tape section of a closing Office Depot. Here is how to make a SUPER kid-friendly washi tape advent wreath.


washi tape advent wreath


  • Washi tape or other colored tape in purple & rose. (I bought Scotch Expressions in purple & Scotch Duct Tape in Metallic Pink)
  • 4 Electric tea light candles (I bought this 8 pack off Amazon)
  • Scissors
  • Dessert plate or saucer
  • Some evergreen branches (optional)


kid friendly advent wreath


  • Take 4 tea lights out of package.
  • Place tape around outside of tea light. Trim tape if necessary.
  • Repeat.
  • Place candles on plate
  • Add greenery (if you have some)

Enjoy the worry-free advent wreath!

If you are looking for something a little fancier, try these ribbon wrapped pillar advent candles that I shared a few years back.

Magnificat Advent 2014 App Giveaway

Looking for an Advent devotional app?  Check out this giveaway from Magnificat!  If you read, you will see my full review of this awesome Advent 2014 Companion app from Magnificat.  Use the widget below to enter!



Do you have an advent wreath?

Jen S.


This post will be linked up at’s Advent Wreath Show & Tell.

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Look Inside the Time of Jesus {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; thanks for your support!



My kids love exploring lift the flap books so when I was offered the chance to review a new lift the flap style book from Lion Books, Look Inside: The Time of Jesus, I was excited to have a biblical book like this for them to explore.

Look Inside: The Time of Jesus is a beautiful gift quality hardcover book with 9 two pages spreads about what life was like when Jesus was alive.  The spreads cover:

  •  the first Christmas,
  • a synagogue and carpenter’s workshop in Nazareth,
  • fishing in Capernaum,
  • farming and shepherding in the hills of Galilee,
  • homes of the wealthy and everyday people,
  • the temple in Jerusalem,
  • the way of the cross, and
  • the first Easter.


The illustrations are engaging and the flaps aren’t always “educational” but are pretty funny sometimes.  Slapstick humor is good for 4 year olds :).  There is not a ton of text, a paragraph on each page and occasional snippets around flaps.

It’s a good book for discussion and exploration, making it useful for both long and short attention spans.  The knowledge shared about life in those times was good, though I did disagree with one item.  In the temple it said Jesus was angry that the widow felt she had to give money.  Which isn’t how I learned it; I learned that she was upheld as en example of trusting God by giving him everything.  But that can be skipped or better explained.  I’ve done both :).

Other than that, it’s a lovely book.  Both my 6.5 & 4 year old have been exploring it — alone, together and with me.  It’s been a great addition to our library.

If you have a child who loves lift the flap books or are looking for a religious gift for a 4-8 year old, Look Inside: The Time of Jesus would be a great pick. It’s a beautiful book & we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it!

Jen S.

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