Ink Slingers Michelle Products Reviews Faith and Fun in a Box

Every day when the mail comes my kids argue about who is going to run out to get it. Just as I did as a child, they love the job. As the victor of the mail retrieval argument brings in the mail, he or she flips through it to see whose names are included on the letters. Not finding their own, they sigh heavily and hand me the mail saying, “Mama, it’s all for you.”

Of course they simply see a stack of mail with my name on it and think I should be overjoyed to be getting so much mail. Little do they realize that it’s always bills and a whole lot of junk too; not things I truly want to open. While I occasionally get a letter from a dear Sister friend whom I met in Cincinnati at the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, it is rare these days that I get anything that I look forward to in the mail.

But a couple weeks ago all that changed. I was contacted by and asked if I might want to review one of their monthly subscription boxes. Friends, I’m not a person who passes up a free t-shirt, especially a free CATHOLIC t-shirt, and I love getting mail that is not bills, and so I sent on my address and waited patiently for it to arrive.

It didn’t take long for my box to get here. One day a week later the victor of the daily mail retrieval argument rushed inside, a box firmly in her hand held high above her head, yelling, “Mama! Mama! Guess what? You got a box!” To say the excitement at our house was palpable would be an understatement. Taking the box into the kitchen I’m pretty sure I had 7 of my 11 kids gathered around me waiting for me open this unexpected treasure that the post man had so kindly delivered.

As I opened the box I was so thrilled at what I found inside. Lately I have had a very strong pull from God to get to know and understand the Divine Mercy better and my pen pal Sister Clarita from the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor had introduced me to and encouraged me in this devotion. Imagine my surprise when this month’s theme was exactly that- The Divine Mercy! Everything included tied in together and was focused on helping me to not only understand but love the Divine Mercy. God sure works in amazing ways!

The first thing I pulled out was the t-shirt. It was nicely made- the material is heavy and the graphics are well thought out and look great on the shirt. AND it looked like it would fit me perfectly (which is always something I worry about if I order something online, but the size was true!) My experience was going great so far!

But the box doesn’t only include a t-shirt (although you can order a subscription that has simply a t-shirt if you so desire). There were more goodies! Also included in my box was a gorgeous rosary that is specially made to be able to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet (or the normal rosary if you wish), two medals- one of Pope John Paul II and the second was the Divine Mercy image, two prayer cards, a bonus gift of Fr. Gaitley’s talk “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told”, and a reflection on what the Divine Mercy is, how it came about, and why we should incorporate it into our lives. Finally, the Catholic T-shirt Club also tells us why each item is included in our box and how it relates to our lives.

Seriously, getting this box in the mail was like Christmas morning for me! Not only did it make me happy to not have only bills to open, but it was such a wonderful feeling having these amazing reminders of my Catholic faith coming straight to my doorstep. I loved seeing my children’s faces as I pulled out each of the goodies that were included in the box. They were just as excited about them as I was and we all know how important it is to have our children excited about their faith! not only has boxes for adults (and they have three different subscription levels to choose from), but they also have subscription boxes for kids! As I checked out their website I was thrilled to see how they hope to inspire all people in their faith. Their monthly subscriptions are a fun way to do just that.

If you are looking for a fun way to encourage your faith, if you love showing your Catholic faith through awesome t-shirts, and you simply love getting faith-inspiring things in the mail, then I have to suggest you try out the monthly t-shirt subscription at I really think you will love it!

Want to learn more? Go here to check out their website, to have your questions answered, and to sign up!


*I received this box for free in return for my honest assessment of this product. I honestly think you should try it out!

7 Quick Takes Domestic Church Homeschool Ink Slingers Michelle Motherhood Parenting

7 Quick Takes: Signs You Don’t Want Summer to End

jake 2
If you are anything like me you aren’t ready for summer to end. Yes, you know it has to at some point, but not right now.

My newsfeed has been filling up with kids going back to school already. Cute kids in new clothes, holding new lunchboxes and backpacks, stand dutifully with a smile for first day of school pictures. The pictures melt my heart and make my toes curl all at the same time!

“It’s only the beginning of August! There’s still some summer left!” I want to yell at the school officials who have decided that kids must return. Why do they have to go back so early?

Thankfully we homeschool so we don’t have to worry about summer being over yet. Maybe you are like me and aren’t ready for summer to end either. Here are some sure fire ways to know if you are suffering from the “Summer-Can’t-Be-Over-Yet” Blues…


You have no desire to make your kids wear clothes all day. Swimming suits are easy and cut down on laundry, amiright? Sure, cute new outfits are great, but they come with a price- extra laundry. Who wants that kind of responsibility? Not this lady! Not only that, swimsuits don’t get dirty like regular clothes; I mean, all they have to do is jump in a pool or run through a sprinkler and laundry is done!

jake sprinkler


You have no desire to set the alarm even earlier than normal to meet a bus or drop kids off. 30 more minutes of sleep? Yes, thank you very much!


You have no desire to worry about bedtime routines. When summer ends and school starts, sleep is even more important (even when you homeschool). Right now I like not having to worry so much about what time they get to bed. Sure, we still have a routine (I like my peace and quiet at night!) but if they go to bed late I don’t stress about it as much as I do during the school year. It’s so much nicer on all of us.


You have no desire to worry excessively over dinner time. Its’ 9 o’clock and you’re just coming in from playing so we’re just sitting down to eat? No problem! Oh, everyone’s having a bad day? Ice cream for dinner for everyone! That kind of attitude just doesn’t seem to fly during the school year- schedules really need to be followed and brains need more sustenance than that. Of course, you don’t want that happening all the time in the summer, but occasionally it’s fun to eat sundaes for supper while watching the fireflies flit around in the backyard.


Speaking of schedules- you have no desire to have to stick so strictly to a schedule. Want to go to the zoo on a Tuesday morning? Let’s go! Play date at the park on Thursday? I’m in! Stayed up late eating too much ice cream for dinner? Ah, sleeping in is the best!


You realize you just can’t get the beach out of your mind. You can feel the sand between your toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore- oh wait, that’s just the kids dragging in dirt from the yard and pots and pans crashing in the kitchen. But the fact remains, you want to feel the sand and hear the waves. You dream of sitting beneath your umbrella, your perfect little darlings building sandcastles beside you, and a gentle breeze caressing your hair. Ah, paradise! Summer just isn’t complete without a day at the beach!

Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!
Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!


You still want to catch fireflies, build forts, make mud pies, watch the kids run through the sprinkler, have silly string wars, ride bikes, get an ice cream cone from the ice cream man, and do so many other summertime activities with your kids. Once the days begin to change and the school bus comes regularly each day, it gets harder and harder to do those things.

We may not be able to stop summer from coming to an end, but we don’t have to let go quietly. We can enjoy the last little bits that are left to enjoy. Today we might just have to play all day, and then stay up late, eat ice cream till we pop, and watch the fireflies twinkle in our backyard. We’ll cling to summer for just a bit longer.

kids outside 1


Craving more Quick Takes like you crave more summer? Head on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum to read more 7 Quick Takes!

Allison Motherhood

Potty Watch

This afternoon found all of us except the baby huddled around printed pages ~ pointing, snorting, and laughing. What was this literary masterpiece that captivated people from four to forty-five? The One Step Ahead catalog. Every time this thing arrives in the mail, we know we are in for a treat of sarcastic proportions. Scanning its collection of infant and toddler “must-haves” is an exercise in insanity, perpetuating the myth that it is so difficult and so expensive to raise children. Read with us:

We found special shoes that emit a two-toned squeak so that the parent (or “caregiver”, as they say) can be assured the child is learning the proper way to walk (heel to ball). “We never had those shoes, Mom, do we all walk wrong?” asked my ten year old. “However did people learn to walk correctly without the squeak?” wondered the twelve year old with a roll of her eyes. We found shoes billed as “Perfect for the daycare set ~ easy on and off.” Because we all know that kids who are home with their mothers and a gang of siblings have neither the need nor the desire to do things on their own since they’re spoiled and anti-social (I think I may have laughed tea out my nose at that one.). There were many manifestations of antibacterial liquids: pump gel, purse spray, mini wipes, dipping bottles, treated bibs and placemats, and even playground equipment.

potty1Today’s favored item, however, was a potty-shaped, potty training watch. This programmable thing beeps every thirty, sixty, or ninety minutes to remind distracted toddlers to try to go potty. A teenaged boy, to whom potty humor is still a viable form of entertainment, loved this. Being that kind of mother, I took the opportunity to make sure the children understood the complexities of potty training (sensation recognition, large-motor activites of getting there and adjusting clothing, etc) in my most solemn voice. “So,” said the aforementioned son with a naughty twinkle in his eye, “It’s possible for a man never to learn that recognition stuff if the watch constantly reminded him when he was little to get up and try without paying attention to his body feelings, huh?” The possibilities of an executive in conference whose beeping watch prompted an excuse to colleagues to gotta try the potty was just too much; we dissolved into giggles as the hypothetical examples of adults tethered to potty watches grew more and more fantastic. Our old couch rocked and rolled for 20 minutes.


I’m not really sure of an inspirational moral from this afternoon’s antics; all I can come up with is more giggling and tea-spilling. Perhaps I could use a beeping watch as a reminder to cultivate a more sweet and genteel spirit.



Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Marriage Matrimony Sacraments Vocations

Marriage: A Catholic Understanding

wedding rings on BibleMarriage is one of the cornerstones of our Catholic faith. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This partnership brings man and woman closer to Christ and the two assist each other in getting to heaven. In addition, children are most often the products of marriage. Without children there would be no one to carry on the faith, to become priests and religious, and to enter into marriage and become parents one day themselves. We need holy matrimony to carry on the Catholic faith.

The Church is recognizing more and more that married couples need encouragement and guidance in navigating the complexities of marriage. It is a serious vocation, just as any religious or priestly vocation is. Sometimes couples can lose sight of the seriousness that is marriage. So the Church has provided a number of initiatives to encourage married couples, help troubled marriages, and support traditional marriage** in a society that is increasingly muddying the waters. I’ve provided links at the end of this post to a variety of marriage resources offered by our Church.

In light of the March for Marriage that was held in Washington, D.C. yesterday, I decided to ask a number of Catholic friends and acquaintances to tell me their thoughts on marriage. Specifically, I asked them to describe marriage in 5 words or less. I got a ton of interesting responses, from humorous to sweet to thoughtful. They all reflect a wide range of perspectives and ideas while at the same time conveying a full understanding of why man and woman come together in marriage, of the difficulties, the joys, and everything in between.

Here is what people had to say:

Two imperfect people walking together.

Love that requires supernatural graces.

Helping each other to heaven.

The foundation of the family.

Crazy, fun, unpredictable, solid, journey.

A gift from God.

Three-legged stool: husband, wife, God.marriage 14

We are a true partnership.

Investment, roller coaster, sweet, self-denial, red wine. [We’ll fudge the “5 words or less” requirement for this one.]

Beautiful work building a legacy.

Hard work, much love.

A path to Heaven.

Partners in crime and holiness.

Two that become one flesh.

Peace, support, growth, challenge, total.

We’re servants to each other.

Coordinated discipleship training.

Two words: redemptive suffering.

Different but complementary.

The Trinity on Earth.

Covenant of life-giving love.

A foretaste of Heaven.

We’re on the same team.

Reflection of the Holy Family.

Unity in difference.

Best friends forever.

Till death do us part.

I like it a lot.

Marriage means a lot of things, but in the end, it is a path to holiness, a partnership that brings both parties closer to God and heaven, and has a good dose of craziness, fun, and red wine thrown in. It was clear as I read through the many responses, that there were some themes. The most important being that marriage helps put us on a path to heaven, which is an important part of any vocation.

Add your thoughts: How would you describe marriage in 5 words or less?

**I use the phrase “traditional marriage” here only to illustrate how society views what we in the Catholic Church simply call “marriage.” In our faith, there is only one kind of marriage and it involves the union of one man and one woman. Plain and simple.

Marriage resources:

Marriage: Unique for a Reason: An initiative of the USCCB

For Your Marriage: Another USCCB Initiative

Worldwide Marriage Encounter: A marriage enrichment program aimed at revitalizing Christian marriage.

Retrouvaille: A program to help couples heal and renew their marriages.

Articles on Marriage here at Catholic Sistas.

Allison Domestic Church

Dog Fun

I am not a dog person. They have entitlement issues; they think that this is their house and that they can interrupt me eleventy billion times a day to be let outside to do their business. I have to do it because they might pee in the house and they know it. But I keep agreeing to new dogs because my husband is cute and asks please. As an only child, his dogs were his buddies and he believes in the healthy bond. We usually have two, always from the pound. Our current beasts are a Staffordshire bull terrier we’ve had for four years and an old Rottweiler we’ve had for just three

The Staffie, named Hondo, is a big doofus that’s an embarrassment to canines everywhere. His favorite spot is right by the wood stove, practically underneath it (We greet him with “Meow” when we discover him there.). He rolls his eyes at me when I make him move so that I can sit there with my coffee. He is happy to hang around the house but will hop to and spend all day or overnight on a mountain trail with my husband and teenaged sons. He will do whatever they ask. Once though, he could not make it up a cliff. Ken tied ropes to his doggy harness-backpack thing and went first, then hauled poor Hondo up. The teenagers remained at the bottom in case he fell. He didn’t, and endeared himself to the tough guys. The kids also hook sleds to his harness, then take turns running ahead, waving a hot dog for him to chase, which gives those in the sled a great ride. He’s hilarious.

The old Rottweiler was planned to be a puppy rescue, but when my husband and dog-loving daughter arrived at the pound, there was a notice tacked to his cell warning of child-nipping. Instead, they chose eight-year-old Panea, which Google tells us is a Greek word meaning “household guardian.” Perfect. She has turned out to be a beautiful pillow for the small kids to rest with. She probably has arthritis; she’s slow and mellow and follows my daughter everywhere. Clare often sleeps on Panea’s enormous doggy-bed with her. She extracts tenderness from all of us.

I know that dogs do not have immortal souls and that they like us because we give them what they like. I also know that they are part of God’s creation and, like all of creation, can be loved and appreciated, even (maybe especially) in the work required for maintenance. Enjoying God’s world enriches our lives. I may not dig the dogs (Creation that blesses me involves sunshine and trails.), but I love the joy my husband and children receive and I am thankful that our finances allow for such fun.