Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Catholic Churches Big and Small

A few months ago a lovely book called Catholic Churches Big and Small arrived on my doorstep.  The book is a richly illustrated story about two children their father and a nun who go visiting many different Catholic churches.  The tour consists of taking the children to old churches, modern churches, small churches and cathedrals.  Along the way the children learn about things they will see inside a Catholic church and the ways in which these sacred spaces are utilized by the faithful.

The story itself is simply told in a way that is just right for young children.  Most pages only have a line or two of text which is great for kids with short attention spans, but more importantly, the minimal text leaves more room for discussing the gorgeous illustrations found throughout this book.  I really don't think I can say enough about the illustrations to do them justice.  They're simply beautiful and many are filled with lots of vivid color that will catch the eyes of young children.  The churches illustrated in this book are all part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and they're listed in an index at the end of the book.  If I lived anywhere near this Archdiocese I'd certainly want to go and visit some of these churches after reading this book and looking at these gorgeous illustrations.

My three year old and I have read through this book many times and she's always pointing out the things that she recognizes from church and she will ask questions about the pictures.  Sometimes she just likes to sit and page through the book and look at her favorite pictures, which are usually the most colorful pages.

This book is really a lovely way to teach young children in the 3-8 year old range about the various items you will find inside a Catholic church.  I am looking forward to sharing this book with my kindergarten religious education class.  I know they'll enjoy learning about the things they see in church and I'm sure they're going to love the pictures as much as my younger daughter does.  I'd absolutely recommend this book if you're looking for something to teach your child about the items he or she sees in the church.  With this book, you could very easily bring it with you on a visit to your church and ask your child to find some of the items listed in the book in your church, such as the altar, the tabernacle, holy water fonts and so forth.

The one and only complaint I have about this book is the paper used for the pages is a bit too thin for my liking.  I think a sturdier paper would ensure that the book will be able to withstand children paging through it often.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.  You can order a copy of this book from Amazon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Prayers and #candlesforCourtney


I've been following Mary Lenaburg's blog Passionate Perseverance for years now.  Though I've never met Mary or Miss Courtney, I feel like I know them.  Courtney is in her final hours at this point.  If you can, please light a candle for Courtney (#candlesforCourtney) and offer up a few prayers for a peaceful passing for Courtney and also some prayers for her family.  Here's the most recent blog post from Mary.  Join me in lifting the Lenaburgs in prayer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Targeted Homilies

There are lots of times when I'm at Mass where I feel like the homily is so specific that it seems as if it's practically targeted at me.  Most of the time it doesn't bother me because the topic is still broad enough that it's not like it has completely zeroed in and locked on me as it's specific target.  And let's be real, no one is writing a homily with me in mind, at least I hope they're not.  I suspect those homilies that seem to really hit home are just the Holy Spirit at work trying to make sure I get the point.  That wouldn't surprise me given how stubborn I can be.

So the point of this is simply that I've noticed this less than awesome trend where I go to confession, which is pretty much every other week for the most part, and a few days or even a week later a homily comes along that is so close to what I was told by the priest in the confessional that I'm left wondering if perhaps Father thought I wasn't really listening to what he said the first time around. (99% of the time I really am listening and spend days afterward reflecting on it.  Putting it into practice, however, is another story.)  But mostly, I find my thoughts drifting towards wondering if the look on my face matches the internal cringing feeling that washes over me.  Even more uncanny is how well the readings for Mass also seem to fall into place with reiterating whatever it was that I was told in the confessional.  Is this all just mere happenstance, or is there something more going on?

Whether it's deliberate or pure coincidence I will say that I certainly drives home the point.    Who knows maybe I'm such a frustrating work in progress that I'm not the only one who thinks I make the most painfully slow spiritual progress.

What I found interesting at Mass this morning was how the homily appeared to be expounding on a couple of points that were mentioned to me on Saturday.  In particular, how using Mass almost as an escape to a bit of peace in my otherwise frenetic day isn't the right way of approaching it, even if it is essentially what keeps me focused and centered on my end goal.  So if nothing else, more clarity was given, which is probably a good thing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} My Little Man

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

{Pretty}
Can you believe how big my handsome little Man Man is?  He'll be six month's old on All Saints' Day.  His expressive eyebrows remind us of Muppet characters.


{Happy}
You wouldn't know this thanks to my incredibly sparse blogging, but every Thursday since Anthony was one week old, I've been taking pictures of him on the chair in the nursery with this bear.  Today he decided after a few pictures that he was going to snuggle with his bear.

{Real Funny}
Bryan snapped this picture of Anthony tonight.  I love his expression.  This little guy has to be our most expressive baby ever.   Oh and did you notice that he's sitting all by himself?  Last week he figured out how to sit up on his own and now he does it quite frequently.  A few days ago he started getting up on his hands and knees and rocking back and forth.  He'll probably be crawling soon enough!

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Making an All Saints Costume from Elsa

My two older daughters participate in our parish's youth groups and this is the time of year where they have events where they can come dressed up as a saint.  Last year Madeline dressed as St. Cecelia by taking a pretty pink princess costume and adding a golden harp made from cardboard.  Ellie dressed up as St. Elizabeth of Hungary using a queen costume we had already and simply adding a basket with some plastic rolls and tissue paper flowers.

When Ellie decided that she wanted to be Elsa from Frozen for Halloween I started wondering if there was a way for me to turn this costume into a saint costume.  So after thinking about it and doing a bit of google searching, I decided that this pretty blue costume might work as an Our Lady of the Snows costume.  So with the addition of a swaddled Bitty Baby and a bridal veil that had been given to us years ago as a possible first communion veil, we have a nice costume for a Marian title that oddly enough a lot of people don't seem to know about..


Ellie likes her Our Lady of the Snows costume and I'm pretty excited that her Halloween costume will do double duty this year.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quick Takes: On My Mind


~1~

I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.  I really wish I could blog a bit more since this space is pretty much where I record milestones the kids hit and things of that nature.  I feel like I'm totally dropping the ball with recording what has been going on with Anthony.  Can you believe he's already five months old?

~2~
We have the first quarter of the school year behind us.  This week we began the second quarter.  I'm waiting on some grades for Madeline but all of Ellie's grades have come back and she's done incredibly well with everything.  Her lowest grade for the marking period was an A- and she's very proud of herself.

~3~
About a month ago we looked into getting Katie evaluated to see if she could benefit from speech therapy since she doesn't talk a lot.  I took a week and a half for the place we called to let me know that there is about a four month wait to get an appointment.  The whole thing has me feeling frustrated.  I am noticing that she's speaking more but it seems like she has some days where she picks up a lot of words and then we hit a dry patch where she seems to prefer not using those words.  I am finding that she's talking more now than she did two months ago, but I still feel like she's behind.  The most frustrating part is knowing that she can talk but pretty much chooses not to.  

~4~

Anthony is an active little guy.  He log rolls when he wants to get to one of us or a toy.  Last Saturday he was in the family room playing on a quilt with some toys and he rolled into the kitchen where Bryan and the girls were doing something.   He will even just roll around the perimeter of a room to play with different toys.  He certainly likes to explore!

~5~
Madeline and Ellie have soccer tournaments this weekend so they'll be busying playing lots of games.  I started feeling a bit under the weather last night so I think the little ones and I will probably stay home.  I'm not sure if it's my allergies that are bothering me or if I'm coming down with a cold or something.

~6~

For the past month we've been trying to get Anthony to eat baby food and he's not the least bit interested.  The first few times we tried giving him food he ate a little bit of it.  We had one night where he ate a decent amount and then about an hour and a half later when I was nursing him he had a very scary spitting up incident where he projectile vomited for what seemed like several seconds with garden hose velocity.  He actually seemed limp towards the end of the episode.  It ranks as one of the scariest parenting moments I've had.  He seemed very shaken up about it and I certainly was, too.  Ever since then he pretty much refuses to even swallow anything I give him on a spoon.  If I put it in his mouth he pushes it out and won't open his mouth.  I'm hoping that he'll be willing to try food sometime in the near future.  I think he might associate baby food with the scary vomiting incident.  Can a five month old make a connection like that?  It's the only thing that seems to make sense.

~7~

Katie will turn three next week.  It's so hard to believe that she's already that old.  It seems like the older I get the faster time seems to fly.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: Sacred Fire

As a convert to Catholicism, I have encountered more than a few devotions which I had or have a hard time wrapping my mind around.  In most cases, delving deeper into why that particular devotion is practiced or learning the origins of it has been enough to essentially pull me in.  In a few instances even after having read several books on the subject matter I'm still left feeling skeptical.  For me, the Sacred Heart has been one of those devotions that I simply didn't get, yet, at the same time I've felt more and more of a pull to learn more about it.  At times, I felt like it was something that was following me just waiting for me to finally get it.  Over the past year or so, I've gained a better understanding of the Sacred Heart, but still I felt like I needed more clarity, and that clarity, for me, has come in the form of a book called Sacred Fire Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus.

Philip Michael Bulman's book essentially takes you right down to the roots of the Sacred Heart devotion and explains it so well that everything seems to fall into place and make perfect sense.  The book is arranged in two parts.  The first part: A Heart Open to All  of Humanity gives us the background story of this devotion and the stories of some of the saints who have revealed so much about the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The second part of the book did a beautiful job of explaining the elements of practicing the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

I had the hardest time putting this book down as I read it.  It's a wealth of information on the roots and history of the Sacred Heart devotion and I found the more I read, the deeper my appreciation for the devotion grew.  I've read several books on the Sacred Heart and I'd have to say that this one did the best job of getting to the heart of the devotion and explaining it in such a way that was so simply put that my previous hang ups surrounding the devotion dissipated.

The book is an enjoyable read and one I certainly recommend for someone who is interested in understanding more about the Sacred Heart devotion.  I came away from this book very happy that I had invested the time in reading it.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.  You can take a peek inside this book at Amazon.com.


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