Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: Precious Moments Storybook Bible

Having long been a fan of Sam Butcher's Precious Moments art work, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review the new Precious Moments Storybook Bible published by Thomas Nelson.  This lovely padded hardcover children's bible is beautifully illustrated.  As you would expect of a Precious Moments bible, the illustrations are perfectly charming.

The storybook bible is suitable for gift giving.  There is a dedication page along with several pages entitled "Church Record" where you can fill in the dates of sacraments received, vacation bible schools attended and other such things.  This book would make a lovely gift for a baptism or dedication. Given the way the record section is worded, I would say that this book is primarily geared to protestant children.

The stories in this book are written in a way that is clearly intended for very young children.  I felt that some of the harsher aspects of some bible stories seemed to be softened so as to not frighten little ones.

My only real gripe with this book is the order of the stories.  I prefer children's bibles that flow from the beginning of the old testament to the end of the new testament.  This storybook bible hops all over the place.  As an example, you'll find the story of the crucifixion before the story of the nativity.  You'll also find old testament stories mixed in with new testament stories.

Overall, this storybook bible is very nice for sharing bible stories with very young children.  Just looking at the illustrations of this book is a delight.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson's reviewer program, BookSneeze, in exchange for my honest review.

Good Riddance 2010

I can't say that all of 2010 has been a bad year because it hasn't.  We've had lots of great times throughout this year, but on the whole, it's been a year filled with losses and events I would have happily avoided.

Our family lost six members in 2010.  Our most recent loss was Bryan's grandmother who passed away this Tuesday.  Some of the losses were expected.  We knew Bryan's grandmother wasn't well and hadn't been so for a while now, so we can't say we were surprised or caught off guard by her passing.  However, it doesn't make it any less sad.  My children no longer have a living great grandparent.  Several of our losses were totally unexpected.  The loss that sticks out the most to me is that of my Aunt Florence.  If you had told me this time last year that she would no longer be with us I wouldn't have believed it.  Same goes for two of my uncles.

There were plenty of other unexpected things that cropped up in this past year that I think we could have done without.  I would have been happy to not have termites, but I suppose finding them before they could do any damage was probably a very good thing, even it if was a very costly discovery.

Despite all the losses and annoyances that have cropped up throughout this year, I'm not blind to all of the good that has come of this year.  Our children have been happy and healthy.  Ellie has hit some milestones like learning how to swim and read.  And Madeline has been doing plenty of things that make us proud.  She had her first straight A report card this year.  She also was chosen for the school safety patrol and chorus.  She even decided to be an altar server so she could be involved at our church.  It does my heart good to see that I've raised a child who wants to contribute to her community.

I'm hopeful that 2011 will be a year with less sadness and loss than this year has been.  I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.  I pray that God will bless us and keep us all in the coming year.

Bring on 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing You a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with love, laughter and joy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Truth for Your Mind Love for Your Heart

I just finished reading Fr. Alfred McBride's Truth for Your Mind, Love for Your Heart Satisfying Your Hunger for God and I have to say from start to finish the book was an absolute pleasure to read.  The book is an enriching read that is sure to please those who are interested in deepening their spiritual life
The book is separated into three sections.  As you might guess from the title, the sections are entitled Truth for Your Mind, Love for Your Heart and Satisfying Your Hunger for God.  Given that life has been a bit frantic around here for the past several weeks, I didn't pick up on the fact that the section titles were directly related to the book title until I reached the final portion of the book.  Anyway, those titles perfectly reflect what you will find in those sections.

Each chapter of this book follows the same format.  It begins with a scripture reference, and then there is commentary that explains it and shows how it relates to us today.  Each and every chapter is filled with insightful wisdom.  Throughout each chapter you will find asides that are related to the subject at hand.  I found the placement of some of the asides to be a bit distracting.  I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to have to interrupt a line of thought in a book, and I also don't like to have to flip back a page or two to read what I had to skip momentarily.  I'm sure some people aren't bothered by such things, but I certainly can be.  Each chapter ends with reflection questions and a prayer.  I liked that the reflection questions prompt you to not only ponder the material you just read, but also to stop and take a look at yourself. Because of the discussion questions,  I think it would be a great book for a group setting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book, but my favorite section was the one entitled Love for Your Heart where the sacraments were discussed.  Fr. McBride's explanations and insight on the sacraments just clicked with me in a way that I can't easily explain.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Truth for Your Mind, Love for Your Heart.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by The Catholic Company in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Small Successes-Third Week of Advent

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. Amid all the craziness that comes with preparing for Christmas, I have not gone insane.  Nor have I freaked out enough to make everyone run from me.  God bless my husband and children for putting up with the crazed maniac that lives with them.

2. I made salt dough ornaments with the girls this week.  I screwed up the recipe that I was doubling and quadrupled the water. This required me to run to the local supermarket on a Saturday night and buy salt.  I did this before succumbing to a bad bout of lactose intolerance.  Fun!  The ornaments were decorated on Monday night.  I managed not to strangle Ellie after she painted the table top [in the only spot where it wasn't covered] and the [white] back of her chair.  And yes, mom does need to go to confession after totally freaking out.  Ah, the holidays, that special time of the year where Mommy really starts to lose her grip on reality.

3. I made and am currently in the process of making Christmas cookies.  I can't wait until this is done.  And mean mom and wife that I am, I am not letting Bryan and the girls eat the cookies.  I have been nice and I have allowed them to eat three cookies each.  They claim this is not enough.  I have not let them know that I am eating chocolate chip cookies so I don't totally go insane and lose it.  When/if they discover this little secret, I doubt it will be pretty.

4. Every gift is wrapped and ready to go at this point.  I forced myself to get it all done last night.  I have three gifts that are on their way to the house which I will need to wrap.  I'm getting close to being able to relax.  When/if that day comes, I look forward to reading the stack of books that I am anxious to read.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time flies when you're....

Now how should I finish that title?  Having fun, going crazy trying to get the house clean, discovering that celebrating Advent to the fullest is an exhausting job, baking cookies, cleaning toilets, trying to find just five minutes to relax after all the chores of the day are finished (Ha! That will never happen, will it?).  If you haven't already guessed, life is a bit crazy, stressed, hectic and so on.

I have much that I want to blog about, but life is going ahead full steam at the moment and most days I feel as if there's little time for me to do anything other than catch my breath.

In the past three weeks we have done so many things that I want to document here on the blog, because this is how I preserve the memories I will want to look back on someday.  We've made graham cracker gingerbread houses which I have yet to take pictures of, unless we count the one I took of the one I made.  Little fingers have been touching the houses for over two weeks now and the intoxicatingly delicious smelling buttercream icing is not strong enough to withstand hungry children assaulting it.

We celebrated St. Nicholas' day with candy treats in bedroom slippers.  Ellie was incredibly excited despite the fact that she didn't exactly like the candy she got. Sigh.  She knew why the candy was in her slippers instantly while Madeline stood there trying to figure it out.  We watched CCC of America's The Boy Who Became St. Nicholas on EWTN and the girls began a Santa vs. St. Nicholas debate that got a little ugly.  Madeline understands that they are pretty much one in the same while Ellie is certain that they are two separate entities with totally different origins.  I'm trying to stay silent on the issue for the most part.  I do make comments that our Santa tradition comes from St. Nicholas and I casually mention when he lived.

Madeline was altar server for the first time on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  I did blog about that in last week's small successes, but it deserved it's own post, if you ask me.

On Saturday we made salt dough ornaments as Christmas gifts.  I messed up the recipe and then needed to run to the grocery store for extra salt.  The girls had a good time pressing the cookie cutters into the dough.  We finally got to paint the ornaments yesterday.

I insanely decided to make a sweet bread that I found a recipe for on Karen Edmisten's blog for St. Lucia day and spent the better part of a day making a bread that we didn't like all that much.  I'm going to assume that I screwed it up some how since everyone else who has made this braided bread raves about it.  Sadly, it just wasn't sweet enough for us.  Fortunately, I made the bread on the 12th, so I had time to recover and make something that we'd all like so that Madeline could deliver cinnamon rolls to me and Ellie in bed yesterday.  Bryan even heated the rolls up before he went to work.  Let me just say that I was surprised that he sat down and celebrated St. Lucia day the evening before with the bread we didn't like and then again in the morning.

I spent most of yesterday baking cookies.  I found myself wondering why I'm always running out of ingredients.  It seems like I can't bake anything without having to make an unscheduled trip to the grocery store.  I have to say that I'm getting rather frustrated with myself about this situation.

Today I focused on stuff like cleaning the bathrooms, folding laundry, and running to the same stores twice.  I simply can't keep my head straight when I feel like I'm spinning in a thousand directions.  It was in the 20s here today so I was very upset that I had to run to the craft store and Target twice each.  That's four extra exposures to 26 degree weather that I didn't need.

I'm hoping I'll be able to post some pictures of what we've been up to soon.  I also need to remember to take pictures of the girls in front of the Christmas trees.  Never in all my life has Advent felt like it was flying by in the blink of an eye.  It's so hard to believe that we're less than two weeks away from Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review: St. Patrick's Summer

Do you have a child who likes to read stories that involve some element of adventure?  If you do, and he or she is a Catholic youth, St. Patrick's Summer: A Children's Adventure Catechism is likely to please.  I wasn't all that sure what to expect based on the title of the book.  Was it a book just about St. Patrick or was there more to it than that?

Without spoiling the book, St. Patrick's Summer is a story about two children who are preparing to receive their first Holy Communion.  The boy and girl in this story remind me an awful lot of the children in the Magic Tree House series of books, only the children in this book are older than the Magic Tree House children.  The adventures the children go on with St. Patrick and the other visitors the children encounter also remind me of the Magic Tree House books.  My daughter thoroughly enjoys books where the past comes alive for modern day children, and this is just the sort of book that appeals to her.

Through the adventures and encounters the children have with St. Patrick and the other visitors they receive solid catechesis in areas that many people (children and adult alike) may have trouble wrapping their mind around.  For example, there is a wonderful explanation of the Blessed Trinity that will give your child a better understanding of this mystery than I've managed to find in any religious education text book.

It's worth noting that this book was originally published in 1950 and makes reference to the Mass being in Latin and not English.  Because of this your child may be slightly confused, but it's something I feel is easily explained to a child who is old enough to read this book.

As far as the reading level of this book is concerned, I'd say it's best suited to children in grades 4-7.  The book will easily appeal to both boys and girls.  I found the book to be well written.  The story line will keep young readers wanting to know what will happen to the story's main characters next while they receive solid catechesis at the same time.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Movie Giveaway at Catholic Icing

Lacy from Catholic Icing is hosting a giveaway of  CCC of America's Juan Diego DVD.  Head on over to enter her giveaway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Arma Dei Review: Cathletics Playing Cards

If your children are anything like mine, they probably like playing card games.  Whether it's trivia cards, Uno or Go Fish, the kids are always happy to sit and play a card game.  I'm a fan of card games because they neatly pack away into a compact box that doesn't take up much space.

Recently, we've had the pleasure of playing with Arma Dei's Cathletics Playing Cards.  Just as with any ordinary deck of cards, there are four suits.  Each of the four suits is a symbol that represents the Blessed Trinity.  The suits are a shamrock, the cross, a dove and a heart. What makes Cathletics Playing Cards different is every card is different and each one contains key facts about our Catholic faith.  For example the 7s deal with aspects of our faith for which there are seven, such as the Sacraments, works of mercy (both spiritual and corporal), virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The cool thing about these cards is your child can play an ordinary game like Go Fish and learn about his or her faith at the same time.  As a mom and religious education instructor, I love that these playing cards offer good solid catechesis.

My nine year old thinks these cards are cool.  She particularly likes to quiz me on the faith facts found on these cards while we play.  Apparently the fun thing to do these days is see just how knowledgeable Mom is about Catholicism.  I, of course, like to use these cards to see how much she's retaining about our faith.

I think these cards are great for kids in the 2nd to 8th grade age range.  Moms and Dads may even learn a little something from playing with these cards!  I don't recommend these cards for very little ones who can't yet read or or just learning to read simply because I think they're too advanced for them.

For more information on Cathletics Playing Cards, visit Arma Dei.  I was provided with a review copy of these cards in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small Successes-Second week of Advent

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. At long last the closet project that Bryan started in August or September is completed (on the inside).  We now have carpet and padding (Isn't my husband great?) as well as four adjustable shelves on the side wall.  I was able to take all the games that have been clogging our kitchen pantry and move them into their new home.  I think it looks great and I'm very happy.  I think the end result was worth the injured finger (Bryan hammered his pinkie) and the assaulted toe (My pinkie toe was hit with a falling level as I helped Bryan.  OUCH!).  The kids are very happy with their completed closet.  Now they want to know when we're adding the trim.

2. Both Christmas trees are now up and decorated.  I finally decided the big tree could go up [since last year's board games could finally be put away in the closet under the stairs].  On Tuesday, I spent the morning decorating the trees.  The girls are quite delighted with the way they look.
Tree with ornaments made by the girls.

The family room tree that feels like a Christmas scrapbook.

3. Madeline was an altar server for the first time this Tuesday at a vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception.  She did very well and her little sister was quite proud of her.  After Mass the deacon made it a point to tell me how Ellie was beaming with pride as they processed in for Mass.

4. We celebrated the feast of the Immaculate conception with a tasty treat yesterday.  I made the girls some Marian sugar cookies.  They were quite delighted with the cookies that were inspired by the reverse side of the miraculous medal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giveaway winner announced

Congratulations Joy,  you've won the Twenty Tales of Irish Saints book giveaway!  Check your inbox for an email from me.

Movie Review: The Story of St. Perpetua

Last month I gave Madeline The Story of St. Perpetua, a Catholic Heroes of the Faith DVD, to mark her baptism birthday.  During the summer we had seen a preview of this movie which you can find on the publisher's website.  Once Madeline had seen the preview and colored in the coloring pages provided on their website she began to ask me almost daily if we could get the DVD.  I finally capitulated, and I'm incredibly glad that I did.  The movie has been a smash hit in our house.

The beautifully done animated movie tell the story of St. Perpetua and her martyrdom.  Children who watch this movie will see how the early Christians were persecuted for their faith in Jesus.  They will also learn about a few of our courage ancestors in faith when they watch this DVD.

The story is told in a way that will inspire young hearts to hold steadfast to their faith.  My nine year old was prompted to ask many questions about why the Romans persecuted the early Christians, so this movie was a great starting point for her to learn more about the early church.  She was also happy to learn more about two saints whom she frequently hears referenced at Mass, Sts. Perpetua and Felicity.  After having watched this movie a few times she declared that St. Perpetua is now one of her favorite saints.

I do want to mention that I do not feel this movie is too graphic or violent.  When I was deciding whether or not to purchase this for Madeline I was a bit concerned when I had read a review on where a reviewer had claimed this movie was too violent and therefore inappropriate for children.  Children will see some of the Christian heroes in this movie being handled roughly, and they will see them sent into the arena to be executed, but they will not see any of the martyrs actually meeting their death.  The animation is sensitively done in such a way that children are shielded from such savage violence.

I think this DVD will appeal to most children between the ages of 4-12.  Parents will likely also enjoy watching this movie with their children.  I know I enjoyed it and my husband had no complaints about watching it a few nights in one week.

We loved this DVD and can't wait to see what Catholic Heroes of the Faith will come out with next.

Last Chance for Twenty Tales of Irish Saints Giveaway!

The giveaway for Twenty Tales of Irish Saints ends tonight at 5PM EST.  Madeline and I both really enjoyed this book, so don't miss out on a chance to win this.  Click over to the giveaway post to enter.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: Celebrating Saints and Seasons

I recently had the opportunity to review Jeanne Hunt's Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children.  Generally speaking, I love books like this that compile a collection of ideas for how to help your child live their Catholic faith.  I was sincerely hopeful that this book would be yet another wonderful resource.  Sadly, I just wasn't all that impressed with this book.

This book is not just focused on celebrating Catholic feast days and traditions.  Instead, this book seeks to be all inclusive. I don't want to say that it's wrong to be all inclusive, )I certainly don't think it's a bad thing) but when I'm teaching my own children at home or a group of children in a religious education class  I don't feel there's a pressing need to teach them about other faith traditions.  I found several suggestions in this book, such as teaching children about Muslim holidays and teaching them about the five pillars of Islam that simply felt like an unnecessary push for liberal multiculturalism.  Why when I'm trying to make sure my young impressionable children are firmly grounded in their Catholic faith would I want to introduce them to and encourage them to celebrate holidays and traditions from other faith cultures?

The book is also focused on national holidays such as the Fourth of July,  and Martin Luther King Jr. day.  I thought it was rather interesting that no mention was made of Columbus Day in this book considering that Christopher Columbus was a Catholic explorer who's discovery of the Americas helped to spread Christianity to a large part of the world.  I simply don't understand why holidays like that were excluded while other's that have less significance in terms of our faith tradition were not.

In many ways I feel the book is poorly organized. For any given month you may find major holidays and feast days listed up front along with some ideas for how to celebrate them either with your family or in a school setting, and in other chapters you'll find nearly everything in date order with accompanying prayers that go with those celebrations at the end of the section for that month.  With a haphazard organizational structure such as this, it will be easy to miss things if you happen to use this book as a resource that you turn to for a particular day and look no further than the first page that deals with it.

Another beef I have with this book is it suggest some (not very many as one might expect) craft ideas but offers no illustrations for how the finished product should look.  The lack of illustrations is not too big of a deal, but it would have made the book a little better.  Most of the craft ideas are ones you could easily find with a quick online search.

I'm sure this book will be helpful to some, but I didn't find much [that was useful] inside it's covers that I haven't already seen in other books like it or online.  If I were asked for a suggestion of a good book filled with great ideas for how to live the liturgical year with your child or religious education class this book would not even make my top five suggestions.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Can You Find Saints?

Can You Find Saints? Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women is a great way to get young children interested in learning about the saints.  I recently had the pleasure of sharing this book with my children, ages 5 and 9, and they enjoyed searching out the hidden pictures and learning about a plethora of saints.

The book is richly illustrated and incredibly detailed.  It's sort of like a Catholic Where's Waldo or Look and Find book.  If you have children who are interested in books such as those, they will likely enjoy this book very much and learn about our Catholic faith at the same time.  As a mom, I love it when books combine fun and learning.

The book is comprised of thirteen picture searches.   In every picture there  are ten hidden pictures your child needs to find.  Some of the searches are easy and others are a little more challenging.  We've had this book for a few weeks now and we still haven't found all of the hidden pictures.  That's a good thing if you ask me, because it will not only keep children busy, but it will also serve to bring them back to the book over and over as they try to seek out all the hidden pictures.

Every search has a different theme.  One search is all about the Popes who have become saints,  another focuses on how saints are identified, while other searches are dedicated to saints who are listed in the Liturgy of the Mass or the Bible.

Within each search there is a list of specific things, actions or saints to seek out.  The book does a nice job at explaining what you are seeing in the picture.  The writing in the book is very approachable for young children.

To help you further explain the pictures to your children, a parent guide is provided for each picture.  I like the parent guides because they enumerate things that you should point out to your children as they look at the picture and find hidden objects.  They are sort of like a teacher's manual for the searches.

This book offer offers a lovely glossary that defines three pages worth of terms found throughout the book.  I find that to be quite a nice touch and I like knowing that my older daughter can sit with the book and look up any of the words for which she doesn't know the meaning.

Overall, I think this book is a lovely resource for faith formation.  It's a fun way for children to learn about the saints.  Children who have saint names can search this book to see if their patron saint is found among the crowds of saints packed onto every page of this book.  My daughters sat with this book for over an hour pouring over the names of the saints in the pictures looking for their own names, names of family members and their favorite saints.  They happily brought to book over to me every time they found a favorite saint, or one they thought seemed really cool or had an interesting name.

This book would make a lovely gift for the Catholic child in your life.  It could be a fun First Holy Communion gift, a baptism birthday gift, or even a really cool gift to put under the tree or in an Easter basket.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of Can You Find Saints? by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Review: A Franciscan Christmas

Now that we're in the season of Advent, reading Kathleen M. Carroll's A Franciscan Christmas would be a lovely idea if you're looking to dig into some spiritually thought provoking material.  I was impressed with this little book.  I picked it up thinking it would be a mildly interesting book only to find myself surprised at how deep the book was.

In this book each element of the nativity scene is examined on it's own.  The ten chapter book looks at Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, angels, villagers, musicians, the star and the animals.  From each of theses elements of the nativity scene there is a wealth of wisdom to be gleaned.  I was surprised at how deep the simple message of this book goes.  I particularly like how this book leads you to reflect on each aspect of the nativity and what you can learn from it in order to grow spiritually.

I think this is a lovely book to read during Advent to help orient your heart to where it belongs.  Because the message in each chapter is so profound, one could easily read a chapter, take a day or two to reflect on it and then move on to the next portion of the nativity.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: How To Get To "I Do"

Let me start off by saying that I am not in the targeted audience for this book.  Amy Bonaccorso's How To Get To "I Do": A Dating Guide for Catholic Women is a book that offers practical advice to Catholic women who are looking for Mr. Right.  Having just celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary, I can honestly say I was out of my element when reading this book.

After having read this book, I think it's safe to say that a lot has changed in the world of dating since I was single. And not to sound cynical, I felt incredibly grateful that I do not have to worry about dating and all the headaches that are often associated with it anymore.

This book offers plenty of practical advice for a woman who is looking to find someone to date.  If you pick up this book you can be sure that you will be warned of the pit falls of various dating situations, such as on line dating services.  The author also urges the single women who read this book to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider their vocation.

The topics in this book help the reader to carefully consider who they're dating or looking to date.  With regards to online dating services, she stresses the importance of not misrepresenting yourself as this is a problem that many people using these services apparently are prone to do on some level.  She discusses dating etiquette, chastity and a whole host of other topics in this book.

When it comes to committing to a relationship and seeing it all the way through to marriage, more practical advice is free flowing.  From a married woman's perspective, I find the advice in this book to be very good solid information that, when followed, will lead to a strong marriage.  I noticed several areas in this book that seemed like would beautifully complement a pre-Cana program.

And before you start to wonder if all of this book is written just from a woman's point of view, I should mention that our author has also included her husband's perspective in several side bars throughout the book.  I thought these side bars were a nice touch because it allows you to see how a man might perceive certain issues which will allow the single women reading this book to have a better understanding of what they're up against.

If I were single and out in the world of dating, I think I would welcome a book like this for it's sound practical advice.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.

My Letter to Electrolux

About 18 months ago I posted about how excited I was to be getting an Electrolux washer and dryer.  I am now sharing my letter to Electrolux customer service so you can read  about what a nightmare their dryer has been for me over the past 15 months.  I liked this dryer a lot, with a few exceptions up until last Fall.  Once Fall hit, I quickly came to hate my washer, for which we sacrificed a trip to Disney World.  I can tell you now, the washer and dryer are not worth the $3,400 dollars that we spent on them.  Please, save yourself the aggravation and skip the Electrolux machines if/when you are in the market for a new washer and dryer. I will upload pictures of the machine and the damage it caused sometime soon.

Here is the letter to Electrolux:
I am writing to you today to tell you about my experience with my gas Electrolux Dryer (Model EIGD55HIW0 Serial ************).  I have owned this dryer for slightly over eighteen months and very fortunately my husband and I had the foresight to purchase an extended warranty for the machine.  Sadly, this dryer is a laundry nightmare.  When we purchased it, I was hopeful that it would live up to all the advertising hype which undoubtably has cost your company quite a lot of money to generate.

Let me tell you why I despise my Electrolux dryer.  Approximately four days after my dryer was installed I noticed the honeycomb grate in the back of the dryer becoming discolored.  It started out as a golden rust color.  At first I thought perhaps the copper color from the buttons on denim pants was somehow rubbing off on the grate.  Then as the weeks progressed I began to wonder if the grate was simply cheap metal and was actually rusting.  It didn't make any sense that a new machine that never had wet clothing left on it for more than a couple of minutes before the dryer was started would be rusting.  My husband suggested that maybe the heat of the dryer was simply discoloring  the metal grate.  On any account, I didn't think it warranted a call to customer service.  At the time, it simply appeared to be a cosmetic issue, and not something the required repair or replacement.

Time progressed and the discoloration on the honeycomb grate grew larger and darker.  I began to notice odd black marks on our clothing when I folded the laundry.  I interrogated my young children and asked if any had placed black crayons in their pockets and subsequently into the laundry.  They hadn't.  To be sure, I banned the use of all crayons in our house for a short period of time and hid them.  The black marks continued to show up on our clothes.  Some of the marks could be picked off and others had penetrated the fabric rendering them destroyed and not suitable to wear out of the house.

Then as the colder months came upon us and fleece sweatshirts and other polyester clothing became more prevalent in the laundry, I noticed that the black residue on the honeycomb grate had grown thicker and was covering most of the holes on the lower right hand side of the honeycomb grate.  It was at that point that I began to notice honeycomb grate marks on polyester sweatshirts, pajamas and blankets.  I had one load of laundry where over $100 worth of new clothing articles (2 GAP fleece hooded sweatshirts, and 2 sets of Carter's fleece pajamas) had been melted in at least one area, all of them conspicuous.  Some items were rendered totally unwearable before they had even been worn once.  In the coming months, I came to see every set of my childrens' fleece pajamas melted, branded with the dryer's honeycomb calling card, or singed.  That's approximately 30 sets of pajamas ruined over the course of a single winter.

This past Spring my younger daughter's blanket (her lovey which she has had since she was a new born) was melted in several areas by the abomination your company sells as a clothes dryer.  My child was devastated that her blanket was now hard and crusty in many places where it used to be soft and fluffy.

When washing my king sized comforter a couple months ago, the dryer burned a large brown spot onto the white cotton fabric and left black streaks of melted polyester from the honeycomb grate all over.  The comforter was dried using your "bulky bedding" setting and I had been pulling the comforter our and repositioning it every 15 minutes to avoid it becoming damaged.  I was stunned at how much damage this dryer could do in a single 15 minute interval.

The final straw with this dryer came on Monday of this week when I pulled my daughter's brand new pink velour dress out of the laundry and discovered that her pretty dress was melted and branded with honeycomb imprints in over ten places.  The dress had been worn for Thanksgiving day and was going to be worn to church on Christmas Eve.  Now the dress is ruined and she will not get to wear the once very pretty dress ever again.  She was incredibly upset when she learned that the dress is no longer able to be worn.

In case you haven't guessed by now, I am totally incensed and enraged about this sorry excuse for a dryer.  I did not purchase an Electrolux washer and dryer and sacrifice a family vacation to buy these machines to make doing laundry a never ending nightmare of clothing destruction.  I purchased your product because I believed it was a machine that would perform better than the Kenmore washer and dryers I have owned in the past.  I realize now that buying an Electrolux set was a grave mistake.  The dryer alone has destroyed enough clothing and bedding to have purchased another dryer from another manufacturer.

The repair man from Lowes (where we purchased the machine and the extended warrant plan) came out today and told us this melting of polyester clothing is a very common problem with the Electrolux dyers.  I wasn't amused to find out that we're not alone in this misery.  Next friday the repair man will be out again to replace the honeycomb grate.  He tells us that the melting problem will continue (even after the repair), unless of course, I don't put any polyester articles in the dryer.  I purchased this dryer to dry our clothes, not to sit in my laundry room and look pretty while the clothes air dry on a line.

I only use this dryer on the low setting, so I'm rather bewildered as to how my clothes are melting. I could maybe understand the melting clothes if I were drying the clothes on a setting that wasn't recommended on the care labels, but, I dry everything on low which more often than not is a cooler setting than what is suggested.  The dryer is typically run for 45 minutes, and clothes such as denim pants which take a bit longer to dry are then put back in the machine for an additional 15.

This machine alarms me because I fear that it is potentially a fire hazard.  When clothes melt to the back grate are they not creating a situation where a fire could result?  I would hate to lose my home or my children because of a machine that seems like it should be recalled.

And finally, I'd like to know what Electrolux is going to do to make me happy.  I have lost hundreds of dollars in clothing and bedding because of this faulty dryer, and based on what my repair man tells me, I'm going to continue to see our clothing be destroyed.  To date, this machine has damaged or destroyed at least $900 worth of clothes.  Many items destroyed, such as my daughter's blanket, have sentimental value attached to them as well.  This dryer has caused me more aggravation and grief than I can fully express in this letter.

I thank you for taking the time to read my concerns and complaints about this dryer, and I anxiously await your reply of how Electrolux is going to rectify my problems and losses.

Warmest Regards,
Karen G****

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Small Successes-First Week of Advent

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

I feel like a lot has happened in the past two weeks.

1. I survived the week of Thanksgiving and all the craziness that it encompassed.  Namely, a Thanksgiving show at Ellie's school, a full blown Thanksgiving feast at Madeline's school (We cooked the turkey and stuffing.), and Thanksgiving at our house.  That week saw me in a frantic frenzy cleaning the house and trying to make sure I had everything under control.  Bryan and I also celebrated our 10th anniversary on Thanksgiving.

2. I didn't get all of my Christmas shopping done and wrapped before Thanksgiving or Advent like I had planned and I haven't freaked out about it.  I have eight people left to buy for and I'm handling the fact that I still have shopping and wrapping to do very well.  Ordinarily I'd be very upset that I'm not done with shopping but I'm being realistic and realizing that I still have plenty of time to get everything done.

3. The house is in various stages of decoration.  We have lights on the house and the bushes and trees out front.  It looks rather festive and the girls love it.  Last night as I decided to put out the lights Bryan didn't want to use (they weren't LED and someone was being a Christmas light snob) Madeline skipped around on the lawn [in the dark, in case you wanted to give me the parent of the year award] joyfully proclaiming how beautiful she thought the house looked.  I'm not going to tell you that I yelled at her for being a pest several times as she "helped" me put up the lights in the freezing cold in this fashion.  Gaa, I went and told you so there you have it!

4. We are actually using a real Advent wreath with real candles this year, and the girls are each doing a Jesse Tree.  We're using Holy Heros Advent Adventure and they are using ornaments we found over at Paper Dali.  They love the green foil wrapping paper trees they have on their bedroom doors for the Jesse Tree ornaments.  I like that it makes the upstairs look a bit more festive since I don't really decorate the upstairs.

5. I'm such a show off, doing 5 successes when I'm supposed to have just three. Feel free to slap me if you must.  I finished my lesson plans for both religious education classes for the entire month of December.  Yay!  Before you hate me too much, let me clarify that two weeks of the kindergarten class were done since last year since I saved and printed my lesson plans beginning in Advent of last year, and I only have three classes this month for the third grade.  So really, I just wrote four lesson plans and visited the parish office to make all of my copies.  I'm just very happy and relived that it's all done.  I don't need to worry about lesson plans and copies until January.

Be sure to enter the book giveaway I'm hosting this week while you are here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tiber River Review: Noel

Since Advent began this past Sunday, my house has been a buzz with all sorts of seasonal sounds and activities.  Among those sounds is the beautiful music from The Priests.  Their new Christmas CD, Noel, is a collection of fifteen traditional Christmas carols.

Not having been familiar with The Priests and any of their previous music, I was totally blown away by how beautifully done this collection of music is.  I honestly was not expecting this CD to become my new favorite set of Christmas music when I popped in my laptop for a listen.  Since the first time I have played this album, I have listened to it countless times.  My only complaint about this album is I wish there was more.  The Priests are truly gifted vocalists and their voices are nothing short of captivating.

The fifteen songs on this album are: Ding Dong Merrily on High, The First Nowell, Sussex Carol, Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, The Holly and the Ivy, Away in a Manger, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, In the Bleak Midwinter, In Dulci Jubilo, Joy to the World, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, What Child Is This?, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth featuring Shane MacGowan.  I'm very familiar with nearly all of these songs, and I think many of the songs on this album are the best renditions I have ever heard of them.  The songs on this album are sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this album was the enclosed booklet with commentary The Priests offered for each song.  For most of the songs they tell you why the chose it and the offer some historical background of the song as well.  I'm not sure about everyone else, but I often find myself wondering why an artist chose to perform a specific song, so I was delighted to have that information readily available.  Best of all, I learned a few things about some of my favorite Christmas carols. For more information on this CD or to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

I wrote this review of Noel for the Tiber River Blogger Review program created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic store online.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this CD in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Catholic kid

Sometimes Ellie has it in her head that something or someone is called a certain name that sounds like something she knows and she sticks to it no matter how many times she corrected.  It's frustrating and it reminds me of the year she spent arguing with me that the letter C wasn't called C.  Fortunately for us, her preschool teacher laid down the law and Ellie capitulated and began calling the letter C by its proper name.

Now she's moved on to changing the name of a classmate's sibling.  Her friend has a sister named Harmony.  I know this is the child's name because I was standing in the kindergarten class room four years ago when the father came in and told us the name of their new baby.  So what does Ellie call the child named Harmony, you ask?  Homily.  Yes, she thinks this child is named after her least favorite part of Mass.  In fact, she has even asked me why her parents would name her Homily.  I have explained numerous times that her name isn't Homily, it's Harmony, but Ellie's not buying it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Check out this beautiful giveaway

Cam, from A Woman's Place, is offering a beautiful bracelet giveaway on her blog.  She makes some really lovely rosaries and jewelry for her etsy store, Full of Grace Creations.  Take a moment to check out her giveaway and etsy store.

Confection construction, anyone?

Now that it's Advent, my mind is buzzing with all the ideas of things I need to do before December 25th.  I have shopping, gift wrapping and decorating to do along with a host of other things.  Despite all that, I'm determined to make sure the kids get to do all the fun things they like to do this time of year.  We have ornaments to make and decorate and gingerbread houses to build.

This year I have decided that I'm simply not going to spend $10 for a pre-fab gingerbread house that comes with goopy icing and crappy candy.  A few years ago a friend of mine from high school invited my girls to come to her house to make gingerbread houses.  Those houses were the best we ever made.  They were simply graham crackers decorated with a wide assortment of candies that were as pretty as they were yummy.

I wanted to make houses like that last year but I caved and brought the pre-fab village at Target because I wasn't sure I could cut graham crackers, and I also didn't have any on hand at the time.  This year I decided that I need to see if I could actually cut crackers without making them crumble.  Thanks to a quick Google search, I found just the tutorial I needed.  I grabbed the box of graham crackers, the cutting board and a sharp knife and got to work.  I'm delighted that I was able to cut the crackers with no issues. Sure there were a few cracker casualties as I learned how to gently hold and cut the crackers, but I'm thrilled with the end result--nicely cut crackers that will be the fronts and backs of our "gingerbread" houses this year.  Now I need to buy candies and figure out when I should have the girls make their houses.  Perhaps we'll do this project this weekend.

Twenty Tales of Irish Saints Book Giveaway

I have yet another book giveaway to host.  This time I'm giving away a new copy Twenty Tales of Irish Saints from Sophia Institute Press.  I reviewed this book a little while back and not only did I enjoy it, my daughter, Madeline, liked the stories as well.

If you would like to be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment.  If you follow me, mention it in the comments and I will give you three additional entries.  Commenters who blog or tweet this giveaway and leave the link in the comments will be given three more entries.

I will draw the winner at 5PM EST next Monday, December 6th.  Good luck!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


First off, I want to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you all have/had a wonderful day.  I am now officially stuffed and can say I certainly enjoyed Thanksgiving.

Today is not only one of my favorite holidays of the year, but it also marks a milestone anniversary for me and Bryan.  We celebrate ten years of marriage today.  Ten years.  It feels like the past ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye.  Where did the time go?  In ten years time we have experienced so much.  We became parents of two beautiful girls, we brought and sold our first home, we've said goodbye to beloved pets and welcomed new ones into our homes, we've had some sorrows and many joys.  The past ten years have truly been an adventure and I'm glad I have my best friend at my side for this adventure of a lifetime.

I often look at pictures from our wedding day and marvel at how I had no way of imagining what lay before us in the years to come.  I suspect I'll say the same thing in another ten years of myself today.  What I do know is I'm looking forward to the adventures yet to come.

As I sat at Mass this morning I couldn't help but think of the many blessings in my life for which I am thankful.   I marveled at the journey that marriage has been for us and how it has transformed me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advent Wreath Craft

Last year I searched in vein for a tutorial for an Advent wreath that used toilet paper tubes as it's candles, so  I had to come up with my own idea.  This flameless Advent wreath can be made with items that most of us already have in our homes.

To make this wreath you'll need a 9 to 10 inch paper plate (I like a sturdy plate like a Solo or Dixie plate for this craft), four toilet paper tubes, glue, green and yellow tissue paper, and scissors.
First you start with a paper plate and you cut off the edge.
Next you will need to cut a circle in the middle of the plate.  I do this craft with my religious education classes and decided that it was worth the money to buy a circle cutter and save myself time.  You can cut the center circle with a circle cutter, or you can take a glass, trace it and cut out the circle.  I did that last year and while it works great, it takes some time when you're making several wreaths.

 Once the base of the wreath is cut, you'll need to paint your toilet paper tubes.  Three should be painted purple and one should be painted rose or pink.
 Once the paint has dried, you'll need to cut a 2X2 inch square of yellow tissue paper for each candle.  You will glue one corner of the square inside each toilet paper tube about one inch down.  This will allow you to stuff the "flame" not needed into the tube on the weeks when that candle is not lit.  Do not stuff the flame into the tube until the glue has dried.
When the glue is dried you will need to glue the candles [flame side up] onto the base of the wreath.  You can use regular glue, but I find hot glue to be a quicker and sturdier choice.

 After your candles are glued in place you will want to start decorating your wreath with some greens.  Take a sheet of green tissue paper and cut it into 3X3 inch squares. Then, take the squares and wrap them around the eraser of a pencil, add a dab of glue and affix it to the base of the wreath.  Repeat this process until the base is covered with greens.

Finally, enjoy your "flameless" Advent wreath.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Catholic Homeschool Companion Giveaway winner

Congratulations to Nicole!  Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway.

Putting my thoughts where I can see them

Sometimes I have so much to do that I just feel like I'm spinning and subsequently can't get anything done. Today is one such day.  I have what feels like an incredibly jam packed week ahead of me.

Ellie finally went back to school today.  Yay!  She was out for the entire week last week so I'm very happy to see her go to school today.  Her going to school meant that I was presented with a several hour stretch to get some things accomplished around the house.

Since she's been gone, I have visited the Acme for sour cream and green apples (totally unrelated food purchases, in case you are wondering), cleaned the stove top and kitchen sink, begun to seriously thaw the turkey that is being cooked tomorrow, moved the turkey for Thanksgiving to the fridge, cleaned hand-me-down mini fridge and confirmed that it does, in fact, work, gathered up the recycles, sorted the laundry and raked some of the leaves in the back yard.  It is just a little after noon and already I'm exhausted.  Madeline has half days at school all this week so I have just 70 minutes until I need to pick her up at school.

I feel like I have far more to do than I have time to do it.  If I pick something up to put it away, I walk past several other jobs that need to be done.  Sometimes I stay on task and focus on the job I'm doing and other times I take a stab at doing some or all of the other job.  It's days like this when I wish I volunteered a little less.

Tomorrow is Ellie's Thanksgiving show at school.  Once that is finished, her class will have a small feast with the parents and we will go home.   At home, Bryan needs to prepare a turkey for Madeline's class feast that will be held on Wednesday.  I will need to take care of a few things regarding that feast and will have to send a reminder email to all the parents who are contributing food to the feast (I'm room mom, so I'm responsible for this feast.).

Wednesday will see me running Madeline's class feast and ensuring that everything runs smoothly.  Then there's Thanksgiving day preparations to worry about.  I have to get the house in order, wash the china which has been sitting in the china closets since Christmas, and make a pumpkin cheesecake.

Once Thursday gets here, I have little that I need to do.  I will try to get to Mass in the morning and after that I will spend the day staying out of the way while Bryan prepares dinner.  I'll make the side dishes and make sure the table is set but the turkey is entirely his deal.  Bryan and I will also celebrate our anniversary this Thanksgiving.  It's hard to believe ten years have already passed.

So my mind is spinning as I try to tackle what feels like a thousand things at once.  I see stacks of books that I want to read or need to review that I just don't have time for at the moment.  There are Christmas cards I want to slap mailing labels and stamps on, but I don't have the time to gather the new addresses of those who have moved in the past year.  I have gifts that I want wrapped and checked off my to do list for Christmas.  In short, I'm trying to cram way too much into a short period of time that is already totally scheduled.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Raising Pure Teens

My oldest daughter is nine and judging by how quickly the kids in the neighborhood seem to grow up once they hit middle school (that's 5th grade in our township) saying that I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to maintain her innocence is a bit of an understatement.  I've taught 7th grade religious ed, and I can tell you that kids as young as thirteen have very little innocence.  So rather than totally freak out about how crazy the world seems to be these days, I decided to take a few deep breaths, relax and crack open Jason Evert and Chris Stefanick's Raising Pure Teens 10 Strategies to Protect (or Restore) Your Teenager's Innocence.

The book is well written and it can help a parent who feels like they're powerless to protect their child's innocence in this overly sexualized culture feel confident that they can indeed teach their child to understand the importance of chastity.  Some of the content in this book seemed like common sense, but I suppose that really depends on the world view of the parent.  Other areas of the book, such as the chapter entitled "Beware of sex education" are real eye openers.  That particular chapter confirmed that my concerns about the family life program offered by our district's public schools are certainly not in line with our beliefs.  (I had previously researched the scope and sequence of the program on a grade by grade basis and was less than thrilled with what I read.)

This book is jam packed with lots of valuable information for talking to your teens about sex and chastity.  The authors stress the need for open communication with your child.  Parents who are trying to be proactive in retaining their son or daughter's innocence and having their child understand why it is important will find this book to be a great resource.

I highly recommend this book for parents of teens and those, like me, who will have teenagers in their house in just a few short years.  This book would also make a great book for parent groups as there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter.  These discussion questions are just as valuable for an individual reader as they are for a group.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Raising Pure Teens and be sure to check out their great selection of baptism gifts while you are there.

I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review A Treasure Chest of Traditions For Catholic Families

I have the pleasure of doing a series of reviews for products from the Catholic apostolate Arma Dei.  Arma Dei has lots of wonderful books, crafts and games for imparting the treasure of our Catholic faith to our children.

One of the products I've had the pleasure of reviewing is Monica McConkey's spiral bound book, A Treasure Chest of Traditions For Catholic Families.  This book really is a treasure chest of ideas for how to live out the liturgical year with your children.  The book follows the liturgical year from beginning to end (Advent to the solemnity of Christ the King).

For each month of the year there is a list of saints' days so you can take a look at this list for each month and get an at a glance idea of what you might like to celebrate in the coming month.  Throughout the book you will find loads of great craft ideas to help make the liturgical year come alive for your child.  During the Advent season for example, you'll find a list of the readings and symbols to make your own Jesse Tree, and creative ways to make the nativity scene approachable for young children.

This book is also filled with lots of game ideas that could be used in small or large group settings.  I found several games in this book that will be perfect for my religious education classes.  There are even ideas for throwing an All Saints' Party.

Something I really liked about this book is it doesn't just give you ideas for celebrating the liturgical year, it also gives you a wonderful list of online resources.  There's even a library page with book suggestions for kids, moms, spiritual reading and reference as well as online resources for CDs, DVDs and VBS programs.

This handy book is useful for both families and catechists.  For more information on this book visit Arma Dei.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Stay tuned for more Arma Dei product reviews in the coming months.

Small Successes-November 18th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

I'm not feeling too remarkably successful this week.  Bryan's grandmother is in the hospital and we suspect that she's nearing the end.  Ellie has been sick since Sunday, maybe even Saturday.  And I have been trudging through the week as best I can.

1. I went to the parent-teacher conference at Madeline's school yesterday.  I came home with Madeline's first ever straight A report card.  I'm so proud of her.  I know this isn't really my success, but I do help and support her at home with school work.

2. Thanks to my parents, I got a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done.  They were kind enough to pick up various items for me over the past week while they were out doing their shopping.  I'm inching closer to having all of my shopping done.

3. I ordered my Christmas cards and stamps this week.  I had been meaning to do this last month but life moves fast sometimes and I simply never found the time to get it done.

Bonus: I finally got around to writing up a book giveaway post that I had been meaning to do for a few weeks.  If you're interested in winning a copy of The Catholic Homeschool Companion be sure to check out the giveaway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: Good Words

At first glance, I thought Good Words: Inspiration for Catholic Women seemed like a book that was lacking in depth.  I had paged though it and set it aside as something I'd pick up later.  It certainly wasn't the first, nor do I suspect it will be the last time I've underestimated a book after quickly thumbing through it.  When I finally found the time to sit down and read the book I had it in the back of my mind that I wasn't going to be impressed with it at all.  Most of the pages, after all, consisted of a short paragraph followed by a reflection.  Those reflections should have been my tip off that the book was not lacking in depth as I had initially supposed.

The book is centered upon Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to week, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

This book breaks down the scripture referenced above and each part of this is focused upon with several reflections.  Each section begins with another scripture reference and a reflection.  Following that you will find excerpts from various books relating to a particular portion of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Each excerpt and it's related reflection have their own subheading.

This book could be read from cover to cover with the reader spending a few minutes a day to read a reflection a day.  Using the book this way, one could easily spend a few months reflecting on the passages in this book. And there's certainly enough food for thought in this book to provide depth to your prayer life.  Alternatively, one could page through this book and find inspiration for where she happens to be in her life.  This would also be a great book for a women's prayer group to read and discuss. 

Overall, I was surprised at the inspirational punch this little book was able to provide.  The book certainly leaves you with plenty to think about.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Catholic Homeschool Companion Book Giveaway

Last month I reviewed The Catholic Homeschool Companion from Sophia Institute Press.  This month, I have a brand new copy of this book to giveaway courtesy of the publisher.  The giveaway will close at 5PM on Monday, November 22nd.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling me why you would like a copy of this book.  If you follow me, let me know in the comments and I'll give you three more entries.  Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave the link in the comments and I'll give you another three entries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Wrath of Ellie

Life has been a bit trying here the past couple of days.  Bryan is on his second business trip in two weeks and Ellie hasn't been taking his travel very well.  She misses her dad terribly and it's put her in a mood that isn't exactly pretty.

About forty minutes ago Ellie was a bit angry with Madeline for turning off the Wii after they had finished playing the number of races I told them they could play.  Someone was hoping to get a little extra playtime and wasn't happy when things didn't go according to her plan.  While she was in a bit of a snit, I told her to go to the pantry and get her Clifford readers so she could read to me.  She angrily stormed over to the pantry, took out the box of readers and then started shoving the pantry door in the wrong direction.  Then it happened.  She broke the door off the track and it started to fall on her.

Thanks to my God-given mommy instincts, I was able to dart into the kitchen and catch the door before it could fall on Ellie or cause serious damage to any of the stuff in it's path.  I wondered yesterday what small crisis might befall us while Bryan was gone this time.  I think I got my answer tonight.

I'm actually quite surprised at myself.  Instead of yelling and ranting at Ellie, I held back after the initial "Why did you do this?!"  At first, Ellie claimed she was just trying to close the door, but she didn't protest when I told her what I heard and saw her do.  The truth was it was an angry Ellie hissy fit where she kept shoving the bifold door in the wrong direction.  By the time I was able to yell at her to stop, the door had already begun to come down.

Once I removed the door from the kitchen and relocated it to the living room, I couldn't help but laugh.  I went from feeling very angry, to strangely amused.  I tried my hardest to not let the girls see that I found the situation funny.  I guess part of what I found amusing was the fact that this was something that could be repaired and was not going to be a costly crisis like our normal business trip disasters.  That was followed by what is probably a moment of pride, where I chuckled to myself that this incident wasn't going to be part of my next confession since I handled it pretty well all things considered.  Perhaps, I was wrong since the pride thing is now evident. (I just can't win, can I?)

The best thing of all that came from this situation was Ellie showed remorse and humility when I came back into the family room a few minutes later.  She apologized to me and it was sincere.  This is a child who hardly ever gives a sincere apology. (Bryan would tell you she's her mother's daughter.)  I'm actually stunned that she apologized totally unprompted.

For the next day or so I will not have to deal with the inconvenience of opening and closing the pantry door when I go to get a hand towel or a snack.  Think of all the time I'll be able to save!

Prayer Request

Last week while we were on our little mini vacation in D.C. we got an email from Bryan's mother telling us that his grandmother had to be taken to the hospital. She was in a severe amount of pain and couldn't move her legs.  They ran some tests, determined that she had a UTI and a lot of arthritis in her hip, and they sent her home with some meds to take care of her ailments.

Today we got another email from Bryan's mother telling us that his grandmother was back at the hospital.  She hasn't been eating for nearly a week, and this morning she was gurgling and coughing in addition to a few other issues.

Grandmom is nearly 95 years old and she doesn't appear to be doing very well at all.  If you can spare a few moments to pray for her we'd greatly appreciate it.

Small Successes-November 11th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. Our trip to Washington D.C., despite the first somewhat rocky day, was actually a lot of fun.  We were totally exhausted at the end of each day, but we got to see a lot of neat things.

Arlington National Cemetery

Learning about the Star Spangled Banner

The White House
2. We visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.  It was absolutely beautiful in there.  We took a tour which was pretty much catered entirely to Madeline.  At almost every turn, the Brother who was leading the tour had little catechetical questions for Madeline and occasionally Ellie.  I think she learned a lot on the tour and she picked up two saints she can pray to for help with her school work St. Pius X and St. Joseph of Cupertino.  Madeline and I also made it to confession while we there.

Ellie and Flat Fr. Stanley

3. The laundry is under control despite the fact that it's been inconsistent with all of the traveling that has been taking place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Little Star

I was recently presented with the opportunity to review Anthony DeStefano's Little Star.  Little Star is a Christmas story for young children.  It is beautifully illustrated by Mark Elliot.  The illustrations remind me a bit of The Polar Express.  I found myself gazing at many of the illustrations for several minutes.  My five year old spent a good twenty minutes flipping though the book to just look at the pictures after I had read the book to her.  She was equally captivated by the illustrations.

I was impressed by the sweet story of Little Star.  The focus of Little Star's is the birth of Jesus.  Without giving away the story, Little Star gives his best to recognize the birth of the little king who was born in the most humble circumstances.  Children learn about the real Christmas story as Little Star experienced it.

I like this story because it's not one of those Christmas stories that's focused on the secular aspects of the holiday, instead, the story's focus is precisely where it belongs, on Christ.  The story's meaning is very easily conveyed to young children.  I'm sure this book will be well received by children between the ages of three to eight.

I was provided with a review copy of this book, by the author in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Ask A Franciscan

Ask a Franciscan: Answers to Catholic Questions is a compilation of questions that readers of St. Anthony Messenger magazine have asked in the "Ask a Franciscan" column written by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. The book, which is 113 pages, covers a broad range of topics.  Some of the questions are the kind that I've come to expect in question and answer books of this nature, but there were more than a handful of questions that I had not expected to see.

The book is comprised of eight chapters and contains nearly one hundred questions and answers.  Many of the answers refer the reader to further reading at designated sites online.  The topics covered in the chapters are: How We Understand God, How We Relate to Mary and the Other Saints, How We Read Scripture, How We Celebrate the Sacraments, How We Pray, How We Grow Morally, How We Grow in Faith and Practice It, and How We Experience Forgiveness and Redemption.  At the end of the book is a list of additional resources that interested readers may want to explore.

With the broad range of issues addressed in this book, I think this book can easily appeal to young and old and everyone in between.  Perhaps a question here or there may not apply to you or your unique situation, but there's something in this book for everyone.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: Set Free To Love

When I read the description of Marcel LeJeune's Set Free To Love: Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body I wasn't convinced it was a book I wanted to read.  The description that I had read online and the back cover of the book didn't convince me that it would even remotely capture my attention, but after paging through it and picking a few pages to read I realized that my initial impressions were all wrong.

This book contrary to my first thoughts was a captivating and inspiring read.  It was yet another book that I had the hardest time putting down once I had started it.  The book is comprised of an introduction that explains what John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB) is and eleven stories of people from many different walks of life and how they were transformed by it's powerful teachings.

I like how this book doesn't require you to have any previous knowledge of TOB.  You can read this if you're totally new to TOB and gain some perspective on it's teachings.  If you're more familiar with TOB, you can still read this book and be inspired by the way it has changed the lives of others from a variety of backgrounds.

I really enjoyed reading this book and was left wanting to read more when I came to the final page.  Because it's a relatively short book, you could read it in as little as a day, or you could take it one inspiring story at a time and read it over a short span of time.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.

I don't want it....unless you do.

I have no idea what it is, but Ellie likes to drive me insane.  For some reason she would rather see things go in the trash than see her sister enjoy it.

Today while rummaging through the Halloween candy, she came across the vampire teeth she got in a goodie bag from a class mate.  After determining who the vampire teeth belonged to, she decided that she didn't want them and began to complain about them.  I responded with my normal then throw it away and stop whining about it mom response.  Seconds before disposal I told her to stop and asked Madeline if she'd like the vampire teeth.  She said she would and I told Ellie to give them to Madeline.  A few minutes later the tears flowed.  They were her vampire teeth and she wanted them back.  Fine.  Ask Madeline if she will give them back to you.  Madeline, begrudgingly gave them back and told Ellie it wasn't nice that she changed her mind.  A minute later, Ellie was crying.  She didn't want the teeth and wanted to throw them in the trash.  Arrgh!  Then I demanded that she give me the teeth.

Why is it that she would rather toss something she doesn't want in the trash instead of letting her sister have it?  It's crazy.
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