Friday, April 30, 2010

Hey, it's the Johnsons!

My children clearly lead sheltered lives.  Madeline didn't know what a donut was when she started going to pre-K, and my kids aren't well versed in classic cartoons.  On New Year's Day of this year one of the stations ran a Loony Toons marathon.  My kids apparently hadn't been familiarized with the well known cartoon characters.  They began to refer to Bugs Bunny as Bug Rabbit and they insisted that Daffy Duck was a girl.  My poor misguided children.

The girls are familiar with The Flintstones.  They have seen the shows and they consume a Flintstone vitamin daily.  This led me into the lull of believing that my kids knew the mainstream Hanna Barbara cartoons.  That illusion was shattered when Madeline walked into the family room a few minutes ago and excitedly proclaimed "Hey, it's the Johnsons!"  She was, in fact, incorrectly referring to The Jetsons.  Sigh. I have clearly failed in my duties as a parent to introduce my children properly to classic cartoon shows.  At least they know who the Smurfs are.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Small Successes-April 29th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

This week hasn't felt very productive to me, so I'll see what I can claim as a success.

1. I went grocery shopping on Tuesday.  I'm really not a fan of grocery shopping, but I managed to do it and I brought enough food that we still have lots left over.  Since I did most of my shopping at BJ's warehouse club, I now have over a gallon of barbecue sauce.  I guess we'll have to have lots of ribs, pulled pork and bbq chicken this summer.  And so you all don't think I'm crazy, I brought three different varieties of barbecue sauce--like that makes the quantity any better.

2. I went to the library and located the book Madeline wanted to read (Ella Enchanted) and a book I've been wanting to read.  So not only did I get the books we wanted, but I didn't have to buy them!  Bookstores are my library of choice since I get to read a new book and I don't have to return it.  The downside to that, of course, is I have to pay for my pricey habit.  I think I could learn to like the public library.  I don't have to buy the books and I don't have to store them when I'm done reading.  I guess I can live with that arrangement.

3. Madeline is once again on the honor roll at her school. Yay!  And, Ellie is doing really well with learning to read.  She's picked up on a few high frequency words on her own.  I'm impressed!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: Memorize the Faith!

When I picked up my copy of Memorize The Faith! (And Most Anything Else) I was very skeptical that the memory method would really work.  Much to my surprise, the mnemonic memory method of loci that was presented in this book made memorization a snap.

While learning to memorize key components of the Catholic faith with the loci method was delightfully easy, it is not a book that you'll want to sit down and devour in one sitting.  In fact, I think you'll probably put yourself into memory overload if you try to do just that.   I'm one of those people who can easily consume a well written book in a sitting [or two if it's lengthy] and I took my time getting through this book so that I could properly digest the material.  I did not memorize everything presented in this book, yet, but I have no doubt that I will be able to do so.  There is a lot of material presented in this book, but I think one could easily memorize everything presented in it in a month's time.

I'd say first and foremost, this book is a great work of catechesis.  Any Catholic who is not well versed in his or her faith could pick up this book and easily commit the basics of the faith and more to memory.  Now, if you are among those Catholics who are well versed in their faith, don't discount this book as something you don't need to bother reading.  Even if you think you know it all, this book can still offer you plenty.  For one, you can learn the loci method and use it to neatly file away apologetic arguments that may evade you when you need them most.  You could even use this method, or the two other mnemonic methods that are briefly covered towards the end of the book to expand upon what you already have committed to memory.

The beauty in learning the loci memory method taught in this book is you can use it for anything.  Maybe you need to remember a shopping list, or maybe you need to remember you key speaking points for a speech.  This method will help you keep track of your thoughts.

To help further your understanding of the memory method, Vost included "Memory Master Tips and Facts" at the end of each chapter.  These facts give you more insight into the science of memory.

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with this book.  I felt the mnemonics presented were particularly effective in helping me to learn and retain the information I was seeking to commit to memory.  The explanation of how to employ the loci method was expertly conveyed.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their ability to memorize anything.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Grinding Halt

My day was going well enough.  I did some grocery shopping. (Gasp!)  I went to the library and took out a book Madeline has been wanting to read and another that I wanted to read instead of buying them on (Double gasp!)  I even did the laundry and some workbook pages with Ellie.  Then, my day came to a grinding halt when I stumbled upon an email from Madeline's teacher.  Four kids have accused her of rummaging through the book bags during reading time and a cell phone and key are now missing.  My child was accused after dismissal.  Madeline doesn't have the missing items and she's claiming innocence.  Looks like I have a sleepless night ahead of me, unless the teacher decides to call me tonight per my request.  Ugh!  I would not have these problems if I home schooled my children.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quick Takes Volume 1

1. At long last, I finally feel like I've almost recovered from last weekend.  Just in time for another busy weekend.  Some weeks I feel like I'm simply not meant to rest.

2. I've spent most of my week in a bit of a funk.  I have a few issues in my life that leave me feeling emotionally alone and spiritually depressed that I struggle to get past.  I seem to hit this wall every couple of months and this month has hit me particularly hard.  I'd love to blog in depth about it just to get my feelings out, but I'm not sure it would be the proper outlet.

3. New life arrived on my doorstep today--a package containing five hungry caterpillars that will hopefully turn into painted lady butterflies.  The girls are delighted with their temporary pets.

4. In precisely two months the girls will be on summer break.  I'm looking forward to the slower pace of life and long days by the pool.

5. My hair is driving me insane.  I just had it cut a month ago and it had been cooperating and looking pretty cute up until last weekend.  I wish my hair would just look normal. On any given day I suffer from stuck to my head flat hair or flipped out in every direction hair.  To top it off, I think I found a gray hair last week.  Bryan keeps insisting that it was a very blonde hair.  When that doesn't work, he tries the "Look at all the gray hairs I have approach."  That doesn't make me feel any better.

6. Bryan and I are beginning to get back in the swing of gardening.  We removed our unsightly chicken wire fence from the blueberry garden and replaced it with a more eye pleasing decorative fence.  We also fenced in the strawberry garden area.  Hopefully the bunnies who live in our yard will not be able to ravage our plants.

7. I am counting down the weeks until CCD classes are over.  I officially have 3 hours and 45 minutes of 7th grade CCD left, and 3 hours of Kindergarten CCD.  I'm looking forward to a nice long summer break.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to look like an idiot

Am I really writing a tutorial on how to look like an idiot?  Shouldn't that come naturally for most people?  While I'm sure idiocy and stupidity generally come naturally, there are many ways to accomplish the appearance of being an idiot.  Let me provide you with one out of limitless ways to express your idiocy.

Say you want to go outside and get your mail.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  Then you think to yourself, it's a beautiful day, one set of neighbors are on vacation and the rest of them are at work, THIS would be the perfect time to do a little skipping to the mailbox.  Yeah, that works just fine until you get one skip step in and realized that you've been spotted by a complete stranger.  Whoops!

I feel adequately stupid now.  Aren't you glad I shared this lovely visual with you.  Now you can laugh with or at me.  I know when I tell Bryan about this he's going to laugh at me.  Generally speaking, I'm not a public skipper.  I usually save that kind of stuff for the privacy of my home.

Small Successes-April 22nd

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. The bathrooms are all clean, with the exception of my shower that will be cleaned today.  I clean the toilets frequently [enough] but the sinks and tubs generally don't get the attention they deserve.  I'm trying to get better about that.  I suppose when I have two kids in school full day this fall my home will start to sparkle.  I'll be overpowering my inevitable loneliness with the overpowering smell of cleaning products.

2. I have managed to cultivate amazing amounts of patience this past week.  I didn't flip out over the sword fighting cranberry juice spill, the chocolate that someone got on my beige dining room carpet, the sandy hair incident, or the lip gloss incident that found me on my belly yesterday for 15-20 minutes trying to extract a runaway lip gloss out from under my oven.  I'd be remiss if I did not explain that the vinyl floor has curled away from the wall under the oven and I had to use a decorative curtain rod in a chop sticks fashion and packing tape to retrieve it.  All these opportunities to practice patience have led to the institution of a few new rules.  There's the "sword fighting with people who do not live in this house is strictly prohibited" rule from which a second rule was instituted that declares that juice cups must be emptied before you may leave the table.  Those rules, if obeyed, should reduce the number of hours I spend on my hands and knees cleaning up concealed juice spills.  I also had to verbally declare what I thought was a  common sense rule pertaining to sand and hair.  Ellie can never say that she hasn't been formally informed that sand is not to be poured on her hair.  I also had to ban the use of wheeled toddler cars on our back yard swing set after witnessing some of the neighborhood kids demonstrate that an all girl version of MTV's Jackass is a very real possibility in the next 8-10 years.  Oh, and rules about the transport of lip gloss in the vicinity of major appliances that aren't easily moved have also been instituted.  Do normal people have to institute such insane laws?  I think there must be something in the air this week that's making the kids go crazy.

3. Ellie can read a little bit.  I started teaching her about two weeks ago and she seems to have really caught on in the past week.  She can read the following words: Dad, Mom, Ellie, at, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat, can, fan, man, pan, tan, is, I, a, has, pop, cup, pup & on.  I am so proud of her.  I took a few videos last night, but I haven't figured out how to upload them yet.  The past few days she has been pretty excited about reading.  So far using and the letter tiles from the What's Gnu? game have gotten the best response from her.  She's not a huge fan of me writing the words on the paper or reading out of a book.

Bonus: Today marks 10 years since I converted to Catholicism!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Love Lucy Moments

Sometimes I can't help but wonder if we're all sort of a source of entertainment for God.  If we are, then I'm God's idea of a twisted comedy show.

All day I've wanted to write a blog about my weekend.  It was long and jam packed with lots of things that left me thoroughly exhausted.  More than forty eight hours after Mass on Saturday night and my body is still feeling the effects of holding a sleeping 40+ pound child.  So I'm now painfully aware that my baby isn't much of a baby anymore.  I think I need a lighter model.  I like to mull over major life changing decisions, so production of a new model hasn't been fully discerned yet.  My stumbling block on this issue is I'm not sure I can part with the few shreds of sanity that I still have. I can't keep the names of two kids straight.  It is unlikely that I will remember the name of an additional child, unless I go with the name "Whoever You Are" and that name is already heavily in use when talking to Ellie.  Poor child.

I started off my day trying to clean up the kitchen after the sword fighting fiasco.  The kitchen table, chairs and floor were splattered with cranberry juice that wasn't spilled if I'm to go with the answer I was given by Madeline last night and this morning.  Ellie told me what happened last night when I picked her up from school today.  Apparently Madeline's friend knocked the juice cup over with the sword and then the visiting friends ran out of the house like bats from Hell.  Nice friends.  Madeline didn't want to get in trouble so she decided deception was the way to go.  She clearly didn't think that I'd notice the cranberry stained towel in the laundry and she must have forgotten that her little sister who witnessed the event has a pretty good command of the English language.  She came clean this afternoon when I told her about the mess I cleaned this morning.  Looks like she's got a date coming up with her favorite parish priest.

My entire day and all the craziness that occurred stem directly from the juice incident.  My morning alone was devoted to cleaning a mess that was thrice denied.  Then I started on the laundry.  Or, I should say I tried to start the laundry.  That's when I realized that the washer needed to be cleaned.  My washer has a system clean setting to clean out the drum.  I've ignored this prompt a couple times and decided that I needed to do a system clean before doing another load.  Unfortunately, I didn't trust that the system clean had actually happened when I returned to the laundry room and loaded the washer.  It smelled like fresh bleach so I decided to take out the clothes and do a system clean.  Turns out I totally blanked on the fact that I had put detergent in the dispenser.  When I came back into the laundry room I had a washer filled with suds a la I Love Lucy.  Thinking that the bubbles would pop when I put the clothes in the washer I decided to push the clothes in and get on with the laundry.  For those of you who are wondering, suds happily move out of the way instead of popping.  It was a total I Love Lucy moment courtesy of Era HE detergent (I thought HE detergent was supposed to be low suds!) and Electrolux.

Once I got past the suds situation, I decided I should go into the utility closet and empty the frying pan that catches all the drips from the hot water heater that likes to leak.  It's a task that we have to do 1-2 times a day.  If we forget to empty the pan we wind up with a small flood.  Sadly, I walked in on a large puddle that took three full sized bath towels to soak up.  The kicker is that Bryan emptied the pan which holds well over a half gallon of liquid less than 24 hours before.  We really need to get a tankless water heater installed.

I've had a long day and I'm exhausted.  Sticky floor, sand coated child, super suds, mini flood, and neighborhood kids doing stupid things on my backyard swing set clearly trying to prove that Girls' Jackass may someday be a show on MTV.  Through it all I have maintained my composure and patience.

Book Review: Sex au Naturel

Patrick Coffin's Sex au Naturel: What It Is and Why It's Good For Your Marriage, is a power packed book that gives you a concise explanation of why the Catholic Church teaches against contraception.   This important Church teaching is a tough pill for many Catholics to swallow.  In the book's first chapter  Coffin remarks that "anecdotal evidence suggest it's somewhere near ninety precent" of Catholics who reject the Church's teaching against contraception.  That's a staggering number, but I can't say I'm surprised given the culture of death worldview that is held by many these days.   Couple that with the poor catechesis many of us likely received  on the subject during marriage prep and the silence many parish priests keep on this issue and it's not surprising at all.  I know of many people who hold the view that the Church's teachings on sexuality are too archaic and out of line with the times.  Many of these people also think the Church pulled these teachings out of nowhere.  For those people, there's an interesting little pop quiz in the first chapter.  The answers, which will may surprise many of the dissenters are contained in a chapter later in the book.

So who is the target audience of this book?  Is this book for the dissenters or those who are faithful to the Church's teachings on contraception?  The answer is both.  No matter what your stance is on this issue, there's is something in this book for you.

If you're already in the minority of those who live their lives in accordance with what is taught in Humanae Vitae, then you'll find good apologetics in this book to back you up when you encounter those dissenting friends and family members.  If you aren't really sure why the Church teaches what she does, but you follow along anyway, this book will give you a nice explanation of why contraception is morally evil.  You'll even be able to succinctly explain to those who like to say that natural family planning (NFP) and ABC are essentially the same by pointing out precisely how they are different.

 If you're in the dissenter's camp, you'll get a non-preachy explanation of the Church's timeless teaching.  After reading this book, you'll understand that this isn't some arbitrary Church teaching dreamed up by celibate men to take the fun out of your sex life.  And, you'll understand that this is a teaching that isn't going to go away.  Patrick Coffin shows you where in the Bible it teaches against contraception.  He defuses the myths of overpopulation, and points out the undesirable and unpleasant side effects of ABC and sterilization that are habitually downplayed by the medical community.  Reading this book may not change your mind overnight, but it will put you on the road to a properly formed conscience in the area of this teaching.  It can be a tough teaching to accept.  I know, I've been on the dissenting side and it was a process to bring myself to understand and accept what the Church teaches.

In addition to arguments against contraception, Coffin also addresses the issues of IVF, surrogacy, and artificial insemination.  He explains what infertility treatments are permissible and which are not and why.

The appendix of this book lists many helpful resources where readers can get more information on NFP, Theology of the Body, Catholic teaching on sex and marriage, as well as places where you can find counseling and support for your marriage.

I felt this book was very well written.  It's a relatively short book at 130 pages, but it packs a nice punch. Coffin's arguments are well laid out and written in a very approachable manner.  I would highly recommend this book to all engaged couples and any married couples who aren't necessarily clear on what the Church teaches about contraception.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program for The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company for more information on Sex au Naturel.  As a reviewer for The Catholic Company Book Reviewer program, I was supplied with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Another Life Lesson for the Day

Sometimes I am faced with unexpected tasks that I would prefer to not have to do or would at best, like to find a short cut solution.  After spending an entire morning cleaning up after the juice spill incident from yesterday and sorting a small mountain of clean laundry, I picked up a sandy headed child.  No, I'm talking talking about the color of her blonde locks.  The child decided that accessorizing her hair with playground sand would be a good idea.  Because of the amount of hairspray I used on her this morning, I got the brilliant idea to take a short cut on sand removal.  Rather than give her a bath, I figured I could pull out the vacuum and use the hose attachment to remove most, if not all, of the sand.  Yeah, that didn't work too well.  I got some of the sand off of her, but Ellie claimed that the process wasn't comfortable so I was forced to stop.  I've used this technique on a shedding cat and rabbit with no complaints, but apparently Ellie is not a fan.  Looks like I'm going to have to give the kid another bath. Ugh.

The life lesson for today is nice and simple: Vacuuming sand out of hair does not work.

Right now I'm wishing that the school didn't have a sand box.

Responsible Sword Fighting

The practice of responsible sword fighting cannot be observed when persons who do not reside in my house partake in this activity in my home.  Sadly, I have seen the effects of outsider sword fighting in my home twice this past weekend.  Unspoken rules such as not near Mom and Dad's wedding portrait and never near open containers of liquid are not known by the outside world.

Saturday's instance wasn't too horrible.  The palms from Passion Sunday  that were over the wedding portrait were knocked on the ground and likely trampled [by the looks of them] by 3-5 girls ranging in age from 3 to 9.   That was an easily fixed mess, if we can even call it that.  Normal people would think nothing of it, but I'm a perfectionist who gets upset when temporary bedlam ensues in her home.

Sunday's incident is something I'm still dealing with.  I'm not sure what exactly happened since I've yet to get the full truth.  But, my home was invaded by two unexpected pairs of girls last night.  The first set was two of Madeline's class mates who dropped by in the evening while Bryan and I were trying to relax after a weekend that was simply too long.  This visit consisted of a small herd of third grade elephant stompers running up the stairs to the bedrooms that may or may not have been clean. (I really don't want to think about it.)  Then they thundered down the steps to check out Madeline's Webkin online.  That was followed by a stampede to the basement where one of the girls loudly expressed shock at the pile of dirty laundry at the bottom of the basement steps. I was beginning to think that I could use a little mortification to round out the weekend, and there it was!  Just as I was pleading with Bryan to please spare me and move the laundry to the laundry room, the doorbell rang.  I was not to be spared.  Unsure of whether I should offer it up or wallow in my misery, I decided to grumble under my coffee bean throw and continue reading my book.  Then the sword fighting began.  I have no idea if I was in the house or if the juice casualty happened while I was on the front porch talking to my neighbor from around the corner, but a cranberry juice (and possibly a Sprite or apple juice) was knocked over.  Madeline must have tried to clean up the mess knowing that I would freak.  For my patience, I was rewarded with a sticky floor and I have just discovered that her chair is covered in red juice splatter.  It's going to be a long day and knowing that we have another long weekend coming up in 4, yes 4 days makes me want to cry.  Dear Lord, please have mercy on me.  I'd like my house to stay clean  and my life to be boring for a little bit.

Last night a new sword fighting rule was instituted.  Sword fighting with people who don't live in this house is strictly prohibited.  Sorry outside world, I simply don't trust that you have the proper credentials or fear of me to wield a foam sword responsibly in my home.  Your apparent lack of sword fighting savvy has destroyed any tolerance I have previously had in you and has created a mess in my kitchen that I simply don't want to clean this morning.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Review: The Revolutionary Paul Revere

When I saw this book available for review from Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze review program I paused for a moment and wondered how there could possibly be an entire book devoted to Paul Revere.  Aside from a midnight ride, I was totally unaware of what this book might contain.  Considering I am well versed in American history and didn't really know anything about Paul Revere aside from his legendary midnight ride to rouse the patriots that the redcoats were coming, I decided I had to read this book.

I was pleasantly surprised with the captivating story of Paul Revere.  Prior to reading this book, I thought of Paul Revere as being little more than a glorified footnote in American history.  While he's not a founding father by any stretch of the imagination, he certainly had a role to play in our nation's bid for freedom during our colonial period.

I walked away from this book with the impression that Paul Revere was the quintessential American.  From humble beginnings, he worked hard to improve his standings and eventually attain recognition and success.

The book is well written and quite engaging.  Unlike many history books, this book moves along at a nice pace.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a gripping account of life in colonial Boston.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mrs. Roper Fashion Trend

I don't think I talk about my children's clothing addiction hobby of dressing my girls on here too much.  Of course, I could be wrong and you're all tired of hearing about their clothes.  I've noticed that over the past two years or so that I've purchased less and less for the girls.  During the fall and winter I'm buying less because I refuse to buy the clothing that I wore back in the 80s for my children. I prefer to buy clothes that look like they're from this century.  The spring and summer clothing presents a different problem.  Apparently there are loads of children's fashion designers out there who think mothers want to dress their little girls like Mrs. Roper from Threes Company.  Maybe some of the moms dig the Mrs. Roper look, but I don't.  I've gone from the mantra of I've never met a sundress I didn't like [and subsequently buy in most cases much to Bryan's dismay] to Mrs. Roper would love that!

Gap, Old Navy, Children's Place and Target are where I do most of my shopping for the girls.  I used to be a hard core Gymboree addict fan, but a series of bad customer service experiences and their uncanny way of recycling the same designs, themes and color schemes turned me away.  Gap has been my go to brand for the Madeline for the past few years, but lately I'm finding that every dress they make fits Madeline like it's the latest and greatest Mrs. Roper special.  I'm frustrated that I'm faced with bad 80's styles and Mrs. Roper's closet every time I go to shop for the girls.  I'm beginning to think that I need to go into designing children's clothing.  And for the record, I'm not going to buy my girls clothes that look like stuff Chrissy and Janet would have worn on Threes Company either.  I've spotted the get-up Chrissy is wearing in the picture above in more than a few stores.

Small Successes-April 15th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I planted seeds in my little germination station on Saturday night.  The basil and broccoli seeds have already sprouted.  Still waiting on the tomatoes and peppers.  If all goes well, I can be totally self sufficient in the plant department this year.  I'm hoping to not have to buy any vegetable plants at Home Depot or Lowes.   I find I care more about the plants when I've raised them from seeds, and yes, I even talk to the vegetable plants.  They produce more when you have nice things to say to them.

2. I'm on top of the laundry.  This week has been a challenge with the laundry but I've pulled through and reduced the pile to nothing.

3. The pile of books and other items that I needed to review has been reduced to two.  I spent a couple days this week writing up reviews for several Amazon Vine items that I that had been sitting on for way too long.

Bonus: I boxed and bagged up all of the paper recyclables after a moment of inspiration earlier this week.  I also spent some time yesterday cleaning Bryan's home office.  That room is a flaming disaster, but I'm determined to chip away at the clutter and force Bryan to work in a clean and organized environment.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If I'm not real then what am I?

I was talking to one of my best friends last night and catching up on the past five or six weeks.  While I was talking to my friend we were discussing her daughter's upcoming First Holy Communion.  I'm not sure how it happened, but a comment slipped out of my friends mouth that left me speechless.  She told me that I'm not a "real" Catholic.  Wow.  I was stunned and offended at the same time.  That led me to ponder the question of how I should respond to her.  What exactly does one say to the person who was their sponsor when such a comment is made?  Am I artificial?  Am I imitation?  Perhaps I'm just imaginary.  Yes, I'm the imaginary Catholic. I took the charitable road and decided to pretend I didn't hear her comment.  I don't see why I should have to explain to her that I am, in fact, Catholic.  She did, after all, attend every R.C.I.A. meeting with me, and went to Mass with me nearly every week for the better part of a year.  Maybe she missed the whole point in that exercise.  

This wasn't the first time I've had cradle Catholics make comments like that to me.  Another friend said something similar to me last year, and I think for the most part, Bryan's family members regard me as the heretic Protestant he married.  He has aunts who talk to me like Catholicism is totally foreign to me.  They, however, understand that I joined the Church but they think I have subpar knowledge of the faith. Clearly they confused me with their nephew and his siblings. It's annoying to say the least.  

Of my friends and family I'm one of only a few who are actually practicing Catholics [that is, I follow the precepts of the Church], and yet, I'm apparently not a real Catholic.  I wonder sometimes if maybe they just don't know what a real Catholic looks like.  I on the other hand, know what a Protestant looks like and I recognize the Protestant in many of those "real" Catholics.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stroke of Genius or Idiocy?

I was looking for some ground pepper in the out of reach cabinet where I store the spices.  People like me who don't like to cook like to put spices in out of reach places so we have even more excuses to not cook.  Anyway, while I was up there I came across dried out chili peppers from last summer's harvest.  Bryan had saved them but forgot about them because they were in the out of reach cabinet.  I had what I thought was a mild stroke of genius.  Inspired by a gardening post on Kimberlee's blog, Pondered in My Heart, I decided to break open one of the peppers and harvest the seeds for planting.  After Mass on Saturday, I started the seeds for our vegetable garden.  I have three varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, basil,  and two varieties of peppers germinating in my little heated greenhouse contraption.  I decided it would be a great idea to try growing chili peppers from last year's plant.  In theory, this all sounds pretty smart and frugal.

Sadly, I had a moment of idiocy at the same time as that stroke of genius.  I forgot that peppers have oils.  Hot oils that can cause burning sensations.  I spent over two hours not sure why my lips and hands were burning.  Then I had an itch which I scratched that also started to burn.  I began to wonder what was going on.  It wasn't until my tongue came in contact with my fingers that I realized that I had pepper oils on them.  How my hands have this oil on them after being washed at least 6 times since I planted the seeds I'll never know.

Going forward, I will not harvest chili pepper seeds without wearing vinyl gloves.  Peppers have now been reduced to the ick factor of raw chicken.

I should've known....

Madeline just dumped a bunch of useless wastes of a tree school announcements on me.  One was the revised school calendar.  School goes until June 22nd. (We'd be done in May if I were allowed to homeschool.) A few good weeks of lazy days by the pool wasted.

As I shuffled through the unseemly pile of announcements,  I perked up when I saw a flyer for an essay contest entitled "The Innocence of Youth Speaking for the Innocent Voiceless!"  Instantly I assumed this must be an anti-abortion essay contest.  I thought it was a bit odd considering it came from the public school.  Surely some of the pro-death mommies and daddies would be getting their panties in a knot over this one.  So I decided to read on and get the details.  It appears that the "innocent voiceless" are not the unborn human babies that are slaughtered every day, but rather they're cats and dogs.  I don't know about you, but the last time I checked, dogs and cats have voices.  It's true that they can't speak English, but they're anything but voiceless.  Amazing.   I should complain to the school that: 1. Animals have voices. 2. Plants are killed every day and they certainly don't have voices. Where's the activism for the innocent house plants that get neglected in staggering numbers daily?  Liberal hippy crap.  Yet another reason I'd love to homeschool my kids.  It may sound harsh, but there'd be none of this "Let's save the puppies and kittens!" agenda in my homeschool.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Please Don't Drink the Holy Water

Thoroughly amused.  That's how I would describe myself after having read Susie Lloyd's Please Don't Drink the Holy Water.  From start to finish I found myself laughing, crying from laughing and nodding my head in agreement with what she had to say.  I'm fairly certain that my kids, my husband and the neighbors all think I've gone off the deep end.  They're not used to seeing me laugh so much while reading a book.  I fielded way too many questions asking me if I was all right and what was so funny.  I suspected in most cases relating the humorous bit which sent me into hysterics would not merit laughter from the interested party given that they aren't mothers.  Any mother who has a sense of humor will have a hard time not laughing at this witty book.

The author infuses anecdotes from her life as a Catholic homeschooling mother of six girls with hilarious commentary of her dealings with her children, her husband and the members of the subversive "Real World" group "H.R.u.M.F. (Hairdressers, Relatives, und Malfunctioning Friends)."  She gives those of us who don't homeschool a peek into life as a homeschooling mother.  Her wry account sheds a spot light on a lifestyle choice which some of us who live in the "Real World" might want to assume.

I loved this book and I think it's every bit as good as her other book entitled Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids.  I don't think you could go wrong with either of these books.

I was supplied with a complementary copy of Please Don't Drink the Holy Water by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest review.

Squealing with delight

I have hit a point in my life where I realize I'm more than easily amused with little things.  When I got home from picking Ellie up at preschool I was thrilled to see that the mail truck was on my street.  With the quantity of books and things that I review for many places, I never know what treat might be in my mail box.  Some days there's nothing good (unless you count junk mail and bills as good mail), other days I'll find a new book and other times there will be a coupon for a store I frequent or a package containing an order I recently placed for something.  Today was a coupon for The Children's Place and a big box from The Catholic Company.

I think The Catholic Company likes their customers to feel like Christmas has landed on their doorstep.  Unless I've ordered just a book or some coloring books, my orders from them always arrive in nice big boxes.  If you have kids you know how prized a box can be.  Ellie was just as excited as I was because the box was something she wanted to commandeer for the purpose of coloring it.  If I'm going to tell you about my nice big box I might as well tell you what was inside right?  Well, there was some paper packing material which inspired me to bag up all the recycle paper that was taking over my garage.  Gotta love a company that prods you out of the sin of sloth and procrastination with their method of packaging, right?  Then there was some highly coveted bubble wrap.  That stuff was worth fighting over when I was a kid, but now that it's far more abundant in my household, the kids just get excited when I toss it on the floor and tell them they can have at it.  This of course, was after I had jumped up and down on it a few times to see if I could pop the bubbles. (I'm delightfully entertaining to watch if you ever have the opportunity to observe me in my natural habitat.)  The cheap bubble wrap will pop under your feet when you pounce on it, but the good stuff takes a little more force than my poundage can dish out.  Ellie happily scurried away with the bubble wrap after I gave it a few good jumps and didn't manage to yield any popping sounds.  It was the good stuff, ugh!  Then I moved on to the real reason the box was delivered to my house, the contents.

Nicely nestled inside the box was a First Communion Missal for my best friend's daughter.  I laughed to myself that I knew it would be vintage as soon as the new translation of the missal is implemented.  I'll just pretend I didn't know it was coming when I brought the gift.  That works, right?  Then I paged through the Baltimore Catechisms (1, 2 and First Communion) that I brought for the kids.  I'm fed up with the fluffy text books our parish uses for the religious education program and have decided that I need to just teach the girls at home.  I'm mostly excited about these books because I see it as the perfect way to make sure my kids know their faith and don't wind up being disinterested and uninformed Catholics like their dad.  The bargain hunter in me couldn't resist buying an Advent wreath that was on sale.  We didn't have one, unless we count the toilet paper one I made for my CCD class, so I decided to order one so I'd have it for this year.  Bryan will just LOVE it. (Don't touch that last sentence, it's dripping with sarcasm.)  And, because I haven't had enough of Lent, I also picked up a nicely reduced copy of Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church.  I came across a blog post during Lent where a family had used this book to do a Stations of the Cross craft that I really liked.  I decided that I needed to get a copy of this book.  I paged through it and found lots of great ideas.  I'll be sure to try out some of the activities and crafts listed in this book for next Lent.  Poor Bryan is probably going to curl up in a ball somewhere and try to hide next Lent.

Anyway, the bottom line is I'm tickled pink with my recent purchases.  The combination of getting books that exceeded my expectations along with my out of season bargains is enough to keep a smile slapped on my face all day long.  I shared my enthusiasm with Bryan via IM and there was no response. He's probably hoping if he ignores me and my exuberance over more Catholic stuff being imported into our home that maybe I'll forget about it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review: Those Who Saw Her

I recently finished reading the updated and revised edition of Catherine M. Odell's Those Who Saw Her.  The book is about the apparitions of Mary and the visionaries who saw her.  I found the book to be rather interesting.  There were many apparitions that I had heard of, but there were several that I didn't know about.  For the apparitions that I did know about, this book offered information about the apparitions that I never knew.  So all around, I found this to be not only an enjoyable, but an informative book.  Odell's writing style will pull you in and keep you wanting to read more.  In fact, when I got to the end of this book I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't anything left to read.

The book starts off with three chapters that explain who Mary is, why she comes and how the church goes about approving the apparitions.  The remaining 15 chapters of this book cover the apparitions or the alleged apparitions (Medjugorje) of the Blessed Mother between the dates of 1531 to present.  The author gives a nice overview of each of the apparitions (or alleged apparitions).  It's enough to give you the highlight reel of each apparition.  I'd say these chapters are simply highlight reels because there have been books written that are devoted entirely to apparitions at a single site.

I really enjoyed this book and I suspect anyone with a Marian devotion or an interest in Marian apparitions will find this book equally enjoyable.  For those who aren't really sure what all the fuss is about over Marian apparitions, this book would be a great jumping off point for them to gain a better understanding.

For more information on Those Who Saw Her, Revised visit The Catholic Company.  As a reviewer for The Catholic Company's Catholic Book Reviewer program I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Some random thoughts on the go: It hurts when you fall over a pile of junk and hit concrete with nothing to break the impact but your bony butt. This is a wake up call that the garage needs to be cleaned and that I need balance. Either that or I should take up drinking so I have an excuse for my clumsy tendencies.

On my way to Ellie's soccer game I got a text from Bryan. Madeline scored two goals halfway through her indoor game. Here's hoping she'll be on fire for her outdoor game this afternoon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I've got some weird kids.  These are the kind of kids that say things that are embarrassing or just plain wrong in front of strangers or worse, people that we know.  Last night was one of those nights where each of the girls had a little gem to share.

Madeline went to soccer practice with Bryan last night while Ellie and I stayed at home.  I like to goof around with the girls and sometimes I'll pretend I have no idea who they are and give them a new name.  This game works well for those times when I can't remember the name of the child in front of me.  They think I'm playing when really I momentarily forgot her name.  Last night Ellie was doing something goofy on the kitchen floor where her tush was up in the air.  So I ran in picked her up upside down and proceeded to call her Spot.  Spot decided to play along and transformed herself from a little girl into a puppy.  Fair enough.  Then, I ordered food from our favorite pizza place.  We continued the game a little while longer and then I decided to acknowledge Spot as Ellie.  She was acting like a human and I thought all was well.  Then, the doorbell rang.  When I went to get the food from the delivery guy, Ellie followed me.  She proudly told the delivery guy that "My mommy calls me Spot, but I don't have any spots!" He laughed and I had one of those face to palm moments.  Ellie happily darted to the back of the house giggling.  I had no words for the delivery guy.  What could I say?

Ten minutes later, Bryan and Madeline were home.  It was chilly and windy last night so I had two hungry red faced people standing in my kitchen.  I related my pizza story to them and explained to Bryan that we will probably be labeled weirdos the next time we go to Rustico for dinner if the delivery guy spots us.  I did give the delivery guy a nice tip in hopes that he would forget the "Spot incident."  Bryan felt my story wasn't quite as bad as what Madeline had uttered during practice.  In front of people that we know and will know for years to come, Madeline announced that she "got kicked in the nuts."  Are you kidding me?  We don't talk like that in our house so I know she didn't learn that here.  I'm fairly certain that she picked that gem up either at school or from the many boys that live on our street.  One of the other dads from the soccer team told Bryan that he needs to have a talk with Madeline.  Clearly my child is gender confused.  This incident wouldn't be so bad if this same child hadn't come to me a couple of months ago claiming to have another piece of male anatomy.  (I kid you not!)

In the grand scheme of things, I think Madeline's comments won the prize for the most outlandish thing that could be uttered on a Friday night in front of people who are not your immediate family.  These are the comments from which embarrassing boyfriend repellent stories will be made.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Small Successes-Easter

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I survived the Triduum with my kids and sanity in tact.  Holy Thursday and Good Friday I took the girls to church on my own. (What else is new?)  Bryan went to the Easter Vigil with us.  Madeline, my budding liturgical abuse watchdog (I blame MagnifiKid!), managed to keep her complaints to a minimum throughout the Triduum. Thanks be to God!  Ellie, I've discovered is not a huge fan of much of the beautiful ceremony accorded with the Triduum.  She doesn't care for incense, and is not a fan of Masses that last longer than the standard Sunday Mass.  She did manage to behave herself well enough to garner compliments on her behavior from those around us on all three days.  I'd call that a success.  I even managed to get to confession with Madeline.  I spent almost all of Lent finding reasons not to go during one of the four available and convenient time slots that our parish offered reconciliation.

2. I cleaned the house thoroughly last week and it's still clean!  I have a small mountain of laundry that I'm slowly conquering, but the house is clean.  I really can't complain.  I suspect the laundry will be done sometime this afternoon.

3. The girls and I went to the dentist this Monday.  No cavities!  Yay!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Happy Easter, everyone!  I hope you all have a blessed Easter.
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