Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not My Brightest Idea

While all the other people are out doing things like swimming, attending Memorial Day Weekend BBQs and relaxing on the beach, I chose to trim the overgrown hedges, by hand in 90 degree heat.  I now feel lightheaded and exhausted.  Normal moms would run to a quiet room and eat chocolate or read a book, but not me.  I needed some time to myself so I picked up my hedge trimmers and tried to give myself heat exhaustion.  Sometimes I wonder about myself.

Life is still in a state of mild chaos and the "fun" keeps coming.  We discovered termites in what is to be my new garden yesterday.  I long for a quiet week.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: The Young People's Book of Saints

Over the past two weeks I've been reading The Young People's Book of Saints.  I chose to review this book because I thought it would be something my girls would enjoy and I was hoping it might also be of some use in the religious education classes that I teach in our parish.  The book tells the story of sixty-three saints.  The story of each saint is covered in a chapter that averages about 4 pages in length.  Each saint story is accompanied with a black and white illustration that pertains to the story.

I think the book has great potential as a bedtime story book for younger children.  This book will allow young children to know the saints.  Because the stories are relatively short, I doubt the little ones will tire of the story before it's over.  My daughter who is nearly nine has picked up this book to learn about the saints featured in this book and she enjoyed the stories.  One of her first questions to me after reading about St. Helen was to find out if there was a book where could learn more about her.  So while you aren't going to get a comprehensive saint biography in this book, your child may be inspired to learn more about his or her favorite saints.

While reading through the book I came to the conclusion that the intended audience of this book is not American children, but rather those living in the United Kingdom.  Frequently there are references made by the author to events in British history that he assumes the children are familiar with from their history lessons at school.  I'm a bit of a history buff and I found myself in the dark several times with some of the references that were made.  I think in light of the rich story telling contained in the book it's only a minor distraction, but one I certainly noticed.

This book is an ARKive Edition which means it's an exact reproduction of the book as it was published in 1960.  Bearing that in mind, the reader should not be too surprised when he or she sees the followers of Islam referred to as Mohammedans.  I had never heard that term before and I found it a bit interesting to learn that followers of Islam weren't always referred to as Islamic.

The book has its quirks that I mentioned already, but over all I think it's book worth having in any home with Catholic children.  It may not be the most comprehensive book of saints (some very notable saints, such as St. Augustine are not featured) but the story telling in this book makes up for anything that it lacks.

Sophia Institute Press provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Small Successes-May 27th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. Spring soccer is officially over!  Before we get too excited, I have to toss out there that Madeline and her team are playing in a soccer tournament in two and a half weeks, so she's still practicing, but we are soccer free (unless we count the parents vs. players game and party that we're having the first weekend in June).  Ok, maybe soccer isn't over. Funny how I started this small success very excited about the prospect of being done and no I no longer feel that way.  Oh well, I'm still counting it as a success.  Ellie is officially done soccer until September. Yay!

2. I weeded a nice chunk of my strawberry garden.  Did you know that old oak leaves and old strawberry leaves can help turn your strawberries moldy?  Neither did I.  We have a huge surplus of strawberries and that's with me only counting the half of them that haven't rotted.  I'm doing what I can to eliminate what I believe is causing the problem.

3. I planted one of my tomato plants in a topsy turvy. (Yes, I actually allowed myself to be talked into an as seen on TV item.)  After dealing with tomato blight last year I need to think outside the tomato garden for my planting needs.  I'm contemplating putting my other two tomato plants in pots.  Who knew that changing the location of the tomato plants could cause such turmoil?

Bonus: I finally found two of my cousins [who live far away] on Facebook.  I know it doesn't seem like such a huge deal, but when you're talking about people with a very common last name (think Smith, only more generic) and a pretty common first name it can be rather difficult to find them.  Facebook needs to employ a better search function.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review: God's Promises for Girls

I recently had the opportunity to review God's Promises for Girls through Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze reviewer program.  The book is comprised of inspirational Bible verses for various moods, for just about every aspect of a young girls life, and to bring comfort and understanding about the wonderful promises God makes to all of us for our salvation.  For each grouping of scripture, a cute little inspirational message is included.  Every section has an adorable illustration that goes along with the inspirational message.

The Bible verses in this book are taken from the International Children's Bible.  The Bible verses from this translation are in modern English and will be easy for young readers to grasp.  This translation is not Catholic, but I found nothing in this book that was contrary to Catholic teaching.  If I had, I wouldn't have passed it on to my daughters.

My children, ages 8 1/2 and nearly 5, like this book. The youngest child likes looking at the adorable and very vibrant illustrations.  Think modern Precious moments with bold colors.  My 8 1/2 year old daughter read a few sections of the books and thought it was very nice.  So I'd say it gets the little girl seal of approval.

This book would make a nice gift for a little girl.  There's a dedication page in this book that makes it perfect for gift giving.

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.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So how am I to answer?

A survey from our religious education department arrived in the mail today.  I already had to fill out the catechist version of this a few weeks ago and now I have to fill out the parent version.  There's a question on this survey that irritates me every time I see it pop up, and I honestly am now sure how I'm supposed to answer it without having to give an explanation. (I was relieved that it wasn't on the catechist survey.)

This is the question to which I am to answer yes or no: "I am a baptized Catholic."  How exactly am I, a convert, to answer this question when there are no other questions regarding whether or not I am a Catholic?  I was baptized in a Lutheran church and when I converted to the Catholic Church ten years ago, my Lutheran baptism was recognized by the Catholic Church as being valid.

Maybe I'm just hypersensitive to the comments I've received in the past that I'm not "a real Catholic" and this question just rubs me the wrong way, but I can't help but feel like I'm getting that same message from the parish when I see questions like this frequently pop up on stuff for the RE program.  Yes, I'm Catholic (and a practicing one to boot) and no, I wasn't always.

Book Review: Theology of the Body In Context

I recently had the opportunity to read William E. May's Theology of the Body in Context.  In his book he dissects and explains Love and Responsibility, Familiaris Consortio, Theology of the Body (TOB), Mulieris Dignitatem, and the Letter to Families.  He very clearly explains how the four works that are not TOB are related to it.

The book is only four chapters long, but each chapter deals with one specific work or in the case of chapter four, two.  He breaks down each work and tells the reader what the main points are and then goes on to give a very clear explanation of those points.  Parts of each work that do not pertain to TOB, or in the case of TOB do not pertain to the married state are not covered in this book.  The main focus of the book is to explain the teachings on marriage and family.   Where scriptural references within the works covered are brought to light, May's does a nice job of explaining them in context to the material.  Areas of redundancy between the five works are also not covered twice.  If a certain theme has already been sufficiently covered already, the author makes it known and explains that there is essentially no need to reiterate it once again in the book.

I felt this book was a very readable summary and explanation.  I think this book is best suited to those who are familiar with or are looking to become familiar with TOB and the works which complement it.  If you haven't read TOB, this would be a great book to have at the ready as you make your way through it, since the explanations are very succinct.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Theology of the Body in Context.  The Catholic Company supplied me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Small Successes-May 20th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I cleaned the inside of the fridge on Saturday.  All of the expired food is gone and the inside is sparkling.

2. I ventured out in the rain to the get grocery shopping done at BJ's and Acme.  For some reason it seems like most of the food is already gone after just two days.  At least we're well stocked on juice.

3. I weeded two of my gardens and planted most of my vegetable plants.  Bryan started to dig out my new garden that will be home to the sunflowers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Diabolical Mr. Furkins Strikes Again!

Last year the bunnies who inhabited our back yard made their own personal exit to our front yard under our fence.  When Mr. Furkins discovered that his bunny friends were able to gain access to the great wide world while he was left behind in the back yard, he tried to make their little hole bigger.  He was caught trying to escape and Bryan placed a 22 pound retainer wall stone in the way.  That stone has worked  quite well in keeping the dog in the yard.

This afternoon Ellie, Oscar and I went into the back yard.  Ellie and the dog were playing and running all over while I read a book and then picked strawberries.  I needed to put the berries inside so I popped into the house for a minute.  The next thing I know Ellie is at the sliding glass door telling me she can't find the dog.  I went out, called for him and he never came.  Then I looked around and Ellie tells me she doesn't think he's in the yard.  Of course he's in the yard!  She can't reach the latch on the fence and it's too high for him to jump so he must be in the yard.  Turns out she was right.  The stone was moved and a hole large enough for Oscar's body now existed.

It was a close to 10 minute ordeal finding and capturing the fugitive dog.  Just when I thought he was actually going to listen and come inside he decided to bolt after a pick up truck and vanish around the corner.  We finally caught up with him at our neighbor's house out back.  Ellie got a leash from them while I captured the muddy dog.

Bryan is not pleased that his beloved pet ran away.  I'm just very annoyed that he decided to run away once again.  Every time I wind up in hot pursuit of this animal I find myself wondering why I even bother to look for him.  I guess the bottom line is I know my husband and the girls would be devastated if I didn't find him.  I for one, could be perfectly content living in a pet free home.   I like house plants.  They never try to roam from home.

Any guesses how a 19 pound dog moved a 22 pound stone?  Mr. Furkins isn't talking.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natural Sarcasm

I have a natural gift of sarcasm.  I'm aware that sarcasm isn't exactly an endearing trait, and when possible, I try to rein it in.  Much of the time I will keep my sarcastic comments to myself and say nothing aloud.  Of course, sometimes I can't help myself and the sarcasm just flows unapologetically.

I was running out of cranberry juice and other food items and so I had no choice but to leave the comforts of my nice dry home and venture out into the rainy weather to procure food.  My first stop was BJ's Warehouse Club. I buy my juice in bulk since I drink it in bulk.  Other people have coffee, I have cranberry juice.  On our way out of the store Ellie happily ran up to the woman who has to check our cart and punch our receipt.  Nothing says "We trust our customers!" like the mandatory cart/receipt check on your way out.  So the checker tells Ellie that she has a cute shirt but it's for the wrong team.  It literally took half a second for me to register what she said, notice her Canadiens tee and respond that "She likes teams that win."  My comment was met with a "We'll see after tonight's game." to which I laughed.  As I passed, she commented to the man next to her that her team got slaughtered by them [the Flyers] on Sunday.  Two nights ago the Flyers spanked the Canadiens in their first game of the series. In our home, we're hoping to see that repeated three more times.

On my way to the car I found myself wondering if I had been too uncharitable.  I didn't mean to come across the way that I did, but maybe she deserved it for picking on a 4 year old's shirt.  Quite frankly, I think her rhinestone "I *heart* Flyers" shirt was pretty cute.  Bryan would be proud of me for defending the Flyers.

Because she wants something

I'm sitting in the dining room checking blogs and email and Ellie comes over to me and tells me she loves me.  I love when she does it, but I've noticed that frequently reciprocating and adding in a hug and a kiss doesn't seem to satisfy her.  So today I asked her, because I had a sneaking suspicion that her profession of love wasn't without motive, if there was something she wanted.  Yes, she wanted me to change the channel on the TV and felt that buttering me up with a sweet "I love you Mommy" and a hug would do the trick. Smart girl.

My mother has told me for years that the baby of the family is always good at manipulation.  I suppose it's true.  I'm the baby of my family and I think because of that, I'm able to recognize all of Ellie's manipulative tricks.  She also has my amazing little sister annoyance skills and she clearly revels in her power of effortlessly irritating her big sister.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prayers Please

My Aunt Florence just passed.  Once all of her children had made it to the hospital they took her off the ventilator and she passed surrounded by her loved ones.  Please pray for my aunt and our family.

Book Review: The Fathers Volume II

I just finished reading Pope Benedict XVI's The Fathers Volume II.  The book covers twenty-three Fathers of the Church that range from the 5th-12th centuries.  The book itself is simply the written account of Pope Benedict's papal talks at his General Audiences that are held on Wednesdays.  I found the book to be a real page turner, but that is generally the case whenever I find myself curled up with a history book.

Most of the chapters in this book are less than 10 pages long.  So the accounts of each of the Fathers is pretty much bite sized.  One could easily pick up this book and find that they want to delve deeper into the story of a particular Father and go on to read a more in depth account.  Because of the brevity of the chapters, someone who is looking for a manageable account of the Church Fathers could easily pick up this book and spend a few minutes and cover a Father at a time.

I liked how the book read more like a story than history.  That alone makes this a book that won't feel daunting for those who don't really like to read boring history books. (Is there such a thing?)  The cool thing about each chapter is Pope Benedict finds a way to show us how the valuable lessons or insight brought to us by a particular Father pertain to our lives and our Church today.  I was several chapters into the book before I caught on to this stealth catechesis. (What can I say? Sometimes I'm a bit oblivious.)

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer Program from The Catholic Company. For more information on The Fathers Volume II, visit The Catholic Company.  I received a free copy of this book from The Catholic Company in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Please continue to pray for my Aunt Florence. They just took her to the OR to amputate her leg. She Also had a massive heart attack this morning. :(

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Can You Spare A Prayer?

And forgive me for having a rhyming title?  My mom called me while I was at Madeline's soccer game this afternoon and told me my Aunt Florence is in grave condition.  At the moment she is suffering from penumonia, renal (kidney) failure, no circulation in her leg, and she has sores the developed on the back of her legs.  My mom tells me my aunt is so badly off that she's being flown via helicopter from the hospital in South Jersey to one in Philadelphia.  If you can offer up a prayer or two for her I'd really appreciate it.  All of this has come on rather suddenly.  My aunt has been through many trials with her foot (she's diabetic and has had 4 1/2 toes amputated) and we thought she was finally in the clear.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Detail Oriented? I Think Not!

Madeline is less than four months away from turning nine.  When she asked me if she could call her friend I naturally assumed that she was capable of dialing the ten digits written on the paper next to her friend's name.

When she initially went to call her friend she was paging through the caller id on our phone to find her friend's number.  The beeping sound was making me batty, so I told her that she could waste a lot of time looking for a number that may not even be in the phone, or she could just dial the number.  Minutes later Madeline comes to me crying.  Apparently she dialed a wrong number and was now incredibly upset.

I didn't really think anything of it, but I decided to investigate after she told me the lady on the phone was Asian.  That piqued my curiosity.  Did she call her other friend's house by accident?  So I grab the phone and check out the redial only to see 11 numbers on the screen starting with the number 8. Hmm.  I handed the phone over to Bryan to investigate.  It appears that my child may have called Laos.  If that's the case, the misdialing folly cost $8.57 per minute.  Bryan and I have not been able to get a straight answer out of her about how long she was on the phone, but she tells me she talked to the woman. Sigh.

Methinks the young lady needs to learn to pay attention to the numbers when she uses the phone.  I'm not sure which is the bigger issue.  The fact that she may have made an international call, or the fact that she totally fell to pieces over dialing a wrong number.  There's never a dull moment!

Quick Takes Volume 3

1. The butterflies have started to emerge from their chrysalides.  There was no activity before I took the girls to school and when I got home, there was a lone butterfly. (I think it's really a moth.)  Then a few minutes later I returned to find another one.  Then as soon as I left the room a third emerged.  Two more to go!

2. I think cookie cakes are my new favorite thing to bake.  Not only are they easy to make, but they're yummy too!  It incredibly easy to make when compared to the work involved with baking cookies or even cupcakes.  Now I just need to take a class and learn how to decorate them nicely.

3. I'm done with CCD until September.  I wonder what I'll do with the extra 4-5 hours a week.

4. Ellie is progressing nicely with learning to read.  My mom borrowed a copy of Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons and I've been doing some of the lessons with Ellie.  After using the book for a week I'm still not sure if I like it.  The approach is very similar to how I'm teaching her to read so I'm trying to discern whether it's worth buying the book.

5. I'm convinced that homegrown strawberries are one of the most delicious foods.  Bryan just picked a few more juicy strawberries for me and told me to brace myself for an impending bumper crop.  I can't wait!

6. Today's lovely weather is perfect for me to go outside and read the latest book I'm reviewing.

7. I need to get my gardening tools out and weed my small vegetable garden so I can put the plants I was given for Mother's Day in the ground.  I think I have my work cut out for me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm done!

CCD for the 2009-10 school year is officially finished!  I am relieved and a bit sad at the same time.  It seems like the school year flew by.

On Sunday I lost track of time with my kindergarten class.  We had a slight craft snafu and I needed to call for help to get the project completed.  Because we had a time change for the kindergarten session a month before, and because I'm used to teaching a 75 minute class for the 7th graders I totally blanked on the fact that my class was ending at 10am.  I was convinced that my class wasn't going to be over until 10:15.  Because of this mix up and because I was desperately trying to make sure the Mother's Day gift the kids were making got completed, I didn't get to really say goodbye to my kindergarten class.  I said goodbye to each child as they were leaving and most gave me a hug, but I didn't get to have the farewell I wanted.  It's probably just as well that I didn't because I probably would have cried.

Tonight I was all geared up to bid an enthusiastic farewell to the 7th graders.  Four of the the kids were so quiet that I barely got to know them.  They simply didn't want to engage in any conversation with me.  Another handful loved talking to me and were really great about participating for Jolly Ranchers and then there was the group of kids who were there simply to socialize.  They also loved talking to me and while the one was convinced that I hated her (I didn't, I liked her a lot, but I felt she was obnoxious and disrespectful to the other kids when she'd loudly interrupt and talk over them while they read or asked questions.) I really liked them all.  I had plenty of weeks where I wondered why I even bothered to teach them while I was there and trying to get them to act civilized, but in the end it always came back to me just knowing that there was a reason for me being there.  I had days where I wondered if anything I taught was absorbed, and occasionally I'd be surprised when a student who I was convinced wasn't paying attention in the least actually knew the answer to one of my trivia review questions.  Tonight was one of those nights where I was surprised.  So in the end I'm happy that I'm done with 7th grade, but at the same time I'm a little sad to see them go.  I liked all of the kids and I'm sure I'll miss them.  I even felt a little twinge of sadness when I handed in my 7th grade manual.  If 3rd grade doesn't work out for me next year, I'm sure I can go back to 7th grade the following year.  They're always looking for 6th, 7th and 8th grade catechists.

I worried when I decided to leap into the world of CCD that I'd be out of my element.  I wasn't sure if I had any place there as a convert to the faith.  I even thought that I might regret my decision to teach these kids.  Now I know that this was something that I needed to do.  I've gained so much by giving a few hours of my time each week.  I'm so happy that I decided to follow this calling.  It's been a wonderful adventure and I'm already looking forward to September.

Small Successes-May 13th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. As of tonight, religious education classes will be done for the school year.  I said goodbye to my kindergarten class on Sunday.  My last project with them was a failed disaster--foam stickers do not stick to damp terracotta pots.  I managed to get a hug goodbye from all but two of my students.  I'm going to miss them.  I'll say goodbye to my 7th graders tonight.

2. I turned 32 this past Tuesday and I celebrated by learning how to bake a cookie cake.  My decorating job of the cookie cake looks like something a five year old could have done with relative ease.  The kids thought it was cute.  It simply reinforced for me the need to take a cake decorating class.

3. Our garden is finally producing food.  Bryan picked me a few red strawberries on my birthday and they're delicious.  The blueberry bushes are close to having edible fruit, too.  And, I have lots of new life sprouting in my germination station.  It's about time!  Now I just need to get outside and weed one of my gardens so I can get some of my plants in the ground.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Relishing a Quiet Day

I was worried this weekend that today would be a busy or stressful day.  For the past several years every birthday of mine has something going on that makes me wish I could hit the reset button for the day.  Somehow I managed to sneak in a quiet day.

My morning started off quite nicely.  The girls gave me their hand made birthday cards.  I simply love cards that are drawn by my girls.  They make me laugh.  Madeline drew me a card that makes me think she's rather hopeful for a new sibling, but maybe I'm reading into the "balloons" with smiley faces.  Who knows?  Ellie's card also included a single smiley faced squiggly tailed balloon accompanied by some plus signs that have been circled.  Hmm.

Other than early this morning, my day has been relatively uneventful.  I ran to Target this morning to get Oscar some food since Madeline forgot to tell us he was down to the last scoop of food.  Oscar's nutritional needs are totally dependent on Madeline.  She is in charge of feeding and watering our canine friend.  She was incredibly upset last night when she discovered that we barely had enough food to cover his breakfast last night.  This was all brought to light after we had made a trip to Target last night to buy the ingredients for my birthday cookie cake.  There's always something that requires me to make another trip to Target.

This morning I took Ellie to Target to procure dog food.  Ellie spied bananas and had to have them even though they were green.  And if you're going to take a birthday mom to Target, you know that means she has to look around.  So I wound up getting myself a nice basket to replace the one that doesn't match the living room furniture.  Now I have a trendy looking banana leaf basket to hold our throw blankets in the living room.  It's not much, but I think it's a pretty awesome birthday gift.

My girls asked me about the ATC swap that Kimberlee over at Pondered in My Heart is hosting this morning, so I decided that I need to make a quick stop (is there such a thing?) at the craft store.  I wound up wandering around in the store looking for ideas for my religious education classes for next year [and yes, I'm aware that my planning ahead is borderline sickening].  I didn't  find anything new and exciting, but I did come home with a cookie cake pan.  I failed miserably in my giant cookie cake attempt yesterday afternoon so I decided I better buy a pan.  I'll be baking my cookie cake later today.

While I was typing this my neighbor called me. She just offered to take me to lunch for my birthday.  Isn't that incredibly nice?  I was actually thinking this morning that I should call her and see if she wanted to go to lunch with me.  Funny how these things work out sometimes.  It simply amazes me that I've been blessed with an abundance of great neighbors.  I couldn't ask for a better group of neighbors.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Madeline is taking the NJ ASK test in school this week.  Her class has been gearing up to take this test for the past four months.  The first test was language arts.  On this test, Madeline was required to write a short essay talking about a place she has been that looked nice but wasn't somewhere she wanted to stay.  My child, decided to write about her school and name it specifically.  The decided to detail her first day of school and label that teacher as unwelcoming.  Her second grade teacher, who we love, was in the room when Madeline was writing it and she read what my child wrote and whispered to her sister [Madeline's current teacher] that she doesn't think Madeline likes them.

I am in a state of disbelief.  Did my child really badmouth her school and name it on the state test?  And to top it off, she's proud of herself for having done so.  Oh well, someone out there will find out that this school that this National School of Character really cranks out the characters.

Precisely why I don't like libraries

I took two books out from our local library thirteen days ago.  One was for me and the other was for Madeline.  I haven't actually borrowed a book from the library for myself in nearly ten years.  I'm a book snob and I like to read brand new books that haven't been touched by others.  It's just one of my quirks.

I read the book I took out for myself and got it back to the library within a week.  Not trusting the outside return bin, I walked the book inside and placed it in the return bin that goes behind the circulation desk.  Today I call to renew Madeline's book and I'm told that I still have two books out.  And to top if off, they're not going to look and see if the book is back on the shelf until I come in to return the other book.  Is this not insanity?  So it looks like I'll be heading over to the library to see if I can find the book on the shelf.  This is one of the many reasons I don't like using the library and yet another reason why I don't usually trust others when it comes to anything of importance. Grrr.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Review: Meet Mary

I just finished reading Mark Miravalle's Meet Mary.  Miravalle is a Catholic deacon who is also a Mariologist.  In his book he introduces his readers to the Mother of God, Mary.  This book wasn't written just for Catholics.  He invites non-Catholics to come along with him and get acquainted with our Blessed Mother and he explains why she's relevant to all of us and not just Catholics.

This is not an apologetics book and is not intended by the author to be such but even still, it could still quietly carry out that function if read by a curious non-Catholic. In the book Miravalle makes it clear that Catholic do not worship Mary and he beautifully explains Marian devotion and how it brings one closer to our Lord.

So who would benefit from reading this book?  Anyone with a curiosity about Mary could certainly learn something from this book.  If you're a Catholic who doesn't exactly know why we honor the Blessed Mother, you certainly could gain some valuable insight by reading this book.  If you're a protestant who thinks Catholics worship Mary or are just flat out crazy for praying to her, you could learn a lot about why she is so important and how she can lead us closer to her son and our Lord, Jesus.  If you're in RCIA and the idea of Marian devotion seems strange to you then this book would be a great springboard of catechesis for you on Mary.

At 90 pages, the book is a short read, but it is packed with information.  Miravalle's writing style is engaging and to the point.  Because this book is an introduction to Mary, it's more or less an overview of Mary and not an in-depth study.  If you're looking to get you feet wet and become acquainted with Our Lady, then this book is a great starting point.

The book also sports a nice appendix that covers the Rosary and other Marian prayers.  In this section you will find a short how to on praying the Rosary and a brief explanation of all twenty mysteries of the Rosary.  Prayers such as the Angelus, Regina Caeli and Memorare are also included in this section along with a few others.

Overall, I think this book is well done and can nicely serve a broad audience.

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."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quick Takes Volume 2

1. I've been stalking my strawberry and blueberry plants.  The strawberry plants have an incredible abundance of unripe berries that I'm anxiously waiting to eat.  My lack of patience is becoming more evident with each passing day.

2. I'm impatiently waiting for the butterflies to emerge from their chrysalids that they just formed earlier this week.  I can't tell you how much time I've wasted marveling at their transformation from caterpillar to chrysalid.  The kids aren't nearly as fascinated as I am.

3. Our pool was opened on Tuesday and I've been watching Shrek's swamp slowly disappear over the past few days.  I'm now sleeping less soundly at night since I'm on high alert mama bear mode listening for the sound of the door alarm or a splash.  I worry terribly that Ellie will wander into the pool.  She has no fear of the water but is still unable to swim.  That's not a good combination if you ask me.

4. I'm fighting a seemingly endless battle against clutter and dirt in my house.  I want so desperately to have a clean house that stays that way for at least a few days.  I guess the only way to get that is to clean the house and go on a vacation, but then I won't get to enjoy the clean house.

5. I brought myself some new clothes this week.  I'm happy now that I have some shirts that aren't stretched out, faded, or incredibly shrunken.  Why my shirts like to morph into something else after several washings I'll never understand.  I'm hoping my new clothes will retain their shape and original size.

6. I have started looking into homeschooling more seriously.  Bryan is starting to become receptive to the idea of homeschooling for grades 5-8.  Perhaps that will eventually encompass all of elementary and middle school.  I'm confident that I can successfully homeschool the girls for elementary and middle school, but I'm not sure about doing it for high school. If I can successfully convince Bryan, I may be able to start homeschooling after next school year.

7. We have a weekend with no soccer obligations!  My last CCD class with my kindergarten class is this Sunday. The rest of my weekend is totally unscripted.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Small Successes-May 6th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. After spending at least 15 tedious hours making a movie in iVideo for my kindergarten CCD class, I had an almost perfect almost 19 minute long video.  I put the photos the kids took of their adventures with Flat Father Stanley (our class mascot) to music that goes with the curriculum our parish uses.  I'm amazed at how much time it took to do this.  Hopefully this will be an easier task next year.  I'm going to stay on top of the video on a weekly basis so I'm not overwhelmed with it at the end.

2. It's not really my success, per se, but the caterpillars that we got almost two weeks ago are finally all in a chrysalid.  One of them was a late bloomer and proved to be a royal pest to the other caterpillars after they transformed. I removed the pre-butterflies from their food container yesterday and placed them in their butterfly house.  Perhaps I'll have butterflies in my dining room this time next week.

3. Ellie passed her kindergarten screening with no problems.  I can't believe she's going to be in full day school next year.

Bonus: Yet another success that isn't exactly mine, a few more plants have sprouted in my little germination station.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Bryan called me today to tell me he was having lunch at Maggiano's.  He eats there frequently enough. His brother is a manager there so when he goes there, he gets to catch up with him, not to mention he generally gets a very nice discount.  I love their chocolate cake and I usually feel a little jealous or passed over when he tells me that he ate there on any given day.  I generally respond with "And you didn't think to get me a piece of chocolate cake?" when he tells me he went there.  Most of the time that garners a sigh from Bryan or an explanation of why getting me a piece of cake on his lunch hour that is about 7 hours before when he'll be home is an unreasonable request.  Fine, I'll admit it's a bit of a stretch to ask for the cake, but I think in the freezing cold months it's not an impossible request to carry out.

I was surprised when I got a call from Bryan today asking me if I'd like a piece of chocolate cake from Maggiano's.  How awesome was that?  And to make the situation even better, he even remembered to pick up the gift cards that the restaurant is donating to Ellie's school fundraiser.  Looks like Bryan is on his A game today!  I can't wait to dive into that chocolate cake.  I think I'll even share some of it with Bryan.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Love, Warmth, and Discipline

Any time I approach a parenting book, I do so with much skepticism. In the past I've read more than my fair share of parenting drivel from the so-called experts. Much of it usually comes across to me as mindless liberal hippie dogma. It's the kind of advice that tells you that if you don't let little Billy or Jenny have total freedom and self autonomy that he or she would like, then your child will essentially wind up being a messed up adult.  And, these are usually the experts that will tell you not a discipline your child--wouldn't want to hurt the child's all-powerful self-esteem by pointing out that he/she had done something wrong. So it only makes sense that I approached Fr. Val J. Peter's Love, Warmth and Discipline-Lessons from Boys Town for Successful Parenting with the skepticism that I was about to be taken on another liberal hippy adventure into the realm of "parenting advice."

With a healthy dose of skepticism I sat down to read the book. Starting with the introduction, I began to realize that this wasn't one of those parenting books where I was going to bristle at the advice that was going to follow. While the fact remained that this was a parenting book written by a childless person, he certainly was not without real world experience. He has spent 25 years working with adolescents at Boys Town. From there, he springboards into the meat of the book with his series of dispatches from the front lines (also known as the chapters). I think in many regards he won me over with his first dispatch. From the start of the first chapter, Fr. Peter makes it clear that he views the abundant parenting advice that you find floating all over these days to be propaganda and encourages his readers not to buy it. Finally! Someone who gets it!

This book essentially takes all the detrimental and self-centered parenting advice of today to task and illustrates just why it doesn't work. He categorizes parenting into three groups: permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative. He explains why permissive and authoritarian models do not work. The model of parenting that they follow at Boys town is authoritative. From my standpoint, this model seems like the common sense approach.

I found the book to be a very interesting read. I felt the book was a bit short, but it was certainly long enough to get the point across to the reader. It's a worthwhile read for parents of adolescents or parents who will have adolescents in the near future.

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 Love, Warmth, and Discipline- Lessons from Boys Town for Successful Parenting.
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