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.
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