Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: After Miscarriage

A month or so ago I sat down to take a peek inside Karen Edmisten's After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope. Once I started reading this book I realized that much of what is contained in it is helpful not only to those who have suffered a miscarriage, but also to those who are trying to offer comfort and support to grieving parents.

One thing that struck me about this book is the wealth of information it contains that you might not think about until you are in the midst of a miscarriage, such as planning a burial.  Having lived through the stress of six weeks of not knowing whether or not my first pregnancy was going to end in miscarriage [I had complications that brought the survival of the pregnancy into doubt], I can tell you that the thought of what we would do with the baby's remains if I miscarried never even crossed my mind.  So while this book is intended to help women heal from the pain and inexplicable grief of a miscarriage, it also offers plenty of practical advice that may not be in the forefront of your thoughts at the time of a miscarriage.

Once I started paging through the book I found myself unable to put it down.  I read it in an evening.  It's filled with touching contributions from mothers and fathers who have suffered miscarriages, notes from the author's journal, and passages from scripture.  After reading through this book, I'm certain that it would be a great source of comfort for any mother who is suffering from such a loss.

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

Free Illness With Every Well Visit

I don't know why this always comes as a grand surprise to me, but it seems like anytime I bring one of the kids to the doctor for a well visit we get a bonus illness a few days later.  Katie is now sporting a miserable cold that I'm fairly certain she wouldn't have if we didn't spend an hour and a half at the pediatrician's office last Wednesday.

I'm hoping she recovers from this latest cold quickly.  She's very congested and quite cranky as a result.  Katie just looks like she's sick and miserable.  You can tell she's tired but the congestion is making it hard for her to sleep.  She woke up a few times last night just screaming.  How Madeline and Ellie manage to sleep through it all amazes me.  We're down the hall and it's LOUD and they are sleeping just a few feet away from her bedroom.

I'm not looking forward to her next well visit in July.  Depending on the day of the week, I may have to take all three kids in with me.  Just imagine how many different germs we could pick up then!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cupcakes for St. Catherine

Since I was able to remember that today is the fest day of St. Catherine of Siena, we were able to celebrate a name day for both Ellie and Katie, and if we want to nit pick and say me, since my name is derived from Catherine, we could also lump me in there as well, I suppose.

Ellie's middle name is Katherine and she has developed a liking for St. Catherine of Siena over the past few years.  I think she likes her because 1. She has one of her names, just spelled with a C instead of a K. and 2. Her stained glass window is in the bathroom at our church.  The child does not like to go in the bathroom that doesn't have St. Catherine on the window.

While Katie was napping and Ellie and Bryan were at her soccer game, I asked Madeline what she thought we should make to celebrate.  After assessing the amount of work required to make some of the suggestions, we settled on cupcakes.  Madeline wanted to help and I decided to let her take over.  She wound up making everything but the buttercream icing.  She even decorated the cupcakes.

Ellie was excited at the prospect of cupcakes after dinner.  She wanted to help decorate the cupcakes, but Madeline insisted on doing it all on her own, so I printed out the lovely St. Catherine coloring page that Charlotte has up on her blog.  Ellie was very happy to work on that while Madeline took care of the cupcakes.

After dinner we ate Madeline's first ever batch of cupcakes.  We then followed up with a story about St. Catherine from this book.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review: My First Prayers With Mary

My First Prayers with Maryis another lovely board book by Maite Roche.  It is part of a series of board books published by Magnificat and Ignatius press.  This particular book seeks to introduce little ones to Marian devotion.

The book starts off with the Hail Mary and an accompanying illustration of a family with children praying before an image of the annunciation.   I particularly like that this book uses the traditional form of the Hail Mary complete with thee, thou and thy as opposed to the more modern version that uses you and your instead.  There are six more prayers contained in this book.  One uses a line from the Magnificat, another invokes the Holy Family, and there's even a bedtime prayer.  All of the prayers contained in this little book are sweet.

As with other books by Maite Roche, the illustrations are beautiful.  One thing I've come to notice as I've acquired more and more books written and illustrated by Maite Roche is you are likely to see the same images or variations of them pop up in different books.  This book has a few illustrations that I haven't seen before.  Most of the pictures are of our Blessed Mother holding or playing with a baby or toddler Jesus.

Since this is a board book, it's perfect for babies through children around three to four years old.  The pages are sturdy and appear as though they will be able to withstand typical toddler use.

Overall I think this book is nicely done.  The prayers are age appropriate and short enough that little ones will easily pick them up after multiple repetitions.  If you're looking for a book to introduce a small child to our Blessed Mother I think you'll be pleased with this one.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Join in at SouleMama.

Book Review: The Beautiful Story of Jesus

While looking for books for our baby I happened upon this lovely Maite Roche book for older children.  The Beautiful Story of Jesusis a hardback picture storybook that introduces children to the life of Jesus.  The book, which begins with the annunciation and ends with Pentecost, illustrates the life of Jesus.

As with other books by Maite Roche, this book is filled with captivating and beautifully done illustrations.  I'm not absolutely certain of the medium used, but many of the illustrations appear to be watercolors.  All I know is they are richly detailed and quite beautiful.  I was just remarking to my husband that I wish there were prints available of some of these illustrations. [I did a quick google search but came up empty handed.]

The story is told on a level that little ones will understand.  With it's simple language and beautiful illustrations, young children will be sure to enjoy this book.  Each page has only a few lines of text, so antsy listeners will not become restless as they might with some more drawn out stories.

Something that I really like about this book is how many mysteries of the rosary are touched on in this book.  If you are introducing your child to the rosary and would like to give them a visual to put with each of the mysteries this book would be an excellent resource.  Every mystery is not illustrated in this book, but most of them are.

This book seems like it is best suited to children up to about second or third grade.  Yes, the text is a bit simple for children at the older end of the age range, but the story is lovely enough to still reach them.  My girls haven't had the opportunity to read this book yet, but based on how much they like other bookswritten and illustrated by her, I know this one will be a hit.

Quick Takes Volume 34

Ellie is going on a field trip with her class to the Please Touch museum.  I'm not sure what she's more exited about, visiting the museum or getting to ride on a school bus for the very first time.  I think she's going to be disappointed when she finds out how that school buses are not as wonderful as she thinks they are.

Before the girls go on field trips or outings without us, Bryan and I run down a list of safety instructions.  One of them is ensuring that our child knows our phone number [or in Madeline's case, our home and cell numbers].  Ellie claimed she didn't know our home phone number.  Really?  The kid has had this memorized since she was three.  After giving her our area code, she was able to recite the rest of our number.

As Bryan continued to go over the safety rules, he told her that it was really important that she know how to get help if she gets lost.  She seemed uninterested.  Then he tells her if she doesn't know how to find the right people to help her if she gets lost she may never come home again.  This was followed by "You want to come home, right?" Ellie stared at him, blinked and shook her head no.  Either someone wasn't listening to what her Daddy was saying or Ellie is looking for a way out.  Hopefully she comes home today.

Vacation Bible School planning is going well.  I'm two months away from the registration deadline and I already have 20% of the students registered.  I need to find some time to assess how many volunteers I still need to have this all run as smoothly as last year.  I'm quietly looking for volunteers this year to avoid certain people make sure I get the best people for the job.  I think I'm pretty close to having everyone I need.  I just need to take a few minutes to assess the list of volunteers I've already badgered, pestered, or placed on the spot recruited.

Kitty Katkins is determined to move.  This morning she figured out how to move from a sitting position to laying on her belly.  I've also noticed over the past couple of days that she's doing a bit of a backwards army crawl.  It may not be too long before she's crawling.  Eeek!

Katie's becoming a lot more vocal, too.  She's making all sorts of sounds these days.  Some of them sound like she's starting to grasp English, or whatever mumbled language Madeline speaks.  It's unclear as of yet if she will have a New York accent like Ellie.  It's the strangest thing.  Ellie frequently talks like a New Yorker despite the fact that no one else in the family has a New York accent.  We like to remind her that she lives in south Jersey and we don't talk like that.

Madeline's schedule for the next two and a half weeks is jam packed.  I think tonight is one of the last days where she doesn't have something going on for a good while.  Bryan has her trying out for travel soccer at five or six different soccer clubs.  All of this coincides with band and chorus preparing for their concerts.  Madeline has really spread herself too thin with all of her activities.  We told her when she starts at our parish school in September that we're really going to have to assess which activities to pursue more carefully.  Right now she's involved in five different things that are all mostly year round obligations.  She's a busy girl!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: My First Pictures of Easter

It's still Easter, so I'm going to tell you about this lovely board book entitled My First Pictures of Easterthat we gave Katie for Easter.  Magnificat came out with a line of children's books about two years ago and have continued to add more titles to their list.  Since they introduced this line of children's books we have found many books that have resonated with our girls.

Katie no longer sleeps through every Mass and I realized that we were seriously lacking durable board books that were Mass appropriate.  When I noticed that the Magnificat board books were written and illustrated by Maite Roche, I decided that these would be a good jumping off point for starting our collection of Mass appropriate board books.  We already had another bookwritten by her that I love.

My First Pictures of Easter offers rich illustrations that start with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday and the Easter Vigil Mass.  On the left side of each page is a large illustration that has a heading and two lines of text about the picture.  On the right side of the page there are several smaller pictures with  brief descriptions.  The book is simply put and beautifully done.

Katie has enjoyed looking at the pictures and I'm sure as she grows we will be able to use this book to teach her about Holy Week and Easter.  My older girls have remarked that they think the pictures are very nice.  There's a lot of details in the larger pictures, which appear to be water color paintings or possibly water color pencils.

I would recommend this book for babies through age four. While children older than that may enjoy the  beautiful illustrations, they're going to want more substance by way of a story than this book has to offer.  For small ones, however, this book is just right.

Book Review: St. Francis of Assisi Coloring Book

Hmm...a coloring book review?  Maybe it seems odd, but I just discovered that a particular line of coloring books which I've passed over as nothing spectacular for the past few years is more than just a bunch of coloring pages.  TAN publishes a line of coloring books written by Mary Fabyan Windeatt and illustrated by Gedge Harmon.  The coloring books in this series are essentially vintage coloring books from the mid 50s.

I ordered St. Francis of Assisiprimarily to bump a recent order from Holy Heroes up a few dollars to get free shipping. (Buying the book was cheaper than paying for shipping.)  I was also ordering it hoping to find a better St. Francis coloring page to use with my kindergarten class this October.  Other than that, I wasn't expecting much which made the book all the more surprising when I opened it up to discover that it was a story book and coloring pages.

For every coloring page in this book there is a complete page of text telling the story of St. Francis.  Woven into this story is the story of the first nativity scene, the start of the Poor Clares, and St. Francis' encounters with the animals.  I was particularly excited about the portion of the story that tells about the first nativity scene because it ties in beautifully with another storythat I like to read to my class during Advent.

As a coloring book it will work well for any child who is old enough to color, but the story is best suited for children who are old enough to sit through a somewhat lengthy story.  An older child of around 7 or 8 and up should have no problem sitting and listening to this story all at once.  For younger children it would probably be best to read the story a little bit at a time.

Now that I know what a treasure these little coloring story books are, I'll be looking to order more in the near future.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.


My African Violet plant bloomed again.  I'm continually amazed at how this plant blooms often when it never bloomed once in the four years that we had it in our old house.  This plant really seems really happy on our dining room table.


Katie takes a short break from happily flinging her pink pony and Princess Sophie toys.

She was all smiles yesterday despite having had a round of shots in the morning.


Madeline has learned to just tune it out and Katie is trying to figure it out.  So much for a candid picture of the girls listening to Madeline read them a fairy tale.  Someday, Ellie will just sit still when I pull out the camera.  There's a lot of personality in that little girl!


Isn't it really sweet how much Katie loves her Daddy?  She's totally basking in his love in this picture.

Katie really dislikes hanging out in the wonder bug while I do laundry and sort through stuff in the laundry room.  Despite her freaking out, she does sort of like the wonder bug.I like that it gives me a place to put her while I'm working in the laundry room.
round button chicken

Small Successes April 26th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1.  My clean the house and eliminate unnecessary items conquest continues, but it's slow going.  I started to work on the laundry room this week.  I cleaned all the dust [lint, maybe?] off the tops of the washer and dryer.  I picked up all the stray restaurant crayons that I use for my religious ed class and put them in one place and I straightened up some of the other craft items that I use for my class.  I tossed a bunch of little things that we didn't need.

2. I cleaned the kitchen counter tops on Tuesday night, but you'd never know it based on all the junk that is strewn across them, but they're clean underneath all the clutter.

3.  I unwittingly fed Katie lots of binding foods two days in a row and that lead to a very cranky constipated baby.  We course corrected by feeding her non binding foods for a few days and by Monday she was starting to be able to go again.  Then I remembered my mom's warning to never feed the baby corn if I didn't want a big mess.  Bryan pureed our remaining corn from dinner that night and I fed some of it to Katie.  Problem solved!  I'm so glad we didn't have to resort to the icky baby food prunes.

4.  A scheduling disaster was avoided for Madeline.  Soccer tryouts for her current club were on the same nights as her band and chorus concerts.  On Friday we determined that she would have to miss the band concert.  Bryan talked to a friend who is on the board for the soccer club and he told us to email the club and explain the situation.  Last night an email went out.  Tryouts for Madeline's age group were moved to a different night.  I'm so glad that everything worked out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Little Giant Baby

I've been aware for months now that Katie is a bigger baby than her older sisters.  Madeline was a tiny little peanut who barely weighed 20lbs when she hit a year.  Ellie was bigger than Madeline, but not by a lot.  Katie apparently is just blowing her petite and average sized sisters away in the height and weight department.

This morning while the older girls went to the opthamologist to get their eyes checked, I took Katie to the pediatrician for her 6 month well visit.  I honestly couldn't recall how heavy she was at her last appointment, but I figured Katie was a solid 16+lbs.  Of course, now that I think about it, I think she was about that heavy at her four month visit.  I just know she was around the 80-90th percentile for height and weight at that last visit.  I was a bit stunned when they weighed and measured her this morning.  Katie is now 28 inches long and 18lbs 2.8oz.  How is this little baby that big already?  Our pediatrician tells me she's 97th percentile for height and 90th for weight.  I'm so used to being told that my girls are in the 25-50th percentile that I can't believe I have such a big baby.  I suppose this explains why even some of the 12 month sized clothes are a bit snug lengthwise.

While we were there the doctor pointed out to me that some of the things Katie is doing are actually very good developmental milestones.  Ever since she had bronchiolitis back in December/January she's been doing this fake cough when she wants attention.  It started about a week or so after she was fully recovered.  Turns out that's a sign that she understands cause and effect.  Her recent night waking/nursing are also signs that she understands cause and effect, too.  She had been sleeping through the night for a few months and has begun waking one to two times a night over the past month.  Bryan is usually unaware of what time it is, so he just changes her and brings her to me to be fed.  So now she's developed a habit of nursing at night when she really doesn't need to.  Her doctor suggested that we ditch the baby monitor at night to stop her from playing Bryan.  We'll have to see how this goes.

Last week I finally got Katie up to eating two meals a day, and today I was told we should be aiming for three meals a day at this point.  I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think we'll try to aim towards her eating three meals a day sometime in the next month or so.  I need to ease into these sorts of things.

I thought Katie was a little behind since she can only roll from front to back, but the doctor assured me that she's doing just fine since she's able sit on her own and transfer things from one hand to the next.  I know Ellie was much older when she finally agreed to sit unsupported, but she was rolling all over at a much earlier age.  I guess it just goes to show that they all do things in their own time.

*Note: In the above picture Katie was attempting to take over Ellie's bed and claim it in the name of Kitty Katkin-land.  She has great plans to take over her big sisters' bedrooms in the near future and has suggested that they consider moving to the basement.  At the present time, the older girls humor her and laugh at her silly conquests.  They do however acquiesce to her demands that they address her as Super Mighty Fine Princess.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Funny Thing Happens When You Shut Off the TV

Lately I've been pretty fed up with the trash that passes as entertainment on TV.  Most of the shows geared to children in the tween age bracket are already off limits to my girls because I don't like the attitudes that are portrayed in them.  Even a lot of cartoon shows have found their way on to our banned list for a variety of reasons.

I've noticed over the past few weeks that the new Spongebob episodes are gross and seemingly heading in a direction that I just don't like.  The newer shows seem oddly reminiscent of Ren and Stimpy.  Several times over the past month I have found myself telling the girls to shut off Spongebob and do something productive.

At first the girls balked about the injustice of me telling them to shut off the TV.  I pointed out to them that  they would certainly survive if they were not basking in the blue glow of the TV on a daily basis.  Usually one of them [Madeline] would quip that she "needed" to be able to watch TV.  I like to pull the mom card in these situations and throw out the ever useful line that "a want is not a need."  Ellie schlepped around the house for a day or two complaining that there was "nothing to do."  Yeah, my poor deprived kids who have lots of toys, books and arts and crafts have absolutely nothing they can do.

I'm not sure what clicked with Ellie, but after a few days of hardly any TV she became hooked on reading.  The past couple of weeks she has been immersed in books.  She's loving the Berenstain Bears books.  She doesn't care if it's one of my vintagebooksfrom when I was learning to read or one of the newer Christmas books.  She's just drinking them in.  I thought it was funny when I found her curled up with the Too Much TVbook.  She pointed out that it was just like her and Madeline.  Then, she pulled out Too Much Junk Foodand told me Madeline should read it.  This girl really makes me laugh sometimes.

Madeline rediscovered her Kindleand found that she really likes some of the many free books I downloaded for her.  The American Fairy Talesis one of her new favorites.  Even better than picking up the Kindle, she has also started to read some of the very many American Girl volumes that she has on her bookshelf.  Last night she devoured Kirsten's Short Story Collectionand tonight she started to read her Mollybook.  I told her I thought it was nice she was finally delving into some of these books since she's had them for over two years.  She zipped through the main books for Felicity,Samantha,Kirstenand Kityears ago but most of the extras, like the mystery and short story collections didn't get touched.

I'm so happy to see my girls drinking in good books instead of watching junk TV.  Ellie has even learned to read silently as a result of this TV ban.  After about of week of Ellie reading everything aloud, Madeline started to get on her case about it and sure enough Ellie who claimed she didn't know how to read silently to herself figured it out.  When she reads aloud to me know I've noticed that her reading seems to have progressed a lot.  I was just telling Bryan that I think it's possible that Ellie may be reading the American Girl books by this Summer.  I'm so excited about this.  I can't wait until she's exploring the worlds of her favorite dolls.

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