Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Saint Catherine Laboure

My eleven year old really enjoys reading about the saints, so she was pretty happy when a copy of Saint Catherine Laboure And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal showed up at our house.  This book is a nice biography of St. Catherine Laboure.

My eleven year old read this book in a few days, but I'm fairly certain she could have devoured it in a single day if she wasn't enjoying the final days of summer vacation at the time.  She enjoyed the book but felt that there were parts of it that weren't very exciting.  So I suppose she was looking for a bit more action in the story which she didn't find.  She was surprised to learn how the miraculous medal came to be.  She was certainly impressed by that part of the story.

I read through the book and thought it was well written and gave a great account of St. Catherine's life and her encounters with our Blessed Mother.  I also thought it was wonderful that throughout the book there are pronunciation guides for names that are foreign to those who are not familiar with French.  I also like that this book has a glossary in the back, so children can look up terms that they might not fully understand.

At the end of the book is a lovely prayer to St. Catherine and our Blessed Mother.

I think this book is perfect for children between the ages of about nine to twelve.  The book could be easily used as part of a home schooling curriculum.  We haven't read any other books from the Encounter the Saints series, but I'm sure we will after having read this one.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Saint Catherine LabourĂ© . The Catholic Company is a great resource for tools to help you participate in the Year of Faith, including Year of Faith bible studies and exclusive Year of Faith personalized gifts. The Catholic Company also has all your Advent needs in stock, such as Advent calendars and Advent wreaths.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Katie likes to hang out at the dining room windows and look out back.  It's too bad the divided light grid in the window cast a shadow across her face.

I finally stopped researching lenses procrastinating on buying a new zoom lens
for soccer games and our upcoming vacation and ordered one.  So far I like it.  I thought this picture came out pretty considering the lighting wasn't the greatest.

This is a picture of my arm today.  Seven doses of the antibiotic and my arm is looking a lot better.  I'm so happy that it appears the antibiotic is doing it's job.  I'll be even happier when the bug bite of doom and it's infection are completely gone.  The redness around the bite and up my veins is receding.

Katie makes me laugh sometimes with her antics.  I was out on the deck trying out the new lens and I turned around to see her standing at the sliding glass door making goofy faces at me.

Katie has been doing a lot of standing.  She's thinking about walking.  On Sunday she took her first step.  She'll only walk one step and then she crouches down and crawls.  I love her stance in this picture.


I've got another bibliophile on my hands!  Last night she pulled out a little book and just sat there "reading" it.  She's clearly following the example of her big sisters.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Catholic Family Gifts Winner

Congratulations Pugsly, you've won the Catholic Family Gifts giveaway.  Check your email for details on how to pick your prize.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bug Bite

Yesterday morning I got bit by something while I was doing Madeline's hair before school.  When I finished her pony tail and looked down I had a big white welt where I got bit.  Once the girls were on the bus I spotted a huge skeeter on the powder room door.  He went to meet his maker courtesy of the weekly church bulletin.  Fitting, right?

My arm was itchy all day but I pretty much left the bite alone since I was otherwise focused on cleaning the basement and purging toys.  I scratched it a few times but nothing over the top.  At midnight my arm was still itchy but the bite was still a raised white welt like it was that morning.

I woke up this morning to a bright red welt and the surrounding area of my arm was also red.  I pointed out to Bryan that it was sort of funny how the bite was traveling along my vein and it looked puffy.  He took one look at it and freaked out.

What I thought was an odd little bug bite that was a bit interesting to look at he thought was pretty serious.  I walked away when he told me I needed to get to a doctor or an ER to have it checked out.  He was concerned that it was blood poisoning.  I wasn't.  My brother had that when I was a kid and I recalled it being far worse that what I saw on my arm.

I sat down in the dining room to eat my breakfast and check email and decided to google bug bite and blood poisoning just to reassure myself that Bryan was overreacting.  That's when I realized that he was right.  I held my arm up to a picture I saw of someone who had to go to the ER and realized that maybe I should see a doctor.

We ended up going to an immediate care center not too far from the hospital.  The receptionist, the nurse and the doctor all seemed to have the same reaction that Bryan did.  So now I'm on an antibiotic for the next week.  

My arm is really hurting me now and the bite has a second vein now that is traveling up my arm.  The doctor tells me it will take about 24 hours after initiating the antibiotics for me to see a reduction in the redness.  If the redness travels much further up my arm I'll have to go to the ER so they can treat it more aggressively.  So I've been given a list of things I need to watch out for in case this turns for the worst.

I'm glad I showed Bryan the interesting looking bug bite because if I hadn't I might have let it go too long.  I know the blood poisoning is serious because I vividly remember the frenzy from when my brother had a bright red streak going almost all the way up his arm.  I certainly alarmed my parents when I called them at 7:45 this morning to ask them what they recalled about how my brother's arm looked when I was still trying to decided if I really needed to see a doctor.  Honestly, if it wasn't for Bryan insisting that I need to see a doctor now, I probably wouldn't have taken it seriously until it was nearing my shoulder.

I'm hoping the antibiotic I'm on does its job so I don't wind up in the ER.

Top Ten Tuesday: On the go with baby

When I'm out and about with the baby I have some items that are tops on my must have list.


A lightweight stroller.  I've had a thing for strollers since before Madeline was born.  Our garage is testament to that.  We have several nice strollers just sitting in there.  Some are eleven years old and need a new home and others are new.  My favorite stroller ever is the nifty Britax B-Agilethat I got as a review product last year.  I didn't think I'd like it at first, but once I pulled it out of the box and took it for a test drive I was in love.  Katie loves it as much as I do.  Weighing in at 16lbs, this stroller gets top marks for comfort, generous canopy, and maneuverability.

We dine out pretty frequently and this time around I was hoping to avoid using a travel booster for the baby since I remember it being a horribly cumbersome ordeal with Madeline.  With Ellie we used our Floppy Seat, but we quickly got to the point where it was obvious that you can't use it with every restaurant high chair out there.   So we decided to give our Fisher-Price booster seata try one day many months ago.  Seven months later and it's one of our most used on the go baby products.  This seat is great.  Katie loves it, it's always clean (when I remember to wash off the tray, that is) and it is super easy to set up unlike the booster seats we had ten years ago.

I get frustrated when we go shopping and the shopping carts don't have seat belts for the baby.  Last winter I was using the floppy seat shopping cart cover, but I found it to be a pain in the rear to use.  I'm not an octopus and putting the cover in the cart while holding the baby just wasn't an easy task.  I ditched the cover and decided to see an alternative solution.  A friend had told me about how she and her husband used a dog collar as a seat belt on an old wooden high chair.  I thought it was odd at first and then I began to think it was a pretty good solution to my shopping cart issue.  So one day at Target we picked up a trendy girly looking dog collar in a size large enough to accommodate a 26 inch neck.  So now when we hit a store that either has a gross seat belt or one that's broken/missing, I pull our nifty dog collar out and buckle Katie in.  A neat thing about the collar is it also has an accessory loop so we can attach a toy with plastic links.


Bibs that wipe clean and can be stored with minimal bulk make me a happy mom.  Over the years I've tried out lots of feeding bibs and have liked almost none of them.  This past winter I stumbled upon bibs that are not only super thin, but also wipe clean and launder incredibly well.  So Bumkins bibsmake it onto my list of favorite on the go baby items.  They fold up smaller than the disposable Pampers Bibsters that I used to use with Madeline and Ellie and they're reusable.

I like small light weight toys that can be easily taken with us when we're running errands.  The toys that typically get grabbed are Katie's beloved fruit keysand Princess Sophie.  The Princess Sophie we have came from a set so she doesn't have a clip attachment, but this one does.

Pacifier clips are a must when we head out the door.  Katie is into playing "I'll drop it on the floor and you pick it up!" so pacifiers that aren't tethered wind up on the floor.  Since we use Mam pacifiers, I use their clips.  I like how they have a velcro loop that can also be used to keep things like Katie's fruit keys from hitting the floor.

Early on in my adventures in Mommyland I discovered that I hate using a diaper bag, and I didn't like having wipes, diapers and a changing pad as separate items.  So when I discovered diaper changing clutches I was one happy mommy.  My favorite clutch was super basic and is no longer being made, so I now use this onefrom The First Years.  I really like this for the convenience factor, but I have to say I'm not happy that the vinyl on the outside of my clutch has developed holes in it where it folds.  I noticed the quality issue when it had only been in use for less than a month, but in spite of it, it's still on my must have list.


If we're leaving the house, you can bet a pacifier is coming with us.  I simply don't leave home without at least one.  These are particularly necessary if we'll be at Mass or sitting in a waiting room somewhere.

I keep a couple of spare baby blankets in the car.  You never know when you'll need one for something.  A flannel baby blanket can double as an emergency cloth diaper should you run out of diapers.  Blankets can become a car seat cover in a pinch if baby has an explosive diaper, and they can even double as a shade for the car window or a nursing cover.  

As I inch towards toddlerhood with Katie, Cheerios in a snack catcherare now on our list of things I carry.  They're a yummy snack and they keep her happy.

Visit Many Little Blessings for more Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sleepless night and retail therapy

I think when I took Madeline to the pediatrician last Wednesday to get her required shots for 6th grade we got a bonus illness for Katie.  That seems to be the way it goes anytime we go there for a well visit. One of us always winds up under the weather.

Katie woke up a little after three this morning and wouldn't go back to sleep.  She screamed and wailed when I put her back in her crib after I fed her so I brought her back to bed hoping she'd sleep there.  Instead she tossed and turned and kept Bryan and I awake.  Since Bryan had to go into the office this morning and was getting up around 5:30AM, we decided that we need to take her downstairs.  For some reason she'll fall asleep in our family room if we're holding her, but not in our bed or even if I sit with her in her room.  So after a dose of ibuprofen she settled in and slept on me on the family room couch.

I think I got about three hours of interrupted sleep last night.  Bryan woke me at 5:30 when he got up and he put Katie in her crib.  He was rightly concerned that if he left me to sleep with her on the couch that one of the girls would wake her within the hour.  While I didn't get much sleep, Katie slept until around 8:30.

Katie's a bit on the grumpy side this morning but I'm hoping she'll be in a better mood after her nap.  It seems like she has a bit of a cold, so I'm hoping it's not more than that.  I don't know if I can handle a sick baby while sleep deprived in the midst of a cleaning frenzy.  I've been focusing on cleaning the basement playroom and slimming down the girl's toys all weekend.  I'm making some headway, but I think I still have a way to go with paring down the toys.

So now in my sleep deprived state I feel like shopping from home.  I'm trying to figure out what the girls will be wearing this Christmas so I was pretty happy to see that Gymboree had a dress that I think will be perfect for Ellie.  I'm thinking of ordering her this dress so she can wear it on Christmas Eve when she sings at Mass with the children's choir and then again for her first reconciliation in February.  I think the ivory dress will be perfect for her first reconciliation.  What do you think?  I figure I'll find a few other things to order to score free shipping and hope she doesn't look washed out in the dress.  She can go either way with ivory.  Sometimes she looks great in it and other times she looks washed out and sick.  I'm hopeful that she'll look good in it, otherwise I'll have to send it back.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Quick Takes Volume 46


I installed the safety latches on all of the bottom kitchen cabinets except one while Katie napped yesterday.  I left the latch off the cabinet where I store the measuring cups since Katie really seems to like playing with those.  As long as she doesn't go after my grandmother's vintage pyrex with the avocado green designs that cabinet can stay like that.

Madeline gave me the impression on Wednesday that she wasn't 100% sure that she didn't want to do band this year.  So I told her I thought it might be better to see if she could still sign up and if it didn't work out then she could back out of it.  After getting the details for how to sign her up on Thursday we know it's not going to happen.  Last year at the public school we had to buy [or rent] her flute and the music book specified by the band teacher.  So we put out about $250 last year for her flute and the music book. I was stunned when I saw that band at the Catholic school would cost $496 for the year.  Ouch!  We're going to pass.  That's more than we pay for a month of tuition for Madeline.

I played the flute in elementary school, so I'll brush up on it and teach her what she needs to know as she progresses.  I'll just have to muster some more patience.  Best of all, Madeline is happy that I'm not making her do band.  She wants to play, just not in the band.
I signed Ellie up to play basketball this winter.  She's been talking about playing since the summer so I'm hoping she'll really enjoy playing on a team.  She plays with some of the neighbors from time to time and is pretty good at actually getting the ball in the net so I'm looking forward to seeing how she does.
I'm thinking about making some doll clothes for the cute little doll I ordered Katie for her first birthday.  Originally I was going to give her the Bitty Baby that I ordered for her several months ago, but I decided that I'm going to hold on to Bitty until she's two or three.  I think I made the right decision.  The little Corolle doll is adorable and looks like she's going to be just the right size for Katie.
Back to school night for Madeline went well.  I'm happy with what I heard from her teachers as far as academic expectations.  I was honestly expecting them to be heaping loads of homework on the 6th graders but it seems like that's not going to be the case.  I'm relieved about that.  Less time on homework means more time for her to study and pursue her other interests.

Ellie seems like she's adjusting to the new school.  She comes home and talks about her new friends and is eager to tell me all about her day at school.  For the past seven years I have been picking at least one child up after school and listening to her chatter the entire ride home about her day.  Now the that girls take the bus home they walk in the door talking a mile a minute about their day.  One tries to talk over the other as soon as there is the slightest pause.  It can be pretty overwhelming to try listening to them both at the same time.

I'm hosting a giveaway sponsored by Catholic Family Gifts this week.  The winner gets to choose the prize from a selected list.  There are some really great items you can choose from.  Please take a moment to stop by and enter for a chance to win.
Kindergarten religious ed starts up on Sunday morning.  I almost have everything ready to go for my new class.  I can't wait to meet all of my students.  I've met a couple of them and I recognize the names of a few of them from VBS.  I'm really excited that I have an aide in my room this year.  I was worrying that I might not get to do all of the crafts I wanted to do with them since I have fifteen students and only two hands.  Now I'm confident that I'll be able to do all of the fun things I want to do since I'll have an extra pair of adult hands in the room.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life....


Katie is teething again, and she feels better when she's being cuddled by us.


Almost two weeks ago I made two cuttings from our basil plant in the garden.  Now that it's cooling off around here, the basil plant looks like it's about to die.  Bryan and I have been enjoying the fresh homegrown basil so much that we thought we should try growing a couple of new plants from cuttings.  I really doubted that this would work, despite what we read on the internet [I'm such a doubter!].  I was very happy when Bryan pointed out to me yesterday that both cuttings had some nice looking roots.  Can you see them?  I'm going to make a few more cuttings today since my mom wants to give growing basil inside a try, too.


We've all had quite a few laughs about this plate Bryan was sent earlier this week.

Look at that look Katie shot me when I was trying to get a picture of her just chilling out on the couch with Bryan.  I guess I was disturbing her while she watched the soccer game.


Somebody is into just about EVERYTHING these days!

Who, me?

Yes, Kitty Katkins.  You're lightning fast and driving me crazy with all of your antics.  Daddy will be adding Katie proof latches to the kitchen cabinets soon.  And the computer?  I'm going to take the mouse and keyboard and put them where you can't reach.  If you don't like it you can just stick both arms behind your head and scream like a wookie.  It's ok.  I don't follow the "Let the wookie win" line of thought with wookies too small to rip my arms off.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catholic Family Gifts: First Communion Music Box and Giveaway

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Catholic Family Gifts and asked if I'd be interested in blogging a product review and giveaway.  I didn't have any previous experience with their online gift shop so I decided to take a look and see what they have to offer.  They have a great selection of gifts that are appropriate for sacramental milestones.  Whether you're looking for a baptism, first communion or confirmation gift for that special child in your life, chances are you'll find just the right gift at Catholic Family Gifts.

This school year our middle daughter, Ellie, is preparing for the sacraments of first reconciliation and first communion, so you can imagine that my thoughts are already turned towards her reception of these sacraments.

I was quite intrigued when I saw that Catholic Family Gifts had a great selection of first communion music boxes.  And since I absolutely adore the beautiful Ave Maria tune, I decided that I would select a First Communion Music Box for this review.   They had so many wonderful designs to choose from for the music box art work, that I had a hard time deciding which one would be just right for Ellie.  Her big sister stepped in and weighed in on the decision so I went with her choice.  Once it arrived I knew that Ellie will love it when she sees it.

The music box has a nicely sized compartment for storing a a special First Communion rosary or a few pieces of jewelry.  Next to the velvet lined compartment is the glass covered music box mechanism.  I've always liked music boxes and I particularly like the ones like this one where you can watch the music play.

The insert on the lid of the music box can be swapped out for a favorite photo if you choose.  Perhaps Ellie will keep the first communion artwork in the framed portion of the music box, or maybe she'll want to have a photo of her first holy communion added to it instead.  I like that you have the option to swap out the insert since it will allow the music box to grow with the child.

I'm sure that this music box will become a treasured keepsake for our daughter.  I like that this item is a bit different from the ordinary gift you might give to a first communicant.  Typically I lean towards giving items such as a rosary or a missal for a first communion, but this music box is a bit different but still every bit as appropriate as my standard gift ideas.  I think most young girls would be delighted to receive this music box as a gift.

Catholic Family Gifts online store is an extension of the family owned Catholic retail store, Vineyard Books, Gifts and Church Supplies.  At they strive to provide customers with quality products quickly and accurately, while also displaying their rich family values.

Catholic Family Gifts is sponsoring a giveaway where you have a chance to win an item of your choosing (from a select group of items).  Among the great items you can choose from are a lovely St. Anne Rosary, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and one of my favorite books to use with my religious education class, The Catholic Encyclopedia for Children.

The giveaway starts today and will end on September 26th.

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Catholic Family Gifts sent me this music box in exchange for my honest review.

Ten Minute Tuesday

Ten minutes of what's on my mind...
Rachel Balducci started this Ten Minute Tuesday idea on her blog so I decided I'd join her.  Most of my blog posts wind up in my drafts folder these days because ten minutes simply isn't enough time when you have a million and one things to do.   At least that's how it feels these days.

Katie is teething and that means we're all being treated to lots of screaming these days.  Poor girl isn't very happy with those teeth ruthlessly tearing through her gums.  One of the bottom ones that was coming in is all the way through now.  So we're now waiting on three more teeth that are nearly in.  Once we get past this latest round of teething she will have eight teeth.  My baby is turning into a toddler with a lots of teeth.

I need to do some baby proofing.  Katie has been going around the kitchen and showing me all of the wonderful things in our cabinets.  On Sunday she drove me crazy going from one cabinet to the next for about 15 of the longest minutes you can imagine.  By the time I cleaned up one mess she had created two more.  When Bryan came home from picking Madeline up at youth group I was quite relieved.

I've had the hardest time finding new sandals.  Yes, I know that everyone else went sandal shopping nearly two seasons ago.  I'm a little behind.  We're going to Disney World in less than two months and I need new sandals that don't have torn up insoles.  My sandals took a beating the week of VBS.

I'm working on a schedule to keep the house clean.  So far my Mondays are going well.  I'm getting the bathrooms cleaned and taking care of the sheets and the laundry that need to be caught up after the weekend.  Now I need to focus on a plan to get the house dusted on a regular basis and some sort of solution [trash can, maybe] for all of the clutter on my kitchen countertops.

I'm room mom for Madeline's class.  I wanted the job for Ellie's class but I didn't get picked.  I'm praying that Ellie will make a few good friends soon.  Madeline, of course, has already made a ton of friends at school.

Speaking of Madeline would you believe she's letting the teachers call her Maddie?  I could have screamed when she told me that.  I refuse to call her by that name because we know several people who had golden retrieves named Maddie.  Grrr.

Time's up.  Look at that I managed to write up a blog post that I'm not going to review before I hit publish.  Now it's time for me to face the reality of my messy kitchen.

Ten on Teething

Katie is cutting another two to three teeth so you can very well imagine that teething is something that's been on my mind lately.  So I'm joining in Top Ten on Tuesday with a list of things we're doing and using to help make this latest round of teething more tolerable.
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


Katie's general go to teething toy of choice is this set of fruit keys.  She alternates between chewing on the fruits and the slightly rubbery ring.  This toy has been one of her favorites for months now.
One of the newest items in our teething arsenal is a cold wet washcloth.  I discovered that this helps Katie by accident.  She grabbed the wash cloth that I used to wipe her down after lunch and didn't want to let it go.  It's something I would only recommend if you are going to be supervising the baby while he or she is teething on it.
Very much along the lines of a wet washcloth are those cloth teething stuffed toys.  Last Christmas Katie got a cute little pink teething elephant.*  It has rubbery feet that she can chew and a trunk that is perfect for teething.  She spent a good while attached to this toy yesterday.
I find that distraction can sometimes work to take a baby's mind off of teething.  My parent's gave Katie a neat toy called an O-Balllast week and tossing this soft pliable, chewable ball around has pulled her out of a teething funk more than a few times.  The ball is very easy to squish so it's easy for her to scrunch it down and gnaw on it if the mood strikes her.

In the middle of the night when teething pain wakes Katie and has her inconsolable, ibuprofen has been just what she needs to banish the pain so she can rest.
Tooth specific teethers intrigue me.  Years ago we were given a Mam teether that had some multi functionality that made it ideal for back and front teeth depending on which part of it was being used.  My older girls were attached to it.  I couldn't find the same teether for Katie, but I did manage to find a similar onethat she likes well enough.  The only drawback to this one is that it is water filled.

This teether is another one from our arsenal that should be helpful with the back teeth.

For the most part, none of my girls have been overly impressed with the water filled teethers.  With a few exceptions, nearly every water filled teether we have tried has been rejected by the girls.  They have all tended to prefer the ones that are made of a silicone or rubbery material.

Depending on the baby, topical pain killers like Baby Orajelcan either be a raving success or a dismal flop.  Madeline responded well to this stuff, it had no effect on Ellie and  it hasn't done much of anything for Katie.  

Teething biscuits can be a yummy [and messy] way to keep you little one's mind off of cutting a tooth.  Just make sure you watch the baby closely and take away the biscuit if it becomes small enough to be a choking hazard.

Sometimes there's nothing like a good cuddle from Mom or Dad to ease the discomfort of teething.

* The pink teething elephant is cute, but I don't recommend buying the "pretty in pink" line of toys from Bright Starts because a portion of the sales goes to the Susan G. Komen foundation which supports Planned Parenthood.  I don't think baby products should support a cause that redirects money to another group that destroys innocent unborn children.
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