Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: Blessed John Paul II

A little while back I was given the opportunity to review Blessed John Paul II: Be Not Afraid from the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books & Media.  I have a fondness for John Paul II, so I was excited to share this book with my eleven year old daughter.  Before handing the book off to her I sat down one evening and read the book from start to finish.  I loved how well this book retells the story of  his life.  I felt like I was reading the juvenile version of Why He Is a Saint: The Life and Faith of Pope John Paul II and the Case for Canonization.

I know the books in this series are geared to children in the 9-12 year old age range, but honestly, an adult who knows very little about any given saint could pick up one of the books from this series and learn so much from reading one of these stories.  I am pretty impressed with the amount of information contained in this book.

My daughter read through the book over the course of a week.  Between this book and the Holy Heroes Glory Stories: Blessed John Paul II she learned so much about John Paul II.  She had listened to the Glory Story a few time before she had the opportunity to read this book.  While she was reading the book she kept coming to me and telling me that there was a part in the book that was just like the Glory Story, or she'd tell me about a part of the book that really interested her and ask if it really happened.  The book was certainly a conversation starter, and she was pretty surprised to learn that not only were there lots of books on him for adults, but also that he had also written some books himself.  What made even more of an impression on her was the fact that Blessed John Paul II was alive at the same time as her.  I think children need more examples of modern day saints so they can see that it's possible to live in this day and age and still strive to attain sainthood.

As with other books in the Encounter the Saints Series, this book also has a great prayer and glossary at the end of the book.  While the target range of the book is for children in the 9-12 year old range, I think that children as young as seven could read this book with minimal help.  I also think the book has the ability to appeal to children up through eighth grade.

I was provided with a review copy of Blessed John Paul II by the publisher, Pauline Books & Media, in exchange for my honest review.  You can find out more about this book or purchase a copy by visiting Pauline Books & Media.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

As with other books in the Encounter the Saints Series, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: The Gift of Life,does not disappoint.  In this book, young readers will learn about the wonderful example of St. Gianna. The story is one that will give readers a good appreciation for the vocation of motherhood and also gives a strong pro-life witness.

The book gives an account of St. Gianna's life from her birth to her death.  The story of St. Gianna's life is told in an engaging way that will keep you turning pages.  My eleven year old zipped through this book in a few days.  Even I had a hard time putting the book down.

The book is geared to children in the 9-12 year old age range but I think a seven or eight year old who is used to reading chapter books could read through this book with little difficulty.

One of the things I like best about the books in the Encounter the Saints Series is the prayer at the end of the story and glossary at the end of the book that covers terms that may be unfamiliar to young readers.

I was provided with a review copy of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Pauline Media for more information on this book or to purchase a copy.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quick Takes Volume 60

I'm still on a bit of a cleaning spree and have been going through the house and deciding which things need to be donated, trashed or kept.  Last week I sort of went overboard with it and was driving myself and everyone else in the house crazy.  I got a bit of a reality check on Saturday morning when I took the kids to confession.  I was told the same thing Bryan had told me the night before almost word for word.  Bryan was amused to hear that Father said the same thing to me.  Sigh.  So I've eased up on the cleaning mission a bit.  I'm working on finding that "balance" between my neat freak tendencies and allowing people to actually "live" in the house.  On a side note, Ellie was THRILLED to go confession again and literally cut Madeline off and darted into the confessional where she remained for close to 15 minutes chatting with one of our favorite priests. She came out only seconds after I got out of the confessional which really caught me by surprise. [I felt like I was in there forever.] She has such an incredibly positive and upbeat attitude towards this sacrament which she attributes to something our pastor said to her class when they were preparing for first reconciliation.  I hope she never loses that perspective.

While cleaning out part of the basement utility closet today I came across some old pictures.  There were a bunch of pictures of my mother-in-law as a child, a few baby pictures of Bryan and his brother, and a wedding picture of his grandparents.  I thought the girls would like to see the picture of their great grandparents so I set that aside.
The girls just got home from school.  Madeline broke up a fight between two girls on the school bus by telling one of them to be the bigger person and then explaining what it meant.  The girl thought Madeline was telling her to be fat at first.  But Madeline's explanation of what it means to be a bigger person made sense to the girl and the argument was diffused.  I'm glad she has a good head on her shoulders.  

When I got home from Mass this morning Katie decided that she wanted to hang out in the dining room and do a bit of Lenten reading from the First Communion Catechism.  She cracks me up sometimes.

A couple of weeks ago Bryan brought some of those microwave mac and cheese things.  Katie has been all over them.  She thinks they're toys.  I think she's going to be upset when Bryan eats all of them and there are no more fun little shaker drums in the pantry.  Since I don't feed the kids mac and cheese she doesn't associate her "toy" with actual food.
I'm looking forward to the return of Duck Dynasty.  Bryan and I just started watching it about a month ago.  We caught up on all of the first two seasons and are ready for more.  Bryan likes the show so much that I was able to convince him to say grace before dinner each night during Lent Phil style.  Some of them have been very odd graces and some of them are quite funny, but I'll take it.  Honestly, it's the only time I've ever heard him say any sort of prayer outside of Mass.
Now that I've managed to get myself up and ready a few times a week to go to 8am Mass, I'm wondering if Katie would behave if I were to start bringing her with me the two days a week that Bryan goes into the office.  I'd love to be able to go to Mass every day.  I've been reluctant to bring Katie since she made quite a commotion when I took her to a daily Mass back in the fall.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Ellie wrote a pretty rainbow letter to her MomMom after dinner tonight.  My mom always gets a chuckle out of Ellie's trademark question of "How are you doing at the house?"

This child LOVES her freeze dried strawberries!  She was pretty pleased with herself once she had sufficiently coated herself and her high chair with strawberry.  I think it goes without saying that someone needed a bath after dinner.

I found this picture on the camera when I uploaded the pictures tonight.  I don't know who took it, or why.  This picture looks like the set up for a bad joke.  Two saints, an angel and a personified dog go looking for a midnight snack...

I found Madeline's illustration for affable to be rather amusing.  In case you can't read it: Unicorn "I'm pleasant and friendly" Girl "And easy to speak to."

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Watch the Installation of Our New Bishop

Our diocese has a new bishop, and today is the Installation Mass.  You can watch the installation of Bishop Denis Sullivan on EWTN starting at 2PM EST today.

The Mass is taking place in the church where Ellie was baptized.  I think that's kind of neat.  I really liked that church a lot, but it didn't make sense to travel over twenty minutes to go to that church when we moved when our current parish is less than five minutes from our house.

The Year of Faith Pope Benedict XVI

I'm still feeling a little shocked over yesterday's news that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to resign.  I never would have guessed that I'd be seeing that story when I sat down to eat my breakfast.  My thoughts went from this story is a hoax (I got the news from a Huffington Post article.) to absolute shock that the story was, in fact, true.

I've still yet to make my way through the book Light of the World, which I had actually pre-ordered ages ago,  but I do recall there was a question posed to the Holy Father about whether he'd ever resign from the Papacy.  And if I recall correctly, the way he worded his answer made it look like he wouldn't rule out such a possibility, so perhaps maybe we shouldn't be as shocked and stunned as many of us are.  But still, there's no discounting the surprise that many of us got yesterday morning.

I've done my best to stay away from media broadcasts on this subject.  Bryan told me some of what he was hearing on the news and I've read plenty of blog posts that have reported similar things where reporters who are unversed in what Catholicism really is decide to be arm chair theologians and spout out their thoughts on what the Catholic Church needs.

Yesterday one of my initial worries about the Pope retiring was whether this might create a schism within the Church.   I'm sure the Holy Father has thought through that and has prayed on it, so I will just have to have faith that this won't happen.  The pessimist in me worries about such things.  I did reflect later in the day that it seems even more fitting that this is the Year of Faith.  I came across this video clip of Cardinal Arinze's reaction to the Holy Father's resignation.  And I think it's worth taking a few minutes to watch.

So while I am sad that our Pope has decided to step down,  I'm confident that he has the best interests of the Catholic Church at the heart of this decision.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quick Takes Volume 59

I feel like I've reached an impasse with my attempt to declutter the house.  I want to get rid of a lot of our stuff, but I am finding that a lot of the clutter is stuff that we need.  How did this happen?  And why do we have so much stuff?  I'm going to do my best during Lent to pare down more of our belongings. There's no way we really "need" all of this stuff.
I feel frazzled this week.  Madeline had half days three days this week and was off from school today.  Ellie's school has been on it's regular schedule, so you can well imagine that I have heard complaining that it's not fair that one of them was in school all day every day while another child was complaining that she was bored.  Katie seemed to run hot and cold with the mix up in her usual routine.  On one hand she enjoyed getting to play with Madeline, but on the other she had so much fun playing that she got really cranky since she spent a few afternoons too wound up to nap.  I feel exhausted.

Bryan and I decided that we will give up dining out and take-out for Lent.  Last year we gave up cheese and that was rough, but I suspect this might be equally challenging for us.  We plan to eat out a few times between now and Tuesday since we won't be seeing the inside of a restaurant until Easter Monday at the earliest...well, maybe we'll eat out on February 22nd to celebrate the Chair of Saint Peter since it is a solemnity.

We might get hit with snow this weekend.  I'm hoping that we're on the low end of the predicted snow so we don't wind up stuck in the house for the weekend.

This morning was frustrating with getting Ellie ready for school.  I don't know what was going on with her this morning, but I suspect she didn't want to get ready for school because Madeline was off.  It was a very stressful eighty minute ordeal.


Once the blessed yellow school bus picked her up, the mood in our house became a lot lighter.  Madeline celebrated that she could hang out in her pjs for a little while and Bryan decided to hop on Mystery and go for a little ride.


Bryan and I have been giving my old popcorn popper a workout this week.  He's back to seriously watching what he eats and was looking for a low calorie snack.  So I suggested we break out my awesome air popper that I've had since I was in high school (poor little thing is practically an antique with it's 90's style lettering).  It's funny watching Bryan react to the popper as it start shooting him with popcorn and hot kernels.  He'll get the hang of it.  You just have to get used to the machine's little quirks.  The dog is loving it because it shoots popcorn out onto the floor.  

Book Review: Mother Love

I'm sure some of you have noticed that I've been reading and reviewing some older books lately, and by  older I mean books written over 100 years ago.  Even as a kid I always had a thing for older books and would be delighted when I was gifted with a vintage copy of some book that had belonged to an aunt or grandparent.  There's just something about those older books that really speaks to me.  Recently, I have found that prayer books and such that were written in this time period seem to resonate with me far better than some of their more modern counterparts.

I don't recall when I became aware of a prayer book called Mother Love.  It might have been a year or so when I saw it mentioned on another blog along with a brief excerpt.  All I know is the small blurb was enough to send me searching for a copy to add to my wish list.  The problem, however, was it seemed that this book was so obscure that I couldn't find it anywhere, but that didn't stop me from looking for it.  Eventually I found it on on website but was a bit put off by the high shipping for the book so I added it to my wish list and continued to look every now and then to see if anyone else was selling the book.  This fall I was searching on the Angelus Press website for a totally unrelated title and saw that they had done a reprint of Mother Love.  The price was better, the cover [Yes, I'm guilty of sometimes judging the covers of books.] was more attractive and the book suddenly seemed infinitely more accessible to me.  I told my husband about it when they had an awesome Cyber Monday sale that offered a nice discount and free shipping and he ordered it for me as a Christmas gift.  It was one of the gifts I was most excited to get.

Up until Christmas day, I didn't know just what I'd find in Mother Love: A Manual for Christian Mothers outside of what I had read in that one brief excerpt.  I have to say I'm very impressed with this book.  It's a prayer book and an invaluable guide for raising good Catholic children.  While some of the writing may come across as old fashioned to modern mothers, the advice in this book is timeless.  The prayers are simply beautiful.  I have a similar book, called The Christian Mother, which I have reviewed here.  I think both of these books are excellent, but if I had to choose a favorite, Mother Love would get my backing.

The advice in the section of the book entitled the "Little Book of Instructions For Christian Mothers On the Christian Training of Children" is quite helpful.  There is a chapter on preparing a child for confession which I found to be a great help as I prepared my middle child to receive this sacrament last week.  There's an equally good chapter on preparing a child for first Eucharist as well, which I'll be reading and re-reading a lot over the next couple of months as our daughter prepares for this sacrament.  

I should note that this edition of Mother Love has been revised "to reflect the modern legislation in the matter of indulgences."  When reviewing older books, such as this, I think it's worth noting changes of this nature.  I have a few older prayer books where I have at times wondered if the indulgence attached to a particular prayer is what it is currently or what it was in the past.  It's actually one of the things I like best about these older books, since many of the more modern prayer books neglect to say what indulgence is attached to a particular prayer.  Based on other books I've read on indulgences, you have to know there's an indulgence out there in order to obtain it.  So in that regard, I don't understand why this seems to be neglected in many post-Vatican II prayer books.

I highly recommend this book.  It really should be a must-have for every Catholic mother who is serious about raising faithful practicing Catholics.  It's a great gift idea for the mother who seems to have everything.

Book Review: The Christian Mother

The Christian Mother: The Education of Her Children and Her Prayer is another one of those old books that I couldn't wait to crack open.  The book was originally published back in 1880 so you can well imagine just how beautiful many of the prayers contained within this book are.  I became aware of this book when I read a few excerpts from it on a blog I read regularly.  Based what I had read of the excepts, I knew this book was one I had to have on my bookshelf.

Upon getting the chance to read through this book I discovered that it doesn't just contain loads of beautiful prayers for a variety of situations, it also is filled with lots of sage and timeless advice for raising Catholic children with well-formed consciences and a firm understanding of their faith.  So the book is really part manual part prayer book.

With the book being written over a hundred years ago it goes without saying that the portions of this book that reference the Mass are ideally suited to the Extraordinary Form (Latin Mass) and not the Ordinary Form, although, many of these prayers could certainly still be employed.

There's a section on indulgenced prayers near the end of the book, but I question whether or not the indulgences are the same now as they were then.  I have a few other pre-Vatican II prayer books that were reprinted in recent time, and one of them has some annotations regarding the indulgences and some changes that were made after a certain date.

There is a beautiful Way of the Cross for the Christian mother for the benefit of her children.  The reflections and prayers for this Stations of the Cross are beautiful and timeless.

Overall, Rev. W. Cramer's The Christian Mother: The Education of Her Children and Her Prayer, is a spiritual treasure trove for mothers.  No matter where you are a mother, whether you're a new mom or a the mother of adult children, this lovely little hardbound volume has something to offer you.  Ideally, though, this is a book that you'll want to have on hand while your children are young.  It would make a great gift for a mother-to-be or a new mom.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by Tiber River in exchange for my honest review. Visit Aquinas and More for more information or to purchase a copy for yourself.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book Review: Umbert the Unborn A Womb With A View

A few years ago I became familiar with Gary Cangemi's Umbert the Unborn comic strip.  I had come across it in the Faith and Family magazine as well as online.  Umbert is a cute little baby who hangs out waiting to be born and shares his pro-life message.

In Umber the Unborn: A Womb With a View we are not only treated to many Umbert comic strips from over the years, but we also get to see the development of an unborn baby from conception to the end of the third trimester.  There are life sized and scaled drawings depicting these changes.  Throughout the book readers are also treated to "Umbert's facts of life" in which you will learn interesting facts about unborn babies and some interesting fun facts.

Overall, this is a fun book filled with lots of Umbert comic strips.  I think Umbert is pretty cute and witty.  Because this is a comic strip it appeals to kids and adults alike.  My eleven year old couldn't wait for me to be finished reading this because she wanted to read it, too. [The book gets her seal of approval, by the way.] I don't mind my children reading through this book because I think it's a great way to help reinforce the pro-life values that we are raising them to have.  Now, if you're a parent and you're worried that you child is going to ask what an abortion is and you aren't prepared to answer it, then you might not want to hand this book off to your child.  The topic of abortion is mentioned in the comic strips but there's nothing that I would deem inappropriate.  In fact, I would have no reservations about handing this book off to my seven year old.

 This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Umbert the Unborn - A Womb with a View. The Catholic Company is the best resource for gifts for every Sacrament celebration, such as First Communion gifts and Baptism gifts, as well as a great selection of limited-time Year of Faith gifts and resources.

Small Successes: February 7th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I packed away some of the baby toys that Katie doesn't play with in an attempt to reduce clutter and focus her on playing with the toys she has that are more age/developmentally appropriate.  I hope these toys won't have to stay packed away for too long.

2. I did some grocery shopping at the beginning of the week to help restock the freezer.  I have several of our dinners for the next few weeks planned out as a result of this. 

3. While doing some cleaning/organizing in the basement earlier this week I found the tot-loc latches that I was searching for a few months ago.  Maybe we'll put these latches on a few more cabinets that I'd like to see be a bit more secure.  Katie can open some of the safety latches if she's determined and patient enough.

4. I still have to blog about this, but Ellie made her first penance last Saturday and she did great.  I'm so happy for her.

5. Bryan hung up all of the various things that needed to be hung this past Sunday.  We hadn't gotten around to hanging up the things that used to be on her walls before I painted the week after Christmas.  So that's all done and the things that needed to be hung in other rooms got taken care of, too.

6. Both of the girls came home with good report cards this week.  Madeline only got grades for a handful of classes because of the mid-term transfer, but it looks like the transfer went smoothly based on her grades.

Share your Small Successes for the week at Catholic Mom.

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...


This pretty little girl had a great time using this laundry basket as a little house while I folded the laundry.  She thought it was a riot that she could pop in and out of the basket and just sit in it with a few of her toys.  It fun watching her use her imagination.  She's such a funny little person.

I made biscotti a couple of days ago.  This picture was taken the next day when only about 1/3 of what I made remained.  I ate almost all of what was on this plate during the day.  I could eat this stuff every day if I made it more often.  I posted the recipe here.  You know you want to try a plate of it for yourself!  It's very simple to make and doesn't require much prep time.

This funny little bird is driving me crazy.  For the past week it has been flying into my storm door and living room windows feet first and tapping on the door from morning until evening.  The bird is also stalking me in the basement laundry room window.  It goes nuts at that window.  I'm not sure what's going on with this bird but it's out there chirping up a storm like it's very upset.  I thought the bird was only attacking our house, but it's doing the same thing to my neighbor's house too.  The other day Madeline decided to come in through the garage door because she was worried that the bird was going to either attack her or come in the front door with her.


Does it get any more real than this?  This is what my kitchen sink looked like this morning after a certain child decided to dump peas, rice and the sauce from last night's lemonade chicken all over the things in the sink.  This picture pretty much sums up how well our morning went today.

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


Bryan has a lot of fond memories of different dessert foods that he used to eat when he was a kid.  Some of them I have tried and didn't like at all much to his amazement, but others I really enjoy.  His grandmother's biscotti has got to be my favorite hands down.

Bryan's had a meeting with one of the coaches for Madeline's soccer team a couple nights ago, so I decided that I'd bake up a sheet of biscotti.  I haven't made it in nearly two years and I've been wanting it for a while.  I'm also planning on making it for Ellie's first communion brunch this spring, so I figured I'd give it a test run now to make sure I have it just right.  Bryan likes it when it has a bit of a crinkle sound to it when you bite into it.  They eat it soft instead of toasted, but it's pretty good when you cut it and toss it back in the oven a bit to toast it up, of course leaving it sit out for about a day will also give it that harder texture.  Either way, it's good!

The recipe is pretty simple.   Here's what you need to make it:

1/2 sheet pan
6 eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 level tablespoon baking powder
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup vanilla
powdered sugar (enough to dust the tops of the biscotti after it's cooled)
Preheat oven to 350
Grease and flour sheet pan

Beat eggs and sugar on high speed.  Add vegetable oil, baking powder and vanilla.  Slowly add flour on low speed.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes, slice and dust with powdered sugar.

The biscotti should look something like this once it's ready to come out of the oven:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Arma Dei Review: Advent & Lent Quest

Eeeek!  Can you believe that we're just a week away from the start of Lent?  I feel like it snuck up on us pretty quickly this year.  If you're like me and you feel like you're about to be blindsided by Lent, then you might not have really spent much time thinking about how you'll be teaching your children to observe this season this year.

We do a few different things to "celebrate" Lent.  It sounds so odd to say that we celebrate a penitential season, but I guess we do.  For the past few years Lent has looked pretty much the same in our house.  We have our merciful cross where the girls record the works of mercy and add a flower to the cross for each work performed.  We have a bean jar to count good deeds, and we do daily readings for our Jesus tree which is sort of like a Jesse tree.

This year we're adding a new element.  We're doing a Lenten countdown chain using the Advent and Lent Quest from Arma Dei.  Advent and Lent quest is a craft kit that has pages you can print on colored or white paper [if your kids want to be the ones to add color] to make a countdown chain or to make a decorative chain as you go along.  Each strip for the paper chain has either a challenge, or an interesting point of catechesis to help your child learn and practice our Catholic faith.  The cool thing about the latest version of Advent and Lent Quest is it includes special pages for the Year of Faith which has some great Cathletics, and also Season with the Saints which celebrates many saints and lists his/her feast day, what he or she is the patron saint of, and a quote from that saint.

I couldn't just use one element from this kit for our Lent chain.  In fact, I had a really hard time deciding which elements I wanted to use.  There's really a lot to choose from in this kit!  I decided to print out links for saint feast days that will happen during Lent.  Then I picked a few of the Year of Faith selections and did the remaining ones using the Advent and Lent quest links.  Sure I could have just printed out the Advent and Lent quest links for this chain, but I wanted to sample a little bit of everything!

The cool thing about this craft is you can use it for Lent, Advent and even throughout the year.  During Ordinary Time you could print the Season with the Saints and Year of Faith links out and use them on feast days and maybe Sundays to teach your child about the Catholic faith and the Communion of Saints.  Print the links out on fun colored papers and make a paper link garland that can decorate a room.  Kids love making paper chains and this could be a fun ongoing activity.  You could probably even find a way to work the Season with the Saints link into an All Saints Day party.

Printing out the links was a snap.  I have the digital copy of this kit, so I simply opened up the PDF and scrolled through it to pick and choose what pages I wanted to print rather than print all of it at once. [We go through printer ink like there's no tomorrow, so I try to conserve it whenever possible.]  The links are easy enough to assemble.  Simply cut them apart along the lines [After cutting few pages with scissors I decided to break out the paper cutter.] and glue them together.  I used a glue stick and assembly took me just a few minutes.  What took me the longest was making sure I had the saint links on the right day.  I don't want the girls pulling off the St. Patrick link on St. Joseph's feast day!

The girls took a peek at some of the links as I was preparing the chain.  They're ready to start pulling off a link a day, so I'll take that as a sign that this will be a kid approved activity.  I'm sure it will make an appearance in a future blog post this Lent.

The way we're using this craft kit is just one variation on the way it can be used.  Monica of Arma Dei is super creative and gives lots of great suggestions for how to use these links in the instructions for this kit.  Every time I read over the instructions I notice another neat way to use these links that I hadn't noticed before.  She has plenty of ideas that will make using this kit year after year lots of fun.

I was provided with a review copy of Advent and Lent Quest by the publisher, Arma Dei, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Equipping Catholic Families for more information or to buy a copy of this kit for yourself.  Since this is available in an electronic format you still have plenty of time to order a copy of this and have it all set up for this Lent.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quick Takes Volume 58

VBS planning is now well under way for this year.  Earlier this week I sat down with the amazing ladies who are taking care of the arts and crafts portion of the program to discuss craft ideas.  The meeting was really productive and we have just four of the five days set.  The kids should have a lot of fun doing these meaningful crafts.  I'm excited to see how everything will turn out.
This year I'm trying to get as much of the supplies that we need for VBS donated as I can.  I was given a great suggestion to see if we could have a professional tee shirt business apply the iron-on decals for the camper's shirts instead of having someone volunteer to do all of the ironing manually.  I mentioned this to our DRE and he has passed our request on to the person who handles the parish carnival tee shirts.  Hopefully she will be able to get the business to donate this service to us.  I'm also working to see if I can get donations for the camp snacks.
Ellie is all set to receive first penance tomorrow morning.  She's been practicing how to go to confession using a silly list of fake sins.  She's been laughing a lot as she says "I stole five llamas from Target.  I didn't feed the llamas.  I made fun of the llama-faced boy who sits next to me at school...."[Why yes, we do watch The Emperor's New Groove on a pretty regular basis.]  I'm praying that she does not confess those made up sins tomorrow morning.  I am glad that she is so excited to go to confession and seems so relaxed about it.  It occurred to me a few days ago that she will receive this sacrament on Candlemas.  How neat is that she will receive this soul-cleansing sacrament on a feast day that celebrates the purification of our Blessed Mother?  I had already decided to make either a cake or a bread in this beautiful bundt pan, but now it seems even more fitting.
Catholic Schools Week is coming to a close today.  This week we had to hand in our notice that Ellie will not be returning to the school in September.  I really wanted this school to work out for both of our girls but sometimes things look better on paper than they do in reality.  We were mildly amused yesterday when Ellie came home with a card she made that says that "SMS is a bully-free school" on the front with a thank you from Ellie for sending her to the school.  Madeline took one look at the card and said it was a lie.  Perhaps they don't consider the cliques to be in the bullying category.

We're trying to help Katie kick her pacifier addiction.  The past two days I haven't let her have the pacifier outside of her crib.  She was pretty upset about it early in the day yesterday but she seems to be adjusting.  She seems to have them stashed all over the house so I have been grabbing them and tossing them in the kitchen sink as I come across them.  We find that she actually says words when she doesn't have a pacifier in her mouth.  You can't understand anything she says when she has her pacifier.
We had snow this morning.  Thankfully, it wasn't anything bad enough to cancel school.  Any day that it snows that doesn't cause a snow day is just fine with me.  I can handle it in small amounts, just not when it piles up.  Ellie's school already has two days to make up from the hurricane so we don't need any snow days on top of it.  For some reason the public school isn't making up those hurricane days but that's just fine with me!
Madeline went to school all Flyered up with her Flyers shirt and sparkly orange finger nails. [Bryan thinks she's trying to butter him up for something.]  She was a bit upset a few weeks ago that she was the only one  that didn't have a Flyers jersey or tee shirt.  It took a couple of weeks of me stalking the Flyers section at Target, but I finally found her a ladies tee shirt that she loved in a size small.  It amazes me that she can already wear some small and x-small women's tee shirts.  Is she really that big already?  It seems like she's grown a lot since September.
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