Thursday, March 28, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

We're so blessed to have these three pretty girls.  One of them is certain that she is a princess.

Madeline is super excited about the Blessed Mother Easter egg she made in her language arts class.  Proof that you can take the kid out of a Catholic school but you can't take the Catholic out of the kid.  Looks like she's evangelizing with eggs.

So I'm sitting on the couch and this child comes up to me and says "Mom, take a picture of me. I'm a clown."  

For this one you'll have to click on the picture and read the directions.  See all the writing my child did?  You might think she answered the questions, but she didn't.  At least not the way she was intended to answer.  Another one to file under "I can't make up this stuff!"

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review: Legacy of Love

I've had Kimberly Hahn's Legacy of Love: Biblical Wisdom for Parenting Teens and Young Adultssitting in a stack next to my bed for probably a year or more.  It was a book that I had meant to read but always seemed to stay right where I put it.  When I finally did get around to reading it I had a hard time putting it down.

I don't quite have a teen in my home yet.  I'm eighteen months away from having a teenager (Eeek!) so I figured now was as good a time as ever to read this book to get a jump on what lies ahead.  In this book Kimberly Hahn, drawing on biblical wisdom, tells you how to create a culture within your family that will nurture your teen through young adult child.  Let's face it, parenting isn't for the faint of heart, and Kimberly tackles the incredible task of raising teens and young adults and steering them along the right path.

This book takes you beyond the years during which your children live at home.  I know of people who take the stance that once their child is legally an adult at 18 that their job of parenting is complete.  I don't think that's the case and neither does Kimberly Hahn.  In fact, earlier this week I heard a homily at a daily Mass where Father said that those parents/grandparents who wash their hands of parenting their adult children by not speaking up when they see them go awry, are nothing short of cowards.  I whole-heartedly agree!

So what are you going to find in this book?  Well, there's loads of sage advice for raising teens and setting clear boundaries.  Teens/young adults and dating typically go hand in hand and you'll find plenty of advice for encouraging healthy dating and courtship.  I loved that the advice on dating meshes so well with the groundwork we're already laying with our girls that the purpose of dating is to find your spouse and not to let someone use you.

As I read deeper into this book I remarked to my husband that this book should be required reading for mother-in-laws to be.  There is so much in this book that is relevant to the mother of a married child.  I love the author's advice on bringing your child's spouse into your heart as one of your own.  Just imagine how wonderful life would be if all women were as welcoming to their sons and daughters-in-law as she describes.  Her perspective on the addition of sons and daughters-in-law is one that many would do well to consider.  Interestingly what she had to say echoes very closely what our pastor had once told me about how whether or not they realize it or choose to acknowledge it, when a son or daughter gets married his or her spouse is in fact a member of the family.  Honestly, for the chapter that addresses "The Mother-in-law dance" alone this book is well worth reading.  I will personally ensure that a copy of this book will find it's way into the hands of any mother who will one day call any one of my daughter's her daughter-in-law.

There's another chapter that has wonderful advice for mentoring young mothers whether it your own daughter or in-law as well as advice on grandparenting.  Again, a wonderful chapter with great advice for parenting through this season of life.  It all goes to show that the job of mothering doesn't end once your child becomes an adult.

Overall I found the book to be packed with amazing advice that will take you from parenting your teen through young adult.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Servant Books for more information on this title or to purchase a copy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quick Takes Volume 64

VBS registration is going very well.  It's been less than two weeks since registration was announced and already I have close to forty children registered.  I feel very confident that I'll have 100 campers registered at least a month before the registration deadline.  I'm hoping we hit max registration as quickly as possible so I can focus on other aspects of VBS that need my attention.
I am praying that I will have all of the adult volunteers lined up soon.  I've been a little worried about it since I lost several volunteers from last year.  This morning while at Mass I was praying that I'd be able to find some more adults to help out.  God is so good.  On my way out a woman who had been an aide the past two years walked past me.  I'll be calling or emailing her later today to see if she'd like to help out again.  Just a few minutes ago I got a phone call from the mother of two girls who also want to help as student volunteers.  We're getting closer!

Bryan keeps reminding me to print and mail out Ellie's First Holy Communion invitations.  We only get  six tickets for the Mass and siblings need tickets, so I had to create two different sets of invites.  One for those who can come to the Mass and another for everyone else who will only get to come to the brunch back at our house.  Using the awesome free First Communion invites (I used the pink striped one) from Angie at Many Little Blessings and PicMonkey [for free editing] I was able to make two nice looking invitations that I uploaded to Sam's Club for 1 hour printing.  I'm ran out and got them after lunch.  I love how they turned out!  I hope to get them in the mail today.
Trying to blog with a toddler in your lap isn't easy.  If you ever see incoherent sentences or blatant misspellings assume that my little editor had something to do with it.  She simply hits the track pad and instantly the text is jumbled.  It's a good thing she's such a cutie pie!
Katie and I went to a playgroup for our church yesterday.  It was held at a friend's house.  We did an egg hunt.  Katie was more interested in trying to put little toy cars and trains in her basket than she was in finding eggs.  I wonder if she was the only child who attempted to steal toys.
We've got another busy soccer filled weekend ahead of us.  Madeline has a game tomorrow and Ellie has one on Sunday.  Bryan has to be at the soccer complex all day on Sunday, so that means we're likely going to the super early 7:30am Mass on Sunday before I teach my class.  Is it late May yet?  Soccer makes life around here very hectic.
Would you believe that I have a huge stack of thank you notes sitting in my china cabinet that simply need stamps and addresses written on them?  Will you think I'm awful if I tell you that some of them are from Katie's birthday in October?  I really need to send them out.  A month or so ago when I was cleaning I found thank you notes from when Ellie turned two.  A few of the thank you notes were addressed to family members who passed away a few years after.  I can't tell you how awful I felt to find those thank you notes just sitting there.  All they needed was a stamp.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Toddler Easter Basket Ideas

Over on Facebook Mandi from Messy Wife, Blessed Life was asking for toddler Easter basket suggestions for her sweet little one.  When it comes to stuffing Easter baskets for my girls, I pretty much adhere to a list year after year.  Each year my girls can count on finding a bathing suit, a pool toy or goggles, some candies or treats and a faith based book and possibly a rosary or some other religious trinket.  I try to keep the focus on the religious aspect of the holiday and downplay the bunny.  Below you'll find some of my suggestions for a Catholic toddler's Easter basket.

We have a nice collection of Easter books and faith based board books in our house that are appropriate for little ones.  My favorite board books are the ones from Magnificat/Ignatius Press:

If you're interested in just Easter stories, I like these books:
For some reason the prices are sky high on the Easter Swallows on Amazon so I'd suggest ordering it from the publisher if you're interested in it.

If you aren't interested in books for you little one, why not go with a Brother Francis DVD?  These DVDs are a hit with my toddler and my seven year old.  So it's something that your child will enjoy for years to come.  

A big colorful rosary is also a fun addition to an Easter basket.  Katie loves to play with her rosary.

Oh My Skin!

About a month ago Katie stopped nursing and ever since my skin has been a wreck.  First it was super oily and started breaking out in areas where it never broke out even when I was a teenager.  Now it's still broken out but I have dry patches all over my face.  I haven't done anything different with my cleaning/moisturizing routine, so I'm assuming this is all hormonal.

Over the past week it seems like my skin is taking a turn for the worse rather than improving.  I can handle the occasional blemish but this is getting to me.  My face just feels awful.   I'm not thrilled to be having skin problems that are making me feel like I'm half my age.

Melody over at Blossoming Joy posted about using oil to wash her face about a month ago.  Which is right about the time my skin woes began.  A few days ago a sample of an oil face wash came in the mail so now I'm wondering if it's time to oil cleansing a go.  I feel desperate...desperate enough to consider allowing something with castor oil in it to make contact with my face.

Not only do I have to figure out what's going on with my face, I also need to find a way to get the skin on my hands to stop cracking.  It seems like I can't moisturize them enough, and I do every time I wash my hands and even in between.

I feel like my skin is presently the bane of my existence.  I wish I could find a quick fix, but I'm sure whatever winds up being the solution will probably take at least a few days to get everything back on track.

It just amazes me that for twenty four months I had almost no complexion issues, which is odd considering my skin is usually a mess when I'm pregnant or nursing.  Perhaps that's the solution.  Maybe we just need to add another little one to the mix.  Something tells me Bryan is going to tell me to find another least for now. ;)

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...
I just love this picture of Ellie!
I made the veil for Ellie after discovering that Madeline's veil looked yellow.  What do you think of it?  Ellie likes it, but I wonder if I should make one that's a bit more full.

Katie is so happy to be wearing her big sister's Chewbacca boots.

She's so silly when she carefully tries to tromp around in the big people shoes.

Yesterday while Bryan, Madeline and Ellie were at soccer practice, I was using baby wipes to clean the baseboards.  Katie thought it looked like fun so she grabbed a few and started cleaning.  She's a girl after my own heart!  Praise God!  I have a child who wants to clean!

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

Taking Candy From a Baby

I'm sure we've all heard the "It's like taking candy from a baby." saying.  People say this when they want to convey that something is incredibly easy.  This morning I'm wondering if "they" have ever actually taken candy from a baby.  My guess is they haven't.

I had some errands to run this morning.  So I packed Katie up and we made our first stop at the parish office to drop off and pick up VBS related items.  Just before we leave Katie was given an unopened lollipop.  I didn't think anything of it until we got in the car.  Bryan does NOT like the kids having lollipops because he thinks they can come off the stick at anytime and become a choking hazard.  So knowing that Katie has the ability to get into anything and knowing that Bryan would not be happy with me if he knew that I let her play with a wrapped lollipop while I drove to Target, I reached back and took it from her.  The sippy cup I gave her in exchange didn't cut it.

For the next 45 horrifically long, loud minutes, my child screamed, kicked and wailed.  A minute after I took the lollipop I realized that I needed to get gas in the van if I didn't want to be stranded on the side of the road with a crabby baby.  Of course the gas station was packed and I got to wait as the slowest gas station attendant ever went from car to car at a most leisurely pace.  And let's not forget the person ahead of me who just wanted to hang out in her car for a few minutes while my child screeched inches away from my ears.  My prayers to God to make Katie stop went unheeded.  Perhaps this was another awesome lesson in patience.

I was so hopeful that she'd stop wailing once the car got moving but that was a mere fantasy.  The screaming was bad enough that I nearly got in an accident more than a few times.  Screaming babies are great if you are trying to disorient someone.

Surely, she'd be happy once we got out of the car and went into Target.  Wrong.  At this point I had such a massive headache that I wanted to find an aisle with soft bedding and just lay down.  But instead, I grabbed some candy for the egg hunt Katie and I are going to this afternoon at a friend's house.

The ride home was every bit as bad as the ride to the store.  At a light I texted Bryan and let him know what was going on.  He suggested that teeth might be partially to blame.  Ah, yes, I had forgotten that she woke up screaming around 4am this morning.  The ibuprofen had worn off and those top and bottom molars were once again making Katie, and me miserable.

As soon as we got home she had her medicine which made her a little happier.  Thanks be to God she is now napping.  Now if I could just get my headache to go away, I might not feel like I'm in desperate need of a morning nap.

If anyone uses that inane cliche that anything is "like taking candy from a baby" around me just know that I will have plenty to say about it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Making Progress

I've blogged in the past about our estrangement with Bryan's side of the family. It's been nearly two years since many of his family members last spoke with us. In that time I've been trying to get Bryan to extend an olive branch. He doesn't understand why I would want him to do this since he's quite happy with the current arrangement. I'm not, and have been pretty clear about it from the start. Family, for good or for ill, is still family.

When my grandmother on my Dad's side of the family passed away there was an estrangement between my aunt and the rest of her siblings. She essentially chose to withdrawal herself from the rest of the family. It's an estrangement that has lasted for over twenty years. So when I lost my beloved grandmother, I also lost my aunt who I liked to pester. When my uncle became ill a few years ago, the only way my father and aunt could get a message to her was through the police department since she wouldn't talk to them. My only contact with my aunt in twenty years has been Christmas cards signed only with her name and no other communication, and a few words exchanged with her in a cemetery at my uncle's burial. I was told she was at the church on my wedding day, but I didn't see her.

On my mom's side there is an estrangement with my uncle. And, I have aunts who don't speak to one another. The rift between my uncle and my mother and aunt was something that was of great concern to my grandmother as she was dying. She wanted them reconciled, and for a brief time, it was as she wished, but it was strained, almost artificial. The rift is still there, but it's not to the point of the estrangement on my dad's side. 

So the estrangement with my husband's family bothers me. Estrangements are the results of stubborn people holding onto grudges that do nothing but fester. It appears that in the case of Bryan and his family, they [he and his mother, specifically] have reached an impasse. What likely could have been settled if both parties had agreed to sit down and talk has turned into what may very well be an irreparable rift.

On our side, the door is open. We would certainly welcome any of these family members into our home if ever they should show up at our door. As a parent, I cannot understand how one could sit back and not make any attempts to reconcile with their son, especially when grandchildren, the only grandchildren, are involved.  It seems a pity to miss out on their childhood.  Katie is seventeen months old today.  Her days of being a baby have passed and already she's a toddler.  They've already missed so much.  I couldn't imagine being a grandparent and not being part of my grandchildren's memories.

I've mentioned to Bryan several times that we need to come up with a guest list for Ellie's First Holy Communion luncheon. Usually when I suggest sending an invitation to his family I am promptly shut down, but today I managed to convince him to extend an invitation. While we have been of the opinion that the ball is in their court so to speak with regards to them wanting or not wanting to be a part of our lives, I was able to express myself well enough to convince Bryan that extending an invitation to them would serve as a reminder that the choice to be involved or not to be involved is in their hands. We can't force anyone to come to us, but we can certainly extend an invitation. At any rate, the fact that Bryan has agreed to inviting his family feels like progress.

The interesting parallel that I have taken from this situation is that an estrangement like this is a lot like when you choose to separate yourself from God through sin, particularly a mortal sin.  God doesn't distance Himself from you, rather you distance yourself from Him.  In essence, you choose to sever the relationship.   That's how this estrangement feels to us.  We didn't choose to separate from his side of the family, rather, they chose to distance themselves from us.

Quick Takes: Volume 63

This morning was the First Eucharist parent retreat for our parish.  We're in the home stretch for Ellie's First Holy Communion.  We have a little over a month to go.

Since I was over at the church and the retreat let out just as confessions began, I got to go to confession this morning.  It was nice to see so many familiar faces in line, even if the line was pretty long.  Father was once again creative with the penance.  Have I mentioned how much I dislike creative penances?  This time I was tasked with promoting the adoration chapel that we have in the church basement.  So how many people do I need to tell?  Not sure.  Add to it that most of my friends from church already know about it and visit it.  Maybe I'll tell my students about it tomorrow and I'll see if I can also take them on a field trip to the one that was just created in the school building. Arrgh, these types of penances make me worry that I haven't sufficiently completed them.  It's funny, because I was just telling Bryan yesterday how much I dislike these types of penances.  Hey, does blogging about the adoration chapel count?  I know a few local friends read the blog.  

Katie is talking a bit more these days.  She has started saying a few more words in the past week.  Sometimes it sounds like she is trying to say different little phrases.  The other day she was playing in another room while I folded laundry in the living room and I called her.  She responded with what sounded like "Where you at?"  She got that from Daddy since I say "Where are you?"  My 6-8th grade grammar teacher would have called me a woodenhead for ending the question with a preposition.  Her teaching style left a lasting impression on me.

I think I decided on a book for Madeline's Easter basket.  I think she'll like Saints & Heroes far better than Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints.

I got this book for Katie's Easter basket.  It arrived earlier this week.  I can't wait to read it to her.  I love children's books that were originally printed many decades ago.  This one was originally printed in the late 30s.

I can't decide which book I want to put in Ellie's Easter basket.  I ordered this book which is like a comic book style retelling of the miracles of Jesus and similar to other books from this series that Ellie loves, and this saints book.  Ellie has been reading about saints a lot lately so I don't know which one to give her.

The other morning Katie wanted Madeline to read her a book before school.  Katie had gotten up around 6am that day which is incredibly early for her.  Madeline asked me to snap a picture of Kitty sitting with her.  I love how attached they are to each other.

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