Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Literal Pain in the Neck

About seven weeks or so ago I developed this hive/burn like rash on my neck that just happened to be exactly where my necklace was.  I've been wearing this necklace since my wedding day nearly 12 1/2 years ago, so it seemed really odd.

Bryan and I tried to figure out what the problem could be.  I begrudgingly took off the necklace after Bryan suggested I see if that was the problem.  The rash still lingered, so I tried a different shampoo thinking that was the problem.  Same goes for the body wash.  It took a little while, but the rash went away.  Then I put the necklace back on and within two days the rash was back.  Arrgh!

Years ago (the day after my wedding day, to be exact) I stopped wearing all earrings because it was clear that I was allergic to silver and gold.  Anytime I put silver or gold earrings in my ears they are red and inflamed within a day or two of me putting them in.  Oddly enough, I can wear stainless steel or plastic posts, just not silver and gold.  So I simply don't bother with wearing earrings.  It doesn't bother me since I'm not really into wearing jewelry.

What does bother me is that I appear to no longer be able to tolerate wearing the necklace that Bryan gave me.  It is one of the only pieces of jewelry that I wear all of the time.  I wear that and my wedding band and engagement rings.

Over the years I've had many instances where my finger seemed like it was having and allergic reaction to my rings, but I refuse to take them off unless I'm working with power tools or my finger is swollen.  I spent several months not being able to wear my rings just before and after Katie was born and it upset me a lot.

I do wonder if it has anything to do with my now longer hair.  My hair has been pretty short for the past six or seven years.  Now it's almost to my shoulders.  I had to take the necklace off late last week and my neck still has the hive like rash.  Could the culprit be my hair and not the gold?

As if one pain in the neck isn't enough, I woke up on Friday with a sharp pain in my neck and shoulder blade.  Since then my neck has gotten worse.  I can't turn my head very easily and if I lay down for a bit my entire spine feels like it's stiff and it's difficult to move.  To make things even more interesting, I'm now getting pain down my left arm that feels a bit like sciatic pain does in my leg.  I'm wondering if one of the bulging discs I have in my neck from a car accident Bryan and I were in back in 98 is now aggravated.  I'm still hopeful that the pain will go away, but if I doesn't I'll have to get it checked out.  It's getting difficult to carry Katie when my neck hurts so badly.

On the bright side, I think I figured out the cause of my almost daily headaches that I had been having for several months.  Since eliminating my almost daily Starbucks about a month ago I have had only a small handful of headaches.  It appears that their coffee was giving me massive headaches.  And on days when I didn't grab a coffee from them I had even worse headaches.  Now if I could just find an easy solution to my neck issues I'd be set!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History

When my eldest daughter came home from school the other day and saw me sitting on the porch reading a big thick book the first thing she said to me was "Mom, are you reading the dictionary?"  I flipped up the cover so she could see that it was the Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History.  She shook her head, told me it was pretty much the same as reading a dictionary and walked into the house convinced, I'm sure, that her mom needs a new hobby.

This book is a history book.  It's not going to be something that most people will grab for beach or poolside reading, unless, you're like me and you really like to read history books, encyclopedia entries and yes, even the dictionary and thesaurus.  I hear people call history books boring all of the time, but I've yet to come across more than two or three history books that I truly felt were absolutely boring.  This book is plenty interesting if you have an interest in the role of the Catholics and the Catholic church as it relates to U.S. History.

The Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History fills in the gaps that are often glossed over or completely ignored in history classes.  As I read through this book I learned a lot that I had never heard of in any history or political science class from elementary school through college.  Having spent a good portion of my college years studying American history and politics, you'd think that some of what is found in this book would have spilled out into one of my classes.

The book offers a great chronology of U.S. Catholic History at the beginning of the book.  So if you're unsure of where to start, with this 1,000+ page book, that's a good jumping off point.  From there the book is pretty much set up like a typical encyclopedia with the articles arranged in alphabetical order.  You can look up your state and read about Catholic history for the state, you can read about your diocese.  Perhaps you're interested in the role of Catholics in the Civil War, you'll find an article for that, too.  Throughout the book you'll find black and white sketches of notable people and various cathedrals and basilicas.

The encyclopedia also has a few useful appendices.  There's one which lists missionaries to the Americas and gives a brief description for each one.  There's a list of American saints that includes those canonized, beatified and declared venerable.  Another appendix lists those Catholics who are in Statuary Hall.  The final appendix lists all the cathedrals, basilicas, as well as shrines and places of historic interest.

Overall, the encyclopedia is a great reference book.  I think it will be a great resource for my children as they learn about U.S. history.  Referencing this encyclopedia will afford them the opportunity to see the role that Catholics have played in shaping our nation.

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 review.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Finding Arrested Development in the Past

Lately Bryan's sister has been texting him different pictures from when they were kids.  Most of these pictures are hilarious.  There are pictures of Bryan wearing a blue leisure suit as a baby and lots of other equally funny pictures.  To date, my favorite childhood pictures of Bryan are of him proudly sporting a white bunny suit for a school play.  The bunny pictures are something that he wishes would go away.  I have them safely hidden so that he won't burn the evidence.

This morning Bryan got another picture from his sister.  This time it was Bryan as a toddler on a bike with his dad.  Bryan showed it to me and says "Arrested Development."  If you have ever watched the show then you might be familiar with the term "never nude."

Quick Takes Volume 66

Ever have one of those weeks where you get a lot done but you just don't feel like you're getting much of anything accomplished?  That's sort of how I've felt all week.
Procrastination seems to be the current theme of my life these days.  I need to email some of last year's VBS volunteers to see who is coming back, but I never seem to get around to it.  I really need to do that today...or tomorrow.  I do have a few friends who agreed to get on my case if I don't get this stuff done soon.  It's good to have friends who will force you to stop procrastinating.
I'm ready for steady warm weather.  I feel like the last week or two really spoiled me with all of the nice warm days.  This past week has been quite a bit chillier.  I've been trying to take Katie out for a walk each day, but some days it's just too cold for my liking.  I did manage to go for a few walks this week.  I needed to test out a new strollerthat I'm reviewing for Amazon.  The infant car seat that it came with is only making me want to add another little one to the family even more.  Bryan wasn't amused when I told him we're good with infant car seats up until 2019 now.  Katie was quite taken with the car seat.  I couldn't keep her out of it. 
Isn't she a riot?  One of the girls left her iPad out where Katie could get it yesterday morning.  As soon as Katie spotted it she ran into the living room and put a pillow on the floor and then ran to go get the iPad so she could sit on the pillow and play with it.  She was so pleased with herself and she was so cute that I couldn't help but take a few pictures of her.

We have a very busy weekend ahead of us.  On Saturday Ellie has to go to basketball tryouts so she can be drafted for a team.  Doesn't that sound so odd?  My seven year old has to get drafted for a team. Then we have an away game for Madeline that thankfully isn't too far away.  After that we need to get to Mass.  On Sunday, I have to take Katie and Ellie with me to teach my religious ed class since Madeline has another soccer game on Sunday morning.  Sunday morning with my class will be a bit crazy since we're putting on a show for the parents.  Once we get home it will be time to start getting Ellie ready for her soccer game.  Is it Monday yet?  I know Bryan and I will be exhausted by the end of the weekend.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it!
Did I mention there was a bank robbery in my town yesterday? (Isn't odd that I can't find a news story about it?)  It happened a few minutes from where I live, which also happens to be about three minutes from either of my girls' schools.  Because the guy was armed and fled on foot, Madeline's school was on lockdown for two hours.  Ellie's school didn't have to do a lockdown since he fled towards the middle school and another elementary school but away from Ellie's school.  They had officers at all of the schools from what I understand with a very heavy presence at Madeline's school.  Oddly enough we got a phone call from the Catholic school alerting us to the situation but we didn't get a call from the public school.  They call us when there's a fire drill, but not when an armed bank robber is on the loose.  Strange.
I think I'm going to go buy some plants for the garden sometime in the next few days.  I really want fresh basil from the garden so I can make a few of our favorite dishes, but I need basil plants first.  I might try to grow a basil plant inside this year to see if I can keep it growing year round.  My rosemary bush is hearty enough to live year round but basil typically dies off in September around here.  I think we're at a point now where I can plant tomatoes and basil and not have to worry about them dying from frost.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Moving Encounter

I had one of those mornings where the day wasn't starting off well.  It's take your child to work day today and Madeline really wanted to stay home with me.  Not too long ago she told me I didn't do anything because I don't work.  It's true I don't have a paid job, but I do work.  My day starts by 6:45am every day and I'm busy pretty much from that point until around 9pm or later.  Yesterday she came home from school and suddenly she was telling me that she wanted to stay home from school today and proceeded to tell me that my work as a stay at home mom was important and she could learn about it by staying home.  Bryan and I discussed it and we thought it would be best for her to go to school.  This morning I considered letting her stay home but decided against it once I saw all the kids she told me would be staying home at the bus stop.  At that point I started getting texts from her while she was on the bus first telling me she hated me and then pleading with me to sign her out before lunch because no one would be there.  I was feeling frazzled by the time I loaded Katie in the van to head to Mass.

Once we got to the church I was mentally preparing myself for whatever Katie might throw at me over the next half-hour (figuratively and literally).  Just as I was a few steps away from the doors a woman who I had seen at Mass many times before stopped me and wanted to know what size Katie wore.  I thought it was an odd question but I answered it figuring that maybe she was trying to gauge the size of a child she was buying a gift for or something like that.  It's not the first time someone has come up to me to ask what size one of my girls is wearing to figure out what size to buy for a grandchild or niece, but usually it happens when we're in a store.  Then she said something that I wasn't expecting.  "I just buried my two year old."  I stood there and felt stunned and overwhelmingly sad for her.  She told me that she had seen Katie at Mass with me several times and had been wondering about her size.  She has been going through her daughter's clothing and thought perhaps some of her little saint's clothing might fit Katie.  At this point I couldn't keep myself from crying.  I talked to her for a few minutes, told her I needed to give her a hug,  and asked her name and her baby's name so I could pray for her.  When she told me her daughter's name I realized I had already been praying for them but I didn't tell her that.

I spent most of the Mass trying not to lose it.  I felt like a wreck.  And Katie, well she was so incredibly well behaved.  Usually she empties the contents of my purse all over the pew and then takes my Magnificat and tries to rip it when we're at a daily Mass.  Today she happily played on the kneeler and didn't make a peep.   My usual Mass intention changed immediately after my encounter with this woman.

I cannot imagine the sorrow this mother must feel having lost her sweet child. I have seen her and her husband at Mass many times in the past six weeks.  They usually sit near me and I had noticed about a month and a half ago that they looked like they were carrying a very great sadness and I have wondered about them. Their little one passed just two months ago.

I only spoke with this grieving mother for a few minutes, but I am in awe of her faith and her strength.  Even in her sorrow she praises God.  I'd like to think I have that sort of faith, but I suspect on some level I'd falter.

I'll be praying in a special way for little Sarah's Mommy and Daddy.  Will you join me in lifting them up in prayer?

Why I Bring My Toddler to Mass

A few days ago I started noticing several different articles about whether babies and young children belonged at Mass. (Click on these links for some of what I've been reading here, here and here.)  With blog posts and articles of this nature sometimes the comments section becomes something which I feel compelled to read but typically I find myself irritated and enraged within minutes.  There are stories of grumpy people who dislike kids and don't want them ruining their weekly Mass experience, and there are the stories of those mothers who have been treated uncharitably because they dared to bring their child to Mass.  And of course, there's always someone who asks a question like "What do those parents get out of bringing their screaming baby to Mass?"

Let me give you my take on why I bring my toddler to Mass.  But first, let me tell you why I didn't bring my first two children to Mass.  I was once one of those grouchy people who were annoyed at those parents who brought their noisy child to Mass.  I didn't get it.  I was one of those childless know it all people who couldn't fathom why the parents couldn't keep their child [regardless of age] quiet at church or at the restaurant.  Now that I have kids, I get it.  I know that sometimes you just can't reason with an unreasonable child no matter how hard you try.  So now I'm less likely to be annoyed by your noisy child at Mass or when I'm dining out provided that you are actually taking action to settle your chid.  If, however, you're the person who sat next to me at the 2012 Easter Vigil who allowed your toddler to scream and wail for two solid hours while those of us around you tried to calm your child, then I'm not going to cut you any slack and I will continue to wonder why you didn't take that child to the cry room or the narthex so the rest of us could hear Mass.  And I feel I can ask that question because I held my sleeping infant while your child sat right next to me and screamed.  I would feel differently if you had actually attempted to sooth the child or remove her from the church after the first 10 minutes of wailing.

When Madeline and Ellie were very small we attended Mass very infrequently.  So infrequently that there were times when we went an entire year or more between darkening the door of our parish church.  It wasn't because I couldn't be bothered to carve out an hour for Mass each Saturday night or Sunday.  The bottom line was I didn't want to irritate people if my children made noise.  So it was fear of angry stares or uncharitable words that kept our young family from Mass.  When we did attempt to start going to Mass regularly around the time that Ellie was born we sat in the crying room.  The crying room was a zoo.  There's no reverence in the crying room.  It's wild chaos.  In the crying room at our beautiful parish church we had to sit on metal folding chairs .  There were no kneelers, so our four year old wasn't learning how to participate in the Mass.  Instead, she would sit and complain that she couldn't "see the show."  A couple of times we attempted to sit out in the pews, but I would retreat to the crying room as soon as the baby cried.  I was so worried that people would be annoyed with me for bringing my baby to Mass.

By the time Ellie was three we were at a different parish attending Mass every week.  When Ellie would make some noise or start playing with the kneeler, I would cringe.  I fully expected those around me to be irritated by her antics.  Instead, they were welcoming and encouraging.  For a while there it was just me and the girls going to Mass and I couldn't leave Madeline sitting in the pew to take Ellie in the back without causing a big commotion, so we stayed put.  Even on the days when I thought she was badly behaved, the lovely older woman behind me would tell me she did a good job and was so incredibly encouraging.  As time progressed other parishioners would complement Ellie on her good behavior.  So while I thought she was being disruptive, they thought she was actually quite well behaved.

When I was expecting Katie, I began to worry about how I would be able to bring her to Mass.  I had decided years before that I was NEVER going back to the crying room.  It's different in our current parish than the one we used to go to when Ellie was a baby, but I want no part of it.  For the most part we have been very blessed with Katie behaving quite well at Mass even on her bad days.  The vast majority of Masses she attended during her first year she slept through all or part of the Mass.  We have had a handful of weeks where she has been fussy, but we have only had to remove her from the church about five times.

Maybe our baby irritates some people at Mass.  I don't let her scream and wail at Mass, but I also don't fly out of the pew and head for the back of the church at the first cry.  If I can't quiet her within a minute, then I'll get up and take her out.  Most of the time she settles down for us quickly.  Sometimes she cries, but that's what babies do.  If she babbles during a song, I don't fret about it.  For the most part,  the people who sit around us are happy to see her.  The lovely older woman who sits behind us at the 5:30 vigil Mass will even hold Katie's hand during the readings to sooth her if she's fussy.  And on the bad days, I typically find friends smiling back at us or giving me a sympathetic glance.  So I think offering a welcoming environment to parents of little ones is important.  I'd probably contemplate leaving Katie at home with Bryan and not going to Mass as a family if I was getting angry glares or comments on a regular basis.

So why do I bring my toddler to Mass?  Well I bring her because I want her to grow up knowing that going to Mass is important.  It's non-negotiable.  Unless we're ill or there's inclement weather that makes traveling to Mass unsafe, we are there every weekend without fail.  I bring her because I want her to grow up practicing and loving her faith.  I bring her because I need the graces that I get by attending Mass with my children. I bring her because in doing so I stop focusing on myself and I focus on what truly matters, my God and my family.  I bring her because I promised at her baptism to raise her in the faith.  I bring her because I was very sternly told once in confession that failing to bring my children to Mass is failing in my duties as a Catholic mother.  I don't like to fail, and I haven't missed Mass for a frivolous reason since.

So what do I get out of bringing my children to Mass?  Well this is an easy one.  I get to spend the best hour of my week with my husband and my children and to top it off I get to meet Our Lord in the Eucharist.  That's what I get.  And even when Katie is at her worst, I still come away from Mass feeling incredibly at peace and centered.  I suppose that's grace at work.

Now recently I started stepping out of my comfort zone.  I began going to daily Mass a few times a week during Lent.  I only went on days when Bryan was at home in the morning so I could leave Katie with him so I wouldn't disturb anyone at Mass with my sometimes noisy toddler.  Then one morning I had no choice but to bring her with me.  My options were bring the baby to daily Mass or stay home.  I was determined to go to Mass so I brought her.  I was incredibly anxious.  I was amazed when we got through the entire Mass without a peep from Katie.  And best of all, the elderly woman sitting behind us came up to me after Mass to tell me how nice it was to see my little one at Mass.  What a relief!  It was at least another month before I brought Katie back to a daily Mass.  I formulated a plan for where to sit so I would be able to either stand off to the side or make a retreat to the narthex if she became fussy.  Over the past four weeks Katie has gone to several daily Masses with me.  Only a few times has she cried and not once have we been given the stink eye.  I have a friend who sometimes sits behind us and her children apparently entertain Katie and she does likewise.

Oh, and can I tell you what my toddler gets out of going to daily Mass?  She's picking up certain mannerisms and postures.  She holds her hands out during the Our Father like many of the other parishioners do (I do not).  Bryan noticed it when we were at Mass this past Sunday.  She can't kneel and see what's going on at the altar, but she tends to wiggle out of my arms during the consecration so she can stand on the kneeler and watch.  So she knows that something special is going on up there.  So she's learning.

So I bring my toddler to Mass because she belongs there.  As a baptized Catholic she has every much of a right to attend Mass as the rest of us.  It's true that she isn't obligated to be there until she reaches the age of reason but I think she'll grow to know and love her Catholic faith if it's part of her every day life now.

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} First Holy Communion

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Those of you who saw the blog post about Ellie's First Holy Communion earlier this week probably already saw this picture, but I thought the picture was pretty enough to share again.

The day after Ellie's First Holy Communion the girls were singing in the children's choir for the noon Mass.  Several of the little girls in the choir made their First Holy Communion on Saturday so they wore their dresses to Mass on Sunday.  On our way into the church Ellie and her friend met up and held hands on their way into the church.  I had my camera in my hand the the other girl's mother told me to take some pictures.  Aren't they adorable?

I love the look on Ellie's face in this picture.
Ellie was so happy to surprise one of her good friends who was making her First Holy Communion in the Mass after Ellie.  Ellie ran right over to her friend and gave her a big bear hug.

Just as we were getting into the car to head home after Ellie's First Holy Communion Mass I spotted our friends taking pictures of their son who was in the second group of first communicants for that day. Ellie and this little boy went to preschool together and his older sister plays on Madeline's soccer team.  So we see a lot of this family and Ellie and the little boy are friends.  Both of them were a little embarrassed that we took pictures of them together.  Ellie's arms are crossed in protest of the picture taking.  Too funny, but they sure are cute together!

Ellie's hair is really curly!  I'm amazed at how well those foam rollerswork.  I thought it might have been a fluke the first time around but apparently not.  
Ok, one more photo repeat from the earlier post.  Did you see the cake (and cupcakes) that I made?
I used a cross cake panand a chocolate moldfor the chalice and host decoration.  I was afraid the icing and candy melts weren't going to match, but they were exactly the same color!  

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oh the Irony!

As much as I don't want to keep reading about the Gosnell case I keep seeing articles that I can't help but read.  Yesterday I was shocked when some of the charges against Gosnell were dropped.  His lawyer even went so far as to argue that just because a baby moves after it is born doesn't mean it's alive.  I'm continually astounded at the complete disregard of human life.

So today I'm reading another article and I was just struck by the total irony of the situation.  So when I read this particular quote "'Once fetuses leave the mother, they are then due the respect that would be given any human being', Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron argued Tuesday in support of abuse of corpse charges filed over the severed feet." Do you see the irony here?  The horrors of legalized abortion do not afford unborn humans any respect, but once those unborn humans are murdered through abortion and are no longer inside their mothers at that point their bodies are now due the respect that we would give "any human being."

There is so much in this case that is utterly disturbing.  As I read through these articles different things jump out at me that make me wonder how anyone can support abortion.

Book Review: Humble Heart

Humble Heart a book of virtues is a sweet little book for introducing  the preschool set to living a virtuous life.  Author and illustrator Amy Meyer Allen was inspired to write write these sweet stories with adorable animal characters.

Each Humble Bumble character in this book has a story that teaches little ones about a different virtue.  The book is filled with bright colorful illustrations.  I particularly liked the overall cheerful feel of the book.  At the end of each story that is scripture that relates to the story.  These would be great for introducing little ones to memory verses.

My toddler has enjoyed paging through this book and looking at all of the sunny illustrations, but she will also happily sit and listen to the stories.  For the most part, I find the stories to be sweet and written in a way that will reach children in the 2-5 year old range.  There are, however, a few stories where I feel like the text feels forced, but most of the book flows nicely.

I was provided with a review copy of Humble Heart in exchange for my honest review by the publisher, Tyndale Kids.  You can take a peek inside this bookat Amazon.

Book Review: Hunt for the Devil's Dragon

Hunt for the Devil's Dragonis the eleventh book in The Imagination Station series.  In this book cousin's Beth and Patrick go back in time to 13th century Libya where the make friends with a brother and sister pair and a Roman soldier named Georgius who follows Christos.

Both my seven year old and I enjoyed the story.  A few chapters into the book we started to suspect that this story was about St. George and the dragon.  It turned out that it was but the story offered a bit of a twist on the legend of St. George which I thought was unique.  Throughout the story young readers will find a good Christian message.

There's a lot of focus on anti-bullying these days and this book ties in nicely with that message.  Mr. Whittaker sends Beth and Patrick off on this exciting adventure after Beth talks about how she failed to stand up for a friend who was being bullied.  Children will learn that sometimes we have to slay dragons in our own every day life situations, even if the dragons aren't actually real dragons.  The underlying message of the book is one that young readers with understand and be able to take to heart.

As with other books from this series, my second grader really enjoyed reading it.  The books are always a great blend of Christian values, adventure and history.

Coming from a Catholic perspective I did notice that nowhere in the story or the explanation of the story was St. George referred to as a saint.  In fact, in the "Questions about dragons?" section of the book, it posits that George probably didn't actually exist.  So while the book questions his existence we know that he's recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Overall, if your looking for an early reader chapter book that both boys and girls will like, Hunt for the Devil's Dragonis worth a look.  I actually like this series a lot better than the Magic Tree House books.

I was provided with a review copy of The Imagination Station Hunt for the Devil's Dragon by the publisher, Tyndale, in exchange for my honest review.  You can peek inside this book at Amazon

It's Soccer Try-Out Season

Last year we invested a lot of time in shuttling Madeline from one soccer club to the next doing try-outs to see what her options were.  In the end our soccer club made a few coaching changes and we were able to stay with the club.  Overall, we've been very happy with the arrangement.  This year we don't have to go from club to club since Madeline is sticking with her current team, but we still have to get through two weeks of soccer overload.

In a typical week Madeline has two practices and a game on Saturday.  Ellie has a practice, usually on one of the nights when Madeline has practice and a game on Sunday.  So four days a week have us working around soccer practices and games.  For the next two weeks we're looking at an additional night of try-outs for both girls.  I feel like we're up to our eyeballs in soccer.  This Sunday is going to be very busy.  Madeline has a make up game that was rained out a couple weeks ago that is causing some schedule issues.  This week I'll have to bring Katie and Ellie with me to teach my religious ed class which happens to be the week our class is putting on a show for the parents.

Last night both of the girls had practice.  Nights like that can be brutal when Katie goes on a cry rant.  She spent about three hours screaming and crying off and on while they were gone.  She doesn't like when her Daddy leaves the house.  She thinks he should be playing with her instead and I'm apparently not a good Daddy substitute.  I'm not looking forward to two more nights in a row of Katie crying for Bryan.  It's exhausting.  They're calling for warmer weather today so maybe tonight will be better if I'm able to take her outside for a walk.  It was too cold last night so we had to stay inside.

Did I mention that Ellie is going to try out for the U-9 travel team?  Bryan isn't sure what her chances are of making the team.  From what he tells me the present team looks pretty good.  He thinks she might have a shot if she goes out there and plays her best.  If she gets offered a spot on the team we'll then have to weigh out our options and see if it's the right decision for her.  Bryan has been coaching her the past three or four seasons, but he feels that she learn better from other coaches based on the progress she has made while going to some training sessions this winter.  In the event that she does get selected for the team and we go forward with it, we'll have a lot of schedule juggling to do on Saturdays beginning this fall.

Now I just need to make it through Katie's teething/evening Daddy withdrawal for the next few days.  I miss the really warm weather of last week.  She didn't miss Bryan and the girls at all last week since she was having too much fun playing outside and going for walks in her little red car.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Toddlers Are Exhausting

I have some days where I feel like no matter what I do Katie is fifteen steps ahead of me.  I suspect she is either teething [again] or she is just in one of those moods where all she wants to do is screech this ear piercing scream over and over.  My other girls never screamed like this for the sake of screaming.  Talk about a test of patience and sanity!

This morning Ellie's school had an academic and anti-bullying assembly.  Since Ellie and a few of her classmates were doing a skit during the assembly I had to go to the school.  I had already missed the first two academic assemblies that they had earlier in the year so I had to go to this one.  Katie was pretty good for the first half of the assembly but shortly after Ellie did her skit she started freaking out.  I didn't want to have her scream and cry over the other skits that the other classes were doing so we ended up leaving before it was over.  I was just happy that she held out long enough for me to see Ellie's skit.

In addition to the screaming she's been running around the house tearing it up.  She's a little taller now and that means she can easily reach up on the tables and some of the countertops.  So when the kids and other larger humans in the house leave things like their glasses, cups of juice/water/milk, coins, papers, books and other items that they do not want destroyed by the baby within striking distance Katie goes to work.  This evening she found Madeline's glasses and was happily bending and twisting them.  I'll know soon if they're destroyed or not.  I'm hopeful that they're ok since she has one of those flexible frames.

Once I got the glasses away from her she decided to bolt into the living room where she began pulling all of the freshly folded laundry apart.  She pretty much cut a path of destruction all over the main level of the house while I fielded soccer questions from my neighbor who called me by mistake thinking she dialed Bryan's cell phone.

After a pleasant drive over to the soccer complex to pick up Ellie, Katie once again picked up her mission to destroy.  This time she attacked the pages in one of her favorite books.  And then proceeded to run around making miscellaneous messes.

I'm still feeling worn out from the previous three weeks so these past couple of days where Katie is doing her best to try my patience are leaving me feeling frazzled.  One of the downsides to the screaming and chaos stressing me out is I keep grabbing the foods that I know I shouldn't be eating.  Apparently sugary foods are my version of comfort food.  I think I need an afternoon to myself so I can relax.

Bargain Basement Apologetics

While on Amazon I noticed that Amy Welborn's  apologetics book geared to teens, Prove It! Church, is just $2.96 right now.  Madeline has a friend who asks her lots of questions about Catholicism so I ordered her a copy.  I've been thinking for a month or so now that it would be a good idea to give her some information so she can do a little bit of apologetics when her friend starts questioning her.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: The Catholic Prayer Book

A lot of my non-book review reading as of late has been centered on various prayer books.  I have a few books that are reprints of pre-Vatican II prayer books that I like a lot.  So when I received a copy ofThe Catholic Prayer Book from Servant Books I couldn't wait to see what it contained.

The book is set up in an easy to use format.  The prayers are categorized according to type or specific situations.  Many of the prayers have a modern feel to them, but there are several that are more traditional or old-fashioned feeling.  Several of the prayers contained in this book are the same or are a variation of the ones found in my pre-Vatican II prayer books.  There are plenty of new prayers in this book as well.  Something that stands out to me about this book is the source of the prayer is noted for many of the prayers.

I was surprised at just how much is packed into this prayer book.  While some of my old-fashioned prayers books have a lot to offer, in some ways they're limited.  I'd say this book is close to being a modern version of Blessed Be God.

When it comes to prayer books I actually prefer them to be leather bound or hardback.  My copy of The Catholic Prayer Book is paperback, but this title is available in a leatherette version.  Personally, I think it's best to have a more durable type of binding for a book that is presumably going to see a lot of use.  So I was happy to see that the leatherette binding is an option.  One of my first thoughts as I paged through this book was that it would be a great gift idea for confirmations in the leatherette version.

I was provided with a review copy of The Catholic Prayer Book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Servant Books for more information on this title.

Movie Review: The Story of Saint Augustine

A few years ago I got my girls The Story of Saint Perpetua and the animated movie has been a huge hit with the girls.  It's a movie that they ask to watch as frequently as their favorite Disney movies.  For the longest time the girls have asked when there would be another saint movie like The Story of Saint Perpetua.  Just as my seven and a half year old was at the point of being exasperated that "they" still haven't made another saint movie she discovered that The Story of Saint Augustine had been released.

Since a copy of The Story of Saint Augustine has arrived at our house it has been watched more times than I can recall.  The movie gives a good child friendly account of St. Augustine's life.  We see St. Augustine go from living a life of luxury to one dedicated to Christ.  Children will also be introduced to St. Ambrose and St. Augustine's mother, St. Monica.

I liked how the movie follows St. Augustine on his conversion journey.  In that journey we see how Augustine slowly realizes that the prestige of being "The Voice of the Emperor" is not the best use of his God given gift for rhetoric and in trying to find a way to supplant Bishop Ambrose he finds himself embracing Christianity.

My seven year old really likes this movie.  She will sit and watch this movie and comment about how bad the Romans and she picks up on the good that is done by Bishop Ambrose, St. Monica and the other Christians.

Overall, I think the movie is a great introduction to Sts. Augustine, Ambrose and Monica for children.  The Story of Stain Augustine is geared to youth ages 8 and older but I think it will appeal to children as young as six.  My eleven year old was happy to sit and watch this movie several times with her younger sister.

This movie is a nice addition to the Catholic Heroes of the Faith series.  Of the two movies that are currently part of the series, I'd have to say that The Story of Saint Perpetua is still our favorite.  Already my seven year old is asking when the next movie will be out.  She can't wait to find out who the next movie will be about.

I was provided with a review copy of The Story of Saint Augustine by the publisher, Herald Entertainment, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Herald Entertainment for more information on this title.

Book Review: Tweet Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago a copy of Mark Hart's Tweet Inspiration: Faith in 140 Characters (or Less) arrived in my mail box.  Immediately I was intrigued by the concept of the book.  I thought to myself, seriously, how much inspiration can one back into a mere 140 characters?  As I paged through the book I found myself both amused by many of the tweets as well as surprised by how deep many of them were.

What I like about this book is you don't need to commit an afternoon or any significant length of time to reading this book.  Sure you could sit down with this book and read all of the tweets in a short bit of time, but I think this book is best approached reading a few here and there as mini jolts of inspiration.  As I read through this book I found so many tweets that resonated with me.  One of the tweets in this book that really jumped out at me as I read through this book in a house filled with the chaotic sounds of kids running around loudly being kids was this: "If the Lord didn't want us to grow in patience, He would never have given us families. :)"  So true, and so perfect for me at that very moment.

Overall, Tweet Inspiration is a fun book.  It will make you laugh, it will make you think and it will challenge you to live out your faith.  The book is certainly worth a look if you need a source of bite sized inspiration.

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

Ellie's First Holy Communion

O My loving Jesus!  I love Thee.  I am about to receive Thee into my heart.  I open my arms to Thee.  O! that the great God should come to me, a little child, and dwell in my breast!  O stay with me forever.  I do not wish to live a single day without Thee.
~An act of love and desire from Jesus, Make Me Worthy

This past Saturday Elisabeth celebrated her First Holy Communion.  We were blessed with nice sunny weather for her big day.  I cannot tell you how incredibly happy I felt when it was time for her to go up and receive communion.  Ellie was simply beaming afterwards.  It was an amazing day.
I took lots of pictures of her, but we didn't get many pictures of her with the whole family.  In fact, I'm not sure if we have any of her with just me and Bryan.

She was very excited about the cake, cupcakes and lollipops that I made for her party.

Before I dropped her off with her class before Mass, we took a few pictures outside at the church.  I realized much later in the day that my lens had some spots on it.
The children processed in two at a time just before Mass began.  I loved that Ode to Joy was the music they selected for the children's procession.  We weren't allowed to take pictures during the Mass, although I did sneak a few of one of Ellie's adorable friends in plain view of the deacon who is our DRE and our pastor.  I couldn't help myself.  She kept turning back with the biggest smile on her face and I knew I had to capture it for her Dad who couldn't see her from where he was seated. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to take any pictures of Elisabeth while she was sitting in the pew with her classmates or of her receiving First Communion, but there was a photographer on hand to capture the moment.
Ellie is simply beaming in this picture with our pastor.  
I just love the expression on her face in this picture.  It looks like a mixture of wonder and happiness. 

We had a small party back at the house after the Mass.  Poor Ellie isn't much of a morning person so having to get up so early to be at the church and ready for 8:30AM took a lot out of her.  By the time we got back to the house a little after 11AM she was spent.  All the excitement of her big day took a lot out of her.  Within minutes of our last guests going home Ellie was asleep on the couch.

She is so thrilled that she can now receive the Eucharist at Mass.  Yesterday the children's choir sang at the noon Mass and she had the biggest smile on her face when she went up to receive communion.  

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