Thursday, October 31, 2013

Small Successes: October 31st

1. I timed getting to the Halloween parade at Ellie's school so well that I not only scored a spot in one of the parking lots, but I also only had to wait five minutes for her class to come out and parade around.  Score!

2. The class party for Ellie's class went well.

3. Our car is just about packed for our Disney vacation.  We got most of it done last night and now we're rounding up a few odds and ends like tooth brushes and toothpaste.

4.  Madeline is nearly done her first quarter of homeschooling.  Two religion tests, a rewrite or two of a book report, and one English test to go and she'll be done.  Of course, all of that is going to have to wait until we get home.

5. We are caught up on the laundry.

6. I have clean kitchen countertops.  It will be nice to come home to a clean house.

7.  Pending all goes well, we can check off Mass for All Saint's Day, trick or treating and getting out on the road in the next three hours.  We're almost there!

Come and link up with your Small Successes over at Catholic Mom.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Catholic Mom's Cafe

At this point I've read several books written by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle and I'm always impressed with how well her writing resonates with me as a Catholic mother.  Catholic Mom's Cafe is no exception.  This book is a daily devotional filled with quick mini-retreats that only take five minutes.  If you're a mom, you know how precious every minute of the day can be, so having something like this that only requires five minutes to help you spiritually recharge is great.

I like daily devotional books like this where the book is laid out with a specific passage for each day of the year, but I have to tell you that I don't always use the books like that.  I can't always rely on picking up the same book day after day.  I have a short attention span in that regard, so I'm more likely to pick up a book like this and pick a day, any day and go from there.  Sometimes I'll just page through and find something that jumps out at me and then zero in on that particular passage and it's not unlike me to sit down and pick two.  Sure it's not following the exact way it was meant to be used, but that's ok.

So you're probably wondering about these mini-retreats, right?  As a mom, if you're like me, you might consider a mini-retreat that moment where you're able to sneak a treat without your little ones clamoring for it, or maybe it's getting to chat with a friend on the phone for a few needed minutes of conversation with an adult.  All good things, but they don't necessarily feed the soul.  The mini-retreats in this book can give you a nice spiritual pick-me-up.  Each daily retreat has four components.  First there's an inspirational quote for you to ponder which is focused on a particular virtue.  Next you'll find a section that offers a meditation that ties in nicely with the preceding quote to provide more food for thought. This is followed by prayer and concludes with a thought to savor for the day.  For the busy mom who is pressed for time these daily retreats can't be beat.  (No, I didn't actually intend for that to rhyme and sound hokey, but I'm leaving it there.)

With Christmas approaching and this book being a daily devotional that is ordered by month, I think this would make an excellent stocking stuffer for the busy mom in your life.  This would also be a thoughtful gift idea for a new mom.

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 Catholic Mom's Cafe. 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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Small Successes: October 24th

Truth be told, I haven't been feeling very successful as of late.  There is so much that I want to do that I simply don't have the time or energy to accomplish, but since this is small successes, and not amazing successes, I know I can list at least a few things.

1.  My husband has been having to spend a lot of time in the office the past couple of weeks.  This week he has had to go into the office every day this week.  Tomorrow he gets to work from home.  So the fact that I'm about five or six hours away from him being home for the next three days and my sanity is mostly in tact is something I'd call a success.  Don't ask me how I'm getting through next week, or the three weeks after our much needed vacation.  I don't want to think about it so you probably don't want to either.  Let's just say I've been spoiled the past two years with a husband who is home five days a week.  

2.  Laundry feels like it's been the bane of my existence lately.  No matter how much of it I do, it is never finished.  I've had a few good days where I managed to get 3-4 loads done per day.  It's not folded, but it's clean.  You just have to go digging though the pile of clean laundry in the living room if you need something.  Or, if you're like me, you'll just scrounge around your closet and find something, anything that works.  But seriously, I'm probably going to have to go digging for clothes by tomorrow morning.

3.  Ellie's teacher emailed me on Monday to ask me to plan the class Halloween party.  Yes, that's right, just 10 days notice.  Awesome!  I sat on it for two days before contacting the parents.  These awesome people signed up for all of the needed supplies in under 8 hours.  I can call the Halloween party planning done.

4. I have started to put some thought into what should be packed for our upcoming Disney World trip.  Thinking about it is just as good as important as actually packing, right?  What I haven't done is tried on any of the clothes I think I might take with me.  I suppose I should do that, but then I might possibly freak out if certain articles of clothes don't fit.  Please, God, let it be chilly enough to wear jeans in Florida in early November otherwise I know you know I'll cry.

5. The girls and I went to confession last night.  It's the first time in many, many months that we haven't had to stand in a long line.  I don't want to think about how many hours I've stood in line for confession since mid-May.  Standing in line for confession with two or three children feels like the perfect penance for someone who is impatient.

6. I went to the grocery store this week for the first time in I don't know how long.  Several weeks at least.  Of course, I get there and they don't have the #1 item on my list: romano cheese.  Fortunately, my wonderful husband, who has been getting up at 5:30AM and working long hours and then commuting home in rush hour traffic, took pity on me and stopped at another grocery store on the way home and got several containers of romano cheese.  My hero!

Link up at Catholic Mom and share your small successes for this week.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Where has the last week gone?

I feel like it's been ages since I have even touched the blog.  We had a busy weekend followed up by a busy week and the next thing I know it's been over a week since I posted anything on the blog.  And in some ways we can even say this looks a bit like procrastination.

First, I have a bit of Jesse Tree Ornament Swap news.  For swap #2 I have no contact information for Wendy J. (ornament #5) and Erin (ornament #18).  If either one of you see this please email me so I can send you the email I sent everyone else on 10/12 that contains all of the swap details.  While I have contact info for everyone else, I still haven't heard from many of you.  Please send me and email so I know you got the email I have sent.  I'm not someone who adheres to the "no news is good news" line of thinking.  Instead I'm waking up in the middle of the night here and there wondering if some who signed up for the swap had second thoughts and haven't communicated it to me.

Last week Katie turned two.  She's two already!  I have the hardest time believing that she's two, but then she throws a little fit or something and I believe it.  She certainly acts like a two year old.  We had a party for her on the 13th and then cake on her birthday a few days later.  Katie loves cake!

Bryan was sick last week with a double ear infection and now I'm not feeling to well either.  The past few days my throat has been sore and I feel like one of my ears is filling with fluid.  Katie had a bit of a cough and cold last week with left her feeling a bit grouchy.

Katie, Ellie and I had a bit of a pumpkin picking hay ride fail last Monday.  Clearly choosing a day when everyone was off from school to do a hay ride was not the brightest idea.  We ended up buying pumpkins from the market area and ditching our plans for the hay ride.

I'm really surprised that Madeline is only a week or two away from wrapping up all of her classes for the first quarter.  Some days haven't been the easiest, but we're getting there.  There are some changes I'd like to make for the remainder of the year so I'm going to have to take a little time to sit down and see what I can do.  We're using Seton for our homeschool because 1. I was able to get her enrolled and have books delivered quickly when we made an 11th hour decision to pull her out of the public school system days before the school year was set to begin.  2. It's an accredited program which makes my husband feel a lot more comfortable with our decision to homeschool.  3. I know people who use the program who have all had good things to say about it.  Now there are plenty of aspects about Seton that I like, but there are some things that I'm not necessarily thrilled about.  I don't particularly like their science and history books so I need to find ways to tweak, supplement  and substitute while still preparing her to take their tests.  And then, there's the dilemma of my child not being very fond of memorization which is a huge part of the religion course.  Right now we're having Ellie work with her on the memorization.  Ellie is a pro when it comes to memorization so I'm hoping her method of quizzing her older sister will work.  So far it's getting her somewhat better results.  I think it has an additional benefit of Ellie learning the material, too.

I got an email from Ellie's teacher yesterday asking me to organize the class party for Halloween.  I can't believe how quickly the end of the month is coming up on us.  I'm a little surprised at how few parents volunteered to help out with supplying treats for the class parties.  Of course, with all of the restrictions the school now has on sweets, there isn't much on the list of approved food items.  The school even changed it's policy on how many parent volunteers are allowed to help with the parties.  Just two parents per class.  Years ago we were allowed to have five or six.  This new way of doing things very closely resembles the way things are done at our local parish school.  I really disliked the way they sucked the fun out of classroom parties and it looks like the public schools are now doing the same.  Another reason to prefer homeschooling to a traditional school.  I'm just fine with having some goodies and fun to celebrate a holiday or feast day.

When I get a little more time I'll update the blog with some pictures of the birthday girl and some of the other happenings of last week.  I just don't have the energy at the moment to sort through photos, edit and water mark them and everything else that is associated with me adding them to this post.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Attention: Jesse Tree Swap Participants

Both Jesse Tree Ornament Swaps are now filled.  I'd like to email all of you in the next day or two with all of the details for the swap.  Particularly where to mail the ornaments and how to pay for the return shipping.  But first, I really need your help.  I have roughly forty people for whom I have no contact info.  I need an email address for each participant so I can send you all of the swap details.  I've spent a few hours over the past two days trying to track down email addresses and it's becoming very time consuming.  It would be an amazing help if you would email me at Karen(at)KareninMommyland(dot)com and tell me:
1. Your name
2. Which swap you joined
3. The ornament you are making

I thank you all in advance for your understanding.  For those of you who have already left your email address in the comments or have sent me an email I sincerely appreciate it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Alpaca Field Trip

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Yesterday Madeline, Katie and I went on a field trip with a local homeschool group to a nearby alpaca farm.  The trip was a lot of fun and we learned some interesting things about alpacas, including how alpacas and llamas differ.

One of the highlights of the field trip was getting to feed the alpacas.  It took me some time to work up the courage to feed one.  I was pretty nervous about it.  I'm happy to report that I still have all of my fingers.  Oh, and from what we were told, alpacas don't bite.

I'm not sure who was happier, the alpacas or the kids.  The kids all thought it was funny how the alpacas wiggle their lips all over your hand when you feed them.  It was a really odd feeling.

At the end of our field trip the kids got to make an alpaca ornament.  I think they cookie cutter used to make the ornaments was really cute.  

Madeline was happy with how her craft turned out.  Or maybe she was happy to get a morning off from doing school work.  Either way, she was happy.

This alpaca made me laugh.  She realized that I was holding a bag of food in my hand and I think she was doing her best to get my attention so she could get that food.  She seemed like she had quite the personality when compared to the other alpacas.

Katie wasn't all that sure about the alpacas, but she really liked this little goat who was wandering around in the alpaca pen.  I was shocked when I saw her nose to nose with this little goat.  And I'm pretty sure this little guy licked her face.  Katie thought he was the greatest thing.  Although I'm pretty sure she thought it was a dog.

Katie is beaming in this picture as she hangs out with her goat friend but moments later she was very unhappy with me when I took her away from him.  The little goat kept watching her from afar.  I honestly wasn't sure if goats were kid friendly or not and I couldn't just leave her with the goat while the rest of the homeschool group moved on to the craft portion of the trip.  She's my only child who has ever been so outgoing when it comes to animals.  It always catches me off guard.  

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jesse Tree Swap #2!

Can I just say I'm floored by the number of responses to my Jesse Tree Ornament Swap post from yesterday?  I figured it would be at least a week or two before I would be able to field 28-35 participants for the swap.  I never expected to have the list filled in less than 24 hours.

I have somewhere between 8-10 people and counting that were interested in joining the swap but their first choice was already chosen by someone else before them.  Clearly a pitfall of the comment moderation on my blog.  So I'm going to attempt to host a second swap for those of you who weren't able to get in on the first round.  Just like last time, I will start with just 28 ornaments and if there is enough interest, I'll add in the O Antiphons.  Ornaments are assigned on a first come first served basis.  I strongly suggest putting your top three choices in the comments.  If you send me an email make sure the subject line says Second Jesse Tree Swap so I can tell the two swaps apart.

If we have enough participants by Saturday, October 12th we will go forward with the swap.  Share this post with others who might want to join in.

I would like to ship all of the ornaments out to the swap participants by November 23rd to ensure that everyone has their ornaments in time for the first Sunday of Advent.  That means I will need to receive your ornaments by November 21st at the latest.  If we start now that gives you about 5 1/2 weeks to make the ornaments and ship them to me.  I'd suggest mailing your ornaments no later than  November 14th to ensure they arrive on time.

Participants will need to also cover return postage for the ornaments.  I'm thinking medium flat rate priority mail boxes would be the least stressful option, for me, not my poor mail carrier who will probably skip my house for the remainder of the year.  Shipping for medium sized flat rate boxes is $12.35.

I have put suggestions for possible ornaments for each of the ornaments.  Feel free to be as creative as you want to be.  Ornaments can be made out of wood, felt, fabric, clay, yarn and so on.  I'd suggest the ornaments be no larger than 2-4 inches since we need to make sure they all fit in the medium sized flat rate box.

 1.  Creation (Earth)- Genesis 1:1-23 Chris, Britta....
 2.  Creation Continued (Man and Woman)- Genesis 1:24-31 Pamela
 3.  Fall of Man (Apple, Serpent)- Genesis 3:1-15, 20-23 Rachel
 4.  Noah (Ark, Rainbow) Genesis 6:5-20, 7:1-23, 8:1-17, 9:1-13 Erin D.
 5.  Abraham (Tent)- Genesis 12:1-5, 13:14-16, 18:1-10, 21:1-3 Wendy J.
 6.  Isaac (Bundle of Sticks, Ram)- Genesis 22:1-14 Karen G.
 7.  Jacob (Ladder)-Genesis 27:41-44, 28:10-17 JenniferAnne
 8.  Joseph (Multi-colored Coat)- Genesis 37:3-4, 17-28 Sonia
 9.  Moses (Moses Basket)-Exodus 2:1-10, 3:1-12 Shauna
10. Moses Continued (Stone Tablets)-Exodus, Chapters 7-14, 19, 32 Lindsay
11. Ruth (Wheat)- Ruth 1:1-16, 7-22 Jodi
12. Samuel (Crown)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 3 Courtney
13. Jesse (Tree Stump with Shoot)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 16 Daniele
14. David (Slingshot)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 17, 19:1-2 Kathleen
15. Solomon (Temple)- 1 Kings, Chapter 3 Geowne
16. Elijah (Raven, Manna, Chariot of Fire)-1 Kings, Chapters 17 & 18 Shannon C.
17. Elisha (River or Dove)- 2 Kings 5 Kathryn R.
18. Isaiah's Prophecies (Cross)-Isaiah 8:6-7 Erin
19. Isaiah (Scroll)- Isaiah Chapter 6 Megan
20. Daniel (Lion)- Daniel 6:11-17, 19-25 Melissa L.
21. Jeremiah (Fire)-Jeremiah, Chapter 31 Shannon
22. Angels (Angel or Angel Wings)- Luke, Chapter 1 Kate D.
23. Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist (Tablet with chalk)- Luke, Chapter 1 Karen G.
24. Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary, Lily, Heart, Marian Symbol)- Luke, Chapter 1Christine
25. The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth or Path with Hills)- Luke 1:39-56 Laurel
26. Joseph (Tools)- Matthew, Chapter 1 Laura
27. The Nativity ( Jesus in the Manger) Luke, Chapter 2 Julie
28. Magi (Christmas Star, Three Crowns, Camels) Matthew 2:1-12 Sarah R.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jesse Tree Ornament Swap


This Jesse Tree Ornament Swap is filled.  Visit the post for the second Jesse Tree Ornament Swap if you'd still like to participate.  

Since I've decided to add the O Antiphons to this list which means we will be making 35.

Dancer, Amy, Katydid, 9PeasMom, Lisa, and Jeannie your first choices for ornaments were already claimed and the swap filled up faster than I expected.  I'm sorry you didn't get in the first round of the swap, but I'd still love for you to participate.  I created a post for a second Jesse Tree Swap.  

Provided there is enough of an interest, I will host a second Jesse Tree Swap.  At the moment I believe I have 8-10 people who were asked to select a different ornament and I'm still getting emails and comments from others who want to join.  If you would like to be put on a list for a possible second swap, please send me an email with the subject line: Second Jesse Tree Swap and your top three choices for an ornament.  As long as I can get enough people to cover 28 ornaments there will be a second swap.

It's hard to believe, but we're inching closer to Advent already.  Lately I've been thinking about how much I'd like to have a nice set of home made Jesse Tree ornaments, but to be perfectly honest, I'm just not up to hand crafting twenty-eight ornaments all by myself.  Instead I was thinking perhaps some of you are like me and would also like a nice set of lovely hand crafted Jesse Tree ornaments, but have little or no desire to commit to making a whole set of ornaments over the next six weeks.

I'd love to host a Jesse Tree ornament swap.  If you're interested in participating leave a comment on this post or email me and let me know which ornament you would like to make for the swap.  I would like to ship all of the ornaments out to the swap participants by November 23rd to ensure that everyone has their ornaments in time for the first Sunday of Advent.  That means I will need to receive your ornaments by November 21st at the latest.  If we start now that gives you about 5 1/2 weeks to make the ornaments and ship them to me.  I'd suggest mailing your ornaments no later than  November 14th to ensure they arrive on time.

Participants will need to also cover return postage for the ornaments.  I'm thinking medium flat rate priority mail boxes would be the least stressful option, for me, not my poor mail carrier who will probably skip my house for the remainder of the year.  Shipping for medium sized flat rate boxes is $12.35.

As some of you probably recall me mentioning in the past, I have been using the Holy Heroes Jesse Tree DVD with my girls for the past several years.  So I'm going with the list of Bible stories used in their Jesse Tree for this swap.  Since the Holy Heroes Jesse Tree only has 27 possible ornaments for their set and we have up to 28 days in Advent some years, I have added an additional ornament to fill in the potential void.

If enough of you are interested, I will add the O Antiphons to the list.  Just let me know in your comment or email if you'd like me to add them.  It would mean everyone will  need to make 35 ornaments instead of 28 in order to have a complete set that includes the O Antiphons.

I have put suggestions for possible ornaments for each of the ornaments.  Feel free to be as creative as you want to be.

 1.  Creation (Earth)- Genesis 1:1-23 Mary S.
 2.  Creation Continued (Man and Woman)- Genesis 1:24-31 Pamela
 3.  Fall of Man (Apple, Serpent)- Genesis 3:1-15, 20-23 Deb
 4.  Noah (Ark, Rainbow) Genesis 6:5-20, 7:1-23, 8:1-17, 9:1-13 Sarah M
 5.  Abraham (Tent)- Genesis 12:1-5, 13:14-16, 18:1-10, 21:1-3 Sarah
 6.  Isaac (Bundle of Sticks, Ram)- Genesis 22:1-14 Karen G.
 7.  Jacob (Ladder)-Genesis 27:41-44, 28:10-17 Vicki
 8.  Joseph (Multi-colored Coat)- Genesis 37:3-4, 17-28 Tacy
 9.  Moses (Moses Basket)-Exodus 2:1-10, 3:1-12 Kelly K.
10. Moses Continued (Stone Tablets)-Exodus, Chapters 7-14, 19, 32 Lena
11. Ruth (Wheat)- Ruth 1:1-16, 7-22 Kacky K
12. Samuel (Crown)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 3 Jessica D.
13. Jesse (Tree Stump with Shoot)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 16 Trina
14. David (Slingshot)- 1 Samuel, Chapter 17, 19:1-2 Josette
15. Solomon (Temple)- 1 Kings, Chapter 3 Mayoung
16. Elijah (Raven, Manna, Chariot of Fire)-1 Kings, Chapters 17 & 18 Lucy C.
17. Elisha (River or Dove)- 2 Kings 5 Shannon
18. Isaiah's Prophecies (Cross)-Isaiah 8:6-7 Cecilia
19. Isaiah (Scroll)- Isaiah Chapter 6 Mel
20. Daniel (Lion)- Daniel 6:11-17, 19-25 Melody
21. Jeremiah (Fire)-Jeremiah, Chapter 31 Veronica
22. Angels (Angel or Angel Wings)- Luke, Chapter 1 Jessica
23. Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist (Tablet with chalk)- Luke, Chapter 1 Katie
24. Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary, Lily, Heart, Marian Symbol)- Luke, Chapter 1 Charlotte
25. The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth or Path with Hills)- Luke 1:39-56 Joy Beyond the Cross
26. Joseph (Tools)- Matthew, Chapter 1 Micaela
27. The Nativity ( Jesus in the Manger) Luke, Chapter 2 Maggie OFS
28. Magi (Christmas Star, Three Crowns, Camels) Matthew 2:1-12 Beth
29. O Antiphon: O Wisdom (Bible) Karen
30. O Antiphon: O Lord of Lords (Burning Bush) Elaina
31. O Antiphon: O Flower of Jesse's Stem (Lily) Mary K.
32. O Antiphon: O Key of David (Key) Erin
33. O Antiphon: O Radiant Dawn (Sunrise) Alysha
34. O Antiphon: O King of All Nations (Throne) Lindsay K.
35. O Antphon: O Emmanuel (Chalice and Host) Marines

If you'd like to join in the fun leave a comment telling me which ornament you'd like to make and your email address, or send me an email.  I'm looking forward to this fun project.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: A Donkey's Tale

A Donkey's Tale by Stefano Gorla is a collection of stories told through the eyes of Ladan, the donkey who was there.  Ladan tells children the story of Jesus as the eyewitness donkey who was there from the birth of Jesus to His ascension.

The book is filled with illustrations that are pleasing to the eye.  While most of Ladan's tales are relatively short, I'd say that this book is best suited to elementary school children.  The book could be read as a read aloud, but I think it works best as an independent reading book for a child in the second to fourth grade age range.

What I like about this book is it pretty much gives a synopsis of the Gospel through the eyes of a friendly little donkey who is happy to tell his tale in a way that is easy for children to understand.  I thought the stories were done quite well.

In the book there is only one story that I take issue with.  Ladan, the donkey who has been with Jesus since before he was born, claims to be the donkey He rode into Jerusalem.  In Matthew 11:2-7 we are told that Jesus rode on a young donkey which had never been ridden before.  So for me, I had a hard time accepting that Ladan's claim that he was the donkey who Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  I'm not sure that many children would pick up on this discrepancy but I suppose it's possible that some might.

Overall, it's a nice story and I think it will appeal to children.

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 A Donkey's Tale. 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.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quick Takes: Volume 78

I feel oddly motivated to get my Christmas shopping done now but the kids don't seem to have much of anything on their wish lists that I can buy.  I'd love to be done shopping before Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure if that goal is even realistic.
Katie must have hit a growth spurt with out me really realizing it.  Over the past couple of weeks it's become glaringly evident that most of her 12-18 month clothes don't fit.  The 18-24 month outfits that were huge on her back in July and August seem to fit quite nicely now.  Now I'm starting to wonder how many of these outfits that were too big this spring and summer will be too small when spring rolls around.
On the bright side, we've had an incredibly warm week here.  Katie's getting some use out of those cute spring/summer dresses that were too big, and I'm getting an idea of what I should pack for her when we head to Disney World in a month.  
We have our first homeschooling field trip coming up next Wednesday.  We're going to an alpaca farm.  It sounds like it will be a neat trip.  I love that homeschooling means even the pre pre-schoolers get to come along and learn.  Katie will get to interact with some little ones her age and I bet she will enjoy looking at the llamas or alpacas.  I'm going to call them llamas.  And to show that I'm that geeky homeschool mom, I'm dressing Katie in the cute llama tee shirt I recently ordered for her as long as it's not too hot out next week.
I would love it if someone showed up at my door with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  I want some ooey gooey fresh out of the oven cookies, but I really don't have the energy to whip up a batch for myself.
My toe seems like it's getting better.  I was finally able to put my favorite sandals on again and I'm able to walk comfortably in them.  I also started taking Katie for walks around the neighborhood.  I'm trying to make sure my foot will be able to handle lots of walking when we go away next month.  I'm up to walking a little over a mile and a half.  
We have a busy weekend ahead of us.  We've got soccer games, a baby shower to attend for my sister-in-law and a few other things on the schedule.  I'm really looking forward to the end of soccer season when our weekends will be a lot less scheduled.  I feel like we're running all of the time.

Theme Thursday on Friday: Secret

I think I mentioned last week or the week before how someone spilled the beans about a big surprise that was supposed to be a secret until late October.  So now that the secret is out, the kids know that we're going to Disney World.  Madeline has figured out when we will be going but Ellie isn't sure when we're going.

I've been noticing some friends posting pictures of these "Magic Bands" lately and didn't know what they were.  What I did know was we weren't offered them.  Boo!  Then we got the mail on Wednesday and there was an envelope with Me Mou (That's Katie for Mickey Mouse.) that told us we were selected to be part of the Magic Bands trial.  Woot!
These bands will be our tickets, our room key, and our fast passes.  Pretty cool.  I'm excited to see how it all works.

We couldn't believe it when the bands we selected just two days ago wound up on our porch this morning.

Visit Clan Donaldson to see other, more timely, Theme Friday Thursday posts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: Jorge from Argentina

Earlier this week a lovely picture chapter book about Pope Francis, Jorge from Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children, showed up at my house.  As soon as I saw it, I had to take a peek inside.  It didn't take very long for me to decide that I needed to read this book.  Yes, that's right, I didn't think "Wow, the girls are really going to enjoy this book!  I've got to show it to them!"  No, my thoughts immediately went to "Ooh!  I need to read this!"  Nothing wrong with reading a children's book here and there for yourself.  And I'll be sharing the book with the girls, no worries about that!

After reading through this lovely biography of Pope Francis I had a few thoughts regarding possible uses for the book.  The first one is obvious, give it to an elementary aged child to read on his or her own.  The book is perfect for independent reading for 2nd-4th grade students.  But then I started to think about the younger set.  The story is engaging and I felt it was written in a style that would work wonderfully as a read aloud.  The chapters are short and can be read in a few minutes.  I think this book could be used in a class setting as a read aloud to help children get to know about Pope Francis.  I read a few stories to my kindergarten class that are told over the course of about five weeks and the kids pretty much hang on every word.  I could absolutely see them doing the same with this Pope Francis biography.

The illustrations for this book are just beautiful.  They're filled with nice vibrant colors and I think they really make the story come alive.  Each chapter has one of these rich illustrations.

The biography takes the reader from the marriage of Pope Francis's parents up to World Youth Day 2013.  They get to journey through time and see how a regular boy named Jorge came to be Pope.  And I think young readers will come to develop a fondness for our new Holy Father after they learn more about him.

This paper back book is available in both English and Spanish.  I was provided with review copies of this title by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  You can order a copy of this book or take a peek inside by visiting Pauline Books and Media.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guardian Angel Craft

The feast day of the Guardian Angels is one that we should all celebrate because we all have a guardian angel.  It's a feast day that I always try to point out to my kindergarten religious ed students.  Typically I have them do this cute guardian angel craft that includes the guardian angel prayer.

It's a relatively simple craft to put together and with a little bit of advance planning a class of young children can assemble this craft in under ten minutes.  That's important when you're working on a tight time table in a classroom setting.

To do this craft you'll need: scissors, glue stick,  a piece of card stock with the Guardian Angel prayer printed across the top (I set my page to landscape for this craft.), a piece of construction paper folded in half, a sheet of colored construction paper, a 2 inch circle (I use manila paper so it looks skin toned) a small heart shaped cut out, and some yarn strands

If you will be doing this craft with a group of children I'd recommend using a circle punch for cutting the pieces that will be the angel's head, and a heart shaped punch for the hands.  If you don't have a circle punch you can use the cap from a juice bottle and just trace your circles using that and cut them out.

When cutting the yarn for the hair for a group, I suggest wrapping the yard around a box of colored pencils or some small thin package or piece of cardboard so you can cut many strands in one fell swoop.  You want your yarn strands to be about 6 inches long.

You'll also want to cut trapezoid body shapes out of construction paper, too.  

Once you have the prep work done and are ready to get the kids crafting you'll need to have them trace their hand on a folded piece of construction paper.  I like to use white or yellow construction paper for this step.  Once the hand shaped wings are cut out you're ready to glue them on to the card stock.  Next you'll place the body over the wings.  The heart shape gets added upside down to make praying hands. Then, add the head and glue on a few strands of yarn hair.   All that's left is drawing a face on your angel.

My angel is just standing below the prayer but some of my students are far more creative than me.  Just this past Sunday several of my students decided that they wanted their angels to be flying.  So go ahead and angle your angel so it looks like it's flying!  The important thing is to just have fun with it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Flat Father Stanley and Pope Francis

Some of you probably recall me mentioning that I have a class mascot for my religious ed class that spends a week with each of my students.  His name is Flat Father Stanley.  He gets around and goes on a lot of neat adventures.

This summer I asked Josh, a seminarian from our parish, if he would be willing to take Flat Fr. Stanley with him when he went to study in Rome.  He agreed to take him along for the adventure.  I figured he'd take some cool pictures and be able to teach the kids a bit about Rome and Vatican City in the process.  Imagine my surprise when I checked my Facebook wall this evening and discovered this picture:

Do you see that?!  It's Flat Father Stanley and Pope Francis!  Seriously, how awesome is that?  I'm so excited for Josh and my little laminated mascot.

Please pray for Josh as he studies to be a priest.  He's going to be an amazing one someday.  And Josh asked me to pray for the fourth year men who are going to be ordained deacons this Thursday at St. Peter's.  Please join me in praying for them, too.

Celebrating the Feast of St. Therese

Today is a name day for Katie so it's the prefect excuse to celebrate with a yummy dessert.  I wanted something with roses but lack of proper prior planning left me with no fun "rose" dessert ideas that called for ingredients that I had on hand.  What to do what to do...

Well, this morning I decided to improvise when it came to dressing Katie.  She's outgrown most of her 12-18 months clothes so we're close to being fresh out of cute dresses with little flowers and roses.  Then I remembered that strawberries are part of the rose family so I broke out a dress that I figured we wouldn't be seeing until next spring that has little flowers and strawberries.  Score!

That still left me trying to come up with a dessert.  Then it hit me.  Why not rose colored biscotti!  It's yummy, everyone likes it and it's easy to make.

The pink rose biscotti was certainly a hit.  It was a delicious way to celebrate the feast day of one of my favorite saints and one of Katie's patrons.

Happy feast of St. Therese!
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