Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Tell Me about the Catholic Faith for Small Children

I'm always on the look out for good books that help me to teach small children about our amazing Catholic faith. With two small children at home and a class of kindergarten religious ed kids, I love to find new ways to present the faith to them so it will stick with them.  With Tell Me about the Catholic Faith for Small Children, a wide range of what the Catholic Church teaches is presented on a level that I'd say is best for children ages three through six.

With small children the illustrations in the book are every bit as important as what is written.  The illustrations in this book are beautiful.  They're friendly and approachable illustrations that are vividly colored. The illustrations allow children to easily envisage what is being read to them in the text.  An older child could easily look at this book after having had sections of it read to him or her and be able to look at the pictures and recall what they learned.

The book covers a wide range of topics from Old and New Testament Bible stories, to Church history highlights, which includes introductions to a handful of well-know saints, and a section on what Catholics believe.  This book would give a young Catholic child a good foundation for learning the faith.  The bible stories are simply told and illustrated with several pictures each.  They're perfect for a short lesson which is great if you're dealing with short attention spans or are using the book in a classroom setting where you only have a few minutes for a bible story.  The Church history section covers from early Church history up to saints from our own time period.  The section on what Catholics believe covers the sacraments, with explanations of what each one is, prayers, Christmas, Easter, a trip inside a church and those who serve the church.

In many ways, Tell Me about the Catholic Faith for Small Children is the junior version of the Tell Me about the Catholic Faith book that is for children aged 6 and up which contains a wealth of information.  The book has a useful table of contents and index so you can easily find a specific story or topic.  The book is 93 pages long, so this isn't exactly a book that you're going to sit down and read cover to cover with a small child.

I really like this book and think it offers a great presentation of the Catholic faith.  It's a nicely done book that will appeal to small children with it's simply told stories and beautiful illustrations.  This book would be a great gift idea for a young Catholic child.

I was provided with a review copy of Tell Me about the Catholic Faith for Small Children by Tiber River in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ask Me Something!

Give me something to write about.  Ask me a question in the comments, pick a question, any question, and I'll answer it in a blog post.  Just don't ask me about vomit unless you really want stomach churning details (and pictures, I've got pictures...and you don't want me to have an excuse to use them, or do you?).  So ask away.  Give this blogger some purpose!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Vomit and Confession

My past week has really been something.  It's the kind of something that I'd choose never to experience again if I were in control of such things and I'd certainly go back and delete it if that were even a possibility.

Last Friday afternoon Anthony started spitting up huge amounts.  So much that I started to question whether there might have been oatmeal in his new box of rice cereal since he was reacting the way he does when he has oatmeal.  The spitting up, which we later realized was vomit, kept happening, and it wasn't until he vomited about two ounces of baby food that I was still in the process of feeding him for dinner that we realized there was something other than just regular spit up going on.  Almost immediately after the disturbing dinnertime display he began vomiting a lot and his color quickly turned very sickly looking.  He was starting to remind us of how Katie looked when she dehydrated from her bout with pneumonia so Bryan ran out and got him pedialyte and we began hydrating him every ten minutes with a few MLs of pedialyte.  After an hour or two he was seeming a bit better, but it was obvious that he wasn't feeling well.

Neither of us was comfortable with the idea of putting him to be in his room, so we set up a playpen in the family room and decided he would stay down there with us until we were certain the vomiting had passed and he was hydrated.  I had kept telling Bryan that I thought I felt sick, too, but he kept telling me that I was just worried about the baby and his impending business trip to Denver.  I figured he was right since I do stress out to the point of feeling ill when he goes away and I was also stressing out about the baby.

Around ten or eleven at night I started getting sick.  By midnight I was vomiting all over the bathroom floor because I had no other choice.  Within minutes Bryan was also sick and once the next wave of feeling sick came around Bryan and I were practically doing synchronized vomiting.  Then Anthony got in on the action and woke up wanting of all things, to be fed and held and neither Bryan and I were in a position to tend to him.  Nursing a baby while succumbing to a nasty stomach virus just isn't possible.

We ended up having to wake Madeline at 1AM and have her come down to take care of the baby and help us as we tried to clean up two bathrooms that were covered in vomit.  An hour or so later Katie woke up and had vomited all over her bed, herself and her carpet.  So Madeline had a new patient.  I tried as best I could to help clean up the mess, but that's not easy when you're also throwing up and running to the bathroom every few minutes.  We got Katie settled and an hour or two later Ellie fell victim to the same horrid fate as the rest of us [except Madeline].

I don't think Madeline got much sleep the rest of the night as she helped her younger siblings and did her best to get the loads and loads of vomit laundry through the washer.  She came through for us in a huge way.  I'm not sure if we would have survived without her.  She kept the baby hydrated, made sure Bryan, the girls and I had drinks, saltines and orange slices.

I'm amazed that the didn't get hit with the stomach bug, too, but we think she may have had it last month.  The day after Christmas she was sick and had very similar symptoms to the rest of us.  She was the only one to get sick with it then.

The timing for this virus was not ideal.  Bryan was getting ready to leave for a business trip and I had loosely planned out my Saturday.  Once I had gotten sick I realized that heading to Mass for the feast day of St. Francis de Sales who has become one of my favorite saints over the past year or two was out.  And going to confession was also out.  Soon enough I realized that there was no way I was able to teach my CCD class on Sunday and there was no way we could go to Mass and share our grotesque stomach bug with everyone else.  Even though we all stopped vomiting by early Saturday morning the fun of horrible body aches, fevers and dizziness were just getting warmed up for their two day stay.  I laid on the couch thinking to myself that labor, strep throat, ear infections, and possibly hand foot and mouth disease were all less miserable.  Of course, that last one is a misery in itself and I'd rather have the stomach bug for a few days than relive a day of hand, foot and mouth disease.

We were mostly all on the mend by very late Sunday night or Monday morning.  Katie and Ellie had some lingering effects for a day or two after, but were doing much better by today.  Anthony, on the other hand, will seem like he's doing just fine and out of nowhere have an explosive diaper.  That I could handle.  But this evening I fed him dinner and then loaded the kids into the car so we could go to confession.  All was going well.  We were there right at 6:00 when confessions begin and I was hopeful that we might not be at the end of a long line since the parking lot hardly had any cars in it.  Then I opened the door to get Anthony and was met with a baby sitting in a puddle of vomit that consisted of all the freshly pureed peas I had just fed him.

I thought maybe the spit up wasn't as bad as I thought but a quick attempt to clean him up with a burp cloth revealed that there was no way I was getting this child out of his seat and standing in a line for confession.  We would have had a slimy green trail following us.  It was that bad.  It was so bad that I took pictures when we got home so I could show Bryan.

As I stood in the cold parking lot completely defeated, I told the girls to get back in the car.  They were more than happy to comply.  I was just left with the feeling that if I didn't need to go to confession when I pulled into the church parking lot, I certainly needed to go now.  Patience had officially left the building.  Inside my head I raised my little white flag of surrender to God, all the while grumbling that I now had a phenomenally bad mess to clean.

When we got home I made the unhappy discovery that Anthony needed bath number two in four hours. The kid was covered in green pea vomit.  Can I shock all of you and tell you that I've bathed Anthony three times in the past two days which is more times than I've bathed him in the past month.  Bryan is much better at washing babies than I am, so I usually propose to him that I'll dry and dress the baby if he washes.  So yes, he's cleaned regularly, just not by me.  I will say that I'm feeling more confident washing him after the last two baths I gave him today.

Once he was cleaned I set about getting his clothes sent down to the laundry room only to discover that the dog decided to try washing them.  Arrgh!  Why are dogs so gross?

The real fun began when I had to pull the carseat out of the van.  That cute cover that can be pulled off for washing so you don't have to remove the harness is a load of crap for people who don't live in reality land.  When junior pukes all over the harness and there's so much vomit that it dribbles out of the car seat and onto the car upholstery, the easy remove seat pad is worthless.  I had lots of choice words and thoughts about the engineers and designers of the Britax Marathon 70-G3.  Ignore my 5 star review of it on Amazon.  I obviously didn't have real world baby disaster experience with the seat when I wrote the review.  My recurring thought was "What genius makes a car seat where the *@&%@*$ harness cannot be removed?!"  It's covered in green pea sludge and the omnipotent owners manual is telling me to "sponge clean" the harness if it needs to be cleaned.  Ok, Britax manual're drunk, you probably don't have any children and have never had to clean up green vomit; it's time to pack it up and go home.

So picture me dear readers at the kitchen sink with a giant car seat sitting on the counter top with the harness, dripping with green oozy grossness hanging out of the bottom of the seat and into the sink so I can wash it with mild soap.  The seat and the fantastic design that does not allow the harness to come out is an occasion of sin, my friends.  Plain and simple.  On the bright side, I kept all the expletives that I had regarding the seat, and it's designers in my head so the kids were at least spared that nice little show.

Madeline had very kindly offered to clean the puddle of green slime off the car upholstery, so that was a huge help.  I was really impressed to see that the got it all up.  I guess she gained some practical life experience this past weekend.

I was going to attempt to put the carseat cover back on the seat tonight and get it back out in the van, but it's not dry.  I hope it will dry sometime this evening so I can get everything back where it belongs.  I'd really like to get to Mass tomorrow morning.  This is one of those times where I wish I didn't keep our spare carseat in Bryan's car.  Since he's out in Denver until tomorrow, my spare seat is sitting over in the Philly airport parking lot.  Some days it just seems like nothing can be easy.  Too bad this happens to be one of those days, right?

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  Bryan will be back and I don't know about you, but I'm confident that it's going to be a vomit free day.  If it's not, I'm going to go and eat a lot of chocolate and have a glass of cranberry wine.

If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me.  I promise not to talk so much about vomit next time.  Maybe I'll talk about the upcoming name change for the blog.  Oh and how happy are you that I didn't share any pictures with this story?  I almost did.  Sure they aren't something anyone really wants to see, but the watermark on the picture would have revealed the new name for my blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Catholic Churches Big and Small

A few months ago a lovely book called Catholic Churches Big and Small arrived on my doorstep.  The book is a richly illustrated story about two children their father and a nun who go visiting many different Catholic churches.  The tour consists of taking the children to old churches, modern churches, small churches and cathedrals.  Along the way the children learn about things they will see inside a Catholic church and the ways in which these sacred spaces are utilized by the faithful.

The story itself is simply told in a way that is just right for young children.  Most pages only have a line or two of text which is great for kids with short attention spans, but more importantly, the minimal text leaves more room for discussing the gorgeous illustrations found throughout this book.  I really don't think I can say enough about the illustrations to do them justice.  They're simply beautiful and many are filled with lots of vivid color that will catch the eyes of young children.  The churches illustrated in this book are all part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and they're listed in an index at the end of the book.  If I lived anywhere near this Archdiocese I'd certainly want to go and visit some of these churches after reading this book and looking at these gorgeous illustrations.

My three year old and I have read through this book many times and she's always pointing out the things that she recognizes from church and she will ask questions about the pictures.  Sometimes she just likes to sit and page through the book and look at her favorite pictures, which are usually the most colorful pages.

This book is really a lovely way to teach young children in the 3-8 year old range about the various items you will find inside a Catholic church.  I am looking forward to sharing this book with my kindergarten religious education class.  I know they'll enjoy learning about the things they see in church and I'm sure they're going to love the pictures as much as my younger daughter does.  I'd absolutely recommend this book if you're looking for something to teach your child about the items he or she sees in the church.  With this book, you could very easily bring it with you on a visit to your church and ask your child to find some of the items listed in the book in your church, such as the altar, the tabernacle, holy water fonts and so forth.

The one and only complaint I have about this book is the paper used for the pages is a bit too thin for my liking.  I think a sturdier paper would ensure that the book will be able to withstand children paging through it often.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.  You can order a copy of this book from Amazon.
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