Tuesday, June 30, 2009


That's how much I just paid for an outfit for Madeline and a cute pair of sunglasses for Ellie at The Children's Place.  I'm one of their select shoppers who has been invited to reap the benefits of having their credit card without having to have an account (they're trying to get me to open an account, but after two years it still hasn't worked).   So I received a $10 coupon from them the other day (I honestly don't recall buying enough to earn the reward, but Bryan says the economy is making them desperate and they're just throwing incentives out to see if anyone will bite.) I'm sure I've probably mentioned in the past that I'm a bit of a bargain hunter, so the idea of getting reward dollars for buying children's clothing certainly gets my attention.  So right now I'm quite pleased with my $1.99 shopping trip.  Madeline has a new outfit that she really likes, and Ellie is quite pleased with her snazzy new pink sunglasses.

Tiber River Review: The Art of Natural Family Planning

The Couple to Couple League's The Art of Natural Family Planning Student Guide is a wonderful guide to understanding your fertility and using that understanding to achieve or postpone pregnancy. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the only church approved method of regulating births. The use of artificial birth control is not morally approved by the Catholic Church, so if a couple needs to postpone pregnancy or space the birth of their children for serious reasons, practicing NFP is the way to go.
Couples can learn the Sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning from the Couple to Couple League (CCL) in a classroom environment or in a home study format. The student guide is used for both courses. Of course, you can also learn this method by reading the student guide on your own, but doing so does not afford you the privileges of being a CCL member (taking a CCL course makes you a member) such as ongoing support with personal charting and interpretation. There are obviously benefits to taking the CCL course, but it is not impossible to learn how to effectively use this method of NFP on your own.
The full color student guide is separated into three sections. Each section corresponds to the three classes that comprise the CCL course. There is also a section of supplemental material. It is comprised of two appendices, a reference guide, a glossary and an index. The appendices correspond to exercises that are presented in the class sections.

The first class starts off with a lesson that explains why the Church does not allow contraception, and goes into a brief explanation of the Theology of the Body. It is followed by a brief anatomy lesson and an explanation of the female cycle and how it is divided into three phases. It is in this class that students will learn how to chart the woman's cycle and interpret signs of fertility within the cycle. There are several exercises regarding charting that are presented in this section. After completing the exercise, you can refer to the answer key that is contained in the appendices.

The second class reviews the lessons learned in the first class and then goes on to discuss some issues you may encounter with regards to charting (such as time disturbances in temperature taking). Rules for determining phase I infertility are introduced. There are several exercises that pertain to determining the end of phase I and the beginning of phase II. Later in this section there is a discussion on how to optimize your chances for conceiving. By the end of this section, a couple will have the information they need to determine whether or not they want to try to conceive or postpone a pregnancy. There is also a portion of this section that address how a couple who uses NFP to postpone a pregnancy is different from a couple who uses contraception to achieve the same end.

The third class, like the second class, starts off with a review of the material from the previous section. Following that, a brief overview of other methods of NFP is presented. These methods are explained, but instruction on how to effectively use these methods is not given (other methods of NFP have their own instructional classes and manuals). The CCL mucus-only and temperature-only rules are introduced in this section, as well. The next lesson discusses the use of NFP in special situations such as illness or stress. It is followed by a section the expands on why the Church teaches that marital relations are to be self-giving and live-giving. Next, methods of birth control, which are not Church approved, are discussed with the main focus being on the serious side-effects that occur from using said methods of contraception. A lesson is devoted to the effectiveness of NFP when used correctly (It's 99% effective when couples faithfully follow the rules). Two sections follow that discuss the effect of breastfeeding on fertility, and the use of NFP during premenopause. To learn more about either of these situations you can take a CCL class that deals specifically with that subject area. CCL offers both a postpartum guide and a premenopause guide that are used with their respective course. I have not reviewed either of those guides, but I would assume that one could read those manuals in lieu of the class and learn to implement NFP within those circumstances. But, just like with this student manual, if you do not take a class through CCL, you will not have the benefit of their ongoing support for chart analysis. The final portion of class three extols the benefits of practicing NFP.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, the appendices all correlate to specific exercises in the class sections of the book. The reference section of the book expands on some topics that were presented in the class portions of the book. There is a useful list of common drugs (both OTC and prescription) and how they can affect fertility (both male and female). A brief section on miscarriage is presented (a topic that was not discussed anywhere in the three classes). Full color pictures of cervical mucus and their descriptions as they pertain to NFP charting are also presented in the reference section. All of the rules for the CCL's method of NFP are reviewed in this section. It is the only place in the book where all of the rules are listed together. Information on how to successfully chart and use NFP when coming off of hormonal forms of birth control is also discussed.

In all, I found this to be a very informative manual for learning to use the Sympto-thermal method of NFP. It is very similar to the Sympto-thermal method, that I currently practice. I actually found the CCL's explanations to have more clarity. I would highly recommend this guide to couples who are seeking to learn a method of NFP that is effective. What appeals most to me about the Sympto-thermal method is the built in checks and balances. Instead of charting just one sign of fertility you chart two or three.

This review was written for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. For more information and how to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

As a reviewer for Tiber River, I was given a free copy of The Art of Natural Family Planning in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Summer. Aren't I supposed to have LESS laundry?

During the Winter months I wistfully yearn for the Summer months when the laundry piles are smaller.  Winter clothes are bulky and often have layered tops.  Not to mention socks and undershirts for the girls.  The pajamas are static nightmares that constantly zap me.  Yes, Winter laundry is one of my least favorite things to do.

Now that Summer is here, I should be enjoying less laundry, right?  We wear less clothing during the Summer.  Sweaters and jeans have been exchanged for sundresses (God's gift to moms of little girls), shorts and tank tops.  In theory, my laundry loads should be cut in half.  I realized that something has gone terribly awry in the laundry department last night.  Instead of having less laundry to do, I seem to have twice the normal amount.  What gives?

I took a few moments to freak out over the mountain range of laundry covering my laundry room floor and part of the basement hallway (yes, it was that bad).  Did I forget to do laundry last week?  No, I remember folding and putting lots of laundry away on Thursday and Friday.  I pondered the situation a little more.  Ellie has been having accidents a couple nights each week.  Right there, I'm looking at 2 extra loads of laundry per accident.  We've had two such incidents in the past 3 days. Ugh!  Then I realized that the beach towel situation was pretty bad, too.  We've gone swimming every day since Friday (or was it Wednesday or Thursday?) and right there that is one load for towels and one for the bathing suits (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the 18 minute "Fast Wash" setting on my new washer? I don't have to hand wash bathing suits after every swim anymore.  Yay!).  Then, upon further inspection of the laundry, I realized that Madeline has been changing her clothes to play outside since we have a rule of no skirts, dresses or sandals while riding bikes.  And, let's add Bryan's two outfits a day during the work week onto the pile.  I'm starting to think that Winter laundry isn't all that bad, but I'd rather have the warm weather. 

It's not a lifestyle I could ever embrace, but sometimes, I'm just a little envious of those who live as nudists.  I wonder if maybe some of them decided to live that lifestyle so they could get a leg up on the epic laundry battles.  Think about it, they probably only have towels and bed linens to wash.  I could take care of all that in a few hours.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Family Photo Meme

Elizabeth over at The Divine Gift of Motherhood tagged me in a Family Photo Meme.  Post a family picture with a story behind it and write about it.

This a photo of Ellie and my dad on Father's Day 2007.  We were homeless at that time.  We had just sold our house 6 days before and were living with my brother until we could settle on our current home exactly two years ago today.  We spent two and a half weeks living at my wonderful brother Mark's house.  How he survived 17 days of us living with him I'll never know.  
That Father's day, we enjoyed a nice afternoon by the pool with my parents and my brother Mark.  Bryan and I unsuccessfully tried to teach Madeline how to swim in the pool that day.  At the same time we had to keep our fearless Ellie from jumping into the water.  When Ellie wasn't trying to dive into the deep end, she was glued to her beloved Pop's side.  They have such a special bond.  Ever since Ellie was a tiny baby she has been very attached to her Pop. I just love to watch her interact with him.  There's just something special about seeing two of your favorite people have share such an amazing bond.  

I tag SAHMinIL, Joy, Cookie, and anyone else who wants to join in on the fun!

Friday, June 26, 2009

No hippos allowed

If you are a hippo, you probably aren't going to like this latest report coming out of Mommyland.  As I was putting Ellie to bed tonight we had a little discussion about hippos after reading Pajama Time (there's a happy pajama wearing hippo in the story).  It turns out that Ellie is scared of hippos.  Clearly she doesn't trust them, despite my telling her that they're a fun loving bunch of animals.

While our country has made great strides in the area of civil rights, it appears that hippos have been left behind.  Ellie informed me that hippos are not allowed in our house. I let her know that that was fine by me since I didn't think one could fit though our doorways.  She also told me that hippos aren't allowed in our neighborhood.   It's true, we specifically brought a house in a hippo free neighborhood.  I think most of New Jersey is hippo free with the exception of the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.  Then she got on the subject of hippos driving.  I had to let her know that hippos aren't allowed to get a driver's license so she didn't need to worry about those crazy driving hippos either.  She tells me that they're not allowed to drive because they beep the horn too much.  Good to know.

In approximately three weeks I will no longer have a three year old (sniff).  God, I'm so going to miss this age.  If I could keep Ellie this size forever I would.  There's still a touch of baby left in her.  By this time next year it will likely all be gone.  I asked her if she wants to stay small and three, but my lovable Elsie wants to keep moving forward (sigh).  She tells me she wants to "get big" and be four.

Book Review: The Story of the Church

I recently had the pleasure of reading Fr. Alfred McBride's The Story of the Church (Revised Edition). Rather than presenting the history in a dry manner that offers a litany of names, facts and dates, the history of the church is presented in a rather engaging manner. Fr. McBride uses fictional narratives, short plays, diary entries and interviews to explain pivotal moments in the Church's history. The book illustrates how the Church has changed over time to adapt to the world around her, but at the same time has essentially remained constant.

The book is separated into four parts, Early Church, Middle Ages, Reformation and Modern Church. Each part is preceded by a time line that highlights events in the secular world and events in the Catholic Church. Within each section, there are multiple chapters that delve into the key events in Church history. Each chapter features a brief narrative or in some cases a fictional writing that explains the period and how the church related to the secular world. Immediately following that, is a section called "Looking Back" that explains the preceding section in further detail. It is in this portion that Fr. McBride hits on the historical facts. It is followed by a section on how the history relates to us today. At the end of each chapter there are discussion points. In the margins of the book, you'll often find grey boxes (an aside, if you will) that contain facts that expand on information mentioned in the text.

The book is an easy and engaging read. The introduction for this book makes it clear that the focus is on about 30 of the pivotal moments in the history of the Catholic Church. At 310 pages long, you can't expect the book to cover everything that has happened in twenty one centuries. So essentially this book is a highlight reel of history that illustrates beautifully how the Church is still relevant and will continue to be in the future.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Story of the Church Revised Edition.

As a reviewer for The Catholic Company, I was given a copy of The Story of the Church in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Small Successes

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

It's Thursday?  Really?  Color me confused.  Clearly the first week of Summer vacation has quickly passed by me.  Amazing how things like this work.  Let's move onward towards my small successes, shall we?

1. I managed to put a band aid type of repair on Ellie (really it's Madeline's) Bitty Twin stroller that allows it to be used.  My little friend Ellie decided that it would be a good idea to lay her 37 pound body across the pricey little doll stroller.  She obliterated the plastic hinges.  After a lot of struggling, I was able to force the stroller back together.  Thanks to 3M heavy duty velcro, I managed to reinforce the hinges by wrapping them like a hurt ankle.  Provided that Miss Ellie has learned her lesson that we DO NOT sit on doll strollers the toy should see a lot more play time.  I spent all week telling her not to sit on it.

2. I survived taking both of my girls to BJ's, Target, and Acme.  I haven't taken both girls to the grocery store since last Summer.  It's amazing how much of a challenge taking two kids grocery shopping can be when you are used to going alone or with just one kid.  School, I miss you.  Come back!

3. I baked this week.  Shocking, isn't it?  And I didn't just bake, I made buttercream icing from scratch, too!  I've never made icing before and was surprised that it was so easy to do.  The best part is the icing tasted great. Yay!

Bonus: I've also completed my first reviews for The Catholic Company and Tiber River this week.  I've been busy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tiber River Review: MagnifiKid!

My seven year old daughter spent the past year using a missal geared to children preparing to receive their First Holy Communion. It's a great missal, but it lacks the readings for Sunday Mass. I found it to be a deficiency that lead to my daughter becoming distracted and bored. She wanted to follow along with the readings, but that proved to be a little tricky for her. She was trying to use her children's missal to follow along and respond at the proper times and was using the missal that our church has in the pews for the reading. This proved to be too much for her. She got lost trying to find the proper page in the adult missal, the type was too small for her and the missal itself, was a bit too heavy for her to manage comfortably. I thought that this was a situation we simply would have to deal with until she was older. Then I discovered MagnifiKid!. 

I noticed a boy a couple of years older than my daughter with a copy of MagnifiKid! at Mass a few months back. The bright colors initially caught my eye and upon further inspection, I realized it had also captured the young boy's attention. After Mass, I went home and did a search online to find out more about this MagnifiKid!. I was originally under the impression that it was some sort of comic book that was based on the Sunday readings. I was delighted when I learned that it had not only the actual readings for every Sunday (and also Holy Days of Obligation), but it also had the order of the Mass and the responses (which is wonderful when you are trying to teach your child to fully participate during Mass). Right then and there, I realized that this was what I needed for my daughter.  

Once we got our first monthly installment of MagnifiKid!, I was delighted to see all that it contained. Aside from the missal portion of this 16 page full color booklet, you'll find the difficult words from the readings explained in a way that is easy for elementary school children grasp. In every booklet, there is a page dedicated to explaining the Gospel in kid-friendly terms. You'll also find stories about the Saints, quizzes, The Adventures of Brother Goodventure (a comic strip), a puzzle on the back of the booklet, as well as a section with morning and evening prayers tucked into this lovely weekly missal.  

My daughter was thrilled when she got her first installment of Magnifikid!. She was a little disappointed that she needed to wait nearly six weeks to bring her first issue to Mass, but it was worth the wait. She was happy to follow along and participate fully in Mass. After Mass, she enjoys doing the puzzles and reading the articles that are contained in each weekly booklet. I highly recommend MagnifiKid! to any parent who is looking for something that will help their elementary school aged child to learn to fully appreciate and participate in Mass. With two young children in the house, I know I will continue to subscribe to MagnifiKid! for many years to come. 
I wrote this review of Magnifikid! for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

Let's order up some weather

It has been unseasonably chilly and rainy here the past week and a half.  This is becoming a problem that is making Summer break unfulfilling.  If it's possible to order up some nicer weather, please, someone let me know. 

Ideally, I'd like to have a four or five day stretch with no rain.  That would be a nice start.  It did warm up yesterday, but it's humid.  I grew up on a barrier island in  Southern New Jersey.  I know all about humid Summers.  Since we live on the mainland, I expect not to have beach humidity.  So to recap, we need a nice stretch of no rain, warm temperatures and minimal humidity.  I don't want to walk outside and feel like I need to part the air so I can move.

Because the sun hasn't been showing itself to us lately, my pool water is chilly.  At 74 degrees with my lovely little solar rings in place the water is still too cold to go swimming.  I have two little girls who are desperate to go swimming.  I've been spending my days fielding questions about water temperatures from Madeline and Ellie.  Bryan has also gotten in on the act.  He IM's me several times a day asking me if the water will be warm enough for him to swim after work.  Even Oscar wants to get in the water.  

Yesterday we visited our neighbor (the one I helped with the curtains) and went swimming in her heated pool.  I think it's sad when you have your own pool and you have to walk to the neighbor's house to use theirs.  I must say that swimming in 83 degree water when it wasn't even 80 degrees out, was very nice.

The sun is currently shining.  Here's hoping that it will stay out and be a very hot day.  June is nearly over and I want to go swimming.  It's been nice not having to water my gardens in the midst of all this rain, but I can deal with watering them if sunshine can be provided in exchange.  I think the plants will grow better if they can have sunlight, warm weather and water. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ready to feel bad for my kids?

First off, Ellie didn't know what an Oreo was called until a few minutes ago.  She came upstairs and asked me if she could have some "Nutty Butters*".  When I walked into the kitchen she was holding the little box of Oreos.  I was a little confused since they weren't the Nutter Butters she just asked me to give her.  Turns out she wanted Oreos, but didn't know what they were called.  Poor kid.  Then I gave her two (yes, I'm a mean mom) and explained that each cookie is technically two cookies so it was like having four.  She looked at me with that "my mom has something wrong with her, but since I can't tell exactly what it is, I'll just go along with what she's saying" look.
So you're probably asking yourself why my lovely children don't know what Oreos are, right? Well, there's a good reason for that.  I don't buy cookies unless they're in cookie dough form** or are Girl Scout Thin Mints or Carmel Delights***.  And even then, my children hardly ever see cookies.  I do make cookies around Christmas, but that is the only time of year that I ever make cookies from scratch and actively push them as snack options.  If it wasn't for grandparents and Girl Scouts, my girls would think that cookies were something special that we only eat at Christmas.  I'm not a health nut or anything.  Candy is one of my major food groups, if that tells you anything.  I simply don't buy certain snack foods and cookies happen to be one of those things.  Chips (with the exception of Baked Tostitos), pretzels and doughnuts**** are also on the list of foods you won't find in my house. 
In case you are wondering how Ellie came to know Oreos, there's a good explanation.  My mother in law visited on Friday evening.  When Gammie comes to visit, she usually brings things like Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts or cookies.  This past Friday she brought Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Nutter Butters and a Chocolate covered Reese's Peanut Butter cookie.  I'm still twitching from the onslaught of contraband cookies in the house.  Bryan and the girls are loving it.  By Sunday morning the cookies were already halfway gone.  I can't wait until they all gone.  For some reason, the grandparents like to buy the girls all the food I never buy.  Yesterday my parents stopped over with potato chips and M&Ms.
*It's what I call Nutter Butters because I always have to be a little different.
**Bryan and I eat the break and bake cookies when the kids go to bed, so they rarely ever get those cookies.
***Carmel Delights will not be making a comeback in our house.  I gave them up for Lent this year, and by the time Lent was over I had lost all desire to eat them.  I still have one box left.
****When Madeline started pre-K the teacher pulled me aside one day after school to tell me about Madeline's reaction to a powdered doughnut at snack time.  She totally freaked out when they gave it to her because she had no idea what it was.  People are seriously shocked when they find out your child doesn't know what a doughnut is.  It never occurred to me to give her one before that.  Don't worry, Ellie is familiar with doughnuts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh no! I'm thinking about baking...

Oh, the humanity of it all!  I'm seriously considering a baking experiment.  I must be crazy.  It is very possible that I may actually attempt to make Ellie's birthday cake(s).  That is actually a scary undertaking.  After attempting to make Madeline's first birthday cake and failing miserably three times in one day*, I decided that I was not meant to make birthday cakes for my children.  Every time I have attempted to make a birthday cake since that fateful first birthday for either of my girls, it has not ended well.  I make a cake for Bryan's birthday every year and have been doing this since we were dating and haven't had one cake mishap yet.  

I know I've mentioned Cake Wrecks on here at least once or twice.  It's a blog that I love read.  It validates all the worrying I do about my girls birthday cakes after I place the order with the bakery.  Today as I was looking at her latest installment, I saw the cutest cupcakes.  And then I discovered after following the link to the baker, that these are cakes that I am probably very capable of making. I can make cupcakes and  I can bake brownies. In theory, I should be able to make these with relative ease.  I just hope I can turn theory into practice.  The most challenging thing for me will be the sugar cookie fries, but I think I can muddle through those.

Ellie is a cheeseburger junkie.  She has had a love affair with cheeseburgers since she was about a year old.  Something tells me that she will be over the moon if she can have a birthday cake that looks like a cheeseburger.  The look on her face was priceless when I showed her a picture of the cakes.  I got a resounding "YES!" when I asked her if she'd like them for her birthday party.  She has been asking for another Spongebob birthday party (she's been in love with him for three years now) and I think the little burger cakes will go perfectly with the theme, given that our beloved Spongebob is a fry cook.

*Two cakes literally fell apart after I put the icing on them. One got stuck in the pan.  I'll never understand what exactly went wrong.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We've been sucked into the good neighbor vacuum

I'm not sure when it happened, but apparently we've been sucked into the good neighbor vacuum.  There's a new needy neighbor in town, and she asks for more stuff than I do!  It's funny how this stuff works, isn't it?  It's nice to know that I'm not alone.  I ask for random ingredients and she asks for things that are even more random.

A few days ago, I got a call from my neighbor, Joanne, who is around the corner and across the street.  She needed laundry detergent.  That was a first for me.  I've been asked to give the kids a ride to school or religious ed, but never been asked for detergent.  Sure, why not.  Later that day, I picked up her daughter from school since she lost track of time and forgot to pick her up.  Next thing I know, I'm running thank you notes over to her so her kids can write an end of year thank you note to the teacher.  Ok, that's fine, no big deal. That lead to me picking up their dinner from my favorite pizza place.  And that lead to Bryan fixing their computer and coaching her husband Rob through the assembly of the leaf bag for his riding mower.  In return, I was told a priceless story about their pool contractor finding them in shall we say a compromising situation.  A situation that could have been avoided by using something called curtains. 

Then we fast forward to yesterday evening.  Joanne calls me wanting to know if she can store a grill box in my garage until tonight.  She wants to surprise her husband for Father's Day.  I told her she could.  Then she shows up with an incredibly heavy box that requires two men to move it.  So I had to call my neighbor from down the street, who doesn't know the neighbor from around the corner and across the street, to help out.  Look at that! I'm building a community based on favors.  So poor Ed, probably wishing he had never answered the phone, came down to help.  Next thing you know, Joanne is asking for grill assembly. Really?

Bryan and Ed, being the good neighbors that they are told her they'd put the grill together.  It took them close to two hours.  They also decided that they would walk the grill over to Joanne and Rob's house tomorrow night.  Assembly and doorstep delivery? Wow!

Today I am going shopping with Joanne for curtains (Yeah, they need 'em!).  She likes the way I've decorated my house and she wants my help with window treatments.  So it looks like I'll be playing decorator today.  I like shopping when I get to spend other people's money.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: The Heavens Proclaim

As part of The Catholic Company reviewer program, I had the privilege of being able to reviewThe Heavens Proclaim- Astronomy and the Vatican. I am delighted with my most recent escape into reading. With two young children in the house, when I spend my free time with my nose in a book, it is always my sincere hope that I walk away feeling that I have used my time wisely. I am happy to report that reading The Heavens Proclaim was time well spent. The book is a wonderful blend of astronomy, history, and beautiful photography.

An entire section of this book is filled with captivating pictures of the stars paired with scripture. It was a beautiful blend of science and religion that illustrates how well the two can complement one another. The photography is enough to inspire you to go lay under the stars and stare into the great beyond. If the book didn't touch on any of the science or history, the photography alone would have made an inspiring book.

This book is totally packed with information both historical and scientific. I have a tendency to lean towards the social sciences, so for obvious reasons, the portions of this book that delve into the rich history of the Church and her involvement in the area of science appealed to me the most. There is a section that discusses the history of the Church and it's relationship with astronomy through the ages. Other areas of the book touch on the Church and her more recent involvement in the study of Astronomy. I was surprised to see that the church has been on the cutting edge in this area of study in several areas.

The science portions of the book are very thorough when you consider that the book is only 231 pages long. The stars, planets, galaxies, asteroids and meteors are all touched on in varying degrees. The methods by which the stars are studied and classified are explained. So much was covered in the areas dealing with the scientific processes and research, that I cannot possibly do the information justice in this review.

It was interesting to see how the relationship between the Church and science has changed over time. It is a thread that runs throughout the entire book. Common misconceptions about the Church's relationship to science are noted. After reading this book, you'll certainly walk away with the message that the Church is not anti-science like some would have you believe. They have scientists out there who are respected in the academic community. The Church's involvement in astronomy is their way of building a bridge between faith and science.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company Reviewer Program. Please visit The Catholic Company to get more information on The Heavens Proclaim- Astronomy and the Vatican.
As a reviewer for The Catholic Company Reviewer Program, I was given a free copy of The Heavens Proclaim in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Gardening woes

Today, I fear, is going to be a long day.  I'm on my third blog posting of the day and it's not even 10Am.  That's a bad sign, isn't it?

I just had to run outside in the rain and go Mr. McGregor on a bunny rabbit who was feasting on my strawberry plants.  I've been trying for over a month now to live peacefully with the family of bunnies who reside under the shed in my back yard.  I have a lovely crop of strawberries that are growing in my retainer wall along the pool, but sadly, I have only had two berries that ripened and were consumed by people.  The rest of them have been purloined by my bunny neighbors.  They have also eaten all the leaves off of my blueberry bushes (twice).  A pepper plant was vandalized, as well.  Two cantaloupe plants were also cut down before they could even be planted.

We were hoping to avoid having to put up chicken wire since it's not exactly pretty to look at, but I don't think we have a choice at this point.  Why must small woodland creatures always eat my harvest? It is sad that I have to war with bunnies.  I love bunnies and will always have a soft spot for them.*  But I can't sit by and watch them eat the fruits of my labor.

*We used to have a French Lop bunny named Oswald.  Oswald passed 13 months ago.  She had liver cancer that was improperly diagnosed as a "broken tooth". 

Musings by Madeline

On our short two block ride to school this morning, I had to squeeze my minivan between a trash truck and an oversized pick-up truck that the people at the end of our block insist on parking in the street.  That's when Madeline's random thoughts of the day were proclaimed. 

Madeline: Well, that's something I know I don't want now.
Me: Ok?
Madeline: So now there are three.
Me: (Deciding I'll bite) Three what?
Madeline: Jobs I don't want.
Me: (Because this is like pulling teeth) And what are they?
Madeline: Trash person (love the job title), fireman, and police officer.
Me: Hmm...why not?
Madeline: Trash is stinky.  
Me: What about the other two?
Madeline: I don't want to get burnt or catch on fire, so I can't be a fireman. I can't be a police officer because there are bad people with guns. I don't want to get shot.
Me: You have some valid points.
Madeline:  I know. I want to be a 2nd grade teacher or I want to work in a pet shop. (Those jobs are totally related, right?)
Me: That sounds like a good plan.  I'd pick teacher (much less clean-up).

Sometimes she just cracks me up.  These thoughts seemingly come out of nowhere.  I particularly like that she keeps running lists of things she doesn't want to do when she gets older.

Small Successes

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
1. I finished up my year as room mother for Madeline's class this past Monday after helping to organize, set up, run and breakdown the 2nd Grade Luau.
2. I finally got the tomato plants and basil in the ground this past weekend.  I'm happy to report that the plants are looking happier already.
3. As of 1:20 PM EST school will officially be out for Summer! Yay!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Isn't bedtime fun?

Some nights I learn some very interesting things at bedtime.  Tonight I got a little fun fact from each of my girls.

I didn't mention it yesterday, but our power went out about 5 minutes after Bryan's alarm went off.  Bryan was showering when it happened and he thought for a few minutes that I turned the lights off on him (Yes, I do stuff like that to him frequently.).  The power outage was inconvenient since I had to go to the Luau for Madeline's class.  Since the only non leaking shower we have is in a bathroom with no windows, Madeline and I had to use her book light to see in the shower.  

I guess I had mentioned how irritated I was with the no electricity situation  and my reasons why within ear shot of Madeline last night and she totally latched on to it. I ran into two problems with my morning shower as a result of the power outage.  The first was that I could not wash my hair, because I wouldn't be able to use a blow dryer.   My other issue was that I couldn't shave my armpits in the dark.  I'm sure I could have, but I didn't want to cut myself.  Madeline overheard me complain to Bryan that I had to wear a short sleeved top instead of a tank yesterday because I wasn't going out with hairy armpits. Now they weren't hairy like the girl in the Boost Mobile commercial, but I could see hair stubble.  Based on comments Madeline made to Bryan tonight, we suspect that she told the world today while she was at school.  Yeah, I'm a bit embarrassed, now.  Madeline just loves to take personal information and broadcast it to the world. 

Ellie asked me to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar tonight.  She alternates between that and Sandra Boynton's Pajama Time.  About two pages into the book she gasps and has to interrupt the story.  She needed to tell me that her teacher, Miss Susan, has a TV.  Are you blown away by that bit of information?  I know I was.  Gosh, to think that someone has a TV in their house in the year 2009 just blows the mind, doesn't it?  I couldn't help but laugh.  She was so excited and serious about this.  I reminded her that we have TVs, too.  I guess that big TV in the family room is easy to miss. 

Bedtime was certainly interesting tonight.  You just never know what my goofy girls will come up with.  

Did they move the meeting?

I went to Ellie's school tonight for the board meeting.  I got there 6 minutes early and saw that the parking lot was empty.  Not wanting to be the first one there (I'm a little weird, ok?), I decided to take a little drive to kill 5 minutes and arrive fashionably late (Why yes, I am a big dork! Thanks for noticing.).  So I get back to the school at 7:31 and the parking lot is empty.  So I decided to drive around a little more.  I spent 10 more minutes driving around and nobody showed up.
I have no idea what happened to the meeting.  Perhaps there was a situation that necessitated the postponement of the meeting, or maybe I was given the wrong date or time.  What I do know is there was not a meeting at the school tonight.  Maybe I'm just not meant to be a member of the board.  Twice now I have missed the monthly meeting.  I'll have to find out what happened when I drop off Ellie's tuition in early July.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Clearly, I am not a PTA mom

I just spent three and a half hours working the 2nd Grade Luau for Madeline's class and two others.  I'm sunburned, again (Anyone want to take bets on how old I'll be when I have my first melanoma?).  Oh and I'm exhausted. 

The kids had a good time and I guess that's really the most important part.  It was nice to see them having a great time enjoying some of the games that I was responsible for putting together.

Over the past two years, I have paid my $5 membership fee to be part of the PTA, but I never go to the meetings.  I'll happily send in supplies for PTA events, but I don't volunteer to run the events.  I'm happy to stick to volunteering specifically for my child's class.  Apparently, I'm an anomaly in that regard.  You either sit back and do nothing, or your jump in and do everything and become part of the PTA clique (I don't do cliques, I'm against them.) Today I pretty much went up against the 2nd grade PTA clique.  Yay me (<-Insert sarcasm here.)!  As the ONLY parent from my child's class to volunteer to help run the Luau, I was vastly outnumbered by the PTA moms from the other classes.  I realized about 15 minutes into the morning that I was being deliberately ignored by the other moms (the PTA moms) despite my numerous attempts to interface with them.  It made for an interesting morning.  I can't tell you how happy I was to scamper home when the event was over.

If I learned one thing only today, it has to be that my instincts to not force myself to be a PTA mom was dead on.  I may be a soccer mom now (yes, I'm finally admitting it now that it's been a full year since Madeline has done dance--I sort of miss being a dance mom), but I'm very clearly not a PTA mom.  I guess I'm too friendly and inclusive for that snake pit. Hooray for being the inferior version of a volunteering mom!  

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm tired of sugar coating!

Not real sugar coating, mind you.  Sugar is one of my major food groups.  I'm talking about how the schools like to make all the kids feel good about themselves these days.  Even when they do an awful job, they still don't want to make the kids feel bad.  In our school system the letter grade F does not exist.  They've replaced it with a U for unsatisfactory.  I think the term unsatisfactory is rather subjective.  In our house anything less than a B is unsatisfactory.  I don't even like seeing B's come home.  If a child fails, they should just put an F on the page.  Let them feel bad about the grade.  They should.  And if they feel bad about the F, then maybe that will motivate them to try harder next time.  A U is too benign if you ask me.  It's a sugar coated F without the negative connotation.

Madeline is a smart girl.  She's clever and bright.  She's also lazy.  When you factor the laziness in, you can get some disastrous results.  Today she brought home her Friday folder that hasn't been home in nearly a month because of situations revolving around the teacher's absences. Long story short, the teacher has been out for nearly 3 1/2 weeks over the past month because of family medical issues.  Because of these absences, I had no idea that Madeline had checked out for the year.  Imagine my horror when I find that she earned a 59 (that's a U for underachiever or unsatisfactory, choose your preference) on a math test, and a 60 on a reading comprehension (That's superb for a 2nd grader who can read on a 5th grade level, don't you think?).  I just want to bang my head against a wall when I see stuff like this.  Usually it's the stray C that comes home where she decided to skip a page or a few questions.  Today two U's and many C's came home.  The sight of them makes me feel ill.  Every mistake was either the result of her not answering a question, or her just rushing and writing anything so she could be done.  It wasn't like she tried and failed.  She didn't try, yet she knew the right answers. Ugh.

I think the biggest problem is Madeline doesn't care.  She just wants to be a social butterfly. Bryan tells me he was like this as a kid (not caring, not the social butterfly part) and that she'll want to do her best when she gets a little older.  I'm not so sure.

I know I shouldn't take her grades personally, but I look at them as a reflection on me.  It looks like I either don't work with my child at home, or we're just not intelligent people.  It kills me.  One of my main goals when Bryan and I set out to start a family, was to raise intelligent children who were at the top of their class academically.  In theory, we should have produced a smart little geek who is obsessed with academics.  Instead, I have a child who wants to be Little Miss Popular.  What went wrong?

I'll be stressing about these latest grades until the report card comes home on Thursday.  Perhaps someday I'll be able to step back and not feel like my child's grades are a reflection on my parenting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Musings by Ellie

Ellie got a tad filthy running around on the lawn at Madeline's school.  She had a little fall that turned her legs green, and then she lost a shoe and got a very dirty foot.  By the time we went back to the car to go home she was a walking mess.  The child was in need of an immediate bath, but that got delayed a good hour due to snacks and an iChat session to wish Nana a happy birthday.

After I finally got to give Ellie her much needed bath, I sent her to her room to start getting dressed.  The first shirt I picked out was too low cut.  I have a rule with the girls that if your nipples are showing, you can't wear the shirt or dress. It's a discussion I have to have with Madeline frequently.  Obviously, Ellie has picked up on it.  As soon as I put the shirt on Ellie, she informed me that the shirt was "too low on the nipples".  I couldn't help but laugh.  At least she's picking up on my teaching them to have some modesty.  The profound musings of Ellie happened once I turned back to the closet to find something that fit better.

Ellie stood there and in her super cute little voice said "Nipples can pop out! Why do nipples pop out?  You can put tape on them and make them stick."  I quickly put a shirt on her and ignored what she said because I wanted to laugh (the kid figured out the reason why pasties were invented), and if I did that she'd never stop talking about nipples. 
 People have been telling me for almost 2 1/2 years that she is going to be my wild child when she's a teen.  I'm beginning to think they may be right.

Small Successes

Celebrating the little things in life that add up
1. Ellie let the dog outside yesterday afternoon without a leash, and I managed to successfully capture my crazy dog with the help of yet another set of awesome neighbors. Have I mentioned recently how good all of my neighbors are to us? I hope that Ellie never does this again.
2. Ellie is finished preschool for the year. She had a little graduation on Tuesday and I felt such a rush of parental pride as I watched my little Hippie Hopper* sing and dance.
3. I have started to accept that Madeline is growing up. I am now allowing her to ride her bike around the block (sidewalk only) with the boy from next door. Letting go can be so difficult.

*Just another one of the litany of pet names I have for Ellie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don't you just love kids?

The school year is coming to a close for Madeline.  At this point, she has 6 days of school left.  Tomorrow is the last full day.  I'm fairly certain that learning is done for the year given that most, if not all, of the books and folders have been sent home.  Every day after tomorrow has a fun activity planned.

I've had a problem with Madeline doing the bare minimum to skate by with an A or B since 1st grade.  She doesn't have the competitive drive to top all the other kids that I had as a child.  She's laid back like Bryan, and it's a trait that drives me crazy.  I have done my best to not brow beat her about it over this past year.

I was looking through her writing folder and I came across tons of incomplete sentences and misspelled words that she is very capable of spelling correctly (Grrr).  And then I stumbled on it.  A little journal titled "Write Every Day 100 Days of Writing!".  I was expecting paragraphs (like she wrote in 1st grade, only better).  Instead, I found mostly one sentence entries and many more sentence fragments with misspelled words.  I know what we'll be working on this Summer.  

As I read through the journal, I began to realize that Madeline has no regard for whether or not she may be embarrassing anyone with the things she writes.  After reading the journal, I feel that I've been portrayed as either the inept or just plain mean mom. Ugh.
Here are some of the highlights from her gem of a journal:
#8 What is in the inside of your refrigerator?
"If you loooked in my refrigerator you would find some jello and cramberry jucie and apple jucie and a carten of milk." (Translation: My mom doesn't cook OR buy food)

#25 What would you want to do right now if you could do anything you wanted?
"I would Skip school right now." (Are you kidding me? What am I going to do when this kid is in high school?)

#23 Describe a time when you were embarrassed.
"I was embarrassed when my daddy whent and yaped in the prinsubuls office." (Uh, you told Mommy and Daddy lots of lies about how the 1st grade teacher was treating you and that forced us to call a meeting with the principal and the teacher that lasted 2 1/2 hours.  Oh, and you embarrassed us since we believed what you said, and we wound up looking like fools. Thanks for that!  Good thing the principal and the 1st grade teacher are retiring this year.)

#26 What do you think about when you cannot fall asleep?
"I think I need a midnight snack." (Yes, because we don't feed you and we don't have any food.  You established that earlier in the journal, remember?)

#30 When was the last time you cried and why?
"I have a mamy that yells a lot" (Yeah, I'm just a big meanie that likes to make little girls cry. You got me!)

#31 Tell about 3 things you would want to take with you if you moved.
"I would love to bring my bead bunny." ("bead" means dead, and let me just say EWWW!)

#47 Describe your favorite meal.
"My favorite meal is pumpkin pie. I like it because it is yummy" (Yes, when I do feed my children, it is ONLY from the dessert menu.)

#52 Tell about something you think is exciting.
"Going to see my daddy n Dalis" (Ok....Dalis, I assume is Dallas, TX.  Bryan went there on a business trip.  This journal entry makes it sound like her "real" dad doesn't live with us, doesn't it? Or, it sounds like Mommy is so mean that I want to fly to Texas to get away from her.)

#61 Name three excuses for not eating something.
"Its yucky. I'm not hungrey. I need to go to the bathroom." (Ah yes, the I have to go to the bathroom excuse so I don't have to eat.  Hasn't worked since 2006.)

#89 What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you?
"When my mom played outside." (Come on! If my kids are outside, I'm outside and I like to play.  I play on the Power Wheels and hop ball and I don't like to give the other kids a turn.  What planet is this kid on?)

#90 What is the strangest sound you have ever heard?
"whem my mom yelled at the dog" and there is an illustration that says "stop it you dum dog!" and the crying dog says "wimper".  (I have no words for this that I won't misconstrue with my warped sense of humor.)

#95 Describe a time when you were in trouble.
"I was in trouble because I stoll a cookie from mommy!" (I don't recall this.  I do recall a pen stealing incident.  So not only do we not have food, I also punish my children for stealing food from me.  What can I say?  I'm cranky when I'm hungry. )

Do you like the new look?

I gave my blog a little make over last night.  Once again, I got my cool new look from Simply Chic Blog Backgrounds.  The cool designs and idiot proof instructions for getting the background on my blog make me very happy.
 The change was prompted by a bit of constructive criticism I received. I had signed up to be a book reviewer for Tiber River and someone from over there pointed out that it wasn't exactly easy to read the type on my blog with the shocking pink background.  Having visited a lot of blogs where it was incredibly difficult to read the type, I decided that I didn't want to be one of those bloggers. So I tweaked the font and changed to something a little more sunny.  Do you like it?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oooh! I have another idea!

About 3 years ago, Madeline wanted puppets and this little table top puppet theatre. My brother was kind enough to buy it for Madeline's birthday.  Upon opening the puppet theatre, she made what was perhaps the most ungrateful comment she has ever made after opening a gift.*  It was one of those moments where you wish you could have hit a mute button or at least hit rewind and make a loud noise to cover up the comment.  Anyway, Madeline did play with the puppets, but it wasn't a hit.
So I'm sitting here looking at my friend Flat Father Stanley, and I'm trying to come up with more ideas on how I can put him to use and that's when it hits me. Puppets! Enter what I think is my genius idea of the afternoon.  I can make up laminated "puppets" on sticks to present the lessons for the RE class.  My buddy Flat Fr. Stan can introduce the puppets and we can put on a show.  I'm betting the kids would love having the chance to be puppeteers in the show, and they may actually retain what I'm teaching because they'll be having fun.  And best of all, I'll get to use funny voices while I teach.  I'm familiar with the class room I'm teaching in, so I already know I have a place where we can put on a show.  Making up little puppets and props should be easy, and taking them to Staples to get laminated is pretty cheap. 
I emailed the RE office earlier today and asked about whether or not I'm limited in the way that I'm allowed to present the material, and also if I can use books and resources that are not from the text.  I was told I'm free to have fun with it, so that works for me.  

* Madeline was expecting something else from Uncle Mark, but she hadn't yet opened that present that was very much wanted.  Little fun fact: I tell my kids that "Maybe Uncle Mark will buy it for you." when they want something I already got them.

I have an idea...

My sense of humor is a tad off-beat, so sometimes what I think is great idea isn't viewed as such by others. This past weekend, I've been trying to come up with a fun concept for the Kindergarten Religious Ed class that I'm teaching this Fall.  Some of the classes have a little lamb that they send home with the kids for a week.  The kids return the lamb at the end of their week with a synopsis of what they did with the lamb.  It's a cute idea, but I have a problem with it.  Having been on the receiving end of one of these lovely classroom mascots, I can attest that it's gross to have to bring a stuffed animal that has been in many homes into your home.  I want something that is non-porous and can be wiped clean, something that won't disgust the parents.

The problem with my sense of humor crept in when I ran some of my ideas by Bryan. We have a Jesus Christ action figure* with "real gliding motion" and I suggested to Bryan that I use that with my class.  That got a resounding "NO!".  Allright....how about "The Adventures of Flat Jesus" where you take the flattened drawing of Jesus around with you for a week?  You guessed it! Another idea shot down before it could leave the ground.  So I sat and thought about it some more.  Earlier this year Madeline did a Flat Stanley project in school.  The kids loved it, and so did the Kindergarten class that he visited in Florida (my friend's roommate took him to her class for a day).  So I tried to think of how I could give Flat Stanley a more Catholic spin.  I think I've got it!  I knew a priest named Father Stan when I was in high school (before I converted).  He was really nice and did a lot of work with the parish youth.  So, why not the Adventures of Flat Father Stanley?  Bryan thinks this idea is my least offensive one yet.  What do you think?  Each week Flat Fr. Stan can go home with another student and have a new adventure.  He's cute, he can fit in a folder, and he can be laminated.  I can use him in the classroom as a teaching aid, too.
Here is my sidekick prototype:

What do you think?  Would Flat Father Stanley make a good houseguest and class mascot?

* I didn't buy this, nor would I.  My brother-in-law gave this to Madeline for her baptism.  It is still in it's original packaging.  I think it may be worthy of the strangest baptism gift ever award if there is such a thing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Normalcy has returned

Bryan was safely returned to me on Saturday morning.  I was quite happy to hear the yellow mustang pull into the driveway, followed by the sound of a spastic Oscar barking with excitement and two little voices calling out "Daddy's home!".  I generally worry from take off to landing when Bryan is flying.  So when he takes a red-eye home, I don't get much sleep.  I was tired yesterday, but very relived to have Bryan home.  

The garage door is fixed.  Apparently, one of the springs that's connected to the pulleys that aid the door in going up and down easily snapped on Friday.  Because it snapped, it made it nearly impossible for the garage door opener to evenly pull the door open.  At one point, the door lurched closed on Friday and it did something to my beloved door opener.  We were worried yesterday that the door may have broken the door opener.  That would have made me a very sad person.  Bryan figured out what was wrong with the opener and managed to fix it.  So I now have a fully repaired door.  The poor girls were very upset yesterday and today that the car was hot when we went out.  We're certainly spoiled by being able to park in the garage.

Bryan and I worked on the vegetable garden today. It was totally overrun with weeds and in serious need of attention.  We almost have the garden to a point where I can plant my tomato and basil plants.  I have 7 plants who are anxious to be put in the ground.  Tomorrow morning I need to purchase more weed block.  Once I get the final section of the garden covered with the weed block I'll be able to get the plants situated.  Provided we have good weather tomorrow, the job should be finished tomorrow evening.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm officially trapped

I've had a particularly rough week, and it just got a little worse.  In the grand scheme of things, I know things could be far worse, but allow me my pity party.  So much has gone wrong this week, that it's almost funny, but not quite.

Bryan has been in San Francisco for a conference since this past Monday.  While he's been gone, life has just been handing me lemon after lemon. Between the girls acting up, the dog and his many accidents and my newly broken garage door, I'm having more fun than I ought to!

For the most part, nothing that has gone wrong has been major.  No one is sick or hurt.  It's just been nagging little things that have been piling up.  

Today I came home from picking Madeline up at school to a broken garage door.  The cable on one of the pulleys on the garage door snapped off the frame work.  I have no idea if it's something that can be repaired.  What I do know is my car is trapped in the garage until Bryan gets home.  I can't get the door to lock, and I can't lift it up (too heavy for me, and I have a bad back so I can't force it).  

I'm tired, cranky and simply not amused.  I want to just go to sleep and pretend that none of this has happened.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate it when Bryan travels?  Something always goes wrong while he's away.  It never gets easier.

I'm such a dork.

Yesterday I had my meeting with Eileen, who is the Assistant DRE at our parish.  So I now have my teacher's manual for the Kindergarten CCD class I'll be teaching starting in September.  Based on what she told me, it seems like I have free reign to do as little or as much as I want with the class.  She did mention that they were going to institute a lesson plan of what chapters are to be done on specific weeks to keep all the classes on the same page, so I'm pretty sure that's my only constraint.  

I'm just hoping whoever comes up with the lesson plan order takes the liturgical seasons into consideration.  This past year, Madeline learned about Lent the Thursday before Holy Week.  Now I did go over the season of Lent with her before Ash Wednesday, but I was shocked that Lent wasn't at least presented in class the day after Ash Wednesday.  They didn't cover Easter or Holy Week until after Easter.  I fully intend to teach the kids about Advent, Lent and Easter as they're happening, and not after they have passed.  

So on to why I am a dork.  I just spent a good portion of time browsing Amazon and The Catholic Company gathering ideas for books that I can read to the class that will correlate with the lessons in the text book.  I found one book that offers craft ideas, too.  I'm beginning to come up with a plan.  I didn't expect to enjoy formulating the lesson plan as much as I am.  I guess part of the novelty is that I never got to have a say on what I was teaching when I was a substitute teacher.  I had the latitude to present the lessons my way, but that was where the creative process ended.

I was feeling guilty about the fact that the RE office wouldn't take my tuition payment for the girls' classes, but now that I have a growing list of books I want to buy for my class, I don't feel so bad.  I'm pretty sure that in the end I'm going to spend far more money on supplies for my class than I would have for the tuition.  I'm going to wind up being that teacher who runs over every week.  Madeline's 1st grade catechist was like that, but she really inspired the kids and they absolutely loved her.  Both of my girls visit her class almost every Sunday morning just to say hello.  

It's funny, but part of me feels like I need to offer to take on one of the middle school classes.  I've found some information on line for how to approach this age group, and I think I could have a good time with the older kids if they're willing to be engaged.  I'd love to come up with some Catechism Trivia games and even a Jeopardy or Family Feud style game.  If I made the class fun for them, I can't imagine that they'd dread coming to it (but I suppose I could be wrong, it has happened on occasion).  I think if I got over my fear that taking them on would equate to me getting in over my head, I'd be able to really enjoy the experience.  I'm going to think about it a little more.  Perhaps, if I don't do it this year, I could do it next year.  If I don't actually ask to take one of the middle school classes, I'll probably offer up my services as a substitute for the time slot when Madeline has her class.  If I did that, then I could discern whether or not I really want to take on the older kids.

Anyway, in my total dorkness, I'm excited about the job I have volunteered to take on (I didn't expect to be, if I'm being perfectly honest).  I'll be busy scouring the internet for ideas to make my class as fun and exciting as possible.  I need to buy a notebook so I can start writing down my ideas.  It is my intention to teach the kindergarten class for at least the next three years.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Small Successes

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
1. I'm on the 4th morning of Bryan's business trip and I'm still kicking!  When Bryan is traveling for work each and every day I make it through is a success.  You don't realize how important the little things your husband does every are until he's not around to do them.
2. After much thought, I settled on a CCD class to teach for next year.  I'll be teaching Kindergarten on Sunday mornings.  Now I don't have to worry about that.  I'm meeting with the DRE this afternoon to go over some stuff.
3. Thanks to my lovely new washer and dryer, I'm back on top of the laundry again.  It got pretty backed up after two days of no functioning washer.  We were worried that Bryan wasn't going to have clean clothes for his trip on Friday night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who needs toys when you can have a spastic puppy?

As I embark on day three of Bryan's business trip, I have to admit that I'm feeling exhausted.  The kids are extra needy because Bryan isn't home at night to play with them and that means they're turning to me for extra attention.  That makes me one tired Mommy.  Add Mr. Furkins and his excessive need for attention and one can't help buy wonder why I haven't run away yet.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up 2 1/2 hours later wondering what had just happened.  I knew I felt a little wiped out when I sat down around 10PM, but I didn't expect to fall asleep.  Since Bryan's in a time warp out in California, he didn't noticed that I didn't call him before midnight.  He was too busy enjoying a 5 course meal.  Glad to see that someone is eating well.  I had Chick-Fil-A for dinner last night (I know, you're all saying "Lucky" in your best Napoleon Dynamite impersonation).

It's weeks like this that really make me wonder if I'm not insane to be toying with the idea of having another baby.  I'm just in an odd spot.  I want another baby, but at the same time, I'm not sure I want all the work that goes along with said baby.   I guess what I really want is a nice niece or nephew, but since none of our siblings are married, I don't think Bryan and I will be Aunt Karen and Uncle Bryan anytime soon, if ever.  Bryan isn't exactly sold on the idea of having a third, but he is slowly coming around.  To be honest, I can't say that I'm as sold on the idea as I was with the first two, but I'm certainly feeling that pull to have another one.  I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that I absolutely know what I'm getting into.  I've seen both ends of the spectrum with my girls from happy baby to anything but, and from prim and proper toddler to over the top down and dirty, and yet part of me wonders if it's possible for another child to reach and even more outlandish extreme. And, if so, would I survive?  For now, I'm just going to continue pondering this question and if a small person comes our way I won't complain (I might freak out a bit on the inside).

Enough of that for now.  While I sit here typing away, Oscar is doing a great job of entertaining Ellie.  They are the ultimate partners in crime.  They chase each other around, they get into trouble together and they will even  chill out and watch TV together.  The thing I find remarkable about Furkins, is you can tell he knows when Ellie is leading him into trouble.  You can see it on his face.  I'm pretty sure the dog has some sort of conscience.  I wish he could share that with the kids.  It would certainly make my life easier.

I made up my mind about the volunteering situation for teaching a Religious Ed class.  I decided after a lot of thought that it made more sense overall for me to teach a Kindergarten class on Sunday mornings.  Both the deacon and his wife (they're in charge of the RE department) asked me to consider teaching on Sunday instead because that's where they were most in need of teachers.  So I decided that I could just take the girls to a Saturday night Mass (which I've been doing for the past few weeks, anyway) or go to an earlier one on Sunday mornings during the school year.  Madeline is excited at the prospect of getting to be my helper here and there.  I'm also relieved that I won't have to worry about depending on someone to watch Ellie for me.  I emailed them last night and let them know that I thought it over and would teach on Sunday.  I also got Bryan to agree to 75% Mass attendance during the school year.  He was trying to negotiate from 50%.  Provided he keeps up his end of the agreement, I will only have to take the kids to Mass by myself once a month and on holy days of obligation.  Bryan is striving to be a "D" Catholic--because of the 75% goal, but it's better than him not going at all. 

Ellie is now beckoning me to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  If she could choose only one food to eat at every meal, PB&J would be it.  She was very upset with me this morning because I wouldn't make her beloved sandwich for breakfast.  She's been impatiently waiting for this sandwich since 7:30AM.  I fear she may explode if I don't comply within the next 5 minutes, and I simply don't want to have to scrape Ellie bits off the kitchen walls, cabinets and appliances.  It would be too big of a mess.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm in volunteer limbo

I'm currently (impatiently) waiting to hear back from the Religious Ed office with my class assignment for next year.  At this point I'm either going to be teaching 3rd grade when Madeline is in her class, or I'll be teaching a kindergarten or 1st grade class on Sunday mornings.  I hate waiting around for answers.  I'm the kind of person who dwells on stuff, so it's best if I don't have to wait.  The email I received this morning tells me that I should have an answer later in the week.  I almost feel like I'm obligated to take a Sunday morning class.  It's already been made clear to me that the evening session I want to teach is a popular one with students and teachers (probably because the timing makes the most sense) and I have been told several times now that they REALLY need teachers for Sunday morning. Ugh.  Both time slots have pros and cons for me.  I originally wanted to teach on Thursday nights when Madeline is in her class, but now I'm wondering if I should just call the RE office and tell them I take a Kindergarten or 1st grade class because I know there is real need for teachers for those age groups.  The 3rd grade class is really what I'm waiting to hear back on.  They're waiting for last year's teacher to decide if she wants to teach 3rd grade again.

Since Bryan is away, and most people are tired of me asking them for their opinions, I'm just going to put my thoughts out here on the blog. 

 If I teach during Madeline's session, I'll have to send Ellie over to a friend's house so they can babysit her while I teach.  But, I'll be free to go to the 9:15 Mass on Sunday where Madeline can attend the children's liturgy (it's seems like social hour to Madeline...still not sure if it's a good thing or not after a school year of her going to it). The caveat to me teaching during Madeline's class (aside from me needing a babysitter) is that Ellie will be in her CCD class while Bryan and I go to Mass with Madeline.  That essentially means that Ellie will go to church maybe 8 or 9 times total from mid-September to mid-May.  

Now, if I teach a class while Ellie is in her CCD class, I won't need a babysitter.  So the nice thing there is I don't need to depend on anyone (this is big when you are a Type A personality like me).  While Madeline would miss out on the Children's Liturgy (I'd buy her a subscription to Magnifikid to make up for that), I would also not have to listen to the Folk Song group at Mass who butcher music weekly.  We would be free to attend Mass on Saturday night or at any of the other Sunday Masses (I feel guilty leaving the church grounds while Ellie is in her class).  Aside from missing out on the Children's Liturgy, I think the only other thing that holds me back from doing a Sunday class is I think I'll have a more difficult time getting Bryan to come to Mass with us.  As soon as CCD was over for the Summer three weeks ago, Bryan informed me that he was going to be taking a break.  He's decided to take an approach of taking two weeks off from Mass and then going with us for two weeks (insert my annoyed eye roll and head shake here).  

So here's the bottom line:  I can have an easier time teaching  kids on Sunday morning, not have my ears assaulted and not have to rely on a babysitter. At the same time, I can also fulfill a real need in the Religious Ed program.  The reward would be getting to teach sweet innocent children who will be happy to listen to me as I ply them with lollipops early in the morning.  And, I'd get to do some arts and crafts, but I would be committing to an extra hour at the church every weekend for about 8 months.  My other option is I get to teach older kids who may or may not behave, but I'll be able to take Madeline to the Mass with the children's liturgy, have my ears assaulted and essentially guilt my husband into coming with us.  The drawback to this option is Ellie won't be going to Mass with us. 

Monday, June 1, 2009


I don't know if I've ever had to come out and publicly state my position on the usage of toothbrushes.  But, today, just to make sure my stance on the issue is clear, I will make it known.  I firmly believe that toothbrushes are a single user object, in the same way that toilet paper is a one time use item.  Are we clear on that?  Good.  This morning I asked Madeline to brush her teeth and she tells me that she can't.  Really?  She's been brushing them since the first tooth came in at 10 1/2 months (we do help her to make sure they're clean).  So I ask her why she says she can't do it.  The answer I got was just lovely.  "I don't have a toothbrush." says my lovely Madeline.  So I have to ask if she brushed her teeth before bed last night, and she tells me that she did.  Now where on Earth does a toothbrush that can't walk go between the hours of 9PM and 8:30AM?  That's when she drops the utterly disturbing news on me.  She couldn't find it last night, so she just used Ellie's. Ugh!  Feelings of disgust, repulsion, irritation and righteous indignation on Ellie's behalf washed over me.  I have no way of knowing if Ellie brushed first or if Madeline did.  I hope for Ellie's sake that Bryan brushed her teeth first.  Sorry, but using someone else's toothbrush is just a total personal violation.  I promptly tossed Ellie's toothbrush and replaced it and Madeline's.  Turns out Madeline's toothbrush was on the countertop all along under a headband.

The toothbrush incident and another equally bad incident that was courtesy of Madeline this morning have kicked off what I fear will be a long week.  Bryan flew out to San Francisco this morning and will be gone until Saturday morning.  If this morning is any indication of what the girls have in store for me, I'm going to be wanting to run away by Tuesday afternoon.

I finally heard back from the Religious Ed program at our church.  They're able to give me a class during my preferred session for Madeline, so it looks like I'll be teaching this upcoming school year.  That's scary and exciting all at the same time.  I'm now waiting to hear back on what grades are in need of a teacher.  I'm hoping for a class that isn't middle school aged.

I just spent 4 hours at Ellie's preschool "Fun in the Sun Day".  I think it's safe to say that Ellie had fun.  I'm exhausted and I think I may have a touch of sunburn.  Ellie won two raffle prizes.  Sometime in the next 14 days I'll have to take 10 kids to a local skating center (can you believe the prize expires 14 days after the event?).  Ellie also won a hair cut from the place where I take the girls.  Yay!
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