Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glutton for punishment

I'm taking the kids to the beach tomorrow.  My purpose in doing so is two fold.  Firstly, I'm trying to avoid the portrait studio for Ellie's 5th birthday pictures (The kid is going to be 5 in two weeks.  Where did all that time go?).  As soon as we get to the beach I'll be taking some pictures of her hamming it up in front of the dunes.  The second reason for our trip is to get the requisite trip to the beach out of the way.  Despite having grown up literally two blocks from the ocean I am not a beach person.  I like the beach but only to go for a walk, run, or to take pictures.  The girls, however, love going to the beach.  They'll get an hour to an hour and a half of play time on the beach tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to this trip tomorrow, but at the same time I'm dreading it.  I know I'm going to get grief once I share pictures of the kids on the beach on Facebook.  My in laws who think I dislike them (I do not.) are going to have a fit when they realize that I brought the kids down to the beach and didn't visit them. (My father in law and his girlfriend moved to a town that is 15 minutes from my parents' house at the shore. Fifteen minutes doesn't seem like much, but when you factor in that it makes my ride home over an hour and a half after hitting the beach in the heat and being drained of all energy, that additional time, not to mention the visit itself will take a toll on me.)  I'd be happy to visit them another time with Bryan in tow.  When it's just me and the girls I really can't handle visits to two sets of grandparents in one day.

Here's hoping tomorrow's trip will go smoothly.

Book Review: No Turning Back

I recently had the opportunity to read Fr. Donald Calloway's No Turning Back A Witness to Mercy.  Reading this book was nothing short of captivating.  In fact, I had a really hard time putting this book down.  No Turning Back is Fr. Calloway's powerful conversion story.

As I read this book I found myself in shock and disbelief at much of what was in Fr. Calloway's description of his troubled youth.  If this was a fictional story I would have guessed that the author had an incredibly wild imagination and was trying way to hard to portray the ultimate bad boy.  Reconciling the fact that this was actually a non-fiction account of the past of a Catholic priest simply blew me away.   His story is one that grips you and takes you on a tour of his downward spiral into self-destruction.  Just when you think his life couldn't have gotten any worse you turn to the next chapter and see just how much closer he brought himself to total self destruction.

His conversion itself seems nothing short of miraculous.  Through an unlikely encounter with a book about Our Lady his life took an amazing turn that lead not only to his fast and furious conversion to Catholicism, but also lead him down the road to the priesthood.  He went from being a substance abusing youth to a man with a purpose and an inspiring testimony to bear.  He really is, as he puts it in his book, the poster child for Divine Mercy.

This book is nothing short of inspiring.  From beginning to end Fr. Calloway's story is simply riveting. For more information on this book or to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

I wrote this review of No Turning Back for the Tiber River Blogger Review program created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic store online.  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I doubt my love of ravioli has ever gotten any mention here.  I think my pizza obsession has gotten a glimmer of attention, but not my delight with ravioli.  There are probably a few reasons for it.  For one, I haven't made ravioli in close to a year because I'm lazy because I'm very picky about the consistency of ricotta cheese.  If it's too smooth, or too grainy I can't eat it.  If the pasta is too thin or too think I can't eat it. If the ravioli springs a leak and winds up water logged, I don't want to eat it.

My ravioli persnicketiness is a real problem.  Then add to the fact that most of the ravioli I can buy in the store are what I categorize as gross and we have another problem.  And the ravioli at the store that I haven't tried?  Well I guess it's fair to say that I'm cheap.  For close to two years I avoided the locally made ravioli from P&S because they wanted close to $13 for a 40oz bag.   Isn't that insane?

Bryan and I decided to go grocery shopping yesterday.  The tour of torture shopping with two kids and a husband The trip was a real eye opener for me and Bryan.   I learned that I should be eternally thankful for those days when I can grocery shop alone and keep my sanity in tact.  Bryan learned just how cheap I am.  As we pondered the case with the frozen ravioli I explained why every ravioli in the freezer simply wasn't coming home with us.  I had a problem with every brand except one.  Bryan looked at me like I was crazy when I told him why I wasn't buying the one brand that I hadn't tried.  "I'm not paying $12.99 for ravioli when I don't know if I'm going to hate them."  I could have read his thoughts if you had asked me.  My cheapness usually gets a sigh and a "Oh, Dear" in situations like this.  In short, he thinks I'm being ridiculous and maybe I was.  I often order ravioli at restaurants and pay at least $10 for a single dinner.  Even if they were more than double the price of other ravioli, they'd still be a better deal than me eating out and still running the possibility of getting ravioli that I'd reject for consistency issues.  The ravioli went into the cart.  I had no great ambitions for them and was prepared to deliver an "I told you so" to Bryan after consuming the first bite.

We decided on the ride home to have ravioli for lunch.  We were certainly curious if the new ravioli and the new sauce we had picked up the day before would make the cut.  Shockingly they were both perfect.  I'm incredibly happy and I didn't even have to play the part of Little Miss Know it All towards my husband.

In the past I've had some difficulty in getting the girls to try ravioli.  So not wanting to have an unpleasant meal we let them eat sandwiches for lunch.  I had them each try a bite of the ravioli and they liked them. Another meal I can prepare at home!

I did promise Bryan that ravioli will not appear more than once a week.  He likes ravioli, many years ago he got annoyed when I decided that ravioli was the perfect dinner three to five times a week.  He also doesn't want pancakes for dinner three to five times a week.  And pizza nearly every day?  He's not a fan of that either.  It probably pretty evident that I am one of those people who would be more than happy to eat the same food daily.

I'm very happy that nine days into not eating out at all we're still finding foods to add to the rotation.  The kids are slowly adjusting to life where our days don't include take out and restaurants on a daily basis.  I do however, think that we're going to have to break down and order a pizza soon.  I haven't had a pizza since June 18th.  The folks at Rustico are probably worried about me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Review: Catholic Answers to Catholic Questions

I recently had the opportunity to review Catholic Answers to Catholic Questions.  The book is a collection of questions that Catholics may have on a variety of subjects.  The answers to the questions contained in this book are a collaborative effort between "the Catholic Answers Man," Paul Thigpen,  Fr. Ray Ryland and Fr. Francis Hoffman.  In the introduction to this book Paul Thigpen explains that the book is comprised of a collection of questions that have come from either in the bi-monthly publication The Catholic Answer (TCA)  or the online Q&A found on Our Sunday Visitor's site called TCA Question of the Day.  The questions that were selected for this book are those for which you may not easily be able to find an answer.   In short, don't expect to pick up this book and find answers to the most basic questions that you could ask.

My first glance at the table of contents had me both wondering who thinks to ask some of these questions while others struck me as being borderline basic, and some had me intrigued.  I read the book from cover to cover and worked through the eight sections of questions.  To give you an idea of the range this book covers, I think a list of the question categories is rather helpful.  The book is broken down into sections as follows:
1. Questions about Scripture
2. Questions about Church Teaching
3. Questions about the Sacraments and Liturgy
4. Questions about Our Lady, Saints, Angels, and Demons
5. Questions about Catholic Practices
6. Questions about Catholic History
7. Questions about Moral Issues
8. Questions about Apologetics

This book has some practical uses beyond answering a few questions that you may have about one aspect or another with regards to the Catholic faith.  As a catechist, I'm certain this book will be a handy tool to have in my bag while I'm teaching.  Occasionally a student will ask a question that is obscure and not easily answered.  It's very possible that this book will hold the answer to that out of the blue question.  In fact, I could have used this book back in February when a 7th grader asked me if Jesus was crucified with the nails through His hands or His wrists.  She had seen some of the same documentaries that I had watched and I told her that I needed to research the answer for her.  If I had this book with me when that question was asked I could have given her an almost immediate answer.  This book could be a great gift to give to those who convert to Catholicism, as well.  Many of the questions in this book were ones that I have actually had over the years since I converted. (This is probably why I found some of the questions to be borderline basic--I had already sought the answers to them in the past.)

Overall I think this book is a pretty good collection of questions and answers.  It was an enjoyable read and best of all I learned a few things along the way.   If you have questions about Catholicism this book may be what you need.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books Reviewer Program for The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Catholic Answers to Catholic Questions.

I was provided with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A milestone of sorts

I think it's well known to family, friends, neighbors and probably even you my blog readers that I don't exactly cook if I can help it.  Wanting to avoid Father's Day crowds at the restaurants last Saturday night I suggested to Bryan that we think about cooking dinner instead of buying it.  We had eaten some form of take out or restaurant food every day that week (not uncommon for us) and I was getting fed up with the lack of variety.  We pondered what to make for dinner for a little bit after the kids and I returned home from Mass and decided to try and replicate our two favorite dishes from Olive Garden.  Making dinner required us to go to the grocery store and get some necessary ingredients.  While preparing dinner alongside Bryan I began to realize that this cooking thing really wasn't all that bad and it was saving us a lot of money.  The food turned out to be pretty close to what we get at the Olive Garden and we had not only saved money, but we had also saved ourselves about an hour of travel time.  This meant we could take a longer walk with the kids and just enjoy time together as a family.

I was struck by how much we had simplified our life by making our dinner instead of eating out.  I knew we'd be eating at home on Sunday since we had my parents and brother coming over for Father's Day.  Enjoying the luxury of another simplified day, I decided to see if I couldn't keep it up for the rest of the week.  Instead of running to McDonald's or Chick Fil A for lunch with the girls, I made all of our lunches at home.  For dinner we tried to work with the foods that were currently in the house and once again we succeeded.  I did make several food buying trips during the week to add some variety and in the end everyone was happy.  Bryan and I decided that we are going to be a one dinner household.  The days of me being the short order cook for the girls are done.  As we contemplate adding to our family the prospect of one day cooking four or five different meals for one dinner seems nothing short of insane.  I really expected the girls to give us a hard time about having to eat what we serve but they've been very good about it.  In fact, on Thursday the kids happily told me that I'm a good cook and that they like all the food I've been making them.

By cooking all week I've learned a few things.  Preparing food ahead of time when I'm not feeling a time crunch works great.  I've also discovered that with some thought, leftover ingredients can be turned into a lunch or dinner component for the next day.  In the past I've been notorious for wasting perfectly good food.  Food preparation isn't all that difficult when I take the time to plan ahead.

I'm feeling pretty good about our decision to eat at home.  If all goes well this will become and stay our new normal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I just gained a day!

I was responding to an email from a fellow blogger this morning and I noticed that she sent the email to me on the 24th, but my email program was saying it was sent yesterday.  I couldn't reconcile the discrepancy.  How could June 24th have been yesterday when today is June 26th?  I pondered this question for a minute before looking down and noticing that my iCalendar was displaying the number 25 on it's little icon.  I was dumbfounded that this was displaying yesterday's date.  How odd. After taking a closer look at the calendar I discovered that today is in fact the 25th.  You would think I would have caught this yesterday when I wondered why my NFP chart was behind a day, but no, I just figured that I had forgot to fill it in that day and course corrected.  I guess days one and two of summer vacation just felt longer than they should.  I'm going to try to enjoy my extra day of summer that I just discovered.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

She can swim!

Last summer I started to teach Ellie how to swim after a very scary incident involving her falling in the pool. I found that she was learning best if I took her in the pool immediately after we ate breakfast. Shortly after I started that I got sick with what I believe was the swine flu and we didn't go swimming again until this past May. With school being in session up until two days ago swimming in the morning simply wasn't happening for us.

This morning I decided that I needed to try morning swim lessons again. I had been trying to teach her in the afternoons for the past month, but she wasn't very focused. Imagine my shock when after about 20 minutes of working on swim skills in the pool this morning Ellie began to swim on her own. I have no words to describe how amazing it is to see her swim on her own and know that I taught her. I was over the moon when I watched Madeline learn how to swim from an instructor and it's just as amazing to see Ellie reach the same milestone.

Ellie is thrilled that she can swim. She was so excited that she didn't want to get out of the pool. She can't wait to show Bryan what she can do.

Here's a video that Madeline took of Ellie swimming this morning:

Small Successes-June 24th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. School is out!  I was incredibly excited about this on Tuesday when the last day of school rolled around. Yesterday my girls bickered the entire day, so now I'm not sure how I feel about summer break.  Here's hoping the rest of the summer will be mostly peaceful.

2. About two weeks ago I started having Ellie ride her bike around the block once a day because I was getting frustrated that she would have me take the bike out of the garage so she could slowly ride it about 50 feet and declare that she was tired or done riding her bike.  I'm happy to say that after having her ride her bike every day she is now riding fast enough that I have to walk briskly behind her and can't always keep up, and she has even added going around an additional block in our neighborhood to her daily ride.  Somedays she even goes for two rides.  We're hoping that she will be riding well enough that she can learn to ride a two wheeler before the summer is over.

3. Madeline is starting to roller skate well.  Very much like her sister, she tried to give up on skating outside (she's more than happy to skate in the house, but it drives me crazy) after only going a few feet.  One night about a little over a week ago my husband told her that she was now going to skate around the block once a day.  She's made amazing progress since that first go around the block.  On the evenings when I take Ellie out to ride her bike Madeline grabs her skates and tries to keep up with her.

4. Fed up with spending lots of money on dinging out and take-out Bryan and I decided to give cooking a serious try.  Since Saturday night we have been preparing all of our meals at home.  So far it's working out nicely.  Bryan found the recipes for our favorite dishes from the Olive Garden on their website and we made those to start.  Both of us were impressed by how simple they were to make.  I have a feeling that the more we cook at home the easier the process will become.  My dishwasher is certainly getting a work out.

Bonus: Ellie started to swim this morning! You can read about it and watch a video of her swimming here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: My Path To Heaven

Over the past few weeks I've been having my 8 1/2 year old daughter read My Path To Heaven.  The book is an Ignatian retreat for children.  The back cover of the book suggests that this book is best suited for children between the ages of 9 to 12, but I see no reason why a child as young as seven would have any difficulty grasping and understanding this book provided he or she is a good reader.

While it is not an ARKive book from Sophia Institute Press, this book was originally published in 1936 under a different title.  I think knowing that can be useful information for parents who are looking for books with good sound catechesis.  Most Catholic children are getting a watered down version of their faith in religious education classes and a book like this is a real find in the sea of Catholic books available for children today.  As I read through the book I stopped many times to marvel at how well the book meshes with the Baltimore Catechism.  I've recently begun to teach my daughter from the Baltimore Catechism and I loved how well this book supports it and in some ways makes it easier for her to understand.

My daughter hasn't finished reading this book yet but she has enjoyed the chapters that she has read.  She says it's a very easy book to read.  She likes looking at the black and white picture that is at the beginning of each chapter and she really enjoys looking for the additional pictures hidden within the drawing that are listed in the appendix.

I think this book would be a lovely addition to a homeschooler's religious education materials.  It works as a nice supplemental source of catechesis for children in religious education classes, too.  In fact, I think this would be a wonderful book to give to a child who is preparing for his or her first communion.  It's a lovely book for imparting/reinforcing the basics of the Catholic faith.

Sophia Institute Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Marian ATC Swap

For most of May I meant to post about the great Marian ATC swap that Kimberlee from Pondered in My Heart was hosting.  It seemed like some activity or minor disaster incident would crop up to distract me every time I even thought of sitting down and blogging about it.  The fact that I never got around to blogging about it in the first place irritated me.  I took pictures of Ellie carefully crafting a card for that blog post that never was.  If only time would cooperate with me sometimes.....

Before I knew it it was time to mail away the cards we had created and I took a few snapshots of the cards my girls had joyfully created [and the ones I drew up on what was my last 2 1/2 hours of child-free mom time for the school year--not counting the lovely afternoon break my parents gave me yesterday].  The girls were eager to see what cards would come in the mail for them and they were hopeful that they might even find out who got their cards. Imagine my delight when the day ours arrived I recognized one of the cards Ellie received and the name (and handwriting) of another little girl I read about online.  Even better was when I got word from one of the bloggers that her daughter received Ellie's pink Blessed Mother card. I recall that we had a little dispute about that card.  I said the Blessed Mother likes to wear blue and she told me that she thinks Mary likes pink. I backed off and let the little artist work her magic.
Ellie's Cards

Madeline's Cards

My Cards
Yesterday our mail carrier delivered our new Marian ATCs.  Ellie was delighted as she looked through her cards while she waited for me to finish making her PB&J sandwich.  She carefully inspected each card and asked me the names of the kids who made them.  She was quite excited about the cards.

Madeline was very happy to see that the cards finally arrived.  She's been asking me almost daily since the day after we mailed ours out if I knew when the cards would arrive. She was thrilled to see her new cards.  They were the first thing she mentioned to Bryan when he came home from work.  Proof that they ranked pretty high on her priority list for the day.

And lastly we have the cards I received.  I was particularly impressed by the creativity of the mom who crafted the lovely card that reminds me of a scrapbook page.  I'm glad I decided at the last minute to join in on the fun.  I had seriously doubted my ability to make a card that didn't contain stick figures and so I was resolved to not participate.  I'm glad I decided to join in on the fun.

If you participated in the Marian ATC swap please consider blogging about your new artwork and linking to the Mr. Linky Kimberlee set up on her blog.

Summer has just begun and I'm already looking forward to the All Saint's ATC Swap that Kimberlee has  graciously offered to host.  The girls and I are already excited and even Bryan is interested to see what cards will come to us to celebrate his birthday. (He's an All Saint's Day baby which is a good thing because he needs a whole communion of saints to pray for him.  In fact, he even gave the girls an idea for a card.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Why God Matters

I was recently presented with the opportunity to review Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steven Lumbert's Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Everyday Life. After taking a peek at the webpage for the book my curiosity was piqued, but wasn't sure what I should expect.  Was it just the conversion story of the one author and the faith background of the other and how they found God, or would there be more?  Wanting answers to my own questions I decided that I'd invest some time in reading the book.  I just spent a quiet afternoon reading the book and I have to say the book was worth my time.  The book wasn't earth shattering for me personally, but I think it could certainly make some waves in the faith lives of others who are looking for guidance or are having trouble finding God in their lives.

This book is more than just the stories of a convert to Catholicism and his cradle Catholic daughter.  It is a book that through the short stories  illustrate how we can see His hand at work in our lives.  It's filled with inspiration to jump start those who need a little help getting their spiritual motor going.  Each chapter follows the same format of a quote followed by an personal story from the life of one of the authors.  That is then followed up by a portion of the chapter which has a nice reflection on the life lesson that can be learned from the previous story.  The life lesson is followed by two additional sections.  First there is a scriptural quote and then there is a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I liked the over all flow of the chapters.  

Because the book is a relatively fast read you could easily pick it up and read it in a single sitting.  (It took me about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to read it.)  However, if you are looking to get the most this book has to offer I think it would be best to only read a chapter at a time and fully reflect on the wisdom contained in each chapter, particularly the life lesson section.  Approaching the book in this manner would only take a few minutes per chapter to read making it a book that even the busiest person would be able to squeeze into their schedule.

Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life is available for purchase at Amazon

Disclosure note:  For the purpose of writing this review, I was provided with a review copy of this book by Tribute Books, the publisher.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Small Successes-June 17th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I cleaned and organized half of the garage. (Thanks, termites!)

2. As part of my pre-soccer tournament craziness (which I still haven't written about...) I removed all the trash from my van swagger wagon and vacuumed it.  Success!  Unless we bring up the part where cleaning the van just before we left irritated my husband and led to me forgetting my iPhone, blaming my husband for it and having a bit of a tantrum that caused him to turn around and go back for my phone when we were almost halfway to the tournament.  Yeah, we're not going to talk about that.  Clean van. Yay!

3. I made biscotti using a recipe was Bryan's grandmother's.   I'm not much of a baker, so imagine my delight when I successfully made biscotti from scratch.  My husband is delighted.  After the first bite he commented that it even sounds like his grandmother's (think spongy crinkly plastic type of sound--they only bake it once in his family so it's soft, not crunchy).  So far, Madeline and Ellie are the only people who don't like it.  I had to make the biscotti for the third grade cultural food fest that was yesterday.  I made way too much so I ended up giving several neighbors a plate of biscotti to enjoy.  It was well received.

Bonus: Soccer is over until September!  Madeline played in a tournament this past weekend and her team won all four of their games.  We're not going to know what to do with ourselves on the weekends now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pre-dinner Invasion

I'm not a fan of drop in play dates.  I went out to the garage to get a lollipop from the van swagger wagon (the one Ellie got as a reward from the deacon for mortifying me earlier today) and I came into a chaotic house.

I was only in the van for a few minutes.  I discovered that the potty seat needed to be put away in the back of the van and the toilet paper roll needed to be stashed in it's compartment.  Then, I noticed that the section of the rear bench that was up wasn't latched in properly so I had to fix that too.

I now want to go back out to the garage and hide.  Madeline's classmate was standing at the door while the kids and dog were running around like wild because the doorbell must have been rung by her friend.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the doorbell?  I grew up in a house with a doorbell that didn't work and I often wish that I could also have a non-working doorbell.  When the doorbell rings I instantly feel on edge.  The sound startles me in a way that few other things do.  Not only do I feel completely ill at ease when the bell rings, but my kids and the dog go insane.  I've tried to teach the kids to freeze and be quiet when they hear the bell ring, but that tactic has failed.  I've even suggested that we all move to an area of the house where no one can see us and that has not caught on either.

Both of my girls act like excited puppies when the doorbell rings, and that excitement does not die down if there's a visitor on the other side of the door.  If it's a delivery or a solicitor they go back to normal pretty fast.

I'm irritated that Madeline still hasn't learned to ask if she can have a friend over before inviting them in to play.  I was supposed to be on my way to McDonald's to get the girls the Happy Meals I promised them on Saturday.  Instead I'm listening to the dog bark incessantly and the girls playing upstairs.

Whatever happened to the days where kids would knock on the door and ask if you could come out and play?  And why oh why does it sound like the girls are playing in their bathroom?  Dear God, please help me to not go insane this evening.  I'm afraid to go upstairs and investigate.  If anyone needs me I'll be out in the garage hiding in the back of my van.

What's life without a little mortification?

After a very long weekend which I will write about later, I decided to take a trip over to the parish offices to drop off the girls' religious ed registration for the upcoming school year.  Ellie likes going over there since she's buddies with two of the deacons and the deacon's wife who is the coordinator of our religious ed program.  She likes to draw them pictures and fill them in on her life.  They all fuss over her and love seeing her.  So today she happily gave the deacon and his wife her latest self portrait of herself.  They, of course, loved it and offered her a lollipop as usual.

It was shaping up to be a normal visit and then Ellie decided that it was a good time to announce that she had peed in her under pants.  I suspected it wasn't a full fledged accident since there was nothing running down her legs.  You would think after that loud announcement that either she had a big accident, or she would happily agree to use their bathroom that was offered to her.  I'm actually a bit shocked that she refused to use their bathroom especially since she then insisted on using the little potty in the back of my car as soon as we left the office.

I think it's safe to say that I have received my dose of mortification for the week.  I could have died when she loudly made the announcement in her "I want attention tone."  I think I'm going to hide in the house for the rest of the day.

On the ride home I had to explain to Ellie that announcements such as that need to be made quietly to me and not shouted for everyone to hear.  And best of all, this "accident" wasn't anything that I'd call an accident.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick Takes Volume 4

1. I've been trying to remember to post a list of quick takes every week but it just isn't happening.  I suppose it is something that will just come along when it comes along.

2. The termites have come and hopefully are not on their way.  I have done my best to not freak out about them [like my poor stressed out husband].  I've decided to just accept the situation for what it is.  The exterminators came out on Wednesday, drilled a ton of holes in my porch (25 to be exact) and patched it up with cement that is about 5 shades darker than my porch. Sigh.  But the important thing is I'm not freaking out.

3. I'm doing my best to keep my girls happy during what I call School Limbo. Ellie is done for the year while Madeline has a week and a half to go.  As a result, Madeline has developed schoolitis which required me to pick her up from school early yesterday.  Schoolitis vanished once dinner time rolled around and she remembered that it was McDonald's night.  She wasn't too happy when she learned that McDonald's night doesn't happen when you have a bad stomachache that requires you to miss part of the school day [and a science test for which she never studied].

4. I'm preparing for a soccer filled weekend.  Madeline's team is playing in their first tournament this weekend.  The tournament will take place tomorrow and Sunday.  The game times are all inconveniently timed.  Our parish has seven Mass times for Sunday Mass (including the Saturday vigils) and the only Mass we have a chance of making is at 6PM on Sunday.  I pulled out my iPhone and checked the handy Mass Times app I have to see if we could visit another parish that is close to the soccer tournament and unfortunately their Mass times all would either begin during her games, or they start or end at a time that would make our attendance there and at her game impossible.  So the girls and I will be heading to the last possible Mass we can attend on Sunday.  I'm looking forward to the day when we can go to our normal 4PM Saturday Mass again.  The past several weeks have had us going at all different times.  As a creature of habit, these disruptions really upset me.

5. Thanks to Yankee Candle's semi-annual clearance sale I'm getting some of my summer birthday and Christmas shopping done.  Most people think I'm crazy for Christmas shopping in June, but I'd rather have it all done early than have to rush around when it cold out.

6. Other than the dog, I've never encountered a tick on a person.  Last night at Madeline's soccer practice Ellie and her little friends were playing near the woods.  One of her friends picked up a tick and the mother emailed Bryan and told him to check her for ticks.  She was checked twice and we found nothing.  Once I got in the pool with her this afternoon I noticed one on her neck.  I totally freaked out a bit and then called the pediatrician's office.  Bryan wound up removing it since it wasn't in too deep.  I now have to watch her over the next few weeks to see if a rash develops.  I'll be praying that the tick wasn't a carrier of Lyme Disease.

7. I'm counting the days until the end of Madeline's school year.  I'm ready to have the freedom to do fun things during the week.  I want to take the girls to the zoo and the beach before it gets too hot.  I'm contemplating letting Madeline play hooky one day this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The pitfalls of being a neat freak

Being a neat freak isn't the easiest thing to be.  Couple that with perfectionism and you have one lethal combination.

Today I decided that I was going to straighten up the kitchen, finish the remaining laundry and then spend the day playing with Ellie.  I can say I played with Ellie a little bit if you count me walking around the block while she rode her bike as playing.  Now that it's quarter to four I think I had yet another day that was a flaming failure.  I accomplished a lot, it just wasn't what I had planned.

After Ellie and I circled the block on her bike she decided she wanted to play with her jump rope.  I tried to show her how it was done, but there are just some things that kids don't catch on to until they're developmentally ready to grasp the concept.  Ellie wants to jump rope but she's just not there, and I realized that at 33 32 (I keep forgetting my age and have thought I was a year older than I actually am for the past month, this has happened in the past as well.) I'm just not the jump roper that I used to be.

I'm not sure how it happened, but after I looked back into the garage I was suddenly inspired to sweep it and in true If You Give a Mouse a Cookie form, I wound up spending my day cleaning the garage.  It's almost entirely swept out and it's been reorganized in many areas.  Cobwebs have been vacuumed off of toys, rubbermaid totes and various items that have been in the garage.  I gathered all of the recycle paper and filled our can.  I sorted stuff for Good Will and set other things aside for the trash.  I have determined that I will scream the next time a grandparent or great aunt decides to give my kids more bubbles.  I have at least a gallon of bubble soap which my kids almost never touch.  I have seen more termite swarmer wings that I care to recall and I have determined that my lovely family needs to stop leaving their boots, soccer cleats and sneakers in the garage.

If I wasn't a neat freak, I think my day would have been much different.  My perfectionistic tendencies didn't help either.  I probably could have walked away from the garage after a few minutes of sweeping if I wasn't determined to try for a perfectly organized garage.  The garage isn't done and I still have work to do in the house.  Poor Ellie didn't get the one on one time with me that I had planned on either.

Maybe someday I'll learn to take it easy.  God only knows when or if that day will come.

Small Successes-June 10th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

I've been hitting the crafts a little hard this past week. So bear with the pictures of my latest endeavors.

1.  Inspired by our decision to visit Williamsburg in the fall, I decided to see if I could make each of the girls a dress for their Colonial American Girl dolls.  Ellie's dress was the first attempt and it took me three days to complete.  I spent a lot of time freaking out about how much I despise my uncooperative swewing maching trying to get the sewing machine to work properly and then a little more time trying to figure out just how the oddly shaped pieces would actually form a dress.  The poor assembly instructions didn't help my frustration level.  In the end, I learned that being patient and taking things slowly helped the job to move along quickly.  When I got guilted into making a second dress for Madeline around to making Madeline's doll dress it took me only 6 hours from start to finish.  Madeline's dress is made better, too.

2. Since I had the sewing machine out already, I decided to make little bands to convert the short sleeved soccer jerseys for Madeline's team into tanks.  I had seen these simple looking velcro bands in a sporting goods store last fall, but I didn't want to pay $5 for something that looked incredibly simple to make.  I was talking to some of my fellow soccer moms about them at the girls' scrimmage last week and they thought it would be great if the whole team had them for their tournament this weekend.  So I grabbed some soccer ball ribbon and velcro from the local craft store and whipped up 12 pairs of sleeve holders.

3. Ellie graduated from pre-K on Tuesday morning and I can now say that I officially never forgot anything school related for Ellie this year, unless we count those few times where I forgot to bring her book bag to school, but I'm not counting those since it wasn't something big like cupcakes for the class.  I can't believe my baby is going to be in kindergarten in three months.  In the picture to the right of this you can see Ellie running to accept her diploma.

Bonus 1: I survived hosting Madeline's team party at our house. The house stayed surprisingly clean despite having about 50 people over.  I still need to mop my kitchen floor but I won't say anything about it if you don't.  I think everyone had a great time and I'm glad we offered to have the party.

Bonus 2: I'm almost on top of my laundry backlog.  I have three loads to go and I'm done.  I had quite the mountain of laundry to be folded on my living room floor yesterday. I suspect it was about 8 loads worth of clothing and towels.

Bonus 3: My final craft project of the week was making Ellie a rosary.  She loves her one decade good deed beads, but it doesn't cut it for praying the entire rosary.  She's now thrilled to have her own five decade rosary that's every bit as colorful and fun as her good deed beads.  This morning she insisted that Madeline pray with her.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vanquishing Termites

I wrote last week about the termites that Bryan discovered in our yard over Memorial Day weekend.  Since Bryan discovered them they have been the source of unnecessary stress. (Is any stress necessary?).  I've been trying to take them in stride, but it's not easy when you have someone by your side who is very disturbed by them.  I've been trying not to let it get to me.  I can't put out a sign that says "No bugs allowed" and so I simply try to go with the flow and hope for the best.

Today the Monster Stompers, (Isn't that the best name for an exterminating company?) came out to finish the termite job they started on Memorial Day.  I listened to over two hours of drilling into concrete.  I think I can still hear it now.  A total of 55 holes were drilled into my porch and garage and into those holes liquid death to termites was poured.

I'm happy that the termite job is done.  It appears that the house has little or no damage from the wood chewing pests.

To add some humor to a less than desirable situation, I noticed that the holes that had to be drilled were plugged with wooden dowels before the concrete was used to fill in the remainder of the hole.  It seems like a final dare to the termites.

The termites may not have eaten my house, but they ate our Disney vacation.  Of course I can't blame them entirely.  Disney's unwillingness to honor their own promotional deals was also partly to blame for the death of our Disney vacation dreams.

Tonight I will sleep soundly knowing that the termites are brining poison bait back to their colony.  I hope to never see them again.  You can bet I'll be watching to see if the swarmers show up in my garage next Spring.  If this termite treatment is as good as their overall bug protection is, I shouldn't be seeing anything.    Now if I can just get them to come out and eliminate all the bugs in the back yard I'd be thrilled.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review Small Steps for Catholic Moms

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Elizabeth Foss and Danielle Bean's Small Steps for Catholic Moms. The book is a daily devotional tool written by moms for moms that is comprised of three components for each day.  First, there is a section entitled "Think" that contains some food for thought either from a saint or Scripture.  The next section, entitled "Pray" which consists of a short prayer that is related to the wisdom found under the "Think" portion.  Lastly, the section entitled "Act" offers ways in which you can act on the devotional theme du jour.  Each month has it's own special theme which is expounded on in the daily devotional pages for that month.

I like the overall simplicity of the book.  It's a book that you can sit down with early in the morning, or really anytime when you have a few spare minutes and read the page for the day.  Because it takes only a few minutes of your time each day to read this book, it's perfect for busy mothers.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company.   To find more information on Small Steps for Catholic Moms, visit The Catholic Company.  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Pickles and Ice Cream....

Most afternoons Madeline comes home from school wanting ice cream.  Up until a few months ago the small human who believes her sole purpose in life is to look cute and annoy the medium sized person in the house (Madeline) has been anti-ice cream.  Now that both girls have turned after school snack time into ice cream time, I get to use those professional ice cream scooper skills that I developed the summer when I was 17.

 In the many days of after school ice cream scooping that I have seen, I've born witness to some very odd snack combinations.  Mint chocolate chip ice cream with gold fish crackers as a chaser, chocolate ice cream and a follow up snack of sour cream and onion Pringles and the list goes on.  I see these snack combos and I feel sick to my stomach most of the time.  Today had to be the worst combination yet.  After a nice bowl of Reese Cup ice cream Madeline immediately decided that two Vlasic dill pickle spears would round out her after school snack perfectly.  Let me just say that I'm thoroughly disgusted.  The sweet smell of peanut butter and chocolate still hung in the air as I opened the smelly pickle jar.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How about no?

I came across a comment on another blog that made me laugh and forced the sarcastic personality in me to think some things that my mom would say aren't nice.  The comment went like this "You are welcome to follow my blog."  Maybe I'm not good at self promotion, but I can't imagine commenting that on other people's blogs.

Small Successes-June 3rd

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. At long last, all of my vegetable plants are planted.  Because of last year's tomato blight I was forced to think outside the garden for my tomato plants.  So I caved and brought one topsy turvy (For the record, it goes against every cell in my body to purchase an "As Seen on TV" item.) and two decorative patio pots for my tomato plants.  The plants look much happier now.  I also picked up a basil plant for my garden only to discover while I was pruning it that it was actually three plants.  I managed to salvage one of the lesser plants and now I have two basil plants for the price of one.  Yay! (It's the little almost insignificant things in life that make me happy.)

2. I butchered trimmed all of the hedges in our front yard.  Let me just say that I like the previous owners of my house less and less every time I have to do this task.  In an attempt to find some peace and quiet I went out there and did some trimming by hand in 90 degree heat on Sunday.  Not my brightest idea.  Then I decided to go out on Monday morning in you guessed it, 90 degree heat to trim again, only this time I had the cordless hedge trimmer in my hands.  The hedges no longer look shaggy and I discovered a bird's nest in the tree that is likely abandoned. Both my husband and I marveled at how well it is put together.

3. The smelly dog and the dirty table on my deck both got cleaned on Monday.  The have absolutely nothing to do with one another except that they were done concurrently. The table is still clean three days later, but the smelly dog is once again smelly. Sigh.

Bonus: We found termites! (Ok, that's not really a bonus.) And our bug guy was kind enough to come out on Memorial Day to do the first step of the treatment.  Want to guess where we're not going on vacation this year?  If you said Disney World you would be right.  Last week we had a little issue with Disney not wanting to honor the deal they sent me in an email and were given a code for 40% off our stay (including our meal plan and tickets).  When my husband called back the next morning (per the reservationist's instructions) we were told they wouldn't honor it. (Grr....)  Our Disney prospects weren't looking too good, but I was holding out hope that we could still go.  The discovery of termites and their subsequent cost to eliminate them was enough to kill our hopes of a trip to Disney World.  We're all disappointed, but we've decided to take a trip to Williamsburg, VA for a few days instead.  Bryan has enough Mariott Rewards points from his business travel to cover our hotel stay thereby making a trip to Williamsburg very inexpensive.  The girls and I all have a thing for period clothing so I'm confident they'll have a good time there.  To ensure that they will, I'm going to make them each a colonial dress that they can wear.  Time for me to break out the sewing machine and go insane!

Bonus #2: My pool water has been above 78 since last Thursday night.  I'm shocked that we have been able to go swimming every day since Last Thursday, and I've even managed to keep up with the extra laundry that swimming has thrown my way.
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