Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Catholic kid

Sometimes Ellie has it in her head that something or someone is called a certain name that sounds like something she knows and she sticks to it no matter how many times she corrected.  It's frustrating and it reminds me of the year she spent arguing with me that the letter C wasn't called C.  Fortunately for us, her preschool teacher laid down the law and Ellie capitulated and began calling the letter C by its proper name.

Now she's moved on to changing the name of a classmate's sibling.  Her friend has a sister named Harmony.  I know this is the child's name because I was standing in the kindergarten class room four years ago when the father came in and told us the name of their new baby.  So what does Ellie call the child named Harmony, you ask?  Homily.  Yes, she thinks this child is named after her least favorite part of Mass.  In fact, she has even asked me why her parents would name her Homily.  I have explained numerous times that her name isn't Homily, it's Harmony, but Ellie's not buying it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Check out this beautiful giveaway

Cam, from A Woman's Place, is offering a beautiful bracelet giveaway on her blog.  She makes some really lovely rosaries and jewelry for her etsy store, Full of Grace Creations.  Take a moment to check out her giveaway and etsy store.

Confection construction, anyone?

Now that it's Advent, my mind is buzzing with all the ideas of things I need to do before December 25th.  I have shopping, gift wrapping and decorating to do along with a host of other things.  Despite all that, I'm determined to make sure the kids get to do all the fun things they like to do this time of year.  We have ornaments to make and decorate and gingerbread houses to build.

This year I have decided that I'm simply not going to spend $10 for a pre-fab gingerbread house that comes with goopy icing and crappy candy.  A few years ago a friend of mine from high school invited my girls to come to her house to make gingerbread houses.  Those houses were the best we ever made.  They were simply graham crackers decorated with a wide assortment of candies that were as pretty as they were yummy.

I wanted to make houses like that last year but I caved and brought the pre-fab village at Target because I wasn't sure I could cut graham crackers, and I also didn't have any on hand at the time.  This year I decided that I need to see if I could actually cut crackers without making them crumble.  Thanks to a quick Google search, I found just the tutorial I needed.  I grabbed the box of graham crackers, the cutting board and a sharp knife and got to work.  I'm delighted that I was able to cut the crackers with no issues. Sure there were a few cracker casualties as I learned how to gently hold and cut the crackers, but I'm thrilled with the end result--nicely cut crackers that will be the fronts and backs of our "gingerbread" houses this year.  Now I need to buy candies and figure out when I should have the girls make their houses.  Perhaps we'll do this project this weekend.

Twenty Tales of Irish Saints Book Giveaway

I have yet another book giveaway to host.  This time I'm giving away a new copy Twenty Tales of Irish Saints from Sophia Institute Press.  I reviewed this book a little while back and not only did I enjoy it, my daughter, Madeline, liked the stories as well.

If you would like to be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment.  If you follow me, mention it in the comments and I will give you three additional entries.  Commenters who blog or tweet this giveaway and leave the link in the comments will be given three more entries.

I will draw the winner at 5PM EST next Monday, December 6th.  Good luck!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


First off, I want to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you all have/had a wonderful day.  I am now officially stuffed and can say I certainly enjoyed Thanksgiving.

Today is not only one of my favorite holidays of the year, but it also marks a milestone anniversary for me and Bryan.  We celebrate ten years of marriage today.  Ten years.  It feels like the past ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye.  Where did the time go?  In ten years time we have experienced so much.  We became parents of two beautiful girls, we brought and sold our first home, we've said goodbye to beloved pets and welcomed new ones into our homes, we've had some sorrows and many joys.  The past ten years have truly been an adventure and I'm glad I have my best friend at my side for this adventure of a lifetime.

I often look at pictures from our wedding day and marvel at how I had no way of imagining what lay before us in the years to come.  I suspect I'll say the same thing in another ten years of myself today.  What I do know is I'm looking forward to the adventures yet to come.

As I sat at Mass this morning I couldn't help but think of the many blessings in my life for which I am thankful.   I marveled at the journey that marriage has been for us and how it has transformed me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advent Wreath Craft

Last year I searched in vein for a tutorial for an Advent wreath that used toilet paper tubes as it's candles, so  I had to come up with my own idea.  This flameless Advent wreath can be made with items that most of us already have in our homes.

To make this wreath you'll need a 9 to 10 inch paper plate (I like a sturdy plate like a Solo or Dixie plate for this craft), four toilet paper tubes, glue, green and yellow tissue paper, and scissors.
First you start with a paper plate and you cut off the edge.
Next you will need to cut a circle in the middle of the plate.  I do this craft with my religious education classes and decided that it was worth the money to buy a circle cutter and save myself time.  You can cut the center circle with a circle cutter, or you can take a glass, trace it and cut out the circle.  I did that last year and while it works great, it takes some time when you're making several wreaths.

 Once the base of the wreath is cut, you'll need to paint your toilet paper tubes.  Three should be painted purple and one should be painted rose or pink.
 Once the paint has dried, you'll need to cut a 2X2 inch square of yellow tissue paper for each candle.  You will glue one corner of the square inside each toilet paper tube about one inch down.  This will allow you to stuff the "flame" not needed into the tube on the weeks when that candle is not lit.  Do not stuff the flame into the tube until the glue has dried.
When the glue is dried you will need to glue the candles [flame side up] onto the base of the wreath.  You can use regular glue, but I find hot glue to be a quicker and sturdier choice.

 After your candles are glued in place you will want to start decorating your wreath with some greens.  Take a sheet of green tissue paper and cut it into 3X3 inch squares. Then, take the squares and wrap them around the eraser of a pencil, add a dab of glue and affix it to the base of the wreath.  Repeat this process until the base is covered with greens.

Finally, enjoy your "flameless" Advent wreath.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Catholic Homeschool Companion Giveaway winner

Congratulations to Nicole!  Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway.

Putting my thoughts where I can see them

Sometimes I have so much to do that I just feel like I'm spinning and subsequently can't get anything done. Today is one such day.  I have what feels like an incredibly jam packed week ahead of me.

Ellie finally went back to school today.  Yay!  She was out for the entire week last week so I'm very happy to see her go to school today.  Her going to school meant that I was presented with a several hour stretch to get some things accomplished around the house.

Since she's been gone, I have visited the Acme for sour cream and green apples (totally unrelated food purchases, in case you are wondering), cleaned the stove top and kitchen sink, begun to seriously thaw the turkey that is being cooked tomorrow, moved the turkey for Thanksgiving to the fridge, cleaned hand-me-down mini fridge and confirmed that it does, in fact, work, gathered up the recycles, sorted the laundry and raked some of the leaves in the back yard.  It is just a little after noon and already I'm exhausted.  Madeline has half days at school all this week so I have just 70 minutes until I need to pick her up at school.

I feel like I have far more to do than I have time to do it.  If I pick something up to put it away, I walk past several other jobs that need to be done.  Sometimes I stay on task and focus on the job I'm doing and other times I take a stab at doing some or all of the other job.  It's days like this when I wish I volunteered a little less.

Tomorrow is Ellie's Thanksgiving show at school.  Once that is finished, her class will have a small feast with the parents and we will go home.   At home, Bryan needs to prepare a turkey for Madeline's class feast that will be held on Wednesday.  I will need to take care of a few things regarding that feast and will have to send a reminder email to all the parents who are contributing food to the feast (I'm room mom, so I'm responsible for this feast.).

Wednesday will see me running Madeline's class feast and ensuring that everything runs smoothly.  Then there's Thanksgiving day preparations to worry about.  I have to get the house in order, wash the china which has been sitting in the china closets since Christmas, and make a pumpkin cheesecake.

Once Thursday gets here, I have little that I need to do.  I will try to get to Mass in the morning and after that I will spend the day staying out of the way while Bryan prepares dinner.  I'll make the side dishes and make sure the table is set but the turkey is entirely his deal.  Bryan and I will also celebrate our anniversary this Thanksgiving.  It's hard to believe ten years have already passed.

So my mind is spinning as I try to tackle what feels like a thousand things at once.  I see stacks of books that I want to read or need to review that I just don't have time for at the moment.  There are Christmas cards I want to slap mailing labels and stamps on, but I don't have the time to gather the new addresses of those who have moved in the past year.  I have gifts that I want wrapped and checked off my to do list for Christmas.  In short, I'm trying to cram way too much into a short period of time that is already totally scheduled.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Raising Pure Teens

My oldest daughter is nine and judging by how quickly the kids in the neighborhood seem to grow up once they hit middle school (that's 5th grade in our township) saying that I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to maintain her innocence is a bit of an understatement.  I've taught 7th grade religious ed, and I can tell you that kids as young as thirteen have very little innocence.  So rather than totally freak out about how crazy the world seems to be these days, I decided to take a few deep breaths, relax and crack open Jason Evert and Chris Stefanick's Raising Pure Teens 10 Strategies to Protect (or Restore) Your Teenager's Innocence.

The book is well written and it can help a parent who feels like they're powerless to protect their child's innocence in this overly sexualized culture feel confident that they can indeed teach their child to understand the importance of chastity.  Some of the content in this book seemed like common sense, but I suppose that really depends on the world view of the parent.  Other areas of the book, such as the chapter entitled "Beware of sex education" are real eye openers.  That particular chapter confirmed that my concerns about the family life program offered by our district's public schools are certainly not in line with our beliefs.  (I had previously researched the scope and sequence of the program on a grade by grade basis and was less than thrilled with what I read.)

This book is jam packed with lots of valuable information for talking to your teens about sex and chastity.  The authors stress the need for open communication with your child.  Parents who are trying to be proactive in retaining their son or daughter's innocence and having their child understand why it is important will find this book to be a great resource.

I highly recommend this book for parents of teens and those, like me, who will have teenagers in their house in just a few short years.  This book would also make a great book for parent groups as there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter.  These discussion questions are just as valuable for an individual reader as they are for a group.

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 Raising Pure Teens and be sure to check out their great selection of baptism gifts while you are there.

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review A Treasure Chest of Traditions For Catholic Families

I have the pleasure of doing a series of reviews for products from the Catholic apostolate Arma Dei.  Arma Dei has lots of wonderful books, crafts and games for imparting the treasure of our Catholic faith to our children.

One of the products I've had the pleasure of reviewing is Monica McConkey's spiral bound book, A Treasure Chest of Traditions For Catholic Families.  This book really is a treasure chest of ideas for how to live out the liturgical year with your children.  The book follows the liturgical year from beginning to end (Advent to the solemnity of Christ the King).

For each month of the year there is a list of saints' days so you can take a look at this list for each month and get an at a glance idea of what you might like to celebrate in the coming month.  Throughout the book you will find loads of great craft ideas to help make the liturgical year come alive for your child.  During the Advent season for example, you'll find a list of the readings and symbols to make your own Jesse Tree, and creative ways to make the nativity scene approachable for young children.

This book is also filled with lots of game ideas that could be used in small or large group settings.  I found several games in this book that will be perfect for my religious education classes.  There are even ideas for throwing an All Saints' Party.

Something I really liked about this book is it doesn't just give you ideas for celebrating the liturgical year, it also gives you a wonderful list of online resources.  There's even a library page with book suggestions for kids, moms, spiritual reading and reference as well as online resources for CDs, DVDs and VBS programs.

This handy book is useful for both families and catechists.  For more information on this book visit Arma Dei.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Stay tuned for more Arma Dei product reviews in the coming months.

Small Successes-November 18th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

I'm not feeling too remarkably successful this week.  Bryan's grandmother is in the hospital and we suspect that she's nearing the end.  Ellie has been sick since Sunday, maybe even Saturday.  And I have been trudging through the week as best I can.

1. I went to the parent-teacher conference at Madeline's school yesterday.  I came home with Madeline's first ever straight A report card.  I'm so proud of her.  I know this isn't really my success, but I do help and support her at home with school work.

2. Thanks to my parents, I got a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done.  They were kind enough to pick up various items for me over the past week while they were out doing their shopping.  I'm inching closer to having all of my shopping done.

3. I ordered my Christmas cards and stamps this week.  I had been meaning to do this last month but life moves fast sometimes and I simply never found the time to get it done.

Bonus: I finally got around to writing up a book giveaway post that I had been meaning to do for a few weeks.  If you're interested in winning a copy of The Catholic Homeschool Companion be sure to check out the giveaway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: Good Words

At first glance, I thought Good Words: Inspiration for Catholic Women seemed like a book that was lacking in depth.  I had paged though it and set it aside as something I'd pick up later.  It certainly wasn't the first, nor do I suspect it will be the last time I've underestimated a book after quickly thumbing through it.  When I finally found the time to sit down and read the book I had it in the back of my mind that I wasn't going to be impressed with it at all.  Most of the pages, after all, consisted of a short paragraph followed by a reflection.  Those reflections should have been my tip off that the book was not lacking in depth as I had initially supposed.

The book is centered upon Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to week, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

This book breaks down the scripture referenced above and each part of this is focused upon with several reflections.  Each section begins with another scripture reference and a reflection.  Following that you will find excerpts from various books relating to a particular portion of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Each excerpt and it's related reflection have their own subheading.

This book could be read from cover to cover with the reader spending a few minutes a day to read a reflection a day.  Using the book this way, one could easily spend a few months reflecting on the passages in this book. And there's certainly enough food for thought in this book to provide depth to your prayer life.  Alternatively, one could page through this book and find inspiration for where she happens to be in her life.  This would also be a great book for a women's prayer group to read and discuss. 

Overall, I was surprised at the inspirational punch this little book was able to provide.  The book certainly leaves you with plenty to think about.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Catholic Homeschool Companion Book Giveaway

Last month I reviewed The Catholic Homeschool Companion from Sophia Institute Press.  This month, I have a brand new copy of this book to giveaway courtesy of the publisher.  The giveaway will close at 5PM on Monday, November 22nd.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling me why you would like a copy of this book.  If you follow me, let me know in the comments and I'll give you three more entries.  Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave the link in the comments and I'll give you another three entries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Wrath of Ellie

Life has been a bit trying here the past couple of days.  Bryan is on his second business trip in two weeks and Ellie hasn't been taking his travel very well.  She misses her dad terribly and it's put her in a mood that isn't exactly pretty.

About forty minutes ago Ellie was a bit angry with Madeline for turning off the Wii after they had finished playing the number of races I told them they could play.  Someone was hoping to get a little extra playtime and wasn't happy when things didn't go according to her plan.  While she was in a bit of a snit, I told her to go to the pantry and get her Clifford readers so she could read to me.  She angrily stormed over to the pantry, took out the box of readers and then started shoving the pantry door in the wrong direction.  Then it happened.  She broke the door off the track and it started to fall on her.

Thanks to my God-given mommy instincts, I was able to dart into the kitchen and catch the door before it could fall on Ellie or cause serious damage to any of the stuff in it's path.  I wondered yesterday what small crisis might befall us while Bryan was gone this time.  I think I got my answer tonight.

I'm actually quite surprised at myself.  Instead of yelling and ranting at Ellie, I held back after the initial "Why did you do this?!"  At first, Ellie claimed she was just trying to close the door, but she didn't protest when I told her what I heard and saw her do.  The truth was it was an angry Ellie hissy fit where she kept shoving the bifold door in the wrong direction.  By the time I was able to yell at her to stop, the door had already begun to come down.

Once I removed the door from the kitchen and relocated it to the living room, I couldn't help but laugh.  I went from feeling very angry, to strangely amused.  I tried my hardest to not let the girls see that I found the situation funny.  I guess part of what I found amusing was the fact that this was something that could be repaired and was not going to be a costly crisis like our normal business trip disasters.  That was followed by what is probably a moment of pride, where I chuckled to myself that this incident wasn't going to be part of my next confession since I handled it pretty well all things considered.  Perhaps, I was wrong since the pride thing is now evident. (I just can't win, can I?)

The best thing of all that came from this situation was Ellie showed remorse and humility when I came back into the family room a few minutes later.  She apologized to me and it was sincere.  This is a child who hardly ever gives a sincere apology. (Bryan would tell you she's her mother's daughter.)  I'm actually stunned that she apologized totally unprompted.

For the next day or so I will not have to deal with the inconvenience of opening and closing the pantry door when I go to get a hand towel or a snack.  Think of all the time I'll be able to save!

Prayer Request

Last week while we were on our little mini vacation in D.C. we got an email from Bryan's mother telling us that his grandmother had to be taken to the hospital. She was in a severe amount of pain and couldn't move her legs.  They ran some tests, determined that she had a UTI and a lot of arthritis in her hip, and they sent her home with some meds to take care of her ailments.

Today we got another email from Bryan's mother telling us that his grandmother was back at the hospital.  She hasn't been eating for nearly a week, and this morning she was gurgling and coughing in addition to a few other issues.

Grandmom is nearly 95 years old and she doesn't appear to be doing very well at all.  If you can spare a few moments to pray for her we'd greatly appreciate it.

Small Successes-November 11th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. Our trip to Washington D.C., despite the first somewhat rocky day, was actually a lot of fun.  We were totally exhausted at the end of each day, but we got to see a lot of neat things.

Arlington National Cemetery

Learning about the Star Spangled Banner

The White House
2. We visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.  It was absolutely beautiful in there.  We took a tour which was pretty much catered entirely to Madeline.  At almost every turn, the Brother who was leading the tour had little catechetical questions for Madeline and occasionally Ellie.  I think she learned a lot on the tour and she picked up two saints she can pray to for help with her school work St. Pius X and St. Joseph of Cupertino.  Madeline and I also made it to confession while we there.

Ellie and Flat Fr. Stanley

3. The laundry is under control despite the fact that it's been inconsistent with all of the traveling that has been taking place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Little Star

I was recently presented with the opportunity to review Anthony DeStefano's Little Star.  Little Star is a Christmas story for young children.  It is beautifully illustrated by Mark Elliot.  The illustrations remind me a bit of The Polar Express.  I found myself gazing at many of the illustrations for several minutes.  My five year old spent a good twenty minutes flipping though the book to just look at the pictures after I had read the book to her.  She was equally captivated by the illustrations.

I was impressed by the sweet story of Little Star.  The focus of Little Star's is the birth of Jesus.  Without giving away the story, Little Star gives his best to recognize the birth of the little king who was born in the most humble circumstances.  Children learn about the real Christmas story as Little Star experienced it.

I like this story because it's not one of those Christmas stories that's focused on the secular aspects of the holiday, instead, the story's focus is precisely where it belongs, on Christ.  The story's meaning is very easily conveyed to young children.  I'm sure this book will be well received by children between the ages of three to eight.

I was provided with a review copy of this book, by the author in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Ask A Franciscan

Ask a Franciscan: Answers to Catholic Questions is a compilation of questions that readers of St. Anthony Messenger magazine have asked in the "Ask a Franciscan" column written by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. The book, which is 113 pages, covers a broad range of topics.  Some of the questions are the kind that I've come to expect in question and answer books of this nature, but there were more than a handful of questions that I had not expected to see.

The book is comprised of eight chapters and contains nearly one hundred questions and answers.  Many of the answers refer the reader to further reading at designated sites online.  The topics covered in the chapters are: How We Understand God, How We Relate to Mary and the Other Saints, How We Read Scripture, How We Celebrate the Sacraments, How We Pray, How We Grow Morally, How We Grow in Faith and Practice It, and How We Experience Forgiveness and Redemption.  At the end of the book is a list of additional resources that interested readers may want to explore.

With the broad range of issues addressed in this book, I think this book can easily appeal to young and old and everyone in between.  Perhaps a question here or there may not apply to you or your unique situation, but there's something in this book for everyone.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: Set Free To Love

When I read the description of Marcel LeJeune's Set Free To Love: Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body I wasn't convinced it was a book I wanted to read.  The description that I had read online and the back cover of the book didn't convince me that it would even remotely capture my attention, but after paging through it and picking a few pages to read I realized that my initial impressions were all wrong.

This book contrary to my first thoughts was a captivating and inspiring read.  It was yet another book that I had the hardest time putting down once I had started it.  The book is comprised of an introduction that explains what John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB) is and eleven stories of people from many different walks of life and how they were transformed by it's powerful teachings.

I like how this book doesn't require you to have any previous knowledge of TOB.  You can read this if you're totally new to TOB and gain some perspective on it's teachings.  If you're more familiar with TOB, you can still read this book and be inspired by the way it has changed the lives of others from a variety of backgrounds.

I really enjoyed reading this book and was left wanting to read more when I came to the final page.  Because it's a relatively short book, you could read it in as little as a day, or you could take it one inspiring story at a time and read it over a short span of time.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.

I don't want it....unless you do.

I have no idea what it is, but Ellie likes to drive me insane.  For some reason she would rather see things go in the trash than see her sister enjoy it.

Today while rummaging through the Halloween candy, she came across the vampire teeth she got in a goodie bag from a class mate.  After determining who the vampire teeth belonged to, she decided that she didn't want them and began to complain about them.  I responded with my normal then throw it away and stop whining about it mom response.  Seconds before disposal I told her to stop and asked Madeline if she'd like the vampire teeth.  She said she would and I told Ellie to give them to Madeline.  A few minutes later the tears flowed.  They were her vampire teeth and she wanted them back.  Fine.  Ask Madeline if she will give them back to you.  Madeline, begrudgingly gave them back and told Ellie it wasn't nice that she changed her mind.  A minute later, Ellie was crying.  She didn't want the teeth and wanted to throw them in the trash.  Arrgh!  Then I demanded that she give me the teeth.

Why is it that she would rather toss something she doesn't want in the trash instead of letting her sister have it?  It's crazy.

Book Review: The American Patriot's Almanac

I'm one of those people who has an unquenchable thirst for history.  I'm not sure what it is about it that attracts me, but I just know that I'm like a sponge wanting to soak up every ounce of historical knowledge that I can get my hands on.  When I was presented with the opportunity to review The American Patriot's Almanac I was more than happy to take a peek inside the covers of the book to see if it was any good.  I was delighted with what I found in this book.

There was plenty in this book that I expected to see.  When you're well versed in American history, sometimes there are key facts that you fully expect to see in any volume that broadly covers our nation's history.  In addition to the usual suspects, there are plenty of other articles of American history that are lesser known in this lovely book.

One of the things that particularly struck me about this book was it's size. The book is 7.5X9.5 inches and nearly 2 inches thick.  This book is the patriotic equivalent of a daily devotional book.  For every day of the year (with the exception of February 29th) there is a patriotic article and a little section called "American History Parade" which lists events that happened on that day in history.  There are larger articles at the beginning and end of the book as well as in between each month.

I think this book is very well done and would be a great gift idea for the American history buff in your life.  This book would also make a great resource for a homeschooling family.  With it's daily reading format, one could easily incorporate  a this day in history type of element into their history curriculum.

This review was written as part of the BookSneeze program from Thomas Nelson.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Feet Hurt

Today is day two of our DC trip (Is three days long enough to call a getaway a vacation?).  Day one got off to a rocky start.  When we arrived in DC it was cold and rainy.  I don't like being cold and I really don't like being cold and wet.  Some miscommunication issues between me and Bryan led to us not being the happiest campers for the first couple hours of our time in DC.  In short, my comfortable shoes were left behind in the van which was carted away by the valet and I wound up incredibly uncomfortable.  I wound up developing blisters on the back of both heels and I took it out on him.  In hindsight, I should have put the comfortable shoes on when we left the house.  That would have saved us all a lot of aggravation.

Once I got past the shoe issue we started to have a good time.  We visited the National Museum of Natural History and the West Building (Art Museum).  We saw a lot of great exhibits and did a ton of walking.  Later in the evening we drove over by the White House and walked to the North Lawn  area of the White House.  After that, we drove over to the Washington Monument and the WWII memorial and the Reflecting Pool.  We were beat after day one.

Today we started off our day going to Arlington Cemetery.  We visited the gravesite of JFK and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  None of us had ever been there before.  Afterwards, we visited the National Archives and took a peek at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  From there, we ventured to the American History Museum where the spent the remainder of the afternoon.

Now we are back at the hotel resting our tired dogs and trying to decide where we should head for dinner.  We're undecided as to whether or not we will try to venture over to the Lincoln Memorial later tonight.  Madeline is very interested in going there.

Outside a visit to the Basilica I'm not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow.  Bryan would like to visit the Air and Space museum, so we may visit that and then head over to the Basilica.

I can't wait to go home tomorrow night and relax.  The sidewalks in DC are very hard on your feet.  They remind me of the walkways at Universal Studios in Orlando.  I prefer a nice smooth surface for walking.  Pebbled sidewalks are brutal when you're doing a lot of walking.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Small Successes-November 4th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. The girls and I survived Bryan's recent business trip.  And, he made it safely home tonight so I count that as a huge success.  I worry a lot for his safety whenever he has to go on a plane.

2. The house is pretty much in order.  The kitchen is nice and clean, all of the laundry has been tackled and I even dusted the family room.

3. We're all packed and ready to leave for Washington DC in the morning.  I can't wait to go there.  Bryan and I haven't been there since we were in 8th grade and went with our class on a field trip.  I guess that means it's been 18 1/2 years since we've been there.  We're going to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, too.  I'm really excited about going there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Book Review: Care for Creation

I recently had the opportunity to read Christy Baldwin's children's book entitled Care for Creation.  Care for Creation is a book that teaches children to care for God's wonderful creation and our home, the earth.  The beautifully illustrated book is sure to capture the attention of young children.

Perhaps you're wondering about the religious bent on a book about being environmentally responsible.  For every illustration there is a page of text with a message about how we can care for God's world.  Below that text, you will find a scripture reference and a paraphrasing of the message contained in that reference.  I liked how the author paired the scripture references with the text.  I think it works nicely to instill in young children that God calls us to be good stewards of the earth.

While I think the book has a great message over all, I did feel that the further the book progressed the more it began to feel like it was pushing an agenda.  By the time I was three quarters of the way through the book I simply felt like it had very liberal political leanings.  As I read the book I couldn't help but think that Al Gore would be thrilled with it.  Because of the politicized feelings I got from reading the book I had no desire to read it to my children.  Just as I am protective of their faith formation, I'm also protective of how their minds are being formed with regards to politics.

About the Author: Writing has been a passion of Christy's since she was very young. As a child, she loved to write stories for her grandfather and poems just for fun. She lives in Mason, Ohio with her family and is active in church, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and volunteering with various organizations. Christy has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Cedarville University and a master's degree in Special Education from the University of Scranton. She is a stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her kids and being involved in their schools. Her previous children's titles include Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night and Remembering Wilma.

I was provided with an e-version of this book by the publisher, Tribute Books, for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Full of Grace Creations Rosary Giveaway

Cam, who blogs at A Woman's Place, is offering a lovely rosary giveaway on her blog.  Head over to her blog to check it out.
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