Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small Successes-March 31st

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

It's so hard to believe that today is the last day in March.  It seems like this month flew by in a flash.

1. I polished off several bags of candy.  Man, I love that I didn't give up candy this Lent! got the laundry under control.  Mostly all of it is clean, folded and put away.

2. After several trips to the craft store, I managed to get all of the T shirts I'll need for the VBS.  I even picked up 122 shovel and pail sets that the kids will get to use for field day activities and an arts and crafts project.  And yes, people did look at me like I was totally insane.  I was laughing at how crazy I must have looked, so it was all good.  I even ran into one of the people who is helping out with the VBS and she kindly helped me load beach buckets into my van.

3. Although you won't see it until April 4th, I got a review finished for a new series of children's books.  Make sure you check my blog next week to learn about this fun new series for young readers.  I'll also be hosting a giveaway of the books.

4. It appears that I didn't contract lice at Mass last week.  Long story short, I realized halfway through the homily that the person in front of me had a head infested with lice.  (I could see them, and no, dandruff doesn't crawl.)  Before you think I'm crazy for thinking that I could get lice from the person in front of you, let me just say that I was kneeling behind this man (who was sitting directly in front of me) when I arrived at the church.  I did pray that the man would get his infestation treated, lest any of you think I'm an awful person for even pointing this out as a success.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Princess Green Goblin Monsters

What happens when you ask four and five year old what they'd like to call their soccer team and you have a coach who's completely open to suggestions?  You get a team name that's rather unique.  Bryan, not wanting to impose a name on his co-ed soccer team for four and five year olds asked the kids what they thought their team should be called.

The kids wear a green uniform shirt, so it was no surprise that the word green made it into their name.  I was a little surprised that the name incorporated not only goblin monsters, but also princesses.  And the best part is that all of the kids, even the boys, were ok with being the Princess Green Goblin Monsters.

I was at Madeline's soccer game when Ellie's team was playing so I missed out on the fun of naming the team.  Bryan tells me the parents found the team name to be rather funny and the kids were happy with their name.

I can't wait until I get to go and cheer on the Princess Green Goblin Monsters.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Small Successes-March 24th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

It's crazy how fast the month has flown by, isn't it?

1. I cleaned the master bath shower.  It has needed to be cleaned for a while but I simply didn't have the energy to clean it.  This Monday I decided it simply had to be done and I am now very happy that the shower is nice and sparkling clean.

2. I'm caught up on the laundry.  Some of it still has to be folded and I have a load that needs to be washed, but there aren't any huge mountains of laundry anywhere.  Too bad I can't say the same for my kitchen counters.  Perhaps that will be my project for today.

3. I cleaned out a section of the garage this past weekend.  Between that, and finally rounding up some of the stuff that's been laying around the house since the week after Christmas (sad, I know) I gathered up 20 boxes and bags of stuff that was either headed to Good Will or the trash.  I had six boxes of paper recycles alone, and they weren't tiny little boxes.  How do we keep accumulating all of this paper?  I suppose it's a mystery.

Bonus: I forced myself to complete three more ornaments for the Jesus Tree.  That craft alone could have been an excellent Lenten penance.  I believe I have 14 or 15 left to make.  I can't wait until it's finished.  I've grown to seriously dislike felt.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Small Successes-St. Patrick's Day

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

1. I survived a sleepover.  Madeline has been asking if she can have a friend spend the night for ages and last week I finally gave in and said O.K.  Surprisingly, the girls slept. (I really wasn't expecting that!)  Actually, aside from their giggle fest in the car after I picked her friend up on Saturday night, I didn't really hear much from them the entire time.  It was almost like they weren't here.  Bryan says it's because we're old and they didn't want to be anywhere near us.

2. I didn't freak out when I learned that Ellie needed glasses this past Friday.  Actually, she was the one who was upset.  She quickly got over it when it came time to pick out glasses.  I'll be blogging more about her eye issues in the future.

3. I figured out the crafts for the VBS I'm directing, and I took care of all the copies I need for my religious education classes for the next month.  Yay!  I'm sort of on top of things.

I'm not going to tell you how I mixed up days this week and spent two days thinking it was Wednesday, but totally forgot to show up at Ellie's school for my Wednesday Lunch Mom gig.  Fortunately, they called me and I got there 15 minutes late.  The time change has really messed me up this week.  I will, however, tell you that I'm fully aware that today is Thursday.  Hopefully I remember that it's Thursday all day so I don't forget to teach my 3rd grade class tonight.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: Linking Your Beads

I recently had the pleasure of reading Patrician Ann Kasten's Linking Your Beads.  The book gives the reader a tour of the Rosary's history, mysteries and prayers.

What I like about this book is it's overall simplicity.  You could pick up this book as someone totally unfamiliar with the Rosary and this book will fill you in and give you an appreciation for this powerful prayer.  Of course, that's not to say that only those who know little about the rosary will benefit from reading this book.  I know a decent amount about the rosary and I learned quite a few new things by reading this engaging book.  I particularly liked the author's explanations of the rosary mysteries.  She explains them in a way that surprised me.  As soon as I read her chapters on each set of mysteries, I realized I had a new source for teaching the rosary mysteries to my religious education class.

At only 118 pages the book is chock full of facts and insight that are sure to keep you turning pages.  Each of the chapters are relatively short, so reading the book is short five to ten minute spurts is absolutely possible.

The book is an interesting read for anyone who is curious about the rosary.  With the Lenten season upon us, I can't help but think this would be an excellent book to give to someone who is currently in RCIA.

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 Linking Your Beads: The Rosary's History, Mysteries and Prayers.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Because I Disenfranchised Myself....

I gave up Facebook for Lent and as a result I cannot vote in the Busted Halo's Show Us Your Ash contest on Facebook.  A couple days back I shared the pictures that I submitted to Busted Halo here on the blog.  If you have some spare time and you feel like voting for us, click here. (Bryan provided me with the link so I wouldn't have to dangerously toy with Facebook.)  Per Busted Halo's website [which I can visit] you are supposed to click on the pictures you like and then "like" them to vote.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blessed Trinity Shamrock Craft

With St. Patrick's day less than a week away, I decided that I'd actually document a craft that I'd been thinking about doing since last year.  Once again, it's a very inexpensive craft that simply requires scissors, construction paper, two popsicle sticks and glue.

To start, glue two popsicle sticks together to form a cross.  Yes the cross beam will be too big, but it's OK.  (If I can quiet the neurotic perfectionist within so can you.)  If you want to be fancy, you can paint or color the sticks green.  I used a marker to color mine, but going forward, I will paint them or buy them pre-stained.

Next you'll need to take a piece of green construction paper and fold it in four.  Cut out three individual hearts that are the same size.

Then you'll need to cut out the symbols for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I cut a smaller red heart for the Father, a yellow cross for the Son, and a white dove for the Holy Spirit.  See the photo below to see how I made the dove by folding the paper in half and drawing one side of the dove.  Once it's cut you'll have a dove.

Glue the three green hearts together to form a shamrock shape and attach the heart, cross and dove cut outs to the leaves (one symbol per leaf).  Then glue the popsicle stick cross to the back of the shamrock.
On the top leaf of the reverse side of the shamrock I wrote: Father, Son and Holy Spirit: The Blessed Trinity

This craft is very simple to make and children who are old enough to use scissors will be able to cut out the big green hearts.  Younger children will likely need help with cutting the symbols for the leaves.  For my kindergarten religious education class I will glue the sticks together and cut out the symbols before hand to save time.

Stupid Things I've Decided To Do For Lent

It's not even 6AM and I'm awake.  How's that for starters?  Why am I awake?  Because I got the brilliant idea that going to Mass on Friday mornings when Bryan is working from home would be a good thing.  Then I woke up at 5:30 (not using an alarm, I just woke up) and started thinking.  I hate when I think in the morning.  I was going to go to the 8AM Mass, but then I realized that I won't get home until it's time to take Madeline and Ellie to school (Ellie is off today, but she won't be for the other Friday's in Lent).  Hmm...I instantly came to the realization that in order to make this work I will need to get my butt out of bed very early in the morning to make it to 6:45AM Mass.  I'm insane.  Why did I think this was a good idea a few weeks ago?

At the moment this is making my Facebook fast look like a stroke of pure brilliance.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Obviously One of Those Days

Sigh.  Today is just one of those things where things simply aren't going my way.  

I went to Target today to buy the food items that we've run out of and while I was there I forgot what it was that I "NEEDED" for me.  I got the bagels for Madeline's lunch and the Cheerios that the girls needed, but it wasn't until my craving for pizza Combos kicked in that I remembered what I forgot.  Ordinarily, I'd just go back to the store and get what I need, but it's pouring here and I'm not going out in the rain.  I'll just have to deal.

Then I set to work getting organized for my class tonight.  Two weeks ago I put in a copy order for my class and forgot that Lent was approaching.  I remedied this by lumping some of what I needed into my Kindergarten copy order the following Sunday.  I didn't think to count the copies and make sure I had 30 of the Catholic Icing Lent calendar til this morning.  Much to my dismay, I found that I have 12 copies of the calendar.  I need 16 for the third grade class alone.  To top it off, this was my only Lent printable for the third graders.  Since it's pouring, I'm not going to the parish office to get additional copies.  I'll have to see what I can can do at home.

I gave up Facebook for Lent.  Really, I can live without it.  What I didn't give up was my main AOL email account.  Sadly, AOL decided around 3PM yesterday that I was going to fast from that, too.  Bryan called last night and found that my email address goes to a server that is having issues, but that it would be up and running soon.  Fast forward to now and my email is still down.  I'm beyond cranky about this.  I want access to my email.

In an effort to straighten the main level of the house I started putting things back where they belong.  On a trip downstairs I discovered that the basement is a total atrocity.  Yay!  Then I went upstairs to put several stray toys in Ellie's room only to find that her room must have been hit by a tornado or something of that nature.  I know a couple little girls who will be cleaning this evening.

On the bright side, the laundry is moving along one load at a time.  It's possible that I may have everything washed before the end of the day.  I suspect tomorrow will be filled with me folding until my fingers fall off.

So I'm tired, things aren't going my way, the house is a mess and Madeline's friend is sleeping over in two days.  I need a cleaning crew to come over and make my house shine.  Any takers?

Small Successes-March 10th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I don't know that I consider this a success, but the Diabolical Mr. Furkins (or Oscar as everyone else calls him) turned three today.  I suppose that means I have somewhere between 5-9 years left on my dog owning sentence. It's hard to believe that forty-six months ago I allowed Bryan and the girls to talk me into getting an 8 week old puppy.  Mr. Furkins seems largely unaware that today is his birthday.

2. The laundry is sorted into piles that need to be folded in the living room.  I have a few more loads in the laundry room that need to be washed and another load that's in process.  Someday I will get caught up on this never ending cycle of dirty laundry.  Bryan recently started doing P90X and soccer practices just started up for Madeline so I now have more laundry than ever.  Sigh.  Maybe we should look into being nudists.  I could handle washing sheets and towels.  Then again, they might not let me into Target wearing nothing, and I'm not sure I can play the part of an exhibitionist.  Perhaps I'm better off just dealing with the piles of laundry.  It's probably better for all of us.

3. I'm slowly by surely making progress on the Jesus Tree craft nightmare.  I spent most of my weekend cutting out a tree (I didn't like the branch pattern that came with the kit.) and then stitching it on to the banner.  I did use a spray adhesive, but I couldn't resist the urge to stitch it too.  I'm such a glutton for punishment.  I'm anxiously awaiting the day when all the ornaments are finished and the dining room is rid of the bag of felt and my sewing box.  Right now I'm wishing I had never started this project, but I'm sure it will be worth it once it's done and I never have to make another Jesus Tree ornament again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Showing Some Ash!

Forgive my pun.  I blame Busted Halo and their Show Us Your Ash contest for it.  Since it's Ash Wednesday, I signed Madeline out of school early, picked up Ellie and took the girls to the Ash Wednesday service at our parish.

I'm always amazed at how packed the church is on this non-obligatory day, but not on holy days of obligation.  It's so bizarre.  If given a choice between the two I'd rather go to a Holy Day of Obligation Mass vs. Ash Wednesday where they smear my forehead with ashes.  But to each his own.  I know Ellie would skip Ash Wednesday if she had her wish.  She seriously dislikes having ashes traced on her head.  Not a fan in the least.

I found the time we spent sitting in the church before the service began to be rather amusing.  I had two older women sitting in front of me loudly discussing some of the things they were seeing in the sanctuary.  First, they were talking about the Lenten dessert scene that is now before the altar.  They were intrigued about the broken clay pot.  "Is there something in the Bible about that?" the one woman asked her friend.  "I don't know, maybe." replied the other.  The there was a slight pause.  One of them mentioned that Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the desert.  The other then quipped "It doesn't seem very smart to break your pot on the first day in the dessert.  Isn't that stupid?  He must have been thirsty."  I almost died.  Really?  I'm sure Jesus didn't go out in the desert drop his clay water container and say "Shoot, I'm going to be really thirsty now for the next 39 days I'm out here."  In the bulletin last week they explained the significance of the broken clay pot.  It represents our own brokenness.  It's not there to tell us that Jesus dropped his pot and then wandered around thirsty because He had butterfingers.  A few more minutes passed and the two women once again loudly said something that made me resist the urge to bring my palm to my face.  "So why is St. Irish up there?  What's he supposed to represent?" said the one woman.  At this point I'm sitting there saying to myself "Really?  St. Irish?  What planet is this woman from?" then her friend says "I don't know.  Isn't St. Patrick's day coming up?  Maybe it has something to do with that."  "Maybe." was the other woman's response.  St. Patrick's statue is next to the lectionary because each month a new saint statue is placed there.  I naturally assumed when I went to Mass on Saturday that he was there because his feast day is this month.  My five and a half year old knew it was St. Patrick right away and was the one who pointed him out.  Mercifully, the prayer service started shortly after that and I didn't have to over hear much more other than the one friend telling her companion that she thinks she could be a good reader since she enunciates well.  To quote the Church Lady "Well isn't that special?!"

Kicking off Lent

I went to check my email this morning and I stumbled on this video of Abp. Timothy Dolan.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Wondrous Encounters

If you're looking for something to read this Lent, I've got a few suggestions to offer.  One of the books I'll be reading this lent is Fr. Richard Rohr's Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent.  At first glance, you might look at this book and think it's going to be a bit earthy crunchy.  You might that is, if you're like me and begin to form opinions about books as soon as you see the cover.  Yes, I know, you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but sometimes I see a cover and can't help but jump to conclusions.  However, it's a pretty cover, but it's one that instantly made me think about having to be outdoors. Thoughts like that simply don't win me over.  Fortunately once I opened the book, I was delighted to find that the author wasn't determined to take me for an outdoor tour through the wilderness of Lent.

This book contains a daily reflection for every day starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Saturday.  The reflections are based on the scripture readings for each day.  For each day, one of the readings is highlighted and presented with an explanation where necessary to help you gain a deeper understanding of what we should be grasping from that particular piece of scripture.  Following that, you will find a starter prayer to prompt you on your way to deeper reflection.  

I liked how the daily reflections bring a ray of clarity to readings that might not be easily understood.  I know at times I miss the intended point of some scripture passages during my first read through, and I found this book to be a nice help in gaining a better insight to the daily readings.

I realize that Lent begins tomorrow, but it's not too late to grab a copy of this book and benefit from reading it for the majority of Lent.  I'm looking forward to having this book be part of my daily Lenten reading.

If you plan on reading this book with a group St. Anthony Messenger Press also offers a handy study guide for this book.  You can access this study guide by clicking here.

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, March 7, 2011

Ack! Lent is almost here!

I feel like Lent has really snuck up on me this year.  I've been waiting for it, but I'm just not ready for it.  For the past two weeks I've been meaning to put a Lent post together and this is evidence that I clearly didn't get the job done as quickly as I would have liked.

Read on to see how we will be celebrating Lent this year.

To start, the girls will be participating in Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure.  It was a hit last year and we're looking forward to doing it again.  I can't say enough good things about the amazing program they put out. Best of all it's free!  You can't argue with that.  I highly recommend signing up for the Lenten Adventure.  Not only will your kids learn a lot, you might learn a few things, too.

We will have a bean jar for the kids in the kitchen.  Anytime they perform a good deed they will place a bean in the jar.  On Easter morning the beans will be replaced with a colorful jar of yummy jelly beans.  This is a Lenten practice that motivates the girls to perform as many good deeds as they can so they can earn as many jelly beans as possible.

The Merciful Cross is a great idea that I got from Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart last year.  We tried it out last year and it was a great way for the children to learn the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.   You can see pictures of our merciful cross from last year here.

We also will be doing another sacrifice garland.  For this craft/decoration everyone in the family traces his or her hand on brown paper and cuts it out.  Then, we glue a heart cut out of red construction paper to the palm of the hand print and write our Lenten sacrifice on it.  To make a garland, I simply cut two slits in each hand cut out and string it on to a ribbon.  The above referenced post from last year also includes this craft.

To further encourage our girls to make sacrifices and to perform good deeds, we make strings of good deed beads.  These good deed beads also double as a one decade rosary.  We like to use these when we do a decade a day during the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure.  My tutorial on making your own string of good deed beads can be found here.

Lacy at Catholic Icing created a great Lenten calendar that my girls will use again this year.  I give them the option of either coloring it all at once or coloring one day at a time.  I just make sure that they color each day the proper liturgical color.  The girls get excited when they discover a solemnity on a space that they thought was going to be purple.  In the case of solemnities, we try to do something fun on those days (usually a special treat).

This year we're adding a new Lenten practice, a Jesus Tree.  I was inspired by the posts about this neat tradition that I found on Jessica's blog Shower of Roses.  In the past week, I have acquired the felt kit to make the Jesus Tree and a children's bible that contains most, if not all of the readings for each of the 47 symbols.  The kit is a lot of work, but I think it will be worth the effort.  If anyone would like me to send them the file with the patterns for the ornaments just drop me an email.  I was quite surprised when I opened the kit and saw that they ask you to copy the pattern for your reference and also to share with others.  It's not often you see something like that these days!

So how about Lenten reading?  I have a few books that are on my reading list for Lent.  Once again I will be reading Fr. Longenecker's Gargoyle Code.  It's written in the tradition of the Screwtape Letters and has an entry for every day of Lent starting with Shrove Tuesday.  It's a great read.  I'll also be delving into Magnificat's Lenten Companion.  I thoroughly enjoyed last year's version and I'm looking forward to this year's.  I recently had the opportunity to review Wondrous Encounters and The Little Way of Lent.  Both have great reflections for Lent based on the Mass readings.  Of the two, The Little Way of Lent is the one that speaks to me.  And let's be honest, there's only so much Lenten reading I can do.  I will likely rotate through the three books which reflect on the Mass readings for the day.

I'm a big fan of Busted Halo's website and their Lenten calendar.  As if their calendar alone isn't enough, you can even win prizes.  If I recall correctly, there's a daily prize, a weekly prize and a grand prize.

We also will have one of Catholic Relief Services Operation Rice Bowl collection containers sitting in our kitchen.  By following their informative Lenten calendar, you can learn about those who are living in  impoverished countries.  Most days on their calendar have interesting factoids and there are several prompts for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  You can even sign up for weekly reflections on their website (referenced above).  My girls, who simply adore putting money in collection containers, really like gathering up coins to pop in the rice bowl container.

As Lent progresses, I'll be posting some of the crafts I'll be doing with my children and the students in my religious education classes.  I simply love to do all sorts of fun crafts during Lent.  Something about Lent just inspires me to be crafty.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Small Successes-March 3rd

Celebrating the little things that add up.

Wow, it's March already?  For as long as some days in February felt, the month flew by fast.

1. After forgetting for nearly a week, I finally remembered to order the VBS program for this year.  Glad I can check that one off my list.

2. Realizing that I wasn't very prepared for Lent (Ack! It's less than a week away!) I started working on the things I'll be doing with the girls.  We're going to be doing a Jesus Tree this year, and I'm hard at work making all 47 felt decorations (with magnets, because I'm a pain).  So far it's coming along.  I have nine completely finished ornaments [too bad they're not for the first week] and 11 more that I have to assemble and stitch.  I hope to have all 47 done in the next week or so.

3. I planted the seeds for the plants I hope to grow in the Spring and Summer.

Bonus: I'm slowly but surely tackling the colossal mountain of laundry.  At this point, I think the mountain is now a hill.  These people I live with have got to stop wearing so much clothing.  I can't keep up!

We also got the girls new cleats for soccer.  And Madeline got her new shin guards.  It's nice when we remember to do the things we've been meaning to do.
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