Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: Feast Days & Holidays

I recently had the opportunity to read Joan Marie Arbogast's Feast Days & Holidays.  The book is packed with crafts, activities and kitchen fun that you can use with your children at home or in a classroom environment.

The book follows the calendar year from January through December with a nicely laid out index that organizes everything by month.  While the primary focus of this book is celebrating Catholic customs and traditions, there are several secular holidays [for both Canada and the U.S.A.] also included in this book.  For the secular holidays, I like how the faith was woven into either the explanation of the holiday or the accompanying craft or activity.

Most of the crafts in this book are ideal for children between the ages of 5 to 8.  As I paged through the book I found several crafts and activity sheets that I thought would either be perfect for my kindergarten religious education class or my old girls who are 6 and 10.

Throughout the book there are many saints featured.  I thought some of them seemed a bit obscure, when compared to similar books on this topic, but that didn't make them any less relevant.

Overall, it's a decent book if you are looking for a way to introduce your child or a religious education class to some fun hands on activities to cultivate faith formation.  While I like the book, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that it's not my favorite book on this topic, but even my favorite book doesn't cover everything.  I do particularly like that this book has plenty of reproducible pages for activities and crafts.

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 Feast Days & Holidays. This is also a great Catholic gift store for all your seasonal shopping needs, such as Christian wedding gifts and Catholic Garden Gifts.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Small Successes-June 28th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
1. I took the girls to our parish's carnival on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I managed to pull off not playing any of the games or having to buy any snacks.  Madeline and Ellie had a good time and taking them to the carnival kept their mind off Bryan being away.

2. I finally put away the Easter baskets and other related items.  I took them down to the basement ages ago, but never got around to packing them away in the utility closet.

3. I survived another one of Bryan's business trips.  This time he was gone from 5am on Monday until Noon today.  The disasters for this trip were Ellie getting kicked in the face on a carnival ride and having her good glasses bent, Katie teething and not wanting to sleep, and the girls having an uncanny knack for waking Katie just as she started to nap or go to sleep for most naps and bedtime.  I'm beat after these past few days.

4. I made it to confession last Saturday.  For some reason whenever I go these days, I wind up standing in what feels like the longest line ever.  This time I was sixth in line and got out of confession with roughly a minute to spare before Mass began.  I thought Madeline and I would only be in line for a few minutes, but alas, I was once again wrong and waited a good while.  Thankfully, Katie was calm for Bryan.  I was starting to worry at one point when I realized that I was carrying the diaper bag and Bryan was in the church with Katie and Ellie.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.

Three pretty girls hiding out in their "office" made from and well-stocked with books.  

Katie likes being pushed around in her "big red car" by her big sisters. Thanks, TicketMaster for emailing us a few weeks ago letting us know the Wiggles would be coming to town.  Because of that email, Bryan decided to google some Wiggles songs and once again we have those songs stuck in our heads.  Madeline and Ellie keep singing them to Katie.  Just when I thought the Wiggles were out of our lives for good they came back to get their songs stuck in our heads.  GAAA!
Ellie is happy with her new-to-her 20" bike. I'm happy that she doesn't look like a giant riding a tiny bike anymore.  I can't believe she's riding the same size bike as Madeline now!  It's hard to believe that she's riding the bike that Madeline just got two and a half years ago.  She's really closing the size gap between them.


Bryan traveled to Nashville for a few days this week and he entertained the girls by playing around with iChat.  The girls were laughing at all of the goofy things he did.  I'm happy that he's home again.  It's been a rough three days with a cranky teething baby.


A certain little miss is not content to take things slow.  Katie is trying to stand up on her own.  She gets her legs straight and then tries to lift a hand off the ground.  I think it won't be long until she's successfully pulling herself up and then standing on her own.  This little one is determined.  Of course, figuring out how to stand isn't all she's doing.  She's babbling up a storm and started saying bye-bye yesterday.  She also cut a corner of her first tooth (front upper left).  I wish she'd slow down.  She's growing up way too fast for me.  

round button chicken

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Small Successes- June 21st


Celebrating the little things in life that add up...

1. Our new freezer arrived last Monday, and I after several days of it running nearly empty, I took all three of the kids to four different stores in one afternoon to buy frozen food.

2.  Katie survived being away from me for about seven hours last Saturday night.  I was really worried that she wouldn't go to sleep for my parents, but she did.  I guess she only likes to give me a hard time at bedtime.  I think she just wants to spend extra time with me.

3. I planned to make a Sacred Heart cake for last Friday and I actually did it.  I think it came out pretty well considering the middle didn't actually bake and needed to be dug out and stuffed with bits of cake, oh and it survived me dropping it.

4.  I'm starting to work my way through the stack of books that I've been needing to review.  It seems I can eek out time to read, but when it comes to finding time to write up a review, that's not always easy.

5.  I ordered some of the things the girls will need for their school uniforms next year.  We are well stocked with navy knee socks and white and navy tights now!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.


 She actually smiled for a picture!  This is such a rarity these days.


I had a vision for the backdrop I wanted for VBS for the camp pictures and the closing show.  Unfortunately I lack the artistic skill to pull off what I wanted.  I remembered that our parish's youth minister paints murals and I decided to ask if she could paint what I wanted, figuring the worst that could happen would she would decline to take on the task of painting my 6x9 foot canvas drop cloth.  She said yes and two nights ago she emailed me this picture of the not yet finished backdrop that she and three of the young adult and youth group members created.  Isn't it beautiful?  I'm thrilled with how it looks.


Bryan and I went to his friend/co-worker's wedding on Saturday night.  They had this "photo booth" area set up where you could throw on some props and get your picture taken.  Don't Bryan and I look dignified?  Part of me wishes I had thought to get a picture of us without funny noses and glasses.  See what happens when I have a glass of wine?  I willingly dressed myself up like this on my first evening away from the kids in eight months!  I honestly don't know what Bryan's excuse was.


Ellie is now very confidently riding her bike.  On Father's Day she rode over five miles!  She actually biked further than her big sister which surprised Bryan and I.  Seeing how big Ellie looks on this bike I think she may need to move to a 20" bike very soon.
The following day she went for another bike ride and accidentally ran into the street sign post.  Now in her defense, some neighborhood boys have messed around with this pole until they got it to come loose so they could parade around with the street sign.  After hitting the post dead on with her front tire, the sign post is now a smidge considerably more slanted.  Fortunately Ellie walked away from the collision with no injuries.  The sign post clearly took the brunt of the impact.
round button chicken

Book Review: Pete and Repeat

A copy of Pete and Repeatshowed up at my house just as we were heading out to lunch one afternoon, so I brought it along to see what the kids thought of this "Can you spot the differences?" book.  Those of you who subscribe to St. Anthony Messenger Magazine are likely familiar with Pete and Repeat, but for those who aren't, this series is an awful lot like the comic strip pictures where you are asked to find the differences between the two pictures.

My girls had a lot of fun trying to find all eight differences found between the two pictures.  I was surprised at how engrossed they were in looking at this little pocket sized book.  The book features fifty-two of these puzzles.  Each puzzle has a little eight lined poem that goes with the picture.  The first verse changes with each picture and the second one is the same throughout the book.

The picture puzzles certainly offer a challenge for both young and old.  While my girls were able to find all of the differences on some of the puzzles, there are still many more that neither they nor my husband or I have been able to find all eight differences.  That means the girls are still coming back to this book over and over trying to find all the differences.  For people like me who get a bit frustrated when they can't figure out what's different, the book offers an answer key in the back.

What I like about this book is it's small enough to tuck inside a purse or diaper bag so that it can be pulled out to entertain children when it's needed.  The kids have enjoyed spotting the differences.  It's certainly worth getting if you can use a quiet activity book that's easily stored in a bag or your glove compartment for when you are on the go.

I was provided with a review copy of Pete and Repeatby the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Praying the Rosary for Intercession

I recently had the pleasure of reading Catherine Odell's Praying the Rosary for Intercession.  The book has a wide range of appeal for anyone who's interested in the rosary.  Whether you pray the rosary daily or are curious about this beautiful prayer, you'll find something in this book.

Aside from giving a brief history of how the rosary came to be and how to pray it, this book looks at the four sets of rosary mysteries and, in turn, each individual mystery on it's own.  The in depth look at each mystery starts with a related scripture passage which is then followed up with a thought provoking reflection, a section entitled "The Rosary in Our Lives" followed by a prayer related to this mystery along with a list of intentions to pray for.

The book as a whole really resonated with me, but I particularly enjoyed the stories found under "The Rosary in Our Lives" section.  There were just so many beautiful stories about how the rosary has transformed the lives of the people featured in these stories.  I enjoyed the stories so much that I am convinced that a book comprised of just these types of stories would be a great idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading a good book on the rosary.  I've read numerous books on the rosary and this book ranks up there with some of my favorites.

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 Praying the Rosary for Intercession . This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.

Book Review: 101 Bible Adventures

Months ago a copy of 101 Bible Adventuresshowed up on my doorstep.  The book is geared to children and features 101 Bible adventure stories.  The first sixty stories are from the Old Testament and the remaining forty one are from the New Testament.

Judging by the girls' response to this book, I'd say it's well suited to elementary school aged children (first through sixth grades).  My six year old was easily able to read several of the stories on her own.  She liked the cartoon like illustrations that accompanied each story.  My ten year old thought the stories were easy to read and liked that they could be read in a matter of minutes.  She and I both thought the book had some stories which could be used for our Jesse Tree and Jesus Tree readings during Advent and Lent.

I liked the format for each of the stories.  Each story has a "What's Up" heading that gives the reader some background information on the story about to be read.  Then the "Action Adventure" begins.  For families who will want to look up the story in their bible, the scripture reference for where you can find this story in the bible is listed.  Each story has a "key verse" section that contains another scripture reference that relates to the adventure story.  At the end of each story there is a "Now What?" box that offers further explanation.  I thought the "Now What?" feature offered plenty of opportunity for talking points to future discuss with your child.

This book could easily be used either as a bible story book for a child, or it could be used for devotional reading with your children.  During the seasons of Advent and Lent I sit with my children daily and read and discuss a bible story for the day.  With the format of a book like this, I could easily see how this could be used during the rest of the year.

The book is not a Catholic book, but I didn't see anything in it that was glaringly objectionable or our of line with Church teaching.

I was provided with a review copy of 101 Bible Adventuresby the publisher, Tyndale Kids, in exchange for my honest review.

Katie is Two Thirds!

Or eight months old if you want to count like normal people.  I have a tendency to think in terms of fractions, so often I look at how old she is in terms of how many weeks or months out of a year or just the fraction of her first year that she has completed.  Two thirds.  In less than four months I will have a one year old.  I never cease to be amazed at how quickly time slips away.

At eight months old Katie is quite the busy girl.  She began crawling about two weeks ago and since then there really has been no stopping her.

I am Katie, hear me meow!
She's trying her best to stand up on her own.  I've found her trying to pull or push herself up to standing in some unexpected places.

 Her favorite past time is pulling the diapers out of the diaper basket.  This delightful game entails Katie systematically taking the diapers out of the basket one at a time, examining it, tossing it behind her on the floor and then repeating the process.  Since she discovered how much fun diapers can be, the diapers have been a lot more rumpled.  Many of them feel like they have that lived in feel when I put them on her these days.

She loves books, too.  Leave one out and she'll quickly crawl to it so she can examine it.  A few catalogs have met their demise at the hands of Kitty Katkins, but thus far the books have suffered only one casualty--a ripped page.

Katie has a decided opinion about being photographed.  In short, she's not having it.  She will go from smiling to scowling or sticking out her tongue faster than the camera shutter on it's fastest speed once she spots the camera encroaching on her territory.  As soon as I put the camera away she always goes back to happily smiling.
Not going to smile for you, Mommy!
I can roll my tongue!  Still not going to smile.
You really need to give up, Mommy!

I call this my "pfffft!" look.  Do you like it?

Occasionally, Katie will be so happy that I am able to get a few pictures of the smiling happy baby that I get to see when I'm not behind the camera the majority of the time.

It appears that my best chances of capturing a happy Katie is when she's in her high chair waiting for food.  She loves food so there are usually lots of big smiles involved.

I wouldn't want Katie to know this, but sometimes I get some pictures that I love when she's being stubborn about me taking pictures.  While I would have loved a picture of her looking at me and smiling, I also love this profile shot of her.
I'm looking forward to what this next month brings in terms of milestones for Katie.  I have a feeling she'll pull out a few new tricks.  I'm sure we'll have lots of fun as we watch our sweet little one transition from being two thirds to three quarters of a year old!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Where I Am

I know I've been blogging a couple times a week, but for the most part I just feel like I'm never able to blog.  It's not that I have nothing to say, but rather I simply haven't been able to find the time lately.

Katie is crawling and that means she's into just about everything.  Put her down in one room and she's likely to end up twenty feet away in another room.  I feel like I'm spending a lot of time making sure that Madeline and Ellie haven't left any small toys or random objects on the floor.  Most of the time my paranoia is well founded since I'm always finding coins, legos and other miscellaneous things all over the place.  Now that the girls are home for the summer I need to do random floor searches more often.

Katie turned eight months old on Saturday.  I am determined to blog about it with some pictures of her sometime in the next day or so.

Saturday night Bryan and I attended a wedding in the historic section of Philadelphia.  The wedding took place in the courtyard area of Betsy Ross' house.  It was a beautiful wedding, and the reception was held in a really swanky place just next door.  We had a good time, but couldn't stay very late since I pretty much only had so long that I could stay before the top of my dress would likely no longer fit.  Gotta love being a nursing mom!

Saturday was the first night I wasn't home to put Katie to bed.  I'm usually ok with being away from her for a couple of hours here and there if I'm doing something, like teaching a class, or going to a meeting, but I spent a lot of time worrying about her.  We were gone for about seven hours.  I'm not sure I've ever been away from any of the girls for that long at that age.

School is out for Madeline and Ellie.  So far summer vacation is going well.  The girls are beginning to adjust to Katie's napping schedule.  During her naps I'm asking them to either play quietly, read, clean up any random messes they've made, or go outside to play.

Ellie mastered riding her bike about a week and a half ago.  Since then, she has been riding all over the neighborhood with Bryan and Madeline.  On Father's Day she rode over five miles and wanted to go further!  Bryan is pretty confident that she will be in amazing shape for soccer by the end of the summer.

Madeline seems to be enjoying the Harry Potter books.  She finally made it through the first book and passed Bryan's line of questioning about the plot.  This morning she decided to pick up the second book and has already made significant progress through it.  Her synopsis of the book, thus far, indicates that she's actually paying attention to what she's reading and that she certainly is getting into the book.

I hope as the week progresses that I'll find some time to blog and post pictures.  I have oodles of pictures that I want to share.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quick Takes Volume 40

Today is the last day of school.  Deo Gratias!  From the first to the last, just about every morning had some level of chaos.  Today was no different as the girls once again tried to leave the house in versions of clown outfits.  I still don't understand how after 180 days of school neither of them got into a morning routine.  I seriously had to remind them to eat, drink, get dressed, make their beds, pick up their dirty clothes, and hang up their bath towels every morning.  I'm looking forward to summer vacation.  Eighty-one more days until we begin this craziness again and I begin my almost daily rants that life would be infinitely better if we would just homeschool instead.  I am looking forward to uniforms and having both girls in the same school.  A single start and finish time will be nice and not having to tell the girls over and over that they're not going to school DRESSED. LIKE. THAT. [as in like a clown] will be nice, as well.
I'm using the nifty heart shaped cake panthat my parents gave me for my birthday to make a Sacred Heart cake for dessert tonight.  I'm also going to break out the awesome set of decorating tipsmy parents gave me to decorate the cake.
I'm trying to decide if I want to make a giant heartshaped chocolate chip cookie cake to celebrate the Immaculate Heart tomorrow or if I'll try making sugar cookie hearts decorated with royal icing.  I'll just have to see how the rest of the day progresses.
I was all set to make the buttercream icing while Katie naps and the cake bakes and the girls are at school when I discovered that I have just a single stick of butter.  Ugh!  Now I have to wait for the cake to bake and Katie to wake so I can run out to the store for a few pounds of butter.  I guess I used up what I thought we had when I made cookies for Madeline's class earlier this week.
This really has no real relevance to anything, but I'm always amused when I see this potato salad bucket that I've had for nearly 11 years.  I like the baseball playing potatoes.  I don't, however, like potato salad or baseball.  I store rice in the little bucket, and have fielded many questions over the years about why I have a potato salad bucket in my cabinet.  It's there simply because I like it.
I realized this morning that I have a wedding to go to tomorrow and didn't bother to get my hair done or  make sure I have everything I need for what I'm wearing.  Fortunately I was able to get them to squeeze me in tomorrow morning to get my hair cut.
The giant task of sorting the girls' outgrown clothes is nearly complete.  The basement is almost back to normal.  Hooray!
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