Friday, August 30, 2013

Quick Takes: Volume 76

We're getting read for back to school around here.  Ellie's room assignment arrived in the mail yesterday.  She has the same teacher Madeline had for third grade.  We liked her so I have every expectation that this will be a good year for Ellie.

We're plunging into the world of homeschooling for Madeline.  We registered her with Seton on Monday and all of her materials were here on Tuesday.  I figured it would be at least a few days or a week before we saw her books.
Since Tuesday afternoon I have been spending a lot of time going over the lesson plans and the books for Madeline.  I have moments where I feel like this is going to great and other moments where I start to feel overwhelmed.  Someone please tell me this is normal.
Thanks to our decision to homeschool, I don't have to set Madeline up with six or seven binders all equipped with a fully stocked pencil case and other assorted nonsense.  Not having to adhere to the middle school's supply list is definitely one of the perks of homeschooling.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being able to go to the store and buy just the supplies we really need.
I have every expectation that this time around our foray into homeschooling will work.  In fact, I'm determined to make it work.  We tried to homeschool back in January for three whole days and it was a flaming disaster.  We didn't have all of her curriculum, I had less than two days to prepare for the switch, and I think we were simply destined to crash and burn.  This time I'm prepared.  We have all of our materials, I have a plan and we're starting at the beginning of the school year.  I think starting at the beginning is crucial.
Bryan just let me know of this resource he thought might be helpful for the kids.  It's called Khan Academy.  They have math practice and video explanations of different concepts as well as practice exercises.  They have a whole host of other topics up there, too.
When I was reading through the English lesson plans for Madeline I discovered that there is more than one way to diagram a sentence. I apparently need to learn how to diagram a sentence differently from the way I learned during my middle school years.  THAT is going to be an adventure.  My strategy as of right now is to diagram them the way I learned and then translate it based off of that.  I was just going to teach Madeline the way that I know until I realized that she has two tests I have to send into Seton for grading where she has to diagram the sentence.  Sigh.  It's going to be so hard to unlearn what my grammar teacher taught.  When she taught us it was for life.  We were all warned that if she encountered us as adults we would be expected to recite certain things to her on command, like the verb to be.  I'm going to looking over my shoulder hoping Mrs. Byrnes isn't frowning at me as I approach teaching grammar from a different viewpoint. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} And so it begins...

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Despite Katie's overall dislike of having to be at her big sister's soccer game where there's loose bits of grass and I meanly force her to sit with me while her Daddy is across the field, her Madeline is on the field where she's not allowed to go and her Ellie is off playing with her friends somewhere, I managed to get this pretty picture while she took a break from being miserable.
I typically don't realize it until after I take a look at the pictures, but Madeline puts up a pretty good fight on the soccer field.

I'm sure Madeline was so happy that I didn't yell over to her and ask her to smile so I could get a nice picture of her.

This is Katie's reaction to having grass clippings on her feet, her shoes and even the wheels to the stroller.  I had to give her a baby wipe so she could clean off the stroller wheels.

See that box?  We made the decision to homeschool Madeline.  I've been spending most of my free time this week putting together her lesson plans. We're starting next week when Ellie goes back to school.  Who knows, maybe next year Ellie will join us.  But for now, I'm content with her going to our local elementary school.  She was placed in a class with Madeline's former 3rd grade teacher who we really liked.  And, she even has at least two of her friends in the class.  It should be a good year for her.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: The Queen & the Cross

I recently had the opportunity to check out a lovely new saint story book geared to primary grade school children.  The Queen & the Cross tells the legend of Saint Helen and how she went to Jerusalem to find the true cross.

The story is interesting enough to capture the attention of young children.  My toddler was happy to sit and listen to this story and look at the beautiful illustrations.  The book is ideal as a read aloud for pre-school through second grade children.  I suspect that many second and third graders could easily read this book on their own.  My eight year old had no problems reading though this book and getting to know St. Helen.

The book offers more than just the story book retelling of St. Helen.  It also has a lovely prayer at the beginning of the book and a short biography of St. Helen that parents and teachers will likely find helpful.

It's a sweet little hardcover book that is just right for young children.  I, for one, would love to see more saint stories like this geared to this age group.

I was provided with a review copy of The Queen & the Cross by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Pauline Media for more information on this book.  You can even take a peek inside the book and see the great illustrations for yourself!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Katie is just oozing cuteness today. She likes to ham it up for the camera now, too.  She's wearing one of my favorite dresses from when Madeline was little.

My mom and dad came up for a visit yesterday and surprised the big girls with rainbow looms and a set of Little People blocks for Katie.  The look on Madeline's face when my mom pulled out the rainbow looms was priceless.  Apparently Madeline had just added that to her Amazon wish list for her upcoming birthday and she was shocked that my mom had one for her.  My mom didn't even know she wanted it!  Ellie has been happily making rubber band bracelets since yesterday afternoon.

Oscar is such an opportunist!  While Katie snacks, he's camped out hoping some of those yummy fudge brownie goldfish cracker will rain down on him.

Katie was having a good time when we went out to a local Chinese/Japanese restaurant after Mass on Saturday.  She had a good time playing with the chop sticks and showing off that she can use chopsticks almost as well as the big people.  I think Bryan and our new priest are both happy to have found someone who will go out for sushi.  That works for me if it means I get to eat fried wonton a bit more frequently.  This place has the second best fried wonton I've ever had.

I spent a lot of time organizing my craft items over the past week.  I sent a lot of stuff to new homes and I was able to clear the area in front of the shelves where previously we couldn't exactly walk.  I know this still looks a bit messy but it's a vast improvement on how it looked a week ago.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment and check out the pictures of Pippo's sweet newborn sister!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review: The Miraculous Medal

When a copy of Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's The Miraculous Medal showed up in my mailbox I tossed aside the other books I was reading and delved into this book.  I love to read books about our Blessed Mother and I simply couldn't move this book into a pile of books waiting to be read when I wanted to read it now.  Outside of the story of how the Miraculous Medal came to be, I really didn't know what I was going to find inside. And no, I really didn't even bother to flip the book over to read the synopsis on the back of the book.

The Miraculous Medal is just one of those books that I simply didn't want to put down.  The book begins with the story of Saint Catherine Laboure.  Donna-Marie does a beautiful job of retelling St. Catherine's story, Our Lady's apparitions to her, and the origins of the Miraculous Medal including the many miracles associated with the medals once they had been struck and distributed.

A good portion of this book relates to modern day miracles associated with the Miraculous Medals.  Donna-Marie tells us the story of how she came to be friends with Blessed Teresa of Calucutta and how the Miraculous medal was a conduit to that friendship.  From that friendship with Mother Teresa, Donna-Marie was inspired to start giving blessed Miraculous Medals to those she met.  Throughout the remainder of the book, she relates the stories of how these Miraculous Medals have worked in the lives of those who have received them as well as how they have affected her.  

The end of this book focuses on devotions to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and contains prayers, and novenas.  Of particular interest to me, this chapter had the Miraculous Medal novena.  After reading this book, this particular novena which our parish prays every Wednesday that had previously been a stumbling block to me, became a devotion which I now embrace.  I suppose you could say all it took was reading this book to win me over.  I had written only a week or two before this book arrived about how I couldn't get into praying this novena and then this book was in my hands and my perspective had shifted.

I'd certainly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about the Miraculous Medal.  I know for me the book definitely made an impact.

I was provided with a review copy of The Miraculous Medal by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  You can take a peek inside this book at Amazon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: The Catholic Prayer Book

A few months back I reviewed the paper back version of  The Catholic Prayer Book and while I liked it, my chief complaint that it wasn't exactly made for the long haul.  I recently had the opportunity to review the leatherette bound version of this prayer book and I find this version to be more to my liking.  In terms of content the book is exactly the same, just in a better format.  

The book is set up in an easy to use format.  The prayers are categorized according to type or specific situations.  Many of the prayers have a modern feel to them, but there are several that are more traditional or old-fashioned feeling.  Several of the prayers contained in this book are the same or are a variation of the ones found in my pre-Vatican II prayer books.  There are plenty of new prayers in this book as well.  Something that stands out to me about this book is the source of the prayer is noted for many of the prayers.

I was surprised at just how much is packed into this prayer book.  While some of my pre-Vatican II prayer books have a lot to offer, in some ways they're limited.  I'd say this book is close to being a modern version of Blessed Be God.  As such, I think this prayer book would be an excellent confirmation gift.  It's also great for someone who is going through RCIA.  You even have the option of personalizing this prayer book at The Catholic Company.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Catholic Prayer Book. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oh What A Week!

This week really started off well.  I knew it was going to be a bit hectic, but I didn't think it was going to be anything I couldn't handle.  But, really who looks at their weekly planner and sees lots of blanks and thinks "Hey, this is going to be one of those weeks where I feel like I can't win!"  Not me.  I see a week that doesn't look over scheduled and I think I'm going to have a relatively enjoyable week.

Tuesday is when my week started to go south.  I'm the sort of person who seriously dislikes arriving late.  So I was annoyed when Elisabeth was jeopardizing my arriving to Mass on time.  Add to that that it was raining lightly, which makes me want to leave the house even earlier.  Once we pulled into the parking lot the rain started coming down a little harder and there was lightening.  Getting struck by lightening is NEVER on my to-do list.  But I still wasn’t deterred.

After dodging heavier rain and loads more lightening on our way back to the car after Mass, I did what every good Catholic does and I tried to get out of the parking lot as fast as I could.  Only my car wouldn’t start.  Sigh.  Lucky for me, Bryan was working from home that day so he was able to come and get us.  He wanted to jump the car, but getting struck by lightening is pretty high on his things not to-do list.  So after taking a quick look under the hood in the downpour, he got back in the car and informed me that I had a lot of corrosion on my battery.  Fun!  Four hours later my car started up without needing a jump, but it didn’t sound right.  This is where the week started to take a less than favorable turn.

Bryan didn’t want to leave me for three days with no working car, and we didn’t have the time to get my van repaired.  So we came to the decision that I would have to get up with him shortly after 5AM and drive him to the airport.  I’m telling you, my martyrdom crown is on it’s way.

In order to get myself together and out of the house by the ungodly time of 5:30AM, I had to shower the night before.  Showering when I came back from dropping him off wasn’t an option since I had to take the girls to Mass shortly after getting home so they could go to the youth group breakfast afterwards.  This is one of those instances where I can claim that my Mom of the Year award must be lost in the mail. (I’ve given up hope of getting any awards for my humility.)  So back to the shower.  It was cold at first and then polar bear ice cold.  Guess what?  The pilot went out on our hot water heater and since Bryan can’t smell, he couldn’t light it until I got out of the shower and confirmed that I didn’t smell gas.  Cold shower, car that broke down, getting up at 5AM.  Yep, I’m getting that martyrdom crown! 

Dropping Bryan off went well.  I was home before any of the girls woke up.  It was probably Madeline’s easiest babysitting job to date, and I’m sure our babysitter across the street was happy she didn’t get a call from Madeline.  I was convinced by around noon on Wednesday that everything was going to go well for the rest of the week.  I just knew that it would.

Of course, that wasn’t the case.  Madeline was scheduled to altar serve for the 4PM vigil Mass for the Assumption.  It didn’t hit me until around 2PM that I was taking Katie to Mass twice in one day.  Bound and determined to eliminate any chance of meltdowns, I made sure I had Cheerios for her as a last resort, pacifiers and a sippy cup since I knew she’d be thirsty after her nap.  Oh, and since Madeline had soccer camp starting at 6PM we needed to do some super quick turnaround to get her fed, dressed for soccer and out the door by 5:30.  So all that awesome planning to keep Katie calm had one pretty big flaw.  I left the all-important sippy cup on the kitchen table.  And since I didn’t have my car, I had no way of grabbing any sort of backup for her like a bottle of water.  Somehow we made it through Mass with no meltdowns.  I spent plenty of time praying that she wouldn’t lose it as she rummaged through my bag looking for her cup.

Once the girls were in bed I felt like I had made it through a marathon day.  Oscar and I crashed in the family room.  I put on a movie after taking to Bryan and woke up to find that it was nearly 3:30AM.  Ugh!

I was hopeful when I finally made it up to my bed that I’d get to stay there until at least 7 or 7:30.  We didn’t have to go to Mass this morning since we went the night before and we didn’t have anything on our schedule until 6PM.  What could go wrong?  Well, for starters, someone could put her alarm clock on for 6:30AM which in turn could wake up Katie.  I stayed in bed hoping she’d go back to sleep, which I thought she did.  Fifteen minutes later I heard the alarm again followed by the baby.  A few minutes later Madeline who went in to get Katie was yelling for me to come quick.  We had a poopy disaster complete with a poo covered pacifier.

To say that I had a royally crappy start to my day would be a huge understatement.  Katie’s bedding had to be stripped, her crib had to be cleaned and she needed a bath.  All this before 7AM.   On the bright side, I became very grateful that Madeline had to serve the 4PM Mass.  I don’t know that we would have made the 8AM Mass this morning with our less than stellar circumstances.

The day seemed like it was looking up when I was able to get my friend’s husband to drive the van over to the dealership for service.  Both Bryan and my father-in-law didn’t want me driving the van in case it was the alternator so I needed someone who would know what to do if the car died to drive it.  A few short hours later, the car was ready.  Thankfully it was just the battery and another part that needed to be replaced.  A friend was able to take me over to get the van while Madeline stayed home with a napping Katie with yet another neighbor on emergency stand-by.

I was feeling pretty good about things looking up when I got home.  That’s when Madeline started yelling for me.  Katie was up and it was another poo incident.  This one wasn’t as bad as the morning one but it was bad enough to warrant bath number two in 9 hours.  Sigh.

I figured by 4:30 things that we were close to the end of the day.  Just four and a half hours to go until the kids would all be in bed.  What could go wrong?  Have you noticed that I stupidly keep assuring myself that I must be in the clear?  Well, you know this isn’t going to end well, right? 

I sent Madeline out to snip a few basil leaves so I could get dinner started.  Then out of nowhere I hear Katie screaming and Ellie is frantically telling me that she’s hurt.  We have no idea what she touched, but she sliced off a thin layer of skin on two fingers.  One of them was bleeding a little but neither of them look great.  So I did my best to patch her up and amazingly, I didn’t freak out.  Calmly handling hurt children is not my forte.  Katie spent most of the evening fixating on her band aids.

At this point I’m spent.  I just need to make it through the next fifteen hours or so and God willing, Bryan will be home from his trip and our little world will hopefully go back to normal.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Madeline has had soccer camp every night this week.  I took this picture because I thought she looked like she was dressed in Christmas colors, but I think she looks very pretty in this pictures.  She's looking very grown up these days.


Monday after Mass Katie was given a gift bag with these tap shoes by the mother of a little girl who passed away this February.  Her daughter got them for her second birthday and sadly never got to wear them.  Please say a prayer for her mom and dad who miss her terribly.  Every time Katie wears something that was handed down to us by this couple I find myself praying for them throughout the day.

Once we got home Katie insisted on wearing these shoes all day.  As soon as we came home from Mass she needed these on her feet.  She's just thrilled to have these tap shoes and you can tell by the way she acts that they make her feel very special.  

Look at this little goofball hamming it up for the camera.  On Friday, Madeline was altar serving for a quinceanera.  Katie and I sat outside for a little bit by the statues while we waited for Madeline.  I sat on a bench while Katie played around this little garden and posed for a picture with her bag of goldfish crackers.

It's always fun to watch Katie interact with Bryan on FaceTime while he's away.  This morning she tried feeding him Cheerios.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What I Wore Sunday

Me: White eyelet headband (kids department at Target from several years ago),  navy blue crochet detailed tee from Coldwater Creek (last year), super awesome pleated white skirt from Ann Taylor Loft final sale rack, and amazingly comfy old lady sandals that I hope don't look like old lady shoes from Kohls.  
Katie: Dress from Gymboree, bow from Target's impulse rack, shoes from Payless.

I've been wanting to wear this skirt since I picked it up a few weeks ago but I didn't have any shoes to go with it.  So I headed to Kohls on Saturday with the younger girls in tow while Bryan was at a class to get a soccer coaching license.  Ellie and I endured nearly 90 minutes of cranky toddler but I managed to get a pair of shoes that didn't aggravate my foot and some new pants and tops that I can wear to Mass and to teach my classes on Sunday mornings.  I love Kohls 30% off coupons!

Yesterday our bishop came to our parish to celebrate Mass.  Our diocese now has two more men entering the seminary and this Mass included a blessing for each of them.  The benefit of going to this Mass was we had all three of the girls sitting with us for Mass since the seminarians were the altar servers.  Which reminded us exactly why Madeline always goes back to altar serve.  You can't bicker with your sister when she's not sitting next to you at Mass.  The did stop the bickering before Mass began and it didn't last more than a few minutes before I put an end to it.

Despite being a Mass at lunchtime Katie did pretty well.  We fed her lunch before we left for Mass so she wouldn't completely melt down while we were there.  She was quieter than I thought she was going to be and I was surprised that she didn't get too antsy considering the Mass was longer than usual.

Visit Fine Linen and Purple for more What I Wore Sunday posts.

Book Review: Raising God-First Kids In A Me-First World

When it comes to parenting our children, I think it's safe to say that there isn't a one size fits all approach to raising good kids.  Oftentimes with parenting books, you get the impression that the author's take on parenting is to do it their way or your kids are doomed to turn out badly.  I'm not a fan of those sorts of books.  And really, that's part of why I'm not exactly into reading parenting books.  That said, I was interested in reading Barbara Curtis' Raising God-First Kids in a Me-First World because the title intrigued me.  As with any parenting book, I didn't know when I cracked it open whether it would be one that would resonate with me or if it would make me want to toss it aside.  I'm happy to report that I found the book to be well worth my time.

Barbara's approach to parenting closely mirrors my own in many regards, particularly in limiting media exposure.  I'm that parent who restricts all of the TV programming that I feel has the sole purpose of inculcating the values of consumerism and self-centered shallowness that seems to be the trend of today's me-first culture.  So when I read her chapters mastering the media and consumer proofing your children, I felt that a key area of my parenting style was being affirmed.  Honestly, I don't really need anyone to affirm our parenting decisions, but it is nice to read the words of a seasoned mother of 12 who has raised children to adulthood confirming that we're on the right track.

From the title of this book you might wonder if this book is going to be pushing religion down your throat at the turn of every page.  The book didn't come across that way to me (I have read others that have).  There is plenty of talk of how their faith has played a role in their parenting decisions and throughout the book as she relates stories from their adventures in parenting she references those instances in which they felt the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

What I appreciated most about this book is the author's acknowledgement that what worked for her family may not, in fact, work for your family or even for every child.  She encourages the reader to be flexible in those situations and adapt your parenting to the individual and cautions against rigid one size fits all forms of parenting.

Overall, I found the advice in this book to be very sound.  If you're not sure where to begin with regards to shifting your children from the worldly me-first mentality to a having a God-first mindset, this book would be a good jumping off point.   Barbra presents her advice in a way that does not come across as preachy or judgmental.  Throughout her book she gives plenty of backstory for her own journey in parenting, including her amazing conversion story.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books in exchange for my honest review.   You can see inside this book at Amazon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Quick Takes: Volume 75


We're back in the realm of fall soccer and I have to say that it really sucks.  And what's worse is we aren't even fully immersed in it.  On Saturday, Bryan and Madeline went on the team bike ride that officially kicked off the soccer training.  Then practices began on Tuesday.  So we're now looking at practices every Tuesday and Thursday from now until a week or two before Thanksgiving.  That means about 2 1/2 hours each practice night of Katie being very upset that people are missing.  It's exhausting.  This week has been particularly rough since Bryan has had other soccer obligations since he's a member of the board.  Tonight and most of tomorrow he has a coaches' licensing class that he has to attend so six out of eight days (I'm counting tomorrow) are consumed with soccer.  And we haven't even gotten to the point where Ellie has practices.  I feel like soccer has taken over our lives but Bryan keeps assuring me that it hasn't.  Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say that soccer has taken over my husband's life.
At the youth group breakfast after Mass on Wednesday I met another "normal" homeschooling family with a child around Ellie's age and another one close in age to Katie.  It's funny because the person who introduced us told me that she gets that homeschool vibe from me but she figured I just wasn't there yet.  I still firmly believe that homeschooling is the right choice for my girls.  I just need to get Bryan and the girls on board.  Bryan has been talking about it as an option for Madeline for high school.  And our plan is to homeschool Katie.  I suppose technically I will start homeschooling her for pre-school next year when she turns three.

Have I mentioned how much I like Lysol and Pledge wipes?  I managed to go room by room a few weeks ago and deep clean the house.  Now I'm using the Pledge and Lysol wipes and the house is staying nice and clean.  I can't tell you how happy I am now that I've conquered the dust.  My kitchen counter tops are so nice and clean, too.  I previously thought these items were a huge waste of money for people who were too lazy to use paper towels or dust rags to clean.  Now I see them as amazing inventions that even the kids are willing to use to help with cleaning.  It's worth about $10-15 a month in cleaning wipes to have a nice clean home.  I feel a lot less stressed about cleaning now.  
Katie seems to be fascinated with trying on Bryan's shoes.  It's funny to watch her grab his shoes and hop up on the couch to put them on.  Actually, that's not all she's been trying on lately.  She's been putting on the girls shirts and bottoms when she's "helping" me fold the laundry.  She's a funny little girl.
Did any of you watch that Megalodon special on Discovery Channel's Shark Week?  I fell asleep during it and then woke up on the couch at the same place where I fell asleep several hours later.  Then I decided to record it so we could watch it later.  After we watched it we found out a day later that it was a fake documentary.  Bryan thought he saw something flash up on the screen at the end but he figured he saw incorrectly.  I'm annoyed that Discovery Channel wasted two hours of my time.  Bryan really dislikes those fake documentaries like the Walking With Dinosaurs type of shows, so we typically don't watch the fabricated ones.  
How cute is this child?  So she picked up Madeline's flute and is trying to hold it but her little arms are too short to reach the keys.  And when she does get to the keys her mouth can't reach the mouthpiece.  But that doesn't stop her.  She just pretends to play the flute and make her own flute sounds.  
Can I call these quick takes when I spent nearly four hours from start to finish?  So many distractions but they were all for good causes so no worries!

The Things They Say

Sometimes my girls come out with some things that are just off the wall or incredibly funny.  We can go days or weeks without one of these little gems and then out of nowhere we might get a two or three in rapid succession.

Last night before heading out to Madeline's soccer practice and a very long board meeting for the soccer club, Bryan was playing with Oscar.  He had the dog submit to him and Madeline made some comment asking why Oscar gets on his back and shows his belly.  Bryan explained that it was because he's the dog's master and Oscar was submitting to him.  I can't recall what exactly Madeline said to him after that, but she followed up with something along the lines of asking him if I get on my back and show him my belly to submit to him.  It was one of those moments where I swear time stood still.  Bryan asked why she was asking that and she made some comment about him being the "master of the house.", Madeline, your father doesn't ask me to submit to him the way the dog does.  Did you really ask that question?  Were you serious?   I don't chew on my hind quarters either in case you wanted to know.  So odd.  There is certainly a difference between a dog submitting to his master and a wife submitting to her husband.

After we left Mass this morning Madeline was talking about Shark Week.  Somehow Ellie started asking whether or not fish have teeth because she didn't understand how fish hooks worked.  So we're discussing that and it segued into a discussion of fish stinking.  That's when Ellie tells us that on the shark show she and Madeline watched the other day they were talking about ex-stinking some fish and she was wondering why.  She thought they were essentially trying to de-odorize certain types of fish and didn't realize that they were talking about them going extinct.  Madeline and I thought it was pretty funny.  Personally, I think it would be great if they could find a way to ex-stink marine life.  I'm not a fan of smelly fish.

So there you have it. Two oddly funny conversations in less than 24 hours.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Take a moment and ooh and aah over Ellie's neat room with me. 
Are you done?  Good.  Let me tell you a short little story about how her room came to be pretty neat.  Last Thursday after sending her to her room four, yes, FOUR 1, 2, 3, 4, times to clean her room and each time her room was more atrocious than the last I got pretty irate.  Mom's gone crazy and broke out the drum liner sized trash bags irate. Ellie went to the Phillie's game with Madeline and her Daddy and I went to work. Bryan told me not to clean her room, so I did as he asked and decided to toss some of the trash I found in her room and then went to the basement where I went nuts tossing things that my children can't be bothered to put away.  Problem solved!

Anyway, let's get back to Ellie's room.  On Friday morning when I came home from Mass she was still "cleaning" her room and I decided that I had to get involved.  So I came back with the trash bag and two laundry baskets.  All of the stuffed animals that are really good at hiding clean and dirty clothing were deported.  The Little People toys that have sat on her wall shelves her entire life were removed and a big ol' bag o' trash was removed from her room.  I then put her American Girl dolls and the select few stuffed animals that were granted diplomatic immunity up on the out of her reach wall shelves.  I helped her organize the room and I'm happy to say that six whole days later her room is still as neat as what you see in the pictures above.  It's a miracle.

I think the threat of the trash bag's second coming, which I have warned her is something she needs to be ready for because she will not know the hour or day on which it will happen, has motivated her to keep the room neat.  I go in her room a couple times a day now to make sure the drawers, under her bed, and the closet are as they should be.  She knows that when the trash bag comes again I will not discern between trash and treasure.  

Madeline's room has not been cleaned by me but she's aware that the trash bag is coming and anything not in it's proper place will take a trip to the trash when it comes.  Be alert, Madeline!

Before Bryan had to go over to the soccer club to do registrations and fundraiser ticket distribution last night we played a few rounds of Bananagrams.  Once he left the girls started breaking out other games which haven't seen the light of day in ages.  I suspect it's because I mentioned to Bryan that I was going to get rid of some of the games since they never get used. (They clearly took that as a sign of the second coming of the trash bag.)  The girls spent the next two hours playing games and GETTING ALONG!  That left Katie and I to read stories and watch Disney movies.  I was very happy to see the girls getting along and playing games even if some of the games like the ones in this picture are for the ages 3 and up set.

For years Ellie's wall shelf was decorated with a few special baby outfits and dress up clothes.  I took them down on Friday because I realized they encouraged her to hang what ever she didn't feel like hanging up in the closet on the brackets, too.  I washed all of the too small for Ellie clothes and was getting ready to put them in the hand me down boxes when I found Katie stuffing herself into a pair of 3-6 month pants.  She was proud of her self for getting the pants right but she was a bit frustrated that she couldn't pull them up all the way.  She's such a silly little person.

We're going for the asymmetrical look.  It's the latest trend in rough house chic.

As we ahem, Bryan and Madeline were preparing dinner last night and I was just standing there talking to Bryan we heard a loud crash in the living room where Ellie and Katie were playing.  I rushed into the room to find my curtain rod ripped out of the wall on one side.  I honestly don't know what happened.  Ellie tells me that Katie did it by hiding in the curtains and pulling on them.  Who knows? I do know that Ellie pulled the pantry door off once upon a time.  This looked an awful lot like her handiwork.  I suppose it's possible that I have a little Wreck-it-Ralph on my hands now.  Would you believe that the screws were ripped out of a stud?  We discovered that this morning when Bryan went to put sinkers in the wall so we could hang the curtain rod.  Never a dull moment around here!  And the curtains?  I haven't even bothered to look at them to see if they're still intact.  I won't be surprised if they got ripped in the process.  
I will say that I successfully managed to not yell at anyone for ripping the curtain rod clear off the wall. I just recalled what Fr. M. had said to me at the youth group breakfast that morning about how the kids still don't have fully developed frontal lobes.  So we'll chalk this up to them not having fully developed brains.  Perhaps that little bit of information will be the key to me being more patient.

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment and a pictures of Deirdre's sweet little newborn girl.

Theme Thursday: Statues

I realized as I went through some of my older pictures that I still haven't gotten around to blogging about Ellie's first reconciliation.  It's hard to believe that it's been over six months since that day.  Maybe I'll get to it soon so I can stop feeling like I dropped the ball.  So here's a picture of her just before the first reconciliation service began.  The statue of Mary behind Ellie that you can't see all that well because I brought the wrong lens with me to the church is very pretty.  I wish I could get a small version of it for my house.

And I might as well toss in a picture of the lovely little statue that sits on my dining room table.  I really like the detail on it.  And surprisingly a certain toddler leaves it alone although she will sit and look at it.  

Visit Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Silly Seat Stealer

Over the past few days Katie has developed a new habit of seat stealing.  She could be perfectly happy and content right where she's sitting but if Madeline or Ellie gets up from their seat on the couch to do something Katie will bolt to where her big sister was sitting and occupy the spot.  She's particularly funny because she gets this goofy little look on her face and tries to act like she has no idea why they're expecting her to move for them when they come back to the seat.  Then she starts smiling or laughing at them.  Of course, if they move her she freaks out on them and gets quite upset.  Apparently she's honing her annoying little sister skills.  I have to say that she's quite good at it.

I do think it's funny that she's going out of her way to be a pest.  Being a pesty younger sister myself, I know how much fun it can be to irritate your big siblings.  I am surprised that the irritating little sister antics start so early, though.  She certainly has a sense of humor though.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review: The Sign of the Cross

I spent a few months engulfed in St. Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life not too long ago and I was struck at how well his writing resonated with me.  I found him incredibly easy to read when compared to St. Ignatius Loyola or St. Augustine and his approach seems very down to earth and approachable.  When I was presented with an opportunity to read his apologetic treatise The Sign of the Cross I was eager to read it.

St. Francis De Sales penned The Sign of the Cross in an attempt to bring the Calvinists back to the Church.  His treatise is a response to the Calvinist Antoine de la Faye.  In this book, St. Francis beautifully explains the origins of the Sign of the Cross and defends the practice of this powerful prayer.  His explanation is such that you can't read this book without coming away with a deeper appreciation for this incredibly powerful prayer that I'm sure many of us take for granted as something that we just do as Catholics.

As a convert to Catholicism, I think this book is an amazing apologetic work.  Protestants don't make the Sign of the Cross when they pray.  And just like the Calvinists that St. Francis addresses in this treatise, many modern day protestants put forth the same arguments they did.  St. Francis beautifully lays it out there and explains the importance of this prayer in a way that I'm sure still has the power to draw our separated Christian brethren to the Catholic Church.  Throughout the book he references several of the church Fathers.  He masterfully weaves quotes from the likes of St. Augustine and St John Chrysostom to further bolster his defense of the Sign of the Cross.

This book absolutely gets my recommendation.  Once I started reading it I didn't want to put it down.  Its a book that I'm sure I'll come back to again and again.  

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Katie was just beaming once she got to try on the pretty pink dress she discovered in the laundry pile.


Katie was the picture of pure joy as she ran around the house celebrating the pretty pink dress she pulled out of the laundry pile.  I know my dear friend Kelly has a hard time parting with her little princess' clothes but I hope she knows how much Katie loves them.  We truly appreciate all the lovely little outfits that get passed on to us.

This is what happens when you decide to accessorize with your big sister's goggles and headband.

I like how it looks like Ellie has water shooting out of her fingers in this picture.  

Bryan was doing a little soccer training session for the older girls and one of Madeline's teammates on Sunday.  While I was outside taking pictures we discovered that Katie has learned how to do a throw in.  Bryan's impressed by how well she can throw the ball and we both noticed that she has pretty good form.  She steps into it just like the big girls.  I think we might have a little soccer player on our hands.  She's not bad at dribbling either!

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment.

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