Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: The Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible Vol. 2

A couple months ago I was given the opportunity to read volume 1 of Tommy Nelson's Ultimate DVD Read and Share Bible.  I found some of the story placement to be a bit odd, but other than that, I thought it was a cute bible story book for small children.  Because I liked volume 1, I was very happy to be presented with the opportunity to review volume 2, as well.

Much like the first volume of this Read and Share Bible, the stories are told in a way that will be easy for very young children to understand and retain.  The illustrations are cheerful and nicely represent the stories they accompany. For every story, a scripture reference is given so you will know where you can look it up in the bible.  As with volume one of this bible, this bulk of the stories found in this volume are from the Old Testament.

The book includes two DVDs that offer cartoon versions of 26 different stories from the book.  Many of the videos cover several of the little stories.  While the cartoons aren't the greatest animation, they are still decent quality.

My biggest gripe about this book is their retelling of the Last Supper.  Just as in other Tommy Nelson books from this series that tell the story of the Last Supper, they refer to the wine as grape juice or to be more specific "juice of the grape."  It simply irritates me that they don't call it wine.  This type of translation makes me shy away from recommending it for Catholic children.

Overall it's not a bad bible story book.  I'd recommend this book for Protestant children and Sunday school teachers of little ones of preschool-kindergarten age.  I would not recommend this book for Catholic children.  However, to be completely fair, given that the book is from a non-Catholic publisher, I didn't have any expectations that this book would be completely in line with a Catholic translation of the bible.

I was provided with a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson's book reviewer program BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review: unPlanned

A couple days ago a copy of Abby Johnson's book, unPlanned, appeared in my mailbox.  I was pretty excited about it's arrival, but I was determined that reading this book would have to wait until I finished reading another book that's in my review queue.  That solid determination went out the window when I decided that I'd just read the forward and introduction while I waited in the school parking lots for my daughters that day.  Reading this book was like having an open bag of Reese peanut butter trees, hearts, or eggs (it all depends on the season) in my kitchen pantry.  Once I eat one, I typically find an excuse to go back for another, and another until suddenly they're all gone and I'm left wondering what happened to them. (In this house we call this the "Patrick Effect" parents of avid Spongebob fans will understand.)

The story is simply one you won't easily put down.  Once I decided to just sit down with the book and read a few more chapters, I was hooked.  Abby tells us in the first chapter about the pivotal moment that brought about her conversion of heart from being pro-choice to pro-life.  Then she proceeds to tells us how she got to that moment.  She paints a picture of a young naive college student who latches on to a cause that she firmly believes is dedicated to helping women.  From there we learn how she went from being a volunteer at a Planned Parenthood facility to clinic director.  After the pivotal moment in which she realized she could no longer be a party to the killing of the innocent unborn, she found her way to the Coalition for Life.

In Abby's story you'll read about how Abby justified her pro-choice mentality for the eight years she was involved with Planned Parenthood because she truly thought the organization was there to help women.  In short, you come to understand how she came to believe in the organization's propaganda.  You'll also read about how she eventually came around to being pro-life and how Planned Parenthood tried to strike back legally.

Overall, I found the story rather fascinating and I don't doubt that many will find her testimony quite powerful.  Her story will certainly help to solidify those who are pro-life in their cause to end the legal murder of the unborn, perhaps her story may even serve to change the opinions of those who are pro-choice.  I think part of what makes her story so captivating is she's able to show us what it's like to be on both sides of this highly contested issue.

Once you pick up this book you're not going to want to put it down until you've read every last word of Abby's amazing conversion story.   Abby's story is one filled with grace and courage.  If nothing else, her story gives testimony to the power of prayer and the grace of God.

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 unPlanned.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Small Successes-January 27th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. At long last, I cleaned the kitchen countertops.  In fact, I've cleaned them about 6 times in the past week. How's that for making up for lost time?

2. The laminate flooring is installed in Bryan's office.  We still need to buy, paint and install the shoe moulding, but I'm hoping that will be completed by the end of this weekend.  Since we're waiting on the moulding Bryan has not yet moved to his new man-cave dwelling.  Of course, there's no rush.

3. We put a carpet remnant that's been sitting around for 3 1/2 years to good use.  I now have a nice soft place to stand when I do laundry.  Why didn't we put a rug or something there a long time ago?  I've very grateful that I no longer have to stand on the cold, hard laundry room floor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why is this so difficult?

Why must deciding how my children should be educated be such a difficult task?

For several months, I was fairly certain that next year I'd be homeschooling the girls.  Then, doubt decided to pop in and say "Hello!"  The doubts were the usual ones I have when I start to fret about homeschooling.  Will I be screwing the girls up socially?  I don't think I will, but who knows.  Will they resent being homeschooled?  I won't know the answer to this unless I jump off the cliff and see where I land.  Can I actually do this AND keep my sanity in tact?  Honestly, I don't know the answers to any of these questions.

Last month about a week or two before Christmas I began to panic.  You see, I've been preparing the girls for the possibility of homeschooling after this year.  Madeline is on the fence.  She likes the idea, but she also likes being at school with her friends.  I can't fault her for that.  After spending six years in school (pre-K through 4th) she's used to leaving the house and being surrounded with kids her age.  One of my concerns for her is that I simply can't provide certain experiences to her in a homeschool environment that she can have at school, such as being in chorus.  I was involved in band and chorus when I was in school so I know the value of being a part of them.  I don't want to deprive my child of that.

Ellie is the one that concerns me the most.  She wants to go to school.  She doesn't want to be homeschooled.  She's even opinionated about which school she wants to attend.  Her preference is to go to the public school where Madeline currently attends.  She has friends there who she knows from the neighborhood and her current school (kids that went to preschool with her) and her past soccer teams.

I called our parish school and got on the list for a school tour last month.  We went on the tour about two weeks ago and I liked the school, but I don't know that it's what I want for the girls.  While I like that they'd be in an environment that will foster their faith, I don't like the fact that they'll be in larger classes than you'd find in our public schools.  I'm also not incredibly thrilled at the prospect of spending close to $7,000 a year on tuition.  Of course, there's a very good likelihood that the girls won't get into the school.  The current kindergarten has one more student that their max capacity, and the school won't accept one child if they don't have room for the sibling as well.  This baffles me.  Their reasoning is they assume that the parents don't want their children in different schools.  In our case that's not an issue.  If they aren't in a school for K-8 they won't be in the same school at all.  In our district, they'll never be in the same school.

In short, I simply don't know what the right decision is for our family.  I've been doing my best to discern it, but I feel like I keep going round and round on this issue.  I'm trying to put this in God's hands, but I know a decision will need to be made at some point.  I will try to register my girls at the parish school and see if they get accepted.  Once we have an answer in that area, maybe this decision will be easier.

To complicate matters, I ordered some homeschooling curricula from two companies I have been eyeing up for a while.  I'm loving the grammar books I ordered for Madeline, and I'm pleased with the reading program and math book I ordered for Ellie.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Use your best Napoleon Dynamite......

To fully understand my totally useless post, you will need to imagine my words as spoken by Napoleon Dynamite.

My lips hurt real bad.

It's been quite cold here lately.  The air is rather dry, and my poor lips are very chapped despite the fact that I have been doing my best to keep them moisturized with copious amounts of chap stick.  The girls are also in a similar state of misery.  Poor Ellie's bottom lip is cracked in two places.

I'd like some warmer weather and a bit of humidity.

Useless whining is concluded.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: A Biblical Walk Through The Mass

I have to say that I was pretty excited when I saw that Edward Sri's A Biblical Walk Through The Mass was available though The Catholic Company's book reviewer program.  The book is based on the revised translation of the Mass that will go into effect this Advent.  I can't wait for the new translation of the Mass to be implemented, so having the opportunity to read a book that explains the biblical basis of this translation made me quite happy.

I've read a few books that walk you through the Mass from start to finish and all of them, this one included, have brought to light something I hadn't ever considered in the past.  What I particularly liked about this book was how clearly the author explains each aspect of the Mass.  When it comes to the new changes in the Roman Missal, this book offers the reasons why the new translation is more faithful to the Latin.  Throughout this book, readers will learn about the Mass' biblical roots.  References to the scriptural passages that are the foundations of various portions of the mass are found throughout the text.

This book is great as stand alone reading, but it is actually part of a larger study program on the Mass.  This program consists of five 30 minute sessions on DVD, and  a workbooks for group study (A leader's guide is also available.).  I did not have the opportunity to review the DVDs or the workbooks, but I can only imagine that they would be a great addition to this book.

Those who are interested in the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal will find this book to be highly informative.  I've been excited about the new translation of the Mass since I first read it, but I know there are others out there who do not feel the same way I do.  Perhaps after reading this book, those who are unsure about the new translation will have a deeper appreciation for it.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. To find more information on A Biblical Walk Through The Mass, please visit The Catholic Company.  They are also a great source of serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Movie Review: Francis Xavier and the Samurai's Lost Treasure

My children and I recently had the pleasure of watching Francis Xavier and the Samurai's Lost Treasure.  Not knowing much about Francis Xavier, we all stood to learn something from this half hour long animated feature.

In this film we get to hear the story of Francis Xavier told by the characters St. Ignatius Loyola and the grandfather of some very interested children.  The story beings with St. Ignatius and Francis Xavier being roommates at school.  Upon first impressions, you may being to wonder why the story is about such a spoiled character, but soon enough the viewer will realize that Xavier ultimately has a change of heart and sets his sights on winning the world for Christ.

The majority of this film focuses on Xavier's adventures as a Jesuit missionary.  First he goes to India where he helps a village of pearl divers and converts them to Christianity.  Then he travels to Japan where he encounters more exciting adventures.  Xavier's faith and courage saved many whom he encountered.

My daughters liked this film but I think it will mostly appeal to boys.  There's action, adventure, pirates and samurais packed into this half hour feature.

For more information on Francis Xavier and the Samurai's Lost Treasure, visit CCC of America.  Be sure to check out their fan page on Facebook, too.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Small Successes-January 20th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I painted the baseboards in Bryan's new office this past weekend.
2. We selected flooring for Bryan's office.  A cherry finish laminate.
3. I can't remember if I mentioned it here or not, but I'm directing the vacation bible school for our parish this year.  Today I had a very productive meeting regarding it, and I'm ready to hit the ground running.  Pray that I'll be able to gather all the volunteers I'll need with little effort.

I wish I had more to blog about, but my mind is buzzing with so many ideas that I feel like there just aren't enough hours in a day to accomplish everything that's on my mind.

I'll add this last bonus success.  I managed to type this post while eating my lunch and I didn't bite myself.  Yay!  And, no, we aren't going to discuss that I have yet to clean my kitchen countertops.  We've been eating take out a lot so they're not horrible, but they're not perfect either.  There I go rationalizing away things I should have already done.  Maybe next week I'll blog about my freshly cleaned countertops.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Small Successes-January 13th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

It continually amazes me how taking a moment to sit back and think of what I might have done that was successful allows me to see some positives in what I would otherwise write off as ordinary weeks where nothing of significance appeared to have happened.

1. On Friday, I went around the basement with a paintbrush and a cup of paint touching up all the spots that were missed when I painted the other week.  Minus the baseboards, I can say that the basement and Bryan's new (still incomplete) basement office are painted.  I will work on those baseboards sometime soon.  At least that's my story.

2. I took down the Christmas decorations (interior), reorganized the boxes in which I store the Christmas, Easter and Halloween decorations, and also set aside some decorations that we no longer need that can be donated.  I also acted mildly patient and I did not harass my husband too much about putting away the big tree that we had in the family room.  It officially came down on Monday night (or was it Tuesday?).

3. While I haven't made a New Year's resolution (nor do I really intend to), I have been doing a decent job of letting the kids help me.  The success, of course, isn't that I'm allowing them to help, it's that I'm not criticizing or correcting what they're doing.  Lately Ellie has been my official dryer of cookie sheets and other cooking items that I do not put in the dishwasher.  Sure, sometimes there are a few drops of water left behind or a small puddle on the table but I can deal with that simply because I love seeing how proud she is of being my helper.  It may not seem like much, but it certainly takes a degree of restraint on my part to not step in and "fix" what she has done.  If something is still too wet, I simply put it away in such a way that it will air dry the rest of the way.  Problem solved.

I will now refrain from telling you that I have dirty kitchen countertops, a pile of laundry that needs to be washed, hair and dust filling a garden tub that we never use, and a couple of stacks of things that either need to be donated to good will or packed away in the garage.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CSN Stores Product Review Coming Soon!

Once again the folks at CSN Stores have asked me to do a product review of my choosing for their site.  In case you've missed my previous posts about CSN Stores, they are an online shopping venue that boasts over 200 stores.  Whether you're looking for Legos, new cookware, Herman Miller chairs, or a new handbag, CSN Stores is very likely to have it.  On a snowy day like today when you simply don't feel like going out to the stores to shop, CSN Stores allow you to browse from the comfort and warmth of your living room.

Sometime in the near future I'll have a product review to share here on the blog.

Movie Review: Brother Francis Let's Pray

I was recently given the opportunity to review the first episode of the Brother Francis series entitled Let's Pray.  After having watched this DVD a few times with Ellie, my five year old, I have to say that I'm quite impressed with it.

Brother Francis is a fun character who will easily elicit belly laughs from your youngster.  My daughter was instantly sucked in by the friendly basketball playing Brother Francis.  In this episode, Brother Francis teaches little ones about prayer and how we can do it anywhere.  He tells them why it's important and demonstrates why prayer should not be boring (this is where your little one is sure to laugh).

My daughter and I both enjoyed the catchy songs that were woven throughout the episode. There's a great song about the Sign of the Cross that little ones will easily latch on to.  I particularly liked this song because it doesn't just teach children how to make the Sign of the Cross, but it also tells them why it's important.  Then there is a song called "Let's Pray" that talks about how you can pray anywhere.  There's a very sweet song where the Our Father is sung.  Ordinarily I don't like when the Our Father is sung, but I wasn't bothered by this rendition at all.  I suspect that little ones who don't already know this prayer could easily learn it by watching this DVD.  And finally, the last song found on this episode is called "With God's Love."  It's a fun song about how you can do little things with God's love to change the world for the good.  The song beautifully conveys the message that you can do small tasks and please God by doing so.

As if the songs and fun natured Brother Francis weren't enough to make this DVD a hit with my daughter, there was also a portion of the episode called Stories of Saints.  In this episode of Brother Francis children learn about St. Therese the Little Flower.  St. Therese is already one of Ellie's favorite saints so this story simply delighted her.  The story of St. Therese and her little way beautifully illustrated how she did little things with great love.

My overall impression of Brother Francis is that he's sort of like the Catholic children's show version of the Backyardigans.  Like the Backyardigans, Brother Francis is that fun sort of bubbly CGI animation. Other portions of this episode are done in regular animation.  I liked the combination of the two types of animation and I think it adds a bit of interest to the show.   The music contained in this show is catchy and will certainly appeal to children.  Brother Francis was certainly a hit with my younger daughter and my nine year old also thought it was a pretty interesting show.  I think this show would be a fun little treat for religious education classes to.  I'd recommend it for preschool-1st grade classes.

This episode of Brother Francis also has a sixteen page activity guide that you can print out.  The activity guide reinforces everything that was presented in the episode.  I like how the activity guide prompts children to pray and to reflect on the lessons they learned from Brother Francis.  I found the activity guide to be a nice touch.

To learn more about Brother Francis and to view a few previews from the DVD, visit the homepage for Brother Francis.  While you're there, I'd highly recommend checking out their awesome Catholic Heroes stories.

I was provided with a review copy of Brother Francis Let's Pray by Herald Entertainment in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: Listening to God with Mother Teresa

The latest book I have had the pleasure to read is Listening to God with Mother Teresa which was compiled by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker.  This tiny book is an inspiring collection of one hundred quotes from Mother Teresa and a related piece of scripture.  The purpose of this book is actually quite simple: it serves to focus your heart and mind towards being a better follower of Christ.

At first glance this book may seem like there's nothing to it.  It's not a book that you are going to curl up next to the fireplace and read for several hours.  In fact, if you were to sit down and read this book cover to cover, you could do so in under an hour.  This isn't a book that should be read in one sitting.  The reader should consider this book like a box of fine chocolates which you want to savor.  Each quote and it's related scripture is something which you can ponder and reflect upon.  Some quotes may cut to the core and cause you to take a second look at yourself.  I paged through this book when it arrived and a few pages into the book I came across such a quote that gave me pause.  I wasn't expecting to immediately find something in this book that would resonate with me, but it did.  It may not have necessarily been what I wanted to reflect on, but it was nonetheless something of value which I could take to heart.

This simply stated book is filled with plenty of wonderful gems upon which you can gain inspiration to be a better follower of Christ.  This lovely book beautifully illustrates the deep wisdom of Blessed Mother Teresa.  This is a book which I am sure I will turn to again and again for inspiration and reflection.

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 Listening to God with Mother Teresa.  They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Have you heard about the new book unPlanned?

Over the past few days I've been noticing a fair amount of buzz about the unPlanned book by Abby Johnson.  Having seen things about this book in various places, I decided that I had to bite and find out what it was all about.  unPlanned is the story of how Abby Johnson came to leave her job at Planned Parenthood after participating in her first abortion procedure.  She is now a volunteer with Coalition for Life.  Just having read the blurb for the book as well as a few articles and reviews that discuss this book, I know I want to read more.

Knowing only what I know about this book from the snippets and reviews I have read about it online, I'm certain that this will be an interesting and most likely eye opening account.  I assume that most [if not all] of my readers are pro-life and as such know how horrible Planned Parenthood is.  I'm not sure why, but I was actually surprised that this organization tried to silence Abby Johnson after she decided to quit her job and work with pro-life organizations.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Small Successes-January 6th

Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

A lot has happened here in two weeks.  We've celebrated Christmas (all twelve days of it), we've said goodbye to a beloved member of the family, we've completed a home improvement project, we've been snowed in, and I've done a fair amount of Christmas clearance shopping.  Let's just say that I'm set with wrapping paper for a long time.

1. Our goal of having the basement finished before Thanksgiving and then Christmas failed.  Things came up, or the money for the project would wind up having to go somewhere else and the project continually got put on the back burner.  A few days after Christmas day, I misunderstood what Bryan meant when he told me the basement was ready to be primed and I primed the basement.  I took his statement to mean he was asking me to go and prime the basement when really he was just telling me that it was ready to be primed whenever.  Five hours later I discovered that he wasn't asking me to prime it immediately.  So while it was a misunderstanding, a job that needed to be done was completed.  Being that I'm the sort of person who can stop in the middle of a job and be content, we wound up going full steam ahead.  Along the way we discovered that I can't paint a ceiling to save my life.  At the same time, we also discovered that my painting ability is now good enough that I don't need to tape off the ceiling to  paint the walls. That discovery saved me a lot of time.  Taping things off is my least favorite part of painting.

2. We instituted a new Christmas tradition in our house this year.  The children now get little gifts in our Jesus manger for the twelve days of Christmas.  I discovered on Christmas Eve that one of the pit falls of me picking up little things throughout the year for the stocking is we wind up with too much stuff to put in a stocking.  I decided that instead of overloading a stocking I'd put in a few things for Christmas morning and then put the leftover items in the manger next to Jesus for the remaining days of Christmas. The kids have been absolutely delighted with this.  I think it helps them to understand that Christmas isn't just one day, but is actually a season.  Today they were delighted to find perler beads next to the manger along with a box of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Thanks Holy Heroes for hosting your awesome 12 days of Christmas promotion!  The girls are totally thrilled with their prize.)

3. I've survived an exhausting two weeks. (Poor Bryan was so exhausted from his time off that he was looking forward to going back to work.) Bryan was home from Christmas Eve until January 2nd, went to work for one day and then was home for his Grandmother's funeral.  The kids were home for a day or two longer than he was (depending on the kid).  This Christmas break was very busy and packed with plenty to do.  We hosted Christmas dinner at our house which was incredibly delicious, thereby making it a roaring success.  I managed to keep the house relatively clean despite the massive painting project in the basement that spanned a few days.  And as of now, I can officially say that I'm on top of the laundry.  I will not, however, discuss the dirty kitchen countertops that are in dire need of my attention.  You will not find me telling you about the how the evidence that we really do cook in this house is found all over the counter tops.

Monday, January 3, 2011

In Memory of Bryan's Grandmother

Bryan's grandmother passed away last Tuesday at the ripe old age of 95.  Some of my fondest memories of his grandmother are of her playing her black upright piano in the basement of her Philadelphia row home.  We could be sitting in the dining room having cookies and juice and just visiting with her and then she'd beckon us to go down into the basement with her where she'd entertain us with a lively playing of Five Foot Two.  Grandmom not only played the song, she also sang it.  I'm not entirely certain, but I think she might have made up a lyric or two for the song.  She would usually toss in the line "Has anybody seen my gal....without a shirt!"  Coming from prim and proper stock with grandparents who wouldn't say such things much less sing them it always caught me off guard.  She would also tell us stories of how her oldest great granddaughter would run up and down the basement when she played the song.  When Madeline was 15 months old, she also ran all over the basement joyfully squealing as Grandmom played Five Foot Two for us.  Ellie sadly never not to hear Grandmom play Five Foot Two.  By the time she was born the piano had been given away and even if Grandmom still had the piano at the house she still wouldn't have been able to get down the basement steps easily enough to play it.

So in memory of Grandmom, who we will bury tomorrow, I leave you with this piano rendition of Five Foot Two.  It's a pretty good version, but it's not nearly as good as the way Grandmom played it, and I'm convinced the song is much better when sung and played.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Arma Dei Review: Hand in Hand with Jesus

If you haven't ever heard of Arma Dei, they're a Catholic Apostolate that offers lots of great products to help teach the faith to children.  They have books, games and crafts that all work to orient your child's hear and mind towards God.  Hand in Hand with Jesus is a faith journal produced by Arma Dei.  I think the whole concept of this journal is pretty cool.  First off, it's actually two journals in one.  The first journal is Hand in hand with Jesus which covers catechesis on the seven Sacraments and teaching of the Catholic faith.  There are also places where you or your child can record when they celebrate a sacrament.  The second journal is called Heart to heart with Jesus and it is filled with questions that will serve to get your child thinking and reflecting on his or her relationship with Jesus.

My overall impression of this journal is that it's sort of the baby book, if you will, of your child's spiritual life.  There are places to record your family tree, milestones, reception of the Sacraments, and your child's thoughts regarding many aspects of his/her spiritual life.   The journal is filled with lots of illustrations that your child can color so he or she can really make this journal his/her own.  Because of the nature of this journal and the need to fill in your thoughts, I think it's best suited to children seven and up when it comes to the actual journaling.  I think it would make a lovely gift for a child who is preparing for his or her first reconciliation and communion.

I was impressed with the catechesis offered in this book.  There is a nice section of prayers near the beginning of this book.  I particularly appreciated that the prayers we all in their traditional form.  Too often books geared to children have more "modern" versions of traditional prayers.  I also liked that references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church are given throughout the area of the book that pose catechism questions.  An answer key to the fill in the blank questions is also provided at the end of the book.  The area of the book that discuss the Mass is nicely done and offers children a check list that will prompt them to treat the Mass reverently. The descriptions of the seven Sacraments are also very well done and are put in terms that children will easily understand and take to heart.

I think this journal is a wonderful way to help your child grow closer to Jesus and gain a deeper appreciation for our Catholic faith.  Because your child can fill in this journal with his or her unique answers to all of the questions, he or she will certainly come to treasure this special journal.

If you'd like to learn more about Hand in Hand with Jesus, please visit Arma Dei for more information.

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

Just a Smidge Mixed Up

It has become pretty obvious that I get a bit mixed up having two children in two schools with two different school calendars.  I do my best to make sure that each of the girls' half days and off days are clearly marked on the calendar.   Despite this, I still get mixed up from time to time.  Is Ellie off today, or is Madeline?  Which kid has a half day?  After four years at the same school I still get confused as to what time the day is over when there's a half day for Madeline. 

For the past week and a half I have been under the impression that Madeline was supposed to go back to school on Tuesday and Ellie was going back tomorrow.  I have been wishing it was the other way around for the past few days as I fretted about how Madeline would be missing the first day back to school because of the funeral for Bryan's grandmother.  I was preparing to email her teacher tonight to let her know that she wouldn't be back at school until Wednesday.  I was slightly relived that Ellie was going back tomorrow because it would allow me to notify the school that she wouldn't be in on Tuesday, and I could get the work she'd miss.  Imagine my surprise when I peeked at the calendar and noticed that the "No School" sticker was under Ellie's name for tomorrow.  I grabbed the school calendars and discovered that Madeline has school tomorrow.  Madeline, not wanting to go back to school just yet, neglected to tell me that the mom of one of her teammates told her this afternoon that she had school tomorrow.  I don't think she realized that I would have figured it out when I drove past her school on the way to Ellie's school.  And that's assuming that I wouldn't have seen/heard the middle school kids waiting for the bus on the corner at 7:30, and that I would have also not heard the kindergarten bus.  

This little situation just illustrates why my kids need to attend the same school.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book Review: Travelers Along the Way

When I picked up my copy of Fr. Benedict Groeschel's latest book Travelers Along the Way, I was fairly confident that I was getting ready to read a book that was certainly going to be an interesting read if nothing else.  I've read other books by him and have watched him on EWTN many times so I had no doubts that I wanted to read this book.

Travelers Along the Way is Fr. Groeschel's memoir of a men and women who shaped his life.  This book doesn't include everyone who inspired and shaped this remarkable man's life, but the handful of people he selected to write about all have something in their story to teach or inspire the reader.  There were several stories that made me laugh.  To be honest, I didn't expect that I'd be in for a few bouts of side splitting laughter when I cracked open this book.

Fr. Groeschel's memoir is one of those books that you won't want to put down once you begin to read it.  His writing style sucks you in and leaves you wanting to know what happens next thereby compelling you to turn the page and continue reading.  When I arrived at the end of the book, I found myself still wanting to read more.  As you read this book, you feel like you're listening to an old friend or family member tell you stories from his/her past.

While this book is an incredibly entertaining read, it's more than just that.  From every story there is something to be learned, or something on which you can reflect.  It also puts into perspective that what you do can affect and influence others, and when you think about your life in those terms, it makes you want to strive to be the best that you can.  I'm sure Fr. Groeschel probably knew when he wrote this memoir that it could prod those of us who read it to take a closer look at ourselves.  It's certainly a book that will lead you to take a look at yourself.

In case you haven't already guessed it, Travelers Along the Way is a book that gets my highest recommendation.

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