Thursday, July 28, 2011

Small Successes-July 28th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

First off, so I don't feel like a total loser with my current book giveaway, please check out the Imagination Station book giveaway that I'm hosting this week.  So far no one has entered so you have a really good chance of winning these books for the young reader in your life.  The books are a lot like the Magic Tree House series and I think the story line is pretty good.

1. The large pile of ironing I had to do is finished. The laundry is also nearing that same point.

2. I am closer to having all the baby gear I will need for the new baby thanks to friends who gave us some hand-me-downs and the Target baby gear clearance.  A few days ago I discovered that the particle board bottom of our adorable ten year old bassinet was once again terribly bowed.  When I got it back from a friend a couple months ago I did what I could to flatten it and I thought I had fixed the problem.  After six weeks of sitting with nothing in it, the base was worse than ever.  A quick call to the manufacturer confirmed that it was unsafe to use it in its present condition and worse, they can't order a replacement part for approximately 6 weeks.  Ugh! I can't bank on being able to get a replacement part in time for the baby's arrival so I had to seek out an alternate plan.  Thanks to the awesome baby gear clearance sale at Target, I managed to get a cute basic Graco Playard that will look nice in my family room for $35!  I'll be able to use the not as cute monkey print Graco Playard that I got at last year's Target baby clearance for $36 as the baby's bassinet in our bedroom when she's a newborn and then later it will be the playard for my mom's house.  I even scored a Fisher price bouncer seat for $16.  I left Target one happy mommy on Tuesday morning.

3. After dragging my feet a bit, I finally got around to sanding the three wooden crates I brought to replace the ones I'm taking from Ellie and the family room for the baby's room.  About six and a half years ago I hand sanded five wooden crates and stained them to match the nursery furniture.  I used two for toys and three for under the crib storage.  This time around I just need the three for under the crib storage but all of the crates are in use at the moment.  I decided to take the electric sander to the crates yesterday afternoon and just get the job done.  Now I need to paint two of the crates white for Ellie's room and stain another one to match our family room entertainment center.  I'll also need to hit the fabric store to get just the right prints for the crate liners.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Imagination Station Giveaway

Last week I reviewed books 3 and 4 of the Imagination Station series.  You can read what I have to say about Peril in the Palace and Revenge of the Red Knight by clicking on the titles.

One lucky blog reader will win both of these books, courtesy of the publisher, Tyndale House and Side Door Communications.

To enter for a chance to win these great children's books simply leave a comment.  To earn additional chances do one or all of the following:

  • Become a follower of my blog (+1 entry).  If you already follow me, just say so in the comments.
  • Like Karen in Mommyland on FaceBook (+1 entry) and leave a comment on my FaceBook page.
  • Tell other's about this giveaway on your blog (and leave the url in the comments) or FaceBook page (+2 entries)
This giveaway will close at 5PM on Monday, August 1st.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Revenge of the Red Knight

Is your young reader looking for something exciting to curl up with this summer?  If so, the Imagination Station may be just the series for him or her.  My nine year old daughter and I have had the pleasure of reviewing the first four books in this series and so far we have been pleased with the adventure and engaging storytelling packed into each book in the series.

The latest book in this series is Revenge of the Red Knight.  In this series, Patrick and Beth, the main characters of the book, are transported directly from thirteenth century China to England where they are dropped off in the middle of the War of the Roses.  While in England, the children finally meet up with the mysterious Albert, who happens to be an ancestor to Mr. Whittaker, the inventor of the Imagination Station.

As with the other books in the series the children find themselves in an action packed situation.  The story is suspenseful, mysterious and full of adventure.  Young readers will be kept on the edge of their seats as they read this book as well as the others in the series.

Both my nine year old and I liken this series to the Magic Tree House series.  Both series take the children on an adventure through time.  The storyline for the Imagination Station series is appropriate for ages 7 and up.  I'd say it's best for children in second through fourth grade.

At the end of this book, and all of the Imagination Station books, children will find an activity puzzle pertaining to the story.  They can also go online and enter the secret word for the story (found by completing the puzzle) and get a reward.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of Revenge of the Red Knight by the publisher, Tyndale House, in exchange for my honest review.

Next week I will be hosting a giveaway of books three and four of the Imagination Station series.  Check back to enter for a chance to win these great books for the young reader in your life.

Book Review: Peril in the Palace

My nine year old daughter and I recently had the opportunity to review two new books in the Imagination Station series.  One of the books was Peril in the Palace which is the third book in the series.  As with the first two books, this book did not disappoint.

The Imagination Station series takes young readers on adventure after adventure with the young main characters Beth and Patrick.  In Peril in the Palace, the children are transported by the Imagination Station to China in the year 1271 on a mission to obtain a golden tablet of Kublai Khan.  On their adventure, the children not only encounter danger and excitement, but they also help to spread the message of Christianity.

The story is filled with suspense and will certainly appeal to young readers who are fans of the Magic Tree House series of books.  Because the story has both male and female lead characters, the book will appeal to all children.

My nine year old thinks this series of books is fun even if it is below her reading level.  I would suggest this book for any young reader who is ready to foray into the world of chapter books.  The story is engaging and the print is large.  The book contains several nicely done illustrations which are spread throughout the book.

As a parent, one of the things I like the most about this series is activity at the end of the book.  The activity is a nice way to reinforce what your child has just read.  There is also an online component where children may go and enter the secret word or phrase from the book to receive a prize.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of Peril in the Palace by the publisher, Tyndale House, in exchange for my honest review.

Next week I will be hosting a giveaway of books 3 and 4 of the Imagination Station Series.  Be sure to check back for your chance to win these books.

Small Successes-July 21st


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

I've had a lot going on in the past week so my list is a little longer than usual because of that.  I'm not super mom.

1. Vacation bible school is done.  It was a ton of work, but the kids and volunteers all appeared to have a great time so it was worth it.  As of 11:30 this Monday,  when all of the decorations were finally packed away in the religious education closet at the school, I was officially done with VBS 2011.  Yay!

2. On Saturday I created a page for my blog on Facebook.  I will continue to give all the credit for me being able to do this to Cam who blogs at A Woman's Place.  If it wasn't for her incredibly simple instructions for how to do this I'd still have no idea how to create a page.

3. Yesterday I finally got around to cleaning the kitchen.  My countertops are clear of debris and random items placed their by the kids and Bryan.  I also swept and mopped the floor.  It feels so nice to have a clean kitchen.  At the moment I think that the urge to nest has to be God's gift to pregnant women with messy kids.

4. Ellie's birthday party on Sunday went well.  She had a good time swimming in the pool, playing limbo and whacking the pinata.  Bryan and I took the easy route with food and decided on pizza, chips, pretzels, crackers and cheese as the food offerings.  I didn't get any complaints so I'd say it was a good decision.

5. My mom got out of the hospital on Friday night and is now recovering nicely from her gallbladder surgery.  After four and a half
days in the hospital she's very happy to be home.

6. I managed to write up another book review.  The latest one is for the YOUCAT.  I'm hoping to have a few more reviews written before the end of this week.  While I still have a pretty hefty backlog of books and products to review, I am now hitting a point where I've read several books but haven't found the time to actually write the review.  My goal is to have the review stack whittled down to next to nothing by the time the baby arrives. That gives me less than 11 1/2 weeks (probably 9 1/2 if we go by when I've delivered both of the girls) to get the job done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tiber River Review: YOUCAT

A few months ago a fresh catechism geared to teens and young adults became available.  It's a catechism that has had a lot of hype around it.  Unlike the big green Catechism of the Catholic Church, the YOUCAT, is less intimidating and is formatted in such a way that it will appeal to the young spiritual seeker.

While the YOUCAT is certainly a truncated version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it does not water down what the Church teaches.  This catechism, which is structured in a question and answer format, nicely presents church teaching in a way that is approachable to the youth. Each question and answer also provides a reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church so one who is wanting more information on a specific topic will know where to find it.

So you're probably thinking that it's not possible that a teen or young adult is going to want to actually read this YOUCAT, right?  Maybe the whole book just sounds boring to you.  I was skeptical when I first heard about YOUCAT.  I didn't see how a catechism geared to them could be both fun and informative.  Two months ago I hesitantly purchased a YouCat for a thirteen year old girl who was being confirmed.  I wasn't sure if she'd actually read it, but I hoped that she would.  My biggest worry was that the YOUCAT would be daunting or worse, boring.  My fears were quickly calmed when the YOUCAT arrived at my house and I began to page through it.  Instantly, I was amused by the stick figure drawings that are found at the bottom of each page.  I figured, at the very least, she would like the stick figure who can be seen walking, jumping and flipping his way through the book.  (Yes, I'm actually publicly stating that I think the flip book feature of this catechism is a selling point--it's a big reason why I wanted a copy for myself.)  The catechism also has full color pictures, and the margins are loaded with relevant quotes, definitions and scripture citations that pertain to the catechism questions being discussed on the page.

This past Saturday the young lady who I gave the YOUCAT to back in May was visiting me.  The first thing she told me was she had been reading the book, but she found parts of it a little confusing.  I was thrilled to hear that she had even read it at all let alone was prompted to ask questions about it.  Her mother told me the confusion was simply prompted by the fact that the YOUCAT presented what the church teaches in a manner that is unlike anything she had been taught in her religious education classes. While the catechism is geared to youth, I do think on some level it might be a little too advanced for younger teens.  It's certainly a great jumping off point for a high school or college student who is looking to delve deeper into learning just what it is that the Church teaches.  I'm in my early thirties and I think the YOUCAT is quite appropriate for people around my age, as well.

Overall, I'm pleased with the YOUCAT.  Despite my skepticism, this catechism is actually appealing to a young audience.  It's relevant and is written in a manner that is approachable for youth and young adults.  I particularly like that it does not water down Church teaching.  It's a catechism that I think every home with a teen should have sitting on a bookshelf.  If you're still not sure about the YOUCAT, I'd suggest liking it on Facebook so you can see glimpses of what it has to offer.  I think you'll be surprised.

For more information on YOUCAT or to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

I wrote this review of the YOUCAT for the Tiber River Blogger Review program created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic store online.  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Karen in Mommyland is now on Facebook!

This morning I created a page for my blog on Facebook.  I plan on using this page as another way to share blog posts and pictures as well as random thoughts.  Feel free to "like" me on facebook.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small Successes-July 14th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I've managed to get up before 7AM for the past five days.  This isn't so much by choice but by necessity.  I've needed to be up early every day this week for VBS.  I'm tired, but I've been getting up and getting to the school very early each day.

2. I got the laundry that was piling up in my living room folded yesterday.

3. My decorating plans for the stage at VBS actually turned out well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

Madeline posing in front of the VBS beach scene on the first day.

Ellie is now six years old.

She was so excited that her sister gave her a Princess Peach DS case for her birthday that she practically squeezed the life out of Madeline.

How funny is the sad crab on this VBS craft?  As soon as I saw this I had to have a picture of it.

Is this not the strangest floral arrangement you've ever seen?  Apparently my mother-in-law thinks this is an appropriate birthday present for a six year old.  Personally, I find the arrangement a little sickening.  We recently had a falling out with her because she mistakes buying gifts with being involved in our children's lives.  This latest gift just shows that she clearly doesn't get it.  Ellie would have rather had a visit from her Gammie and nothing else than a flower arrangement stuffed with dollar bills.

She's 6!

It's hard to believe that Ellie is now six years old.  It seems like only yesterday that she was just a little baby and now she's so old she needs two hands to show you how old she is.

I think her sixth birthday will be one that stands out in memories in years to come.  Not because we did anything spectacular today, because we didn't, but because it was simply a very stressful day.  My mom wound up needing gallbladder surgery and that surgery happened this afternoon.  My mom came through the surgery with no complications and is spending another night in the hospital recovering.

Today was also day three of VBS.  Things are running very smoothly there and for that I am very grateful. At VBS we had cupcakes for snack today.  My mom spent most of Monday making them while she was in severe pain unbeknownst to me.  Today the children and volunteers ate the adorable cupcakes she made for Ellie's birthday.  Most of the classes offered prayers for my mom.  I was quite touched by that and my mom was happy to hear it in the minutes before she was moved into pre-op this afternoon.

Ellie had a very happy birthday in spite of all the stress that was looming over me.  She had a blast with her friends at VBS.  Then she came home to an interesting present from Bryan's mother.   Wanting to make sure the birthday girl was happy, we allowed her to choose what she'd like for lunch and dinner.  We had happy meals for lunch and we went out for dinner.  She was surprised when the waitress and the other servers came over to sing Happy Birthday to her.  At home we [everyone but me*] had leftover cupcakes from VBS and opened presents.  She even got a phone call from her post-surgery MomMom wishing her a happy birthday.

I certainly hope that her next birthday is less stressful.  On Sunday we will celebrate her birthday with a party.  I look forward to what I hope is a far more relaxed day.

*I have the glucose tolerance test tomorrow and while I don't have to fast (I've never done this test without having to fast for 12 hours before) I've been warned by friends that eating lots of sugary stuff before hand can skew the results thus requiring the 3hr glucose test.  I'd like very much to avoid additional bloodwork.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When it rains it pours

Please pray for my mom.  She was admitted to the ICU last night around 8PM.  She told me earlier in the day she thought she was having gallbladder issues.  Turns out she was right, but she also has an erratic heartbeat and a few other things going on.  She will need surgery to remove the gallbladder, but she has to undergo several tests before that.

I'm chugging along in the land of VBS this week, so my stress level is rather high at the moment.  I have a busy day ahead of me.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Madeline is the kind of kid who will try to drop subtle hints or comments to test the waters.  About a month or two ago she came home and made some comments about Uggs.  You know the ugly overpriced boots.  They look like something I would not want to be caught in dead or alive.  She started out by telling me she didn't like them and thought they were uncomfortable after trying on a friend's pair.  At that time I told her it was good because she wasn't getting a pair.  She seemed content with that ruling.

Fast forward to this week.  While helping me with VBS prep, she mentioned that she wanted a pair of boots.  Black leather boots to be precise.  I'm not a fan of boots to be perfectly honest.  I think of Napoleon Dynamite and his styling astronaut snow boots when I think of people wearing boots in non-snowy conditions.  I put it in the same category as people who wear socks and sandals at the same time (a HUGE faux pas in my book).  I decided I could give in and say that we could look into buying boots for school this fall.  Then she started in on her "I want Uggs" campaign.

Madeline apparently is unaware that I wrote the book on being a cheapskate.  She appears to have also missed the fact that I'm totally unimpressed by fads and buying things just because other people are.  Personally, I think buying a pair of $110 dollar shoes for a kid who will outgrow them within a year is beyond absurd.  Are these magical shoes?  Will they make her responsible?  Will they make her remember to bring her homework home?  Will they make her uber popular like she thinks they will?  The answer to each of these questions is NO.  They're a pair of overpriced, ugly shoes.  They're not magical and they won't last for more than a few months.  They do however have the ability to irritate me as I listen to Madeline pester me to purchase them.  That is not a good quality if you ask me.

Clearly sensing that I wasn't going to say yes, Madeline also decided to lobby my parents to buy them for her birthday.  I suppose she doesn't realize that I have no problem telling them not to buy something so impractical for her.  She probably also doesn't realize that my mom and dad are highly unlikely to buy something so pricey that will only get used for a short time.  She did try to reason with my mom that buying the shoes too big would work because then she'd grow into them.  She and I both pointed out that she'd wind up with blisters and would be tripping over her feet.

I honestly didn't expect to have to deal with this insanity until she was a little older.  The kid hasn't even set foot in the middle school and already she's acting like a shallow consumer driven tween.  Guess she's going to have to come to terms with wearing practical shoes that don't cost an absurd amount of money.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prayers Please

A friend of mine just sent me a message on facebook letting me know that the son of Madeline's old dance teacher drowned this past Saturday.  Her little boy shared Madeline's birthday and was just two months younger than Ellie.  I'm in total shock that this poor child's life was snuffed out so soon.  I have strong feelings about accidental drownings in pools which I will refrain from going into at this time.  Reading the news article that Bryan was able to find for me made me feel sick, angry and incredibly sad.

Please pray for Brad, his parents and his older sister Melani.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quick Takes Volume 11

I can hardly believe it's already July.  Are we really half way through the year already?  The dawning of July means I have less than ten days until vacation bible school starts.  I'm in the process of making sure I have everything in order.  Here's hoping it all goes smoothly.
The first ripened blackberry came off our blackberry bush earlier this week.  In what was probably the most ridiculous vein of thought ever, the girls and I shared a single blackberry.  Hopefully the next time we spy a ripened blackberry there will be at least three on the plant that are ready to be picked.
This week has been a busy one of home improvements and projects.  Thanks to a generous gift from my parents we got new carpet in Madeline and the baby's bedrooms.  I love how the rooms look now that the dingy 12 year old builders grade carpet from the previous owners is out of there. 
My painting and staining project for the new kitchen table and bench is complete.  The table and bench tops are now super glossy, and the legs and aprons are now white and match my old kitchen chairs.  The table and bench look so good that I'm convinced I will now have to sand down the seats of the old chairs and refinish them.  I can never just leave well enough alone, can I?  The table and bench are currently being aired out in the garage.  I want most of the polyurethane smell to vanish before I bring the table in. Plus, I also want to make sure the finish fully cures before we start torturing it with dishes and spills.  I think it goes without saying that I'm very excited about the way this project has turned out.
The baby is now moving around so much that it often looks like I have some alien being churning around in my stomach.  It's a bit unnerving to look down and see your belly moving all over the place.  I don't recall my older daughters moving around quite as much as this little one does.  As long as she doesn't start running her heel up and down my ribs like her big sister Madeline loved to do I'm ok with it.  That had to have been the worst sensation ever.
Slowly but surely I'm making my way through the pile of books and products that I have to review.  I read two books from the Imagination Station series the other night so I hope to be able to write a review for them sometime this weekend.  I'm hopeful that I can get the pile of books I still need to review down to a small handful by the end of the summer.
Can you believe I'm already far enough along in this pregnancy that I'll now be going to see the midwives every two weeks?  I for one am shocked.  I know I'm only a little more than 14 weeks away from my due date, but I'm shocked that I'm at the point where the time seems to fly.  When I went to my appointment yesterday I was delighted to find out that I won't have to fast for the glucose tolerance test that I will take at my next visit.  How awesome is that?  With the last two pregnancies I had to fast for 8-12 hours and it was torture.  I also found out that I can take Zantac or Pepcid AC for my heartburn.  Maybe now I'll be able to sleep a little better.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

I always seem to be a day late on this, but I suppose it's better than not posting at all, right?

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the very colorful Ellie sporting her new hair cut while Madeline was having her hair done.  It's not everyday you see a kid wearing a yellow dress with a purple eye patch and a blue balloon.

On Wednesday night after eating at our favorite pizza place, I mentioned to Bryan that I could really go for a funnel cake and cotton candy.  Our parish is currently hosting their annual carnival that we NEVER take the kids to despite their asking us repeatedly.  When we headed to the carnival we cautioned them that we were only going to walk around and get some snack foods.  We ended up buying a sheet of tickets and making two little girls very happy and getting some junk food.  I think it's safe to say that we'll be heading back there next year.

Watching Madeline go down the "Fun Slide" at the carnival was rather amusing.  The look on her face was well worth the two tickets for the ride.

My mom and dad came up for lunch and a swim on Saturday which totally thrilled the girls.  Here we are playing and relaxing in the pool.  You can see my round 25 week belly in this picture.
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