Friday, September 27, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Bryan and the girls picked all of the tomatoes on Sunday.  We had to wrap most of them and put them in boxes.  And even though it looks like we only had a few red ones, we managed to get several bags of diced tomatoes from them to freeze for later.  I'd say it was a pretty good end of season haul.

I can't tell you how happy I am that we have corn muffins in the house.  I've been wanting these for a few days.  The first day I went to the pantry to grab a box of corn muffin mix certain that we had some only to walk away from the pantry feeling very perplexed.  I realized the following day that I must have donated the boxes I knew we had to the church food pantry.  So yesterday I went to Wal-Mart after dropping Madeline off at soccer practice.  Would you believe that they didn't have a single box of corn muffin mix of any brand in the store?  I know!  Total craziness!  If any store should have had corn muffin mix I would have guessed Wal-Mart.  Aren't they a southern-origin store?  I thought corn bread was a southern staple.  Maybe I'm wrong.  So after walking out of Wal-Mart feeling crestfallen (Thank you, this week's lesson from Seton Vocaularly 7.) and almost in tears, I was determined that today I would have corn muffins.  Target had what I needed.  In fact, they had the brand I grew up using and two others so I brought two different types.  Look at me branching out and trying new things.  I will cry if I discover that we're out of strawberry preserves.  I didn't remember to look for it in the pantry before going shopping.

A few days ago when I realized that we were running out of lots of different household necessities and food, I took Ellie and Katie to Target to get some shopping done.  Ellie asked if we could look at the Halloween stuff, and the books and the girly Legos, and a million other things, and me, feeling like a super-awesome mom said sure since I figured the alternative would be me going home and laying on the couch feeling like I'm going to die.  So Ellie decided that she wanted to try on some foam wigs and asked me to snap some pictures.  This one is my favorite.  

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hidden Productivity

The past several weeks I've been exhausted.  It's the kind of exhaustion where I'm too tired even to read anything that has chapters.  And considering that I love to read and spend a fair chunk of my precious little free time with a book in hand, it's something that it hard for me to accept being unable to do.

My kitchen is a mess.  Should I take a few minutes to clear some of the mess away, I find when I go back into the kitchen that the small progress I have made was for naught as a bigger mess than the original one is now in its place.  I suspect that goes with the territory of homeschooling one of my children and having a husband home five days a week.  It's like shoveling a walkway in a blizzard.  Flat out pointless.

And the laundry, sigh.  I'm pretty sure Bryan is close to having no clean clothes that he can wear to the office.  Somehow Ellie manages to have clean clothes for school and I've been hacking together outfits for the baby.  I'm not sure what Madeline is wearing, but it doesn't matter since she's home, right?  Me, I just grab whatever seems to fit right.

Somehow we're managing to survive on the food we have around the house.  Just yesterday the dinner I planned to make was derailed at the last minute when we discovered that we had just enough angel hair pasta for one child instead of a family of five.  So Bryan, who we can call "my hero," saved the day by speedily dialing for a pizza.

Can I tell you just how amazingly grateful I am for God's marvelous culinary gift of the pizza?  Oh Pizza, if I had any ability to write poetry I'd slap together an ode to you!  While many other items in the pantry make me want to curl up in a dark corner of the house and hide for weeks, you are there for me.

Ah, a cool dark corner.  I would be so grateful to have some nice cool overcast days.  For some reason the sun seems to be beaming into the back of my house with an intensity that makes me feel like we're under a magnifying glass.  Ordinarily I like to let the sunlight pour into the back rooms but lately I've been trying unsuccessfully to keep it out.  It's odd, but I never realized just how hot the back of our hose gets from the sun.  I seriously feel like I'm living in a green house.

Despite my present dislike of the sun and the warmth it brings, my lack of energy to get the house in order, and our being forced to forage for food because I have not visited a grocery store in who knows how long, I am, in fact, being productive.  You just can't see it.  Much like my broken toe that is mending itself, I hope.

I have a tendency to always push, push, push myself even when I'm exhausted.  Rest, is something that I usually say I'll do when I die.  Of course, a couple months ago I thought about that and realized even then I probably wouldn't rest.  Should I find myself in the blessed company of the saints some day, I imagine that I'll busily spend my eternity interceding for others.  So I've decided that maybe it's smart to slow down once in a while and get some rest when it's clearly needed.  I have a toe that needs to heal and my present exhaustion is yet another sign that rest is what my body needs right now.  So I'm doing my best to catch naps when possible and to just rest when I can.  I keep telling myself that eventually normal order will be restored.

Book Review: Thirsting for God

A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Thirsting for God.  The book is a collection of daily meditations taken from the writings of Mother Teresa.  When it comes to daily meditation books such as this I find that they can be hit or miss.  Some feel tiresome after reading them on a daily basis and others just quickly lose my interest.  This book, however, seems different.  Instead of paging through it a couple of times to get a feel for it prior to reviewing it, I've found myself drawn to this book pretty much every day, but like my brother with a family sized package of cookies, I can't read just one daily meditation.  Instead, I find myself reading a handful at a time.

Mother Teresa is one of those holy souls who never ceases to amaze me the more I learn about her through stories told by those who knew her or through reading what she has written.  She was a woman who was just filled with a wisdom and understanding of how to see our Lord in others and serve Him through them.  Through this collection of short stories, meditations and prayers you can be inspired to follow Mother Teresa's beautiful example of coming to love Our Lord through serving others.

This beautiful padded hardbound book would make a lovely gift.  I particularly like the layout of this book and the beautiful pages that look a bit like blue linen.  The book follows the calendar year with a daily meditation for each day of the year.  The selections for each day nicely highlight many set feast days of the liturgical year.  I like books that are laid out so thoughtfully.  And an added benefit of a book set up in this way is it can also serve to enlighten readers who may not have been previously aware of a particular feast day.

Overall, it's a beautiful volume that will not only draw the reader closer to Our Lord, but will also help you to understand and know Mother Teresa better, as well.  Her example is certainly one worth emulating.

I was provided with a review copy of Thirsting for God by the publisher, Servant Books in exchange for my honest review.  To learn more about this book or to purchase a copy visit Amazon.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shining Light Dolls Review

A few weeks ago some of the cutest faith based toys I've ever come across arrived on our doorstep.  Within seconds of me opening the box my toddler was clamoring to get her hands on a sweet Our Lady of Guadalupe doll from Shining Light Dolls.  The four dolls that we received are of our Blessed Mother.  We have Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is very much favored by my daughter,  Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Knock.
My first thought when I saw these adorable little baby friendly dolls was that they were prefect toy to bring to Mass.  I don't like to bring regular toys and books to Mass for our little one.  I much prefer her to occupy herself with something faith based like a plastic rosary, or a bible story board book.  The Shining Light Dolls nicely fit into the appropriate for Mass category and since they're only 3 1/2 inches tall, they easily tuck into a purse or diaper bag.

The first day we had these dolls in our house we brought Our Lady of Guadalupe with us to Mass.  Our little one was quite happy to have her with us, but we did realize midway through Mass that since these cute vinyl dolls are nice and lightweight, they can fly a bit when thrown. Eek!  Yes, that's right, our toddler had a blast tossing Our Lady of Guadalupe during Mass.  So, if you have a child who thinks it's great fun to throw things, you might want to reconsider bringing these dolls to Mass until after the throwing things phase passes.  However we did learn that the paint job on the dolls is pretty good.  They can skid across a tile floor at church and show no signs of abuse.  I love toys that can withstand use and abuse and not show it!

Since that day when we flight tested the toy, Katie has
enjoyed playing with all four of these dolls.  She plays with them in her doll house, she carries them around, and she'll even just sit and look at all of the details on the dolls.  These dolls are a great way to introduce your child to our Blessed Mother and soon, a bunch of really great saints.

The dolls also come with a nice folded prayer card that tells you about the apparition, and includes a devotional prayer, the Memorare and Hail Mary.  Even the prayer card is adorable!

These dolls are great as toys or child friendly statues for little.  They meet the highest safety standards so they're safe for even the smallest babies.  They'd make great stocking stuffers, or basket fillers if you're looking for faith based goodies for Christmas and Easter.  But, they'd also make great gifts for baptisms and first communions.  And once the saint dolls are available, they'd make great name day gifts for little ones.  In fact, they're so cute I'm sure there are plenty of adults who wouldn't mind having one of these dolls to keep on their desk or a shelf.  And I think most of us with little ones in the house would agree that having unbreakable statues, even if they're small,  is always a nice thing.

I like how these dolls make learning about the Catholic faith something tangible and relevant for small children.  And, because these dolls are so cute and colorful, they attract attention from adults, too.  When out and about with one of these dolls in tow we have had people stop to ask about them.  So they're a great way to evangelize.

I also like that buying these toys also helps fund a good cause.  10% of all profits on Shining Light Dolls are donated to committed Catholic charities.  So when you buy one of these dolls you're also helping to support a worthwhile cause.

I was sent the four dolls you see featured in this post in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about Shining Light Dolls by visiting their website and liking them on FaceBook.  And you can purchase some of these sweet little dolls at Amazon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Sunday was the first time I ever successfully got rubber bands into a certain pretty little girl's hair.  She wasn't sure about her pretty little piggies at first.

I think I could live on the hoagie rolls [and pizza] at the moment.  I've been wanting one for several days now and I finally got a few of them today.  

This child is such a goof.  She insisted on wearing the silly green pig tail headband her auntie gave her several months ago.  And you can see that she has a set of regular piggies, too.  She's getting used to me putting her hair in pigtails.  I think she looks older with them.  Her hair is wavy and curly and was looking too unkempt for me to bear keeping it down any longer.

I came home from Mass this morning and the living room looked like this.  I think I would die if someone popped over unexpectedly today and saw this mess.  But, since I am too tired to pick it up, it will stay like this until someone picks up all those blocks and other items that are scattered all over the floor.  Bryan suggested that I just not look at it in the meantime.  I think he's on to something.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Liberty Sport Rec Specs Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the Rec Specs giveaway winners!  Kelsie M., Jessica G., Moira S. and Julia V. please be on the look out for an email from me.  Thanks to all who participated in this giveaway.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Quick Takes

Yeah, I know it's supposed to be "Quick Takes Friday" but there weren't enough hours in the day yesterday for me to actually blog. 


Our first full week of homeschooling is behind us.  At this point, we've more than doubled the amount of time we homeschooled for our failed attempt back in January.  Woo hoo!  


I forced myself to plan out another couple weeks worth of lesson plans this morning.  I had the first three and a half weeks done before we started school, but I hadn't been able to force myself to get more of them done prior to this morning.  I keep telling myself I need to get this done before I find myself with no energy to do it.

We just finalized our plans the other day for an upcoming surprise for the girls.  They'll find out what it is in a few more weeks.  I'd love to tell you all what it is, but a certain 12 year old reads the blog here and there so I can't spill the beans just yet.  


I started to write a blog post about my pinkie toe mishap the other day and had to put the laptop down before I could hit publish.  I had one of those afternoons where I started to get very irritated that the kids weren't picking up after themselves again.  I went to kick the kitchen trash can in frustration and missed by a long shot and kicked the door, the door jamb and the wall instead.  OUCH! The top bone of my pinkie toe ended up breaking.  Ugh!  The pain has been a pretty frequent reminder to clam down and not get so upset about the messes kids make.

I went to confession this morning.  I'm always amazed at how I always seem to hear just what I need to hear when I go there.  I'm thankful that we have such great priests at our parish.  Even when they tell me things I don't necessarily want to hear it's still exactly what I needed.  Today I was told to find the Litany of Humility.  After reading through it a few times I have to say it's absolutely perfect for anyone who worries too much about what others think or say.  It's certainly one of my struggles.  Hopefully this litany will be helpful to me.

Why is it that when you feel the most exhausted that's when the baby doesn't want to nap?  I think Katie is cutting new teeth and it's disrupting nap time.  I think my hope of sneaking in a nap before Mass tonight isn't going to happen.  Sigh.

On happier news, Katie is showing an interest in using the potty.  She's had several successes over the past few days!  Who knows, maybe we'll be ditching diapers in a few more months.  That would be awesome!

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Birthday Girl

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...


This lovely young lady celebrated her 12th birthday on Thursday.


The night before her birthday Madeline asked if I could make a pumpkin cheesecake instead of a regular cake.  It seems that we have a few people in the house who really like pumpkin cheesecake a lot!  While it doesn't look like the prettiest birthday cake it made her happy and I suppose that's all the really matters when it comes to birthday cakes.


Bryan and I found a birthday card that amused us so we decided to go with that one and hoped that she would find it funny, too.  Based on her initial reaction I'd say we chose well.


Last night we had a party with a handful of Madeline's friends, my parents and my brother.  She had a really good time with her friends.  And would you believe we even had party crashers?  That was a first for us and it was a little awkward.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theme Thursday: Text

Since today we celebrate The Most Holy Name of Mary, I decided that I'd use some Marian prayers from Mother Love as my subject for Theme Thursday.  Look at me getting all fancy with coordinating my Theme Thursday post to the liturgical year.

f/16, 1/60, ISO-800

Visit Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday pictures.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Five Things That Make Me Happy

Back yard science in pajamas!  Isn't homeschooling great?

The water was cold but Madeline was a good sport and volunteered to be in the dunk tank to raise money for the soccer club.  And since the tank had a window, she went under so I could get a few pictures like this one.

I love that she had a line of people who wanted to dunk her.  Some of the kids hit the target for all three of their throws!  I was able to dunk Madeline on my first throw.  If you ever have the opportunity to send your child into a dunk tank I highly recommend it!  I could use one of these in our back yard.

I enjoy watching Ellie play soccer, but I prefer cooler days.  We roasted on the sidelines at her game this past Sunday.  

I don't have a picture, but I was so happy when I looked at Ellie going into the school as I exited the drop off circle and saw her holding her friend's hand as they went into the building.  So sweet!  I wish I was faster with the camera on my phone.

While you're here, check out the Rec Specs giveaway.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Back to School

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Today was the first day of school.  Ellie started 3rd grade at the elementary school and Madeline started 7th grade as a homeschooler!

Ellie was pretty happy to go back to her old school after spending a year at our parish school.  I think the music teacher was really happy to see her, too.  She was certainly surprised!
Someone is smiling and doing math!  It's a miracle!  Oh and this picture was taken just minutes after the middle school called to inform me that my child is not at school today.  Umm...we sent her transfer info to you over a week ago and she doesn't go there anymore.  I'm still waiting for a call back from the message I had to leave them.  

I realized after I took Madeline's 1st day of 7th grade pictures that she wasn't wearing any shoes.  I guess you don't need them when you're learning at home.

I think someone is intent on being a big distraction.  I had to take Katie outside so Madeline could watch her math lesson in peace and quite.  Katie was going out of her way to make as much noise as possible as soon as she realized that Madeline was watching something on the computer. I'm going to have to find some ways to keep her busy.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Giveaway for Sports Eye Injury Prevention Awareness Month

Did you know that September is Sports eye injury prevention awareness month?  When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  For most kids back to school also means back to sports and that means we as parents should take a few moments to consider their eye safety.  We make sure our kids have all the gear they need to play their sport of choice, but how many of us give a thought to protecting their eyes?
Rec Specs are a great way to protect your child's eyes from injury while playing sports.   My older daughters both began wearing Rec Specs to play soccer because they need prescription lenses and they couldn't safely wear their regular frames for sports.   Prior to getting them Rec Specs, I never really  considered the protection they offered for their eyes, but the more I learned about it, the more it makes sense to arm your child's eyes with protective eyewear when they take to the field.  Did you know that almost all sport eye injuries are preventable?  A simple pair of protective eye wear could spare your child an unpleasant and possibly permanent eye injury.
Since it's sports eye injury prevention awareness month, Liberty Sport is sponsoring a Rec Spec giveaway for Karen in Mommyland blog readers.  Four winners will be selected to receive a pair of Rec Specs or F8's of their choosing from Liberty Sport.  They have a great selection of designs and styles to suit every player's personal style.

Take a moment to learn more about preventing sports related eye injuries and then come back and enter for a chance to win a pair of Rec Specs.  And don't forget to "like" the generous sponsor of this giveaway, Liberty Sport Rec Specs, on Facebook.

 So what do you have to do to enter for a chance to win one of four pairs of Rec Specs?  It's simple, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below.  The giveaway runs from September 4th-14th.  Winners will be announced on the blog on September 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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