Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mass With Little Ones

The past two weeks Katie has been getting up early and asking if she can come to Mass with me and Anthony.  Usually when I take both of them to daily Mass it's a recipe for disaster because they fight over my lap and it usually results in Anthony crying loudly or screaming.  But since she's been asking to go things have been surprisingly calm.  The kids are getting along and they've both been very quiet.

I find that what works best with keeping them happy is giving each of them a notebook and some crayons so they can just color and draw. But while Anthony spends a lot of time playing at my feet or just exploring the pew, he does also pay attention.  Some days he watches intently and imitates what the priest is doing as he says Mass.  There have even been times where I've heard him trying to say what the priest is saying.  I think he thinks he's helping them out.  He typically only does it when it's one of the two priests he knows best, his godfather and his "favorite priest." (Father has insisted since he was very small that he's Anthony's favorite.)

So today while in line to receive communion Anthony was having a great time singing on the way up.  Katie, soaking in her surroundings was happily waving her latest drawings, until she got very serious before bowing before the eucharist just before getting a blessing.  And then I notice Father motioning for me to look at Anthony who was in my arms.  He was really hoping to receive communion.  He had his tongue out and had this "I'm waiting" sort of expression on his face.  He was visibly disappointed that he got denied.  He has plenty of people who attend daily Mass who all think he already has a good understanding of what goes on at Mass.  Perhaps they're right.  I'm curious to see how he reacts going forward.  Today was the first time I've ever noticed him hoping to receive.

It amazes me how much little ones pick up when they attend Mass frequently.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not A Dog Person

The twelve year old me would be horrified to hear me say this, but I'm absolutely not a dog person.  At least, not a person who wants a dog to live in her home.  I don't mind other people's dogs that I'm not required to live with, but I want no part of living with a dog, particularly Oscar.

Dogs are like living with the most irritating toddler you can find, only it smells really bad and it's parents never come to take it home.  Dog smells, dog hair and even the smell of dog food are all offensive to me.  The sound of a barking dog sets my nerves on edge.  When people tell me about their small dog that lived for more than a decade I start to panic that I could be stuck with this dog for more than another year or two.

Today Oscar decided to remind me of why I despise living with him.  Instead of barking at the door to go outside, like he normally would, he decided to pee on the kitchen floor.  Ellie sat next it it and didn't notice.  I kept asking if anyone knew what the awful smell was in the kitchen and no one knew anything.  Then Katie went to throw something in the trash and the poor kid stepped in the massive puddle of pee and slipped.  She ended up being covered in it and needed an immediate bath.

I'm not a dog person because I can't stand the smells and sounds associated with having a dog.  But my children shouldn't be dog people because the animal they claim they love so much is something they can't be bothered to feed or let outside at regular intervals.

Someday this misery of dog ownership will end and I'm going to celebrate like I never have before.  I long for the day when I can live in a pet free house.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Engaging Vs. Sleep Inducing Lenten Reading

I told Bryan earlier today that I'm just going to stop taking book suggestions from the saints.  Two books in particular that were given high praises by saints have left me bored to sleep.   Several weeks ago I wrote about how disappointed I was initially with the book What Jesus Saw From the Cross.  I have tried and tried to keep reading this book hoping that maybe it gets better, but I'm finding myself less and less impressed with the book.  I feel like so much of what is in this book is conjecture and the author trying to make sure his readers know just how sure he is of himself and his ability to fill in the blanks that are not overtly covered in detail in the Gospels.  The book feels like a penance and I think after this afternoon I'm just not going to bother forcing myself to read it anymore.  I have plenty of other books that would be better for reflecting on Holy Week.

Now the other book I've been reading for Lent, St. Francis de Sales Sermons for Lent is a far more engaging read.  It is not a sleep inducing book and it is thought provoking.  You can read a sermon from this book and come away with a deep appreciation for whatever points St Francis was talking about, and it gets you thinking about how you are living your life and what you could be doing better.
I think Lenten reading should make you contemplate Our Lord's great love for us and help us to mediate on his Passion.  In short, it should draw you closer to Him, not bore you to sleep.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Pencils and Cheerios

Anthony really likes to keep me on my toes.  There's just something about this little guy that drives me crazy and makes me laugh all at the same time.

Yesterday he was such a busy little guy that I wound up falling asleep on the couch before 7pm while Bryan and the girls were at soccer practice.  The last thing I remember before Katie woke me up was having Anthony sitting in front of me on the couch while we all watched Mulan.  She frantically woke me up from a nice, but way too short, nap to tell me that Anthony was playing in the toilet.  Ugh!  I don't know what it is about him, but he really likes to dip toilet paper in the toilet and then pull it out to watch the water drip on the floor.  It seriously makes me gag.

Earlier that day he asked for a banana and I gave him some cut up banana.  Minutes later when he asked for another banana I told him "no" and I thought that was the end of it.  Of course, it wasn't.  He found a way to reach the rest of the bunch, and went into the family room where he proceeded to bite through the peels of three bananas.  He actually ate the peels off the backs of the bananas.  If you're wondering who does stuff like that, I can give you an answer.  Anthony.  Anthony does stuff like that.

Today he was very quiet at Mass.  He was happily playing with some of those little golf pencils that our church has out in the pews from a charity campaign that is ongoing.  When he decided to stop scribbling all  over my Magnificat pages, he decided that pencil points where the ideal vehicle for picking up Cheerios.  I guess he feels more sophisticated eating his Cheerios with a pencil instead of his fingers.  I kept trying to pry the pencil from his kung fu grip, but the more I tried the more it seemed like I was going to send him into a full out tantrum.  So in the interest of not causing a major scene during the consecration, I decided to just let him use the pencil as an eating utensil.  Good thing the "lead" is really graphite and not actual lead.

I did think his pencil as utensil showed some creativity.  His very odd antics often reveal that he's a pretty smart kid who likes to find solutions to the problems he encounters.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese is one of my favorite saints.  The simplicity of her Little Way just amazes me, and I like how her example is excellent for teaching little children how to do small things with great love for Our Lord.  St. Therese has been the saint I introduce my kindergarten religious education students to first, and over the years I've had many students who have come to really like the little girl who grew up to become a saint.

My usual vehicle for introducing children to St. Therese has been the stories in the Catholic Children's Treasure Box series.  At the beginning of the school year my present class of kindergarteners learned about St. Therese and they still talk about her and point out the little wooden peg doll statue of her that I keep on our class prayer table.  About two weeks ago I surprised them with another story about St. Therese.  The story I read to them was The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux.  It didn't take long for the little girls (all of my students are girls this year) to notice that it was a story about our much loved St. Therese.
The story is filled with gorgeous illustrations that warrant taking your time to look at them after reading the text.  Several times the little girls stopped me from turning the page because they wanted to examine one of the illustrations a bit more.  But not only are the illustrations beautiful, the story is also quite beautiful.

In the context of the story the parable is told to St. Therese by Jesus as she talked with Him about how she wanted to do great things for Him but she was very little.  It's a great story that shows very young children that while they may be small and unable to do to big amazing things for Our Lord, they are no less special to Him.

Overall the story is very well done and certainly has appeal to little girls in the five to six year old range with no questions what-so-ever.   It's a book that I'd suggest for a little girl's Easter basket.  The illustrations are perfect for Easter because they are so Springy.  My four year old, who has St. Therese as one of her patron saints, will find this beautiful story in her basket on Easter morning.  I know she's going to love this story and I can't wait to see her reaction.

I was provided with a review copy of The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux by the publisher, Gracewatch Media, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit their website Peanut Butter and Grace for more information on this title.  They also have a lot of great information for teaching your children about their Catholic faith.  The book is also available on Amazon with prime shipping if you're looking for the perfect book to tuck in your child's Easter basket.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Crunch Time for Easter Prep

Several years ago I got tired of realizing at the last minute that I didn't have everything I needed on hand for holidays just days before the actual holiday.  So I started to make an effort to plan ahead so I didn't have to feel overwhelmed and frazzled the night before a major holiday.  These little post it note reminders that I have used from year to year have been so invaluable to me.

During Advent I have post it notes that tell me when to buy stocking stuffers, or chocolate Santa's for St. Nicholas' feast day. And notes telling me when I should make sure the kids and I have outfits, stockings, shoes and whatever else is needed.  There's even a note telling me when to make cookies and how many batches of each to make.  It makes life a lot easier and I don't have to try to remember what I need to do.

During Lent I have reminders telling me what candy to buy and when.  I also have notes that tell me to order Easter outfits (if I haven't already) and more notes telling me to make sure we have tights, stocking and shoes and all dresses, shirts and dress pants ironed.  That note about shoes, tights and ironing is for this week.  I used to wait until Holy Week to do the ironing, but I've come to find that after Holy Thursday night life starts to feel chaotic if I have to gather up outfits and get things ironed.  The Triduum has a way of making me feel like I've been put through the ringer every year.  It's probably the most exhausting, but beautiful and spiritually fulfilling three days of the year.  So I just don't have time or the energy after Holy Thursday to fill Easter eggs with candy, stuff baskets or iron clothes.  It's just not happening.  I hardly have the energy to think of new hiding places for Easter eggs after the Easter Vigil.  One of these years I'm going to just dump them all in one place for one lucky kid to find.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: Easter Story

Sometimes teaching small children about Holy Week and Easter requires more than just reading them a story. That's where coloring books and activity books come in handy.  I find that kids can often remember parts of a story better if they can recall doing an activity or something memorable that will help them retain what they have learned.  The Easter Story Bible Activity Book is an excellent hands on vehicle for helping little ones between the ages of four to seven (pre-K through 1st grade) to better understand the Easter story.

This activity book is ideal to use during Holy Week and the Easter Octave.  Each two page section of the book covers a different part of the Easter story beginning with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and concluding with Jesus appearing to his Apostles and disciples after His resurrection.  Each of the pages in this book are filled with colored illustrations, a variety of activities, such as mazes, color by number, picture searches and so on.  Each section of the book tells a different part of the Easter story in a chid friendly way.

I'm looking forward to using this book with my four year old starting this upcoming Sunday.  I know she will enjoy doing the fun activities.

I was provided with a review copy of Easter Story Bible Activity Book by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about this title or take a peek inside the book here.

Need Easter Basket Ideas?

Jessica over at Shower of Roses is hosting a great Easter giveaway right now.  She has a ton of great Easter basket ideas that cover children from infant to teen or adult, really, I see things up there that I'd love to find in an Easter basket for me!  So hop over to her blog and check out her giveaway post and get some ideas for filling those Easter baskets!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: The Wolf and the Shield

The more children's titles I read from Pauline Kids the more I become convinced that they have some of the best books out there for helping children, especially those in the 7-12 year old age range, to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of their Catholic faith.
Recently I had the opportunity to review The Wolf and the Shield, which is the first in a series entitled Friends with the Saints.  The book is about an eleven year old boy named Kieran that is set in fifth-century Ireland.  The main character's adventure has him meet up with St. Patrick and, in time, this transforms him.

The story is a page turner that I believe will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.  What I like most about this adventure story is how it weaves the Catholic faith and morals throughout the story.  The story also helps young readers to realize that the saints are our friends and are approachable.

This book is best suited for children ages 7-10 or second through fifth grade.  It's a chapter book with a few black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout the book.  The book will likely be a bit challenging for a very young reader, but will be more of an enjoyable, fast read for the upper age range of the target audience.  It's a story that will leave young readers feeling like they know St. Patrick better.

I particularly like that the book had a section at the beginning entitled People and Places.  It gave pronunciation guides for the names of some of the characters, and defined some terms the reader would encounter throughout the story.  I liked that thoughtful addition to the story because, in the case of the explanation of the places, it gave the reader some context up front so they didn't feel bewildered with uncertain terms while reading the story.

The end of the book has a list of discussion questions.  These are great for talking with your child about the story and also about how they might apply some of the situations from the story to their own life, particularly as pertains to living out our faith.  The discussion questions are one of the features I appreciate in the books from Pauline Kids.  You can tell that they really do want their readers to understand their faith well and apply it to their lives.

I look forward to seeing what saints will be featured next in the Friends with the Saints series.  I'm sure they won't disappoint.

I was provided with a review copy of The Wolf and the Shield by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit Pauline Media for more information on this title or to take a peek inside.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review: Little Lessons from St. Therese

St. Therese is one of my favorite saints, and I think she's becoming a favorite with my daughters as well.  I was delighted recently to be asked to review a lovely book filled with the wisdom of St. Therese.  This book is one which is perfect for an Easter basket for someone between the ages of 9 to 12.  Little Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux is a mix of beautiful water color illustrations and the words of St. Therese.
This book is a great way of introducing an older child to St. Therese.  The beginning of the book gives an overview of who St. Therese was.  It then follows with quotes from St. Therese on a variety of subjects.  What I like most about this book is it lays the ground work to intrigue young minds to get to know St. Therese better.

The illustrations in this book are beautifully done.  They are mostly paintings of gardens and flowers, which is quite befitting a book about the Little Flower.  There are several other illustrations that either depict St. Therese, or scenes that look like those of ones described by either St. Therese or her family members in their writings.  So someone who is familiar with St. Therese will likely find illustrations that remind them of something from the life of the Little Flower.

The end of the book contains a list of discussion questions that are thought provoking.  They're an excellent way to get your child talking with you about faith and how to emulate St. Therese and her Little Way.

I was provided with a review copy of Little Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux by the publisher, Gracewatch Media, in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about this title by visiting the publisher's site Peanut Butter & Grace.  You can even take a peek inside the book.  The book is also available for purchase from Amazon.

Friday, March 11, 2016

When One Ingredient Changes Dinner Plans

I was feeling very accomplished this morning.  I took Katie and Anthony to Target to get coffee for Bryan and to pick up the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses that we would need for tonight's dinner.  I came home, happily told Bryan that I'd be making one of his favorite meals, baked ziti, for dinner, and then forgot about that dinner until 4:30 when he came upstairs and asked if we were still having the ziti for dinner.

Arrgh!  This really is the story of my life.  I plan to make something for dinner and then, usually right around dinner time, I realize that I never actually made anything.  It's frustrating.  But today, I told Bryan not to worry, I could slap together a ziti and have it ready in roughly an hour.  It was looking promising until I realized that we also didn't have sauce.  Can't make baked ziti without the sauce!  Lenten Friday problem if ever I saw one.  I'm pretty sure I have a mason jar of sauce in the basement freezer but just thawing that would take a nice chunk of time.  I really do need to get better at planning these things.

Bryan and I ended up ordering take out pasta dishes for us, and since the kids won't eat pasta with sauce (unless it's baked manicotti, or ziti) we just made pasta at home for them.  I'm not sure what it is about Lent that makes no meat on Friday seem so difficult.  Year round we eat meatless meals on Friday, but for some reason those Lenten Fridays are fraught with dinner complications.

Next week I'll be ready with all of the ingredients!  I'll have to remember to double check that I have everything we need on Thursday.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: Noori Dresses

A few weeks ago I was asked if I'd be interested in reviewing a dress from an online dress shop called Noori Dresses.  Noori Dresses is a designer boutique dedicated to little girls and preteens. They specialize in high end special occasion dresses. 99% of all their dresses are made in USA. They have a great selection of Easter, Baptism, First Communion and Flower Girl dresses. They offer free shipping for $100 and more.   Their story starts in 2007 when they were looking for a good christening dress for their daughter.  When they could not find a good one for a reasonable cost, they decided to sew it themselves. Friends and relatives loved the dress and some of friends requested them to sew for their daughters as well. Within 5 years a hobby turned into one of the top retailers for kids' special occasion dresses in the US.

I do a lot of clothing shopping online, but I tend to be very skeptical when it's a company that I'm not familiar with.  I had looked around on the website for Noori Dresses and was impressed with the selection of First Communion dresses they had.  Here are some of the communion dresses I liked best:
You can find this dress here.
This one is so simple, but so very pretty.  You need to click on the link to check out the sweet detail above the box pleats.  
I like this dress, too.  It's very sweet and has nice detailing on the top.
If a sleeve is something you must have on a communion dress, this is a lovely option.

Looking at all the communion dresses had me wishing Katie was preparing for First Holy Communion, but we're a few years away from that, and I felt it was really important that I chose a dress that she could wear now for the review.  No one wants to look a pictures of a dress that won't be worn for about three more years, right?  So Katie and I looked at all the pretty dresses they had to offer and we found a very sweet dress that is perfect for Easter.

As soon as I took the dress out of the box Katie was oohing and aahing over it.  She wanted to wear it right away.

Since Easter is in March this year, we can reasonably expect it to be chilly on Easter since we live in NJ.  So I ordered Katie a cute little sweater shrug to wear over the sleeveless dress to keep away the chill.

The dress is very nice quality.  Everything about it seems to be well made and it's even made in the USA!  I feel like finding an American made garment is very difficult these days, so I was very happy that it was made domestically.  The organza material for this dress is very nice both in design and weight.  It's not super flimsy like other organza dresses that we've had in the past.  I feel pretty confident that this dress won't start snagging if you look at it the wrong way like some organza overlays seem to do.

Overall my experience with Noori Dresses was a good one.  I'm happy with how quickly they shipped from across the country, I'm happy with the quality of the dress and most of all my daughter is very happy with her beautiful new Easter dress.  I'm sure we will think of them the next time we are looking for a holiday or special occasion dress.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gorgeous Weather

I had meant to write something yesterday, but by the time the kids were in bed I was close to falling asleep on the couch.  I attribute that to me having a busy, yet productive day.

Yesterday was the first time in a long time that I not only folded and put away laundry, but I also washed several loads.  I've been paying Ellie to do laundry the past several weeks.

Once I got the laundry issue out of the way I had to go to an appointment for blood work.  My arm is still hurting from that.  On may way into the office I was amazed at just how warm it was.  It was 75 a little after noon.  After I got home, Bryan and I took a walk around the neighborhood.

While Anthony napped, Katie and I went in the back yard and she played on the swing set.  I really feel like that swing set is one of the best back yard purchases we have made since the pool.  It's big enough that even I can go up in the tower and stand up.  I was a bit annoyed this afternoon to discover some rust on it in a few places since it's not even 6 months old.  I'm waiting to hear back from the company to see what they're going to do to resolve the issue.  Not sure if they're going to replace the rusted parts or not.  I'm sure one way or another we'll get the issue resolved.

The amazing weather we've had is something I'm trying not to miss out on, since I'm sure cold and or rainy days will happen soon enough.  I spent so much time outside today that while the kids and I were in line for confession this evening a friend commented that I looked a little burnt.

I have a lot of reviews I need to write in the next few days.  I've got some great book ideas for Easter baskets, and I even have a nice dress company to tell you about.  I just need to take Katie outside and take some pictures of her in the pretty dress she'll be wearing for Easter.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Unexpected Inspiration

When it comes to planning vacation bible school for our parish I try not to stress.  The first couple of years I directed it I acted as if everything depended on me and I essentially tried to do every bit of it that could be done by me, myself.  It was exhausting and it was largely due to me being a control freak and partly due to me not being able to trust that people would come through if I delegated a specific task to them.  Too many years of forced group projects at school had trained me that if you want something done right and you want to get an A it's better to do it yourself and slap the names of the other people in the group on it when you're done.

Managing a growing family and heading up a project that requires a lot of work isn't easy if you want to actually get sleep or maintain sanity.  So after year two of running VBS I started to listen to Bryan and a few of my other friends who were begging me to delegate tasks.  I did it, and it was amazing.  People came through and got the jobs that needed to be done completed.  The first year I delegated I was really on edge because I worried that things might not get done right.  Sometimes we had a hiccup, but when we did we were able to course correct it with minimal effort.

Right around the time I started delegating, I also started spending more time asking God to help me get the volunteers we needed or just asking Him to guide me to the right prayers, saints or devotions to introduce to the kids.  And that's when things started buzzing along beautifully.  I'd go to Mass, pray beforehand that I needed classroom teachers, or someone to pick up or bake a snack and most of the time before I left the church someone would approach me with what was needed.  Or, I'd come home to find an email or a message on my answering machine that essentially answered my prayer.  Nothing short of amazing, and I attribute it to me placing it in God's hands.  I really should take a lesson from that and apply it to other areas of my life.  When I do, I see equally amazing results, but I fail to exhibit that level of trust all the time.  It's something I'm working on, and I know it's something Our Lord is working on me about, too.

So the past week or so I've been focusing on VBS and praying about it.  I have a few positions I need filled, and I also need to pick the saints that will be featured and the crafts.  I know I'll get the volunteers we need.  I'm not sure who the new faces will be yet, but I'm sure they'll be exactly what we need.  Crafts, had me stumped.  I like to keep it fresh so people don't feel like their kids are doing that same things year after year.

My first wave of craft inspiration was courtesy of the liturgical calendar.  The first day of the program is the feast day for St. Benedict, so he will get featured this year and the kids will do a craft that involves the St. Benedict medal.  But the rest of the days were a mystery to me until today.  Now I think I have some clarity.

I help out with the crafts for Little Flowers Girls Club at a neighboring parish.  This month was my turn to come up with a craft.  St. Anne was the featured saint and I didn't have the easiest time coming up with a good craft.  After looking online, I got the idea to print a nice image of St. Anne with the Blessed Mother and put it in a wood craft frame.  I wasn't sure if the girls should just paint it or do something more.  So I thought about VBS and things that typically are simple but look very nice and that's when I thought that maybe gluing sequins to the frame would look nice.  I was going to leave the wood unpainted, but I decided this morning that it might look nicer if they were painted.  So as I sat in the kitchen painting 16 frames I got hit with an idea.  I could use these same frames with a photo of the Divine Mercy image as a VBS craft.  That would allow us to talk about the Year of Mercy in a video and have this as the corresponding craft.  The kids can paint the frame (because we have time for that at VBS) and then sprinkle it with glitter or sequins if they like.  But then I started thinking that this would also work as the Marian craft idea. (I always have one Marian craft day to help encourage a devotion to Mary.)  And that's when I got the idea of doing a rosary holder with an image of Our Lady of Good Counsel.  I just need to ask someone we know who does wood working who also volunteered his talent to help with VBS if I needed it, if he can cut keyholes into the backs of plaques and add a peg or hook to the front so it can function as a hanging rosary holder.  If that's the case, I will have three out of five crafts picked.  I never would have expected to have such amazing clarity on what the crafts might be this early.

I'll try to add pictures of the St. Anne craft later this week.  It's such a simple, yet pretty craft.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bathing Suit Shopping for Teens

If you've never had to search for a decent bathing suit for a teenage girl, consider yourself lucky.  Last year was the first year Madeline was in juniors sizing for swimwear.  I dreaded having to find a nice bathing suit that was modest but not frumpy looking and certainly not something that looked like it belonged on someone twice her age.  I consider us blessed that the process was amazingly painless last year.  Madeline looked at what was available at Kohls and found a few cute tankini options that worked well for her.

Since I always like to put a bathing suit in the kids' Easter baskets, I started looking for swimwear not too long ago.  I have something in mind for Ellie and I already have bathing suits for Katie and Anthony.  But, finding something for Madeline, has not been easy at all.  I asked for suggestions on a Catholic mom's group on Facebook earlier today after being very disappointed in the offerings I found on Kohls, Speedo, JC Penney, and a few other sites.  Offerings for tankini separates ranged from dowdy to very mature to I can just hear Madeline saying I'm not wearing that!  This is the girl who likes her clothing to look classic and she, thankfully, is not the kind of girl who wants to wear things that are revealing.

Someone mentioned that Target was where they had found swimwear for their teen, so I decided to look on line and see what was up there.  There are a lot of tankini pieces that I think are nice for the 25+ set, but not much that are suited to a teen.  Then I came across a few cute retro looking options that I thought might work for her.  After showing her what I found she agreed that three of them looked like something she would wear so I placed an order and hope that the one I select for the Easter basket will work.

Here's a peek at the two that I ordered:
The yellow one is a one piece suit that you can find here.
And this one is a tankini.  You can find the top here and the bottoms here.
I am very hopeful that one or both of these swimsuits works for her.  I ordered two different sizes for each since we aren't familiar with the brand so I was unsure of how they were cut.  If these suits work out I will be happy knowing she's decently clad while swimming in our pool.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Know Anyone Who Plays Youth Soccer?

Last summer Bryan noticed some fundraising campaigns on Facebook that were sponsored by companies where youth teams could fundraise simply by asking friends on social media to answer a few questions or visit a website.  It essentially is a word of mouth campaign that gives teams and other specified groups money.  Both of our girls' soccer teams did one of these fundraisers last summer and the teams each earned some money to pay for training or tournament fees.

Right now Ellie's soccer team has a fundraiser that is sponsored by Nabisco.  If any of you can visit the fund raising page and complete one of the nine tasks (many of them take only a few seconds)  it will help her team to earn up to $1,000.  If you have a child who plays youth soccer, or know someone else with a youth soccer team you can spread the word to help other teams raise money.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

GOP Debate Thoughts

I'm watching the GOP debate at the moment and I think it's probably raising my blood pressure.  I cannot fathom how people are supporting Donald Trump.  Part of me wonders if these supporters understand politics.  Do they understand how government works?  I sit here and I lament the fact that being properly educated is not a requirement for enfranchisement.  Perhaps, just as immigrants need to pass a test to become naturalized, the electorate should have to pass a test to show their suitability to cast a vote.

Maybe I'm being an elitist or something.  I don't know.  I have a degree in political science and so much of what I'm seeing lately reminds me of things my professors would say in their lectures that makes me cringe as I see the disaster that appears to be unfolding at the moment.  The vast majority of my professors talked about how uninformed and uneducated the majority of the American voters are.  They essentially likened them to mindless sheep or lemmings that had no real idea of what is really going on.  Now at the time, Republicans and Democrats were not so far apart.  I believe today that there is a bit more a chasm between the two sides given that we have a socialist running as a Democrat in the primary.  That's alarming.  But as alarmed as I am about that, I'm even more alarmed by the number of people claiming to be conservatives who are supporting Donald Trump.

The angry mob vote concerns me.  I realize people can honest and truly have a conversion and change.  There have been politicians who have switched parties.  I don't doubt that one can switch affiliation and be true to the new party line they've ascribed to.  What I do doubt very much is the authenticity of Trump's political affiliation.  He's not a conservative.  And, even if he wants to pretend he is, and he winds up winning the GOP nomination, he will have every unsavory thing he's ever done pulled out before the election.

Trump is not a man who can run on any kind of family values.  He has zero experience in government and given how he pompously handles himself when debating his "fellow" Republicans, I cannot see how he can possibly deal with foreign heads of states without creating a myriad of gaffes and disasters.

If you disagree with me, that's fine.   I do my best to avoid discussing politics with people because I am not a fan of getting into heated debates with people over politics.  Ordinarily I can remain silent about politics but presently I feel I simply can't do that.  I feel that too much is at stake with this upcoming election.  I sincerely wish there was a viable third party candidate who was capable of winning the election at the present moment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Not Living Up to the Hype

I'm probably not alone in this, but I find it more than a little irritating when a book seems to be hyped up as one of those must read types of books and it's far from it.  For a few years as Lent rolls around one of the books I always see in emails as a must read or great Lenten reading is What Jesus Saw from the Cross.

I procrastinated on ordering this book in the week leading up to Lent as I tried to decide what book I wanted to read, and it went out of stock.  I have to think that that was actually a blessing in disguise.  I wound up ordering The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent instead.  Clearly that was my better choice.  I love St. Francis, his wisdom is timeless as is his practical advice.  He's one of those awesome saints who doesn't leave you feeling like sainthood is never within your grasp.
Probably a week into Lent I noticed that What Jesus Saw from the Cross was back in stock, so I ordered it.  I've been reading it over the past week and a half and maybe a few chapters in isn't deep enough, but I feel like the book is not living up to the hype.  As I read through it, I feel like I'm getting a tour guide narrative of what may have been.  I'm hoping it gets better as it progresses, but I'm not holding my breath.

I write book reviews both here and on Amazon and I always say what I really think about the book.  Some books don't appeal to me, although the ones that I do like far outweigh the ones I don't.  When buying a book I always check out consumer reviews.  If there are enough people saying they don't like the book I'll usually take their advice and look for something else.  This book had a few reviews that echo the sentiments I presently have about the book, but there were far more glowing reviews.

I actually think it would be pretty cool if Amazon developed an algorithm that could accurately tell a consumer if he or she would be likely to like a particular book based on their reviews and ratings of other books they had read.  Something like that would be very useful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Shifting Gears

This morning Bryan and I took Madeline to the high school she will be attending next year.  It's a school that several people we know either send or have sent their kids to and all of them have been happy with the experience.  Today we had a meeting with the guidance counselor to go over her current classes and what she would take for next year.  I'm very pleased that between the curriculum from Seton and the two independent studies that we added to her course load that she won't be missing anything that is required for her to graduate.

The only question is whether or not she will need to take biology.  It's a freshman course at this school, and with Seton it's a sophomore year course.  She's presently taking Earth Science.  The guidance counselor thinks what she has will be sufficient, but she's going to double check to make sure she won't be lacking when it comes time to apply to colleges.

Madeline spent the day shadowing a sophomore so she could get an idea of what the classes she will be taking will be like next year.  She had a good day and is looking forward to next school year.  She got to meet several of the girls who play for the soccer team and they were happy to hear that she plans to play with them.  Apparently the team needs more girls, and from what they were telling Madeline, it sounds like she'll get play time.

I'm hoping that this will be a good switch for her.  She's not particularly thrilled with the Seton curriculum, and for some of the classes I can't say I blame her.  I do feel like some of the classes are a bit on the impossible side and I've grown tired of the very obscure seemingly sneaky trick questions Seton likes to toss out in their tests.  Even with me using the test to create a study guide, I've found that there are lots of times where the correct answer to a question seems to be nowhere in the text or lesson plan.

So while I'm not entirely thrilled that we won't be homeschooling for high school any more, I do think the switch has the potential to be a good thing.  I'll know better once the school year starts and we see how things go.  What I do like about this school is it is small, has a great reputation for turning out students who are well prepared for college, and has a very good priest who used to be at our parish as a religion teacher for sophomore and senior year.  Daily Mass is even available on campus at the end of every school day for students who wish to go.  I think that's pretty cool, and I suspect it's part of the initiative started by our bishop a few years ago to foster a Catholic identity in the diocese high schools.
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