Monday, January 31, 2011

Ellie Update

Ellie finally seems to have really figured out this growing thing.  Two months old and she's a bit over 7 and a half pounds.  Which means that she is still smaller than most of her siblings were at birth.  Yes, she's a bit of tiny thing but already seems very full of personality.  We are all enjoying our latest little snuggle bug, even when she keeps us up at night.

Unplanned

The book Unplanned by Abby Johnson has been making rounds and causing quite a bit of discussion lately.  I recently read the book and have to say it is a very powerful story.  This book chronicles the journey taken by Abby Johnson as she switches from working with and supporting Planned Parenthood to working with and supporting a local crisis pregnancy center instead. 

Unplanned is a book that should be read by everyone no matter which side of the abortion debate they are currently on.  This book explains not only the current theories behind Planned Parenthood's operations, but also how the organization often misleads well-intended people who are at heart trying to do what is best for other people.

Due to a very dramatic and heart breaking first chapter, I would read this book before giving it young teens.  However, this is a wonderful book to share with older teens to discuss and showcase the truths behind the abortion industry in our country.  This book gives examples not only of how to effectively minister to women in crisis pregnancy situations but also how not to treat these women.  It is a bold look at the true practices in many clinics which fail effectively deal with all of the emotional needs of women in crisis pregnancy situations.

I found this book to be a very quick and engaging read.  Yes, it's one of those books that I finished in one day.  You'll read this book and want to pass it along to someone else in your life.  I truly believe it is a book that cannot be read without having an impact on your life in some way.

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.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Technology and Life

I recently did a review of a book on how to use technology and the media properly in your life.  On how to find the balance between too much and too little.  Is it just me or is this something so many of us need to figure out?  Social networking is almost like a plague of locusts in our society.  I truly believe Facebook has allowed many people to continue the high school antics into adulthood or resurrect them after they'd been buried for a time.  How many times do people get upset over something they saw there?  I recently realized that keeping folks on my friends list that I had never really had a relationship with in the past and who I was not gaining any real relationship with through Facebook was rather pointless.  Yup, the list was trimmed a bit.  I wonder if they noticed.  You see gossiping, bragging and fighting brought to the front of your computer screen every day with these social networks.

Then there are all the folks who carry around internet enabled cell phones and devices for no real reason and quickly find themselves afraid to be without them because they would somehow not be connected.  I have to wonder in many cases what they are connecting to and what they are missing.

Let's not even begin to think about the crud that comes spewing into our homes each day through the tv.  I'll admit that I am the only reason we still have cable.  I think Alan would be happy if we got rid of the tv altogether.  The kids would protest a bit but quickly get over it.  But I'm the hold out.

You see, all of these things can bring positive things to your life.  Who hasn't used a television show or movie to educate.  Historical fiction is a wonderful tool when the movies are done properly.  Documentaries can bring science to life.  Religious shows and biographies can add depth to your education.  And let's not discount the way a movie can keep a sick child in bed and resting without protest.  The internet makes long distance communication incredibly easy, even free.  Skype keeps many kids in touch with their parents and grandparents and social networks can be used in much the same way.  The internet can provide education and communication and friendships for many people.

But they can also become an addiction and a hidden window.  Television shows and movies can expose your kids to things that you would never allow them access to otherwise.  Internet communications can encourage you to spend too much time focusing on relationships outside your own family.  Children can easily stumble upon things they are better off not seeing.

So I guess the real trick is to figure out the limits that are truly going to be beneficial.  We can't keep everything away from our kids or ourselves.  We have to discern and learn to handle them properly.  It seems to be a very fine line and I have a feeling many of us are maybe not walking it the way we should be.

Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media


I recently read the book Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan.  I have to say after the first few chapters I was hooked and knew this was a book that was placed in my hands for a reason.  This book gives ideas and help for those struggling with the proper use of media in today's society.  A problem that I would wager to say many folks struggle with on a near daily basis.

The author helps you figure out what are benefits of all of the new technology and what are merely time wasters or possibly dangerous uses of technology.  Each of the points in this book are covered with a chapter full of both positive and negative examples and ends with questions to help you determine if you are making the proper decisions for your own situation. 

This book can be very helpful for parents attempting to determine what technology is appropriate for their children, for adults attempting to figure out how to properly balance the use of technology with the rest of their lives and for students attempting to figure out how to set limits for themselves that will help keep them from being over taken by technology.

I said this book was put into my hands for a reason.  This book helped me figure out a few things that could be improved around here with our own family. I plan on having our teens read this book as well so they can better understand some of the decisions we have made regarding their use of technology.  I would honestly love to put a copy of this book into the hands of every adult I see glued to their cell phones and internet devices while out and about.  Technology can be and is a wonderful thing, but can also be a dangerous and addictive thing when it is used improperly.  This book was a wonderful reminder to me of the need to make sure the balance in my own life was appropriate.

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 Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Med. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

They Survived

Alan and Bryan got home just before 2 am this morning.  They had a great time, were able to spend the day with friends and are hoping to go again next year.  I've been told that they have never seen so many priests, seminarians and religious in one place.  They were able to start their day with a youth rally and Mass at the Verizon Center in DC.  I caught part of the Mass on EWTN that night and I have to say just watching the constant stream of priests processing in at the beginning of Mass was awesome.  I honestly don't think we even saw that many priests on Palm Sunday in Rome.  Alan said he loved being able to see the excitement in the kids.  And Bryan said he loved being able to ride the metro in DC because now he can remember being on a train.  Ok, not the point of the trip but I'm glad he enjoyed it.  I'd tell you more but instead I'll just share some pictures.











Sunday, January 23, 2011

March for Life

Alan and Bryan are heading out to the March for Life tonight. They will be spending all night on a bus and then all day out in the cold. I'm hoping they will enjoy their time together. Maybe one year when I don't have a newborn we can all go as a family. As thousands of people flock to Washington, DC, for the March, those of us who can't make it will be praying for them to have a safe trip.

Babywearing Dads

Children always love to mimic what they see in their lives on a regular basis so when Alan tossed Ellie in the sling today, Gabe quickly ran off to dig the doll sling out of the playroom.  This picture makes me very happy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feature Films for Families

If you are looking for quality movies for your children, you have to look into Feature Films for Families.  This company produces family friendly movies for children of all ages that are consistent with the kind of family values we are trying to instill in our children.  No need to worry about swearing, inappropriate humor or adult themes that tend to creep into children's movies earlier than ever before.  And now you can request a free movie to see if what they have to offer is right for your family.  Try them out today.

Pancake Sausage Muffins

We are all feeling it right now. That budget crunch that comes when grocery prices go up and gas prices go up and utilities go up but there is no matching income increase.  After 3 years without a pay raise, I'm kind of hoping hubby will see one soon but on the other hand, I am totally thankful he's had a job this long when we've watched so many of the folks he works with get laid off.  Given that option, I'll gladly take a lack of raise.

So what do you do when you need to make a few more cuts to the budget but there just isn't anything left to cut?  Ok, we could cut cable but I'm addicted.  I'll admit it.  But if we must later, we will. For now we are making due with small tweaks here and there.  The easiest tweak is adjusting that grocery budget by trying new recipes which is what we did this morning.  Pancake sausage muffins.  The kids loved them but I thought they were lacking something.  So perhaps I will play with it a bit next time.  I think perhaps just making them using buttermilk instead of regular milk will help a bit.  Who knows.  But here is the recipe if you'd like to try it.

For 18 muffins you need:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 pound cooked ground sausage or 9 sausage links, cut in half.

Grease muffin tins (you don't want to use paper liners, it would make a big mess).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix your wet ingredients in another bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.  Don't overmix or you won't be happy. Stir in the sausage.  Fill muffin tins and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Hope you like them.

unPlanned update

Just have to say that unPlanned was an awesome book. No matter what side of the fence you are on in the pro-life debate, this is a book that you must read. A very real, moving account of what really goes on in the abortion industry and how many women are convinced they are helping. Buy it, read it. Seriously, go now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good Words: Inspiration for Catholic Women


I received the book Good Words: Inspiration for Catholic Women last week.  This book is intended to provide you with small quick words of inspiration.  Perfect for reading first thing in the morning or before bed or in that quiet time when all the kids are napping.

I will admit that I didn't get too much out of this book.  I think because the intention of the book is to provide a small amount to read, it was almost always too small to provide me with much insight or inspiration.  One brief passage did truly jump out and make an impression on me so perhaps that is the one I was meant to read.

I will admit that I would be a tad disappointed if I had paid for this book and was hoping to get some inspiration or direction out of it.  However, that could just be where I am right now in my life.  I can see this small book being the perfect size to tuck into a purse or diaper bag to carry along with you to pull out when you have a minute or two throughout your day.  However, there are many others that I would reach for before this one.

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 Good Words - Inspiration for Catholic Women. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snuggling with Ellie

Just a quick picture of the baby, snuggling with Mom.  She is still thankfully in that stage of life where there are only two types of people in the world: Mom and everyone else.  Yup, I am enjoying it while I can because I know it won't last long.  She's finally putting on a bit of weight now that she is over being sick and has finally outgrown most of the preemie clothes.  Still in the super small stuff and I am often told that it looks like I am carrying a doll around.  Cute adorable bundle of snuggles.

An American Knight

If you are looking for a book to remind your children what real character is, I suggest you get a copy of the book An American Knight.  This book tells the story of USMC Col. John W. Ripley, a man of tremendous strength.  This book shows Ripley to be a real life person, living a life full of the same struggles and antics many people can relate to.  The big difference is how his struggles are handled and how they are allowed to impact his life.  Honor and respect are considered qualities to be proud of and to encourage rather than something to shy away from and ignore.  This book needs to be placed into the hands of today's young men, those boys who will become tomorrows fathers.

Faith, courage and respect are words our youth rarely hear in society today.  If we hope to turn the tide back towards a moral society, our youth need to see these words presented in a positive light again.  Get a copy of this book today and share it with a young person in your life.

Butterfly Projects

The girls got a butterfly art kit for Christmas this year and they did a wonderful job decorating them.
These butterflies are now hanging up in the girls' room. 

Ellie's Baptism

Little Miss Eleanor was baptized today.  I'm hoping to be able to get a copy of the pictures taken with another camera so you can see the crowds of children.  Seriously a wonderful thing to see so many children in church.  We've been blessed to get to know some truly wonderful families since moving here and were grateful to have so many of them come out to celebrate with us today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

unPlanned Book

I'm sure most of you have heard the news about this amazing book but just in case you haven't, here's a book that must be put on your list to read this year.  The book unPlanned tells the amazing story of how Abby Johnson had her life transformed and went from being a leader with Planned Parenthood to a vocal pro-life advocate and speaker.  I am eagerly waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail and I hope many of you will order a copy as well.  Planned Parenthood fought hard to keep the truths in this book from reaching the general public.  This brave woman needs our support and our prayers.  Order the book today.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally Did It

We finally did it.  We actually bought a real baptism outfit for one of our children.  No, I could not find a plain white sleeper and I'm not into colorful stuff for baptisms.  Man, those suckers are expensive.  Really makes me wish we'd done it earlier like we'd always wanted so I would have a guarantee that it would be used for multiple children.  7 of our children plus one of our Godchildren were all baptized in a "family" gown.  I will admit that I never liked using the gown myself.  We only did so because it was important to another family member.  Frankly, I'm not too much on big long dresses on my boys.  And I have no memories attached to the gown.  And there is always the fear of what to do if the child pukes on the gown and somehow ruins it.  I'd always wanted one of our own for all of our children to make our own memories with.  And now we will have that I suppose.  Looks like the celebration itself will be super small.  Since it is winter and the kids will be less likely to spend all afternoon outside that is probably a good thing.  Since I am still dragging and getting over some mystery illness, that is also probably a good thing.  Much longer and the laundry will become a monster that will take over the house.  Hm, I think it might already be there.  Anyway, next week there will be pictures of the cute baby in her new dress.  Hopefully she will have gained a wee bit of weight so it is not totally huge on her.  You'd think they would sell the gowns in preemie size at a regular store. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Large Family Moment

You know you have a large family when you have to carry 3 insurance cards to list everyone in your family.  You'd think they'd just use smaller printing or something since the last company was able to fit everyone on a single card.  Guess they just want to increase the chances that I will misplace something important.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Motherless

I recently received a copy of the book Motherless by Brian J. Gail.  This book is part 2 of a trilogy that started with Fatherless.  I loved the Fatherless book and was very excited to read this one.  If you are looking for Catholic fiction, this is a book for you.  It did take me longer to read Motherless than Fatherless because the book arrived the week baby Ellie was born.  Good book it may be but nothing trumps snuggling with a newborn.

This book is full of real life characters struggling with the same moral issues we all face.  Not just the simple ones, but the more complex moral issues that are being thrown at us by modern society.  Do you continue to work for an employer who is supporting immoral causes?  Do you encourage the infertile couple to go against the teachings of their faith and explore modern fertility treatments in an attempt to conceive? Do you ignore a lack of annulment and delve into a romantic relationship anyway?

This book explores the problems faced by the Catholic Church today by walking you through the daily life of several Catholic families. You meet folks who are just like the ones you see on Sunday in church and like those who you don't see in church anymore.  You meet folks yearning to learn more and those who have decided it is ok to consider Catholicism as a cultural identity rather than a faith.  This book challenges you to consider if you are learning enough and doing enough to support your own faith life.  It challenges you to consider if you are going through the simply going through the motions or if your faith means something else to you right now.

One particular paragraph in the book stood out to me as I was reading.  While giving a talk to his congregation, a priest in the book says:

               "The taproot of all the problems in the Catholic Church today is unworthy and
                sacrilegious Communions. . .The problem we now have, and it is pandemic, is too many
                people believe proper reception of Holy Eucharist is simply a matter of individual
                conscience.  There is no such thing as mortal sin, short of murder. . .There is no need for
                confession and absolution.  No need for penance and repentance."

This book is a very easy and quick read.  While it does challenge you to think, it is easily a book you can share with your high school age kids.  It is a book that can spark discussion and dialog.  I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the trilogy later this year.

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