Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reader Readers...

I finally made some long overdue design updates to the blog, which included changing the feed settings for you. I know I am more likely to read a post in my reader than click over to the actual blog, so I wanted to make that easier for you. As you know, my goal is not how many hits but how many hearts. :) So, click on over and tell me what you think. Disclaimer: my eye for beauty in graphic design is quite underdeveloped.

A few reads that made me smile this week...

Who Is Praying for Snow? by Marcel at Aggie Catholics
The Magic Hairbrush and Other Tales by Elizabeth at In the Heart of My Home
The Big, Black Boot...Risk, Trust, & Love by Kate at Momopoly
M&M Math by Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda

We are expecting snow here in Texas tonight which cancelled our homeschool co-op classes, so I will probably get some blogging done!


Review: My First Prayers for Christmas - Catholic Board Book!

So untimely of me! Through the generosity of, I received a copy of My First Prayers for Christmas by Maite Roche. Part of my delay in posting this review is that I wanted to be sure to include my children’s responses, and the book ended up being the perfect Christmas present for the baby.

To me, it is so rare to find quality Catholic children’s literature, much less in board book format. Most religious board books I find are beautifully Christian but not authentically Catholic. This book is just that, and I am thrilled to see there are three other board books in the series put out by Magnificat and Ignatius Press: My First Prayers with Mary, My First Bedtime Prayers, and My First Prayers for My Family.

In this title, there are seven unique prayers, and each one can play a special role in a child’s preparations for and celebration of Christmas. The first prayer is a prayer of anticipation, and it echoes the joy children have in preparing their homes and hearts for Christmas. The next two prayers are of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the birth of Christ. The fourth prayer is appropriate for Christmas Eve, while the fifth is in thanks for the happiness of Christmas Day. Finally, there is a prayer to honor the three wise men, appropriate for the Epiphany, and another to honor the Holy Family on the Feast of the Holy Family.

Such a subtle yet meaningful touch to this book is that each page begins with “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The words are simple and clear, printed in a text that is both bold and clean, spaced and sized perfectly for little eyes. A beginning reader could certainly read the book with only a little help from mom or dad.

The illustrations are done in bright colors, often depicting a family of five with wonderful detail, such as wedding rings and cross necklaces. There is great joy and peace on the faces of everyone depicted, whether it be Mary and Joseph or a cat playing with an ornament. These pictures are delightful to study as you pray the corresponding words for both young and old.

The baby is not quite old enough to fully appreciate board books yet, but he did seem to enjoy looking at the colorful pages. My older children read the prayers together and were inspired by the ease with which they could pray together with the book. My son, an emerging reader, mostly enjoyed looking through the illustrations and seemed to spend quite a bit of time before bedtime one night really soaking in the scenes.

Overall, I am thrilled to find such a quality series for my littlest children! I look forward to bringing this book out next year during Advent to read with my youngest, who will be a toddler more capable of understanding the prayers. I will definitely look for the other titles in the series, as I think they would make wonderful gifts for Easter and Baptism Day! I really do not think you will be disappointed in these treasures, as the care and thought put into them show through in the sincerity of each page.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Little Acts of Grace 2

If you have the first volume of this set, Little Acts of Grace, and love it (which I know you do if you own it), you will also love the second book. These slim little gems are nearly perfect in sharing sometimes overlooked and/or underemphasized elements of our faith to our children. These books are affordable, too, and might just be the perfect thing for your family's upcoming Lenten journey!

Little Acts of Grace 2 is every bit as wonderful as the first volume! We received the original Little Acts of Grace as a gift from godparents several years ago. The Catholic Company was gracious enough to send me a copy of the sequel to review for you and my family. Rosemarie Gortler and Donna Piscitelli have once again put together a gem of a volume on small ways our children can show their love for and faith in God.

The book’s focus, in fact, is how we can show our love for God in little ways. Each section speaks eloquently of common ways to honor God. The first section reminds me of St. Therese’s Little Way, as children are invited to “Seeing the Lord in the Little Things.” The suggestions in this section, and throughout the book really, are quite simple and easy things for children to do, giving them an immediate sense of accomplishment and connection to God.

Subsequent sections introduce children to the ideas of choosing to attend Mass, participating in the Mass, noticing the candles and incense, loving others through service and forgiveness, and loving Jesus by spending time with Him in prayer. Each section has numerous suggestions for children of all ages, from lighting a candle to celebrating birthdays with family and friends.

My children have truly enjoyed the first volume of this series. My daughter, in particular, often struggles with how hard it is to remember to do everything in love for God, but she finds these books comforting. The simple actions done with sincere and loving hearts can easily lead our children towards greater virtue and charity.

As before, Mimi Sternhagen has created pictures that illustrate the ideas in the book beautifully. The drawings are soft but use bold colors and depict children doing the many things suggested in the book. I am again impressed at how she is able to combine several different “acts of grace” into one drawing, so children have a visual reminder of almost all of the little things in the book and not just a few chosen ones.

Whether you have the original Little Acts of Grace or not, Little Acts of Grace 2 would be an excellent addition to any Catholic home! The books can stand alone; you do not need the first book to appreciate the second one. But, they both do offer different ideas for living our lives in love for God. In fact, they are a wonderful inspiration for me, as well, since once I read a section with my children, I, too, am motivated to put forth the effort to remember these small steps to holiness.

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 Little Acts of Grace 2 . They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Favorite Superbowl Food?

Okay, friends, I need your help! I am actually having people over to watch the Superbowl on Sunday for the first time ever. Yikes! We have this itty-bitty, non-HD television, which works fine for our sporadic viewing habits, but rarely invites company for viewing. Nevertheless, one of my husband's friends was looking for a place to watch the game. So, he and his wife are coming to watch here!

Many of you know that I absolutely LOVE football. This is the last game of the season, which always makes me a bit teary, but it is also in my top five games of the season, especially since my team is playing! Other favorites usually include the Aggie v. t.u. game, whatever bowl the Aggies are in, and sometimes the national championship game.

Anyway, my point? Oh, yes. Forgive me, we've all got the allergy/sinus/cold virus thing fogging our brains here. I need some ideas of Superbowl foods that (and this is vitally important) can be completely prepared ahead of time, set out just before game time, and sit out the whole game. I am the football fan in the house, remember? I do not get up to heat, stir, plate, or otherwise do any cooking, preparing, or serving except to refill my own plate. Okay, sometimes I beg my husband to do that, too, so I don't miss a play...or a commercial.

Please help! What do you like to eat? Our standards include chips and dip and pigs in a blanket, but I probably need to have more than that on hand for guests.

Oh, one more thing - GO STEELERS!!

Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Gitter Provided by