Monday, July 30, 2007

See You Soon!

I will be taking a blog break this week as I travel aboard the Coast Starlight to Seattle with my family. Have a wonderful week and I'll see you next Monday!

The Techno Priest is So Cool

I frequently wish I could be the parish webmaster for Fr. Bill Kessler, the Techno Priest. Now that would be a cool gig! Congratulations to Fr. Bill on the recent Catholic Times article featuring his work. Fr. Bill arranged to have his parish's Sunday Mass broadcast online at the request of a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. What a wonderful blessing for that young man to be able to see Mass from his home parish when he is serving our country halfway around the world!

My son reported to me that as part of the Steubenville retreat this weekend, young men and women who are considering vocations were invited to come down to the floor of the arena. He estimated at least a few hundred responses to that invitation. How wonderful for our church that so many young people are keeping their hearts open to hear God's calling. Let's hope we get many more young Technopriests in the future! Great job Fr. Bill!

My Favorite Knitting Bog Turns One

Congratulations to my friends Cindy and Carey on the first anniversary of their fabulous blog Yarn Paper Scissors. If you love to knit, scrapbook, or are just a creative person, you need to check out YPS on a regular basis. Cindy is my knitting coach - she has a tremendous passion for teaching and an excitement about knitting that is infectious.

Happy birthday girls - I love you!

Young Pro-Life Activist

I had an email this weekend from Elizabeth Andrew, who was writing to enter our Book of Jane contest. Elizabeth shared with me that she is "venturing into the world of post-college pro-life activism". What a brave soul! You can check out Elizabeth's web site and blog at and please keep her work in your prayers.

Being a Persistent Prayer

This weekend, I felt a little bit like Abraham in Sunday's first reading. I was preoccupied by the weekend absence of my eldest son, and felt like I was bombarding God with my prayer requests.

Please keep them safe on the bus. Please help him to meet some great kids and find a few new friends. Please let his heart be touched. Please help him to follow all of the rules. Please let him remember to brush his teeth. Please bring him home soon...

You get the point, I was being a pest! I was feeling distracted in Mass when it came time for the readings. I tried to quietly calm my heart to truly hear them. That first reading, where Abraham keeps asking God over and over if he will spare Sodom if there are even a few good people in town, really hit home. Then the gospel reading came along and Jesus ensured me that it was OK to be so persistent in my prayer. With his disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray, He offered them the perfect formula for prayer. He then gave those wonderful words of hope and encouragement for all of the prayer pests like me:

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. "

Isn't it wonderful to have a God who loves us so much! Although His answers to my persistent prayers may not always be as immediate or as directed as I would like, I intend to keep knocking with the full confidence that His love for me is boundless and that even one mom's prayers are heard and known.

Catholic Youth Conference Touches Lives

This weekend, our 15 year old Eric went off with our church's LifeTeen group for his first real retreat experience. I dropped him off early Friday morning and he boarded a bus to San Diego for the Steubenville San Diego youth conference. Our Confirmation program doesn't start until September, so none of Eric's friends were going on this particular trip. In fact, when I dropped him off in the parking lot, I don't think he knew a single person in the group. Although he didn't say it out loud, I could tell he wasn't feeling thrilled about the journey ahead.

Of course, I spent all weekend fretting as only moms can do. "OK, God," I prayed, "He's in your hands. Please keep him safe and let him fully experience this weekend." I've heard rave reviews of these conferences, and in fact I would love to have gone with him, but I knew this was his time. So instead, I stayed home and prayed for him.

When I pulled into the parking lot last night, I was nervous, hoping he'd had a good time. He looked exhausted, so I figured I'd get few answers to 99 questions I was ready to aim at him. Instead, I hugged him and offered him food (the key to any 15 year old football player's heart). I asked only, "Did you have a good time?" and then I listened. Eric was full of details about the weekend, which went wonderfully. It sounds as though they didn't sleep very much (back to the dorms at midnight, up in the morning by 6:00). His favorite part of the weekend: Eucharistic Adoration. His favorite speaker: Mark Hart. His only complaints were that some of the kids were goofing around during Mass, which was upsetting to him, and that the kids staying at San Diego State seem to have had better breakfast than those staying at UCSD. Those are complaints I can handle!

You know that feeling you have when you come home from a really great retreat? You've been through this intense experience that you can't quite describe. You know you're a changed person, and you are trying to figure out how to re-enter your "real world". You want to bottle the energy you felt on the retreat and drink it in when life gets frantic and God feels so far away. I know that Eric will be going through a bit of that this week. But for now, I'm thanking God for all of the good people who were involved in making this such a wonderful weekend for so many of our Catholic youth. For those who organized the event, the speakers, and especially the Youth ministers and chaperons who watched over our kids all weekend - Thank you!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

August Catholic Mom Book Club Selections and a Contest!

I'm so happy to tell you about our Catholic Mom Book Club selections for August. I have posted them a few days early, since I'll be on vacation next week.

Please be sure to spread the word about a special contest I will be running during the month of August. Broadway Books, publisher of The Book of Jane, has generously donated several copies of the book for giveaway! To enter to win your free copy of this super book, email me at and be sure to put "The Book of Jane Contest" in your subject line. Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address so I can send you your book. I will accept entries by email until August 31 and will randomly draw winners.

In the meantime, please be sure to check out my Book Spotlights on this month's selections. I have a great interview with authors Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt featuring their "good girl lit", my review of our children's selection, and an interview with Leanne Ely, author of Saving Dinner Basics.

As always, happy reading!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Getting Ready for Back to School

For us, the start of the new school year is only a few weeks away. Over at Productivity @ Home today, I'm blogging about back-to-school and minimizing the financial strain it puts on our families.

Book Review: The Girls Who Went Away

Over at her Mommy Monsters blog (and soon to be at her column on Catholic Exchange), Heidi Hess Saxton has posted a great review of The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade.

Leading by Example

I have a teen driver in my house these days, so I'm feeling acutely aware of the need to set a good example with my actions. Whenever Eric is in the car with me, I take extra care to drive more carefully and meticulously than usual. If I go through a late yellow light, I always tell him, "Be really cautious if you find yourself in this situation."

That's why I was so impressed about this article regarding a young priest in Rhode Island who has preached to the families of his parish on the topic of alcohol abuse in families. It seems that a young man in this parish tragically died at 17 in an episode that appears to have been related to drinking. This is a situation that is all too common! We, as parents, really need to question the silent messages we send to our children through our habits. Beyond the topic of drinking, I am thinking about my behavior related to prayer, learning, personal health and relationships with my family and what I'm saying to my kids with my behavior.

Click here to download Fr. Matt's homily.

New Holy Card Blog

I have a thing for old holy cards, so I really hope this new blog on Holy Cards takes off! It would be a treat to see a new one every day!

Happy Feast Day Mom!

Blessings to my mom, Anne, today on the feast day she shares with St. Joachim and St. Ann, patron saints of grandparents. Thank you to every grandparent out there for the love and wisdom you share with us each day. You have taught us so much by your loving examples!

O glorious St. Ann, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen. EWTN

RTBE Catholic Writer's Conference Update

Heidi Hess Saxton has just posted an update over at the RBTE Catholic Writer's Conference blog listing some of the talented writers and editors who have been in contact with us. Take a look and mark your calendars today for next May to attend this event in Chicago. I can't wait to meet everyone!

Are You As Gullible as Jet Nana?

At least three times a week, my dear mother is convinced she's either:

a. Won an international lottery (even though she never bought a ticket)
b. Been contacted by the desperately sad but incredibly wealthy widow of Nigeria's richest man who needs help sorting out her financial affairs
c. Found the latest, greatest way to make a million dollars working online

Every week, I have to be the one to dash her hopes and dreams by informing her that she needs to hit the delete button on that particular email. (She also reads any joke forwarded to her and truly loves them!).

I can spot spam and phishing attempts a mile away. So I was surprised that I only scored an 8 out of 10 on the McAffee Site Advisor Phishing Quiz. Take five minutes and try this quiz - you'll learn a thing or two!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Home Improvement

Here at the Hendey household, summer is the time for home improvement projects. The current project is the "extreme makeover" of Adam's bedroom. For an update on this project and what we're learning along the way, check out Home Improvement and Family Bonding at my Productivity @ Home blog. I neglected to take pictures of the "before", but promise to share photos of the "after" room redesign!

10 Commandments of Managing Money

I can't wait for my next issue of Canticle Magazine. Over at her blog, Heidi Hess Saxton gives readers a little sneak peak of an article the magazine will feature with Francine Huff, author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. At her web site, Francine has a quiz that helps readers assess their need for a money makeover.

Subscribe to Canticle Magazine today and don't miss Francine's article.

Handy Chart Offers Encouragement

Need a little encouragement? I always admire a couple from our bible study who are able to offer scriptural references at the drop of a hat. After ten years of studying with them, the rest of the group know that Marlene and Lyman can be relied upon to offer pearls of wisdom from the bible on a moment's notice. They have been married a very long time, and frequently look lovingly at each other when a pertinent verse pops into their heads at the same time. Then, as though sharing an inside joke, they recite the verse in unison. I love that!

At his web site, Br. Michael Anthony shares a handy little scriptural chart with just the right reference for any situation. Here's an example:

You say: “I’m too tired”
God says: I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Catholic Book Review of Noise by Teresa Tomeo

Over at Daily Donna-Marie, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle has posted her review of Teresa Tomeo's book Noise: How Our Media-saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families

I haven't yet had the opportunity to read Teresa's book, but I am a big online fan of her radio show Catholic Connection. Thanks to Donna's review, I have yet another book on my "to read" list!

Beautiful Music!

I loved this video, featuring the music of Fr. Richard Ho Lung and friends founder of the Missionaries of the Poor.

Fr. Richard and his brothers serve the poorest of the poor in Jamaica, India, the Philippines, Haiti and Uganda. Take a few minutes and watch this video and you will feel refreshed and full of spirit!

Buying Catholic

Over at Daily Danielle, the fabulous Danielle Bean has a great list of Catholic family businesses. Danielle's list is a wonderful reminder for me to look around at the goods and services I purchase and to do my best to support my fellow parishioners. We're blessed to have a large and vibrant parish where many families own businesses. Danielle's list also has some nice ideas for moms and dads looking to work from home.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday Lectionary Resource

For the past few Sundays, I have been using a wonderful tool to help me make the most of my hearing of the Sunday gospel - a wonderful book entitled Bringing Home the Gospel: A Weekly Journal for Catholic Parents by Judith Dunlap. Dunlap's book is a journal of sorts, helping parents to take the readings of Cycle C and relate lessons learned in the gospels to living out our role as parents. Each week, there is a scriptural citation, a reflection on the gospel passage, a family response passage with a suggested topic of discussion or activity, a personal response section with room to write your own reflections and a prompting question, and a section for recording memories from the past week and hopes for the upcoming week.

Every week, we arrive at Mass early to allow Greg and Eric to tune and warm up with the other musicians. During this quiet time, I have the opportunity to read and reflect on the Gospel passage. Dunlap's book is another great tool for helping me to learn as a wife and mother how Jesus' teachings in the gospel can make a difference in my life as I love and serve my family.

Check out Bringing Home the Gospel: A Weekly Journal for Catholic Parents by Judith Dunlap

Blog Alert

If you're a Catholic blog-aholic, and you're not already subscribed to the fabulous New Advent feed, you're missing out on some great stuff. I learn so much every day from this site and always appreciate Kevin's selection of newsworthy posts. Check it out!

Prayers Please!

Please join me in praying for a young man who is an acquaintance of Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's family. Bryant is in critical condition following a hiking accident. For Bryant, and all of those suffering pain and injury, we pray for healing!

Martha, Martha, Martha

I love yesterday's gospel reading. It's always one of my favorites, prompting me to do a mental check on my level of "marthaness" as opposed to the state of my inner "maryness". I'd have to say that I tend more towards the Martha in most situations. Maybe it's being an eldest child and a control freak...who knows?!

At the Mass we attended, the homilist gave a wonderful exegesis on the passage, encouraging each of us to take time to seat at the feet of Jesus each day. Reminding us that yesterday was also the feast day of Mary Magdalene, he called each of us to be true disciples, putting God first in our lives as St. Mary Magdalene had done.

Hospitality is a grace and a treasure. I learned early on from my parents that opening your home to friends is always a treat. Our priest yesterday reminded me that true hospitality takes a little bit of Martha and a little bit of Mary to be successful. In our spiritual lives, hospitality means sharing not only our homes, but also our time, treasures and talents. In relating the celebration of the Mass to the Bethany experience, Father reminded us to be like Mary at Mass: to be on time and to stay for the duration of Mass, to listen with all our hearts, and to choose the "better part" in savoring the Eucharist. Being both Martha and Mary means serving one another, but truly listening to one another as well, while we are serving. As mothers, we have a wonderful opportunity to meld these traits in the loving service of our families.

For some other wonderful takes on Sunday's gospel, I recommend:
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time homily by Father Hahn
Making Time for Prayer by Patrice

Weekend Fun

Want an update of some of the fun we had this weekend? Well, Friday night was our family outing to the American Idol Tour concert. I personally had a blast, and thought they won't admit it, I think my boys did too. Granted, much of their fun was laughing together at the idols and the many screaming girls surrounding them! The show was very fun - fast paced, lots of great classic songs, and not too much Sanjaya!

On Saturday, we drove Arnold all the way over to San Louis Obispo to attend History Revisited, a Renaissance festival. Arnold, the 1974 VW bus, is apparently a road warrior! He made the drive in style, and even got great gas mileage as well. The only downfall was the lack of AC. As low man on the totem pole in my family, I am relegated to the back bench with whichever kid loses the coin toss. Eric and I cranked open the vent windows to get some air flowing. By the end of the six hour round trip, I looked like a sweaty hippy mom - hair flying everywhere, but a big smile on my face. The Renaissance festival was, well, interesting. The boys love these reenactment events, but some of the people can get scarily a little too into their characters. All in all, it was a tremendous day. The weather was beautiful, we heard lots of great music, and I even got to learn to dance like a Renaissance woman!

Last night, we hosted a party at our house for Greg's new colleagues. It was a wonderful, star filled evening. We met many new friends and enjoyed visiting with old ones too. In our wonderful coincidence, the priest at our parish gave a homily yesterday morning on hospitality (being both Martha and Mary), so the timing was wonderful to get me in the mood for a home full of friends.

What's up for next weekend? Who knows, but I'll bet it will be a blast!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Real Life Rosaries

One of my very favorite bloggers is James Hahn of the Real Life Rosary Weblog. I can always find enlightenment and encouragement for my own spiritual journey when I read his blog. This week, he has posted about some lovely rosaries he and his wife create and sell. The corded knot rosaries come in many colors and as either rosaries, chaplets or key chains. Click here to view and support the important work James is doing.

Getting Ready for Sunday

Via Michael Barber's post, I've just discovered the resources offered by Scott Hahn and the St. Paul Center to help prepare for the Sunday Mass readings. The bible study aids are offered in English, Spanish and audio format. Another great tool for truly embracing Sunday's liturgy of the word!

Our Blessed Mother Mary

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle has a wonderful article running at Catholic Exchange today entitled Our Blessed Mother Mary and Motherhood. I am always inspired by Donna's writing.

Arnold Takes a Road Trip

We have ambitious plans for lots of fun this weekend. One of the biggies is driving Arnold, our 1974 VW bus, over towards the coast for the day on Saturday. This is a four hour round trip, and the farthest we've ever driven Arnold from home is about 40 minutes. We'll see how we all survive the trip without air conditioning, rear seat DVD player or satellite radio. We may actually have to play car games and sing songs!! I told Greg to have the cell phone charged and the AAA card ready in case we need a tow. I'll report back on Monday!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can't Afford a Plane Ticket to Rome?

You can take a virtual tour of the Vatican City State at their newly launched web site. I especially enjoyed my tour of the Vatican Gardens! Beware, this site is very addictive!

Learning with Our Children

Over at Spiritual Woman, Patrice has a lovely post about her efforts to teach her children to read this summer. It doesn't seem too long ago that I was walking in Patrice's shoes, struggling to help Eric through the "Bob" book (one word per page!). Now we've moved on to teaching him to drive, which also requires a ton of patience. I also relate to Patrice's comments when it comes to helping Adam with Math, which came very easily for his brother. Patrice's post reminded me of how much I have learned about myself from trying to help my children learn new life skills. Hopefully, this learning will be a lifelong process.

Yesterday, as I was being driven by Eric to his football practice (he's working on his driver's permit), I thought to myself:

"I wonder if my mom feels this stressed out when I drive her places?"

Moving St. Patrick's Day

Deacon Greg Kandra shares an interesting article on his blog about Dublin's moving the date of St. Patrick's day for next year's festivities. It seems that March 17 falls during Holy Week and that the Dublin event will now be held on the 15th. I am wondering how a certain boy in Mississippi would feel about being told he had to celebrate his birthday two days early? Maybe we should just compromise, and celebrate both days!

St. Jude

This should have been posted yesterday, on his feast day, but here is a lovely Novena to St. Jude:

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. St. Jude, worker of miracles, pray for us. St. Jude, help of the hopeless, pray for us.

My family has an odd devotion to St. Jude, related to a ski boat story in the late 1970's. Maybe my daddy will share all of the details of that fated day in the comments, but suffice it to say that we ended up with a ski boat named "St. Jude". Since then, he's been one of my favorites!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Book Walks Families through the Liturgical Calendar

Newly arrived in my mailbox today is The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season by Mary Reed Newland. The book looks like a wonderful resource for Catholic families looking to fully celebrate all of the traditions of the Catholic liturgical calendar. Newland offers recipe ideas, craft projects, devotions, prayers and more to walk you through the Church calendar. I'm looking forward to adding this resource to my Catholic library and encourage you to check it out.

Posts may be sporadic

I may be a little neglectful posting here for the next few days. I am working diligently on getting caught up on email and a few other projects. Thanks for your understanding - hope you're all out doing fun stuff!

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Like Being Catholic

Patrice has a great post today over at Spiritual Woman about one of my favorite books called I Like Being Catholic: Treasured Traditions, Rituals, and Stories. She invites us to comment on why we like being Catholic and shares her own thoughts on the subject.

How to Make a Big Decision

Are you impetuous, like me, or a pro vs. con list make like my husband? Mike St. Pierre at The Daily Saint offers a great free download tool for today called How To Make A Really Big Decision. I always find Mike's tools helpful, and this one is truly a keeper!

Speed Up Dinner Prep

I'm always looking for cooking shortcuts, so I found this article at Real Simple to be of help. Of course the best way I know of to speed up dinner prep is to either have my son cook or invite my husband to grill something!

10 Ways to Speed Up Dinner Prep

Children's Liturgy

I loved this post at Pause for Prayer entitled The Children's Liturgy. One of the things I most miss during summer masses is the loveliness of all of the children filing upstairs to celebrate Liturgy of the Word together. Adam is a volunteer in this ministry, and he also misses it during the summer. But I well understand the ministers' need to take a break to refresh themselves!

Pause for Prayer is written by Sr. Janet of Vatican Radio and is a lovely place to visit.

Must Read Article

In case you missed it, please be sure to check out Heidi Hess Saxton's great article at Catholic Exchange entitled The ABCs of Abuse-Proofing Your Child. Great and important work Heidi!

Weekend Fun

As usual, this was a weekend packed with fun! Friday evening was my fencing lesson - I am enjoying learning to fence foil so much. It's an amazing workout. Our class lasts about 90 minutes and by the end I'm soaked with sweat and exhausted, but totally exhilarated. This week, we had four moms in class, so we each got to bout with three other fencers. One of the moms is a lefty, which made for a whole new set of bruises and an education about fencing a southpaw.

My boys have taken to cooking, which is a wonderful thing since I personally hate cooking! Eric has become quite the gourmet, seeking out sauces and spices to enhance his dishes. He loves trying new ideas and never follows a recipe. Little brother Adam is getting in on the act a bit too - his current concoction is a scrambled egg and rice dish. On Friday evening, Eric and I headed over to Bentley's, a new specialty market in Fresno. Eric filled a small basket with a few new potions (one of which was used on Sunday after Mass to make a mean Ginger Chicken). Adjacent to the market is a cafe where a jazz trio was playing, so Eric and I sat under the stars for a while listening taking in the scene. We also spent an hour at Barnes and Noble (time flies there!) adding to our wish lists. I was looking at travel books - we've decided that our big summer vacation in early August will be to Seattle, and we are actually traveling by train!

On Saturday, while Dad worked, the boys and I traveled to Oakland for the Oakland Scottish Highland Games. What a great day! There was Celtic music everywhere, great food and lots of historical information and reenactments. The photo above (the one with the blond kid who needs a hair cut!) was taken there as we watched a parade featuring pipe and drum bands, antique cars, all of the clans, and Mary, queen of Scots herself! The highland games were very fun to watch. Mom threatened to sign up for the women's caber toss, where you pick up a log the size of a telephone pole and throw it across the grass, but the boys didn't think that was a good idea!

Sunday was a quiet family day, as they should be! We're all rested and ready for the week ahead. Life is awesome, isn't it?!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Beat the Heat

We've been lucky (knock on wood!) in Fresno this week with temperatures remaining in the mid 90's compared to our usual July days over 100 degrees. I've been thanking God a lot for the break this week, since Eric is usually either on a tennis court or a football field during the hottest hours of the day.

Here's a helpful article from Real Simple called 23 Ways to Beat the Heat.
I liked the tip about giving your computer a nap. I'm going to do that today, and take one myself too!

You Never Know Who May Drop By!

I loved this post and the accompanying pictures featuring our Pope on his vacation. That little church reminds me of a special chapel we visited in Ireland on our trip a few years back. Lovely! It also reminds me that today would be the perfect day to stop my the chapel at my parish for some quiet time...

Litany of Saints

I enjoyed this article about the beautiful way in which Lady Bird Johnson was ushered into heaven by the prayers of her family and a priest.

On a related note, Heidi has a lovely piece at one of her blogs about thoughtful gestures we can make when supporting a friend who has lost a loved one. I'm sad to say that I don't have a "tradition" like Heidi's, but this article made me stop and think about the importance of reaching out to grieving friends. One of my best friends lost her husband a few years back to a tragic accident. She continues to need support and encouragement just to deal with day-to-day things that come up. Practical offers such as dinner invitations and babysitting help are so appreciated. Beyond those first few weeks of sadness when a widow is overwhelmed with cards, letters and loved ones, there is a lasting need to be thoughtful and helpful whenever possible for the long run. Thanks, Heidi, for the inspiration!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Online Banking and Personal Productivity

If you're interested in the topic of online banking or considering its merits, catch my post on Internet Banking today at Productivity@Home.

One for JetNana and Gramps

Hey guys! Here's a little video snippet of your eldest grandson "jamming" at the Celtic session last weekend. He's fairly recognizable as one of the few non-middle aged men in the group! This was done on my little camera's video feature, so the quality is horrible but you'll get the idea.

Video: Fresno Celtic Jam Session

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Heidi's Home

Heidi Hess Saxton is home from her trip to EWTN where she taped two television programs. Be sure to visit her blog for a special spoiler on how you can get your hands on a free copy of Canticle magazine. Welcome home Heidi!

That Catholic Show, Episode #6

The latest and greatest installment of That Catholic Show "You Are A Priest Forever" addresses the origins of the priesthood. Enjoy!

Summer Mothering Carnival

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle is hosting a luscious Catholic Carnival over at her new blog, Embracing Motherhood. If you scroll down a bit, you'll find my contribution declaring my love for summer. A special thanks to Donna-Marie for hosting this and for giving me the opportunity to reflect on one of my favorite topics!

Building a Home Library

Some of you may have read at my new blog Productivity at Home about my efforts to get my family library organized. Yesterday, I successfully completed the fiction portion of the library. Our family books have now been sorted through and organized alphabetically. Doing this project helped me realize why it needed to be done: 3 copies of A Tale of Two Cities were not the only duplicates found in the library! Today, I'm planning to tackle the "non-fiction" section, which will probably be a little tougher to organize.

In the mean time, I wanted to point you to my favorite new online resource: My intent is to use this amazing web site to catalog all of our books, making it even easier to find out what we're reading and what we've read. If you love books as much as I do, take a look at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Need a Giggle?

Our wonderful Jelly Mom columnist Lisa Barker is offering a free pdf download of an abridged version of her hilarious book Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane...Doesn't Mean You Are A Bad Parent!

Lisa's work never ceases to amaze me. She has such a funny and refreshing way of looking at life. While inviting you to look at this book, I would also request your prayers for Lisa's youngest daughter who is struggling with Batten's disease. Please keep Lisa and her family in your prayers!

Monday, July 09, 2007

My New Project

For those who might be interested in the topic of personal productivity, home organization, fitness or working from home, please take a minute to head over to my new blog entitled "Productivity @ Home".

If you could dedicate a blog like you dedicate a book, Productivity @ Home would be dedicated to my parents: to my Mom, who made running a home with five kids look simple and to my Daddy, who teaches me that every day is an opportunity to strive to be my very best.

Just as continues to motivate me to learn about my faith, I'm hoping that Productivity @ Home will help me to get motivated towards being a better, more productive and ultimately happier soul.

A huge thanks also to Mike St. Pierre, life coach and educator, for the idea and for being the most productive guy I know!

Special Summer Moments

Clearly, I've been off having too much fun lately to be blogging! Sorry for that, but I am really trying to focus this summer on having as much time as possible with my boys. Now that Eric is almost sixteen and on the verge of driving, I have the sense that I'd better enjoy him as much as I can this summer. Next summer, he will likely be too busy for Mom!

This was a wonderful weekend. Friday afternoon, Adam accompanied me to fencing. We have a new saber coach, recruited from the Ukraine. This was my third foil fencing lesson. I continue to love it more every time I go. I tried to focus this week on employing a few techniques I had learned in my bouts, rather than just waving my foil around like a wild banshee. The result? I won one bout and lost the other. I am thinking of reverting to banshee mode next week...

On Friday evening, we took in Othello at our local Woodward Shakespeare Festival. I was wondering how Adam would fare, but the second the actors took to the stage waving swords around I knew we'd be ok! The boys loved the play so much that they are asking to see it again next week, and I may oblige. It's actually a wonderful thing: Shakespeare presented by local volunteers (many college students) under the stars and free of charge. They allow you to bring in food and drink and comfortable chairs. Once the raging heat cooled a bit after sunset, it was simply a magnificent evening.

On Saturday night, Greg and I took Eric to see Eva Scow, a local mandolinist who is simply incredible. The concert was at a local micro-brewery, causing Greg and I to joke with Eric that we are likely the only parents at his school who took our fifteen year old to a bar this weekend. Eva was amazing - she is so young and such an incredible performer! Eric had an opportunity to meet her after the concert and was slightly tongue tied, but managed to introduce himself and tell her he was learning to play too. A great night filled with wonderful music!

The music continued Sunday afternoon when we went to a local Celtic jam session. Held at a little outdoor cafe, the session meets every other Sunday and you're invited to bring your instrument and sit in. After a few tunes, Eric got up the courage to pull his waiting mandolin from the car and join in, strumming chords to the many tunes they played. Adam, on the other hand, kept his recorder playing skills to himself, preferring to quietly listen in. The jamming continued for two hours, at which time we had to drag Eric away to get to Mass.

Sunday evening's Mass was one of those "pinch me" moments in my spiritual life, when I stop to count my blessings. Greg was subbing for our vacationing music director, both boys were altar serving and I served as an EM. Although we were physically separated from one another during Mass, the closeness of our family ties swelled in my heart. I love my family!

Now it's Monday, and time to see what fun this week holds in store. I hope to share a few words here this week, but if I don't you can safely assume that I'm swimming, playing or just goofing off. I hope you're doing the same!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Faith in Fiction

For you writers out there, take a look at the most recent edition of Karina Fabian's Faith-Filled Fiction newsletter. Karina's newsletter addresses the topic of writing about faith in fiction (thus the title) - she looks at other faiths and offers many helpful market tips and suggestions.

Win a Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers

While some of us are in summer slacking mode, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle is keeping busy over at her blogs! This week, she is hosting a Summer Mothering Carnival, with her theme inviting all of us to write on how we mother during the summer. I plan to participate and am working on my carnival piece to send to Donna-Marie.

Also this week, she has announced a great contest with the prize being her wonderful book Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers. Check out her blog for details and be sure to enter! This book sits on my nightstand and is one of my favorites!

While you're at Donna-Marie's blog, be sure to scroll down the right-hand sidebar and take time to listen to her radio segments with Teresa Tomeo. Teresa is the host of "Catholic Connection" on Ave Maria Radio and Donna-Marie is now a regular guest on that program.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grocery Shoppers and Pyrotechnicians Beware!

With summer cookouts in full swing, this article from MSN health entitled 10 Things Your Grocery Store Doesn't Want You To Know caught my eye. I'm not typically germ-phobic, but the shopping cart and salad bar points kind of got to me!

Also found via LifeHacker , a great "Ultimate Grilling Guide" from Real Simple.

Finally, since I'm married to an ER doc who will be spending tomorrow night in the Emergency Room, I feel compelled to remind everyone to please carefully supervise all fireworks usage. ERs see countless people every year who are horribly injured by improper use of fireworks. Here are some tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety :

  • Use fireworks and sparklers only outdoors.
  • Only persons over 12 years of age should handle sparklers of any type. Too many young people get burned by sparklers every year. By keeping sparkers out of youngsters, we can reduce these injury rates.
  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you are, don’t use them. If drought conditions mean a ban on fireworks, follow the law.
  • Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.
  • Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Have a designated “shooter”
  • When all else fails, use common sense. Respect fireworks and sparklers as the great American tradition they are, but also respect the fact that the must be used with caution.
Please join me in praying for our troops and their families this Independence Day. God bless America!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Grapevine - The Catholic Music Magazine

In case you hadn't heard, the June 2007 edition of Grapevine Magazine is out! Grapevine is the authoritative magazine about Catholic performing artists. Publisher Susan Bailey (herself a talented Catholic musician) has outdone herself with this latest edition. Grapevine is available free of charge as a PDF download, but you should really consider ordering the print edition. This is certifiably one of the highest quality Catholic magazines available. This month's issue has a great feature on Matt Maher (a favorite in my home) and an article on Teresa Smith, a Catholic mom and musician (written by a certain other Catholic mom!), plus tons of CD reviews and other articles. I promise your investment of time and money will be worth the investment!

Check out Grapevine Magazine - and while you're at it, subscribe to the Grapevine News Minute podcast!

Catholic Summer Reading Program

Congratulations to Aquinas and More for their creation of the Catholic Summer Reading Program. The winner of this summer's book selection process was the fabulous Swimming With Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic which remains one of my favorite books of all time. (You can read my review and interview with author Matthew Lickona here.)

One of my favorite aspects of the program is the Kids' Sheet, a downloadable Catholic summer reading log for children. Your kids can log their Catholic summer reading efforts and then submit the sheet to win prizes.

If you're looking for a listing of Catholic children's books, take a look at our Catholic Children's Book Club recommendations at This list is in need of updating, but will give you a great starting point. There is also a comprehensive, grade level list at the Catholic Summer Reading site.

Has all of this talk of reading made you feel like curling up with a good book? Sounds great to me! Be on the lookout later today or tomorrow for our July Book Club selections for

Teaching Our Children Faith Fundamentals

One of my favorite online resources, To Teach from the USCCB, takes a look this month at refocusing on teaching our children the fundamentals of our Catholic faith. This excellent online newsletter offers suggestions for not only principals and teachers, but also for parents. We are, after all, our children's primary teachers!

One of the suggestions for parents I found particularly interesting was the suggestion that we take a look at the "age appropriateness" of the prayers we say with our children. I've found that to be a particular dilemma with the bed time prayer routine. During the summer, my boys frequently stay up later than I do - this disrupts the normal bedtime flow that is present during the school year. It was a sad day in my home a few years ago when I came to the realization that my boys had outgrown "Angel of God" and a bedtime story read to them by a snuggling mom. In fact, there are many evenings now when Adam tucks me into bed and we say prayers in my bed instead of near his!

Check out To Teach from the USCCB.

The Cause of Fr. Solanus

Today's online issue of Fr. Jack's E-spirations has an interesting article on the cause for sainthood of Fr. Solanus Casey. I will admit that I had never heard of Fr. Solanus until I did my interview with Audrey Geyer, a filmmaker who did a project on this special priest. Fr. Jack shares that EWTN will air the following Fr. Solanus-centric programs in the upcoming weeks:

  1. Solanus Casey: Priest, Porter and Prophet
    July 21 (8 p.m), July 22 (2 a.m) and July 26 (1 p.m.)
    (90-minute program).
  2. The Healing Prophet: Father Solanus Casey
    July 25 (10 p.m) and July 28 (5 a.m.)
    (60-minute program).
  3. They Could Be Saints: Father Solanus Casey, presented by Father Benedict Groeschel
    July 31(1 p.m.)
    (30-minute program).

Fitness Focus Monday: Your Caloric Needs

Despite the raging success of many fad diets, many health care and nutrition professionals stick to the tried and true adage "calories in, calories out" - that is, if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, you should attempt to take in fewer calories than you expend.

The key question is, how many calories do you burn in the average day? Wearing a pedometer has helped me to realize that even though I may feel very busy on a given day, I may not necessarily be moving/physically active that day. Many of my busiest feeling days are filled up with activities like writing, web design and driving. For this reason, I find wearing a pedometer most days to be a tremendous incentive. If I glance at my pedometer at 6:00 pm and see that I've only taken 4,300 of my desired 10,000 steps I still have time after dinner to take a great evening walk.

How many calories do you burn in a day? It's not an exact science, but you can find some tools around the web to help get an approximate calculations: