Friday, August 31, 2007

Things That Make Me Smile

Yesterday, for my podcast, I had the opportunity to interview Mark Hart, one of my favorite authors. It continuously amazes me that busy, talented people will take time out of their day to share their thoughts and ideas with someone like me. If Katie Couric asked Mark for twenty minutes, I could understand him dropping everything to answer her questions, but when a mom from Fresno calls and he gives her almost half an hour... now that's a generous soul!

My son Adam and I were perusing Mark's latest book, Ask the Bible Geek 2, after the interview and we came across a passage entitled "Does your pillow change temperature?" In the reflection, Mark ponders the great joy of some of life's simplest pleasures: hugs from his daughters, eating buffalo wings with buddies, and yes - the feel of a crisp, cold pillow when you're really tired. Mark's point is that some of God's greatest gifts are these tiny moments of extreme pleasure - things so simple that often we take them for granted.

Reading his reminder to be grateful for life's simplest pleasures gave me the opportunity to ponder some of my own favorite, simple things:

  • Snuggling on the couch with my husband at night with a glass of red wine and an episode of Survivor (remind me to tell you some day my plan for winning the million!)
  • Driving Eric home from football practice and listening to him walk me through his day at high school
  • Adam's frequent statement: "I need a hug!" Not many almost -13 year olds have the time of day for mom.
  • Talking with my sisters, my mom and my daddy on the phone
  • Sitting with my feet dangling in the pool reading a good book
  • Receiving an email from someone who's visited my site and been touched by something I wrote
  • Kneeling in Mass on Sunday after having received the Eucharist, surrounded by my family and friends

Most of life is not Parisian vacations or Caribbean cruises. It's driving car pools or sitting in the cubicle at work. It's washing the dishes, the dog, or the car. It's serving the people we love with caring hearts, even if that serving is washing their smelly football uniforms or changing their dirty diapers. True joy is finding those moments along the way that make you smile and stopping to appreciate them. Some of the happiest people I know lead lives of great simplicity, but live them with an attitude of constant gratefulness for the gift that is each day. What makes you smile? Look for opportunities in your world today to smile, and to bring smiles to the faces of others.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Catholic Moments Episode #5 Starring Mark Hart

In this episode of our Catholic Moments Podcast, I chat with one of my favorite authors, Mark Hart - the “Bible Geek”. Mark is the Executive Vice President of Life Teen International, author of three books, sought after speaker and a fellow Notre Dame graduate. We talk about helping our teens get this year off to a great spiritual start, learn about Mark’s books, and dish a little Notre Dame football. Mark has generously donated eight books for our latest CatholicMom.com giveaway, so be sure to enter for your chance to win. To enter, email lisa@catholicmom.com with “Mark Hart Giveaway” in the subject line and be sure to include your complete mailing address. Enter by September 30, 2007 To share your feedback email catholicmoments@mac.com or call (206)222-2325.

Listen to Catholic Moments Episode #5

Subscribe to Catholic Moments


Links for this episode:
Life Teen International
Mark Hart’s Books at our Catholic Company store
Check Out the Latest News on Notre Dame Football
Lisa’s Facebook profile

Playing with Video

video
Looks like Blogger now lets us upload videos directly, so I'm playing with the feature a bit to see how it works. This is a video of Eric and Adam goofing around with their instruments on the train on the way to Seattle. My favorite part is the little dancing girl!


video

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Reader Needs Your Help!

Patti would like your ideas for bulletin boards for Faith Formation classrooms...suggestions anyone? I was thinking it would be neat if each kid brought in a photo of them at the their Baptism. What has worked for you?

Taming the Extracurricular Activity Monster


Thought I would share the following from PAH for those here getting ready to fight the practice wars!

In many families, Back to School also means back the grind of days filled with meetings, practices, lessons and homework. Our kids are more over scheduled than ever these days. A friend was recently telling me about a three year old who is playing in a soccer league because Dad fears he'll "be behind" if he doesn't start young. Many of the grade school children I know (although not my own) carry cell phones to coordinate schedules with Mom and Dad. It can be crazy trying to keep everyone's schedules straight.

Extracurricular activities do have tremendous benefits as well. Studies show that more children than ever are involved in enrichment activities away from home and school. Children who are engaged in meaningful enrichment activities learn time management, social skills and important physical fitness strategies. Extracurriculars also help working parents to ensure that children do not go home to empty houses, junk food, and a screen during those critical after school hours. Sports and lessons teach the value of team work, persistence and facing challenges. Hopefully, and most importantly, they are supposed to be fun!

As we enter into a new school year bursting with opportunities for learning and growth, sit down with your family and prioritize your plans for this year's extracurriculars. Discuss with each child independently his or her interests, goals, and schedules. Look carefully at the anticipated school work load, which should always take priority. Place at the top of the list religious education and service opportunities. If your child is signed up to play a sport, discuss the importance of commitment and make sure that he is enrolled because he, not his parent, is truly interested in playing. Do not commit to activities that overlap or will cause your family undue stress. If your child is interested in trying out an activity or sport for the first time, talk with the coach or teacher about the possibility of attending a practice or lesson prior to making a firm commitment. In short, talk up front about the activity's benefits and costs ( in terms of time, emotions, and finances) prior to finalizing registration.

I did not grow up to be a Scottish dancer, but I learned poise in front of a crowd from performing in recitals. My son Eric will likely not become a professional guitarist from those days playing in church, but he is learning about liturgy and deepening his love for our faith every Sunday. My son Adam may never Fence in the Olympics, but he is fit, confident and a good sport from his weekly bouts and training. Enter this year's extracurricular season with a good family meeting up front, a few car pools, and a firm grasp on the family calendar and you should be fine!

What's Cool This Week at My Catholic Company Store

This week, I spotted a totally cool item over at my CatholicMom Catholic Company store. These Surfer Style Dog Tags feature a St. Christopher Medal and are great for back to school!

For more great specials this week, check out my new Catholic Company page at CatholicMom.com - this week's feature is Rosaries and we have some incredibly beautiful items featured. Please remember that your purchases at The Catholic Company made through CatholicMom.com help benefit our web site and enable us to help Catholic families around the world!

You Can Win Catholic Bible Study Materials!!

In conjunction with my interview of Catholic Bible Study Author Laurie Manhardt, Ph.D., I am thrilled to announce a major giveaway this week! Thirty lucky CatholicMom.com readers and Catholic Moments listeners will have the opportunity to win wonderful Catholic Bible Study materials, including books, DVDs and children's bible study resources.

For all the information on how you can be a winner, click here. This is a limited time giveaway - the first thirty people to contact Laurie will be the winners. Be sure to check it out and tell a friend!

A Reader Needs Your Help

Can anyone offer advice on the following question? If so, please post a comment or drop me an email. Thanks!

Lisa, I am a mother of a 4 year old that has is allergic to eggs. I have volunteered to try and find an alternative to real egg shells. Looking for an artificial type egg for the Easter celebration w/confetti. Yes, I'm starting this process early, but need to be prepared. I'm asking everyone if they have heard of any such type of product.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

First Day of School

Opening Prayer Service at the World's Best Catholic School!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If I lived in Ohio...

...or maybe even Indiana, this is where I'd be this weekend:

After years of operating a traveling bookstore we now have a physical location. Real Life Rosary Books & Gifts is located in the lower level of our home. Here you will find over 300 square feet filled with Catholic books, statues, rosaries, and so much more.

Join us for our Grand Opening on Friday August 24th and Saturday August 25th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Regular hours will be - Fridays 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Cord Knot Rosary Making classes every Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Real Life Rosary Books & Gifts
12085 State Route 93 North
Logan, OH. 43138-9310
webmaster@realliferosary
1.740.603.4962

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Are You On Facebook?

I finally got "sign up for Facebook" checked off my to do list today. In the process, I got back in touch with a cousin, had some great chats with new friends, and learned a lot. If you're on Facebook, check out my profile and consider joining the newly formed group for CatholicMom.com friends.

Catholic Moments Episode #3

Episode #3, our "Back to School" special, has hit the airwaves! Click here to listen online to this show which features three special Junior High boys, a Catholic Mom/Principal and some other stuff. Don't forget about our two great giveaways - the deadline to enter is August 31, 2007.

This is So Sweet!

I just loved this little angel!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to School Blues...

Snif.... they're gone! Yesterday was the first day of school, but it didn't real feel that way. I attended Adam's (my new 7th grader!) prayer service with him and then spent the rest of the morning at Eric's high school volunteering to get a mailer sent out. It was actually a great way to spend the morning. Running a copier and folding machine for two and half hours can be strangely cathartic. Both boys had half days and were home asking for food again before I knew it!

But today's a different story. Adam has a half day again, but Eric won't be home again until close to 7:00 pm, after football. I'm suffering from separation anxiety big time. Today, I'm allowing myself a few hours to grieve their fleeting adolescence. The other moms? They're ready to party! So, what's wrong with me?

Over at Productivity @ Home, I have a post today that will be of interest to parents with kids going back to school. Check out Make a Date to Help Your Child Succeed in School for some inspiration.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School, Back to Work

I thought I'd share part of today's blog post from Productivity @ Home, my other blog, with you as it reflects some of my state of mind today. Even if you're a stay at home mom or dad, or work full time outside the home, the first day of school always feels like a momentous occasion!

For me, the First Day of School ranks up there with New Years and Ash Wednesday as a ceremonial and introspective event in my personal life. Just like the freshly sharpened number two pencils and unwritten-in notebooks, the next nine months are a clean slate. There are goals to be set, memories to be made and achievements to be sought.

For those parents who work from home, the past few months have been a bit chaotic. We've shifted priorities to spend quality time with vacationing kids. Who wouldn't rather be at the beach or the zoo rather than designing web sites or making sales calls?

Now that my kids are back to a regular schedule, I'm giving myself this week as a transitional and goal setting week - a chance to establish my own business priorities for the coming school year. I should have the same high expectations for myself that I have for my children. This week, I intend to spend a chunk of time in "summerly review" mode, accounting for projects that remain open and setting time lines for their completion. Now that my kids are back to school, it's time for me to get back to work!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Listen to Catholic Moments Episode #2

Don't have an iPod but want to check out the latest episode of Catholic Moments? Click here to listen online now.

We've had a few technical difficulties with Episode #2 owing to Apple's release this week of iLife '08. I'm hoping that most of the bugs are worked out now and that next week's show will go more smoothly. Learning new things is fun, isn't it?!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Awesome Catholic Giveaway!!

Chris Cash, of the Catholic Company's awesome Catholic Spotlight podcast wrote me this week to share that he is running a great giveaway in conjunction with his upcoming interview with Phil Lenahan, author of 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free - A Catholic's Guide.

I am greatly impressed by this book and the accompanying workbook. Please take time today to visit Chris' site and follow the simple rules to enter this contest. The book offers life changing wisdom and guidance that will benefit both your spiritual and financial life!

The Dignity of Women

I am happy to share with you a wonderful initiative being coordinated by some very talented Catholic women, including Genevieve Kineke and Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. In observance of the 20th anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem, Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women, the laity are encouraged to gather and consider this important document and its place in today's society.

The following resources will help orient you to the initiative and the start of some wonderful work being done:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Catholic Moments Episode Up!

In time to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, I've just uploaded Episode #2 of the Catholic Moments podcast. Please note that if you subscribed to the feed on iTunes earlier in the week, you may need to resubscribe. Due to a technical glitch in the release of iWeb '08, the RSS feed was changed in iTunes. If you don't see Episode #2 showing up on your iPod, please resubscribe or listen at www.CatholicMoments.com. Thanks to all those who sent in comments and feedback this week - your support means the world to me!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Catholic Moments Podcast

I'm happy to unveil a project Eric and I have been working on for the past few weeks - our new Catholic Moments Podcast! Episode #1 is up and running - featuring an interview with a certain 15 year old who just returned from Steubenville San Diego. If you find time to listen, please remember that we're rookies and that we still have some technical glitches to work out! I'm just psyched that a teenage kid and his mom can come together and create something fun and faith filled! We're not quite "Oprah" yet, but give us a few months...

We're aiming for at least one episode per week and would love your feedback about topics you'd like to hear discussed. Please consider subscribing and help us spread the word by telling your friends and blog readers.

Catholic Giveaways Continue!!!

James Hahn, one of my favorite writers and bloggers, wrote to tell me that he is running a contest at his website. We have the opportunity to win a copy of Hahn's wonderful book Real Life Rosary and one of the beautiful cord knot rosaries handmade by the Hahn family! This book is contains some of my favorite Rosary meditations.

For the simple details on how to enter this contest, visit RealLifeRosary.com and also be sure to check out Jim's terrific blog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Want to Have Your Prayer Published?

I received the following note from Brian W., who is requesting your submission of prayers for his project:

My name is Brian Westman and I am a writer from Rochester, New York. I am in the process of compiling different prayers for a new book that I am intending for publication. I was wondering if you, or any of your members would be interested in contributing a personal prayer.

If so, please email me at
brian8w@yahoo.com. It really could be a prayer of any theme.

From personal prayers of praise, thanks, healing, asking for guidance, to any other personal prayer. Please include your name and where you are from also. If you wish to remain anonymous, that is ok too. Thank you so much for your time.

Catholic Exchange Moms!

It's buddy day over at Catholic Exchange! Heidi Hess Saxton has the Today headline with her review of The Girls Who Went Away and Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has a wonderful reflection on the Sign of the Cross. Great job ladies!

Free Sacraments Chart

At his blog this week, Steve Ray offers a free and convenient 2 page reference chart for the Sacraments. Complete with scriptural and catechetical citations, the chart offers a convenient overview of the basics.

Best Catholic Writing 2007

At People of the Book this week, Jim Manney is blogging about The Best Catholic Writing 2007 and his work editing the project. I haven't yet seen this year's installment, but it's always interesting to look at this Loyola Press institution, see what's included and contemplate the reasons behind the various selections' inclusion. With his blog posts on the topic, Manney offers some great insights into his decision making. Have you seen the book yet? If so, I'd love to hear your comments.

Hoping to Meet List: Tom Allen

I have a list of people I hope to meet in person some day. Included on the list are hundreds of people including every single one of our Catholic Mom columnists, Dan Abrams, Lou Holtz, Katherine Valentine, Johnette Benkovic, and Fr. Roderick Vanhogen. It's a pretty eclectic list!

After reading this blog post by Deacon Greg Kandra, I've added Tom Allen, of Catholic Exchange fame, to my Hoping to Meet list. I'm lucky enough to share some of my writing at Catholic Exchange, so I know Mr. Allen by reputation only. I didn't know that he's a Notre Dame alum, or that he lives relatively close to me in Oceanside (well, not that close, but at least it's in the same state!). What I do know is that he has built Catholic Exchange into a phenomenal resource and that he is a great role model of someone who is passionate about sharing his Catholic faith with others.

Who's on your "Hoping to Meet" list?

A Contest Over at Donna-Marie's

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle is offering us a chance to win her wonderful book, The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home, over at her blog Embracing Motherhood. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 15, so hop over to Donna-Marie's and enter to win. You will love this book!

Holy Cards

I'm loving my subscription to the new Holy Cards blog. There's something simply wonderful about having a beautiful Holy Card image delivered to your RSS feeds every morning. Check it out!

Latest "That Catholic Show"!

As usual, it's a winner. I loved spotting one of my favorite books Please Don't Drink the Holy Water! by Susie Lloyd in the intro!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What's Up?

Sorry to have been such a stranger here at the blog this week. I hadn't even noticed how neglectful I've been until my own mother called to check on me. For some reason, this week has been particularly busy. It's probably the confluence of returning from vacation, double day football practices, and getting ready to go back to school. Last night, I went out for my walk at 9:45 pm in the pitch dark - I told myself I wasn't going to bed until I made time to exercise, and that's the only time I could fit it in.

I'm assuming that life at your house is just as crazy as it is at mine. I'll make you a deal - I will pray for you and your family, and please do the same for me. Whether you're busy enjoying those last few days of summer or stressed out with the start of the school year, I hope you feel God's presence and His peace in your world. I hope to be more active on the blog next week...

...but I'm not making any promises!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another Great Contest - The Ultimate Gift

I'm happy to announce another CatholicMom.com contest. This time, it's your chance to win a copy of the fabulous DVD "The Ultimate Gift". This movie is being released on DVD August 21st. If you haven't yet seen this movie, please take a few minutes to read my review. If you did catch it in theaters, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on the movie.

Click here for more information on how you can enter to win this wonderful family DVD and be sure to tell your friends about our contest.