Saturday, September 29, 2007

Greetings from the Podcast Expo!

Hi everyone! I'm writing this from the luxury of my own personal hotel room in Ontario, California. I'm down here for the Podcast and New Media Expo, a conference full of podcasters and bloggers. Thanks to my wonderful husband, I was able to drive down here yesterday and spend two whole days soaking in all of the information.

When I arrived at the conference, I was struck by a case of the nerves - I didn't know a soul here, but had been conversing online with some of my fellow Catholic podcasters who would be in attendance. I made my way straight to the SQPN booth and meet up with those guys. Wow, what a great group! I immediately met Fr. Roderick, Greg and Jennifer from the Rosary Army, and Jeff Nielsen who runs our Catholic Mom logo store. I also met Paul Camarata of the Saint Cast and Fr. Jay Finelli, the iPadre and Fr. Bill Holtzinger, aka "Fr. Geek". Of course, this crowd is surrounded by adoring, podcast listening fans, so there's a great group of Catholic podcasters and fans here at the expo. I've enjoyed spending time with these great folks at meals and wandering around the expo. Yesterday, Friday, was a day spent mostly soaking in lots the atmosphere and meeting new people. Today, I'm hoping to learn some new information about podcasting and equipment. I'm having such a great time!

Having two days away to totally focus on this new aspect of, our Catholic Moments Podcast, has been a rare treat. I'm really missing my men at home though and am looking forward to seeing them tonight when I get home. Be listening for an episode of the podcast next week when I share about my travels and get back to the routine. I'm so excited to be able to use this new media to support our Catholic families and to share the good news about what's going on in our culture!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Out of Sorts

Maybe I'm sleep deprived, or maybe it's the fact that my "baby" turns 13 tomorrow, but I'm feeling a little out of sorts today. I woke up for an early conference call, seated myself at my computer, and discovered that the homepage of was entirely "goofed up". That's not the technical term, but suffice it to say that it took me five hours to get things back to normal. The aforementioned call was interrupted by yet another set of technical disasters, leading me to cancel another call I had scheduled for later in the day. A very wise woman counseled me to "walk away" for a few hours. I probably wouldn't have followed that advice, but I had a volunteer shift scheduled at the College Connection office at Eric's school, so I was forced to drop the mouse and back away from the laptop.

When you're feeling completely ineffective and frustrated, "walk away" is good advice. On the way to school, I asked Adam to remember me in his prayers today. He asked, "What's wrong?", so I gave him some lame excuse but what I really wanted to say was, "You're growing up too fast, that's what's wrong!" I don't remember getting this messed up over Eric's 13h birthday...

So today, I'm out of sorts. I thinking that I will take the rest of the day "off", play with Adam, bake a birthday cake, and try again tomorrow. We'll see how that plan goes!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our New Store is Open!!

I'm thrilled to announce a new partnership with "Capt. Jeff" of Nielsen Design Studio. Thanks to Jeff Nielsen, we are now offering Catholic Mom tshirts and coffee mugs for sale. The quality of these products is greatly improved over our previous Cafe Press offerings. Also, the prices have dropped significantly and a great percentage of your purchase price goes to support Our beautiful coffee mugs are only $10, or can be personalized with your name for only $15. The new tshirts come in all sizes and two logo designs and are only $12.50. Remember that when you purchase one of these items, you make a donation to Check out our new Catholic Mom logo store and tell your husband/kids/wife/parents you'd love a new Catholic Mom shirt and mug.

Catholic Moments Podcast Episode #9

Episode #9 of Catholic Moments is now online! Meet Lisa Mladinich, creator of Paradox Puppets and a superstar contributor. Lisa shares her recipe for blending faith and creativity to create great catechetical results. I also chat with a kid who's turning 13 and announce our new Catholic Mom logo store partnership with Captain Jeff of Nielsen Design Studio. To share your comments, email us at or give us a call at (206)222-2325. Listen online here or Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes.

Links for this episode:
Catholic Mom Puppet Show Ministry Featuring "Paradox Puppets" by Lisa Mladinich
Faith and Family Magazine
Catholic Writers' Guild
Catholic Mom Logo Store - new and improved!

Reader Request

Can you help out? Reader Lisa sent the following note and I'm somewhat stumped. If you have a recommendation, please drop me an email or post a comment. Thanks!

I'm trying to find a good book about puberty (don't need sex info, mostly about body changes and such) from a Catholic/Christian perspective for my almost ten year old. I did pick up the American Girl book on this topic, but would like to have something besides a secular resource. Any suggestions? Several people have recommended Beyond the Birds and the Bees for my husband and I to read, as it's geared for parents, but I'm looking for something for my daughter (and I guess for my son before I know it, as he is about to turn 8!) Thanks so much.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Bad Things Happen to Good Football Teams

My football teams are off to a tough start this season, prompting me to do a little thinking about the effect of an under-performing football team on one's personal productivity. Why write about this on "Family Fun Friday" when both my son's JV team and my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish are off to 0-3 starts this season? I lot of Irish fans aren't having much fun watching our team this season. Perhaps it's because I'm an eternal optimist! Also, I'm writing this as a reminder to myself to believe the pep-talks I've given my son this week to try to keep his spirits high - he is starting center on a team that's gotten sooo close to victory in each of the past three games they can taste it.

I've obviously never played football myself, but I think the sport makes a great metaphor for performing well in life. You need solid fundamentals, a team attitude, effective leadership and a will to win. Without these essential ingredients, you can have all the talent in the world and still not come through the victor in battle. More importantly, as in life, hopefully football is not always about the winning. It's frequently about the journey toward that end goal - the camaraderie of hours spent practicing together, the small improvements made week after week, and the ultimate sense of fulfillment when things finally do click and you come away with a victory. Sure, winning is fun, but hopefully real winners learn a thing or two about themselves from losing too.

I'm not one who gives up on my teams or starts to badmouth coaches or players when the going gets tough. That's why you'll find me cheering my son and his teammates on tonight in their high school contest, and why I have faith that the Irish will eventually come away with a win this season (although I'm not sure it will come tomorrow against Michigan State). In the mean time, I will continue to believe in both teams, to pray for their health and safety, and to learn from all of the hard work those guys put into their roles. They are all winners in my book, regardless of the scoreboard.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast Episode #8

Episode #8 of the Catholic Moments Podcast is now online! Football and Family are my favorite things this week on the podcast. We continue to root for the Irish despite some setbacks and I feature an interview with my own Mom. She is a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Long Beach, Mississippi and describes her faith community's recovery from Hurricane Katrina. To share your comments, email us at or give us a call at (206)222-2325. Listen online here or Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes.

Links for this episode:
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
The St. Thomas Story, Before and After Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Spending Time in the Company of a Mentor

This week, on Monday, my mother and I took a road trip retreat to visit with one of my favorite people in the world. My childhood pastor, Msgr. Michael Collins, is an Irish priest who lives in the seaside community of Seal Beach, California. On his next birthday, "Father", as we call him, will celebrate 90 years of life.

A former professional Irish national team rugby player, Father now hones his competitive skills with a mean bridge game at the local leisure world. He lives quietly in a small home adjacent to his former parish and fills his days with visits from groupies like me and trips to the beach on his personal scooter. At the shore each day, Father sits quietly on a bench looking out at the ocean and praying his rosary until someone comes along to visit. He shared with my mom and I that most days that rosary doesn't get finished, since someone in need of a listening ear inevitably stops by to visit with him. "The people are a part of the prayer though," he says with his lilting Irish brogue.

I make these visits to Father at least twice a year - they have become a pilgrimage of sorts. I wake early and drive the four hours to LA timing my route to avoid morning traffic. I arrive at Seal Beach in time to visit the quaint shops on Main Street and stroll along the pier watching the seals frolic. I revel in the cool sea breeze that stings my face and fill my lungs with that unique scent, a mix of salt and fish. I thank God for my life and for the many people in it who share themselves with me so abundantly. Then I make my way to Father's.

The front door to Father's little cottage is always open when he's home, indicating his constant willingness to welcome visitors. Every time I walk through that door, I say a quiet prayer of thanks for yet another opportunity to immerse myself in some of Father's wisdom, wit and goodness. In his company, I'm a sponge, trying to soak in as much as I can to see me though to my next visit. Despite his advancing age, Father is completely up to date on all the current events. This week, I had to endure his lamentations about the state of affairs in the Notre Dame football program. Our visits fill my heart with laughter, with knowledge, with spiritual reflection and with love. From current affairs to the Sunday gospel, from gossip updates about family friends to news of the clan in Ireland, Father always has something to share. Alongside his favorite chair are the stack of books and periodicals he's currently reading, photos sent to him by family and friends, and the day's crossword puzzle - he credits his mental health to that daily habit.

My normal visits with Father last less than two hours - I try to be considerate of his time and his need for rest, although I'm truly never ready to say goodbye. I know there are so many others like me who need time in his presence, so I try not to be greedy. Our visits always end with a hug and his blessing for my health and wellbeing. I emerge from his home spiritually and mentally charged for my mission in this life.

Do you have someone in your life like Father - a mentor who means the world to you? Maybe it's your first grade teacher or the guy who coached your little league team. Maybe it's your first boss, or even your current one. Whoever that person is, try your hardest to make time to let them know you appreciate all they have given you in this life. Spend time in their company and try to quantify for yourself what that relationship truly means to you. Especially if they are advancing in age, prioritize spending time in their company both for their benefit and for your own.

Learning happens every day, even in the smallest moments. It may present itself in book form, in a nugget of truth you hear in a movie, or even in the form of an elderly Irish gentlemen sitting near the beach with a listening ear. Seize those moments, and see what happens.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Latin Mass Resources?

Reader Audra is looking for a book about Latin Mass that would be appropriate for children. If you have a suggestion, please drop me an email or post a comment here. Thanks!

Friday, September 14, 2007

To Teach September Issue

In advance of Sunday's celebration of Catechetical Sunday, I thought I would point you to the September issue of To Teach from USCCB. As always, To Teach has resources for principals, educators and parents. This month's issue addresses this year's catechetical theme of Encountering the Living Christ. As a mom, I always love the suggestions contained in the Parents section of this online newsletter.

Hidden Helpers

At today, I just posted a wonderful column by our friend Heidi Hess Saxton. Heidi, who has been under the weather lately, extols the virtues of a tremendously generous friend. I am seeing this in my own life this week as my mother is here visiting/taking care of me. My mom is one of those selfless people who is always looking for a chance to help out. Whether it's caring for a grandchild or building an email list for a website, she pitches in and takes care of business without ever expecting anything in return. She is an inspiration to me - someone who constantly reminds me to look outside myself to find ways to help others.

I hope you will take time to read Heidi's column today. In other great news, Heidi shares the following:

Come and join the Carnival! Heidi is looking for blog posts on the theme of “Lessons I’ve learned from my children” or “Childhood memories.” For more information, go to

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast Episode #7

Episode #7 of our Catholic Moments Podcast is now up and running! So much to learn, so little time! Our focus this week is learning, education and catechesis. I chat with Chris Cash, host of the great Catholic Spotlight podcast and the Catholic Company. A two year old sneaks onto the podcast and we take a look at Catechetical Sunday. To share your comments, email us at or give us a call at (206)222-2325. Listen online here or Subscribe to Catholic Moments at iTunes

Links for this episode:
Catholic Mom's Catholic Company Store - A portion of your purchase is donated to
Catholic Spotlight Podcast hosted by Chris Cash
Inspirational Christian Stories and Poems Archive
USCCB Catechetical Sunday Resources

Monday, September 10, 2007

Getting Things Done with a Two Year Old in the House

Since I'm busy having fun today, I thought you might enjoy the following entry from my Productivity at Home blog.

Sure, it's easy to preach about home office productivity when your teenage kids depart home for school every day leaving six hours of uninterrupted work time. However, I've discovered this week that getting anything done with a toddler in the house can be a major challenge. My adorable nephew Patrick, a two year old bundle of non-stop energy, is staying with me this week. I'm tempted to ditch "work" and just go play on the swings for five days, but that wouldn't be too responsible of me. So I'm attempting to use this as a learning experience and an opportunity to empathize with those whose home offices also host the under three-year-old crowd. My own work @ home experience did not commence until my boys had started elementary school, so I'm a novice at trying to accomplish real stuff with a toddler in tow.

What I'm learning is that it is next to impossible to get anything done during his waking hours. I've tried the basket of toys next to the computer option, the "just ten minutes while Auntie Lisa sends this email option", and the blowing it all off option. None of them are helping me check anything off of my next actions list! The problem is that Patrick is just too cute - I'd much rather be singing "Wheels on the Bus" than checking inbound link stats or writing blog entries.

Thankfully, Nana (my mom and his grandma) is also visiting and has done the lion's share of the actual care taking. She has cooked his meals, washed his clothes and handled his baths. I'm mostly good for getting him giggling and stealing lots of kisses. So far, the experiment in being a home-working woman with a toddler is not proving too successful. For that reason, I'm going to share the following links with you from a few pros who seem to have it figured out better than I do. I've read their advice, and it all sounds really great. But for now, since Patrick goes home tomorrow, I think I'm going to head to the local playground and build some sandcastles. Blogging can happen anytime, but you only get to play with a two year old cutie every once in a while! You have to keep your priorities straight, right?

On the Bookshelf:
Mompreneurs: A Mother's Practical Step by Step Guide to Work at Home Success

Reading Room Resources:
Helpful Links about Working @ Home

That Catholic Show Episode #8 - I Confess

Check out the latest and greatest from That Catholic Show. Episode 8 looks at the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I just love these videos! To view them all, check out Greg and Jennifer's That Catholic Show website.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My New Personal Trainer is a Two Year Old

Forget hiring one of those beefy personal trainers at the gym. My new fitness guru is my two year old nephew Patrick. "Little P" came to Fresno this week while his parents are traveling. Since his arrival, I have yet to make it the the gym, but that's alright since his Nana (my Mom) and I are getting quite the workout chasing him. We moms "of a certain age" need a reminder about how physically demanding it can be to care for a toddler 24/7.

Here are some of the fitness lessons Patrick's taught me this week:

  • Eat mini-meal several times a day. Cut your food up into little pieces and eat it slowly. When you are full, instead of continuing to eat, say "no" really loud and push your plate away.
  • Run around all day with a cup of water . It tastes great, you'll stay hydrated and it doesn't stain the carpet when you have accidents.
  • Take naps and go to bed early. Sleep is good, and helps you stay fit for life.
  • Giggle lots. A good belly laugh several times a day is important. Laugh at silly things like spilled milk or someone kissing you on the tummy. Smiles are contagious, and giggles spread like wildfire.
  • Play like a toddler today. Run everywhere, climb everything, stretch and reach for stuff, and don't stop until you drop. Treat it like fun, not like exercise.
  • Look at life with awe and wonder. Recognize the precious little blessings in life, like rolly polly bugs, rocks and each word of a good book. When something strikes you as truly wonderful, let your face light up the room.

My new personal trainer goes home on Tuesday, but hopefully the lessons I've learned this week at Toddler Camp will keep me going strong.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Catholic Moments Podcast Episode #6

You won't want to miss this week's episode of our new Catholic Moments Podcast. In this episode, we speak with two of our Book Club authors for the month of September. Elizabeth Ficocelli is a prize winning author of both adult and children's Catholic non-fiction. Kid Tea is Elizabeth's wonderful children's picture book. Karina Fabian, a compelling science fiction writer, is co-editor of our September fiction pick Infinite Space, Infinite God. We also share another of Ann Ball's great recipes (Blueberry Cheese Pie) to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Catch the Wave

Our incredible Puppet Ministry creator, Lisa Mladinich, has just published five wonderful new Gospel based puppet/skit scripts for your use! Visit our Puppet Ministry page to check out these great new additions. Lisa also shared the following email from a Catholic Mom/teacher in Little Rock who is having a great experience with these scripts:

I am a Catholic Mom and also teach Language Arts to middle/junior high students at St. Theresa School in Little Rock, AR. I happened upon your Puppet Ministry last year and we began our own Puppet Series at our school. It has been a huge school-wide hit!

My husband built a stage/screen out of dry-erase wipe board material, so we can decorate the set with Bible quotes, the name of the play and other words and symbols relative to the play. The 7th grade students make their own puppets out of felt/hot glue and misc. materials. They then present the plays to grades P-K through 8th grade. The priviledge to do this has become a special "rite of passage" for the 7th graders, with the younger kids anxious for their opportunity.

I was so pleased to see you have added quite a few new plays, so that we can offer two different plays per year to each grade level. The Puppet Series also impressed other teachers and our principal. As part of our school accreditation process, we listed that we wanted to create more awareness of our patron saint, St. Theresa, so it was written into the plan that this year we would develop a puppet play based on her life. I am using your other saint palys as a guideline and working with a small group of 7th graders to develop it. We hope to have it ready by early October, to commemorate St. Theresa's Feast Day.

Thanks for your sharing your creativity with the public!


Kristi Englert
St. Theresa School
Little Rock, AR

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

You Give Yourself Your Own Grade in Life

I just returned from attending "Back to School Night" at my son's high school. We parents strode from room to room according to our children's schedules, meeting teachers and listening to mini lectures about their goals for our students' education this year. My son has a truly challenging schedule with an AP course and three honors level classes. My head was swimming by the end of the third period. I didn't even bother to crack the class outline open in Chemistry since I knew I wouldn't have a clue - I just hope Eric does! Amidst the swarm of syllabi and course overviews by talented teachers, I gleaned a pearl of wisdom from my son's Honors Algebra II teacher:

"I tell the kids in my class all the time, 'You give yourself your own grade in this class.'"

Mr. W. went on to tell the group of parents that he challenges students daily to use their talents wisely and to work to their full potential. He reminds them that their academic destiny is largely in their own hands - that the work they put into their studies will ultimately impact upon the end results they attain. It wasn't rocket science, but for some reason it really struck a chord with me. I realized that this simple bit of straight talk holds true in so many aspects of our lives. The effort I put into my work is directly related to the harvest I will reap when the time comes. If I am lazy in my own self discipline, the end result is measurable and my own personal responsibility.

So I learned an important lesson at high school tonight - if I want greatness, I have to give great effort. If I want productivity, I have to produce. If I want to be my best, I have to try my hardest. After all, I give myself my own grade in this life!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Remembering Mother

Tomorrow, we observe the 10th anniversary of the passing of Mother Teresa. Our friend and columnist Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle shared a special correspondence with this remarkable woman. At her blog this week, Donna-Marie will be sharing her unique perspective on this precious soul. She will also be speaking with Teresa Tomeo on her Catholic Connection on Friday, September 7th at 9:30 am eastern time.

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. Mother Teresa

Monday, September 03, 2007

Kntting E Retreat Center

Suzanne Harker wrote me this week to share news of her new Knit-to-Pray E Retreat Center. She has some wonderful resources listed, both for prayer and for knitting! Check out the Retreat Center here and visit Suzanne's Trinity Shawls Knitting and prayer site here. I've been meeting with my knitting group lately, but haven't been getting much finished, so maybe this will give me some inspiration!

Christmas in September??

The thermometer in Fresno may say 102 degrees, but I'm in the Christmas spirit! That's because I've gotten notice of two incredible Catholic Christmas CDs to be released this year!!

Light of the World is the latest from precious Angelina. The CD contains ten beautiful tracks including my favorite, O Holy Night. Another amazing song on the project is Esisten Rosensrungen, (Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming), Angelina's German tribute to Pope Benedict XVI. Coming so closely on the heels of Angelina's beautiful CD Assembled, this goes to show that Angelina, now a Sophomore in college, is keeping very busy! Check out Angelina's music at

Also in time for Christmas is Catholic Christmas, a project of Spirit Wing Records. This CD combines the talents of 17 Catholic recording artists: Angelina, Renee Bondi, Kitty Cleveland, Sean Clive, Trish Foti Genco, Lynn Geyer, Gretchen Harris, Father David Hemann, The Interior Castle, Nancy Krebs, The Love Movement, Father Charles and Laurie Mangano, Remember Rome, Elizabeth Schmeidler, Chuck Stevens, Amanda Vernon, and Celeste Zepponi. Spirit Wing is also responsible for Catholic Music 2007 and Catholic Music 2008 - both offer amazing values with many of our favorite Catholic musicians represented. For more information on these projects, check out Spirit Wing Records.

Your Prayers Needed

Catholic Mom and blogger Jane has written to request our prayers for this important petition. I'm sorry that I didn't get this posted before Saturday's event, but I'm sure that this is one initiative that will need ongoing intercession and support!

Also on the Pro Life front, I want to take a minute to introduce our newest columnist, Elizabeth Andrew. I'm so happy that Elizabeth will be sharing her thoughts on "Building a Culture of Life"

You can also check out Elizabeth's great blog here.

Funny Mom Update columnist and all around funny woman Sally Edwards wrote this weekend to share the following good news about her family friendly stand up comedy:

I am very excited that my comedy is going national. I love the effect laughter has on a parish audience. People often thank me and tell me that they haven't laughed so hard in years! I feel very blessed that I laugh often, find so many things funny and I like to share that joy.

Recently, I have been booked outside of Santa Cruz, California at St. Joseph's Parish (Corralitos, CA) to benefit the Salesian Elementary and Jr. High Schools. This event is November 10th, 2007. I am also going to Covington, Washington (outside of Seattle) to perform at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for their "Night of Inspiration" to benefit a nearby women's shelter on January 26, 2008.
Check out Sally Edwards at

Treat Yourself

Today - right now - sit back, relax, and take a few minutes to watch Sarah Bauer's incredible new music video Radiance. When you listen to the words of this song and watch the joyful images of people just like you living out their various vocations, you can't help but have a joyful heart. My interview with Sarah will be coming out very soon in Grapevine Magazine, but you need to check out her new CD right away! This magnificent Catholic musician is using her gifts to bring glory to God and smiles to our faces. Great work Sarah!

Happy Labor Day!

Today is a holiday for all of us - those who work in our out of the home, those retired, and those who enjoy the fruits of labor. I pray that your day is restful and enjoyable. I wanted to share the following meditation with you from Catholic Extension:

Today -- Labor Day -- we offer the opportunity and the suggestion to read this year's Labor Day Statement. The statement is issued annually by the Domestic Policy Committee of the USCCB. This year's is entitled: "A Time to Remember; A Time to Recommit" issued by the chairman, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. We share the opening sentence and the conclusion with the hope you will take time to reflect on the entire statement.

"A Time to Remember; A Time to Recommit"
Labor Day is a holiday with an important, but sometimes forgotten purpose. Labor Day 2007 is a time to look back, look around, and look ahead. It is a day to celebrate the work and the workers who are at the heart of this holiday. It is a time to recall the powerful and consistent teaching of our Church on the dignity of work and the rights of workers. It is an opportunity to remember when we have fallen short and when we have made a difference. Most of all, like New Year's Day, it is time to resolve to do better. For Catholics, Labor Day 2007 is a time to recommit in our own small ways-to our own work, to treat others justly, and to defend the lives, dignity, and rights of workers, especially the most vulnerable. This is a requirement of our faith and a way to advance the promise of our nation.
Bishop William R. Houck, President Emeritus, Catholic Extension