Friday, October 28, 2011

Homegrown Faith: Book Review

What it is
A devotional book for moms with a short story and corresponding reflective questions for each week for each week of the year.

Who wrote it
Heidi Bratton, a mom of 6 and well-known Catholic author of over 20 books

My thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the chapters are 1.) short and 2.) designed to be read each week rather than daily, because I think that makes it totally practical for pretty much any mom to actually be able to have time to read this book (as opposed to a daily devotional that might become overwhelming...am I the only one who tends to give up once I get a few days behind?) I think her stories are engaging and mostly hit on really universal themes that any mom could relate too. I did think a few of the chapters seemed sort of arbitrarily thrown in there-namely the ones about a mission trip she took to South America. They didn't feel like they flowed with the rest of the book very well, even though they were well-written, relatable, and made me think just as much as the other chapters. I can see this book being especially great for something like a playgroup/book group where the moms want to read a book together and chat about it but don't want something so overly complicated that they can't also watch their kids while doing it! A few of her suggestions were too cheesy for my tastes, like talking about what scents make you want to be virtuous, or drawing a picture of an activity your family likes doing together. I would certainly not want to actually have to do all of her suggested activities!

Pros
  • Short chapters for busy moms
  • Enjoyable and relatable

Cons
  • Some pretty cheesy suggestions for reflection activities
  • Some chapters don't quite fit in

The Bottom Line
This book is definitely worth buying to read by yourself or as part of a group. I'd also recommend it as a gift for a Catholic mom in your life. The book can be started at any time, but the first chapter corresponds with the first week of Advent, so now would be an especially perfect time to start reading it!

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Homegrown Faith. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wise Words

Inspired by The Happiest Mom, I'm trying to post a quotation (almost) every week that made me laugh, smile, and/or think. Hope you like them too!

You got to have a dream,
'cause if you don't have a dream,

How you gonna have a dream come true?

-Bloody Mary in the song "Happy Talk" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific



Monday, October 24, 2011

Celebrate Color: Fall Leaf Dishtowel

When I saw Mollie from Wild Olive's post about the Celebrate Color contest and the adorable patterns she created to go with it, I couldn't resist stitching up a tea towel with these cool fall leaves.

To customize it, I first found a fall color in my house to work from. We just painted the walls of our new house a beautiful goldeny color that I thought would be perfect for the yellowy leaves, and I had a thread color that is pretty similar (our kitchen isn't actually that color-just the living room and dining room-but if it was, I probably would've picked a thread color a shade or two darker or lighter to avoid being too matchy matchy). I then picked shades of red, brown, orange, and green that made me think of fall and went well with my goldeny yellow. I ended up using DMC brand thread in colors 937, 815, 921, 422, and 975. One of the most fun things was that my mom recently sent me her thread organizer and the green, red, and orange I used were from her old stash. Based on the labels, I know they were bought at Target, which means they must have been bought a long time ago!

I traced the pattern using the easiest laziest method I could think of-I loaded Mollie's PDF on my laptop, draped the towel over the screen, and traced the pattern with a water-and-air-soluble marker. No ink got on the screen (I traced lightly and then went back over it afterwards) and I didn't have to print the pattern out or use any interfacing.

I used a simple stem stitch on the whole thing and left off the cute little faces so it would suit my husband's tastes too and not just mine (I have to admit, I find the little faces Mollie puts on everything totally adorable).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thoughts on Wood Floor Refinishing

We are in the middle of getting our wood floors refinished in our living room, entryway, and dining room, and I'm pretty happy about the results so far. It's been a steep learning curve though, and here's what I wish I would've known a week ago:

Do your homework

Know the process. There've been a couple times when the procedure followed was a little different than what they did with my mother-in-law's floors, but because we hadn't read online and/or asked our flooring guy at the beginning, we weren't sure at what points the procedure was supposed to be different and what points they flooring guys may have missed a spot in their haste (and there was a little of each occurring). Researching ahead of time prevents you from getting taken advantage of while also reducing the amount of time you have to spend checking in on the people refinishing your floors. Also, check out other blogs and websites to see how other people handle renovations. For example, The Happiest Mom is having her kitchen renovated and reading about her kitchen renovation has been helpful to me during my floor refinishing!

Be flexible

Because of sounds and smells, our normal schedule wouldn't work at all (and obviously we couldn't use certain rooms at all!) We found the only way naptime for the toddler could possibly work was to either nap during the floor guys' lunch break or to drive around until the toddler fell asleep in the car and sew in the driveway while he slept. Also, you may need to make alternate arrangements for sleeping, cooking and/or laundry depending on what areas of your house become inaccessible, so get creative. Use futons, air matresses, crock-pots, microwaves, and the hospitality of friends and family to be as comfortable as you can during the time your house is being worked on.

Get out...but not too far out

Again because of smells and sounds, it might be a good time to plan outdoors activities for you and your kids, but the catch is that someone probably needs to be available to get home quickly in case questions arise. So it's a great time to play outside in the yard, visit a friend or relative or park just a few blocks away, or go to a store that's just a couple of miles away. Make sure to give your cell phone number to your flooring guys, and ask how things are going before you leave in case they already have a question but were waiting to get to a natural break time to ask you about it.

and above all...

Relax

Stuff will be different than what you're used to. Stuff will go wrong.
It will be noisy and stinky and disruptive to your kids.

And it will be over in a couple of days.

And your floors will be beautiful.

And you'll be fine.

If you'll excuse me now, I'm going to go shop somewhere not very far away from home...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wise Words Wednesday

Inspired by The Happiest Mom on Wednesdays I'll try to post quotes that made me smile, laugh, think, or all three!

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

-Margaret Thatcher


Monday, October 10, 2011

Rainy Day Fall Fun

I definitely need to get some great rainboots for my son and I, but until then, a rainy fall morning means inside fun. So what are we up to?

Counting Pumpkins
I bought some small pumpkins for decorative purposes, but decided to place them in a basket in the playroom until I was ready to do my crafty things with them (ideally, putting the smallest 2-3 in the nook of a wreath for my front window). My son loves them. He counts them. He stacks them. He requests I sing "5 Little Pumpkins" approximately 10,000,000,000 times per day. He drives them around in a Little People schoolbus. I'm not sure I'll have the heart to take them away when I'm ready for wreath-building!

Homemade Play Dough
I use my mom's recipe of:
3 cups flour
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cream of tartar.

Mix it all together in a saucepan over medium/low heat until it gets thick and starts pulling away from the sides. Add food coloring and/or glitter as desired. Watch for plastic cookie cutters, toy rolling pins, and even Playdough brand toys at garage sales to enhance the doughy fun without spending a bunch!

Going Visiting
On a blustery day, visiting someone's house (like Grandma's house!) can be an easy way to ward off cabin fever. Plus, it's fun to have someone else to chat with! If you don't have relatives nearby, ask a friend to bring her kids over, then maybe next stormy day it'll be her turn to host!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Settling In

We've been in our house for almost a month, and I'm beginning to get tired of not feeling *really* moved in yet. We still have boxes to unpack (just a few) and things that haven't been assigned a permanent home yet (quite a few). But I feel like I can only get ahead a teensy bit at a time, and even then only at the expense of regular household maintenance like laundry and dishes. It's tempting at times to wear the same outfit all next week and eat off paper plates just to see how much progress I could make on other projects!

The best advice I've seen so far was from "The Fly Lady", who said something along the lines of "you didn't pack in a day so don't expect to unpack in a day either". Even so, I wish I could make my progress just a little bit faster!

How do you get ahead on laundry and dishes? Or do you feel like you're always playing catch-up too?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our Flu Season Game Plan

Last winter we got slammed by several colds (including once when the toddler and I both spent most of a day lying on the couch and floor vomiting-yuck!) and I’m hoping to avoid the same fate this year. To avoid getting sick as much this year, here’s my game-plan:

 
  • Eat healthy: Eating healthy foods like lots of fresh fruits and veggies will boost our immune systems. Plus, they taste good! We’ll especially try to include foods with lots of Vitamin C like citrus fruits.
  • Take our vitamins: Even though I believe it’s best to get your vitamins from a varied diet, I realize that our diet may not quite be cutting it just yet. We’ll definitely keep taking our daily multivitamins to fill in the gaps our diet may be leaving.
  • Wash hands often: We play outside a lot, and I think it’s good for my son to get to dig in sand and dirt and carry sticks and rocks around and other such outdoorsy fun. But once we’re done, I plan to be vigilant about washing hands to ensure we aren’t bringing in unnecessary gunk.
  • Take off shoes inside: This is one of the biggest things I’ve heard from families who try to keep their families germ free without the use of lots of chemical-take your shoes off everytime you come inside. We’re lucky enough to have a really nice laundry room that can double as a mud room when we come in from the back. I plan to place some kind of bench along with a little rug that people can put dirty shoes and boots on so we don’t have to sit on the floor to do it.
  • Wash laundry –especially linens-often: As we go places throughout the week like the library and grocery store and work for my husband, we’ll naturally pick up all sorts of germs. To help keep them at bay, we should probably wash our linens more often during flu season-maybe changing bedding once a week instead of every other week, and changing hand towels every couple of days.
  • Sanitize key places: I’m not a big fan of using chemicals all over the house, but I do think they can be useful when used strategically. Specifically, during flu season I may use Lysol wipes or something like that regularly on my doorknobs, phone, and on shopping carts because those three places are such germ magnets. I think if I use the harsher chemicals on those places, I can get away with using something milder like vinegar/water/essential oil blend most other places without putting my family at risk of catching too many nasty flu germs.

 
We’ll probably get sick at some point this winter, because that’s just how winter goes for me usually. But hopefully these strategies will prevent at the minimum a major illness, and if all goes really well, maybe we won’t even get sick at all! Either way, I think we’ll be healthier if we take these steps this flu season.

  

 
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Lysol blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.