Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two things: 1. Simcha liked my review 2. I'll be on the radio tomorrow

1.  Simcha liked my review

Yesterday, I wrote a review of Simcha Fisher's fabulous book, The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning.  Simcha saw it, and she shared it on her Facebook page today!



It was a total Catholic geek starstruck moment.  One of my favorite Catholic writers read something I wrote and called it "great."  Alright, I know, it was just a review of her own book, but, whatever!  It's my screen shot of my favorite author liking something I wrote, and I'll share it if I want to!

2.  I'll be on the radio tomorrow

What?!  What are you going to talk about, Catherine?

One of my favorite parts about blogging is connecting with fabulous, inspiring people around the world.  Julie Nelson is one of those fabulous, inspiring people.  Julie co-hosts a radio show with Chris Magruder called "Catholic Women Now!"  "Catholic Women Now!" broadcasts from Des Moines, Iowa through Iowa Catholic Radio (1150 AM, 88.5 FM, and 94.5 FM).  As their website says, the show is a "weekly feature by Catholic women talking about the things that matter most to Catholic women."  

Julie invited me to come on the show to talk about reward systems and apps for children.  I told her I'd be happy to talk about our Happy Saints Reward System and Family Store.



I'm always discovering more apps for the kids to play during their reward screen time, and I'll be talking a little about the ones we love.

Anyway, I wanted to be sure and let friends and family know about the show in case you'd like to tune in.  The show airs tomorrow morning at 9 am CST.  I'll be on around 9:15, and my segment should last around 7 minutes, so it'll be quick.

I had the opportunity to chat with Julie and Chris last night on the phone, and they are quite the dynamic duo!  I felt like I was sipping coffee with them in my family room.  I'm looking forward to our conversation tomorrow on the air.

If you miss the live broadcast, you can listen when the show re-airs at 9 pm CST.

Iowa Catholic Radio is on 1150 AM, 88.5 FM, and 94.5 FM.  You can also tune in using iheartradio or listen live via the Iowa Catholic Radio site.  

Big sis Jenny is coming over for a playdate and will be wrangling kiddos while I'm on the air.  That way, we can keep pretending that I've got it all together over here!  (Thanks, Jenny!)  

I told Julie and Chris that I would come on the show so long as they understood two things:

  • I'm not very smart or original.  I borrow/steal 99.9% of my ideas.
  • I can wax poetic about all of this parenting stuff in theory, but in practice, we're always just moments away from an epic temper tantrum.
So long as everyone is clear on those 2 things and knows that I'm not putting myself out there as a model mama, we're good.  Hope you can tune in tomorrow and tease me about it next time I see you!  Any and all prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher

I first discovered Simcha Fisher over at the National Catholic Register, and I've been following her blog, "I Have to Sit Down," for a few years.  I'm always sharing her stuff on social media and insisting that everyone I know read her stuff, so I knew I'd love her book, The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning.

Cover photo from Amazon
I love this cover!
The book was published in October 2013, but I didn't get around to buying the book and reading it until last week.  I absolutely loved it!  Now, I'm doing what I always do with Simcha's writing, and I am insisting that you read The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning.

She had me at the intro:
NFP boosters tend to paint a rosy picture because it's a hard sell, persuading people to turn their sex lives over to God.  And so, not wanting to scare anyone off, they emphasize the benefits while glossing over the sacrifices that often come along as a matched set.
I understand why they do this.  You're not going to convert the masses by saying, 'Hey, everybody!  Who's ready for some redemptive suffering?'  But so many couples launch into NFP expecting sunshine and buttercups and are horrified to discover, instead, the Cross.  
Unprepared to make any changes, they end up resenting their spouses and the Church in general--or else they feel guilty and ashamed to be struggling, like there's something wrong with them for not lovin' every minute of it.
That's who this book is for.   
FINALLY!!!  Thank you, Simcha!  Thank you for your honesty, your wisdom, and especially for your humor.  Thank you for admitting that NFP is hard and that it isn't always glamorous.  After reading your book, with all of its honesty about finding the Cross through NFP, you'd think I'd be looking for the quickest escape from NFP.  

Yet, I walk away from The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning more determined than ever to keep sticking with it.  The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning affirmed that: it's normal for NFP to be hard, it takes most couples a lifetime to figure out this stuff (hooray for lifetime monogamy!), we are soooooooo not alone, prudence and generosity aren't at odds after all, Love is always better than fairness, and that we've "chosen the better part" by dealing with the effects of sex head on in our marriage.  

Six years in, we still don't have this NFP or Theology of the Body stuff down.  God willing, we will move forward day to day, month to month, and year to year, propelled with the sacramental graces of marriage to keep learning more about how our marital union reflects Love to the world.  

In the meantime, we are grateful for the gift of our fertility and married life.  Despite that, we'll keep stumbling clumsily, we will undoubtedly hurt each other, and we will end up in the confessional like the couple on the cover.  (Hopefully, for Father's sake, we will be clothed!)  Fortunately, as Fulton J. Sheen wrote, it takes Three to Get Married.  Any problems in marriage will always be on us, and we get to turn to Him for strength, forgiveness, trust, perseverance, and the grace to do better tomorrow.  He'll make us into the spouses we are supposed to be if we let Him.  

Thank you for this book, Simcha.  I wish we had it to read during our engagement, and we plan on gifting it to married couples in the future!   

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Paint Chip Clothespin Color Matching Game

I'm trying to build up an arsenal of fun, educational activities for what I affectionately call "pseudo-homeschooling."  Since Jane and Walt alternate the mornings that they're at preschool, we're spending some of our one-on-one time while Harry is napping doing school-esque stuff.  The activities come in handy when I'm looking for things that will keep their hands and minds busy while I'm prepping or cleaning up from mealtime, too.  

Yesterday morning, I put together this paint chip clothespin color matching game.  

Yup, that's my own picture and text overlaying the picture, folks.  In addition to posing as a real crafter, I'm pretending I'm a fancy blogger, too!
I got the idea for this game from Pinterest last year, and I finally put it together.  It's an easy craft and educational game for poser crafters like me.  

To make the paint chip clothespin color match game, you'll need:
  • 2 sets of identical paint chip samples in varying shades.  (I like the wide, 4-color samples in bold, rainbow colors.)
  • Clothespins (I found mine at the Dollar Store)
  • Scissors
  • Gluestick  

Easy-peasy instructions:
  • Cut out a rectangular piece from each color sample
  • Attach the color sample to the end of a clothespin with the gluestick
  • Wait for glue to set
  • Voila!  Kids are ready to attach the clothespins to the corresponding samples








Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Days of Preschool

Jane and Walt started preschool this week at St. Joseph's Catholic School.  I am pleased to report that they both love, love, love preschool!  The only bummer is that the preschoolers don't wear uniforms.  Good news: Jane gets to wear some adorable plaid next year!

Jane started preschool yesterday.  She picked out her Princess Anna t-shirt from Mimi for her first day.  


This is Jane's second year of preschool, so she's an old pro.  Last year, I felt like a bad mama because I didn't cry dropping our firstborn off at school for the first time.  I'm told I'll cry at kindergarten, though.  Stay tuned.



In the meantime, Jane can't get enough of this thing called preschool.  If she had it her way, she'd be there all day everyday. 



Philip blocked out his early morning so that he could join us on the walk to preschool.  Can I just tell ya how amazing it is to be able to take a leisurely walk to school?  It's oh-so-glorious!  Walt insisted on riding in Harry's new toddler push car, Jane walked with Daddy, and I pushed Harry in the stroller.  Sigh.  They're so cute!

  
We couldn't keep up with Jane as she made her way through the hallway and into her classroom! 


She made herself right at home as she found a hook for her backpack.  I had to ask the girl for a hug before we left!  It was like last year all over again.  

"Jane!  Mommy and Daddy are leaving.  Can we please have a hug?"
"Okay!  (Millisecond hug)  Bye!"

While the drop-off experience was the same as last year, the pick-up experience could not have been more different.  Last year, when I picked Jane up from her first day of preschool, I was chomping at the bit to ask her every last detail about the day.  

Who did she play with?  
What did she do?  
Did she do any arts and crafts?  
Learn any new songs?  
What was the snack?  
Tell me, tell me, tell me!

"Mama, I'm too tired to talk about it.  Maybe we can talk later."

This year, Jane had story after story after story to tell us on the ride home.  "I met Grace, but she's in Mrs. ______'s room.  We got to play on the playground!  I drew a picture of a bear, and I brought it home in my new red folder to finish it.  There is a DRINKING FOUNTAIN in my room!  Mrs. _____ is so nice.  I went to the potty all by myself, but then I got lost, and my teacher had to come and find me!  Oops!"  What a difference a year makes! 

On to Walt's first day...

This morning, we woke up to a thunderstorm, but Walt wouldn't let the storm clouds dampen his spirits!  Just look at that cheesy grin!


He was raring to go with his Lightning McQueen backpack and Thomas t-shirt.  He picked out every element of his wardrobe all by himself.  What a big guy!  


Unfortunately, the rain ruled out walking to school.  Philip was able to join us for drop-off again.  Walt loved his little photo shoot in the rain.  "Do I get to take a picture with the sign like Janie did?!"


It really started to pour, so Walt had to pose with the umbrella.


Just like Jane, once Walt got inside the door, he bolted as quickly as he could for his classroom.  He chatted it up with these older ladies as he made his way down the hallway.


"It's the Cat in the Hat!  It's the Cat in the Hat!  This way!"  He remembered to follow the Cat in the Hat striped hats down the hall to the preschool classroom.  


Without hesitation, Walt made his way over to the hooks to hang up Lightning McQueen.  He was so excited to get going with this preschool stuff that we had to remind him to tell us goodbye and give us hugs.  These kids, I tell ya!  

When I picked Walt up from school with Jane and Harry, he IMMEDIATELY spotted our minivan in the pick-up line.  (We would have walked, but the combination of storm clouds and the high probability that Walt would be too pooped to walk made me opt for driving.)  

Walt was all smiles the whole ride home!  He told us all about his new friends, sang some songs ("Where Is Thumbkin?" is his current favorite), and filled us in on all of the other important details.  "Snack was sticky.  I played in the rocket.  They had white milk AND CHOCOLATE MILK!  A boy cried THE WHOLE TIME!  Where is Thumbkin?  Where is Thumbkin?  Here I am!  Here I am!"

To celebrate his first ever day of school, Walt got to choose what they had for lunch.  "Circle carrots and peanut butter and jelly!"  (In case you're wondering, "circle carrots" are canned sliced carrots.  Nothing but the best, folks.)  Jane and Walt were giggle monsters at the lunch table.  They have missed each other these past two mornings, and they love swapping stories.

After I asked Walt for several more details about his day at the lunch table, he looked across the table and said, "Janie, tell us about your day!  What was your favorite part?"    

It's been a great start to the school year so far.  I love that Jane and Walt have the same teacher and that we'll be up there everyday (Jane will be there Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and Walt will be there Tuesday/Thursday).  Hopefully their teacher really, really likes us!  

Since one kiddo will be gone everyday until lunch, we will have some relatively quiet mornings at home--especially since Harry still takes a snooze for a good chunk of the morning.  Jane and Walt are enjoying the one-on-one time with me while the other one is at school.  I'm making every effort I can to soak in the quiet morning while we still have them.  Walt practiced his scissor skills yesterday while Jane was at preschool and Harry was napping.  He relished the one-on-one time.  

"Wow, Walt!  I'm so proud of you for using scissors!"
"Thanks, Mama.  I'm so proud of you for teaching me how!"

Melt.


It all goes too quickly, I tell ya!  Cheers to a blessed school year!    

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Harry's 1st Birthday - A Photo Recap

Wee little "Harry Barry Boo" turned 1 last Thursday!  I know us moms always say it, but where did that first year go?!  It really flew by this year.  In case you missed it, I wrote him a little birthday letter.  

On to the birthday celebration...

Harry's smash cake
Gotta love a Sesame Street cake for a 1-year-old
Waiting to sing "Happy Birthday" 
Protective big sis holding Harry's hands back from the flames
Blowing out the candle with a little help
Philip cut out small pieces of the cake for Jane and Walt.
Harry was happy to share!
"My hair was needing some frosting, too!"
Flirty, mischievous smirk
Monty volunteered his cleaning services
After a little intermission for Harry's bath, we opened his birthday present--a toddler tool bench!
Jane and Walt gladly showed Harry how it worked.
Meanwhile, Harry demonstrated his new trick--standing up by himself.  Big boy!
Unfortunately for Walt, Harry's still working on his balance and likes to catch himself on whatever (or whomever!) is nearby.
Love you, Harry Barry Boo!
Happy 1st Birthday, sweetie pie!

Friday, August 15, 2014

GREAT News Update On Team Baby Teixeira

Remember when my brave friend, Amanda Teixeira, talked about her and her husband's struggle with infertility?  Then, remember how I told you that they were starting the adoption process?

GREAT NEWS!  

A couple chose Amanda and Jonathan to be the adoptive parents of their precious baby!  YAAAAAAAAAY!!!  The baby is due in November 2014.  Talk about a time of Thanksgiving!  Thank you so much for your prayers for our dear friends!

From TRUEGOODANDBEAUTIFUL, photo credit to Alzbeta Volk of Voboril Photography
I am so proud of Amanda and Jonathan for trusting in God's perfect timing when many of us may have turned in on ourselves, become bitter, or lost faith.  They are a beautiful example to all of us of what trust, strength, and faith look like while shouldering a cross and making sense of God's will.  

Please continue to lift up your prayers for Amanda and Jonathan as they complete their home study and move on toward Baby Teixeira's due date.  Pray for Baby Teixeira's biological parents as the journey continues.  Pray that God's will be done and that the rest of us can help in whatever way we can along the way.  

If you are in a position to help Amanda and Jonathan with your treasure, please consider doing so!  As many of you know, adoption often comes with a hefty price tag.  I told Amanda the other day on the phone that I'm so glad they're asking for financial help from others.  It's a powerful, tangible way for the Body of Christ to lift them up and help bring Baby Teixeira home.  I thanked her for letting the rest of us have a real way to help during this blessed time.  If you're interested in helping them financially, please consider donating to their puzzle fundraiser.  As of their August 15th blog post, here's what the puzzle looks like:

Photo from TRUEGOODANDBEAUTIFUL
You can purchase a piece of the puzzle for a donation of $25 (or more!), and Amanda and Jonathan will write your name on the back.  The completed puzzle will go between two pieces of glass and hang in Baby Teixeira's room.  Here's what the completed puzzle looks like:

From TRUEGOODANDBEAUTIFUL, photo credit to Alzbeta Volk of Voboril Photography

In 8 days, they hope to be at their goal of having raised $13,000 toward their home study and out-of-state agency fee.  I know many of you have already joined Team Baby Teixeira.  Thank you for your support!  Keep those prayers coming, and I will send along updates as they come.  

In the meantime, follow along on the journey via Amanda and Jonathan's blog, truegoodandbeautiful.  Leave a comment, and let them know that you're lifting them up in prayer!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Harry!

Harold Fulton Boucher,


Your baptism day
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your precious life today.  If I sit and let myself be quiet, I immediately tear up thinking about how you came to be.  Had our pregnancy with your big sister, Thérése, gone to term, you never would have been.  Two weeks after your sister went to be with God, God sent you to be with us.  The whole experience taught us that all of you babies are on loan, and it's Daddy's and my job to help lead you back to God.  Blessed be God for sending you when we least expected you and most needed you! 

Snuggles in the hospital
In one word, you are happy.  You are a serious flirt and give out smiles 'round the clock.  

Your first smile, captured on film at a few weeks old
You've had two ear infections this first year, and they both happened to coincide with teething, but your pediatrician dad and I nearly missed them because you are always so, so happy!




You love being a baby brother and being spoiled by Jane and Walt.  You crawl alongside them in the family room (or wherever we are) to see what they're up to and how you can join in.  You "talk" with them in your jibber jabber, and they talk right back with you.  



After meeting you, Jane decided she wants to have five babies because you're so sweet!  She loves being a little mama with you.  Lately, she pretends that she's talking for you in a little voice.  "I want a bottle, Mommy!  I'm hungry!  Where's my binkie?!"  Jane could spend her whole day tickling you and playing next to you with her dollhouse. 

When I asked Jane to give you a few Cheerio's while I made dinner 
Pushing you at the park this morning
Walt's affection for you has slowly grown into a full-fledged love affair.  
Cuddles on the couch while Jane is at preschool
Walt wasn't thrilled when you started trying to take apart the train table or crawling off with his engines, but he's learned a little trick.  When he sees you coming for his toys, he grabs you a stuffie or toy he's not playing with.  He loves having you around so long as he isn't trying to play with whatever you're playing with at the moment.  In fact, Walt is getting his big boy furniture next week.  He told me this morning that it would be fun to have a bunk bed "so that I can have a room with Harry.  Harry can be on the top bunk."  We'll definitely be waiting on the bunk bed set-up for a few years, but Walt's right that he'd be on the bottom since he's so cautious, and you'd be on top since you're my little daredevil!


You are growing and changing so much lately!  You can't get enough of food--especially watermelon and all of the fun summer fruits.  I know you're going to love your birthday cake tonight!  You are *this* close to walking.  You cruise around the family room furniture, but you've become such an efficient crawler that you're more interested in getting where you want to go quickly.  I'm kinda sad you do the normal version of crawling these days instead of your crazy worm move!  It was always the talk of the town on play dates or at the St. Joe's playground.  



Your favorite pastime is crawling away from me as quickly as you can and turning back to make sure I'm chasing you.


Thank you for bringing our family so much joy this past year.  Thank you for healing our hearts while we were grieving for your sister, Thérése.  How lucky are we to have a saint in heaven and you?!  I know you and Thérése will always have a special connection.  She has already proven a powerful intercessor for our family, and I'm sure you'll be calling on her throughout your life.  

I look forward to watching you learn and grow this year.  In your first year, you've taught me how to be at peace, how to trust in God's perfect timing, and to be thankful for the graces to shoulder crosses when they come.  I thank God for the gift that you are for our family, and I'm so glad that He entrusted you to us.  God knows well the plans He has for you, and I know they are big plans for good, sweetie pie! 

Love you so much,
Mama