Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Review of BreathableBaby Crib Bumper

Originally submitted at One Step Ahead

Let the fresh air in! This remarkable crib bumper lets fresh air through, while keeping little limbs safely inside the crib. Soft and padded for extra protection. Compatible with most crib styles, including convertibles and sleigh cribs, provided they have slatted ends. Hypoallergenic poly mesh. At...

Safe at last!

By Melissa, young mom of 3 from Saint Cloud, MN on 6/14/2008

5out of 5

Pros: Great Features, Soft, Colorful and Fun, Easy to Assemble, Durable

Best Uses: Toddlers, Preemies, Newborn, Infants

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

I love this product. I was so happy that after years with a fear of bumpers and SIDS risk, there is an alternative. Not only will my baby not get her feet and hands stuck between bansiters, but I don't have to worry about the risk of suffocation or entanglement. And as she gets to the stage of pulling herself up, I don't have to worry about her using it as a step up and over the rail because it safely goes down with pressure. It was easy to install by weaving it around then the hook & loop enclosure. I really liked the subtle, breathable padding inbetween. Kinda neat I think. My 8 mth old tested it out, and seems to be pleased! I chose the bright pink and it is just beautiful and crisp looking in her room. No designs or characters that could go out of style by the time another baby comes along. I can't wait to recommend this to other mothers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Vacation is HERE!

We are enjoying our adventures here in Wisconsin. Day 1 was Stanley's 4th birthday. He opened his presents at 3am in the back of the van. When we arrived 7 hours later, we spent time at the waterpark, Tom and my brother Michael took the kids down the waterslides a hundred times, and I helped teach Mikayla to swim. Sabrina loved the outdoor pool yesterday when the sun shone so warmly on us - as the guys were out playing 18 holes of golf. It was Tom's first time playing since high school, and first time on a professional course. He was just beaming when he came back. It was my father's day gift to him to send him out with the guys.

I have so many pictures and so little time. So i'll write more later!!!!

Hope you're having a great start to your summer vacation!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Catholic Day Camp

Jaime's Preschool Group that included my little Stanley.

I was a part of the craft station, but as our yearbook editor
I also got to visit all the groups to take pictures. Tom helped too.
Mikayla's group full of K-1st graders. They were so delightful!

There was such a wonderful spiritual vibe there. The main theme of the week was angels, and you could feel their presence as we sang, danced and praised God. Purely uplifting, a feeling a camera or video couldn't capture.

The music was absolutely phenominal - check it out at

We had speakers about angels, saints and vocations. We had a closing mass. It was all so beautifully presented. God really watched out for us, filling us with His Spirit, and keeping the clouds and rain tucked away until about 1 hour after we all left on Thursday.
What an experience! Can't wait for next year!
We just had an absolute blast the first week at Catholic Day Camp (VSB at a local homeschooler's farm). The theme was "Parachuting with the Angels." We started the day at 8:30 in the hay loft with music, skits and prayer. That was very early for many of the families, including ours - but it was worth it. Then we broke out into our groups by stations and ages. They gathered in the hay loft, silos, garage, yard and house. There were almost 70 children plus volunteering teens and adults to bring the whole thing together.

Monday, June 2, 2008

MN Catholic Homeschool Conference

We had such a wonderful time at this year's Catholic Homeschool Conference in MN. It was started 10 years ago by two wonderful friends of my family's -The Nelson's (and another family) from St. Paul's Church. It's grown to an attendance of hundreds and a large amount of vendors and speakers as well. It is always at The University of St. Thomas the Fri-Sat after Memorial Day. It was perfect to wrap up the old school year and begin to prepare for the next.

I spent most of the day shopping in the vendor area, because it will be my first year homeschooling two of my three children. Pre-K and 1st Grade. I am so excited, and so are they. Books are ordered, and I found lots of things to help reiterate what I taught last year. I especially liked what I found at the Ligouri Press table. I even found my "Family Rosary" CD that I can play in the car or transfer to my ipod.

All that shopping and speakers really wore Sabrina out. She curled right up into Tom's lap or the stroller.

I was so proud of my dad, a Deacon, who said an opening statement and prayer. It was the first time ever that he wore a white collar as you see in this picture. He was ordained in 1989, so that is just under 20 years! He is my hero and role model, and I am naturally like him in so many ways. And my mom stands so faithfully at his side all these 30 years! Of course mom couldn't put Sabrina down until her arms were full of other things. I don't blame her one bit.

The one speaker I saw twice that day was Fr. Pacwa. An excellent speaker, though he is very indepth and passionate about his thoughts. The other speakers I've been told were incredible, and I have a CD to hear their talks later. So here is my notes and thoughts from Fr. Mitch Pacwa's main talk about Cultural Conflicts.

-In this day and age, we are becoming absorbed into a secular world of selfish ideals, skepticism, and immorality. Even those who are following a refined Catholic life are being scrutinized, by other Catholics! My father was once told by a priest that he was "too holy." Imagine that. (yes, he left there.)

-Did you know that without the Catholic Church, our tangible history such as artifacts, architechture, the sciences including Plato and Aerosptatle - today's culture - would be gone. The pagans had no interest in such things, but the Catholics preserved them, finding them a treasure. The Bible, written, edited, and preserved by Catholics. Private schools and colleges, founded by Catholics. All that "culture" we love so much today.

-The secular world is mixing individual philosophy with teachings of science. (hence the big bang theory, darwin's theories, etc). Darwin's theory of needing a stronger dominance to evolve (picking off the weak undesireables) influnced groups such as the Nazi's and the founder of Planned Parenthood. "This secularism is not just ideas, it's deadly ideas." Skewing the science of God into a science of personal agenda.
-It is this secularist agenda that burrows itself under religious termoil, ignites the flame and watches it burn into wars about nationalism and racism. Fr. Pacwa belives this is just the beginning. Differences among religions have always exsisted, but the secularists intervene and make it matters of government, destroying not only religious freedoms but destroying lives in war. Ex) Israel, Iraq, etc.

-Many blame society for their standing out as unusual or disliked. An individualist will say "Just accept me for who I am." They accept responsiblity for their own actions. We have Free Will to act as a servant of God or not. This may be close to the right path, I think, but they need more direction to show them that who they are can be so much more - and more fulfilling and less lonely.
-Today's TV shows portray the immoral individualists who say, "Just accept me for who I am." Shows like Jerry Springer, The View, Friends, and many talk shows and sitcoms today. Friends from my past had very similar behaviors as those portrayed in these shows. (self-centered, gay, drugged, potty mouthed, and sexual people.) I tried to understand why they made their choices, befriend them, give my thoughts or advice, and be there for them when I knew that there would be grave problems as a direct result of their lifestyle chioces. I pointed them to Christ whenever I could. I admit on occasion I faltered into my own sins, paid the price, and have repented. So have some of them. But I can never blame them for my choices. I can never say it was just peer pressure. I could never say just "accept" me the way I was then. Because it was wrong, I knew it, and I had to change myself - or else it would be a long painful road to hell!
-On this same note, being an individualist seems like such a lonely road to take. Even if there are others with your same destructive behaviors, even if you're friends have destructive behaviors - then everyone is so consumed by themselves they can't see past their nose - and what kind of a friendship can come from that?

-Pluralistsare formed groups with common interests, often political and sexualized.
- Even sexualized politics! Candidates assume this is a stronger motive for voting chioces (and it is) so they form alliances with gay rights, pro-abortion/choice groups. Even PETA is their ally. They are all about "We have the right to do whatever we want" without regard to whomelse it may hurt, disrupt, or what is morally right for the better good of themselves. Straying from God's laws can ONLY cause destruction of the soul and the family.
-They seem to value a "no consequences" lifestyle.
-Interestingly, these pluralists assume the "victim" position for polical wins based upon sympathy. They see themselves as minorities and an oppressed people.
-I can only see their choices as selfish acts, with no respect for God's great gift of Life. So basically it is a CULTURE OF DEATH AND PRIDE. Not positive pride in great accomplishments pleasing to God - rather pride in having no self control.

-Catholics are culturally diverse. They grasp life, preserve it, enjoy it, revel in it. While pagans are in a state of constant skepticism and superstition. Almost fearful rather than grateful. The culture of Catholics and fellow Christians has a draw to it because of it's value for traditions, education, a spirituality full of hopefullness.
-Patriotism has been attacked. Why? Having faith in other people is not a custom of the other cultures. Patriotism is about being there for others who are willing to sacrifice their lives for YOU. It's about honoring the living and the dead. It's about having culture: education, tradition, a foundation to fall back upon. This kind of notion is downplayed by the other "-ists" i've written about here, I think because this path usually doesn't include their personal agenda.

-This group has no absolutes. It is a life full of uncertainty. It is "an impossible stance to maintain" because there truly is no stance on anything. It is about "being open to all opinions" and being respectful of other cultures. This group has no morals or respect for authorities. Honesty is a non-value for them. There is "no jury" to dictate right from wrong. So it is impossible to find debate with them over logic or reason.
-This group reminds me of Oprah's "new church" which follows on "feelings" and not "belief." It's all about this nonconfrontational approach to life. HOW FAKE IS THAT?!
-So I would consider this an ANTI-CULTURALISTIC approach.
Politics have always been dominated by "power groups" such as the Pluralists. Then changes are made by the courts full of "individualists." But because of the Bill of Rights they push for the State Legislature, another power group, to disengage religious efforts in preserving a diverse culture formed in morality and protective of life at all stages.

Well, I hope I portrayed these groups acurately as Father had described them. Looking over my notes, they are a little scattered. If not, I think I still got some valuable lessons and thoughts from it. I'd like to hear from you if you heard this talk and have some notes to share.

Fr. Pacwa's excellent MEDIA SUGGESTIONS:

Click on banner to view trailers and other details.
Expelled - In a scientific world gone mad, EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed is the controversial documentary that will chronicle Ben Stein's confrontation with the Neo-Darwinian machine, exposing widespread suppression and entrenched discrimination in his heroic quest to bring back freedom in our institutions, laboratories and most importantly, in our classrooms, with the help of the world's top scientists, educators and thinkers.
Who wants to go?? Now Playing at the Rogers 18 - 13692 Rogers Dr, Rogers MN 55374

Original Intent, written by David Barton on a historic government.
Book Description
A look at how the Supreme Court has reinterpreted the Constitution, diluting its Biblical foundations. Original Intent reveals the Founders' beliefs about religion in public affairs, the courts, limited federal powers, States' rights, and numerous other issues. Great for use in arenas where historical accuracy is a must.
This book deals with what the author calls "judicial micromanagement" of the American government, charging that the courts have virtually rewritten the liberties enumerated in the Constitution. He proposes ideas for returning to "original intent."
About the Author
David Barton is founder and president of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization which distributes historical, legal, and statistical information, and helps citizens become active in their local schools and communities. He was appointed by the Texas State Board of Education and the California Academic Standards Commission to review their History/Social Studies standards.
David is the recipient of several national and international awards, including the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor; the George Washington Honor Medal; two Angel Awards for excellence in media and educational medium, many Who's Who, and numerous other awards.
He is the author of numerous books on historical, legal, and educational issues. David is a national conference speaker and a frequent consultant to state and federal legislators.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Our Favorite things in May

The Month of May was a busy time for us, and it seemed everyone else was too.

We attended a beautiful wedding reception at the MN Zoo in the same room where the sharks, dolphins, and sea horses swim. Sabrina got a good upclose look at the dolphins and the kids had an absolute blast playing with the starfish and mini-sharks. The food was delicious and different than any other reception meal I had had. Champagne and a ceasar salad follwed by a tasty wild rice and ricotta-stuffed chicken breast with seasoned potato wedges and veggies, then dessert shots and coffee. The kids got chicken fingers, apple sauce and a fruit platter. To wear it all off, Tom and I cut a rug pretty good after a few weeks of practice at home and at the Dance With Me Studio's Saturday night lessons. Many homeschooled teens go there for good clean fun, as well as the parents and other couples and singles. I'd suggest it for everyone! And what a place to have a reception of any kind, especially if there will be children invited!

We finally got sick and tired of telling the kids to stop playing with the front rocks and risky dirt in the back - and built them a sandbox. It's about 9x6 and only has a little bit of sand in it for now. But even so, they are having so much fun. The neighbor's granddaughter says we should get a trampoline, but my overcautious mothering says "No way in heck! That's just asking for an injury." I think we go out on a limb just by having kids, and letting them lose with their own imaginations to guide them!

Mikayla is learning to read and just loves books - and so do the other kids. As you can see our "reading room" with no tv or other distractions is just right for them. I look forward to many hours of storytime and imagination in this room.

We found two wonderful Little People books at Sam's Club that have images and words about worlds my kids may only see in the movies, but never knew what they were called. Even 4 yr old Stanley points out his favorite things to baby Sabrina.

Growing A Crystal Garden

Crystals are not alive, but they can grow. Growing crystals requires a little time and patience. If you take that plus a few ingredients, you can grow your own crystal gardens.

Before you start: Get ready all your supplies with parent supervision. Heed all warnings on the ammonia and bluing products.

Aluminum Baking Bowl or Pan, or any disposable plastic bowl (ex: empty cool whip tub)Charcoal / Lava Rock / Sponges / Broken Clay Pots to fill bottom of bowl
Measuring cup
Metal spoon for stirring
Mixing Bowl
¼ cup Table Salt (can be iodized)
¼ cup Water
¼ cup Bluing (Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing – for laundry)
2 Tablespoons Household Ammonia (found at Target or Menards)
Food coloring, any


1. Arrange the charcoal or other porous materials in the bottom of the bowl.
2. Pour the salt, water, bluing and ammonia into the mixing bowl, stirring until mixed. Note, have this in a ventilated area because the ammonia, which speeds up the evaporation process, is potent.
3. Pour this mixture over the charcoal, spooning the remaining thicker mixture evenly over the charcoal.
4. Sprinkle drops of food coloring randomly over the charcoal.
5. Let the bowl sit undisturbed for a couple days, and watch it grow!

In a crystal, atoms or molecules join together in a pattern that repeats itself over and over to create a certain shape. A crystal grows by adding atoms or molecules to all its sides in the exact same patterns as the atoms and molecules that were added before.

In the meanwhile, you learn about the virtue of patience and about the beauty within science!


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