Tag Archives: books

Whatever Wednesday: Little Miss Austen

I met up with some soon-to-be “mama friends” at a LBS this morning (LBS= Local book shop, not to be confused with LYS= local yarn shop.) The group is a chapter of Mocha Moms, which sounds like it going to be great fun! But that’s not the point of this post…

So, after the story time hour for the kiddos, I had a chance to peruse this new haven of all things literary and I came across this little gem:

How fun!!

It’s a counting book, but while it’s geared to those of the counting set, it’s still great fun… especially if you are an Austen fan. My favorite page has to be this:

Although the page with Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy is cute as well.

Is this a kid version of Pride and Prejudice? Not quite as the plot is not revealed in the numbers 1-10, but I still like it. Hopefully the girls will as well!



Filed under books, family, wednesday

Manners Monday: Mobile ‘Phones. Oy Weh.

I know, I know, I said I was going to throw in the towel on the scheduling, but I think that is just how the creative mind works sometime. So, let’s talk mobile (cell) ‘phones.

Like them or not, mobiles have becomed engrained in our culture. I mean, there are children as young as 5 with their own ‘phones. (Not mine, mind you!) As with most inanimate objects, the mobiles themselves are not bad… But the behavior some people use whilst on their ‘phones is pretty horrendous.

Rude caller 1: People who continue their conversations on their mobiles while checking out at the market, boutique, mall, etc. Why is this rude? Because while jabbering away to your caller, you are basically ignoring the individual providing you a service! I have worked in customer service, and I know that some can be less than ideal, but does that give you a reason to flat out ignore them, fling your money at them or hold up the line behind you because you are trying to juggle your ‘phone, your possessions and whatever else you have. Do everyone a favor and just hang up.

Rude Caller 2: Those who insist on broadcasting their end of the conversation to the world, AKA, loud talkers. You tend to meet these types when confined on a bus, train, subway, plane or in line at the market. Either they really have no clue that they are talking so loudly, or they know how loud they are talking and don’t care because they really want you to know how important/cool/intellegent/well-connected they are. Really, your fellow travellors do not really care how ragin’ that party was last night, or how that ***** wore the same dress as your BFF to Ken’s house or how the Johnson merger is going. Really, we don’t care.

Rude Caller 3: The hands-free kings. Now I say kings, because nine times out of ten, the offender is a guy. These gentlemen insist on wearing their bluetooth, jawbone or other hands-free device EVERYWHERE they go, even if the aren’t on a call. You’ll see them walking though Home Depot, eating in a restaurant, playing with their kids at the park. It’s even worse when you combine rude callers numbers 1-3 and they are in line, yelling into their bluetooths.

Rude Caller 4: The “Unless you are a text message, I am ignoring you” offender. I am sad to say, usually this type of offender is a woman. Now, I am a text messenger. I love to text, in fact, I prefer texting over voice calls because you can get to the point with a text. But I discovered that I was losing skills in using the fine art of conversation because of my addiction to emails and text messaging. True story here: my husband took the girls to a “family-friendly” restaurant with an indoor play area. Also there was a 5 year old girl and her mom. Mom was glued to her phone. Little girl kept trying to get mom’s attention about something, and soon gave up and asked my 4 year old to play. The bear said yes, but she had to finish eating first. Little girl headed back to her mom and sat there. Soon, one of the employees of the restaurant walked up to mom and daughter and said something to mom. No answer from mom. He repeated his question, still no answer from her as she was texting away. (DH said he was pretty sure he was talking to mom because he was looking right at mom.) He then walked away. OK, here’s the kicker… mom then turned to her daughter and said loud enough for my husband to hear, “That was VERY RUDE of you to ignore that man!” DH said that Little girl just looked defeated.

Now, as you know, I am a mom and I now have my own business so therefore, I am on my mobile phone more often that I used to be. But at the same time, I have to make a conscious effort to be mindful of my mobile etiquette both with strangers and with my family. If my phone rings during meal time (breakfast, lunch, dinner,) the call goes to voice mail. If I get a text message or email during a meeting, or Mass, or when I am giving my girls undivided time (so in all of those cases, the ‘phone is on vibrate,) it’s going to wait. I will text and tweet while waiting in line, but the phone is put away when it is my turn to interact with another human being. I’m kind of spoiled in that The Swagger Wagon has Bluetooth integrated so you won’t see me sporting a handsfree device nor will you see me texting while driving!! (As an aside, I was listening to ‘Car Talk’ on NPR and Click and Clack said they saw a bumper sticker that read: Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet Him! I was rollin’ on that one.)

So that’s my take on mobile ‘phones. They are a fantastic invention and it’s funny to think that my kids will grow up only seeing corded ‘phones as play objects, but we mustn’t forget the real people that we are interacting with as well.
What are some of your favorite mobile ‘phone faux pas? Oh, let me tell you this! I was so excited to find out that there is a new addition of Emily Post’s Etiquette coming out soon! Wheeeeee!! You know that could be an amazing gift for this CCM (hints to my family, LOL!)

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Filed under books, etiquette, manners, monday

What I’m Reading Wednesday: Parenting with Grace

Truth be told, I am usually reading 3-4 books at one time. I try to mix fiction and non-fiction and the reading is all over the place. I know that I have mentioned Parenting with Grace once before, but I am still reading the book, so it counts for today!

Parenting with Grace is written by Dr. Greg Popcak and his wife, Lisa. The basic point of the book is melding the teachings of the Catholic Church with parenting techniques with the goal of “raising (almost) perfect children.”

Right now I am in the section dealing with discipline. Now the funny thing is, at the beginning of this particular chapter, Dr. Greg addresses the readers who may have skipped all of the beginning chapters to get right to this particular chapter. Basically, he tells them that they need to go back to the beginning of the book and read it from the beginning because if the reader does not understand where the parenting techniques come from, with respect to Church teaching, the book is no good to them. But he does it much better than I just did.

Parenting with Grace embraces more of a gentle, family-centered approach to parenting, rather than a parenting style in which the parent has more of a totalitarian mindset. However, this does not mean that the parents are encouraged to sit back at let their kids walk all over them, rather, parents are taught that discipline or teaching their children is constant, not just when the kid does something wrong. Ideally, if you are constantly teaching your children, you should not have to “punish” them because there will not be a need for the punishment. The child will choose to make the right decision (right for the family, right for themselves) because of their love for you, not because they fear you.

I love the book. But I also loved Dr. Popcak’s other book Holy Sex! I have yet to read For better… FOREVER! his book on marriage but I knowing what I know about his writing style, I am sure I’d love that too!


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Filed under books, wednesday

Book Review and Giveaway: The Invisible World by Anthony DeStefano

Hope everyone had a reverent Memorial Day! (For my overseas readers, the last Monday in May is set aside as Memorial Day here in the US. For some, it’s nothing but the “unofficial” start to summer; for others, the day gives us another chance to stop and remember those who gave all for their country.)

A few months back I was contacted by Anthony DeStefano about reviewing his most recent Adult Novel, The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us. You may or may not remember, but I reviewed Mr. DeStefano’s childrens’ book, Little Star during Advent. And like in Little Star, Mr. DeStefano has proved himself to be a knowledgeable and complete writer, with the ability to get complex messages across to his readers without going over their heads. It might come across as off-putting to some, but Mr. DeStefano’s writing style in this book is so casual and conversational that you almost forget that you are reading a book on Spirituality and not just having a chat with a good friend.

Early in the book, Mr. DeStefano reminds us that the most important things in life are also the ones that cannot be seen with the naked eye:

Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. (pg. 18)

Keeping pace with traditional Christian teaching, Mr. DeStefano walks along with us as he discusses God, Angels, Demons, The Soul, The Battle for our Souls, Grace, Suffering, Heaven, Hell and fine tuning your “Haunt Detector” to be more open to experiencing these happenings.

One of my favorite passages comes toward the end:

Everything in life comes down to faith. Our whole knowledge of human history is based on it. Think about it. Where you around when the Romans conquered Carthage in 146 BC? How about when Columbus discovered America in 1492? Do you know for sure that George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776? No? Well, how do you know these events took place?… None of it is firsthand. None of it is scientifically provable. All of it, really, must be accepted on faith- faith in the authors of the documents, and faith in the reliability of the testimonies. (p. 199)

For me, this was a quick, extremely interesting and uplifting read… It just took me forever to post about it! This book would make a great addition to anyone’s library, whether you are a dyed-in-the-wool Christian or if you are questioning the existance of God in general. Hey, I just had an inspiration! A Great combination would be for a Book Club would be to read this book along with C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters! And then do a little C and C? (Compare and Contrast?) (Our group read Screwtape this fall, and if you haven’t read, please do!! It’s fantasic!)

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Invisible World here’s how you can do it:

1. For one entry, leave a comment below telling me your opinion about Angels and Demons (and I don’t mean the Dan Brown book) and if they affect our lives.
2. For an additional entry, head over to FaceBook and “Like” my Page (Caffeinated Catholic Mama)
3. For an additional entry, sign up for email subscriptions, so you never miss a posting!

(If you already “like” me and are signed up for emails, let me know in your original comment, so you get your extra entries!)

Because this is a great book, I am leaving this giveaway open to all readers WORLDWIDE (can’t leave out my UK and Germany peeps!) Winner will be drawn by The ever popular Miss Random.Org on June 30 at 5p CST. Be sure to share with your friends and family!

Pax Christi!

**I was contacted by the author for my honest, unbiased review. I was not compensated in anyway for my opinion.**


Filed under Book Review, Catholic, Giveaway, Spirituality, Tuesday

CarLashes… just another part of The Pink Ribbon Culture?

Earlier this week, I took the Swagger Wagon into the dealer for a three-month check up. Yes, I know how insane that sounds, but they told us to bring her in after about three months just to make sure that everything was doing OK, tires were holding pressure, battery its charge, fluids not leaking. The check-up is included in our warranty so my only cost was my time and effort.

My original plan was just to drop of my van and head to a friend’s house for play with the rental car but The Dragonfly got sick so my friend was aminable to The Bear coming over to play solo. The van check up was to only take 15-20 minutes, so we waited rather than getting the rental. While in the lobby, my eyes spotted… something. Actually, I saw it when I pulled into the lot but I thought that it was some sort of sales gimmick. This is what I saw:



I just finished reading Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by Gayle A. Sulik, Ph.D and the irony was not lost as to what I was looking. Pink. Eyelashes. On. A. Car. I get the van dropped off and head inside and my suspicions were confirmed. The product is called “CarLashes” and they come in black or pink and have clear or pink crystal “eyeliner” that is sold separately. The pink ones at my car dealership are tagged with the additional information to “Show support for Breast Cancer Awareness with our PINK lashes!” Is this what Breast Cancer Awareness has boiled down to, a way to sell women anything while at the same time making them feel altruistic? According to my most recent read… yup.

The basic thesis of Pink Ribbon Blues is this: the pink ribbon culture has brought cancer advocacy much attention but there has not been an effect of improving women’s health. I first began to hear the term “Pink Ribbon Effect” when I was trying to find out why the Catholic Church and Susan G. Komen Foundation were at loggerheads. Looking more into things, a complicated web begins to be woven among cancer advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, cancer patients and their families and the consumer and her money.

According to the author, breast cancer “survivors” are in constant “battle” with and for their lives and daily wage a “war” against cancer. The language choice is not accidental, as the prototypical breast cancer survivor has to play the role of the “she-ro:” always optimistic, always thinking of self first and, if the first two do not apply, a certain level of guilt about not being she-roic enough (Chapter 6.) In addition to making survivors into she-ros, the choice of the pink color hyper-feminizes the roles of women, basically boiling them down to just their breasts and equating their worth with their breasts. In the words of Audre Lorde:

A kindly woman from Reach [to] Recovery came in to see me, with a very upbeat message and a little prepared packet containing a soft sleep bra and a wad of lambswool pressed into a pale pink breast-shaped pad… Her message was, you are just as good as you were before because you can look exactly the same. Lambswool now, then a good prosthesis as soon as possible and nobody will ever know the difference. But what she said was, “You’ll never know the difference,” and she lost me right there, because I knew sure as hell I’d know the difference… (pgs. 340-341)

This focus on having breasts and keeping breasts (and thereby keeping external appearances of what it means to be a woman in Western culture) also leads to cute slogans and breast cancer awareness events: Blogger Boobie-Thon, T-shirts that read “I love breasts,” “Stop the war in my-rack,” “Tatas are awesome” (for the guys.) According to the author:

Sexualizing women in the name of breast cancer is only one of the detrimental consequences of many pink ribbon campaigns. They also infantize women and emphasize their traditional social roles. Teddy Bears, rubber duckies and M&Ms are used to comfort and pacify children, yet companies sell them to grown women in the name of the cause. (pg. 373)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you do know that I have no problem with being feminine and embracing my feminine nature, but I do have to say that I am inclined to agree with what the author is saying about how breast cancer awareness does overly sexualize women. Why don’t we see much by way of testicular cancer or prostate cancer? Is it because these parts of the male anatomy are not secondary sex characteristics and therefore not easily marketable? Why aren’t we selling Action Figures or Toy Cars to Men to raise funds for those cancers?

But, you may ask, tons of money is being raised and going to research to get rid of this disease, right? Well…

…the American Cancer Society publishes facts and figures on cancer in the United States, including incidence and mortality. From 2000 to 2006, the number of invasive cancers rose from 182, 800 to 212,920… The number of breast cancer deaths estimated each year from 2000 to 2008 has averaged 40,314. (pg 59)

The argument could be made that the number of incidences has increased because more women are getting tested earlier and getting diagnosed sooner, but questions remain about mammography including its accuracy, benefit and the long-term effects of radiation exposure. Add this to “pinkwashing,” the tactic that some companies use in which they raise breast cancer funds while at the same time divert attention from the potential hazards, such as producing toxins or chemicals, that may contribute to the disease. Hmmm… kind of like this?

Mmmm… fried chicken. Perfect for combating obesity (which is a breast cancer risk factor.) Oh, there’s some grilled in there too.

So what’s a gal to do? I don’t know. I guess don’t base your shopping habits on where monies may or may not be going. I’ll admit it, I have been a Pink Ribbon shopper (Estee Lauder makes this fantastically flattering pink shade, and I can’t wear pink well and it’s offered during Pinktober… oops, I mean October) but I will say my motivation was mostly for the color. Will we see more transparency in the major breast cancer fundraising efforts? That would make things easier for people to donate. I mean, if you know more about where your money is going, you might be more inclined to donate without the need for a pink thing-y, or to donate just to make yourself feel good about doing your part in the war on breast cancer. From page 375:

The generic survivor has become so central to pink ribbon culture that any survivor will do. A name on a T-shirt or a pink hat is all we need to happy fight the war on breast cancer. The personal struggle of the disease is left on the sidelines, transformed into a transcendent story, or left back at home where no one will ever see.

Pink Ribbons: Cute or harmful? Do they really do the job or are they just placating the masses? What do you think? I’ve been told I need to read some happier books, by the way!

Pax Christi!


Filed under feminism, life, political, wednesday, world

Children’s Book Review: Little Star

A King is about to be born! The stars in the heavens are competing to shine the brightest to celebrate his birth. But when they see the poor family, the donkey, the shabby stable, the stars all think, That can’t possibly be a king. We’ve been fooled.

All except one. The smallest, loneliest star in the sky, Little Star, is the only one to understand what the king is about to bring to the world. But what can Little Star do for him?

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by best-selling author Anthony DeStefano about reviewing his latest Children’s Book, Little Star. As I was humbled and honored by his request and, of course, I jumped at the chance.

Mr. DeStefano’s book has all of the elements of the traditional Christmas Story, told from the perspective of the stars in the heavens. The story of the Nativity is intertwined with themes of self-worth, perseverence and ultimately, self-sacrifice out of love for others. (hmm… sound familiar?)

For me, the mark of a “good” Children’s book is if it can make me cry and this one certainly does that (and for those of you who do not know me personally, I do not cry easily.) The illustrations by Mark Elliot are beautifully rendered and are works of art in of themselves. My eldest daughter, the three year old, loves this book and calls it her “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” book and right now, really wants it back. *smile*

If you are looking for a nice addition to your family Christmas traditions, please pick up a copy of Little Star. While the text is easily designed for children aged 3-8, children of all ages will love and appreciate this heartwarming tale.

Want a chance to win your very own, autographed by the author, copy of Little Star? Well… all you have to to is leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas tradition or Service Project. For an additional entry, Become a Fan of Caffeinated Catholic Mama on FaceBook!

Entries will be accepted until Monday, December 13 at 11:59p (CST) and the winner will be drawn by random number generator on Tuesday December 14th.

Pax Christi!

(I was provided a review copy of Little Star by the author, in exchange for my honest review.)


Filed under Art, Catholic, Giveaway, monday, tradition

Things I love Thursday: Breastfeeding-friendly Children’s Books (WBW: Day 5)

Ask this breastfeeding mother about the one thing that she loves to find more than anything else, it’s a children’s book that depicts breastfeeding as normal and natural. Too often in children’s books, babies are fed primarily through bottles and therefore kids tend to see bottles as the “normal” or “right” way to feed a baby. If you are a bottle-feeding household, there is no issue with this, but if your children are breastfed, it’s nice to have books that show that as well.

One of my favorites is Mama’s Milk by Michael Elshon Ross, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This sweet, simple book opens with a human mother nursing her baby in bed, while daddy snoozes near by and the pages that follow are filled with other mammals and their babies nursing. The text is poetic and usually one line per page, making it great for your youngest nursling. For older kids, at the back there are mammalian facts like “The biggest piglets nurse lowest on their mother’s belly” or “kangaroo milk is pink.” The watercolor illustrations by Ashley Wolff are so pretty and there is even a picture of a mama nursing in public. This book is now offered in a bilingual version but I really wish it came in board book style as this book can get a lot of love.

Another that we have is called Breastmilk makes my tummy yummy by Cecilia Moen. This is a board book and it’s simple poem is very easy to memorize. In fact, I have it running through my head even though I don’t have the book in front of me. The drawings are a little crude but, for me, it reinforces the comfort this book brings. There are quite a few illustrations of toddler nursing, a shot of tandem nursing and a picture of the family bed. I can’t say this is our favorite in general but it’s a cute one.

Sadly, I have to end my post there as those are the only breastfeeding-friendly children’s books that I personally own. I have a few that promote babywearing (A Ride on Mother’s Back by Bernhard is great) but there are not many breastfeeding specific or inclusive books out there. Hey, children’s book writers and illustrators, how ’bout it?

What breastfeeding-friendly children’s books have you found? What books are staples in your library and as a result end up as gifts to friends?

As this is WBW, my posts this week will reflect this. In addition, use my blogroll visit other blogs that celebrate breastfeeding and the joy that comes from it. Make sure you check them out! Also, the 8th Edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is out. This edition has been revised since 2004 and it. is. awesome. Seriously.

Pax Christi!


Filed under Art, breastfeeding, Thursday, world