book review: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage

Well, I have been married for less than a year so it remains to be seen how my husband and I will weather most of the issues in this book- but I did find it to be informative and give lots of helpful ideas about how to communicate, figure out what you want from your marriage, and work that out with your spouse.

I like the format- it is divided into chapters, each dealing with certain issues like money, time, and in-laws.  At the end of each chapter is a scripture reading and some questions for reflection.  The book is written in a casual, easy to read manner.

We had an excellent Pre-Cana preparation, but I know that not all couples do, and I think this book would be great for them. I think it may also work as a good “refresher” for us a couple years down the road.  Overall, I highly recommend the book.

*Note: 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 What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage.  The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.

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7 Quick Takes Friday- February 19

I really don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t discovered this blog meme (I think that’s the right term?), because otherwise I would never remember to update my own blog.  Please don’t prove me wrong by looking to see when my last 7QT was, though.  🙂  As always, this brought to you by/the brainchild of Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

1 – I was sad that I moved away from my home state in the Mid-Atlantic last year, even though I only moved a day’s drive into the upper South.  Mostly sad because I would miss the snow (and of course my family and friends).  Well, I didn’t have to worry because this year, my new home got record amounts of snow (10″ in one storm, PLUS snow for TWO weekends in a row!).  Not to mention, I had the good fortune to miss the “Snowpacolypse” that my old home was subjected to.  Best of both worlds!

2 – That being said, I am ready for spring. Perhaps because I know as soon as spring gets here, my baby will too (or should!) since I am due at the end of April.  My husband and I are REALLY excited and all we can talk about is baby stuff.  I hear that will get old eventually, but right now it’s so fun.

3 – Speaking of baby things, since I am mostly at home these days because my part-time work has been in a slow mode, I spend a lot of time online checking out information, etc. Now, being a former scientist and teacher, I tend to take almost everything I read online with a large grain of salt, but I thought I would share a couple websites I have found useful.  First, as far as the sites that send you weekly updates about your baby’s development in which they compare your unborn child to a fruit or vegetable (it’s cute until they get to “kumquat” and “rutabaga”, then you know it’s gone too far)- I like BabyCenter and Parents.

4 – I am also a voracious reader, and have read 3 pregnancy books cover-to-cover so far, as well as numerous others.  My favorite pregnancy book is You: Having a Baby by Dr. Oz.  It’s the newest and most scientific one I could find, and has a great sense of humor.  I also liked What to Expect When You’re Expecting, though the format is kind of random and not for everyone.  The other one that I just found “OK” is Your Pregnancy Week by Week.  It’s a little dry, and the information is divided up into weeks (duh) which means that you only get little bits at a time.  I like more information at once, so this wasn’t my favorite.

5 – Hubby and I have gotten a few new toys recently.  Carseat and stroller for the baby.  We ended up with this one, by the way.  A long, drawn-out decision because the travel system I originally registered for (recommended by Consumer Reports, my new best friend these days) looks like it’s being phased out and is nearly impossible to find.  Plus, I have done some reading recently suggesting that children do better when they are facing their parents in the stroller- they get more interaction, obviously.  So we decided to give it a shot, even though it’s so new it doesn’t have many reviews.

We also got a new digital camera, after much research.  We ended up with this one.  It’s really cool- I like the photo quality and that it’s got an animation on the front screen that supposedly makes it easier to get photos of babies actually looking *at* the camera.  That remains to be seen, in our case.  Hubby likes the touch screen, and we both like the LCD on the front that makes it really easy to take self-portraits since we are the type of people too shy to ask someone to take our picture.

6 – BIRDS!  Everywhere!  I don’t know if it’s the state where live, or the specific neighborhood, but we have WAY too many birds.  I know some of it is due to our pond, and I have complained about the ducks and geese before.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my new neighbor feeds the ducks, or that *my own husband* nearly caused a waterfowl riot when he fed an entire glazed donut to one duck, who was then set upon by a large number of other ducks and gulls, and who was too small to carry off the donut in the first place, poor thing.  (The environmental police are showing up any minute to revoke my environmental-science-teacher/aquarium-volunteer/recycler/caring-about-the-environment-in-general card, I am sure.)

Anyway, the point is, we also have mourning doves, pigeons, and crows- typical for the suburbs, I think.  As I was typing this entry, a gang of 3 pigeons landed on the railing to my deck, strutting around like they owned the place.  And then inspected my deck for the next 10 minutes.  Why?  There’s no food.  Can they see me in here?  I’m not eating or anything.  Just typing.  WHAT DO THEY WANT??  (I did try to take a pic with the fancy new camera, but they did not cooperate.)

7 – Lent has begun, and I am really excited.  Which seems odd, since Lent is the season of sacrifice and all that.  But it’s also a good period for reflection and rejuvenation, and at the end of it, our baby’s arrival will be imminent!  So I am definitely looking forward to it this year.  Check out this happy/cheesy song about the season that I found on Faith and Family Live.

book review: The Mass: A Guided Tour, by Thomas Richstatter O.F.M., S.T.D.

It took me the better part of 2 months to get through this book because of a busy schedule, but it was worth it.

It wasn’t what I expected- I was really thinking it would be a how-to guide for the mass, similar to Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper, which I also enjoyed.  As a new Catholic, I am always looking for more information about *why* we do what we do, even though I had a great RCIA class, and of course if I had not felt that I understood the Mass on a basic level, I would not have joined the church…Anyway, the structure of this book focused on the Eucharist- as it should, since that is at the center of the Mass.  It was more of a “behind the scenes” history of why we celebrate the Eucharist and how it relates to the major celebrations of the church liturgical year- Christmas and Easter.

The book was very informative and well-written, particularly for lay people like myself.  One caution is that, I think you need a pretty good familiarity with the order of the Mass to follow this book- if I had read it during my RCIA days I don’t think it would have had the same impact that it did today.

Speaking of impact, this book did what I imagine all authors want their works to do- it made me think, and it actually made me change something about my life.  Before reading this book, I always hesitated to take the Precious Blood in addition to the Host during communion.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I did- two. Once at my confirmation, and another at my wedding. I kept rationalizing, “I don’t want to share germs with people, it’s gross, and I don’t need it anyway because the church says I can get all the same benefits in one species.”  While the latter part is true, the author makes a simple point that really changed my outlook.  Since we should look at the Eucharist as not only a sacrifice but a meal, would you go to someone’s house for dinner and only eat, not drink?

This simple question changed my outlook and now I regularly receive both species if they are offered, with no qualms on my part.  A neat experience for me, and it really meshes with the theme of another favorite ministry of mine, Grace Before Meals, the brainchild of a local priest in my former diocese, Fr. Leo Patalinghug.

So, the upshot of all this rambling is that a) I liked the book, and hope you check it out if you’re interested, but b) don’t expect it to be a step-by-step Mass guidebook.

*Note: 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 The Mass: A Guided Tour.  The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.

“bizzare” science roundup and 5 other quick takes

I found 2 interesting science-related news bits yesterday and they both happened to start with the word “bizarre.”  One really fits the bill, and I think the other is a bit of an exaggeration.  And I thought, while I’m at it, I haven’t done 7 quick takes in a while, and it’s Friday, so courtesy of Jen at Conversion Diary, here goes!

1 – First, the truly strange: Octopuses were seen carrying coconuts to use as shelters. I actually found out about this a few weeks ago, because I volunteer at the local aquarium and someone posted a newspaper article about this very thing.  I don’t know what’s stranger, though: that the octopuses seen actually found and transported 2 coconut halves and then constructed a hidey-hole, or that the newspaper reported it before the internet.

2 – Second, not as strange but more of a “cool science” news item: a complex compound found only in a certain sea sponge has finally been synthesized by scientists.  I appreciate the work that went into this, especially as someone who barely passed organic chemistry.

3 – The weather here is finally what they tell me is seasonal for this area and this time of year.  After a week of being in the 30’s, it’s back to the 50’s and sunny and mild, so I finally got to go out and take a walk.  Hooray!

4 – I am addicted to yet another talk radio show- this time it’s a local one, which I only heard because 99% of the time my radio is tuned to the NPR station here.  It’s Hear Say with Cathy Lewis, and it’s a great source of local news in my area.  In fact, after listening to today’s show, I may go out and learn myself to knit!

5 – Allergies really stink. I have been a victim for the past week or so, and it’s no fun.  I usually get them in the fall, so this bout took me by suprise.  Plus everyone thinks I have a cold, but I don’t.

6 – Happy news, my psych Season 3 DVD arrived recently!  Yay!  Just in time to catch up for the upcoming season.

7 – I totally stole this one from Jen, and it’s my favorite (so far) legitimate way of raising money for Haiti, and all it takes is missing one meal! It’s called Fast for Haiti.

weird science, again…

The Story of Mike the Headless Chicken.  No lie.

If you like this sort of thing, I highly recommend the How Stuff Works: Stuff You Should Know podcast.  Irreverent and fun.  I don’t have much time to listen to podcasts anymore (anyone have any tips for when is a good time to listen when you don’t drive much anymore?), but I always enjoyed theirs.

end of the year science wackiness

Well, I know that now it’s the beginning of the new year already, but I saw this on Discover‘s blog yesterday: “The stupidest things celebrities said about science in 2009.”  I can’t resist stupid celebrity quotes, and neither should you.

A short synopsis is here.  And a little more detail over here at New Scientist.  My favorite thing that I learned from this is that meat stays in your gut for 40 years and eventually leads to your death.  I’m so glad that celebrities are smarter than me.

holiday contest!

…no, not from me.  But from a great magazine with a really good website, Faith and Family.  It’s billed as “The magazine and daily blog of Catholic living”, which is pretty accurate.  They have some great bloggers over there that are fun to read.  Both serious and fun topics abound!  I discovered the website first, I don’t know how, then I got the magazine a couple of times in the bookstore.  Both are great, and if they are something you are interested in, please check them out!

As for the contest- they are giving away some really cool items. There are some requirements, so check out this post for details.