On Barb’s Bookshelf: Two Types of Fatherly Wisdom

Just in time for Father’s Day gift planning (or your own summer-reading enjoyment), here are two books packed with fatherly wisdom: true stores, one written by a father of four, and one by a parish priest.

CatholicMom contributor Jake Frost‘s second collection of family stories will charm you as much as his first one did — but if you didn’t read Catholic Dad yet, don’t let that stop you. You can jump right in and read Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood. (Or go ahead and read them both!)

catholic dad 2

Most of the stories in this book are only two to four pages long — a great length for busy parents to enjoy. I enjoy Jake’s perspective on raising children as a stay-at-home dad, his appreciation for his own mother’s influence in his life, his gentle sense of humor, and his unabashed faith that shines through on every page.

Rev. Charles J. Cummings, a priest of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is clearly a storyteller at heart, and that definitely shows in Love, Laughter & Living Saints. He notes that some of the stories in this book have made their way into his homilies over his 50 years as a priest.

Love laughter living saints

From vignettes of his childhood to seminary stories and tales of the joys and challenges of life as a parish priest, this short book comprises 70 stories in addition to Father Cummings’ own vocation story, which serves as the introduction to the book. These stories clearly depict the author’s care for his family and his parishioners, and his servant’s heart.

Father Cummings’ book caught my attention in a particular way because it takes place in the Diocese of Scranton; I attended college at Marywood (now Marywood University) in Scranton, and I developed a deep affection for the city. I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t gone on to graduate school, I’d have looked for a job in the Scranton area and remained there after graduation. So I must admit that I kept my iPad handy while reading this book, so I could use Google Maps to find the places named and see how they figured in my own memories of living in the area.

I hope you enjoy these very different, and very sweet, collections of stories about fatherhood and spiritual fatherhood!


Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of each book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Small Success: Reach for It

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I feel like I’m really reaching to find successes today. Yesterday kicked my butt for reasons I won’t go into here. I’m trying to reboot, a little, today.

It’s been a good week at work…I learned a couple of new things, (mostly) stuck with the workflow plan I designed for myself a couple of weeks ago, and saw a brainstorm come to fruition. It’s really cool to offer an idea and then be allowed to run with the ball.

Next week Hubs and I will be going to a long-term service awards dinner his company is hosting. That meant (eeek!) I have to dress up. My work-at-home/occasional-substitute-teacher/church-on-Sunday wardrobe isn’t going to cut it. I asked one of my folk-group friends for fashion advice because she always is beautifully dressed and looks so put together. She works part-time and offered to go shopping with me one afternoon. We had a fun time; I got a flowy sweater to go over my little black dress, a pencil skirt and blouse (which I’d never have chosen if I was shopping on my own) for TheKid’s graduation, and a pair of foot-friendly shoes–HALF PRICE. They’re too casual for the business dinner, but I can wear them just about everywhere else.

These go with just about everything!
These go with just about everything!

Speaking of graduation, yesterday I got a notice from the school asking for a photo for the “Guess the Graduate” bulletin board–always a fun feature! I dipped into the digital archives and found this gem. TheKid is more than OK with using this one.

summer 2004
This is probably my most favorite photo of TheKid.

I’m hoping for a better day today. And I won’t say no to a Memorare for a special intention, if you’re prayerfully-inclined. (Thanks!)

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Small Success: Fleeting Seasons

I looked out the front window Tuesday morning and saw the lilacs beginning to bloom. I’ll enjoy their sight and scent, for about a week. And then they’ll be gone.

It’s important to appreciate the fleeting things while you have them. So I opened the window and savored the lilacs, and got work done while I listened to a mockingbird’s serenade.

File Apr 19, 7 46 48 AMLilac season lasts about as long as Tech Week at the high school (10 days or so). It’s Tech Week right now, and I’m volunteering at the Tech Week Dinners, bringing chicken tacos or salad and croutons, pouring drinks, wiping tables, and marveling at the great kids who participate in the musical. People who think all high-school kids are self-centered need to show up at a Tech Week Dinner. They will see students carrying plates and drinks for someone who has full hands or an arm in a sling. They’ll see students making sure to tell the Dinner Moms that their friend has a track meet and will be arriving late for dinner, and asking if we’d save a plate or two. They’ll watch a student walk through the line with the shyest girl of all and invite her to sit at a table full of friends. They’ll hear students thanking us for the dinner from the second they walk into the cafeteria, as they pass through the line, after they say grace before the meal and again before they head to their 4-hour rehearsal.

leaning tower of beveragesI’ve gotten through the two Tech Week Dinners so far without any panic attacks, so that’s definitely an improvement over previous years. And it’s been nice; I remember quite a few people who ask about my Big Kids and wonder if I missed being the one who organized two weeks of food for 100 people. (No, I don’t miss running it, but I have missed being there.)

This week I also made a small tweak in my work “schedule” (such as it is; I don’t have an assigned schedule. As long as each article at CatholicMom.com is posted at its scheduled time, no one cares what time I work or in what order I do things.) Reworking a few things in my workflow has allowed me to be more efficient, which is a good thing! Yesterday I had to pick up some medical supplies for TheKid yesterday and bundled in a trip (first ever!) to Trader Joe’s where I did not buy everything in sight, so I guess that can count as a success.

Giant sugar cookies with sprinkles (8)cT

And my giant sugar cookies with sprinkles were a huge hit at the school bake sale. I sent in 2 dozen and TheKid reported that only one cookie was left after first lunch.

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Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes! Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Small Success: Back to the Kitchen

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

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I’ve been taking advantage of the lack of rehearsals, performances and other outside-the-house commitments over the last few days to get a long-neglected chore completed and doing a lot of baking (and recipe blogging! I’d had a 2-week unplanned hiatus from my cooking blog, but I more than made up for that this week.)

First, the chore. I’ll start my Walk of Shame by admitting that when I took all the ornaments off the Christmas tree, I put them straight into a box and a shopping bag and never wrapped them up to protect them in storage. Then that box and bag sat on top of the storage bins where the ornaments belong–right behind my front door–for two solid months. Yesterday I bit the bullet, turned on “Property Brothers” on HGTV (that channel is my guilty pleasure) and got every last ornament packed away properly in just 1 1/2 episodes.

That’s one of those chores that just gets put off and put off for no good reason and stares you in the face and makes you feel awful about your housekeeping abilities until you get it done.

And then, the baking (a little cooking, too!) I wanted to put my mom’s Irish soda bread recipe up for St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t bake one this year because only Hubs and I eat it and this recipe makes a huge soda bread.

granma-scones-and-teaInstead, this morning I made Irish biscuits for breakfast. YUM. In this photo they look more like scones, but Granma made them two ways: sliced like scones or as drop biscuits, which is what I did this morning because I was feeling lazy and they taste equally delicious either way.

File Mar 16, 4 31 09 PM

Yesterday I tried a new bread recipe that was a total hit! One of my cousins shared a link to a recipe for a certain type of bread that’s only made in the corner of Ireland where Granma grew up. I’ll be sharing that recipe on Saturday at Cook and Count.

irish tea brack

Want some more Irish baking ideas? Try Tea Brack (and use good strong tea, like Irish breakfast, to make it!)

And a decidedly NOT Irish cooking success came when I wound up with over 6 cups of mashed potatoes after my daughter decided to try to make pierogi over the weekend while I was at the theatre. The first pierogi didn’t work so she abandoned the effort but saved the potatoes. What was I going to do with all of those?

pierogi lasagna (13) C

That’s Pierogi Lasagna right there, and you’ll find the recipe tomorrow at Cook and Count. Perfect for your Meatless Friday and a frugal way to use up those mashed potatoes!

It’s felt good to be back in the kitchen cooking (and back at the desk, writing about cooking) after being so busy at the theatre. No more rehearsals until after Easter vacation, when TheKid starts gearing up for Pippin at the high school he’ll be attending next year. He can’t wait!

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Small Success: Showtime!

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I’ve spent two days this week at the community theatre as a stagehand for TheKid’s show. If you’ve never been a stagehand, let me tell you that it’s a tougher job than you might think. There’s squeezing into small spaces, moving quickly and precisely during short blackouts, and doing a large part of your job in the dark while dodging cast members in (sometimes large) costumes who are trying to get to their places for the next scene.

Today they designated me Substitute Stage Manger for some crazy reason, and I had a young apprentice who wanted to help, so I decided that he’d be the Props-meister, and he did a great job taking care of some small but very important details during each show.

There were no Confetti Malfunctions.

I love this set! It opens up for the Beast's castle. And check out the tiny little mouse hole!
I love this set! It opens up for the Beast’s castle. And check out the tiny little mouse hole!

Last weekend I ran the box office (as I will do again this weekend) and so far the register has balanced each time.

AND I’ve coordinated the food donations for Saturday afternoon’s cast party. I’m bringing a slow cooker full of vodka pasta and a batch of Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, because the kids love those and it’s become a tradition.

We celebrated TheKid’s birthday (Sunday) and his Confirmation (Monday).

I’m almost caught up on the laundry. We’re not talking about the state of the rest of the house, but costume pieces needed to be washed yesterday, and I’m going to need that “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” T-shirt clean for weekend box-office wear.

I’m about ready to stop juggling now, but it’s (mostly) been a great time, except for that little bit on Tuesday morning when I had a Near Occasion of Intimidation resulting from contact with someone who has that kind of personality that intimidates me.

Oh yeah, and that part today when I turned around too quickly after moving the set and ran SMACK into a piece that sticks out. That’ll leave a mark…

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Small Success: Spiffy

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

This morning’s mad scramble went down without inordinate yelling on my part. There was a little, but it was deserved. TheKid told me Monday while we were in the car that he needed 2 baby pictures to bring to school for a bulletin-board display. He did not specify the due date, just saying it was “soon.” And then he didn’t mention it again, so we both forgot about it until he woke up THIS morning.

May I just say that it’s hard to scrape up baby pictures for a child born squarely in the digital-camera age? After tearing a closet apart, I finally found 10 for him to choose from.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I still stand by the part where I yelled at him for not telling me about this when we were at home, before the assignment was due; if I’d even known yesterday afternoon I could have sent the exact photo he wanted (shown above) to CVS to be printed.

Also, looking at photos of a certain cute but mischievous toddler does tend to reduce the irritation at his teenage self…just a bit. But WHY do they think that telling you that they need stuff when you’re nowhere near the point of delivery will go anywhere toward making sure they get said stuff?

I finally got the Christmas decorations down. All but one last thing that I just noticed as I looked toward the dining room. Now I have to figure out where my daughter put the box for that; she’s the one who put the decorations up this year.

I also have to put all the stuff back in the closet that I took out when I was looking for baby pictures. Lucky me.

Cook and Count logoAnd I spiffed up the look of my cooking blog. I definitely like it better this way, and it’s much easier to find the recipes you want.

Finally, a note from my morning. I’ve been baking a few slices of bacon each day for TheKid’s breakfast, with an extra slice or two for me and TheDad. But TheKid is always trying to poach TheDad’s bacon.

TheKid: “Dad, did you eat the bacon?”
TheDad: “Yes! Thanks!”
Me: “Don’t thank him for not eating bacon that wasn’t his to eat…”

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© 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Small Success: New Strings for Christmas

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

For the Christmas-music version of Teenage Musical Torture, I’ve been waking TheKid with such gems as “Dominic the Donkey,” Bob Dylan’s version of “Must Be Santa” (complete with accordion–it’s a real treat) and the barking-dog cover of “Jingle Bells.” Because laughing in the morning is way better than shouting.

On Sunday at rehearsal for the Festival of Lessons and Carols, I noticed that my guitar strings were in terrible shape. I’m really bad about changing my guitar strings. It takes FOR-EV-ER, and I suppose that if I did it more often, I’d be quicker at the job. But I have a 12-string guitar, so that means the job takes twice as long.

IMG_0039But since the strings were actually starting to unravel, I had to do something about them before one of them decided to break in the middle of Mass or that concert.

Amazingly, I managed to get all the strings changed out in 1 hour and 15 minutes, shaving 45 minutes off my Best Time Ever–and the new strings nearly held perfect tune during folk-group practice last night (I was still restringing the guitar when people arrived at practice.) Maybe next time I won’t wait so long to do this job.

During yesterday’s Epic Burst of Productivity (really. It was insane.) I dug through the freezer and inventoried the meat. I also sorted it out, as things tend to get shoved in there without regard to putting like items together. And unless there is a Sale of Epic Proportions at the grocery store, I won’t be buying any more meat until mid-January.

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Monday Recap: November 23, 2015

Monday Recap-What I've been writing

At CatholicMom.com

gift counselorBook Notes: The Gift Counselor

I reviewed The Gift Counselor, a sweet Christmas romance novel that doesn’t need to stay on the shelf until Christmas. Read it now, and you may gain a new perspective on your own gift-giving.

At Cook and Count

GM breakfast rice (6) C TGood Morning Breakfast Rice

A 3-Part Series on Thanksgiving Dinner with Kids:

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thanksgiving-turkey-cooked-by-joanna-2014

What do you Feed a Diabetic on Thanksgiving?

 

Small Success: Musical Wake-up Call

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

First things first. You need to go over and read Sherry Antonetti’s post that explains why Small Success is such an important thing. There’s not always a lot of participation, but it’s good to do the writing, to reflect on what goes right, to be grateful.

I’ve made my mornings a little easier by coming up with a way to get TheKid out of bed that involves a lot less yelling. His alarm goes off; he ignores it. I call for him 5 minutes later; he ignores me. 5 minutes after that, I head in with my Secret Weapon: my tablet with a Spotify playlist I’ve titled “Teenage Musical Torture.” Here it is, for your listening…um…pleasure.

My friends on Facebook helped me craft the playlist. My criteria specified that I had to be able to put up with the song, so some suggestions were denied because of that.

It’s good, though. He’s laughing, not grumpy, when he gets out of bed.

I find that anything by the Brady Bunch works particularly well. “Disco Duck” is also quite effective.

In other news, both the Big Kids have come home for dinner this week. Not on the same night, but they both came home for dinner. That’s a family success.

And I remembered to buy a set of Advent candles. Let this serve as your reminder, moms: Advent begins in 10 days! Go get some candles!

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Small Success in Standard Time

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

The big success here is that I’m still functional, 4 days into the switch to Standard Time. I haven’t gotten to bed before 10:30 on any night since Friday (and I wake up at 5:15); right now it’s just before 2 PM and I’m ready to pack it in. It’s an early bedtime for me tonight!

I had a different type of morning today: I took two trains in to Philadelphia and headed over to Reading Terminal Market to meet author Julie McElmurry, who was in town for a conference. I reviewed her book about a month ago, and it was good to meet her in person over coffee from Old City Coffee Company. We chatted about writing, blogging, and social media (of course!) Wished I could have stayed longer.

My “Mom Finds All the Lost Things” radar kicked in and led me to TheKid’s missing jacket yesterday, so I was the hero of the day there. Bigger success: I refrained from mentioning that if he’d made his bed the day before like I told him to do, he would have found it stuffed between the bed and the wall.

2015-10-31 18.23.23Best success: my family and I had a great time at the Notre Dame football game. Thanks to our neighbor, we scored an extra ticket so we could all go. The Irish won (YAY!) Do you think it was my ND fleece, or my leprechaun T-shirt, or maybe my lucky scarf that did the trick? No matter; they defeated Temple, who hadn’t lose a game yet this season, and are now in the top 5.

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