Saturday, December 31, 2005

Not to be missed

Sister Eva-Maria has this wonderful reflection on her blog today. I thought it was well-worth a "reprint" here.

Prayer is like talking to Someone who is listening, but not speaking much. Just listening attentively.
But then HE answers... speaks later...
... through other people.
... through our thoughts.
... through insights into Scripture.
... through nature.
... through difficult situations.
... through joys.
... in silence.
HE listens but speaks when we least expect it.
It is important to be attentive when He does speak.

It never ceases to amaze me

After 3 kids, I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I still marvel the second the Band-aid is applied to the scrape, the child stops crying.
These magical powers are the reason I have no fewer than 7 boxes of the miracle strips in my medicine cabinet!

Go Irish!

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MUST-SEE TV in the SFO Mom Household:
Monday, January 2

NOTRE DAME vs. OHIO STATE in the Fiesta Bowl!

I have already informed my family that I am going to be parked in the comfy spot on the couch to watch this game, and that there will be a change in the dinner plan. No WAY am I making any chicken piccata when I can be watching ND football. This dinner is going to have to be something I can do in the Nesco and forget about!

Big Daddy suggested: "Why don't we just take the kids to a sports bar, and watch the game there?"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm sure you all think I'm weird enough ALREADY...

but Steve has tagged me for this "5 weird things" meme....I'll try to think of new idiosyncracies since I've done this one before. In fact, Steve, I tagged YOU last time!

So here you go: Just How Weird IS SFO Mom?

1. If I'm awake, I'm wearing shoes. I have a nice pair of slippers that my in-laws gave me for Christmas last year with a new robe. They're hardly used! I put on a pair of clogs in the morning and wear those around until I'm dressed, at which point I'm in actual shoes.

2. If it's below 45 degrees and I'm outside, I'm wearing gloves. My fingers like to be warm.

3. I'm absolutely obsessive about "repeating" clothing, to the point where I will look through old pictures of Christmas Eve celebrations to make sure I don't wear the same thing again. I also go through this every Sunday for church. When I was teaching part-time, I actually KEPT A LIST of what I wore every day, so my "Tuesday" students wouldn't see me in the same outfit 2 weeks in a row. Like first-graders would notice, or care.

4. If the cookie or candy is shaped like a person or an animal, I always eat the head first. The same goes for "Peeps."

5. I have this irrational need to be "first." Remember when you were a little kid and you'd race with your siblings to get to the car, and yell, "FIRST!"? If Big Daddy and I both drive to church because he is running late, and I have to get those of us involved in ministries (music, altar server) there early, we have a race to get home, and I will admit to some road behaviors on such occasions that I normally do not engage in. On Christmas, he actually let me pass him ON OUR STREET so I could be first in the driveway. That's true love.

OK, am I unbalanced enough for you?

Call for Book Recommendations

I hit the jackpot with bookstore gift cards this Christmas! And tomorrow looks like it will be the day for me to get out for a bit and SPEND some of these. (Of course, I'm thinking of saving one for those "only available online" purchases...)
I do have a list of things to look for, but if anyone would like to recommend a favorite of theirs, I'd be most appreciative.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Feast of the Holy Innocents

It seems appropriate that on this day I received an email from a friend who is expecting a child in the spring; a prenatal test revealed a possibility of Down's.
It was a relief to see that she intends to keep the baby, no matter what. So many innocent little ones are aborted because of the possibility of this condition.
On my heart today, then, are my friend, her unborn baby, and their whole family, for the strength to accept and endure whatever God has in store for them; and also those babies who are never given the chance to be born.
This morning at Mass, Father observed that the "Holy Innocents" of today's world are not only the unborn but all those who are not wanted, those who are considered worthy of nothing better than being thrown away.
I am reminded of children with spina bifida, who not even ten years ago had no chance of walking, and whose parents less than ten years ago were encouraged to abort; now there is a prenatal surgery available that can dramatically lessen the effects of spina bifida. One such child is a member of our extended family. This seven-year-old girl had such a severe spina bifida that doctors predicted total paralysis from the waist down--but thanks to the prenatal surgery, she walked ON HER OWN to receive her gifts from Santa on Christmas Eve this year.
Miracles that can be accomplished by God, whether through the gifts He has given medical personnel or through pure divine power, can never be predicted. Who are we to decide that a child--a Holy Innocent--does not merit such a miracle?

Please join in a Novena for the Unborn. Via A Catholic Life.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Mourning

Wigilia was a little subdued this year. We felt the absence of one branch of the family in a particularly deep way. Uncle Stanley passed away Saturday morning after a long illness. We are comforted to know that his suffering is over and that at long last he has been reunited with his beloved wife and other family members in Heaven. But we will miss his hearty laugh, his ready jokes, and his treasury of family stories and even a few tall tales. Luckily for us, he passed those gifts along to his two daughters.
We viewed old photographs, and the hostess of the party gave each family an ornament covered in pictures of each family member. There were few dry eyes among the adults as we all looked for Uncle Stanley on our ornaments, and told stories of past Christmases featuring our family patriarch--most of which centered on a particular comfortable chair.
Rest in peace, Uncle Stanley. May perpetual light shine upon you, and may you have that comfortable chair in Heaven!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Reason for the Season


This picture really brings to my mind the humble place where Jesus was born. I am a mom, and quite the wimp about pain, and the thought of childbirth in a tiny barn such as this--I could never do it! It makes me realize that Mary's gift was not a one-time thing. When she said "yes" to God, she said "yes" not only to carrying and giving birth to baby Jesus, but to all those other trials, joys, heartaches, and physical hardships that she experienced throughout her whole life. All of us do this who make a solemn vow; we can never anticipate where life will bring us and what good and bad things will happen. The Blessed Mother has set the example for us; she underwent the trials of giving birth in a stable, relocating to Egypt and back with a young child, right up to watching her Son give his life on the Cross. She stood by her promise to God. This Christmas may God grant us all the strength and grace to stand by the promises we have made in our lives, and to keep the Faith no matter how discouraged we may become.
Merry Christmas to all!

H/T to Franciscan Cards for this beautiful picture. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005


Big Daddy's family is Polish, so when I joined the family I was introduced to the wonderful custom of Wigilia.
My family never did much of anything on Christmas Eve, and I felt like I was missing out on something. But my mother-in-law's family goes all out, with a tradition going back to their emigration from Poland in the early part of this century.
Earlier in December the family gathers to prepare the pierogi. A pastry board is used that was carried from Poland, and the recipe has similarly been passed down through the generations. Younger people are carefully instructed in the art of pinching--as the only thing worse than a leaking pierogi is mixing up the potato pierogi with the sauerkraut ones.
The pierogi are rolled, filled, pinched, dried, boiled, cooled and packed away for freezing until Christmas Eve. Everyone has a job to do and Pierogi Day is a lot of fun.
On Christmas Eve we gather at what Little Brother calls "Santa's House." About an hour before dinner the hostess calls for people to help fry the pierogi. When I first married into the family I was considered "too young" for the job. But a few years ago I noticed that high-school students were starting to take over the frying--I was suddenly "too old" for the job!
When the pierogi are all browned, the other courses are placed on the dinner table: sliced baked ham, mushrooms and gravy, rye bread, and sometimes a turkey or pasta dish.
Everyone comes through the kitchen to fill a plate, and we enjoy the delicious meal.
Next is the ritual of the oplatek. These are wafers, kind of like a Communion wafer, but sometimes colored and with pictures stamped on them. They are large rectangles. Each guest breaks off pieces of their oplatek and gives them to the other guests with a hug and a wish for a good year. During this ritual no one remembers that this one mixed up the pierogi flavors or that one didn't want to help fry--it's just a time to wish each other well. None of the other stuff matters.
The host of the party then gets everyone's attention and reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. We all sing "Silent Night."
At this point, the traditional Wigilia celebration is over and the party swings into full Santa mode. This is a family custom and is a lot of fun.
One of the grownups, on cue, mentions that they hear some jingle bells and banging on the roof. They encourage everyone to sing "Jingle Bells" to tell Santa where we are. Then Santa comes through the door! The Little Kids are completely thrilled. One lucky child is chosen to hold Santa's jingle bells. Big Kids in the family act as Santa's Helpers and hand him the gifts for each child which are piled up under the Christmas tree. Everyone at the party, no matter your age or size, will be called to Santa's lap to receive a gift and have a Photo Opportunity. When the gifts are all handed around and opened, Santa poses for pictures with each family and then with all the kids, big and small.
Santa leads us in a few Christmas songs and carols and then heads on his way.
Then it's time to enjoy a variety of homemade desserts, most of which involve chocolate, and we all head on our way.
A Blessed Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Christmas Meme

Hot Chocolate or apple cider? Coffee!

Turkey or Ham? Ham, if it's boiled with cabbage. Otherwise, turkey. But this year I'm cooking filet mignon.

Do you get a Fake or Real you cut it yourself Christmas tree? It must be fake, or SFO Mom will spend the Christmas season getting really well-acquainted with her inhaler.

Decorations on the outside of your house? That's Big Daddy's department. I'm happy with a wreath or 2. Now, it's Christmas all over the inside of the house. Outside, a wreath and a simple string of lights on the rooflines. Little Brother wants to go into full Clark W. Griswold mode, though.

Snowball fights or sledding? Snowball fights! But only because there are no hills around here! I'd much rather use my Marywood College cafeteria tray to go down a nice big hill.

Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? I've never had the opportunity. It's nothing but "big boxes" as far as the eye can see around here.

Favorite Christmas song? Favorite "real" Christmas song - "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night." Favorite "fun" Christmas song - "There's Something Stuck Up In the Chimney."

How do you feel about Christmas movies? They're great! My favorites include "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the original one), "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Christmas Story," "It's a Wonderful Life" and the made-for-TV-and-cheesy-but-cute "Christmas List."

When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? 24/7: Dec. 15. In moderation: it's never too soon!

Stockings before or after presents? There's no set procedure for that.

Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? I'd love to listen to carolers if some would show up at my door. Even better, I'd love to go caroling.

Go to someone else's house or they come to you? We spend Christmas Eve with Big Daddy's family at a big Polish Wigilia celebration. Christmas Day we used to wake up here, open gifts, go to church, then leave to head for my parents' house. But they have changed the routine so now we are at home all of Christmas Day, and we spend the next day at my parents'. My in-laws will join us for dinner on Christmas Day.

Do you read the Christmas Story? That is read as part of the rituals of Wigilia, so we don't do it again at home.

What do you do after presents and dinner? Play with our toys!

What is your favorite holiday smell? Cookies!

Ice skating or walking around the mall? Skating!

Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? The children receive gifts at Wigilia and they open those there. Everything else waits until morning.

Favorite Christmas memory? When we were kids, the Christmas tree was always decorated by Santa after we were in bed Christmas Eve. In the morning we had to wait at the top of the stairs for my grandmother to come over AFTER she went to 7 AM Mass! We were not allowed downstairs, to see the tree, until she got there. Then there would be a mad rush down the stairs. One year my brother heard a noise on Christmas Eve and went halfway down, only to catch Dad struggling to bring in the tree through the kitchen doorway. "We're getting it ready for Santa to decorate! Now go BACK TO BED!"

Favorite part about winter? Christmas!

Ever been kissed under mistletoe? No.

Via Happy Catholic. If you want to do this one, consider yourself TAGGED!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Number One Reason Why...

I am SFO Mom, and not SFO Chef:

This afternoon I very efficiently placed a piece of pork loin, some potatoes, sauerkraut, onions and seasonings into my Nesco roaster and left Big Daddy AND Big Brother with instructions to plug it in and turn it on in half an hour. I even put the meat thermometer into the roast.

Then I left to attend a choir rehearsal for Christmas.

When I returned, I checked the roast, which smelled delicious. The thermometer read 170 so I figured I'd better get it out of there NOW, as it was probably overcooked already.

I cut into the meat and found it still WAY pink inside. Then I noticed that the face of my thermometer looked a little, um, melted....yeah....I cooked an instant-read thermometer for 1 1/2 hours at 325. You know that surrealist painting of the melting watch? I almost had one of my very own.

The microwave finished cooking the pork for us, but I stuck to the potatoes and kraut.

For Your Holiday Baking Pleasure

I'd love to do like Julie D. and start a whole extra blog for recipes but I have the feeling that I might never leave the computer if I did that!

Anyway, I was reading about "Whiskey Cookies" over at Martha Martha and that post brought to mind one of our very favorite cookie recipes.

Mrs. Wagner's Cookies
Makes 10 dozen

1 pound butter -- softened (margarine works also)
7 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bourbon (we use Jack Daniel's)
1 cup milk
5 egg white
Colored sugar/sprinkles for decorating

Mix flour and butter like pie dough.

Beat remaining ingredients (except egg white and colored sugar) and add to dry mix.
Dough should be STIFF.

Roll thin and cut into shapes. Brush with egg white and decorate.

Bake on greased sheet, 6 minutes at 375. Bottoms should be light brown, tops should be white.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NOTES : Chill dough before rolling. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Mr. and Mrs. Wagner were a retired couple who lived next door to my family during my childhood. They became like "extra grandparents" to us. We'd bang on their back door hoping for cookies, or to be let into their house to play with the toys they kept there for us. For me and my sister, it was a little doll, with a homemade cradle made from a berry basket and lined with a little mattress, pillow, blanket, and baby doll clothes--all handmade with love. I forget what my brother had over there. I still have that doll today; it's the only toy from my childhood that I still have.

They treated us like family, right down to letting my mom know when we were getting into something we shouldn't!

I have a few tangible things that help me remember these very special people. Besides that doll, I have the game board they used to play with us. It's an old German game that is basically the same as "Trouble" but without the famous "Pop-o-Matic." I have a three-tier candy plate. And I have the cookie recipe. If I could only keep one of these, it would be the recipe!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Baby Jesus Wore a Blue Snowsuit

Baby Jesus wore a blue snowsuit with a faux-fur-trimmed hood.
All the Angels had puffy coats under their robes.
The Shepherds sported blue jeans and white Nikes.
The pastor contributed his own "capuch" and a deacon's stole to complete Francis' costume.

Mary had a kidney transplant three weeks ago.
The Sheep was played by a three-year-old boy who had to be persuaded to take off the Eagles hat underneath his furry-eared cap.
Due to a shortage of teenage boys, there were almost Two Kings instead of Three.

Mary's pony stopped along the path to Bethlehem to graze on some leftover autumn leaves.
The goat butted the Shepherds and the Sheep.
Most of the choir members had colds and couldn't sing.
We were right next to a Dumpster.

It was a beautiful sunny day.
There were so many people we didn't have enough chairs.
But there were plenty of cookies and lots of hot cocoa.
All the children played their parts wonderfully.
The pastor sang with the choir, and at the end everyone sang "Joy to the World."

Today we reflected on the miracle of Greccio and the miracle of Bethlehem.
We were thankful for our warm clothing. Baby Jesus probably wasn't so lucky.
We were thankful for the children who eagerly donned angel wings and shepherds' robes.
We were thankful for a young girl's new lease on life thanks to a generous organ donor.
We were thankful for the cookies, and the cocoa, and the fellowship shared around some pots of delicious homemade soup after it was all over.
We were--and are--thankful for the miracle that brought us all here in the first place.

It's a Girl Thing

The policing of children's church wardrobes is a daunting task when you have girls in the family.
Boys are easier. Khakis and a golf shirt or sweater, and you're good to go.
With girls, it's a whole other ball game.
This morning Middle Sister carried her purple sweater and blue jeans into the bathroom.
Me: "No jeans for church unless it's snowing."
Middle Sister: "But I'm not in choir today..."
I suggested that she replace the jeans with her black pants or her denim skirt. The last I saw, she had opted for the black pants. Very "Advent," with the purple sweater.
After her shower she paraded down the stairs in her denim skirt, boots, purple corduroy jacket (so far, so good--but nothing of what she had planned on) AND a pink and white T-shirt with letters on it.
I nixed the T-shirt and suggested two other tops she owns that match the outfit.
Now she's wearing a different top under the purple jacket.
It's light blue, almost lavender.
It does not match, but it's appropriate for church.
I do not have another battle in me. Unless she changes AGAIN in the next 3 minutes, that's how she's going to church.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Each Advent my SFO Fraternity remembers the story of Francis at Greccio with a re-enactment of our own. In alternating song, story and movement of costumed actors and live animals, the Nativity story is retold along with the story of how the Baby Jesus miraculously appeared in a manger where Francis prayed in Greccio. Carols will be sung and many from the community will participate. It's always a wonderful experience.
In a way this whole Greccio celebration at our Fraternity parallels Advent for me. Beforehand, there is much rushing around. Most of our Fraternity consists of senior citizens, so their ability to do "grunt work" like hauling chairs around, building the "stable" or carrying the big coffee urn full of hot cocoa is limited. Some are shut-ins and can't even be there. That means that the work of getting children in and out of costumes, making cocoa, setting up chairs, and cleaning up afterward is left for the few of us who are young and able enough to do it.
In a similar way, most Christmas preparations tend to fall to the mom in the house. I know this is true in my family. It is my job to get the cards and stamps and pictures (though Big Daddy writes most of them); my job to do most of the present shopping; my job to do all the gift-wrapping, and so on.
Last night I left my Fraternity meeting feeling frustrated because the sign-up sheet representing 9 "needed" people to do tasks before and after the event, was more than half empty.
This morning I woke up feeling a little different about it.
This is not about who does what. It's just about making it happen.
This is a precious moment in the life of a parish, to come together and be part of the scene as Jesus comes among us.
So, Before and After, I will do what is needed. During, I will lead the choir--and no matter how many or few of us there may be, "Joy to the World" will ring out joyfully. My gift to Baby Jesus at Greccio will be to serve with a happy heart--happy that I am young enough and able enough to haul chairs, make cocoa, and adjust angel wings.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

If We Don't Know the Birthday, How Can We Have a Party?

After we did our daily How many days to Christmas countdown, Middle Sister was informing me that she learned in school that "no one really knows what day Jesus was born. Maybe it wasn't the 25th. Maybe it was the 24th, or something."
(Or maybe not even in the winter, but I wasn't about to get into that with her at this point.)
She went on, "It would be really easy to find out, though. They should just check his tomb!"
Me: "He doesn't HAVE a tomb anymore, since he rose from the dead, and then ascended to Heaven."
Middle Sister: "OH YEAH!!!!!"

Grand Ambitions

This morning Little Brother and I were on our way to the library. Out of the blue, he announced, "When I'm big I'm going to be an Altar Server!"
We chatted a bit about his plans to carry the candle while Big Brother carries the cross, and how he would ring the bells, and he told me that the third server could be Big Brother's good friend.
Then I asked him what he wanted to be when he was even bigger. I asked, "Do you want to be like Father?"
He said, "No! I'm going to be JESUS!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Step Right Up...

The Catholic Carnival is up!

Follow the link to read about such topics as churches closed on Christmas Day, why the Virgin Mary is the key to Vatican II, Saint Nicholas, Gaudete Sunday and much, MUCH more!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Try Not to Get "Political" in My Blog

Normally I don't write about politics in our nation or our Church, because that wasn't the purpose of my blog. But this one touches my family right now, so here goes.

An editorial quoted at De Civitate Dei really hit home today. It is titled, "Catholic Church Must Seek Lost Sheep" and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The premise here is that the Church must reach out to those many families who have stopped going to church. I am the first to agree that such outreach is sorely needed.

Just about four years ago my family changed parishes after transferring the Big Kids from one parochial school to the other. We believe it is our duty to support the parish that generously educates our children. We left that school and ultimately that parish because of some disturbing problems in the school that directly affected Middle Sister and all the other children in her class. We did not just "fade into the night" but had conferences with both the pastor and principal and explained our reasons for leaving. Never once were we told that we would be missed. Never once were we asked "What can we do to keep you here?"

We were not the first, nor the last, family to leave that school and parish. Not all of them found another parish to call their spiritual home. Many of them ultimately sent their children to public schools. Yet so many of them had been hardworking families who were willing to give their time, talents and energy to the school and parish. As more families jumped ship, the school failed and 18 months ago its doors were closed forever. It's tragic, and it didn't have to happen.

We are kidding ourselves if we think that things like this don't happen everywhere, every day. We need people in our church who will "leave behind the 99 sheep to look for the one who was lost." Everyone who leaves represents a loss to the community. And this outreach to the "lost" should not fall completely on the shoulders of the priests, but on a group of caring, committed people who are able to inspire and encourage others.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Little Brother's Specially Decorated Christmas Tree Branch


For some reason known only to computer geniuses, which I am not, I could not post 2 pictures in the same entry. So here's the last illustration to my other post about the treePosted by Picasa

Sunday, December 11, 2005

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... heavy are your branches!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How droopy are your branches!
The ornaments are overweight
Where Little Brother decorates.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How burdened are your branches!

Little Brother has continued the tradition of hanging as many ornaments as he can on one or two low branches of the tree. At one point, we had a "straw that broke the camel's back" moment where the branch could no longer handle the load, and a number of ornaments slid right off! I think a few of them are still on the floor.

Big Daddy wanted to redecorate, but I like it this way. It's part of the charm of a tree decorated by family members who enjoy inspecting ornaments, having a contest to see who can hang their special ornament in the highest spot, and scandalizing me by threatening to juggle with the breakable ones.

For the record, I am the only one in this house who is able to juggle, so that right is reserved for me and me alone. The rest of them can practice with tennis balls first--preferably outside the house.

 Posted by Picasa

More Rejoicing

Today's homily (I was actually LISTENING!) centered around the story of a failing monastery whose abbot visited a holy hermit, only to learn that Jesus Christ was actually living in the monastery, disguising Himself as one of the monks so no one would find Him out. Once the monks learned this, it was only a short while before they began treating each other much more kindly, praying much more fervently, and really rejoicing in the truth that Christ has brought to the world--and the monastery began to attract new monks and inspire the laity.

I wonder what would happen if we ALL treated each other as if someone we met might actually be Christ in disguise. Certainly nothing but good could come out of that.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gaudete Sunday

A priest from my diocese has a blog where he posts his Sunday homilies.

It's a pretty cool idea. I particularly enjoy it since as a musician, sometimes I miss some parts of Mass due to my mind wandering about what's going to be sung next, what key I have to remember to play it in, what the kids in the choir are doing right now and whether I should intervene before it gets too "out of hand," and things like that--not to mention all the other stuff that everyone's mind wanders about.

Just as we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for Mass, including reading & meditating on the readings of the day, so it can be wise for someone who is in a position to be distracted a bit during the homily to avail herself of this resource. It's not the same homily I'd be hearing, but trust me--this priest has plenty of good points to think and pray about.

I encourage you to visit his blog and read the homily for tomorrow. The theme: "Rejoice in the Lord always!"

Parental Purgatory

Otherwise known as CANDYLAND.

Little Brother is deep into his Candyland phase. Fourteen thousand times a day, he can be heard to shout, "Let's play Candyland! You shovel up the cards..."

Having gone through the Candyland phase twice already, there was a big part of me that wanted to make sure Little Brother never played this game. Hey, it worked with Barney...but I can't deprive him of everything.

Candyland is a tedious game, especially before 7 in the morning when you have not had adequate coffee yet, and you're four spaces from the Candy Castle when suddenly you get the dreaded "Plumpy" card, so the game goes into its "second deck." I am of the firm belief that all picture cards should be banned from the "second deck" and all subsequent decks.

I know Big Brother agrees with me, because just the other day, before we lost the Blue Guy, I played Candyland with all the kids. In the first 2 decks, Big Brother got "Mr. Mint." In the last deck, he got "Plumpy."

Perhaps the Big Kids could write to Milton Bradley Company and suggest this rule change. Parents everywhere would stand up and cheer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

How Speedy Are You?

Here's a fun quiz to test your reaction time.
You have to shoot the little sheep with the tranquilizer dart before they escape across the football field.
There are 5 sheep that will run across the field.
My score is "Bobbing Bobcat." Not bad. Of course, Big Brother, who enjoys video games, archery and riflery, thinks he can do better, but HE keeps getting the 3-second penalty for shooting the dart before the sheep runs anyplace. (Neener!)
Via Here in the Bonny Glen. Thanks for this addicting bit of fun, Melissa!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I Never Was a Trekkie...

...but I had to take this quiz, to see if my brother actually reads this blog!
I saw plenty of "Star Trek" as a child since both my brother and sister enjoyed the show. Dad made us all "phasers" (mine was Plexiglas) and my brother had a homemade "communicator" too.

You scored as Uhura. You are Lieutenant Uhura. Wow, you are a sweety. You are a quiet supporter of those you care about, and are always ready to listen. You have a secret yearning for the spotlight, and a fine talent, but you tend to find yourself in supportive roles. More of us should hear your song, so make sure you get up there and belt it out every once in awhile. It's good for your ego and our ears.





Nurse Chapel


Dr. McCoy


Pavel Chekov


Captain Kirk


Hikaru Sulu


Montgomery Scott--"Scotty"


Which Star Trek Character Are You?
created with

The characteristics (mostly) fit, but there is NO way that mini-uniform she wore would!
H/T to Paul for this quiz.

In honor of the Blessed Mother

Today the children and I will make Moravian Heart Cookies.

Ginger cookies are often used as a symbol of Mary because of the words in Sirach that describe her:

I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm;
I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh;
and I perfumed my dwelling as store,
and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes,
and as the frankincense not cut,
and my odor is as the purest balm.
(Sirach 24:20-21)

And a favorite line of mine comes from the Gospel of Luke: His mother treasured all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51).

So, to honor Mary today, we will make these spicy cookies in a heart shape.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Big Fun for Little Brother

Sometimes I forget that Little Brother is so little. With Big Kids involved in school, sports, Scouting and Brazilian martial arts, I have a lot of places to go. He also comes along with me twice a week to volunteer in the school lunchroom--and he actually HELPS! His favorite job is stacking the trash cans at the end of the lunch seatings. He gets very annoyed if someone else starts to do that job.
But Little Brother is only 3 1/2. And despite the fact that he still needs help dressing himself, zipping his jacket, and buckling into his car seat, it's easy to forget that this quite articulate little guy really is a LITTLE guy.
Today, though, he got to do some things that were just for him. First of all, we attended the Open House for our town's "Play School" run by the high school child care class. It's a little over an hour, up to 4 days a week, free of charge. Little Brother will hear stories, make crafts, play with play-dough, paint pictures and play with toys. If only there were a school bus he could ride, it would be perfect in his mind!
Naturally he left Play School with play-dough on the brain. But our play-dough was hard as a rock, from not being covered properly the last time he and the neighbor kids played in it. Then I remembered that "way back when" I used to make play-dough for Big Brother and Middle Sister. I dug out the recipe and found all the ingredients. 10 minutes later Little Brother was in his glory at the kitchen table, mashing away with some old cookie cutters. Meanwhile I started getting some things ready for dinner.
Sometimes it's Good To Be 3. And Little Brother needs to be 3. He spends a lot of time trying to keep up with the Big Kids and their friends. I don't want him to miss the fun of being 3 because he's busy hanging with teenagers.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It takes on a whole new meaning now

I had to laugh at Danielle's story about the Madonna Christmas stamps.

I had my own "Madonna Moment" last week when Big Brother was confused about my use of the term. I had to clarify: "The BLESSED MOTHER! Not the rock singer!"

As for the stamps, I ordered mine from the Post Office over the internet, since last year I had to go to 3 different post offices to get the "religious" Christmas stamps. The postal clerks were pretty surprised that I'd rather leave with nothing than take Frosty the Snowman in place of the Holy Family. This year, with the price of gas as high as it is, I paid the $1.00 handling fee to be sure to get the stamps I wanted.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

There was nothing in that prayer about sticky floors

And that's just what I have. A sticky kitchen floor.
I have kids. My floor is sticky. Those things pretty much go together.
But since my kids are all (extremely) verbal I figured I'd ask them what they'd spilled, so I'd know what I was dealing with when I get around to mopping.
Me: "Did someone spill in the kitchen?"
Middle Sister: "Yes..."
Me: "What did you spill?"
Middle Sister: "Apple juice...we wiped it up..."
Me: "Thanks for wiping it up. But when you spill juice, you need to let me know, because the floor gets really sticky. I was sticking to it just now."
Middle Sister: "WOW! Is your shoe still there?"
Me: "It WOULD be, if it weren't TIED TO MY FOOT...."
I'll go get that mop now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Worth Repeating

Paul at Thoughts of a Regular Guy has this prayer posted today:

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory; they are so convenient.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly; It has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.

Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years.

The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing, the lawn that needs raking; we all enjoy the yard.

Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play.

Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says You have richly blessed my family. I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.

This prayer aired on Relevant Radio on the morning show, 12.02.2005, in the "Glen's Story Corner" segment.

On days like today, when for some inexplicable reason I am feeling kind of over-Mom-whelmed, I need something like this to keep my perspective. Perfect timing, Paul. I'd tip my hat to you, but it's covering up the evidence of a Bad Hair Day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Advent & Kids

First, allow me to get this rant out there: it really toasts my marshmallows that "Advent Calendars" always begin on December 1. They aren't Advent Calendars, then....they are December calendars.

Steve at A Song of November mentioned that he's apprehensive about putting up an Advent wreath with a 2-year-old in the house. I was going to post a comment, and maybe even bring him back to the Marauding Marsupial in the TTLB Ecosystem level but I realized that I needed more space for this. Sorry, Steve. So here goes:

Don't skip the Advent wreath just because you have young children. The Advent wreath has been great for our children during this season. Three times now, Big Daddy and I have been through the Tremendously Terrifying Twos at Advent wreath time and I'm pleased to announce that no one has been hurt yet. However, now that we have a Teenager in the house, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher at hand.

Maybe you have one of those cake plates that sits high off the table. Set your wreath on top of that, if you need to keep it away from the little one. Let your kids take turns blowing out the candles. We have two older children and they want to light the candles, so Little Brother gets to blow out the candles every day.

In our house, our preparation plans revolve around the Advent wreath. When Middle Sister was about the age of your younger son, she didn't understand why we didn't have our tree up at Halloween like the mall does. (OK, she still doesn't--but that was when she first expressed it). Until that time we had put our tree up toward the end of Advent, when we got to it. But she needed something concrete--so we started a family tradition of putting the tree up on Gaudete Sunday. We would tell her, "When Father lights the PINK candle at church, that's the day we put up our tree." We do a lot of decorating on Sundays, since the whole family can be together. It all ties in well with doing a little more preparing each time Father lights another candle.

So if you don't have a wreath up now, it's not too late to start. Go for it!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ultimately, it's for the kids.

Catholic Fire has a news release about the updated Boycott List to be published on December 1.
The boycott in question is organized by Life Decisions International, and targets corporations and organizations that donate money to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
To date over 120 companies have stopped funding Planned Parenthood.
Boycotting means more than "don't buy their stuff." It also means "tell them why you don't buy their stuff." My "Advent Resolution" this year is to do a better job on the second part. For years I have consistently not been buying stuff from Johnson & Johnson, Disney, and other companies on the list. I've been sporadic, though, about writing to these companies and telling them why I choose to take my business elsewhere.
If I have time to write Christmas cards during Advent, I certainly have time to type out a letter or fill out an email form on a website. Perhaps a heart can be changed. If hearts can be changed, children can be saved.

Light One Candle...

A big tip of the hat to The Curt Jester for sharing the Advent wreath with all of blogdom!
I must admit, it's certainly prettier than the no-frills version on my dining room table.

More prayer requests

My pocket rosary today will be for Danielle's little boy, who is having surgery this morning. Hers is the first blog I have ever read, and I really enjoy reading about her family. She is younger than I am, but very wise, and a wonderful writer.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Blessed Advent!

Today marks the beginning of the end. Advent is our time of looking toward the end: the coming of the Savior, and the salvation of us all.

It's not Christmas yet. It's hard to convince children of that, since neighborhoods and stores are full of Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, candy canes, twinkle lights, silver bells and all those secular symbols. But what about the Baby?

Advent is a time in which I try to keep my family looking toward the "reason for the season." There are not yet any decorations in my home. At dinner tonight we will light a candle in our Advent wreath. After dinner I will clear a special shelf in the living room and we'll place our empty manger there. We make a calendar filled with daily Advent activities, and this year it extends through Epiphany. In our home, we attempt an attitude of anticipation, and we try not to celebrate the feast until it arrives.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Call for Nominations: Blogs of Beauty Awards

Here's the chance to honor your favorite female bloggers at Two Talent Living's 2005 Blogs of Beauty Awards.

There are some great categories there. I've sent in my have until Tuesday to do yours.

I am "Rerun"

NO, not the fat guy from "What's Happening!" I could never dance like that.

You are Rerun!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't know much about Rerun, but maybe that's appropriate since many people don't know much about me! I do admire his coat-hanger-sculpture skills in "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

Via Catholic Fire. Thanks, Jean! I love Peanuts too.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I'm giving thanks for the wonderful news that Natalie's new kidney is functioning well! She should be released from the hospital soon, and is now released from her 19-month bondage of 10-hour-per-night dialysis.

Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More

We arrived home from our Thanksgiving travels to find a very welcome message on our answering machine: a young friend of ours, turning 15 next month, is receiving a long-awaited kidney transplant right now. Please pray for a successful surgery and recovery for Natalie, and also for her parents and three sisters, and in a special way remember the immortal and generous soul of her donor, and the donor's grieving family. Of their grief is born a new lease on life for a young girl with her whole life ahead of her.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Which Philosopher Am I?


St. Augustine-
Born a Roman in a fading Empire, Augustine spent
his life trying to figure out what it was all
about. He asked questions and investigated
many possibilities but in the middle of his
life he was called by God and became a
Christian. He was a powerful thinker about
varied moral and metaphysical issues.
Augustine is the kind of philosopher you might
turn to in a time of doubt for comfort and

Which Philosopher are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via Catholic Fire.

The Birth Verse Meme

Julie D at Happy Catholic tagged me for this one.

How it works: Look up your birth date as the chapter & verse in each of the 4 Gospels.

MATTHEW 7.28: The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at his teaching.

MARK 7.28 But she answered and said to him: "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's crumbs."

LUKE 7.28 "I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John, yet he who is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he."

JOHN 7.28 Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, "You both know Me and know where I am from, and I have not come of myself but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know."

If I'm supposed to find a theme here, I'd say it is humility: being amazed at the teachings of the Lord, not being afraid to beg for something, being "less than" the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven....


I was asked to bring only two things to my sister's for Thanksgiving. Granma's Rolls, and shrimp cocktail. Since we have a three-hour trip (one way) she thinks of things that travel well when she assigns these things.
So that's fine. No problem.
Last time, I made two batches of cocktail sauce for the shrimp. One "regular" and one "Wasabi." The last was such a hit among several of the guests that I naturally made some to bring along tomorrow.
The two batches of sauce are in containers in my refrigerator right now, Letting the Flavors Marry, as Rachael Ray would say.
Identical containers.
Need I mention that not EVERYONE wants Wasabi?

Granma's Rolls

I could never survive on the Atkins Diet.

My paternal grandmother was famous for her homemade rolls. She made these for the "Sunday Before Thanksgiving Family Dinner" and the "Palm Sunday Family Dinner," both of which she hosted, and other family special occasions such as graduations and the like. We always could count on Granma to show up with a paper grocery bag full of fresh, fragrant rolls. As kids, we would have contests among the cousins to see who could eat the most rolls at a single meal. I believe the record was 7, and that was before any of the boys hit their teenage years!

Granma was never much of a "by the cookbook" baker but one of my cousins did manage to get something of a recipe for these rolls from Granma before she passed away in 1994. It took me a few years to get that recipe from my cousin, but I finally did. Turns out it was little more than an ingredient list, but that's enough if you know a little about baking bread.

I think my sister has the recipe too, but it seems that in my branch of the family, I have become the one designated to carry on the tradition of "Granma's Rolls." Normally when we are invited to a family dinner and I ask what I can bring, the answer is always the same.

Tomorrow is no exception. So while I won't be cooking tomorrow--though I'll happily pitch in and help my sister--I'm wearing my apron now, and the smell of yeast dough is in the air. The dough is rising and getting ready to shape; then it's off to the back porch to rise slowly all night and be baked fresh in the morning.

Of course, I'll deliver those rolls in a paper grocery bag. Granma wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm Not Cooking This Year

It's quiet in my kitchen right now. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

I generally have the privilege of doing Thanksgiving every other year, and this is not the one.

I won't be waking up at 5 AM to saute onions in a LOT of butter, cube Wonder bread that's been getting stale on the table overnight (no other kind will do), mix in the sausage and Bell's poultry seasoning (no other kind will do), dump a turkey out of the brine bucket and shove as much stuffing as possible into the cavity--after Checking It Twice to make sure that all Bags of Miscellaneous Icky Turkey Parts have been removed, and finally put the bird in to bake.

The very first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner was the year I was in graduate school at Notre Dame. We only had two days off, and I had no money for a plane ticket home to New Jersey. My sister was working, so she had money for a plane ticket to visit me. Two of my three roommates would also be staying, and we planned among ourselves to cook a Thanksgiving feast in our little on-campus apartment.

We rounded up a few friends who also did not have the chance to go home for the holiday, among them an international student or two. Then we divided up the dishes. I don't remember what was served that day other than turkey, because the turkey was MY job! My grandmother wrote down the recipe for her famous stuffing and mailed it to me at school.

At 5 in the morning I woke up to prepare the turkey. I was a little slow, because I was new at this, but the job got done and I didn't wake any roommates or houseguests in the process. Then I sat down at the dining room table with my cup of tea, and proceeded with my daily ritual of translating 50 lines of Beowulf, as I dared not go to that class unprepared--there were only 6 students in the class!

I basted the turkey on and off all day. My roommates prepared their parts of the meal. I can't remember where we all sat, or how many we were, but we had a great time and a very good meal.

Having been diagnosed with bronchitis on Monday, I appreciate the "bye year" this year, and I know that at my sister's house we will be fed wonderful food and enjoy the company of many relatives. But I still miss the gift of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

I'll have to take comfort in baking the obligatory "Granma's Rolls," which deserve a post all their own.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving Meme

1. Write three things that I'm grateful to God for in this past liturgical year.
--My family & friends, both far and near.
--Being fortunate enough to have food, clothing, shelter and transportation, in a time when many in my own country have not been able to take such necessities for granted.
--Being able to start "feeding my soul" a little more.

2. Write three ways in which I hope to improve my relationship with God in this coming liturgical year.
--Blogging! This blog has become the journal I never kept. I can put all my half-baked thoughts here, let them cook, and sometimes others come along and season them and help me grow a little bit! It's wonderful.
--Confession. I've been bad about that, sorry to say. But I have started up again and I intend to keep that going and encourage my family also.
--Indulge my soul in a little spiritual reading as often as I am able. There's quite a pile on my tabletop now.

Via Steve.

My Pocket Rosary

This is something that I started doing about 2 months ago. It works for me, and I'm sharing it here hoping that it might help somebody else.

A Friar suggested to me that a good way to deal with anger is to say the Rosary. I've never been much of a Rosary person but I figured, what can it hurt? I started keeping one in my pocket (and I am rarely without a pocket). The idea is that when I start to get angry I should take a time-out and pray for a decade or more, with the intention of relieving my anger and finding a good way to resolve the situation.

Around the same time, I started to think about the fact that people, myself included, say they will pray for some intention. I don't want to forget that I have promised a friend that I will pray for their grandmother, or whatever it is. So I began to dedicate my "pocket Rosary" for a certain intention each day. If someone asks me to pray for their intention, I dedicate my day's "pocket Rosary" for that. Each time I notice the Rosary in my pocket, I saw a quick prayer for the day's intention. And of course any decades I might complete are also offered for that intention.

It helps me to know that I am following up on the situation somehow. I know some people keep notebooks, or whatever. This is what works for me, right now.

I read somewhere--and if I can remember where, I will credit it properly--that the best response when someone asks you to pray for them is to say something like, "I will pray for you, as the Lord brings you to my mind." Whenever you think of this person, just say a quick prayer for them. Chances are, the Lord will bring them to your mind often.

That said, today's Pocket Rosary will be for the Cajun Princess.

Little Brother Brightens My Day

There's nothing like a 3-year-old to give you a laugh when you need it.

Just now he was flipping channels on TV, looking for his favorite show ("Hi-5.") He stopped at ESPN, and informed me, "Mom! Football's on!"
Me: "It IS?"
Little Brother: "Yes! But the Notre Dames are not playing. It's the green guys, and the Blues Clues helmet guys. The Giants are going to win. They're the best. Eagles can beat the Giants. Giants stink! Come and watch!"

Earlier this morning he was mutilating his favorite nursery rhyme:
"Dick, Dock, Dick, Dock....Dickory, Dickory, Dock, the mouse runned up the clock.
The clock SMASHED one, and down he did run, Dickory, Dickory, Dock. Dick, Dock, Dick, Dock."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Confessions of SFO Mom

I've been tagged by Jean.

I CONFESS that I am one of the guitar players at church! Before someone shoots me, though, I accompany a keyboard and a children's choir, and this morning we sang "All Creatures of Our God and King" AND "Come, Christians Join to Sing." Not a St. Louis Jesuits piece all morning!

I CONFESS that I just finished a nutritious lunch of half a box of "Cheese Nips" and some Pepsi.

I CONFESS that I buy more shoes than any one person really needs. Especially a Franciscan person.

I CONFESS that I regularly pilfer, pillage and plunder my children's stash of Halloween candy.

I CONFESS that I have the ability to carry a grudge for years and possibly even decades.

I CONFESS that I like to listen to "girl groups" in the car and sing along. Loudly. With the windows open.

And in related matters, I CONFESS to having the secret dream of being a "doo-wop girl." (Not one of the ones from Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love," either.)

I CONFESS to enjoying Robert Palmer's song "Addicted to Love."

I CONFESS to laughing when one Sunday my husband dressed Little Brother in pants that were way too big, and when Father called the children to the altar to say the Lord's Prayer together, Little Brother's pants fell down and all the kids saw his "Bob the Builder" underwear.

I CONFESS to making more pie dough than I need to every time I make a pie, so I can eat the "scraps" raw.

I CONFESS to taking a strange satisfaction in drinking Pepsi out of a Coca-Cola glass.

I am well aware that I still owe the Thanksgiving meme to Steve, and I promise that I'll get to it. I CONFESS that I've been putting it off, due to the hard feelings I am having toward the "powers that be" in my diocese right now.

I'm going to tag Steve at A Song of November, Amy at RC Mommy, and the Holy Fool for this one.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pray for the Schools

Earlier today I posted some links about a situation that is facing a Catholic school in California--basically, is the school standing up for what we believe as Catholics?

Tonight I will be attending a meeting in my diocese that I believe is emblematic of another danger facing Catholic schools. It's my opinion that my diocese is trying to get out of the business of educating Catholic children.

Tonight I'll find out the future of the wonderful little Catholic school that my Big Kids attend--and that Little Brother thinks he's a part of, given the hours we both volunteer there. (He has taken on a couple of lunchroom tasks as "his jobs" and gets very bent out of shape if someone else tries to do these tasks!)

Our diocese has invested heavily in the services of a consultant to recommend the course of action that would be best as regards the parochial schools. I think that if the diocese had channeled those funds directly to the schools, we wouldn't need to worry about closing our doors for the next few years.

The thing is, educating Catholic children is not and should never be thought of as a "business." It's an apostolate, pure and simple. It's making sure that the Faith is carried on, and showing children that the Faith is something that can be part of their daily lives, not just for 45 minutes or so on a Sunday morning. It's about letting them know that they can talk about, learn about, and pray to God at school and anytime, and that, as Middle Sister told me when she was in first grade, "Jesus is Number One!" You can't put a price on things like that.

Please pray for our school and all the schools in a similar situation. I think that's all there is left that we can do.

It's all about the motive.

"Nice Work if You Can Get It."

There's a LOT of food for thought here about the motive of laypeople in Church ministry. I invite you to read, and digest. I'm chewing on it myself just now.

Via The Donegal Express.

Stand Up, Stand Up, for What You Believe In!

(Kudos to Veggie Tales for a great tune with an important theme!)

I've been following the story of Katelyn Sills, a Catholic high-school student who was expelled after her family challenged the school's hiring of an abortion clinic escort as the school's drama teacher.

This young woman and her family have gone through a lot because they have stood up for what they believe is right. Katelyn has a blog with a lot of information and she has also been interviewed at Western Alliance.

H/T to De Civitate Dei for the links.
Read it! And keep in your prayers: Katelyn and her family, for the strength to fight the good fight, and Loretto High School and Catholic schools everywhere, for the grace to follow the truth that the Church teaches.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

SFO Mom Country Music Awards

Since we've been having a chat about lyrics in the comments box, I've been thinking about some of my favorite songs. Add to that last night's awards show, and this is what I come up with.

Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. Choices are the sole opinion of SFO Mom who claims the right to change her mind at any time, and to turn it up as loud as she wants when she's driving (with the windows open so everyone else can "share.") Not all of these songs are new.

SFO Mom Amazing Harmony Award:
"Whiskey Lullabye" (Allison Krause, Brad Paisley)
"Thirsty" (Patty Loveless)
"I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" (Sting and Toby Keith)
"I Pray for You" (Big & Rich)

Always Makes SFO Mom Cry Award:
"How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" (Patty Loveless)
"Concrete Angel" (Martina McBride)
"The Little Girl" (John Michael Montgomery)
"She's Somebody's Hero" (Jamie O'Neill)
"The Angry American" (Toby Keith)

SFO Mom Gets So Upset By This Song She Changes The Station Award:
"Don't Take the Girl" (Tim McGraw)

SFO Mom Sweet Story Award:
"She Didn't Have Time" (Terri Clark)
"Where Have You Been" (Kathy Mattea)
"Something to be Proud Of" (Montgomery Gentry)

SFO Mom Sad AND Funny Award:
"Do You Want Fries With That?" (Tim McGraw)

SFO Mom Best Title Award:
"Ain't Wastin' Good Whiskey On You" (Trick Pony)
"Did I Shave My Legs for This?" (Terri Clark)
"Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" (Joe Nichols)

SFO Mom Turn It Up Award:
"Who's Your Daddy?" (Toby Keith)
"Unbelievable" (Diamond Reo)
"That's the Kind of Mood I'm In" (Patti Loveless)
"I Feel Lucky" (Mary-Chapin Carpenter)
"Gone" (Montgomery Gentry)
"Pour Me" (Trick Pony)

SFO Mom Turn It Up Louder Award:
"Comin' To Your City" (Big & Rich)
"All Jacked Up" (Gretchen Wilson)
"I Try to Think About Elvis" (Patti Loveless)
"455 Rocket" (Kathy Mattea)
"Hell Yeah" (Montgomery Gentry)

SFO Mom's Husband Can't Believe She Likes These Award:
"Boogie-Woogie Choo Choo Train" (The Tractors)
"I Ain't As Good As I Once Was" (Toby Keith)
"Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" (Big & Rich)

This week's Catholic Carnival

Find the Catholic Carnival here this week, at Living Catholicism.

As always, there's a fine representation of the best Catholic bloggers. Check it out!

Monday, November 14, 2005

School Supplies

The Big Kids just ran to catch the school bus.

Middle Sister had a backpack filled with books, notebooks, and sheet music for her after-school keyboard lesson. From the looks of things, there is a good deal of "trash" in the bag as well, in the form of old, crumpled paper. After school we'll deal with that.

Big Brother had a backpack with a book or two, a novel he is reading (middle-schoolers in our school are required to carry a book to read at all times--a policy I wholeheartedly endorse), his lunch, AND Little Brother's plastic sword. All the essentials for today's swashbuckling eighth-grader!

He got about 10 feet from the front door when he realized that he was carrying an unconcealed "weapon" that the principal most likely would not admit into the building, and returned it to me.

In today's comics


OK, it came out too tiny and I don't know how to make it bigger but not blurry.
So I'll give the dialogue.
"Here's what I don't get...if God created man in his own image, how come we don't also have godly powers? It seems like a big tease to make us look like a bunch of gods, but not be able to act the part."
"Are you familiar with the term infinite wisdom?"
"I want to hurl some planets around, dangit!"

It made me laugh, but don't we all want to hurl some planets around sometimes?
There are so many things I'd like to "fix," just starting with physical healing for those of my loved ones who are ill. Sometimes it's hard to remember that God is in charge for a reason. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Everybody's got a good joke today

Covering both ethnic heritages in my household, I recommend:

Catholic Fire (how could someone with a name like mine NOT like this joke?)
Regular Thoughts (wonderful Irish humor)

Rick at De Civitate Dei has been extra busy with good ones today AND yesterday.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Little Brother fell asleep on the couch at 5:00 while I was cooking dinner (chicken and dumplings, and it was YUMMY!)

I finally put him in his bed 15 minutes ago. He is, as Big Brother would say, "really sleeping hard."

It's my considered opinion that I should just go to bed now, because he'll be up looking for his dinner in about 5 hours. And I'll be the one who has to give it to him.

I'm thankful that the Big Kids are old enough to fend for themselves for a little while longer and go to bed on their own, because I think that tonight, that's what they'll be doing.

What Would Einstein Write?

 Posted by Picasa

If I'm Crying You're All Crying With Me

Der Tomissar yesterday titled a post with a song lyric from an Irish tune memorializing a young soldier who died in World War II. I know the song, since my dad is a big fan of Irish music, and I've been on the verge of tears ever since.
The song could not be more appropriate as a memorial on Veterans Day. I was out of town yesterday, so as my tribute I'm posting all the lyrics here.

by Eric Bogle

Well how do you do Private William McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for awhile beneath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and now I'm nearly done
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916;
Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean,
Or, young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March
As they lowered you down?
Did the band play
"The Last Post And Chorus?"
Did the pipes play
"The Flowers Of The Forest?"

Did you leave 'ere a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And although you died back in 1916,
In that faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed forever behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn, and battered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Ah the sun now it shines on these green fields of France,
The warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance,
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds;
There's no gas, no barbed wire, there're no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard is still No Man's Land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.

Ah, young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why,
Did all those who lay here really know why they died?
And did they believe when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end war?
For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing and dying were all done in vain,
For, young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again and again and again and again.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My turn to post a joke

Seems like "all the cool bloggers are doing it" so I figured, why not join in?
My dad just sent me this one.

The local parish had a fairly new priest. He had wonderful, innovative ideas that were, for the most part accepted by the congregation.
His mentor - a "higher ranking" priest came for a visit - to see how he was doing. After looking the parish over, the senior priest said, "Father John, your idea of a drive-through confessional is wonderful. That makes it so convenient for your church members.
"And, Father John, it was a really good idea to have the confessional open 24 hours a day, for those who work "shift" work. However, Father John... that flashing neon sign that says "TOOT and TELL or GO to HELL" ... well, it has got to go!!"

I couldn't resist

The results of the Golden Girl Quiz are in...

width="238" height="196" alt="Sophia Petrillo" border="1">
target="_blank">Which Golden Girl Are You?

She's my favorite, hands down!
Take the quiz. You'll love the dessert question!
H/T to Philothea Rose.

Notre Dame Vs. Navy Game

You learn something new every day.

The Catholic Packer Fan features the story behind the traditional ND-Navy football game. Some people give ND fans a hard time because the team plays Navy, which has not beaten ND in 41 years. But there's an interesting story behind the tradition of this game.

Of the 3 ND games I've had the pleasure of attending, 2 were against Navy. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Go Irish!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


You scored as Medic. You're a medic. Not really into fighting people, but prefer to help and heal. You're a caring person who generally wants to help, but don't fight. But instead you heal the injured. You're a brave person, but most people generally regard you as foolish because of the risks you take to help others. But you don't care because you're a battlefield medic.










Combat Infantry


Special Ops




Support Gunner


Which soldier type are you?
created with

Everyone's got this, via about half the people in my blogroll!

I'm sending the link to this to Big Brother, who at 13 is quite interested in military history. Should be fascinating to see how he scores.

There's a Reason for Everything

25 years ago you would never have convinced me that I'd become a "stay-at-home" mom with 3 children. When I was in high school, I was fairly sure that one day I'd enter the convent. As I completed my education, I attended retreats and corresponded with a vocation director or two.
Long story short, it just never felt "right" and I wound up working for a few years before getting married at 25 and starting my family right away. That's what felt right. Later I discovered and joined the Secular Franciscan Order, and that feels right too.
The other day I picked up a book called Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns. The fact that the dust jacket featured a glowing review by Father Andrew Greeley clued me in that this book wasn't going to go down a path I'd like--and the book did not disappoint in that respect.
Precious little mention, never mind attention, was given to orders like the Sisters of Life where young, enthusiastic women are lining up at the door to join.
Instead, the book is full of paragraphs like this one: While the McDonald sisters' belief may seem heretical, especially to conservative Catholics, the Catholic Church permits merging traditions from various religions, including Native American spirituality, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Burning sage and praying to "the Goddess" is accepted as long as it doesn't conflict with the basic precepts of the Catholic faith.
Developments such as these are described in the book as the result of "growth" or "maturing."
I seriously hope that this book is reflective of a very small minority of the Sisters in our country. If this is not the case, however, and what's described in the book is really what's going on with women Religous in America, then I'm glad that God took me down a different path.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Last night when I was talking with my Dad on the phone, he asked, "How are you voting in the elections this week?"
Me: "Reluctantly."
Enough said.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

You know you're a mom when.... want to sit down on the couch, but you can't because you don't want to disturb Little Brother's carefully laid-out battlefield that includes: a flashlight (lit and abandoned), a Micro Machines tank, three knights, one bank robber, two pirates and a cowboy from various Fisher Price sets, one Happy Meal caveman-looking guy, some monster from Star Wars, and Tinkerbell.
I did turn off the flashlight, though.

Lend a hand when you can....

There's a small Catholic school in Texas that is trying to get enough online "votes" for a free mobile computer lab.
You can "vote" for them here, so if you have a few minutes, vote once--or even several times! It's easy, and it's a great way to help a great cause.

H/T to Danielle.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Meme Meme Meme

The Three meme, via Steve

Three names I go by:

Three screen names I have had:

Three physical things I like about myself:
My eyes
That's about it

Three physical things I don’t like about myself:
My stomach
My feet

Three parts of my heritage:
Irish (7/8)
Belgian (1/8)
Polish/Lithuanian (by marriage)

Three things that scare me:
The thought of anything happening to my kids
The smell of fire

Three of my everyday essentials:
Hugs and kisses from my family
Computer time
(Too good not to steal, Steve!)

Three of my favorite musical artists:
Patty Loveless
Simon & Garfunkel

Three of my favorite songs:
Silent Night
(Hey, nobody said they had to be POPULAR songs)
American Pie
Teach Your Children Well

Three things I want have in a relationship:

Three lies and three truths in no particular order:
I'm a perfect size 3.
I have 3 children.
3 years ago I had never heard of blogs.
3 decades ago I hadn't even been born.
For lunch today I ate 3 cheeseburgers.
My youngest child is 3 years old.
(Well, you said 3....)

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me:

Three of my favorite hobbies:
Reading cookbooks

Three things I want to do really badly right now:
Take a nap
Read a book
Continue avoiding housework

Three careers I’ve considered/I’m considering:
Teacher (been there, done that)

Three Places I want to vacation:
Mountains, in the fall (any mountains, anywhere, as long as there are pretty trees)

Three kid’s names I like:
(Not including the names of my own kids)

Three things I want to do before I die:
Read all the books I own
Organize my photo albums
Visit Ireland again

Three ways that I am stereotypically a girl:
Always worrying about what to wear
Change my mind a lot
Love shopping for shoes!

Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
Like to play with blocks, cars, trains
More of a "problem solver" than a sympathetic ear
Always want to have pockets in my clothes

Three celeb crushes:
None really

Three people I would like to see post this meme:
Rose, if she's not too busy nesting


The things we do to get a link back to our blog....but I will tell a true story in the process!

Tonight I'll have the opportunity to attend Middle Sister's capoeira class. We live in an area with many recent immigrants from Brazil, and at our parish the Brazilians have opened a capoeira group. Capoeira is a Brazilian form of martial arts, combining music, self-defense, rhythm and dance. Middle Sister loves it and it's fun to watch her practice her moves like a ninja. There is a bit of culture shock, as most of the people in the class speak little English, and my Portuguese is limited to "good morning" and "thank you" as well as part of the "Hail Mary" but it doesn't seem to deter Middle Sister from having fun and learning a lot.

And while you're at it, check out my Frappr map, the latest blog fad! Tell me where YOU are!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Cases like this are precisely why my family feels so strongly that we need local, committed, Catholic schools in our communities.
It's not that the public schools are substandard educationally, and that parochial schools are so much better--which I know is what the people in my neighborhood think. They have told us that we're nuts for paying to send our children to Catholic schools when the town schools are just fine.
It's that we want our children raised in the Catholic culture--in school AND at home. If there's going to be morality taught in the schools, and public schools do that, then we want to make sure just what morality is being taught. Obviously parents of public school children now have no recourse in such matters.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Things only parents say....II

"Paper dolls and Koosh balls don't mix."

More American Girl Stuff

The American Girl company has moved links around on its website so it no longer links directly to Girls, Inc. but that's all that's changed. They claim that their donations are earmarked for education and sporting programs, but don't we all know that such restrictions on donations merely free up other unrestricted funds for the rest of Girls, Inc.'s activities?
Meanwhile, Rick Lugari reports that a Catholic school in Wisconsin has canceled a fund-raiser associated with American Girl. Kudos to the pastor there who is not afraid to take a stand!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

From Today's Homily

Our associate pastor today gave a lovely homily about being a saint in the circumstances you find yourself in--whether you are a mother like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or a Pope, or a teacher and nurse like Blessed Mother Teresa.
He illustrated it with a cute story of how he, as a fifth-grade child in India preparing for First Communion, first heard the stories of many saints, especially child saints. He was taken with the story of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, and would climb a tree and pray for Mary to appear to him. Of course, she didn't. He grew to understand that it wasn't his place to copy someone else's approach to sainthood, but to find his own way.
I hope Father Gerald is the one to celebrate Mass with the school children later today, so my Big Kids and their fellow students can hear this wonderful message.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Progress is overrated

When I was a kid, the "Charlie Brown" holiday specials were a special event in our house. We'd anxiously await the opportunity to stay up a little past bedtime and enjoy Snoopy's antics in anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter.
There were no VCRs, and if you missed the show, you missed it. You had to wait another year to see it. Our whole family would watch together and it was great family fun.
Today my children are fortunate enough to have a DVD player in the house, and we own DVDs of these Peanuts specials. They can watch them any time of year they want. They can watch them over and over again.
But owning a copy of these specials makes them a lot less "special." We don't all sit and cuddle on the couch and make popcorn and let it be an event--because it can happen any time.
I smiled yesterday as I cooked dinner and heard the Halloween special in the background--but it lost a little of its charm when Little Brother pulled out "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" as a follow-up. To him, these are entertaining cartoons, not holiday events.
I think I'll have to hide that Easter Beagle until Holy Week. It's only right. Technology is lovely, but sometimes it robs a family of those special moments. I'll have to make it my business to make sure the special moments still happen.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Last night at our SFO Fraternity meeting we were discussing devotion to Mary, which naturally evolved into a conversation about the Rosary, and the Franciscan Crown.

One of our members asked Father how he can possibly get through his daily prayers without being distracted.

Of course she meant mental distractions, and he addressed those--and he did mention that sometimes at Mass, something might catch his eye (someone moving around, for example) and distract him from the prayers. At any rate, his advice was that when you are distracted at prayer, you should just pick up and keep going, not get discouraged, because it happens to everyone.

Here's where sometimes I miss having people my own age in the Fraternity. In my house there are different distractions than these women face. It's just about impossible to get up early enough in the morning to say Morning Prayer without a three-year-old for company, and he's pretty wiggly. This morning he was in and out of my lap, wanting to turn the markers in my book and look for pictures. Finally I distracted HIM with an old holy picture that had been my grandmother's.

It shows St. Francis and St. Anthony kneeling before the Blessed Mother. He informed me that St. Anthony was "Father." (Wouldn't Father love to hear THAT?)

Sometimes you go away from prayer with only the knowledge that you tried. This time I also went away with a bit of comic relief.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Halloween II

HA! You thought I was going to talk about horror movies, didn't you? Admit it!

Well, you were wrong.

This message is brought to you courtesy of Catholic Ragemonkey, where Fr. Shane wants to know what everyone's favorite Halloween candy is.

Because to me, it's all about the candy. I don't even dress up anymore, but I'm the mom, so I don't have to! Big Daddy treks the kids around the neighborhood where they collect enough candy to keep our dentist busy for the next year, and afterwards they sort it out and sometimes share with me.

As they get older they get less selective about what kind of candy they will eat, so for Mom the pickings have been getting pretty slim of late. Good for my waistline (which hasn't been getting any slimmer) but not so good for my tastebuds!

Given the choice of the traditional Halloween offerings, my hands-down favorite is Milky Ways. And the new DARK Milky Ways are a bonus!

I think Milky Ways for me are a nostalgia candy. My grandmother used to keep a bag of them (snack size) in the fruit drawer of her refrigerator. When we visited, we could have 1 or 2. My mom would go through half the bag in an afternoon. We, being kids, were not allowed to eat candy to such excess. But Milky Ways bring me back to Saturday afternoons at Nanny's house, coloring, and drinking Coke out of Dixie Riddle cups at the kitchen table while Nanny said her prayers. Good times.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It was quiet in the house.

The kids were all home, and it was quiet in the house. And NOBODY was sleeping!
Big Brother was drawing a map for a future Dungeons and Dragons game. He sat on the living room floor surrounded by pens, pencils, binders, graph paper, Tolkien books and Dungeons and Dragons books.
Middle Sister was doing her homework. She had pushed all the stuff that was already on the coffee table over to one side (a Stratego game that Little Brother had taken apart, a Topple game--toppled, an old church bulletin, a Philadelphia Eagles hat, and a coloring book) and scattered her homework paraphernalia in the space she had cleared off.
Little Brother had abandoned his block tower in the living room, which had tipped over and which he had adorned with his shoes, for pieces of an old Axis and Allies board game in the family room. He was setting up all the little tiny "guys" and pieces of military equipment all over the map.
It was a perfect time for Mom (that's me!) to put her feet up and read for a bit. And so I did.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What is....

...the proper parental response to: "Is there a woodle in my straw?"
(We had spaghetti for dinner tonight, and "woodle" is Little Brother's term for "noodle.")
Middle Sister heard this question from another room and yelled, "That's nasty!"
My sentiments exactly.
I do NOT wish to go over there and inspect the straw.

Alphabetical Order

Little Brother, at 3 1/2, is beginning to learn the alphabet.
It's very charming, actually.
He approaches it differently from the Big Kids, who insisted on learning the letters IN ORDER, and who'd restart endlessly if they got derailed: A, B, C, D, E, F, G....A, B, C, D....
Little Brother has his own way of doing things.
Order doesn't matter in the alphabet. Naming all the letters, more than once if necessary, while singing the alphabet tune, is ALL that matters.
A, B, C, D, E, F, J, Y, J, K, M, N, N, O, G, Q, R, X, Y and G, 18, 17, 16....
Yes, there are numbers in there too. Little Brother marches to the beat of a different drummer.
There's time enough for him to learn the letters in their proper order. He's having fun with it now, and I'm going to let him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


There's been a lot of blogging on Halloween these days. I'll revisit the philosophical issues later, if I can find something interesting to say that hasn't been said already, or possibly I'll just direct whoever's reading here to some of my favorite posts elsewhere.

Anyway, I just read over at Catholic Packer Fan about his family's Halloween, which sounds a LOT like mine.

There is mention of big kids with no costumes. That's something that really drives me bananas. It doesn't happen here much, but it happened in the town we moved from 8 years ago. We saw a lot of teenagers without costumes or even a mask--just a pillowcase or backpack.

The first year, I just asked them where their costume was while giving them a piece of candy.

The next year, I was ready for my own private revenge. I had TWO bowls of candy to give out: one for anyone who wore a costume, and one for the "we're too cool for costumes but still want free candy" crowd.

Having taught in middle school and high school, I am well aware of the usefulness of Jolly Rancher candy to the students who like to sneak a little something sweet during class. They do not all know that Jolly Rancher makes "Fire Stix" which are cinnamon flavored and, well, not as hot as an Atomic Fireball, but still pack a good punch. But they're red, like Cherry Stix.

I gave any costume-free teenagers a nice handful of Fire Stix that year, and they were thrilled to get them. I was thanked profusely, and I smiled as I savored the thought of what would happen when they tried to sneak one of THOSE in math class the next morning.