Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Here's something you can chew on for a while

I know this could keep me going for a long time. Rachel Balducci shares a thought from her priest at her blog.
"Most people don't want to please God. They want to please themselves without offending God."
I can't think of a better starting point for an examination of conscience.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rest Time

We are on vacation this week at the New Jersey shore.

Vacation does strange things to me. For example, I hardly ever wear shoes on vacation. At home, my shoes are never OFF! Here, I only wear them when I'm outside the house.
I also consider the possibility of eating chocolate walnut fudge for breakfast (it goes great with coffee).
And then there's the same old, same old: cooking, laundry and cleaning up. Just like home, but with more sand.

The other day we went to Mass at a church that is obviously used to catering to tourists. Mass was practically every hour on the hour. It was over in 35 minutes and that included distribution of Communion to people on 2 levels (the church has converted and expanded the choir loft to practically double its seating capacity). It was quite disappointing. I felt like I was in the express lane of the supermarket instead of at church. Big Brother felt the absence of bells at the consecration. When Father elevated the Host and the chalice, Big Brother whispered to me, "ding ding ding." It was not to be disrespectful; he was missing something. I was missing music. They had a good keyboard player with "hymns by synthesizer" but NO acclamations were sung, and there were no hymnals, so no one could participate.

Yesterday I was reading a chapter in Swimming with Scapulars that talked about differences at Mass and how they can be a distraction. YES! That's exactly how I felt! It was distracting. I should be able to walk into any church, anywhere, and just go with the flow: let the familiar words and gestures and, yes, music of the liturgy to carry me along. I should not be noticing the absence of important things or the presence of bizarre "extras." Yes, each parish has its own personality, but don't mess with the stuff that shouldn't be messed with!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Now that all's right with the world...

...once again, you can all rest easy knowing that

Get your position here

The rest of you can line up behind me. I'll need all the help I can get.

YES, I'm old enough to hold the office, thank you very much.

H/T to Busy Mom (Better Living Through Coffee) for this! Love the tag line!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Stand Corrected

Steve has very kindly let me know that I did not see a terrorist symbol but instead a stylized version of the South Carolina state flag.
And just for the record, I may be a Yankee with "odd notions" but I live too close to Ground Zero for comfort.
As a child, I used to go with my father to a park where we could look across the Hudson River and see the World Trade Center being built. It was to be the tallest building in the world and he wanted us to see it happen.
At the very tollbooth we drove through on Monday (exit 12 of the NJ Turnpike) we could see the Twin Towers as we waited to pay for the privilege of driving on that particular highway (but that's a rant for another day).
I'm a North Jersey native, and many of the villains of 9/11 roamed my hometown.
I am glad that it was a South Carolina sticker on that car, but I don't think I will ever really breathe easy again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Yesterday my family and I drove north to visit the in-laws. On our way through the tollbooth I noticed a very odd sticker on the window of another car in a nearby tollbooth.
The graphic was in the colors & pattern of an American flag, but cut in the shape of a mushroom cloud, and at the very top of the cloud, on the left side (about 11:00 position) was a crescent-moon.
Unfortunately the presence of four too many 18-wheelers at the tollbooth and intersection made Big Daddy unable to pursue the car to get a better look at the sticker, the license plate, and the occupants.
What I want to know is, should I be scared? Was that a terrorist symbol, as I fear it was? It doesn't help me to sleep any easier knowing that this graphic is out there and there are people who believe in what I think it represents not 75 miles from where I live. Many of the 9/11 terrorists had been in and around my childhood hometown. 9/11 was almost 4 years ago. I want the bad guys to be flushed out of here!

On Marriage

My cousin-in-law has been busy writing and I was very glad to see his post on the SACRAMENT of Marriage. Great thoughts! H/T to you, Thomas!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Packing for Vacation

"Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, for even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff..." (Matthew 10: 9-10)

I give up.
I'm trying to pack for our family vacation.
I cannot pack for vacation and live in the spirit of the Gospel all at the same time.
So much for Mom's ability to multitask.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sports Hero Needed

Crybabies need not apply.

Big Brother thought about wearing his treasured Philadelphia Eagles jersey to a family party we'll be attending today. I pointed out to him that in light of the fact that the player whose number he'd be sporting (Terrel Owens) has been in disgrace in recent weeks due to greed, a bad attitude and a thirst for a media circus, he would be opening himself up to no end of comments on the subject from a party full of New York Giants fans.
I think he's going to change his clothes.
Until he grows out of this one, we will not be investing in another jersey for him....but I need to plan ahead. Good jerseys are hard to get. Good sports heroes are even harder.
It would be great if my teenage son had a Philadelphia Eagles player that he could really look up to, someone whose actions on--and especially off--the field distinguish him from the T.O's of the game.
Kids like to look up to athletes, and unfortunately the ones who make the news are almost never the ones kids should be looking up to.

Anyone know of a true sports HERO for my son?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Brings Back Memories

I found out about a new blog by a high-school religion teacher, and I'm quite impressed.
It brought back memories of my first year teaching. I'm certified to teach Spanish and English, but I was hired to teach Spanish and Theology! AAACK! My only Theology qualification is that I'm a practicing Catholic. NOT enough, but it was enough for a start, and enough to get me hired.
I had Freshman Spanish and Sophomore Theology: Catholic Morality.
What WERE they thinking? That is not where you dump the clueless but idealistic first-year teacher!
"Anonymous Teacher Person" seems to have it more together than I did at that point and I'm enjoying reading about what she's accomplishing with her students.
Hat tip to Amy Welborn for the link to this blog.


Some fellow Franciscans will be visiting today, for a council meeting for our fraternity.
Of course, I had to be a "White Tornado" (remember that commercial?) and zoom around the house this morning, preparing.
I'm starting to get better though.
The first thing I did was to make some chocolate earthquake cookies.
Next, I did a quick swipe of the bathrooms to make sure they were nice and clean.
I washed the dishes from the cookie-baking and the subsequent brownie-baking since we are also hosting a Boy Scout gathering tonight.
Last, I vacuumed the dining room--since Little Brother had enjoyed a breakfast of Frosted Mini Wheats, and there were little "shreds" everywhere, and swept the kitchen floor.
In a few minutes I'll put on a pot of coffee.
With the coffee and the chocolate cookies, I'm sure the councillors will be able to forgive the fact that you can write your name in the dust on my sideboard.
I'm not ashamed to bribe my guests with chocolate.

Here's the recipe, if you feel like baking.

(Makes 4 dozen 3-inch cookies)

2 sticks butter or margarine, softened (I use one of each)
1 cup EACH brown sugar and white sugar

2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

2 cups chocolate chips and/or nuts, any combination

ROLL dough into balls (about ping-pong ball size) and COAT with confectioner's sugar.

BAKE on ungreased cookie sheet, 10 minutes at 375.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More, on that note

I've been seeing more on the same idea as I read around the blogs. Certainly, this is not a coincidence....
Check this out.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Catholic School Flashback

Before every class, we prayed:

Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspiration, and carry them out by Thy gracious assistance, so that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Moms are no different from students. We also need the Lord's direction as we go through our day. Whether it's loading the kids into the car to go to the library, sorting socks, or scrubbing toilets, our work can and should begin with a look to the Lord.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Half an hour ago, this was the view from my living-room window:
5 children (3 of them mine)
4 bike helmets
3 wagons
2 hockey sticks
2 wiffle-ball bats
2 or 3 other "weapons" of undetermined origin
A temperature of 90 degrees and a heat index of 102
Kids in summer. Enjoying themselves as only kids can. There's nothing like it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Leave it to a kid...

While driving through town, Middle Sister and I noticed the unmistakable odor of skunk.
Middle Sister reminded me, "If you get sprayed by a skunk, you should take a bath in tomatoes."
Me: "Right."
Middle Sister: "Why do you use tomatoes?"
Me: "Because something in the tomatoes makes the smell of skunk go away."
Middle Sister: "But then you would smell like tomatoes!"
Me: "What would you rather smell like?"
Middle Sister: "SOAP!"

Some things you just have to see for yourself

H/T to Happy Catholic for the best laugh I've had all week.
The headline here is: FACE OF JESUS FOUND ON PIEROGI.
I have to wonder what Mrs. T thinks of this.
But those would probably go over really well at my husband's family's next Wigilia. We eat LOTS of pierogi at this traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast. Wouldn't this be a special addition to the table?

Don't Spit in the Pudding

My Big Kids are in the kitchen making "dirt." This involves instant chocolate pudding, Oreo cookie crumbs, a meat tenderizer, a wisk, plenty of pounding, and a good many very strange comments and questions--the kind that make me glad I'm in the other room:
"Mom, where's that rubber mallet?"
"Can I use that big hammer?"
"I'll hammer YOU!"
"Let's toss it back and forth."
"Ziplock bags are not meant to be meat-tenderized, filled, and thrown."
"Don't spit in the pudding!"
I'm refraining from giving helpful hints. For that matter, I don't even want to WATCH! But I might taste the "dirt" later, if I can be reassured that no one spit in the pudding.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Franciscan Work Ethic

Glory in the work you have to do! In the Rule of 1223, Francis discusses "the grace of working" and exhorts his followers to work "faithfully and with dedication."
And in the spirit of loving and enjoying life, I think Francis would have enjoyed the way Middle Sister carried out her assigned task of bringing the yellow recycling bins (the size of trash cans) to the curb.
Somehow she balanced the can on the bar of her bicycle, and slowly rode the bike out of the yard, down the driveway and out to the curb.
She could have walked the cans out in one-third the time, but this was much more fun.

Teen Humor

Sunday we had friends visiting, and we got some pizza for dinner. Between us there were 5 teenagers (their 4 girls, and Big Brother) plus our younger children.
We don't have too many friends with children older than ours. Most of our relatives & friends had children a little later than we did. This means that generally, they're quite tolerant and forgiving when it comes to toddler/preschool behavior.

Sometimes, though, it's nice to be around people who can enjoy with us the fact that the container of Garlic Powder in my kitchen has been relabeled "Vampire's Bane."

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I don't handle upheavals well. Just ask Big Daddy (who has objected to my use of the Irish convention of referring to him here as "Himself."). Anyway, Big Daddy wanted to upgrade my Office Suite software earlier this summer but was positive, based on prior experience with my reactions to operating-system upgrades, that I would not take it well.
He was wrong that time but 99% of the time I do not handle change gracefully.
In the past few days I have heard talk that my Big Kids' parish school is slated to close after June '06. By then Big Brother will have graduated, but Middle Sister and Little Brother would be affected--as would our entire family. We make our school part of our life. We chose to attend that parish because there was a school there--a good school, with wonderful teachers and a very Catholic atmosphere.
When Middle Sister was in kindergarten, we went through another upheaval at a neighboring parish and school. It was painful--still is--and we are not looking forward to starting all over again, only four years later.
I don't know how many more times I can invest myself in a parish and school when Catholic education is so low on the priority list of The Powers That Be.
When the school closes, once again I will feel homeless.
I think the AA Serenity Prayer may be the most appropriate one I can say just now:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Everybody loses

Earlier this summer, three little children lost their lives after playing hide-and-seek in a junk car in one of their backyards.
Their parents have set into motion a lawsuit against the police, for not searching properly for the boys.
Yesterday the police report revealed that the search techniques the police used were not up to new standards, and also that the parents should have called the police earlier in the search. Nothing was ever said about the wisdom of keeping an unlocked junk car in your backyard.
Does it really matter now?
Would a lawsuit bring back the boys? Would it do anything to ensure that in future search and rescue cases, the police would do a better job? Would it bring any comfort to the grieving parents? Is casting the blame on the police productive or healthy for these parents?
Someone--or many someones--were negligent here, but many people turned out to help find those little boys. People, both police and volunteers, worked hard to help their neighbors in trouble. That's the silver lining here.
But with this lawsuit, everybody loses.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Meet Mr. Mom

The kids and I watched a new program, "Meet Mr. Mom," on NBC. I have to say it was better than I expected. I figured it would be the same old, same old....bumbling Dad on TV, screwing up in every way.
Not quite--though the one Dad would have been lost if he hadn't won the full day of maid service.
What struck my kids most was the fudge-pop count racked up by one four-year-old, who was never portrayed without an ice cream pop in his hand, and the other Dad's enjoyment of the pet llama.
Frankly, I thought some of the commercials were worse than the show. They were designed as comic relief, but both JC Penney AND State Farm Insurance used the "screw-up guy" in their ads. The Dad finding a houseful of kids with a working lawn sprinkler was funny enough to make Big Brother fall off the couch laughing, but I am so convinced that these ads (and often, TV shows) just don't give Dad enough credit.
The Dads on the show were graded on Parenting, Housekeeping, Nutrition and Time Management.
I think they should grade the Moms on the same scale and see how they did. I'm not sure most of us could do that much better! Hey, there are days I'd LOVE a full day of maid service!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Here, Fishy, Fishy!

Last night we were visiting with our Back Fence Neighbors. The 5 children we have between us were climbing over the fence, playing in both yards and having lots of fun.
Their 5-year-old daughter had just gotten a Barbie fishing pole for her birthday on Friday. Instead of a hook, there was a plastic fish, about 3 inches long, tied to the end of the line. (The fish could be removed and replaced with hook and bobber).
Big Brother was having lots of fun with this fishing pole. Obviously the pink fishing pole with the blue fish was no threat to his Boy-Scout-camp-honed masculinity. He stood atop a giant fort in the backyard, casting as far as he could.
Once it almost went into another neighbor's pool.
A few times it nearly caught in a nearby tree.
Then he tried to cast it over the roof.
He heard a thump, and suddenly the little blue plastic fish was nowhere to be seen.
Luckily the two dads quickly realized that the pole itself was undamaged. Probably the Boy Scout hadn't knotted the fish to the end of the line well enough (it had come off once already).
While the dads were inspecting the fishing pole, Big Brother went off in search of the missing fish. The next thing I knew, he was on the roof of the house! We have a split-level, so the roofs on the various levels are easy to reach once you're on any one of them.
Himself told Big Brother that he had to get off the roof NOW. Then we were all hunting for the little blue fish. We checked the flower beds, the sandbox, the castle, and under the tree in front of the house. We looked under the cars, including the ones across the street--and attracted the attention of two neighbors who already think we're insane, because we send our children to Catholic School (but that's another story).
This morning Himself found the missing fish, in the little space under the windshield wipers of his car. There was still some line attached, so Big Brother's Boy Scout knotting skills are no longer suspect.