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.

An Open Letter

To: the manager of the Rental Center near my home

Ever since you opened the Rental Center here, my family has enjoyed looking at your sign, with its funny and sometimes thought-provoking messages.
That is, until the current sign was posted.
At first glance, the message is humorous: The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
Think about that, though.
Such a message implies that there are certain people who should not be allowed to reproduce.
THAT smacks of eugenics, with its assumption that some people are expendable.
After all, Hitler would completely agree with your message. He wished to completely eradicate certain genes from the gene pool.
As Catholics, my family holds firm to the belief that NO people are expendable. Everyone matters. Everyone is entitled to life and the dignity that belongs with it.
How ironic that the sign on the reverse of this one reads: To belittle is to be little.
Isn't that exactly what you are doing in posting that the gene pool could use some chlorine--belittling someone? Granted, we don't know whom, but it's someone.
I hope that we'll be seeing a different message on one side of your sign soon. But keep the one about belittling--that's a message we could all stand to see more of.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dinner--AND a Show

After dinner, Middle Sister decided to practice her keyboard lesson on the organ in the dining room.
We were serenaded with bits of "Silent Night."
Then she started rummaging around in the organ bench looking for some sheet music, and asked me if I had any Christmas music in there. I told her what book to look for.
She thumbed through it and observed that she had never before seen a Christmas carol book that didn't contain "The Little Drummer Boy."
I had to tell her that most of them don't....
So she played a bit of it by ear on the organ, and did a fairly nice job. She told me she had learned it at keyboard today, without even being taught. Whatever THAT means.
I promised to look through the rest of my music and find the song for her.
Then it was back to "Silent Night."
I asked her, "So what IS in your lesson for this week?"
Her reply: "Lesson?"
LONG pause. TOO long.
"Oh, THAT!"
I resisted the urge to ask her, "You were AT your lesson today, right?" Give Sarcastic Mommy 5 points for stuffing a sock in it!
She mispronounced "Study in G Major" in a manner that I cannot duplicate using a normal keyboard and then proceeded to abandon the whole thing in favor of "Silent Night."
I have to wonder what this kid is like at keyboard lessons!

Things Moms Say

"Candy corn is NOT a vegetable!"

OK, I know. I wish it were a vegetable too. But I have to keep that wish a secret from my kids.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


So much for that perfect day.
That Notre Dame game was a real heartbreaker.
I predict that there will be a lot of chocolate consumed in this house tonight.

Oh, what a beautiful morning

It's a lovely day. 64 degrees and FINALLY sunny! The sky is blue and clear and there's a gentle breeze blowing the first leaves of fall around the backyard.
I've been enjoying a good cup of coffee and hanging laundry on the clothesline for the first time in 10 days. If I had to pick a favorite household chore (not including cooking), hanging out laundry would definitely be it.
If Notre Dame wins this afternoon, today will be pretty near perfect.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Marriage and Parenthood and Selfishness

Here's a great post at Living Catholicism on the nature of selfishness as seen by a husband and dad.
It's worth the read--and so is the comment by Philothea Rose!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Good to be Bad? Hip to be Square?

I was folding laundry this afternoon and I noticed, once again, the message embroidered on a fleece sweatshirt belonging to Middle Sister. "Angel with an Attitude: Don't Let the Halo Fool You."
It's cute, and even a little clever.
But I have to wonder, what are we teaching our kids when we let them wear stuff like this?
In my early teaching days, Bart Simpson was new....and the kids were wearing "Bart Simpson: Underachiever" T-shirts. The sad part was, these kids WERE the underachievers! Why is this something they'd want to advertise?
When we were down the shore this summer (yes, I'm a Jersey Girl, we go "down the shore") I browsed in a T-shirt store and saw some of those shorts with words on the butt. Those are offensive to me no matter what they say--but these shorts said a word that I cannot print here, since this is a "family" blog, a word that has 5 letters and begins with B. Certainly this is not a word that most women would be proud to be called.
Same with the glittery tees that proclaim, "Spoiled Rotten."
That's a GOOD thing?
I'm well aware that anyone reading something on someone else's butt is not expecting to see a commentary on the wearer's intelligence, but couldn't we have some more positive messages on the clothing for a change?

Preach Always....If Necessary, Use Words

Philothea Rose has a post today that hits me where I live.

If I do not always set the example I should, and I do not always say the things I should either, then I am doing an injustice to others. I guess what it all boils down to is--am I doing my best to do these things? Or am I weighing whether it would be easier NOT to do these things? This is not to say that I should wear any little bit of holiness that I might have on my sleeve for all to admire--but that I certainly should not be afraid and hide that light under a bushel. It's not about doing the right thing for praise or recognition--it's about doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

Easier said than done. May God give us the grace to preach always.

I think Francis' Prayer Before the Cross is appropriate here:

Most high, all glorious, all-good God,
Bring light to the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,
With wisdom and insight, O Lord,
That I might always discern
Your holy and true will.

It's Yoda that Matters

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

"A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.
Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere."

Big Brother has told me he'd be proud of my results!
(And does this mean that Little Brother wants to masquerade as ME on Halloween?)

Via Happy Catholic.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What kind of Catholic am I?

You scored as New Catholic. The years following the Second Vatican Council was a time of collapse of the Catholic faith and its traditions. But you are a young person who has rediscovered this lost faith, probably due to the evangelization of Pope John Paul II. You are enthusiastic, refreshing, and somewhat traditional, and you may be considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. You reject relativism and the decline in society that you see among your peers. You are seen as being good for the Church.

A possible problem is that you may have a too narrow a view of orthodoxy, and anyway, you are still a youth and not yet mature in your faith.

What is your style of American Catholicism?
created with
OK, well, maybe....some of the questions were pretty "out there" and the names are odd, but this description does fit me quite well.
Via Flos Carmeli.

I'm a WHAT?

You Are A: Turtle!

turtleThese reptiles, famous for their hard outer shells, spent their days roaming for food and relaxing in the water. As a turtle you are not very speedy, nor are you soft and cuddly. You tend to hide in your shell and you aren't much of a sprinter, but you are quite tough. You also happen to be as cute as you are fascinating.

You were almost a: Chipmunk or a Groundhog
You are least like a: Duck or a SquirrelCute Animal Quiz!

I like turtles and all, but they walk SO DARN SLOW!
Via Happy Catholic.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sweet, but silly

I got a bag of Dove mini chocolates (on sale, with coupons, if you know me you know the drill here).
I'm betting that I'm like most moms and hide my "secret stash" of chocolate from the today when I was near the Secret Chocolate Hiding Place I opened up this bag of little Dove candies.
Guess I haven't had one of THESE in a while. They are like New Age Fortune Cookies! When you unwrap the foil you see a little message like "Go to your special place" or "Make your eyes twinkle."
It can't just be about enjoying a good piece of chocolate? It has to be a "personal indulgence" that I somehow "deserve" because of everything I do all day? Is this a candy bar or a woman's magazine?
Here's the way I think about it. The candy should be good on its own. It should be something I want to savor because it is delicious, and a treat--not because of any silly directions on the wrapper.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

NOT cool, American Girl!

This evening I have been reading about how The American Girl company (you know, the one that makes "wholesome" toys and modest clothing for your little girls) has partnered up with Girls, Inc., whose website makes it quite clear that this group is little more than Planned Parenthood for Preteens.

Danielle Bean and The Summa Mammas have both given more information and links on their blogs.

Write or call the company and join me in expressing your displeasure with this little joint venture of theirs. Any company whose target customer is under 12 really doesn't need to be dealing with an abortion advocacy group....and that's just the tip of the Girls, Inc. iceberg.

When Worlds Collide II

It's been the kind of week where I take time to think about how I live my life as a Franciscan layperson.
Am I wasteful? Am I a "good steward" of what I have been given, using my abilities as well as material possessions in a wise and good way? Have I become too used to those "creature comforts" and little luxuries that have come my way?
This morning I drove Middle Sister to school, since she was running too late for the bus. It was chilly out. Our new van has leather seats, and she suggested testing out the "heated front seat" feature that, having bought the van during the summer, we have yet to try.
Let me tell you, if my wireless Internet signal would reach the driveway, I'd probably never leave that van again. It has more cupholders than passenger seating, satellite radio, AND bun-warmers!
So what was I saying about those creature comforts?
Right. Ouch.
I've got a long way to go, and I probably shouldn't turn on the bun-warmers for the journey.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Transitus....a tribute

One of our Secular Franciscans made her own Transitus last night. She passed away about 9 PM, just after we all finished praying our Transitus at chuch.

Because she was living in an assisted-living home during her time as an SFO, I did not know her very well. She was in my formation group, and reminded me very much of my grandmother (physically and spiritually). She was the aunt of one of our other SFOs, and we all called her "Aunt" as well. She contributed much to our formation meetings and was very well-read. She was happy to recommend and share her favorite spiritual books.

At my own profession (four years ago today) it was my privilege to sit next to this lovely lady. She was near 90 but sharp as a tack. However, she had trouble standing up once she was sitting, and I would help her up when she needed to stand, and walked beside her when we left the pew. It was like being at church with my grandmother, who shared the same first name with her, and who was a Franciscan Associate herself. They were both Irish and both very devoted to the Blessed Mother.

Three years ago, instead of praying at Transitus, I was at my grandmother's wake.

Last night our sister in Francis joined my grandmother in Heaven. I have no doubt that these two devout women are both there, and they're probably praying a rosary together.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
And may perpetual light shine on her.
May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, though the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Monday, October 03, 2005

SFO News

Our Secular Franciscan Fraternity will be celebrating two days of great solemnity and rejoicing.

Today we mark the Transitus of Francis of Assisi: his passage from earthly life into everlasting life. All members of the Franciscan family (priests, Sisters and seculars) celebrate this occasion with a special service that recalls to us how Francis was a light to the world and how we are called to be a light to our world.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Saint Francis and our Fraternity is blessed to be celebrating the Profession of our newest member tomorrow. The Secular Franciscan Order, founded by Saint Francis, is a community of lay people desiring to live the ideals of a Franciscan life based on the Gospels, in the way of simplicity in our own families, workplaces and world.

Please keep our new member and all Franciscans in your prayers as we strive to live out the call to be simple servants of God.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The 5 Idiosyncracies Meme

The 5 Idiosyncracies of Me(me)
I was tagged by Epiphany for this one. Are you SURE you want to know all my bizarre little behaviors?

1. When I drink tea or coffee out of a mug (rather than my usual travel "sippy cup" with lid) I have to leave the spoon in it, which never fails to alarm my dining companions who think I will poke my eye out despite the fact that my glasses act as a protective shield against any utensil impact.

2. I have a really neat Coca-Cola glass. I like to drink Pepsi out of it.

3. I can multi-task but I cannot multi-noise. If the radio is on in one room, I don't like to hear the TV in the other room. Add to that talking on the phone, and a child talking to me...I lose it.

4. I like to sleep with the windows OPEN and a big pile of covers on. The heavier the better. I have a heavy wool blanket that I fold double thick and put on my side of the bed.

5. When I eat small candies like M&Ms or jelly beans, that come in different colors (not necessarily flavors) I eat them 2 by 2, sorting out by color. I don't like to have odd leftovers so if I have 3 yellows I will eat all 3 at once, then move to another color.

Jill at jillswritestuff
Amy at RC Mommy
Steve at Song of November
Rachel at Testosterhome

When Worlds Collide

You have to be a parent to have experienced this, or something like it!

I was trying very hard to concentrate on Morning Prayer today, as Little Brother was engrossed in an early-morning screening of a "Veggie Tales" video.

It's extremely difficult to concentrate on a psalm while you listen to produce warbling, "There's a hole in the bottom of the sea...."

I don't recommend that you try this method of enhancing your Prayer Experience. But if you're a parent, sometimes it's the only way to go. There'll be more than enough quiet later.