Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I got tired of finding little puddles all over my kitchen counter when I'm defrosting something--or in the refrigerator when I'm organized enough to defrost ahead of time. So I started putting my frozen items on top of a melamine tray. They come in all sizes and patterns at the dollar store, and I had a few already that I hardly ever used. Once the food is defrosted the tray washes up quickly and easily, and it contains all the drips.
Works for me!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
2. TERRIFIC--a good adjective to describe my husband.
3. TAU--the special cross worn by Secular Franciscans. Look at the top of my sidebar to see a sample.
4. TUNE--because I love music--listening to it as well as playing it.
5. TUB--my term for the big bucket I use to carry laundry out to my clothesline.
6. TANK--Little Brother's description of our "SUV-wannabe minivan" which happens to be green.
7. TIMER--what I live by in this house. I make it The Bad Guy when it's time for the kids to stop doing something fun and go do something not-so-fun.
8. TOO MANY--the number of cookbooks I have, according to my husband! Though he doesn't complain about my cooking...
9. TIP--helpful hints. I'm addicted to reading "tip" articles in magazines and on the internet. You never know when a good tip will come in handy.
10. TESTY--my mood in the morning until I've had my Sippy Cup of Coffee.
This meme has been brought to you by the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom, and the letter T.
Want to play? Just leave a comment, and I'll give you a letter.
Why do they describe some of the people as "formerly of Philadelphia (or wherever)?" If they're in an obituary, all of them are "formerly" of their hometown....
I'm just sayin'.
Monday, May 29, 2006
On Saturday we attended the wedding of my husband's cousin, who is a very lovely and confident young woman. The groom was from Scotland, so we enjoyed bagpipe music after the ceremony as well as other music from the groomsmen (in kilts) during the reception. After Communion the priest prayed over the young couple and announced that they have consecrated their marriage to the Blessed Mother. I wish them every blessing as they begin their life together.
Sunday morning we attended Mass at my parents' parish, where the Gospel Choir from Straight and Narrow, a center for rehabilitation, detox and support for substance abusers who wish to get clean. They shared their music--wonderful and uplifting--and their stories, and their gratitude to God and their supporters in the program for getting a fresh start in life.
I received word that Father T. is very ill; he is hardly able to speak and cannot walk. He has asked for prayers.
Middle Sister was an accident magnet yesterday. She brought her scooter to my parents' house to take advantage of the long, steep hill they live on. Instead, the hill got the better of her. It took a whole box of extra-large "knee and elbow" bandages to cover up the road rash on both her legs, one hip and both elbows. Later, at my brother-in-law's surprise 40th birthday party, all the kids were playing soccer, and she got hit in the head with the ball. (Yes, we've watched for signs of concussion. So far, so good).
Friday, May 26, 2006
Apparently, at the University of St. Thomas, it's wrong all the time.
A graduating student who was chosen to speak at graduation included a contrast of selfishness and selflessness--and had the gall, at a Catholic university no less, to describe premarital sex and the use of contraception as selfish. The horror!
Sounds to me like he learned something. But not, I guess, at the university, which demanded that he apologize for upsetting his fellow graduates and their families to the point that they got up and left the ceremony.
The truth hurts, kids!
I'd like to commend Father Martin Fox for contacting the president of the University of St. Thomas, who responded to him in a manner best described as "lame-o" (to use one of my sister's favorite words. Hey, it fits.)
The ones who should apologize were the ones so rude as to walk out on the speaker.
4 more years until Big Brother is ready for college. I'm crossing another one OFF my list of his choices.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Every time we go there Little Brother has a wonderful time. The two librarians who take turns hosting the Storytime are fantastic. There are stories (read aloud, or just storytelling), finger plays, and "action songs." When it's over the children may all color a picture related to the day's story.
Every time we go there, SFO Mom is transported back to 6th grade. I realize just how immature I am and how mentally snarky I can be. While Little Brother is up front belting out "Johnny Works with One Hammer" and "Wheels on the Bus" I am standing in the back comparing myself to all the other Storytime Mommies. This one has a tiny infant and has lost all her "baby weight"--Little Brother is over 4 and my waistline is stubbornly refusing to shrink. That one and her three well-groomed children have matching GAP tops--Little Brother has a buzz cut so I don't have to comb his hair in the mornings, and is wearing handmedowns from the Boy Next Door. These mommies arrived pushing their jogging strollers or Super Fashionable Thousand-Dollar Designer Strollers or driving luxury cars--we drove up in our Chevrolet SUV-Wannabe Minivan with the Catholic School logo stickers and the dusty windshield. Those mommies sit up front with their children in their laps and sing the songs--Little Brother does not believe in sitting on laps at Storytime (it's a struggle to get him to sit anywhere at Storytime). All of them are Better Than Me.
The obvious answer is not to go to Storytime anymore, but Little Brother really loves it. And we learn some good songs and finger-play games there. I'm well aware that the grass is not always greener, that my life would not be perfect if I had perfect hair, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect house in that charming town, the perfect car, and perfect children. So why is it that week after week, I look at those Storytime Mommies and think they're so perfect?
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
I told him I didn't think I had any glue that could fix this toy.
He suggested, "How about duct tape?"
I swear it's hardwired into their genes, or something. How does a four-year-old know about duct tape?
"Look! An ambulance!" Little Brother shouted. (I know; it's not an ambulance, but I wasn't in the mood to get technical with a four-year-old...)
I suggested that we should say a prayer for the ambulance drivers and the people they were helping. I had Little Brother repeat the words after me; something along the lines of "Dear God, please be with the ambulance drivers so they can help the sick person. Amen."
Little Brother told me that he wanted to do it again. I told him that this time, he could start the prayer and I would repeat. So he began, "Bless us, O Lord..."
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Introducing the Picnic Bucket™!
We have a back porch with a picnic table and in the summertime the kids like to eat their lunches and snacks on the porch. Sometimes they have a hard time carrying their drink, plate, utensils and napkin all at once down the back stairs to get outside.
I took one of those large popcorn tins (the ones they sell at Christmas, with pictures on the side and 3 kinds of popcorn inside). We ate all the popcorn, and the picture was cute, so I didn’t want to just throw it away—but it wasn’t doing me any good just sitting there EMPTY! Now it’s filled with:
• Paper plates
• Paper napkins
• Paper cups
• Plastic forks, knives and spoons (in a zipper bag, so they don’t get all over the place)
When we’re not using the Picnic Bucket™ it can be closed tightly and set on a shelf, out of the way until we need it again.
Monday, May 22, 2006
We had 200 students in our school.
Between the other three schools, there were 378 more.
The new Regional School has enrolled 207 students for next year.
And they're OK with that?
There are rumors that our school building has already been sold, and that this is why our school year has been abbreviated--to give the new owners time to renovate the building before September.
So we're not getting a full year of education for our children, although we paid for one. They're OK with that too. (Of course, the kids are all thrilled!)
Maybe I should embellish the backs of those T-shirts:
MY SCHOOL WAS CLOSED AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT.
Somebody hand me a Sharpie.
(Image shamelessly hijaked from You Duped Me, Lord.)
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Me: "No, but it means you're stupid if you don't!"
Maybe I should read him his Miranda rights the next time he won't let a matter drop. Because he never lets a matter drop. Persistence is a talent, and he has it in abundance.
Friday, May 19, 2006
"Manly style is a guy who drives a Jeep; manly substance is a guy who can fix it. Manly style is Ronald Reagan playing soldier in war movies; manly substance is Jimmy Stewart, who actually flew numerous bomber missions. Manly style is seeming and appearing; manly substance is being and doing.
"There are people who look extremely manly, but are not. And people who don't look manly, but are. T.O., with his bulging muscles and chiseled torso, is a cartoon of exaggerated masculinity. On the football field, he certainly exhibits confidence in the face of risk. But because of his constant carping, his vanity and self-absorption, he is anything but manly.
"Fred Rogers, with his silly puppets and cardigan sweaters, was at the opposite end of the spectrum from Russell Crowe, Jesse Ventura and The Arnold. But he was confident of his belief in the power of love, and he had the courage to extend respect and appreciation to all, despite the risk of ridicule. The moral force of Rogers this soft, gentle man was fearsome. "Indeed, a manly man can be a gentleman -- 'a manly man with polish and perfection,' Mansfield writes, gentle 'out of policy, not weakness.'"
H/T to The GOP Soccer Mom.
Planned Parenthood is opening "express clinics" at several malls. According to the American Life League, there are 47 such clinics in the U.S. Abortions are not performed at the mall. Yet. But it's a small consolation.
I can just imagine the window display. Not to mention the irony of possibly being located near a store like "Motherhood Maternity" or "The Children's Place." So now your teen can do one-stop shopping: Victoria's Secret undies AND birth control without a parent's knowledge, let alone consent.
Repeat after me: what Planned Parenthood does and promotes is Not Health Care.
Little Brother provided his own "voice over" to the weather report I just saw on the morning news. The graphic showed the morning, noon and drive-time forecast.
"It's gonna be two sunnies, with a rainy in between."
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
It's an interesting idea, and some of it works. But the home is not an office. It's not a classroom. It's a home, and it's just different. I have been both a teacher and a software analyst, so I've worked in both environments, in positions where I had a certain degree of authority over others. I also had clear deadlines, and a definite beginning and end to the day. I have none of these in my current chosen vocation of Wife, Mom, Homemaker, Shopper, Family Taxi Driver, and Finder of All Lost Things. Even my Really Cool Planner can't make me toe the daily-schedule line the way a school bell or the demands of a boss might.
I think the difference here is that I prefer to think of motherhood as a Vocation, not as a Profession.
One summer I worked at a Girl Scout camp. The most important lesson I learned there was to keep a first-aid kit handy. I have them all over the place: in my linen closet, in my car, and in the box I take to the local pool and keep there all summer. But the most-used kit I have is in the kitchen. It takes up hardly any space, and it's in the place where many accidents happen.
I put a small tube of Neosporin in a box of assorted band-aids, and keep it in a cabinet. That takes care of most quick bandaging needs!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Boys and weapons just seem to go together. With two sons and a Boy Next Door who fits between them in age and plays here a lot, I see a lot of war-play going on. They use toy guns, water guns, play swords, and light sabers. If one of those is not handy they'll use a wiffle ball bat, a baseball tee (that's the cannon, in case you're interested), a pogo stick or a hockey stick. Given a little time to create their own, they'll come up with some fascinating weapons using simply Legos, K'Nex or Tinker Toys. Along with the neighbor children, the favorite outdoor game is Infiltrators.
It's unavoidable, I think. But they plan, they create, they strategize. And they make sure the Good Guys win.
Francis started out as an aspiring knight, after all.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Right now I'm reading
Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America
It was sitting open on the kitchen table.
Big Daddy was sorting through a pile of mail today, taking out all the credit-card offers so he could shred them. The kids always want the "fake credit cards" that come in these envelopes, so he left one on the table.
Guess what I'm using as a bookmark right now?
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I am blessed. I have a husband who loves me, even when I get cranky. He tells me I don't have to cook on Mother's Day if I don't want to, and he will do the dishes after I cook anyway.
I am blessed. I have a teenager who is a Boy Scout, an A student, and a funny guy. He's not above playing with his siblings. He checks my blog regularly to see what I write about him.
I am blessed. I have a daughter who is artistic, musical, dramatic, creative, cute, and very loving. She writes me poem and makes "coupons" for me, like "coffee day," "spa day" and "TV day." She gets on my case if I don't use the coupons in a timely fashion.
I am blessed. I have a four-year-old who loves to be tickled, who gives loud, gleeful "smooches" and who made me a paper flower at play school, with his name written upside-down and backwards.
I am blessed. I have a healthy family. And I'm really grateful for all of them.
Dad walks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.
Little Brother tries to follow him in. "Dad, can I come in?"
Little Brother (pushing the door open): "Yes I can! You like company, remember?"
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Including our SFO Fraternity members and guests we may have 50 people!
This will be the second year that I am Martha For A Day. In other words, I run the kitchen. We have many members who due to age have physical limitations. I'm 40 and I can put in a day of standing, carrying, cooking, serving and cleaning. Hey--I do it at home! And hospitality is an important part of the day.
Last year our speaker (the same one we'll have this time) scolded me for spending the day in the kitchen and missing the talk. So...I'm prepared. Along with the kitchen equipment, paper goods and food I've packed, I've also got the baby monitor. This way I can listen to the lectures. AND I've requested that when it's time to break into small groups for "sharing," that one small group visit me in the kitchen. If they want to share the work while they share the wisdom, that'll be great.
Please pray that the Holy Spirit will work in our speaker and in the hearts of all who are fortunate to listen.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I figured that the "samples" would be little single-pot packets. I was very pleasantly surprised when a large box appeared on my doorstep. It contained six EIGHT-OUNCE BAGS of coffee. I was in Coffee Heaven. (Actually, I still am, because I haven't finished tasting and drinking all this wonderfully aromatic coffee.) I could smell the coffee through the special vent in the pouch. The worst part was figuring out which one to try first. There were "Bloggers Boot Up Blend," "New Media Mavericks," "Blogs of Bravery," "Bloggers PJ Passion," "Late Night Log In" and "Bloggers Beach Blast."
The kids, who are not coffee drinkers (by Mom's Decree), all weighed in with suggestions of which coffee pouch to open first. Both Big Brother and Little Brother suggested that I start with "Blogs of Bravery" since the label featured a helicopter. In fact, Little Brother calls this one "Army Guy Coffee." Big Daddy, who's not much of a coffee drinker unless it's flavored, decided that we should taste-test "Bloggers Beach Blast" with its chocolate and caramel flavor. It's his custom to add French Vanilla creamer to his coffee, and once he did that he practically had dessert. He likes to start his day with this one. I think it would make a nice iced-coffee-based smoothie, but it's not my favorite for drinking as a cup of coffee.
My next pick was "New Media Mavericks." It's a silly name, in my opinion, but the coffee rocks. It's described as a "medium roast from the prized Tarrazu region of Costa Rica." This variety was fantastic and I was sad to finish the bag.
Now I've moved on to the Army Guy Coffee: "Blogs of Bravery." Since the bag stated it was a blend of dark and medium roasts, I was a little apprehensive. I don't like Starbucks; I can't stand dark roasts. But this is really nice. It's not bitter at all, has no burned taste, and a very good coffee flavor.
I haven't gotten to the other three varieties yet, but so far I am very impressed at the quality of the coffee. It's delicious and very fresh. I'm enjoying every sip.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
She's the one who, in my combox on the Dinner Envy entry, suggested that I let my neighbor see my own personal housekeeping-Achilles-heel.
I'm sure Amy had in mind that my over-mom-whelmed neighbor would see my sticky kitchen floor, or notice that the carpet in Middle Sister's room is so covered in stuff that no one knows what color it is. Something like that.
Surely she did not mean for me to do what I did today.
I was trying to get ahead of myself by starting on the ironing I normally do on Saturdays (though it's not as much fun when I don't have a Notre Dame football game to watch while I iron). I'll be busy all day Saturday and people need clothes whether I am home to iron them or not. So I was ironing and chatting with Little Brother.
You need to know that I iron in my room, where there's a TV. You also need to know that I use spray starch on the khaki pants, and that since I'm growing out a layered haircut, I also need to use a good amount of hairspray. Both the starch and the hairspray are in light blue aerosol cans.
Did you guess where I'm going with this?
I needed to nail down a piece of my hair that was flopping in my eyes.
Spray starch works wonders for that kind of job.
Yeah. I told my neighbor. I think the laugh did her good.
Maybe next week's "Works-for-Me Wednesday" tip should be: Never keep the spray starch and the hair spray on the same dresser.
2. distrust of self
3. confidence in God
4. remembrance of the Passion
5. mindfulness of one's own death
6. remembrance of God's glory
7. the injuctions of Sacred Scripture, following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert
The Friar Minor has this observation:
Spiritual practice means to do whatever it is you are doing diligently. This is to say that you do it with love for your act, mindful and attentive to what you are doing and to yourself as you are doing it.
In this way you are attentive to the act you are doing, rather than
just thinking about the result, or worse, what you have to do next.
In other words, take God off Cruise Control--and put Him in control.
I was not surprised to see that item, but I was very surprised to see it followed by the observation that if the Pill had been around in the 1940s, Billy Joel and Candice Bergen might not be celebrating their birthdays yesterday. That was a surprisingly prolife statement, in view of the paper's usual stance on such matters.
What I am quite sure most people don't realize is that the Pill is not so much a method of Contraception (in which a baby is not conceived) as it is a method of Abortion: it changes the lining of the uterus to try and prevent implantation of an already-conceived child.
I think a lot of minds would be changed, if that information got out.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Since it seems to be All Chores, All the Time in BlogWorld today, I'll chime in on that topic.
My children are all required to do at least one chore per day that benefits the whole household (sweeping the kitchen, taking out the garbage, dusting the bookcases, for example). This is in addition to their "personal" chores (making the bed, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, picking up toys after using them, and such).
Since the Big Kids can read and like to write on my whiteboard, I list the Household Chores of the Day there. When they are done with the chore, they may erase the note. Sometimes they take the opportunity to leave me a note back.
Big Brother offered to Photoshop a "Rest in Peace" sign.
Then Middle Sister suggested to her friend, "Maybe you can put his body parts back together."
Big Brother decided he'd change the sign to "Rest in Pieces."
Me: "I hope your hands are clean. I know you were just using whiteboard markers..." (and probably erasing with your fingers)
Big Brother: "They're non-toxic."
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I know that she loves to cook, as I do. I also know that her family's palates are not nearly as adventuresome as mine. And while she doesn't actually say so, I know that sometimes she's wishing she were eating at my house (though when I invite her, she always declines).
This afternoon as we chatted by the fence, Big Brother wandered over to ask what would be for dinner tomorrow (why he needs to know this more than 24 hours in advance, I have no idea). I sent him inside to check the menu. "You mean you plan your dinners for a whole month? I could never do that. You have no idea what it would look like."
I tried to reassure her that yes, she could plan her meals, but she doesn't believe me. I'm guessing she'll spend the summer cooking and dining vicariously through me. She thinks I have it all together where this is concerned. Not true--at all! What I do have is more experience (I'm 9 years ahead of her when it comes to feeding kids) and more flexibility because there is very little that I will cook that my family will not at least try. (Except for tuna casserole and Brussels sprouts. They all draw the line there.)
I would really like to find a way to help her--to show her that yes, she can plan dinners for a month if she wants to--but more than that to give her the boost I feel she desperately needs. She needs to know that her little one won't be a toddler forever; that someone will eventually be willing to eat fish; that it does get easier, at least in the matter of getting food into the kids. I know she's so bogged down by the mothering part right now.
Any suggestions on how I can encourage my neighbor would be greatly appreciated.
"Anyone who comes to the brothers, friend or enemy, thief or robber, is to be received with kindness...they are to greet one another wholeheartedly and lovingly, and honor one another without grumbling." (Rule of 1221, Chapter VII)
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Through the Year with Francis of Assisi: Daily Meditations from His Words and Life
Sometimes it can be a real challenge to be hospitable. I don't always succeed at the "wholeheartedly and lovingly" part, and I'm particularly bad about "grumbling." But I was shown a lovely example of hospitality twice this week--at the schools my Big Kids will attend next year. And there was no grumbling.
Middle Sister will be transferring into a different parochial school, as the parish school she has been attending since kindergarten will shut its doors in June. It's hard to start over again in a new place, though for her it will be made easier because 6 of her classmates will be coming with her, and she already has one friend there. We adults have it tougher. The PTA hosted a potluck dinner the other night and the families from our old school were the guests. We were fed a delicious meal, given handmedown uniforms to start our children's school wardrobe, informed about some programs, and most importantly, graciously and enthusiastically welcomed. It's a hard transition, but it helps so much to know that there are friendly faces in the new school. It will be OK.
Big Brother will be starting high school in the fall. This morning all students who won scholarships for next year (he won a partial scholarship!) were honored at a Mass and brunch. Our whole family was invited to attend. Again, we were shown wonderful hospitality.
Today's Gospel speaks of what the Lord does for us:
Jesus, in laying down His life for us, did so wholeheartedly and lovingly, without grumbling--the perfect example of holy hospitality.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I've been set straight by Little Brother, who obviously is an expert on the subject because at "play school" today they had a "pee-hana, where you hit it like in tee ball, with a bat, and you get the candy when it falls out." He has a nice little bag of candy too.
I asked him if they had the piñata at his school because it was a special day.
I asked him if the special day was called "Cinco de Mayo." (I am a former Spanish teacher, after all. I should have some clue here.)
"No, it's Pee-hana Day!"
I'm a Mandarin!
You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.
Talent: 33%Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.
These quiz results are amazingly accurate.
Wonder if I can Netflix those old Paper Chase reruns? That was a great show.
In the interest of the "stay with the group" requirement, I have successfully begged my neighbor to watch Little Brother for the day. He prefers to run through the Aquarium at top speed, yelling, "What's this one?" but tearing off to the next one before you get to the sign for the first one. Now that's exhausting. Usually he falls asleep on the train ride home after that.
In addition to coffee, I believe I will need to bring sunglasses. Middle Sister is enjoying her day without a uniform. She is sporting tan capris, an orange T-shirt, a purple hoodie, purple socks and black Converse All-Stars. There will be no problem finding her in a crowd.
It will be a nice opportunity to spend time with Middle Sister and her friends without Little Brother along. That's a rare thing indeed.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I've been enjoying a new feature at Rocks in My Dryer: Works-for-Me Wednesday. It's like a Carnival of Tips--and really useful ones, at that.
Here's my tip, one I use when my Big Kids start getting on each other's nerves: "If you can't BE nice to your brother/sister, you need to DO something nice for them." Fake it 'til you make it, kids!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
This is what I would like to say to any of my friends who don't bring their children to church because they worry about how the kids will act when they're there. And I'll point them to this link in the future when the opportunity presents.
Via Cirque de Moi.
Middle Sister left her cookies, half eaten, on the table. I said, "Didn't you like these cookies? Aren't they the best cookies you've ever eaten?"
She answered, "Well, they were pretty good, but I wasn't too impressed with the onions in them."