Monday, July 31, 2006

Something to Brag About

Little Brother, to his splashing companions in the Baby Pool: "I have the hiccups. I bet you I can hiccup UNDERWATER!"

A skill all preschoolers would envy, for sure.


Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Well, my husband was able to fool me twice. For the second time since we've been married he has pulled off a surprise birthday party for me, and I never suspected a thing.

He wanted to do something last year when I had my, um, Milestone Birthday, but I was dead set against it. And I figured he wouldn't try anything this time. And he gave me a too-extravagant birthday present last weekend, before my birthday, because he knew I'd be spending my day at 3 Command-Performance Events: a birthday party for the neighbor's 6-year-old; Big Brother's school sports physical, and SFO Elections.

I was totally amazed. With the help of Middle Sister, who loves to plan a party, and our wonderful friends who agreed to host the party at their home on 3 days' notice, my husband saw to it that there was a great party with lots of friends, food and fun, and I never saw it coming. Not even when I walked up the driveway, and saw some other friends' cars, and balloons and streamers. And then I walked into the garage to put down the salads I had brought to contribute to the potluck picnic I thought was happening. Never noticed the cake box. I'm lucky I didn't fall right over when they all yelled "Surprise!" I did run back into the garage, though, until I could breathe normally again!

I think that my own kids, and my friends' kids, asked me once per year of my age, if I was really surprised. They were so proud of themselves for putting one over on a grownup. One of my friends' teenage daughters confided, "My mom doesn't like secrets. But she let us break the rule this time."

I'd like to thank our good friends the Ultimate Party Host and Hostess, for their unbelievably generous hospitality (and for breaking the Secret Rule); their teenagers (AKA The Girls) for all the colorful decorations as well as general party help and amusement of smaller children; Big Brother for babysitting Little Brother while Daddy and Middle Sister did the party shopping and delivery; Middle Sister for helping plan, shop, decorate and keep the secret; our friends who attended and brought side dishes, fruit, and dessert to share at the party; and my Terrific Husband. I love you all.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On Superheroes, Villains, and Wardrobe

Big Brother to Little Brother: "Just because you have a cape doesn't mean you're cool."

What Kind of Dirt Are We, Anyway?

This homily at Lord, Give Me Water is really something to think about. I wish that I had seen it earlier so that I could have brought copies for my entire SFO Fraternity, as it was very timely considering our scheduled election last night.

Here's a bit:
it is our job, our mission and ministry to make sure that we ourselves
are properly tilled, properly weeded, properly watered and mulched so
that when we walk into the fields of the Lord to do what he told us to
do—to go make disciples—we are the richest soil we can be, we are
producing the finest fruit we can produce, we are yielding a
hundredfold and working hard on a thousandfold!

Go read the rest.

What better inspiration do we need to get out there and till our spiritual gardens?

Friday, July 28, 2006


Little Brother just came running over here at top speed: "Give me a nice warm hug! I'm cold!"

So I gave him a nice warm hug, even though he forgot to say please.

He got down and headed back to the breakfast table, but halfway there he spun around and came back. "I'm giving YOU a nice warm hug!" Of course, I was very happy to get it.

Then he asked, "Is your face cold?"

I didn't know where he was going with that, but I said yes, and he gave he a big kiss and said, "That was a nice warm KISS!"

It doesn't get any better than this.

This Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiis JEOPARDY!

When you start your day with a good laugh it's a good thing. This morning's good laugh was provided by Ken Jennings, in his blog entry about JEOPARDY! Take a few minutes; go and read it! It's worth it.

I'm no Ken Jennings, but 11 years ago I was on JEOPARDY! Not being Ken Jennings, I came in third on my first (and only) appearance on the show. But I did OK, despite the obtuse categories like "Texas Airports" (HUH?) The only question I got wrong was Final Jeopardy (who cares about the U.N. anyway?) and I even beat 2 guys to the punch on a few sports questions, which absolutely amazed my family and friends. They know that my sports knowledge is basically limited to what time the Notre Dame football game will be televised on a given fall weekend.

Even though, as a contestant, I had to pay my own way across the country to play the game and win Valuable Prizes (a $600-value set of videotapes that I mostly gave away--what? no refrigerator?) I had a really good time trying out for the show and during the day of taping all the contestants had a blast. Everyone except Alex was really nice--until your game was over and you weren't the winner. Then it was, "Come over here and sign for your prize. Then go pick up your change of wardrobe. Do you have a car here or should we call a cab for you?" Don't let the door hit you in your pregnant butt on the way out, ma'am. And Alex--what's the male term for a prima donna? His behavior off-camera was inexcusable. I swear the air changed in the room when he walked in and started yelling at people.

I don't like the new rule that allows amazing people like Ken Jennings to play forever. When I was on the show, we were told that only about 400 contestants per year have the chance to be on. That was with the 5-day-win limit. With no win limit, that makes the annual contestant pool that much smaller, so people like me might not ever have the chance to play the game. But I still listen to the show on my kitchen radio while I do dishes. Maybe someday one of my kids will be a contestant--and I'm still waiting for Mom to try again to qualify. She would rock.

H/T to The Lady in the Pew for the link.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Please Pray

On Friday evening my Secular Franciscan Fraternity will be holding its once-every-three-years election for Council positions.

We do not have a President in the SFO. We have a Minister. "Minister" comes from the root word for "service." That title was no accident. We also have a Vice Minister, Secretary, Treasurer and Formation Director.

Of 22 Fraternity members we have far too many who are, due to various infirmities, unable to serve in this capacity, so the candidate pool is already limited. We have others who are physically able but who are reluctant or scared to serve.

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will be with us during this election process. May our votes be guided so that God's will for the Fraternity may be furthered. And may those who are selected as our Council for the next three years be blessed with the strength, courage, wisdom and whatever else they need to fulfill these roles.

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.

--Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Middle Sister is playing a game with Little Brother, and he's in her face every second. So she's got plenty of opportunity to inspect his facial features.

She just observed, "Mom, Little Brother is growing a UNIBROW!"

I guess I didn't react with sufficient horror and disgust, and offer to take my 4-year-old son to a salon for a brow shaping, because she just shook her head and started muttering something about "creepy" and "evil genius." Obviously a Unibrow will guarantee that Little Brother's only fate will be to become a Cartoon Villain.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Mini Muffins & Baking Spray

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I'm getting ready to make some banana bread--the 6 black bananas in my kitchen are good for nothing else.

When I make a quick bread loaf, I also make a dozen Mini Muffins. They bake in about 15 minutes, and are very kid-friendly--much easier for little hands to handle than a slice of quick bread. A spoonful of batter per muffin cup won't even be missed in your loaf of quick bread.

If you put your Mini Muffin Pan on top of a cookie sheet, it's much easier for you to get the pan in and out of the oven.

And finally, when you spray your pans with baking spray, set the pans on the open dishwasher door instead of your countertop. The overspray will be washed away in your next dishwashing load, instead of making your counters all sticky.

Want the recipe?

Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine these ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed (optional but it adds a great texture!)

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Add 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes at 350. Check center of loaf to make sure it's fully done before removing from oven.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Feast of Saint James the Greater

As a high school student, I read and reread a library book that I think was entitled Mount Joy, though I haven't been successful in verifying that. The story was about a teenage girl (I think a college student) who was interested in medieval studies, and won a scholarship. She used the money for an overseas trip so that she could make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of San Diego de Campostela in northern Spain.

It was an interesting story filled with travel trivia and the background of the cockleshell emblem associated with Saint James. This trip was not a religious one, but I bet that if I were able to locate and reread this book, I'd find that she did reap some spiritual benefits from her pilgrimage. Not like I need any more books, but I just may try to do that.

In the meantime I'll have to make do with the great info I found at Fisheaters about today's feast. H/T to Dappled Things for the link.

UPDATE: YES!! I found it! The author is Daisy Newman. If you can find a copy of this book, I do recommend it.

Blogroll Housekeeping

We interrupt this blog to bring you a special announcement regarding "housekeeping:"

In an effort to streamline things a little around here, and make it easier for me to follow my favorite blogs, I have done a little pruning on the blogroll.

If you're a B-Teamer, you're automatically on that blogroll which I include in its entirety, so I've taken your blog out of the first blogroll. Please don't be insulted. I'm just trying to keep things looking reasonable here.

And ALL blogs I want to follow, if they have a feed set up, have been subscribed in my Bloglines. This way I won't miss anything.

Other tweaks may follow later.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What Kind of Donut am I?

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

Boston Creme. ICK. If that's the only kind left, I WILL pout, because that's the last donut I'd choose. My REAL favorite is a crispy cruller, with cinnamon sugar. Best eaten hot.

Via Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

From Today's Homily

Father H. reminded us of a quote by Mother Teresa today: "It is not success that is important, but our faithfulness."

The whole homily today was a good reminder: don't rest on your success, or what you think is your success. You can always strive to do better at what's really important: being faithful to the Will of God--letting God be your Shepherd.

I remembered a phrase my dad used to say when he was fed up with doing something that wouldn't come out exactly right: "Good enough is good enough." That's one thing when you are painting a wall, washing a window or baking a pie. Total perfection is perhaps not very necessary there. But when you are serving God, serving others--does God deserve any less than your best effort?

Very strange

Last week I read on Happy Catholic that "sorrow is an act of the will, not of feeling."

I was chewing on that all week long, it seems.

Last night I had a very odd dream. At the end, I was sitting at a picnic table with a priest who was my pastor until 4 1/2 years ago, when we changed parishes after a series of events that left us angry, confused and heartbroken. And we felt that the pastor was doing nothing about it, and didn't care.

In my dream last night I told this priest, "I'm still angry." And he answered, "I know." And THEN I said, "I wonder if anger is like sorrow--an act of the will?"

After 4 1/2 years, I think it is. We're back at that parish now, with a different pastor, and that has been very healing to us. But there's still some anger there, obviously. Why do I still hang on to that?

Friday, July 21, 2006


Little Brother has a problem with getting his clothes on properly. Chances are that when he gets dressed, at least one item of clothing will be on backwards.

When I called everyone to dinner he was still wearing his swimsuit from the afternoon's romp in the Slip Slide. I told him to go get a T-shirt. He returned with a golf shirt and struggled his way into it.

After he sat at the table we all started laughing--the shirt was on backwards, collar up. Not conducive to eating, for sure.

Big Brother observed that Little Brother has a problem with tags, and asked him, "Where does the tag belong?"

Little Brother (correctly) replied, "On the INSIDE!"

Those Soldiers Have Faces

Sometimes, with all the news coverage....all war, all the's easy to get overwhelmed by the news, and just kind of disconnect yourself from the whole thing.

But it occurred to me this morning that if you can do that, you're lucky. Not everyone can.

Marthamartha has a heartbreaking piece about a soldier's wife. She's roughing it at home with 6 kids, and trying to keep her soul and sanity in the process by taping Scripture quotes all over the house.

I have a cyber-buddy in Canada whose husband is in the military. He's been in Afghanistan since last fall and expects to return home in 4 weeks. His wife and 3 children can't wait to have him back among them.

The soldiers you see on the news, mostly with their backs to the camera because they're busy doing what soldiers have to do--those soldiers have faces, and families, and wives, and kids, and parents and siblings and friends. They have jobs and dreams. They--and their loved ones--can't turn their backs on the war. For them, it IS all war, all the time.

Please pray today and every day for the members of our military and their families, who are all sacrificing every day so that our country and our world can be free and safe.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Music to My Ears

Middle Sister spent the afternoon at Best Friend's house, and they talked Daddy into letting them have a sleepover here.

When Middle Sister and Best Friend got here, Best Friend was carrying not only her pillow, toothbrush and pajamas, but her violin as well. Apparently they had been practicing music at Best Friend's house all afternoon. Middle Sister has had two years of group keyboard lessons, and Best Friend is in her first year of violin.

The two girls were very proud of themselves for working out a duet of one of the violin pieces, with violin and keyboard.

And I am just thrilled. I'm so glad that my daughter, who isn't the best in the world at practicing, has discovered how fun it is to make music with friends!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

File it under: I Don't Want to Know

Little Brother was playing at my Back-Door Neighbor's house today, with their 2-year-old Cutie Pie.

I had gone home to get some ironing done play on the computer and work on the Jigsaw Puzzle From Hell, and my neighbor called and told me to go to my back window, where I saw:

My 4-year-old son
Wearing his blue camo bathing suit--
Backward, and
Sporting a lime-green bucket hat that practically covered his whole head
And carrying
A miniature broom
And a pair of pink butterfly wings.

Unfortunately my camera doesn't have the kind of zoom lens it would take to get a candid shot of that particular spectacle. It would have been priceless in about 13 years.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Bandage Removal

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Little kids are famous for their need of bandages for "psychological" purposes, on their all-but-invisible wounds. The problem is getting the bandages back off. Sometimes the sticky part is too sticky, or it leaves that nasty "bandage footprint" around the perimeter.

An easy way to get the adhesive off your child's skin is to use a cotton swab or cotton ball, soaked in baby oil. I tell Little Brother that it will "tickle" the bandage right off. So the spot is clean, it didn't hurt AND it smells good.

Works for me!

Go visit Rocks in My Dryer for a list of more great tips!

And here's my family's favorite tip from last week. My husband commented Just Last Night At Dinner, how much he likes this idea.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Oatmeal Wars

Big Brother enjoys oatmeal for breakfast. (How he can eat a hot breakfast in this heat is beyond me...and yes, I'm drinking coffee as I type this...)

This morning he made his bowl of instant oatmeal--2 packets--and naturally Little Brother had to have some too. He'd already eaten breakfast but I made him some anyway. And the two brothers sat at the table and scooped up their oatmeal.

I guess being Little Brother has made him competitive, because before I knew it, he was bragging: "My oatmeal is gooooooooood! Is yours? Nooooooo!"

Yes, this is what we've been reduced to around here: trash-talking about breakfast.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Table Manners, or Lack Thereof

Overheard at the dinner table:

"If I can eat with one chopstick, I am officially awesome."


"OK, a fork is actually 4 chopsticks, so...."

And the ever popular:

"I got pepper juice in my eye!"

Here's the recipe for the dinner that involved said chopsticks:

Hawaiian Chicken (serves 6)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken strips or chunks
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 to 3)
1 T. sesame oil
2 T sesame seeds
4 green onions, chopped (optional)

Flour chicken and saute in a little olive oil. Mix remaining ingredients except green onions. Add to skillet and stir to coat chicken. Cook until sauce thickens.
Serve over rice with pineapple on the side. Garnish with green onions.
We like it with Jasmine rice.

Hopefully, the next time I serve it, some people's manners will have improved. (And for the record, I used two chopsticks to eat my meal.)

Hot, Hot, Hot

It was 101 degrees today in my town. And I am fortunate. I have fans and an air conditioner, so it's only 80 here in my living room. But days like this make me remember one very long, interminably hot summer.

It was 1988 and I was living in the residence for female grad students at Notre Dame. Summer school ran from late June until early August--right through the very hottest part of summer. While the accommodations were very nice for student housing, they were not built for Indiana summers. There was no air conditioning and we were to supply our own fans.

I was clueless. Having just lived through the worst winter I had ever dealt with (my full-length down coat and I were just about inseparable from November through March) I had no idea that in Indiana, the summers are hot. Real hot. And humid! Back home in northern New Jersey they were counting the number of 90-degree-plus days during the summer; in Indiana we were counting 100-degrees-plus!

We were nothing if not creative, though. We'd carry our little fans from place to place in the townhouse and plug them in wherever we were. We kept the curtains drawn on the sunny side of the house during the day. We took several showers a day. It wasn't uncommon for students to answer the question, "How are you?" with "I'm on my 3rd shower today. How about you?" We took walks in the shade around the lakes. We spent time in air-conditioned churches and chapels. And whenever we saw a lawn sprinkler aimed across a sidewalk, we walked really slowly through the cool spray.

Basically, we all lived with it. We groused and griped a little bit, but we survived, and we did it with a sense of humor. I can't speak for anyone else that summer, but I know I also did it with a little thankfulness. I was there to get an education, and I accomplished that goal. Living through that hot, hot summer was just one of the many small sacrifices that were made to get that degree. It was a small price to pay. And it's just a lucky thing that I did this when I was young and clueless enough to just take all that as a matter of course. I think that if I were offered the same chance a few years later, I'd have checked on the creature comforts first--and possibly turned down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Food For Thought

From today's homily:

"The purpose of a prophet is to remind us of the promises we have made."

That really struck me. I had always thought that the purpose of a prophet was to tell what would happen in the future. But prophecy is not necessarily all about prediction. Instead, it's about interpretation: examining what we know, and what we do, and offering an informed opinion on that.

Our pastor, Father D, has given me something to consider this week.

What promises have I made? And how am I doing in my efforts to keep them?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Meme of 5 "What Are You Willing to Do?" Questions

I couldn't resist this one, at Ramblings of a GOP Soccer Mom:

1. Would you be willing to commit perjury in court for a close friend? What if your lie would save his life?

Even if I were willing to do that, there's no way I could pull it off. Let's just say that I was not blessed with the Poker Face.

2. Would you be willing to eat a bowl of live crickets for $40,000?

I don't think I could eat even one bug for any amount of money. I don't even like Gummy Worms. That just CREEPS ME OUT.

3. Would you have one of your fingers surgically removed if it guaranteed immunity from all major diseases?

Do I get to pick which one? I could live without the ring finger or pinky on my right hand. I need all the other ones to play guitar. But wait, I'm going to start organ lessons soon. I'm fairly sure I'll need all my fingers for that.

How about a toe?

4. Would you be willing to give up all television for 5 years if it would induce someone to provide for 1,000 starving children?

Yes. But I think I'd get the shakes every football season without being able to watch Notre Dame play. The rest, I could do without.

5. Would you accept $1 million to leave the country and never set foot in it again?

Not on your life. And there's a limit on the other places I'd be willing to visit. But this is where I want to live.

Doubting Mommy

Of my three, the child I worry about most is Middle Sister. She's 10-wishing-she-were-16, and we are Just So Different that I always feel like I am saying the wrong thing. As with any family, what works with one child doesn't necessarily work with the others, and I don't think I've found the right thing that works with her.

And the big thing here is, she's a girl. She's way more girly than I will ever know how to be. She wants nail polish and makeup and bikini bathing suits. She wants me to do her hair. And unfortunately I failed "Hair and Makeup" early in life. I think when God was giving out the fashion gene, I forgot to get in line, or something. But I worry about her. I worry about teaching her that it's important to be modest, now that she's growing up. (AAACK! She's growing up!) I think that if I do this the wrong way, she'll just think I'm trying to turn her into a fashion dork like I am.

She's a good kid. She loves to try new things. She's very athletic and sociable. She likes art and music but doesn't much like reading. She wants to help me cook and clean the house. She's funny, good company, and very helpful.

I want to make sure that my only girl doesn't feel left out because she's the only girl. I want to give her the skills and faith and everything she needs as she grows into a teenager (AAACK! She'll be a teenager soon!) and I want her to know that even though we don't agree on what clothes are appropriate for a girl of 10, and that even though I probably look like I belong on an episode of "What Not To Wear" (which she loves to watch), and even though I'm not good at doing hair, I love her and I'm proud of her. I want her to grow up healthy and happy and full of faith.

I'm just not sure I have the right tools for the job.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Whirlwind Week, or Why SFO Mom Was Not Made to Live in the Country

My parents invited me, Middle Sister and Little Brother to come visit them while Daddy and Big Brother are camping with the Boy Scouts.

It's always a crazy time when we visit because we live over 100 miles away, so there's always the "pack as much into the visit as you can" mentality. This week was no different.

We left the house on Monday after Middle Sister's Summer Art Camp finished for the day. This way she'd only miss one session of Art Camp. We arrived midafternoon and my parents decided that we should come swim in the pool in the Restricted Living Community they moved to nearly 3 years ago.

They're in one of those senior townhouse-and-condo communities, where you can't have a flag, a gas grill, a clothesline or outdoor Christmas lights. Mom thinks she's countercultural because she refuses to hang a wreath of any type (except evergreen at Christmas) on the front door. I can't believe that my dad, who will not subscribe to E-Z Pass because "then the government will know my driving habits," has consented to live someplace where he can't throw cornhusks to the local deer.

Anyway, after the kids swam with a whole bunch of other people's grandparents, we had some dinner, played some board games, and watched some TV (evening highlight all week long: the Tour de France.)

Tuesday was spent in very pleasant company except for the mosquitos, who unfortunately outnumbered the people about 100 to 1. We drove another 25 miles on windy, hilly, unmarked country roads to visit my sister. We were all attending a cousin's birthday party at the local lake. Thunder marked a premature end to the swimming portion of the party, so we went to our cousin's house for cake. It was Mosquito Hell up there in that neighborhood. I don't know how they all stand it. We had dinner with my sister and her family and enjoyed the sight of 3 deer who roamed the backyard during our meal, watching us and waiting for handouts (which they got). Then, another round of Dodge the Mosquito as we piled into the van to head back to Mom and Dad's before it got too dark to see the unlit landmarks on the unmarked country roads.

I counted no fewer than 21 mosquito bites all over myself. Little Brother only has 4 but he has much less surface area than I do. He thinks he has 4 because he is 4 years old--guess that makes me 21? (I'll take it!)

Yesterday we ran a few errands with Mom and then hung around; it was rainy and we just played games, sat, read, napped and ate. Middle Sister took advantage of the ready supply of clothing and bedding catalogs to "window shop." I spent a few tedious hours reworking a design for my dad so he can make a stained-glass piece for my godfather. (I do not wish to pursue a career in stained-glass design--but he was happy with the result). At dinnertime my brother and his family came over, as did our great-aunt. It was a nice visit.

This morning Mom took us to a local store and got the kids each an outfit. And it was time to go, as I had plans to return to civilization and meet Amy and her little guy Bubba for lunch at a diner.

My sister lives 15 minutes from the nearest gallon of milk. I would go berserk! I live within walking distance of a 7-11, Target, Rite Aid, post office, a few delis, Taco Hell and the future home of Panera Bread. I think I saw a sign for a dollar store coming soon, too!

I miss my family when I'm not there, but they don't live where I grew up. And I wouldn't want to live in either place, to be honest. Here is pretty good for my family, right now. God knew what He was doing when He put us in this spot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Driving Directions

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I keep a pocket folder in my car. Every time we get driving directions to someone's home, we put them in the folder. This way, our directions are always in the car where we need them.

Bonus tip: write down the complete destination address and phone number on the directions!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

To Sleep, Perchance to...

...wake up in the middle of the night at oh, say, 3 AM because you're hungry because you fell asleep 5 minutes before dinner was served and wouldn't wake up?

It's a distinct possibility for Little Brother. We were out late last night celebrating a relative's birthday at a minor league baseball game, and he was up early to say goodbye to Daddy and Big Brother as they left for a week at Boy Scout Camp.

Sometime after I sent him out of the kitchen with a cup of apple juice and without the pepperoni pizza he was asking for, he fell asleep on the couch. When dinner was ready I couldn't wake him up.

Not that I tried very hard. I have learned, during the 4 and 1/3 years that Little Brother's been around, that the precious little sleep he gets is not to be trifled with. If he's woken up before he's ready, it's like Jekyll and Hyde around here. The boy who was voted "Most Affectionate" by the high-school students who run the Play School in town turns into Evil Crabby Monster Boy. It's not pretty.

At this point, I can only hope that he wakes up in an hour or so, enough to eat a frozen waffle or two, get changed and stop in the bathroom--or he'll wake me up at 3 AM to let me know that his bed is wet. And he's hungry. And he won't be ready to go back to sleep then, that's for sure.

Quiz Time!

find your inner PIE @

Your Power Color Is Lime Green

At Your Highest:

You are adventurous, witty, and a visionary.

At Your Lowest:

You feel misunderstood, like you don't fit in.

In Love:

You have a tough exterior, but can be very dedicated.

How You're Attractive:

Your self-awareness and confidence lights up a room.

Your Eternal Question:

"What else do I need in my life?"

(Other than the "How You're Attractive" part I think this one is dead on. And as for the Blueberry Pie, sounds good to me!

H/T to Jean at Catholic Fire for these fun quizzes!

Use Words if Necessary

St. Francis has a famous saying: "Preach the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary."

Today was not the day for words.

Just as our pastor began his homily at the noon Mass today, a woman sitting with her husband near the front of the church began to feel faint. Father saw her keel over and immediately rushed to her pew to see if she was all right, and sent the altar servers to bring her some water and a wet cloth for her forehead. He made a joke about "swooning" to ease her mood a little. A few nearby worshippers quietly aided her as well, and Father started the homily again.

Not two minutes later it was obvious that the woman was in some distress and Father knew that he was needed for another purpose than preaching a homily. He hastily reached for the oil and calmed the woman: "I'm going to anoint you right here." One of the ushers located a cell phone and called for an ambulance.

Everything was quiet except for Father murmuring the words of the Sacrament and some parents whispering words of comfort to their children who were a little upset. After completing the anointing, Father spoke to the whole assembly: "Now we will say a silent prayer for our friend who is ill, that she will be restored quickly to full health and return to our presence soon. Then we will pray the Creed in the silence of our hearts."

There was a little frantic looking-around as everyone was visibly worrying about what was taking so long for the ambulance. Father announced that we would resume the Mass with the Offertory procession and begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As we knelt for the Consecration the ambulance finally came and the attendants wheeled the woman out of church on a stretcher. Someone offered to drive her husband to the hospital.

After Communion Father again asked for prayers for the woman, and observed, "The Lord Jesus Christ had a different homily in mind for today."

Preaching isn't always about words. Today our community took part in a sacrament that is not often celebrated publicly. And I believe that for that moment the community was truly focused on the sacrament being celebrated. Everyone was praying along with the priest for the ill woman. We were not worrying about what we were going to do after church, or what someone else was wearing, or our shopping lists for the week; we were relying on the grace of God to restore one among us to health.

As our second reading said today:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

Grace doesn't always need words. Neither does the Gospel. This afternoon, everyone in the church learned that.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Some Freebies Just Aren't Worth It

There's an expression I've heard often: "If it's for free, it's for me!"

I like freebies too! Who wouldn't? I've managed to score free candy bars, other grocery items (but candy bars are MUCH more fun than laundry detergent), a "looks new to me" used book at the library just for signing up for the summer reading club, a pint of premium ice cream, magazine subscriptions, and a gajillion samples for all kinds of products.

But freebies are not without their drawbacks.

For a while I'd take almost any magazine subscription that came my way, if it was free (well, nothing X-rated...) We were getting Field & Stream, Bicycling, Family Fun and Body & Soul. The first 2 basically got trashed, unread. WASTE OF RESOURCES here....the only ones getting rich are the Postal Service for delivering the copies each month.

Last week I was flipping through a back issue of Body & Soul (AKA Martha Stewart goes Buddhist). I have never seen such a slick, pretty monument to self-indulgence. There were a couple of interesting recipes and skin-care hints here and there, but mostly it's about yoga and pampering yourself (and your pet).

What sent me over the edge was an article in the "Inner Growth" section called "Anger Transformed" by Jennifer Louden. Since the article is not available online I will quote the passage in question. It's part of a sidebar headlined: "Paths to Peace."
Finally, consider a practice my mother-in-law would endorse: the sacrament of confession. I confessed to my hairdresser, Cathy, how I was angry...

Obviously the writers and editors of this magazine have NO idea what a "sacrament" really is. I don't have a beef with the author recommending the sacrament of confession as a strategy for dealing with anger, because through personal experience I have found that it works. My beef is that the author thinks that unloading her emotions on her hairdresser and getting some advice is equivalent to confession to, and absolution through, Christ by means of a priest.

According to Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

sacraments are "instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church,...efficacious signs of grace perceptible to the senses" (q. 224).

I didn't see any mention of "hairdressers" in the Catechism.

Just because it's free doesn't mean it's worth taking. In the case of Body & Soul, I'll skip it in the future. I think my soul will be much safer that way.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cookies I Can't Stop Eating

Thick and chewy chocolate-chip cookie bars are just the thing on a rainy day. (OK, they're just the thing on any day, but in the summer, a rainy day is the only time I want to turn on the oven for 30 minutes!)

Don't let the "bleached flour" in the ingredients scare you. Unbleached, all-purpose flour works just fine. And I added a dash of cinnamon, because I think that cinnamon makes anything with chocolate in it taste even better.

Did I mention I can't stop eating these?

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Refill Day

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This is a little routine I've developed for every Wednesday: Refill Day.

On Wednesdays I go around and refill all the things we use during the week, even if they're not yet empty:
the paper cups in the bathrooms
the jar of dishwasher soap in the kitchen (I buy it in bulk and the container's so big it has to live in the basement)
soap dispensers
my medication/vitamin organizer for the week (which had BETTER be empty by then, or I'm not doing my job right of taking good care of myself!)

I also make sure we have enough supplies such as paper towels, toilet paper, tissues and the like. If not, it goes on the shopping list.

It seems like a little thing, but having a routine to fill up all these items insures that we don't run out when they're immediately needed.

Refill Day works for me!

Click on the logo above to visit the rest of the Works-for-Me Wednesday bloggers!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

God Bless America

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I'm willing to bet you've never sung this song in its entirety. It's a beautiful praise to God for the wonders of our country--and a request that our nation be blessed, not with prosperity, but with generosity, goodness, unselfishness and grace.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

H/T to Jean at Catholic Fire for the image, and to the Boy Scouts of America for the complete lyrics.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Trust Me

Little Brother's favorite new expression is "Trust me!" He sprinkles it indiscriminately through his conversations. "Mom, I like apple juice. TRUST ME!" I think he picked it up from Big Brother.

It's cute when he does it, but trust is a big thing with everyone, not just kids.

We all want to be trusted, and to show ourselves to be trustworthy. We want to be able to trust other people, especially people whom we love or who are in authority over us.

And today, on the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, we remember that Jesus also told his apostles to "trust Me." We are all called to put our trust in God--even though we cannot see him.
"Do not let your heart be troubled;
trust in God, and trust in me.
In my Father's house are many rooms;
if not, I would have told you;
because I am going to prepare a place for you;
and if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and welcome you to myself,
so that where I am you may be also.
And where I am going you know the way."
Thomas says to him, "Lord,
we don't know where you are going;
how can we know the way?"
Jesus says to him, "I am the way and the truth and life;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me, you also would have known my Father.
From now on you know him and have seen him."
Philips says to him, "Lord, show us the Father,
and it is enough for us."
Jesus says to him, "So long have I been with you
and have you not known me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father;
how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father
and the Father is in me?
The sayings which I tell you I do not speak from myself;
but the Father living in me does his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me;
or else believe because of the works themselves.
"Amen, amen, I tell you, whoever believes in me
the works which I do one also will do,
and one will do greater than these,
because I am going to the Father;
and whatever you ask for in my name, this I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified by the son.
If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
"If you love me, keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another intermediary,
so that he may be with you forever, the spirit of truth,
which the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees it nor knows it;
you know it, because it stays with you and will be in you.
"I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you.
A little while and the world no longer sees me,
but you see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will know that I am in the Father
and you are in me and I in you.
"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them,
that one is the one loving me;
and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and will reveal myself to him."
Judas (not Iscariot) says to him,
"Lord, but what has happened that you are
about to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "If someone loves me,
he will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
and the word which you hear is not mine
but the Father's who sent me.
"These things I have spoken to you remaining with you;
and the intermediary, the Holy Spirit
which the Father will send in my name,
that one will teach you everything
and remind you of everything I told you.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled nor timid.
You heard that I told you,
"I will go away and I will return to you."
If you loved me,
you would be glad that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
"And now I have told you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will not speak much longer with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming;
and he has nothing on me,
but so that the world may know that I love the Father,
and as the Father commands, thus I do.
Rise, Let us go from here."

John 14:1-31

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord...

and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

Please keep in your prayers Amy (R.C. Mommy) as she mourns the loss of her grandmother. May she and her family be comforted during this time.

How Old Does a Child Have to be to Get Working Papers?

I just heard a very horrible, loud, pounding, thumping noise. Immediately my heart started pounding and thumping and I went running around the house searching for the source of the noise.

Then I found out it was Big Brother, in the basement, banging on the ductwork for our heating system.

"Please stop that!"


"It's very loud and it's freaking me out! I didn't know what it was!"

"Oh. It's just me. I came down here to get a clean shirt, and I got bored."

He got bored, getting a clean shirt?

I think his chore list is about to double. Obviously he has WAY too much time on his hands.

What he said.

Check out Dale's rant here at To Love, Honor Blog II. Amen to every bit of it.