Friday, March 31, 2006

Overheard in the living room

While Middle Sister swung around on Daddy's crutches, which are too tall for her even on the lowest setting:

"OW! That was my FOOT!"

"Your bad foot?"

"It is NOW...."

Spicy!

Yesterday I took Little Brother for his very first eye exam. With all his grandparents, both his parents, and one sibling already in glasses, we figure the odds are against him.

He did very well during the examination except for one thing: the eye drops. I'm terrible about those myself; I can't stand having anything put into my eyes; so I sympathize with him.

Later he was telling Big Brother and Middle Sister about the appointment. "...and then the doctor put the red drips in my eyes. I don't like the drips. They gave me spicy eyes!"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Trying to Decide

Which is the less-appealing alternative:
--to have my husband, who is still on crutches with his sprained ankle, be one of only two adults to take a bunch of Boy Scouts on a camping trip to Maryland this weekend,
OR
--to have Big Brother, who is 14 and a great fan of MythBusters, interesting experiments and practical jokes, be home on April Fool's Day?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fearless at Four?

Little Brother was protesting this morning when I told him that he could not watch a particular movie because it might be too scary for him.

Little Brother: "I'm not scared of ANYTHING!"

Me: "Then why won't you go to the bathroom by yourself?"

Little Brother: "Because it's scary!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Welcome to Crutch World

Last night Big Daddy came in from work limping. He has a desk job, so I knew it wasn't a work injury. He suspected a sprained ankle and after dinner I ran to the drug store to get him a brace.

This morning he couldn't put any weight on his foot at all. He had to crawl down the stairs backward, and I ran another errand: to get a pair of crutches so he could go to the emergency room to be treated. There were quite a few things already on my plate today, none of which involved being home or spending extended periods of time hanging around emergency-room waiting areas, and some of which I could not easily cancel, so my father-in-law graciously agreed to chauffer his son to the hospital.

Meanwhile a neighbor scrounged up a walker from another neighbor and brought it over. It turns out that it was a sprain, and Big Daddy now must use the crutches as well as wear an air cast and stay off his foot.

But all the orthopedic equipment that has made its way into our living room has provided endless amusement for the kids. Since the crutches are adjustable, Big Brother has been tweaking the height and testing his prowess with crutches, not to mention planning their future use as pole-vaulting tools (should I invest in that personal X-ray machine now?) All the kids are enjoying the walker, even Little Brother who is shorter than the hand grips. The boys have figured out how to attach Little Brother's favorite toy sword to the walker. Big Brother and Middle Sister hoist themselves up on the hand grips and try to vault over the front of the walker (I definitely need that X-ray machine!) And Little Brother has resorted to faking an injury so he can have a bandage Just Like Daddy.

The upside here is that Little Brother has had a bit of an anatomy lesson, since just yesterday when I picked him up under the arms, he yelled out, "OW! My ankle hurts!" The kid didn't know his ankle from his armpit. I think he's clear on it now, though.

The Catholic Carnival is Up!

And shame on me for not always remembering to link it.

I've fixed that....over in my blogroll I have CATHOLIC CARNIVAL for this week. Each week I'll be updating the link as the new one comes out. There's too much good stuff in there to miss.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gossip

Did you ever notice that gossip is often described in terms usually reserved for food?

We talk about getting the "scoop," or "dishing," and we call a particularly interesting story "juicy."

Saint Francis de Sales believed that gossiping (and judging others) is the worst sin. Perhaps that's because it's Poison.

A Fashion Statement?

Little Brother proudly announced, "Mom! You need to see what Dad did!"

Dad helped him get dressed this morning. He looked fine to me. He had sweat pants, a sweatshirt, socks and sneakers--just fine for a Saturday.

Pulling up his sweatshirt, he gleefully displayed the evidence of what Dad had done: "Look! No T-shirt! Only sweatshirt, over belly!"

Book Review #8 of 2006

Warning: if you like a good novel, this is the kind of book you will stay up Way Too Late reading. The Tenth Circle
The Tenth Circle
is compelling, heartbreaking and very well-written. I've read many books by this author and they never disappoint.


The title of the book is derived from the fact that the mother in the story is a Dante scholar, the father is a graphic novelist whose latest work is on a Dante theme, and the whole family is thrust into a hell, partially of their own making. In this book, as in others by Picoult, nothing is quite as it seems, and there is the trademark twist at the end. I kind of saw this one coming, but I admit that I was looking for it.

Yes, the book is violent; the violence comes from within (rage) and without (rape). The main characters and others have to learn to live with the consequences of both.

Oddly enough, as I was finishing up this book with its many references to Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy


I read this interesting article about high-school kids studying Dante on their own time.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Church--Not Just for Sundays

I remember that when I was around Middle Sister's age (10 or so), sometimes my dad would take us kids to a church in a neighboring town while Mom was at some meeting or other. Dad would have some time to kill, and we'd walk around the neighborhood, visit a park, and at some point wind up in the church.

One of us would ask him, "Are we here for church?"

"No, let's just say hi to God."

That was an amazing idea. You can go into a church, and just visit. You can just let God know you're there, say a prayer, light a candle. Dad would let us walk around a little, look at the statues, kneel down for a moment by the tabernacle.

The church would be quiet. Most of the lights would be out, but it wasn't a spooky darkness. It was kind of comfortable, actually, kind of the way you feel at night when it's dark, and you're nice and warm and sleepy, and you know you're safe. After all, even if the church is nearly dark, and nearly empty, it is still full--because God is there, just waiting for you to come in and say hi.

Garden Planning

Little Brother went to a special assembly at his "play school" yesterday. Since the high school is staging "Little Shop of Horrors" they performed the musical numbers for the little kids in the "play school."

This morning he was telling Middle Sister about the Big Plant that was in the show (he calls it The Plant Show) and how it eats things and says "Feed me!"

Middle Sister interrupted him to ask me, "Why don't we get one of those?"

Me: "It's a Venus Flytrap!" Foolishly, I assumed that this would end the conversation.

Middle Sister: "But we could put it outside in the garden!"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hitler had a big nose

Middle Sister is working on her Biography Oral Report assignment. Her topic is Anne Frank. As part of the report she will have to appear in costume and deliver the report as if it were an autobiography.

She is sitting at the table with her two books and her index cards. I think she's spending more time looking at the pictures than reading the text, though, because she just observed, "Hitler had a big nose."

Me: "I don't think that's an important fact for your report."

Middle Sister: "But he did! Just look at this! And that tiny mustache...it's just freaky!" She displays a book with a full-page photo of a Fuhrer in full rant.

At this point I am pitying the teacher who will have to listen to this report with a straight face. This speech is supposed to be extemporaneous, and that's Not Necessarily A Good Thing when I consider the "facts" Middle Sister might want to include.

Me: "I know what he looked like...."

Middle Sister: "Why? Were you alive then?"

Ch-ch-ch-changes

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

I switched over to Haloscan when I couldn't do any comments through Blogger, to my own or some other blogs. The word verification process has gone ka-flooey (that's a Technical Term).

Unfortunately this switch has caused me to lose any comments that were previously posted. Drat, and double drat! Wish I had known that before I set this up, but I didn't, and I'm not enough of a Computer Genius to figure out how to fix it.

My apologies to those of you whose comments are Lost In Space. I hope this change will make things easier in the future.

Source for Prolife Checks

I recently ordered new checks from Promise Checks. After reading "The Truth on LifeChecks" from the link on The Dignity of Human Life, I wanted to find another source for checks with a prolife message. This company is a Christian company and they state:
"Our family has always been strong supporters of Life. In fact, we have one design based on Psalm 139 that is titled "Sanctity of Life" (also illustrated by Tim Botts). We care deeply about children so we designed another series "Caring for Kids" produced by a Christian mom and daughter (It Takes Two) in Minneapolis. Our most recent additions are WWJD - 4 scenes from different stages in life with verses that tell us What Would Jesus Do?, and "Protect Life" a beautiful photo of a baby in utero."

I was able to add a 2-line message to the check: Right to Life: Self-Evident. Inalienable.

Image hosting by Photobucket


The checks were priced right and shipped quickly. I'm very impressed with this company and happy to recommend them to you.

Continuing on the Nonfiction Kick

My latest read is more nonfiction: Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads: Coping with the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Rule--or Ruin --Your Child's Life
Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads: Coping with the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Rule--or Ruin --Your Child's Life



by Rosalind Wiseman. I'm actually reading her work out of order, which may hamper me a bit in my understanding of this book, but this is the one I came upon first. Basically it deals with the personality conflicts and social pecking order among parents and how that affects their children in school, sports, and other social activities. The parts about personality are fascinating and very true; solutions to the problem, I don't think, are as cut-and-dried as Wiseman makes them out to be, however. It seems to me that a lot of these power structures and pecking orders are so entrenched that there aren't any easy ways around that. I found the "cracking the code" sections much more helpful than anything--it gave a guide to interpretation of certain things people might say or do. Unfortunately, though, most of the ones who hold the power are not going to be the ones reading the book; they won't see a problem because to them, there isn't one.

Wiseman's first book is also in my to-read pile: Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence
Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence

Prayers Work

I want to thank you for your prayers for Father T! I know you know that prayers work, and I received an email this morning that he is gaining weight, using a feeding tube but also eating food, and is preparing to meet with his oncologist to plan future treatment. He still has plenty of fight left.

While you're at prayers, here are some other bloggers' intentions you might want to keep in mind:
Danielle's son

Amy's sister-in-law and her "in-too-big-a-hurry-to-be-born" twins; as well as a healthy rest-of-the-pregnancy for Amy

Darren's special intention

For Little Nicholas and his grieving family

For Ron, who is seeking employment, and all others in the same situation

For Moneybags, who is beginning the road to the priesthood, that his time of discernment and eventual formation and ministry will be blessed

For ukok's and Jean's and Julie's intentions...

Lord, hear our prayer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Friendship, Kindergarten-Style

There's a really sweet little boy in kindergarten at the Big Kids' school. He never sits still, but he is always smiling. Every day he explodes into the lunchroom as if he were shot out of a cannon, and crashes into the Lunch Ladies or Lunch Moms or School Secretary with a giant hug.

He doesn't know my name, but I get a hug nearly every day I'm there. And he is always happy when Little Brother comes to the lunchroom, because he likes to play football with Little Brother at recess.

We have a snack table at lunch where children may purchase snack items like chips, pretzel sticks, fruit snacks, Little Debbies or ice cream bars. Sometimes this little guy has snack money. He comes up to the table, inspects everything and usually buys nothing. Then at the last second he comes back and gets a few pretzel sticks.

Yesterday was no exception--but I saw what happened when he got back to the table with his four pretzels. He handed three to other kids at the table and kept one for himself. Then another classmate said, "Can I have a pretzel?"

He carefully broke his own pretzel in half and shared it with her, with a smile on his face. This boy has more than enough love to go around, and he makes sure he has enough pretzels too.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hindsight is 20/20

Little Brother was watching Big Brother play a computer game and got so excited that he fell right out of his chair. He landed on his elbow and cried big tears, asking for a Band-Aid.

I knew the Band-Aid wouldn't help anything but I got one anyway, for the psychological healing value. After checking his arm, hand and wrist and hoping it was just a bad bump, I hugged him for a bit until he wanted to go do something else.

Later he crawled into a chair with me and I asked him how his elbow is. His answer: "Still bad. I should have used a parashoop when I was falling down."

Praying at NASCAR

On Sunday afternoons our local country radio station plays NASCAR instead of music. Middle Sister and I were on our way home from church as the announcement was made to "Please rise for the prayer."

As I know absolutely nothing about NASCAR, I was surprised by this. "Wow! They pray at NASCAR races!"

Middle Sister had all the answers. "Sure they do. There are a lot of accidents, you know."

Terri Schiavo, R.I.P

Let us pray.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.


A year ago we all watched in horror as Terri Schiavo was slowly starved to death.

In her memory, the Terri Schiavo Foundation continues to work for the rights of the severely disabled, the elderly, and the most vulnerable.

Many in the blog world are remembering the fight to keep Terri alive during this week.

I know that this was an unforgettable time for me. I could not--and can not--understand how a person in a hospital or nursing home could be deliberately starved. I could not--and can not--explain to my older children, who can read newspapers and naturally were curious, how this could happen. I could not--and can not--fathom how I would feel if it were my child, or my sister, being treated in such a manner. Terri was someone's child, someone's sister.

Let us pray. And let us act, to make sure that no one else is ever treated like that again.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm not sure how I ended up with this one

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

You take the title "mad scientist" to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.
And you've invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.
But while you're busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!
"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."


Actually, this is a better description of Big Bother than it is of me.

Via ukok.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pardon Me While I Dump My Brain

I feel like I have been doing a whole lot of nothing lately. It just seems that "the harder I work, the behinder I get." Add to that a few family gatherings, for which the preparation time is twice the length of the gathering, and the cleanup time is equal to it....

But I shouldn't complain. We are all healthy here, and we are all here. I have a "cyber friend" in Canada who is also a mom of 3, and whose husband was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of January. Right now my husband is at work an hour away. Hers is at work half a world away.

Today Little Brother and I took a walk to the post office. Well, I walked. He rode in the wagon. The wagon wheels rumbled along and so did my brain. That's when I realized that what I need right now is to do a Brain Dump. I need to sit with my planner and my papers and my pens, and get a grip on what I need to get done and what I want to write down. I always feel better after I get that kind of thing done--which makes me think I should make a point of Dumping my Brain more often.

So while Little Brother wanders around the house in a homemade cape I just assembled out of an old beach towel and two clothespins, waving a sword made of Tinker Toys and battling imaginary monsters, I'll put on a fresh pot of coffee and get a little Dumping done.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Onward, Christian Soldier

Big Brother received the Sacrament of Confirmation this afternoon. We were graced by the presence of a Monsignor who was proud to return to his hometown to confirm this group of students. Little Brother was intrigued by the colorful attire of the Knights of Columbus, complete with swords and capes. Unfortunately, between the antics of a preschooler a few pews ahead of us who was screaming and hitting his grandmother, and a sound system that poorly amplified Monsignor's homily, and Little Brother requiring two trips to the restroom which meant climbing over three adults each time, I missed a good deal of it.

There's lots of talk about what the best age is for Confirmation. Some schools of thought would schedule the sacrament before First Communion; others reserve it for high-school students. But there's a lot to recommend the second half of the eighth-grade year. Soon Big Brother will leave the relative safety and comfort of a small school (200 students in grades K-8) and move on to a high school with 200 students in his grade alone. He'll be a little fish in a big pond. And when he gets to that big pond he will find a world that is full of new experiences and temptations and possibilities and dangers.

I pray that the grace of the sacrament he received today will go a long way toward helping him get through the challenges he will face as a Catholic teenager in today's world.

Prayer Update

Thank you very much for the prayers for Father T. I have just received word that it's not good news....cancer has returned to his stomach and spread to other organs. He is weak and has lost a great deal of weight. Please continue to pray for Father T and for his family.

Contest Bleg

I'm #9 in the "Meet me in the Laundry Room" contest. My entry is my Franciscan Laundry Room: the outdoor clothesline, where during 3 seasons of the year I get to enjoy the sights, smells and noises of the neighborhood while I do the laundry.

Please visit the site and email your vote by 3/20. Remember, your votes only count if you pick 10 of the 31 entries. NO single-vote emails will be counted. Thanks!

And while you're at it, check out the whole site. There's lots of wisdom to be found there.

Confirmation Day

Today is Big Brother's Confirmation day.

Rehearsals for this event have been in full swing all week, and Big Brother has been griping and groaning about the amount of time spent during these rehearsals on forming processions and things like that. Having spent the past four years as an Altar Server, he knows how to handle a procession and doesn't have much patience for walking up and down the center aisle to practice this.

Last night he came home after practice reporting, "We learned How to Use a Kneeler! It was like a tutorial for Pong."

The Flying Frogs

We recently replaced the "Blues Clues" tub mat that had definitely seen better days. Little Brother picked out a set of 6 frogs that you can stand on in the tub, instead of a mat. He likes to move them around during his bath.

Big Brother thought that the bug-eyes on the frogs were pretty creepy and has been making jokes about that all week.

Last night as Little Brother was having his bath, Middle Sister came into the bathroom to "help him play with his tub toys." (She winds up washing his hair, too, so all I have to do is be around to supervise!) Pretty soon both kids were flinging the frogs all around the tub walls, and she was sticking them to the ceiling above the tub as well. I was listening to them plot: "Won't Big Brother be surprised in the morning when he comes in here to take his shower!" Many giggles later, the frogs were all strategically placed around the tub and the bath was finished.

Sure enough, Big Brother was surprised in the morning! He thought it was very funny--and when I came into the bathroom a little while ago I discovered that he had rearranged the frogs again.

I don't think those frogs will see the bottom of the tub for a long time, but the kids are having great fun with them!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Guess Somebody Was Hungry

I couldn't make stuff up like this: my local paper reported today, in a story too small to rate a link on their webpage, this little gem.

A microwave oven was stolen from one of two homes broken into on Nathan Drive, police said....The oven, worth about $500, was taken from one home, police said. Nothing was taken from the second home.

My guess is that the folks in the second house should check their freezer. Chances are, some Hot Pockets(tm) are missing.

A Very Special Intention

I don't post prayer requests much but this one is really on my heart today.

Father T is a longtime family friend, having grown up with my mother and her siblings. I was in 8th grade, I think, when he was ordained and I was privileged to attend that special event. After I finished my education, he was my first boss: the principal of a Catholic prep high school. Teenagers see right through hypocrisy, and they certainly saw plenty in that setting, but Father T was a wonderful example of faith in action for them--and they knew it. He has a great sense of humor and knows how to tell a story. That quality certainly came in handy when he was a principal, and at school assemblies we'd hear about what to do, or not do, based on the fictional example of "Mary Lasagna." (Yes, he's Italian, and he loves food.)

Father T concelebrated my wedding as well as both my siblings'. He also comforted our family with his presence at my grandmother's funeral. Back to the food thing--at the repast after the funeral he was giving me cooking tips on how to make Greek chicken.

Unfortunately he has not been able to enjoy food for the past several years, as his stomach cancer has progressed. Due to his poor health he has had to retire from full-time ministry but he does priestly work whenever he can. Recently, Father T's health has worsened further, and today he will undergo exploratory surgery. In his weakened condition this surgery is quite risky. He will spend several days in Intensive Care following the operation.

My prayers will be with Father T today and throughout his recuperation. I ask for the strength of your prayers as well.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fixed!

Maybe you didn't know it was broken. I didn't either, until I tried to click on one of my Useful Links over there in the sidebar, and the link didn't work. It took me quite a while to figure out that the site had not ceased to exist, but that the problem was in my template. NO! Not that! ANYTHING but that!

I am really low on the learning curve when it comes to HTML. I don't know my http from my a href--and frankly, I think a href sounds like the sound you make when you are about to "hork up a hairball." (I hope my mom's not reading this, or she'll wonder if the money she and my father invested in my education at a rather exclusive private Catholic high school was worth it. She thought we'd come out more refined, or something.) Anyway, I quiver at the thought of doing stuff to my template, for fear that I'll make the whole blog go "poof!" (YES, "poof" is a technical term. At least it is in my world. Remember, this blog is G-rated, so I can't use some of the other terms that might come to mind.)

I found that the problem seemed to be a punctuation issue, and after I took care of the offending character and Refreshed the page about a gazillion times, it all seems to be in working order. My apologies to anyone who might have been inconvenienced by the bad link. I commented to Big Daddy that it's amazing how much inconvenience a little punctuation mark can cause, and he barely raised an eyebrow. He's a programmer. All this is No Big Deal to him. Hmmm, maybe I should have had him fix it.

Preparedness

Big Daddy has been wanting to talk to me about emergency preparedness. He follows all the political stuff; he's good at it. (I am not good at it or interested in it. I'm good at things like cooking dinner, baking, taking kids to the library--things like that. That's what Division of Labor is all about.)

Since I'm not Good At Politics I did not want to talk about emergency preparedness. I did not want to hear that the government is urging people to be prepared for a pandemic of avian flu. I did not want to fill my basement with canned goods, peanut butter, bottled water and powdered milk. I didn't want to do it for Y2K, or 3 years ago when the whole "duct tape and plastic sheeting" thing hit. And I didn't want to do it now. I had heard nothing about it until Big Daddy brought it up and let's just say I was a bit resistant to the topic. OK, I was very resistant.

Then this morning I was listening to the TV news for the weather report. Usually I turn it off at 7 but my hands were busy, so I left it on, and suddenly Good Morning America is interviewing someone from the Red Cross about preparedness.

And after my school-lunchroom shift I picked up a copy of a magazine I enjoy (All You) and what do I find? A Handy-Dandy Pull-Out-And-Keep Guide entitled: "Be Prepared for Emergencies."

Obviously, Someone is trying to tell me something. Like "Big Daddy is right about this. You should listen to what he has to say."

OK. But do I really have to buy powdered milk? And, more importantly, how many bags of M&Ms per person should be in that disaster kit?

National Prolife T-Shirt Day

Jean at Catholic Fire has a piece about National Prolife T-Shirt Day, scheduled for Tuesday, April 25.

The shirts are available through American Life League and read (FRONT) Help Cure Abortion; (BACK) Abortion: The leading cause of death in America: 1,200,000 every year.

Shirts are only $5. I ordered one for everyone in the family. This is a shirt we will be proud to wear, not only on April 25, but often. Go ahead--be a walking billboard for Life!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Battle Is On!

Little Brother wanted me to play with him. All the games I suggested were not quite right until I said, "How about Dinosaurs V. Army Guys?" He was up for that.

His train table was covered, not with wooden tracks and Thomas the Tank Engine, but in Dinosaurs and an Army Guy base. All the figures were mixed up and/or upside-down. So we sorted them all out. I got the Dinosaurs and he got the Army Guys. As we chose our sides of the table and started setting up for the battle I was treated to a lecture on the "garnades" that his Army Guys have, and which one is the Master Commander (I would have called him a Sniper, but what do I know?) I was also informed that if my Dinosaurs step on his bomb, then they will get bombed. Obviously he has seen too many Looney Toons because "bombed" does not mean "dead"--it just means that for a period lasting not longer than 3 seconds, that figure is out of the battle.

As my mom has been known to say, playing games with Little Brother is like playing "Super Cranko" with the M*A*S*H characters. The rules are subject to change at any time because you make them up as you go along. Of course, the only one who gets to make up any rules is Little Brother, and of course the rules always favor him. What four-year-old would have it any other way?

He did offer to share an Army Guy with me--not a Master Commander, though--and gave me a fighter plane. I think he felt sorry for me, as I only had brute force on my side, while he had tanks, planes, bombs and of course many "garnades." Also, he had "27 health" and every time I knocked down one of his guys, a miraculous resurrection would take place. But my Dinosaurs, once knocked down, were out of the game.

It was a successful battle, though, and at the end he asked me if I liked the Army Guy Team. I told him I did, and that maybe next time we play he could be the Dinosaurs and I'd take the Army Guys. His answer: "I'm going to give you a hug!"

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Transfiguration

When we walked into church this morning we noticed a beautiful statue of Christ Transfigured, standing near a huge stained glass window near the front of the church. The statue was robed in brilliant white. I have never seen this statue before and it truly was dazzling. During the homily Father drew our attention to the statue, and reminded us of what the apostles were told when Jesus asked if they wanted to follow him: "Take up your cross and follow Me."

There was also a discussion of the white robes on the statue and how the white robe is reflected in our baptism and funeral customs. Both of those are times of transformation for the soul. Father concluded that it is very important to listen to the story of the Transfiguration during Lent, because it is a reminder to us that we should be open to the Lord's ability to transform our lives.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Noodles on My Seat

Tonight's dinner was homemade lo mein. All the kids and I like to use chopsticks to eat ours--even Little Brother has to give it a shot.

It's all work and no eat when Little Brother uses chopsticks. Every three minutes he might get a single noodle into his mouth.

Then he observed, "There's noodles on my seat."

Me: "Well, take them off your seat."

Little Brother: "And throw them on the floor?"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Plan Ahead for Your Friday Good Deed

Christine, the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom, noted that Friday, March 10, is the "National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers."

I can't begin to describe how much it disgusts me that someone felt the need to make a Day of Appreciation for people who do this.

Christine suggested that you spend a little time before Friday contacting your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and write a letter explaining how much you appreciate the good work they do!

I'd like to suggest that you take it a step farther than that: call them and ask what supplies they need at this time. Then, deliver them some.

And please, spread the word.

Hairdo To-Do

Like most mothers of daughters, I spend quite a bit of time arguing with Middle Sister about her hair. I figure that at the age of 10 she should be able to comb it herself and manage a basic ponytail. I also expect that she should be able to use a clip or headband to keep her growing-out bangs out of her eyes.

Last night she took a shower, and then I put Little Brother into the tub for his bath. Just as I was getting him dried off, she wandered back into the bathroom with a comb impossibly stuck in her hair, at about chin level.

She and her same-age cousin have been growing their hair with the intention of getting haircuts together and donating their hair to Locks of Love. I think that's a wonderful goal, and I've been subsidizing her conditioner habit so she can have healthy hair to donate to a good cause.

After summoning Big Brother to help Little Brother put on some pajamas, I spent over twenty minutes attempting to disentangle Middle Sister's hair from the comb. I warned her that I might have to cut it. She cried a little, and I wanted to. Finally she asked me how long it would be if I cut it now.

I figured out that it would be just past her shoulders.

"OK then, cut it." She said she was sure. I was relieved, because I didn't think I could get any more hair untangled from that comb.

During the haircut we went from, "It's not so bad!" to "My head feels so light!" She stopped figuring out what kind of story she could make up to tell her friends at school (her favorite was "I lost a bet") and started thinking that her friends would like this haircut so much that they would want haircuts too.

It's still long enough for a small ponytail, and after the haircut I got a big hug. She got a bigger one back.

This morning I took the towel full of seven-inch locks of hair and donated it all to the birds who nest in the big tree in front of our house. Middle Sister approved: "At least somebody will get to use it for a good thing."

It's a good lesson for her and for me: sometimes when you set out on the path to do a good thing, it just doesn't work out. But don't let discouragement get in your way. There's a great country song with these words in the chorus:
"Fight your fight, find your grace,
And all the things you can change
And help somebody if you can--and get right with the Man."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Exasperated Mom-ent

Little Brother has suddenly developed a fear of being in a room alone. This means that he demands company during every bathroom trip.

Just now I lost my patience with the whole thing and shouted, "Why can't you go to the bathroom by yourself?!"

His answer: "Because I love you." And he gave me a little kiss.

Obviously charm in a 4-year-old is a Survival Skill.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Book Review #6 of 2006

This time it's fascinating nonfiction: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl



by Timothy Egan. This book chronicles the Dust Bowl years. My knowledge of this time in our nation's history had largely been limited to what I gleaned from reading Grapes of Wrath
Grapes of Wrath



. Egan's book drew on diaries, newspapers and other primary sources to discover what it was like immediately before and during the Dust Bowl.
It was a time in our country's history--not so long ago--during which many people lived in conditions that I can't even imagine. This book put a human face on the environmental and economic disaster that was the Dust Bowl.

I'm an Iris

HASH(0x91fd68c)
You are an Iris:

You are logical, analytical, dignified, and wise.

You are studious by nature and may prefer

books to people. You tend to be a serious

person but are capable of making others laugh

with your dry sense of humor. Friends always

benefit from your advice.

Symbolism: Over the centuries the iris has come to
symbolize faith, wisdom, hope, and promise in
love.


Which Flower are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via Ukok.

Overcome with Gratitude

This morning when we went to the school lunchroom for our twice-weekly volunteer shift, Little Brother was surprised with gifts from the Lunch Ladies and both School Secretaries. These women have been truly wonderful to him from the very beginning. I've been working on a thank you to them, and I wanted to post it here as well, because it tells how much they have meant to me and my little guy.

Words just fail me when I try to express how generous and loving you have been with Little Brother.

You may or may not know that he considers all of you his “teachers.” You are aware, I know, that he calls St. Peter’s “his school” and I hope you know that you are the reason why.

In the time that he and I have spent in the lunchroom you have made him feel so welcome and comfortable here. He knows that when he comes to St. Peter’s he will encounter your smiling faces, kind hearts and, yes, a lollipop jar.

He looks forward to races after recess, helping with trash cans, carrying a lunch tray and eating with his brother and sister. He enjoys playing “7 Up” and other rainy-day games, helping count things, sneaking into the kindergarten class and visiting with all the students. I know that a preschooler can get in the way of things and you have never been anything but patient with him at those times.

You have shown Little Brother and me the best of what a Catholic school community is all about. We appreciate all your kindness and know that we are truly blessed to have all of you in our school and in our lives.

It's cool to be 4!

Little Brother turns 4 today.

One of the best things about being 4 is that you're not above singing "Happy Birthday" to yourself.

And since this family is half Polish/Lithuanian, we sing "Happy Birthday" in more than one language.

He's spent the past few minutes mutilating the Polish song "Sto Lat."

I don't know how to spell the correct version, though I have learned to sing the song. Little Brother knows the tune but he still mangles the words: "Sto lat, sto lat, gee a, gee a, gee a mom! Sto lat, sto lat, gee a, gee a, gee a mom! Yes, a dot, yes, a dot, gee a, gee a, gee a mom! Yes, gee a mom!"

His enthusiasm makes up for his bad pronunciation. Sto lat, Little Brother!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Time-Out!

This morning at Mass Father compared Lent to a time-out. He was quick to emphasize that he didn't mean to imply that Lent is punishment, because he said that parents putting their children in time-out do so to bring their children out of a situation, and give them something to think about.

He continued that Lent is also quite like a sports time-out, where the players huddle with their coach and get a strategy for the ongoing game. Similarly, we can use Lent to (in his words) "huddle a little closer" to the Lord so that we, too, can improve.

In the first kind of time-out, the intent is to remedy bad behavior. In the second, it is to encourage good behavior. Father concluded that during Lent, we have enough TIME to break a bad habit and start a good one.

Lent's not a time for the Church to punish us. Instead, it is an opportunity.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Organizational Cure

Every so often I find myself craving new planners and books on home organization. Not like I don't have enough of that in my home as it is. I have a huge calendar in the kitchen, the "freebie from church" hanging over my desk, and a very nice planner right here waiting for me to make the most of it. I also have a PDA, and of course there's Microsoft Outlook on this computer. There is also easily more than $100 worth of organizational books around here. Yet I am tempted to purchase more. The only thing holding me back is the certain knowledge that having all of these books, planners, and technological equipment is no guarantee that I will be more organized.

What I need is not organization but discipline. Retail Therapy in the Fashionable Containers to Keep All Your Stuff Section of Target is not going to help me. I am not going to solve any scheduling, clutter or housework problem by purchasing More Stuff. No--I'll just become a slave to My Stuff.

I think that what I need right now is to take a few minutes with my coffee and my planner, and just give myself the gift of quietly making a plan for the rest of the day. And tomorrow morning after my Morning Prayer I'm going to take a few minutes again and do the same thing. Prayer time is a good time to do this, to ask God what I should be devoting my time to on this day.

Maybe all this time I've just been looking for the answers in the wrong place.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lent

Last night I was thinking about Lent, and what I could try to do this year and what I could encourage my kids to do, and I remembered this song from my childhood. This used to be part of the homemade hymnal at Our Lady of the Flower Children:

Less of me

Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me, let me praise a little more
Let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery
Think a little more of others and little less of me

Let me be a little braver when temptations let me waver
Let me strive a little harder to be all that I should be
Let me be a little meeker with a brother that is weaker
Let me think more of my neighbors and a little less of me

Let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery
Let me serve a little better those that I am striving for
Let me be a little meeker to a brother that is weaker
Think a little more of others and a little less of me

I'm not sure of the composer but I think it might be Glen Campbell.

Regardless of who wrote it, it's a good reminder of what we all can do for Lent. I can't help but think that the memory of this song was a gift--a reminder from the Lord of what I can and should be doing.

The other day I read a very worthwhile post in Steven Riddle's blog that compares Lent and New Year's resolutions. Take a look--it's well worth the time and thought.

May this season of Lent be a blessed one.