Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

May 2008 bring you good health and happiness!

Did you make any resolutions?

I am resolving:

1. To exercise (I'd say exercise more, but since I don't exercise at all right now, more would be a big exaggeration.)

2. Not to do certain chores that my Big Kids are old enough to do for themselves: put away their laundry and bus their dishes.

3. To take yesterday's Epistle to heart:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)

That last one is a tall order--even more so than exercising!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Top 100 Movies Meme

RobK at Kyrie Eleison tagged me for this meme.
The Top 100 Movies list can be found here.

The only problem with this meme is that I haven't seen very many movies on the list!

Your favorite five movies that are on the list.
1. The Wizard of Oz
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
3. E.T.
4. The Sound of Music
5. Amadeus

Five movies on the list you didn’t like at all.
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
2. Gone With the Wind
3. Star Wars
4. To Kill a Mockingbird (the book was WAY better)
5. The Graduate

Five movies on the list you haven’t seen but want to.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. West Side Story
3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
4. Rear Window
5. High Noon

Five movies on the list you haven’t seen and have no interest in seeing.
1. The Godfather
2. Jaws
3. Annie Hall
4. Silence of the Lambs
5. Deer Hunter

Your favorite five movies that aren’t on the list.
1. Working Girl
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
3. The Birdcage
4. Young Frankenstein
5. Legally Blonde

Catching Up

Danielle Bean's column at Inside Catholic today is a very true one. Have a look!

I think there's a reason that the Church wants us to remember that Christmas is more than just a day. It's a whole season! It takes us that long to get through it all. And honestly--all that preparation for just one day? I don't think so. Make it last! You can't manage it in 24 hours. You need a whole season--not to pack as much in as possible, but to give yourself time to savor Christmas.

We always need a break after "The Great 3 Days"--Christmas Eve with my in-laws at a huge family reunion (150 mile round trip); Christmas day at home with Grandma and Grandpa for dinner; Day After Christmas with my side of the family (250 mile round trip). By yesterday all of us had "hit the wall." Big Brother needed to get Out Of The House, or more accurately, Away From The Family. Little Brother was bouncing off the walls. Middle Sister was on the phone as continuously as possible. And TheDad and I just wanted to escape into the books we got for Christmas. And I think all of that was just being overwhelmed by all the driving, packing, wrapping, baking, cleaning, visiting, and eating that has been done in the past few days.

So it was good to catch up on laundry and make Middle Sister's birthday cake and have a simple spaghetti dinner and have some time to read one of the books I got for Christmas. (Oh yeah, and dive into that box of candy I got on Christmas Eve). And today it will be good to catch up on grocery shopping and put fresh sheets on the beds, and have a simple dinner of "western omelet" quiche and the rest of that birthday cake, if Little Brother hasn't filched all the "funfetti" off the icing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The presents are unwrapped. Tiny pieces of Little Brother's Christmas treasures are strewed everywhere. Everyone is enjoying their presents and a delicious breakfast (if you haven't tried Denise's cinnamon roll recipe, get things set up so you can have it tomorrow! So good, and so easy. And the freezer thing really works!)

We'll be attending noon Mass and then having our big dinner.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Like a Little Child

Little Brother is 5, and it is a magical age. He can do a lot of things for himself, and he is bound and determined to keep up with any Big Kid around. But his face still lights up with wonder when he sees Santa driving down the street in the fire truck.

I have to remember to savor these moments, even the exasperating ones, and find the charm that he brings to them. Like the way he woke up before 6:00 this morning, got dressed in his very best "elf colors" (red tshirt and green sweatpants, topped off with his favorite blue Pokemon sweatshirt) and came downstairs to get in a little Game Boy time before anyone woke up and confiscated the game.

The other night our whole family attended Big Brother's Boy Scout troop Christmas party. There were some Webelo Scouts visiting for the party, and the Scoutmaster was showing them where to gather for the opening ceremonies. He invited Little Brother and the other little brothers present to join the group too, telling them that they were "Junior Scouts." That Scoutmaster had no idea what he unleashed with that comment. Little Brother has been telling everyone for the past 3 days that he is a Junior Scout. He's been demanding a uniform and full rights to attend all meetings, events and camping trips. If the kid thinks I'm getting him a jackknife he can think again!

During Advent he likes to play with his Playmobil Nativity scene. He told me one day that "These kings were lucky...they got to see the real Baby Jesus."

So in these next few days when Little Brother is extra excited, I hope I can remember that he is only 5, and he is doing just what a 5-year-old boy should be doing--enjoying every minute of a wonderful time of year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Where was this post yesterday when I really needed it?

Let's just say it wasn't a fabulous afternoon around here, and cookie-baking wasn't all sunshine and roses.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Job Well Done

When Little Brother dries the dishes, merely placing the clean things on a clean table is not enough.

It's much more fun to build a plastic fortress.

Ready to Bake

Little Brother is very excited because today is the day we bake the Christmas cookies!

I've got him sorting through my Big Bin of Cookie Cutters (a jug that formerly held a few pounds of pretzels). His job is to find the Christmas cookie cutters.

I get to listen to the running commentary: "A socking*! Is that for Christmas? How about this? What's this? A guitar? Guitars are for summer. Stars are for Christmas! A star for Baby Jesus! And a train, because you can get a train for a present! And what about this one, Mom?" He held up a shamrock. "A lucky!"

*intentionally misspelled because this is how Little Brother pronounces it, and I'm charmed by those cute mispronunciations.

Evangelize Those Christmas Catholics!

Denise reminds us that we should watch our attitudes in the coming days when the churches are full of parishioners who attend only a few times a year.

Being in the choir, I'm not usually in a position to greet, share hymnals, or welcome these parishioners and visitors. However, I have noticed that often, those unfamiliar faces are the ones who venture over to the choir as we are cleaning up the music stands and putting away the hymnals, and compliment us.

If you are a choir member, lector, altar server, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, greeter or usher, make sure you go that extra mile this Christmas. Be reverent, be enthusiastic, be welcoming.

And if you're sitting in a pew, slide over and make room for just one more. You'd slide over if Jesus wanted to sit next to you....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

God Bless You!

Debbie at Ukok's Place has started a round of blessings:

The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a bloggin’ blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to. If you recieve a bloggin’ blessing please leave a comment on this thread so that we can rejoice in just how many blessings have been sent around the world!

I bless Aimee, Sara and Michelle.

I bless Aimee, Sara and Michelle because I can always count on them to keep it real! They are funny, faithful, encouraging and very human. They are able to see the humor in a situation, and not afraid to let their faith shine through.

A Prayer for Aimee, Sara and Michelle…may the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.


and that’s it, nearly…

So, all these 3 now have to do is to:

a) bless 3 blog buddies each.
b) Include the ‘God Bless you’ image in their post.
c) Explain briefly why they are blessing the people they are blessing.
d) pray/include in the post the prayer for the recipients of the blessing.
e)The recipient/sender of a blessing should type in the com box of this very post that a blessing has been sent to them so we can keep track of how many blessings are being given. For easy reference a link to this post will make it into Debbie's sidebar.

Thanks for playing along!

The larger ‘God Bless you’ image can also be sent as an E-Card from Debbie's Credo Christian E-Cards website.

God Bless you!

Thorough (NOT!)

Middle Sister has lost what is, to her, a Very Important Item.

But I think she really wants me to look for it.

Over the weekend I told her that she should empty out her closet (except for hanging clothes) and check through everything.

She produced two bags that she no longer carries, and one plastic bag with a few books and coloring books in it, and said that she had cleaned out the closet. She said "yes" when I asked if she had checked inside all her purses and her old backpack.

This morning when I went to hang things up I saw the messy state of the closet and figured that she hadn't really checked it very well, so I rifled through the backpack and tote bags.

I didn't find the Very Important Item, but I did find the doorknob attachment to the power drill--something every tween girl needs to carry in her tote bag, of course.

Guess what she'll be doing after school today?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Little Brother parked himself at the table yesterday with a box of markers and a stack of letterhead from my dad's accounting business (when they moved, they gave my kids the rest of the stationery to use as scrap paper).

He was very busy writing and drawing and addressing papers to children in his class and to his teachers. He wants to make a picture for everyone (and there are 28 in his class!) He's almost halfway there.

I just rifled through the pile. There are pictures of flowers, snowmen, Christmas trees. And each paper says "I love you" except one, which says "You roock."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Something I want to do every year

Nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit than spending money donated to a "Pollyanna Fund" on a couple of little kids who'll need gifts this year.

Our Secular Franciscan fraternity had $300 to spend, and since I'm the only one with children under 17, I was elected to take charge of the gift selection. SFO Girl's 4 teenage daughters helped me shop.

We filled TWO carts at Target. And we had a great time!

Here's everything, all wrapped up. Yes--The Girls are experts at wrapping and tying curly ribbon.

Ho ho ho!

And they had extra time before they had to go home, so they helped me finish wrapping the gifts I've purchased for the grandparents and cousins. (Sorry, grandparents and cousins. YOUR presents are not pictured here!)

Those Darn Homophones

Middle Sister is sitting at the table with a posterboard, markers and stencils. I thought she was making a project for school, but she said it wasn't homework.

Then she shocked me with the question: "How do you spell heroin?"

I spun around in my chair: "EXCUSE ME?!"

"You know: hero, heroine..."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Pink Candle Sunday!

Time to decorate the tree. But first I have to do the "check every bulb" thing and replace the ones that don't work, and in some cases unwind the entire string from the branches where we left it last year, and redo that section. If TheDad doesn't think the tree looks "X-rayed" when the lights are on, then I have not accomplished my mission. I think there are a dozen strings of lights on the tree.

Little Brother is driving us crazy wanting to unwrap the ornaments now. Middle Sister is going to the movies with a friend, and is a little put out that we said she had to be home by 7:30 so we can do the ornaments. Big Brother is ignoring all the proceedings, having fulfilled his first role of "Beast of Burden" carrying the tree inside. He'll get into it later when it's time to hang things on the highest branches.

I think it's time to put on some Christmas music. Maybe Mannheim Steamroller; maybe Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Something to string lights by.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

No One Sleeps at Sleepovers (especially the parents)

Last night we had Middle Sister's snow-themed birthday party. 6 guests, no sleeping. Highlights of the event included balloon fights, manicures, reheated pizza after midnight, potato chips for breakfast instead of the waffles I cooked, and one broken "globe" from the kitchen ceiling fan, because it's not a party if there's nothing broken.

Remind me again why we feel compelled to clean the house before a party? I have to do it again today! But I think I'm going to have to have some coffee with actual caffeine. It might be the only way to make it through the afternoon.

Cake, anyone?

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Letter I Wish I Could Send

Dear (name withheld)

One day this week I was waiting in line at your workplace. You were assisting a customer and laughing with that customer and others in line about the pastor in our church. You were broadcasting the irreverent behavior that you and your friends display in church, particularly during the Lord's Prayer.

Did you know that Father very deliberately tries to slow down the Lord's Prayer? It's not because he is being ornery. It's because he wants everyone to take the time to listen to each and every word that we are praying. Father has said on more than one occasion that we must not race through the Lord's Prayer--we must savor every word, as that is the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. It's not funny that you and your friends finish "10 seconds before Father" and always wind up laughing.

But what really bothered me is that you think nothing of having these discussions in your workplace. You work in a very public place in town. Everything you say to one customer is overheard by all the other customers who may be there. Please use your interactions with your customers as opportunities to spread good, not to mock or slander others.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I keep a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in my kitchen. Today Jane posted these words that Our Lady spoke to Juan Diego:

"Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."

I put a large white candle in the middle of our Advent wreath today, and we will light it in Mary's honor.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Ugliest Vestment Contest--Bet you can't pick just one!

The voting is beginning at The Crescat's Ugliest Vestment Contest. If you look on the top right of that page, you can go to a link for each of 3 categories: Men's, Women's and "Mitres and More."

I wish it were multiple choice. Some of those things are scary! And the funny titles are not to be missed. My personal favorite in the "Mitres and More" category was #15.

I think the prize should be the opportunity to host a bonfire and burn them all.

H/T to Laura the Crazy Mama for pointing out this contest.

WARNING: Do not attempt to eat or drink anything while viewing the web pages related to this contest. I am not responsible if you spew anything on your computer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Overheard at the Dinner Table

"Little Brother, get your elbow out of your drink!"

"I was trying to get the spaghetti sauce off my elbow."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Does Crayola Know About This Color?

Today Little Brother was coloring with some crayons. He picked up what he thought was a red crayon, but when he colored with it, discovered that it had more of a purplish tone. Not what my little artist was after! "Hey, what color is this," he wondered, inspecting the crayon. "Violent red?"

Slow Down!

This is what I get for doing too much rushing.

My mom is afraid to do any "cyber shopping" but she knows I have no such fears. So I get frequent calls: "Can you find one of these, and get it shipped to me?" Then she waits on the phone while I place the order and writes out a check and mails it.

Last week I ordered something from a certain store so she could give it to one of my nieces.

This week I ordered something from the same store as a gift to one of my kids.

Yesterday I got a tracking number in an email and when I checked on the package, it was set to arrive at Mom's house on Tuesday. I assumed it was my niece's gift. So I emailed Mom that the package was on the way.

I got an email back that she had already received that package on Thursday!

Sure enough, the gift I ordered is also on its way to Mom's house. 125 miles from here. I need it here for Christmas. The site had "helpfully" remembered Mom's shipping address, and I never thought to check on that when I made the second order.


There's going to be a lot of gas and turnpike tolls expended to correct this mistake.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Castiglione's Immaculate Conception with St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua

This morning at Mass, Father discussed why Catholics revere the Blessed Mother. He observed that by doing so, we are actually following the Fourth Commandment: "Honor thy father and thy mother." Mary is truly our Mother, given to his disciple John and to all of us by Jesus just before his death on the cross.

Ave, Maria! Ora pro nobis.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Prayer Request

Nov. 27: Please pray for my friend SFO Girl's daughter N. She had a kidney transplant 2 years ago and today has been admitted to the hospital for a biopsy, as some routine tests showed a possible problem. At this hospital she gets the Best Care Anywhere, so everyone is grateful for that. I'm sure that N's 3 sisters are very worried too, as well as their mom and dad.

SFO Girl has a lot of medical concerns in the family right now, so prayers for her extended family would also be appreciated.

UPDATE: N is still in the hospital. Her body has begun to reject the kidney, despite her very scrupulous care in taking her medicines. She is receiving heavy-duty doses of anti-rejecton medication. SFO Girl said that N is feeling very down and disappointed that this is happening to her. So please keep up the prayers for this brave teenage girl and her whole family.

UPDATE 12/06: N's condition is improving but she is not "back to normal" just yet. Also, the doctors are unable to determine what caused the rejection. They have done several tests to try to figure this out. N's dad and 2 of her sisters joined us for dinner last night. They are hoping that she will be able to come home from the hospital very soon since tomorrow is her birthday. Your continued prayers are much appreciated by her family!

UPDATE 12/07: N is home from the hospital and getting ready to enjoy her favorite birthday cake! She's still got more medicine & procedures to get through, but she's doing much better. Keep on praying!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Get Ready!

The Minor Friar wants you to know that it isn't Christmas we're preparing for during Advent. It's something else altogether.

I didn't know that, but it does make sense. Listen to the readings at Mass--it will all fall into place.

Get ready! "You know not the day nor the hour."

Teacher, When Is Nap Time?

I have come to the conclusion that teaching is mentally exhausting work.

Actually, I knew that, but because my job involves long periods of "unemployment" I tend to forget about it.

I am a homebound instructor for a local school district. This means I work on an "as-needed" basis, and it can be months or even years between jobs. It looks like the job I have right now, which started yesterday, will keep me busy through the end of this school year.

Fortunately this particular job allows me to work during my own kids' school day, so I don't have to worry about child care of juggle schedules with TheDad. And I thoroughly enjoy the one-on-one (or in this case one-on-two, as I have two sisters to teach right now) at the kitchen table.

But I think I might have to go back to caffeinated coffee. Afternoon naps are just not an option! I teach in two-hour blocks--a whole week's worth of lessons in one session. Because there are 4 other tutors to schedule, this is not negotiable. But 2 hours of a single subject all at once really wears me down. No wonder my students get silly after about 90 minutes!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Coolest Christmas TV Website EVER!

Want to know when your favorite Christmas special will be on TV?

Check out It's a Wonderful CHRISTmas for all the details.

Middle Sister was thrilled to find out when "Olive, the Other Reindeer" will be aired. And I found the listing for my favorite "made for TV Christmas movie" which is cheesy as can be, but a good chick-flick nonetheless: "The Christmas List."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Foregone Conclusions

Little Brother is very busy building a battle scene in the family room. He's got a giant tank, an entire air force, and Green Guys vs. Tan Guys all set up.

"Mom, who do you think is going to win?"

"Um....the Green Guys."

"You're right!"

He's obviously got a lot of confidence in his military strategy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent Thoughts

Today in church, Father spoke about how our church was starkly decorated in comparison with the homes in the neighborhood, which are already beautifully glowing. This is because, he said, the Church reminds us that we still have work to do--and that we cannot let empty beauty be a substitute for what is real, true and good.

Father Selvester expands on that same point here. What a wonderful reflection to help set the tone of Advent.

Advent Begins

Little Brother was excited to come downstairs this morning and find our Advent Chain all ready and waiting!

We will get the Advent wreath and the empty Nativity scene set up during the day today.

Once again, a big thank you to the Curt Jester who provides the lovely Advent wreath for any blog. Every week another candle will light up, and the picture will change once Christmas arrives! At no cost to you!

While you're visiting the Curt Jester, check out what he has to say about the meaning of Advent.

And on a more serious note, read Friar Charles' homily for today. Sometimes distractions in church mean that I miss part of the homily. It's nice that we have generous priests on the Internet who share their homilies with all of us. Here's another: Father Tom at A Friar's Life.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

How to Thrill a Child with a Christmastime Birthday

Middle Sister received a letter from the principal of her school yesterday.

"You have been selected to be one of the seven students to light the Christmas trees (in the church attached to the school). You were selected because your birthday falls on or nearest Christmas. Often your birthday celebrations maybe have been overshadowed by Christmas. We would like to honor those who share their birth-date with Our Lord's."

We try hard to make sure Middle Sister gets plenty of "happy birthday" treatment in the middle of Christmas celebrations, as her birthday is the 27th.

I think this celebration at school is a really sweet idea.

Friday, November 30, 2007

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Tonight our Secular Franciscan fraternity honored the 26 deceased members of our group. Usually we commemorate them at a special Mass, but that didn't work out this year. Instead, our minister, who is a permanent deacon, arranged that he would conduct Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament so that we could have Adoration before our ceremony honoring our members.

I had to bring along Middle Sister and Little Brother, as TheDad and Big Brother had just left for a weekend Boy Scout camping trip (tent-camping in December, better them than me!)

It hadn't occurred to me that Little Brother had never attended Adoration before. He looked a little confused when our deacon brought out the monstrance. He wanted to know what the "golden thing" was--was it a birthday present for Jesus?

He knows that when we go to Communion we receive the Body of Christ, so I told him that Deacon D would put the Body of Christ in the monstrance so we could all say some special prayers.

Little Brother can't read too many words yet, but he insisted on opening his hymnal so he could ramble along while we sang "Tantum Ergo."

All in all, it went better than I thought it would. Sometimes kids can handle more than we give them credit for.

The Song in My Head

This comes to you courtesy of Big Brother's mythology teacher (yes, Big Brother is taking a mythology class at school. It's really a neat curriculum she has designed.)

"Did you know that the real name of the 'Can-Can' is Orpheus in the Underworld?"

So, now it's stuck in your head too, because I'm nice that way. Just spreading the agony sharing the joy.

I'm seriously hoping I get rid of this earworm before I head out to my Secular Franciscans meeting, since we'll be having Adoration and Evening Prayer tonight and I'm leading the music.

Time to Prepare

Yes, I am spending time today preparing for a season of preparation. That kind of boggles the mind, but I'm the mom, so it must be done.

Today I am making our annual Advent Chain. I've already located the Advent wreath and the manger scene, and I have them ready to make their appearance on Sunday.

So on my desk right now you will find:
a December calendar so I can plan it all out before making the chain
Pink and purple construction paper (good thing Advent is short this year because there's not too much purple paper. I'll have to make skinny links.)
A big pile of books--lots of important resources:
The Catholic Home
The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living
Catholic Family, Catholic Home
Usborne Christmas activities (the foil crown would be great for St. Lucy!)
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany in the Domestic Church (this book is great and if you don't own one, you really should invest in it. The background information, activities and recipes are fabulous!)

I work a little out of the books and a little out of our own family calendar. We decorate the house in stages and those activities are part of the Advent chain, as well as special treats on St. Nicholas Day and St. Lucia Day. There will be some opportunities for "doing good for others" and some time for just plain fun. I think I enjoy making this Advent chain as much as the kids enjoy the daily activities.

Are you hungry yet?

I guarantee that you will be after you stop over at Building the Ark and see the fabulous collection of Christmas cookie recipes that Jane has put together! There's more than a baker's dozen over there and they all look terrific.

We consider Christmas cookies to be "breakfast of champions." If it's good enough for Santa, it's good enough for us. They're made with milk, eggs, and flour. Nutritious!

My family is very loyal to our own cookie recipe, but that won't stop me from trying some of these others during the rest of the year. They're happy to eat any kind of cookie I bake--except at Christmas, when it must be our traditional cookies.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sad but True

Jesus Gets Expelled

It's a great parody, but the truth behind it is just too sad. And it's one of the reasons why our children do not attend public school.

Yesterday my neighbor The Utz Guy told me that there's a program on local-access cable chastising our local library for removing Christmas references. Haven't seen that for myself, since we don't have cable...but I do know that the library is open until 5 on Christmas Eve. (My family is knee-deep in pierogi by that point in the day).

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mom Logic

"If you go around hitting people with your T-shirt, don't complain when it gets ripped."