Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What he said.

I just read what Pius I of Totus Pius has to say about the Barbaro debacle.

We are sickened by the fact that so much money was spent on this horse (we think in excess of a million dollars) when there are people in the world who do not receive basic medical care. And what happened in the end? The horse was euthanized because of his injuries. All that money that could have gone to helping people instead was wasted on a horse.

That horse was kept alive in order to be used. He would either be used as a racehorse, or as a stud. Either way, he was made an object to be used.

The resources wasted on those months of medical care for an animal could have helped so many in real need. For shame.

How Well Do You Know the Baltimore Catechism?

You are a 100% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Make Your Own Quiz

Considering I have never SEEN a copy of the Baltimore Catechism, I'm quite amazed! Obviously the Sisters I had in my middle-school years (my first years in Catholic school) more than did their job. I've been better-catechized than I thought I was (at least for those 3 years). Before and after that, my CCD (before) and Catholic high school and college courses were, shall we say, lacking.

How do I know it was the Sisters? I remember sitting in the religion classroom at St. Bonaventure's School, learning all of this. I never saw any of it in CCD before I went to Catholic school, and it was never heard of again in high school & college.

Via Causa Nostra Laetitiae, who invented this quiz!

Sympathy v. Practicality

Middle Sister's school held a "Teddy Bear Clinic" as part of a Heath Fair today. She informed me a few minutes ago, "Oh, yeah, my teddy bear has one leg shorter than the other. And it's bent." She ran to get the bear to show me his infirmity.

I had a hard time dredging up sympathy for Barbaro, much less for a teddy bear who appears sufficiently cute, soft and cuddly. "He looks fine to me," I answered.

Not good enough. She wants to fix him. My sewing skills stop at Boy Scout merit badge installation, and they're pretty limited in that arena.

I suggested, "Can't you just get him a pair of special shoes to compensate for the one short leg?"

Not good enough. Middle Sister was last seen rummaging in the first-aid supplies.

This is not going to be good.

Airhead Moments

I have gotten so used to Little Brother tagging along with the Big Kids that I tried to register him for school next year without presenting any documents!

Middle Sister brought home her school registration forms on Friday. I filled out the form for bus transportation, wrote out the check, and wrote her name AND Little Brother's name on the registration. I added a little sticky note to the secretary asking for another bus form, as the district requires one bus form per child.

I guess that because Little Brother has always been made welcome in the Big Kids' schools, I just figured everyone knew he was coming.

BZZZZT! Wrong! Thank you for playing!

The secretary sent me the bus form along with a reminder that children registering for kindergarten must present their birth certificate, baptism certificate, and immunization records. You know, those important details.

I'll bring them to the school today when I go to help in the lunchroom. I also have to bring Middle Sister's gym clothes, because when she came downstairs dressed in those this morning, I pointed to the Catholic Schools Week calendar and showed here where it said "Thursday: All students wear gym clothes." Today is Wednesday--so I made her change, despite her arguments that today is the day for the gym clothes. She got to school and the kids were all in gym clothes. (??????)

The people in the school office are probably convinced by now that I am a complete and total airhead. I'll have to see if I can do anything else to confirm their opinion of me.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Having It All Together

Danielle and her commenters are talking today about perfection. Specifically, they're talking about how some moms appear to have it all together, to always look perfect, have perfectly clean, dressed, and well-behaved children, and keep their homes spotless while feeding their non-picky children nutritious meals containing no sugar or artificial coloring.

Hate to burst anyone's bubble here, but THAT'S NOT ME!!!!

This morning Little Brother fondly remembered Christmas morning. It's all a blur to me, since I had the Migraine From Hell on Christmas. I pulled it together enough to play at Mass and get dinner on the table. Apparently, during this time, Little Brother made most of his Christmas meals out of the "Fruit by the Foot" that Santa had left in his stocking. And all this time I thought he was so happy all day because he liked his presents.

I'll rat myself out to you all....
We like Pop-Tarts. (I highly recommend the Chocolate Caramel flavor. Great with coffee. NO, the children do not get coffee. Are you KIDDING?)
I've been ignoring some kind of spill on the foyer floor since Friday. I mopped on Thursday and just have not bothered to deal with it since then. It's not a BIG spill, and it's not slippery.
Any change I find in the washing machine or dryer is mine. It's how I finance my chocolate habit.
As for ironing, I freely admit to only ironing the parts of the school uniform shirt that show (sleeves and collars).
There are fewer "science experiments" in the fridge now that the kids are getting older and eating more. But it's not immaculate, inside or out, by any stretch of the imagination.
I try very hard not to reward temper tantrums with a good consequence. I've gotten quite good at carrying a flailing 4-year-old to his room where he can scream all he wants (with the door shut). I'm also very good at the Broken Record Approach. Children find this cruel and heartless, but it helps me keep my sanity.
I yell plenty. Ask my kids. Ask my husband. I try not to do it, but I do.
And don't tell the kids, but I hide the good chocolate. That's MINE. If you find it, Big Brother, don't automatically assume I'll share it! (You probably already know my hiding places, though.)

I will admit to trying to keep things positive here on the blog. If not positive, I try to see the humor in a situation. Sometimes I hit the jackpot and have both! This has been really helpful to me, since I tend to be very pessimistic. I also overreact. Writing about things here helps me distance myself a little, to get a little perspective, and to think before speaking (typing).

I also try to keep things positive here for another reason. TheDad and I used to watch "Everybody Loves Raymond" together. It was a funny show. But I found myself falling into what I think of as The Debra Trap. She's very prone to rolling her eyes, calling her husband an idiot, and generally showing a lack of respect for him. I don't want to be like that--and if I don't watch it, that's how I behave. Patricia Heaton is someone I admire for her prolife stance, but I don't care for the character she portrayed on that show, and I don't want to become Debra.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I like Mondays.

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one. Certainly, there are enough songs about how bad Mondays are:
"Monday, Monday"
"Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down"
"Just Another Manic Monday"

Maybe I'd feel different about Mondays if I had to leave here and go somewhere else all day. Is that it? Does everyone just dread where they're going so much, that they begin to hate the day?

Mondays, to me, are a fresh start to a new week. They're starting the day with a "trashed from the weekend" house and spending time making visible progress. They're a new page in the planner (I am SUCH a calendar geek). Mondays are full of laundry and full of potential.

I try not to do more housework than necessary on Sundays. I cook and clean up from meals. But unless there's some kind of crisis that affects laundry, or requires immediate vacuuming or mopping, I leave that work until Monday. Sunday is my day of rest in that respect.

But normally I am not overwhelmed on Monday (Thursdays are another story--if I haven't gotten a good head start on the week!) I welcome the day and the chance for a new start at making a warm and cozy home for my family. I welcome the routine, after the weekend's open-endedness--since I can be flexible for just so long before I start to lose my grip--and feel ready to jump back into my familiar world, my home and my family.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"Wish You Were Here" Meme

This has to be THE HARDEST MEME I have ever had to do!

I was tagged by Laura of ...and if not...

Who are the five Catholic (or Christian) bloggers whom you would most like to meet in person, but have not (yet)?

How can I only pick 5? I'll bend the rules a bit and give 2 lists of 5! In "no particular order...."

5 that I have a semi-reasonable chance of meeting, since they live near here or visit near here:

1. Christine, the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom

2. Michelle of Rosetta Stone

3. The Kitchen Madonna

4. Denise, Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church

5. Aimee of The Mother Load

5 that I'd love to meet but probably would never get to:

1. Laura of ...and if not...

2. Sarah of Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering

3. Lisa, sfo of Franciscan Focus

4. ukok of Catholic Convert/ukok's place

5. Sister Mary Martha

And here are the bloggers I've already met! (Do spouses & relatives count?)
1. TheDad

2. Amy (R.C. Mommy)

3. My cousin-in-law Thomas

4. The God of Pixels

If you're named above, consider yourself "tagged!"

Coming Soon to a Trash Can Near Me

Yesterday Little Brother had a treat: a Happy Meal. He was happy. After he ate the burger, he wanted the toy.

It's a character from some show called "CatScratch" which my children will never watch as long as I can help it.

Even Big Brother, who is a normal 15-year-old boy with a normal teenage-boy sense of humor, was grossed out by this toy.

It's a gray plastic cat that makes armpit-fart noises and is posed in armpit-fart position.

I predict the sudden, unexplained disappearance of what Little Brother calls "the Farty Toy."

If anyone asks, I don't know where it is or what happened to it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Changing the Way I Think

I've been trying this lately, and it really works!

It's easy to get bogged down in the little irritations that a day in the family home can bring. And any mom knows that a good part of a mom's day is spent bending over to pick up somebody else's stuff that was left where it doesn't belong.

If the stuff belongs to one of the kids, I usually gather it up into a basket or something and have them deal with it all when they're home from school.

If it's my husband's, I deal with it myself.

But no matter whose it is, I spent way too much energy being irritated by the stuff.

Then I started imagining myself saying "I love you" to the person who belongs to the stuff as I pick it up. It's a great way to bring a smile to my heart, and I stay in a much better mood.

After all, this really is why I do what I do: because I love them!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Welcome News on a Cold Afternoon

An email from Middle Sister's basketball coach:

Tonight's practice is cancelled.

I'm pouring myself a celebratory cup of coffee right now. Then I'm stealing a half hour to read a good book before starting dinner.

My Kitchen Sink View

Here's the view from my kitchen sink. There's been a number of "mom bloggers" posting these lately. Most of them live out in the country, or the woods, and have gorgeous backyard views. I've got the Aging Suburban View--fortunately, because the newer developments around here have houses so close to each other that my back-door neighbor could toss that spice bottle out her kitchen window and right into mine. We've got a little space between houses here, and I appreciate that. There's room in the yard for the swing set and Big Climbing Fort, as well as my large clothesline.

My kitchen faces northeast. Not a lot of sun comes in at this time of year. But I do get to see some beautiful winter sunrises.

After reading what Sarah and Suzanne had posted, I wanted to make some kind of Kitchen Sink Shrine as well. I'm there so much, I may as well do some praying along with the washing and chopping. But my windowsill is soooo narrow--nothing wider than a penny will fit! Then I found this little sculpture, tucked into a corner somewhere else in the house. It was a gift from my husband's aunt, and I have very fond memories of her. It's a little pewter, abstract Mother and Child, with the Child being a luminous marble--I always think of it as "Light of the World."

In honor of my grandmother, who always had a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the kitchen, I hung up a holy card with that picture, that just fits in the spot.

Next to my kitchen sink is the Caffeine Center. Middle Sister received the little statue of the Blessed Mother a couple of years ago. Both hands have broken off, but she's a very pretty little statue. Somehow she wound up in the kitchen and has never left. I want to keep her safe, so she's on a little tray with my sugar bowl, coffee grinder and pen mug. I see her each time I need a little caffeine boost, so I've nicknamed her "Our Lady of the Coffee Break."

Slowly but surely, the kitchen is becoming my shrine. I've got Saint Francis on the refrigerator and Our Lady of Guadalupe on the bulletin board next to the phone. There's a Saint Brigid's Cross on the wall, and a few prayer cards that belonged to my grandmother on the refrigerator as well.


Little Brother just finished getting dressed. He had a little trouble with his jeans--he'd gotten them on backward, and needed my help.

While I helped him turn those around I noticed that his socks didn't match.

"You're wearing two different socks," I told him.

"I know. I didn't know which was which so I wore them both."

Today's Weather Report

Courtesy of Little Brother:

"It's frosty in the sky."

I'd better go fill that bird feeder, then.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Just when you think you have a foolproof plan for Evening Prayer, someone throws you a curveball.

Everybody was busy. TheDad and Little Brother were playing a video game. Middle Sister was at the computer. Big Brother was studying for his history midterm.

I took out my MP3, cued up my favorite Brandenburg Concerto, and opened my book for prayers, in the living room, where no one else was sitting.

Big Brother decided that it would be a good time to put Little Brother's radio-control monster truck through its paces. Since everyone else was in the family room, he needed floor space--so he headed for the living room.

I did my best to ignore the black pickup as it nudged Middle Sister's abandoned lunchbox toward a corner and then unsuccessfully attempted to park under a child-size rocker. The music didn't block out the noise entirely, and only the fact that I've got the "Magnificat" memorized, so I could close my eyes, saved me from losing it completely. Fortunately I finished everything before Big Brother began parallel-parking the truck between the rockers of the large rocking chair.

When it comes to distractions, my kids' creativity knows no bounds. So I guess I am left to thank God that I have children, and that they have imaginations--and know how to use them. They may be distracting sometimes, but they're always a blessing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

To Life!

There have been so many events in the past few days that have led me to focus on the ways people I know have supported the cause of life.

Jill, one of the very first people to comment on my blog has just brought home a Korean baby boy, to adopt into her family.

I received a lovely "thank you" email from a family who requested baby furniture on Freecycle a couple of months ago. I gave them a highchair, a few toys, and some toiletries and coupons for an infant they are caring for as foster parents.

While I was at Mass today, "SFO Girl" (of comment-box fame) and her FOUR adopted teenagers were at the March on Washington, with several other Franciscans including a priest and some Franciscan Volunteers. They called me and left me a message on the answering machine: I could hear the crowd singing "God Bless America."

Sitting in the pews at Mass were several other members of my Franciscan Fraternity, all of whom work hard in the cause of life: one cares for her elderly, ailing mother at home; one volunteers tirelessly at a crisis pregnancy center; every one of them prays hard that the culture of LIFE will pervade our nation.

And then, in the mail, I received a card from one of my roommates from grad school at Notre Dame. Enclosed was a photo of her adopted daughter. I haven't heard from this roommate since my graduation almost 19 years ago.

I am blessed and encouraged by all of these wonderful people and the examples their lives have become.

Prayer Day for Life

Maybe you can't march today. I can't. When all my children are older, I'll be able to do that again--but today, I'll have to be content with other works.

I've gone to Mass and participated in the Monday Novena to the Blessed Mother. The prayers of the faithful today focused on the protection of life from conception to natural death.

I will spend time today making a dent in my overdue correspondence: letters to corporations that fund Planned Parenthood.

The Minor Friar has a suitably Franciscan-flavored post on all that we should keep in our prayers today:
let's take some kind of moment today to pray for forgiveness for all of our complicity in this culture's sins and offenses against the life God gives: abortions, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism, capital punishment, suicides (and all suicides are assisted somehow), child abuse, spousal abuse, racism, the violence induced by drug criminalization, prostitution, pornography, factory farming, and the pollution of our sisters the water and the air.

May God have mercy on us for our part in any of these, and may the Holy Spirit inspire our words and deeds that we may work for a better world in which life is revered.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

To a Child, the Most Important Job

I am lucky, living where I do, to have two neighbors who are at home with their children. We've shared babysitting during emergencies, given rides to auto mechanics and emergency rooms, and are a "community pantry" when someone needs an ingredient in a hurry. It's been great, and we moms have benefited as well as the 7 children between the 3 of us.

One day last year I needed my Next-Door Neighbor to watch Little Brother. It was a "playschool day" for him, and I would be able to pick him up but not drop him off. She was happy to drop him off at playschool, and he was thrilled to ride in her truck. He's talked about it ever since.

Now that playschool has started up again, he's been looking forward to the day when I will need Next-Door Neighbor to give him a ride.

Then Next-Door Neighbor got a part-time job in the cafeteria of the primary school here in town. Both her kids are in school, and this works for her.

But it doesn't work for Little Brother. He asked me yesterday when he could ride to school in the truck again. I had to tell him that Next-Door Neighbor has a job at her daughter's school now, and she's working at the time when he goes to playschool.

He was outraged. "A JOB! She already GOTS a job! In her HOUSE!"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's Snowing!!!!

I should have suspected something was up when there was a rush on the bird feeder this morning. Every sparrow, junco and mourning dove in the neighborhood was fighting for a spot.

Now I can look out the window and see the white, fluffy flakes that even look like they're STICKING to the grass!

Somebody around here has to start jumping up and down, and calling the relatives who live in the "Great White North" and think that we are much too close to the equator here in the Philly area to know about Real Snow. And that somebody has to be me, because the Big Kids are still at school and Little Brother is playing at the neighbor's house.

Yes, a few snowflakes can turn me into a little kid. Although I do have my limits. Just because I like to look at snow doesn't mean I want to get all damp and chilly. I think I'll make a nice cup of tea, and grab one of the scones I baked this morning, and curl up under a thick blanket with a good book. I'll be thankful for the tea, and the scone, and the blanket, and the book, and the SNOW!

UPDATE: It just gets prettier and prettier! Now there's a cardinal on the bird feeder.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Overheard at the Dinner Table

From the "you didn't really want to know" department....

After Middle Sister told us that she learned about the finding of "Lucy" by archaeologists, and that "Lucy" was 40 years old and 3 feet tall (I'm not sure of this, but it's what Middle Sister thinks), Big Brother responded: "There is no way a hominid of that era lived to 40 years."

Enough of the scholarly banter. The conversation then devolved to include:

"Cloning sheep is genius! Think about it. You could have infinite lamb chops."

"If you bought 4 hot pretzels at the school lunch and covered them in mustard, you've got a great lunch for $1.00! It's got bread AND a vegetable!"

"Pepper comes from a special kind of corn called peppercorns."

(I was given permission to write this only if I did not embarrass the owner(s) of the various quotes by identifying them.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Milehimama has started a discussion at her blog about grocery spending.

She wants to know: How much does your family spend on groceries? How do you stay on budget?

This is one of my FAVORITE subjects!

I used to be able to feed us all on much less, before Big Brother became a distance-running teenager and Middle Sister hit a growth spurt. In fact, last January's figures aren't even a good comparison! Also, the Big Kids are bringing lunch to school more than they did last year, when they could buy a FULL MEAL for $2.00 a day, so I'm also spending on lunch stuff like hoagie rolls, tuna and lunch meat.

Right now I am feeding 2 adults and 3 kids ages 15, 11 and almost 5. I just went over the past 3 months and including cleaning and laundry supplies, paper goods, greeting cards and a biweekly bag of birdseed to fill the feeder, I've been spending just under $130 each week. We eat meat for dinner 6 out of 7 nights. You can see my dinner menus here. I think we eat pretty well. Generally, there are no complaints from anyone else, except last night when Middle Sister wondered why I don't serve lamb chops (At $10 a pound, kid, that's a $20 dinner!!!!)

My theory is that, as the homemaker in the house, I should be a good steward of our family's money. TheDad works hard to earn it, and I should work hard to use it wisely. I'm fortunate to have a lot of pantry space in the basement, as well as an upright freezer and extra fridge. Last week my favorite supermarket held a big canned-goods sale. I have enough canned tomato puree and crushed tomatoes to keep us in spaghetti sauce for the next year, and I got it at half price.

I try not to pay full price for anything. I won't buy boneless chicken for more than $2.19 a pound. Same for boneless pork loin. I can get roast beef for $3 a pound on sale, and ground beef for $2 a pound. I had been trying not to spend more than 10 cents an ounce on breakfast cereal, but the prices have gone so high and the coupon values dropped so low that this is nearly an impossible dream. I refuse to buy deodorant, hair care products, "feminine necessities," toothbrushes and toothpaste without a sale and coupon.

I do use coupons and combine them with sales whenever possible. My favorite store doubles coupons up to $1 total value. (I got 12 free cans of Goya beans last week with coupons. That's 3 batches of chili!) My neighbor and I each buy two Sunday newspapers. We clip all the coupons and give each other the ones we don't want for ourselves.

I am guessing that with the kids in their "bottomless pit years" I won't be able to cut the food budget much more than I already have. I'd like to keep it fairly stable if I can, though.

UPDATE: To answer some questions from the combox:
We live in the Philadelphia area, and we have found that food prices are generally a little lower than where we grew up (in the New York area). I know that prices vary around the country.

Do I use dried beans, pasta and rice? No dried beans. I've never had success with those. I make chili, etc. with canned beans (got those freebies the other day!!) I buy pasta when it goes on sale, as much at a time as the store will let me buy (usually 12 or 16 boxes). I buy rice in 20-pound sacks and store it in pretzel containers with tight lids (freebies from my neighbor The Utz Guy. All my rice, flour and sugar are stored in Utz bins.)

Where do I buy meat at such low prices? The supermarket. The local butcher closed a couple of years ago. I used to get ground beef there at $1.69 a pound for 90% and it was fantastic.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Hate Sudoku

I just can't figure out the attraction of the diabolical cube full of numbers.

People who know me, and my Congenital Lack of Math Brain, have assured me that I do not need any Math Talent whatsoever to complete a Sudoku. I have seen other English Majors like myself handily work their way through the things, so I know it can be done.

It's all logic, they say.

I cleaned up on the logic portion of the GRE when I took it 20 years ago. So I should be able to handle the "light and easy" puzzle, the first one in the puzzle book I found in my Christmas stocking and didn't open until tonight.

I only opened it tonight because TheDad was thumbing through it, looking at puzzle #47 or something (arranged in order of difficulty--the higher the number, the more hair you tear out trying to solve the thing, and the more creative you must become in order not to swear in front of the kids). Anyway, there he was, and I could see the gears turning in his Math Brain, and he didn't have a pencil or pen but I knew he could tell just by looking where the numbers would go.

Have I ever mentioned that I have a very competitive nature?

I cracked the spine on that book and got to work. I was moving along nicely (using the dot trick to help my caffeine-deprived-because-it's-after-dinner mind), when I came to a screeching halt because one column has two 4s and another would have two 9s if I filled in that last blank.

Someone pass me a crossword puzzle. Numbers just aren't my thing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary.

It was also the 17th anniversary of the day we met.

We were "set up" on a blind date thanks to Miss B, who was TheDad's neighbor and who worked with my father. A year later, she and her husband gave us a ride from the church to the reception after EVERYONE ELSE left us behind at church! Being inexperienced at the whole Plan-A-Wedding thing, we forgot to arrange that important bit of transportation....

In honor of our special day, we enlisted the help of Big Brother to babysit for a couple of hours so we could dine in style at a fancy but local restaurant. TheDad didn't care for the uncomfortable chairs or our proximity to other diners. I have to give him credit for indulging my taste for restaurants that don't have paper napkins or children's menus, even though we have determined through our customary Anniversary Research Expeditions that price in restaurants is inversely proportionate to the portion size. (One year we ate at a place that was so expensive, I left hungry. And I'm usually full by the end of the soup course!)

TheDad is the nostalgia specialist in our relationship. I'm not good at that stuff, so it's good that he is! He works hard. He loves me, and he loves the kids. He's terrific Tech Support for the family's computers. Who could ask for anything more?

So, to TheDad, I love you! I hope we have many more happy & healthy years! Thanks for putting up with my quirks and even sitting in uncomfortable restaurant chairs. Next year, YOU get to pick the restaurant.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Post-Holiday Distress Syndrome

Middle Sister evidently has a lot in common with one of Danielle's daughters.

Yesterday as I took the last ornaments off our Christmas tree, Middle Sister was very sad. She is the family's Assistant Videographer when TheDad is not at home, and she grabbed the camera, panning my containers full of ornaments, candles and other decorations. Narrating her film, she began: "This is the Saddest Day of the Year. Mom is taking the Christmas tree down."

Weaseling His Way Out Of It

Little Brother had a friend over for a couple of hours this afternoon. It was lots of Little Boy Fun including swordplay, toy cars, Tinker Toys and just about every dinosaur they could find. For a snack they each had a bowl of mini pretzels (that I served them) and they later supplemented that with handfuls of sugar (they served that to themselves!!)

Before the other little boy went home I did have them work on picking up the toys since it looked like a Testosterone Typhoon had hit the family room. They made a significant dent in the mess, but it's still kind of scary in there.

Just now Little Brother asked if he could play on the computer. I told him that he should pick up his knight costumes, swords and other gear first. He did not like that idea.

"My friend made that mess! He took everything out! He should put it back! Can't you just call him and make him put it back?"

Excuses, Excuses

Everyone's a victim. That's not news.

But this item in my local paper is a new one on me:

[Interim Superintendent] Brennan told the audience of about 200 that the students of the affluent district have the disposable income that lures drug dealers.

“Our kids have disposable income. (The drug dealers) target us and we have to take action to protect our kids,” Brennan said.

Some parents expressed concern that there are not enough resources in the district committed to addressing the substance-abuse problem. One wondered if policy changes being proposed by the school board would really change or affect student behavior.

“To the community, I say "what are we doing?' This is an affluent community and hundreds and hundreds of students are victims of their financial state, of divorce and of death and so many things. I'm talking about accountability,” she said. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it. Teenagers living in a town where the median household income tops $90,000, and where the average home sells for way more than $300,000, are victims of their financial state. Scary.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I don't normally mix my blogs, BUT

Head over to my other place and try this recipe for Marinara Sauce. You will not regret it. Remember, Lent's'll be great over some cheese ravioli!

Morning Madness

For some reason, the Big Kids were wide awake and very chatty this morning at breakfast. Usually they grunt their way through the meal.

Big Brother made himself some egg and cheese sandwiches.

Middle Sister: "How do they know there aren't chickens in those eggs?"

Big Brother: "Because they scan them before they put them in the package."

Me: "Grandpa has found chickens in eggs more than once."

Kids: "REALLY?"

Me: "Yes. They used to have a chicken coop in their yard when he was growing up. It was his job to gather the eggs every day."

Middle Sister: "That's so MEAN! Taking a chicken's eggs...."

Big Brother: "I smell a future member of PETA here."

Middle Sister: "What's that?"

Big Brother: "People Eating Tasty Animals."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Going for the Gusto

There's nothing like the kind of enthusiasm a four-year-old can display.

Today we went to the mall to return a defective toy that he'd received for Christmas. After using the resulting store credit to purchase a new light sabre and Knight "costoon," we had a long walk back to the car. But he was so thrilled to have his new armor and weapons, and to know that I had a pocketful of pennies to pitch into the mall fountain, that he ran and jumped and zigzagged all the way.

He's been busy all afternoon, and after I finished helping him build a wall for his family-room fortress, I noticed that it was getting pretty icky under the couch there, and I took out the vacuum with the long attachment. I dragged out the Legos and little cannonballs and vacuumed up the pieces of pretzels and stray twisty-ties from Christmas packages.

He stayed out of the way for a few minutes and then started jumping up and down all over again. "Can I vacuum? Can I help?"

I told him that it would be a big help if he'd do the front stairs (all 5 of them) from the foyer to the living room. He plugged in the little vacuum and got to work, periodically stopping to inspect the job. He told me not to walk down the stairs or he would vacuum my feet. And he showed me how, if the vacuum wouldn't pick up some little bit on its first pass, he could pick it up in his hand and "feed" it to the vacuum. It exasperates me when I have to do that--but he thought it was fun.

I'm glad I have Little Brother around to remind me that it's OK to enjoy the work I do, even though it's pretty mundane stuff. It's a gift--and I should appreciate that gift.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It Never Works the Way You Planned

Yesterday was like a comedy of errors. I had thought that I would do the grocery shopping during Little Brother's school yesterday and go to Adoration on Thursday during schooltime. There's an Adoration Chapel in a nearby church--not our parish, but I figure I can take advantage of the opportunity.

Then I found Big Brother's lunchbox by the front door. I don't usually "rescue" my kids, but I also noticed that TheDad's lunchbox, which he had not put in the kitchen the night before & which contained nothing but a dirty container and silverware, was MISSING from the bench by the door where I'd seen it in the morning. I felt all sorry for Big Brother, thinking he grabbed the wrong lunchbox, so I delivered his lunch to school. Then I took Little Brother shopping since we were already out, took him to school, and headed to the church for Adoration. I figured obviously I was SUPPOSED to be there since all the events were putting me there.

I've been in that church less than 8 times in the 8 years we've lived here. There was a funeral going on, and the sound system pipes everything through the whole building. I found the little chapel and was very confused. Only one little dim light, no Tabernacle, no Jesus, and no other people! There was a statue of Mary and one of the Infant of Prague, and 2 confessionals. Even with my MP3 player on, I couldn't stop hearing the funeral and when they started to wind up I figured I'd better get out or I'd be stuck in the procession and late for Little Brother.

On my way out the door I found the actual Adoration Chapel.

Then later I discovered that Big Brother did not have TheDad's's lunchbox after all--TheDad took it back to work with him!! But Big Brother had money in his pocket so when he discovered that he had no lunch he figured he'd just buy. He got his lunchbox in time to eat that instead.

All was not lost, however, since in the supermarket Little Brother was in rare form. He wasn't being bad, but he was talking and singing nonstop....while I was getting applesauce he was trying to talk me into buying Sesame Street applesauce for Big Brother's lunchbox....then he wanted a flavor of Jello (lemon) that I am quite sure he doesn't like....then he had to spell out every name of every flavor of Ramen noodles....and for several aisles it was "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells on the way!" I kept running into this one lady who was quite entertained by him. Maybe all this happened so we'd wind up meeing her. She had a good laugh, courtesy of Little Brother.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Why 14-Year-Old Boys Should Not Be Parents

Big Brother has a friend visiting. This friend has a younger brother a little older than Little Brother, so he's used to being around small children.

Teenage boys who are used to being around little boys develop interesting strategies for dealing with them.

Friend: "Hey Little Brother, do you want $1.00?"

Little Brother: "Yes!"

Friend: "Go bother Big Brother."

Big Brother: "Little Brother, do you want $2.00?"

Friend: "A bribable child is a controllable child."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Home Improvement for the Soul in 2007

Father J.C. Maximilian has tomorrow's homily up.

A highlight:
Our example, our words, our actions should reflect Christ. Where can you be more like Christ? Which relationship, which habit, which activity in your life needs to be enhanced right now, so you can be more like Him? You know, and the Holy Spirit knows. Ask Him now, during this Mass, when you receive Holy Communion, ask Him to show you what project of home improvement for your soul you should take up, and ask Him to give you the courage to do it. I know that my “soul improvement” list is pretty full. How is yours?

We should be billboards for Jesus' Kingdom. Each of us should be like that star that guided the Magi to Jesus - more people than we realize, people who live right beside us, are searching, and if we let our lives shine in Christ, we will give them true joy.

Read the whole thing

The Catholic Alphabet

Are you ready for the Catholic alphabet meme? I was tagged by Jean at Catholic Fire.

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Fatima & Lourdes are tied.

[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: Jerusalem Bible

[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: love

[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: It's a tie: St. Bonaventure and St. Anthony of Padua

[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: Liturgy of the Hours

[F is for Favorite Hymn]: Regular: How Great Thou Art; Marian: Hail Holy Queen; Franciscan: Canticle of the Sun; Christmas: O Holy Night (no one who knows me thinks I can answer this question with only ONE hymn!)

[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: Luke

[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Gift

[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: When I'm singing

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: In Baptism when I was an infant.

[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?] Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta; St. Maximilian Kolbe

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Easter

[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Blessed Mother

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: The Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55)

[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: Psalms

[P is for Psalms - your favorite] Psalm 150

[Q is for quote - saint quote]: "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." Francis of Assisi

[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries] the Joyful mysteries

[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: St. Anthony

[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Devotion to the Saints.

[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?] Marywood University for undergrad; University of Notre Dame for graduate school

[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: Gentleness

[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: 6th Station--Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.

[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: No.

[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: John Michael Talbot

[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: You definitely have a lot of zeal for the faith if you have made it this far.

Amy the RC Mommy

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Inquiring Moms Want to Know... there a way to make your own Lite Brite refill papers? $4 for an 8-pack is way too much to pay for these little things. Little Brother's Lite Brite came with 2 "blanks" with just some dots on the page, so I hijacked one of those and thought about making some copies. I'm just afraid the paper might scorch.

Little Brother really is enjoying his Lite Brite, which I think is great in many ways: it promotes small-motor muscle use, encourages him to see patterns, to name just two. I'd love to encourage him to use it more if I could figure out how to make the refills affordable.

That's VERY Lady to You, thankyouverymuch

Just for fun!

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Very Lady Sfo Mom the Vehement of Wallop upon Deane
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

And yeah, I tried my full first name, and my nickname, before going to my blog name to find one I REALLY liked (I admit it--it's the "Vehement" part that got me here!)

While I was at it, I had to do the whole family, using our pseudonyms, of course:
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milord Earl Little Brother the Portable of Deepest Throcking
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Empress Middle Sister the Elegant of Lower Wombleshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Sir Big Brother in the Middle of Hopton Goosnargh
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Highness Thedad the Brobdingnagian of Longer Interval
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Via Countess-Palatine Amy Caroline the Blossoming of Menzies on the Minges, otherwise known as Another Catholic Mom.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Catholic Carnival 100

I can't claim any of the posts in this Catholic Carnival--but there's plenty there for you to read and ponder. Great job, Sarah!

Sugar Bowl Pregame Show, Brought to you by SFO Mom

I'm ready for the game! I'm wearing my Official Game Day T-Shirt from the October 28 ND/Navy game--the first ND game in over 10 years that I'd been able to attend. So I'll help in Middle Sister's school lunchroom dressed like the Obnoxious Alumni Fan that I proudly claim to be.

I have to say, I like bowl games that are named after actual dinnerware. Some of these other bowls have such silly names (Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl.) Who heard of such things?! I'd suggest that we get some corporate sponsors to line up and support the Kellogg's CEREAL BOWL, the Campbell's SOUP BOWL, the Corning Ware SERVING BOWL, the Kitchen Aid MIXING BOWL, the Tupperware STORAGE BOWL and maybe even the American Standard TOILET BOWL for the two teams with the worst records in the country.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Fashion Statement Like No Other

Little Brother is wandering around here sporting not one, but TWO light sabres (one red, one blue). He has figured out how to hook them into the waistband of his sweatpants, which are just barely managing to stay up under the weight of the two weapons.

He's also tooting a recorder formerly belonging to Middle Sister, and singing the song from the movie "Madagascar"--"I like to move it, move it."

First Memes for 2007

I found myself tagged for TWO of these here goes.

The Catholic Devotions Meme: I was tagged by Jean at Catholic Fire.

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?
Liturgy of the Hours

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?
The Memorare

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
No. I have a Miraculous Medal on my key ring. But I wear my Tau around my neck, not a medal or scapular. As a Secular Franciscan, this is considered my "habit."

4. Do you have holy water in your home?

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings?

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?
Not as well as I'd like to--but I'll be taking advantage of the opportunity to attend Daily Mass on Mondays and Fridays, so I'll get to participate in the First Friday devotion.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?
Hardly at all. But I think I can find a way to do so.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?
Sunday. No question about it.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
We always say grace as a family before a meal.

10. Favorite Saint(s)? St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Gianna, and of course the Blessed Mother.

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?
No, I always confuse it with the Nicene Creed.

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
Not out loud.

13. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?

The Catholic Movie Meme: I was tagged by Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.

Your Favorite Film?
It has to be "The Blues Brothers." I never get tired of that movie. I know all the lyrics and half the dialogue--it's just a lot of fun.

Your Favorite Film with a Religious theme?
I guess "The Blues Brothers" doesn't count? ("We're on a mission from God.")
I'd have to say "It's a Wonderful Life." Not overtly religious, but it's in the background, and the sacrificial love displayed by George Bailey is inspiring.

Your Favorite Film Priest?
I really liked Jack Lemmon's character in "Mass Appeal." He was stuck in politics and pragmatism, but was able to let in the grace to risk offending someone at the end, in order to stand up for the struggling seminarian. I didn't agree with some of the issues presented in the movie, but this character really did come off as very real, very human, and in his own way, devoted.

Your Favorite Film Nun?
There aren't any that aren't very I'll have to go for the humor angle here. I like the choir director in "Sister Act"--the one who can't sing or direct the choir. She's played by Mary Wickes, and is a real hoot.

Tag: if you want to play, you're tagged--tell me in the combox.

Resolutions for 2007

I'm always reluctant to make resolutions that barely last a week....but it never fails--I go ahead and resolve anyway. (And who knows--maybe one will stick, one of these days.)

1. Get to Daily Mass a couple of times a week. I purposely chose the "afternoon" session of playschool for Little Brother (11:15 to 12:30) so I could take advantage of our parish's 11:45 Mass. Two days a week, this will work. I'd usually use Little Brother's school time to run errands, but this will do me much more good.

2. Get in a little exercise (as opposed to no exercise, which is what I usually get). Unfortunately, hauling laundry up and down the stairs to the basement hasn't undone that extra belly weight I've been hauling around since Little Brother was born. And he'll be 5 soon. Middle Sister has a new basketball hoop for her birthday, and if I spend a little time out there with her, it would be a fun way to get some exercise.

3. Be a little more organized regarding household stuff. Routines and schedules have gone out the window in the past few weeks. A new year gives me a new opportunity to come up with some new routines. I can be perfectionistic to the point that I abandon a system that doesn't fit "exactly right" instead of just getting in there and getting something done.

4. I would also like to treat everyone in my family better. So often our families get the short end of the stick, and we treat strangers better. I'd like to improve on that score, this year.

So there you have it....exciting, hm?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!!

It's so late...or is it so early...and I'm still up!

We went to a friend's house where they had a small party (2 other families besides us and them). There was plenty of food and laughing, especially when the game "Balderdash" was started up. I've never played that one before, and it's lots of fun! After watching the ball drop, we headed outside to watch some fireworks.

Little Brother made it until after 12:30 when he finally curled up in my lap and conked out. He fought sleep for a few hours, like a champ, and was in a remarkably good mood despite how visibly tired he was. I wonder how late he'll sleep this morning....even the Big Kids went right to bed as soon as we got home.

Did anyone else notice that Dick Clark now sounds more like Yakov Smirnoff? I have to give the man a lot of credit for his post-stroke comeback. But the rest of the show? I could have done without it all.

At any rate, it was a nice, low-key night with good people and good conversation. Little Brother was the youngest child by 6 years but he held his own; the Big Kids enjoyed the games and the sparklers; a good time was had by everyone.

May God grant you and your family good health, much happiness and many blessings in this New Year, and may he bring peace to the world. (I know, that last one is a lot to wish for, but if you don't ask, you don't get!)

Books Read in 2007

Books Read in 2007

* READING WEEKLY: Lynn Bowen Walker, Queen of the Castle
* READING SLOWLY: St. Francis de Sales, An Introduction to the Devout Life
* Jan Karon, Home to Holly Springs
* Marian Keyes, Rachel's Holiday
* Richard M. Barry, The Shepherds' Prayer
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling
* Marian Keyes, The Other Side of the Story
* Alice Sebold, The Almost Moon
* Cynthia Lord, Rules
* Marilyn Harris, Lost and Found
* Irene Dische, The Empress of Weehauken
* Jane Porter, Odd Mom Out
* Alice Kuipers, Life on the Refrigerator Door
* Marsha Moyer, Heartbreak Town
* Julie Kenner, California Demon
* Julie Kenner, Demons are Forever
* Marian Keyes, Watermelon
* Virginia Ironside, No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year
* Marian Keyes, Angels
* Jeffrey Kluger, Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio
* Elizabeth Flock, Me and Emma
* Elizabeth Flock, Everything Must Go
* Brian Moore, Catholics
* Gwendolen Gross, The Other Mother
* Jon Hassler, The New Woman
* Anne D. LeClaire, Leaving Eden
* Anne D. LeClaire, Entering Normal
* Kristin Hannah, If You Believe
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down
* Elise Juska, One for Sorrow, Two for Joy
* Anita Diamant, Good Harbor
* Maeve Binchy, Whitethorn Woods
* Karen Quinn, The Ivy Chronicles
* Neta Jackson, The Yada Yada Prayer Group
* Dorothea Benton Frank, Pawleys Island
* Dorothea Benton Frank, Shem Creek
* Marian Keyes, Anybody Out There?
* Melanie Lynne Hauser, Super Mom Saves the World
* Billie Letts, Shoot the Moon
* Judith Levine, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping
* Angela Huth, Land Girls
* Steve & Annette Economides, America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
* Elizabeth Berg, Dream When You're Feeling Blue
* Sarah Bilston, Bed Rest
* Patricia Gaffney, The Saving Graces
* Dina Matos McGreevey, Silent Partner
* Maribeth Fischer, The Life You Longed For
* Amanda Eyre Ward, How to be Lost
* Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
* Jill Conner Browne, God Save the Sweet Potato Queens
* Haven Kimmel, She Got Up Off the Couch
* Haven Kimmel, A Girl Named Zippy
* Anne D. LeClaire, The Lavender Hour
* Jennifer Traig, Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood
* Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck
* Michael D'Antonio, The State Boys Rebellion
* Terri Blackwell, Covenant Child
* Mary Hunt, Live Your Life for Half the Price
* Kim Edwards, The Memory Keeper's Daughter
* Charles Martin, Wrapped in Rain
* Bob Newhart, I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!
* John Grogan, Marley and Me
* Danielle Bean, Mom to Mom, Day to Day
* Annie Jones, The Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas
* Genevieve Kineke, The Authentic Catholic Woman
* John E. Miller, Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder
* Ellie Kay, Shop, Save and Share
* Charles Martin, The Dead Don't Dance
* Barbara Delinsky, Family Tree
* Benedicte Newland & Pascale Smets, And God Invented the Au Pair
* Brian Wansink, Ph.D., Mindless Eating
* Katherine Valentine, Grace Will Lead Me Home
* Mitch Albom, For One More Day
* Charles Martin, When Crickets Cry
* Nancy Moser, The Good Nearby
* Adriana Trigiani, Big Cherry Holler
* Chris Gardiner, The Pursuit of Happyness