Friday, June 29, 2007

Notice to My Children

If I ask you to pick something up or clean something up, and you say any of the following:
"I didn't use it/play with it/take it out/eat it/drink it/spill it/make that mess" or any variant thereof,
steam will start to come out of my ears and I will insist that you not only do the job I just asked you (nicely) to do, but that you do a second chore as well.
I clean up plenty of messes I didn't make, every day.
A word to the wise: just say, "OK, Mom" and do what I ask.

Learning from the Kids

Sometimes our kids set a better example than we do. And it's up to us to learn from that, and to appreciate the gift of their good example as much as we would appreciate the good example of some adult we know and respect.

Last weekend Middle Sister went to a birthday party for her friend. Since it was a swim party, she wore her fake "Crocs." Yes, she has fake ones. So do I and Little Brother. I'm not about to pay upwards of $35 for plastic shoes when I can get knockoffs for $15 or less.

Anyway, on the way home from the party she mentioned that one of the girls there told her, "You're not wearing real Crocs."

Middle Sister's answer was: "So what? I like these."

After she told me about it, and we had a short conversation about that kind of thing being rude, she was done with it. She let it go. She likes her shoes and she's happy with them.

I've been hanging onto this little episode for almost a week, letting the irritation fester inside me.

I think this is one of those times when I need to try to be more like my kid.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


“I shall pass through this world but once.
If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now;
Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Now if only I knew who said it! Google searches turned up sources as various as Etienne Grellet, Mahatma Gandhi, and Marcus Aulerius--an almost 2000-year span.

But no matter who said it, it's a wonderful motto to live by.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kitchen Madonna's Culinary Meme

There's an Open Tag on this one over at the Kitchen Madonna's Apron World!

1. What food does your best friend not like? My best friend is TheDad, and he doesn't like Tuna Casserole (the horror!) I think he watched too many episodes of "Welcome Back, Kotter" as a kid.

2. What is your favorite cookbook? I have over 100 cookbooks. You HAVE to be kidding. I can't pick just one! I really do like the new one our church just published, though I might be a little biased there. I helped type it and I have a bunch of recipes in there.

3. Are you more of a sushi person or a lamb person? Definitely, lamb. I'm pretty good about trying new foods but I like my fish cooked, thankyouverymuch.

4. Given a choice of something fried and salty or something baked and sweet, what would you choose? That depends on what time of the month you're asking me. My diet cravings are directly related to my estrogen level! If it's time for PMS, then I want vinegar and salt potato chips. Otherwise, bring on the cookies.

5. Do you buy whole chickens and boil them and pick the meat off or does that gross you out? Do your children know what a whole chicken looks like or do they think they are made up of four breasts? I buy whole chickens, roast them, serve part at one meal and save the rest of the deboned meat for future casseroles.

6. How do you feel about butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and half and half? You've been watching Paula Deen again, haven't you? That's fine, so have I. They're all great. I can't stand margarine (though I will use it in certain recipes) and there is NO room in my home for fake coffee creamer. It must be an Actual Dairy Product that requires refrigeration.

7. (Skip this question if you are a vegetarian) If you are a carnivore, would you be willing to hunt or butcher your meat? Or to watch someone do that for you or would you rather not think of it? Or are you greatful for the animal who gave its life to sustain your life? Being the squeamish type, who freaked out when I was with my parents in an Irish restaurant and discovered that the trout was served with the head still attached, I'm happy to eat meat as long as it's not looking back at me.

8. What is the most exotic ingredient or spice in your cupboard? The most exotic spice is saffron. The most exotic ingredients are from the local Asian grocery: Thai fish sauce, dehydrated portabella mushrooms, and caramel color--all labeled ONLY in various Asian languages, which I do not read.

A Virtue for Summer

What's the opposite of "judgmental?" I hate the word "tolerant" and all the PC-ness that it implies....

It's summer, and we've been spending some time each hot afternoon at the community pool. While the Big Kids are good swimmers and are off on their own, Little Brother still needs to be watched. He can't swim yet and won't even put his whole head underwater, so he's very happy to play in the water of the Baby Pool and then, after cooling off, put on his shirt and sandals and head to the playground at the back of the fenced-in kids' area.

So I'm watching Little Brother, but I'm also seeing plenty of other people, and there's that nonstop critic in my head that Will.Not.Shut.Up.

I'm wondering what's up with the mother of a young toddler. Mom is wearing large silver bracelets with her swimsuit, and she's talking on her cell phone while helping her little one in and out of the baby pool.

I'm trying to figure out why a little boy who appears to be about 4 years old has obvious highlights done to his hair. Not the "sun-kissed" highlights some kids (including mine) naturally get, and not that strange bleaching where the tips of the hair are bleached but the parts close to the head are the natural color, but actual highlights. Did this little boy ask for that?

I'm mentally ranting and raving about the fact that the lifeguards ignore all bad behavior from kids who are members of the swim team.

Yes, my afternoons at the pool are full of thoughts like these.

I do get some opportunity for good actions, such as handing my first-aid kit to a mom whose preschooler cut her toe, or commiserating with another mom whose nap-deprived toddler is bent on escaping from the baby-pool area and heading for the danger zone of the Big Pool. A couple of years ago, I was in her sandals.

The problem is, I think those good gestures are more than canceled out by the critical commentary going on in my head the whole afternoon.

I hate to swim, but I think I'm going to have to keep going to the pool until I can do so with more kind thoughts.

Monday, June 25, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Queen of the Castle

This is an odd kind of book review, because I haven't even finished reading the book yet! I've been reading it for several weeks now, and have only completed about 5 of the 52 chapters. Yet I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly recommend this book:

Queen of the Castle by Lynn Bowen Walker.

Why am I recommending a book I haven't even finished reading yet? Because I'm not supposed to be done reading it yet! The author has divided the book into 52 chapters, one for each week of the year. Each chapter includes a reflection on the topic at hand (this week's topic is "Chore Time"), tips related to that topic, 2 new vocabulary words, inspirational quotes, and at the end, a Bible quote and a short prayer. I've been reading my weekly chapter each Monday and it is a nice way to set the tone for the week.

BONUS: at the end of each month, there's a "Chocolate Break" with a recipe for a yummy treat. Recipes--and chocolate! My favorite! How can I miss?

I've been enjoying the inspiration, the tips, recipes and reflections. This is a great practical book for moms.

Don't Leave Home Without It!

It was almost time for our grocery-shopping trip, and Middle Sister walked out the front door sporting Little Brother's toy handcuffs dangling from her right wrist. (They're a pretty good, metal pair, that we bought when Big Brother went out for Halloween as Martha Stewart, the Convict.)

I told her that I didn't think handcuffs were appropriate accessories for the supermarket, but then she said that she couldn't get them off.

After she found the key we kept trying, but something appeared to be jammed in there, so I took care of it with my trusty Swiss Army Knife.

It's the right tool for almost every job.

Unfortunately, mine is a little smaller than the one pictured--but it does fit well in my purse.

Little Brother no longer owns handcuffs, though.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Agenda for the Morning

On my agenda for the morning:
Morning Prayer
Coffee (and plenty of it)
Start focaccia bread for our dinner tonight (Cheesesteak Shish Kabobs from Taste of Home Simple and Delicious)
Put away Little Brother's laundry
Set out Little Brother's church clothes while TheDad gives him a bath

NOT on my agenda for the morning, but done anyway:
Pick up some stray matchbox cars in Little Brother's room to avoid stepping on them while putting away laundry
Find a dead worm under the matchbox cars
Lay down the law to a certain 5-year-old boy--"Worms are not Inside Toys."

Friday, June 22, 2007


Middle Sister mentioned at the dinner table that she would like to go bungee jumping.

Big Brother informed her that you probably have to be 18 to do that.

"Stop thinking negative," she told him.

He answered, "There is a difference between negative and rational."

Is Your Child's Catholic School Doing Its Job?

Here's an easy way to tell:

What does your child say when she sees a truck with this logo on it?

If she calls out, "Saint Don BOSCO" then you have a winner!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Puzzle Puzzle

Two Christmases ago, I received this jigsaw puzzle as a gift.

I like jigsaw puzzles but this one is driving me insane. I had it on the coffee table all last summer and got all but the blue background done. All those little tiny images that made up the larger image--very frustrating!

We needed the table for a party so I slid the puzzle onto a posterboard and slipped it under the living room couch, and then forgot all about it. Last week a few pieces started to come loose and I figured it was time to deal with what was under there.

But I just don't know if I can. This puzzle is not a pleasure. It's not relaxing. It's just a frustration--so is it worth it? But there's this obsessive-compulsive part of me that can't let it go until it's finished. I'd rather let it sit there undone than really put it away.

I dragged it out last night, and this morning TheDad saw it all sitting there on the floor. He asked if I was doing the puzzle again and I said I just wasn't sure if I was going to try, or whether I'd just box it back up and work a different puzzle.

He didn't help any when he said, "It defeated you, huh?"

The Queen of Road Rage

Catholic Mom has a post about teens and driving, and some of the dangers they face on the road. (Don't miss the comments box with a great link for anyone who has a teen driver or--like me--will have one soon!)

She also mentions what driving can lead to for anyone:
I found my travels this weekend were a definite challenge to my virtue of patience and constituted a near occasion of sin! Prayer was a necessity.

I was only half-joking when I commented that I wonder if the priest would laugh when I confess to Road Rage.

I don't carry a gun in my car and chase down some other driver who cut me off. I don't change my destination so I can tailgate them for miles, and I absolutely don't roll down my window at the next traffic light so I can give them the "one-finger salute." But I do yell at other drivers from the privacy of my own driver's seat. And I do that often.

I come by this practice honestly: my dad does this too, and always has. He's quite even-tempered until you get him behind the wheel. When I was middle-school age, he had to take me into New York City, during the morning rush hour, so I could be treated for a vision problem. The drive into the city was road rage the whole way.

Do you see where I'm going with this? I grew up listening to my dad loudly unload his frustrations about other drivers. Now my kids are growing up listening to me as I do this.

It's not charitable, and it's not a good example to set for my kids. This is definitely something I need to work on a lot harder.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to Disappoint Your Teenage Son

I was standing on a chair in the kitchen rearranging things on the top shelf of a cabinet where I mainly keep baking supplies. Most of the contents of the other shelves were spread across the kitchen counter.

Big Brother wandered into the room and figured he was in for some kind of treat.

"Mom, what are you making?"


The "Things That Don't Bother Me" Meme

This is a tough one because I am given to ranting. But you already knew that!

Nevertheless, Christine has tagged me for this meme and I like to play along. I liked a lot of her may see some reruns here!

--Books everywhere. I have piles on the couch, on the table, on my desk, on my nightstand, on the floor, in my library bag (which is never quite big enough)--oh yeah, and on the bookcase! I'm reading several of them all at once.

--Guitar masses. I've been a musician at Mass since 1981 and I play the guitar. It CAN be tastefully done, and without music that's full of bad theology.

--Little Brother's Legos that are littering the family room floor. He's busy. He's improving his eye-hand coordination and learning about how to design buildings that aren't top-heavy (as well as some really cool "ships.") He's having fun. Plus, I don't go around the house without shoes.

--Dust. I always hated dusting, and since my sister had terrible asthma as a child, Mom always made ME do it. All those Hummels in the dining room....I've developed the ability not to notice the dust.

--Little kids wearing clothes that don't match. It's part of their charm. I think all moms should be given a roll of stickers that read "I dressed myself today" for those moments when a small child insists on wearing flowered pants, a striped shirt and a ballet tutu, with her rain boots, to the supermarket.

--Hand-me-downs. I'm grateful for all that come our way.

--Ironing. I rather enjoy ironing, actually--especially in the fall, when I try to time this chore for Saturday afternoons so I can watch Notre Dame play football.

--Disco music and other great tunes of the 1970s. I love the 70s station on XM radio. It drives my kids bananas, but I enjoy it thoroughly.

--Underscheduling of children. I live by it! The only activity we have ever "pushed" with any of the kids is Boy Scouting. Otherwise, if they ask about an activity, we consider it. We don't make it our goal to have our kids committed to sports or other activities to the extent that they need their own PDA to keep track of their schedules. They have shown us that they know their own limits, and it did not result in a lazy, uninvolved teenager in Big Brother's case: he's a Boy Scout on his way to Eagle, a member of the Cross-Country and track teams, a member of the Flying Club and the Alternative Activities Club (have fun without drugs or alcohol, plus community service), and helped with Stage Crew this year--all while taking 2 honors classes and staying on the honor roll.

Here's some that Christine had that I want to include:
--Veal. If only it were in the budget more often! YUM!
--Novus Ordo. See above, about the guitar Masses. I was born in 1965. I don't know anything else and that's OK. I'd like to attend a Latin Mass just once, though!
--Walmart. I'm a homemaker on a budget. I have to do the best I can with what I have, and be wise about how I spend the money TheDad works hard to earn.
--Movies and TV. Yes, we watch them. And my inner-7th-grade-boy enjoys the "potty humor" in Shrek just as much as anyone else.

A Beautiful Apron--Anyone Can Win!

The Kitchen Madonna is running a contest--and the prize is this gorgeous apron!

You have until Friday to leave a comment on the Kitchen Madonna's blog explaining who should win this apron and why. It doesn't have to be a blogger--it could be you or someone you know.

This apron has a name: Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) which is an honorary title used for the Blessed Mother. Do you know of someone you'd like to bless with a lovely apron like this one?

Monday, June 18, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Guerrilla Apologetics

If you're Catholic, you should read this book!

Guerrilla Apologetics for Catholics: A Practical Guide for Evangelizing in the Real World was written by Paul E. Nowak and published in 2005. I'm a cradle Catholic but I never thought of myself as being called to defend my faith. That's for other people, I believed--people who are more eloquent, more scholarly, more persuasive than I. I'm just not good in a debate situation.

But the author suggests in the Introduction that you can also challenge those who are challenging your faith--and that's the point of this approach. He stresses that you should be charitable in doing so and that you should be aware of your behavior as it should properly reflect a follower of Christ. A little later in the book, he observes:
The manner in which you conduct yourself and treat others is far more powerful than any argument, however witty and true it is.

The Recommended Resources at the back of the book would be well worth reading and adding to your home library. After all, if you're a parent, your children will very likely ask questions about why their friends of other faiths believe differently than you do. This book has already helped me answer a question or two that Middle Sister has had about some of her Protestant friends' faith.

Visit the blog behind the book!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Father's Day Cards

Boy, it's hard to find a nice Father's Day card that's not overly mushy (not my style OR my dad's) and not full of fart jokes. Amy Caroline has a good post on the subject here. Check it out, and follow the links she has--definitely worth it.

Dads deserve better than most of the cards that are out there, that imply that all dads are smelly, incompetent, lazy, drunk, and stupid--but that we love them anyway.

But I finally found one that was kind of funny, but still honored my dad for all he has done. It has a cartoon guy in a tie on the front, in various strange positions. Inside:
"For all the times you've stood on your head, bent over backwards and gone the extra mile for me, thank you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!" I like it. Hope my dad does, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Table Manners

Hope has this nice post with a list of table manners that she intends to concentrate on with her children.

After tonight's dinner-table debacle in which 4 out of 5 family members lost their appetites midway through one of our favorite meals, I feel compelled to add the following to Hope's list:

* Do not use your straw to chase chicken grease around on your plate.

* Do not load your straw with bits of chicken and use it as a blowgun.

YES, this really happened here tonight. It's going to be a long summer--I can just tell.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Personal Policies Meme

Jean at Catholic Fire has tagged me for the Personal Policies Meme. As far as I can tell, it's for all those little household-type rules that I insist on setting up, and that no one but me ever follows.

With that in mind, my #1 personal policy is:
GET OUT OF MY CHAIR. (My desk chair, at my desk, in front of my laptop.)

A few others:
2. Don't feed the birds in the back of the house. That's where the clothesline is. (Enough said?)

3. Unless you're lactose-intolerant, the Proper Dinner Beverage is ice-cold milk, NOT Dr. Pepper.

4. If you're Little Brother, even though you are lactose-intolerant, Dr. Pepper is not a proper beverage at any time.

5. "Mom always said, don't play ball in the house."

Sights of Summer at Chez SFO Mom

Little Brother, outside, with a full super soaker...aimed at the front door. The front door with a screen to let in the fresh air--and the fresh water.

Feast of Saint Anthony

Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua.

St. Anthony is definitely part of the fabric of my life as a Franciscan. The parish my grandmother attended, where I was part of the fourth generation in my family to attend the same Catholic elementary school, has a shrine to St. Anthony.

The shrine is the little building on the right. I've been in there countless times, generally in the company of my grandmother. I remember feeling that it was like another world in there. Before such things were considered "against fire code" all the candles (and there were many) were real. You lit a candle by picking up one of the long wicks from a holder on the side of the candle stand, lighting the wick from a candle already burning, and then lighting another candle. The little shrine always smelled like wax and flowers. It was cool and quiet, with a dark slate floor. Because of all the candles, there wasn't much need for lighting beyond the flickering votives.

It was just a little building, but there was something about it--something that would make you automatically get quiet when you walked in; as a friend and fellow Franciscan tells fidgety children, "quiet on the outside, quiet on the inside." And I'm not sure how to explain it, except to say that you could almost feel the prayers that had been whispered within those walls.

My grandmother left behind many prayer cards with images of Saint Anthony, and those are mine now. If I had a scanner I'd post some here. Micki's got a pretty one pictured at her site, along with a link explaining St. Anthony's Bread.

Speaking of St. Anthony's Bread, there is a ministry in Providence, Rhode Island that is committed to providing 300 homeless adults with a hot beverage and sandwiches to go, 3 days a week. It's called Bread and Blessings. My uncle is the Franciscan friar who coordinates this ministry. If you feel moved to donate to this program, either for the sandwich fund or for a special fund for blankets, winter boots, or household goods for people transitioning from shelter life to new living opportunities, please email me for contact information.

Visit this link to find novena prayers and other prayers in honor of Saint Anthony.

If you'd like to read a good biography of St. Anthony, I recommend A Rich Young Man by John Beahn. I'm not sure if it's still in print but used copies are available at online booksellers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Enter Danielle's Prolife Raffle!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Enter the raffle to benefit St. Gianna Maternity Home by visiting Danielle Bean's blog! 100% of your donation will go directly to help women and babies in need of your support.

Like many other bloggers and fans of Danielle Bean's work, I have sponsored a prize. All told there are 39 prizes including a Kitchen Madonna apron, subscriptions to Faith and Family magazine and National Catholic Register, books of all kinds, gift certificates to Aquinas and More, Amazon and Adoremus books, handmade rosaries, and lots of other wonderful prizes. But the best prize of all is helping those moms and babies who need a safe place to grow.

UPDATE: There are now 55 super prizes being offered! Check it out!

This raffle ends Monday, June 11 at 9 PM EDT.

UPDATE AGAIN: Wow! Danielle just posted that the grand total raised for St. Gianna's home is over $8300!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Time to Get Political

It's rare, but sometimes I do get political.

Like today, when I received a solicitation in the mail to join "Team Rudy."

No thanks, Rudy. I'm Catholic. I'm not voting for you, and I won't fund your campaign.

Instead, I festooned the postage-paid return envelope with the stickers I just got from American Life League--the ones with the cute babies smiling at you, and the words "Pray to end abortion."

H/T to the Regular Guy for the link. You can get the shirt at American Life League's online store.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What to Wear

Ian has a great story to tell on what happened today, all because he wore a tie to Mass.

Certainly there have been battles waged here about what is to be worn to church. With the boys, it hasn't been bad, because we consider the "golf-shirt-and-khaki-pants" outfit to be generally appropriate. And Little Brother is currently enjoying his vast collection of 5 hand-me-down clip-on ties, so he's actually been wearing a tie every Sunday with his little Oxford shirts, for the past few weeks. (Today was the exception; he had to dress just like TheDad in khakis and a dark green golf shirt).

Middle Sister, though, is a different story. Sometimes she enjoys dressing up for church and I breathe a big sigh of relief. Other times she laments the fact that we don't allow jeans for church unless it's snowing hard outside.

I think, though, that she does get the idea a little. A couple of weeks ago she commented on two different outfits she saw in church that she clearly agreed were inappropriate: a very short miniskirt on an eighth-grade girl, and a boy her age wearing his soccer uniform.

That last one really got to her. "What's up with that, Mom? I mean, if he has a game right after church, why can't he just take his uniform and change in the church bathroom?"

I'm not naive enough to think that our before-church fashion battles are over, but it's nice to see that there is some light at the end of this tunnel. And frankly, I liked how she came up with an easy solution to that pesky problem of how to dress for church when you've got a game immediately afterward.

My answer to those who say, "it doesn't matter what I wear to church because God loves me anyway" would be: "As a teacher I have noticed that children tend to behave according to their mode of dress. If they're dressed nicely, they are more likely to behave better than if they're wearing play clothes. Play clothes mean play time. I suspect that it's no different for adults. Yes, God loves you no matter what you wear because he knows what's in your heart. But Mass is the time to show what's in your heart. Make the effort to show your reverence for God through your words, actions and yes, your clothing." You don't have to look like you're modeling for Vogue or GQ. But you shouldn't look like you're about to play soccer, wash your car, or go surfing, either. Really--would you wear your church clothes to do any of those things?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Was it something I said?

TheDad came home from a 5-day trip to Tech-Ed today, bearing gifts for all: Dr. Seuss t-shirts for the kids, and a coffee mug for me.

(This is not a picture of MY actual mug but it's similar to this one. Same character. Inside, big letters: GRINCH.

Scenes from My Morning

If you drive by my house right now, you will see a little boy standing on the front lawn. He is wearing fighter-jet pajamas, a size or so too big, and camo "crocs." He's waving goodbye to the school bus that's picking up the neighbors' kids, and getting ready to race the bus as far as the driveway next door, which is the limit of his "wander without an adult" range.

Happy Birthday to Danielle!!

Everybody join in making Danielle's birthday wish come true! All she wants for her present is for more people to enter her raffle to benefit St. Gianna's Home, a crisis pregnancy center in North Dakota.

There are 52 fabulous prizes! You've gotta be in it to win it! But the real winners are the moms and babies who benefit from 100% of the money donated.

Deadline is June 12.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

And 8 MORE Things

I've been double-tagged by Laura and Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle (what a nice Polish name she has, don't you think?)

So can you stand 8 MORE things? No? Too bad. You're going to get them anyway.

1. The last playlist I assembled for my MP3 player includes some of my favorite 1980s songs: "Stray Cat Strut," "Love is a Battlefield" and "Walk Like an Egyptian."

2. As a rule, I don't care for remakes. I generally like the original song much better.

3. I also don't like to see any movie when I've already read the book.

4. Given a choice between reading the book and seeing the movie, if I've done neither one, the book ALWAYS wins.

5. I got my latest Netflix pick in the mail today: Legally Blonde. I've rented this one so much I've probably paid for it 5 times over. My plans tonight involve a couch, a pint of Dove Irresistably Raspberry ice cream, and my movie. Because you HAVE to eat something pink while you watch this one!

6. I wear a kids' watch. I bought it for myself because I keep breaking out from the metal on the back of a regular watch. With this one, it not only fits comfortably on my small wrist, but the elastic watchband runs under the back of the watch. Mine has a different band style (a blue and teal design, no flowers) but it's basically the same as this one.

7. The only shoes I have with more than a 1-inch heel are my cowboy boots. They are all black and my favorite shoes EVER. I bought them in the spring of 1995, in a mall shoestore in Atlantic City for less than $10, while waiting between rounds of the Jeopardy tryouts. Yesterday I had to glue the soles back on. TheDad wants to know why I don't just buy new boots--but I'm pretty attached to these!

8. I am a mosquito magnet. If I'm outside after dinner, and I don't wear shoes, socks, and long pants, I will be immediately set upon by a whole swarm of the nasty things. Mostly they get my legs and feet. Bug sprays don't help, and they bother my asthma, so mainly I just spend the summers itching.

I think that by now everyone who has a blog has played this game at least once, so I'll refrain from tagging anyone.

He's Got Rhythm

Little Brother loves music. He loves to dance. It's as if he can't even help himself. When he hears music with a good beat, he has to move.

One of his favorites is the "Cha Cha Slide." He's almost got the whole thing memorized. Last night at Middle Sister's basketball game, he was in the bed of a friend's pickup truck, leading the "Cha Cha Slide" a cappella.

I had to stop him this morning from dancing the "Cha Cha Slide" with a bowl of cereal in one hand.

This kid really makes me smile.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I sit in the middle of the crowd I was in tonight, and feel completely invisible.

Maybe someone will wave at me as they walk in. No one says goodbye when they walk out. Their backs are toward me as they conduct the business of their clique, the power-brokers celebrating their achievements at someone else's expense.

I find myself slowly curling up to make myself even smaller, even more invisible. Because there is no other way to survive those moments.

And when I am back home, it takes the rest of the evening to unfold myself from the emotional fetal position I have assumed in self-defense.

Some things never change.


Little Brother had a prodigiously messy face after eating a huge spaghetti dinner tonight.

Big Brother volunteered to clean him up.

Cleanup implements were not a simple washcloth and water. Oh no! He put swim goggles on Little Brother, took him outside, and started "hosing him down" with a Super Soaker.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Things I Never Thought I'd Have to Say

To Little Brother: "Do not dribble the basketball on your sister's head."

Age has nothing to do with it

So there I am, struggling through a Denise Austin workout show that I taped from TV a while ago. Of COURSE on the first day I am committing myself to exercise it would have to be an "abs" workout. I can do a grand total of 0 crunches.

Little Brother was watching me with interest and concern as I moaned and groaned and talked back to the cheery, smiling, toned and trim person on the TV. He kept up this continuing patter all through the video:

"Do you want to stop, Mom? Do you want to get your drink of water? Do you like this one? Is this a good one? Can you do that one? How come you can't do that one? SHE can do that. Is she older than you?"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A pastry! No, a movie! No, .....

Big Brother is in the middle of some convoluted story about someone at school. He mentioned that the student in question has a "Napoleon complex." Then he offered to define that term for Middle Sister, who he correctly guessed would not know what that meant.

", you know who Napoleon was, right?"

"Napoleon DYNAMITE! Yeah, I know who he is."

Obviously Middle Sister's grasp on popular culture is better than her grasp of world history.

"New And Improved" 4X2 Meme

Jean at Catholic Fire tagged me for this meme.

Here are the rules: Share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. Then share four things you want to try new in the next four years.

--We changed parishes, and the kids all changed schools. We're STILL getting used to all of that and it's been a year.
--Nesco roasters. I own one of each size and they have completely changed the way I cook, not to mention the way I cook for parties! (And they were put to work yesterday in the Franciscan Kitchen!)
--Joining the world of blogging. 4 years ago I had never even heard of a blog, much less thought about writing one.
--This beautiful organ.

--Making and sticking to a regular exercise routine (what's that, you say? Barb's going to exercise? Barb is voluntarily committing herself to some form of physical activity that does not involve cooking and hanging laundry on the line? Has Hell frozen over?)
--Paring down my wardrobe. I honestly do not need all the clothes I own. I could get by on much less. I'd just have to put aside that desire for variety.
--Actually reading all the books I already own--or get rid of what I never intend to read. (But if I've already read it, it's fine for keeping....)
--Learning to play that organ!

Tag--you're it!
The Kitchen Madonna
Jill of Jill's Write Stuff
Ellen "From Across the Net"
Denise, the "Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church"