Thursday, August 30, 2007

I am Bert

Quite true. I am Bert. And I'd bet good money that TheDad would score as Ernie.

Your Score: Bert

You scored 70% Organization, 51% abstract, and 45% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are very organized, both concrete and abstract, and both introverted and extroverted.

Here is why are you Bert.

You are both very organized. You almost always know where your belongings are and you prefer things neat. You may even enjoy cleaning and find it therapeutic. Bert is a big neat freak and gets quite annoyed when Ernie makes a big mess.

You both are sometimes concrete and sometimes abstract thinkers. Bert is probably a bit more concrete in his bottlecap collecting addiction and his love of the weather. He does show his abstract side when he sings and performs his "Doin' The Pidgeon" song. You have a good balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course.

You are both somewhat introverted. Bert is probably more introverted, because he spends most of his time either with Ernie or alone. Still he has no problem being around other people in his role as chairman of "The National Association of 'W' Lovers." Like Bert, you probably like to have some time to yourself, but you do appreciate spending time with your friends, and you aren't scared of social situations.

The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch

Big Bird




Kermit the Frog


Cookie Monster

Guy Smiley

The Count


Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Via Amy. She's Elmo!


A little more than an hour ago, Middle Sister woke me up because her Best Friend, who's here at the beach with us for the week, had a stomachache.

Hmmm, maybe those 2 slices of Sicilian pizza plus a whole tub of cheese fries and a Coke were coming back to haunt her?

Or maybe she just misses her Mom, Dad and brother? Totally understandable.

I don't have any medicine here for upset stomachs, and I don't like to medicate other people's children even if I did. The best I could do was tell her to have some sips of water and try to find a way for her to be comfortable.

After a while she relaxed enough to lie down, curled up around a bucket "just in case." I thought she fell asleep and tried to remove it but she wouldn't let it go. So I tucked her stuffed penguin behind her head and covered her arms and legs with the blanket.

She's asleep.

Middle Sister and I are awake. She's worried about her friend. I'm figuring the worst is over, but the visit might be too.

I'm also not ashamed to admit that I'm glad the worst might be over, since I tend to get queasy myself just thinking about someone else's stomach woes....

Monday, August 27, 2007

We Are Here

This was worth waking up early today! Pardon the reflection. I hope I got a better shot on the "film" camera--yes, some of us still use them. But beautiful sunrises like this are just like a present, in my book. Nothing like starting the day with Morning Prayer in the dark of the porch, my coffee in my hand, and later a view like this.

Middle Sister calls this the Spooky Pier. Little Brother wants to get a Really Big Ladder and climb on it.

The lower porch of this house is where we are staying. The fabulous luxury car in front of the house does NOT belong to us.

However, there is a fabulous car that does not belong to us parked in our driveway. We had a bit of a glitch on the way here. Since we allowed both of the Big Kids to bring a friend on vacation, we needed to take both our cars. 10 minutes into the trip I noticed that the air conditioning in TheDad's Hyundai was not working. 5 minutes later I realized we were on our way to overheating, so I had the girls (who were riding with me) open the windows, and I turned on the heat. We pulled into Cracker Barrel for lunch and to figure out what we would do. Being only 20 minutes from home, we called our regular mechanic and he sent a tow truck for the Hyundai. We also called a car-rental place and the girls and I drove here in style in a Hyundai Santa Fe.

I'm the Designated Driver while on vacation because I'm the only one who can back the Santa Fe and the van into our driveway, and it's really hard to back OUT of the driveway.

TheDad was up way later than me last night, watching videos and playing games with all the Big Kids. When he finally decided it was bedtime, he woke me up to ask what kind of bagel I wanted this morning.


"What kind of bagel do you want in the morning?"

The strangeness of that question in the middle of the night woke me up, and I just stared at him and said, "Do you really think you'll wake up before me tomorrow?" Then I went back to sleep.

He's still not awake. Good thing, too, because I'm still not sure what kind of bagel I want.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Down the Shore

If you need me, I'll be at the beach. Or as we say here in New Jersey, "down the shore."

Except when sleeping or dealing with matters of personal hygiene, I don't intend to take my eyes off the ocean the entire time.

There may or may not be internet access where we're staying. So if not--I'll see you next Saturday! Have a wonderful week!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Prayers requested!

For my friend SFO Girl's father-in-law, Jim, who is having a malignant brain tumor removed today. Timetable has him out of the hospital by Tuesday or earlier! Please pray for Jim, his wife and family, and all his surgeons, doctors, nurses and other caregivers. May God's healing hand be upon Jim. May his wife and family be free of worries and anxiety and be filled with peace and confidence that Jim will be OK. And may his medical team be blessed with accuracy, delicacy, and a healing touch.

UPDATE: The surgery went well, and Jim was awake, talking and hungry (all good signs) less than 12 hours after the surgery began. SFO Girl said that if all goes well, he'll be home in his recliner by Monday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Dignity of Women

In my sidebar you will notice an image like the one above. Clicking on that one will bring you to the site, The Dignity of Women, which commemorates the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem.

Genevieve Kinecke writes:
It is our great joy to learn that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is encouraging the faithful worldwide to observe the 20th anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem in the coming year. This Apostolic Letter (signed August 15th, 1988) was written by John Paul II to encourage women in their vocations, to highlight the essential feminine genius that they provide to the world, and to restore spiritual and physical motherhood to a culture that was quickly losing sight of the very meaning of nuptial love.

The Catholics of North America have been asked in particular to consider the document in light of one overarching theme: The Dignity of Women in a Technological and Consumeristic Society. To that effect, a website has been created in order to provide a comprehensive resource for those looking for ways to reflect on this timely anniversary. will point to books, speakers, study guides, and other initiatives that will bring the beauty of this document to as many people as possible, while constantly integrating suggestions, additions, and a bulletin board of events for women to access over the coming year.

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle mentions a Catholic radio show that also highlights this anniversary.

I look forward to reading this Apostolic Letter for the first time, and reflecting upon it in terms of my own vocation of wife and mother.

Big thanks to Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle for the image and sidebar link!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Love Talking to Rudy Giuliani's Campaigners

I will admit to being a little gleeful when I talk to Rudy Giuliani's campaign crew, who seem to call my house weekly or even more often than that.

They want me and TheDad to send them a sizeable campaign contribution and to pledge to vote for Giuliani in the November election.

Not gonna happen.

As I just informed the campaign worker who called my home just now, I will never vote for Giuliani or any other candidate from any party who supports abortion on demand.

"Well, as you may know, ma'am, Mr. Giuliani supports reasonable restrictions on abortion," I was told.

Michael Gershon's op-ed piece in the Washington Post shows that this assertion by Giuliani's campaign staff is untrue.
Giuliani is not only pro-choice. He has supported embryonic stem cell research and public funding for abortion. He supports the death penalty. He supports "waterboarding" of terror suspects and seems convinced that the conduct of the war on terrorism has been too constrained. Individually, these issues are debatable. Taken together, they are the exact opposite of Catholic teaching, which calls for a "consistent ethic of life" rather than its consistent devaluation.

What Giuliani apparently considers "reasonable," I consider "unconscionable."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Putting 2 and 2 Together

...and coming up with an answer that's no good.

This afternoon I was reading the online bulletin for the parish where our 2 younger kids attend school.

Here's the "letter from the pastor" for this week:
Dear Friends in Christ,
It is mind boggling to think that Jesus came on earth not to establish peace, but division. Were not the angels at Bethlehem crying for peace when Jesus was born that Christmas morning? Was not peace the prayer of Jesus before he ascended to the Father?
There can never be peace if there is division among us. To attain peace and unity, Jesus is calling for a new kind of familiar relationship. It is no longer a relationship based on family ties, but on faith communities and prayer circles. Thus, because we are all Christians under one fold and one Church, everyone becomes a brother and a sister to us.
This can only happen if we follow what Jesus is telling us. Only if we challenge ourselves to see Jesus in others. Only if we treat others just like the way Jesus is treating us.
Incidentally, I would like to inform you that in accordance with Diocesan guidelines, we have appointed a committee to search for a new Principal for our school....

Right next to that letter was a little blurb about this weekend's Second Reading:
In today’s second reading, St. Paul encourages us not to grow weary or lose heart, but to persevere in following Jesus. Our willingness to give of ourselves, even in the face of conflict and division, is one way to measure our discipleship.

On a local news website I read that our Principal has resigned due to "health reasons."

I can't help but think that there's more to it than that, and that our school is under a spiritual attack. Please pray for all involved, and for the children and staff members who start school in three weeks.

Packing List

I don't know if it's just me, but when I am getting us all ready to go on vacation (for the fourth summer in a row, a week in a house down the shore) I always make sure to pack my planner, a notebook or clipboard with paper, and at least one time-management/household management/motivational book.

I know I can count on at least one night of insomnia out of the seven we'll be there. Plus I tend to wake up earlier than most family members, so I get a good amount of quiet time for thinking and planning. Little Brother's the other early riser, but I can usually convince him that it would be fun to go back to sleep with Daddy, and buy myself a few extra quiet minutes.

It's almost like a time for making New Year's Resolutions. I write, make charts, and compose lists.

I've come to look forward to this aspect of our vacation. This year I'm reading It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. It's easy to read about decluttering when I'm not surrounded by all our clutter.

From the front porch of the house we're renting, I can see the ocean. What a peaceful place to sit and plan! We'll be there in a week--I can't wait!

Adulthood is Overrated

According to Middle Sister, at least.

TheDad has been working hard all day on a programming project. Middle Sister doesn't understand why, since he's sitting at the dining room table, she can't just come in and chat with him about anything that's on her mind. This is partly because when TheDad is programming, a bomb could go off in the next room and he'd never notice. Low distractability is a good quality in a programmer, but it frustrates the kids.

So as she wanders through the room, she complains to TheDad that he has been working since 8:30 this morning, and asks when he'll be done. He wants to finish, and explains that to her. It might take several more hours. "This is my life," he concludes.

"Then you have a boring life," she responded.

Candyland: Little Brother Flies Solo

Little Brother is sitting here playing Candyland all by himself. Of course, I'm getting a play-by-play.

"Mom, guess what! I'm red. I'm yellow. And I'm losing."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Just a Feeling: Prayers are Needed

This morning before 7:00, our doorbell rang. Of course I thought the worst, and went scrambling for my robe and my glasses to go answer the door.

It was Adventure Boy, in a filthy T-shirt, sandals on the wrong feet, carrying a large wrestler toy and an even larger "Brother Bear" and wearing a safari hat and binoculars.

Obviously he was ready for just about anything that early in the morning!

However, we were not ready for anything at that hour. In fact, no one else was awake. I told him that it was too early to play and that he had to go back home. Then after I closed the door I thought maybe I should follow him and make sure he went home. So I found some shoes and headed back out the front door, only to find him coming down the path from the back of the house--he had tried to visit our backyard neighbors when I told him it was too early!

I escorted him down the driveway and began walking down the street with him, and then saw his grandmother standing in front of the house.

Very slowly, Adventure Boy walked home.

St. John Bosco, pray for him and for all the Adventure Boys of the world. And while you're praying, pray for me and all the neighbors of Adventure Boys. We need to know what to do.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


That's the word for the inside of my refrigerator today.

I finally traced the disgusting smell to the bag of fresh (well, not anymore) green beans. Guess there were some bad ones in there.

In the interest of making the whole thing smell a LOT better than it did, I emptied everything out. I got rid of a few things I could no longer identify. I wiped all the shelves and the yick off the bottom. Yick? It's an industry term. 409 was my best friend today, that's for sure.

Feeling ruthless, I pitched about 4 half-containers of icing, all sorts of outdated stuff that got shoved to the back and forgotten, and the contents of 5 containers. Then I rushed the trash bag past the horrified children who were holding their noses, and out the back door. It's trash day tomorrow (how smart of me to clean the fridge today!)

Boy, there's a lot of room in there now. And it's organized! All the salad dressing is together in a basket; my 3 "frequent flier ingredients" are right on the top shelf of the door (bread machine yeast, big jar of garlic, and lemon juice); all the jelly is together and the ice-cream toppings are gathered in one spot, too.

I freely admit to dreading this chore, but it really only took me less than an hour to do, and it's one of those jobs where you can really admire the results.

I wonder how long it will take to get it to its former rummaged, messy state? With 5 eaters in the house, I give it a week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What We Heard

Today, on the Feast of the Assumption.

Our priest's homily was a reflection on the first line of the Magnificat: "My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord."

First he reminded us that the month of August is full of celebrations of spiritual giants. He told the story of Edith Stein (St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) whose feast we observe August 9, and referenced the meaning the Magnificat held in the life of this saint.

Next, Father discussed the work of Kathleen Sullivan in abstinence education for teenagers. He observed that God showed His own reverence for the human body by assuming Mary's earthly body into Heaven upon her death, and that it is our duty to also have reverence for the human body.

Finally, Father told the story of a young person approaching a wiser, older person and asking what he should do with his life. The advisor asked the young person: "What is it that you do that makes your being proclaim the greatness of the Lord, that makes you feel fully alive? THAT is what you should do with your life."

If you'd like to hear my favorite arrangement of my favorite Gospel Canticle, visit this site and click on "Magnificat." The composer is a Franciscan Friar from Holy Name Province. I learned this song back in high school when another Friar introduced Father Tamburello's compositions to our choir. A few years ago I contacted Father to request permission to use his "Magnificat" at our Secular Franciscan meetings as part of Evening Prayer. He generously gave the permission and mailed me the sheet music to the song. It is a beautiful, simple arrangement of the Gospel canticle--but nothing elaborate is needed with lyrics like these. Enjoy it!

Image Credit: Dan Paulos

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Planner Contest!

Lorri is having a contest at The Mac & Cheese Chronicles! There are 2 prizes--2 different planners. Check it out! I'm such a calendar geek, I had to enter this contest.

One Came Back

In the spirit of thankfulness for prayers answered, visit a new group blog that Christine M. has started! It's called "One Came Back" in honor of the one leper out of ten who returned to thank Jesus after being cured of his disease.

If you have a prayer request or thanks to offer for prayers answered, visit "One Came Back!"

H/T to Esther for the Scripture stamp! "I am the handmaid of the Lord." May we all have the gratitude of the one leper and the attitude of the Blessed Mother.

Things to be Thankful For

Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Esther and Jean have done a wonderful job of discussing this fascinating modern saint.

One of my grandmothers had a special devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe. In fact, I first heard of him from her. She had a nickname for everyone, it seemed--and she called him "Uncle Max."

Today I am thankful for St. Maximilian, for his example of perseverance and unselfishness, and his urging that through imitating the love of Mary, we can come to a deeper love of God. Part of that love is recognizing that God has given us many gifts, and being thankful for them.

Today I am thankful that we are all home again, all together. This has been a weird weekend. My parents took Middle Sister and Little Brother to their house on Saturday so TheDad and I could attend a wedding on Sunday. Big Brother stayed home alone. Yesterday he and I drove "up north" to pick the kids up. When we got home, TheDad was waiting for us. It just feels good to be all together again.

Today I am thankful for TheDad's easy attitude that he displayed Sunday when I realized that I had the Tiniest Black Purse on Earth and that it wouldn't fit my bare essentials: wallet, phone, keys, lipstick and asthma inhaler. "I have to run to Target," I informed him as I zipped out the door. When I came home and said, "I'm back," he called out, "It looks great" without even turning around to SEE the new purse.

Today I am thankful for kids who make me laugh. Last night in the car we had a lot of fun. Out of the clear blue sky we got announcements like, "I want a kazoo." (that was Big Brother)

Today I am thankful for sunshine, the sound of birds and cicadas, clotheslines, and the BOGO sale at Payless. And for all the other gifts, big and small, that God has given today.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What Author's Fiction Am I?

Which Author's Fiction are You?

Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes your notice.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Go figure. I wrote my college senior thesis on Flannery O'Connor. Maybe I should get those books out and savor a re-read!
H/T to Esther, who is also Flannery O'Connor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This was fun--and kind of true

Your Birthdate: July 28

You have a Type A personality so big it makes other Type A's shrink away in shame.
You never shy away from adversity - and you love to tackle impossible problems.
Failure is not an option for you, and more than a few people are put off by your ego.
You tend to be controlling, and you hate leaving anything up to chance.

Your strength: Your bold approach to life

Your weakness: You don't accept help

Your power color: Bronze

Your power symbol: Pyramid

Your power month: October

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Frater has a not-to-be-missed post about Incarnation and Resurrection: We are a Christmas People. He backs up his theory with quotes and prayers from St. Clare of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today.

And he's right. We are a Christmas people. And that has nothing to do with buying presents.

I think it is a particularly Franciscan way of thinking. Yes, Easter is essential to our faith. You can't get to Easter without going through Good Friday. But you also can't get to Easter without Christmas. Without the Incarnation, there could be no Resurrection. Think about the foreshadowing that Simeon provided to the Blessed Mother at the Presentation of the Lord (Luke 2: 34-35). Sister Jane Kopas, OSF writes:
Thanks to Francis, human emotion and events in the life of Jesus took center stage. It was he who originated the idea of the Christmas crèche in the little town of Greccio. The human Jesus was so real to him that he wished to celebrate his humanity. The reality of the poor Jesus in the birth scene has touched the minds and hearts of his contemporaries and people for centuries since then. The deepest mirroring of the life of Jesus came late in his life....Two years before he died, his identification with the suffering of Jesus manifested itself physically. While he was caught up in prayer in a mountain retreat, he had a vision of a six-winged seraph that penetrated his very being and left him with the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, in his feet, hands, and side. For the rest of his life he tried to hide these marks so as not to draw attention to himself.
So even in two of Francis' more famous moments--the Greccio, and the Stigmata, he highlights the birth and death of Jesus.

Ultimately it is all about humility. And that's also a particularly Franciscan thing. You don't get much more humble than those early Friars and Sisters who gave up everything, kept nothing, in order to gain the treasure of Heaven. And you don't get any more humble than Jesus, who was born in a stable and slept in a manger--and who grew up to lay down His very life as a sacrifice to His Father for OUR sins. From beginning to end, Jesus modeled the kind of humility that Franciscans strive to imitate.

Humility is countercultural. In our world, it is considered a bad thing to be humble, to put aside one's own wants and even needs for the sake of someone (or Someone) else. Humility just doesn't go along with the "I'm worth it" and "I deserve it" attitude that is encouraged today. Humility is hard. We want what we want, when we want it. But humility requires sacrifice.

Ultimately, the major feasts of our Church all celebrate humility, and the willingness to lay aside one's own wants, needs and desires for the sake of something even greater. Jesus did it. The Blessed Mother did it. All the saints did it. Can we?

Friday, August 10, 2007

This, that, and the other thing

First of all, I'd appreciate your prayers as this afternoon I'll be having a medical test done. Nothing horrible, scary, icky or invasive, fortunately! Thanks....

And since a few of you have asked for a follow-up on the prayers for TheDad, things at his office seem to have settled down. He keeps work stuff pretty close to the vest, as he tries to leave it behind when he leaves the office, and also because (I think) he tells me things on a Need-to-Panic Basis. I have WCSS, you see....But anyway, he said that he won the battle with the vice-president, and he's still employed.

My parents will be arriving sometime today. Mom will stay until Monday or so, when I take her back home. Dad will leave tomorrow. Mom's going to watch the kids (make sure they don't kill each other or burn down the house) while TheDad and I attend a wedding Sunday evening. A sunset wedding. On a New Jersey beach (faces east). At 6 PM (sunset at this time of year in this part of the country is more like 8 PM). But hey--it's a beach wedding, so I don't have to wear pantyhose! I expect to spend the next couple of days arguing with my mother about why she should be sleeping in a bed and let one of the kids have the couch, and trying to figure out if I have anything in the house that she will eat. I did remember to stock up on Nilla Wafers, Ovaltine, and Good Guy Milk (my dad's term for 1% milk).

I thought I'd toss some links your way, since I've been seeing some Really Good Stuff out there!

Visit Debbie (AKA ukok) for her inspirational scripture/photo series.

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle is having a contest! The prize is a copy of her book, The Heart of Motherhood. I own this book and am reading it now--definitely recommended.

The Catholic Dads have been busy lately. Go see what they've been up to. Lots of good food for thought.

Micki posts a different Holy Card from her collection every day.

The pastor at my younger kids' school has a blog. Sometimes it's in English, sometimes Tagalog. The English entries are well worth your time!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Crockpot Festival!

Barbara is hosting a Crockpot Festival at her cooking blog!

Normally I save this kind of message for my own cooking blog, but I figured that someone else might be in the same position I'm in right now. I just got Big Brother's school calendar in the mail today, and I know the other kids' calendar will soon follow. Then it will be the cross-country meet schedule, and basketball season, and, well, you know the drill! I'm going to need all the great ideas for slow-cooked meals I can find--and all of these are family-tested.

So despite the fact that I haven't even finished my August menu plan, I'm using this excuse to think ahead and browse among the offerings in the Crockpot Festival. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Judging a Food by its Wrapper

Danielle gave me the heads-up to this article:
Food Tastes Better with McDonalds Logo, Kids Say

As Big Brother would say, "Thank you, Captain Obvious!"

Our tax dollars paid for this study since it was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, when any parent or teacher or anyone who has spent time with small children could have told them what they'd find. Hear that, Centers for Disease Control? I could have told you this for FREE! (It really toasts my marshmallows when I see how my money is wasted!)

We're visual people. We're very vulnerable to visual cues, which include brand messages but are certainly not limited to them. Food marketers know it, and that's why they choose certain colors for packaging, among other strategies they employ to entice customers to buy more of their products.

As a parent, I have endured the quirks of small (and even not-so-small) children who insist that their ice water tastes better in the green cup, or the Philadelphia Eagles cup, or the Peter Rabbit "coffee cup." Preferences can change daily or hang on for years! I have weathered the tantrums of the child who wanted the pink sippy cup, not the purple one. I've got a teenager who thinks that pasta shells are better than ziti, but being the bottomless pit he is, he'll happily eat whichever form of pasta I serve (the ingredients are identical, after all).

We've all got our preferences. TheDad likes his flavored instant coffee (and after all my efforts to teach him that real coffee is SO much better). I only like "generic" Honeycomb. No two family members in this house like the same kind of soda best. It's what makes us all unique.

One night we took the kids, and a friend of Big Brother, to the local Chinese buffet. Our visiting teenager returned to the table with his plate heaped high, a few kinds of food running into the others. I like to sample things at the buffet, so I arranged my plate with rice in the middle and a few different entrees all around. "Wow, your plate looks so much better than mine," he commented--even though we had pretty much the same food.

Presentation is everything. It's why adults buy pretty dishes, trays and tablecloths. It's why the Zoopals paper plates are so popular. I like them because of those little divided sections, great for some grapes or crackers, but you know that kids are going to fight over who gets the frog and who gets the fish.

What really disturbed me about the study was the number of small children in this survey who apparently eat McDonalds food more than once per week, and the number of them who had TVs in their rooms.

Let's stop blaming McDonalds for capitalizing on human nature and put the blame where it belongs--on the parents who indulge their children in this manner. Frequent fast-food consumption is not good for anyone. And no little kid needs a TV in his room! Where does the "product familiarity" mentioned in the article come from? Thin air? I don't think so. These parents need to grow a spine and say "no" to Happy Meals once in a while.

I'll stick to making sure the green cup is clean so Little Brother can have his ice water in his favorite cup. With four ice cubes, please.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Compromising My Mental Health

Or what's left of it!

My brother- and sister-in-law gave me some puzzles for my birthday.

Both of them are rated "extreme" on a scale of "beginner" to "ultra extreme."

This one is mostly coffee beans. The extreme difficulty here will only be enhanced by the fact that I'm assembling it on a brown coffee table. I'm still sorting out the "edge" pieces.

And I'll have to buy some bigger furniture before I can make this one. At the very least, we'll have to drag in a sheet of plywood to put this puzzle together, as it's 39 by 27! It's so big it comes with a poster to help you figure out how it should look.

Anyone up for a puzzle party? I hate to suffer alone. But I'm powerless over the lure of the jigsaw.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cold Front

For the ninety-gazillionth time this summer I had to remind Little Brother not to stand around with the door wide open: "Close the door, please! You're letting out all the cold!"

"But the fan will keep going around and around and making more cold!"

"Yes it will, but we shouldn't waste the cold by putting it outside."

"But if we did, then it would SNOW!"

Required Reading

If you have any daughters, you should read this book!

Girls Gone Mild by Wendy Shalit is an honest and eye-opening discussion about the challenges our daughters face in a world where toys, music, the media, and fashion discourage them from modest and chaste behavior and dress. I'm right there with her on the "Bratz" issue, and that was only the introduction! It's encouraging to know that there are girls out there who aren't interested in buying into the values being pushed on them. I hope my daughter will be strong enough to be one of them, and I certainly want to encourage that.

I'm not done reading the book yet, so you may hear more from me as I get deeper into it. Meanwhile, check out what Danielle and Denise have said about this book.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to recommend this book here. I purchased the book myself and am glad I did. I'll also be recommending that my public library purchase this book.

I Am Grateful

...for my husband, who stuck right by my side and worried about me and wouldn't let me do a lick of work for 24 hours while I endured The Worst Cramps Ever (I think labor pains were less painful)

...for my husband (again) who pretty much flew solo when we had a dozen friends over for an after-church brunch

...for those dozen friends, whose children and grandchildren pitched in by moving furniture, carrying bags of ice and helping with the dishes

...for my own Big Kids who helped my husband clean up the nightmare of a kitchen last night and left the place neater than I usually find it in the morning after I've cleaned it up (I let the dishes drip dry on the rack all night. THEY dried the dishes and put them away!)

...for Little Brother's extra (and extra-gentle) hugs

...for our friends who invited us over after brunch so we could enjoy dinner and a swim in their backyard

...for the large bottle of ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet

...for all these blessings that I experienced yesterday. God is good--and generous!

This is what was left on the dining-room table after the Big Kids and TheDad washed and put away all the breakfast stuff. I told them that if they didn't know where to store something, to leave it on the table.
But what's with the fishing pole?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Logic, when you're 5

As I walked through the family room carrying a laundry basket, I saw Little Brother lying facedown on the floor, silently kicking his feet.

No, he was not having a temper tantrum (this time).

Adventure Boy was setting up a train track next to Little Brother. He looked up at me and declared, "Little Brother is a fish."

"Little Brother's a fish? Then why are you building a train track?"

The logical answer, of course: "Because it's his birthday!"

It's not Little Brother's birthday, of course. But nothing else about this conversation made sense either.

New Catholic Radio Resource

I've recently been enjoying some of the offerings from a new Catholic "internet radio" resource: Catholic Radio International.
Here's a little bit of background from their site:
We created Catholic Radio International to bring you honest and truthful information about our world. We promise never to pull punches when giving you the news, critiquing our culture or discussing the faith.

Our goal is to provide you with straightforward information and insights about the world around us – insights which we believe are essential for the well-being of our culture, nation and ourselves.

Above all, conscious of our responsibility as Christians to our fellow men, we will strive to deliver to you more than mere news but also to communicate to you an understanding of “He who is”, as Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “the ultimate foundation and meaning of human, personal and social existence.”

Right now, there are three different programs you can choose from, along with the days of the week that they are updated:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Thread of Grace with Sally Robb: Connecting our faith and our daily life.

Tuesday, Thursday: The Heart of the Matter: Current events from a Catholic perspective. Topics have included war, environmentalism, euthanasia, the Mass in Latin, China, freedom of speech, and more.

Biweekly: UltraSound: Prolife programming.

I thought I was too busy to listen to this kind of radio program, but then I discovered that they're only about 5 minutes long. I can listen while I tidy up my desk or dust the living room. The programs are well-produced, faithful to the magisterium, and provide food for thought that lasts long after the 5-minute show ends.

How did I find out about Catholic Radio International? My "cousin-in-law" Tom Szyszkiewicz is one of the cofounders. You may recognize his name from his freelance work in the National Catholic Register. I wish him every success in this new venture.

Check it out!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Feast of the Portiuncula: Peace and All Good!

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula.

It's a biggie for all Franciscans because the Church of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula is the little abandoned chapel that Francis rebuilt stone by stone. Later he founded the Franciscan order there and all Franciscan work began there, and this is where he asked to be placed when he was dying. A large church was built around the little chapel.

In the Mirror of Perfection, Francis wrote:
“Holy of Holies is this Place of Places,
Meetly held worthy of surpassing honor!
Happy thereof of the surname, of the Angels.
Happier yet the name, Blessed Mary.
Now a true omen the third name conferreth,
The Little Portion on the Little Brethren:
Here where by night a presence oft of Angels
Singing sweet hymns illumineth the watches.
Here was the old world’s broad highway made narrow,
Here the way made broader for the Chosen People;
Here grew the rule, here Poverty, here Our Lady,
Smiting back pride, called back the Cross amongst us.”
(Mirror of Perfection #84)

Prayer to Our Lady of the Angels
O Virgin of the Angels, who has for centuries established your throne of mercy at the
hear the prayer of your children,
who trust in you.
From this truly holy place and the habitation of the Lord,
so dear to the heart of saint Francis,
you have always invited all men to love.
Your tender eyes assure us of a never failing motherly help
and a promise of divine help to all those who humbly have recourse to your throne,
or who from afar, turn to you to ask for help.
You are, indeed, our sweet Queen and our only hope.
O Lady of the Angels, obtain for us,
through the intercession of blessed Francis,
pardon for our sins, help us to keep away from sin and indifference,
so that we shall be worthy of calling you our Mother for evermore.
Bless our homes, our toil and our rest,
by giving us that same serenity we experience within the walls of the Porziuncula, where hate, guilt and tears turn into a song of joy
like that once was sung by the Angels and the seraphic Francis.
Help those who are in need and hungry,
those who are in danger of body and soul,
those who are sad and downhearted,
those who are sick and dying.
Bless us, your most beloved children, and, we pray you,
bless also with the same motherly gesture,
all those who are innocent, together with those are guilty;
those who are faithful, together with those who have gone astray;
those who believe, together with those who are in doubt.
Bless all humanity, so that all men acknowledging that they are God's children,
would find through love, real Peace and real Good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Just Say No

to the kind of attitude that produces bumper stickers like the one I saw today:

Just say no to sex
with prolifers

Just say no to the idea that intimacy should not be used for selfish reasons. After all, selfishness is what it's all about. Everything's OK, as long as you feel good about it, and since you can easily take care of any "consequences" later.

(And what surprised me most about the bumper sticker is that it was on a minivan being driven by a male senior citizen! Yes, I did a double take right there on the highway.)

Lord, have mercy.

Spiritual 911

As my friend the Kitchen Madonna says!

Today's Spiritual 911 has a theme: employment

TheDad told me this morning that he will have a "stressful day" at work, as part of it will be spent defending why his programming group should keep a 5-year contract rather than have it jobbed out to a small consulting company.

I will be praying that St. Joseph, patron of workers, will intercede on his behalf.

I also ask the generosity of your prayers for the Kitchen Madonna and for Bill, husband of Jean at Catholic Fire, regarding their own employment concerns.

God, our Father, I turn to you seeking your divine help and guidance as I look for suitable employment.
I need your wisdom to guide my footsteps along the right path, and to lead me to find the proper things to say and do in this quest. I wish to use the gifts and talents you have given me, but I need the opportunity to do so with gainful employment.
Do not abandon me, dear Father, in this search, but rather grant me this favor I seek so that I may return to you with praise and thanksgiving for your gracious assistance.
Grant this through Christ, our Lord.