Friday, October 31, 2008

Best Political Sign EVER

Read about it and see a picture here.

I want one for my car. TheDad would want several hundred for his car.

In the meantime, pray hard.


Boy, was that a mistake.

I really wanted a soda at lunch, and all we had was regular Coke or Dr. Pepper. Wisely, I decided against the Dr. Pepper....

Then, on the way to school to watch the Halloween Parade, I stopped at 7-11 for a coffee. I should have gotten the decaf, but I was unable to resist the "Heavenly Blend." It was really good, too--almost like coffee ice cream. Yum.

That was a lot of caffeine all at once, though. It's probably 3 times the caffeine I consume on a daily basis. So I'm feeling just a little extra...hyped up. OK, a lot extra. It's not really a good feeling, either.

I guess it would be best if I stay away from the Halloween candy today. I'll just put some of those Milky Ways in a Secret Hiding Place so I can scarf them down enjoy them another day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ask a Dad

Every year one of the most challenging parts of planning our Living Nativity "Greccio" service is finding a baby to play the part of Baby Jesus.

We're not too particular about whether we find a boy baby or a girl baby to play the role. One year we even had twins, which was great because the first baby started screaming halfway through, and his mom ran up and switched him out with the understudy! Another year we didn't have a baby lined up in advance, and we begged the parents of a sleeping toddler to let us cast him in the role. He slept through the whole thing.

But this year, our parish business manager gave me the name of a family whose child was recently baptized. I called them and left a message, and eventually got a return call from the dad of the family.

Normally the moms arrange these things, and I have years of experience in describing what will happen, who will be holding the child, how the baby should be dressed, that we will provide a clean and soft white blanket to cover whatever the baby is wearing, that it only takes about 20 minutes and that it is outside and there are real animals.

And normally the baby's mom will freak out over one or more of these things, and I have to reassure her that her child will not be handled by a snotty-nosed four-year-old but instead by reliable teenage girls, and that the animals will not touch the baby, and that I'll bring a gallon of hand sanitizer, and that I use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.

But when the dad makes these arrangements, he says things like, "Great!" "No problem!" "Sounds good!"

I'm definitely going to make it a point to talk to the dads in the future when we plan our events.

Monday, October 27, 2008

No more junk... my (car) trunk!

Yes, I cleaned out the car today. I was given a few reusable shopping bags at school when I volunteered in the library this morning, and I figured that instead of carrying empty bags into the house, I'd fill them up with what had been left in the van.

No wonder Little Brother couldn't find his jacket this morning! I found his fall jacket, a windbreaker, and 2 sweatshirts (one hoodie, one regular) in the van. (Never fear, I sent him to school wearing a half-zip fleece, so he was warm enough!)

I also found 2 flashlights, 2 rain ponchos, a key I'd been missing, 2 books, and 4 DVDs.

I threw out a grocery bag full of trash and then even dragged out the shop-vac to get the popcorn kernels (who ate popcorn in the car? Must have been sometime when TheDad took them somewhere...)

And when the kids get home in 10 minutes I will issue the inevitable warning against eating in my van, leaving stuff in my van, and generally trashing my van.

But I know perfectly well that by Saturday I'll need to clean it again.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Things I Never Thought I'd Have to Say... a child who is in the backyard playing, wearing a winter jacket with the hood up: "Put on your shoes!"

The Things We Do For Our Kids

The things we do for love!

TheDad drove an hour each way last night, in the pouring rain, with Little Brother and Adventure Boy, on the way to a Cub Scout haunted hike that was cancelled the second they got there. So he took the boys for ice cream before coming home.

Then TheDad stayed up so that he could take Big Brother from the homecoming dance to his friend's party.

Our front lawn has been painted by members of the junior class at Big Brother's high school. They didn't intend to paint the lawn--they just overran the borders of the plywood they were using for their homecoming float. So we've got odd lines of white, black and Eagles green.

The same members of Big Brother's class used our driveway, and our sidewalk chalk, for sketching practice before painting on the plywood--so until it rained last night we had a panda, a dog and the crime-scene-type outline of a dead body adorning our driveway. That last was particularly effective when TheDad parked his car partially covering the picture.

And one of Big Brother's friends was heard to sing, as he helped himself to a soda from our refrigerator, "Welcome to Big Brother's house, where your food is my food."

I visited no fewer than 3 stores this week and spent no less than $34 looking for the perfect ensemble for Middle Sister's Halloween costume (she and her friends will be the 3 Blind Mice.) Those same friends, along with Middle Sister, are sprawled all over our family room after last night's "awake-over." In fact, Middle Sister is currently sleeping along the top edge of the couch, balancing precariously with a blanket over her shoulders but with her bare feet sticking out. (I feel sorry for the friend she'll land on when if she loses her balance!)

TheDad went on a late-night Wendy's run so the girls could have a snack after they ate popcorn, potato chips, and ice cream.

Just another typical week at our house...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Confusion

Just now....can you tell we don't follow baseball too closely around here?

Little Brother: "Mom, are the Seattle Sea Dogs in the World Series?"

Me: "No, it's just the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays."

Little Brother: "Only 2 teams?"

Me: "Yes."

Little Brother: "That's not going to be any fun!"

What Not to Wear

Because the Phillies are in the World Series, and Phillies Fever is sweeping through the younger kids' school, they are allowed to wear a Phillies clothing item with their uniforms today (just like Aimee's kids).

We don't have any Phillies-wear, unfortunately.

But it's Gym Day, and our school colors are red and white, so the kids' gym clothes consist of red sweats and white T-shirts.

Middle Sister, as usual, will be a Fashion Rebel. She insists on wearing the optional white gym sweatshirt, because she doesn't want to "look like a tomato."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Little Brother's got skill!

When I cleaned out the garage last week, I took Big Brother's old bike out of the shed, pumped up the tires, and put it in the garage. I figured that it was time to take the training wheels off Little Brother's tiny bike, and then when he got the hang of it, he could graduate to the bigger one.

He was having none of that. He found that big bike on Saturday and there was no turning back. He worked and worked. Mostly, he didn't want any help as he struggled to get the hang of balancing the bike and pedaling and staying in a sort-of-straight line.

This afternoon, he finally got it all together. Up and down the street he pedals, with his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth and his helmet slightly crooked as he concentrates to stay on the bike. His friends are out there encouraging him.

He may never get off that bike now. I'll have to serve meals out in the driveway.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Readings for a Sunday Afternoon

Your Home & Family: Mission Territory by Deacon Greg explores how the Zelie family show us the true missionary spirit in our own homes.

Getting political: the Stupid Fat Hobbit explores the upcoming election.

Tissue alert: Aimee put tears in my eyes as she described the Winning Weekend.

Domenico has the video of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

Enjoy! We're off to celebrate our troop's newest Eagle Scout! (Hopefully Big Brother will be next!)

Not a Saturday-Nighter

I remember when I was in grade school and my parents would take us to the Saturday evening Mass. We attended church a good 20 minutes from home, and I have no idea how Mom got dinner on the table on those nights. I seem to remember a lot of hamburgers and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Deluxe Dinner (the kind that came with a squeezy pouch of "cheez whiz" and that made this weird noise when you stirred it all up...boy that was good stuff...)

Our parish has 2 locations--one is exactly a mile from here, the other exactly two miles away. And once a month the choir I sing with "trades" times with the other, organ-accompanied choir. We sing at the Saturday 5 instead of the Sunday noon.

I'm having a little trouble getting used to that whole setup. We did figure out the logistics of standing everyone in a different space so that everyone can see the choir leader (kind of important!) We are getting good feedback in terms of noticing and hearing that the congregation is singing along; people stop by the choir area after church and compliment the music; so that's all good.

But getting to church on Saturday afternoon is difficult for me. I do make an effort to keep Sunday as a day of rest as much as possible; spending time with friends or visiting family often happen in addition to Mass; household chores that can wait and shopping are put on hold for another day. But Saturday is a busy day. On most Saturday afternoons I am watching football and doing laundry and cleaning up and maybe baking something and most certainly driving someone somewhere. It is not my time to find some church clothes and put together the necessary music for Mass and settle down.

TheDad has mentioned that he enjoys the Sunday noon Mass because we have an unhurried morning. You're not all hassled and bothered when you get to church. Not so on a Saturday afternoon. Saturdays are all about hassle and hurry.

Different families have different schedules, and it's nice that the Church offers Masses at many different times. But we enjoy our Sunday-noon routine. It works for us, and it helps us keep Sunday a day apart from the rest.

As I do have to attend the Saturday-evening Vigil Mass once a month with the choir, I'm going to have to find a way to make it work. So if you're a Saturday-Nighter, how do you handle it with your family? How do you make it to church without feeling hassled and hurried? Or have you found a way to lay down that hassle and hurry at the feet of the Cross as you enter the church?

Friday, October 17, 2008

All I Got was a Bellyache

Tonight we did something that our family almost never does. We got drive-through supper at Chick-Fil-A (there was a fund-raiser for Big Brother's Habitat trip to Mississippi) and ate it while we drove Big Brother to a camping trip for another school activity, then took Middle Sister to a sleepover at her "BFF's" house.

Big Brother juggled his dinner and the map while I held my sandwich with one hand, trying not to lose the pickles as I drove.

Normally our dinner conversation includes a little instruction in table manners and utensil use, but we had no tables and no utensils. So instead Big Brother and I fought the Radio Wars and argued over whether we wanted to listen to "Smoke on the Water" or a Dire Straits tune (that was a tough choice, believe me!)

I know it was a fund-raiser, so I can live with the $23 dinner for 4 (oh, the amazing meal I could make at home on that budget). But I do enjoy seeing the faces of the people with whom I'm sharing a meal--without having to use a rear-view mirror. And I'm convinced that driving makes me eat faster, so now I've got a bellyache.

I'm glad we don't have meals like that too often. Our next dinner together will be eaten at the table. I didn't realize how much I take that for granted.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's been a busy day in Housecleaning World. I took down the curtains in the living room, dining room and kitchen, and washed them along with the tablecloths from the living-room side tables. Then I washed windows in the living room and kitchen, and ironed curtains for the kitchen as well as the tablecloths (heavy starch on those, thankyouverymuch). I scrubbed the screens for the living-room windows--a bank of 4 windows 6 feet tall and 30 inches wide.

I started dough for Danielle's beer rolls. I hosted a birthday party for Adventure Boy and was thankful for my neighbor, who made the delicious cake.

And THEN I ran out of gas.

The dining-room windows are still not washed, and the living-room windows are clean but naked. Now there's a big, giant spider with striped legs busy building a web outside one of the dining-room windows, so it looks like my window of opportunity for washing those without the interference of local wildlife has passed.

I didn't want to cook dinner, but I put on my apron and got things started. I was thankful for my rice cooker, and even more thankful when Middle Sister came into the kitchen, saw that I was all set up to make Chicken Piccata, and said, "I'll cook!"

Monday, October 13, 2008


One thing I really don't enjoy is coming downstairs in the morning to find a trashed kitchen.

But today I didn't mind it TOO much.

There were glasses and ice-cream bowls scattered around, since Big Brother had some friends stay overnight last night. There was a skillet and a pancake griddle, from TheDad's and Little Brother's breakfast. I could tell Little Brother had eaten pancakes, since the sprinkles were on the counter (and a few on the griddle). Little Brother likes colorful pancakes.

A Star Wars starfighter with C3-PO at the helm was parked next to my coffeepot. (No, Little Brother didn't do that. Apparently one of Big Brother's friends is a big Star Wars fan).

Then Middle Sister decided to make hash browns while I worked on waffles for the visiting teenagers, who were just starting to wake up.

The kitchen is a wreck. But everyone has had a good breakfast and is now enjoying a good laugh. I can live with that.

20 Years After Graduation, I've Still Got It

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 100% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

She's a Pro

Middle Sister just walked through here, lifted her foot high in the air, and kicked off her big skate shoe. It landed bottom-down on the floor, and she put the shoe back on.

"Please don't do that," I asked her.

"Why not?"

"Because your shoe might fly off in a weird direction and hit something and break it."

"Don't worry--I'm a professional," she assured me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Think About This

Jean at Catholic Fire has a quote from Dr. Alveda King on the economy and loving our neighbor:

"If financial pressures cause us to stop loving our neighbors, to think only of ourselves, we have lost much more than money," added Dr. King. "If we stop giving to charity, cease donating our time to help others, or, in the extreme, abort a baby for financial reasons, we literally sacrifice the eternal for the temporary.... As my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'The time is always right to do what is right'."

There's more over at Jean's site.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


That's how many Cub Scout parents have already called me this afternoon to inquire whether Cub Scouts would be meeting today, since it's a Jewish holiday.

This Cub Scout pack meets at, and is sponsored by, a Catholic church.

Most of the children in the pack were recruited at Religious Education.


Life's Tough when you're 6

Little Brother finished his breakfast and sat down in front of an Army Guy setup he had arranged yesterday.

I reminded him, "If you're done eating, it's time to get dressed. Then you can play."

"Every day I have to get dressed after I eat," he protested. "Every DAY!"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The 6th Picture Meme

Interesting idea: display the 6th picture in the 6th folder on your computer I'm following an open tag from Amy Caroline!

This was taken last Thanksgiving, where we celebrated my dad's 69th birthday and my great-aunt's 80th birthday. My sister's kids thought it would be funny to add up their ages for the number candles.

The cake was as delicious as it looked, although after my sister's famously fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, nobody wanted much dessert!

Attention Fellow Office-Supply Geeks

You know who you are. I won't bother to name names.

I found 2-packs of the Sharpie pens at Wegmans today. I have been wanting to try these ever since I saw the ads in Real Simple (and I have to say, the companies who advertise in that magazine are very effective at making me want the stuff they sell!) New kinds of pens--how could I resist? I love pens. I think there are about 8 of them in my purse right now, because I NEED 8 pens....(well, one's a Sharpie, and one's a pencil, and after that I really only need ONE pen in there--but they just keep sneaking on in). Whenever TheDad goes to a convention, he comes back with a handful of pens, and I hijack most of them before the kids get to them.

About the Sharpie pen--I got the pretty blue color. Blue's my favorite, after all. It really is that light of a blue. Very different, but very nice. I can see the ink a LITTLE bit through a standard sheet of copy/printer paper or planner paper, but not as much as the ink from a roller-ball or gel-ink pen. So far, so good; we'll see what happens when I leave the cap off for hours or drop it on its tip. It's kind of a very, very fine felt-tip type of pen. The ink dries instantly, which is great, because I do tend to smear ink around. For that reason, I'd recommend these to "lefties" like my sister.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Better (Really) Late Than Never

I found the Bunny Tongs that I put in a very safe place last spring, just before Easter last year, and couldn't find when it was time to dye the eggs.

With over 6 months to go until next Easter, I took no chances. I put the Bunny Tongs into the big old pretzel tub where I keep the plastic Easter eggs.

Should I mention what I was doing when I found the tongs? I was hiding the Halloween candy! So I'm not going to say where they were, or there will be no candy left for the trick-or-treaters.

The Sweater Rebellion

My kids all wear uniforms to school.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, those short-sleeved golf shirts are not doing the job. But this year the dress code for the middle-schoolers has changed. Unlike years past, they are not permitted to wear their gym sweatshirt (with school logo) unless it's Gym Day. On other days, they must wear the school sweater.

Middle Sister and her friends had enjoyed the middle-school privilege last year, until the principal determined that the older students looked very sloppy in the sweatshirts and decided that they would not be worn during this school year. Needless to say, Middle Sister and the others are quite unhappy about this.

I made sure to purchase her a uniform sweater in the correct size over the summer, but she insists that she won't wear it. In that case, it'll be in mint condition when Little Brother grows into it. But I predicted that she'd change her mind after the first cold day.

The school is also undergoing renovations, including a new heating system. This morning she was not looking forward to the prospect of sitting in a classroom when it's 42 degrees outside. "Mom, did you know that my school doesn't even have heat?"

"It's still early; they'll turn the heat on soon."

"They're replacing the boiler! Why didn't they do that over the summer?" (I can't argue with that would have been smarter to do that job in August). "And they won't even let us wear our jackets!"

"Good thing you have a sweater," I commented. "You can wear that today."

"I'll never wear the sweater and my friends won't either. We're rebelling against sweaters."

"I'm warm," Little Brother bragged. "I'm wearing my sweater."

She's cutting off her nose to spite her face, and I'm not willing to enable her on this score. I figure she'll give in when she gets cold enough. To me, this is a silly fight, and suffering through cold days isn't the way to convince the principal to change her mind.

The bus pulled up. And I wasn't above getting in one last little dig.

"Have a good day," I called. "Stay warm!"

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Four Things Meme

Just for fun, from Christine at Domestic Vocation!

Just 4 things...each

A) 4 places I go to over and over:
church, school library, Shop Rite, my basement (that's where the washing machine is!)

B) 4 people who e-mail me most regularly:
my sister, SFO Girl, TheDad, other staff members at Family Corner

C) 4 of my favorite places to eat:
home (really!), Cracker Barrel, the Diner Formerly Known as Burger King, a local Romanian cafe

D) 4 places I would rather be right now:
home (really!), the beach, the mountains where the leaves are turning, a bookstore with a non-Starbucks coffee shop (I don't like Starbucks coffee)

E) 4 TV shows I watch over & over:
M*A*S*H, What Not to Wear, Clean House, local Fox morning news

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Abortion is the Worst Form of Social Injustice

The Bishop in Scranton, PA is making sure that politicians and public figures who claim to be Catholic know that the Church will not stand for Catholic support of abortion.

The Deacon's Bench has an article on the subject here, including links to an article in the New York Times and the Bishop's letter.

I was disappointed but not surprised to read that a professor at my alma mater--in fact, one of the professors who taught me during my years there--a Roman Catholic Sister, no less--is spearheading a campaign to remind local voters that racism is a sin and that they should not be afraid of voting for Barack Obama. In fact, she is a member of the Catholic advisory Committee for Obama's campaign.

Maybe she should listen to her bishop:
“Being ‘right’ on taxes, education, health care, immigration and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life,” the bishop wrote. “It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of ‘social justice.’ ”

Butterfly Trivia

Little Brother just came over here and asked me, "What would happen if you were in a restaurant and a butterfly came over and it was hungry?"

I said, "I don't know. What would you do?"

"I would get the waiter, and ask him to bring over some butterfly food," he answered.

"Sounds good," I said. "What do butterflies eat?"


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Smell of Autumn is in the Air

More accurately, the smell of autumn is in my heating ducts.

We have forced hot-air heat, which means this place is dry and dusty (an asthmatic's purgatory) all winter.

A little while ago I turned on the heat, just to make sure everything would fire up when we really need it. I heard the furnace kick on and then the blower got started.

Middle Sister looked up from what she was doing and sniffed the air.

"The heat's on," I explained.

"I know," she said. "I love that smell."

"You love the smell of burning dust?"

I think it's time to open a window or two.

On the Feast of Saint Francis

Reflect today upon Francis' hymn of praise. And note that last line--that is what St. Francis was all about. All Secular Franciscan fraternities pray that prayer together at the beginning of each meeting. I believe that we should pray it daily, and I'm going to make sure that I see it every morning to begin my day.

The Canticle of the Creatures
by Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

Friar Charles shares some thoughts from his confessor on loving one another. You don't have to be a priest or a Franciscan to benefit from this wisdom.

Blessings to you today on this feast of Francis!

Image credit

Thursday, October 02, 2008

An Open Letter to TheDad

I know that since you are busy in Washington, D.C. you would want to know how things are going here.

The Cub Scout meeting went fairly smoothly. The boys especially enjoyed the "wrap the mummy" game, especially since one of the other leaders volunteered his wife and me to be the mummies. It was fairly chaotic as 16 little boys wrapped us from head to foot in toilet paper (1000 sheets really DO last longer!)

That leader informed everyone that you told him to nominate me to be one of the mummies.

When you come home tomorrow, I recommend that you Remember the Milky Ways.

You owe me.

Big time.

And if I find anything on YouTube about this, you'll be buying Milky Ways by the case.

Love you!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Here's where I pound my head against the wall in frustration

Little Brother: I want ice cream.

Me: I bought ice cream today. After dinner, you can have some.

Little Brother: What kind did you get?

Me: Chocolate Chip Mint.

Little Brother (whining): But I wanted Mint Chocolate Chip!