Sunday, November 30, 2008

SFO Mom Fails Advent

As Big Brother would say, I failed.

We had company today and it was a very nice time. But I was busy focusing on getting dinner served...and not on getting that Advent wreath onto the table with candles ready to light. I also didn't get that empty manger onto the living room shelf.

I've got plenty to do tomorrow, including making up for what I did not get done today.

I guess birthday candles for one of our young visitors don't count toward Advent, do they?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blessings of Advent

I dug through the Christmas closet and found the Advent wreath and the Nativity scene. Both will be placed in their usual spots tomorrow.

If you want to decorate your BLOG for Advent, just visit The Curt Jester and pick up his Advent wreath and Christmas counter! Just another free-of-charge service from one Catholic blogger to the rest of us. Thanks, Jeff!

Wishing you and yours a very blessed season.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for blessings large and small.
Food, clothing, shelter and transportation
Good health
Good kids
The modern conveniences that make it possible for me to carry Thanksgiving dinner 75 miles from home and get it on the table

The Canticle of the Creatures is the ultimate Franciscan prayer of thanksgiving, and perfect for today. I especially like the final line.

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise You, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Earth,
who sustains us
with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.

We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon,
for love of You bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You Most High, they will be crowned.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

We praise and bless You, Lord, and give You thanks,
and serve You in all humility.

May you and yours be deeply blessed this Thanksgiving and always.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Memo To My Children

If you are going to insist on wearing mismatched socks on purpose, I am going to stop trying to match your socks when they come out of the laundry. I'm just going to give you a whole pile of your unsorted, unfolded, and inside-out socks and let you figure it out.
Mom (who wears her socks matched, thankyouverymuch)

Fast Break

Because Suzanne asked so politely and everything.

1. Three favorite recipes that you think you cook well (you can write the recipe if you like but you don't have to). That's easy; just visit my recipe blog. All my favorite recipes are there. I think my best-loved ones are spaghetti and meatballs, Granma's Biscuits, and Christmas cookies.

2. Two places that you would like to visit and why. I'd love to go back to Ireland again. It's beautiful there. And the beach is always good, any time of year.

3. Three secret things you'd like to know how to do .. learn to do. No secret: I'd like to learn how to play the organ, speak/read Latin, and use all the features of my amazing cell phone.

4. In your heart, do you feel more close to the Dominicans, the Benedictines, or
the Franciscans? Why one over the others?
EASY! Franciscans! Why? I've been raised in the Franciscan spirituality, surrounded by Franciscans of all kinds, all my life. Guess it just rubbed off on me.

And that's all the time I have today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to rethink!

Two hours ago I got a phone call from my mother-in-law; it seems that Pop had some minor surgery today and therefore they cannot travel to my husband's cousin's Thanksgiving dinner.
One hour ago my husband finalized plans with his parents. I would cook dinner here, bring it there and serve it. (It's much easier for me to cook in my own kitchen and just transport the food.)
So back I went to Shop Rite where I found two lonely little fresh turkeys sitting there. I have a turkey in my freezer, but it's 22 pounds and frozen solid. I don't have the kind of time it would take to get that thing thawed out. So instead we will settle for a measly 12 1/2-lb turkey, which is so small it's practically a chicken.
Because this dinner will be prepared in two different kitchens, separated by 75 miles, I've got to stick to the basics. But the important part is that we will be together with family.
Tomorrow I will figure out my menu and my timetable. I guess I'll be stuffing a turkey at the crack o'dawn after all, while I chat with my sister on the phone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just not meant to be

This morning I thought I'd be smart and get ahead of all the amateur shoppers who come out just before Thanksgiving. Monday is my day to volunteer at the school library, and I have to be there by 9, so I headed to the supermarket as soon as the kids got on the school bus this morning. I was doing great, since I had a short list and there was hardly anyone in the store. Obviously they were expecting big crowds because there were open checkout lanes everywhere--unheard of on a normal Monday morning.

But the shoppers had obviously been out yesterday because the store was cleaned out of Dr. Pepper and Yukon Gold potatoes, both of which were on my list. So I stopped for a raincheck after I paid for my order. The guy at the courtesy counter was helpful and courteous, but he couldn't get the soda raincheck to print. I waited 10 minutes before he finally gave up and wrote one out by hand, stapling it to the ad showing the deal.

Thinking I'd be out of the store pretty quickly, I bought a box of donuts. I wanted to eat one before library time. But by the time I finished getting that raincheck, I had just enough time to unload the cold stuff and head back out over to school.

I was obviously not meant to have that donut today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

They're Back!

Big Brother & Co. are back from Mississippi. He has numerous blisters, one bruised fingernail, plenty of dirty laundry, lots of stories to tell, a new T-shirt from Bourbon Street (why did they need to take a detour to the French Quarter?) and a can of Cafe du Monde coffee for me!

He missed out on the stomach virus that made its way through this house during his absence--not much else.

We're glad he's back, healthy and safe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Help Out in Big and Little Ways

Over at O Night Divine, Mary Ellen Barrett has the story of a family in need of a little help right now--and two ways to help out.
Here's one--click on the picture to order a family-produced, Family Centered planner.
Family Centered planner

If you can, lend a hand. And definitely remember this family in your prayers!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Project Hope and Compassion

Today I'd like to introduce you to Project Hope and Compassion. This is a Katrina-relief organization headquartered in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Yesterday at 5 AM I took Big Brother to school. He was packed and ready to spend a week in Mississippi with 16 other students and 4 faculty members. They'll work 8 hours a day in the rebuilding effort.

It was really dark and cold at 5 AM yesterday, but the kids didn't care. They were excited to begin their big adventure. They all piled into the school bus and headed for the airport. After they landed in New Orleans, they stopped at the Cafe du Monde before setting off for Mississippi. They will sleep at St. Ann's Church in (to a Boy Scout) luxurious, indoor accommodations. (Translation: there are showers, a "flushie" and even laundry facilities.)

In January 1986, I traveled through that part of the country on my way to a National Catholic Student Coalition meeting in Louisiana. Mississippi and rural Louisiana look nothing like suburban New Jersey. I think it will be an eye-opener to him to see that not everyone in the country lives like he and his friends do. (I thought about having him watch "My Cousin Vinny" before his departure, but never got the chance.)

I know he is off doing a very good thing, but the house feels pretty empty without him here. Please keep him and the other volunteers in your prayers, that they will have a safe trip and that they'll learn what it means to make a difference.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Separation of Church and State

I received an email today from a cyber-buddy of mine. Normally, all those "forwards" (and I suspect that's what this was) are just deleted, but the subject line "Separation of Church and State" caught my attention.

Here's the text of the email I received:
A Priest in Greenville South Carolina has told his parishioners to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barak Obama, saying that supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil." The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote. "Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."
I suppose Rev. Newman felt this Presidential election was a one-issue vote, despite the war, the economy and the changing face of America in the world.

With Thanksgiving approaching, It's important to remember that the Pilgrims risked their lives and left everything behind to travel to this new world so they could simply follow their religious beliefs free of political interference or coercion. That was the cornerstone for the separation of religion and government (aka Church and State) to fight against the repression that was rampant in Europe. How ironic that this Priest feels that our political beliefs should be subject to interference and coercion by the Church. No matter your political or religious conviction, you have a right to vote for the candidate who will best serve all your needs, just as you have the right to practice a religion that serves your soul. To deny one or the other is simply un- American.

I felt that I would be remiss in just deleting this email rather than responding to it.

I believe that the willingness to put a pro-abortion politician in office when a prolife alternative exists means that people are willingly cooperating in the evil of abortion. Denying someone the basic right to life only opens the door to denying other groups of people the same right. When a group of people (whether unborn, aged, handicapped, or of a certain religion, class, color or sexual preference) is considered expendable, we all know what can happen—because we know what HAS happened.
I also believe that it is the right and duty of religious leaders to encourage the members of their churches to prayerfully consider their vote IN THE LIGHT OF THEIR FAITH.
Please read this letter from Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino on the subject.
I do not believe that I leave my faith behind when I enter the voting booth. On the contrary, I expect that my faith has informed my choice—as I expect that it informs ALL the choices I make each day.

Pray today that people of faith everywhere will take the time to inform their consciences and their choices, and to defend them to others who believe that faith should be left behind when we exit the church on Sunday mornings.

There's more here, with links, at The Deacon's Bench.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Man Band

Big Brother recently discovered how fun it is to play "Duelin' Banjos." In fact, he thinks it's so fun that he dug my banjo out of the basement and had me tune it up. This way he could play the song on two instruments, one after the other-with a big delay in between.

It's fun, but it gets exasperating after a while. And he doesn't want to play the song with me, where we could really have two people duelin'.

What we're up against

Michelle lays it on the line. I think she hits the nail on the head here:
The goal here is to marginalize anyone who is devout. Devotion is bad because it induces guilt in those who are not devout.

Read the whole thing. It's worth your time. And it's more worth your time to think about what you and your family will do in response to this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Red-Letter Day

One of the highlights of first-grade life is the Great Crayon Replacement. A couple of months into the school year, that starter box of crayons is starting to look like a scrap of cardboard with a few naked, colorful stumps.

Little Brother was coloring a shark picture after dinner tonight when he announced that he was allowed to bring a 24-pack of crayons to school now. He was a very happy guy. I told him that I'd go down to the basement and get him a box of crayons to put in his schoolbag.

Little Brother had other ideas.

He took the nice, new 64-box of crayons that was just opened a week or so ago (I try to hide the school supplies until they're really needed, but the lure of the New Green and Yellow Box is irresistible to grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers alike). Then he started counting out all his favorites.

He has pretty good taste in colors. Like me, he goes for the interesting name. Why take plain old "purple" when you can have "purple mountain majesty?" Who settles for "green" when there's "granny smith apple?"

His teacher runs a pretty tight ship, though, and I was concerned that she might not appreciate the Little Brother Sandwich Bag of 24 Great Crayons. I figured that at least he should have the basic colors in there, so I started quizzing him on whether there was red, orange, black, and brown in his selection.

We were doing fine until we got to yellow. "I don't need yellow," he claimed. "I'll just use yellow-green."

"That's not the same," I answered. "What if you have to color something like the sun, or a star?"

He finally conceded that yellow would be a good addition to his set of colors, and happily zipped up his little sandwich bag of crayons and put it in his schoolbag.

And now we have a 40-box of crayons sitting here, with no good colors left in it, and plenty of empty spaces. No one's going to use that now. I'm sure they'll start tearing apart the basement looking for another 64-box, which I don't happen to have down there. (And if I did, do you think I'd tell them that?)

Book Review: Graced and Gifted

Every homemaker needs a dose of encouragement and practical advice now and then. Mix that with a generous measure of inspiration and Biblical wisdom, and you get Kimberly Hahn's Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart.

Framed after the wonderful and inspiring verses in Proverbs 31, this book touches on all areas of homemaking, including hard work, feeding the family, time management, money management and living through difficult times. The book is divided into different sections that relate to the sacraments of the Catholic Church. The Appendix covers the very practical matters with worksheets to help moms plan housework, meals, budgets and even home-buying and decorating.

You don't necessarily have to read this book in order from start to finish. It's the kind of book you can pick up at any point--and jump right in at the area you need to focus on most. But I'm sure that once you get started with this book, you'll want to read the whole thing.

Graced and Gifted retails for $14.99 and was published by Servant Books in 2008. It's an excellent resource for any homemaker.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Graced and Gifted.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Will You Join a Novena for Obama's Conversion?

Chris Dickson at Portiuncula passes along a novena. I normally don't reprint so much of a post, but I want this to cast a wide net.

We are asking that all children pray a simple "Hail Mary" every single day for the President's conversion and that all adults pray the following daily prayer Novena:

Our Lady Of The Holy Rosary Prayer

My dearest mother Mary, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet. Accept this Holy Rosary, which I offer you in accordance with your request at Fatima, as a proof of my tender love for you, for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in atonement for the offenses committed against your Immaculate Heart, and for the conversion of Barack Obama to become a staunch Pro-Life advocate.

I beg you to present my petition to your Divine Son. If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused. I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God's holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.

I offer you this spiritual "Bouquet of Roses" because I love you. I put all my confidence in you, since your prayers before God are most powerful. For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus, your loving Son, hear and grant my prayer. Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation.

Please join in this prayer.


Half the fun of Halloween candy is mastering the art of the trade.

Big Brother reported, "Little Brother just offered Middle Sister a full-size Hershey bar in trade for FOUR full-size Reese's. He told her that the Hershey bar breaks up into 12 pieces."

Me: "Interesting logic he has."

Big Brother: "That's not an even trade."

Me: "You're just jealous because you didn't think of that first."

Big Brother: "I am jealous."

Leaving Mass Early; Why Got at All?

Last night I arrived at church for the end of the 5:00 Mass to help Big Brother with a fund-raiser. I got there just before Communion, and was appalled to see the steady stream of people out the door during the Communion hymn. Yes, the parking lot is a nightmare, but more than 1/4 of the congregation disappears after Communion--on a regular basis.

This is OK? Apparently they think so.

While I was waiting there, one of the religious education coordinators confided to me that some parents of children in religious education have complained that she is "making them go to church." These are children who are in line to receive sacraments this year.

Would you let your child skip school, day after day and week after week, but still demand that he graduate? This is no different.

I don't have any answers to these issues; I'm really just ranting here. Both of them make me sad.

Geographically Challenged

Little Brother pointed out our front window and said, "Mom, is that the way Nannie lives?"

I pointed out the back window and said, "No, she lives north of here. The front window is south."

Little Brother was sure that couldn't be right. So he got up and stood in front of the coffee table. "This is south," he said. "Not this way, because that's where the Pacific Ocean would be. That's west!"

He's done one too many US-map puzzles on that coffee table, and all apparently facing the same direction. Hopefully he will learn something about orienteering in Cub Scouts.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Moving On

It's time to move on.

Danielle shares some wise words from Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address.

I'll be renewing my efforts in the prolife boycott of corporations that support Planned Parenthood. I'll find ways to help my local pregnancy crisis center, because those will surely be facing a financial crunch in the coming years.

And on the more mundane level, I have acknowledged the fact that the house is starting to get away from me, and I've signed up again for the Flylady emails. She's a great motivator and has an excellent attitude about housework--it's a way to Bless Your Family.

The Bishops Have Spoken

Father Tom, ofm shares the text of the US Council of Catholic Bishops' congratulatory letter to our newly-elected president:

Dear President-elect Obama,

I write to you, in my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to express our congratulations on your historic election as President of the United States.

The people of our country have entrusted you with a great responsibility. As Catholic Bishops, we offer our prayers that God give you strength and wisdom to meet the coming challenges.

Our country is confronting many uncertainties. We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person.

May God bless you and Vice President-elect Biden as you prepare to assume your duties in service to our country and its citizens.

Sincerely yours,
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
President USCCB

As a committed and pro-life Catholic, I am disappointed and troubled by the election of one so anti-life. But I will continue to pray and hopefully to find ways to work to defend those who are most vulnerable. It's time to move on and build a better America, one that values ALL people--not just those who are convenient.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The People Have Spoken

Thank you, America, for giving Big Brother and his friends a huge disincentive to study hard, get good jobs, and work hard.

They figure, "Why bother? The government will pay for us! That's what socialism is all about."

So much for the motivation for a bunch of kids who show so much promise.

I am comforted, however, that Big Brother and his friends are not happy about the outcome--even if it does give them an easy way out.

I'm hanging onto that right now, since there is little else I can hang onto after this election.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some Jobs Are Hard to Give Up

It's nice that two of my kids are of Dishwashing Age, but sometimes it's just easier to do it myself.

Especially when I hear things like this from the child in the kitchen:

"I get an Apple Puff for this."

My answer: "Why? This is your Regularly Scheduled Daily Chore!"

Child in Kitchen: "I know. I just want an Apple Puff....Hey, COOL! If you put a cup upside down in the sink and run water right on it, it looks just like fireworks."

There had better not be more mess in the kitchen after the dishes are done than before they were started.

Cast YOUR Vote--for Life

Don't miss Mary Ellen's post on the subject.

At Mass this morning, the Gospel was the story of the rich man who held a banquet, but all his friends had flimsy excuses about why they could not attend. Instead, he invited the beggars and the handicapped--anyone his servants could find in the streets.

Father noted in his homily that in our day, those who find it too easy and convenient to deny unborn children the right to life are the ones who are refusing the banquet offered by the Lord.

Don't take the easy way out. Vote for LIFE. And find ways to support those unborn babies and their parents who are often at the mercy of those who consider children a "punishment" rather than a blessing.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Maybe a GPS Would Help Him

Little Brother has been working hard all day to wiggle out his very first loose tooth. Eating dinner was difficult, since we had grilled London broil, and that is tough to chew.

He complained, "I can't eat it, Dad! It's too hard!"

TheDad recommended that he use his back teeth.

"I can't! I don't know where they are!"

Things Moms Love to Hear

"Hey, Mom, can you buy us some more BLOCKS? We need more!"

If they're going to beg for toys, I love that they chose blocks.

The other day I received a big, heavy package in the mail. I had been asked to test out a new toy, Fisher-Price Spike the Ultra Dinosaur, as part of a product review for Family Corner.

Amazingly, Middle Sister and Boy Next Door are having even more fun with this toy than Little Brother did. They are currently building block towers all over the family room so they can make Spike "do a Godzilla" and knock down the whole city.

Obviously this product has broader appeal than the suggested ages 3 - 10.

And he also eats Storm Troopers. Chews them up and spits them out.

The family room is an apocalyptic scene of destruction.

The Mother Lode

All three of my kids trick-or-treated this year. Big Brother stuck with it to the end, despite friends who wanted to wimp out and neighbors who informed him that boys old enough to shave should stop trick-or-treating. (Personally, I think that if a bunch of teenage boys will go to the trouble of making a costume and sacrificing a perfectly good video-game opportunity to walk around the neighborhood begging for candy, then candy they shall have. They could be doing SO much worse.)

Little Brother was a bat, and I didn't even have to have mad sewing skillz to pull that one off. However, I did sustain a glue-gun-related injury to my right thumb. Martha Stewart, I am not. But Little Brother was a happy bat and that's all that mattered.

Middle Sister was one of the 3 Blind Mice, along with her 2 best friends. They were cute and had a fun time with the group-costume thing.

Big Brother got his costume done in the nick of time, blow-drying wet paint early Friday morning before school. I'm amazed that the Pac-Man outfit survived the day.

Best of all, my kids value clean laundry and hot dinners voluntarily shared their rejects Halloween treats with me.

Um, Danielle? Check out all the Whoppers! Yum.