Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mr. Malaprop

TheDad is sitting here grousing about this weekend's expected winter storm.

"March comes in like a lion, you know," I reminded him.

"Yeah," Little Brother chimed in. "And it goes out like a sheep!"

Friday, February 27, 2009

He's Not Taking This Lying Down

To his credit, Big Brother has decided to search for some resources that rebut Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, which will be shown and presented as gospel by one of his teachers.

TheDad and I did not ask him to do this. We did not order him to do this. He came to us and asked if we knew of any resources. He's already made it known to his teacher that he does not believe the global warming stuff, and he is preparing to back this up with facts.

He may take some flack, and there's always the chance that revenge will be exacted through the report card (I hope that won't happen, but you never know.) But I'm not going to stop him. I'll help him look for resources, and remind him to be respectful of adults in authority even when we disagree with their opinions.

It's all part of growing up to be an honorable young man--and that, more than a good report-card grade, is what I really want for my son.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Downloadable Lenten Resources

The Catholics Next Door from Sirius XM Radio are offering some free downloadable MP3s for Lent!

At that link you can find the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, and some podcasts on apologetics, total consecration to Mary, and prayer.

A big "thank you" to Greg and Jennifer Willits for making these resources available for everyone's use!

The Pope's Message on Fasting

Read the Pope's message on fasting during Lent here.

Just a bit of the wisdom shared by the Holy Father:
Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (cf. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, 21). May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lent

...can be found here at AggieCatholics.

Don't miss the answer to the question: Why do people give something up during Lent?

Hat tip to Domenico.

Father Recommends a Lenten Practice

This morning at Mass, Father observed that in today's first reading from the book of Sirach, the phrase "fear of the Lord" was repeated four times. And he explained that God is not someone we are to be terrified of, like something in a horror movie. That's not what fear of the Lord is all about.

He recommended that this Lent, we all practice growing in the virtue of fear of the Lord: wondering at the mystery of God and all that He created. He said that the more you grow in this virtue, the more awesome you understand God to be.

Read here what one of the early Church Fathers, Saint Hilary, wrote about fear of the Lord.

'Twas the Day Before Lent

I had to spend a few minutes convincing one of my children that "fasting" in Lent does NOT mean that the Church requires that we skip breakfast and lunch every day until Easter. I have no clue where that idea came from.

Meanwhile, another child is considering giving up a particular class for Lent. Uh, no. The same child, when reminded that Lent begins tomorrow, and asked what sacrifice would be made, said, "Poop." (As in, "drat.") But this led to a completely gross conversation about the physical ramifications of giving up pooping for Lent.

And Middle Sister is trying to browbeat Little Brother into giving up his Nintendo DS for Lent by employing that Good Ol' Catholic Guilt: "You know, Jesus gave his LIFE up, and you can't even give your DS up?"

In a frantic bit of gluttony, I am trying to finish the Milky Ways. Lead me not into temptation, and all that. To my credit, however, I did not have one for breakfast this morning (yet). It's still early. And I kind of lost my appetite after that whole poop talk.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Last night Middle Sister and I attended the information meeting about next year's Confirmation. It was a really important meeting that would review the entire process of preparing for the sacrament.

So we got there on time and sat for twenty minutes while many others arrived late. Still others got there after the religious-education director had begun speaking. Not like we could hear her, since the sound system in the cafechurchagymatorium is no great shakes and she is a very soft-spoken woman.

We were treated to a tidbit or two about her disagreement with the pastor on the timing of Confirmation. Seems that he'd prefer to delay it until high school, while she wants it as early in eighth grade as possible. Apparently the compromise is February of eighth grade. They think. But we won't know until the Bishop sends in his RSVP.

We received information on choosing a sponsor, working on service projects and the requirement that the students are to write a personal letter to the pastor asking to be accepted as confirmandi. We learned how to request eligibility letters for sponsors and about an essay the students are to write, based on an interview they conduct with someone who puts the Church or community service on a high priority in his/her life. All of this information was important and necessary and, I believe, will help the students in their preparation.

And because sacramental preparation is incomplete without a craft project, we got the details on the Confirmation Arts-N-Crafts Candle.

My apologies to anyone who reads this who may be a DRE or involved in religious ed. or sacramental preparation. I have the utmost respect for catechists until they show me that they haven't earned it. But last night left a bad taste in my mouth.

The meeting, scheduled to last 45 minutes, began 20 minutes late and lasted only ten. I spent more time in the car picking up Middle Sister's classmate, driving to the school, and then delivering the classmate back to her front door and going home than I did learning about next year's Confirmation. They could have handed the children their folders and Bibles in school and had this meeting during religion class; the CCD children were dismissed to their CCD teachers to continue the class after last night's meeting.

And the DRE let us know that memorizing things about the Faith is "out." She wants this to be "meaningful" for the children; this is "their special celebration."

I'm not depending on the religious education program to make that happen for my daughter. Arts-N-Crafts isn't going to do it. Not for Middle Sister, and not for any kid.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is the best reason I could give

Little Brother just burst through the front door after school.

"Hey, Mom! Middle Sister's gonna duct-tape me to the ceiling!"

"You will NOT duct-tape him to anything," I warned his sister as she walked in.

"Why not?"

"It'll ruin the paint!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Scientific Method

Little Brother is working on his Weather belt loop for Cub Scouts, along with the other Tigers. One of the requirements is keeping a weather chart for a whole week. Each evening we check his school's website and find out the high temperature for the day, to record on his chart.

Today's high was 39 degrees.

"It didn't feel like 39," he commented. "I'm writing down 19."

On President's Day

You may disagree with a few of his policies, or a lot of them. You may not share his point of view. But you can--and should--pray for the leader of our nation.

Gus Lloyd of Sirius XM's Catholic Channel has called for all Catholics to join him each day in one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be, for the intention of the conversion of President Obama, that he will see life as precious, and defend human beings from the moment of conception to natural death.

And Danielle Bean posted this prayer today:

Prayer for Our President

God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through You authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United States.

May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Not Romantically Inclined

Yesterday Little Brother came home from school with a bag full of Valentines from his classmates, treats from his teacher, and a custom-decorated-by-Little-Brother "fun foam" Valentine for us.

The glue was still wet on that last item so I put it up where it wouldn't get knocked over so that it could dry overnight.

I just checked the Valentine and it is all ready to display. I showed it to Little Brother and he was happy with it. Then I said, "Thank you for making this nice Valentine for us."

He just looked at me and said, "Mom, it's not like I had a choice! They made us do those."

Way to kill the moment, Little Brother. I hope you grow out of that before you get a girlfriend!

Book Review: Real Women, Real Saints

Real Women, Real Saints: Friends for Your Spiritual Journey by Gina Loehr

This little book packs a lot of information about a lot of fascinating, saintly women into its 161 pages! Covering 100 saints, with about a page for each, the book is perfect to keep in the car, in your handbag, or at your bedside for when you have just a few minutes for spiritual reading.

Author Gina Loehr has organized the book according to several virtues: faith, hope, justice, charity, prudence, fortitude and temperance. It's not a book meant to be picked up and read all at once. Take your time with it! Enjoy learning about a saint or two per day. Or explore the saints by topic.

This would be an excellent book to share with a young woman preparing for Confirmation. As she thinks about a Confirmation name, a good resource would really be handy--and this book has 100 interesting stories to tell. Some of the saints are well-known: Joan of Arc, Catherine of Siena, Gianna Beretta Molla and Clare. Others were new to me: Julie Billiart, Gemma Galgani, Fabiola and Pulcheria. The author describes each saint by her station in life: for example, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is listed as a wife, mother, widow and foundress. Each saint's patronage is also listed, as well as her feast day, before a brief biography.

Let this little book whet your appetite to learn more about some of the saints who have helped shape the life of our Church, and let it encourage you in growing in your own faith.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Real Women, Real Saints.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And the winner is...

True Random Number Generator Min:1 Max:16 Result: 7 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Commenter #7 is the winner of the Michael Dubriel book! That means it's Marianne! Drop me an email with your mailing address to claim your prize!

Congratulations to the winner and thank you to all who entered! I encourage all those who did not win the book to go out and purchase one. My copy (and the winner's copy) arrived here yesterday and let me tell you, this book is PACKED full of information. This is going to be my Lenten reading for this year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 Book Club Feature--and a Giveaway!

The February Book Club feature is Michael Dubriel's How-to Book of the Mass.

Dubriel passed away suddenly on February 3, and he had designated all receipts from this book for his children's educations. The Catholic blogging community is encouraging everyone to purchase a copy in his honor, to help his family at this very difficult time. Wouldn't it be nice if Dubriel's book became Amazon's #1 seller?

I purchased two of these books: a personal copy and one to give away. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing for a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post. I will close the drawing at 11:59 PM EST on February 12, one week from today.

Want to purchase your own? Start at this link and you'll also be helping the wonderful website,

You can read Michael Dubriel's last column here. He was a very gifted writer and faith-filled man.

And remember to pray for the respose of Michael Dubriel's soul, and for the consolation of his family.

But her eyesight is 20/20

Tonight I asked Middle Sister to please be careful as she clambered over the back of the front seat after we dropped off her friend from the basketball-game carpool.

"I'm careful, Mom. I always see all those steps that I fall down!"

Careful What You Say--and How You Say It

Last night I attended Back to School Night at Big Brother's school. They started a whole new set of classes at the end of January, so it was time to meet the teachers for these classes.

This semester Big Brother is taking Geography, among other things. This was chosen at my urging, because I believe that students today are not taught enough about geography, and I think that knowledge would serve him well.

And then the teacher launched into his list of what they would cover during the semester: map skills, physical geography, weather and climate, global warming (!) and "the dangers of overpopulation." And Big Brother attends a Catholic high school!

Glancing around the room quickly, I noticed that I wasn't the only parent surprised by this last topic. The teacher did backpedal a bit and stammer that China isn't dealing with overpopulation in a "morally licit" manner.

Well, that part was at least partly right. China is not dealing with its perceived population issues in a morally licit manner.

When I came home, I talked with Big Brother a little bit about what his teacher had said. He disagrees with the teacher on the global warming issue. I'm sure of that. But I think we'll be doing some researching and talking about the population issue before the teacher gets to that part of the lesson plan.

And I'll be doing some thinking and praying about how Big Brother can approach this issue in class, and how I can approach this topic with the teacher as well. The comments contained here will help, as will this essay.

And it is time to pray my favorite Franciscan prayer for guidance:
Most high, all-glorious, all-good God,
Bring light to the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, firm hope, and perfect charity,
With wisdom and insight, O Lord,
That I might always discern Your holy and true will.

Mother Teresa once observed, "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."

Giveaway Reminder!

You have just under ten hours to enter the giveaway for Michael Dubriel's How-to Book of the Mass! Make sure you leave a comment on the giveaway post to be entered. I will post the winner tomorrow morning, drawn by random number from any comments before 11:59 EST today.

Charm School

I remember talking to some of the Secular Franciscans about what my children do when the Advent wreath is on the table.

"At least you know you have normal children," one of them commented. She's nearly ninety years wise and has several children of her own--and a great sense of humor.

Well, they're still normal. In fact, they're so normal that I think they're in need of Charm School. Last night at dinner, they were practicing the fine art of the Burp and Blow.

I didn't know it even had a name.

Maybe I should just feed the kids in another room. Then they could be as uncivilized as they want. But the older they get, the more disgusting it is to eat with them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lost and Found

Sometime before Christmas, Big Brother lost his school ID. They're required to wear those every day. I can't believe that he hadn't been caught without it before now, but he'd gotten away with it for about six weeks.

Yesterday I shelled out $15 so he could get a new one.

This morning, just after Big Brother left for school, Little Brother was looking for a light jacket. It's too warm for his regular winter jacket today! He grabbed a jacket that turned out to belong to Big Brother, so I took it back from him so I could put it back in the closet. I felt something in the pocket.

Yeah. The old ID.

I knew that as soon as I paid for a new one, we'd find the old one. And I remember telling him to look in THAT jacket, too.

Since it's such a warm day, I thought it was a good time to dig some of the debris out of my car. Under the front seat I found TheDad's softball glove. The one he couldn't find, and replaced last week. We all knew we'd find the old glove. It's Murphy's Law of Lost Objects: replace it, and you'll find the old one.

Unfortunately, school IDs and softball gloves are not returnable. I swear that people in this house should have locator devices on their stuff.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

I remember reading The Song of Bernadette when I was in high school. It was from my parents' collection of Reader's Digest Condensed Books.

This morning my children's school celebrated Mass in honor of the day. (Instead of First Friday Mass, the school chooses feast days of certain saints and celebrates Mass on those days. And the children learn about those saints ahead of time!) Today the deacon preached about the Gospel (the wedding at Cana) and how the Blessed Mother told the waiters to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Then he told them the story of the apparitions at Lourdes, and how Saint Bernadette also did the will of God. Finally, he reminded them that they, too, should do whatever Jesus tells them.

I never did get around to reading the full version of The Song of Bernadette. But I think it's time I did.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pro-Life Presidential Valentine Campaign

You may have seen this idea floating around the Internet:

Get a red envelope. On the front, address it to:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

On the back of the envelope, write the following message.

This envelope represents one child who died in abortion.
It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world.
Responsibility begins with conception.

Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president.

Esther (A Catholic Mom in Hawaii) has an idea with a slightly different twist for this project. Because some have suggested that empty envelopes can be flimsy and might get tangled up in postal machines--never making it to the White House--she proposes that the red envelope would instead contain a small card with these words:
OPEN your heart to the lives of your unborn CITIZENS. Be a President to ALL Americans!

She also urges us to put in a bunch of prayer cards while you're at it!

I'll be asking Little Brother to decorate my envelopes with some heart-shaped stickers--those are easy to find right now, and they go with the message I'll be including on the card.

Please find a way for your family to join this project--and pass the word along. It's very simple but has the potential to be very powerful.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

WAY too literal

Little Brother is working on a homework assignment for the 100th Day of School, which will take place this coming Tuesday. He has a worksheet that says, "If you were given $100, what would you do with it? Why?"

Little Brother decided that he would give $80 to the poor and then use $20 for a game for himself. I asked if he wanted to write down the name of the game.

"I can't! I don't have the game!"

Then he realized that this was all imaginary money anyway, and the assignment became a lot less fun.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Call Your Senators!

If you have concerns about the economic "stimulus" package, now is the time to CALL YOUR SENATORS at 202-224-3121.

Be patient. The Senate switchboard is REALLY busy right now.

If you don't have concerns about this "stimulus" package, read this. It very well might change your mind.

We DO have some say in how our money is spent. Take the time to call your senators and let them know your opinion.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Patron Saint

My patron saint for the year is St. Michael the Archangel.

Go see what's up with my patron saint at the new website LOLSaints.

There's an awesome one of St. Barbara up there are well.

This site is fun--and has some good information about each saint pictured.

Valentine's Freebie!!

Tawra Kellam at the Living on a Dime site is offering FREE downloads of her ebook, Valentine's Day on a Dime. When you go to the link, right click on the DOWNLOAD link and then choose "open link in a new tab" if you're on a PC. Mac users are on their own, sorry.

I'm a big fan of her cookbook, Dining on a Dime. Way more than just recipes--there are all kinds of great food tips and other homemaking ideas.

Don't miss today's free download!

Those tissues were clean!

Middle Sister has created a new art form: drawing on tissues with Sharpies. It's delicate work since tissues tear easily. She lays them flat and draws little smileys, stars, dots and other designs. And then she hangs them on the refrigerator for all to admire.

This morning she cornered Big Brother at breakfast. He was unaware of last night's creativity. "Have you seen my tissue?" she asked him.

"No, and I'm not sure I want to," he answered cautiously.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snaps for Keeping It To Myself

Having a meteorologist in the house, as well as my own cynical nature, takes the mystery out of Groundhog Day. (We both like the movie, though!)

But my Monday-morning routine includes helping out at the school library, and sometimes I get to read the story. Today was one of those times.

Naturally, we chose a Groundhog Day story: Go To Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox, which is a really cute story. The first-graders loved it. The illustrations were as cute as the story.

Of course, I asked the kids if they knew whether the groundhog had seen his shadow, and if they knew when spring began. And I left the mystery-ruining stuff out of the discussion.

I did break it to Middle Sister this morning, though. She's 13 and getting more cynical by the day. I accept all blame for that.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! Don't read any further if you want to keep the mystery alive.

Today is February 2. Spring begins on March 21. That's 6 weeks away, whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not.

(Personally, I have a hard time believing that he wouldn't, what with all the giant lights that come with all the TV cameras, and the camera flashes and all that.)

90% of the time, Phil sees his shadow. I guess in those other years, it's snowing or something, so that light pollution is somewhat muted.

Zero Grams, thankyouverymuch

Little Brother was sitting at the kitchen table eating his buttered toast ("diner style"--cut in triangles) while I made his lunch. He brings a morning snack to school, so I was packing that too.

I asked him if he wanted any Triscuit crackers in his lunch, since he really likes those.

"Four," he said. And then as I reached for the box, he stopped me. "Does that have any trans fat in it?"

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Moms, Check Your Pantries!

I just had to throw away a brand-new carton of ice cream.

I found it listed on the FDA's peanut-recall list.

That is one BIG list and getting bigger all the time.

Unfortunately, the only advice for the consumer is to throw away the affected product in a safe manner.

However, I will choose to be grateful that my family hadn't opened and eaten this ice cream yet. No one here has gotten sick from eating contaminated peanut products. So I wasted $2 worth of ice cream (I got it on sale!)

I think I got off cheap.

Now please go and check your pantries.

Caveat Emptor

I hate to shop on Sundays, but Middle Sister was wandering around here earlier looking for something to do, and hoping we'd let her out of the house to wander aimlessly around town by herself.

Not gonna happen!

I still have a gift card from Barnes & Noble (from Christmas) so I suggested that we go there. I figured I'd buy her a hot chocolate and she could listen to the CDs while I browsed. She didn't take me up on the offer of cocoa, but she did ask if she could buy a CD by a band she likes. So I let her borrow money from my gift card to buy the album.

About twenty minutes later we left the store and she opened the CD and popped it into the car stereo. That's when she discovered that this album was recorded live. She's not a fan of recorded concerts. (She gets that from me.)

Because the CD had been opened, the store refused to take it back. That's their policy. They'll only accept returned CDs if they're defective, and they will replace it with a new copy of the same item in that case. But for Middle Sister, there was no chance at returning the item.

She was disappointed, but gracious about it. All the way home we agreed that the CD should have had a note on the outside that labeled it as a live album. After we got home, I looked closely at the CD case and it did, indeed, in very tiny, very thin red letters on a black background, state that it had been recorded live. Our righteous anger had been misplaced all along--the blame was squarely on us for not reading the album cover carefully.

I'm not going to lecture her. She doesn't need that. This is a lesson she has learned all on her own, and I'm just grateful that it only cost her $22 to learn to be a more careful shopper.