Friday, September 30, 2005

Another 5-Things Meme

I've been tagged by Steve for this one.

5 things I plan to do before I die:
-visit Ireland with my family
-learn to play the organ
-live in a Victorian house with a big front porch
-visit the University of Notre Dame with my family & watch a home football game
-read all the books I own

5 things I can do:
-cook and bake
-teach English and Spanish
-play Trivial Pursuit really well
-hold a grudge

5 things I cannot do:
-play a wind instrument
-speak or sing in public without blushing
-finish the crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper
-keep my kids from doing that stupid stuff kids do no matter how hard their parents try to keep them from doing it!

5 things that attract me to the opposite sex:
-sense of humor
-strength of conviction
And the more shallow things:
-nice eyes
-strong hands

5 things I say most often:
-The Great Oz has spoken.
-Hit the road, Jack.
-Get out of my chair!!!!
-That's just WRONG.

5 celebrity crushes:
I have to say that I'm pretty uninterested in celebrities. So they're famous & rich? So what?

Thursday, September 29, 2005


My Big Kids were watching a movie this morning after getting ready for school. Normally I don't allow this, but I hadn't had my coffee yet and it just wasn't on my radar screen.
Middle Sister walked out the door at the right time to catch the bus. Big Brother stood there, leaning on the back of the couch, watching. Then I passed by him on my way to the laundry area, and he said, "I think I just heard my bus leave." He peeked out the door and sure enough, Middle Sister was gone. She hadn't asked the driver to honk for her brother, she JUST LEFT HIM.
Needless to say, that movie has been put back in its little Netflix envelope and dropped in the mail.
I can't wait to hear Middle Sister's answer when I ask her why she left her brother behind.
And this Mommy will be much more forceful about the "No TV Before School" rule.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry

Der Tomissar has a wonderfully funny post about a very serious subject: church architecture/design.
I want a Catholic one, myself.
Can't find too many in my neighborhood, though--but luckily they are not as bad as this.

It's Not Only Me

One of the blogs I read regularly has a post today describing a just-under-4 little boy.
Rachel could have been talking about Little Brother! It was kind of spooky, but in a good way. It's so nice to know you're not alone.
Little Brother is 3 1/2. It's a good age, but he is heavy into that seesaw of "do it for myself" and "get Mommy to do it for me." Sometimes he wants to go potty alone. Other times he needs an audience--"I have to go potty. ME AND YOU, MOM!" He's not too great at eating with a fork but he can build a block tower, set up tiny little army guys, throw (and sometimes catch) a football, and self-pitch a wiffle ball and hit it across the neighbor's yard. He's becoming aware of people's moods and when he draws people on his Magna-Doodle he is sure to inform his audience that this person is happy, or mad. Usually they're happy. He still can't pronounce "vanilla" and "noodle" properly, but he can say "infiltrator."
Best of all, I'm really enjoying him at this wonderful, exasperating, challenging, funny, loving, cute, crazy stage of his life.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

War Zone

My family room looks like a war zone right now.
Toys are all over the place--but the chaos is strangely organized.
Yesterday afternoon there were five children in my house, ranging from 3 to 13, ALL engaged TOGETHER in a strategic plan to turn the family room into a battlefield. There's a map drawn by Middle Sister who misspelled her friend's name (and it's only 4 letters long) but correctly inscribed "BLITZKRIEG" in a different spot. I suspect that Big Brother, who shares Big Daddy's keen interest in all things World War II, had something to do with that.
There are tiny little army guys, something that Little Brother insists are "shotguns" but are probably supposed to be cannons, miniature battleships, teeny warplanes and the odd helicopter.
Everyone was reasonably quiet, and no one was fighting.
The game was abandoned early, when the kids heard another neighbor family come outside to play after they finished dinner. Everyone immediately congregated in that yard (Big Brother in head-to-toe camouflage) to play the traditional game of "Infiltrators."
This game is fun for all ages. The Big Kids try to climb over the back fence into the neighbors' yard without being detected by the Little Kids (anyone under 6). When the Little Kids to spot them, they begin chasing the Big Kids around the yard, shrieking "Infiltrators!" The object of the game is to capture the Infiltrators and incarcerate them in the neighbors' Little Tykes Barbie Play House. They can play this game for hours. Ours is probably the only neighborhood with a child under two whose vocabulary includes the word "infiltrators."

How Can I Help It?

You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

What other result could I expect? I am a student of language and literature. My motto is: "You can never have too many books--or too many shoes!"
H/T to Julie at Happy Catholic for this quiz.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I've been reading quite a bit on this subject lately

Last weekend I started reading "I Don't Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson, which is supposed to be a funny account of the life of a more-than-full-time-working-mom, but which I find quite depressing (just as I did "The Nanny Diaries.")

And then, today, The Anchoress had an interesting piece on the same topic.

I'm one who, when I revealed my plans to stay at home with my children to a friend who was rather surprised at my "planned and wanted" pregnancy with Big Brother, was accused of "wasting my education."

Yes, I have a Master's degree from a prestigious university. It qualifies me to teach English on a college level, and I'm certified to teach secondary grades as well. But nothing about my education DISqualifies me from hugging my kids, planning and cooking their meals, taking care of my home, volunteering in their school, reading stories to Little Brother, building block towers, doing piles of laundry, cleaning toilets, helping with homework, or doing any of the other miscellaneous tasks that make up my day--no, my vocation--as a wife and mother.

I guess Big Daddy is wasting his education too, as he is not employed as a meteorologist but instead as a computer programmer. I actually know very few people who are employed in the same field they planned to work in while they were still students. Over time, we grow and change. And nothing we learn is ever wasted, whether we use it for personal profit or not.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Heart Transplant, Anyone?

The Curt Jester has done a wonderful piece on the heart. It's definitely worth reading.

Via Happy Catholic.

Tagged by Jill

10 Years Ago
I was 30 years old, 6 months pregnant with Middle Sister and had just finished being a contestant on "Jeopardy!" (I lost, but the only thing I got wrong was Final Jeopardy).

5 Years Ago
I was 35 years old and teaching part-time Spanish, grade 5 at a middle school and grade 1 in an elementary school in a neighboring town. 2 classes a day, 5 days a week. The choir I had led for almost 10 years had been displaced by a change in the Mass schedule, and directed to merge with a senior citizens' choir in the same parish. That merger lasted a month. After that I went on a heartbreaking hiatus from music ministry for almost 2 years.

1 Year Ago
I was 39. Little Brother was 2. I was just beginning to get more involved in the Big Kids' school and volunteer during the day, with Little Brother in tow.

5 Songs I Know the Words To
You can't expect me to narrow it down to just 5! I have an amazing memory for lyrics. Having been a church musician since 1980 I know just about everything in the old original 3-volume set of "Glory and Praise."

5 Snacks
Grandma Utz's handcooked potato chips
Milky Way
coffee ice cream
cheese Danish
mixed nuts

5 Things I Would Do With $100,000,000
Buy & restore a big Victorian house (the more porches & turrets, the better)
Educate my childen & my nieces & nephews
Bail out my Big Kids' financially-strapped Catholic school and build the parish a nice gym/parish community center
Make sure my parents & inlaws were well provided for in their retirement years
Tell Big Daddy that he can stop working for pay and instead do what he loves, involving meteorology

5 Favorite TV Shows
The West Wing
The Apprentice
The Weather Channel
The Cosby Show reruns
Early Edition reruns

5 Places I Would Run Away To
the NJ shore
the mountains, especially in fall
That's all I need

5 Joys
My family
a beautiful sunset
a good laugh

5 Things I Would Never Wear
-anything that exposes my belly
-piercings outside my ears
-high heels
-miniskirts (or mini-anything)
-shorts with writing on the butt

I don't know anyone who hasn't been tagged for this one!

The Politics Quiz

You are a

Social Conservative
(26% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(43% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Someone was watching out for me this morning

It's not like the Music Director hasn't given me ample notice that we were switching Mass settings today. I've known it for at least 3 weeks. And I HAVE all the music in my Big Church Binder for all the Mass settings that we've ever done in my 3 years singing at this parish.
So I lead the singing of the Entrance Hymn and turn the page to the Gloria. Luckily I don't play the introductions on my guitar--the Music Director does those solo, on the keyboard. There I am, on Auto-Cantor, as I am about to play the Heritage Gloria and I hear the Music Director launch into the Mass of Creation. Eeek!
OK, I'll just sing and not play. I'll look a bit foolish with my guitar hanging around my neck doing nothing, but I can roll with that. I'm singing and turning the page in my book at the same time. I'm into the second verse before I realize that the music in front of me is the St. Louis Jesuits Gloria, and that the Mass of Creation setting is in a completely different part of my book.
So I turn the pages AGAIN, hoping frantically that no one has noticed.
Amazingly, I never made a mistake in singing the acclamation that I was unable to locate in my binder until the song was 2/3 over.
I think that next Sunday I'll have my coffee BEFORE church.
St. Cecilia, I owe you one.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I'd love winter, if it weren't so COLD!

Your Element is Water

Your power colors: blue and aqua

Your energy: deep

Your season: winter

Like the ocean, you evoke deep feelings and passion.
You have an emotional, sensitive, and spiritual soul.
A bit mysterious, you tend to be quiet when you are working out a problem.
You need your alone time, so that you can think and dream.

Fall is my favorite season. But a lot of the rest of this was on the mark. I like my power colors!
Thanks for this quiz go to Happy Catholic!

Friday, September 16, 2005

My younger sister would say...

I'm a LOSER!
I know for a fact she would say this. She's never been shy about it.
Anyway, my whole family--except for me--has gone to the mountains in central Pennsylvania for a weekend at our Neighbor's Mountain House. Dads and Kids Only. No Moms Allowed.
And what am I doing here at home while everyone's away?
Scrubbing the entire kitchen floor with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and then finishing it off with an acrylic floor polish.
No lie.
My sister is right. But it's the only time I can do this without having Little Brother run across the newly-finished floor and STICK there because the acrylic is not yet dry!
I guess I'm even more of a Loser for being 40 years old and still worrying about what my sister thinks.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I don't want to know....

Little Brother is writhing around on the living room floor, sporting a brand-new buzz cut and a growly voice:
"Where's my arm? I can't see my arm!"
It looks to me like they're both attached, so I'm not too alarmed. Besides, I probably don't want to know what prompted this one.

I don't do bugs

It is Big Daddy's responsibility to deal with any insect life that enters our home uninvited. Generally this means that if I see a spider around, I'll wait until Big Daddy gets home and make him take care of it. Yes, in this house, gender roles are pretty much traditional.
Big Daddy had already left for work this morning when Big Brother felt something inside his school shoe.
"Something's crawling around in my shoe, Mom!"
"You probably have a rock in there. Just shake it out."
"There's a CRICKET in my shoe!"
Guess who had to take the shoe outside and shake it until the traumatized cricket escaped to safety in the flower bed?
Big Brother has a lot to learn about his upcoming responsibilities. The kid's a Boy Scout, for Pete's sake. He earned his NATURE badge this summer.
My only consolation is that the kids didn't go running for our neighbor to encourage him to catch the wayward cricket and feed it to his lizard!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lunchroom days are here again

Little Brother and I volunteer in the cafeteria at the Big Kids' school. I was just talking to Little Brother about what he wants to bring to school in his lunchbox today. His first answer was "Green beans!" Of course, he wants to wear his "school shirt" (Middle Sister's old gym t-shirt) to the lunchroom too. I'm looking forward to being there today. It's not the most glamorous volunteer work (wiping tables, cleaning up spills, emptying trash and stopping children from throwing things--I can do all that at HOME!) but it is a help to the school and I enjoy being around all the kids.
They enjoy being around Little Brother. Every child in the school knows his name. He has his choice of whom to sit with at the lunch tables. Eighth-grade boys--and girls--play little games with him. It's really nice to be around a group of children who treat Little Brother as if he IS their little brother.
That's the kind of thing that makes our school the nice little community that it has come to be.

Monday, September 12, 2005

And now for something completely different

Who would I be 500 years ago?

The Monk
You scored 21% Cardinal, 58% Monk, 38% Lady, and 40% Knight!

You live a peaceful, quiet life. Very little danger comes you way and
you live a long time. You are wise and modest, but also stagnant. You
have little comfort, little food and have taken a vow of silence. But
who needs chatter when just sitting in the cloister of your abbey with
The Good Book makes you perfectly content.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 18% on Cardinal
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 79% on Monk
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 24% on Lady
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 27% on Knight
Link: The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test written by KnightlyKnave on Ok Cupid

Not surprising.

H/T to Happy Catholic for this quiz.

I'm saddened for this family

I just read over at A Mom and Her Blog that Susan Torres' little baby daughter passed away yesterday.
That family has gone through so much heartbreak over the past few months. I can't even imagine.
May perpetual light shine upon her.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why I don't homeschool

I just don't think I could handle Big Brother's scientific curiosity on a regular basis.
In the past three days we have had the following scientific experiments:
1. Get a "punching balloon" (the big kind, with the elastic band that ties around one end) and attach the end to the garden hose. Turn on the hose and see how big the balloon gets before the water pressure causes it to explode.
2. Dip a turkey baster in bubble solution and try to make bubbles with it.
I'm happy to let his science teacher deal with his zeal for experimentation for part of the day! Plus, she keeps small animals in the classroom. Rumor has it that she's been lobbying for permission to bring in a snake.
Better her than me.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Little Rascals never had to put up with this

My Big Kids sometimes enjoy repeating the "Little Rascals" routine of:
"Don't drink the milk."
"Why not?"
"It's spoiled."
They've never seen that episode but they've heard us refer to it and they think it's funnier than anything.
Tonight, though, they were short-circuited.
Middle Sister got it started: "Don't drink the milk."
Lactose-intolerant Little Brother replied, "I drink WATER!"

Things like this REALLY get to me.

Click on the title to read the full story. H/T to Der Tomissar for this one.
And people wonder why I refuse to do business with companies that openly fund Planned Parenthood? How can I not?

What Kind of Cross am I?

You are the Mexican Cross: This ceramic cross is
hand crafted and painted in Mexico. Its bright
colors make it appropriate for the kitchen or a
child's bedroom, reminding us of the joy of the

What Kind of Cross are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
This was kind of cool, and I do like this cross. I could use one like it in my kitchen!
H/T to Seekeroftheway for this quiz.

It occurs to me...

...that it is not inappropriate to ask, "What would Mary do?" when trying to deal with a problem I am having with my children.
I'm sure that would be a good start.
Now, if only I could remember to DO that, in the heat of the moment.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


It's been another fun-filled day, what with Middle Sister's eye-rolling, and rude answering, and finally outright snapping at me for no reason at the dinner table.
She was warned at the bus stop this morning that she'd be spending some quality time with her rude self alone in her room with NO RADIO (the ultimate punishment for She Who Has Four Radios). And she got what she wanted, after dinner and the post-dinner chores. I guess that's what she wanted, since she continued her rude behavior. She's old enough to know by now that with me, it's not a threat but a promise.

I thought about having her write the Fourth Commandment a few hundred times. (It's a good penmanship exercise too). I didn't, though, because Big Daddy said that he would go up and talk to her. So I am anxious to see what will come about as a result.

I don't want my children growing up to be rude, to me or to anyone else. I have the feeling she sees far too much of it on "TeenNICK" type shows, and is imitating what she sees. Maybe she sees too much of it in me, too, and I am trying to be better. But I want to foster more respect, and respectful behavior, in my children.

Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dress Rehearsals

Big Brother is my pragmatic child. Sometimes that is an absolutely delightful quality--strange as it may sound.
Last night we were discussing the need for him to get used to an earlier bedtime, now that school is about to begin. He will have to be ready to catch the bus at 7:10 AM.
He was negotiating for 5 later minutes of bedtime and wake-up time, and I finally just asked him, "How long do you really need to get ready?"
He thought about that. I reminded him that he can be ready much faster if his schoolbag is packed the night before and put by the front door, and if he knows where his belt is.
"Yeah, I can waste 5 minutes every day looking for that belt," he commented. And a missing belt is an Unforgivable Out-Of-Uniform Offense at his school.
He decided that tomorrow will be his day for a Dress Rehearsal. He will wake up, get dressed, and have breakfast--and time himself. He's planned to make sure he has some time to read at breakfast. I'll have him add 5 minutes onto the final time, "just in case." And we'll come up with a reasonable wake-up time for him based on this.
I'm pretty impressed at his approach. I'm willing to give this a try!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Operation Sleepover

More information will follow, but at the moment, here's the basics: the Minister of my Fraternity of Secular Franciscans has initiated Operation Sleepover as a way to involve the youth of our local parishes in the relief effort for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. There's contact information in the link above.

From the Comments

Steve commented, in my last post, that The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is accepting donations to help hurricane victims.
People are WALKING from the flood area to Baton Rouge--which is a 90-minute car ride away.
I was remembering, this morning, the time I visited Louisiana. I was a college student, and I participated in a Campus Ministry convention. I think it was held in January 1985, and Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA hosted. 8 students from northeastern-Pennsylvania colleges, including me, drove down in a borrowed van, on New Year's Eve (I still can't believe my parents let me do this!) One afternoon the whole convention was bused to New Orleans for a field trip to the French Quarter--quite the eye-opener for a bunch of Catholic Campus Ministry students!
On a road trip like that, you see how people are really living. You see the tiny homes by the sides of the road. I'm sure those homes aren't there anymore. There were so many people who already had so little. I have heard people say that "everyone should have gotten out" and while there may be room to criticize those who really had a choice to stay or go, there were SO many people who had nowhere to escape to, and no means to get there.
I read this morning that Nicholls State is sheltering more than 1000 evacuees on their campus.
Please pray for God's blessing on the evacuees, and on those who help them, and please help as you are able.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This Just In

I'm sure I'm not alone in mourning the devastation our Southern neighbors are facing right now.
Similarly, I'm sure I'm not alone in being appalled that some people are trying to take advantage of the situation. As if the looting wasn't bad enough, now there's this.
If you really want your hurricane-relief donation to do the most good, I'd suggest directing it to Catholic Charities.
H/T to Danielle Bean for the info and link to the donation site.