Saturday, December 31, 2005

Not to be missed

Sister Eva-Maria has this wonderful reflection on her blog today. I thought it was well-worth a "reprint" here.

Prayer is like talking to Someone who is listening, but not speaking much. Just listening attentively.
But then HE answers... speaks later...
... through other people.
... through our thoughts.
... through insights into Scripture.
... through nature.
... through difficult situations.
... through joys.
... in silence.
HE listens but speaks when we least expect it.
It is important to be attentive when He does speak.

It never ceases to amaze me

After 3 kids, I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I still marvel the second the Band-aid is applied to the scrape, the child stops crying.
These magical powers are the reason I have no fewer than 7 boxes of the miracle strips in my medicine cabinet!

Go Irish!

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MUST-SEE TV in the SFO Mom Household:
Monday, January 2

NOTRE DAME vs. OHIO STATE in the Fiesta Bowl!

I have already informed my family that I am going to be parked in the comfy spot on the couch to watch this game, and that there will be a change in the dinner plan. No WAY am I making any chicken piccata when I can be watching ND football. This dinner is going to have to be something I can do in the Nesco and forget about!

Big Daddy suggested: "Why don't we just take the kids to a sports bar, and watch the game there?"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm sure you all think I'm weird enough ALREADY...

but Steve has tagged me for this "5 weird things" meme....I'll try to think of new idiosyncracies since I've done this one before. In fact, Steve, I tagged YOU last time!

So here you go: Just How Weird IS SFO Mom?

1. If I'm awake, I'm wearing shoes. I have a nice pair of slippers that my in-laws gave me for Christmas last year with a new robe. They're hardly used! I put on a pair of clogs in the morning and wear those around until I'm dressed, at which point I'm in actual shoes.

2. If it's below 45 degrees and I'm outside, I'm wearing gloves. My fingers like to be warm.

3. I'm absolutely obsessive about "repeating" clothing, to the point where I will look through old pictures of Christmas Eve celebrations to make sure I don't wear the same thing again. I also go through this every Sunday for church. When I was teaching part-time, I actually KEPT A LIST of what I wore every day, so my "Tuesday" students wouldn't see me in the same outfit 2 weeks in a row. Like first-graders would notice, or care.

4. If the cookie or candy is shaped like a person or an animal, I always eat the head first. The same goes for "Peeps."

5. I have this irrational need to be "first." Remember when you were a little kid and you'd race with your siblings to get to the car, and yell, "FIRST!"? If Big Daddy and I both drive to church because he is running late, and I have to get those of us involved in ministries (music, altar server) there early, we have a race to get home, and I will admit to some road behaviors on such occasions that I normally do not engage in. On Christmas, he actually let me pass him ON OUR STREET so I could be first in the driveway. That's true love.

OK, am I unbalanced enough for you?

Call for Book Recommendations

I hit the jackpot with bookstore gift cards this Christmas! And tomorrow looks like it will be the day for me to get out for a bit and SPEND some of these. (Of course, I'm thinking of saving one for those "only available online" purchases...)
I do have a list of things to look for, but if anyone would like to recommend a favorite of theirs, I'd be most appreciative.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Feast of the Holy Innocents

It seems appropriate that on this day I received an email from a friend who is expecting a child in the spring; a prenatal test revealed a possibility of Down's.
It was a relief to see that she intends to keep the baby, no matter what. So many innocent little ones are aborted because of the possibility of this condition.
On my heart today, then, are my friend, her unborn baby, and their whole family, for the strength to accept and endure whatever God has in store for them; and also those babies who are never given the chance to be born.
This morning at Mass, Father observed that the "Holy Innocents" of today's world are not only the unborn but all those who are not wanted, those who are considered worthy of nothing better than being thrown away.
I am reminded of children with spina bifida, who not even ten years ago had no chance of walking, and whose parents less than ten years ago were encouraged to abort; now there is a prenatal surgery available that can dramatically lessen the effects of spina bifida. One such child is a member of our extended family. This seven-year-old girl had such a severe spina bifida that doctors predicted total paralysis from the waist down--but thanks to the prenatal surgery, she walked ON HER OWN to receive her gifts from Santa on Christmas Eve this year.
Miracles that can be accomplished by God, whether through the gifts He has given medical personnel or through pure divine power, can never be predicted. Who are we to decide that a child--a Holy Innocent--does not merit such a miracle?

Please join in a Novena for the Unborn. Via A Catholic Life.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Mourning

Wigilia was a little subdued this year. We felt the absence of one branch of the family in a particularly deep way. Uncle Stanley passed away Saturday morning after a long illness. We are comforted to know that his suffering is over and that at long last he has been reunited with his beloved wife and other family members in Heaven. But we will miss his hearty laugh, his ready jokes, and his treasury of family stories and even a few tall tales. Luckily for us, he passed those gifts along to his two daughters.
We viewed old photographs, and the hostess of the party gave each family an ornament covered in pictures of each family member. There were few dry eyes among the adults as we all looked for Uncle Stanley on our ornaments, and told stories of past Christmases featuring our family patriarch--most of which centered on a particular comfortable chair.
Rest in peace, Uncle Stanley. May perpetual light shine upon you, and may you have that comfortable chair in Heaven!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Reason for the Season


This picture really brings to my mind the humble place where Jesus was born. I am a mom, and quite the wimp about pain, and the thought of childbirth in a tiny barn such as this--I could never do it! It makes me realize that Mary's gift was not a one-time thing. When she said "yes" to God, she said "yes" not only to carrying and giving birth to baby Jesus, but to all those other trials, joys, heartaches, and physical hardships that she experienced throughout her whole life. All of us do this who make a solemn vow; we can never anticipate where life will bring us and what good and bad things will happen. The Blessed Mother has set the example for us; she underwent the trials of giving birth in a stable, relocating to Egypt and back with a young child, right up to watching her Son give his life on the Cross. She stood by her promise to God. This Christmas may God grant us all the strength and grace to stand by the promises we have made in our lives, and to keep the Faith no matter how discouraged we may become.
Merry Christmas to all!

H/T to Franciscan Cards for this beautiful picture. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005


Big Daddy's family is Polish, so when I joined the family I was introduced to the wonderful custom of Wigilia.
My family never did much of anything on Christmas Eve, and I felt like I was missing out on something. But my mother-in-law's family goes all out, with a tradition going back to their emigration from Poland in the early part of this century.
Earlier in December the family gathers to prepare the pierogi. A pastry board is used that was carried from Poland, and the recipe has similarly been passed down through the generations. Younger people are carefully instructed in the art of pinching--as the only thing worse than a leaking pierogi is mixing up the potato pierogi with the sauerkraut ones.
The pierogi are rolled, filled, pinched, dried, boiled, cooled and packed away for freezing until Christmas Eve. Everyone has a job to do and Pierogi Day is a lot of fun.
On Christmas Eve we gather at what Little Brother calls "Santa's House." About an hour before dinner the hostess calls for people to help fry the pierogi. When I first married into the family I was considered "too young" for the job. But a few years ago I noticed that high-school students were starting to take over the frying--I was suddenly "too old" for the job!
When the pierogi are all browned, the other courses are placed on the dinner table: sliced baked ham, mushrooms and gravy, rye bread, and sometimes a turkey or pasta dish.
Everyone comes through the kitchen to fill a plate, and we enjoy the delicious meal.
Next is the ritual of the oplatek. These are wafers, kind of like a Communion wafer, but sometimes colored and with pictures stamped on them. They are large rectangles. Each guest breaks off pieces of their oplatek and gives them to the other guests with a hug and a wish for a good year. During this ritual no one remembers that this one mixed up the pierogi flavors or that one didn't want to help fry--it's just a time to wish each other well. None of the other stuff matters.
The host of the party then gets everyone's attention and reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. We all sing "Silent Night."
At this point, the traditional Wigilia celebration is over and the party swings into full Santa mode. This is a family custom and is a lot of fun.
One of the grownups, on cue, mentions that they hear some jingle bells and banging on the roof. They encourage everyone to sing "Jingle Bells" to tell Santa where we are. Then Santa comes through the door! The Little Kids are completely thrilled. One lucky child is chosen to hold Santa's jingle bells. Big Kids in the family act as Santa's Helpers and hand him the gifts for each child which are piled up under the Christmas tree. Everyone at the party, no matter your age or size, will be called to Santa's lap to receive a gift and have a Photo Opportunity. When the gifts are all handed around and opened, Santa poses for pictures with each family and then with all the kids, big and small.
Santa leads us in a few Christmas songs and carols and then heads on his way.
Then it's time to enjoy a variety of homemade desserts, most of which involve chocolate, and we all head on our way.
A Blessed Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Christmas Meme

Hot Chocolate or apple cider? Coffee!

Turkey or Ham? Ham, if it's boiled with cabbage. Otherwise, turkey. But this year I'm cooking filet mignon.

Do you get a Fake or Real you cut it yourself Christmas tree? It must be fake, or SFO Mom will spend the Christmas season getting really well-acquainted with her inhaler.

Decorations on the outside of your house? That's Big Daddy's department. I'm happy with a wreath or 2. Now, it's Christmas all over the inside of the house. Outside, a wreath and a simple string of lights on the rooflines. Little Brother wants to go into full Clark W. Griswold mode, though.

Snowball fights or sledding? Snowball fights! But only because there are no hills around here! I'd much rather use my Marywood College cafeteria tray to go down a nice big hill.

Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? I've never had the opportunity. It's nothing but "big boxes" as far as the eye can see around here.

Favorite Christmas song? Favorite "real" Christmas song - "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night." Favorite "fun" Christmas song - "There's Something Stuck Up In the Chimney."

How do you feel about Christmas movies? They're great! My favorites include "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the original one), "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Christmas Story," "It's a Wonderful Life" and the made-for-TV-and-cheesy-but-cute "Christmas List."

When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? 24/7: Dec. 15. In moderation: it's never too soon!

Stockings before or after presents? There's no set procedure for that.

Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? I'd love to listen to carolers if some would show up at my door. Even better, I'd love to go caroling.

Go to someone else's house or they come to you? We spend Christmas Eve with Big Daddy's family at a big Polish Wigilia celebration. Christmas Day we used to wake up here, open gifts, go to church, then leave to head for my parents' house. But they have changed the routine so now we are at home all of Christmas Day, and we spend the next day at my parents'. My in-laws will join us for dinner on Christmas Day.

Do you read the Christmas Story? That is read as part of the rituals of Wigilia, so we don't do it again at home.

What do you do after presents and dinner? Play with our toys!

What is your favorite holiday smell? Cookies!

Ice skating or walking around the mall? Skating!

Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? The children receive gifts at Wigilia and they open those there. Everything else waits until morning.

Favorite Christmas memory? When we were kids, the Christmas tree was always decorated by Santa after we were in bed Christmas Eve. In the morning we had to wait at the top of the stairs for my grandmother to come over AFTER she went to 7 AM Mass! We were not allowed downstairs, to see the tree, until she got there. Then there would be a mad rush down the stairs. One year my brother heard a noise on Christmas Eve and went halfway down, only to catch Dad struggling to bring in the tree through the kitchen doorway. "We're getting it ready for Santa to decorate! Now go BACK TO BED!"

Favorite part about winter? Christmas!

Ever been kissed under mistletoe? No.

Via Happy Catholic. If you want to do this one, consider yourself TAGGED!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Number One Reason Why...

I am SFO Mom, and not SFO Chef:

This afternoon I very efficiently placed a piece of pork loin, some potatoes, sauerkraut, onions and seasonings into my Nesco roaster and left Big Daddy AND Big Brother with instructions to plug it in and turn it on in half an hour. I even put the meat thermometer into the roast.

Then I left to attend a choir rehearsal for Christmas.

When I returned, I checked the roast, which smelled delicious. The thermometer read 170 so I figured I'd better get it out of there NOW, as it was probably overcooked already.

I cut into the meat and found it still WAY pink inside. Then I noticed that the face of my thermometer looked a little, um, melted....yeah....I cooked an instant-read thermometer for 1 1/2 hours at 325. You know that surrealist painting of the melting watch? I almost had one of my very own.

The microwave finished cooking the pork for us, but I stuck to the potatoes and kraut.

For Your Holiday Baking Pleasure

I'd love to do like Julie D. and start a whole extra blog for recipes but I have the feeling that I might never leave the computer if I did that!

Anyway, I was reading about "Whiskey Cookies" over at Martha Martha and that post brought to mind one of our very favorite cookie recipes.

Mrs. Wagner's Cookies
Makes 10 dozen

1 pound butter -- softened (margarine works also)
7 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bourbon (we use Jack Daniel's)
1 cup milk
5 egg white
Colored sugar/sprinkles for decorating

Mix flour and butter like pie dough.

Beat remaining ingredients (except egg white and colored sugar) and add to dry mix.
Dough should be STIFF.

Roll thin and cut into shapes. Brush with egg white and decorate.

Bake on greased sheet, 6 minutes at 375. Bottoms should be light brown, tops should be white.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NOTES : Chill dough before rolling. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Mr. and Mrs. Wagner were a retired couple who lived next door to my family during my childhood. They became like "extra grandparents" to us. We'd bang on their back door hoping for cookies, or to be let into their house to play with the toys they kept there for us. For me and my sister, it was a little doll, with a homemade cradle made from a berry basket and lined with a little mattress, pillow, blanket, and baby doll clothes--all handmade with love. I forget what my brother had over there. I still have that doll today; it's the only toy from my childhood that I still have.

They treated us like family, right down to letting my mom know when we were getting into something we shouldn't!

I have a few tangible things that help me remember these very special people. Besides that doll, I have the game board they used to play with us. It's an old German game that is basically the same as "Trouble" but without the famous "Pop-o-Matic." I have a three-tier candy plate. And I have the cookie recipe. If I could only keep one of these, it would be the recipe!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Baby Jesus Wore a Blue Snowsuit

Baby Jesus wore a blue snowsuit with a faux-fur-trimmed hood.
All the Angels had puffy coats under their robes.
The Shepherds sported blue jeans and white Nikes.
The pastor contributed his own "capuch" and a deacon's stole to complete Francis' costume.

Mary had a kidney transplant three weeks ago.
The Sheep was played by a three-year-old boy who had to be persuaded to take off the Eagles hat underneath his furry-eared cap.
Due to a shortage of teenage boys, there were almost Two Kings instead of Three.

Mary's pony stopped along the path to Bethlehem to graze on some leftover autumn leaves.
The goat butted the Shepherds and the Sheep.
Most of the choir members had colds and couldn't sing.
We were right next to a Dumpster.

It was a beautiful sunny day.
There were so many people we didn't have enough chairs.
But there were plenty of cookies and lots of hot cocoa.
All the children played their parts wonderfully.
The pastor sang with the choir, and at the end everyone sang "Joy to the World."

Today we reflected on the miracle of Greccio and the miracle of Bethlehem.
We were thankful for our warm clothing. Baby Jesus probably wasn't so lucky.
We were thankful for the children who eagerly donned angel wings and shepherds' robes.
We were thankful for a young girl's new lease on life thanks to a generous organ donor.
We were thankful for the cookies, and the cocoa, and the fellowship shared around some pots of delicious homemade soup after it was all over.
We were--and are--thankful for the miracle that brought us all here in the first place.

It's a Girl Thing

The policing of children's church wardrobes is a daunting task when you have girls in the family.
Boys are easier. Khakis and a golf shirt or sweater, and you're good to go.
With girls, it's a whole other ball game.
This morning Middle Sister carried her purple sweater and blue jeans into the bathroom.
Me: "No jeans for church unless it's snowing."
Middle Sister: "But I'm not in choir today..."
I suggested that she replace the jeans with her black pants or her denim skirt. The last I saw, she had opted for the black pants. Very "Advent," with the purple sweater.
After her shower she paraded down the stairs in her denim skirt, boots, purple corduroy jacket (so far, so good--but nothing of what she had planned on) AND a pink and white T-shirt with letters on it.
I nixed the T-shirt and suggested two other tops she owns that match the outfit.
Now she's wearing a different top under the purple jacket.
It's light blue, almost lavender.
It does not match, but it's appropriate for church.
I do not have another battle in me. Unless she changes AGAIN in the next 3 minutes, that's how she's going to church.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Each Advent my SFO Fraternity remembers the story of Francis at Greccio with a re-enactment of our own. In alternating song, story and movement of costumed actors and live animals, the Nativity story is retold along with the story of how the Baby Jesus miraculously appeared in a manger where Francis prayed in Greccio. Carols will be sung and many from the community will participate. It's always a wonderful experience.
In a way this whole Greccio celebration at our Fraternity parallels Advent for me. Beforehand, there is much rushing around. Most of our Fraternity consists of senior citizens, so their ability to do "grunt work" like hauling chairs around, building the "stable" or carrying the big coffee urn full of hot cocoa is limited. Some are shut-ins and can't even be there. That means that the work of getting children in and out of costumes, making cocoa, setting up chairs, and cleaning up afterward is left for the few of us who are young and able enough to do it.
In a similar way, most Christmas preparations tend to fall to the mom in the house. I know this is true in my family. It is my job to get the cards and stamps and pictures (though Big Daddy writes most of them); my job to do most of the present shopping; my job to do all the gift-wrapping, and so on.
Last night I left my Fraternity meeting feeling frustrated because the sign-up sheet representing 9 "needed" people to do tasks before and after the event, was more than half empty.
This morning I woke up feeling a little different about it.
This is not about who does what. It's just about making it happen.
This is a precious moment in the life of a parish, to come together and be part of the scene as Jesus comes among us.
So, Before and After, I will do what is needed. During, I will lead the choir--and no matter how many or few of us there may be, "Joy to the World" will ring out joyfully. My gift to Baby Jesus at Greccio will be to serve with a happy heart--happy that I am young enough and able enough to haul chairs, make cocoa, and adjust angel wings.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

If We Don't Know the Birthday, How Can We Have a Party?

After we did our daily How many days to Christmas countdown, Middle Sister was informing me that she learned in school that "no one really knows what day Jesus was born. Maybe it wasn't the 25th. Maybe it was the 24th, or something."
(Or maybe not even in the winter, but I wasn't about to get into that with her at this point.)
She went on, "It would be really easy to find out, though. They should just check his tomb!"
Me: "He doesn't HAVE a tomb anymore, since he rose from the dead, and then ascended to Heaven."
Middle Sister: "OH YEAH!!!!!"

Grand Ambitions

This morning Little Brother and I were on our way to the library. Out of the blue, he announced, "When I'm big I'm going to be an Altar Server!"
We chatted a bit about his plans to carry the candle while Big Brother carries the cross, and how he would ring the bells, and he told me that the third server could be Big Brother's good friend.
Then I asked him what he wanted to be when he was even bigger. I asked, "Do you want to be like Father?"
He said, "No! I'm going to be JESUS!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Step Right Up...

The Catholic Carnival is up!

Follow the link to read about such topics as churches closed on Christmas Day, why the Virgin Mary is the key to Vatican II, Saint Nicholas, Gaudete Sunday and much, MUCH more!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Try Not to Get "Political" in My Blog

Normally I don't write about politics in our nation or our Church, because that wasn't the purpose of my blog. But this one touches my family right now, so here goes.

An editorial quoted at De Civitate Dei really hit home today. It is titled, "Catholic Church Must Seek Lost Sheep" and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The premise here is that the Church must reach out to those many families who have stopped going to church. I am the first to agree that such outreach is sorely needed.

Just about four years ago my family changed parishes after transferring the Big Kids from one parochial school to the other. We believe it is our duty to support the parish that generously educates our children. We left that school and ultimately that parish because of some disturbing problems in the school that directly affected Middle Sister and all the other children in her class. We did not just "fade into the night" but had conferences with both the pastor and principal and explained our reasons for leaving. Never once were we told that we would be missed. Never once were we asked "What can we do to keep you here?"

We were not the first, nor the last, family to leave that school and parish. Not all of them found another parish to call their spiritual home. Many of them ultimately sent their children to public schools. Yet so many of them had been hardworking families who were willing to give their time, talents and energy to the school and parish. As more families jumped ship, the school failed and 18 months ago its doors were closed forever. It's tragic, and it didn't have to happen.

We are kidding ourselves if we think that things like this don't happen everywhere, every day. We need people in our church who will "leave behind the 99 sheep to look for the one who was lost." Everyone who leaves represents a loss to the community. And this outreach to the "lost" should not fall completely on the shoulders of the priests, but on a group of caring, committed people who are able to inspire and encourage others.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Little Brother's Specially Decorated Christmas Tree Branch


For some reason known only to computer geniuses, which I am not, I could not post 2 pictures in the same entry. So here's the last illustration to my other post about the treePosted by Picasa

Sunday, December 11, 2005

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... heavy are your branches!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How droopy are your branches!
The ornaments are overweight
Where Little Brother decorates.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How burdened are your branches!

Little Brother has continued the tradition of hanging as many ornaments as he can on one or two low branches of the tree. At one point, we had a "straw that broke the camel's back" moment where the branch could no longer handle the load, and a number of ornaments slid right off! I think a few of them are still on the floor.

Big Daddy wanted to redecorate, but I like it this way. It's part of the charm of a tree decorated by family members who enjoy inspecting ornaments, having a contest to see who can hang their special ornament in the highest spot, and scandalizing me by threatening to juggle with the breakable ones.

For the record, I am the only one in this house who is able to juggle, so that right is reserved for me and me alone. The rest of them can practice with tennis balls first--preferably outside the house.

 Posted by Picasa

More Rejoicing

Today's homily (I was actually LISTENING!) centered around the story of a failing monastery whose abbot visited a holy hermit, only to learn that Jesus Christ was actually living in the monastery, disguising Himself as one of the monks so no one would find Him out. Once the monks learned this, it was only a short while before they began treating each other much more kindly, praying much more fervently, and really rejoicing in the truth that Christ has brought to the world--and the monastery began to attract new monks and inspire the laity.

I wonder what would happen if we ALL treated each other as if someone we met might actually be Christ in disguise. Certainly nothing but good could come out of that.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gaudete Sunday

A priest from my diocese has a blog where he posts his Sunday homilies.

It's a pretty cool idea. I particularly enjoy it since as a musician, sometimes I miss some parts of Mass due to my mind wandering about what's going to be sung next, what key I have to remember to play it in, what the kids in the choir are doing right now and whether I should intervene before it gets too "out of hand," and things like that--not to mention all the other stuff that everyone's mind wanders about.

Just as we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for Mass, including reading & meditating on the readings of the day, so it can be wise for someone who is in a position to be distracted a bit during the homily to avail herself of this resource. It's not the same homily I'd be hearing, but trust me--this priest has plenty of good points to think and pray about.

I encourage you to visit his blog and read the homily for tomorrow. The theme: "Rejoice in the Lord always!"

Parental Purgatory

Otherwise known as CANDYLAND.

Little Brother is deep into his Candyland phase. Fourteen thousand times a day, he can be heard to shout, "Let's play Candyland! You shovel up the cards..."

Having gone through the Candyland phase twice already, there was a big part of me that wanted to make sure Little Brother never played this game. Hey, it worked with Barney...but I can't deprive him of everything.

Candyland is a tedious game, especially before 7 in the morning when you have not had adequate coffee yet, and you're four spaces from the Candy Castle when suddenly you get the dreaded "Plumpy" card, so the game goes into its "second deck." I am of the firm belief that all picture cards should be banned from the "second deck" and all subsequent decks.

I know Big Brother agrees with me, because just the other day, before we lost the Blue Guy, I played Candyland with all the kids. In the first 2 decks, Big Brother got "Mr. Mint." In the last deck, he got "Plumpy."

Perhaps the Big Kids could write to Milton Bradley Company and suggest this rule change. Parents everywhere would stand up and cheer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

How Speedy Are You?

Here's a fun quiz to test your reaction time.
You have to shoot the little sheep with the tranquilizer dart before they escape across the football field.
There are 5 sheep that will run across the field.
My score is "Bobbing Bobcat." Not bad. Of course, Big Brother, who enjoys video games, archery and riflery, thinks he can do better, but HE keeps getting the 3-second penalty for shooting the dart before the sheep runs anyplace. (Neener!)
Via Here in the Bonny Glen. Thanks for this addicting bit of fun, Melissa!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I Never Was a Trekkie...

...but I had to take this quiz, to see if my brother actually reads this blog!
I saw plenty of "Star Trek" as a child since both my brother and sister enjoyed the show. Dad made us all "phasers" (mine was Plexiglas) and my brother had a homemade "communicator" too.

You scored as Uhura. You are Lieutenant Uhura. Wow, you are a sweety. You are a quiet supporter of those you care about, and are always ready to listen. You have a secret yearning for the spotlight, and a fine talent, but you tend to find yourself in supportive roles. More of us should hear your song, so make sure you get up there and belt it out every once in awhile. It's good for your ego and our ears.





Nurse Chapel


Dr. McCoy


Pavel Chekov


Captain Kirk


Hikaru Sulu


Montgomery Scott--"Scotty"


Which Star Trek Character Are You?
created with

The characteristics (mostly) fit, but there is NO way that mini-uniform she wore would!
H/T to Paul for this quiz.

In honor of the Blessed Mother

Today the children and I will make Moravian Heart Cookies.

Ginger cookies are often used as a symbol of Mary because of the words in Sirach that describe her:

I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm;
I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh;
and I perfumed my dwelling as store,
and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes,
and as the frankincense not cut,
and my odor is as the purest balm.
(Sirach 24:20-21)

And a favorite line of mine comes from the Gospel of Luke: His mother treasured all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51).

So, to honor Mary today, we will make these spicy cookies in a heart shape.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Big Fun for Little Brother

Sometimes I forget that Little Brother is so little. With Big Kids involved in school, sports, Scouting and Brazilian martial arts, I have a lot of places to go. He also comes along with me twice a week to volunteer in the school lunchroom--and he actually HELPS! His favorite job is stacking the trash cans at the end of the lunch seatings. He gets very annoyed if someone else starts to do that job.
But Little Brother is only 3 1/2. And despite the fact that he still needs help dressing himself, zipping his jacket, and buckling into his car seat, it's easy to forget that this quite articulate little guy really is a LITTLE guy.
Today, though, he got to do some things that were just for him. First of all, we attended the Open House for our town's "Play School" run by the high school child care class. It's a little over an hour, up to 4 days a week, free of charge. Little Brother will hear stories, make crafts, play with play-dough, paint pictures and play with toys. If only there were a school bus he could ride, it would be perfect in his mind!
Naturally he left Play School with play-dough on the brain. But our play-dough was hard as a rock, from not being covered properly the last time he and the neighbor kids played in it. Then I remembered that "way back when" I used to make play-dough for Big Brother and Middle Sister. I dug out the recipe and found all the ingredients. 10 minutes later Little Brother was in his glory at the kitchen table, mashing away with some old cookie cutters. Meanwhile I started getting some things ready for dinner.
Sometimes it's Good To Be 3. And Little Brother needs to be 3. He spends a lot of time trying to keep up with the Big Kids and their friends. I don't want him to miss the fun of being 3 because he's busy hanging with teenagers.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It takes on a whole new meaning now

I had to laugh at Danielle's story about the Madonna Christmas stamps.

I had my own "Madonna Moment" last week when Big Brother was confused about my use of the term. I had to clarify: "The BLESSED MOTHER! Not the rock singer!"

As for the stamps, I ordered mine from the Post Office over the internet, since last year I had to go to 3 different post offices to get the "religious" Christmas stamps. The postal clerks were pretty surprised that I'd rather leave with nothing than take Frosty the Snowman in place of the Holy Family. This year, with the price of gas as high as it is, I paid the $1.00 handling fee to be sure to get the stamps I wanted.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

There was nothing in that prayer about sticky floors

And that's just what I have. A sticky kitchen floor.
I have kids. My floor is sticky. Those things pretty much go together.
But since my kids are all (extremely) verbal I figured I'd ask them what they'd spilled, so I'd know what I was dealing with when I get around to mopping.
Me: "Did someone spill in the kitchen?"
Middle Sister: "Yes..."
Me: "What did you spill?"
Middle Sister: "Apple juice...we wiped it up..."
Me: "Thanks for wiping it up. But when you spill juice, you need to let me know, because the floor gets really sticky. I was sticking to it just now."
Middle Sister: "WOW! Is your shoe still there?"
Me: "It WOULD be, if it weren't TIED TO MY FOOT...."
I'll go get that mop now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Worth Repeating

Paul at Thoughts of a Regular Guy has this prayer posted today:

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory; they are so convenient.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly; It has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.

Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years.

The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing, the lawn that needs raking; we all enjoy the yard.

Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play.

Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says You have richly blessed my family. I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.

This prayer aired on Relevant Radio on the morning show, 12.02.2005, in the "Glen's Story Corner" segment.

On days like today, when for some inexplicable reason I am feeling kind of over-Mom-whelmed, I need something like this to keep my perspective. Perfect timing, Paul. I'd tip my hat to you, but it's covering up the evidence of a Bad Hair Day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Advent & Kids

First, allow me to get this rant out there: it really toasts my marshmallows that "Advent Calendars" always begin on December 1. They aren't Advent Calendars, then....they are December calendars.

Steve at A Song of November mentioned that he's apprehensive about putting up an Advent wreath with a 2-year-old in the house. I was going to post a comment, and maybe even bring him back to the Marauding Marsupial in the TTLB Ecosystem level but I realized that I needed more space for this. Sorry, Steve. So here goes:

Don't skip the Advent wreath just because you have young children. The Advent wreath has been great for our children during this season. Three times now, Big Daddy and I have been through the Tremendously Terrifying Twos at Advent wreath time and I'm pleased to announce that no one has been hurt yet. However, now that we have a Teenager in the house, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher at hand.

Maybe you have one of those cake plates that sits high off the table. Set your wreath on top of that, if you need to keep it away from the little one. Let your kids take turns blowing out the candles. We have two older children and they want to light the candles, so Little Brother gets to blow out the candles every day.

In our house, our preparation plans revolve around the Advent wreath. When Middle Sister was about the age of your younger son, she didn't understand why we didn't have our tree up at Halloween like the mall does. (OK, she still doesn't--but that was when she first expressed it). Until that time we had put our tree up toward the end of Advent, when we got to it. But she needed something concrete--so we started a family tradition of putting the tree up on Gaudete Sunday. We would tell her, "When Father lights the PINK candle at church, that's the day we put up our tree." We do a lot of decorating on Sundays, since the whole family can be together. It all ties in well with doing a little more preparing each time Father lights another candle.

So if you don't have a wreath up now, it's not too late to start. Go for it!