Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him

...and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Rev. Monsignor Thomas J. Zazella (Father T) passed away this afternoon.

May he rest in peace.

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Defrosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I got tired of finding little puddles all over my kitchen counter when I'm defrosting something--or in the refrigerator when I'm organized enough to defrost ahead of time. So I started putting my frozen items on top of a melamine tray. They come in all sizes and patterns at the dollar store, and I had a few already that I hardly ever used. Once the food is defrosted the tray washes up quickly and easily, and it contains all the drips.
Works for me!

You Know You Really Need Coffee When... put the water in the coffeepot, but don't put in the coffee or the carafe, and then wander off. Ten minutes later you wonder why you don't smell coffee yet.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

T is for...the Ten Things Meme

1. THREE--as in the number of children I have.

2. TERRIFIC--a good adjective to describe my husband.

3. TAU--the special cross worn by Secular Franciscans. Look at the top of my sidebar to see a sample.

4. TUNE--because I love music--listening to it as well as playing it.

5. TUB--my term for the big bucket I use to carry laundry out to my clothesline.

6. TANK--Little Brother's description of our "SUV-wannabe minivan" which happens to be green.

7. TIMER--what I live by in this house. I make it The Bad Guy when it's time for the kids to stop doing something fun and go do something not-so-fun.

8. TOO MANY--the number of cookbooks I have, according to my husband! Though he doesn't complain about my cooking...

9. TIP--helpful hints. I'm addicted to reading "tip" articles in magazines and on the internet. You never know when a good tip will come in handy.

10. TESTY--my mood in the morning until I've had my Sippy Cup of Coffee.

This meme has been brought to you by the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom, and the letter T.

Want to play? Just leave a comment, and I'll give you a letter.

Not to be insensitive or anything...

...but when I was reading the paper this morning, something in the obituaries struck me.

Why do they describe some of the people as "formerly of Philadelphia (or wherever)?" If they're in an obituary, all of them are "formerly" of their hometown....

I'm just sayin'.

Overheard in the Kitchen

Little Brother demonstrated how much breakfast he just finished: "I eat a lot of most, Mom!"

Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekend Miscellany

The Good:
On Saturday we attended the wedding of my husband's cousin, who is a very lovely and confident young woman. The groom was from Scotland, so we enjoyed bagpipe music after the ceremony as well as other music from the groomsmen (in kilts) during the reception. After Communion the priest prayed over the young couple and announced that they have consecrated their marriage to the Blessed Mother. I wish them every blessing as they begin their life together.

Sunday morning we attended Mass at my parents' parish, where the Gospel Choir from Straight and Narrow, a center for rehabilitation, detox and support for substance abusers who wish to get clean. They shared their music--wonderful and uplifting--and their stories, and their gratitude to God and their supporters in the program for getting a fresh start in life.

The Bad:
I received word that Father T. is very ill; he is hardly able to speak and cannot walk. He has asked for prayers.

The Ugly:
Middle Sister was an accident magnet yesterday. She brought her scooter to my parents' house to take advantage of the long, steep hill they live on. Instead, the hill got the better of her. It took a whole box of extra-large "knee and elbow" bandages to cover up the road rash on both her legs, one hip and both elbows. Later, at my brother-in-law's surprise 40th birthday party, all the kids were playing soccer, and she got hit in the head with the ball. (Yes, we've watched for signs of concussion. So far, so good).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Since when is it wrong... make people think at a college graduation?

Apparently, at the University of St. Thomas, it's wrong all the time.

A graduating student who was chosen to speak at graduation included a contrast of selfishness and selflessness--and had the gall, at a Catholic university no less, to describe premarital sex and the use of contraception as selfish. The horror!

Sounds to me like he learned something. But not, I guess, at the university, which demanded that he apologize for upsetting his fellow graduates and their families to the point that they got up and left the ceremony.

The truth hurts, kids!

I'd like to commend Father Martin Fox for contacting the president of the University of St. Thomas, who responded to him in a manner best described as "lame-o" (to use one of my sister's favorite words. Hey, it fits.)

The ones who should apologize were the ones so rude as to walk out on the speaker.

4 more years until Big Brother is ready for college. I'm crossing another one OFF my list of his choices.

Dare I ask?

This morning I found a pair of chopsticks in the bathroom.

I don't even know which child I should interrogate first--or whether I want to!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My Own Worst Enemy

This morning Little Brother and I went to Storytime at a local library. We don't have a library here in town, so we were taking advantage of a drop-in Storytime offered at a tiny, charming library in an equally tiny, charming town.

Every time we go there Little Brother has a wonderful time. The two librarians who take turns hosting the Storytime are fantastic. There are stories (read aloud, or just storytelling), finger plays, and "action songs." When it's over the children may all color a picture related to the day's story.

Every time we go there, SFO Mom is transported back to 6th grade. I realize just how immature I am and how mentally snarky I can be. While Little Brother is up front belting out "Johnny Works with One Hammer" and "Wheels on the Bus" I am standing in the back comparing myself to all the other Storytime Mommies. This one has a tiny infant and has lost all her "baby weight"--Little Brother is over 4 and my waistline is stubbornly refusing to shrink. That one and her three well-groomed children have matching GAP tops--Little Brother has a buzz cut so I don't have to comb his hair in the mornings, and is wearing handmedowns from the Boy Next Door. These mommies arrived pushing their jogging strollers or Super Fashionable Thousand-Dollar Designer Strollers or driving luxury cars--we drove up in our Chevrolet SUV-Wannabe Minivan with the Catholic School logo stickers and the dusty windshield. Those mommies sit up front with their children in their laps and sing the songs--Little Brother does not believe in sitting on laps at Storytime (it's a struggle to get him to sit anywhere at Storytime). All of them are Better Than Me.

The obvious answer is not to go to Storytime anymore, but Little Brother really loves it. And we learn some good songs and finger-play games there. I'm well aware that the grass is not always greener, that my life would not be perfect if I had perfect hair, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect house in that charming town, the perfect car, and perfect children. So why is it that week after week, I look at those Storytime Mommies and think they're so perfect?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It Must be a Guy Thing

Little Brother just came over with one of his little toy tanks. He had snapped off a tiny gun turret from the top of the tank.

I told him I didn't think I had any glue that could fix this toy.

He suggested, "How about duct tape?"

I swear it's hardwired into their genes, or something. How does a four-year-old know about duct tape?

I'll Say a Little Prayer

This morning Little Brother and I were on our way home from the supermarket when a Paramedic vehicle sped by with its lights flashing and sirens blaring.

"Look! An ambulance!" Little Brother shouted. (I know; it's not an ambulance, but I wasn't in the mood to get technical with a four-year-old...)

I suggested that we should say a prayer for the ambulance drivers and the people they were helping. I had Little Brother repeat the words after me; something along the lines of "Dear God, please be with the ambulance drivers so they can help the sick person. Amen."

Little Brother told me that he wanted to do it again. I told him that this time, he could start the prayer and I would repeat. So he began, "Bless us, O Lord..."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Picnics

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Introducing the Picnic Bucket™!

We have a back porch with a picnic table and in the summertime the kids like to eat their lunches and snacks on the porch. Sometimes they have a hard time carrying their drink, plate, utensils and napkin all at once down the back stairs to get outside.

I took one of those large popcorn tins (the ones they sell at Christmas, with pictures on the side and 3 kinds of popcorn inside). We ate all the popcorn, and the picture was cute, so I didn’t want to just throw it away—but it wasn’t doing me any good just sitting there EMPTY! Now it’s filled with:
• Paper plates
• Paper napkins
• Paper cups
• Plastic forks, knives and spoons (in a zipper bag, so they don’t get all over the place)

When we’re not using the Picnic Bucket™ it can be closed tightly and set on a shelf, out of the way until we need it again.

Overheard at the dinner table

"I was going to turn my eyelids inside out, but I won't now."

Yeah. Thanks for that.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rub It In, Rub It In

Today my Big Kids came home from school with new T-shirts. But these are not just any T-shirts. These shirts display the logo for the new Regional Catholic Elementary School that our diocese formed after ordering four area schools, including ours, to close in June.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
We had 200 students in our school.
Between the other three schools, there were 378 more.
The new Regional School has enrolled 207 students for next year.
And they're OK with that?
There are rumors that our school building has already been sold, and that this is why our school year has been abbreviated--to give the new owners time to renovate the building before September.
So we're not getting a full year of education for our children, although we paid for one. They're OK with that too. (Of course, the kids are all thrilled!)
Maybe I should embellish the backs of those T-shirts:
Somebody hand me a Sharpie.

(Image shamelessly hijaked from You Duped Me, Lord.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mr. "I Have an Answer for Everything"

Big Brother: "When police say 'you have the right to remain silent,' does that mean you have to remain silent?"

Me: "No, but it means you're stupid if you don't!"

Maybe I should read him his Miranda rights the next time he won't let a matter drop. Because he never lets a matter drop. Persistence is a talent, and he has it in abundance.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Who's the Man?

I agree with the quote here in the Dawn Patrol. Fred Rogers was way more manly than T.O.
"Manly style is a guy who drives a Jeep; manly substance is a guy who can fix it. Manly style is Ronald Reagan playing soldier in war movies; manly substance is Jimmy Stewart, who actually flew numerous bomber missions. Manly style is seeming and appearing; manly substance is being and doing.

"There are people who look extremely manly, but are not. And people who don't look manly, but are. T.O., with his bulging muscles and chiseled torso, is a cartoon of exaggerated masculinity. On the football field, he certainly exhibits confidence in the face of risk. But because of his constant carping, his vanity and self-absorption, he is anything but manly.

"Fred Rogers, with his silly puppets and cardigan sweaters, was at the opposite end of the spectrum from Russell Crowe, Jesse Ventura and The Arnold. But he was confident of his belief in the power of love, and he had the courage to extend respect and appreciation to all, despite the risk of ridicule. The moral force of Rogers this soft, gentle man was fearsome. "Indeed, a manly man can be a gentleman -- 'a manly man with polish and perfection,' Mansfield writes, gentle 'out of policy, not weakness.'"

H/T to The GOP Soccer Mom.

Now Coming to a Mall Near You

Yet another reason you don't want your teenage daughter heading to the mall with her friends.

Planned Parenthood is opening "express clinics" at several malls. According to the American Life League, there are 47 such clinics in the U.S. Abortions are not performed at the mall. Yet. But it's a small consolation.

I can just imagine the window display. Not to mention the irony of possibly being located near a store like "Motherhood Maternity" or "The Children's Place." So now your teen can do one-stop shopping: Victoria's Secret undies AND birth control without a parent's knowledge, let alone consent.

Repeat after me: what Planned Parenthood does and promotes is Not Health Care.

Little Brother's Weather Report

Obviously someone is going to grow up to be a meteorologist, like his dad.

Little Brother provided his own "voice over" to the weather report I just saw on the morning news. The graphic showed the morning, noon and drive-time forecast.

"It's gonna be two sunnies, with a rainy in between."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why is it...

...that my kids will contentedly find things to do inside the house all day long, while it is sunny out--and then as soon as the rain starts, will gather up the neighbor kids and head outdoors?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pro Mom?

In Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, which I am just getting around to reading now, there's an article about Pro Moms. These are moms who were former working professionals, who apply the management skills they used at work to their lives as moms and homemakers. That wasn't the main idea of the article, but it was a recurring theme.

It's an interesting idea, and some of it works. But the home is not an office. It's not a classroom. It's a home, and it's just different. I have been both a teacher and a software analyst, so I've worked in both environments, in positions where I had a certain degree of authority over others. I also had clear deadlines, and a definite beginning and end to the day. I have none of these in my current chosen vocation of Wife, Mom, Homemaker, Shopper, Family Taxi Driver, and Finder of All Lost Things. Even my Really Cool Planner can't make me toe the daily-schedule line the way a school bell or the demands of a boss might.

I think the difference here is that I prefer to think of motherhood as a Vocation, not as a Profession.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: First Aid

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

One summer I worked at a Girl Scout camp. The most important lesson I learned there was to keep a first-aid kit handy. I have them all over the place: in my linen closet, in my car, and in the box I take to the local pool and keep there all summer. But the most-used kit I have is in the kitchen. It takes up hardly any space, and it's in the place where many accidents happen.

I put a small tube of Neosporin in a box of assorted band-aids, and keep it in a cabinet. That takes care of most quick bandaging needs!

I Flunked the 80's Music Quiz

Not surprising. I bet Big Daddy does way better than me on this one.
H/T to Another Catholic Mom.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Weapons and Peace

Danielle has a post today about boys playing with toy guns. It is a topic that comes up in my mind every now and again, especially after I've been around some SFOs in my fraternity who are particularly pacifist. I don't want to criticize them, and certainly they are more mature and probably more wise than I am...but they are also farther removed from the time when their sons were little boys and played with toy guns.

Boys and weapons just seem to go together. With two sons and a Boy Next Door who fits between them in age and plays here a lot, I see a lot of war-play going on. They use toy guns, water guns, play swords, and light sabers. If one of those is not handy they'll use a wiffle ball bat, a baseball tee (that's the cannon, in case you're interested), a pogo stick or a hockey stick. Given a little time to create their own, they'll come up with some fascinating weapons using simply Legos, K'Nex or Tinker Toys. Along with the neighbor children, the favorite outdoor game is Infiltrators.

It's unavoidable, I think. But they plan, they create, they strategize. And they make sure the Good Guys win.

Francis started out as an aspiring knight, after all.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reveling in the Irony

I guess this is just a reflection of my strange sense of humor, but...I couldn't help myself.

Right now I'm reading Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America
Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America

It was sitting open on the kitchen table.

Big Daddy was sorting through a pile of mail today, taking out all the credit-card offers so he could shred them. The kids always want the "fake credit cards" that come in these envelopes, so he left one on the table.

Guess what I'm using as a bookmark right now?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Counting My Blessings

On Mother's Day.

I am blessed. I have a husband who loves me, even when I get cranky. He tells me I don't have to cook on Mother's Day if I don't want to, and he will do the dishes after I cook anyway.

I am blessed. I have a teenager who is a Boy Scout, an A student, and a funny guy. He's not above playing with his siblings. He checks my blog regularly to see what I write about him.

I am blessed. I have a daughter who is artistic, musical, dramatic, creative, cute, and very loving. She writes me poem and makes "coupons" for me, like "coffee day," "spa day" and "TV day." She gets on my case if I don't use the coupons in a timely fashion.

I am blessed. I have a four-year-old who loves to be tickled, who gives loud, gleeful "smooches" and who made me a paper flower at play school, with his name written upside-down and backwards.

I am blessed. I have a healthy family. And I'm really grateful for all of them.

What Dads do on Mother's Day... you don't have to:

Dad walks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.

Little Brother tries to follow him in. "Dad, can I come in?"

Dad: "No!"

Little Brother (pushing the door open): "Yes I can! You like company, remember?"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Things You Never Thought You'd Have to Say...

...but then you had kids:
"If you're wet, and you don't live here, go home and change before you come in."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day of Recollection

Tomorrow my SFO Fraternity will be hosting our annual Day of Recollection. We have a gifted Guest Speaker scheduled; a Franciscan priest who will explore the topic "Evangelical Counsels: The Call to be Poor, Loving and Obedient."

Including our SFO Fraternity members and guests we may have 50 people!

This will be the second year that I am Martha For A Day. In other words, I run the kitchen. We have many members who due to age have physical limitations. I'm 40 and I can put in a day of standing, carrying, cooking, serving and cleaning. Hey--I do it at home! And hospitality is an important part of the day.

Last year our speaker (the same one we'll have this time) scolded me for spending the day in the kitchen and missing the talk. So...I'm prepared. Along with the kitchen equipment, paper goods and food I've packed, I've also got the baby monitor. This way I can listen to the lectures. AND I've requested that when it's time to break into small groups for "sharing," that one small group visit me in the kitchen. If they want to share the work while they share the wisdom, that'll be great.

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will work in our speaker and in the hearts of all who are fortunate to listen.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Always blog on a full tank

A few weeks ago I took advantage of an offer to review some coffee. The terms of the offer were that I would receive six coffee samples, try them out, write a review on my blog and submit the link to the coffee company. Big Daddy thought this was an interesting marketing technique. I thought it was a way to justify my daily coffee consumption!

I figured that the "samples" would be little single-pot packets. I was very pleasantly surprised when a large box appeared on my doorstep. It contained six EIGHT-OUNCE BAGS of coffee. I was in Coffee Heaven. (Actually, I still am, because I haven't finished tasting and drinking all this wonderfully aromatic coffee.) I could smell the coffee through the special vent in the pouch. The worst part was figuring out which one to try first. There were "Bloggers Boot Up Blend," "New Media Mavericks," "Blogs of Bravery," "Bloggers PJ Passion," "Late Night Log In" and "Bloggers Beach Blast."

The kids, who are not coffee drinkers (by Mom's Decree), all weighed in with suggestions of which coffee pouch to open first. Both Big Brother and Little Brother suggested that I start with "Blogs of Bravery" since the label featured a helicopter. In fact, Little Brother calls this one "Army Guy Coffee." Big Daddy, who's not much of a coffee drinker unless it's flavored, decided that we should taste-test "Bloggers Beach Blast" with its chocolate and caramel flavor. It's his custom to add French Vanilla creamer to his coffee, and once he did that he practically had dessert. He likes to start his day with this one. I think it would make a nice iced-coffee-based smoothie, but it's not my favorite for drinking as a cup of coffee.

My next pick was "New Media Mavericks." It's a silly name, in my opinion, but the coffee rocks. It's described as a "medium roast from the prized Tarrazu region of Costa Rica." This variety was fantastic and I was sad to finish the bag.

Now I've moved on to the Army Guy Coffee: "Blogs of Bravery." Since the bag stated it was a blend of dark and medium roasts, I was a little apprehensive. I don't like Starbucks; I can't stand dark roasts. But this is really nice. It's not bitter at all, has no burned taste, and a very good coffee flavor.

I haven't gotten to the other three varieties yet, but so far I am very impressed at the quality of the coffee. It's delicious and very fresh. I'm enjoying every sip.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Airhead Moment

I'm going to blame this one on Amy.

She's the one who, in my combox on the Dinner Envy entry, suggested that I let my neighbor see my own personal housekeeping-Achilles-heel.

I'm sure Amy had in mind that my over-mom-whelmed neighbor would see my sticky kitchen floor, or notice that the carpet in Middle Sister's room is so covered in stuff that no one knows what color it is. Something like that.

Surely she did not mean for me to do what I did today.

I was trying to get ahead of myself by starting on the ironing I normally do on Saturdays (though it's not as much fun when I don't have a Notre Dame football game to watch while I iron). I'll be busy all day Saturday and people need clothes whether I am home to iron them or not. So I was ironing and chatting with Little Brother.

You need to know that I iron in my room, where there's a TV. You also need to know that I use spray starch on the khaki pants, and that since I'm growing out a layered haircut, I also need to use a good amount of hairspray. Both the starch and the hairspray are in light blue aerosol cans.

Did you guess where I'm going with this?

I needed to nail down a piece of my hair that was flopping in my eyes.

Spray starch works wonders for that kind of job.

Yeah. I told my neighbor. I think the laugh did her good.

Maybe next week's "Works-for-Me Wednesday" tip should be: Never keep the spray starch and the hair spray on the same dresser.

Due Diligence

Here's a reminder that I needed to see today. I learned something new about St. Catherine of Bologna and her 7 Spiritual Weapons:
1. diligence
2. distrust of self
3. confidence in God
4. remembrance of the Passion
5. mindfulness of one's own death
6. remembrance of God's glory
7. the injuctions of Sacred Scripture, following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert
The Friar Minor has this observation:
Spiritual practice means to do whatever it is you are doing diligently. This is to say that you do it with love for your act, mindful and attentive to what you are doing and to yourself as you are doing it.
In this way you are attentive to the act you are doing, rather than
just thinking about the result, or worse, what you have to do next.

In other words, take God off Cruise Control--and put Him in control.

Surprises and the Pill

Yesterday it was noted in a small editorial item in my local newspaper that 40 years ago was the introduction of the Pill.

I was not surprised to see that item, but I was very surprised to see it followed by the observation that if the Pill had been around in the 1940s, Billy Joel and Candice Bergen might not be celebrating their birthdays yesterday. That was a surprisingly prolife statement, in view of the paper's usual stance on such matters.

What I am quite sure most people don't realize is that the Pill is not so much a method of Contraception (in which a baby is not conceived) as it is a method of Abortion: it changes the lining of the uterus to try and prevent implantation of an already-conceived child.

I think a lot of minds would be changed, if that information got out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Works-for-Me Wednesday

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Since it seems to be All Chores, All the Time in BlogWorld today, I'll chime in on that topic.

My children are all required to do at least one chore per day that benefits the whole household (sweeping the kitchen, taking out the garbage, dusting the bookcases, for example). This is in addition to their "personal" chores (making the bed, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, picking up toys after using them, and such).

Since the Big Kids can read and like to write on my whiteboard, I list the Household Chores of the Day there. When they are done with the chore, they may erase the note. Sometimes they take the opportunity to leave me a note back.

More Things You Don't Want to Hear

Middle Sister just hung up the phone. Her friend called to say that her baby frog had gotten sucked into an aquarium filter and died.

Big Brother offered to Photoshop a "Rest in Peace" sign.

Then Middle Sister suggested to her friend, "Maybe you can put his body parts back together."

Big Brother decided he'd change the sign to "Rest in Pieces."

Things You Don't Want to Hear....

I dumped a batch of dough out of the bread machine pan onto the table so I could shape it into rolls. (See, I'm not June Cleaver; the bread machine makes our dinner rolls!) I patted it into a long log and turned around to get the dough cutter...and Big Brother walked into the room and banged on the dough a few times.

Me: "I hope your hands are clean. I know you were just using whiteboard markers..." (and probably erasing with your fingers)

Big Brother: "They're non-toxic."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dinner Envy

I am beginning to suspect one of my neighbors of "dinner envy." She is a little younger than I am, with two small children (ages 5 and 2); often her husband's job takes him away from home at the dinner hour. On nice days we usually find ourselves at the back fence, helping the little ones over the fence as they scramble from yard to yard. The conversation always turns toward "what are you having for dinner?"

I know that she loves to cook, as I do. I also know that her family's palates are not nearly as adventuresome as mine. And while she doesn't actually say so, I know that sometimes she's wishing she were eating at my house (though when I invite her, she always declines).

This afternoon as we chatted by the fence, Big Brother wandered over to ask what would be for dinner tomorrow (why he needs to know this more than 24 hours in advance, I have no idea). I sent him inside to check the menu. "You mean you plan your dinners for a whole month? I could never do that. You have no idea what it would look like."

I tried to reassure her that yes, she could plan her meals, but she doesn't believe me. I'm guessing she'll spend the summer cooking and dining vicariously through me. She thinks I have it all together where this is concerned. Not true--at all! What I do have is more experience (I'm 9 years ahead of her when it comes to feeding kids) and more flexibility because there is very little that I will cook that my family will not at least try. (Except for tuna casserole and Brussels sprouts. They all draw the line there.)

I would really like to find a way to help her--to show her that yes, she can plan dinners for a month if she wants to--but more than that to give her the boost I feel she desperately needs. She needs to know that her little one won't be a toddler forever; that someone will eventually be willing to eat fish; that it does get easier, at least in the matter of getting food into the kids. I know she's so bogged down by the mothering part right now.

Any suggestions on how I can encourage my neighbor would be greatly appreciated.

Hospitality and the Good Shepherd

Hospitality is a virtue much praised by Saint Francis, as he encouraged his followers:
"Anyone who comes to the brothers, friend or enemy, thief or robber, is to be received with kindness...they are to greet one another wholeheartedly and lovingly, and honor one another without grumbling." (Rule of 1221, Chapter VII)

Through the Year with Francis of Assisi: Daily Meditations from His Words and Life
Through the Year with Francis of Assisi: Daily Meditations from His Words and Life

Sometimes it can be a real challenge to be hospitable. I don't always succeed at the "wholeheartedly and lovingly" part, and I'm particularly bad about "grumbling." But I was shown a lovely example of hospitality twice this week--at the schools my Big Kids will attend next year. And there was no grumbling.

Middle Sister will be transferring into a different parochial school, as the parish school she has been attending since kindergarten will shut its doors in June. It's hard to start over again in a new place, though for her it will be made easier because 6 of her classmates will be coming with her, and she already has one friend there. We adults have it tougher. The PTA hosted a potluck dinner the other night and the families from our old school were the guests. We were fed a delicious meal, given handmedown uniforms to start our children's school wardrobe, informed about some programs, and most importantly, graciously and enthusiastically welcomed. It's a hard transition, but it helps so much to know that there are friendly faces in the new school. It will be OK.

Big Brother will be starting high school in the fall. This morning all students who won scholarships for next year (he won a partial scholarship!) were honored at a Mass and brunch. Our whole family was invited to attend. Again, we were shown wonderful hospitality.

Today's Gospel speaks of what the Lord does for us:

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Jesus, in laying down His life for us, did so wholeheartedly and lovingly, without grumbling--the perfect example of holy hospitality.

Friday, May 05, 2006

And all this time I thought it was Cinco de Mayo

Silly ME!

I've been set straight by Little Brother, who obviously is an expert on the subject because at "play school" today they had a "pee-hana, where you hit it like in tee ball, with a bat, and you get the candy when it falls out." He has a nice little bag of candy too.

I asked him if they had the piñata at his school because it was a special day.


I asked him if the special day was called "Cinco de Mayo." (I am a former Spanish teacher, after all. I should have some clue here.)

"No, it's Pee-hana Day!"

You come in here with a skull full of mush...

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 33%
Lifer: 44%
Mandarin: 64%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

These quiz results are amazingly accurate.

Wonder if I can Netflix those old Paper Chase reruns? That was a great show.

How Much Coffee...

...will it take to appropriately fortify myself in order to accompany Middle Sister's class (and the fifth grade as well) on a field trip to the Adventure Aquarium? My saving grace here is that there will be no ride on a school bus, as we're taking the light rail. They plan on spending the day, although it is my scientific conclusion after visiting the place twice in the last three months that you can see the whole Aquarium in under two hours. With Little Brother along, you can do it in one and a half, including potty breaks.

In the interest of the "stay with the group" requirement, I have successfully begged my neighbor to watch Little Brother for the day. He prefers to run through the Aquarium at top speed, yelling, "What's this one?" but tearing off to the next one before you get to the sign for the first one. Now that's exhausting. Usually he falls asleep on the train ride home after that.

In addition to coffee, I believe I will need to bring sunglasses. Middle Sister is enjoying her day without a uniform. She is sporting tan capris, an orange T-shirt, a purple hoodie, purple socks and black Converse All-Stars. There will be no problem finding her in a crowd.

It will be a nice opportunity to spend time with Middle Sister and her friends without Little Brother along. That's a rare thing indeed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Things I Bet You Didn't Know

Plastic Easter eggs (the kind you can open up and fill with the sweet treat of your choice) are the perfect ammunition when used in the catapult on a "vintage 1995" Fisher-Price knights' castle.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Ever resourceful, that's my kids.

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I've been enjoying a new feature at Rocks in My Dryer: Works-for-Me Wednesday. It's like a Carnival of Tips--and really useful ones, at that.

Here's my tip, one I use when my Big Kids start getting on each other's nerves: "If you can't BE nice to your brother/sister, you need to DO something nice for them." Fake it 'til you make it, kids!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Burning Questions of the Day

Why is there a Storm Trooper on the dining-room table?

And why is no one else in the house suitably impressed at my ability to correctly identify a Storm Trooper?


Monday, May 01, 2006

An Encouragement to Parents

I saw a link to this wonderful homily and am so glad I took a couple of minutes to read it. Father Martin Fox encourages parents to bring their children to church; not to worry if their age-appropriate behavior is a distraction; to feed their children's souls.

This is what I would like to say to any of my friends who don't bring their children to church because they worry about how the kids will act when they're there. And I'll point them to this link in the future when the opportunity presents.

Via Cirque de Moi.

The Secret Ingredient

This afternoon I made a batch of "kitchen sink" chocolate-chip cookies. That means I put in the last half cup of this or that--whatever interesting things I found in the cabinet. Today it was Rice Krispies and coconut.

Middle Sister left her cookies, half eaten, on the table. I said, "Didn't you like these cookies? Aren't they the best cookies you've ever eaten?"

She answered, "Well, they were pretty good, but I wasn't too impressed with the onions in them."

You know it's a Catholic School...

...when, during the school's Theatre Club major production, a student announces: "Now there will be a ten-minute intercession."