Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Well, the decision has been made.

Since we are expecting 6 to 9 inches of rain to fall here between late Friday and Saturday, we will be leaving for home a day early. It'll be raining, but we won't be flooded or trapped on this barrier island.

I've started doing any packing I can, to get a little ahead of things here.

Today is the day

...that R.C. Mommy's bambina will be born. Please pray today, to the Blessed Mother and to Saint Gerard, for a safe delivery and recovery for Amy and her little one.

I remember when I was waiting on the birth of my #3, Little Brother. He came 2 weeks early, so I wasn't quite ready yet, and I was delegating the move of the cradle and the changing table and various "implements of baby care" from the basement, where I was in the middle of washing all the little items, to the family room and the bedroom.

Other than that, it was like starting all over again. Middle Sister was already 6, and Big Brother was 10. The little guy was practically in his very own generation in our house. And he's also made me aware of a big contradiction: he keeps me young, but at the same time makes me feel my age!

He's also allowed me to sing my very favorite song from Sesame Street:
"There are 5 people in my family, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....
There's a sister and two brothers, and a mother and a pop!
5 is such a pretty number, I'm awfully glad that I've
5 people in my family, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5!"

UPDATE: I have received an email that the Bambina was indeed born on Wednesday and that she and Mama are doing very well. (It came with a picture--what a cutie pie she is!) Congratulations, Amy and family!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blogging from Vacation

We didn't take a vacation from the laptop. Good thing, too, as it turned out--since the weather here has been pretty crummy. The kids have played with Legos, played cards, had video game tournaments; we've read books, we've watched Rudy (which really got me into the mood for some ND football!), we've gone to the beach when it wasn't raining, and tracked the flooding on Sunday when it was raining!

Going through the careful process of packing for vacation this year opened my eyes a little more to the benefits of simplicity. I refused to bring along anything that I didn't think would get used at least twice, except for everyone's church outfit. And I tried to make sure that we brought the minimum we needed to get through the week without sacrificing fun. (It IS vacation, after all!)

But having only the minimum here means that cleanup is easy and clutter is lessened.

It makes me wonder: can I achieve the same thing at home?

I don't know if it's because we're away from home, away from the usual and familiar, or because we often go on vacation during this last week in August and my mind is naturally in "new school year" mode, which is even more of a spur to me to get organized and get a fresh start than January 1 is, but I often spend a good amount of quiet time on vacation with my planner, making charts, making plans, thinking out routines.

I hope the same momentum stays with me when we go home.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Good Enough to Drink

We're leaving for a week's vacation tomorrow, so I'm doing the last-minute cooking NOW so I don't have to bring all the miscellaneous ingredients on vacation. I've got chicken drumsticks frozen in marinade, spaghetti sauce, a baked ziti, and taco meat already prepared.

The last thing I had to do was make the sauce for pork teriyaki. This is a recipe we tried a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. The best thing was, it's so easy!

Big Brother followed his nose into the kitchen where I was stirring the sauce. "Is that for lunch?" he begged.

"No, it's for vacation. We're having it Monday."

As he watched me hunt for the right-size container to transport the sauce, he threatened, "I think I'll just drink this with a straw."

Here's the recipe for pork teriyaki. I got the sauce recipe from a friend, and modified the cooking directions to use strips or cubes of pork rather than pork chops.


1 tbl EACH cornstarch and cold water, mixed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbl orange juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over LOW heat, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles. It will thicken up as it cools.
Pour half the sauce into the bottom of a heavy skillet. Add pork cubes or strips, and pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Stir to coat all the meat. Cover and cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally (cubes will take longer than strips). OR, bake in the oven, covered, for 25 minutes at 325.
Serve this with steamed brown rice and broccoli.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not to be Missed

There's a great post up at Catholic Pillow Fight, titled "Pro-Lifers Should Celebrate Life." He suggests that a gentle, joyful approach is better. "Live our life in a way that makes people want what we have."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What Should I Have Majored In?

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major? )
created with

Wow, this was an accurate quiz.
My undergraduate degree is a dual major: English and Spanish, with a concentration in Secondary Education.
My graduate degree is in English.

Via Mommy Life.

School Supplies

Sarah has a wonderful post today about school supplies.

I know just what she means. Every August I go through it too. I want new pens, new notebooks, all of that great stuff that signals a new creative beginning. And I did get a new pair of scissors when I took Middle Sister for her school supplies, because my scissors had gone missing, and how else would I cut coupons?

But what I'm really drooling over this year is a new planner. There's nothing that says "new beginning" to me like a new calendar. It's like a New Year's Resolution. The possibilities, in all those blank calendar pages, that aren't scribbled over with errand lists and school-bus-pickup times and reminders to make dentist appointments. And while I like the planner I have now, there are things about it that just don't work for me. With all the 16-month planners that were hanging around Borders last weekend when I had my Coffee Break, I was very tempted. I had my gift card with me, containing enough cash-equivalent to buy a planner if I wanted it, but I didn't get one this time. I'm trying to curb my tendency toward aquisitiveness, and I've still got 4 months on the planner on my desk.

Instead, I'll satisfy myself with my new scissors and "free with coupon" cool new pen. And I'll spend the next few months researching planners, so I can use that gift card for the best choice for me.

Brothers and Sisters Working Together

Ahhh, the peaceful sound of all three of my children playing together with Legos.

There are giggles, cries of "Let me see!" and requests to pass along a certain piece. There is the unmistakeable "click" as the little bricks snap into place.

And then there's the kind of cooperation that can only come when you have children of both genders playing Legos.

"Hey Mom! This hair clip makes a great Lego catapult!"

The Queenship of Mary

Image source: Franciscan cards

Good Thing I Like Green

Your results:
You are Hulk

Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Via R.C. Mommy

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Sign of the Times

Little Brother is hard at work building airplanes out of Legos. As he finishes each one, he fills me in on what makes this airplane unique.

The last one he made: "And this one is the best one. It never runs out of gas."

Five People in Five Categories Meme

I was tagged by Jean at Catholic Fire.

"If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be?" (Explaining why is optional.)

Name five people from each of the following categories:
Saints, Those in the Process of Being Canonized, Heroes from your native country, Authors/Writers, celebrities.

Five Saints:

1. St. Francis of Assisi
2. St. Bonaventure
3. St. Clare
4. St. Gianna Molla Beretta
5. The Blessed Mother

Those in the Process of Being Canonized:

1. Pope John Paul II
2. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
3. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
4. Junipero Serra
5. Maria Pia Mastena

Five U.S. Heroes:

1. Father Mychal Judge and his companions in 9-11 who gave their lives helping others
2. A soup kitchen worker from the 1930s
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. An ordinary soldier from World War II
5. One of the Apollo 13 astronauts

Five Authors/Writers:

1. Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
2. Flannery O'Connor
3. Phyllis McGinley (Sixpence in Her Shoe)-- and my mom had better be there with me!
4. Laura Ingalls Wilder
5. Beverly Cleary

Five Celebrities:

1. Patricia Heaton
2. Paul Simon
3. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
4. Betsy Hart
5. Rich Mullins

Tag Five People:
Jill's Write Stuff
And Also With You
Martha Martha
Rosetta Stone
Suitable for Mixed Company

A Little Perspective

So I've ranted and raved about my daughter and her commentary on my (lack of) fashion sense.

And this morning I read that one of the other moderators on my favorite online forum is having much more trouble with her daughter than I.

She has posted recently about conflicts with her 18-year-old daughter. She also has three other (younger) children and is expecting a baby in December.

Last night this young girl was involved in a bad car accident, and now has head trauma and 2 punctured lungs. She may need brain surgery but that decision won't be made just yet. K's younger children start school next week, so it will be a tough juggling act while the big sister is in the hospital.

Makes all that fashion stuff seem really little and petty, let me tell you. I only wish that it didn't have to happen to make me realize just how petty it is.

Please join me in praying for K's daughter, that God may bless her with a speedy and complete recovery.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Small Town, Big Problem

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Riverside and its efforts to deal with a large influx of illegal immigrants. Since I have lived in the same zip code as Riverside for 8 years, attended church there for 14, and had my children in a parish school there, I've seen plenty of what goes on.

It's not all about illegal immigrants. A lot of it is just about immigrants. It's about people who don't look or talk or act the same as the rest of the people in town. There are plenty of people who would rather see the downtown completely boarded up than see Brazilian flags festooning busy storefronts. Every little thing that goes wrong--guess who gets blamed?

Brazilians, with or without green cards, have not been welcomed in Riverside, and that is obvious. I do not stand on the side of those who knowingly came to this country illegally, have no plans to stay here, and are trying to get the benefits of being here without taking the steps to do things the right way. But I also do not stand on the side of those who carry anti-Brazilian posters to town meetings.

Today in Riverside there is going to be a media circus immigration rally. Organizers with the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian
Leaders, a Washington-based advocacy group with branches throughout the
country, said supporters would include members of the New Jersey
Conference of Catholic Bishops
. Busloads of people are expected to attend. I'm sure the news helicopters will put in an appearance.

The downtown area will be blocked off; streets will be closed during this assembly. I won't be surprised if things get nasty.

Today, if it were not Sunday, would be the feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. How appropriate to celebrate a man who was known for settling a schism in the Church. There's certainly one in Riverside right now.

And the proper prayer for today, the twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, is even more appropriate:
Almighty God, ever-loving Father,
your care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation
to the hearts of all who live.
May the walls which prejudice raises between us
crumble beneath the shadow of your outstretched arm.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Keeping Myself Awake

I guess this is the first in a long series of evenings spent trying to keep myself awake until one of the kids comes home.

Big Brother is 14. I am going to have a teenager in the house for the next 16 years. So I guess I'd better get used to it.

And YES, I'm normally in bed by 9:30. Late nights and me are NOT "perfect together."

But Daddy has gone fishing with his brother. He took Middle Sister with him, so she can have another sleepover with her Girl Cousins. I hope they don't stay out too late fishing at Sandy Hook, because it's going to rain on them soon. But he's a meteorologist, so he should be able to figure that out for himself, right?

And that left me and The Boys. But Big Brother already had plans to play Dungeons and Dragons with some of the other Boy Scouts. Luckily we were able to arrange a car pool (I dropped off; the other kid's dad will pick up) so I wouldn't have to drag a sleepy Little Brother out of his bed at 10 PM to pick them up. And (neener) I did get Little Brother to go to sleep quite quickly tonight! We stopped for a Slurpee on the way home--he got his Slurpee, I got my Sunday paper (love getting the Sunday paper on Saturday!). Then we watched "Josh and the Big Wall" which features Slurpees in a special role. After that, brush teeth, story, prayers, I turned on his radio and "went downstairs to get my book." I came back 5 minutes later to find him already asleep. I have the feeling that he doesn't deal well with silence. He falls asleep much faster with the radio on, quietly. Must be something about being the third kid. Someone else is usually making some noise.

Speaking of noise, our neighbors are having a really loud party. If my windows were open, I'd be really cranky right about now. If I had actual crystal in the china cabinet, instead of the extra plastic cups and the Equal we keep for company, it would be rattling around for sure.

If you're looking for something to do right now, you could visit Amy or Christine and get started on the Novena to Saint Monica that they both have up. This Novena is for the intention of bringing someone back to the Faith. Who better than Saint Monica, who prayed for YEARS for her son to return to the faith. Yes, that son--Saint Augustine.

If you're still in the praying mood, you can remember the twin sons of one of the other choir members at our church. They'll be baptized tomorrow. And while you're at it, the choir leader's husband just finished his cancer treatment. They have a son who's almost 2. Please pray for his continued recovery.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a little gift for the twins that needs to be wrapped before tomorrow. That should kill about 3 minutes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Prayers for a Franciscan

A minor friar is making his final vows as a Franciscan tomorrow.

This is a big deal--a big step--and he knows it. He is making the vows to live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. This is Perpetual Profession!

By comparison, profession as a Secular Franciscan is more simple. We do go through a period of formation; we make a public commitment to live according to the example of Saint Francis (General Constitutions, Article 42). Nonetheless, it is still a lifelong, solemn commitment.

I made my Profession as an SFO on October 4, 2001--almost 5 years ago. Today and tomorrow, I will pray for my fellow Franciscan. May his life as a Francsican be blessed, and may he in turn bless all those whose lives he touches.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What Not To Wear

It's one thing to think this about myself.

But when I discovered that Middle Sister asked Daddy to sign me up for What Not To Wear....Oh. My. God.

My ability to keep a sense of humor about my lack of fashion sense, and lack of caring about it (beyond basic "is it neat, clean, does it fit, and am I wearing something blue, because I ALWAYS seem to be wearing SOMETHING blue?")--well, that's all gone right out the window.

And I am hurt.

I've already been thinking for a few days now, that Middle Sister is suffering from "The Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome" after spending time with her cousins. She would rather have their mom than me. More permissive, more indulgent, and way more fashion sense. AND she wears MAKEUP.

And that show is just cruel. I have watched it with her. The Fashion Nazis openly and gleefully mock the Clueless Ones. They aren't gentle and kind. They are RUDE. I always wind up feeling sorry for the victims.

She doesn't know that I found out about this.

She doesn't know that even at age 10, she has the power to make me feel like I'm back in 7th grade. Let's just say 7th grade wasn't that good the first time around. I don't need or want to do it again.

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Measure, and Use Less

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I'm very careful to measure my ingredients when I bake. Baked items are often sensitive that way; they can be thrown off by the wrong amount of salt, baking powder, or soda.

When I cook, I can "eyeball it" like Rachael Ray, and it's usually not a problem.

But one hint that has stuck with me from my reading of The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle
The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle

is that you should take the time to measure your household cleaners.

Chances are, if you just splash some Lysol into your bucket of water, you'll use more than if you measure the 1/4 cup recommended per gallon.

Also, if you measure, you may find that you can do the job with less. I never use the full recommended amount of laundry detergent or dishwasher soap. By starting with the recommended amount and using a little less on each load, I've found the minimum that works for me (based on the kind of water we have here).

Measure it--use less--save money! Works for me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother

Picture credit: Madonna by Wislawa Kwiatkowska

Look to the Star- Call upon Mary!
In danger, in difficulty or in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary,
Keep her name on your lips,
Never let it pass out of your heart.
Following in her footsteps, you will not go astray:
Praying to her, you will not fall into despair:
Thinking of her you will not err.
While she keeps hold of your hand, you will not fall ...
You will not grow weary ... you will have no fear ...
Enjoying her protection, you will reach the goal.
--Saint Bernard

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What Little Brother Did...

...while I was otherwise occupied with music at Mass yesterday.

He didn't want his children's missal that I had brought for him. It has pictures. Instead, he required a hymnal. It has no pictures, and he can't read.

He tried out several identical chairs in the choir area.

He required the use of a Music Stand for his hymnal, even though no other vocalists used one. A good bit of noise ensued when he moved the Music Stand to his chair of choice, and then his next chair of choice.

He sang along during the "Alleluia."

He decided that the Music Stand he had chosen was not good enough, so he dragged and clanked it back to the Music Stand Storage Area, and picked an identical one to drag and clank back to his chair.

After Mass, he used a liberal supply of holy water to bless himself. I noticed that he had done the "Holy Spirit" part of the blessing before the "Son" part so I told him that we would do it again, together. Before we could do that, though, he had to reload with more holy water--he dipped both hands into the font. His head was quite wet after all that blessing. A friend of ours stopped us to chat on our way out the door, put her hand on top of his head, and said, "Why is his head wet?"

My reply: "Um, he's a little Extra Holy today...."

Later in the day our SFO got together at the newly-elected Minister's home for a picnic. They have a pool and all the kids had a great time swimming. Little Brother had been out of the pool for a while, and was dry, but then he wandered over to me and I saw his wet hair. I asked why his head was wet, and he said, "I blessed myself. REMEMBER?" I'm not sure if the pool or the koi pond was his "holy water font" of choice. I'm not sure I want to know, either.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Flying Solo

I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into here.

At noon Mass today I will be the lone accompanist, and possibly one of only 2 adult singers. Middle Sister and maybe another girl her age will be there, but their voices are not very strong yet.

That's not a problem. I've "flown solo" before at Mass, and while it's not my favorite (I'd much rather play and sing in a group than by myself) I can manage.

I'll also have charge of Little Brother. Last time he sat with the choir he was quite good, but anyone with preschoolers knows that you can't bank on that. And he's been getting interested in helping me play, which is never a good thing outside our house!

So, if you've got a spare prayer to keep Little Brother quiet and me patient, I'd appreciate it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pop-Tart Mom Meme

What's with the title of this one? Am I a "Pop-Tart Mom" because I let Little Brother eat Pop-Tarts? (I eat them myself, sometimes. I highly recommend the chocolate caramel ones. Great with your afternoon coffee...Little Brother prefers the Sponge Bob variety.)

I was tagged by Jean at Catholic Fire.

3 Things That Scare Me
Most bugs
Letting my children take that next step toward independence
The smell of fire (throwback to my college apartment building, which had an arson problem)

3 People That Make Me Laugh
My kids
My husband
The guys from "Blue Collar Comedy Tour"

3 Things I Love (it didn't say "people" so I will honor the title here)
Cooking and baking

Reading and writing
Coffee breaks

Things I Hate
Driving in cities
Sleeping away from home
Feeling that something is out of my control

3 Things I Don’t Understand
The stock market (and finance in general)
Why the thermostat in my split-level house is on the lowest level

3 Things On My Floor

Little Brother's toy sword
A few pieces of the puzzle that is still threatening my mental health
The box from a Little Rascals video

3 Things I’m Doing Right Now
Blogging (obviously)
Drinking coffee
Making up next week's shopping list

3 Things I Want to Do Someday
Work in a library
Teach ESL
Stop worrying

3 Things I Can Do
Bake bread
Lead the singing at church
Play the guitar

3 Ways to Describe My Personality

3 Things I Cannot Do
Drive a stick-shift car
Drink coffee after 7 PM, if I want to go to sleep later
Keep ahead of the mess in the house that everyone else creates

3 Things I Think You Should Listen To
The voice of God
The people who love you
Bach ("Air on a G String" and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" come to mind)

3 Things I Think You Should Never Listen To
The voice of the evil one

pro-death politicians who say they are "Catholic" or "Christian"
the liberal media
(Jean's were so good I had to keep them!)

3 Absolute Favorite Foods
Spaghetti and meatballs
Kluski (Polish dish with noodles, farmer cheese, sauerkraut, onion and tons of butter)

3 Things I’d Like to Learn
How to play the organ
How to be more at-ease in social situations
Sign language

3 Beverages I Drink Regularly
coffee, "regular" (milk and sugar)
milk (always, with dinner, if I'm home. And that's WHOLE milk. None of that icky low-fat stuff.)

3 Shows I Watch (irregularly at best)
Notre Dame football
whatever's on Food Network while I'm doing my ironing
the local news

3 Bloggers I Tag:
Amy, the R.C. Mommy
Christine, the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom
Sarah, the Snoring Scholar

Friday, August 11, 2006

Inconvenience Can Be A Blessing

This morning I watched a little of the local news, and I just read the front page of the paper. What was "The Big Story?" Inconvenience.

There are delays at the airport. People have to throw away their shampoo, makeup and water bottles.

And there's plenty of griping to be heard.

HELLOOOOO!! Would you rather be DEAD?

This inconvenience you are experiencing at the airports is keeping you alive. Buy new shampoo when you get there. Alive.

And be very thankful that the people who want to kill you have been arrested. A big "thumbs up" to all who made that arrest possible.

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H/T to Dan at Faithmouse for this great toon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Should've Known Better

Big Brother's chore assignment today was to eliminate my Kitchen Window Spider. Lots more fun than mowing the lawn or taking out the trash.

Obviously I wasn't thinking too clearly when I made that assignment.

Giving a teenage boy a job like that virtually guarantees that said teenager will want to use at least one of the following 3 implements to complete the chore:
1. Fire
2. Water
3. Ammo

Luckily, we're fresh out of ammo, and Big Brother decided that Water was his Weapon of Choice. After unraveling our backyard hose from a complicated knot (and observing that someone had sabotaged the hose by turning it FULL ON while this knot was in it) he aimed it full-force at the spider's window.

A subsequent inside observation revealed that the spider has vanished (dead? or just hiding?) but shreds of thick wet spider web were stuck to the window. Big Brother, in his infinite Teenage Wisdom, took the spray attachment from my sink and aimed it STRAIGHT UP between the window and screen. I was watching from the backyard, hollering, "Let me get inside! The window TILTS IN FOR EASY CLEANING!" Like he cared. It was MUCH more fun this way.

I ran in and showed him how to tilt the window to wipe away the rest of the spider web, only to realize that Little Brother was still outside. With the hose. And he knows how to turn on the spigot.

Like I said, I should've known better.

There's a Spider on the Wall, on the Wall...

Actually, the spider is in the window. Between the window and the screen. He had plenty of time to build a big web in the inch and a half-wide space there, while it was so hot and our windows were closed.

Today I wanted to open up all the windows. It's only 65 degrees. The house has been closed up for so long that it felt SO good to open up. Little Brother stopped and listened to the crickets: "I think I hear night."

But I can't open that one window in the kitchen while there's a spider in it. I don't know how he's eating since it's not often that something gets into that space. I don't know how we're going to get him out, and I can't stand the thought of destroying his web. Those things are not easily constructed. I just wish he had constructed it Some Place Else.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How New Jersey Am I?

You Are 73% New Jersey!

You are definitely Jersey. Well done, my friend. You are most likely from this great state, and you fit right in. Odds are, you love being Jersey!

How New Jersey Are You?

H/T to the Catholic Mom in Hawaii and the Rambling GOP Soccer Mom. But just note that I'm the only one who's STILL IN JERSEY!

Congratulations Are In Order

Danielle has just announced that she has become a Senior Editor at Faith and Family magazine.

When I gripe about women's magazines, and the wrong messages they give us, I am definitely NOT talking about this one! I subscribed this spring and am very impressed and encouraged by the content of this magazine.

Check it out for yourself. This is one magazine that I'm happy to leave lying around the house for my children or visitors to pick up. My only complaint? It's bimonthly. I wish there were MORE of it!

Congratulations to Danielle Bean and to Faith and Family magazine. I wish you many blessings on your efforts.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cereal Prices

Yippee. Cereal prices are going up.

You might not notice that your $4-per-10-ounce box is getting more expensive, because the manufacturers aren't going to make it cost $4.50. Instead, they're going to only put 9 ounces in it. And they think people will still buy it.

Big Brother can go through most of a box in a single breakfast, especially if there's only 9 ounces in there!

And I've already noticed that there haven't been very many coupons available for breakfast cereal--and the ones that ARE out there are pretty cheesy (save $1 on 5 boxes). I used to have a rule that I would never spend more than 10 cents an ounce on cereal, but I'm having trouble doing that now.

I have found, though, that at Wegmans, the store-brand cereal is well priced and tastes very good. It's the best store-brand cereal I have found. So, Kellogg's and General Mills, you may have lost a customer. When I can buy a store-brand "Special K" for $1.49 for the same size box that you want me to buy at $3.89, I'm crazy not to try the store brand.

A Mini-Novena

How easy is this one? You don't even have to stick around to read it.

Our pastor has asked the parish to participate in a mini-novena to lead up to the Assumption. As Our Lady of the Assumption is the patroness of our diocese, and we are in a jubilee year, it's a big celebration around here.

My intention for this novena will be for the advancement of Catholic education in our diocese. If you've been around here long, you'll know it is an issue near to my heart.

But here's the Easy Novena that Father has asked us to say:
Three Hail Mary's, daily.

Prayer doesn't have to be fancy to be effective. Sincerity is what matters.

The One Book Meme

Christine tagged me, so here we go.

1. ONE BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE: Sixpence in Her Shoe by Phyllis McGinley. And we thought the stuff we deal with is new.

2. ONE BOOK THAT YOU'VE READ MORE THAN ONCE: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. My all-time favorite book.

3. ONE BOOK YOU'D WANT ON A DESERT ISLAND: Christian Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours).

4. ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH: Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson. I first read it in high school, and it’s always made me laugh. I am happy for her example of finding the humor in the mundane.

5. ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY: Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

6. ONE BOOK THAT YOU WISH HAD BEEN WRITTEN: How to Be Patient and Gentle. I could use that one.

7. ONE BOOK THAT YOU WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN: Potty Training in Less Than a Day. Biggest waste of money ever.

8. ONE BOOK YOU'RE CURRENTLY READING: I’m reading 3 or 4 right now….but the one I’ve made the most progress in is Spin Sisters by Myrna Blyth—which may explain my antagonistic attitude toward magazines at the moment.

9. ONE BOOK YOU'VE BEEN MEANING TO READ: Saint Francis by G.K. Chesterton.

10. TAG FIVE OTHERS: I’m feeling generous. If you want to play, leave a comment.

Did You Know?

Courtesy of Middle Sister:

"When you scare a hamster that's on a bed, it poops ALL over the place."

Want to guess what my answer is going to be when someone asks if we can get a hamster?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Do Whatever He Tells You."

Twice in the past two days I have heard this line from the Gospel of John echoed.

The first was at morning Mass yesterday, when Father observed that in the Gospel, Jesus' reply to the person who said, "Blessed is the womb that bore you..." was not a harsh rejection of His Mother but instead a big compliment to her: "The one who does the will of my Father is my brother, my sister, my mother." Father called to mind the Miracle at Cana when Mary directed the servants at the wedding to "Do whatever He tells you." She is the one we look to for guidance as we try to do just that.

The second time was at today's Mass, for the Feast of the Transfiguration. The voice of God is heard: "This is my beloved Son--listen to Him."

Sarah evidently had a rough time at church with her little one this weekend. And I seriously sympathize with her, because not too long ago, that was me, with Little Brother. I tried to take him to Daily Mass. I made him a keychain set of holy cards to look at. I pointed out the portraits of the saints in the stained-glass windows. I let him dip his fingers in the holy water font, and helped him bless himself. And inevitably we found ourselves in the vestibule of the church, where he could walk around without disturbing the people who were generally encouraging to me and asking me to keep bringing him to church.

Eventually Little Brother started feeling even more at home in church. By the age of three, he'd join the procession out of church after Sunday Mass, trotting along after the altar servers. They let him carry the finger towels from the table to the sacristy and put them in the basket to be laundered later. He learned how to bow when he passed the Tabernacle. All this was so sweet, and he was so good. I thought I could try again to take him to Daily Mass. And one week Big Brother was an altar server and he missed the bus, so we were right there. We sat in the front. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, "Big mistake. HUGE!"

As everyone joined the communion procession, Little Brother got away from me. He zipped past the surprised priest and joined Big Brother in kneeling near the altar. Refusing to go back to me, he did agree to sit in one of the servers' chairs until Mass was over, and I had to go up and get him, and he bellowed.

Father loved it. But then again, Little Brother thinks Father is Jesus.

He sings "Alleluia," loudly and off-key. He puts our envelope in the collection basket and high-fives Daddy afterward. He responds "Amen" or "And also with you" at the right times, if a second later than everyone else. He marches to Communion with his little hands folded and hopes for a blessing--which is a big improvement over the time he tried to grab a Host out of Father's hands when he was still small enough to agree to be carried to Communion! (Father, fortunately, has quick reflexes).

It certainly can be difficult to bring a little one to church. But soon, Sarah, your little one will be out of that toddler stage. She'll be holding a hymnal upside-down and trying to sing along. She'll be processing in a little white dress for her First Holy Communion. Maybe she'll be in the choir, and (like Middle Sister) preparing for her first time as cantor for the Responsorial Psalm. And all of this will happen because YOU are doing "what He tells you"--you are bringing your little one to church.

Jesus didn't say, "Leave your children home until they're big enough to understand, behave properly and sit still for an hour." He said, "Let the children come to me."

Do what He tells you. And pray a Hail Mary when it gets rough, because I'm sure she's been there. And you know she wants you to do what He tells you.

Jimmy Buffett Moments

Two in two days! What are the odds?

Yesterday our neighbor handed us some hot dogs, buns and sausages. They were left over from a party at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Big Brother remarked that he wasn't surprised that no cheeseburgers were left.

Just now on the way home from church, Middle Sister and I heard "Margaritaville" on the radio. She mis-heard the lyrics in a way I'd never thought of before:

"Some people claim that there's a wombat to blame..."

I had to set her straight on that, and she was outraged. "Why is a woman to blame, when most of the murderers are men?!"

"The song isn't about murder, sweetie."

"Well, what IS it about?"

"It's about some guy who I guess got his heart broken by some girl, so he's wasting his life away."

"Well, they should be more clear about that stuff in the lyrics."

That may be, but it probably wouldn't rhyme anymore.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Heat Wave

The recent (and over, thank God!) heat wave has given Little Brother a new turn of phrase:

"Mom, can I have some Ice Cube Water, please?"

Ice cubes, I think, rank right up there with Band-Aids for their magical-to-preschoolers properties.

Here's to a Free Trip to Germany for My Neighbor

Consider this a totally shameless plea for votes for my neighbor in this contest.

He's one of 5 finalists in the Budweiser Here's to Beer contest. In 50 words or less, he had to answer the question, "With what one person would you most like to have a beer?"

My neighbor answered that he'd like to meet and have a beer with the man who stood in front of a Chinese tank in Tiananmen Square.

If he wins, he'll get a trip for 4 to the Oktoberfest in Germany.

Sooooo....please click on the link, enter your name and birth date, and then move your mouse around the screen that follows until the contest link pops up. Vote for the guy on the right (in the orange shirt).

There are 2 days left in the vote early (and often). It's the Philly way. Thankyouverymuch.


I gave in.

I let my teenager start his own blog.

Yes, Big Brother has entered the Blogosphere. Apparently he's sworn off the use of apostrophes, which drives me, the former English teacher, more than a little crazy. The kid qualified for Honors English class, but refuses to use an apostrophe.

But anyway. That wasn't really the point here.

I had to remind Big Brother about what is, and is not, OK to publish on his blog. Mostly he just wants a place to display the graphics he's creating with his graphic-design software, and since it's easier for me (and everyone else) to view his blog than keep opening up emails with his latest creation, I agreed to it.

In addition to the standard Parent-to-Child Internet Safety Discussion, I made myself a Team Member on his blog. I promised him that I would not Mess With His Blog unless he put something there that shouldn't be, and that I'd check it often.

I also set up comment moderation on his blog, and I'm the moderator. (insert Evil SFO Mom Cackle here) If a comment is left, I see it first, and I decide if he gets to see it at all.

And I have to admit that there's a bit of a selfish motive here. Big Brother is really good at figuring out how to get stuff done on computers. I figure I can benefit from his eagerness to experiment with templates, and pick his brain. He already taught me something in the first 5 minutes that he had a blog!

I'd love any input on anything else the MOMerator should be doing to protect his blog safety.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tragedy for a Town

An extended family lives in the six-room apartment with attic. There is no air conditioning. In winter, the attic is unheated, and it has no electricity. It's the bedroom for the ten-year-old boy.

His two sisters share a bedroom with their two adult aunts. The parents have the second bedroom, and the last bedroom is shared by one uncle and the grandfather. Another uncle lives in the house; whichever one gets home last sleeps on the couch. There's one tiny bathroom for ten people.

If you live in my part of New Jersey, and I describe this scenario to you, you will think I'm talking about Riverside. It's a just-over-one-mile-square town, so small it has no school bus. There are churches of all kinds all over the place as well as many bars. It's a working-class town. Like many working-class towns, it found its downtown of small shops abandoned by shoppers seeking big-box and mall convenience. Until this year my children attended school there.

Several years ago an influx of immigrants (legal and illegal) came from Brazil and settled here. Riverside already had an established Portuguese community. The Brazilians have not been welcomed in town. Instead, they are hated by those who already live there. There is hate crime, vandalism, and a lot of attitude. There are also many Brazilian businesses in what were empty stores.

They're not all illegal. Many of them came here the right way, but there's that Guilt By Association. They want to work hard, and they do. They want to support their families in Brazil. Some of them want to bring their families here. We had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people when Middle Sister participated in Brazilian martial arts (capoeira) classes. Despite the language barrier, they were friendly, helpful to the students, and welcoming to children. They asked me about Catholic schools, saying that when they become parents, they want to send their children to one. And I suspect that in some cases, some of these guys here illegally were victimized by people who spoke their language, took their money, and promised them the moon, the stars, and a green card they didn't know was fake. Now they're stuck.

I wasn't talking about Riverside, though, when I described the scenario in the beginning. I'm only one generation removed from that story: that was the house where my mother grew up. That wasn't Riverside but it wasn't all that different.

You've gotta start somewhere. There are no easy answers. But Riverside is a town divided right now. It's ugly. It's tragic.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Happy Feet

Works-for-Me Wednesday is sponsored by Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Before I became a mom I had several different jobs. Some were summer jobs, others full-time jobs. But it seemed like none of them were sit-down jobs. I guess I was getting ready for what was to come!

I learned, during those days when I might have to stand on my feet for 8 hours, that if your feet hurt, the rest of you is pretty uncomfortable too. And other than making sure that the shoes you wear FIT you well, there are some easy things you can do to make sure that when you're on your feet most of the day, they're happy feet.

Here's the biggest one: if your feet start to feel tired or sore, CHANGE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS. Yes, I said socks. I know it's hot. It's going to be 100 degrees here today. But my feet get tired much faster in sandals than they do in athletic shoes with socks. After a long afternoon in sandals, I can buy myself enough energy to get dinner on the table and the dishes washed, if I put on my sneakers and socks. And while you're putting those socks on, take a second and moisturize your feet too.

Visit the other Works-for-Me Wednesday participants.

Feast of the Portiuncula

Today is the feast of the Portiuncula. This is where Francis came to understand that his vocation was not to be a stonemason, begging stones to repair rundown church buildings, but rather to inspire many through his dedication to living a Gospel life and his devotion to the Blessed Mother.

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Francis' care for several other little churches before this one ultimately led to his caring for the Church. May we be inspired by his example: Preach the Gospel every day--use words when necessary.

H/T to Franciscan Cards for the image of Francis' favorite little church.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Have you thanked a soldier today?


Well, here's your chance.

Visit Let's Say Thanks, fill out the form, and Xerox will print out and mail a postcard to a U.S. soldier stationed overseas. Take this opportunity to show your support and appreciation for their service. In fact, take more than one! It costs you nothing to lift a soldier's spirits.