Saturday, March 31, 2007

They're Kids, Not Kitchen Designers--and that's a Good Thing

After we finished dinner, TheDad went to put his plate in the dishwasher. Since we had rice with our dinner, I asked him to rinse the plate.

"Dishwashers and rice just don't get along," I observed. "The only dishwasher we ever had that could take care of rice was that ancient Kenmore in our first home. I didn't even have to rinse out OATMEAL BOWLS with that dishwasher."

Big Brother commented, "You know what's cool? I saw this dishwasher in The Big Orange Home-Improvement Store that had a transparent front so when you turn it on you see the water swishing all around."

"Ewwwww! Who wants to see that?!" I answered.

All three kids, all at once, yelled, "I DO!"

...And Another Contest!

Because the only thing better than one contest, is TWO contests!

Splat Designs is offering the prize of a free blog template design. Judging from the design at that site, this is quality stuff.

Visit the site, and enter your own blog in the contest!

And the crowd goes wild...

Middle Sister, Little Brother, and a neighbor are outside playing basketball in the driveway.

I went to put something away in the garage and asked them to pass me the ball. A perfect SWISH!

Our guest cheered: "Nothin' but net by a MOM!"

Can't Resist a Contest!

There's a contest over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Easy to enter, and what a great prize! Just in time for "Kids Track In Dirt from Everywhere Season"--a Dyson Slim vacuum. All you have to do to enter the contest is sign the "Mr. Linky" at 5 Minutes for Mom, and tell your readers about it on your own blog. How easy is THAT? (And this vacuum weighs only 15 pounds and has that lifetime-HEPA filter system; perfect for us asthmatic moms).

Go ahead, enter the contest! You have until April 4.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Note from the Teacher

Little Brother had a friend over to play today, so he missed going to preschool. Half an hour ago he realized that he had not gone to school, and a big scene resulted.

So Middle Sister decided to play school with him for a while. She gave him the number placemat and the dry-erase marker so he could write his numbers. Then she gave him the letter placemat for writing his letters. I just overheard a big discussion about why he does not need to ride a school bus.

Then Little Brother delivered me a note from the teacher. Here's what it said:
"I must say, Little Brother is a very bright student. The only thing bad is that he doesn't like to follow orders (directions) Please talk to him about this problem. Although he is a very quick learner, he needs some proper judgement. By that I meen he needs to get better manners."

She is one tough grader. She can't spell, but she's tough. Good thing I'm not in her class....

The Song in My Head

Thanks to Michelle, the song in my head is "The Bunny Song." I'm going to be singing this ALL. DAY. LONG. I just know it. I am powerless over "The Bunny Song" though I must say, I like the "New & Improved Bunny Song" much better.

And contrary to that old wives' tale, singing the song in your head out loud to clear it out does not work. It just annoys the people around you or spurs them to sing along.

If it weren't Lent, I might have to seek revenge by mentioning some of my most pestiferous earworms as:
"Think" by Aretha Franklin, as performed in "The Blues Brothers"
"Walk Like an Egyptian" (The Bangles)
"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" (Jim Croce)
And that song about the three little fishies and the mama fishie too, who swam and swam right over the dam. (Boop boop diddum daddum waddum, choo!)

But it's Lent, so I wouldn't do such a thing.

What song's in YOUR head?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Overheard at the Dinner Table

"Little Brother, butter is not finger food."


Little Brother and his friend Adventure Boy are busily playing with Legos and having a snack of popcorn.

Of course, two five-year-olds generally spill at least as much popcorn as they eat. Between the popcorn and the Legos, I could barely tell what color carpet they were sitting on.

Neither of them was too keen on the idea of picking up that spilled popcorn, until I suggested that they put it into a bowl and then take it outside and dump it out under the bird feeder so the squirrels could have a snack too.

Suddenly the two boys were quiet as could be, picking up every tiny speck of popcorn off the floor so they could feed the squirrels. They proudly went outside to dump the bowl.

What an instant change in attitude! Cleaning up for the sake of cleaning up is not fun at all, and I often resist doing it just as the two boys did. But if cleaning up means that someone else benefits, it becomes less of a chore. Sometimes it even becomes a pleasure.

I've noticed this myself as I do a morning sweep through the house. "I love you," I think to myself as I pick up someone's dirty socks that are hiding under a chair. Remembering that I sweep the floors, wash the socks, and scrub the sink because I love my family can help me get past the "I don't want to" attitude that can easily overtake me.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31: 10-31)

This is a tall order, for sure. (And I'm certainly guilty of "eating the bread of idleness" more than I should!) But I think that part of the secret of this "excellent wife" is that she is doing her work out of love for her husband and family. The hard work of running a household goes a little easier when you focus on blessing the people you love.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things that Make Me Go "Hmmmmm...."

I got home from an after-dinner tutoring job tonight and almost tripped on my way to the front door.

Someone had taken a sand pail, tied a 20-foot piece of leftover clothesline to it, tied the other end to the tree in the front yard, and carried the pail as far away as they could until the rope was taut.

Luckily, there was enough light from the nearby streetlight that I could see the white rope about a foot off the ground.

Little Brother was already asleep, and the Big Kids have laid the blame for this on him, but have no explanation.

I don't know if he was trying to catch something, trip someone, or just see how far the rope would reach. Then again, the answer could be "None of the above." He's 5, after all. It could be ANYTHING. (I'd bet against the "trip someone" option, though. He's just not that devious. Yet. Give him time....)

I'll have to remember to warn TheDad in the morning so he doesn't get hurt on his way to the car.

Hurry, hurry, step right up...

It's Carnival Time again!

This week's Catholic Carnival is hosted by Profound Gratitude. There are quite a few bloggers I'd never seen before so I'm looking forward to exploring all that this Carnival has to offer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dear God: What kind of ice cream do you like?

Little Brother just asked me: "I wonder what God's favorite ice cream is."

"I have no idea," I told him. I was about to ask him what kind of ice cream God would like best, when he said,

"Maybe we can send Him a letter, and ask."

(So what do you think? My guess would be Heavenly Hash. And not just because I happen to like that kind....)

Blending In

In between the sounds of the birds chirping and ducks quacking, I've been hearing some hammering today. I just looked out the window and saw that a house nearby is being prepped for re-siding.

We see a good many renovations like this in the spring, as the homes in this neighborhood are 45 years old. So lots of people are sprucing up.

I've noticed that as the siding changes, so does the color. No surprise there. It's an opportunity to change the whole look of your house. (If we ever had this house re-sided, I'd want a different color too!) What is surprising is that everyone is choosing beige for their siding.

OK, some of it is taupe. Some is almond. Some is toast. It's still beige, folks....

I like a little color with my houses, thank you. Ours is faded yellow (so it's almost beige) and believe me, if I had the reason and the money to re-side this place, beige is not what I would choose. There's just so MUCH of it around here. We're not in one of those Restrictive-Living Communities that tell you what you can plant in your flower bed and what color your curtains can be. In this neighborhood you could have purple siding if you want.

But nobody wants to.

Everybody wants beige. Everybody wants their house to look just like everybody else's house. Everybody wants to blend in. We think we get past that when we get out of high school, but I don't think we do.

Are we Catholics called to blend in? Certainly Francis of Assisi didn't worry about blending in. He was not out to please his wealthy father or the rich neighbors. There was no "keeping up with the Joneses" for him--he gave it all away, even when it wasn't necessarily his to give! When I think of that quote "in the world but not of the world" (John 17: 14-15) I don't think about blending in. Shouldn't our faith lead us to stand out a little bit from the crowd?

It's OK not to be like, look like, act like everyone else. We try to teach this to our children, but do we miss this lesson ourselves? We should not be afraid to stand out because of our beliefs. We're very fortunate here. We are free to believe as we wish to, without putting our lives and our families in danger because of our faith. Yet sometimes we keep it hidden away, because it might make us stick out a little.

And who knows--we might attract others through our example. Maybe they'll want to blend in with us!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Taking Flight

I just read this post about guardian angels working overtime this week, and how hard it is to watch your children grow up and give them over to those same guardian angels.

I completely agree. It's much easier when they're still small enough to carry. But I only have one who still fits in that category (and it's getting tough to still do that).

This afternoon found me sitting at a local airport while Big Brother participated in a fly-in, as a back-seat passenger in a retired Russian military trainer. I don't like to think about how high up he was when he took this picture. I didn't want to know if the pilot was going to do any acrobatics, but I figured it wasn't out of the question as there were several aircraft practicing formation technique. And the relief I felt once I saw the plane return to the runway was multiplied when the pilot gleefully informed me that there had been "a little trouble up there with the landing gear" but that fortunately the gear had locked in the down position, which was the favorable kind of problem to have.

If this kid keeps flying I think I might wear out some rosaries. And as he progresses through his high school years and beyond, he will be in situations that may risk his life, limb, morals, principles, integrity and career. I guess it doesn't matter whether he's in an airplane or not. There will still be many risks, and TheDad and I won't always be able to be there to make sure the landing gear works.

It's a big world, and he's discovering just how big it is. Today he got to experience that from a very high altitude. I'm glad there was room in that cockpit for his guardian angel, and I pray that his angel will always stay close by him.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Little Blessings Can't Make Me Smile Right Now

This morning the sunrise made brilliant orange streaks in the dark sky.

When I opened the window I could hear many birds chirping to greet the day. I could even hear some ducks quacking. Robins were busily scoping out worms in my backyard. The bunny was hopping around out there too.

The Big Kids got up with their alarm clocks and without motherly nagging.

TheDad made sure to give me several extra hugs before leaving for the day.

Little Brother was lying on the floor outside the bathroom door early this morning, but he went back to sleep on the couch under the special blanket for another hour.

The brewing coffee filled the kitchen with its warm, rich aroma.

And I had to go hide in a dark room for a moment because in spite of all these little blessings, I couldn't keep the tears from rolling down my face. It's not the first time in the past couple of days, either. TheDad is mystified at the sudden emotional wreckage that has occurred.

So pardon me while I try and keep it together.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

I picked up a set of jacks at the store today, to play with Little Brother. He got tired of the actual game pretty quickly, though, and decided to put the pieces to "better" use.

Little Brother: "I have a land mine with 2 jack balls in it."

Me: "Jack balls are for jacks, not land mines."

Big Brother: "Jack balls don't even remotely resemble land mines."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What We Keep

Mary Poppins NOT describes finding a children's classic in a thrift store and seeing a special inscription:
"To a very brave little girl. From her loving and adoring mommy."
How on earth could someone get rid of that book?

I once bought a children's board book of prayers at a library book sale. It was MINT condition (rare for a board book) and when I read it with Little Brother for the first time, I found a loving inscription to a child from a GODPARENT. This was apparently a christening gift.

Could it really be true that a godparent took the time to select and inscribe this book for a godchild, only to have it donated, most likely unread, to a library sale?

What a tragedy that in both cases, a love note from a parent or godparent to a child is just considered clutter and thrown away.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Things that Tickle my Funnybone

From Big Brother's high school Daily Bulletin:

From the Dean of Students:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Born in the Digital Age

Little Brother is convinced that email is all-important. Everyone else in the house has email except him, and he's feeling left out.

As he wandered around here pretending to be a Knight or Archer (I'm not sure which), he said to me, "If I had email, I'd be happy. Dot com."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I missed most of the homily today

From what I heard, it was a really good homily, too. One of our deacons was preaching beautifully on the bountiful love of the father in the Gospel story today, and how this love is a wonderful model for all parents.

Unfortunately, I was distracted by a couple of people who, ironically, are most in need of prayer, but who frequently have to be removed from the church and church premises.

They are not children.

They are a mother-daughter pair who live in the neighborhood and apparently suffer from mental illness. They have disrupted Masses before, as well as other parish events. At times there has been police involvement.

Before Mass, our college-student cantor walked in without her mother T, who usually sings in the choir as well. I asked where she was, and the answer was that these two people were in church today, and T had gone to alert the ushers. Later she did come and sit with the choir, but I could see that she was watching someone. Suddenly, during the homily, the daughter got up and walked down the aisle from the back of church to the front, past the pulpit, and out the door behind the altar. The deacon paused a minute (he's been confronted by them in the past) but she passed him, and he went on with the homily. T leaned over and asked if I had my cell phone, and I handed it to her. She quickly left by the side door. Her daughter followed her after a minute, following a whispered discussion among choir members about whether the sacristy was locked.

I spent the next few minutes completely ignoring the homily and praying the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, over and over. I saw the mother leave the church. Later, T came back in. They never returned.

My husband and Big Brother said the only thing they noticed was the daughter walking through the front of the church. We are thankful that there was no disruption, though T was subjected to plenty of verbal abuse outside.

St. Dymphna, patroness of the mentally ill, pray for them. I pray that the love of the Father, who as today's Gospel tells us loves us generously and without reserve, can touch and heal the hearts of these two souls.
St. Michael the Archangel, thank you.

UPDATE: I hope I haven't given the impression that I am condemning these folks (I worried about this all night). I know they are in a very unfortunate situation. I also know that I am powerless to change that situation and that the only thing I can do for them is to pray and to encourage others to pray as well. It truly is a shame that they cannot function as part of the church community at this time. But God's love is powerful and healing, and I hope they will be healed.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wardrobe is Everything

Who knew?

Sometimes I just don't have the kind of energy it takes for these discussions:

"Little Brother, in 5 minutes it's time for your bath."




"In 5 minutes you will come upstairs for your bath."


"How many more minutes?"


"How about now?"

"You want your bath now?"

"No. If I do, I'll get my pajamas on, and then I can't play Knights and Archers."

Apparently a blanket sleeper with dinosaurs on it is not dignified enough for either role. But he does have some blue camo-printed pajamas. Perhaps when I remind him about those, he'll change his tune. Either way, he's still getting that bath.

Baking, Irish Style

Visit my Fridge today to find recipes for:
Irish Soda Bread
Granma's Irish Biscuits

St. Patrick's Breastplate

In honor of his feast day. It's not about the green beer, folks. It's all about this. What a beautiful and powerful morning prayer!

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

A tip of my green hat to Dan at faithmouse for this wonderful tribute to St. Patrick!

Friday, March 16, 2007

6 Weird Things Meme

Last year it was 5 weird things. But now it's 6!! The Rambling GOP Soccer Mom has requested that I name 6 weird things about myself.
Is there no end to the weirdness?

1. Windows, if opened, must all be raised to uniform heights. The same goes with shades or blinds. Unevenness in these areas will drive me crazy, whether it's in my home or someone else's.

2. I have a special fork. No one else may use that fork. Dire consequences will result. We only have one fork, knife and spoon in that pattern, and the FORK IS MINE. I don't really care about the other 2 pieces so much. I'll just use whatever I have.

3. I can read several nonfiction books at once, but only one fiction book.

4. There are 3 A's in my first name and 3 Z's in my last name. And only 3 letters in my middle name! Before I was married, the only vowel I had was A--first, middle and last names (unless you count Y).

5. I will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being photographed, especially if it's a video camera.

6. I have worn the same pair of earrings for more than 5 years almost without exception. It's the only pair I have that don't cause my earlobes to break out. On very special occasions I put on my "bling" that TheDad gave me on our first Valentine's Day together, but I can only handle that for about 2 hours. These earrings never leave my ears.

By the way, Christine, I like Blazing Saddles too! That musical number with Dom DeLuise kills me every time.

Lenten Meme

I was tagged quite a while ago by Rosemary for this meme. Sorry for the delay, Rosemary!

What is your favorite Sorrowful Mystery?

I would have to say it is the Crowning with Thorns. But maybe you guessed that from the picture up at the top right!! That symbol, to me, of the crown of royalty and the thorns of pain just hits at the heart of the whole mystery that Christ had to die, so we would have life.

What is your favorite Station of the Cross?

I too have always loved "Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus." (In fact, if Little Brother had been a girl, he would have been named Veronica.) In the middle of all He was going through, Jesus took the time to console someone else.

Do you fast during Lent?

Yes, of course, on the required days.

What is your Lenten Resolution(s)?

I have been denying myself those little "treats" that I normally allow. I've also given up candy. I'm not drinking the gourmet coffee or buying a magazine at the checkout counter. So I guess I've given up Retail Therapy, huh?

Do you use Holy Water during Lent?

I do not use holy water any differently during Lent than I usually do.

How many times do you go to Mass during Lent?

I always attend Sunday Mass, and I try to attend on Mondays and/or Fridays whenever possible. With our church's weird daily Mass schedule, this is the best I can manage.

A Snowy Evening

Since early this morning it has been snowing and/or raining and/or dropping sleet-on-steroids (I'm serious; if you can identify the corners and planes on a piece of ice that has just hit your windshield, this is more than just sleet!)

And I spent a decent part of the day driving around in this mess. It took me a whole hour to pick up Middle Sister and my Fairy Goddaughter at school, drop off Fairy Goddaughter at her home, and get home here. I should be able to do that in 40 minutes tops. (Fairy Goddaughter really is my goddaughter, and TheDad's too. When she was in kindergarten, she told her friend that I am her Fairy Godmother. Works for me).

Big Brother and TheDad are off for a fun-filled, snowy weekend of camping with the Boy Scouts. They're in a lodge, so it will at least be warm once they get a fire going. They raided our board-game closet (3 versions of Axis and Allies, Risk, Monopoly, chess, and a deck of cards) to keep everyone busy since they will be snowed in.

We've had our dinner and it's all cleaned up. I took out the trash and filled the bird feeder. Then I came in, put on my pajamas, made a cup of tea, and settled down at the kitchen table for a rare opportunity for Evening Prayer in the evening, before I'm too sleepy, with Little Brother's SpongeBob cartoon providing the background music.

Once I find out that the Scouts have reached their destination (in good weather, it should take an hour) I will be able to relax. If you have a prayer to spare for these crazy guys, I'd surely appreciate it. Saint George is the patron saint of scouting, I have learned.

Now that the game closet is half empty, maybe I should finish cleaning it out. Or I could go make some cookies.

I think the cookies will win. The closet will be there tomorrow.

Beatitudes for a Housewife

I found this on my favorite cooking forum this morning and thought it was too good to keep to myself.

Beatitudes for a Housewife

Blessed is she whose daily tasks are a labor of love; for her willing hand and happy heart translate duty into privilege, and her labor becomes a service to God and all mankind.

Blessed is she who opens the door to welcome both stranger and well-loved friend; for gracious hospitality is a test of brotherly love.

Blesses is she who mends stockings and toys and broken hearts, for her understanding is a balm to humanity.

Blessed is she who children love, for the love of a child is more to be valued that a fortune or fame.

Blessed is she who sings at her work; for music lightens the heaviest load and brightens the dullest chore.

Blessed is she who dusts away doubt and fear and sweeps out the cobwebs of confusion; for her faith will triumph over all adversity.

Blessed is she who serves laughter and smiles with every meal; for her buoyancy of spirit is an aid to mental and physical digestion.

Blessed is she who preserves the sanctity of the Christian home; for hers is a sacred trust that crowns her with dignity.

Author unknown- Taken from the Yankee Kitchen Cookbook, 1969

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just Answering Some Questions--and Requesting a Prayer

First of all, I'm 2 memes behind here, so if you tagged me, bear with me.

And now from the combox:
On King Tut:
Ellen, I would recommend this exhibit to any adult who has an interest in Egypt. I would not recommend this to children under high-school age. It is a museum exhibit. It's in a series of little dark rooms. Most display cases show items at a 4-foot height (some ten-year-olds were too short to see some things). The IMAX movie is probably not worth it unless you have a crush on Omar Sharif. It's not that the subject matter isn't appropriate for children, but it's not presented in a way that will interest them. It's really meant for adults to appreciate.
Sara, there was no bloodshed, but I did lose one of the kids for a few minutes. The Tap-Dance-Kid (who thinks she is perpetually starring in her very own Broadway show) took off with some other chaperone to another area without telling me or the teacher. I spent most of my time counting heads to make sure I had all 5 kids at all times--in the dark. And I PAID for this privilege. Apparently at this school, there are no freebie field trips for room parents. But I had a very pleasant and polite boy in my group who actually showed courtesy all day long and thanked me for being a chaperone! That was a real treat.

On the Violas in the Yard:
Sara, I do not live in the Frozen Tundra. That is a good thing since I don't deal well with cold. If it's below 50 degrees I have gloves on. If it's below 85 I am probably NOT wearing shorts. Thank you for letting me know the name of my cute flowers. Don't worry, they won't get any care other than the natural kind of watering that God provides them. This method of gardening has helped me produce the Hosta That Needs Its Own Zip Code. We haven't killed the Live-Forevers yet either.

Now for the prayer request. Actually, TWO prayer requests. But one saint could intercede for both of these. Saint John Bosco, please intercede on behalf of:
The Kitchen Madonna's son, who may lose his spot in a training program for handicapped young adults due to budget cuts, and
a young student I personally know (not a family member) whose educational career may be disrupted. This would be a shame for him.

Signs of Spring

Look who I found peeking out of the mess of dead grass in the flower bed this morning!

I've been seeing lots of daffodil pictures on people's blogs all of a sudden, but I don't think I'll see any in my yard. The daffodils here popped up in January, put up some buds, and then froze in place. (Anyone know what I should do with this? I'm garden-impaired....)

Last year the kids' school gave out pots of these little cuties to each child for Easter, to plant in their own gardens. I had no idea that it might come back another year.

We've got these tiny flowers, and the kids have all seen The Bunny (generally known around here as The Easter Bunny's Brother). It will be 74 degrees here today, and Middle Sister wore her uniform shorts to school! Spring must be on the way!

Book Review Time!

Where was Danielle Bean when I was a new mom needing a book like this one?

Drat--I think she was still in college. Too bad for me, because I seriously needed the kind of inspiration she offers.

It's one of those humbling things about adulthood, that you can learn from someone younger than yourself.

This book is not one of those "My Way is the Only Way" parenting books you can find on store shelves all over the place. I've read plenty of those, and been turned off by all of them. I can't--and shouldn't--follow someone else's road map.

The aim of Danielle's book is not to prescribe a certain way of doing things. Instead, this book offers encouragement to moms learning to listen to their hearts, love their families, trust their instincts and see their husbands and children for the blessings they are. Danielle gives the kind of advice that you'd expect to hear from a very good friend who has "been there, done that" and who is not only willing to have some coffee with you when you're having a bad day or week, but brings along a coffee cake as well, makes the coffee, and holds your sick baby. It's gentle advice accompanied by a good dose of family stories, plenty of humor and common sense, and a generous helping of prayer.

This kind of encouragement is priceless, and every mom needs plenty of it.

My Irish Name

Your Irish Name Is...

Maeve Fitzgerald

I used to have an Irish last name, before I married into a Polish/Lithuanian one!

H/T to Suzanne for this fun quiz.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Starting on a Sour Note

I hate it when one of my kids leaves the house in the morning right after we've argued--even when I was right. I don't like that they are starting their day off badly.

Today is one of those days. Middle Sister was getting ready to leave for school. I was making sure she had her lunch, report card, and a poster that's due today. Then I said those 5 little words that all 11-year-olds hate to hear: "Wait! You need a coat!"

She argued. I told her not to be rude, and that I wasn't bending on the coat (it's 28 degrees right now!) And she stormed out of here in a huff.

I'll be leaving in a few minutes to accompany her class on a field trip (we're seeing King Tut!) I hope she leaves her attitude behind on the trip, or we'll all need coats.

Anyone know the patron saint of mother-daughter relationships? St. Anne, perhaps? I'll be asking her intercession to help me hold the sarcasm while I explain about respect to my daughter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Daylight Savings Hazard

Now that it's Daylight Savings Time, the afternoon sun streams through the living room windows much later in the day than usual. In fact, it's right about the time that Little Brother likes to sit down with me for a game of "Go Fish" with The Big Cards (a regular deck of playing cards, not his Little Kid Picture Cards).

He wiggled around trying to find a spot on the floor where the sun wouldn't be in his eyes.

"I don't like this sun," he complained. "It brights my eyes."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mr. Malaprop

Big Brother has been playing a computer game about medieval days. It's interesting to listen to him talk about various invaders, royalty, military strategy and excommunications. Apparently the scenarios in the game are fairly historically accurate, and he's studying this time period in history class right now, so between the game and the class, we're hearing a good bit about medieval life and warfare.

Little Brother has been picking up bits and pieces of "knowledge" along the way, since he likes to look at the knights on the computer screen. (The more Shining Armor, the better he likes it.) Today he asked me if we could go to "Eggland" to see the knights.

I told him that the kind of knights he wanted to see weren't around anymore.

"Why not? Are they instinct?"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Only Two Days Away

In only two days it will be the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers!

I hope it makes you as sick to read that sentence as it made me to type it.

I encourage you to mark this day with prayer and action.

Here's an example--this is what I plan to do.
Prayer: I will pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for the intention of an end to abortion and respect for all life, from conception to natural death.
Action: I will be doing a little shopping for diapers so that I can deliver them to my local crisis pregnancy center. (HINT: Buy a bigger-size diaper; most people donating to these wonderful centers buy things for newborns, but moms come in needing things for growing babies or even their older toddler.)

Last year when I delivered my bag of items, the volunteers were as horrified to hear the reason for my visit as they were grateful for the donation.

Let's make this year the last year that this day is observed. Maybe next year we can have a National Day of Appreciation for Crisis Pregnancy Volunteers.

H/T to Dan Lacey at faithmouse for the "vintage faithmouse" image.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Marriage Meme

I was tagged by Aimee.

1. Where/How did you meet? Blind date!! My father worked with TheDad's neighbor. In fact, they'd worked together so long that she knew me first. When TheDad had broken up with his long-term girlfriend, she played Yenta the Matchmaker.

2. How long have you known each other?: 17 years this past January.

3. How long after you met did you start dating?: We met on our first date. One or 2 phone calls before that.

4. How long did you date before you were engaged?: 1 year EXACTLY.

5. How long was your engagement?: 8 months.

6. How long have you been married?: 16 years.

7. What is your anniversary?: January 13.

8. How many people came to your wedding reception: 150-160 ppl

9. What kind of cake did you serve?: A wedding cake. Nothing out of the ordinary about it.

10. Where was your wedding?: In Carteret, NJ at St. Joseph Church. Reception was at the local Holiday Inn.

11. What did you serve for your meal?: That's all a blur. I have NO idea what we served or if I ate.

12. How many people were in your bridal party?: 4 girls, 4 guys.

13. Are you still friends with them all?: Except for the best man and maid of honor, who married each other and ditched us.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?: Not full on tears, but we were both misty several times.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?: Walking down the aisle.

16. Any funny moments?: We hadn't arranged for limos since the church and reception were fairly close. So the guys in the wedding party took the girls in their cars. We never arranged for rides for OURSELVES! After the photo-ops were over, we were almost the only ones left in the church, and we had no way to get to the reception. So we hitched a ride with the neighbor who was responsible for getting us together.

17. Any big disasters?: No.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?: Disney World.

19. How long were you gone? 1 week.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change? Just about everything except the groom! (And the music for the ceremony was good. I chose it all myself AND conducted the choir rehearsal. We made sure the Mass and ceremony were as we wanted. The party--that was all the "obligatory" stuff.)

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?: I sleep on the left side (when looking from the foot of the bed)

22. What size is your bed?: Queen

23. Greatest strength as a couple?: Our faith and values are always in sync - we look at life the same way. (Stealing Aimee's answer because it describes us as well)

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?: Right now, it's finding time for each, time to nourish our lives as a couple.

25. Who literally pays the bills?: TheDad.

26. What is your song? "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

27. What did you dance your first dance to?: "I Love You Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel because the band couldn't play "our" song. (see: what would you change about your wedding)

28. Describe your wedding dress: Way too poofy for my normal taste. I think someone talked me into it at the bridal store. I wanted my mother's wedding gown but she had sold it a long time ago. Hers was very simple and elegant, much more my taste.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?: Let me go find a wedding roses and white stephanotis.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved? No. How lame is THAT? And I don't wear my engagement ring--haven't in about 10 years--because there's a loose prong on the setting and I don't want to lose the stone, and I keep forgetting to take it to the jeweler. I figure the wedding band is the important one anyway. It never leaves my hand.

The Magical Age

Both of my Big Kids, when they woke up on their fifth birthdays, expected something magical to happen.

Big Brother: "I'm 5 now! Do I get to go to kindergarten?"

Middle Sister: "Do I know how to read now?"

So I wasn't surprised this morning when Little Brother did the same thing. What did surprise me (but shouldn't have) is that he's just like his Big Brother: "Do I go to kindergarten today?"

Happy Birthday, Little Brother!

What Color is YOUR Brain?

Silly me...I thought brains were made from something GRAY. But apparently...

Your Brain is Blue

Of all the brain types, yours is the most mellow.
You tend to be in a meditative state most of the time. You don't try to think away your troubles.
Your thoughts are realistic, fresh, and honest. You truly see things as how they are.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your friends, your surroundings, and your life.

Translation: You tend to spend a lot of time BLOGGING.

H/T to Laura the Crazy Mama.

Monday, March 05, 2007

And God Bless Me!

This morning at the supermarket I got in line for my favorite cashier. She has a grandson who shares a name with Little Brother but is a few months older. She always remembers Little Brother's name, and if he's not with me she always asks about him, and tells me what her grandson is up to.

Today she mentioned that when he says his prayers at night, he goes through the usual list of "God Bless" that we all do with our children, naming beloved family members and friends--and at the end of the list, he names himself. She said that this is the only one of her many grandchildren who does this.

Coincidentally, Little Brother does the same thing--and he's the only one in the family who does. We laughed about how cute the little guys are.

It's more than cute, though. It's actually a pretty wise move. How often do we ask God to bless us? How often do we ask for prayers for ourselves? That thought struck me yesterday as we prayed the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass:
"...and I ask the Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
All the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord Our God."

We should not be afraid to ask for prayers and blessings for ourselves, and we should not hesitate to be generous in offering them to others. There's a lot we can learn from the total trust that children show in God. They say their prayers anticipating that God will be good to them and to those whom they love. They trust God to provide them and their loved ones with what they need. Do we?

Musical Distractions

Yesterday in church I was sitting with my family and the Secular Franciscans. Usually I sit with the choir, so I was enjoying the opportunity to be near my husband.

That is, until he leaned over during the Responsorial Psalm and whispered, "This song sounds just like something out of Willy Wonka."

Don't even think about asking me what the Second Reading was about. I spent the entire time running through the score of the movie in my head, having psychedelic Gene Wilder flashbacks, until I figured out what song he was thinking of: "Pure Imagination."

He was right, too. I'll never hear that Dameans tune ("Remember Your Love") the same way again.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Do I get extra English Major points here?

A List of Books: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, underline the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk* the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)*
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire(Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)*
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)*
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)*
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)*
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)*
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)*
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)*
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)*
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) I'm on my third copy--wore out the first two! This is my favorite book EVER!
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)*
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)*
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)*
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)*
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)*
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)*
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) (OK, I guess I should give back my degree when I admit this. But I can't get past the first 4 pages of this one!)

Found this at Sarah's blog.

Dramatic Ending

Little Brother's birthday celebration was in full swing yesterday, with all the kids, big and small, outside enjoying the warm and sunny day. Someone popped in to report that the kickball was stuck in the top of the 20-foot pine tree in front of the house, "but it's OK, because Big Brother's going to climb up and get it out."

He's climbed that tree plenty of times before. The only thing I worried about was that he'd rip his new jeans (he's ripped plenty of clothes climbing that tree.)

He came in a minute later, without the kickball but with an injured eye--he'd been poked by a twig as he started up the tree.

Less-squeamish adults than I inspected his eye. TheDad drove to the drugstore for an eye-wash kit in case there was anything still in there. After a wash, it still looked bad, and TheDad took Big Brother to the emergency room instead of to the party he was planning to attend.

Fortunately it turned out to be just a surface scratch. Big Brother was given some eyedrops and instructions to stay away from video games for two days. That's going to be one rough directive to follow.

After giving him a very late dinner, TheDad took Big Brother to his friend's party. Better late than never. We're just happy it wasn't any worse.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Here's one of my favorite things to do

This is the cake for Little Brother's birthday party. We're celebrating tomorrow.

Over the years I have made many birthday cakes for my kids. This is the most important party detail, in my mind. Never mind that I haven't swept the floor yet, and the food's not prepared. This afternoon, it was all about getting the cake done.

Decorating cakes is very relaxing for me. I have to work slowly and concentrate. There can be no hurrying. This cake took a good deal of advance planning since I had to figure out many details (and visit five stores before scoring the plastic airplanes!) But once I got that gray icing mixed, I was ready to go, and I just kept going until it was done. I love the slow, deliberate work, which is generally against my hurry-up, Type A nature. And I love the feeling of accomplishment when the cake is finished and the kids come running into the kitchen to see how it looks.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Things I Never Thought I'd Have to Say

"You may not use silverware to clean your sneakers."

Just One of Those Things...

...that I love about my kids.

Just now I came to the end of a roll of heavy duty foil (the kind that is not only thicker, but wider than the regular foil). Little Brother saw me take out the last foil, and then his eyes got big when he saw what I had for him: an extra-long cardboard tube.

(For the record, the regular, foot-long ones that come out of paper towel rolls or plastic wrap are known around here as "garnades," with good reason.)

"Ooooo, that's mine!" he proclaimed.

Who needs expensive toys when you have perfectly good cardboard tubes around? They can keep Little Brother busy for hours.