Monday, April 30, 2007

A Hypothetical Situation, and an Informal Poll

Let's say that you have informed your child that you will be vacuuming the family room after dinner. The child has been given ample and REPEATED warning that all tiny little toys and pieces of toys should be picked up. The child has also been given plenty of time to accomplish this task, a place where the toys and pieces of toys can be placed, and a little guidance ("Check under the couch!")

What age must your child be before you are no longer duty-bound by the Cleaning Mama Code of Guilt to eviscerate your vacuum bag because you heard multiple Rattles of Plastic Death while vacuuming said family room?

I'm just asking.

This question has nothing to do with the Lego and Playmobil bits that may or may not be currently residing within the bowels of my Oreck.

Members Only

This morning Little Brother was up extra early, and wanted to get under the blanket on the love seat, where he stretched out and took up the whole thing.

When Middle Sister came downstairs, there was no room for her, so she curled up on the couch.

Then, I was ready to begin Morning Prayer, and I sat down on the other end of the couch with my prayer book, only to be interrupted by Little Brother's very loud declaration:

"HEY! You're not a member of that couch!"

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Saints Meme

I was double-tagged on this one! Sarah and Ellen both asked me to do this meme:

List four favorite saints, two favorite blessed, and a person who you think should be a saint. As Sarah said, these are today's answers. Tomorrow's could be different...there are so many saints and so little time!

First of all, special mention goes to the Blessed Mother. I can't lump her in with "saints" because I think she is even beyond that, being conceived without sin.

St. Francis of Assisi--my inspiration
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who is a wonderful example of sacrificial love and motherhood
St. Francis de Sales, whose writings I am beginning to explore
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who is being remembered in a special way by the Secular Franciscans throughout the world on the 800th anniversary of her birth. She is the Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order, a mother, a widow, and one who worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. (Do check the link above and read about her life--fascinating!)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta--I am awestruck by her work and her wonderful writings
Blessed Junipero Serra, because I have had, since childhood, a fascination with the Franciscan missionaries who inspired others to share our Faith

Servant of God John Paul the Great (needs no explanation, I'm sure)

Sue, sfo
The Kitchen Madonna


Michelle's not the only one whose kids are working to increase their vocabulary!

However, in Little Brother's case, he's making up acronyms to fit his needs.

"Mom, can you please make me some breakfast?"

"What would you like?"


He's very delighted that I figured out that he wanted Two Slices of Toast. Now he wants to use this new word as much as possible.

"Are my TWOST ready?"

I'm guessing that this child has a military or government career ahead of him, with this kind of talent.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Books Meme

Ellen at From Across the Net has tagged me for this meme:

What are you currently reading?

It's pretty rare that I have only one book going at once, and right now is no exception. Generally, though, I can only handle one fiction book at a time, but any number of nonfiction. So, in no particular order, I've got:
To Love, Honor and Vacuum by Sheila Wray Gregoire
The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle's The Heart of Motherhood
Ungodly Rage by Donna Steichen (the content of this book upsets me so much that I can take it in small doses only--but I feel like I must finish it because it's an important subject)

No fiction at the moment, because I just finished reading a book my mom mailed me: Jane Austen in Scarsale, or Love, Death and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen

Obviously I need to dig into the very tall pile of books awaiting my attention and find some more fiction in there.

OK, now go check out Ellen's blog. She's cool. Plus, our sons attend the same high school--though her son graduates in June and mine is just a lowly freshman.

And no, Debbie, I have not forgotten about the Fictional Characters meme. I'm just having a Real Hard Time narrowing down my choices!! Please be patient!

Fashion Sense

Middle Sister is sitting here browsing through the J.C.Penney kids' catalog that came in today's mail.

"What's with the missing-skirt look?" she asked as she pointed to an outfit with capri leggings and a long top. "It's kinda creepy."

Finally--we agree on something fashion-related!

Don't Take Your Child to Work Day

As it does every year, this Manufactured Occasion crept up on me—I didn’t realize it was here until suddenly the news programs were all talking about it, and so were the kids on the bleachers at softball. We’ve never “observed” it in our household, not when it was designed For Girls Only, and not now that it’s unisex.

Why not?

Well, first of all, until a couple of years ago we didn’t have a child old enough to really benefit by going to work with a parent and participating in what that parent does all day. Does a first-grader really get that much out of watching Mom attend meetings? Or is that first-grader busy with a computer game at a desk near Dad? I really think that children under middle-school age won’t benefit from spending the day in the workplace.

Beyond that, all the kids already know what I do all day, if they stop to pay attention. They’re here enough of the time. And summer vacation’s coming—so every day will be “Stay Home with Mom Day.”

All of our kids know that TheDad does work involving computers. He’s brought work home on evenings, weekends, and when he thought it might snow hard enough to close the office. They’ve seen him hunched over a computer keyboard typing code like crazy, then walking around thinking for a little while, then typing some more. Do they need to watch him do this for TEN HOURS STRAIGHT? TheDad has been known to skip lunch more often than not….

I asked TheDad if many people at his office had brought children. He named a couple, and I asked what the children did all day while their parents wrote code and attended meetings. “They got in the way,” he replied.

On the day before Take Your Child to Work Day, I sat on the bleachers at Middle Sister’s softball game, listening to all the players’ younger siblings discussing their plans for the next day. One girl (third grade or younger) was going to teach middle- and high-school foreign language with her mom. One first-grade boy was planning to play computer games on his dad’s work computer all day. Apparently he already knew that there wouldn’t be much to see there. Meanwhile, another child started whining that he was going to have to go to school. I said to him, “But someone has to go to school, or this girl (the teacher’s daughter) won’t get to teach Spanish to anyone! What would all the teachers’ kids do, if all the students went to work with their parents?”

WAIT A MINUTE! Maybe that’s the idea here! Maybe this whole wacky scheme is really a plot by the teachers’ union to get a day off at a slow time of year. It’s been 2 weeks since “Spring Break” (can’t call it Easter Vacation anymore, if they even schedule it for Easter Week anymore), and there are no holidays until Memorial Day (is it still OK to call it Memorial Day? I hope I haven’t missed another PC-renaming opportunity).

So, just how much productivity is lost because these employees and/or their administrative assistants are spending the day amusing first-graders with special lunches, computer games and free rein in the copy room? What’s being accomplished here?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fill in the blank

I think Middle Sister covered all the bases already. Wonder what she would put in that spot?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Would YOU buy this book?

I saw this booklet on the magazine rack in the local supermarket, right next to quality publications like the National Enquirer and Weekly World News.

Normally, I'm all for those "Idiot's Guide" books, or the "Dummies" series. I think they have great explanations for technical stuff, and I've bought and used several of them. But this title deserves all the mockery that it is sure to invite:

"Baby Names for Dummies."

Book Review: Sanity Savers

I recently received a review copy of the book: Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life, by Dr. Dale Vicky Atkins.

I love tips. I always rip out the "tip a day calendar" from women's magazines. I like to visit "Works for Me Wednesday" bloggers. Part of my volunteer work at Family Corner is gathering tips submitted by members, to be included in the site's newsletters. In short, when I grow up, I want to be Heloise.

So I was very excited to receive a whole book full of tips!

However, once I started reading, I was disappointed. I'm happy to read right through a tip book as if it's a novel. But this one isn't organized in a way that works for me. It has a page a day of tips that are connected within the topic of the day. So instead of having a chapter of cooking tips, then a chapter of parenting tips, then a chapter of healthy-living tips, you get a smattering of everything all at once. The idea behind this book is that each day, the reader will read ONE page of tips.

The part of the book I might get the most use of is the index. And flipping through that index just now, I found a reference for "abortion." Looking it up, I discovered that this book is written solely from a pro-abortion viewpoint. There are NO tips for "if you decide not to have an abortion" that would direct a reader to a crisis-pregnancy center. The section ends with the assurance to the reader: "You have a choice about what to do regarding your body and whether to have a baby."

Needless to say, the author's viewpoint on this issue is diametrically opposed to mine. I'm done with this book. I won't be sharing it with friends, and I won't recommend it to anyone who reads this blog. There are plenty of other sources of tips out there.

Mama on the Warpath

The Kitchen Madonna is sponsoring a "Name This Apron Contest."

I am here to tell you that I could have used this apron this morning. I'd have named it "Mama on the Warpath."

Now, I am well aware that it is my vocation to be a Mom and a Homemaker. And this vocation implies that I will be doing many things for my family, all day long--cooking, laundry, cleaning, errands, personal taxi service--you know the drill. I'm OK with all that. I enjoy some of it (especially the cooking part).

It's the short-notice stuff that gets me. I swear they all think that my motto is "I plan ahead, so you don't have to." This morning I needed one of those signs that read "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

Within the first half-hour of being awake, I was informed that I had to take a twenty-minute-each-way field trip to the Boy Scout Council office to get a camping permit stamped. This permit had been sitting in my husband's briefcase for a couple of weeks, but it had to be done today, because the camping trip is tomorrow.

I was a little less calm when Big Brother asked me where his black jeans were, because he had to wear black clothing to school today for stage crew. He asked me this question 45 minutes before his bus time. The jeans were in the washer--clean, but not yet dry. (They were still a little damp when he put them on and rushed out the door. Mildewed underwear is not out of the question.)

But the icing on the cake came when Big Brother wandered downstairs after his shower and saw me closing up his lunchbox. "I don't need a lunch today, Mom. We're having pizza at school for stage crew." So I made that tuna hoagie for nothing. He couldn't tell me before his shower that he didn't need lunch? He's well aware that I make lunches while he's in the shower.

So by the time I realized that I was having a tuna hoagie for lunch today, I was definitely Mama on the Warpath. If I were wearing the apron pictured above, I'd need a heavy-duty rosary in one pocket, and an MP3 player loaded with some martial music in the other. Sousa, anyone?

The good thing is that when I am Mama on the Warpath I can be extraordinarily efficient about getting things done. Mama's got to channel that anger into something positive, after all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Contrary to Popular Belief...

...that is, the belief of my Big Kids,

I do not booby-trap the freezer to keep them out of it.

If I did, I'd make sure that it wasn't a bag of green beans that landed on someone's feet tonight--it would have been a Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster.

A job worth doing is worth doing well, after all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The other day after our godchild received her First Communion, we were caught in the “center aisle traffic jam” trying to leave the church. There were a couple of moms with their daughters that were directly behind me. There was one girl around age 12, and two others who were probably 8 or so.

As we proceeded at a snail’s pace out of church, I heard one mom say to her daughter, “Don’t forget to bless yourself with holy water after you leave church.” I figured she was reminding one of the younger girls, until she continued, “What do you mean YOU DON’T KNOW HOW? What’s going on in CCD? You’ve got to start getting ready for Confirmation!”

With that the two younger girls piped up, “I know how! In the name of the Father…” and the two of them started blessing themselves—both with their left hands.

I kept my mouth shut then, but I’m saying it now. It’s NOT ENOUGH to depend on a weekly one-hour CCD class to teach your child the essentials of the faith. It’s up to you to make it happen at home. Any twelve-year-old child who has attended Mass regularly should know how to bless herself. But she won’t get to church unless you take her. If you choose to skip Sunday Mass more often than not, and do nothing but drop your child off at CCD so you can have an uninterrupted hour to do your grocery shopping, then you are outsourcing your child’s religious education.

It is not the fault of the twelve-year-old child, nor is it the fault of the CCD teachers, that she cannot bless herself. She should be doing this twice every Sunday during Mass, not to mention on her way into and out of church. She should have learned it during family prayer before a meal or bedtime prayers.

If you, the parent, expect your child to know the basics of her faith, then you have to be more than a taxi driver to and from CCD. And if you don't know the basics yourself, it's never too late to learn.


Last night I followed a link on Laura's blog and saw a little slide show of the joy demonstrated by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

My kids were delighted to see a Friar we know depicted in the slide show three times: he's the one throwing a baseball, and later standing next to a statue of the Blessed Mother.

And today's his feast day: his name in religious life is Father Fidelis.

The Minor Friar has a post about Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen including some links about his life.

I know that our friend Father Fidelis is well named. His faith shines through everything he does. He's been a friend of my husband since high school, but he almost missed our wedding because he'd been arrested for protesting at an abortion clinic. The cause of life is very close to his heart.

Saint Fidelis was a lawyer before he became a priest; Father Fidelis is on his way to Rome soon to study canon law. May God bless his studies and his ministry and may his patron saint intercede for him always.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Little Brother Knows Where Toys Come From

Little Brother and Adventure Boy are discussing Adventure Boy's favorite toy, "Herbie" (a toy car.) Apparently Adventure Boy has had "Herbie" for a long time.

Little Brother commented, "I know you had him for a long time. God gave him to you."

It Takes a Village

Just about every day, Adventure Boy visits our house and stays for hours. This child is on his own quite a lot for a 5-year-old. He just gets on his little scooter, crosses the street, and comes up the hill to our house. This morning when he got here, he had no shoes on.

I think that sometimes it does take a village to raise a child. I like the fact that I have some neighbors who will let me know if one of my kids is doing something unsafe or out of line. But a lot of the village wants nothing to do with Adventure Boy's family, as I found out 8 years ago when his older brother spent hours here, playing with Big Brother.

The first couple of weeks, Little Brother and Adventure Boy were getting along fabulously. But for the past few days, they've been fighting like actual siblings. Their games of Pirates or Hess Trucks or Toy Trains are punctuated with, "FINE! I'm going home!" and the door banging behind an angry little boy. Before I can get to the door, he's already heading across the street without looking for cars.

I had no sooner expressed my distress about this to my mom on the phone than I heard a knock on the door. It was Adventure Boy's older brother. Apparently Adventure Boy was spotted by a neighbor farther down the street, riding his scooter into the middle of the road without looking. The neighbor called Adventure Boy's grandmother--so she wanted the little guy home.

I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who's been worrying about this kid or looking out for him. I don't want to have to be the only one who lets his grandmother know what he's up to when she's not looking. I watch him and Little Brother like a hawk when they're together, because I'm afraid that they will both just take off.

But I find myself worrying constantly over just how responsible I am for him. If we're home, he's here.

I think I'm going to have to lay this one at the feet of St. John Bosco. Anyone know any other good saints for boys, especially boys with a real lack of structure in their home lives?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

First Holy Communion for Our Godchild

I have been a godmother three times, but only once have my husband and I had the privilege to be godparents to the same child. She is not a relative, but the child of friends--and because they live locally and she attends Middle Sister's school, we get to see her and her family fairly often.

Tomorrow morning our godchild will receive her First Holy Communion. What a special day for her and her family! Please keep her and her classmates in your prayers tomorrow, that Jesus will be with them in a special way on their First Communion Day and always.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nothing Beats a Compliment

I just handed Little Brother his lunch of pancakes, hot from the skillet.

Usually he'll say, "Thanks, Mom" but today he said, "MMMM! It looks awesome!"

I'll take a sincere compliment over rote politeness any day of the week.

Novena Time

It's time to begin your novena to St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

Saint Gianna is an example to all mothers for the sacrificial love she demonstrated, refusing medical treatment that would have killed her unborn child. On her beatification on Mother's Day, 1994, Pope John Paul II observed:
"A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel. By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others."

The Novena Prayer can be found here.

This prayer of St. Gianna can be used anytime:
Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me,
make me only know Your will.
My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls,
and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm
which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms,
I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart,
the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will,
the grace to confide in You,
the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

H/T to Suzanne for the reminder!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

All Mixed Up

Little Brother and Adventure Boy are sitting here filling up the coffee table with their little army guys and setting up a battle.

I think they may have gotten a few story lines mixed up, though.

Little Brother: "He died on a cross!"

Adventure Boy: "He's not dead!"

Curiosity got the better of me...

Me: "Who died on a cross?"

Adventure Boy: "Darth Vader!"

New in the Sidebar

There's a new blogroll in the sidebar: Catholic Mothers Online.

I visit a lot of these sites anyway, since they're wonderful, encouraging, funny, devout spots. The blogroll seems to be growing each day. If you're a Catholic mom, why not consider joining this blogroll? And by all means, check out the other sites on the list if they're not already familiar to you.

A big "thank you" to Angie for putting this all together.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I just followed a link from Dale's blog to this story about the massacre at Virginia Tech.

I guess one of the drawbacks of having satellite radio is that you don't have any news bulletins interrupting your '70s flashbacks during "Mom's Taxi" runs. And one of the benefits of having satellite radio is that you don't have any news bulletins interrupting your '70s flashbacks during "Mom's Taxi" runs.

So I didn't know about this until now. Not that it would have done me any good to know about it earlier.

My Big Kids are in school. Big Brother goes to high school. In my family, we are way past the point of being able to insulate our children from all possible disasters. Big Brother is out there in the scary world, riding school buses, attending track meets, riding in other students' cars to a local diner after stage crew, running several miles on his own, walking around the corner to Target, Taco Hell and 7-11. Middle Sister is approaching that scary world faster than I'd like to think about.

I can't be with my kids all the time and I can't protect them from everything. Most of the time I can just roll with that knowledge and move along. And then news stories of shootings at schools or universities stop me in my tracks for a little while. They make me want to keep my kids sequestered in the house until they turn 30. I know that's irrational and that I cannot do that--but sometimes I want to!

It's times like this that I must turn to the words Jesus spoke to his apostles when he first appeared to them after the Resurrection: "Peace be with not let your hearts be troubled." I have to let them go out into the scary world. I have to let them grow up. I have to trust that when they can't be with their family, that they can still be OK. I have to place them in God's hands when they can't be in my arms.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Born to Shop

"Mom, can we have a Girl Day sometime soon?"

Translation: "Mom, when can you take me shopping?"

That's my daughter. She felt the need for a little Retail Therapy. Fortunately, TheDad was home today, so we had the opportunity to get out without any brothers and enjoy some shopping time. We visited the kinds of places girls like to shop: Target, Old Navy, Michaels and Barnes & Noble.

We've only got one daughter here, and sometimes I think she feels a little lost in the shuffle between her two brothers. She's not intimidated by them or any boys, and she can go to the creek and get just as muddy as the neighborhood boys who wade in it with her. But sometimes she just wants to go to the store and try on swimsuits and cute skorts--which I can't find on the website, but I highly recommend the girls' swingy skorts at Old Navy. Much more modest than most of their shorts, and cute too! (I did see some "Bermuda length" shorts for girls, too, which was a refreshing change that I'm glad to see.)

We managed to get her a swimsuit (two-piece at her insistence, with a matching rash guard top at my insistence), two skorts and a top that matches both. She used her own money for some accessories: flip-flops, purse and wallet. Nobody pouted, cried or sulked, and there was no shouting in the store or the car.

Girl Day was a real pleasure.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Scenes from My Morning (or why my eyes are rolling back in my head right now)

Little Brother is looking for a snack. I hear him rummaging around in the kitchen. He just called to me: "Mom, what do we have to make me smart?"

Meanwhile, I am gathering up laundry. Middle Sister has a real talent for creating fake laundry. She looks at something, thinks about wearing it, and then leaves it on the floor for a while until she puts it in the hamper and I wash it. After I wonder why I haven't seen this item of clothing on her since I last washed it, I start to seethe. But usually she's not home to hear me rant, because she's gone to school already.

Well, this week is Easter vacation, so I get to interrogate her about why her robe is in the hamper after I just washed it last week. "Middle Sister," I call, "did you spill something on your robe?" (We just had a discussion the other day about not needing to wash the robe every time it's worn for half an hour to cover up pajamas).

"No, Mom. I slept in it."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Look Who's In My Yard!

The picture's a little dark, but it WAS pretty early this morning. Mama and Papa Mallard paid a visit to my front yard looking for something from under the bird feeder. We did them one better and threw them some bread.

I'll have to look for them again tomorrow; I've been hearing them quacking around the neighborhood for about 2 weeks now but this is the first they've come to our yard. Generally they nest under my neighbor's shrubbery. Once they hatch the eggs, they'll leave pretty quickly with the babies and not be seen around here again until next spring!

Maybe it's silly to get all excited about a couple of ducks. But I do anyway. I enjoy seeing the cardinals who visit my bird feeder as well--and so do the kids. Little Brother is learning to identify our most common visitors, such as sparrows, robins, cardinals and "Mourning Duffs."

Seeing the ducks in the morning makes me smile. It's right up there with a pretty sunrise, a good cup of coffee, and a little time to enjoy all of those before any kids are awake and needing my attention. Today, God gave me the gift of "All of the Above." What a great way to start the day.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Note to Self

Next time Big Brother calls to say it's time to pick him up at his school after a track meet, and you ask him how he did, and he just says "Bye," and hangs up, do not assume that this means he ran a terrible race.

He just might want to surprise you with the TWO third-place medals he won in distance relays.

Way to go, Big Brother! I'm proud of you and your team.

Strange Logic, but the Sentiment is Right On

It's always interesting to overhear little kids' observations as they play with their friends.

Little Brother and Adventure Boy are playing with matchbox cars and Star Wars ships. Adventure Boy commented, "My mom has that toy."

Little Brother was puzzled. "Your mom's not a boy!"

Adventure Boy answered, "My mom's a girl, because I love my mom."

R.I.P. Johnny Hart

This cartoon by Johnny Hart was published in yesterday's newspapers, a day after the cartoonist passed away. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Hart's cartoons were always among my favorites. The art was nothing spectacular but the messages could be amazing. And his Easter cartoons never disappointed. He found some newspapers refused to publish his religious-themed toons, but he never stopped drawing those.

His wonderful work will be missed.

Easter Mass Recap

I'm glad that I was needed in the choir for yesterday's noon Mass. I love Easter Vigil, and it's nice to sit with my family, but I needed to do the music on Sunday. It just completed Easter for me.

Sunday's noon Mass was a full house--standing room only, even in the choir! Since I pretty much only sit during the homily, I gave up my chair to someone else and sat on the bench at the window at that time. I was happy that there were so many who wanted to rejoice by raising our voices! We had lots of little ones in the choir too--one member had her baby twin boys, who made some quiet "happy baby noises" and were very good and of course very cute; one of the kids in the choir was visited frequently by her little sister, who would wander over from the nearby pew where the rest of the family sat, and our music leader's toddler was there as well. We're family-friendly in this choir, and that's really nice.

Father reminded all of us that our most important job on Easter is to renew our baptismal promises, and that despite the fact that "Catholics are really good at mumbling," he expected us to do that with great enthusiasm. He also invited us to get a good look at the Empty Tomb. And that's another reason I was glad I came back on Sunday. The tomb was even more beautiful with the light streaming through the stained-glass window behind it. But the most beautiful thing about the empty tomb is what it represents.

Did Easter Leave You Exhausted?

You're not alone. Check out what all those other church musicians and lectors are doing about it.

WARNING: Drinking coffee while reading the post linked above can be hazardous to your computer.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter with the Big Kids

Easter has brought a reminder to Meritt that her children are getting older:
As I glance over towards the kitchen I see four Easter baskets lined up in a row. Little yellow Peeps sticking out the top smiling at me.

Where are the children that belong to these baskets?


Long gone are the days of children waking at the crack of dawn to sneak down the stairs to see if the Easter Bunny had come and left them a basket of goodies.

I only had one child who is excited enough about Easter to start hopping around the house before it's even light out. No one else even wants to wake up.

Little Brother conked out about 3 readings into the Easter Vigil last night. We were ready for that, and had a blanket to pad the pew. He didn't move a muscle for the rest of the Mass, and it took me and one of the deacons' wives to get him into his coat so I could take him home (it was below freezing out, so I had to have the coat on him!) He slept all night in his Easter clothes. Since he had fallen asleep at about his regular time, he was up before 7 and bouncing even before he had broken into his Peeps!

Middle Sister is starting to be jaded about the whole thing. She was excited to have a basket, but rolled her eyes a little at the idea of finding her candy-filled eggs. In fact, one egg is still At Large, somewhere in the dining room.

The Easter Bunny didn't even bother hiding Big Brother's eggs. They're just piled up in his basket.

And Mrs. Easter Bunny thought of a new twist on what to put in the baskets this year. We don't go whole hog on the baskets with elaborate gifts, though the kids did receive the new Veggie Tales video. Instead, along with the obligatory Peeps and small chocolate bunny, each child received something they had given up for Lent.

For Little Brother, that was a big tub of colored sprinkles to top his favorite (vanilla) ice cream. Middle Sister found a bottle of orange soda, and for Big Brother, who had given up ice cream, there was a box of Waffle Cones. He knows there's a carton of his favorite (Rocky Road) ice cream in the freezer already.

All of the kids were more excited about these gifts based on their Lenten sacrifices, than anything else in the baskets or hidden eggs. I thought that was pretty cool. So even if two of my kids are getting too old for some of the Easter traditions, it looks like we may have started a new one.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Because only one "Alleluia" didn't seem like enough.


Keeping Vigil

Holy Saturday has always seemed like such an odd day to me. There's plenty for me to do, between baking, cleaning house, and preparing food for the Easter celebration. There's laundry and ironing so that everyone's church clothes will look nice and neat. For moms, it's a very full day indeed--we are focused on tomorrow.

My kids are all at loose ends, however. They are eager for tomorrow's promise of chocolate, and anticipating their chance to hold candles during the Easter Vigil tonight. But their regular activities just aren't very fun for them today; they too are focused on tomorrow.

Look back on the first Holy Saturday. No one was looking forward to much on that day. We know that Jesus' friends had locked themselves up in a room, probably fearing that they would be next in line to die the kind of horrible death that He had just endured. Most likely, the women who had taken the responsibility of burying Jesus were now busy with Passover responsibilities. Surely they were all tired, scared, and grieving the loss of the One they knew to be the Messiah. They had no "tomorrow" to focus on; all they had was a tomb at which to keep their vigil.

There were no Easter feasts for them to prepare. There were no pies, no candy treats. But imagine their joy on Easter morning when they found the empty tomb; when they learned that Jesus was not dead, but had risen!

Our Vigil is very different from theirs. We know that Jesus rose. We have no doubt, no fear, no probability of persecution or martyrdom. We do not have to grieve our Savior. We only have to follow Him.

And the winner is....

Little Brother was playing Connect Four with Middle Sister earlier. She got tired of playing the game and when she walked away, she left it on the table. Little Brother decided to keep playing anyway. He alternately stacked the checkers in the frame, and then happily announced, "I WIN!"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why the Easter Vigil?

Lindsey asked me in the comments on this post, which service during Holy Week means the most to me.

Hands down it is the Easter Vigil. Catholic Culture has a short definition of what this liturgy includes:
The ceremonies of Holy Saturday and the most solemn memorial of the liturgical year. They consist of four parts: Service of the Light, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism, and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The entire celebration takes place at night, and therefore it should not begin before nightfall and should end before dawn on Easter Sunday. In the early Church the night before Easter was celebrated by the Illumination of the churches and even of whole cities. The revised Easter Vigil services include ceremonies that go back to the first centuries of the Christian era and stress the Church's joy in commemorating the night that Christ rose from the dead.

Growing up, despite the fact that I attended Mass weekly with my parents, went to Catholic school beginning in sixth grade, and was a church musician starting from the age of 15, I don't think I even knew the Easter Vigil existed! My family generally attended the Saturday night Mass every week of the year except Easter.

Then I went off to graduate school and, as a way to get involved in something not related to my major in any way (and thus keep what little sanity I had), I got involved with the RCIA team. We had some people joining the church "from scratch"--they hadn't ever been baptized. Others were already baptized Christians who were converting, or maybe even baptized Catholics who hadn't completed their sacraments. The culmination of their year or more of preparation is the Easter Vigil, so I was required to attend.

If you're going to your very first Easter Vigil, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the place to go (click on the Virtual Tour to see why!) This is not a liturgy for wimps. This celebration calls for all the grandeur the Church can bring to it. This is THE celebration of the year!! If you don't sense the awe and the joy, then something is not being done right.

The phrase "to pull out all the stops" has its origin in the fact that pipe organs have controls for the air flow, that can "stop" the sound. Pulling out a stop means to allow the sound to flow through a particular pipe or set of pipes. Pulling out all the stops means to use EVERY pipe on the organ. This is what happens at the Easter Vigil.

Countless songs, seven readings narrating salvation history from the Old Testament, punctuated by seven psalms, the Exultet (Easter proclamation), incense, flowers, the Easter fire symbolizing the Light of Christ, the construction of the Easter Candle with markers for the wounds of Christ, even the start of the Mass in darkness, with the lights turned on full force just in time for the Alleluia of Easter, and the use of the "Glory to God" which is not spoken or sung during Lent, Baptism of new Catholics and renewal of baptismal promises for all, and finally the joyous celebration of the Eucharist--these are ALL THE STOPS.

Easter Vigil can take hours. I've attended one as a RCIA team member, several as a musician, and one as a member of the assembly--where I also plan to be this Easter. This will be the third Easter Vigil our family attends, and the second where I've had the privilege of sitting with my family as I am not a part of the choir that is ministering at this Mass.

People say that this one is for the die-hards because of its length, but I think everyone should attend it just once, and in a reverent setting, and with an open mind. The joy will grab you, and you'll want to come back. And seriously--Jesus gave His LIFE for you. Can't you give him two or three hours on one Saturday night of the year?

My Pastor Says: Be There or Be Square

Well, not quite in those terms. But here's what he published on the cover of this week's bulletin:

You may be a Catholic who chooses to miss out on
the most important Church services of our Catholic Church Year.

This Holy Week.

Don’t be satisfied with just Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday Mass.
Plan to participate in these unique and inspiring services.

Consider, for instance, the meaning of the Easter Vigil Service
from this excerpt of a homily spoken at the Easter Vigil, 1984.
Christ, Son of the Living God! We, Your Church, are here.
We who are the Body from Your Body and Blood, here we are, keeping watch.
We kept watch on the Holy Night of Christmas.
We welcomed the great news that you were born among us with great joy.
Today, we are here again, we, Your Church.
We wish to be here when the Sacred Liturgy of this night
will make your victory over death present among us.
We are here, Your Body, Your Church, Your People.
We are here on this Holy Night.
We are united in the faith born that first Easter Day.
This night is holy for us.
There are many of us, Your People, keeping watch this night.
We are united by one faith, one Baptism, one God, one Father of us all.
We rejoice in this Holy Night.
It is the same joy our ancestors knew as they kept this same watch.
We are united here in our own hope of resurrection
which springs from the union of life in which
we wish to remain in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Christ, Son of the Living God, accept this vigil from us!
Give us the joy of the new life we all bear within ourselves!
Only you can give this to the human heart!
You, the Risen Christ!
You, Our Paschal Lamb!
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power,
The right hand of the Lord is exalted,
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.


Middle Sister has a habit of forgetting her lunchbox. Generally she leaves it at home, but once she left it on the bus in the morning and her bus driver kindly returned it to our house early enough so I could bring it to school.

Today she had a few things to carry so I reminded her about her lunch. These are the kind of days when she tends to forget. Out the door she headed with her various bundles. I called, "Have a good day!" and just as the door closed behind her, I saw the lunch sitting on the stairs. "LUNCH!" I yelled, but she didn't hear me. As I headed down the stairs to get it and run it out to her, Big Brother appeared out of nowhere, hurdled a laundry basket, grabbed the lunch and ran out the door with it.

When he came in I started to thank him, and he commented, "That would have been a lot more exciting if the bus was actually here."

Monday, April 02, 2007


Little Brother and his friend Adventure Boy are sitting here playing Candyland. (And I am eternally grateful that there is another kid here to play Candyland with Little Brother, so I don't have to....I consider Candyland the parental version of Purgatory.) The boys needed me to "shovel" the cards so they could continue the game. I told them to wait just a minute while I took care of that. "Awww, tartar sauce!" Adventure Boy said when he found out I wouldn't be ready immediately. Love that creative swear alternative--I might have to adopt it!

While I re-piled and mixed up the cards, they asked me how I'd liked the trick they were doing under the pine tree earlier.

"It was pretty cool," I answered.

"But you can't do it," Adventure Boy informed me. "You're an Old Girl. You might fall down on your butt and get hurt."

Adventure Boy may be funny, but he sure is bad for my ego. Not bad enough for me to try that trick, though.