Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Why is it that Father Daren's quote from the life of St. Francis makes me think of Weekend at Bernie's?

Take a corpse and put it where you will! You will see that it does not resist being moved, nor murmur about its position nor protest when it is cast aside. If it is placed on a throne, it will not raise its eyes up, but cast them down. If it is clothed in purple, it will look twice as pale. This is a truly obedient man. He does not judge why he is moved; he does not care where he is placed; he does not insist on being transferred. If he is raised to an office, he retains his customary humility. The more he is honored, the more unworthy he considers himself.

Obviously I need to take greater care not to let the secular invade the spiritual....

A Disappointment

Little Brother just came sleepily down the stairs and got in my lap.

"Did you hear a funny noise just before, Mom?"

"What kind of noise?"

"A weird kind of noise."

"You mean when Daddy dropped a bunch of stuff in the bathroom?"

"No, not THAT noise. A noise that sounded like this: ssshhhhhhhh."

I thought about it for a minute, then remembered:

"OH! That was the street-sweeper machine going by! That must have been what you heard!"

I thought he'd be happy to know I figured it out. But he just looked at me seriously and said, "I thought it was an alien ship."

Oh well. Maybe next time!

Monday, July 30, 2007

With Age Comes Wisdom

I didn't just turn 42 for nothing.

Tonight when Little Brother wanted a piece of my Deep Chocolate, Chocolate Iced, Caramel Drizzled, Walnut Sprinkled birthday cake (made by Middle Sister, and can she bake cake!), I found a plastic fork, a Zoopals plate, and sent him outside to enjoy his dessert "al fresco."

Things that make you go, "HUH?"

A few minutes ago, Backyard Neighbor Girl knocked at our front door. She asked Big Brother to have Middle Sister call her on the phone in five minutes.

We were all wondering what was up with that, so in five minutes Middle Sister called her. I could hear the one-sided conversation:

"Hi, this is Middle Sister. Can I speak to Backyard Neighbor Girl? She asked me to call her....yeah, she knocked on our front door five minutes ago and asked me to call her....hi, what did you want? Did your balloon break?...oh...ok...bye."

Heading down the stairs and out the back door, she hollered, "I'm going over there to be a priest at a balloon funeral."

There's a first time for everything, I guess!

Busy Signal

I have a new toy!

TheDad picked out this cool new Smart Phone for me for my birthday. It replaces my functional but Extremely Not Cool According to My Children basic cell phone as well as my well-used PDA that will no longer sync with my computer software.
This means that all my addresses and phone numbers and calendars will be in one place. And as soon as I figure out how to switch over the files I've created over the past 6 years, I will have an extremely powerful database tool at my fingertips.
It's definitely Geek Day at the SFO Mom house. Good thing I've got an easy dinner planned. It will be difficult to squeeze in a complicated meal, with all the digital organizing I've got to do!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jersey Girl Bloggers

Esther started compiling a list of the bloggers she knows who are in New Jersey.

I have a few to add:

1. Amy from R.C. Mommy, who grew up in Philly but now lives in North Jersey.

2. Ellen From Across the Net, who grew up in Pennsylvania but married a North Jersey guy and settled in South Jersey.

3. Christine M. of The Simple and the Ordinary who lives near my husband's "old stomping ground." Hey Christine, have you ever eaten at the Reo Diner? I miss that place.

4. One of my very first blog readers, Jill of Jill's Write Stuff, who's up in North Jersey.

Those with New Jersey roots who've moved on to other states:

5. Chris of Ramblings of a Catholic Soccer Mom and Domestic Vocation.

6. Esther, the Hawaii Catholic Mom, who got this whole ball rolling!

7. Michelle from Rosetta Stone, who will always be a Jersey Girl considering she learned to drive here!

I had to illustrate this with the picture of my favorite waterfall. Every time I see this, it makes me remember home. Yes, I'm still in the state but I'm 100 miles from Paterson now, and I rarely get to see the falls that we'd pass on our way to and from my grandmother's. Thanks, Esther, for the photo!

The only time I ever lived out of state was when I was in college (Scranton, PA) and grad school (South Bend, IN). And the only thing I ever missed was closeness to family. For that matter, I miss it now. But I love it here in South Jersey, where things are a little slower paced, a little less congested. I don't think I could survive it if I had to drive Turnpike Exit 12 to 10, then 287 north to Piscataway, each and every morning-rush hour, anymore. I'm amazed I'm still alive to tell the tale.

New Jersey is the Rodney Dangerfield of states. It gets no respect and deserves plenty.

And in the great New Jersey tradition, out of the 3 of these bloggers I've met, two were at diners!

Instructions du jour

Or more stuff I never thought I'd have to say:

"Little Brother, don't walk on chairs that have place mats on them!"

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weird News

A woman who lives in my grandmother's old neighborhood woke up yesterday to find that her backyard pool had been stolen.

H/T to Esther, who finds out about news in my home state even though I am in it and she is in Hawaii!

What's Your Superpower?

I must have read Ellen's mind while taking this quiz.

Your Superpower Should Be Mind Reading

You are brilliant, insightful, and intuitive.
You understand people better than they would like to be understood.
Highly sensitive, you are good at putting together seemingly irrelevant details.
You figure out what's going on before anyone knows that anything is going on!

Why you would be a good superhero: You don't care what people think, and you'd do whatever needed to be done

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Feeling even more isolated than you do now

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I don't know what else to call it!

Middle Sister has been playing in a summer basketball league since early June. The team is made up mainly of girls from her school, going into 5th and 6th grades. When we signed her up, we were told that the league is a "just for fun" thing with no practices, just an opportunity to keep the girls playing in the summer. Out of 10 games scheduled, she missed 2 at the most. She always arrived early, ready to play, with a good attitude.

She's not the best basketball player on the court, mainly because she's not the most focused. But she's got height, stamina, speed and good rebounding and passing ability.

Toward the end of the "season" she started getting discouraged because she didn't get much playing time. In a 40-minute game, she'd play less than 10. She was starting to resent that the games took her away from playing with friends, and then she didn't even get much of a chance to be in the game.

Last week's game was, to our understanding, the end of the "season." There was never a mention of Playoffs in any of the communications from the coach or the league. But the dad who was subbing for the coach last week told all the parents that Playoffs would begin on the 23rd and we'd get a notice about our game time.

On Tuesday I saw an item in the sports section of the local paper. It said that Middle Sister's team had won its first playoff game. One of the girls at Middle Sister's sleepover last weekend had been the leading scorer.

We had never heard about the game.

I asked everyone if there had been a phone call from the coach. I checked my email. Nothing.

So I emailed the coach:
I’m sorry Middle Sister missed last night’s basketball game. I saw in the paper that the team won the game. We never got a call or email about the game—we had no idea! Are there more games scheduled or was that the end?

No answer.

This morning I saw another item in the sports section. Middle Sister's team had played again last night. This time they lost the game. Once again, we never got any notice about the game.

We're not sure what to think. The first time, we figured a message had been lost. But at this point, "These lights are off on purpose." We are wondering if the coach only called the best players to come to these games.

I'm not telling Middle Sister about this one, I don't think. Her feelings were hurt enough after Monday's game.

This kind of thing could turn her off on sports altogether.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

Because I can.
I am smarter than 97.25% of the rest of the world.
Find out how smart you are.

I knew something was up when Big Brother started asking me about kilograms, glasnost and Washington State. "Hey! You're taking a trivia quiz, aren't you?"

He admitted to that, and agreed to IM me the link to the quiz as soon as he was done.

He got a measly 77%. Neener, Big Brother. Bow to your mother, the Trivia Queen.

Cruel to be Kind

Why is it that when you try to teach your child how to be kind, you wind up making him cry?

A few minutes ago, Adventure Boy came to the door. Little Brother said he didn't feel like playing, so I told Adventure Boy, "Little Brother doesn't want company right now." Well, Adventure Boy is not one to take no for an answer, and Little Brother is the curious sort, so (as usual) we wound up with two little boys, one on either side of the screen door, chatting. Adventure Boy told Little Brother to come outside and Little Brother did.

At that point, I figured that Little Brother had decided to play with Adventure Boy, and went back to cleaning up the dishes from lunch. Out the kitchen window, I saw the two of them running around in the backyard.

Then Backyard Neighbor Girl came outside. I saw her talking to the two boys, then coming into my yard, talking with them some more, and then starting to return to her yard. I couldn't hear the conversation but I got the sense that she was trying to tell them not to come over to her house. So I called the boys inside.

Little Brother told me that Neighbor Girl only wanted him to come over, not Adventure Boy. I said, "That's a problem, because he's here playing with you. So she can play with both of you or none of you."

Little Brother wanted to send Adventure Boy home but I said that was not OK, because he was playing with Adventure Boy first, and that he cannot dump one friend to play with another. There will be no "something suddenly came up" moments on my watch. Not if I can help it.

Cue the Little Brother Meltdown. I told him that if Adventure Boy went home, he still couldn't play with Neighbor Girl. He said he didn't want company, so I sent Adventure Boy home. And now I've got Little Brother crying and carrying on because he wants to play with Neighbor Girl.

Not gonna happen.


Or, it just doesn't get any better than this.

Today for our lunch I made French toast using "Texas Toast" bread. We added "special sugar" (confectioners sugar) on top for that Jersey Diner touch. Oh, it was yummy. The kids were happy, and Little Brother told me that I make "fab-lee-ous" French toast. The other kids agreed.

Just now I read an article that Julie D. highlighted in her recipe blog. The title: Is Cooking for Your Family Retrograde June Cleaver Nonsense?

Just because I wear my fab-lee-ous apron when I cook for my family doesn't make me June Cleaver. For one thing, the pearls and heels are JUST not me. My taste runs more toward capri pants and Keds.

I cook for my family because:
I enjoy cooking.
My family enjoys eating.
It's good for my family to eat wholesome, home-cooked food rather than nutritionally-deficient fast food.
It's good for my family's budget to eat at home.
Eating meals together is good for the family.

Sometimes it seems that people who don't respect some women's choice to nurture their families in their homes believe that the kind of work we do in order to nurture our families in our homes has no value.

I disagree. There's no work with a higher value. And frankly, some parts of the work I do are things you could never pay me for. Good thing I have Little Brother to help me clean the toilets. Ick. This work is what we do for love, and there's no price to be put on it.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a few things together to start our dinner for tonight.

Monday, July 23, 2007

There can never be too many prayers

Please be generous--why not even be extravagant--with your prayers for a young man who was critically injured in a hiking accident. Bryant, as well as his mom and the medical team responsible for his care, are surely in need of our prayers at this time. This young man is a friend of Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's children. Just think of how you would feel if he were your son, or a friend of your son. And then pray, pray, pray. That's the thing about prayer--you can help someone anytime, anywhere.


When Little Brother came downstairs this morning, he found me eating toast with jelly (leftover Portuguese bread from last night's dinner makes fabulous toast, especially topped with blackberry jelly.)

Little Brother wanted some toast too. So I put a couple of slices of "reg-lee-ar" bread in the toaster for him. He thinks that Portuguese bread will not be good when it's hot. Silly boy--but more for me....

After I started the toaster, he gave me my Good-Morning Hug. Then he told me that after TheDad has his shower, they're going to make pancakes together.

"Pancakes?! Then why did I just make you some toast?"

"For a little snack!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and Cranky Teenagers

Big Brother was up early yesterday for cross-country practice, and was up late last night, waiting with his friends for his copy of the last Harry Potter novel.

He's cranky today, as evidenced by the following:

BB: "It's hot in here."

Me: "It's a beautiful day with a great breeze. It's not hot at all!" (in fact, I'm wearing jeans, and he's got shorts on, and we're in the same room reading, and he's the only uncomfortable one).

BB: "It's hot."

Me: "Perhaps if you took your shower you'd cool off a little."

BB: "I'm reading a book."

Me: "Does that mean you won't be taking a shower until you finish Harry Potter?" (EWWWWW!)

At this point he tried to stun me with the Teenage Glare of Death, but fortunately my own Mother Glare--the "You've gone too far this time, buddy" look--triumphed.

Syrian Cheese and Watermelon

The Kitchen Madonna's watermelon salad recipes made me remember this from my childhood:

Every summer there would be a Big Family Picnic at the Harrington house. Of course, everyone would bring their special favorites and signature dishes. Nanny would bring potato salad, Catherine would bring macaroni salad with tuna, Leo would bring some beefsteak--to be sauteed in butter and served on slices of bread, and there were plenty of other picnic favorites as well. There was always a big watermelon on ice, waiting for someone to slice it open after dinner--and we kids would line up for our juicy, sweet slices of melon.

A new favorite was introduced into the mix when my aunt Eileen married a guy whose parents were born in Syria. Louie brought Syrian "string cheese" to the picnic. Some of my cousins had never seen Syrian cheese before the picnic, and they weren't sure what to make of it.

"How do you eat this?" they asked Louie, who was shredding the cheese into a big bowl.

"Go get a slice of watermelon," he instructed them. After they'd done that, he said, "Now poke out all the pits with your finger. See how that leaves holes in the watermelon? Now stick these shreds of cheese in the holes, and just eat it."

He was teasing them, but they had no clue. All of us kids tried it. All of us loved it! The salty cheese, the sweet watermelon--they were perfect together.

And I'm sure you've all guessed now what will be on my shopping list for next week. (I can't get Syrian cheese around here, but Armenian cheese is pretty close and readily available).


It's going to be a loooooooooooooong day.

Not for me--I went to bed at a slightly-later-than-reasonable hour.

But Middle Sister had two friends sleep over last night, and they Never Went to Sleep.

As best I can tell, they spent the night eating pizza, watching movies, eating cookies, watching movies, eating potato chips, watching movies, and spilling iced tea. Or maybe it was Cherry Coke.

At least they wiped up whatever it was they spilled. (Did you know that when you wipe up tea with a brand-new white kitchen towel, and don't wash it out right away, that towel will never be white again? Apparently these girls do not know this, and they want me to have tan kitchen towels. Their decorating decision--not mine.)

When I came downstairs half an hour ago and found them all still up, they headed upstairs to Middle Sister's room where the Giant Air Mattress (that TheDad uses at camp) awaited them. Fueled by all those Oreos and whatever Cherry Coke they didn't spill, they're not ready to sleep. They are bouncing off the walls in there. They are LOUD.

I took it upon myself to go deliver the Threat that Usually Makes Tween Girls Shut Right Up: "If you wake up Little Brother, he is all yours. I will send him in here and tell him that you want to play with him. I will not rescue you from Little Brother and I will not let you sneak away from him. Got it? Do not wake up Little Brother unless you want him in your faces for the rest of the day."

I guess they want Little Brother in there, because they are still loud, still bouncing around on TheDad's air mattress, and there are frequent thumps as someone hits the floor. I'm amazed that he's sleeping through this.

My friend SFO Girl (whom you may know from the comments box) has four teen daughters. She never calls these events "sleepovers." Her word is "awake-overs." And Middle Sister has just shown me why.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Secret Password

I told Little Brother that it was time for me to go get ready so we can go to Storytime at the library soon.

"Not unless you can say the word I spell. N-O-E-E," he challenged me.

"Hmmm...no-eeee?" I guessed.

"Nope!" he answered gleefully.

"OK, I don't know it then. What is it?"

He told me the secret: "Curious George!"

A Totally Serious Question

This morning, Little Brother wanted to know:

"Mom, is coffee ice cream hot, or cold?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Serenity Now!

There are some jobs that, as a homemaker, I like more than others. I'm not so big on washing windows, vacuuming or dusting. My favorite work is cooking, planning, laundry and ironing.

I don't iron a few items a day, just what I am going to wear that day, like my mom has always done. She has that ironing board up and down all the time. I tend to take a block of time and iron a whole pile of things at once. This gets done about once a week. In the fall, I enjoy ironing while watching Notre Dame football games. The rest of the year, I watch the news, cooking shows, or home-decorating shows while I iron.

This afternoon as the thunderstorms passed overhead and I ironed and hung up a week's worth of clothes, the kids played downstairs. It was all very calming, so much so that when I heard a loud CRASH, I looked up from pressing my Generalissimama apron and hollered down the stairs, "What are you guys breaking?"

I still don't know what the CRASH was. I'm not sure I want to. I think I will go back and iron some more.

A Beautiful Prayer for Strength in our Mission

by Pope Benedict XVI:

Stay with us, Lord, keep us company, even though we have not always recognized you. Stay with us, because all around us the shadows are deepening, and you are the Light; discouragement is eating its way into our hearts: make them burn with the certainty of Easter. We are tired of the journey, but you comfort us in the breaking of bread, so that we are able to proclaim to our brothers and sisters that you have truly risen and have entrusted us with the mission of being witnesses of your resurrection.

Stay with us, Lord, when mists of doubt, weariness or difficulty rise up around our Catholic faith; you are Truth itself, you are the one who reveals the Father to us: enlighten our minds with your word, and help us to experience the beauty of believing in you.

Remain in our families, enlighten them in their doubts, sustain them in their difficulties, console them in their sufferings and in their daily labours, when around them shadows build up which threaten their unity and their natural identity. You are Life itself: remain in our homes, so that they may continue to be nests where human life is generously born, where life is welcomed, loved and respected from conception to natural death.

Remain, Lord, with those in our societies who are most vulnerable; remain with the poor and the lowly, with indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans, who have not always found space and support to express the richness of their culture and the wisdom of their identity.

Remain, Lord, with our children and with our young people, who are the hope and the treasure of our Continent, protect them from so many snares that attack their innocence and their legitimate hopes. O Good Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick. Strengthen them all in faith, so that they may be your disciples and missionaries!

Hat tip to Fr. Daren at Servant and Steward for this prayer. Add his blog to your blogroll or feed-reader. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How cool is that?

Do you like my cool new header? It's a gift from fellow blogger (and fellow NJ native) Esther, the Hawaii Catholic Mom, who does some fabulous artwork! I think it's just gorgeous, and it sure does spruce up the looks of my blog. Thank you so much, Esther!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back to Monday, Back to Normal

It's so nice having everyone back here where they belong!

This morning was a typical normal Monday with TheDad off to work, Little Brother asking where Daddy is, me indulging Little Brother in an extra round of "Trouble" since he is sad about Daddy being at work instead of home playing with him, all the usual stuff.

And this morning I climbed into my van for the first time in more than eight days and viewed the world from my familiar driver's seat. I adjusted my seat and steering wheel, then used the mirror-setting tips I read about on Bettnet to get everything set up for maximum comfort and road-viewability (when you're as short as I am, having a bird's-eye view of the road is not an easy achievement).

Then I turned on the ignition and was assaulted by TheDad's music selection (the 80s station on XM). I fixed THAT really quickly. The 70s is my decade of choice, thankyouverymuch, and I seriously missed my commercial-free musical nostalgia while driving TheDad's car all last week, though I did enjoy zipping around in a little sedan, easy parking, and how quickly the air-conditioning cools the hot car interior.

But I'm definitely a creature of habit, as my family would tell you, and it was comforting to me to have my car back, even if it does carry a good bit of Virginia soil on its exterior and more than a few Dr. Pepper bottles are rolling around the interior. I think a couple of Boy Scouts owe me a car-wash and detailing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Campers are Home!

They're safe. They're happy. They're FILTHY.

I don't normally do laundry on Sundays, but I can't leave all this smelly stuff too long. So after their showers, I'll be starting a 24-hour laundry marathon. We're beginning to realize, though, that those showers could take a while. This is the first indoor plumbing they've enjoyed in over a week.

Saying Goodbye, in Pictures and a Recipe

My great-aunt Anna has made an agreement with a buyer and will likely sell her house before the end of the summer. She's lived alone in this house for almost four years now, and has recovered from a stroke and knee surgery in the past two years. She's moving to an apartment in a retirement community and won't have to worry about maintenance and safety. I pray that she'll have many happy, healthy years there.

The places where you spend your childhood stay with you for a long time. This is the last house that I associate with the days when I was under 10; both my grandmothers have passed away and their homes have been sold, and my parents moved out of our childhood home four years ago. They are just houses, but they hold many memories for me.

I spent a large, happy chunk of my childhood in this house. When we were kids, every Saturday morning we'd come here after my sister's allergy shot. We'd visit with Grandpa (our great-grandfather), our great-uncle James, and our great-aunts Rose and Anna. Rose would be finishing up the vacuuming when we got there. Anna would make pancakes if it was early, or tuna-fish sandwiches if it was closer to lunchtime. We'd hang out in the family room playing "Trouble" and watching "Scooby Doo," "Josie and the Pussycats," and "The Jetsons." Grandpa would tell us stories and teach us to sing "Goodbye My Coney Island Baby" and the refrain to "Marching through Georgia." He's the reason I still love to hear barbershop quartets.

On nice days, we'd play in the backyard under the big pine trees. Every summer there would be a big family picnic back here. The volleyball net would stretch from the edge of the trees to the patio. Picnic tables were under the trees, in the shade.

We figured out that you could write your name, or messages, in the pile on the living room carpet. Rose never liked when we did that, but we did it anyway. Sometimes we'd vault over the back of the sofa into the dining room. We'd look at the big picture of an autumn scene that always hung over the back of the couch. There was a little organ tucked near the stairs and we'd pick out some tunes on it. I always liked practicing my beginner's piano lesson on that organ.

In this kitchen, there was always something cold for kids to drink, in an Archie glass. No plastic cups in this house--we used glasses and never broke one. (If Anna ever decides to give away those glasses, you can bet there will be at least five nieces and nephews fighting over them). In this kitchen, we learned to sing "Zippity-Doo-Dah" and other happy songs. In this kitchen, Anna made her famous vegetable soup and fabulous Thanksgiving dinners. Only real butter was served, and it was always soft because it was never put in the refrigerator. I think they went through a stick of butter in less than a day, so it didn't have time to go bad!

Here's the recipe for Harrington Tuna, otherwise known as Nostalgia on a Plate:
1 can solid white tuna
Miracle whip
Soft butter
Wonder bread

Mix tuna with miracle whip. Spread softened butter generously on two slices of bread. Add tuna and cut on the diagonal.

After lunch you can have two Hydrox cookies for dessert. Don't fight with your brother and sister over who gets the Jughead glass. There are enough Archie glasses to go around.

Good times.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mad Money

I'm saving up.
I know where I'm going to spend it.
But which one do I spend it on?

Or maybe one of the other gorgeous aprons that the Kitchen Madonna has been whipping up. I know she's been ordering some fabrics for fall....
Well, maybe by the time I reach my "mad money goal" I'll have made up my mind!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

5 Things I Love About Jesus

Ellen and Denise tagged me for this meme. Here are the rules:
Those tagged will share 5 things they love about Jesus.
Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers.
Those tagged will provide a link in the combox here with their name so that others can read them.

I figured that since we have the words of Jesus in the Gospels, I’d use some of them to explain why I love Jesus:
1. “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:64
2. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
3. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
4. “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” John 13:15
5. “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” Luke 22: 19-20

Does anyone else have the Bible School song “Oh, how I love Jesus” running through their head every time they get to this meme?
And I want to give a big “thank you” to Debbie who graciously gave me permission to use her lovely image (with yet another one of my favorite Gospel quotes) to illustrate this post.
I tag:
Margaret in Minnesota
Laura H

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Halfway to Whole Again

Boy, it's been quiet around here.

Not only are Big Brother and TheDad in beautiful, scenic Roanoke, Virginia enjoying all the fun Boy Scout Camp (by day) and Dungeons & Dragons (by night) have to offer...

But Middle Sister has spent the past day and a half with her friend's family, at the beach.

She just called to tell me they're getting ready to leave and that she is coming home with a "complimentary sunburn."

Since 1:00 yesterday it's been me and Little Brother. He's had his chance to be an Only Child for a day. And while he misses everyone, I do think he has enjoyed his chance to monopolize my attention. We invested in a new board game (Scrabble Junior--I can't believe we never had this game with either of the Big Kids!) and we've enjoyed playing together. We've gone to his swim lessons and to the pool in the afternoon. I've gotten a few "house projects" done, as I always do when TheDad is gone. (It's like a sickness. I have to move furniture every time he goes away on a trip. He's very amused by this and has come to expect it by now).

Tonight I asked him to pick up the Army Guys that were littering the family room floor. He told me he had them all "set up" and didn't want to take them down. So I offered to put away the "too-old-for-lead-paint-recalls" Thomas trains and let him set up on the train table, so he could have his ongoing battle. He was very worried that I would be upset about taking down a train track I had designed and built before Michelle visited, but I told him I could make a new track whenever he wanted.

"You're my buddy, Mom!" came with a big hug at that point.

Tomorrow morning the week is half over. When Little Brother wakes up he will find that his sister is home, sunburn and all. And we'll erase the "4" on the white board and write a big number "3"--for the days we have to wait until our family is all together again, at home. It can't come soon enough for me.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Time for Camp

The caravan departed today for Boy Scout Camp. This is TheDad and Big Brother's fifth year of summer camp together.

Good thing St. George is a powerful patron. I had to sign various scary forms absolving the camp from any responsibility if my son is injured (or worse) in the rapids where he'll be canoeing and rafting, or in a cave, or on a mountain, or wherever else the "High Adventure" group will go. I'm sure Big Brother will have a great time. I, on the other hand, will be a nervous wreck.

TheDad says that this is why they don't let moms come to camp. Dads don't mind as much when the boys get muddy on the first day and stay muddy all week. They don't mind the boys' aversion to the camp showers (though they do insist that the boys make some attempt at getting clean before leaving camp). They don't get too nervous when they see the kinds of dangerous stuff the boys will be doing (woodcarving, anyone? Building bonfires? Class 4 rapids?)

It's going to be a hot week in Roanoke, VA. TheDad really feels the heat, and those tents aren't air-conditioned. There's no internet access either. He's also giving up a week's vacation from work, home-cooked meals, time with the rest of the family, and a comfortable place to sleep. And leaders don't camp free--he PAYS to go on this trip. That's what makes him a great dad.

So this week I will be "two men down." I will be worrying about them while they're in the heat and on the river. I'll miss having them around, to talk to and to feed, since it's much less fun to cook for 3 than for 5 (they're my most appreciative eaters!) And on a totally shallow note, I'll be missing my XM radio since I offered to let them have my van. It's a long drive and this way the boys can watch movies.

Please keep them and all the Boy Scouts in your prayers. It's a wonderful organization and it's been great for Big Brother. Even the Pope supports it:

"For one century, through play, action, adventure, contact with nature, life as a team and in service to others, you offer an integral formation to anyone who joins the Scouts. Inspired by the Gospels, scouting is not only a place for authentic human growth, but also a place of strong Christian values and true moral and spiritual growth, as with any authentic way of holiness.

The sense of responsibility that permeates Scout education leads to a life of charity and the desire to serve one's neighbor, in the image of Christ the servant, based on the grace offered by Christ, in a special way through the sacraments of the Eucharist and forgiveness."

The Pontiff encouraged the brotherhood of the Scouts, "which is a part of its original ideal and makes up, above all for young generations -- a witness of that which is the body of Christ, within which, according to the image of St. Paul, all are called to fulfill a mission wherever they are, to rejoice in another's progress and to support their brothers in times of difficulty."

"I thank the Lord for all the fruits that, throughout these last 100 years, the Scouts have offered," he said. He encouraged Catholic Scouts to go forward on their path, offering "to boys and girls of today an education that forms them with a strong personality, based on Christ and willing to live for the high ideals of faith and human solidarity."

Benedict XVI's message ends with advice from Baden-Powell: "Be faithful to your Scout promise, even when you are no longer young, and may God help you to do so!"When man seeks to be faithful to his promises, the Lord himself strengthens his steps."

St. George, patron of Boy Scouts; St. Joseph, patron of fathers; St. John Bosco, patron of boys, pray for them.

H/T to Micki for the image of St. George, patron of Boy Scouts, and to Father Jay Toborowsky for the text of the Pope's message.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Letter to My Daughter on the Feast of St. Maria Goretti

Dear Middle Sister,

Today, July 6, is the feast of St. Maria Goretti. She is the patron saint of young women, and she died when she was only a little older than you. But she did not die of an illness or in an accident. She was murdered, because she would not give in to a man who tried to rape her. He tried to take away her purity, and once that is gone, it cannot be gotten back. When she fought him, he stabbed her. But in the hospital, while she was dying, she forgave him.

You are growing up in a world where it is very easy for a girl's innocence and purity to be taken away from her. Little by little our world robs girls like you of the chance to stay innocent. TV commercials and programs, movies, music and music videos, and fashion all seek to make grown-up behavior by young girls appear "normal" and to make little girls appear "sexy."

This is why we don't let you buy and wear certain types of clothes. This is why we tell you to be careful when you use the computer. This is why we don't like some of the music your friends like to listen to with you. This is why we won't let you watch some movies. This is why we're not the "cool" parents you sometimes wish you had! It's our job to keep you safe from all the people and all the forces that prey on beautiful young girls like you. I don't want to scare you, but I worry about what could happen to you.


Prayer to St. Maria Goretti:
Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth,with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee, and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Back Away from the Camp Trunk....

Big Brother is packing his stuff for camp. I just stopped in there to hand him some towels when I saw him standing by the closet door, rolling his clean T-shirts into balls and tossing them into the trunk.

I can't look.

He's big enough to read the equipment list and find what he needs in the house. I'm just going to assume that he will bring everything he needs.

He also thinks it's very funny that I can't watch him pack, so he's providing the play-by-play: "Hey Mom, one of my T-shirts wouldn't fit in the pile with the rest of the T-shirts, so I put my foot in the trunk and stepped on the pile so it would fit."

His friend is in the background yelling, "Big Brother! Stop walking in your luggage!"

I can't look.

Is It Me, or Is It Monday?

I've been convinced all day long that today is Monday, that this is a new week, that I should be doing all my "Monday routine" chores. I'm having a little trouble convincing myself that it's actually THURSDAY and that trunks are due at Boy Scouts in under 4 hours. You know, those trunks that Big Brother and TheDad have "not yet begun to pack."
I took care of the batteries and the bug spray, though.


I've always been a "type A" person, always in a hurry. But the poem below has stuck with me for several years now.

I first heard it in a homily by one of the deacons at our parish. Yes, even cheesy poetry can be a good starter for a homily, because there's a lot of truth in here.

There's work to do, deadlines to meet;
You've got no time to spare,
But as you hurry and scurry-

It may seem like your worries
Are more than you can bear.
Slow down and take a breather-