Friday, February 29, 2008

Super Cuteness

Thanks to the Cat in the Hat.

Little Brother's class is celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday today. All the kids are allowed to wear "Cat in the Hat" stovepipe hats and crazy socks for "Fox in Socks." They will have lots of Dr. Seuss stories read to them as well.

I couldn't find a "Cat in the Hat" hat, but fortunately my neighbor had one and her kids didn't need it for today. So Little Brother is off to school with his orange-and-white-striped topper.

It's a really cold morning, so when he was putting on his coat, I put the striped hat into his schoolbag and gave him his winter hat to wear. He was not happy with that. "I have to wear this hat all day!" So I improvised. I put the striped hat on top of his regular hat. (Gotta keep those little ears warm, you know!)

He looked so cute as he crossed the street to the bus stop, with his huge hat on his head, on his way to a fun day in kindergarten.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thinking On Her Feet

This week I have really been impressed by Middle Sister's ability to think on her feet.

She missed 4 days of school recently, and was behind on a "partner project" on volcanoes. Her partner visited here on Sunday and they used what was left of Little Brother's playdough to make a small volcano, with a plastic cup in the middle so they could do the "vinegar+baking soda+red food coloring" eruption.

When she took the little volcano to school, she discovered that playdough does not stick well to a plastic cup. The whole thing fell apart.

Yesterday she was trying to figure out how she could salvage the project--on her own, because now her partner is sick. She had a vague idea that involved an empty water bottle and some bathroom-size paper cups. I offered to take her to Target to pick up some clay so she could get this done. (Amazingly, Target was quite empty at 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. More amazingly, I did not blow up at Middle Sister for needing to take a field trip to Target for supplies at 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. All was right with the world.)

Middle Sister took her clay, paint, water bottle and paper cups to the basement work table and got busy. Little Brother got busy watching, and reporting every so often that she was making something "awesome."

He was right. Using a toy volcano from Little Brother's dinosaur bucket as a guide, she put a few paper cups upside down and the empty water bottle in the middle. The whole thing was covered in the clay, which she painted brown, with streams of red running down the sides for the lava. I gave her a funnel so she could pour in the vinegar when it was time for the demonstration.

And then this morning she discovered that it's not wise to paint wet clay. The clay had absorbed most of the color! She quickly ate and got dressed and painted the now-dry clay AGAIN, found a box big enough to put the project in, and got out of here in time to make her bus. I think the volcano looked even better on the second painting.

Little Brother was right. She did an awesome job. Even more awesome was her willingness to figure out how to improve upon her first failed design, and her insistence on making sure the project looked good when it was time to bring it to school. And I think she deserves extra credit for her resourcefulness, and her lack of complaining that this time she had to do the work alone, since her friend is home with the stomach virus. She has really made me proud.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

She Said It Well

Lisa Barker says what I'd like to say, but I'm not as funny as she is. And that last paragraph is what it's all about.

You can subscribe to her newsletter at her website, and get her weekly column "hot off the keyboard." Just don't drink coffee while you're reading it. You HAVE been warned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Novena to St. Katharine Drexel

Barbara pointed out that it's time for the Novena to St. Katharine Drexel.

I'll be joining her in prayer. Will you join us?

Compassionate God, who in your Son Jesus Christ healed the sick, touched the hearts of the troubled and sent disciples to announce good news to the poor, we offer this novena for peace and for the intentions of all those who are praying with us.

Ever Loving God, You called St. Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to Black and Native American peoples.

By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed.

Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of your Church that we may be one in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Our Father , Hail Mary , Glory Be

St. Katharine Drexel is the patroness of my "region" of Secular Franciscans. I will be praying this novena for the intention of continued spiritual growth among the members of our region, and in particular for the members of my own fraternity as we go through some changes in leadership.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just for Fun: What Color Sharpie Are You?

I'd be lost without my Sharpies. I keep one in my purse and a few in the pencil cups in the kitchen and at my desk. Plus one in the laundry room, one in my bedroom...

Looks like I should expand my "color horizons" though....

What Color Sharpie Are You? (25 Different Colors) Updated Again!

Blue Sharpie
Element: Water
Sense: Sound
Gemstone: Sapphire
Some Qualities: Trustworthy, Calm, IndependentFact: Sapphires are considered antidepressants. Also, blue is considered to be a calming color

Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Via Turtlemom's blog.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Link to Sunday's Homily

Sunday's homily from Friar Charles: why God is better than retail therapy. (Those are my words, not his. His are way more eloquent. Go! Read! Learn!) Maybe I'll remember this tomorrow when I hear the Gospel, instead of being reminded of Peter, Paul and Mary's "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Live Blogging the Weather

This is mainly for my brother, who has never lived outside the New York City television market and therefore has no idea what the local news media does when there's a little snow falling. In Philly, a snowstorm will stop coverage of just about anything else.

Let's just say that yesterday on the all-news radio station we had to listen to live interviews with people who couldn't get snow shovels and rock salt because Home Depot had run out. Everyone who wasn't in Home Depot was in Acme buying milk, bread, eggs, snacks and videos. How's that for News You Can Use?

The Big Story on Action News is...wait for it...the snow! (As if it never did that before). This is not the channel I usually watch for my morning news, but it's the most fun during a snowstorm. My regular channel is actually doing a news show including stories unrelated to precipitation.

I love how they have a Team of Reporters standing outside in the snow with their mittens and rulers. The weather guy just said, "And you'll see in a few minutes our reporters, still standing in the thick of that." High drama!

As the morning wears on we will see people who have left their homes for the express purpose of stopping at Wawa to buy coffee for these reporters who are paid nice money to stand outside in the snow with their waterproof microphones. The reporters will walk up to cars stopped at red lights to ask people where they're heading and how bad the roads are.

In fact, one reporter just complained that there aren't many drivers out there to talk to. He cautioned everyone to be careful in case the roads are slippery. (You think?) The anchors are giving out important tips like keeping kitty litter in the trunk of your car to gain traction if you get stuck.

They have "not one, but two meteorologists" keeping track of the weather today. Most images you are shown are snow-covered highways and secondary roads with cars driving along. We probably won't see a snow-plow interview since those guys are busy. Those were shown yesterday, though, in the Hype Leading Up To The Storm. They have not yet announced that they will offer Extended Coverage and cut off the usual network morning show, but I've seen them do this kind of thing right through the entire morning before. I've been watching this channel for 25 minutes now and they have not done one story not related to the weather. Obviously nothing else is happening anywhere.

Yes, they will be having Continuing Coverage of the snowstorm. The traffic guy appears absolutely gleeful to describe the spin-out accidents he's reporting.

And that's the story on the Storm Coverage today.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Now This Is What I Like To See

From the bulletin at the parish where my younger children attend school:
I have begun saying Masses with the different grades
in our School. During the Mass, I explain to them the
different parts of the Mass and its various significance
and meaning. These “show-and-tell” Masses are held
at our Adoration Chapel.
I am also extending an invitation for the training and
formation of a new batch of altar servers. If interested
please call the rectory. Who knows we might have a
potential priest in our midst from our altar servers?

Thanks, Father!

Before the Snow

So far this winter, my area has gotten under 3 inches of snow. Normally in a winter we get about 20 inches. People south of the Mason-Dixon line have gotten more snow than we have this year. (And I know that if you're north of me, you think we're lucky, and that we're stupid to be wanting some of what you have way too much of already!)

My kids are really feeling the lack of opportunities for a Snow Day. They want to build a fort, make snowmen, and most of all throw snowballs at each other and at any other kid who happens by.

All week long, the local weathermen (including "Mr. Scare Tactic Himself") have been promising a decent amount of the white stuff at the right time to maybe give the kids an unscheduled day off.

Since the meteorologist I married doesn't seem too interested in this weather event, it has fallen upon me to check AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, Philadelphia WeatherNet and the National Weather Service (at least the parts that are written in laymen's terms) so that I can give the kids my best guess about whether school will be canceled in the morning. I'm sure I'll be up early to come back to my computer and check, and check again, until I see that message they've been waiting for, or the school bus honks--whichever comes first.

A day off for them is not a day off for me, by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be nice to have a snow day. Even with the extra laundry and extra mopping, an excuse to make cookies and hot chocolate would be a good thing right about now.

And once we find out about school, I will have to start thinking about what we should do about Secular Franciscans. I'm not imagining that too many of my fellow Franciscans are intrepid enough to want to venture out during the "freezing rain" part of this storm.

But bring it on. I've got plenty of milk, bread, and eggs--items which are absolutely necessary in this area during a snowstorm. We'll eat French toast like everyone else around here, have too many cookies, and toss a few snowballs around. Sounds good to me.

Proud to be an American

All the time. And it didn't take me 42 years to figure it out.

Rosemary has spelled out just a few of the reasons why she (and you and I) can be proud of our nation.

We truly are blessed. Shouldn't we want to support a candidate who understands this, and who makes sure his family does?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Secret Life: What's the Tradeoff?

While Middle Sister and I hung around earlier, watching some What Not to Wear, discussing my current haircut, and hoping she spends the day without a fever, we saw a commercial for a new show that will premiere on TLC in March: The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom.

I didn't understand the whole "secret" thing until I looked a little further. Apparently these moms all have school-age children or they'd never be able to hide the week they spend "moonlighting" during the school day.

I'm not sure how they manage to hide it anyway, unless a secret housekeeper also comes to their home to pick up the slack on laundry, errands, cleaning and meal preparation. I taught part-time for a while before Little Brother was born, and had to figure out how to fit those things into a day that also included 5 hours of employment.

It's disturbing to me that these "soccer moms" are expected to pretend to their families that they are just following their usual daily routines. What happens if one of their children is sick and needs to stay home from school? Wouldn't the whole truth come out at that point?

I feel that shows based on deception right from the beginning are sure to cause harm to these families--not just to the children, but to the parent-child relationship as well as the relationship between the spouses.

Will I watch? I don't know. I am curious to see how the "mom-at-home" life is portrayed. My guess is that it will be depicted as an occupation or obligation, rather than a vocation. If that's so, then that's the whole problem with the show in a nutshell. And if that's so, I definitely don't want my kids watching.

Families deserve better.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If You're Catholic, and You Vote...

Read here to find out what the Pope says you should be considering. Do your research, pray, and vote responsibly.

Hat tip to Esther.

Fashion Statement

Winter-weather wear at Middle Sister and Little Brother's school includes a uniform sweater or vest.

I generally prefer to purchase the sweater, since it can be worn with short-sleeve shirts underneath, and the long sleeves protect the cuffs of white long-sleeve shirts from getting covered in gray pencil grime. (I went down that road with Big Brother when he was in kindergarten. It wasn't a pretty sight.)

But the other day I found an outgrown vest in Middle Sister's closet. Little Brother has been bugging me for a vest (I guess his friends have those) and he was excited to see this one.

Today he tried it on. It's still too big for him. He's going to get his elbow caught in the arm holes! Big Brother advised him to wear his sweater instead, but he's proud to have a vest and he's insisting on wearing it.

He thinks he looks good. And if he has the confidence to carry this look off, more power to him. He's going to school with his oversized vest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Links, Since I've Got Nothing

It's Monday, and Middle Sister is sick again, and going back to the doctor's again, and I think she's missed about 15 school days this year. She is more than a little upset that she has a sore throat so soon after she begged the intercession of St. Blaise...the weekend has been filled with worrying over that, and shuttling Big Brother here and there (school dance, Polar Bear Plunge), and trying to keep Little Brother from driving everyone crazy, and getting my butt kicked letting TheDad beat me in Scrabble.

Anyway, it's been a few days since an original thought came into MY head so I will leave you with some links to what my blog-buddies are thinking about.

Denise has a post about the Church's focus: the eternity or the here-and-now.

Christine has a very true "Earth-to-Hollywood" plea. If this were a petition, I'd sign it.

Sarah's been reading, and pondering. Join her discussion on books that leave you unsettled.

If you're not reading this Deacon's blog, what are you waiting for?

I did try a couple of new recipes: Maple-Glazed Pork Roast and Saffron Risotto with Shrimp. After all, we did have to eat.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today's Homily: Our Lenten Task

AND's time for another installment of...

"What did we learn from Father's Homily today?"

During Lent, we should look to the catechumens and follow their lead. They are preparing intensely for their upcoming Baptism at the Easter Vigil. We who are already baptized are preparing to renew our Baptismal promises at Easter.

Easter is about celebrating Christ's resurrection with a renewed commitment to live the Gospel.

If this is not new to you, great! But it was new to me. Thanks, Father H!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sister Hits the Nail on the Head

Remember the Carol Burnett Show, when Tim Conway would play the old man who shuffled everywhere he walked, an inch at a time?

One of the Sisters at our parish walks at about the same speed.

Today it was snowing when we left church after daily Mass, and she started creeping her way to the convent (a little more than a block away from church). I pulled over and offered her a ride, as I usually do when the weather's bad and she's at church.

I might have to stop that, though, because I had to almost lift her into the van this time. My van is just too high for her to get into easily.

On our way over to the convent, she asked how my children were doing and how old they are now. "They're lucky to have a mother," she said just as we pulled up to her doorway. "With all that abortion and everything, so many babies are just never born anymore."

And yet Catholics are supporting the likes of Hillary and Obama for President this year.

I think the Kitchen Madonna and her Apron-Mom Brigade are cooking up ways to do something about that.

Somebody has to. Too many lives depend on it.

The Return of the Food Police

Little Brother's classroom has once again been visited by the Food Police.

I honestly think that I pack him a reasonably healthy lunch and snack every day. Today he brought:
water to drink (he also buys grape juice at school each day)
turkey sandwich on a potato roll
baby carrots
money to buy a soft pretzel
3 chocolate-covered pretzels (handmade with love by one of SFO Girl's daughters)

It's that last item that got him in trouble. 3 pretzels dipped in some melted chocolate chips. Big Brother wanted to take some to school too, but chose not to because he figured his friends would all steal them and he'd have none for himself.

Little Brother's teacher told him that he should not bring chocolate pretzels to school. He came home with the bag of pretzels still in the lunchbox.

I wonder if they can't bring those chocolate-covered granola bars. What about chocolate-chip cookies? Girl-Scout-cookie Thin Mints?

I bet if I sent him to school with a Capri Sun, Trix, a Lunchable, Twinkies and Cheez Doodles, no one would bat an eye.

I wouldn't have to do all this fretting and packing if only the school would get a decent hot-lunch program, one that charges less than $3 a day for nothing but the entree and maybe some French fries or a bag of chips. (That's right: $3 will get you a hoagie and chips, or cheesesteak and chips, or chicken nuggets and fries. No fruit. No salad. No vegetable. No dessert.) Needless to say, we don't buy too many hot lunches.

As Little Brother would say, this is "ridiclious."

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Girly Tomboy

Middle Sister's new green sweatpants will never be the same again.

This weekend, she and Boy Next Door spent some time on two afternoons, exploring a local creek. And when they explore, they don't just walk on the sidewalk. They get in the mud. They climb stuff. They stomp in puddles.

On Saturday, Middle Sister wore a pair of Big Brother's handmedown sweatpants (good choice!) But on Sunday, those were still wet and muddy, so she decided to make a fashion statement and wear her new sweatpants to the creek.

She and Boy Next Door came back two hours later, pretty chilly and very proud of the (empty) snapping-turtle shell they found, and full of stories of what they had seen and how they fed the ducks.

They came back really muddy too. In fact, she was so muddy from the knees down that I just threw her socks in the garbage. They weren't worth the effort.

The green sweatpants have soaked all morning in a bucket of Oxyclean, but I'm not expecting miracles. I might have to turn them into capris.

In the meantime, I rummaged through the handmedowns and found one last pair of Big Brother's old sweatpants. I left them on Middle Sister's bed. I should have done that a long time ago, I guess, but sometimes it doesn't occur to me that girls need to have a few "old grubbies" in their wardrobes too.

It has occurred to me, though, that I'm lucky to have a daughter who enjoys playing in the mud and looking for turtle shells with her friends--even if she does put on the purple eyeshadow, really thick, before she leaves.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Will It Snow?

We have had hardly any snow at all this winter--and nothing that the kids could do any playing in.

But I bet it will snow now. How do I know?

The other day when I took Little Brother to that party, we had a lot of trouble with the automatic sliding door on the van. Every once in a while it acts up, and Friday was one of those times. It took me 5 minutes of trying to close it to figure out that I could make it stay closed IF I really quick locked the doors when it hit the closed spot, before it bounced itself back. I let Little Brother climb in through the driver's door and climbed over the seat to buckle him up (good thing no one saw THAT; I'm sure it was quite the spectacle!) That car "dinged" all the way home to let me know that the door thought it was open. When I turned up the radio to drown it out, the ding got louder too.

Yesterday we took the van to the dealer but they couldn't get it all fixed before closing for the day. They called us to come in and pick up a loaner van, which I definitely appreciate.

However, I just realized that Little Brother's boots and snow pants are in the back of my van. We took the snow stuff to my parents' house the day after Christmas so the kids could play in the snow, and I never took it back into the house. With no snow on our radar screen, I just didn't think about it.

I'm sure the loaner van does not come with loaner boots and snow pants.

Therefore, I'm sure it'll snow.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Party Time

Maybe it's appropriate that this event takes place during Lent. I figure it should get me some serious time off Purgatory.

After school Little Brother and I are headed to a birthday party for one of his classmates, in a party headquarters that is reportedly full to the ceiling tiles with Inflatable Jumping Palaces.

Just three days ago, Little Brother slipped on the kitchen floor and injured his mouth--specifically, the gums above his top front teeth. We rushed him to the dentist, who said he's OK, but should eat soft foods for a few days. I'm sure that jumping around in one of those Child Injury Magnets at a place that makes parents sign a waiver before bringing their kids in will be just great.

I'll be watching him like a hawk.

That's good, I guess, since I'm shy at best and events like this cause me to pretty much shut down completely. I can never relax at these school birthday parties. I'm too busy being intimidated. (I'll look good, though; Retail Therapy at Goodwill netted me a pair of "new with tags" Nautica jeans that are just fabulous--and the $4.50 price tag was better than fabulous! Yes, these events bring out the shallow in me. It's just all-around not a good thing.)

Before I leave, I'm taking an Excedrin as a preventative measure. These places are not known for their quiet.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Take Up Your Cross

This morning Father preached on the line "Take up your cross" from today's Gospel.

His homily was a fascinating tribute to the early Church and the traditions they have handed down to us regarding the sign of the cross. Here are some of the things I learned today:

The reason we touch our LEFT shoulder before our RIGHT shoulder when we make the sign of the cross comes from the Gospel of Matthew, when we are urged to try to stay on the right side of God (with those who are living as God has asked them to) rather than on the left side (with those who have turned away from God). Father said that was we cross ourselves we should remember that we are to strive to stay not on God's left side, but on His right.

The triple-cross we make just before we hear the Gospel read at Mass is one of the oldest forms of the sign of the cross in our tradition.

In Baptism when we are signed with a cross, we are claimed for Christ. In Confirmation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

In the early Church, the sign of the cross was made with three fingers of the right hand, held together--a symbol of the Trinity--three in one.

Take up your cross, and remember--keep right!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Turn Away from Sin, and Live the Gospel

I began Lent 2008 with Mass at my younger children's school. I think it's good for the school parents to attend these Masses when possible.

The Mass was, of course, open to all parishioners as well as the school children, but Father geared the homily toward the kids. It was nice to hear what he had to say to them.

He spoke about Original Sin, about Adam and Eve, and about how all of us, when we are old enough to know right from wrong, sin sometimes. He reminded everyone that sin separates us from God, because it is not doing what God wants us to do. He also reminded them that God loves us--very much--so much that he was willing to give his only Son to die for our sins. And finally, Father prepared them for the sacramental that took place right after the homily, when he would trace a cross on each of their foreheads with a smudge of ashes, and recite the words that would be their "assignment" in Lent and beyond: Turn away from sin, and live the Gospel.

I liked that Father was not afraid to talk with the children about sin and our human nature, and that he was not afraid to challenge them to try to do better, letting them know that living the Gospel would bring them closer to God.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shape Matters

Two minutes before the school bus rolled up to the door, I realized that I hadn't seen Middle Sister eat very much breakfast.

"Middle Sister, did you have anything besides pineapple for breakfast?"

"No, just pineapple..."

"That's not enough breakfast!"

"Sure it was, Mom. There were like 7 pineapples in there--and they were RINGS!"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Junior Theology

Adventure Boy showed up here earlier with another little boy from down the street. I just overheard them having a heated discussion about Creation:

Little Brother: "Who made sharks?"

Little Boy: "God!"

Adventure Boy: "Who made the fish?"

Little Brother: "God!"

Little Brother: "Who made the ocean?"

Little Boy: "The people!"

Little Brother: "No, not people. God made the ocean."

Adventure Boy: "It was JESUS!"

Material Girl

I stopped at a nearby outlet shop today to pick up a couple of pairs of sweatpants for Middle Sister, who is now taller than me and outgrowing all her pants. I told her she could pick 2 pairs. She picked out 1 black pair and 1 of a very pretty "sea green" color. Then she wanted tops....I told her that we were only there for pants. So we paid and went home, and she got busy planning outfits since Monday is a "no uniform day" at school. Then she said, "I have no shirts to match these green pants."

Naturally that set me off on a lecture on frugal wardrobes: "When you buy clothes, you think about what you already have that would match the new things. You don't buy a new thing that matches NOTHING you have and then expect more clothes."

Her answer: "What fun is THAT?"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wardrobe Necessities

Little Brother has a new hoodie, and he was bragging about it today to Big Brother. This hoodie is a little different from any he's had before: there's a waffle-weave lining in the hood. It was warm and comfy, he said, because "it has a thermos in it!"