Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ready for tonight's softball game

Blanket? Check.

Coffee? Brewing.

Book to read? Check.

Notebook and pen? Check. (I get a lot of writing done at softball games.)

Camera? Check.

Phone? Charged and Synced. (It's a smart phone!)

New Faith & Family Live podcast? Downloaded.

Rosary army rosary podcast? Downloaded.

Yup. I'm all set.

The Cap and Gown Controversy

The American Papist shares photos of the traditional academic attire to be worn at the University of Notre Dame.

Let me tell you, there's a lot of hoopla about the gown, which has words from a prayer to the Blessed Mother on it (Vita, Dulcedo, Spes) as well as a cross. This morning as I ran a ton of errands, most Cub-Scout-related, I had ample opportunity to listen to the hosts and listeners at the Catholic Channel as "what the President will wear when he addresses Notre Dame graduates" was discussed.

I was in the car so I couldn't call in. (Use of cell phones in cars is a primary offense in this state.) So here's my opinion, in case you're interested. It's my blog, so I get to sound off here.

Graduation speakers traditionally wear academic attire, especially when they are awarded honorary degrees. As Obama is receiving an honorary ND degree it is only appropriate that he wear the ND gown. You wear the academic garb of the institution that awarded you the most recent degree, so it would not be appropriate for him to wear the gown he received with his bachelor's degree.

Maybe it's a good thing that he is wearing it. Maybe bearing those images on his person will make him think, even for a second, about what he has done via all those anti-life policies he has enacted.

But if I were in charge of wardrobe for this event, I'd see to it that a green scapular was sewn inside there somewhere.

In the meantime, I believe we should pray for the intercession of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, whose feast we celebrate this week. Who better to intercede on behalf of the conversion of an anti-life president than a woman--a medical doctor--who refused any treatments that would harm the life of her unborn child? Pray also for Father Jenkins, that he may see the damage he has done to the Catholic character of the University and the scandal he has created far beyond South Bend, Indiana. And pray that the University of Notre Dame will once again be a Catholic university from the top down!

What I Learned Today

Little Brother: "If you sharpen your pencil too much, it gets smaller and smaller. Isn't that so cool? It's a science fact."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Whistle While You Work

...or in Little Brother's case, sing.

His household chore today is to vacuum the steps from the front door to the living room (all 5 of them.) After he was told to stop whining and just get busy, he apparently decided to make the best of it.

He's belting out "Eye of the Tiger" over the noise of the handheld Oreck.

We're Having a Heat Wave

It was over 90 degrees today for the third day in a row. It's April--in New Jersey. What's up with the tropical weather?

It's so hot, I'm wearing shorts. The temperature has to have a 9 in the front before I will do that.

But one person who is not wearing shorts is Adventure Boy. He's dressed in his full Indiana Jones Halloween Costume regalia--complete with hat. It's a dark brown outfit, just perfect for playing outside in 90-degree heat.

Adventure Boy is completely obsessed with Indiana Jones. He was over the moon when he learned that Indiana had been a Boy Scout--just like him! He gets the biggest grin on his face when I call him "Indiana Jones" instead of his real name.

So can someone please find a way for me to convince this child that it's OK for Indiana Jones to wear shorts?

Preach the Gospel at All Times

...use words if necessary. (Francis of Assisi)

Those are great words to live by--but at the same time, hard words to live by. It means you have to really live by what you believe. No hypocrisy allowed. "Do as I say, because what I say really is what I do."

A fine example of living this way is Mary Ann Glendon, who has turned down Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal award rather than take part in the media circus surrounding President Obama's honorary ND degree, and rather than be used by the ND administration as an appropriate foil to Obama's anti-life record in the Senate and in the Presidency.

She's got courage--and she stands up for what she believes in. As a Notre Dame alum, I thank her for that. And I hope that all who were dismayed by ND's invitation to the President to speak and receive a degree will be inspired by Mary Ann Glendon's refusal to share the stage with him.

Lost--and FOUND!

I'm taking a break from tearing apart the family room. I've been searching for a few things today.

First, the remote control to the DVD player--missing at least 10 days. Found that.

Second, Middle Sister's magenta water bottle (soon to be MY magenta water bottle since she has decided she likes my turquoise water bottle better. I really don't care as long as once we straighten this out, NOBODY ELSE drinks out of MY bottle. I'm territorial that way.) Found that.

But now I think it's time to call in the Big Guns. Yes, St. Anthony, I need some help. Little Brother has lost a good half-dozen of his Bakugan toys, and another little boy who was playing here last week lost one of his. I swear there's a black hole somewhere in my family room.

The upside is, all that "detail vacuuming" is getting done while I search.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meanest Mommy on the Block

Middle Sister and Little Brother are running around with the neighbor kids and water guns.

And I have not yet turned on the outdoor spigots.

Wasn't it just last week that we were wearing winter coats?? And today it was 93 degrees!

Guess I should head down to the basement and turn on the water so the kids can more efficiently reload their weapons. Problem is, the second I turn on the backyard spigot, Boy Next Door hooks up the hose and floods the sandbox. Every. Single. Year.

Maybe they'll just get to fill their guns out front this time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weird Things the Kids Say...

before I've even had my coffee.

Little Brother: "There goes that shaggy dog. The one that looks like his owner. That's kinda creepy."

Middle Sister: "You should see the back patio. It looks like a bathroom wall." (She and her BFF were decorating it with sidewalk chalk last night.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Mailbox Surprise

Yesterday when I got the mail I found a fairly heavy padded envelope, addressed to me, with my own return address on it as well. The postmark gave away its origin, though--the Virginia town where Patti, one of my Family Corner forum buddies lives. At first I thought she might have sent me a book--we're both readers. But the package was a little lumpy for that.

What a surprise to open it up and find this beautiful rosary, handmade by her daughter. The Miraculous medal is also a locket--a combination I'd never seen before.

My first prayer on that rosary was a Divine Mercy chaplet, since the mail came at 3 PM. The chaplet was dedicated to my friend Patti, as she had hip replacement surgery yesterday. (Word last night was, she's doing well but is in some pain.) Please add her to your prayers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

From My Inbox

A member of my family sent around this email today. She said to pass it on--so I thought I'd share it here. Some great advice!

An Angel says, 'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice..'

1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together..
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it..
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest
18. Eat right.
19 Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life..
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus .'
27. Laugh.
28. Laugh some more!
29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego
33 Talk less; listen more..
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans8:31)

Happy Birthday, Franciscans!

Saturday was the 800th birthday of the Franciscan Order!

I'm kind of disappointed, though. I was at a SFO Regional event and we didn't even have cake. What kind of birthday party is that?

Monday Miscellany

It's been a crazy week! You would think that during a week when the kids are not in school, I would have more free time. But that was just not the case. Easter week included hosting a family dinner on Tuesday, a visit to my parents' for an overnight Wednesday, a semi-successful trip to the post office for passports on Friday (since when do birth certificates come in "long form" and "short form" and why weren't we aware before now that the "short form" is basically useless?), a Secular Franciscan Regional meeting on Saturday followed by dinner at our friends' home, and a softball game with less than 24 hours' notice on Sunday. (And that's just the highlights!)

Don't get me started on the softball-on-Sunday thing. I'm less pleased about that than I am about the 24 hours' notice.

Oh yeah, and I started showing symptoms of pinkeye on Saturday night. Fun, fun, fun! I should be at the school library now, but instead I am waiting for the doctor's office to open so I can get an appointment. Meanwhile, I made school lunches with baggies over my hands so I wouldn't be directly touching anyone's food.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tired of the Easter Flip-Flop!

Every Easter and Christmas it's always the same. I don't have enough ribbons in my Liturgy of the Hours to take care of marking antiphons, psalms, daily stuff, AND the saint. And I sit there flipping around in the book and getting all irritated that they couldn't print the Easter Sunday and Christmas Day antiphons for Morning Prayer in with Sunday Week 1, since each of those days gets used for 8 straight days, but all the other "special" Sundays (Easter 5, Lent 1, Lent 5, etc.) got printed.

So I've taken matters into my own hands and printed out a bookmark with the antiphons for each of those days. Feel free to download and print it for yourself.

Hope this helps you!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Boy Scout at the Easter Vigil is...

Trustworthy. He can be depended upon to build and tend the Easter fire in a safe manner.
Loyal. He honors his commitment to help the church that sponsors his troop.
Helpful. He cooperates with other Scouts and leaders in building the fire.
Friendly. He greets people as they arrive for Mass.
Courteous and Kind. He shows people a safe place to stand.
Obedient. He follows his leaders' and pastor's directions.
Cheerful. He performs this service with a smile on his face.
Thrifty. He makes the Easter fire from scrap wood and sticks that have fallen from trees.
Brave. He knows what to do when the wind blows the flames to one side.
Clean. He makes sure that the wind does not blow pieces of wood or kindling out of the fire area.
Reverent. He behaves appropriately during the prayers and blessings that accompany the Easter Vigil fire ritual.

And after the Easter candle has been blessed, and everyone has sung "Thanks be to God" and gone inside the church, he quietly roasts marshmallows on the coals of the Easter fire and shares them with the other Scouts who are helping with the fire.


Little Brother's friend is visiting and they are working on a puzzle together.

"Eureka!" Little Brother called out as he found the piece they were looking for. "Hey Mom, do you know what "eureka" means?"

"Sure," I told him. "It means 'I found it'."

"You're wrong," I was informed. "It means 'YESSSSSSSSS' in Science."

Sunday, April 12, 2009


He is risen! Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!

This photo was taken two years ago on Easter at our little church. It was traditional that the empty tomb would be displayed near the tabernacle and baptismal font. I'm glad I took that picture because that was the last year the tomb was displayed.

The empty tomb was a wonderful place to take children after Mass and show them that Jesus is, indeed, risen--the tomb is empty. I miss the visual reminder that would stay up throughout the Easter season. So, this is my place to post that reminder.

I'm off to get ready for Mass, where we will joyously sing the "Glory to God" and many, many "alleluias."

Things I Have to Say to My Kids

"Don't throw pillows at him while he's blowing his nose!"

Word of Warning

Don't be the last one asleep on Easter Sunday. If you sleep in, your siblings will find all your eggs and move them to "better" hiding places.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blessed Triduum!

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

How to know you've done the Gloria right

If you lose your voice after singing the Gloria, you nailed it.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of Mass after the Gloria.


Choir practice starts in an hour. And we're going to be rehearsing the music for Easter Sunday!

So here's the lineup you'll hear if you show up at the 12:15. (Local readers please note: it's 12:15 and it's not at our USUAL noon location.)

PRELUDE: Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones (a cappella)

ENTRANCE: Glory in the Cross (Easter verses)

GLORIA: Foley ("Give glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth!") We chose this one because we know it best and also because it's the most festive one we know. It's Easter! We want a HAPPY gloria!

PSALM: This is the Day (Joncas)

ALLELUIA!! (I don't remember which one our choir leader told me to pull out. But it'll be great to sing it again, no matter which one it is.)

PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS: All Good Gifts (from Godspell. OK, not a favorite of mine to do at a liturgy. But whatever...I don't get to pick.)

MASS: Mass of Creation (I lobbied for the St. Louis Jesuits' Mass for Easter, since the "Amen" contains many "alleluias," but the music director nixed that one. Apparently we know it; she doesn't.)

COMMUNION: Christ, Be Our Light

CLOSING: Lift Up Your Hearts. (We opted out of Join in the Dance, yippee! But I have to be careful, because I know the OLD, non-PC, lyrics by heart.)

So most of it is just great, and I'm looking forward to singing some HAPPY music.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Predator at the Bird Feeder

This duck hawk (also known as a peregrine falcon) was sitting on top of my bird feeder today! I don't think birdseed was the breakfast he had in mind.

That's the end of that

I expressed my concerns about serving on the school board to my pastor, especially this final question: "Why would the school board want a participant who was opposed to the concept of that school, who will not send her children to that school, and who does not have faith in the school's chances for success?"

Father understood my reservations and suggested that my energies would be better focused elsewhere.

Like my own children's schools. I do volunteer at my younger kids' school, but perhaps there is more that can be done. So this whole thing has been good food for thought for me. I'm saying no to this particular school board opportunity, but not to serving Catholic schools.

It's time for me to focus on what I can do for my kids' schools that makes them better Catholic learning environments.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Taking Sundays Off

I know that there are two schools of thought on the idea of taking Sundays off during Lent, because it's a feast day, not a fast day.

I do celebrate Sundays as feast days, and enjoy that little break from fasting. I do NOT consider it a time to take a break from the "good" things I have resolved to do during Lent, such as reading The How-to Book of the Mass. A feast day is never an excuse to stop doing a good thing. But I do allow myself a chance to have that Milky Way I've denied myself all week long.

And then comes Palm Sunday, and this one just doesn't feel like so much of a feast. And I don't feel too much like eating that Milky Way.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Things I Have to Say to My First-Grader

"We are not going to Target to buy you more Bakugans to replace the ones you have lost IN THE HOUSE."

Freedom to Care

This morning on The Catholics Next Door radio show on satellite radio, there was a guest from the Freedom 2 Care organization. They are a single-issue organization dedicated to protecting health-care providers' right to refuse to participate in or offer treatments that go against that care provider's religious and moral beliefs.

While care providers were granted that right in 2008, the Obama administration is working to rescind that right.

Visit Freedom 2 Care and check out information about the Conscience Clause. Learn how you can make your voice heard in defending the rights of health-care providers and Catholic hospitals.

More about the School Board Thing

I really appreciate that so many readers have taken the time to comment--thoughtfully--on yesterday's post about the school board invitation.

Because my husband was out of town last night, I didn't get to talk to him about it much. His gut reaction was "say no" until I explained that they were looking for a parent whose children did not attend the school. Of course, we will be discussing it more when he returns from his business trip.

Certainly I consider it an honor to be asked, especially since I was told that more than one person had recommended my name.

A couple of commenters introduced the idea of "ministering to the non-Catholics with a need to have their children in a non-public-school environment." While I see that point, it is my opinion that for too long Catholic schools have been willing to fill seats with any student, regardless of religious affiliation, for the sake of filling seats, rather than engaging in the outreach and, yes, marketing that it takes to attract and keep Catholic families in the schools. The primary mission of a Catholic school should be to educate Catholic children. It's not so much that the school is providing a "moral environment" for children of any faith, although naturally that happens. It's that the school should be providing a "faith environment" for children of the Catholic faith.

I believe very strongly that parishes and schools have absolutely failed in this regard. They have rolled over and watched as family after family pulled out of Catholic schools in favor of public schools, sometimes with very lame excuses. My pastor informed me yesterday that he believes that the parochial-school model is dead; regionalization is the only way that any Catholic schools will survive--essentially because of finances. That may be true now, but my belief is that this is due to that failure by schools and parishes to teach parents the value of a Catholic education. My husband commented yesterday, "They have lost a whole generation." We both believe that once you lose people in the Catholic school system, you don't get them back. You don't get their children back either.

Frankly, sometimes it gets discouraging to have a commitment to Catholic education when the schools keep being pulled out from under us. Middle Sister started fifth grade in her THIRD Catholic school--and we had not moved during that time. We're hoping the school she and Little Brother attend now will stick around until he graduates.

Meanwhile, I am putting together a list of questions. Some of these have come directly from yesterday's comments (thank you again!) If my pastor (who approached me about this) cannot answer them, I will request that he put me in touch with someone who can. I'm going to post my questions here and probably add to the list as I think of more.

--What exactly is expected of a school board member in terms of time, service and financial commitment?

--Why are they looking for someone outside the school community to serve?

--I don't know if my parish is considered a "sending" parish--I doubt that we have ANY children in that school. Is it that they want students from my parish, and would I be expected to market the school to other parents in my parish? (That would leave me with a huge conflict of interest, as I would have a hard time marketing a school in which I refused to enroll my own children.)

--What expertise are they looking for me to bring to the table?

--After painful experiences with a school closure in the past, I harbor a certain distrust of the diocesan committees that are set up to "seek feedback" but that I believe have already made the decisions before seeking the feedback. I've been in that position before. Am I being asked to participate in such a venture again?

--Why would the school board want a participant who was opposed to the concept of that school, who will not send her children to that school, and who does not have faith in the school's chances for success?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What School Will I Serve?

Today I was asked to consider serving on the school board of a local Catholic school. My name was recommended because of my strong commitment to Catholic education.

The weird part? This is not one of the schools my children attend. In fact, it is a new regional school that resulted from the merger of four parochial schools that closed in June 2006. One of those schools is the one my children used to attend, and it was expected that the students would just attend this regional school.

But my family, along with several other families, did not believe that the regional school was a viable concept. We chose to find a different parochial school for our children.

Yes, I am deeply committed to Catholic education, as is my husband. But on the elementary level, my commitment is to parochial Catholic education. I believe that the school-parish connection is very important--and it's something that is lacking at Big Brother's diocesan high school, which attracts students from parishes all over the county.

Nearly half the student body at the regional elementary school (40%) is not Catholic. This leads me to believe that many families are using this school not as a way to ensure that their children receive a Catholic education, but rather as a way to keep them out of a public-school system that is rife with problems.

It is ironic that I have been asked to serve a school that I vehemently opposed three years ago, and I expressed that when I was approached about this. When I asked why I was considered for this position, I was told that the school board needed a committed parent from outside that school community.

I need to give an answer by the weekend; this will take much prayer and discussion with my husband. I'd welcome any thoughts my readers here have, as well!