Sunday, July 26, 2009

Off to vacation!

All the bags are packed. Early tomorrow morning I will toss them all in the van (that still smells like "camp") and we are off. Back in a week!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Confessions of a Weather Geek

TheDad's a meteorologist, and I guess I've adopted some of his interest in the weather. For the past few days, I've been stalking the weather websites, checking out the long-range forecast for our upcoming vacation.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I grabbed an index card and made a little database. In pencil. So I can erase and update until Monday morning, when I will turn off this laptop and leave it home! I'll be internet-free for 6 days. I guess if I want to find out the weather at that point, I'll just have to go outside like everyone else.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Faint on Friday

We had a few errands to run this morning: stop at SAM'S to return a pack of socks that Big Brother said were "the wrong kind," stop at the library to return books, stop at Chick-Fil-A for a promised lunch out, stop at Target for dramamine and a backpack for Middle Sister. Of course, none of these are too far away from each other, so there was a lot of "in and out of the hot car and into the cool store" with each of these stops.

We were just about done in Target (Middle Sister was looking for just the right ponytail holders) when Little Brother said he had a bellyache. Usually that's Little-Brotherish for "I need to use the bathroom" so I told Middle Sister to wait for us in the ponytail aisle; we'd be right back. I took Little Brother by the hand and all of a sudden he was hanging off my arm--he had passed out right there in the aisle. (Good thing I was holding his hand, or he'd have hit the floor hard!)

I called to Middle Sister, while getting down on the floor and getting Little Brother into my arms. It took him a few seconds to wake up--not many, but it felt like forever, and he felt very hot.

There we were, in the main aisle of the store, drawing all kinds of attention from very helpful shoppers and store personnel. I handed Middle Sister my purse and told her to go buy Little Brother a bottle of water, so she took off to do that. Little Brother was completely confused about what had happened, but after he had some cold water, he felt cooler. We sat there together for a few more minutes, until I thought he was OK. Fortunately he's a little guy, so I was able to carry him to the front of the store. If there had been a line I'd have abandoned the cart, but we didn't have to wait, so Middle Sister loaded our purchases, I swiped my card and signed, and we were out of there, and around the corner to home.

I have never seen so many people in red shirts and tan pants all in one place. I think every single Target employee asked us if they could help in any way. I really appreciated everyone's concern and offers of assistance--from the store associates as well as other shoppers. (As a side note, the shoppers who stopped were ALL moms with their children. Way to go, moms!)

Little Brother felt pretty punky for a while, but after about an hour he had perked up, and soon after that he was climbing all over Middle Sister and asking her to play dodge ball, tossing a ball around the living room and risking the Wrath of Mom. So my guess is, he's fine--just overheated. I've been pushing rest and fluids this afternoon.

Middle Sister never got those ponytail holders. I'll let her walk over there tomorrow and get them.

A Budding Journalist

I gave Middle Sister and Little Brother each a notebook to take on our upcoming vacation, to write or draw "whatever" while on the trip. She's been writing in it ever since. At this rate, I'll need to give her a new one before we leave!

He's Being Green!

So there we were, enjoying our lunch in Chick-Fil-A, when I noticed that Little Brother's face and shirt were liberally adorned with barbecue sauce. "Little Brother," I scolded, "stop wiping your hands on your shirt! Use a napkin!"

Middle Sister chided me, "But the shirt is reusable!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If you want to know...

what the Catholic Bishops have listed as their priorities in health-care reform, look no further: Denise Hunnell has spelled it all out for you in her column at the Catholic Examiner.

Particularly of interest was the mention of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed strategy for health-care reform, ideas that
"would not bankrupt our nation or increase taxes in the midst of a recession. They are achievable reforms with bipartisan consensus and public support."

Check Denise's blog for more on the subject.

Tiber River Review: Sacred Hymns Collection by L'Angelus

Recorded by a group of young-adult siblings, the Sacred Hymns Collection by L'Angelus contains twelve beautiful and reverent treatments of familiar Catholic hymns. The instruments used are unique: piano, guitar, strings, mandolin, steel guitar and even accordion are featured on this CD; organ is only used in three of the tracks. The artists are clearly very gifted, and they perform the hymns flawlessly, with excellent harmony and beautiful accompaniment. The music is extremely peaceful and uplifting.

Song selection includes: Ave Maria; This Day God Gives Me; J'irai la Voir un Joir; Sing of Mary; Tantum Ergo; The Kind of Love My Shepherd Is; Salve Regina; Panis Angelicus; Muerto Para el Mundo; Jesus My Lord, My God, My All; Holy God We Praise Thy Name; Be Thou My Vision.

After previewing this CD at home, I brought it with me to a meeting of my Secular Franciscan fraternity, to be played during our social time. Many among the group commented on the beautiful music and were heard singing along. I found these arrangements very "welcoming" in that regard, because the hymns are not performed in a range that only trained singers can attain. The music is traditional, but the arrangements are fresh and unique rather than stuffy, and that makes these familiar hymns accessible to listeners who might normally shy away from the choir-and-organ arrangements generally associated with most of these titles. The artists have done church music a great service in this regard, opening the door to new listeners who are tired of the vapid contemporary church music to which they are normally exposed.

The Sacred Hymns Collection by L'Angelus is appropriate and highly recommended for listeners of any age.

I wrote this review of Sacred Hymns for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

This is a non-compensated review. A review copy of the CD was provided to me.

Too Little, Too Late?

These days, it seems to be all about ID, all the time.

This week I had to go get my driver's license renewed. Even though I proved four years ago that my marriage is valid in the State of New Jersey, the first time I had to get that special "fake-proof" driver's license, I had to dig out that marriage certificate again. Not the one from the church, people. The one from the State is the only one they will accept. We won't discuss the time and gas I wasted on this one, for the second time.

Then I got a letter from the kids' school. It seems that if I want to continue as a school volunteer, I not only have to go through the VIRTUS training program (done, 3 years ago), but I now have to be fingerprinted and issued a Diocesan ID.

I am going to be treated like a criminal (and required to present, AGAIN, the very same IDs that I had to present this week to the DMV or whatever they're calling it these days) so that I can stamp library books in my children's parochial school.

Yes, the parish will pick up the tab (and believe me, I'll be turning in that receipt!) but the cost is not the point. And believe me, I'm all for Protecting God's Children. Again, that's not the point.

Most of the people who are involved in school volunteering, Scouting, coaching and Religious Education are parents. That's not to say that parents are blameless and that they would never endanger their own children or their children's friends or classmates. But the vast majority of people who have put the children in the kind of danger that has caused us to need VIRTUS are not parents. Yet we parents must pay. I've already paid for my fingerprinting tab through my tuition and my weekly contributions to the parish--so when they reimburse me, it's just my own money coming back once when I've paid twice. Not to mention the time and gas that I'm going to just consider wasted. And apparently, if I forget to bring and wear that Diocesan ID, the school can tell me that I can't help in the library today.

I wonder how many volunteers the Church and schools will lose because of this policy? I'm not going anywhere, but I'm quite sure that this will chase people off.

Product Review: Urban Tie-Dye Sheet Set

When Big Brother returns from Boy Scout Camp on Saturday, he will be very happy to sleep in his own bed again after spending a week on one of those camp-issue cots.

He'll be even happier to discover that he has a new sheet set from! Why settle for plain sheets when you can have olive-green tie-dye?

These sheets are really soft and nicely finished on the edge of the pillowcase and top edge of the flat sheet with matching, solid-color piping. I was disappointed, though, that the pillowcase was not finished all the way around, but only on the one side.

This product retails for $62.50 at, who graciously provided the sample sheet set described here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Looking forward to...

a good read!

I was in the bookstore today, to buy some gifts. Usually I'm better-disciplined about buying myself a gift while I'm shopping, but I couldn't help but pick up Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. What can I say--they had a mass-market edition that was half the price of the trade paperback! How could I resist?

Now all I need to do is polish off the book I'm reading now (The Soloist by Steve Lopez, which is in the house because it's Big Brother's summer-reading assignment, though he hasn't read it yet.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It Never Fails

TheDad and Big Brother are off to Summer Camp for the week with the Boy Scout troop. They'll be living in tents, battling mosquitos and looking to beat last year's second-place finish in the Iron Camp Chef competition.

Usually, we just say goodbye to them at home, but this year the rest of us went over to the church where the Scouts were packing up the vans and trailer. I'm sorry we didn't do this other years. It was nice to hang out with the other moms and leaders' wives, to wish all the campers well (not just the ones in my own family) and to trade cell-phone numbers with moms who worry that their child's phone won't pick up a signal in camp (it probably won't. But someone will manage to call, and then we'll all let each other know that everyone's OK.)

And then I came home, put down my coffee cup, and headed directly to Big Brother's closet (do not pass GO, do not collect $200) where I took all his t-shirts out of the closet organizer where they'd been stuffed, folded them neatly, and replaced them. That thing has been driving me crazy for months, but I've managed to resist until now.

(I'm now wondering if he has any shirts at camp with him. He has an awful lot of t-shirts.)

Middle Sister is off to a sleepover with the cousins on Wednesday. Her dresser is next.

I expect that before the week is out, I'll rearrange some furniture. Because doing that, and cleaning closets and dresser-drawers, is how I say "welcome home" to someone who's been away.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lawn Rage

I am generally a pretty even-tempered person, unless I'm driving...or unless my across-the-street neighbor is outside with his (insert curse word of choice here, this is a family blog) leaf blower. Did I mention that he lives on a corner lot, so twice the sidewalk? I swear it takes him an HOUR to blow every last little blade of grass off his walk.

Get a broom!

Why Moms Don't Want to Always Know Best

Read Sheila Wray Gregoire's column for this week! I think she's been peeking in my windows. Thanks, Sheila, for saying what I couldn't find the words to express.

I try not to bug my husband with the Little Stuff, because he really does deal with most of the Big Stuff. But a lot of the Little Stuff sure does come with Big Guilt. I really appreciate what Sheila has to say on this subject.

Prayers Appreciated

Tonight is the election for the Fraternity Council at my Secular Franciscan Fraternity. This is a big deal; the regional minister and regional spiritual assistant will be on hand to witness, so we not only have elections, but hospitality to worry about. The hospitality will be the easy part!
Because of many people's health issues, we have had trouble composing a slate of eligible members to serve on Council. That will make tonight's election a little more challenging. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us all as we make choices that will affect the future of our Fraternity in the next 3 years.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Not to Wear

I am currently engaged in a battle of wills with Little Brother, who thinks that a blue-and-green tie-dye t-shirt matches perfectly with camo-print shorts.

If we were staying home today I wouldn't care, but I have to take him out in public in ten minutes.

Morning Observation

In terms of sheer morning-motivational power, it's hard to beat the effect of showering and getting dressed right away. It's got more of an influence than caffeine. I'm convinced that coffee drunk while wearing pajamas is much less effective than coffee drunk while dressed for the day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pray for your Children Today!

This psalm comes from Evening Prayer for Friday. Every Friday, for years and years, I have prayed this psalm. And it just struck me this past week that this is an excellent psalm for parents to pray for their children. I am including the prayer at the end for the same reason.


I lift up my eyes to the mountains: from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble! Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel’s guard.

The Lord is your guard and your shade, at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you nor the moon in the night.

The Lord will guard you from evil, he will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming both now and forever.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, you have prepared a quiet place for us in the Father’s eternal home. Watch over our welfare on this perilous journey, shade us from the burning heat of day, and keep our lives free of evil until the end.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Love the Creativity

Today is the Cardboard Tube Fighting Tournament in Philadelphia. Big Brother heard about this and invited a few friends to go along. Then he enlisted Middle Sister's help to make him a cardboard shield for the event.

She and her friend made this as a prank, never suspecting that Big Brother would love it! He thought it was great, but is refusing to bring it (they made him a "real" one as well) because he doesn't want it to be ruined. This one, he says, is a keeper.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Great Way to Start the Day

From this morning's Liturgy of the Hours:

In your will is our peace, Lord.

What better way to start the day than to pray that prayer?

There have been a few things nagging at me lately, some conflicts, some worries. And frankly I am missing daily Mass now that the kids are out of school. "Missing" in both senses of the word--I'm not there, and I feel the lack of it in my life.

"Do not conform to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

I pray today that I may know the right way to handle those worries and conflicts, and have the strength to do it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Encouraging Word on a Busy Day

Today was one of those days when this "stay-at-home mom" wasn't home much. I took Little Brother to the library. I zipped to the Dollar Store and CVS to pick up a few necessities (sidewalk chalk among them, because it just isn't summer without an abundance of sidewalk chalk). I picked up some Chick-Fil-A lunch. I took Little Brother to the pool, and encouraged him as he practiced his swimming and then cheered for him when he passed his swim test (he's allowed in the Big Pool now without me--yippee!) After dinner I delivered Big Brother to cross-country practice and then took Little Brother to Middle Sister's basketball game, where I cheered for her team and provided first-aid necessities when a team member got injured.

At home, I did manage to get 2 loads of laundry hung on the line, bathrooms "swished and swiped," dinner cooked, served and cleaned up, and my writing for the day done.

I was despairing over getting stuff done (or more correctly, not getting stuff done.) And then a friend of mine sent me a link to the 50s Housewife blog. I was curious so I followed it--and I found this: "Someone Has to Do It".

Then I realized I didn't do that badly today after all. It was a busy day, but a good day. Much as I love to be home, sometimes my vocation takes me out of it--to the pool, the library, the store, the basketball court. Those things are important too, even when they prevent me from cleaning the floors (which seriously need some cleaning!) Now go visit the link. We all need that kind of encouragement.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Watch This Space!

Coming soon: a product review of kids' bedding from! Their selection of kids' bedding is awesome--it's not all for preschoolers. Even my Big Kids would find plenty of choices they like here.

Oh Really?

TheDad is wearing a nice blue golf shirt today. "I like that shirt on you," I commented. "I really like that color."

Little Brother jumped into the conversation. "That's because Mom's favorite color is blue. I know, because I've been spying on her in the night!"