Monday, August 31, 2009

Shoe-livery Boy

We're not one of those houses that requires people to take off their shoes when they come in. But I'm the only one who keeps shoes on. And every so often, the piles of shoes start to drive me crazy.

So I ask Little Brother to pick up the shoes and deliver them to the bedrooms. And he fights me long and loud--you'd think I asked him to climb the stairs on his knees and deliver the shoes one by one. Tonight he decided he'd be lazy resourceful and deliver them all in one trip. "Layering" helps when you do a job this way. It might be hard to tell from the picture, but he's wearing his own school shoes, Big Brother's flip-flops, and TheDad's flip-flops on his feet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

There when it counts

As a mom, I worry a lot about Middle Sister. She's 13, and has the kind of personality that will always choose adventure and risk over common sense. Often, she acts before she thinks.

But yesterday at the funeral, when Big Brother broke down as he read the second reading, Middle Sister really came through for him. She didn't have to think about it. She just left the pew, walked up to her brother, and stood there behind him with her hand on his shoulder. And when he finished his (mercifully short) reading, she took his arm and walked back with him to their seats.

While the rest of us sat frozen in our pews wishing we could do something to help Big Brother, Middle Sister took action. She showed what she is made of.

I have never been prouder.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rest in Peace, Pop

My father-in-law passed away just before 2 this morning. The damage to his heart was just too much to be repaired.

Pop was the first to rejoice over happy news and to offer help when bad news came. He never refused an opportunity to help someone else, and he never passed up an opportunity to make a friend. His morning "coffee, newspaper and Home Depot" routine included a stop at the waterfront to pray the Rosary. Pop carried papers around in his pockets--jokes he'd read in his email that he wanted to share with his kids and grandkids. He made sure we all stayed well-stocked with our favorite bagels, and enjoyed experimenting with new recipes when he had visitors. He loved his family, especially his grandchildren, and he made sure you knew it.

"Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:21)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Waiting on bad news

All week long the news has just been getting worse.

My father-in-law has an abscess in his aorta, and the doctors say that his aorta and his year-old valve replacement must be replaced. He is not in strong condition like he was last year when he had the valve replacement. Fortunately he has just been moved to a better hospital.

Little Brother doesn't get why everyone else is on edge, poor guy.

TheDad is staying near the hospital (better than 1 1/2 hours away)--he was here last night for the first time since Monday. He has asked me to be ready to bring the kids up there and be prepared to stay. So I am using up leftovers for dinner, even though I am not hungry to eat it--I have to eat if I might have to drive tonight. And I am thinking about what needs to be packed, like the cell-phone charger and TheDad's favorite coffee, because he will be wanting that creature comfort. I also need to dig out my map of the area where the hospital is, because for the past two days I have been making wrong turns on familiar territory. (I guess that is where my anxieties are coming out. I don't cry much, so people think I am strong. News flash: that's not always how it works. I just hide it better.)

Otherwise, I wait, and I dread phone calls.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summing Up My Job

To my child, after said child questioned why I was denying permission to do something unwise:

"If you're not going to display common sense, we're going to have to display it for you."

Because letting them make (and learn from) their own mistakes can only go so far. Sometimes you have to rein them in.

My sentiments exactly

Little Brother is wearing his favorite (and almost worn-out) green T-shirt. It has a shamrock on it and says "IRISH" in big letters.

Adventure Boy just noticed this, and asked Little Brother, "Are you Irish?"

Little Brother said yes. (He's half right.)

"Wow," replied Adventure Boy. "You're lucky."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prayer Request

My father-in-law is in the hospital, in the ICU with a possible heart attack and pneumonia. He's been feeling ill for a while now, and is a heart patient with a pacemaker and valve replacement. My husband is with him and my mother-in-law. Please keep Pop in your prayers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Question for the Scientists

Last night Little Brother and TheDad were watching a program on lightning on the Discovery Channel. He's been talking about nothing else since he woke up this morning.

He quieted down for a little while, then mused, "I wonder how much lightning weighs."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mom Needs to Know

Because I'm about to join the ranks of the Bifocal-Wearing Middle-Aged.

My dad once told me that you don't become "middle-aged" until you are only twice the age of your youngest child. That means, when Little Brother is 36 and I'm 72, I'll hit Middle Age.

I like that. It was working for me.

Until yesterday, that is--that's when I went to the eye doctor, complaining that my distance vision and near vision are getting kind of fuzzy. She told me that I'd made it 4 extra years than most.

Thanks for that!

So I picked out some cool new frames, because if I have to wear these things (they're progressive, but still...I'll know they're in there) I want to at least look a little stylish. The picture above is NOT my new glasses, by the way.

Anyway, if you've got bifocals, especially the progressive kind, I'd love some hints on what I can expect, and tips on how best to get used to the things.


Little Brother was thrilled to open the freezer yesterday and discover, inside, a box of ice pops.

Apparently he's forgotten some of his phonics lessons over the summer, though. He's a good reader--but he keeps referring to these things as "BOOM pops."

Landscaping Woes

Last night, we were sitting at the Vacation Bible School Hot-N-Crowded Finale Celebration in a small church that appeared to have exceeded its fire-code capacity several times over.

And my cell phone rang. It was Big Brother, who had stayed at home, mowing the lawn. Things were so loud in there that I was amazed to have heard it ring, so I picked it up and said, "Send me a text message. I can't hear a thing."

Then I got the text: "The mower took out the cap for the sewer thing" (the outdoor sewer cleanout--a plumber was here Monday with a snake to take care of a clog. Guess the guy didn't screw that cap back on tight.)

I asked him if he could find any pieces. I get back: "Well its gone. The pipe has no cap" (Note the lack of proper punctuation there.)

Then I told him that we needed pieces so we could figure out what size the replacement should be. "Its. Gone." (I guess he just uses periods for emphasis. Apostrophes, however, are expendable in all circumstances.)

I'd be willing to bet that I'm the only parent to ever be interrupted at a VBS show, to be told that Lawn Boy had run over part of the plumbing. I was (silently) laughing my head off.

This is not the first time Big Brother has run stuff over. He mows like I vacuum. If you leave your Legos on the carpet, and I have given you fair warning that I'm vacuuming later, then it's bye-bye Legos. Big Brother ran over a Little People ship captain once, decapitating it. He's got a sick sense of humor, so he kept that captain's head. When he still had a fish, it was in the fish tank. A couple of weeks ago, it was a tennis ball, which he neatly cut in half. The next week, it was shredded all over the lawn.

I think it's safe to say that he doesn't have a career in landscaping ahead of him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Please Pray

...for Mary Ellen Barrett and her whole family, who mourn the loss of 14-year-old Ryan, oldest of 8 children.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, and may those who mourn his loss be comforted.

Keep the Change

Yesterday a young woman knocked on my door and handed me a small box containing a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). She instructed me to immediately replace some other light bulb with this one, and to make sure that, when this bulb burned out in 5 to 7 years, I'd recycle it properly.

Proper recycling of these bulbs (which contain a small amount of mercury) requires me to leave my home and drive my car to an approved dropoff location. Sounds like, in some effort to be green, Peter is being robbed to pay Paul.

For the record, we have many light fixtures in our home that contain CFLs. I'm ready to rip them out of the dining-room light right now, because they take so long to light up that you have to remember to turn on the dining-room light 20 minutes before dinner if you want to be able to see what you're eating. In the ceiling-mount fixtures, the CFLs last only about two times longer than regular incandescent bulbs--but the cost per bulb is ten times higher. When my incandescent bulbs burn out, they just stop working. When some CFLs burn out, they can "emit smoke and a melting, plastic-like odor." Yeah, I want that in my house. (Maybe that's why they recommend on the box that you use this bulb for your porch light!)

Naturally, on the side of the box, there was one of those dubious "green statistics" that follows this pattern:
If every ________ did ____________ just __________ time(s), enough ___________ would be saved to _________________.

Here's my answer. If every American household received $5 instead of a compact fluorescent light bulb just one time, that money could have been put toward their utility bill. The utility companies are the ones sponsoring this light-bulb giveaway anyhow.

So thanks for the light bulb, but I'd rather have had the $5.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Advice Welcome

I've got a child here with Jan Brady Syndrome. And I'm not trying to make light of the situation. I want to make it better. Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

You won't catch me watching this

Middle Sister is sitting on the couch, munching on a bagel and eagerly watching "Plastic Surgery: Before and After" on the Discovery Channel. As I walked by, I heard the dramatic-voiced announcer intoning: "bandages to cover her open wounds."

I figure that her ability to watch stuff like that while eating would serve her well in a health-care career path.

I, on the other hand, had to leave the room.

Parents' Prayer

Heard today on The Catholics Next Door (and I'm paraphrasing, but this is the general idea.)

Lord, please help me today to be the parent my children need me to be.

I need to pray that one every day, and I think I should also add: "Please help me to be the wife my husband needs me to be."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strangest Snack EVER

Little Brother is attending Vacation Bible School this week. Our parish participates in a multi-church VBS--Catholic, Lutheran, Moravian, Methodist, and possibly more. The program they're using this year is Crocodile Dock, which focuses mostly on Exodus events.

If you haven't send your child to VBS, you might not know that often the snacks are "themed." They are a craft project in themselves, and after the children build their own portion of the snack, listening to the Bible lesson at the same time, they get to eat their snack.

So today they learned all about the plagues that God sent on the Egyptians when they wouldn't release the Israelites from slavery. Little Brother came home and reported on the contents of today's snack and what each food represented:

Popcorn and mini-marshmallows for the plague of hailstones
Raisins for the plague of locusts
Chocolate chips for the plague of flies
And (I am not making this up) Gushers for the plague of boils.


I Just Noticed

as I took the laundry down off the clothesline: for each of the past three years, Little Brother has come home from vacation with a pirate T-shirt.

I wonder if, in the future, vacation destinations will have to be planned with the possibility of more pirate-themed apparel in mind. That could seriously limit our choices. I doubt that you can get pirate wear at, say, Mount Rushmore.

But around here, the kids are all about the pirates.

Friday, August 07, 2009

And the winner is...

I listed all the names of the commenters in the order comments were received. I included, in the order received, the "contest entry" recipes as well. Then I numbered the names on the list and asked Middle Sister to pick a number.

So the winner is: Aimee! Please email me with your address so I can mail your prize!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Author, Author!

Christine of The Simple and the Ordinary and Simply Put has had her book published! When Mike Kissed Emma is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received and read my copy today. If you've got a teen girl, I highly recommend this book.

Here's my review that I posted on both websites selling this book:

An enjoyable read for teens, WHEN MIKE KISSED EMMA follows a group of friends as they settle into their roles for the high-school play. Author Christine Marciniak captures the humor and drama of everyday life in high school. The characters and dialogue were very well done. Cleverly, the author uses lyrics from the school musical as chapter headings. This novel is a welcome break from the "clique" and "occult" novels that dominate teen lit. Appropriate for middle-school students and older.

Middle Sister gets to read it next, and I'm planning to purchase copies to give as gifts as well as one to donate to my kids' school library.

Congratulations, Christine! (I want my copy signed!)

Monday, August 03, 2009

He did it!

Big Brother had his Eagle Scout Board of Review tonight. He is now an Eagle Scout! It's all over but the Court of Honor; we have to find out how all that works.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Some Things Never Change

It never fails to entertain and fascinate the guys who live in my house: Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Sweetest Church Moment Ever

One of our choir members has three-year-old twin boys. To her credit, she brings them to church, and they are gradually getting better about that, and more verbal all at the same time--which means they are running around less, but talking more.

At home, she has been teaching them the Lord's Prayer during their bedtime prayers, and they are encouraged to pray the Lord's Prayer out loud when we all do that at Mass. But like all little kids, they haven't figured out that we don't say "Amen" right away--the priest has his own "solo" in the middle and then we finish off. So every week we hear two cute little voices saying, "A-MEN" just as Father begins his prayer.

Apparently she's been adding on to the bedtime prayers lately, because today, the boys chimed in, "A-MEN! God bless Mommy, and Daddy, and..."

...and they're back!

We got back yesterday, but it was just too crazy around here for me to write.

I am currently recharging my camera battery so that I can plug the camera into the computer and retrieve my photos. Rechargeable batteries might be more "green" and everything, but the cost of having a second one is prohibitive. I JUST made it through vacation with enough battery life. Next time I guess I'll have to pack the charger.

For our vacation we went on a 5-day cruise to eastern Canada. The ship stopped at Saint John, New Brunswick as well as Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was a little hard to tell where the ship stopped, however, because of the fog. We sailed into the fog sometime Tuesday and spent the next three days listening to the foghorn every two minutes and fifteen seconds. Middle Sister and her friends timed the intervals between foghorn blasts. If you were up on the mini-golf course with Little Brother (who bugged TheDad to take him to mini-golf approximately every two minutes and fifteen seconds), the blasts could practically knock you off your feet. Most of our vacations involve bad weather of one kind or another, so this year's fog was really no surprise.

Tuesday was my birthday, and waking up on my birthday with an ocean view was pretty terrific. The food, of course, was also terrific, and I've given a rundown on the food at my Fridge.

I brought you back a souvenir from vacation! I wish I could have gotten enough for everyone. Since I couldn't do that, let's have a contest. The souvenir is a cookbook! To be exact, it's a church cookbook from Saint John, New Brunswick, titled "Come Join Us in our Maritime Church Kitchen." Anyone leaving a comment on this post is automatically entered in the drawing for this cookbook. If you'd like two bonus entries, email me with your favorite church-cookbook recipe (not just the title of the recipe--the whole recipe). My email address is available on my links page. The contest deadline is Friday, August 7 at NOON Eastern time.