Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bishops Urge Catholics to Write to Congress Re: Health-Care Plan

There's no time to lose!

The Bishops have urged Catholics in the USA to email their Congress members this weekend.

Pat Gohn has the scoop:

When you attend Sunday Mass this weekend, you may see a bulletin insert from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.... you can read the insert in this pdf file.

The Bishops are calling on all Americans to contact Congress to oppose health care reform that does not respect the dignity of human life, and which support abortion with tax dollars.

The bishops have made an easy-to-use one-stop fill-in-the-blank form to send your comments to Congress. Pass this link on to others!

The main page from the Bishops about healthcare is here. There is lots of good information there.

Image credit

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Happy Happenings

So far so good today.

Only 2 cavities at the dentist--not bad for skipping out on appointments for 18 months. And she was too busy showing off her "Glinda, Good Witch of the North" costume (yeah, my dentist wore a costume to work today!) to bother me about much.

There's a Wawa right across the street from the dentist, so I got a good cup of coffee after I left.

I got home pretty quickly and got some of my work done before it was time to watch the kids' Halloween Parade at school.

The parade was cute, as always. I'm glad I went. Clever, last-minute "costume" from one boy who didn't bring one to school: a coin taped to the back of his t-shirt. He was a "quarterback." (Would have been more effective if he had a giant-sized fake quarter on his back, but oh well. It's the thought that counts.)

I stopped at the library to pick up the 2 books that were on reserve for me--only to find out that I had 9 waiting there! Guess the notices are backed up in the system. Good thing I had an empty tote bag in the car.

Then it was off to Sam's to stock up on "Gummy" vitamins, iron supplements, and plastic cups for Middle Sister's party today. She's having some friends over. I'd rather they hang out here on Mischief Night, so I can confine them to my own family room and not worry about whose neighborhood they are wandering. BONUS: Sam's had big bags of ice, so I didn't have to make another stop at a convenience store to get that.

All I have to do for this party is supervise a tidy-up (and vacuuming) of the family room, do a swish through the bathrooms, and make some pizza roll-ups and pepperoni bread. Maybe I'll get really motivated and get the recipe for that pepperoni bread posted to my recipe blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Miscellaneous Vents

I'm really glad the Cub Scout meeting is over for tonight. Just a note to the Cubmaster: Halloween parties are great, but moms (including, and maybe especially me) do freak out when our little boys get chocolate cupcake icing all over their WHITE Halloween costumes that they need for tomorrow's parade at school and Saturday's trick-or-treat. It is a mom's prerogative to freak out, considering that she will have to come home from the Cub Scout meeting and do laundry. Moms do not like to have to do laundry AND herd Cub Scouts into the shower all at the same time.

I'm really glad that I wasn't the one who had to vacuum the meeting room after the Cub Scouts and their little brothers and sisters ate cupcakes, pretzels and potato chips in there.

I'm not looking forward to my dentist appointment tomorrow. Not only will it cut into my writing time, but it's a dentist appointment, which is something I dread. Last time I was there, she made a snarky comment about the wide age-spacing of my children. And my husband thinks I don't go back to the dentist because I can't stand getting cavities filled. There is SO much more to it than that.

I'm also not up for the school Halloween parade, though it's always cute and I'll probably change my mind when I get there, provided the dentist is all done with me and I'm not too hot under the collar because of any snarky remarks she makes during that appointment.

And I've pretty much got no voice at this point, though I can't figure out why, since I wasn't screaming today during the school's "Phillies Pep Rally" OR during the Cub Scout meeting. I'm hoping my cup of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Zinger tea will help. (It certainly can't hurt.) And if I don't have a voice tomorrow, I won't be able to do more than glare at the dentist if she has anything more to say that ticks me off.

Maybe I should just go to one of those dentists that knocks you out and does all the work at once while you snooze. I could probably live with that.

Speaking of snoozing, I should go do that too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond

Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond is a challenge to women to dress modestly and in a feminine manner.

Hammond's basic premise is that modest yet attractive dress is not an impossibility. Furthermore, our culture encourages women to dress in immodest ways. And as any parent and teacher knows, we act according to our dress--and others respond to us according to our dress. My experience certainly bears that out. Just go to any school where uniforms are normally worn on two different days: a uniform day, and a day on which students are allowed to wear "regular" clothes. Note the difference in behavior. It will be dramatic.

Just as students behave according to their dress (and do better in school when they are dressed for the job) so do the rest of us. Hammond asserts that dressing in attractive and dignified ways will help women feel better about themselves and help them be treated better. In addition, it also shows a greater respect for God.

I agree with all of these points. I do not like to dress in skimpy clothes that don't provide enough coverage, or clothes that are too tight. And my kids have learned that, just as they have "school clothes," they also have "church clothes." In our family, we don't wear jeans to church. We don't wear our Phillies T-shirts, and we don't wear shorts. For church, we make the effort to dress at least as nicely as we would if we were going to work (for the grownups).

However, I can't buy into Hammond's idea that pants or trousers are inappropriate for women. I do not agree that all pants or trousers are automatically immodest. While Hammond's book is well-written and thoroughly researched, she hasn't convinced this reader to move beyond what I already feel is a very conservative manner of dress.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Dressing With Dignity. I received a review copy of this book, but no other compensation, for the purposes of this review.

Young Cynic

"Have a good day," I told Middle Sister as she gathered up her school things and headed out to catch the bus.

"No chance," she shot back.

Nothing like a little optimism with your morning coffee.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Not-so-Humble Musical Opinion

The musicians at church have received our copies of the new Breaking Bread for 2010.

It's a rare occasion when I get to pick the music for a Sunday Mass. But that doesn't mean that I don't have an opinion. Having volunteered as a church musician since 1981 (except for my 3 "maternity breaks"), I've had plenty of time to cultivate my opinion about the music.

  • Some of my opinions are theological. I'm not a fan of the songs that make us "sing the words of Jesus" even though they may be musically beautiful and Biblically-based. However, I think those songs definitely have a place, but not for congregational or even choral singing. And many of them are beautiful, as I've said--musically and lyrically.
  • Some of my opinions are musical. I don't care for the kinds of songs that sound more like show tunes than hymns.
  • Some of my opinions are editorial--there are songs out there that are just plain bad poetry.
  • Some of my opinions are nostalgic. It drives me nuts when the lyrics to a perfectly good song get changed because they are no longer "PC"--for example, the masculine pronouns are used for God. (Oh, the horror!)
  • And some of my opinions are based upon exhaustion, because there are songs that have been so overused that I simply cannot stand to have to hear them again, let alone sing and play them.
So here's my list, based on the 2010 Breaking Bread, of songs I'd rather not have to sing during the coming liturgical year. I've only included songs I know. If I don't know the song, no matter how bad it may be, it's not going to be on my list.

Let the Valleys Be Raised (Schutte)--this one was wonderful before they changed the words to be PC.
Ashes (Conry)--ick.
Beyond the Days (Manalo)--belongs on Broadway, not in church.
In These Days of Lenten Journey (Manalo)--could we get any more self-congratulatory than these lyrics?
Resucito (Arguello)--fortunately, the music director who had us singing this has moved on. We're not a Spanish-speaking parish, so there's no need to sing in that language. And the translation is terrible. The English and Spanish verses have little to do with each other, and neither one is good poetry.
Gather Us In (Haugen)--this one is bad on so many levels.
Gather The People (Schutte)--it's not very original; many of his songs have the same theme. He's been very big on "inclusion" lately. And that last line of each verse: "Here we become what we eat"--I get what he means, but there has to be a better way to say that.
Song of the Body of Christ (Haas)--whiny melody, and bad poetry. Not a good combo.
I Am the Bread of Life (Toolan)--if I never have to sing this one again, it'll be too soon. Every time I'm told that we'll be singing it, my response is "Kill me now."
Pan de Vida (Hurd)--again, we don't speak Spanish here (but I do, and the translation is horrible). I don't switch well between languages, so it drives me crazy that the refrain is half English, half Spanish.
That There May Be Bread (Weston Priory)--along with just about all the Weston Priory songs, the lyrics are bizarre. Nice words that really say nothing.
The Summons (Bell)--first-person singular.
Servant Song (McCargill)--I like the sentiment, but not the lyrics, and not the melody.
Here I Am, Lord (Schutte)--first-person singular.
All Are Welcome (Haugen)--this is not a bad song in itself, but it has a bad association for me. It was sung at a special Mass where we said goodbye to the Sisters who had been told by the pastor that they needed to relocate because we could no longer afford to keep the convent open. All are Welcome--but don't let the door hit you on your way out.
Sing a New Church (Dufner)--don't get me started.
Endless is Your Love (Kendzia)--sounds like something the leading lady sings when she's alone on the stage. To her boyfriend.
You Are Near (Schutte)--this was fine until they took out the "Yahweh." I understand that we want to be sensitive to other faiths...but it's hard to rethink lyrics I've known since the '70s.
The Spirit is a-Movin' (Landry)
Come to Me (Weston Priory)--first-person singular.
You Are Mine (Haas)--first-person singular.
The Lord Is My Hope (Ridge)--more Broadway stuff.
We Have Been Told (Haas)--first-person singular.
Anthem (Conry)--FUN to play. I love playing it. But the lyrics are STRANGE!
We Are the Light of the World (Greif)--kill me now.
Sing to the Mountains (Dufford)--it was great before they made it PC.
Lift Up Your Hearts (O'Connor)--same thing.
Sing a New Song (Schutte)--this is no longer a new song. Let it go.
Speak, Lord (Uszler)--the refrain is great but the verses are a little off. You can tell that some of the verses were by a different lyricist.
They'll Know We Are Christians (Scholtes)--overdone.
Join in the Dance (Schutte)--I especially can't stand verse 2.
Isaiah 49 (Landry)--first-person singular.
Seek the Lord (O'Connor)--they've got the PC and the original versions here. How are you supposed to announce to the assembly that you'll be singing one version or the other? "We'll do the ORIGINAL verses, you know--the ones that offend a certain population because a masculine pronoun is used in reference to God." Yeah. That'll work.
Turn to Me (Foley)--first-person singular.

So there you go.

N.J. Ink

Little Brother just got home from a friend's birthday party. In his treat bag were some temporary tattoos.

"I got nine tattoos, Mom!"

"That's cool. Doesn't your school have a policy against ink, though?"

"Yeah. I'm going to have to save them until the end of the school year."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Worth Reading

Catholic novelist Katherine Valentine is sharing her newest novel, one chapter at a time, over at!

I've read her whole Dorsetville series and they're really good! The characters are very real, the writing is good, and the situations are believable. Best of all, the characters' faith comes shining through.

The only drawback to the whole "share a novel in serial format" is that I'll have to wait a whole week to read the next installment! I kind of feel like the people in the 19th century who eagerly awaited the next Dickens chapter when his novels were published in newspapers. It worked out well for him; I hope the same for Katherine Valentine.

Stop by and give her new novel a try! You don't have to have read her other books first--but I'll bet you'll want to, once you read this.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where does the time go?

Collages of family pictures hang in my stairway, dining room and family room. I'm a few years behind on compiling these, because I've run out of walls to hang them on!

Every night when we have dinner in the dining room, I look around at the pictures on that wall. In those, Big Brother was between the ages of 5 and 9; Middle Sister was a toddler, then a preschooler; Little Brother wasn't even born yet. I look at those pictures, and then I look at my kids. Big Brother is a high-school senior and I've spent the past four weekends touring colleges with him. Middle Sister and TheDad have gone off to an Open House at Big Brother's high school today. Next month she takes the placement test. And Little Brother, not to be left out in everyone else's Year of Big Steps, will receive two sacraments this school year.

Watching my kids grow up doesn't make me mourn for those baby-and-toddler days, though I do miss the funny mispronunciations and toothless grins. (Good thing I still have Little Brother around for that!) They're growing up, and I can't do a thing about it except worry a little, pray a lot, and try to enjoy the ride.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Confess

There are an awful lot of books I start but don't finish.

In fact, there are an awful lot of books I start, never intending to finish them!

This may sound like heresy coming from this English major, but in my defense, the books that I check out of the library and only intend to taste, rather than devour, are all of the non-fiction persuasion. Never one to specialize, I've started books on all kinds of subjects from architecture to marketing to parenting to education to cooking to homemaking and more. I like to know a little about a lot of things--and when a title inspires a little curiosity in me, I pick up the book and read a bit, here and there. When I find out what I want to know (or when I find out that the book isn't going to tell me what I want to know) then I'm done with the book.

Books I don't finish don't make it onto my Book List, but that certainly doesn't mean I didn't get anything out of them.

Bad Connection

Every Thursday afternoon I volunteer in the school library. I help out with the first grade, then the kindergarten, and then I do some other library tasks such as entering new books into the computer catalog, straightening books on the shelves, or whatever the librarian needs done. I enjoy it, and I like seeing the kids.

Yesterday the librarian needed to speak to another teacher between the first-grade class and the kindergarten class. So I greeted the incoming kindergartners, got them settled down in the story area, and we waited for the librarian to return.

While we waited, the kids asked lots of questions, because after all, that's what little kids do best.

"Mrs. (mumbled, mangled version of my last name), do you know Little Brother?"

"Yes," I smiled. I was kind of amazed that they knew Little Brother's last name and that they'd made the connection.

"Are you his grandmother?"

Way to make me feel old, kid!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Question of the Day

From Little Brother, as he took a cupcake from the tray: "Does this count as my dessert?"

(Are you kidding? Yes, it's your dessert.)

He was horrified to hear this. I don't know what he thought I was going to feed him later, but I'm all out of baked Alaska.

Practical or Lazy? Maybe Both!

So, now that we've hit the very real probability of winter weather in October (including the back-to-back Nor'easters that have all the tv weather-folk salivating), this mom wonders: if a 7-year-old boy is going to wear a hat to school anyway, is there any point in trying to hold him down long enough in the morning to neatly comb his hair?


I love little kids' mispronunciations of things, and I do mourn the day when they finally learn to say things properly. I grieve the loss of the cuteness!

This morning Little Brother is reading the label of the Ovaltine jar on the table. Why? Because it's there. So I am getting the rundown of exactly how many "minnagrams" of fat, sodium and sugar are in Ovaltine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Note to My Son's High School

Please refrain from using the "Emergency Broadcast System" every single night (including weekends) to remind my child to bring in magazine-sale fundraiser stuff. That hardly constitutes an "emergency."

From Today's Homily

At daily Mass today, our pastor spoke about Jesus' response to the Pharisees who cared more about whether hands, feet, and dishes were properly washed, than their guests themselves.

He concluded, "As Christians, it is our responsibility to treat everyone with compassion and love, no matter how they act."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I Love About Autumn

  • The changing colors of the leaves
  • Pumpkin spice lattes
  • Crisp apples
  • Sweater weather
  • Halloween fun
  • A nice warm towel after a shower, because the towel hooks are located directly over the heating vent

Friday, October 09, 2009

Shaking My Head in Disbelief

The President of the United States has won the Nobel Peace Prize, due, apparently, to his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." (emphasis mine)

All you have to do to win a Nobel Prize is make an effort? You have to do more than that to become an Eagle Scout.

Nobel-Prize nominations are due February 1, only a few short days after the U.S. Presidential Inauguration. He couldn't possibly have done that much worthy of such an honor in that short a time span.

Why not wait until he has been in office a few years and then see if his accomplishments, rather than his efforts, merit this award?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Look! We Match!

Here's Little Brother, showing off his jack-o-lantern smile. He's got the same look as the pumpkin toy he won at the church festival this weekend.

It's looking good that he'll still be toothless on Picture Day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Note to My Plumber

As a parent and a former teacher, I completely understand and support the ideas of "learn by doing" and "keep trying until you get it right." After all, that's how you learn.

But as your customer, I'm tired of being inconvenienced.

Your helper has been here twice to fix the dripping connection under my bathroom sink after he installed it a week ago. You might want him to learn to fix his own mistakes, but I want to be able to put the toilet paper and Comet back under the sink where they belong (instead of in the hallway outside the powder room).

I haven't yelled and screamed at the kid. (Yes, he's a kid. I think he might have started shaving just last week. He probably just graduated from Vo-Tech.) I've just shown him how, 20 minutes after you run the water in that sink, you find a little puddle in the bottom of the vanity.

He keeps trying to fix it, and thinking he's done that. Then he leaves, and a little while later I find water under there again.

It's time to stop sending the helper.

Lesson Learned

Little Brother is now painfully aware that it's a bad idea to jump with a bowl of Nerds candy in your hands.

To his credit, he made a valiant attempt to sweep up the mess, but the candies kept rolling back out of the dustpan.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


There's nothing cuter than an elementary-school kid missing a few teeth and smiling wide.

Little Brother looks like a hockey player right now; last night he lost one of his top front teeth, and a few weeks ago he pulled out a lower tooth. We suggested that he go as a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

In a couple of weeks, it will be Picture Day at his school, so his gap-toothed smile will be immortalized on film. I told him to make sure he smiles big. I love those goofy, missing-tooth smiles. There's a picture of Big Brother missing the exact same tooth, and it's a good thing that Middle Sister is also in the picture, or we wouldn't be able to tell which brother it is!

I think I'll have to take that Christmas-card picture now, so I can be sure to capture Little Brother's cute and funny smile.