Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Geographically Challenged

Little Brother saw a commercial for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he begged me to take him there. Middle Sister saw that the Hall of Fame is located in New York, so she figured we could piggyback the trip to Cooperstown with a visit to a friend of hers.

"Is Cooperstown in, like, upstate?"

"Everything but New York City and Long Island is upstate," I told her. "I'll show you where Cooperstown is."

Google maps pinpointed the location, and I showed Middle Sister where the Hall of Fame is in relation to New York City. Then I asked her where her friend lives. "Oh, somewhere around here," she said, pointing to a random spot near Cooperstown. On the map, the words "NEW YORK" were spread across the center of the state.

"I can't remember the city," she mused, "but I know he's only, like, two letters away."

"That's why I want you to take that geography class before you graduate high school," I informed her.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Novena to St. Francis of Assisi

Novena to St. Francis of Assisi

Pray once a day for nine days, beginning on 25 September and ending on 3 October, the eve of the Feast of St. Francis.

Glorious Saint Francis, who voluntarily renounced all the comforts and riches of thy home to follow more perfectly the life of poverty and abnegation of Jesus Christ: Obtain for us, we pray, a generous contempt of all things in this world, that we may secure the true and eternal things of heaven.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, world without end. Amen.

O glorious Saint Francis, who during the whole course of thy life continually wept over the passion of the Redeemer, and labored most zealously for the salvation of souls: Obtain for us, we pray, the grace of weeping continually over those sins by which we have crucified afresh Our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may attain to be of the number of those who shall eternally bless His supreme mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, world without end. Amen.

O glorious Saint Francis, who, loving above all things suffering and the Cross, merited to bear in thy body the miraculous stigmata, by which thou became a living image of Jesus Christ crucified: Obtain for us, we pray, the grace to bear in our bodies the mortifications of Christ, that we may merit one day to receive the consolations which are infallibly promised to all those who now weep.

"If we be dead with Christ Jesus, we shall live also with Him," says the Apostle; "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."

Pray for us, Saint Francis, that we may obtain the graces and favors we ask for in this novena; pray for us, especially, that we may obtain the grace of perseverance; of a holy death and a happy eternity.

Pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be five times.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Temper, Temper--and Keep it Simple, SFO!

My printer is acting up. It doesn't want to feed the paper I'm trying to put into it. And it's no small irony that my frustration level is rising to the point of using bad language...while I'm trying to print out a Novena to St. Francis of Assisi for my SFO fraternity.

I was trying to put it on some nice, thick, pretty paper, but the printer was having none of it. I'm guessing that Father Francis would be much more pleased that I wound up just using ordinary, run-of-the-mill printer paper. Simplicity will always win out in the end.

Once I took out the thick paper and returned the regular paper to the printer, everything went well.

That should teach me a few things.

(And I'll have that Novena up here for its beginning on the 25th! Won't you join me and my fellow Franciscans in praying a Novena this year?)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Deer and Dogs and Rosaries

On the third Friday of each month, members of my Secular Franciscan fraternity meet to pray a Franciscan Crown Rosary for the intention of the protection of the unborn and healing for post-abortive mothers.

Last night, due to circumstances beyond my control, I brought Little Brother with me to the Rosary.

If weather permits, we pray outdoors at a little Blessed Mother statue at the back of the church. Last night's weather was beautiful, and just before we began to pray, I looked over behind the parish office building and saw several deer. I pointed them out to Little Brother and my fellow Franciscans.

We counted at least seven of them before they all ran off a few moments later. They were so beautiful and graceful--and some of them were babies, so cute!

Little Brother wasn't sticking with the Rosary too well, and I wasn't about to force him, but he did wander over a few times and pray a few prayers with us. I was using my seven-decade Rosary, but I also had my very beautiful "Mary's Month" Rosary with me, so I passed that one to him. A few of the people present didn't want to be decade leaders, so I asked him if he'd lead the final decade.

And he did. I was so proud! And afterwards, all the other Seculars (all grandmothers, and some even great-grandmothers) made a big fuss over how well he did.

In the car going home, I told him how proud I was that he helped us pray the Rosary. After a moment, he changed the subject. I guess he was seizing the moment: "Mom, can I get a beagle?"

"No, bud."

"But they're so cute!"

"And they howl at the moon..."

"No, they don't! They're not werewolves!"

"Yes, they do. It's called baying. Believe me, they do."

"No, they're praying. They pray to their God. He's an awesome God and he likes dogs. Not like you."

Well, I guess he told me! But he's still not getting a dog, even if it is the praying kind.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Are We

On Sunday morning, instead of playing in the folk group at our parish, our family attended the "welcome freshmen" Mass at Middle Sister's high school. We had the unusual experience of all sitting together instead of having one altar-serving, some in the folk group, some in the pew.

Little Brother poked me just before Communion, and given his propensity for asking odd questions in church, I was a little concerned about what he might say this time.

But this time it was a good thing. Father had just said, "Happy are we who are called to this table."

"I'm called to this table," Little Brother told me proudly.

Yes, you are. And I hope you're always this happy about that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Geek Out

I'm such a geek.

Last year the school librarian taught me how to enter books into the library's computerized version of what used to be called a "card catalog." (I used to type the index cards for actual card catalogs when I worked in a library during high school!) This involved using Mac computers, with a whole new operating system, not to mention the software for the library program.

So I made myself a little one-page "cheat sheet" to make it easier to remember these instructions week to week--not like I even had the opportunity to get to this task each week, so I didn't have enough time to really get familiar with the job.

Now I have a Kindle, and some handy-dandy software that allows me to convert .PDF files to ebook format. I also have some other handy-dandy software that allows me to make .PDF files by copy-and-pasting from WORD. So I took that WORD document, changed it into a .PDF, then changed that into an ebook, which I promptly imported into the Kindle.

I'm a proud geek tonight.

Friday Five: School's In Edition

Just what's on my mind this week:

1. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the new art teacher at Little Brother's school, who sent home a note today asking for each child to bring an old, oversized T-shirt to school to use as a smock. My kids have ruined more uniform shirts in art class because the previous art teacher never had the kids cover up. I've never met this art teacher and I like her already!

2. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the pastor at Little Brother's school, who told the student body this morning, "I usually say this to people getting married, but since all of you are going to be priests or nuns, I'm going to teach you this right now." Way to go, Father, for this vocation plug. Sure, it was lighthearted, but any way the idea gets into the kids' heads that this is a good, acceptable, desirable thing is good in my book.

3. I'm looking forward to being the Tuesday Morning Library Helper at Little Brother's school. This will be my fourth year at the library. If you, like me, want to help out at your kids' school but are put off by PTA cliques, I encourage you to find another way to volunteer. In my case, it was in the library and I have a great time there.

4. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Middle Sister's school for hosting a classy Freshman Parent Meeting on the first day. Unlike Big Brother's Freshman Parent Meeting four years ago, this one did not feature designer alcoholic beverages. (I'm thinking that the current principal is not so interested in schmoozing at this event!) Instead, we had "geographical breakout sessions" designed to help parents organize after-activites carpools and just get to know each other. Nice job!

5. Big Brother sends me, on average, 1 text message per day. At least I know he's alive out there in Philly. And sometimes those messages are unsolicited by me. I miss hearing from him more regularly, but that's the breaks, I guess. Big Brother, if you're reading, take pity on your poor mom and give me a call or send an email! I'm not so fabulous at the whole text-message thing, though my skillz are improving.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Magic School Bus

In my experience, it's never good when you pick up the phone in the middle of the school day and hear your third-grader's voice saying, "Hi, Mom!"

Instantly, the Maternal Worry Radar starts. What could it be? Bellyache? Another Head Lice False Alarm?

"What's the matter, buddy?"

"There's no choir today."


"I didn't know there was choir today."


"There isn't."

"OK, I guess I'll see you at the bus stop then! Love you, buddy!"

"Bye, mom."

I'm thinking he was fishing for a car ride home, but oh tax dollars are paying for school buses for my two school-aged children and only one of them has been getting a bus ride this week*, so the one who does have a bus to ride is going to ride the thing!

(For some reason, the Transportation Office of our public school district can't get it together and send Middle Sister's bus. She is freaking out--she's a freshman, and the bus is not coming each morning, and she's standing out there for 30 minutes waiting for it. Yesterday's excuse was, "We thought her school started on Thursday!" Well, today's Thursday, and there was still no bus. And I couldn't call to complain, because the office is closed for the Jewish holiday.)

It's the Little Things

I found this article "How to Practice Mortification without Outing Yourself as a Catholic" via Lisa, Franciscat, who posted it on facebook. It's got 5 suggestions for little ways to help you grow in your spiritual life, without being all obvious about it. After all, "when you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:16)

You don't have to wait until Lent to fast--even from little things. This article is worth the read--and it's even got some humor in it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

When I Become Principal

Not in this lifetime, but for the purposes of this rant...

I spent about an hour after Little Brother got home from school today dealing with all the paper he brought home. Not to mention all the stuff that was on the website that I had to print out, fill in and send back--and the $73 in checks that had to go in as well.

But I digress. I'm here to rant about forms.

I had to fill in a whole bunch of forms today. That in itself is not so bad, but it's all the duplication that gets me. That, and having to write my last name multiple times.

Wouldn't it be easier, since almost all of this paper is going to live in the main office anyway, if there were one form with several sections instead of separate forms for all of these:

Basic Information Form (name, address, phone, email, student day of birth, parents' work and cell phones, 2 emergency contacts, bus number, parish & sacrament information, doctor's name, hospital preference, insurance company number, special health considerations, signature)

Nurse's Information Form (name, address, phone, parents' work & cell phones, "which parent do we call first," 2 emergency contacts, doctor's name, special health considerations, "has your child received immunizations this past year")--note that all but 2 of these are covered in the Basic Information Form

Family Directory Form (name, address, phone, email, "do you want to be in the directory")

Permission to use child's photo on school website or in newspaper articles/ads

Technology Acceptable Use Policy

My last name is 12 letters long, with lots of pesky consonants. I have the feeling that if school administrators had a last name like mine, they'd be less likely to require all these separate forms with separate signatures.

Hello, new school year! Hello, writer's cramp!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

8-Year-Old Insults

Apparently, to these guys, this was the acme of insult today.

Adventure Boy: "I don't get every one thing I want. That's being spoiled!"

Little Brother: "You're spoiled!"

Adventure Boy (triumphantly): "Your face is spoiled! Burrrrrrrrrrrrn!"