Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho

This morning when the first-graders were finished checking out their library books, they went into the computer room for a lesson on keyboard skills. The librarian/computer teacher had the kids typing letters to Santa. They are still learning how to use the SHIFT key to make capital letters, and they have no clue where to find punctuation marks--so this was the focus of the assignment. They were copying a letter that was up on the "big screen" in front of the room, with a bunch of short sentences to reinforce the skill of using SHIFT.

I was wandering around the room helping kids out: "N is on the bottom row..." but most of the kids were having more trouble with the SHIFT key than anything else.

Except for one little girl who wasn't paying attention as she typed, so her letter began:

Dear Santa,
Ho are you?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


At the restaurant where we had dinner, thus pushing the "who lights the Advent candle" argument back 1 more night:

"Little Brother, don't pick up that ice cube from the table and put it in your mouth!"

"Why not? This table hasn't even been used yet!"

Adventish and More

I was just looking back over the old Advent posts. And it seems that, every Advent, I don't get what I planned for. Maybe it's time to stop planning and just roll with it.
For the third year in a row, I am dealing with health concerns at this very busy, crazy time of year. How about that? Am I so insane that I must be forced to slow down?
It's entirely possible that without Instigator #1, the Advent table manners will improve. At least through December 17. After that, all bets are off, because all 3 kids will be home. But now I've got to rethink the whole "who gets to light and blow out the candle" thing. Maybe I'll delegate that job to Middle Sister and tell her to find a way to make it fair to everyone.
Things are chilly here at Chez SFO Mom; our heater cut out sometime Friday (when we weren't here) and yesterday the repairman came out to give us the bad news. While he was able to pronounce our last name with no difficulty whatsoever and even told us what it means in Polish (pine cone, in case you're wondering), he was not able to fix the furnace. It needs a part. His boss will order it. I wonder how long that will take. I bought a space heater for the family room and some wonderful friends lent us 4 more. When Middle Sister and I plugged those in, we blew a fuse. We are now only heating the family room.
I'll probably be baking a lot today. Yesterday I made Michelle's molasses crinkles, the chocolate-peanut butter cookies from the back of the Reese's peanut butter chips bag, and almond biscotti.

At Mass last night, Father H started his homily as he does most Advents: by asking us to contrast all the decorated, brightly-lit houses we'd passed on the way to church with the minimal decoration (Advent wreath and Jesse tree) in church. He made a good point--he said he was not going to rage against those who get into the Christmas hype early, because so much of our economy and so many people's livelihoods depend on that. BUT he encouraged us to remember the reason for THIS season.

So this morning I headed down to the basement and dug out what I need to get Advent started: the Advent wreath, the candles, the Nativity scene. I need to remember that I don't have any more candles left--a few years ago I was an overachiever and bought 3 sets all at once. I took the last box out today. Everyone's still sleeping. I think that I'll get things ready now, so when they wake up, they'll discover that Advent has come!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Middle Sister's been studying Romeo and Juliet in her English class. Her take: Juliet is desperate, and the guys are stalkers.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall during that class discussion.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It Still Ain't Over

Since I'm still experiencing a fair amount of discomfort after Saturday's horrible backache worked its way to diffuse lower abdominal pain and hung around all of Sunday and today, I went to the doctor today. After waiting 45 minutes to be seen (good thing I had a Kindle to keep myself entertained!) the doctor ordered blood work and a stat CAT scan.

That will be tomorrow's fun (the CAT scan.) Got the blood drawn right then and there. I had an abdominal ultrasound a month ago, following up on this summer's procedure, but I'd never heard the results from the gynecologist (even after I called last week to ask about them). My internist thinks that this very well could be related, and went after those ultrasound results herself. Then she called me at home to tell me she'd gotten them and that, yes, the cyst is back and almost as big as it was late last spring. I'll know more after the CAT scan, I'm guessing.

Meanwhile, my mother is armchair-quarterbacking the doctor who did not remove my ovaries when I had the hysterectomy in January--even though she (a hysterectomy patient herself) knows exactly why they don't routinely do that. I should be working right now, but I'm not in the mood. At the moment, I'm thinking that Haagen-Dasz is a better idea.

Welcome to my pity party. In the scheme of things, I'm lucky that this is all the problems I am having. But I'm asking for your prayers anyway!


Driving up my street on the way home with the kids in the car just now, I complained that the teenager running on the side of the road (ignoring the sidewalks) should dress better for running at night. Dark pants and a gray shirt are not the way to dress when you run after sunset.

"Did you hit him?" wondered Little Brother.

"No, I didn't!" I told him. "If I had, you would have felt the thump."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spoke Too Soon

My family is enjoying the TransSiberian Orchestra without me. About 2 hours before we were to leave for the concert, I got a screamingly painful backache that was only getting worse. At one point it hurt so much I was nauseous.

They left me on the couch with a phone and cell phone and instructions to text them for help if I needed it.

I haven't needed it; thanks to 3 Advils and one of those stick-in Thermal Care heating pads, I can now walk upright once again, though my shoulders and upper back are feeling a little sore. Maybe just from the tension when my lower back was spazzing. The weird part is, I can't figure out what caused it!

Saturday Miscellaneous--with a bunch of Christmas thrown in

  • I'm thankful that my kids "get" that it's too early for Christmas decorations--and even Christmas music.  Yesterday I had Middle Sister in the car when I stopped at church to hang an announcement on the bulletin board.  She saw the "Giving Tree" in the church lobby.  "It's too early for Christmas trees," she told me.  Sure, I know you have to plan ahead with those Giving Trees, but it just doesn't feel right.  Our tree will go up, as usual, on Pink Candle Sunday.
  • It's not too early, however, to enjoy a Christmas present from Big Brother, who bought tickets for me and TheDad for today's TransSiberian Orchestra concert.  TheDad bought 3 more tickets so the whole family can go together.  We'll all make a collective exception to the "no Christmas music before Advent" rule and enjoy the amazingly talented TSO.
  • Sarah has Seven Advent Tips that are very good.  Listed among them:  wait to decorate!  Count me in as one who decorates gradually, throughout the season.  It works well for me and it brings Christmas gradually into the house instead of one big BANG on Black Friday.  Basically, here's how it goes:  First Sunday of Advent I bring out the Advent wreath, Christmas storybooks and the empty manger scene.  Nothing else.  Second Sunday of Advent I hang a few pine garlands around the house and put up some other decorations.  Pink Candle Sunday is Christmas-tree day.  Fourth Sunday of Advent, anything else--and animals (only) in the manger.  Christmas Eve:  Holy Family in the manger.  Christmas Day:  shepherds in the manger.  Epiphany:  Wise men in the manger.
  • Speaking of Christmas Storybooks, this may be the first year I don't bring those out.  They're all picture books and no one in this house is still reading those.  I guess it's time to put them in a nice safe container and save them for when we have grandchildren.  And unlike Denise, I'm not ready for that to happen anytime soon.
  • I've really got to get down to business and figure out the timing for the Thanksgiving Morning Cook-a-Thon.  I've done all of the "nonperishable" shopping and secured a promise from TheDad that he will get the kids off to school on Monday or Tuesday morning so I can go to ShopRite the second they open (7 AM) and avoid all the Amateur Shoppers who are in search of unusual Thanksgiving ingredients, but who have no clue how to even find the canned gravy and Red Delicious apples.  I'm banking on the hope that most of the Amateurs don't wake up that early.
  • Too Good Not To Share:  Heidi's prayer for the Adventure Boys in her neighborhood.  Pray this one for Adventure Boys everywhere:  Heavenly Father, watch over all the children in my community whose parents aren’t there to influence their daily choices and habits. Give these children wisdom beyond their years, to protect their hearts from the evil one and his schemes. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's a Helicopter World

Ever since I have had children in school, I've refused to do their homework. My theory is, I've been to school. I did my homework. Now it's their turn.

My role is limited (by me) to purchasing necessary supplies, motivational nagging, withholding of video-game privileges and enforcement of deadlines, as well as occasional Typesetting Tech Support for kids old enough to use computers for projects. Oh yeah--no one without "teen" in their age is allowed to touch the hot-glue gun.

It was disheartening, but not surprising, to see the near-professional-quality "book reports in a box" that Little Brother's 3rd-grade class produced last week. This was some snazzy work that those 8-year-olds did, let me tell you.

Fortunately, Little Brother's teacher is also a parent. She wasn't swayed by flawless gluing and other superficials. A project by a third-grade boy is necessarily going to be less than gorgeous in quality. A couple of decorative bits might even fall off on the school bus on the way to school. Little Brother got a 100 on his obviously-homemade-by-a-3rd-grader project.

Those same parents who do their grade-school kids' book reports and science fair presentation boards move on to high school, where they are overheard saying things like this at report-card conferences: "I've seen all my kid's teachers. I think I'll go stand in line for the 4 teachers he'll have next semester and get to know them." (I'd love to see the face of the teachers when this guy tries that. It's what Back-to-School Night is all about, after all. Not report-card conferences for parents of current students.)

Friday, November 12, 2010


Sometimes you can go along for years believing that a certain person is right about certain things. Whether that's because you truly agree with them or because they exert an unhealthy influence over your opinion is not what I'm here to discuss (though it's definitely worth examining.)

And then you find out that this person is wrong--very, very wrong--about something.

Suddenly all those other things you accepted because this person said so, and you trusted them, are suspect as well.

It happens to all of us at some point--someone we'd put on a pedestal falls flat on the ground. Along with them falls all those so-called "truths" that they'd espoused, and of which they'd tried to convince you.

The disillusionment can be tough to take. And it can take a long time to go away. But when it does, a gift is left in its place. Yes, a gift. You are now given the gift of starting over, of looking to form a new opinion, your own opinion. You can have this gift as soon as you are willing to accept it. That means, sometimes, swallowing a little pride. It requires humility and an open mind. But in the end you will be better for the experience. And you get to look at so many things in a whole new way.

(Just for the record, the person I am discussing here is not my husband or any other family member. But beyond that, it doesn't matter who it is. What matters is that I'm letting go--and it's long past time for that.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


You just can't make this stuff up.

Last night I drove Little Brother and Adventure Boy home from basketball practice. We were in TheDad's car, and he had tossed an old copy of the Wall Street Journal in the back seat.

The boys picked up the newspaper.

"There's no sports section in that one, guys," I told them.

"Yes, there is!" Then they read the headline: "First Baseman Aubrey Huff Wears Glitter-Flecked Red Underwear for Luck."

I did not need to know that. I imagine that within an hour or so, this story will be all over both boys' school buses.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Well Worth It

It's All Saints Day, and although the "Holy day of Obligation" was commuted in our diocese to Sunday, Middle Sister's school celebrated the feast day with a Mass this morning.

Little Brother's school celebrated with a prayer service this afternoon. They're having Mass later this week as well, in remembrance of the school's patron saint on Thursday.

So I'm a good bit off-schedule today. I attended both the Mass and the prayer service, which I would have skipped, but Little Brother's class was in charge of it and he had a big chunk of the Litany of Saints to read.

I'm glad I went to that prayer service, because I was very impressed by the deacon's reminders to the children that all of us are "saints in training." The kids were asked to think about ways they could be better family members, students, friends and teammates--all in the name of "what would the saints do?"