Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas!

May all of you have a wonderful, holy, happy twelve days of Christmas (or what's left of it).

Our Christmas began with intense disappointment. We arrived at the airport on Christmas Eve, only to be told that they had already given our seats to standby passengers. We would have to come back on Christmas Day before seven a.m. to get on the standby list.

We attended Christmas Eve Mass with heavy hearts. I felt badly that this was supposed to be such a joyous occasion, but we were all so sad. We came home, ate Subway sandwiches and watched Wall*E, which we had received as a Christmas present in the mail that day. Since there was the potential of us spending the entire day at the airport waiting to get on a flight, I made muffins for us to eat for breakfast and corn dog muffins to each for lunch. Luckily all the ingredients were right on hand for me.

We arrived at the airport at six-thirty and checked in as standby passengers. I can't tell you how many prayers I said that we would get on the first flight of the day. Finally after everyone had boarded we were told that there were two seats on the plane. Happy Boy and I went ahead and boarded and my husband stayed behind with Reeda since her name was on his ticket as an infant. As were were about to get on the plane, Happy Boy noticed that my husband hadn't come, and said, "Papa! Where's Papa?" and started running back to get him. It hurt so much to tell him that Papa had to stay behind and wasn't going to be able to come with us. As we were finding our seats, I saw my husband come into the place after all, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

We ended up arriving at our destination about nineteen hours later than if we were able to get on our original flight. My mom had Christmas dinner all ready for us, and we opened stockings and presents on the second day of Christmas.

(Right now my husband and I are at a coffee shop while my mother watches the children. I am on our computer and my husband is using my mom's. A man looked over at us and at the man on a computer at the next table. He said to his wife, "What did people do before there were computers?" She replied, "I don't know. Watched TV, I guess." My husband said, "They did, indeed!")

Friday, December 19, 2008

Well, Okay Then

Me: Don't touch the Christmas tree.

Him: I wasn't. I was just touching the lights.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Change of Weather

After writing yesterday that the high was almost 80, I thought I would mention that this morning when I woke up it was only 27. The high is supposed to be 33. I am always amazed at how drastically the weather can change here. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else. A couple of years ago in January it was almost ninety, and two days later the temperature was in the twenties and we were having an ice storm.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gaudete! An Advent Update

I can't believe that this is the third Sunday in Advent. Our Advent has been somewhat rocky this year. We have had two Jesse Tree ornaments broken (one of which was not fixable), two or three Advent calender pieces lost, the Advent calender taken down because it was being misused, one nativity piece lost, and so many nativity pieces used like baseball bats that it was finally taken away. Our tree has been up for ten days, but we still don't have any ornaments on it.

However, there have been many joys this Advent as well. Reeda now recognizes both the infant and adult images of Jesus which is a development I wasn't expecting for a while. Happy Boy is very excited any time we pass a nativity scene and points out each of the people or animals in it. Both of them sing the chorus to The Little Drummer Boy and Happy Boy knows most of the words.

Today we went to one of the two churches that I know if the diocese which has the communicants kneel. We have only been there two other times, but it is always a very reverent service. It is amazing how much a difference there is between a beautiful church and good hymns and what we normally experience during the nearby parish Masses.

When Mass was over we went to a nearby Christmas light event. Even though it was daylight, they were still having a lot of activities and things to see. The biggest draw for us though was free admission to the aquarium. The children had a blast looking at everything and fell asleep on the way home.

The temperature was pushing eighty so it was pretty warm walking around looking at everything, but that didn't seem to register for some people. I saw a couple families who were wearing hats, mittens and coats (and one of them was even down). I don't know what they were thinking dressed like that with such warm weather.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Like many of you, I have started making preparations for Advent and Christmas. I enjoy making lists for things like this, but so far only have mental lists. I really enjoy the process of finding presents for my family, deciding how to celebrate the liturgical aspect of Advent, planning what foods to eat, and similar seasonal things. Things will be a little different this year because we will be out of town for Christmas, but that won't change most things.

Here is a list of things that need to be done that I can think of off the top of my head. I am sure it is not complete, but it will at least contain all the big stuff.

Buy Christmas cards
• Address Christmas cards
• Write Christmas cards
Buy the children's presents
• Buy my husband's presents
• Find out to whom we are giving on my husband's side
• Buy or make presents for those people
Buy presents for my family members
• Wrap said presents
• Make photo albums for our parents of the grandchildren
• Find Christmas ornaments for the children
• Put up tree, wreath and other decorations
• Dig out the various Advent prayers and novenas we say
• Unpack Christmas books
• Do some Christmas Mosaic projects with Happy Boy
• Decided on appropriate Advent liturgical studies and celebrations
• Decided on which kinds of cookies and/or candy to make
Buy Kool Aid
• Dye with Kool Aid the white playsilks my brother-in-law bought the children
• Make or buy appropriate foods for an airplane

It turns out to be a long list, but a lot of this will be pretty easy. Hopefully I will be able to accomplish most of this before Advent begins. I am really looking forward to doing with Happy Boy some of the preschool appropriate books from the Christmas Mosaic. Dyeing the playsilks sounds somewhat involved, but at the same time not difficult.

Are you doing anything different or interesting to prepare?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Goodnight My Deers

Tonight as I was tucking the children into bed I said to them, "Goodnight my dears." Happy Boy replied indignantly, "Mama! We are not deers! Reeda is Reeda and I am Happy Boy." I laughed and said he was correct.

Thinking of his misunderstanding, I remembered some of the homophones which I got confused about when I was a child. Once I heard someone say that a certain restaurant had very good mousse pie. I thought that a pie made out of moose didn't sound very appealing.

Another time my mother, whose name was Mary, asked me to write a card for her to her brother. We had a sign up at the time which said Merry Christmas so I figured that was how to spell Mary. When my uncle opened the card he said, "This is from Merry. Who is Merry?" I couldn't believe that he didn't even know his own sister's name! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

St. Charles Borromeo and JP II, Pray for Us!

With the election tomorrow, many Catholics have been praying to Our Lady of Victory or the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States for intercession.

Here are two more suggestions: First, Charles Borromeo, whose feast day, November 4th, happens to coincide with election day this year. Second, John Paul II, whose baptismal name was Karol, after Charles Borromeo. One saint's feast day and another's name day ought to be good enough reasons to bombard them with prayers, right? You betcha!

White Water Rafting

CNN has an article on how river rafting creates family memories. One year a relative of my family who was a white water rafting guide offered to take us on the river for the day. All of us had a blast and we now occasionally have fun reminiscences of that day. I am not one to find enjoyment in athletic activities or even most outdoor activities, but I enjoyed it so much that I went rafting again each time the opportunity arose.

I know that my husband would love to do this sort of rafting so I think it would be a fun vacation to do someday. I know it never will be possible with a house full of young children, but maybe someday we will all be able to do it. If the opportunity presents itself to YOU, dear reader, I strongly encourage you to take it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I don't think either my husband nor I use the phrase "okie-dokie" but somehow Happy Boy has picked up on it. However instead he says, "okie-jokie." He has a great sense of humor, so maybe everything that he is okay with is just a big joke. It is cute to hear him say that and sometimes I even catch myself saying it to him because I occasionally like to talk his talk to him.

I love how children will pick up on a word and it will infiltrate the parents talk. For a long time Happy Boy called ice cream "ompee". It was a bittersweet day recently when I realized that he now properly says "ice cream". However, my husband and I will still say "ompee" to each other because Happy Boy's pronunciation attached itself to our vocabulary. Maybe also because we like his cuteness and want to perpetuate it.

Within the last week I realized that I love this age that Happy Boy is at. He talks in full sentences, we can mutually communicate with each other, he loves helping me, and yet he still has all the cuteness of a young child. I have always enjoyed each of his stages, but this one I am liking even more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

They Were Strong and Good

As I was looking for books for Happy Boy at the library last week, I noticed a display book called They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson. The book caught my eye because the illustrations looked like the more old-fashioned drawings that I prefer.

When I read it to Happy Boy I was surprised at how my emotions were moved. For those unfamiliar with the story, it is a simple biography of the author's parents and grandparents, including how they met and how they contributed to the building of this country. The reason I was so moved by it is because of the underlying premise that everyone in the history of the United States has a story of their own and in some way they have contributed to this country.

The book made me wonder about my own ancestors and what their lives were like 150 years ago when the author's parents and grandparents lived. My ancestors who immigrated the most recently came over in the 1850s. Many of them were here before the Revolution. That is a lot of potential stories about how they lived and shaped the United States, and yet I only know a handful of them.

I would love to write a They Were Strong and Good of my own ancestors; not just of my parents and grandparents but of all of my American ancestors. That would be quite an endeavor and most people would find it boring, but I know it would be exciting and educational for me and many of my family members.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Costco Experiences

For complicated reasons, we have had to go to Costco three times in the last week. The nearest one is twenty-five minutes away, but the one we went to today was more like forty.

A plus is that Costco gas is the cheapest around right now, and each time we have gone it has been cheaper. Today we paid $2.59. Several of the stations near us are still over $3, so this is a big savings. When we first joined Costco four years ago the first time we gassed up we paid $1.76. That in retrospect was a much bigger savings, but little did we know then about $4/gallon gasoline.

Costco is running a promotion where you can buy five $20 Starbuck's cards for $80. If you want to buy them, you tell the cashier as you check out and he yells, "STARBUCK'S!" and over runs somebody with a packet of gift cards. This is apparently a very popular item, because as we were checking out I heard that yelled at least a dozen times. In fact, it seemed as if almost everyone checking out was buying them. If there is anyone out there who wants to give me a $20 Starbuck's card which they bought for $16 I would be happy to take it. ;)

Happy Boy loves vacuums, so every time we go to Costco we have to go down the vacuum aisle. He used to say that he wanted a Roomba, but now I think he just wants an ordinary upright. When I look at them, I long for the purple Dyson, but then I look at the price and don't want it quite as much.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Strawberry Delight

This morning as part of Reeda's breakfast I gave her some strawberries. Sometime after breakfast had finished she came over to me and climbed on her lap. As I leaned over to giver her a kiss I caught the delicious scent of strawberries. Even though I love kissing her under normal circumstances, that deliciousness made her eminently more kissable.

It was surprising to me how moved my emotions were towards her simply because of how she smelled. Smell is one of the senses that are least spoken of, but this experience reminded me how important it is. There have been many times when I caught a wiff of something and instantly a memory transported me to some long forgotten place or activity. I hope that things like cooking or tending flowers with my children will someday inspire scented memories of their own.

The New Boombox

Way back in the fifties and sixties the thing to have for music for teenagers was a transistor radio. Eventually that evolved into the high-tech boomboxes of recent times.

In the last week, three times have I noticed the newest music-playing phenomenon: Laptops. One of the times I saw a kid ride by on his bicycle with a laptop strapped on the back of it playing some sort of pop music. Another time I saw a gangster-looking teen walk by with the typical pants falling down and punk swagger with the computer propped on his shoulder blaring rap music. It seems to me that besides the awkwardness of carrying an open laptop on one's shoulder or bicycle, a computer would be more useful than an ordinary boombox because it would be a cinch to take advantage of people's unsecured wi-fi. (Not that I am condoning that at all.)

As an aside, our neighbors had a wireless internet connection and frequently we would see teenagers standing at the corner with their laptops doing whatever. Once my husband showed our neighbor how to properly secure his connection, the teenagers never came back.

Which reminds me of another tangent. There are several wireless usernames in our apartment complex. One which appears sporadically is "Fetusharvesters." I hope I am not the only one who finds that very disturbing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dolphin in the Sky

I have never been interested in non-fiction children's books, but I know that for the sake of Happy Boy's education I ought to read them to him.

Recently we checked out a book on dolphins from the library. I didn't know how much Happy Boy absorbed from me reading it to him but I now know it is more than I thought. Yesterday as we were going for a walk an airplane flew overhead. He said, "Look! That airplane has flippers just like a dolphin and a dorsal fin, too!" I never thought if it like that before, but he is right.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is not from the Onion

When my husband told me about this I asked him if it was from the Onion News because it sounded so ridiculous. He said, "No, this is PETA!"

Here is a crazy article about how PETA wants Ben and Jerry's to switch from cow milk to human milk for their ice cream. I am all for breastfeeding, but this sounds horrible. The article goes on to to mention a Swiss restaurant which pays women for their milk so it can serve breast milk soup.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Human Element to the Olympics

When I watch the Olympics I am always impressed with the talents and abilities of the athletes. I can only dream of doing the sort of thing that they do. Even though I know the Olympians are human beings, compared to the average man, what they do is so awe-inspiring that it is somewhat super-human.

Because I have that frame of mind, I really like it when I see stories about the athletes' personal lives. It brings them back down to the human level. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The gymnast from Uzbekistan whose son had leukemia. She moved to Germany to get him better medical care and competed for them as a thank-you despite being in her thirties.
  • An American who was profiled in a commercial whose daughter has spina bifida. Unfortunately, I don't know anything else about him, but was touched by that.
  • The weight lifter from Germany whose wife started a savings plan to come to Beijing to watch him compete. She was killed in a car accident several months ago, so when he was awarded the gold medal on the podium he held up her photo for everyone to see.
  • The gymanst from Poland who held up a photo of his son immeadiately after he won the gold medal.
I especially liked the last two because by holding up pictures of their loved ones in their moment of glory, it showed that the medals weren't just about them. They wanted the world to know about these other people whom they cared about and who in one way or another contributed to their victory. I have read of many athletes who said that their victory wasn't for them but for their father, mother, child, etc., and I would rather these people win than the ones (who will remain nameless) who are so arrogant or prideful.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Calling All Olympics Fans

For those of you who love the Olympics, you might be interested in looking at these pictures of Lego reproductions of the Olympic venues. Be sure to show any Lego-fan children you might have.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Internal Struggles at Mass

I am a firm believer in parents teaching their children about the Mass. This includes taking their children to Mass with them as a family, teaching them how to behave (and removing them if necessary), and trying to explain what is happening on the altar as Mass progresses.

That being said, today my will screamed against it. I didn't mind taking Reeda to the vestibule. I didn't mind walking around carrying her for most of the service. I didn't mind that by the time she was content there weren't any seats left. I found a large stack of bricks which were an extension of the wall and sat down on them. Here is what I did mind: before I knew what happened Reeda had pulled the fire alarm. I tried to turn it off, but no luck. I was mortified. The vestibule was packed with people and they were all staring at me.

As the alarm continued to go off and the usher couldn't find the key to silence it, I struggled not to cry. All of a sudden, I was overcome with the desire to go to Mass all by myself. I wanted to concentrate on it without a child's interruption. I wanted to be able to open my prayerbook and read a communion prayer in peace. But my intellect was able to triumph over my will. I knew that I was doing exactly what I ought to be: training, teaching and exposing my children to the most beautiful prayer on earth.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let's Play Catch Up

It's been longer than I thought since I last posted. I think of something of interest to post about and then when I sit at the computer I forget what it was.

One of the highlights of the last few weeks was the wedding of Reeda's godparents. It was one of the most beautiful weddings that I have ever attended. They are such a beautiful couple and I am very happy for them. I must admit though, that I am slightly envious that they were able to go to England for their honeymoon. :)

After having several disastrous potty training experiences with Happy Boy, we are now aggressively trying to teach him where to go. This time is is working amazingly well (so far). However, I still put a diaper on him when we go out. I need to psyche myself up before I take him out without "protection".

We have all enjoyed watching the Olympics for the past few days. Having the TV out is a novelty for Happy Boy and he is just enthralled by it. He will watch anything on it, so I have to guard the remote carefully. We have watched enough swimming that Happy Boy now recognizes Michael Phelps. (The only person he is happier to see on television is Barack Obama. Blech!) By far, the most exciting event so far was the swimming relay with the Americans and the French. I love watching the gymnastics, but am getting increasingly annoyed at the (apparent) bias in the judging. *

UPDATE: I forgive the judges since the Americans scored better than the Chinese when all was said and done. ;)

*I should note that as I write this I am watching the women's gymnastics all-around competition.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

As Heard on the Radio

Classical Radio DJ: Coming up in the next hour we will be having music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart, and, uh, some other guy who has three names.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Don't Forget to Love Your Husbands

Today on Danielle's Coffee Talk post a woman posted a comment about her struggle with recent widowhood. Reading that, along with her most recent blog post brought tears to my eyes and made me appreciate my husband all the more. When you live with someone day in and day out, getting set in a routine which guides us through the year, it is hard not to take that person for granted. (At least that is my experience.) Today, I will thank God that He has given me my husband and that I still have him. I will let my husband know that he is loved and appreciated, and I will try not to take anything for granted.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What do You Think?

Is this prayer a pious devotional, or piously over-devotional?

I found this prayer in an old prayer book that I have and really liked it. But as I typed it up for a project I am doing, I got the feeling that it was a little over-the-top. That may be because as I typed it word for word, each word sunk in one by one instead of taken as a whole. So after you read it, please tell me your opinion.

Prayers or Litany for a Happy Death

O Lord Jesus, God of goodness, and Father of mercies, I draw nigh to Thee with a contrite and humble heart; to Thee do I recommend the last hour of my life, and that judgement which awaits me afterwards.
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my feet, benumbed with death, shall admonish me that my course in this life is drawing to an end,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my hands, cold and trembling, shall no longer be able to clasp the crucifix, and shall let it fall against my will on my bed of suffering,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my eyes, dim with rouble at the approach of death, shall fix themselves on Thee, my last and only support,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my lips, cold and trembling, shall pronounce for the last time Thy adorable name,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my face, pale and livid, shall inspire the beholders with pity and dismay; when my hair, bathed in the sweat of death and stiffening on my head, shall foreboded my approaching end,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my ears, soon to be forever shut to the discourse of men, shall be opened to that irrevocable decree which is to fix my doom for all eternity,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my imagination, agitated by dreadful specters, shall be sunk in an abyss of anguish; when my soul, affrighted with the sight of my iniquities and the terrors of Thy judgment, shall have to fight against the angel of darkness, who will endeavor to conceal from my eyes Thy mercies and to plunge me into despair,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my poor heart, oppressed with suffering and exhausted by its continual struggles with the enemies of its salvation shall feel the pangs of death,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When the last tear, the forerunner of my dissolution, shall drop from my eyes, receive it as a sacrifice of expiation for my sins; grant that I may expire the victim of penance; and then in that dreadful moment,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my friends and relations, encircling my bed, shall be moved with compassion for me, and invoke Thy clemency in my behalf,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When I shall have lost the use of my senses, when the world shall have vanished from my sight, when my agonizing soul shall feel the sorrows of death,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my last sighs shall force my soul to issue from my body, accept them as the children of a loving impatience come to Thee,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When my soul, trembling on my lips, shall bid adieu to the world and leave my body lifeless, pale and cold, receive this separation as a homage which I willingly pay to Thy Divine Majesty, and in that last moment of my mortal life,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
When at length my soul, admitted to Thy presence, shall first behold the splendor of Thy Majesty, reject me not, but receive me into Thy bosom, where I may forever sing Thy praises, and in that moment when eternity shall begin to me,
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

Let us pray. O God, who has doomed all men to die, but hast concealed from all the hour of their death, grant that I may pass my days in the practice of holiness and justice, and that I may be made worthy to quit this world in the peace of a good conscience, and in the embrace of Thy love; support me in that my last hour, in the strong arms of Thy sacraments and by the fresh fragrance of Thy consolations.
Let Thy absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me, and let Thine own Body be my food, and Thy Blood my sprinkling; and let sweet Mary breathe on me, and my angel whisper peace to me, and Thy glorious saints and my own dear patron, smile on me, that in them all and through them all I may die, as I desire to live, in Thy faith, in Thy Church, and in Thy love. Amen. My Jesus, mercy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Waking Rose: The Exception to Catholic Fiction

When it comes to Catholic fiction it is hard for me not to view it with contempt and distaste. I would much prefer to read secular fiction with Catholic undertones, such as Brideshead Revisited, than some overtly-in-your-face-Catholic novel. I read Pierced by a Sword and didn't care for it, but I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and read the next book by him. That one was just as bad. Then I read Father Elijah and hated it. Again, I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and read one of his other books. I hated that as well. Thus sealed my opinion of Catholic fiction forever. Or so I thought.

While I was visiting my in-laws, many of them were excitedly talking about Regina Doman's newest books, Waking Rose and The Midnight Dancers. I was already familiar with Doman's children's book Angel in the Waters and I had read articles on her blog occasionally as well. I decided to see what the fuss was about and take the risk of reading more bad fiction.

Except that Waking Rose wasn't bad. It was well written* and the plot was enjoyable. It was definitely a Catholic novel, but the Catholicity was not a turn-off the way it was in the other Catholic novels I have read. Perhaps it was because it was mentioned more in the context of being part of the characters' lifestyle rather than in the context of trying to preach Catholicism to the readers. Maybe one could say that this is an overtly Catholic novel, but not an overtly-in-your-face-Catholic novel. Does all this make sense? I have a feeling that I am not articulating my position very well.

Doman took the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty and turned it into a modern story. Everything that happens in the story is possible (although not always probable) which I think is better than if she had written a modern fairytale with a real witch casting a magical spell. After reading this I want to read her other "Fairytale retold" stories as well, which are also billed as "Catholic fiction."

I do think I should add that this is definitely not a children's book. There are many adult themes in the book which would be too intense for children to understand, and it would be disturbing for them if they did happen to understand. But since it is a Catholic novel, any immorality or sinfulness found in the story line is written about with a proper Catholic perspective.

*I am not a very good judge of whether a book is well written or not, so this doesn't mean much. What it does mean, however, is that it is much better written than the other Catholic novels I have read.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We're Back

We made it home safely from our trip to my in-laws. It was very nice to see everyone again. We hadn't seen most of them in two or more years; some of them had changed and some of them looked just the same.

Happy Boy had a blast playing with all his cousins and running around outside several times a day. The only problem was that the cousins all knew each other, but didn't know him. They kept calling him, "That Boy" because they didn't remember his name. Also, they tended to want to play with the children they already knew so he was used as a last resort.

I was able to read five books while I was there, which was quite a treat since it is very difficult for me to read here without distraction. One of the books I read was Endless Night by Agatha Christie. That story was written differently from her others I have read, and had a masterful twist towards the end.

We had an added pleasure of being able to see my brother. The last time we saw him was in 2005 and before that was at our wedding. He happened to be driving across the country and drove through a city about 90 minutes away while we were there. We were able to coordinate things so that we could drive down and visit with him for an hour or so.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Tomorrow we are leaving to visit some relatives. Happy Boy packed his suitcase with everything he thinks he will need. I might need to repack it with a few other essentials. ;)

We haven't traveled in two years, so I am wondering what it will be like with two children. When I told Happy Boy we were going to fly in an airplane, he was adamant that he could not fly. He seemed distressed that I was telling him we were going to fly through the sky. Then I told him that we weren't going to fly until after he had gone to sleep and awakened again. He came up to me this afternoon at about four telling me it was time for him to go to bed. I guess he wants to fly after all.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Library Book Sale

This morning I went down to the library used book sale to see if they had any good finds. This is the first year that I went without my husband, but we decided that it would be too much trouble watching two energetic ambulatory children. Since I enjoy this sort of thing more than he does, he disappointedly stayed home.

Every time I go to a used book sale I look for certain children's books that are recommended in various book lists. Sometimes I am lucky and sometimes not, but I am often surprised at what out of print books I am able to find from those lists.

Today I was able two find two out of print books from the Christmas Mosaic list. I also found The Annotated Hobbit, which I didn't know existed but was excited about once I did learn of its existence. Happy Boy is thrilled with the various children's books I cam home with and my husband is pleased because I was able to find a couple of Loeb Classics Latin books for him. I am pretty pleased with the loot I brought home.

One thing that annoys me though, is the way the library prices books. They charge two dollars for hardbound and "softcover" books. I don't mind paying that for the hardcover, but the softcovers can be anything from an extra fat cheap paperback to a fancy glossy coffee table book. I understand that they are trying to raise money for the library, but I wish they could define "softcover" a little better. I don't mind paying two dollars for a quality softcover, but to pay that much for a 700 page forty year old paperback by Sigrid Undset which is so poorly bound it will probably fall apart before I have finished it is a little irritating. I know, I know, you are thinking that if it bothers me so much, then just don't get the book. Well, I didn't. So there. ;)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Covet

"Covet" being a word which here means to wish for longingly rather than to feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's).

Yesterday at Costco I discovered the Elizabeth Gaskell Collection. Oh, how I want it. I wrote earlier this month about how much I enjoyed Cranford. I have also seen the two other movies in the collection and loved both of them. Especially Wives and Daughters. I have wanted to own that movie since I first saw it many years ago, but it was always fairly expensive. At Costco, however, the entire collection of movies is a mere $26.99. On Amazon it is forty dollars more. Since it is not a need, and my birthday, anniversary, and Mother's Day have all passed, I can't justify buying it. Sigh. Maybe I will be lucky enough that the library will buy the set so I can check it out.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Five Things Meme

The Rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they have been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.

4. Let the person who tagged you know when you have posted your answer.

What were you doing 5 years ago?

Enjoying life as a new college graduate and a new wife.

What are five things to do on your to do list for the day?

Since the day is almost over, that is a little hard. 1) Tidy up the kitchen, 2) Put away some things in the dining room, 3) Study Latin with my husband, 4) Brush my teeth, 5) Check on the children.

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1) Fruit, 2) A bowl of cereal, 3) Baby carrots, 4) Peanut butter toast, 5) Popcorn

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1) Use my financial clout to hopefully clean up the problems at my alma mater, 2) Do the same for the university my husband is at now, 3) Buy Catholic churches that are being sold to prevent them from being turned into condos, 4) Give money to lots of fabulous religious orders, 5) Do something to help the poor in third world countries.

What are five of your bad habits?

(Why don't you just skip this one? You don't need to know this stuff!)

1) Leaving my shoes in the living room, 2) I have a sweet tooth, 3) Peeling back my fingernails instead of using clippers, 4) I have a hard time getting over first impressions if they are negative, 5) Not emptying the dishwasher right away.

What are five jobs you have had?

1) Assistant to the assistant to the head guy, 2) Peach receiving station manager, 3) Mother's helper, 4) Babysitter, 5) Assistant to the assistant of a different head guy.

What five people do you want to tag?

You, you, you, you and YOU! In other words, if you want to do it, then do it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam

In honor of Memorial Day, we visited the local veteran's cemetery this morning. Although most of the people who were buried there were veterans of Vietnam or earlier, there were some who died in Iraq. It was quite sobering to see the graves of men who were younger than I. It made me grateful for each day of life that God has given me.

I was happy to see that so many people came out to the cemetery today since it seems that fewer and fewer Americans care about things like honoring our country and the people who gave their lives for it. However, it was sad to see how few of the deceased had any flowers or other things in front of their graves. I hope that many of their families could come later in the day.

There was one woman in her twenties who was there at a grave when we arrived and still there when we left. She had put flowers, balloons (including one that said "Happy Birthday"), and a flag in front of it. For a long time she just sat there looking as though she were having a conversation with this person. It was extremely moving to see how much she cared for him. Even though I don't know her, my heart ached for her because of her loss.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Watching the Grass Grow

My husband and I had a disagreement yesterday after I called some bamboo "trees". He said he didn't know what bamboo was, but he was certain that bamboo stalks were not trees. After checking the good ol' Wikipedia, I was forced to concede defeat: Bamboo is considered to be grass.

With some further reading, we discovered that bamboo can grow up to one meter an hour. Wow. I think that I would like to watch that happen. Have you ever heard of someone who actually liked the idea of watching grass grow? Now you have.

It is interesting to note that bamboo flooring is becoming very popular as the eco-friendly alternative to hard wood floors. I bet you never thought people would want their house to have grass floors.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Five Years Ago Was a Monday Too

Today my husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. Both of us agree that our wedding was the happiest day of our lives. I don't look back on it with anything but fondness. I feel very fortunate because both my mother and grandmother cannot say the same of theirs.

Since we didn't have a babysitter today, we couldn't go out alone together. Instead we did something which I think reflects the mission we undertook when we got married: to have a happy family and be good spouses and parents.

Since it was one hundred scorching degrees today, we took our dinner to an indoor park. After we ate, the children played on the slides and other kiddie oriented constructions there. It was so pleasant seeing and hearing them enjoy themselves. On the way home we stopped for ice cream. Of course Happy Boy and Reeda loved it, and my husband and I were able to have a nice conversation while they ate.

Reflecting on the evening, I don't think I would have enjoyed dinner at a fancy restaurant with just my husband more than I enjoyed this. That would have been nice, but I wouldn't treasure that memory the way I treasure the memories of my children's happiness playing at the park or eating ice cream.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mass. . . In a Heretical Church

Yesterday evening we went to Mass in a heretical church. Although people often loosely use that term to refer to liturgical abuses, this time there was no doubt about it. Mass was celebrated in a heretical church because it was celebrated in a Protestant church.

Let me explain. The high school seniors my husband teaches had their graduation service last night. The service included both the graduation ceremony and also a Mass which counted for one's Sunday obligation. Because their school is so small, the service (including the Mass) was held in a Protestant church next door to the school.*

The Mass itself was perfectly reverent and abuse free. Everyone even knelt for communion. However, one of the first things Happy Boy said when he came into the church was, "How come Jesus isn't on the cross?" I wasn't sure what to tell him that would be understandable to a three year old.

*Maybe the people who attend that church will get some graces from it and convert.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Prince Caspian

We were able to get someone watch the children this morning, so we took advantage of $4 Saturday morning movie tickets to see Prince Caspian. I hadn't been to a real movie theater with my husband since the first Chronicles movie.

When I went to see Bella I was angry at myself for not wearing my glasses, so I made sure that I wore them this time. That was a mistake. It has been a loooooong time since I have worn them (at least a year, and maybe two) and I was not used to them at all. The movie was slightly clearer, but I came home feeling nauseous because seeing clearly through the glasses and not as clearly out the sides gave me a feeling akin to seasickness.

As far as the movie itself goes, both my husband and I really enjoyed it. In my husband's words, "The first one follows the book more closely, but this one is a better movie." He does qualify that by saying that he didn't like the song or the kiss in the last scene, but everything else was great. I could only remember the first couple chapters, so I honestly don't know how well the events followed the book.

I loved how they embellished so many things to make them look beautiful and noble. The horn, for example, is a solid piece of horn or ivory, carved with an intricate design of a bear. The children wear colorful, multi-layered and textured clothing with details on all the metalwork that they wear. Even the evil army had amazing masks when they went into battle and the boat which the soldiers used at the beginning was ornately carved. No one ever pays attention to such detail-work nowadays so it makes that era seem much more grand.

Even though this is a PG movie, I recommend screening it if you have children who might be frightened by violence. It certainly wasn't like The Lord of the Rings, but it is more than children below a certain age should see. At the beginning of the movie there is also a scene of a woman screaming in childbirth (why do they always do that!?!) which may or may not disturb some people.

The bottom line is, unless you hate books being changed, you should see Prince Caspian. And if you do hate it when that happens, don't think of it as a movie based on a book. Think of it just as cinematic art, and then you probably like it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hooray! I'm my favorite character!

As Lucy Pevensie, you may be quite timid and shy, but your heart is in the right place! You make sure you tell the truth, even if it results in embarrassment.

Who are you?

HT: Danielle

Thursday, May 15, 2008

CVSing for $1.15

Here's the short story:

In three different transactions at CVS I was able to buy everything pictured above. The first transaction cost $1.08, the second was six cents and the third was only a penny. The total amount before savings was $68.02 plus tax. What I bought included:

3 bags of diapers
2 boxes of Kotex Lightdays
2 bags of Hershey Bliss
1 box of Hershey's Reese's cookies
1 package of peanut butter M &Ms
1 Intuition razor
1 box Tums
1 glucose meter

The long story:

I have been trying to learn the ropes of "CVSing" since January, but until last month I haven't done that well. I started out this week with $25 of Extra Care Bucks which were about to expire, so it was either use 'em or loose 'em. The first time I went to the store I was looking for something that I could use my $10 ECB for. The glucose meter was on sale for $10 and the Kotex were on sale two for $5, so I bought those. Between a Kotex coupon, a CVS coupon and the ECBs the total was $1.08 and I got $10 ECBs back. (Just fyi, the meter I will give to my diabetic brother-in-law.)

The next day I went back with a list of possible things to buy which were both on sale and that I had coupons for. I was trying to look for things that would generate ECBs so that I could roll over the ones that would expire. I also knew that diapers were on sale buy three, get the third free and I wanted to buy those.

In the first transaction that day, I bought the razor for 9.99 with a $4 off coupon, the Tums for 4.69 with a $1 off coupon, the two Hershey Bliss* with a BOGO coupon for 4.28 each, the Hershey Reese's cookies for $2, and when I realized that I needed something else about fifty cents I bought the M&M's for 0.79. I also used three different CVS coupons, and the 10 ECBs from the day before, which brought my total down to six cents. These purchases generated ECBs totaling 15.69, which I can use any time within the next month.

With my last purchase I bought three bags of diapers and with one of them free the total was 17.98. I used a three dollar off CVS coupon which brought me down to $14.98. I had Extra Care Bucks totaling 14.97, so I only had to pay one cent. Don't ask me why they didn't charge sales tax: I am completely baffled by that, but am not complaining. With this transaction I wasn't able to "roll" any ECBs, but that's fine since they were about to expire, and we need diapers anyway.

My husband pointed out that this actually cost me $4.15 because I had spent $3 on Sunday papers to get the coupons, but that is still a good deal. Besides they also have lots of other coupons for other things that I can get (or have already gotten) free or almost free.

*I usually don't buy junk food like cookies and candy, but they were generating ECBs and I am trying to potty train Happy Boy. I bribe him with something if he is able to go in the potty, but I needed a bribe and this is it. If I don't bribe him, he doesn't go.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Highlights

My Mother's Day got off to a hectic start when I woke up and realized that Mass was going to start in 45 minutes. I was pleased when we got to church and our clock said that we still had a minute to spare. However, it much be late because when we went inside they were doing the Kyrie.

Afterwards my husband offered to take me out to breakfast, but I knew that it would be very crowded so I declined. I said, "What I really want for breakfast is a moist, gooey cinnamon roll." But since the only places that sell cinnamon rolls around here are grocery stores, and they only have dry boring ones, I said my second choice for breakfast would be fruit salad. No, that's not very balanced, but at least it isn't unhealthy. We went to the store to buy a variety of fruit and simultaneously lamented the absence of bakeries that sell good cinnamon rolls.

At some point during the day, Happy Boy came up to me and said, "Happy Mommy's Day, Mama." Needless to say, it melted my heart.

In the evening some friends stopped by with some cake to celebrate the day. It was a pleasant surprise for me, but an honor that they were thinking about me.

I then watched the second installment of Cranford, which I am really enjoying. As it ended, I sighed to my husband, " I love these type of movies," to which he replied, "I know you do." (He will occasionally watch literary romances, but most of the time he would prefer to do more manly things like read up on the newest Linux distro.) That movie was a good end to a peaceful and enjoyable day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Do You Have Your Forever Stamps?

Just as a reminder, the price of stamps increases on Monday. If you are too cheap to want to spend a penny more to mail a letter then you better hurry and get some Forever stamps.

We used to mail a lot more things, so we would buy rolls of 100 at Costco for 25 cents less than the going rate. However, for some reason, we don't mail things as much anymore and we STILL have 37 cent stamps. The vending machine at the post office only has one cent stamps so pasting four one cent stamps on has gotten really annoying. I look forward to finally using them all up so I can start using the Forever stamps.

Monday, May 5, 2008

International Midwife Day

I found out that today is International Midwife Day. Although I recognize the need of obstetricians, I am a huge fan on midwives.

When I was pregnant with my first I went to a practice that had four midwives. The assumption was that over the course of one's pregnancy there would be a natural rotation so the patient could meet all of them at different prenatals. I had met three of them, but the schedule of the fourth, Angela, never matched up with when I could have my appointments. Finally at week 39 I was able to meet her. I instantly fell in love with her. When I came home I excitedly told my husband, "I hope Angela is the one who gets to deliver the baby."

The next night I went into labor. When I called the office to let them know, I found out that a different midwife was on call. I resigned myself to her with the consolation that at least it wasn't the one that I really didn't like. However, I got to the hospital at the same time as a shift change. Angela was coming on duty! God was so good. Later after my husband met the other midwives, he said that he understood how I felt and agreed that Angela was wonderful. Later she proved to be even more wonderful to both of us when a horrible crisis arose, helping us in any way she could.

So, in honor of Angela, I decided to write a post to acknowledge this day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Perfect Saturday

This is the first weekend in months where we didn't have anything that needed to be accomplished. After breakfast we decided to go for a walk. It was a gorgeous day and there aren't many more weeks of beautiful weather before it gets too hot to go walking in the middle of the day.

We went to the park and brought along Happy Boy's new tee-ball set. It was too windy to hit the ball off the tee, so he just hit it like a golf ball. Sometimes he even shared with Reeda! They would run back and forth between excitedly playing with the bat and ball and playing on the playground.

On the way back we passed a friend who recently got engaged. This friend explained how she and her affianced decided to invite a lot of people and have a casual reception rather than only a few and have a fancy one because they wanted as many people as possible to rejoice with them in their sacrament. I love talking with people who are recently engaged because they have so much joy and excitement about them.

For dinner I made a delicious soup and some cornbread to go with it. It was topped off with homemade strawberry ice cream. Reeda happily ate it all, which pleased me since I had to battle with Happy Boy over the soup.

Finally, we found a DVD from the library which Happy Boy lost last week. We had resigned ourselves to paying a fee to the library, but St. Anthony came through before we got around to it!

Hope you all had a pleasant day, and have a blessed (Ascension) Sunday!